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  • DevDiary 2 - World Setting and Size

    Hello friends, and welcome to our second “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiary! Today we’re going to take a look at the world of KoH2:S.

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    One of the very first steps for us was to choose the time period our game takes place in. Setting the rough boundaries was rather easy, considering this was something we definitely wanted to preserve from the first game. We could hardly pick a more appropriate period than High and Late Middle Ages for a game with that title, right? These were the glorious days of knights, central to the KoH series, and everything that goes with them – epic battles and sieges, crusades, intricate diplomacy, court intrigues, and clashes between kingdoms, cultures and religions all over Europe and the Old World!

    Within that period, allowing players to choose from several starting points in time seemed like a good feature. After all, we had this 15 years ago and variety in game settings and modes has only become more important for gamers since then. This allows us to add more interesting setups for conflicts and give the players more options to take control of a wider variety of kingdoms. One of many examples is the choice between Byzantium or the Latin empire we would have to make if we had just one starting setup, since the second one emerged from the ashes of the first – and we wouldn’t like to exclude either of them from the game.

    So, after making a thorough research pass, we chose three starting points in which the historical maps looked most interesting to us – the beginning of the 12th century, the 20s of the 13th century and the middle of the 14th. Only the first of those differs significantly from the starting points in the first game, but it seemed extremely appealing to make the change, what with the tension between Christians and the Baltic and Finnish pagans, the Crusader states in the Holy Lands, the fragile balance of power on the Iberian Peninsula, the massive strength of Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire, and many others.

    Since we realized there can never be a definitive answer to the question “which is the most interesting moment in the Middle Ages”, and since there are players who like to get creative and set up their own starting conditions, we are doing our best to provide some options to customize their experience, especially through mods. Modders will be able to change the political scenery and define which kingdoms participate, what provinces they control, what religions they follow, who are their rulers and so on. Whether the players like to recreate a specific historical time period or devise a fantasy Europe with House Lannister or Mordor in it, it will be up to them. Elaborate modding possibilities proved to be quite fun for many in the first game, so we plan to give even more control for your ideas and imagination in KoH2:S.

    Choosing how big the map will be and what territories to include was an entirely different and more significant challenge, since the map size impacts not only the overall feel of the game, but the gameplay as well. One of the things we felt we might improve from the first game was including Arabia, in order to provide a more complete picture of the Old World and make it fun to play with Islamic kingdoms. Thus, we stretched the map to the east and a bit to the south so that Arabian cities with great significance, like Mecca, Medina and Baghdad, are included in our game world.

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    At some places we “cheated” the geography a bit for the sake of gameplay, which is the number one priority for us. For example, we enlarged Rhodes so we had enough space to place the city and some settlements, since it was a historically important landmark and we wanted it to be part of the game. Another example is the decision to slightly shrink the Arabian Peninsula, so that the map does not stretch too far east or south, opening vast empty spaces. After all, Africa was called the “Dark Continent” at that time because too little was known about the area and it wouldn’t make too much sense to have a lot of playable provinces there, nor would it be fun to conquer the barely inhabited, but immense, Sahara Desert. Almost the same goes for the north-eastern parts of the North European Plains.

    Since it is hard to estimate which world size and province count would provide the best experience prior to testing the game in its entirety, we initially left the question open. We really wanted to fine tune and iterate on the map several times. We even asked for our community’s opinion on the topic through a somewhat hidden way, by asking a general question in a Facebook post early last year. To remain agile and alter the map throughout development, we invested a lot of time in making a proper map-creation kit. One cool example is an automation tool that generating borders between provinces automatically, based on settlements and terrain features like mountains and rivers. We were very pleased to see how well it worked on most places. Here is one example – Trebizond, entirely auto-generated:

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    The actual territory of the Kingdom:

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    (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org)

    In our social media channels, many people ask what the size of provinces are. To be honest, there really isn’t an exact answer to this question. In densely populated regions they are smaller, and vice versa – there are some pretty large provinces in Sahara and the lands furthest to the north. Larger territories are harder to conquer, since armies will need more time to reach their targets, but due to the same reason, these territories are harder to defend. It is not only the size of a province that matters, though, but also its settlements and the resources that can be found in it. A smaller province can sometimes be richer in all aspects than a larger one.

    We wanted to share a few words regarding the historical accuracy, as well. We’ve put quite some effort this time around to improve here, as we know there were some mistakes in the first game. For example, there were some cities in the original KoH which did not exist in the corresponding time period. While our game is more a fun sandbox than a history lesson, we know it can be an immersive experience to rewrite history from a more accurate starting point. This task is quite hard, since some territories were in very complex states of rulership, and little is known for others. Even historians argue over territorial specifics, but we can say we’ve done our best and surely those who care about that side of the game will be able to see the difference.

    We hope we’ve managed to answer some of your questions about the game world of KoH2:S. If you want to learn more, join our DevStream on this topic on Thursday, January 9th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 10:00 AM EST.  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.

    So, jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. We’d be glad to hear what is your “perfect” moment in the medieval history of Europe, what Kingdoms you want to lead or oppose, and what are your preferences of the game world size and province count.

    Next time we will dive deeper into the heart of the game and talk about the Royal Court – the King and his trusted knights. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!


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    THQN Brad


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    You mentioned that provinces do not have defined sizes nor strengths, being this is the case are provincial borders going to be dynamic or static in the game? Will the player be given the ability to expand or shrink the provincial boundary of a certain province, or are provincial borders locked for the entirety of the game? If you say dynamic please explain further. 

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    @Ivory Knight What the author meant is that there are not PRE-defined sizes and strengths in terms of settlements, town size, populations etc. With some ("secret") exceptions the world is quite dynamic in regards of resources, settlements and more. However, the province borders are static. With that said,  you can occupy, and hold parts of enemy provinces (more on this in a later diary).

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    For me it's hard to pinpoint a moment as my favorite in the medieval history of Europe; one can say that there were interesting events and timeline during the Mongol invasion of Europe which is exactly at the second starting point you mention.

    However, an interesting story that took place in the corner of Europe, took place during the last days of the Umayyad Caliphate, when the Abbasid revolution was taking place to establish the new Caliphate. The last Umayyad prince evades capture and death and travels all the way from Damascus to Cordoba where he re-establish the Umayyad Caliphate. I guess you can say that I would like to try playing as the Umayyad Caliphate in Iberia, but it is a little bit before the timeline and the starting points you mention.

     

    For the map, I liked the provinces' system in the first KoH, simple and effective. And I would say that a map that is 15~20% bigger than the one in KoH would be very suitable, more than that it might be too big.

     

    Now I have a small suggestion for the provinces, but not sure if this is the platform to mention it!

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    1 hour ago, Taha said:

    Now I have a small suggestion for the provinces, but not sure if this is the platform to mention it!

    Sure, it is okay 🙂

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    Will Europe be bigger than KOH1 tho?, I would like to see a bigger europe with more cities and provinces, it felt so easy and quickly to conquer England for example.

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    3 hours ago, frujin said:

    Sure, it is okay 🙂

    I was actually gonna suggest the possibilities to conquer elements in the province, like a farm or a monastery, and add that part only to your kingdom instead of having to add the whole province when you take the city.

    But I just saw your comment above 😄

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    55 minutes ago, Taha said:

    I was actually gonna suggest the possibilities to conquer elements in the province, like a farm or a monastery, and add that part only to your kingdom instead of having to add the whole province when you take the city.

    But I just saw your comment above 😄

    That would be cool, territorial disputes, so you just expand your borders (your nation's influence) throughout war or diplomacy.

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    Good afternoon, dear developers. The first KoH was the Kazan Khanate faction. Please add Volga Bulgaria in the beginning of the 12th century anf Kazan Khanate in the middle of the 14th.

    Thanks!

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    Would be really happy to see early middle ages, say 800 till 1000 AD. But apparently it is not gonna happen. Waiting for mods.

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    Made me really happy to read that you will include arabia in KoH2!!! Very excited for the sequel and the next dev diary.

    18 hours ago, Taha said:

    I was actually gonna suggest the possibilities to conquer elements in the province, like a farm or a monastery, and add that part only to your kingdom instead of having to add the whole province when you take the city.

    But I just saw your comment above 😄

    Thats a really great idea! Maybe they could also add the option to start playing as a knight and with that the ability to recruit men for your own army and revolt in kingdoms by taking over these provinces.

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    My liege, if you want to make bigger the island of Rhodes, so we can build a castle, for us Hospitaliers, all you have to do, is to order it! Our ships will carry some land from the mainland!!!
    Yes yes yes, Rhodes should be in the game, you are absolutelly right! Keep on the good work and be sure to have also our beloved Despots of independent Orthodox church xD!!

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    On 1/7/2020 at 6:55 PM, frujin said:

    @Ivory Knight What the author meant is that there are not PRE-defined sizes and strengths in terms of settlements, town size, populations etc. With some ("secret") exceptions the world is quite dynamic in regards of resources, settlements and more. However, the province borders are static. With that said,  you can occupy, and hold parts of enemy provinces (more on this in a later diary).

    So if I understand you correctly, the borders are static, but the components within the borders are quite dynamic? So settlements, populations and resources all move around to some degree?

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    2 minutes ago, Ivory Knight said:

    So if I understand you correctly, the borders are static, but the components within the borders are quite dynamic? So settlements, populations and resources all move around to some degree?

    Yes. It was done the same way in the old KoH.

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    2 hours ago, frej said:

    Made me really happy to read that you will include arabia in KoH2!!! Very excited for the sequel and the next dev diary.

    Thats a really great idea! Maybe they could also add the option to start playing as a knight and with that the ability to recruit men for your own army and revolt in kingdoms by taking over these provinces.

    Nah this is not mount and blade

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    I saw in the videos that the realms have a new zone. I give this zone the name Small castle ( Bergfried in german ). This castle have some garrison inside.  I think this castle garrison will support the town if the town under attack. So its wise to destroy these small castle first.  But what function it have can only say Frujin.  Frujin can speak more about this castles.

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    There was something from the stream I did not fully understand,  I think it was Alex. He said you could chose to play as a king or as a Vassal/governor of a province? Is that correct?

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    I have a question a bit off topic about battles since I have never played KOH but after watching the trailer and Dev diaries I'm so excited I really enjoyed medieval total war 2 are the battles going to be similar or better than that game. Thank you.

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    I hope the world map changes as some scripted events occur or dynamic ones.

    Farmlands would be removed if sacked too many times, mines getting depleated, new churches appear with the faith accumulation or new towns set up as citties reaching a point to no longer sustain.

    Maybe Mongols will remove the places as they go by and the player have to rebuild them from scratch? 

     

    I also would like to know about map modes in future diaries too.

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    On 1/7/2020 at 11:56 AM, THQN Brad said:

    At some places we “cheated” the geography a bit for the sake of gameplay, which is the number one priority for us. For example, we enlarged Rhodes so we had enough space to place the city and some settlements, since it was a historically important landmark and we wanted it to be part of the game.

    You could do that with Gibraltar, Azores and Iceland. If the province components are dynamic, would be nice to be able to build settlements, coast villages and small fortress in some islands and other places - Madeira island and the coast of Greenland, for exemple.  River navigation (at least in the major rivers) is a historical missing point in the game. Building boat units would be very good too - warships, trade cogs, fishing and whaling ships. This could be a very expensive trade good between kingdoms, and if you don't have a ship builder (or if you are running away of an enemy army to the nearest coastal village) you colud buy or hire one. 

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    On 1/9/2020 at 10:19 AM, GrafLaudan said:

    I saw in the videos that the realms have a new zone. I give this zone the name Small castle ( Bergfried in german ). This castle have some garrison inside.  I think this castle garrison will support the town if the town under attack. So its wise to destroy these small castle first.  But what function it have can only say Frujin.  Frujin can speak more about this castles.

    This would be very good. Even better if you could hire lesser-knights (not on the royal court and of course with minor wages) as town-marshalls or garrison chiefs with smaller armies (the six army-units of town garrisons), so they can help to protect the province from plundering and stop rebellions (or steal the castle and open the town gates when bribed or hired as spies). These smaller armies could be limited to the province area, so they don't chase an enemy army in other provinces or go looting somewere else, and a good town-marshall could be promoted to the royal court as an officer.

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