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  1. Hello friends, and welcome to 15th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! For this one we have chosen to take quite a different approach and tell you about changes in gameplay features we’ve already presented. The idea behind this is to keep you up to date in regards to the features, but more importantly, to let you in on how we iterate over the game, what kinds of reasons make us add, scrap or rework stuff, and overall give you a better look at the development process. Let’s start with one of the major features that we covered many months ago – the Armies (DevDiary5). When we presented it, the default number of squads a non-marshal knight could lead was 6, marshals could lead 9 and there were additional bonuses on top of that as well – for kings, crusaders, pagans (depending on traditions they follow), etc. The absolute maximum was 18 or 21 in different versions of the game, and we should have in mind that often two knights per each side participate in a battle. However, we decided to reduce the number of squads to 5 non-marshal / 8 marshal and these numbers being the maximal ones. Why? Well, first of all, by playtesting we found out that players usually use 1-2 unit types per army and having too many squads didn’t lead to actual gameplay variety. Also, we found that 12 or more squad was trickier to handle – the UI was busy and it required a lot of micromanagement to check your troops – e.g., how many exactly are healthy, wounded, dead; to merge or abandon some squads, to refill them, to check out their experience and levels. As we want our tactical battles to also be a bit more dynamic, compared to other grand-strategy games, controlling 20 squads in a battle (or even more if you have garrison or other additional troops) felt too burdening. Having less squads makes the choice and handling for each one more significant. Of course, we didn’t want to lose gameplay features, so instead of the “additional squads” bonus, there are now bonuses on “units per squad” and on army morale. The gameplay choices are just as interesting, but everything is neater and tidier and easier for the players to grasp and control. As of now, one squad can vary quite a lot – depending heavily on the province the army leader governs (how many “levies” it has), his skills, kingdom’s traditions and other factors, you can double or even triple your squad size. Moving on to DevDiary7: Rebellions. We iterated a lot over the rebel features over the course of development and when we presented them, we felt that they were quite good. Since then, we’ve made several changes, though. One of the bigger changes was determining Rebellion zone, and allowing rebel armies to cross borders and affecting nearby kingdoms. It felt quite reasonable as an effect, and depending on other gameplay features, sometimes it felt fun too. However, players started complaining about rebels more over time, though, and for mostly two reasons. First, it doesn’t feel fair. You make great efforts to keep your citizens calm, you maintain high Opinions, crown authority, take care of religious and cultural assimilation and in the end – rebels are still coming, because your neighbors are chaotic. Is it realistic? Kind of, it is not unimaginable that some rebels and bandits will date cross in the other kingdom and pillage whatever they can there. “Life isn’t fair”, you might say, but in the end, this is a game and user experience and fun is what leads us (one of our pillars we talked about in DD1, if you can remember). The second reason is that this feature didn’t scale too well. Rebel spawn in neighboring kingdoms, which you cannot control, is still manageable for small or medium sized kingdoms and it creates interesting situations, but do you know what happens if you control 150 provinces and have 50 neighbors? We assure you that the rebel swarm could get very, very ugly. We didn’t totally scrap this behavior, though. We made it more rare, exclusive to “famous rebels” and we might include it to some extent as an element for higher difficulty settings for players, that want more challenging experience. So, saving the big one for last… let’s go back to something we talked about in DevDiary4, Invasions. Here we basically scrapped the “occupation” state, which had a connection to diplomacy, pacing of the game and the way wars are led in general. At first everything about it looked very in-depth and interesting, but (as with number of squads) the numerous stages of overtaking a province seemed confusing for some players and (as in rebels crossing borders) it didn’t scale too well, getting a bit tiresome after you do it 50 times in a single game. The process had three stages – taking political control (in the end of a war or before it), dealing with the disorder state of the locals and then the long process of cultural conversion. Of course, we didn’t want just to dumb it down, so we tried to simplify it, without losing essence. Without having the “occupied” state, we moved some effects to the “disorder” state. Forceful establishing of order by an army now has a political effect and it can be harder to achieve the peaceful establishment of order while the war continues, unless the local population was loyal to you in the first place. In a way, the disorder state behaves as “occupation” while wars last and like the previous disorder state after they are over. The kingdoms that owned these provinces can also demand you to return their lands as a part of a peace treaty or even at some point later in time, and thus we represented that they still have a claim of ownership and the diplomatic part is well preserved. Of course, changes like these three are just the tip of the iceberg – surely, we change smaller stuff every day and make much more drastic changes for features we haven’t yet presented. Naturally, we are trying to make blogs and streams for the “finalized” ones and yes, this is one dirty word in the industry. Our policy is to rework something as much as it needs to be reworked, allowing the time for features to mature and grow to create the best experience we can craft. At Black Sea Games we believe that this is the right path for making really great games. However, we are getting close with KoH2:S and are very satisfied with how most of the things work as they are now. We will talk more about the evolution of the gameplay systems and the dynamics of developing and iterating over them in our DevStream on Thursday, February 11th, @ 4:00 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. Next time we will talk about one of the main goals of the game – Prestige – how do you gain and lose it and the effects it has in the course of the game and in its end. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer! View full article
  2. Hello friends, and welcome to 15th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! For this one we have chosen to take quite a different approach and tell you about changes in gameplay features we’ve already presented. The idea behind this is to keep you up to date in regards to the features, but more importantly, to let you in on how we iterate over the game, what kinds of reasons make us add, scrap or rework stuff, and overall give you a better look at the development process. Let’s start with one of the major features that we covered many months ago – the Armies (DevDiary5). When we presented it, the default number of squads a non-marshal knight could lead was 6, marshals could lead 9 and there were additional bonuses on top of that as well – for kings, crusaders, pagans (depending on traditions they follow), etc. The absolute maximum was 18 or 21 in different versions of the game, and we should have in mind that often two knights per each side participate in a battle. However, we decided to reduce the number of squads to 5 non-marshal / 8 marshal and these numbers being the maximal ones. Why? Well, first of all, by playtesting we found out that players usually use 1-2 unit types per army and having too many squads didn’t lead to actual gameplay variety. Also, we found that 12 or more squad was trickier to handle – the UI was busy and it required a lot of micromanagement to check your troops – e.g., how many exactly are healthy, wounded, dead; to merge or abandon some squads, to refill them, to check out their experience and levels. As we want our tactical battles to also be a bit more dynamic, compared to other grand-strategy games, controlling 20 squads in a battle (or even more if you have garrison or other additional troops) felt too burdening. Having less squads makes the choice and handling for each one more significant. Of course, we didn’t want to lose gameplay features, so instead of the “additional squads” bonus, there are now bonuses on “units per squad” and on army morale. The gameplay choices are just as interesting, but everything is neater and tidier and easier for the players to grasp and control. As of now, one squad can vary quite a lot – depending heavily on the province the army leader governs (how many “levies” it has), his skills, kingdom’s traditions and other factors, you can double or even triple your squad size. Moving on to DevDiary7: Rebellions. We iterated a lot over the rebel features over the course of development and when we presented them, we felt that they were quite good. Since then, we’ve made several changes, though. One of the bigger changes was determining Rebellion zone, and allowing rebel armies to cross borders and affecting nearby kingdoms. It felt quite reasonable as an effect, and depending on other gameplay features, sometimes it felt fun too. However, players started complaining about rebels more over time, though, and for mostly two reasons. First, it doesn’t feel fair. You make great efforts to keep your citizens calm, you maintain high Opinions, crown authority, take care of religious and cultural assimilation and in the end – rebels are still coming, because your neighbors are chaotic. Is it realistic? Kind of, it is not unimaginable that some rebels and bandits will date cross in the other kingdom and pillage whatever they can there. “Life isn’t fair”, you might say, but in the end, this is a game and user experience and fun is what leads us (one of our pillars we talked about in DD1, if you can remember). The second reason is that this feature didn’t scale too well. Rebel spawn in neighboring kingdoms, which you cannot control, is still manageable for small or medium sized kingdoms and it creates interesting situations, but do you know what happens if you control 150 provinces and have 50 neighbors? We assure you that the rebel swarm could get very, very ugly. We didn’t totally scrap this behavior, though. We made it more rare, exclusive to “famous rebels” and we might include it to some extent as an element for higher difficulty settings for players, that want more challenging experience. So, saving the big one for last… let’s go back to something we talked about in DevDiary4, Invasions. Here we basically scrapped the “occupation” state, which had a connection to diplomacy, pacing of the game and the way wars are led in general. At first everything about it looked very in-depth and interesting, but (as with number of squads) the numerous stages of overtaking a province seemed confusing for some players and (as in rebels crossing borders) it didn’t scale too well, getting a bit tiresome after you do it 50 times in a single game. The process had three stages – taking political control (in the end of a war or before it), dealing with the disorder state of the locals and then the long process of cultural conversion. Of course, we didn’t want just to dumb it down, so we tried to simplify it, without losing essence. Without having the “occupied” state, we moved some effects to the “disorder” state. Forceful establishing of order by an army now has a political effect and it can be harder to achieve the peaceful establishment of order while the war continues, unless the local population was loyal to you in the first place. In a way, the disorder state behaves as “occupation” while wars last and like the previous disorder state after they are over. The kingdoms that owned these provinces can also demand you to return their lands as a part of a peace treaty or even at some point later in time, and thus we represented that they still have a claim of ownership and the diplomatic part is well preserved. Of course, changes like these three are just the tip of the iceberg – surely, we change smaller stuff every day and make much more drastic changes for features we haven’t yet presented. Naturally, we are trying to make blogs and streams for the “finalized” ones and yes, this is one dirty word in the industry. Our policy is to rework something as much as it needs to be reworked, allowing the time for features to mature and grow to create the best experience we can craft. At Black Sea Games we believe that this is the right path for making really great games. However, we are getting close with KoH2:S and are very satisfied with how most of the things work as they are now. We will talk more about the evolution of the gameplay systems and the dynamics of developing and iterating over them in our DevStream on Thursday, February 11th, @ 4:00 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. Next time we will talk about one of the main goals of the game – Prestige – how do you gain and lose it and the effects it has in the course of the game and in its end. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!
  3. Hello friends, and welcome to the 14th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In most of the previous diaries, we’ve been focused either on military related stuff, or on relations and interactions between different kingdoms, as those are, naturally, the essence of our game. In this one we will digress from that main course and talk about the “opinions” of different social classes. This feature revolves around how the actions, made by the players (or AIs), affect the different classes in their kingdoms and how the opinions of those classes, in turn, affect the kingdom. In the first game, there was an important kingdom-wide parameter, representing how satisfied the people are with their ruler. It was called “Kingdom power” and we kept it in KoH2:S, renaming it to “Crown authority”. It still plays a major role in the game, but just a few months ago we decided it felt a bit flat and we really wanted to enrich the gameplay and immersion. So to address this, we tried to add more depth in the internal affairs of a kingdom with the “Opinions” feature. Our goal was not to make it too complex or overwhelming for the players to manage, but instead let it run a bit in the background. Opinions have a significant effect, but the control over them is primarily indirect. They reward players for doing what social classes would want from a king, rather than separately taking actions to increase opinions or simply paying gold for that purpose. There are 5 social classes in KoH2:S – Peasantry, Nobility, Clergy, Army and Merchants. Their opinions can vary from -10 to +10 each, and when they are positive, some benefits apply; when they are negative – so do penalties. Additionally, below or above given thresholds, the corresponding social class may take actions to support or oppose their ruler. In contrast to parameters like rebel risk and happiness, opinions are kingdom-wide, so even small changes may lead to very significant effects, especially in larger kingdoms. Explaining how they work will be easiest with some examples for each one. Peasantry opinion is strongly related with rebellion risk and food production rate, but also affect the morale of peasant and militia squads in the army. It is relatively easy to increase, as many buildings, improving the wellbeing of the people and some basic religious buildings play a favorable role. The steps to avoid losing it are rather simple, though not so easy to do sometimes – the player must protect the common people from invasions and rebellions and when possible – not to enter wars voluntarily. After all, that’s what the simple folk fear most. Nobility opinion affects things like crown authority increase costs, influence in neighbors, loyalty of knights, revolt risk… It is probably the hardest to increase, as there are very few things that can make the aristocrats happy, e.g. winning a war or crushing a rebellion. On the other side, there are tons of things that make them upset, like financial instability, military losses or even diplomacy decisions, depending on the influence of the kingdoms that they concern. Army opinion plays an important role for army morale and obedience and is one that is very dangerous to keep low, unless players wants their own armies to march against them. It depends on military successes, constant supply of provisions and not leaving men behind – abandoning wounded troops or a famous marshal to rot in the enemies’ dungeon is not the greatest way to win the sympathy of the soldiers. Merchants’ opinion naturally affects the gold income in several ways, among which corruption levels, trade income, cost for buying supplies and others. As one could guess, they are happy when more opportunities for trade are created and maintained, e.g. constructing the needed buildings and making proper trade agreements with the other kingdoms. On the other side, things like going bankrupt, bad diplomacy with trade partners and wars are really bad for business and thus they are not accepted well. Clergy opinion we saved for last, as it is most complex to explain, since it depends on the kingdom’s religion. There are some common effects, like book production and religious influence in/by neighboring kingdoms, but also many other effects, depending on what the kingdom religion is. For an example, Catholics’ relations with the Pope depend on the clergy opinion and vice versa, same goes for the Orthodox and the Ecumenical Patriarch; pagan shamans, on the other hand, boost the army’s morale. Events that can rise and lower the clergy’s opinion differ even more. Catholics are very concerned with good relations with the rest of the Catholic world and his holiness, the Pope. They really appreciate things like leading a crusade or defending Rome. Muslim scholars care about the relations with the caliphs and jihad involvement. For example, they can get really mad if their king decides to sign peace with the enemies of a caliphate in a holy war. Pagan shamans care a lot about military successes, as it was commonly considered that losing an important battle means the king has upset the gods and they have withdrawn their divine favor over him. In general, Opinions improve slowly and passively, where a player may not be able to do much to increase them directly with actions. After all, it will rarely be a good strategy to declare war just to make the shamans happy with some battles, and even if you do, this can backfire and decrease the opinions of other classes. In these cases, diplomats can be helpful, as their “Improve opinions” action can speed up the process – the more experienced a diplomat is, the more effective this action is, and if they have royal blood, the classes appreciate the attention even more. Even then, the results are far from immediate, and the best strategy may be to avoid unnecessary deterioration of opinions altogether. We are still experimenting with this feature, adding and balancing causes of opinion changes and effects the different classes have. Feel free to share what effects and reasons for increase or decrease of opinions you think imight be interesting and immersive to be included in KoH2:S, or which do you think will be tiresome to deal with. We’d also love to hear what you think about this feature in general – do you enjoy a bit of focus on the internal policy of a kingdom in grand strategy games, or do you see it as unnecessary sidetrack? And do you like the selection of classes we’ve picked, or would you prefer them to be more, less or simply different? We will talk more about the Diplomat and the pacts in our DevStream on Thursday, January 7th, @ 4:00 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. Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors!
  4. Hello friends, and welcome to the 14th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In most of the previous diaries, we’ve been focused either on military related stuff, or on relations and interactions between different kingdoms, as those are, naturally, the essence of our game. In this one we will digress from that main course and talk about the “opinions” of different social classes. This feature revolves around how the actions, made by the players (or AIs), affect the different classes in their kingdoms and how the opinions of those classes, in turn, affect the kingdom. In the first game, there was an important kingdom-wide parameter, representing how satisfied the people are with their ruler. It was called “Kingdom power” and we kept it in KoH2:S, renaming it to “Crown authority”. It still plays a major role in the game, but just a few months ago we decided it felt a bit flat and we really wanted to enrich the gameplay and immersion. So to address this, we tried to add more depth in the internal affairs of a kingdom with the “Opinions” feature. Our goal was not to make it too complex or overwhelming for the players to manage, but instead let it run a bit in the background. Opinions have a significant effect, but the control over them is primarily indirect. They reward players for doing what social classes would want from a king, rather than separately taking actions to increase opinions or simply paying gold for that purpose. There are 5 social classes in KoH2:S – Peasantry, Nobility, Clergy, Army and Merchants. Their opinions can vary from -10 to +10 each, and when they are positive, some benefits apply; when they are negative – so do penalties. Additionally, below or above given thresholds, the corresponding social class may take actions to support or oppose their ruler. In contrast to parameters like rebel risk and happiness, opinions are kingdom-wide, so even small changes may lead to very significant effects, especially in larger kingdoms. Explaining how they work will be easiest with some examples for each one. Peasantry opinion is strongly related with rebellion risk and food production rate, but also affect the morale of peasant and militia squads in the army. It is relatively easy to increase, as many buildings, improving the wellbeing of the people and some basic religious buildings play a favorable role. The steps to avoid losing it are rather simple, though not so easy to do sometimes – the player must protect the common people from invasions and rebellions and when possible – not to enter wars voluntarily. After all, that’s what the simple folk fear most. Nobility opinion affects things like crown authority increase costs, influence in neighbors, loyalty of knights, revolt risk… It is probably the hardest to increase, as there are very few things that can make the aristocrats happy, e.g. winning a war or crushing a rebellion. On the other side, there are tons of things that make them upset, like financial instability, military losses or even diplomacy decisions, depending on the influence of the kingdoms that they concern. Army opinion plays an important role for army morale and obedience and is one that is very dangerous to keep low, unless players wants their own armies to march against them. It depends on military successes, constant supply of provisions and not leaving men behind – abandoning wounded troops or a famous marshal to rot in the enemies’ dungeon is not the greatest way to win the sympathy of the soldiers. Merchants’ opinion naturally affects the gold income in several ways, among which corruption levels, trade income, cost for buying supplies and others. As one could guess, they are happy when more opportunities for trade are created and maintained, e.g. constructing the needed buildings and making proper trade agreements with the other kingdoms. On the other side, things like going bankrupt, bad diplomacy with trade partners and wars are really bad for business and thus they are not accepted well. Clergy opinion we saved for last, as it is most complex to explain, since it depends on the kingdom’s religion. There are some common effects, like book production and religious influence in/by neighboring kingdoms, but also many other effects, depending on what the kingdom religion is. For an example, Catholics’ relations with the Pope depend on the clergy opinion and vice versa, same goes for the Orthodox and the Ecumenical Patriarch; pagan shamans, on the other hand, boost the army’s morale. Events that can rise and lower the clergy’s opinion differ even more. Catholics are very concerned with good relations with the rest of the Catholic world and his holiness, the Pope. They really appreciate things like leading a crusade or defending Rome. Muslim scholars care about the relations with the caliphs and jihad involvement. For example, they can get really mad if their king decides to sign peace with the enemies of a caliphate in a holy war. Pagan shamans care a lot about military successes, as it was commonly considered that losing an important battle means the king has upset the gods and they have withdrawn their divine favor over him. In general, Opinions improve slowly and passively, where a player may not be able to do much to increase them directly with actions. After all, it will rarely be a good strategy to declare war just to make the shamans happy with some battles, and even if you do, this can backfire and decrease the opinions of other classes. In these cases, diplomats can be helpful, as their “Improve opinions” action can speed up the process – the more experienced a diplomat is, the more effective this action is, and if they have royal blood, the classes appreciate the attention even more. Even then, the results are far from immediate, and the best strategy may be to avoid unnecessary deterioration of opinions altogether. We are still experimenting with this feature, adding and balancing causes of opinion changes and effects the different classes have. Feel free to share what effects and reasons for increase or decrease of opinions you think imight be interesting and immersive to be included in KoH2:S, or which do you think will be tiresome to deal with. We’d also love to hear what you think about this feature in general – do you enjoy a bit of focus on the internal policy of a kingdom in grand strategy games, or do you see it as unnecessary sidetrack? And do you like the selection of classes we’ve picked, or would you prefer them to be more, less or simply different? We will talk more about Opinions in our DevStream on Thursday, January 7th, @ 4:00 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. Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors! View full article
  5. Hello friends, and welcome to 13th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In the previous diary we talked about diplomacy, mainly in the context of wars and alliances. Wars are indeed often desired and the main path to victory in the game, but in some cases, they’re better to be delayed or avoided altogether, and looking for allies once the wars have started might be a measure undertaken too late. So, in this DevDiary we shall continue on the that topic, but focusing on the agreements and pacts outside of wars, as well as on the role of the Diplomats. Doubtlessly what everyone would expect from the Diplomat class in a KoH game is mainly improving the relations with foreign kingdoms. Initially, this is what we were focused on and, indeed, maybe a tad too focused. Diplomats had to be sent to a kingdom and there they had quite a few possibilities like gaining the king’s favor, fascinating the queen, and whatnot. Though these used different mechanics and resulted in somewhat different bonuses, they felt pretty much the same, considering the final goals. That made them feel more like periodical tedious action to perform, rather than making a strategic choice. We felt that we really needed to improve this class and in the recent months, we reworked it significantly. A big part of this was removing all that tedious micromanagement and instead adding new actions and effects that widen the range of problems Diplomats can solve, hopefully providing different strategies for the players to explore. One of the more significant things we’ve added are Defensive pacts and Invasion plans as something exclusive to the class. Each diplomat can form and maintain only a single pact or plan, so it is a tough choice. Both of those are targeting a selected kingdom and the diplomat can search for potential “friends”, which become “potential allies”, since their obligations depend on whether and how a war with the target starts. The Defensive pacts are visible to all kingdoms and they can be quite discouraging to a potential attacker, since they know that attacking any of the pact members means starting a war with all of them. The opposite is not true – if someone from the Defensive pact voluntarily attacks the target, the pact is broken and the members do not become allies, at least not automatically. So, it is a way to defend yourself from a formidable foe, but it is useless if you actually want to use it for offensive purposes. That’s where Invasion plans come into play – they trigger the other way around. When the leader of the plan starts a war against the target, all participants enter the war as allies. These plans are normally kept a secret, since if the target finds out in time about them, for example by having a good spy network, there are quite a few strategies they can explore. They can form a Defensive pact in response; try to dissuade the plan’s leader from attacking; attack first to surprise the enemies and wage war only against one of the kingdoms; or even try to take out the diplomat that maintains the Invasion plan, in order to immediately interrupt it. In the image we see that Croatia participates in an invasion plan(s), together with Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Vidin, but Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Venice are in defensive pact(s) against it. Also, royal marriage with Bosnia and trade agreement with Tarnovo are shown. Apart from forming and maintaining pacts, diplomats may also travel directly to another kingdom in order to improve relations passively, over time. This can be a particularly important order, in times which demand more cautious strategizing. If matters have escalated to war, diplomats may also be ordered to negotiate peace, which comes in handy when dealing with stubborn kings who refuse to step off their high thrones. Another new addition to the diplomats is their more “civil” involvement in internal affairs. They provide significant bonuses when governing a province and are a good match in that direction, even when compared to Merchants. Indeed, merchants are the ones ensuring the highest income, but diplomats are helpful in improving multiple aspects for the development of a province. While they are not on a mission, diplomats can be very helpful in improving the opinion about the crown of different society groups. These opinions are a new feature for the KoH series, which affects almost all matters of a kingdom, thus the timely intervention of an experienced diplomat can be crucial. We will talk more about Opinions in one of the future diaries, as it is a separate topic, and a large one at that. Another new action, maybe a bit more unexpected, is the searching for a spouse for a member of the royal family. This can be manually done by the players as well, but diplomats can be helpful in speeding up and easing the process. Royal marriages have several important roles. The marriage of a king early on helps having a big royal family and each member is useful – princes are powerful knights in court and a king, dying without a successor, can truly throw a kingdom into chaos. Both princes and kings, married to a foreign princess, can also have territorial claims, if the father of the princess, the foreign king, dies. Marrying your princesses has significant diplomatic advantages on its own. While the marriage lasts, the foreign kingdom is more benevolent towards you (compared to having a prince or king, married to their princess) and you also gain part of their prestige. Of course, regardless the gender or position of the married royalty, a marriage always considerably warms up the relations between the two kingdoms. We’ll be glad to hear your thoughts on Diplomacy – do you enjoy spending time and effort on it, ensuring the best diplomatic affairs in grand strategy games, or is it just a final resort you reach for when the army fails you? Would you like to explore more elaborate strategies with the Diplomat class, or rather stick to the basics and focus on increasing your foreign relations? We will talk more about the Diplomat and the pacts in our DevStream on Thursday, December 3d, @ 4:00 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. Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors! *Note: the original DevStream time had an error for GMT due to a daylight savings time confusion. Will be going live at 4:00 PM GMT / 11 AM EST
  6. Hello friends, and welcome to 13th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In the previous diary we talked about diplomacy, mainly in the context of wars and alliances. Wars are indeed often desired and the main path to victory in the game, but in some cases, they’re better to be delayed or avoided altogether, and looking for allies once the wars have started might be a measure undertaken too late. So, in this DevDiary we shall continue on the that topic, but focusing on the agreements and pacts outside of wars, as well as on the role of the Diplomats. Doubtlessly what everyone would expect from the Diplomat class in a KoH game is mainly improving the relations with foreign kingdoms. Initially, this is what we were focused on and, indeed, maybe a tad too focused. Diplomats had to be sent to a kingdom and there they had quite a few possibilities like gaining the king’s favor, fascinating the queen, and whatnot. Though these used different mechanics and resulted in somewhat different bonuses, they felt pretty much the same, considering the final goals. That made them feel more like periodical tedious action to perform, rather than making a strategic choice. We felt that we really needed to improve this class and in the recent months, we reworked it significantly. A big part of this was removing all that tedious micromanagement and instead adding new actions and effects that widen the range of problems Diplomats can solve, hopefully providing different strategies for the players to explore. One of the more significant things we’ve added are Defensive pacts and Invasion plans as something exclusive to the class. Each diplomat can form and maintain only a single pact or plan, so it is a tough choice. Both of those are targeting a selected kingdom and the diplomat can search for potential “friends”, which become “potential allies”, since their obligations depend on whether and how a war with the target starts. The Defensive pacts are visible to all kingdoms and they can be quite discouraging to a potential attacker, since they know that attacking any of the pact members means starting a war with all of them. The opposite is not true – if someone from the Defensive pact voluntarily attacks the target, the pact is broken and the members do not become allies, at least not automatically. So, it is a way to defend yourself from a formidable foe, but it is useless if you actually want to use it for offensive purposes. That’s where Invasion plans come into play – they trigger the other way around. When the leader of the plan starts a war against the target, all participants enter the war as allies. These plans are normally kept a secret, since if the target finds out in time about them, for example by having a good spy network, there are quite a few strategies they can explore. They can form a Defensive pact in response; try to dissuade the plan’s leader from attacking; attack first to surprise the enemies and wage war only against one of the kingdoms; or even try to take out the diplomat that maintains the Invasion plan, in order to immediately interrupt it. In the image we see that Croatia participates in an invasion plan(s), together with Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Vidin, but Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Venice are in defensive pact(s) against it. Also, royal marriage with Bosnia and trade agreement with Tarnovo are shown. Apart from forming and maintaining pacts, diplomats may also travel directly to another kingdom in order to improve relations passively, over time. This can be a particularly important order, in times which demand more cautious strategizing. If matters have escalated to war, diplomats may also be ordered to negotiate peace, which comes in handy when dealing with stubborn kings who refuse to step off their high thrones. Another new addition to the diplomats is their more “civil” involvement in internal affairs. They provide significant bonuses when governing a province and are a good match in that direction, even when compared to Merchants. Indeed, merchants are the ones ensuring the highest income, but diplomats are helpful in improving multiple aspects for the development of a province. While they are not on a mission, diplomats can be very helpful in improving the opinion about the crown of different society groups. These opinions are a new feature for the KoH series, which affects almost all matters of a kingdom, thus the timely intervention of an experienced diplomat can be crucial. We will talk more about Opinions in one of the future diaries, as it is a separate topic, and a large one at that. Another new action, maybe a bit more unexpected, is the searching for a spouse for a member of the royal family. This can be manually done by the players as well, but diplomats can be helpful in speeding up and easing the process. Royal marriages have several important roles. The marriage of a king early on helps having a big royal family and each member is useful – princes are powerful knights in court and a king, dying without a successor, can truly throw a kingdom into chaos. Both princes and kings, married to a foreign princess, can also have territorial claims, if the father of the princess, the foreign king, dies. Marrying your princesses has significant diplomatic advantages on its own. While the marriage lasts, the foreign kingdom is more benevolent towards you (compared to having a prince or king, married to their princess) and you also gain part of their prestige. Of course, regardless the gender or position of the married royalty, a marriage always considerably warms up the relations between the two kingdoms. We’ll be glad to hear your thoughts on Diplomacy – do you enjoy spending time and effort on it, ensuring the best diplomatic affairs in grand strategy games, or is it just a final resort you reach for when the army fails you? Would you like to explore more elaborate strategies with the Diplomat class, or rather stick to the basics and focus on increasing your foreign relations? We will talk more about the Diplomat and the pacts in our DevStream on Thursday, December 3d, @ 4:00 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. Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors! *Note: the original DevStream time had an error for GMT due to a daylight savings time confusion. Will be going live at 4:00 PM GMT / 11 AM EST View full article
  7. Hello friends, and welcome once again to 12th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In this diary we will begin to talk about one of, if not the most important, feature in the game – diplomacy. Since this topic is huge, we will split it in several parts, starting with Wars and Alliances. The art of war is the most common way to dominance and victory, and even if you prefer to play the “Swiss neutrality” style, chances are that sooner or later, you will be attacked by more aggressive kingdoms or get involved in conflicts by other means. As we say here in Bulgaria, “Around dry things, the wet ones burn, too”. War was one of the things we wanted to improve from the first game, mainly when two or more kingdoms are involved, fighting in alliances with each other. It is true that we had alliances in the original game, and we started with the same functionality in this one, but we naturally stumbled upon familiar problems. Alliances were practically permanent, punishing you if you ever decide to attack kingdoms you once allied with. Alliances also often felt tedious, forcing you into conflicts that you would otherwise want to avoid because of actions out of your control, and usually not in a fun way. Initially, we tried to solve the problem by limiting them to one generation, meaning that alliances were dissolved upon the death of either of the kings who signed them (inspired by some historical alliances and texts). This worked in some cases, but in others – it didn’t work at all. Sometimes alliances were disappointingly short, other times they were still too long and the problem with participation in wars against unwanted enemies remained. Even we, the developers, primarily avoided using alliances when playing the game, so we finally made a rather big change – in “KoH2:S” they exist only in the context of wars and while it lasts. Now, before someone gets awfully disappointed, we want to assure you we have a lot of “peace time” pacts – defensive pacts, invasion plans, royal marriages, vassal-liege relations and other agreements, for which we will very soon tell you about, but right now, we will focus just on the alliances in wars (or as we call them – just “alliances”). None of these previously mentioned pacts guarantees an alliance, though they usually make it highly probable. What helped us a lot was that historically wars were rarely 1 vs 1, and we had a ton of inspiration from actual events – from many medieval wars like the Anglo-French War (1213–1214), where France defeated the Angevin Empire, allied with the Holy Roman Empire, Flanders and Boulogne; to some older epic wars in the Balkans, like the defeat of the Arab invasion by the Bulgarian khan Tervel, that supported the weak (at that point) Byzantium and with this alliance stopped the Muslim advance in the interior of Europe during the 8th century, about the time when the whole Iberian peninsula fell. So, in “KoH2:S” each war has two sides (alliances), and each alliance has one leader and possibly several supporters. The supporters can participate from the beginning of the war (depending on the pacts, prior to starting the war) or join in afterwards. Surely, players that prefer to gain strong friends through diplomacy will often use the options like “Demand support in war”, as this can quickly bring a lot of power to their alliance, especially if you have some of the aforementioned stances and pacts. Leaving or disbanding an alliance as the war goes is also a possibility, but the outcome is what you’d expect – your ex-allies will not be very happy about it and overall, your reputation and authority will be hurt, so it is usually a though decision to make. By this time, you are probably wandering how can you ever end a war, considering that you might have formidable forces against you and long wars lead to serious exhaustion of a kingdom. Indeed, you can destroy your enemies and this will lead to peace, but against bigger kingdoms, you often have to negotiate it earlier. A war can be ended with negotiations ONLY between the leaders. If they agree on the terms to sign peace, it is signed between the two alliances and practically everyone participating in the war – leaders and supporters. During the war, supporters are able to negotiate peace with the opposing leader “solo” and if the agreement is accepted, they exit the war. Yes, their ex-allies will be really disappointed, but at least their ex-enemies will be… ex-enemies. Supporters can never negotiate peace between each other, however: any kingdom participating in war is always in “war stance” with ALL kingdoms of the enemy alliance while they are participating in the war. Now, we are considering adding an even more cunning diplomatic option – switching sides – but this can be (and, historically, was) extremely dramatic. It creates an awesome story indeed, but we are still unsure if it might feel too punishing for many players, when the Brutus’s dagger is in their backs. What’s your opinion on that matter – should we go all-in “Game of thrones” style, or should we have more honorable factions with less unpredictable diplomacy and backstabbing? Do you like the concept of these alliances, limited within the war, or would you prefer to have just the long-lasting pacts between kingdoms? We’d love to hear about your playstyle in strategy games – do you like to gather a bunch of allies before even thinking of invading someone; do you prefer not to bother with that diplomacy mumbo-jumbo and straight out dominate everyone that crosses your path; or do you prefer something in between, like building a ‘safety cloud’ with no aggression pacts, but then marching into war alone? We will talk more about Diplomacy (Wars and Alliances mainly) in our DevStream on Thursday, October 29th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. This time the original creator and creative director of both the new and the original KoH games – Vesselin Handjiev – will participate, so don’t miss it out. 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 continue the subject of diplomacy since there is a lot more to share. Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors!
  8. Hello friends, and welcome once again to 12th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In this diary we will begin to talk about one of, if not the most important, feature in the game – diplomacy. Since this topic is huge, we will split it in several parts, starting with Wars and Alliances. The art of war is the most common way to dominance and victory, and even if you prefer to play the “Swiss neutrality” style, chances are that sooner or later, you will be attacked by more aggressive kingdoms or get involved in conflicts by other means. As we say here in Bulgaria, “Around dry things, the wet ones burn, too”. War was one of the things we wanted to improve from the first game, mainly when two or more kingdoms are involved, fighting in alliances with each other. It is true that we had alliances in the original game, and we started with the same functionality in this one, but we naturally stumbled upon familiar problems. Alliances were practically permanent, punishing you if you ever decide to attack kingdoms you once allied with. Alliances also often felt tedious, forcing you into conflicts that you would otherwise want to avoid because of actions out of your control, and usually not in a fun way. Initially, we tried to solve the problem by limiting them to one generation, meaning that alliances were dissolved upon the death of either of the kings who signed them (inspired by some historical alliances and texts). This worked in some cases, but in others – it didn’t work at all. Sometimes alliances were disappointingly short, other times they were still too long and the problem with participation in wars against unwanted enemies remained. Even we, the developers, primarily avoided using alliances when playing the game, so we finally made a rather big change – in “KoH2:S” they exist only in the context of wars and while it lasts. Now, before someone gets awfully disappointed, we want to assure you we have a lot of “peace time” pacts – defensive pacts, invasion plans, royal marriages, vassal-liege relations and other agreements, for which we will very soon tell you about, but right now, we will focus just on the alliances in wars (or as we call them – just “alliances”). None of these previously mentioned pacts guarantees an alliance, though they usually make it highly probable. What helped us a lot was that historically wars were rarely 1 vs 1, and we had a ton of inspiration from actual events – from many medieval wars like the Anglo-French War (1213–1214), where France defeated the Angevin Empire, allied with the Holy Roman Empire, Flanders and Boulogne; to some older epic wars in the Balkans, like the defeat of the Arab invasion by the Bulgarian khan Tervel, that supported the weak (at that point) Byzantium and with this alliance stopped the Muslim advance in the interior of Europe during the 8th century, about the time when the whole Iberian peninsula fell. So, in “KoH2:S” each war has two sides (alliances), and each alliance has one leader and possibly several supporters. The supporters can participate from the beginning of the war (depending on the pacts, prior to starting the war) or join in afterwards. Surely, players that prefer to gain strong friends through diplomacy will often use the options like “Demand support in war”, as this can quickly bring a lot of power to their alliance, especially if you have some of the aforementioned stances and pacts. Leaving or disbanding an alliance as the war goes is also a possibility, but the outcome is what you’d expect – your ex-allies will not be very happy about it and overall, your reputation and authority will be hurt, so it is usually a though decision to make. By this time, you are probably wandering how can you ever end a war, considering that you might have formidable forces against you and long wars lead to serious exhaustion of a kingdom. Indeed, you can destroy your enemies and this will lead to peace, but against bigger kingdoms, you often have to negotiate it earlier. A war can be ended with negotiations ONLY between the leaders. If they agree on the terms to sign peace, it is signed between the two alliances and practically everyone participating in the war – leaders and supporters. During the war, supporters are able to negotiate peace with the opposing leader “solo” and if the agreement is accepted, they exit the war. Yes, their ex-allies will be really disappointed, but at least their ex-enemies will be… ex-enemies. Supporters can never negotiate peace between each other, however: any kingdom participating in war is always in “war stance” with ALL kingdoms of the enemy alliance while they are participating in the war. Now, we are considering adding an even more cunning diplomatic option – switching sides – but this can be (and, historically, was) extremely dramatic. It creates an awesome story indeed, but we are still unsure if it might feel too punishing for many players, when the Brutus’s dagger is in their backs. What’s your opinion on that matter – should we go all-in “Game of thrones” style, or should we have more honorable factions with less unpredictable diplomacy and backstabbing? Do you like the concept of these alliances, limited within the war, or would you prefer to have just the long-lasting pacts between kingdoms? We’d love to hear about your playstyle in strategy games – do you like to gather a bunch of allies before even thinking of invading someone; do you prefer not to bother with that diplomacy mumbo-jumbo and straight out dominate everyone that crosses your path; or do you prefer something in between, like building a ‘safety cloud’ with no aggression pacts, but then marching into war alone? We will talk more about Diplomacy (Wars and Alliances mainly) in our DevStream on Thursday, October 29th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. This time the original creator and creative director of both the new and the original KoH games – Vesselin Handjiev – will participate, so don’t miss it out. 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 continue the subject of diplomacy since there is a lot more to share. Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors! View full article
  9. Really appreciate all the support! It's been fun getting to know everyone both here and during the streams. I've really been enjoying this community, and having the banter during the streams helps us connect with our fans and keep aligned with who we're truly making this game for: all of you! Definitely a big gamer here, always have been and always will be, including a huge strategy games fan. Know it's a long journey to bring the best KoH game forward we can, and we're trying our very best to deliver. Making games is challenging to say the least, but hopefully you all see how much we care and are working to make this the best Knights of Honor we possibly can. See everyone on Thursday for the stream!
  10. 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?
  11. 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? View full article
  12. 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.
  13. 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. View full article
  14. Game optimizations are an ongoing process, so it's difficult to tell you minimum and recommended specs at this time. What may be possible is if you send over your old machine's specs I could ask the programming team if they think the machine will work. There are a lot of options to help players with lower-end machines access the game by turning off different visual features, but the game can also be CPU intensive due to so many things happening in the world, and settings can't really impact that. We're definitely working hard to support the widest range of hardware while not compromising on gameplay.
  15. Completely reasonable to request and discuss language support (and we love the excitement), but agree the multiple topics have become spammy. Let's limit our discussion to one thread, please 🙂
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