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William Blake

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William Blake last won the day on April 20

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  1. Give him access to alpha build. The least you can do to appreciate the effort.
  2. Original game had a well known Mercenary units mechanics which I would like to expand and enhance in the new game. Main issues of original design were: Mercenary camps are few and at a random times, making this mechanics unreliable To balance out advantages of ready to go high level units, mercenary units were priced very high, making them too expensive at a start of a game when a player has little to no free money and pointless at the end of a game when a player has extensive military infrastructure to build better units for cheaper. Mercenary unit had no real difference from normal units such that once acquired they become just a plain regular unit in usage and function. I think there is a lot of opportunity to make mercenary gameplay deeper and more comprehensive. Design Goals: Mercenaries should be more integral to gameplay process at all stages from early to mid to end game Mercenary units should be somewhat different in usage from normal player units and create different dynamic and usage patterns Make sure that mercenaries do not replace regular player built units and do not negate a need for proper military infrastructure to be built. While still being relevant even if player has a developed economy and military power. Proposed changes: I’ll describe the list of changes all at once followed by explanation on how they all should work together: Increase amount of mercenary camps on a map making them common and mostly available at any time. Decrease initial price per unit greatly making mercenary units cheaper at start with more expensive upkeep over time compared to regular units. Fix veterancy level on mercenary unit such that they don’t improve over time, but initial veterancy should be higher than regularly built player units. Making them stronger than player built units at the start but weaker compared to max out common units. Add a spy action to bribe mercenaries in an army: limited success - all mercenary units get moral penalty, full success – mercenaries leaving the army. This should affect both player and npc armies. For all units add following properties: Unit.IsMercenary, Unit.NationalityID, Unit.ReligionID. Use these properties to implement following logic At a battle start, for each unit in a player’s army: IF Unit.IsMercenary && PlayerArmy.Units.Count < EnemyArmy.Units.Count { add penalty to unit morale } IF Unit. IsMercenary && Unit.NationalityID == EnemyArmy. NationalityID { add penalty to unit morale } IF Unit.IsMercenary && Unit.ReligionID == EnemyArmy. ReligionID { add penalty to unit morale } IF Unit.IsMercenary && Unit.ReligionID != EnemyArmy. ReligionID { add bonus to unit morale } IF Unit.IsMercenary && EnemyArmy.IsLocalRebels{ add bonus to unit morale } At the end of a battle, for each unit in player army: IF Unit.IsMercenary && Battle.IsPlayerDefeat { roll high chance of unit disappearing } Explanation of new mechanics: Mercenary units become common, cheap to acquire, but limited in many ways. Mercenary penalty facing bigger armies will make them into support units rather than main force, it would be more effective to have to add few mercenaries to a big army than to expect mercenary only smaller army to fight effectively. Morale penalty on nationality and religion will limit potential opponents (you cannot effectively go to war against Switzerland with swiss mercenaries, you can’t get arab mercenary to go on crusade and so on). Mixing a lot of different mercenaries in a single army will be very limiting in terms of effective targets you can choose. Morale bonus against local rebels will make Mercenary ideal for local policing and not good for a nation to nation conflict and easy target to spy actions. Chance of mercenary deflecting and leaving your army on any defeat will make an interesting mechanic which can dramatically backfire if you miscalculated. And make regular units much more reliable, cheaper over long period of time and more powerful if maxed out on experience. Mercenary should become auxiliary and situational force, which you’d better to hire as a boost and dispose of once you have build a replacement. This will make them ideal to deal with rebellions if you hire and disband them on demand. These mechanics can be easily explained to a player from a common sense as mercenaries do not want to fight hard battles, are expected to leave your army once you are losing, don’t want to fight against their own nation and religion, but ready to oppress local rebels. Making Mercenaries into separate use case from regular military should add depth and more choices to the game. Hope you can expand on that. Cheers
  3. Veso, you are settings up your system exactly against what you want to archive. If as you say units do not lose exp while in a marshal's army but lose exp outside an army, it means nothing is really addressed: You force a player to keep same units under the same marshal, cause they don't lose exp that way. While in fact from game design perspective you want to make player spread forces and have tactical freedom to leave units in different places or assemble various armies to deal with different enemies. It is more risk and more engaging gameplay. You still have a system where you can max out units and they will be maxed out till the end of the game staying with a marshal all the time. Meaning your army becomes very stale and you almost have to use same units in a same army all the time in fear of not saving exp. At the same time your elite units will most of the time face no real opposition You force people to create one big army with the best marshal so his skill bonus on training or exp would be the most effective to the most unit possible. Playing with few big armies is bad for gameplay. You force people to have unit exp skills on all marshals just to keep up, making these passive unit training skills mundane applied to everyone. Actual unit performance in a battle or involvement in a war has no effect on unit exp at all. In my system there is constant effect on unit exp depending on how you play in a battle with a given unit or you don't use your units in most effective way. If reinforcement and unit's combat loses have no negative effect on exp, it is more likely that you would use your elite units all the time since they are stronger and if they don't die you just reinforce them all the time for no cost to maxing out exp. Which would lead to stale fights using the same few top units you have and loosing minimal men and reinforcing back with no real cost to exp And if you are unhappy with your system, you probably want to define the outcome of a new mechanics you are looking first and then come up with possible solutions to be checked against these requirements, rather than thinking of a mechanics first and be not satisfied for some unknown reason. The way I see it, it would be: Unit exp should be mostly due to proper usage in a battle for each specific unit rather that a skill of a marshal which just applies all the time Unit exp should vary so most of the time you won't have all green or all elite units, especially over long period of time on a global map. Endgame or not, you should not have dozens of elite units stacking all the armies everywhere Unit exp should not obstruct tactical choices. Meaning choice of units should vary depending on current enemy at hand its its army composition instead of metagame of maxing out few top units and dealing with everything that way over and over again Unit exp and marshal unit interaction should encourage smaller armies and more risk, rather than ganking with the biggest army possible. This is more than just unit exp system, but unit exp system should not encourage you to have more units in an army then you really need. So leaving units without a marshal or transfer units around between marshals should be have no penalty on exp.
  4. In regards from the question about unit experience from the DevDiary 5. I gave it a thought and I think I have a solution you might like. Issues with unit experience: If you don't have unit experience it becomes quite plain, units become totally disposable. This takes away from the feel of persistent grand strategy. Especially with the extensive skill mechanics for marshals it would just be a gaping hole not to have unit levels. However, if you do have unit experience things get problematic on a long run. Maxing out unit experience requires you to save units through the game, but at some point you army becomes so elite that you have unrealistic advantage over any enemy. Moreover, if you manage to lose your all elite army it becomes such a terrible loss that you just cheat with loading a saved game. Which is lame but unavoidable. Saving and leveling units to max veterancy becomes really bad metagame and prevents a lot of flexibility like disband to reduce upkeep, choosing right unit types for an occasion in favor of your maxed out veteran pack and so on. A unit exp system needs to be more fluid especially over long time to reduce effects of stacked maxed out never dying armies, yet giving a player something to be engaged with during whole playtime of a game so experience gain on a unit would matter even at the endgame. Proposed solution: Assume every unit has its own experience points. Say from 0 to 20 exp. Upon reaching 5 exp a unit becomes regular, by reaching 15 exp a unit becomes veteran. Now lets add dynamic increase AND DECREASE of unit experience over time. For instance: Unit goes into battle it gains N1 exp Unit kills an enemy it gains N1 exp Yet every set period of time unit LOSES L1 exp Every reinforce of a unit with fresh people unit LOSES L2 exp Which give us an interesting flow: a unit not engaged in battle will have its experience gradually reduced over (idle) time at some point an idle unit will lose a level. A unit reinforced by fresh people will lose exp and at some point will lose a level. So units can reach veteran level and then lose levels over and over again depending on how they are used or not used. It makes veteran units vanishing in a peace time and rewarded back with experience at a war time. You won't be able to keep your kingdom stocked with veteran units forever and if you are at a war and suffer a lot of losses you will have to reinforce unit and lose exp by adding fresh recruits, if you are not at war your units are just losing exp over time. Once unit veterancy becomes fluid like that, a player will have way less issues with loosing veteran units since they have to be used or they just go back to low level by doing nothing. It would be hard to maintain a maxed out army without engaging in battles which means that you would have to reinforce your loses which again would balance unit veterancy up and down. In a battle a player would need to use veteran units and risk them to get exp up again to compensate, but you have an issue of losing too much men in the process and require a reinforce which would cost more exp than your battle performance would give you. To make this into a more advanced feature you can add skills to marshal like "reduce loss of exp while idle", "reduce loss of exp per unit reinforce" and so on. You can allow buildings or kingdom advantages to make units with some starting exp knowing that you can't really max out units and keep them at max forever. Maybe an exp loss should be not linear or maybe you want to limit level loss from reaching absolute bottom so you can only get as low as regular, its up to your implementation. Maybe to make it shine you need 5 levels instead of 3 with level 3 being more or less easy to maintain but 4 and 5 being harder and harder to gain and maintain. Its up to you to play with exact numbers depending on how you want to fit in your overall game feel. But the main mechanic should be - units have individual exp, current unit exp defines current unit level, you gain exp and you lose exp on each unit so you can't have top level units forever unless you really really try to keep them at max level by active actions every battle. Hope it gives you a new possible route to explore, Cheers
  5. From realism or role playing point of view I would agree, spies with armies are pretty bad idea. General or any military is exactly the opposite what a spy should be because a lot of people know the general and his loyalty. I feel the problem they are trying to solve is to make support classes to be more useful and manage small local military issues like rebellions while keeping royal court size relatively small. Very hard to say how it will work out with primary/secondary skills they have.
  6. It is usual for a development team to have assumptions about player behavior and expectations on how particular mechanics would be understood and used. As we know from experience these assumptions maybe very far away from reality. Even most obvious things are perceived differently and sometimes this could lead to fundamental issues with a gameplay. In this light, it would be very helpful to measure actual player behavior, both during demo and after a release in order to correct any mistakes made during development. It is also quite important to gather objective gameplay statistics rather than few anecdotes from the most outspoken members of community. Proposed solution Introduce data collection for raw gameplay data and sync to back to your servers in order to have an objective data to be analyzed after the fact. Off the top of my head I would do the following: With each game save and at an end of a game I would update game statistic record and try to send to your server if available at a next gaming session. If not, save the data and try to sync it back to your server on other game sessions once the connection becomes available. For the basic game data package I would have at least the following: GameID guid - a game id continuous for all saves in a current game Starting date, options, kingdom, map or scenario selected Number of manual saves for the current game Game time since the game start at the moment of data collected Current kingdom resources (gold, books, piety) Number of player Kings so far Number of Marshals, Clerics and so per class hired to royal court Number of Marshals (and so on by class) killed, captured, dismissed, died of old age, turned to be spies, executed Number of provinces captured by player Number of provinces lost by player Number of provinces re-captured by player after being lost Number of battles started by player Number of battles started by AI Number of battles won, lost By the type of a city building, total counts of built for a given type By the type of an army unit, total counts of units created/lost for a given type By the type of marshal skill, total count of a skill being trained By the type of marshal/cleric/etc special abilities, total count of a given ability being used. Even with this very little info you can do quite a lot of data mining, especially grouping snapshots of the same game using GameID. Pushing these data snapshots to a cloud server is petty trivial task and I think it would provide very valuable tool for the better of the game. Oh yeah, and the first thing you want to add is an opt-in checkbox “I would like to send anonymous gameplay statistics back to Black Sea Games” somewhere in game settings. Just saying. Thanks.
  7. With the experience we can gather from the original KoH, I think the following should be addressed: 1. Army stacking aka “steamrolling” A mid/end game situation when a player has 2 full armies to high level units going together totally overpowering any opposition. Since no opponent can possibly have more than 2 full armies in a battle it becomes easier and easier to win filling your army with top level units and loosing nothing in a process. This has negative impact on a gameplay both in case when player has max army and in case AI has significantly superior army winning over and over again. Proposed solution Introduce some mechanic making large armies not optimal and harder to maintain, such that a player would be more inclined to reduce army size and a significantly stronger opponent in its turn would have a penalty bringing overwhelming numbers into a battle. Required change: If a max army size is N units, make armies with 20% of N or less use half food per tick per unit, from 20% to 60% of N use 1 food per tick. From 60% and up use 2 food per tick per unit. Such that a smaller army would be way more efficient on food. This will penalize long running invading large armies, but would allow a quick defensive action with a bigger army without a significant penalty over short time. This would force to use smaller armies while attacking a smaller, economically weak opponent since you cannot get a lot of food for a large army deep in an economically weak land (no local food). A large empire won’t be able to overcome this with gold since food is localized resource Probably make marshal skills to reduce food usage or penalty of large armies which you would have to take instead of direct power skills like dread or direct combat buffs. 2. Static army composition A mid/late game situation when a player picked up strong units which allows win fights without significant unit loss. Since the healing of damaged units could be performed at any province such an army would heal over and over again going from province to a province while the army units won’t die and would not need to be replaced only healed. This has a negative impact on gameplay since every batter would be same player army over and over again and original strong unique units will be always available as long as the healing it done over and over again. Proposed solution: Introduce mechanics forcing rotation of units per time or require local economic state to impact unit healing. Required change: For a regular unit, do not allow to heal a unit if there are no required industrial building (forge, stable so on) or at least make a significant cost penalty (like triple cost) on healing a unit in a province without proper building. For unique units, remove healing on if these unique units are not available in the current province. (Vanguards can’t heal in Spain for instance) For unique units allow a new command – “return to home” which will take the damaged unit automatically back to the province it was built in, walking across the map with a regular speed. Once in the original province they will setup a camp and player can pick them up back to a marshal army. This would allow to make damaged unique units to save experience since they can’t heal anywhere on the map. 3. Endless chase A common situation on a global map when an army is chasing another army but since they move and the same speed it takes half Europe to catch up. This makes a boring gameplay when a player can’t catch an enemy in time and AI can’t possibly catch a player. Proposed solution: Army speed on a global map should be variable in burst, allowing quick maneuvering at a cost of long time movement speed. Required change: Create a command “quick march” which makes an army on a global map to move at a double speed for a fixed time, after that an army will have a half speed debuf for a double of that time. Make a marshal skill increasing the quick much time and another skill to reduce length of speed debuf. Probably, during quick march and/or debuf time food consumption of an army should double. Alternatively make quick march to be a toggle which consumes morale of army unit, so a high morale army can afford a long quick march but a low morale army cannot. Once moral of an army falls to low levels during quick march force an army to make camp for a fixed time to recover. 4. Crushing defeat A mid to end game situation when a player had a large army of high experience top level units which happens to suffer a stunning defeat such that high number of high experienced units was lost. Usually this is practically “reload saved game” situation since there is no reasonable way to replace these high experience units and the war will be lost since any fresh no experience army will be way less effective. This leads to out of the game solution through replaying from saved game such that the units won’t be lost of the battle would be avoided. This is pretty bad from immersion perspective and impacts player experience in a negative way. This also in part happens with a player who avoids conflict for a long time such that at a certain point all opponents have experienced armies against fresh inexperienced troops. This negative reinforcement is not desired as it takes more effort for a player to avoid conflicts but produces a disadvantage. Proposed solution: Introduce a mechanic to level up unit experience without a direct combat at least to a certain medium level. Required change: Allow marshal to train units during peace time, probably by setting up a training camp outside a city for that purpose. Training should consume time, food and probably gold draining morale of the units. This will not allow to training in a war time next to a real threat nearby as it would leave the army with a low morale. Allow to setup training camps only in the provinces you own. Probably have marshal skills to increase max trained level of units, reduce costs and/or time of training camps. Sorry for the long post, hope it makes sense.
  8. Why I can't have marshal-monk like most historic knight orders were in Europe or in fact any Muslim hero like to be a warrior cleric instead of just a warlord? Why cleric can't negotiate as a diplomat? Most appropriate in fact from a real life perspective. If I don't have a slot for a diplomat I don't have any diplomacy? If there is nothing to negotiate about as slot is wasted on an idle diplomat? Why merchant can't spy? He is going to that foreign land anyway and its a perfect cover up too. If there is no trade worth a merchant price plus cost of a slot does that mean that I drop merchants all together from my gameplay? Your choice would come from selection of the skills for a knight every time you level up. You can take a very focused path through skills or be more generic. Mix and match things differently every time. We already had this with builders and farmers - some classes just less useful no matter what you do. If they are less useful no one takes them and all their functionality vanishes from the game. Five slots for four "support" classes is way to little to have any variety mid to end game.
  9. This is not an issue of many marshals. Or many armies for that matter. It is an issue of too many classes apart from marshals. There is no point in creating Merchants and Diplomats and Spies as separate classes. They would be either way less useful than others and you will never take them or they would be too few to actually use them in any interesting way. If you have just one merchant there is nothing to think about - select max profit trade and that's it. If you have just one cleric there is nothing to think about - there is just one job for him. If you have just one spy - there is very little for you to put him into. And if you have more than 2 merchants or 2 spies or 2 diplomats then you don't have others at all. What good a diplomat mechanics are if you can't fit them into you RC cause you like your 4 merchants better. And no matter what you do, there will be LESS useful out of 5 classes, just like builders and farmers were in the original game. If you want to limit number of armies, leave only marshals to lead armies, join Merchants, Diplomats and Spies into a single class and have Clerics as a 3rd class. But 8 slots with 5 different classes is very limiting idea. 5 skill trees is a very hard to make into an equal value for a player, so the least valuable and popular will be just waste of effort and game mechanics.
  10. Based on the blog and your twitch stream discussion, it is quite clear to me that the design for the Royal Court (RC for short) took a wrong turn, much like the original game. Here is why: Given Mechanics: 1) RC is 8 slots plus a king 2) 5 classes: Marshal, Merchants, Diplomats, Spies, Clerics 3) “Usual” mechanics from the first game – capture by enemy, enemy spy in your RC, Pope/Patriarch, dying of old age and so on. Implications: 1) You will have to have at least 2 marshals in RC (very hard to have just marshal and the king for any sizable kingdom) 2) 8 minus 2 or 3 marshals = 6 or 5 slots left for Merchants, Diplomats, Spies, Clerics 3) If you take at least one of each it means that you can’t have more than 2 of these together at the same RC. So you choices to apply effects of merchants, diplomats, spies and clerics are in fact “where to put my ONE or TWO”, which is piratically like no choices at all mid to end game (there will be obvious one best trade choice, one best enemy to spy against or one most appropriate province to convert religion). There is in fact NO CHOICE because there are so few at hand and so obviously different outcomes of their actions while the world around you so huge. 4) With enemy capturing your marshals and infiltrating you RC with spies you will have even few active slots in RC so you won’t even have all the classes at hand at all. 5) This means at once a situation arises requiring a specific action of a specific class you most likely won’t have that class available in RC unless they are sitting idle waiting for an opportunity. If situation requires multiple RC members of the same class to deal with it you most likely won’t be able to even have slots available in RC to fit them all. Result: this mechanics of RC is very limiting mid to end game, very limiting at application non marshals classes and will create dull repetitive gameplay when you assign you one merchant, one cleric one spy and a diplomat and there is nothing else for you to do with them. Suggested changes: If you want to keep RC as 8 slots on same level with most of the mechanics of each class unchanged, I suggest the following: 1) Remove classes. Every member of the RC gains access to BASIC action of EACH class by default. There is no reason a noble man can’t lead a prayer, can’t be send to a foreign land to negotiate, can’t lead an army action or spy at the same time. These are the best most noble and capable men of the country. 2) Everything should come from a skill tree such that you can level your RC members either into dedicated or in a broad specialization. 3) Any advanced actions like “become a Pope” and so on should just require a skill at a certain level. Why should it matter if you started as a marshal, then went to negotiate to another kingdom and then became a great man of faith. Implications of these changes: 1) At any given point any interesting opportunity can be address with whoever you have available at the RC 2) Least used or boring classes (and there will be 2 out of 5 which are least useful no matter what) will not just disappear, but still be available for a player even if are not attractive enough to take a dedicated slot in RC 3) Any dramatic event – capture, revealed as a spy, death of old age which you can’t really control will not suddenly remove actions of this specific class from a player. Loosing your only cleric during conversion is basically instant “reload saved game” because you don’t have anyone possibly to replace him. Loosing 1 of 8 potentially available members of RC to fix an issue right away is way more interesting proposition. 4) Amount of skills needed to make ONE unified skill tree for RC members is way less than trying to create separate skill trees for 5 different classes. Trying to stretch skills for a merchant to even potentially match skills of a marshal is a pointless waste of effort. Yet even if you do invent a lot of skills for spies and merchants and clerics they mostly will not be used just because a player will have just a single of any characters of this class at hand. 5) No classes, single skill tree has very good replaying value. You don’t just level your marshals in a certain way and your clerics in a certain way every time you replay the game, because you don’t really know if this will be a dedicated marshal or a dedicated cleric or a merchant even if you need one now. With fixed classes if you take any of the least used classes (not marshals basically) you already set your mind on what they will do, so no real choices in the character progression over and over again. There are a lot of other possibilities to advance and tweak this approach, but I’d rather keep it short, or well... shorter for now. Cheers.
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