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  1. 5 points
    Hello friends, and welcome to the 10th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! Last time we talked about character skills and in this diary we will take a look at traditions, which are very interlinked to them and can even be abstractly considered as “kingdom skills”. We will explain how these two features are connected, how traditions are gained, and how they affect the game. First of all, in KoH2:S the player does not take the role of any of the knights, nor really the king or his dynasty – knights, kings and dynasties rise and fall, and with their death their skills are also gone, but the game continues. Introducing this new feature for the series, the traditions, we wanted to offer an additional way for players to strategically shape the strengths of their main avatar in the game – the kingdom itself – and also to create long-term progression players are motivated to make. As almost everything else players do is more or less temporary, we felt that such a permanent component of their progression is much needed in our game. Yes, we already had the knights’ skills and province development, but knights perish, dynasties fall, and thriving provinces can get overtaken or separated from the kingdom one way or another. The second important thing we wanted to consider and represent well is that KoH2:S is not a civilization game. We want to capture a specific and rather short moment of time, the High and Late Middle Ages, and, debatably, we think that technological / development tree wouldn’t be very fitting for that goal. We’d like this feature to allow the players to boost their kingdoms in all possible aspects and how believable would it be to let you invent things like agriculture, stock farming, literacy and so on in that period, when they were all invented thousands of years before that? That’s why we crossed out this type of “inventions” and technological tree off our list. Kingdom traditions represent the knowledge of nations, built over the ages and are less of a “invention” and more of a “focus”. Unlike provinces or knights, they cannot be forcefully taken or destroyed by enemies. Once adopted, they endure even in the harshest crise and are only lost if a player prefers to replace one of them with another. An additional advantage they have is that their effects spread kingdom-wide and can provide bonuses to all provinces and knights. Thus, they are harder to acquire than skills. To each skill there is a corresponding tradition and, similarly, adopting them requires spending some gold and books, but this is the easier part. In order to gain a tradition, a kingdom must additionally have at least one knight that has mastered the corresponding skill (at level 3). In that regard, the kings are the quickest “gateways” to traditions, since each skill they learn is directly acquired at the maximum level. As a final requirement, there is a limitation to the number of traditions that can be acquired – in game terms, tradition “slots” become available with the progression of a kingdoms’ prestige, a statistic that represents the overall progression and stance of a kingdom and that we will probably discuss in more details in another DevDiary. A kingdom right now can adopt up to eight traditions, though we are still experimenting with that number and at what point and cost each slot will be available. Similar to skills, traditions can provide a wide range of effects and can be improved on through a cost of gold and books – their maximum level is 3, too. Some of them can provide statistical boosts, others – access to new actions, plots, or even more specific abilities like what kind of siege equipment can be constructed within a kingdom. They also boost knights’ abilities and some of these bonuses are restricted either to classes, governors, kings, etc. There is one very specific and powerful combination – traditions boost knights that have mastered the corresponding skill. Once again, we will illustrate this with the “Cavalry tactics”, since we gave it as a skill example in the previous diary. When this tradition is adopted, it makes the cavalry squads larger, which is a bonus, that applies to all cavalry squads in the kingdom – those led by knights, regardless of their classes and skills and even those stationed in garrisons. However, if the tradition is improved to level 2, marshals that have mastered the skill will gain an additional combat tactic from this tradition – “Chase and kill”, useful in pursuing retreating enemy troops. At level 3 of the tradition, these marshals will get another new tactic – “Shock charge”, especially valuable for those of them that lead considerable number of heavy cavalry units. Such combinations can be done in many aspects of the game and provide significant benefits in a chosen directions. What makes this strategy even stronger is that once a tradition is adopted, it is always available for learning by knights of that kingdom, so in this way players can ensure that they will be able to make the desired “combo” and no longer rely on random affinities of knights to learn that skill. In result, by choosing their traditions, players can define the biggest strengths of their kingdoms and build a long-term strategy, regarding what skills they want always available and boosted. To summarize it, we are trying to make that systems as something unique in KoH2:S and offer the players interesting choice and many possible strategies to explore. Skills are the path to traditions, and traditions, the path to skills; they work both as a boosting mechanic, shaping the strengths of a kingdom, and give an opportunity for interesting combinations as well. We will talk more about Traditions in our DevStream on Thursday, September 3rd, @ 4:00 PM GMT / 12:00 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. As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on that topic and always read and look into your feedback. Does the tradition system sound interesting to you? Do you think it would be too challenging for you to choose a favorite tactic and achieve it, or maybe it is just the opposite – do you think that even more complex system and tech-tree is more suitable for such game? Next time we will look into another class of knights. We’ve already talked about marshal and it is time to share more about the strategical benefits and gameplay possibilities of merchants.
  2. 1 point
    Hello friends, and welcome to the 11th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign!” In the 6th DevDiary, which feels like ages ago to us, we talked about the marshal class. Now, let’s take a look at merchants, who are, debatably, just as important as Marshalls for any kingdom which aims to become a great power in the Old world. Let’s start with the primary role of a merchant, which we all most likely know from every strategy game out – to bring gold into the kingdom’s coffers. This is true for the KoH series as well, but there are different ways to achieve it. First of all, each knight can be selected as a governor of a province, and merchants have the most skills and governing effects that can boost gold income and commerce. Additionally, once a merchant is appointed as a governor of a province, trade caravans and ships start visiting nearby towns, bringing gold from trade when they return, unless ill fate (also known as “rebels”, stops them in their tracks. Being a governor does not hold back a knight from performing any other functions, it is a “secondary” role they have, so it is not a matter of whether to have them as governors or not, but rather who should govern where, as different classes gain and provide different bonuses to provinces. Each merchant can also be sent on a “mission” to establish and maintain trade with a chosen kingdom, as long as a trade agreement with it is signed and valid. This means you’ll need good relations to expand trade, which is where diplomats could be needed as well. Prosperous trading between kingdoms and good diplomatic relations are well tied together – on one hand kingdoms are more benevolent and eager to make agreements and pacts of all kinds with their established trade partners, and on the other hand trade is more profitable and offers more opportunities when the diplomatic relations between kingdoms are warm. Many other factors also play effect – for example distance, personal qualities and skills of the merchants, and whether they have royal blood – kings and princes have advantages in almost all trade endeavors. Trading with a kingdom is a “full time” occupation, so a merchant cannot simultaneously maintain trade with more than one kingdom, or trade while leading an army, for an example. If there are more promising offers elsewhere, merchants can always return “home” and try establishing trade in a new kingdom, but in that case any developed position and all deals with the original partner they were overseeing is lost. This can often be a significant step back, since one of the possible, costly, and time-consuming actions is to expand trade to gain more and more profits and a bigger share of the market of a kingdom. Now, we haven’t talked a lot about resources in the game yet and we won’t get into details about them now, but another thing a merchant can do within a kingdom is to arrange the import of goods. Resources are needed for the construction and function of some buildings, for hiring troops, and other things, so arranging imports can be particularly important. Food can also be imported or exported; it is needed for upkeeping the armies, as well as for maintaining the population growth and happiness. Historically, food trade and grain trade in particular were one of the oldest and most stable over the centuries, so we felt it important to represent this our game. This can also create different strategic choices for players – they can produce their own food, rely on import (if they have the gold for it!), or focus on agriculture, stock-farming and food export as a stable source of income. There is one significant new addition for the trading system in KoH2:S and that is “Kingdom’s Commerce” – a parameter of the kingdoms that is required for “upkeeping” the continuous trading deals, such as imports, exports and general kingdom trade. Players increase commerce mainly by constructing trading-related buildings, but also with traditions, skills, governor effects, etc. Here the challenge for players is providing the needed Commerce availability for their merchants to use, as well as putting all available Commerce into good use and thus maximizing the benefits from it. Up to a point of the development process, this was what merchants were all about. Were they useful? Undoubtedly. Were there strategical choices for the players, like how many merchants to have, when and where to send them and what to do with them? Sure, there was. But we decided that we wanted to try and make this class even more interesting. Thus, we implemented the “Opportunities for merchants”, based on a system we so far used for spies. Thanks to it, we managed to add many additional actions that pop up from time to time for merchants on a semi-random principle. Our idea with that was to spice up the merchants and present even more choices to the players. Each opportunity has its own story and specific effects, and we will continue to add more of these during the development of the game. Here are just few examples: If one of your armies is near or in a province of a kingdom you are trading with, your merchant can try to arrange a supply of provisions to that army, which can sometimes be crucial. Often merchants have opportunities to make some risky deals, for example reselling goods; thus, the players can invest some of their gold and hope to make good quick profit. Merchants can hire mercenaries in the kingdom they trade in and call them to their own lands. They can sometimes try to convince their trade partners to stop trading with another kingdom and shun a foreign merchant, if they a have strong enough position to do so; besides hindering an opponent, this has additional advantages – reducing the competition increases the chances of getting a bigger share of the market. As a result, the merchants can be very useful, not just by making gold. We are trying to make them both a part of the overall strategy of players and a driver of the economy of their kingdoms, as well as introduce some emerging stories and gameplay with the class. We will talk more about Merchants and Trading, as well as the opportunities that can emerge, in our DevStream on Thursday, October 1st, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 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. We really want to hear your opinion about the merchant – do you like the wider opportunities for the class or would you prefer it to be simpler? What kind of opportunities and actions of merchants would you like to see in the game? Do you like the concept of the random trade possibilities, or would you prefer to always have the full arsenal available and rely on chance as little as possible?
  3. 1 point
    Hello friends, and welcome to the sixth entry of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today’s topic is all about the cultures in KoH2:S and how we weaved their historical representation into the gameplay and visuals of the game. When we talk about cultures, there is one really important thing to keep in mind. Diversity. We live in a world with a rich variety of cultures, every one of which has its own specific histories, songs, food and even mannerisms. All this is valid for the Middle ages as well and thus it became the foundation of how cultures work in KoH2:S. We dived deep into historical sources so that the various regions of our map reflected the cultures that thrived there during the Middle ages. We didn’t just stop with the big cultures like Arabic, or Nordic and the state of “there were Berbers in Northern Africa,” but were aiming to include unique tribes of certain regions too – the Sanhaja, Zenata, Tuareg – the “small” cultures the compose the big, widely known, cultural groups. Same goes for the European cultures – yes, there are the French, but also the Occitans, the Normans, and other cultures that are classified in the Latin group. Mirroring this rich cultural landscape in KoH2:S naturally adds another layer of gameplay depth in the game. Just as in the original, it’s not enough to conquer territories to “paint the map”. Your army might physically occupy a territory, but the people may not be loyal to you yet. They could riot, they could resist. One occupied province might bleed your kingdom dry in the wrong circumstances – from your armies, to your economy. Here our cultural spread system comes into play. It’s based on how civilization’s culture evolves, diversifies and disappears throughout history. This was mostly a slow and continuous process, but sometimes it could’ve been forceful – with one culture assimilating another with stark change in the population’s lifestyle (like religious conversion). In KoH2:S, this process works like this: the culture of one province or kingdom is constantly affecting its neighbouring provinces. More provinces with the same culture all bordering one province with different culture have a greater conversion influence, meaning this province could be ripe for conquering by providing less problems when assimilating it into your kingdom. There are some ground rules to that, of course. Cultures from the same group influence each other easier, while those from different ones have a hard time taking over one another. For example, you can play through the historical cultural tensions on the Iberian Peninsula – both before and after the Reconquista, depending on which period you choose at start. If a Catalan king decides to conquer a Castilian province, the closely related cultures will allow for smoother conquest in that aspect. Matters would be even easier if the player made an effort to expand his kingdom’s influence to those particular neighbors by taking advantage of the other tools we prepared for faster cultural conversion (more on that in a future DevDiary), but the Andalusians will have a hard time spreading their influence over the Catalans, and vice versa, even if the territories held by them are bigger, better, stronger. Cultures play a noticeable role when it comes to visuals as well. Castles, cities, clothes – we’re trying our best to have each rooted in the respective culture of their region. There is a delicate balance when creating these elements though, one between the rich cultural diversity of the Medieval World and the amount of historical visual data available for the different cultures we’re exploring, some of which is quite limited. We often felt pulled between two choices: choice A, to fully capture the visual nuance of all well documented cultures, leaving a number of cultures with less than ideal visualization, bordering on Narnia, and not history, or choice B, to compile known elements from cultures in a major cultural group in order to achieve combined a visual style that would be most appropriate. We choose the latter. In KoH2:S, you can see the iconic castles of Western Europe and also the traditional wooden Stave Churches of the freshly Christianized Nordic lands. The European queens are admiring their tiaras, while the Arabic malikas are putting on their beautiful hijabs. We aimed for equal representation for each culture as much as possible, keeping in mind what the player actually sees most of the time. There is less emphasis on the so called “ambient life” (villagers, region specific animals, flying fish), although there are some unique aspects there as well, and more on what’s really important, like the armies. We wanted each cultural group to field distinctive units when possible – both from a visual and a gameplay standpoint - to ensure the lasting feeling of “Yes, I am a Nordic king and this is my fearsome Nordic army”. The Europeans have their heavier armors, while the Steppe armies are relying on equipment that doesn’t hinder their superior swiftness. The real sight to behold, however, are the special units like the Mongol heavy lancers riding against the Novgorodian Boyars, or Camel riders walking the sands of North Africa, side by side with the Mamluk cavalry. Riding at the front of each army is the Marshal, whose model we’re pushing to be the most iconic of them all. Another crucial piece of visual information we wanted to get just right was accurate names and nobility titles for each cultural group, so the Royal court had a genuine feel to it. For each culture we filled pools with names, sometimes numbering in the thousands, and the majority of which belonged to real medieval people. Naturally, we wanted to emphasize this even further and what better way to do that than to include starting real-life dynasties. We went over mountains of data in order to put the rightful king, queen and their offspring on their respective thrones as best we could for each of the game periods. We even tried to find how Dobrotitsa’s wife was called, and where historical sources failed us (like in the case of Dobrotitsa), we left it to chance and those huge pools of names. We are pretty sure that the Doge of Venice won’t ever be called Tvrtko, as long as the republic keeps its original culture. All this work is really oriented towards one goal - to immerse you in the medieval setting of KoH2 through the unique cultures of that time. We hope you enjoy it, and have a great time playing in this unique era the way you want to, in a backdrop that is immersive and engaging. We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, May 7th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 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. We really want to hear your thoughts, as cultures are a defining element of the KoH2:S’s experience and we want to make them the best they can be. Jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. Would you take your time to strategically influence provinces with your kingdom’s culture before conquering them, or would you crush the resistance with brute force? Would you accept a different culture overtaking your own just to get its unique special units? Would you pick a starting kingdom based on its culture because of the special visuals and cultural perks that come with it, or do these aspects not really factor into your decisions? Your feedback is critically important, as you never know what comments may help us build the best KoH2:S Culture feature set we can!
  4. 1 point
    Welcome to the new home for the Knights of Honor community! We've been hard at working setting up this community hub where we can come together and chat about all things Knights of Honor. This is where we'll be posting regular DevDiaries about the game, giving you insights into the development process and exclusive first looks into the specifics of Knights of Honor II: Sovereign. We also want this to be YOUR community, a place where you can discuss everything from games to history. We know that KoH fans are a passionate group of people and we're eager to join in on the conversation. So settle in and get to know each other. Be good to one another, engage in enlightening conversation, and help us create the best game we possibly can. Gaming communities are special, and we can't wait to see how this one comes together!
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