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  • DevDiary 17 - Settlements and Province Features

    Hello friends, and welcome to 17th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! Though we initially planned to talk about Espionage and Spies in this one, we decided to change the topic, and cover some fundamental features that are high time we shed more light on. Settlements and provinces are at the base of the game’s economy, connected to the production of any resources or currency.

    As we established in the very first DevDiaries we wrote, the world in our game is divided into provinces, more than 300 of them. Today we will take a look into the key elements of a province, and how those elements define a province’s potential and benefits to whoever controls it.

    Every province has exactly one town, symbolizing its governmental center. Through that town the players can view a summary of everything important in the province, as well as make decisions about it. Besides the town, there are always several settlements around the province, usually around 5-6. In some locations there can be more or less, depending on the province’s size, but many fall into the 5-6 range. These settlements determine, to a large extent, the strengths of a province. There are 4 basic types:

    • Villages represent larger population and commercial potential
    • Crop farms are related to the production of food and other agricultural resources and goods
    • Settlements with religious importance primarily serve educational and religious purposes, represented in our game by “books” and “faith”; they can be monasteries, mosques and shrines, depending on the province’s religion
    • Castles primarily improve defenses and recruitment capabilities
    • In addition to their type, some settlements can be coastal as well, which plays an important role if some naval related buildings are made

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    All of these provide initial bonuses, but more importantly, certain buildings and upgrades affect their production and efficiency. This means constructing a building in a province which has several related settlements to it can be substantially impactful.

     Many possibilities arise for players to explore – they can try to adapt their strategy to the provinces they have; or try to execute their initially planned strategy, picking the most suitable provinces among their own for each purpose planned; finally, they can also try to quickly conquer certain provinces that they find suitable for a given purpose. As an example, finding a province with 3-4 monasteries will definitely be a good goal for someone planning to build a cathedral and university – such territories are often worth fighting for.

    In addition to settlements, each province is characterized by several “province features.” Some of them are represented by a corresponding special settlement, e.g. Flax Fields, Herb gardens, Cattle farms, Mines etc. Others are not represented by settlements and are considered to be either an additional resource in an existing settlement (e.g. gold veins, silver ore and lodestone are related to mines, but there are mines without any of those), or just as something that can be acquired in the province – rare game, amber deposits, salt, etc.

    There are “geographical” province features as well, with the main difference compared to other province features being they are predetermined by the position of the province’s town and its surroundings. We love to randomize as many elements as we can, so the game feels different every time you play it, creating more of a “sandbox” experience. Settlements and province features are randomly generated each time within some rules and boundaries, but we can’t really say Venice is not a coastal town or that Vienna is not on a large river, right? Geographical restrictions do apply for some of the other resources as well, e.g. you will not see camel herds in Sweden, vineyards in Sahara, and you are quite likely to have horses in the steppes.

    It is hard to say where the line should be drawn, as gameplay on one side and historical accuracy on the other can clash, but we are trying to find the best balance between them and create enjoyable gameplay without making the Old world look too crazy.

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    But let’s get back to the function of province features. Most of them do contribute a little to the province’s economy, but don’t necessarily get significant bonuses from the regular builds. Instead, province features provide the possibility of constructing unique building(s) and upgrade(s. Often this leads to new resources becoming available for the kingdom, and in turn makes new buildings, upgrades and units available as well.

    For example, “Herb gardening” can only be made where the Herbs province feature is available, and through it kingdoms can make upgrades like “Herbalist shacks”, “Dye workshops”, “Apiaries”, “Candle makers” etc. and thus produce resources like Herbs, Dyes, Wax and Candles, that have usage in textile, medicine, naval buildings and upgrades, etc…

    As you see, we use the terms “buildings” and “upgrades” rather loosely, as these can represent industries, techniques, practices, organizations and what not. Buildings and upgrades are quite a large topic – they are over a hundred with interesting specifics, so we’ll need to leave them for another DevDiary.

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    To summarize, province features are quite important and often a driving force for expansion. Supplied with well-tanned and hardened leather, iron and trained warhorses, a kingdom can recruit fierce elite soldiers; great naval advantages and discoveries are impossible without plenty of resources, from timber, tar and wax to maps and compasses. As we talked earlier in the DevDiary about merchants, some goods can be imported, but it is hard to maintain a kingdom’s economy if it relies too heavily on resources produced elsewhere – it can be rather expensive and sometimes trade relations can be ruined.

    We’d love to hear what your preferred playstyle is in strategic games with such sandbox elements – do you like to adapt your strategy to the circumstances, or bend the circumstances, until they fit your strategy? To what level do you enjoy the random generation – would you prefer full-fledged unmanipulated randomization and thus – a new world every time; somewhat determined world, only with nuances; or straight-out predetermined one (if you pick the later, you’ve probably played “Lost temple” a lot, right?).

    We will talk a bit more about Settlements and Province features in our DevStream on Thursday, April 22th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST but more importantly, this time we will spare part of our streaming time to show a sneak peek at new in-game footage of KoH2:S – if you want to be among the first to see new gameplay, tune in! The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.

    Next time we will talk about the emblematic class of KoH series – Spy and Espionage; what we’ve kept from the first game, what we’ve changed, added and why. We are having a bit of Déjà vu with this last sentence…


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    THQN Brad


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    Thanks for the Diary, as I understand the settlements and some features to provinces are randomly generated with some restrictions. This sounds great especially for multiplayer games and playability. I do believe this should be the default setting.

    I also suggest to include a setting option giving fixed settlements and features resembling what they would have been like historically "Historically Fixed Settlements".

    I do understand the fear that players might only select this option if given it, so I think the default should always be set to randomly generated, to encourage players playing on that. 

    What are your thoughts on that?

    And can we see what a castle settlement looks like?

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    That is the kind of diary I personnally waited for, and I didn't expect that it would be released this very month. So thanks a lot !

    It lightens the game mechanics, and their evolutions from the first opus, that's quite interesting.

    I've noticed the number of buildings seems to have been reduced, so I guess that matches with the will of improving certain buildings, following certain "trees", possibilities, and making each building and settlement more strategic than it was in the first Knight of Honor ? If it's the case, it's promising.

    By the way, this island of Cyprus is kinda gorgeous :-). The same applies to the building icons. I only find the province features and province good's icons a bit outdated, like it's drawn by a different artist, but I suppose it's still work in progress (thanks for already sharing all of this !).

    I have a minor question, if not answered here, I hope it will be during the dev stream : did my Judicates' dev diary influenced the team's decision to make a topic on settlements and provinces, instead of espionage ? I know at least it refers to the questions I had on the Discord server, about different types of settlements... well, if so, that's quite a surprise !

    Personally, I'm the kind of player that tries to optimize his provinces according to local production. Both for efficiency and roleplay. It adds a feeling of variety.

    I totally agree with Ivory Knight, I believe a realistic / historical settlements configuration would make sense too, without setting it as the default playing mode. But if that implies too much research, and too much unbalance, then forget it !

    Waiting for the dev stream !

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    1) So I look at the screenshot and see a province producing 11 resources, 3 of which are "horse heads" and I'm confused )

    After some thinking and a bit of investigation and previous knowledge of the original KoH can suddenly understand that first row are province features and the second row are produced goods ) But this UI is very confusing. Either make features and goods to be different panels or make icons way more distinct between the resources and goods. Yes I understand that the icons are raw placeholders right now, but the layout is confusing.

    How many different goods in the game? Are we talking 50+? It would feel a bit confusing to have multiple subtypes of goods like "horse 1", "horse 2", "horse 3". Did you consider making fewer types but multiple tiers or quality levels per type? Like "basic horses", "quality horses", "most amazing horses"? Since it appears that KoH 2 is more casual grand strategy game by design it could be too much to track and remember for dozens of good which are which, used for what purpose and where they are produced or located.

     

     

    2)

    Quote

    Many possibilities arise for players to explore – they can try to adapt their strategy to the provinces they have; or try to execute their initially planned strategy, picking the most suitable provinces among their own for each purpose planned; finally, they can also try to quickly conquer certain provinces that they find suitable for a given purpose. As an example, finding a province with 3-4 monasteries will definitely be a good goal for someone planning to build a cathedral and university – such territories are often worth fighting for.

    This is a false premise. This will not happen like that. All our previous experience with KoH tells us that you don't really have a big choice for a conquest. You are very limited in your potential targets, there are tons of other restrictions from geography to diplomacy and military consideration. It is very unlikely if ever, that a player would look around for a required resource to conquer a random province just for that. You are much much more limited to a given few geographically accessible provinces to even think like that.

     

    3)

    It appears that you are still going with a boolean goods for the kingdom. You either have Hemp or you don't. But if you do it is enough for everything. Is that so? 

    This is a very limiting design in my mind. If you don't produce quantities of goods and you don't use quantities of goods then pricing of stuff in terms of specific goods is irrelevant. All you need is a single place to produce something and then you are all set. Same with the trade, if you have original kingdom trade of "you either trade a good type or not" it creates a very shallow gameplay. For instance if I have Hemp, I need no other provinces with Hemp ever. If I have 3 provinces with Hemp I don't really care because 2 of them are irrelevant and I can't gain 3x times of Hemp production and I cannot sell 3x times of Hemp. Building and upgrades which are using boolean  goods are much more simplistic than N amount of good required to build, because you can't be short for a boolean goods, there is no need to produce some and buy some extra from abroad just to make required amount faster and so on.

    There is also zero possibility to pillage "some" volume of goods. If I don't own a province producing Hemp, there is no way for me to raid it to get some Hemp.

    Have you consider tracking volumes of goods produced, having a kingdom global stock of goods, trade with quantities? Could that be because you are having way too many types of goods to begin with?

     

    4) I guess settlements can be raided by an enemy and rebels like original? If so, is there any difference between raiding a village vs a castle? If I raid a monastery, does it have impact on my fame and honor or morale if I'm same religion? 

     

    5) Is there any way to change a type of a settlement? Or create more settlements in a given province or they are preset at the game start?

     

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    3 hours ago, William Blake said:

    1) So I look at the screenshot and see a province producing 11 resources, 3 of which are "horse heads" and I'm confused )

    After some thinking and a bit of investigation and previous knowledge of the original KoH can suddenly understand that first row are province features and the second row are produced goods ) But this UI is very confusing. Either make features and goods to be different panels or make icons way more distinct between the resources and goods. Yes I understand that the icons are raw placeholders right now, but the layout is confusing.

    How many different goods in the game? Are we talking 50+? It would feel a bit confusing to have multiple subtypes of goods like "horse 1", "horse 2", "horse 3". Did you consider making fewer types but multiple tiers or quality levels per type? Like "basic horses", "quality horses", "most amazing horses"? Since it appears that KoH 2 is more casual grand strategy game by design it could be too much to track and remember for dozens of good which are which, used for what purpose and where they are produced or located.

     

     

    2)

    This is a false premise. This will not happen like that. All our previous experience with KoH tells us that you don't really have a big choice for a conquest. You are very limited in your potential targets, there are tons of other restrictions from geography to diplomacy and military consideration. It is very unlikely if ever, that a player would look around for a required resource to conquer a random province just for that. You are much much more limited to a given few geographically accessible provinces to even think like that.

     

    3)

    It appears that you are still going with a boolean goods for the kingdom. You either have Hemp or you don't. But if you do it is enough for everything. Is that so? 

    This is a very limiting design in my mind. If you don't produce quantities of goods and you don't use quantities of goods then pricing of stuff in terms of specific goods is irrelevant. All you need is a single place to produce something and then you are all set. Same with the trade, if you have original kingdom trade of "you either trade a good type or not" it creates a very shallow gameplay. For instance if I have Hemp, I need no other provinces with Hemp ever. If I have 3 provinces with Hemp I don't really care because 2 of them are irrelevant and I can't gain 3x times of Hemp production and I cannot sell 3x times of Hemp. Building and upgrades which are using boolean  goods are much more simplistic than N amount of good required to build, because you can't be short for a boolean goods, there is no need to produce some and buy some extra from abroad just to make required amount faster and so on.

    There is also zero possibility to pillage "some" volume of goods. If I don't own a province producing Hemp, there is no way for me to raid it to get some Hemp.

    Have you consider tracking volumes of goods produced, having a kingdom global stock of goods, trade with quantities? Could that be because you are having way too many types of goods to begin with?

     

    4) I guess settlements can be raided by an enemy and rebels like original? If so, is there any difference between raiding a village vs a castle? If I raid a monastery, does it have impact on my fame and honor or morale if I'm same religion? 

     

    5) Is there any way to change a type of a settlement? Or create more settlements in a given province or they are preset at the game start?

     

    1. If what you say about the UI is true, then I agree the way they have it makes it a little too merged. They should have a separate panel for the produced goods vs feature resources. 

    1.1 I think your jumping the gun a bit on speculating that the amount of resources is huge... I dont think we have a clue, but I suspect they are well aware of having too many and swamping the player. 

    2. I think you are mostly correct, with a tinge of incorrect, I have played KOH 1 rounds where I would specifically check the resources map and plan my wars towards those critical resources. You are true to say most of the time other factors almost always come into the way of that so those planned wars tend to never happen. So I agree with you on this one and I think it is an important criticism of their statement. 

    3. Yes not having a boolean system of goods is probably more realistic and gives more depth. But tasks the player with allot more information. Trading systems can get complex fast and I think what your asking for is something that scales trade and resource output with size ( like bigger kingdoms demand more resources of a particular good and produce x amounts of a good) all of this can become very taxing for an average player. But with that said I do agree with you, but I dont see many ways to find a common ground of simplicity vs complexity with trade goods. Then again I havent thought about it all that much. (maybe trading vs owning a resource gives you different effects?)

    4. I think I completely agree with you here, and I would take it even further, by saying different outcomes may happen when raiding different settlement types. Maybe different LOOT? And maybe different negatives as well?

    5. I dont think it would be in theme of the game if you could just make a province have any settlement type you want. I can see how that would be really abused, and kinda take the realism out of the game. Like your playing a role playing game in medieval europe... You cant just turn all the settlements in France into only Monasteries. Or just shuffle settlement types around your kingdom at your own will.  Your kingdom is what you got, and what you got isnt changing my boi. 

    Always like reading your comments (you are highly inciteful and dig deep into ideas). Please dont take anything I say as confrontational. 

    Sir Ivory Knight from Kings of Honor

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    I'm curious if Suceava is placed in the right place now, unlike in the first KoH in which was wrongfully located in the south of Moldova as a port to Black Sea.

    The town (which still exists today) is actually quite far north of Moldova, nowhere near any sea.

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    5 hours ago, Ivory Knight said:

    . Yes not having a boolean system of goods is probably more realistic and gives more depth. But tasks the player with allot more information. Trading systems can get complex fast and I think what your asking for is something that scales trade and resource output with size ( like bigger kingdoms demand more resources of a particular good and produce x amounts of a good) all of this can become very taxing for an average player. But with that said I do agree with you, but I dont see many ways to find a common ground of simplicity vs complexity with trade goods. Then again I havent thought about it all that much. (maybe trading vs owning a resource gives you different effects?)

    Yes, that would be a completely different new extra system. Depends on how much player has to do with everything else. If I were making a game like that, I would track and manually manage swords and armor and bows probably, original stronghold style kinda ) But it is not a grand strategy game, so it does not fit the purpose. However I find boolean resources on a kingdom level to be very limited overall from a common sense perspective. Like for example say I'm playing France. I have a lot of wine produced in many places. Yet it is functionally the same as say England having a single province in Portugal or something?

     

    5 hours ago, Ivory Knight said:

    I think your jumping the gun a bit on speculating that the amount of resources is huge... I dont think we have a clue, but I suspect they are well aware of having too many and swamping the player. 

    I'm looking at the screenshots and I see a panel which can fit at least 2 rows of 6 icons each. Which tells me that they expect to have close to that number per province. Now say there are very few goods in a game, say 15. But we have like 350+ provinces on the map. Which means that if each province has say at least 4 resources available MOST of the kingdoms will have MOST of the goods out of 15 very soon. And this would totally beat the purpose of goods as a unique local advantage. So I assume from that there are a lot of different types of goods to have a wider variety across 350+ provinces overall. But yes, I'm speculating A LOT )

     

     

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    Will it be possible to occupy enemy settlements and take over their control without needing to conquer the entire enemy province?

    I'm also very intrigued about castles in the provinces.  Can you elaborate more on that?

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    Nice dev diary, thank you for it. Very interesting and important topic indeed.

     

    I enjoy having settlements randomized because that let's you adapt to the game giving it more strategical possibilites and especially replayability (very important!). As I know from other games: nothing is more boring than having to play the exact same map over and over again in an endless-game / non-scenario game.

     

    And for your other question: I prefer adapting to the given geographical settings and only bend the circumstances where possible (e.g. through diplomacy, espionage, who to conquer first,...) 

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    tbh, I never really got into sacking provinces (like burning a farm) because I couldn't see any real effect it had.

    Even if my own province was being sacked, I repelled the invaders as a matter of honour, not because they were doing any real damage.  (Except for rebellion.)

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    3 minutes ago, Lighthope said:

    tbh, I never really got into sacking provinces (like burning a farm) because I couldn't see any real effect it had.

    Yes, it is absolutely useless as a tool of attrition. Rebels are only annoying because they will raze a lot of settlements over time. But an enemy army 99% of the time has no time to waste on settlements. If you moved into enemy province with an army you expect to conquer the province, so you want settlements intact. If you don't have enough force to do it, it is pointless and dangerous to lock your weak army into pillaging a settlement with enemy strong army near by.  Since in KoH your main limiter is a number of marshals you can't have spare raiding forces around, because you don't have marshals to lead weak armies.

    I always thought settlement pillaging to be a AI tool to annoy a player and divert attention. As a human player tool it has never been a valid useful option.

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    8 minutes ago, Lighthope said:

    tbh, I never really got into sacking provinces (like burning a farm) because I couldn't see any real effect it had.

    Even if my own province was being sacked, I repelled the invaders as a matter of honour, not because they were doing any real damage.  (Except for rebellion.)

    sacking villiages stacks up your marshals provisions. But the really fun start when you got the plundering skill deployed and get a good amount of gold for each sacking

     

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    Well, there are certain mechanics which were useful in the early game, and sacking settlements was part of that, otherwise they did not fit well for middle and late game.

    On 4/20/2021 at 7:51 PM, William Blake said:

    5) Is there any way to change a type of a settlement? Or create more settlements in a given province or they are preset at the game start?

    I would very like indeed to play with such possibilities, and I even thought of making that available, but let's be honest, this is not Age of Empires, or Crusader Kings. The number of settlements in each provinces and their random specificity is core to Knights of Honor. This game steps in the middle between high realism, like in Paradox games, known for that, and casuality, like RTS games. Still, a mechanic like destroying settlements (erasing them), only doable by an enemy, and rebuilding them, only doable by the player, would be AWESOME. And quite historical !

    Yet I wish there was a historical game with a map restricted to a certain area, let's say a region or a kingdom, but going deep into detail, villages, towns, etc. I've still never seen that, and I recognize making such maps means lots of research... and a huge amount of time !

     

    Finally, I've got an excellent example for the look of a western medieval castle settlement...

    392989b5-b1dd-4bc0-a123-8c743dde4865.jpg

    Edited by Calliope
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    3 hours ago, William Blake said:

    I hope we can make it faster in the game than 20 years to build from a ground up ))

    They'll be there from the start of the game. But IF the game was a bit different, with the ability to build and destroy settlements, and to place them strategically (as for castles), then yes, the building of castles would be nice, if you had'nt to wait decades ! I have to admit I'm really curious about castles' behaviours and how to improve them via town buildings.

    2 hours ago, Sh0ppo from 9ers_Gaming said:

    I just realized from the third screenshot that Lefkosia is rather located to the north of Cyprus and not really a coastal city.

    Yup, and it'll be the same for other places on the map. Still the shape of the island is far better than in the first game ! I wonder if the devs intend to make copper a locked natural province good for it... I would appreciate that small detail. :-)

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    6 hours ago, Sh0ppo from 9ers_Gaming said:

    But the really fun start when you got the plundering skill deployed and get a good amount of gold for each sacking

    By the time you've got your marshals up and running to sack provinces, I'm already making enough gold through other means.

    Seriously, they need to change up how sacking works.

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    3 hours ago, Calliope said:

    I'm really curious about castles' behaviours and how to improve them via town buildings.

    I think you are getting too excited. I think the castles are just very basic mechanics of "have a castle in a province = some extra guards in the province capital". That's all. That would be very inline with all the other production bonuses all other types of settlements add up to the province capital.

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    4 hours ago, Lighthope said:

    By the time you've got your marshals up and running to sack provinces, I'm already making enough gold through other means.

    Seriously, they need to change up how sacking works.

    I think that problem will be gone with the 2nd installment since you can't cheese your economics anymore by spamming merchants in the early game, no? As far as I can tell from the dev diary about merchants it will be alot harder to get trade agreements and follow up on them to make a lot of money. Also, in multiplayer games raiding and the war of attrition will be one of the best tools to damage other players while you can't directly take their cities/provinces. Having your village destroyed, which produces 17 gold every tick can be a hard hit. I guess rebellions will be rising more frequently as well.

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