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  • DevDiary 28 - Intro to Tactical Battles

    Hello friends and welcome to the 28th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! We cannot hide that talking about the tactical battles in KoH2:S is quite exciting and a little scary for us, as this is one of the features that was (and is) hardest to develop. We know that many of you wanted to see it earlier and we are thankful for your patience.

    Our goals in regards to the tactical battles, or “Battle view” (BV), as we call it internally, was to modernize the experience from the original game to the 2020’s, but still without complicating the gameplay too much or making these battles the main focus of the game. After all, KoH games are mainly about the grand-strategy gameplay – economy, diplomacy, politics and warfare on a grand scale.

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    When a battle is in its preparation phase, players can choose to “lead” it, entering Battle view. This transitions them to a map of the battlefield, generated based on the area or town it is led in. We’ve developed an elaborate algorithm to represent as best as possible the terrain features and even the shapes of the towns, when such are present. While the player is leading the tactical battles, the rest of the world is “paused”, though this does not apply for potential reinforcements – armies, headed towards a battle can still arrive while it lasts and it is not too late to call near-by armies as reinforcements either, even after the tactical battle has started.

    As in simulated battles, there are up to three “armies” that a player can control – two led by marshals or other royal court members and one, formed by local defending troops – militia, town guards, garrison troops, etc. Each army consists of up to 8 squads + the noblemen cavalry squad.

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    There are three different types of battles – field battle, assault and break siege. In the first one, which can be started if armies meet on the field or in a settlement (excluding castle), none of the armies have defensive structures and both armies have “army camps”. In break siege and assault, the defending side of a town or castle has fortifications, which include walls, gates, towers. Within towns and castles there are “capture points”, that have to be defended.

    The durability and attack power of fortifications depend on the siege defense and attrition damage of the town/castle. How damaged they are depends on what percentage of the siege defense is lost prior to starting the tactical battle. Entering an assault when siege defense is brought to zero is completely different from assaulting as fast as possible, since in the first case many towers, gates and even wall segments will be severely damaged or even completely destroyed at the start of the tactical battle.

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    Both assault and break siege battles take place on the same town/castle “map”, but in break siege the attacking force will be waiting outside (defenders have the initiative) and in assault, well, the attackers are trying to storm the fortifications (attackers have the initiative). If the initiative is lost, whoever had it fails their attempt and retreats, which leads to some morale loss and a continuation of the siege. Thus, it is advisable not to sit and wait, if you have undertaken break siege or assault; and nor will the enemies wait, if they are the ones that took the initiative.

    There are several ways a battle can end. If an army loses its leader, it disperses immediately, so it is important that the noblemen cavalry squad is well protected. Too dire morale losses of the entire army can also lead to an army’s full retreat. Finally, if one side holds all capture points and/or army camps, it is victorious.

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    As always, we’d love to hear what you think about Tactical battles. Are you excited about this feature and do you often prefer to lead your armies personally in grand-strategy games in which that is possible, or do you prefer to let the auto-battle do the trick? If you have played the original game, share with us did you enjoyed the battles there and what did you find best and worst about them.

    We’ll talk more about Tactical battles in our DevStream on Thursday, July 14th, @ 4:00 PM BST / 11:00 AM EDT. Get your armor on and join 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. Some gameplay videos of tactical battles will also be played then for the first time.

    Next time we’ll will talk more about “Tactical battles”, more specifically about squads – the role their stats play in this mode and what commands will be available to players.

    Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!


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    THQN Brad



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    Great to hear from you guys again. Happy summer.

    How does your map generating algorithm actually work? Is every map unique? Could you explain some of the details, such as how it considers river crossings, mountains, swamps, castles, hills ect... 

    What are the conditions for reinforcement? In particular is reinforcement instantaneous and only occurs at the start of the battle if a friendly army is close by? Or can reinforcement occur during the battle, based on the elapsed time and distance and friendly armies are from the battle location?  

    You mentioned armies have "army camps" in field battles. What exactly are these? Are they supply depos that if you captured drops the opponents morale? Or simply the tents that the units deploy when resting and need to dismantle before being able to fight, as was the case in KOH 1?

    In break siege attacks, does the defending/sieging army get to set up their own defense, such as a trench line or wood stakes to funnel the armies? As you know during sieges the sieging army almost always set up trench works and other defensive structures opposing the castle defense?  Understandably, I would expect these to be less assailable than the castle its self. 

     

     

     

     

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    I think the army location indicators that are on the side of the screen clutter the visual view/interfacing. The minimap already helps one orient towards the enemy, adding the side screen indicators seems like overkill. Although without play testing I cannot say forsure  😉 . But I think there is a reason games like Starcraft and Total War, do not have those. 

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    37 minutes ago, THQN Brad said:

    (attackers have the initiative). If the initiative is lost, whoever had it fails their attempt and retreats, which leads to some morale loss and a continuation of the siege.

     

    Is "initiative" a resource or something? Is it calculated or runs out can I player see that on UI? I'm not sure if this is just a figure of speech or a vague description of a mechanic?

    Speaking of mechanics, we know from original, that there were a lot of hidden mechanics in tactical battles. Mostly morale from things like "enemy on my flank" or "enemy is all around us" and so on. However a player would had no awareness of all these and no UI or even a tutorial explanation of potential effects available. Looking at the screens right now, I don't see any indication that this is fixed. I would need to see icons or messages about ALL dynamic modifiers happening to be able to actually meaningfully lead a battle. If there is a debuff on units which move alone - I need to see that. If there is a bonus to archers on a hill - show me that. If there is a buff or debuff on units in a specific formation or against a specific enemy - a player NEEDS to be aware.

     

     

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    • Developers

    Yes, all these are shown. How current morale is calculated, all things like "archers on the hill", "cavalry in a forest", etc... You see it quite clearly ...
    Initiative is a real mechanic. You start an attack, you have "initiative", but if you do nothing ... it slowly vanishes.

     

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    I Fear for a bit of AI abusing with the Capture zones. I hope it doesnt just get a meta of cap rushing your enemies in all Field (and maybe Break Siege) battles. Im less concerned with the Sieges. Also I think the Initiative mechanik might be a great addition for real Time battles but we need further elaboration on how that works.

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    Okay Now İ looked war scenes and scenes are looking good but  Soldier sizes and their appearance could be more clearer?? and Our Genarals could have special type in battle ?? 

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    Is there any point for a defender of a siege to not just wait it out and then engage at the last minute?

    Meaning: Historically, a castle or town would hold out for as long as possible and then, if the pending battle looked hopeless, they'd offer a surrender to save lives and their town.  (Often, this was actually negotiated.  "If reinforcements don't arrive by a certain date, we will surrender peacefully.")

    Is there any advantage to surrendering to a siege?  Or should the defender just hope for reinforcements, wait for attrition to draw down the number of the attacker, and then fight it out?

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    Hi,

    thank you for the interesting read! I want to answer the question what we experienced in the original Games BattleView. I always liked the Option to fight some very important Battles and gain some extra advantage. But the enemies AI was a little to easy to trick. They would always follow the marshall even when they were slowly killed by arrows.

    The other scenario was an assault on a city. The defenders only attacked until the line of the walls. Again they could be lured into the fire of my long bow army very easily, without ever attacking them because they were outside the walls.

    But for the most part I enjoyed the game so much that I am thrilled to see the new one. Thanks for your continues work

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    On 7/12/2022 at 7:16 AM, THQN Brad said:

    or making these battles the main focus of the game.

    If you don't want the battles to be the main focus of the game, then the main game had better have a lot to it.

    I'm playing the original right now and there isn't a whole lot to do.  I'm spending a lot of time just sitting around waiting for things to happen.

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    or making these battles the main focus of the game. Battled should be most important thing for this game because this name is KNİGHTS OF HONOR  AND soldiers moves should be more Fast (swords moves espically)

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    5 hours ago, ahmetol said:

    or making these battles the main focus of the game. Battled should be most important thing for this game because this name is KNİGHTS OF HONOR  AND soldiers moves should be more Fast (swords moves espically)

    While I totally agree with you on principle ("Knights" is the major keyword), both original and KoH2 specifically are CLEARLY not focused on direct combat. Everything we seen from very beginning of KoH2 was always focused on a strategic gameplay and it appears to be the intention to have a game about long running strategic kingdom management rather than direct military/combat game.

    We don't know if this strategic gameplay on itself is rich and engaging enough to make a player "forget" or should I rather say "accept" very indirect involvement in battle and war. It might be the case. However from a standpoint of "setting" and "player expectations" it is very hard to step away from personal "knight takes up arms to lead the battle" idea.

    In fact I think there is a MAJOR issue with the way the game is presented. Just look at the official trailer:

     

    this creates ALL the impression that in fact this is a game where your diplomacy, economy, large scale problems of a kingdom are secondary annoyances while PERSONAL honor and direct involvement in combat are the Sovereign (can't escape this pun). While it is amazingly strong and very attractive message on itself, it appears to be exactly the opposite from the intention of KoH2 to be strategic, calm and calculated long lasting game of global dominance. 

    Was it always the case or the game focus shifted during development since the trailer. We don't know. In fact I don't even know which would be the better game to be honest.

     

     

     


     

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    I also wondered why can't be an option to have tactical battles against other human players in multiplayer also?

    If all the players agree to it, except battles against AI, all other battles could be "manual".

     

    Also if the players agree, a battle against a human player could be also resolved automatically on the spot, even if they have the option to resolve it manually. 

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    1 hour ago, Zaza said:

    I also wondered why can't be an option to have tactical battles against other human players in multiplayer also?

    If all the players agree to it, except battles against AI, all other battles could be "manual".

     

    Also if the players agree, a battle against a human player could be also resolved automatically on the spot, even if they have the option to resolve it manually. 

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    This question was talked over many times. They want multiplayer to be many people at once. The game is very long. There are a lot of battles. If each time 2 out of a six people want to have a 15-20 minutes battle the rest will have to wait and do nothing. It would take too much time and too much idle time for everyone else to have tactical battles in a multiplayer. They could not find a way to do it given the strategic game whey want this to be.

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    Hello, will be there an option to not attack city but to siege by trying to starve city? It was common option in medieval times. Thank you for respond 🙂

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    great to see progress with battles!

    some of the pics looks fine (Eastern styled ones), but the video presentation showed not a really HQ environment of a Western siege scene - I wrote about it on Discord/suggestions in details. I really liked the art style of KOH-1 BV, I hope we can get something similar in 3d now 🙂

    in KOH-1 I mainly played the important battles, when my chance was high enough I left it for auto resolve (similarly to TW games).
    what I did not like in KOH-1 field battles, is the lack of possibilities to outmaneuver the enemy armies, because of the relatively small area, and the blocking village buildings (in contrary, villages also provided good defense positions sometimes), the too fast infantry comparing to cavalry, and maybe archer range was a bit high. imo, if all these issues are still valid, they can be fixed by tweaks, based on the beta feedback.
    squad-squad avoidance was also clunky a bit (a standing squad moved too fast out of the way of a moving one, sometimes breaking my line of defense), I would expect a priority system, and not to move out infantry squads standing in defensive formations. and breaking through between 2 enemy squads should be possible to get behind them, in KOH-1 they usually attacked nearby enemy units always (as I remember).

    having army camps is a good idea, as I see maps are larger, so I'm expecting more freedom for tactics!

    Edited by sivan
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    I don't think we need yet another Total War title, personally speaking. I almost always auto-battle in those games, anyway. I wish managing battles would be optional, rather than a requirement to win important battles.

    Thanks for making the game and keep up the good work!

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    11 hours ago, Gormoth said:

    I don't think we need yet another Total War title, personally speaking. I almost always auto-battle in those games, anyway.

    I've been auto-battling everything in my most recent playthrough, but a good battle is always fun.  I certainly don't want to see it skimped on.

    Playing battles is a major necessity for a lost of people.  You'd be severely limiting your audience if you didn't have one included or did a poor job.  cf. Lords of the Realm 3, which did practically everything wrong.

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    Total War  battle mechanics were always perfect  And ofcourse KOH is too perfect..i dont understand one strategy gamer how dont like real battle system?... if you dont like battle you can play crusader kings or civilization.These games were very bored games 

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    2 hours ago, ahmetol said:

    Total War  battle mechanics were always perfect 

    It wasn't perfect, and I am a bit surprised KoH2 is moving toward the capture-the-flag condition that TW uses, though I can understand the thinking behind it.

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