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
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.
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.
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…