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THQN Brad

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  1. Hello friends, and welcome to the 10th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! Last time we talked about character skills and in this diary we will take a look at traditions, which are very interlinked to them and can even be abstractly considered as “kingdom skills”. We will explain how these two features are connected, how traditions are gained, and how they affect the game. First of all, in KoH2:S the player does not take the role of any of the knights, nor really the king or his dynasty – knights, kings and dynasties rise and fall, and with their death their skills are also gone, but the game continues. Introducing this new feature for the series, the traditions, we wanted to offer an additional way for players to strategically shape the strengths of their main avatar in the game – the kingdom itself – and also to create long-term progression players are motivated to make. As almost everything else players do is more or less temporary, we felt that such a permanent component of their progression is much needed in our game. Yes, we already had the knights’ skills and province development, but knights perish, dynasties fall, and thriving provinces can get overtaken or separated from the kingdom one way or another. The second important thing we wanted to consider and represent well is that KoH2:S is not a civilization game. We want to capture a specific and rather short moment of time, the High and Late Middle Ages, and, debatably, we think that technological / development tree wouldn’t be very fitting for that goal. We’d like this feature to allow the players to boost their kingdoms in all possible aspects and how believable would it be to let you invent things like agriculture, stock farming, literacy and so on in that period, when they were all invented thousands of years before that? That’s why we crossed out this type of “inventions” and technological tree off our list. Kingdom traditions represent the knowledge of nations, built over the ages and are less of a “invention” and more of a “focus”. Unlike provinces or knights, they cannot be forcefully taken or destroyed by enemies. Once adopted, they endure even in the harshest crise and are only lost if a player prefers to replace one of them with another. An additional advantage they have is that their effects spread kingdom-wide and can provide bonuses to all provinces and knights. Thus, they are harder to acquire than skills. To each skill there is a corresponding tradition and, similarly, adopting them requires spending some gold and books, but this is the easier part. In order to gain a tradition, a kingdom must additionally have at least one knight that has mastered the corresponding skill (at level 3). In that regard, the kings are the quickest “gateways” to traditions, since each skill they learn is directly acquired at the maximum level. As a final requirement, there is a limitation to the number of traditions that can be acquired – in game terms, tradition “slots” become available with the progression of a kingdoms’ prestige, a statistic that represents the overall progression and stance of a kingdom and that we will probably discuss in more details in another DevDiary. A kingdom right now can adopt up to eight traditions, though we are still experimenting with that number and at what point and cost each slot will be available. Similar to skills, traditions can provide a wide range of effects and can be improved on through a cost of gold and books – their maximum level is 3, too. Some of them can provide statistical boosts, others – access to new actions, plots, or even more specific abilities like what kind of siege equipment can be constructed within a kingdom. They also boost knights’ abilities and some of these bonuses are restricted either to classes, governors, kings, etc. There is one very specific and powerful combination – traditions boost knights that have mastered the corresponding skill. Once again, we will illustrate this with the “Cavalry tactics”, since we gave it as a skill example in the previous diary. When this tradition is adopted, it makes the cavalry squads larger, which is a bonus, that applies to all cavalry squads in the kingdom – those led by knights, regardless of their classes and skills and even those stationed in garrisons. However, if the tradition is improved to level 2, marshals that have mastered the skill will gain an additional combat tactic from this tradition – “Chase and kill”, useful in pursuing retreating enemy troops. At level 3 of the tradition, these marshals will get another new tactic – “Shock charge”, especially valuable for those of them that lead considerable number of heavy cavalry units. Such combinations can be done in many aspects of the game and provide significant benefits in a chosen directions. What makes this strategy even stronger is that once a tradition is adopted, it is always available for learning by knights of that kingdom, so in this way players can ensure that they will be able to make the desired “combo” and no longer rely on random affinities of knights to learn that skill. In result, by choosing their traditions, players can define the biggest strengths of their kingdoms and build a long-term strategy, regarding what skills they want always available and boosted. To summarize it, we are trying to make that systems as something unique in KoH2:S and offer the players interesting choice and many possible strategies to explore. Skills are the path to traditions, and traditions, the path to skills; they work both as a boosting mechanic, shaping the strengths of a kingdom, and give an opportunity for interesting combinations as well. We will talk more about Traditions in our DevStream on Thursday, September 3rd, @ 4:00 PM GMT / 12:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream. As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on that topic and always read and look into your feedback. Does the tradition system sound interesting to you? Do you think it would be too challenging for you to choose a favorite tactic and achieve it, or maybe it is just the opposite – do you think that even more complex system and tech-tree is more suitable for such game? Next time we will look into another class of knights. We’ve already talked about marshal and it is time to share more about the strategical benefits and gameplay possibilities of merchants.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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 🙂
  5. Moving to GD forums. We'll certainly be exploring a wide range of languages to support, and Turkish will be one of the ones we'll be talking about.
  6. As of right now, the only platform we've announced is PC/Windows. While we aren't speaking too much beyond that, I can confirm that there are no plans for bring the game to mobile devices like phones at this time.
  7. We're definitely doing MP different than the first game. MP will be focused on the grand strategy/world map gameplay and there will be a variety of gamemodes. We haven't determined how many players will be supported yet, but there will 100% be more than 2 supported, so you'll be able to play with a number of friends. There are still a variety of performance/optimization and gameplay factors that are being evaluated to determine how many total players we'll support.
  8. Hello friends, and welcome to the 9th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign!” In this Diary we shall return to a more gameplay-related topic – the characters’ skills. We already talked about the knights’ classes, but there is much more that makes each knight unique besides just his class. What we first wanted to figure out was the sweet spot for how deep and complex the progression of characters should be in our game. On one hand, the knights are an important part of the KoH series and we felt we could add a bit more content and flavor by expanding their functionality. In the first game, most classes had only ranks (stars) and only Marshals were able to learn unique skills. Though some of these skills were not as useful as others, it turned out they make the Marshals significantly more interesting than the other classes. This seemed like a good direction for us to explore in the sequel. As we now have more depth overall in the economy features and the other classes, we decided merchants, diplomats, clerics and spies all deserve skills as well. Another risk we had to be careful with was the importance and attachment to a particular knight. As in the first game, the knights are a valuable asset to a kingdom, but not a permanent one. They get assassinated, imprisoned, bribed, die in glorious battles, or simply become venerable and pass away. Losing an experienced knight shouldn’t be overtly painful, since that would force the players not to take any risks with their knights – and we don’t want that either. Thus, we reached the following conclusions: Number of skills shouldn’t be too high: a knight can learn up to 5 skills; Progression of skills should also be rather limited: each skill has 3 ranks; Progression should be fast: each knight can learn a skill immediately after being hired, and learning new skills or ranking them up should be just one click away, provided that the kingdom has the needed resources; Progression should be available on global, kingdom resources: knights can learn or improve a skill, by gaining experience from their deeds, but a price in “gold” and “books”, paid from the kingdom’s resources, is an option to instantly improve them as well; Skills should have supplementary effects: they should open new opportunities and strengthen the abilities of knights, they should feel rewarding and provide valuable benefits, but not earth-shattering effects. So, each knight, regardless of their class, can learn skills, and the skill set is shared between the different classes. They have strong affinities, though – the skills are “primary” and “secondary” to specific classes and many of the benefits of a skill are received only by a knight from a specific class. For example, Cavalry Tactics: an additional benefit Cavalry Tactics provides to Marshals is the “Hit and run” tactic. Imagine how valuable this can be for a marshal of a steppe kingdom, having large variety of mounted units and often fighting in vast grassland terrains. Additionally, knights have significantly higher chance to have skills, primary to their class, available to learn in the first place. When a new skill can be learned by a knight, they have a few choices that are presented. Now besides the aforementioned class-related affinities influencing the random skill options available, there will be mechanics where players can make a specific skill available to learn, but without taking advantage of those mechanics, the available skills will be random and weighted towards their class’s preferences. You’ll have to wait to learn more about how this works in a later DevDiary though, since these mechanics are part of other game elements and systems. Once learned, there are different effects a skill can have. Some provide statistical or production bonuses, others increase chances of success when performing related actions; many unlock specific abilities, effects or even battle tactics. Usually a skill provides a combination of all these features with a variety of factors determining how useful it will be for a knight. This depends not only on their class, but on other factors as well – for example there are governor-related bonuses or even some skill effects that only apply if the knight is a King himself! As an example, let’s take a look at the “Bargain” skill. It is primary to Merchants and increases the gold from trade to merchants. Spies and Diplomats can also learn this skill of course, but their benefit is the cost reduction of certain actions, e.g. bribery and others. But if the knight, skilled in bargaining, governs a province, there will also be an additional gold income, generated by the goods, produced in that province, and if that character is king, the price for hiring knights in the royal court will be significantly reduced. Now for some good news for our fans that want to get creative: skills, and their balance and even which effects they will have, are completely and easily moddable – this part of the system is rather straightforward for modding and very powerful. So, if you are fond of creating your own “house rules”, you’ll be able to change a lot here and have some fun! We will talk more about Skills in our DevStream on Thursday, August 6th, @ 4:00 PM GMT / 12:00 PM EST. Note the time is one hour later this DevStream, we’re trying a new timeslot as some have mentioned the previous time was a little too early. 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. Needless to say, we are still testing different possibilities and balances of skills – making changes big and small – which might and probably will continue even during the beta. So, as always, we’d love to hear your opinion on this topic and we are open-minded to suggestions! What is the preferred depth and complexity of the skill system in such a game for you? Would you prefer to focus on your kingdom and not manage knights’ progression at all? Do you think knights should gain experience from their own deeds, or do you see their progression and “education” as something, that is more of a function of the kingdom itself? Next time we will continue this topic and shed some light on Kingdom Traditions – a different system, yet strongly related to skills, and a very important part of the game!
  9. Hello friends, and welcome to the 9th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign!” In this Diary we shall return to a more gameplay-related topic – the characters’ skills. We already talked about the knights’ classes, but there is much more that makes each knight unique besides just his class. What we first wanted to figure out was the sweet spot for how deep and complex the progression of characters should be in our game. On one hand, the knights are an important part of the KoH series and we felt we could add a bit more content and flavor by expanding their functionality. In the first game, most classes had only ranks (stars) and only Marshals were able to learn unique skills. Though some of these skills were not as useful as others, it turned out they make the Marshals significantly more interesting than the other classes. This seemed like a good direction for us to explore in the sequel. As we now have more depth overall in the economy features and the other classes, we decided merchants, diplomats, clerics and spies all deserve skills as well. Another risk we had to be careful with was the importance and attachment to a particular knight. As in the first game, the knights are a valuable asset to a kingdom, but not a permanent one. They get assassinated, imprisoned, bribed, die in glorious battles, or simply become venerable and pass away. Losing an experienced knight shouldn’t be overtly painful, since that would force the players not to take any risks with their knights – and we don’t want that either. Thus, we reached the following conclusions: Number of skills shouldn’t be too high: a knight can learn up to 5 skills; Progression of skills should also be rather limited: each skill has 3 ranks; Progression should be fast: each knight can learn a skill immediately after being hired, and learning new skills or ranking them up should be just one click away, provided that the kingdom has the needed resources; Progression should be available on global, kingdom resources: knights can learn or improve a skill, by gaining experience from their deeds, but a price in “gold” and “books”, paid from the kingdom’s resources, is an option to instantly improve them as well; Skills should have supplementary effects: they should open new opportunities and strengthen the abilities of knights, they should feel rewarding and provide valuable benefits, but not earth-shattering effects. So, each knight, regardless of their class, can learn skills, and the skill set is shared between the different classes. They have strong affinities, though – the skills are “primary” and “secondary” to specific classes and many of the benefits of a skill are received only by a knight from a specific class. For example, Cavalry Tactics: an additional benefit Cavalry Tactics provides to Marshals is the “Hit and run” tactic. Imagine how valuable this can be for a marshal of a steppe kingdom, having large variety of mounted units and often fighting in vast grassland terrains. Additionally, knights have significantly higher chance to have skills, primary to their class, available to learn in the first place. When a new skill can be learned by a knight, they have a few choices that are presented. Now besides the aforementioned class-related affinities influencing the random skill options available, there will be mechanics where players can make a specific skill available to learn, but without taking advantage of those mechanics, the available skills will be random and weighted towards their class’s preferences. You’ll have to wait to learn more about how this works in a later DevDiary though, since these mechanics are part of other game elements and systems. Once learned, there are different effects a skill can have. Some provide statistical or production bonuses, others increase chances of success when performing related actions; many unlock specific abilities, effects or even battle tactics. Usually a skill provides a combination of all these features with a variety of factors determining how useful it will be for a knight. This depends not only on their class, but on other factors as well – for example there are governor-related bonuses or even some skill effects that only apply if the knight is a King himself! As an example, let’s take a look at the “Bargain” skill. It is primary to Merchants and increases the gold from trade to merchants. Spies and Diplomats can also learn this skill of course, but their benefit is the cost reduction of certain actions, e.g. bribery and others. But if the knight, skilled in bargaining, governs a province, there will also be an additional gold income, generated by the goods, produced in that province, and if that character is king, the price for hiring knights in the royal court will be significantly reduced. Now for some good news for our fans that want to get creative: skills, and their balance and even which effects they will have, are completely and easily moddable – this part of the system is rather straightforward for modding and very powerful. So, if you are fond of creating your own “house rules”, you’ll be able to change a lot here and have some fun! We will talk more about Skills in our DevStream on Thursday, August 6th, @ 4:00 PM GMT / 12:00 PM EST. Note the time is one hour later this DevStream, we’re trying a new timeslot as some have mentioned the previous time was a little too early. 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. Needless to say, we are still testing different possibilities and balances of skills – making changes big and small – which might and probably will continue even during the beta. So, as always, we’d love to hear your opinion on this topic and we are open-minded to suggestions! What is the preferred depth and complexity of the skill system in such a game for you? Would you prefer to focus on your kingdom and not manage knights’ progression at all? Do you think knights should gain experience from their own deeds, or do you see their progression and “education” as something, that is more of a function of the kingdom itself? Next time we will continue this topic and shed some light on Kingdom Traditions – a different system, yet strongly related to skills, and a very important part of the game! View full article
  10. Hello friends, and welcome to our 8th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! This time we’re having our first deep dive into the music and audio of our game, a topic we’ve heard many of you are excited about. The composers of “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” bid thee welcome! Yannick and Robin are from Audinity and, after having worked on many strategy video game titles in the past, are having a blast working on the sequel to one of their favorite childhood video games. In fact, the hours Robin spent in the medieval world of “Knights of Honor” exceed the 1000-hour mark and both still have the game installed in their Steam library to this day. So, with all this in mind, there has been a lot of discussion and eagerness on how to approach a game that is near and dear to both! First, after playing the development build, it was clear that a game of this scope and style would need some brainstorming on how to approach the soundtrack. Everyone sat down and brainstormed, working collaboratively from both the composer and developer side to form a concept and approach that everyone could get behind. This wasn’t just about finding the right tone, but also figuring out how to technically approach how we’d leverage music in the game. It may seem like an easy thing, but we assure you, there’s a lot of little details that make it quite complex. As you probably know from the previous DevDiaries, KoH2:S features various cultures. One of our primary goals is to write unique music for a variety of these cultures in the game. After all, playing as a Western European faction should feel and sound different than playing as an Arabian faction. We also wanted to find a tone that would feel very much like “Knights of Honor”, too, and spent lots of time listening to the old soundtrack and discussing with some of the original KoH team members how the music was developed back then. This led us down the route of devising different playlists for the major, unique cultures. These playlists feature authentic short tracks – which we call “snippets” – for creating the appropriate cultural mood as well as big orchestral signature tracks as musical accents. We want the players to feel the impact of their decisions to medieval Europe through the music, but we do not just want a plain ambient underscore, we also want the music to give direct feedback to certain gameplay elements. Just like the cultural direction of a region can change (think about the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula), the music can change as well in order to create a more adaptive music system that reflects some of these changes. So, if for example the Iberian Peninsula is partly Muslim and partly Christian, you might be able to hear music from both the Christian/European and the Muslim/Arabian playlists when you are in that region for a longer time. The musical changes will be quite subtle first and depending on how significant the cultural changes, the level of musical adaptation increases. If a European/Christian region gets conquered by Pagans, you might first hear one Pagan music track here and there. If the region remains Pagan for a while, more Pagan tracks can be added. This means that over time, the amount of “Christian/European” music in the playlist can decrease, just like the actual Christian/European influence in that region. We think this could be a cool way to have the music and culture work together and reflect how your decisions are impacting the world. In addition, we’re also experimenting with short tracks that can trigger based on certain impactful gameplay events to add musical feedback and support the mood. For example, if the Pope calls for a crusade, there may be a specific musical flourish to help build the atmosphere. Also, we want the music to react to the political situation and stability in your realm. If your people are rioting heavily or if several other nations declare war on you, you might be able to notice a change of music towards more tension tracks that indicate “woops, something is happening!” As most of you know, the game’s setting reflects the real world during the medieval era, where you create an alternative path forward based on your actions and decisions. You are the Sovereign, the medieval leader, and we want the music to support that mood as well. That’s why we want to feature many authentic traditional instruments in our score. In European/Christian tracks you can often hear the lute, viola da gamba, recorders and many more. We also plan to record an old zither that Yannick inherited from his grandmother! Arabian/Muslim regions will feature traditional instruments as well, like the Ney flute or Darbuka. To give the music a true historical vibe that fits the setting, we also plan to incorporate the famous “L’Homme Armé” (“The Armed Man”) melody, which is an actual authentic medieval tune fitting perfectly to the game’s theme. All the music samples you’re hearing in these clips are both works-in-progress and digital versions made with our computers. We’re excited to use both orchestra and featured traditional instruments in our music, and we’re planning to record with live musicians for the game, including some authentic soloists, which should be a real treat. That said, we didn’t want to wait until our recording sessions to give our fans a taste of the music, so hope you enjoy this preview, and can keep in mind that the final tracks will sound much much better! We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, July 9th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic. Not only will we be grabbing responses from this post, we’ll also be showing off more music, with some new footage, during the stream, so you won’t want to miss it! Of course, we want to produce the best soundtrack possible, both as music composers and as die-hard fans of “Knights of Honor.” We hope you’ve enjoyed this first sample of what we’ve been cooking up and would love to hear your opinions on how things are starting. Do you like the idea of music reflecting the culture of an area, or do you prefer having more direct control of the tracks that play? What are your thoughts on the first tracks? Do you have a specific track or melody from the first Knights of Honor that is really memorable to you, and why? We can’t wait to hear your feedback and write even more great music for you to enjoy. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!
  11. Hello friends, and welcome to our 8th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! This time we’re having our first deep dive into the music and audio of our game, a topic we’ve heard many of you are excited about. The composers of “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” bid thee welcome! Yannick and Robin are from Audinity and, after having worked on many strategy video game titles in the past, are having a blast working on the sequel to one of their favorite childhood video games. In fact, the hours Robin spent in the medieval world of “Knights of Honor” exceed the 1000-hour mark and both still have the game installed in their Steam library to this day. So, with all this in mind, there has been a lot of discussion and eagerness on how to approach a game that is near and dear to both! First, after playing the development build, it was clear that a game of this scope and style would need some brainstorming on how to approach the soundtrack. Everyone sat down and brainstormed, working collaboratively from both the composer and developer side to form a concept and approach that everyone could get behind. This wasn’t just about finding the right tone, but also figuring out how to technically approach how we’d leverage music in the game. It may seem like an easy thing, but we assure you, there’s a lot of little details that make it quite complex. As you probably know from the previous DevDiaries, KoH2:S features various cultures. One of our primary goals is to write unique music for a variety of these cultures in the game. After all, playing as a Western European faction should feel and sound different than playing as an Arabian faction. We also wanted to find a tone that would feel very much like “Knights of Honor”, too, and spent lots of time listening to the old soundtrack and discussing with some of the original KoH team members how the music was developed back then. This led us down the route of devising different playlists for the major, unique cultures. These playlists feature authentic short tracks – which we call “snippets” – for creating the appropriate cultural mood as well as big orchestral signature tracks as musical accents. We want the players to feel the impact of their decisions to medieval Europe through the music, but we do not just want a plain ambient underscore, we also want the music to give direct feedback to certain gameplay elements. Just like the cultural direction of a region can change (think about the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula), the music can change as well in order to create a more adaptive music system that reflects some of these changes. So, if for example the Iberian Peninsula is partly Muslim and partly Christian, you might be able to hear music from both the Christian/European and the Muslim/Arabian playlists when you are in that region for a longer time. The musical changes will be quite subtle first and depending on how significant the cultural changes, the level of musical adaptation increases. If a European/Christian region gets conquered by Pagans, you might first hear one Pagan music track here and there. If the region remains Pagan for a while, more Pagan tracks can be added. This means that over time, the amount of “Christian/European” music in the playlist can decrease, just like the actual Christian/European influence in that region. We think this could be a cool way to have the music and culture work together and reflect how your decisions are impacting the world. In addition, we’re also experimenting with short tracks that can trigger based on certain impactful gameplay events to add musical feedback and support the mood. For example, if the Pope calls for a crusade, there may be a specific musical flourish to help build the atmosphere. Also, we want the music to react to the political situation and stability in your realm. If your people are rioting heavily or if several other nations declare war on you, you might be able to notice a change of music towards more tension tracks that indicate “woops, something is happening!” As most of you know, the game’s setting reflects the real world during the medieval era, where you create an alternative path forward based on your actions and decisions. You are the Sovereign, the medieval leader, and we want the music to support that mood as well. That’s why we want to feature many authentic traditional instruments in our score. In European/Christian tracks you can often hear the lute, viola da gamba, recorders and many more. We also plan to record an old zither that Yannick inherited from his grandmother! Arabian/Muslim regions will feature traditional instruments as well, like the Ney flute or Darbuka. To give the music a true historical vibe that fits the setting, we also plan to incorporate the famous “L’Homme Armé” (“The Armed Man”) melody, which is an actual authentic medieval tune fitting perfectly to the game’s theme. All the music samples you’re hearing in these clips are both works-in-progress and digital versions made with our computers. We’re excited to use both orchestra and featured traditional instruments in our music, and we’re planning to record with live musicians for the game, including some authentic soloists, which should be a real treat. That said, we didn’t want to wait until our recording sessions to give our fans a taste of the music, so hope you enjoy this preview, and can keep in mind that the final tracks will sound much much better! We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, July 9th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic. Not only will we be grabbing responses from this post, we’ll also be showing off more music, with some new footage, during the stream, so you won’t want to miss it! Of course, we want to produce the best soundtrack possible, both as music composers and as die-hard fans of “Knights of Honor.” We hope you’ve enjoyed this first sample of what we’ve been cooking up and would love to hear your opinions on how things are starting. Do you like the idea of music reflecting the culture of an area, or do you prefer having more direct control of the tracks that play? What are your thoughts on the first tracks? Do you have a specific track or melody from the first Knights of Honor that is really memorable to you, and why? We can’t wait to hear your feedback and write even more great music for you to enjoy. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer! View full article
  12. Hello friends, and welcome to the 7th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! This time we will look into stability, revolt risk, rebellious population and rebellions – the final stage of population’s uproar. As it was historically, in KoH2:S, empires can also crumble from the inside. It is crucial for the players with ambitions to rule vast lands to know well what factors play a role in stability and how they can prevent or deal with the population’s discontent. Stability and revolt risk are the two elements, competing with each other, that represent how content a kingdom’s people are. There are many factors, some local to a specific province, others regional, or even global, for a kingdom. On a global scale, the easy (but not cheap) steps to reduce the tension are to increase Crown authority (a very important parameter of each kingdom we will discuss later on) and decrease taxes. Some problems can be pretty difficult to tackle once created, like too high war exhaustion, built over time, or hunger and starvation amongst the people. There are some factors you cannot even really control – e.g. recent death of your king! On a local level, there is much more you can do to prevent a crisis – mainly, providing establishments (buildings, districts), that increase the happiness and local authority, as well as assigning a governor, whose class and skills provide positive effects. Thus, even if the overall state in your kingdom is not too good, some of your provinces may remain more obedient than others. The opposite is true as well – some provinces may be more problematic and here the usual wrongdoers are religious and cultural tension, when the majority of the population in the region differs with your kingdom in those aspects. Also, rebellions that are already underway and any rebel presence in a province or its neighbors can increase revolt risk too. So, as we spoke in earlier DevDiaries, it is very important which strategies a player chooses and how much care they spend on cultural and religious conversion of the population, influence of their kingdom, and how fast they will expand. We didn’t want to make the rebellions simply a punishing mechanic, but to provide the players with many choices, and to achieve that we needed to provide them with time to react and a clear visual representation. So, what we added is “rebellious population”. These are generally the people, unsatisfied by your rulership. How fast they grow in a province depends on the revolt risk, but even if its value is high, it will take time for them to multiply and take actions. Thus, watchful players can react and turn the tides. As an economy effect, the rebellious population is inefficient – it does not help in new construction, refuses to pay tax, and won’t join the army. As more of your people “turn red”, chances for them to act increase and the actions they take become more dire. Initially, they can migrate to nearby provinces or reinforce ongoing rebellions. Only if the tension continues to rise unchecked can they start a rebellion of their own – you never know exactly when this will happen, but leave the masses unsatisfied for a long period and it surely will. A wise ruler must always expect rebellions, though. Even if everything looks perfect, some special events and sometimes foreign intervention, especially from those sneaky spies, might cause a rebel problem within your seemingly stable kingdom. Single missteps might make your knights go rogue (e.g. a cleric, unable to accept the change of a kingdom’s religion) and riots in your royal dungeon might escalate. Sometimes, you might just be misfortunate. For example, crusaders may decide to go rogue while passing through your kingdom, or rebel armies that formed in a neighboring kingdom, could decide to pay you a visit. This means some preparation to react to such situations is always beneficial. Prevention is crucial, but you can never be 100% sure. We wanted to add more gameplay and choices in the fights against rebels as well, so we are trying to make them a bit more complex and, hopefully, interesting. That’s why we created more cohesive feature set around rebellions themselves. Rebellions are a larger “structure”, that includes occupied provinces, zones of operation, and of course, the rebel armies – this time with a hierarchy. They always have one rebel leader, who controls the strongest army and is proclaimed king if the rebels claim independence and form a new kingdom. Second in command are the generals, also leading strong armies and able to take control of the rebellion if the initial leader dies. Finally, we have minor rebel armies, which do not have a leader and are initially smaller. What rebels do at their core is still similar to Knights of Honor – they cause havoc by pillaging settlements and occupying towns, but now rebel armies can reinforce each other and act together. Once a rebellion gets a considerable strength and holds provinces for a period of time, they either form a new kingdom (or restore a destroyed one), or join a near-by kingdom they are sympathetic to. From all that, some possible strategies emerge. Firstly, time is of the essence, since rebellions grow in strength, number of armies and new generals can emerge. A player can strike them fast or take his time to prepare well and try to outgrow the danger. Secondly, there are choices on which armies to attack, and when. Picking on the smaller armies reduces the rebellion strength and the damage it does, and is subsequently much easier to do. Fighting the leader directly may result in the immediate end of a rebellion, and thus all its armies will disperse, but usually it is hardest to do. We also plan to include other non-military ways to deal with rebels and possibly even benefit from them, if you can meet their demands and send them towards your enemies. One way is arming rebel leaders you have captured in the royal dungeon. Since they remain rebels and not strictly your armies, such actions are not considered as an act of war from your kingdom and players can use such means as a cunning and effective part of their strategy to weaken enemies or even gain new territories. A special type of rebellion, and those you could benefit most from, are the Loyalists. Such rebellions can be formed in many ways – they can emerge without your direct control, if you have strong influence in foreign lands that have high rebel risk or if your own loyal provinces are occupied by an enemy - people that love their king and nation, and are ready to risk their life defending it. You can also turn enemy knights to your loyalist rebels in various ways, e.g. bribing a foreign marshal to fight against his unworthy ruler. Loyalists are also not such renegades as normal rebels – they do not attack the kingdom they are loyal to and its allies, nor pillage their settlements. You can even fight side by side with loyalists, though you’ll be unable to directly control their armies. Once the time for independence comes, they always join the kingdom they are loyal to or form it once again, if it has been previous eliminated; leaders and generals can join the royal court, respectively. Another thing we wanted to reinforce is providing incentives for players to fight against rebels in the foreign lands of their friends and good neighbors. Your armies grow more experienced in the battles they undertake, you get the gold these rebels have pillaged, relations with the attacked kingdom improves, since you help them with the threat. You reduce the tension in your own neighboring provinces, since rebels nearby can cause it, even if they are not within your kingdom. Finally, you don’t want immensely strong rebellions growing near you anyway, since their armies might march towards you as well! In many cases, this is more than a worthy motivation to get involved. Though, sometimes it also may be fun to stay calm and watch the neighboring lands burn and fade, especially if you have plans to take a piece of the falling kingdom afterwards. The bottom line is that we put a lot of focus and attention in trying to make rebels not just a tedious problem that players must deal with in one possible manner – extermination – but rather allow more strategies for how to face them and even to use them to your advantage. We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, June 11th, @ 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’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you find rebel armies an important part of the KoH series, or rather something tiresome to deal with? Do you prefer just to deal with the emerging rebels by force or prefer to make some effort in keeping your population calm – and by making them happy or instilling fear? What reactions of the disobedient population do you find interesting – maybe strikes, crimes, robberies and corruption, or something fancier? Or do you prefer less significant events to be left out of the game and focus just on the important stuff – rebellions? Next time we will take a break from the gameplay and talk about another significant aspect of the game – Audio design and Music. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!
  13. Hello friends, and welcome to the 7th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! This time we will look into stability, revolt risk, rebellious population and rebellions – the final stage of population’s uproar. As it was historically, in KoH2:S, empires can also crumble from the inside. It is crucial for the players with ambitions to rule vast lands to know well what factors play a role in stability and how they can prevent or deal with the population’s discontent. Stability and revolt risk are the two elements, competing with each other, that represent how content a kingdom’s people are. There are many factors, some local to a specific province, others regional, or even global, for a kingdom. On a global scale, the easy (but not cheap) steps to reduce the tension are to increase Crown authority (a very important parameter of each kingdom we will discuss later on) and decrease taxes. Some problems can be pretty difficult to tackle once created, like too high war exhaustion, built over time, or hunger and starvation amongst the people. There are some factors you cannot even really control – e.g. recent death of your king! On a local level, there is much more you can do to prevent a crisis – mainly, providing establishments (buildings, districts), that increase the happiness and local authority, as well as assigning a governor, whose class and skills provide positive effects. Thus, even if the overall state in your kingdom is not too good, some of your provinces may remain more obedient than others. The opposite is true as well – some provinces may be more problematic and here the usual wrongdoers are religious and cultural tension, when the majority of the population in the region differs with your kingdom in those aspects. Also, rebellions that are already underway and any rebel presence in a province or its neighbors can increase revolt risk too. So, as we spoke in earlier DevDiaries, it is very important which strategies a player chooses and how much care they spend on cultural and religious conversion of the population, influence of their kingdom, and how fast they will expand. We didn’t want to make the rebellions simply a punishing mechanic, but to provide the players with many choices, and to achieve that we needed to provide them with time to react and a clear visual representation. So, what we added is “rebellious population”. These are generally the people, unsatisfied by your rulership. How fast they grow in a province depends on the revolt risk, but even if its value is high, it will take time for them to multiply and take actions. Thus, watchful players can react and turn the tides. As an economy effect, the rebellious population is inefficient – it does not help in new construction, refuses to pay tax, and won’t join the army. As more of your people “turn red”, chances for them to act increase and the actions they take become more dire. Initially, they can migrate to nearby provinces or reinforce ongoing rebellions. Only if the tension continues to rise unchecked can they start a rebellion of their own – you never know exactly when this will happen, but leave the masses unsatisfied for a long period and it surely will. A wise ruler must always expect rebellions, though. Even if everything looks perfect, some special events and sometimes foreign intervention, especially from those sneaky spies, might cause a rebel problem within your seemingly stable kingdom. Single missteps might make your knights go rogue (e.g. a cleric, unable to accept the change of a kingdom’s religion) and riots in your royal dungeon might escalate. Sometimes, you might just be misfortunate. For example, crusaders may decide to go rogue while passing through your kingdom, or rebel armies that formed in a neighboring kingdom, could decide to pay you a visit. This means some preparation to react to such situations is always beneficial. Prevention is crucial, but you can never be 100% sure. We wanted to add more gameplay and choices in the fights against rebels as well, so we are trying to make them a bit more complex and, hopefully, interesting. That’s why we created more cohesive feature set around rebellions themselves. Rebellions are a larger “structure”, that includes occupied provinces, zones of operation, and of course, the rebel armies – this time with a hierarchy. They always have one rebel leader, who controls the strongest army and is proclaimed king if the rebels claim independence and form a new kingdom. Second in command are the generals, also leading strong armies and able to take control of the rebellion if the initial leader dies. Finally, we have minor rebel armies, which do not have a leader and are initially smaller. What rebels do at their core is still similar to Knights of Honor – they cause havoc by pillaging settlements and occupying towns, but now rebel armies can reinforce each other and act together. Once a rebellion gets a considerable strength and holds provinces for a period of time, they either form a new kingdom (or restore a destroyed one), or join a near-by kingdom they are sympathetic to. From all that, some possible strategies emerge. Firstly, time is of the essence, since rebellions grow in strength, number of armies and new generals can emerge. A player can strike them fast or take his time to prepare well and try to outgrow the danger. Secondly, there are choices on which armies to attack, and when. Picking on the smaller armies reduces the rebellion strength and the damage it does, and is subsequently much easier to do. Fighting the leader directly may result in the immediate end of a rebellion, and thus all its armies will disperse, but usually it is hardest to do. We also plan to include other non-military ways to deal with rebels and possibly even benefit from them, if you can meet their demands and send them towards your enemies. One way is arming rebel leaders you have captured in the royal dungeon. Since they remain rebels and not strictly your armies, such actions are not considered as an act of war from your kingdom and players can use such means as a cunning and effective part of their strategy to weaken enemies or even gain new territories. A special type of rebellion, and those you could benefit most from, are the Loyalists. Such rebellions can be formed in many ways – they can emerge without your direct control, if you have strong influence in foreign lands that have high rebel risk or if your own loyal provinces are occupied by an enemy - people that love their king and nation, and are ready to risk their life defending it. You can also turn enemy knights to your loyalist rebels in various ways, e.g. bribing a foreign marshal to fight against his unworthy ruler. Loyalists are also not such renegades as normal rebels – they do not attack the kingdom they are loyal to and its allies, nor pillage their settlements. You can even fight side by side with loyalists, though you’ll be unable to directly control their armies. Once the time for independence comes, they always join the kingdom they are loyal to or form it once again, if it has been previous eliminated; leaders and generals can join the royal court, respectively. Another thing we wanted to reinforce is providing incentives for players to fight against rebels in the foreign lands of their friends and good neighbors. Your armies grow more experienced in the battles they undertake, you get the gold these rebels have pillaged, relations with the attacked kingdom improves, since you help them with the threat. You reduce the tension in your own neighboring provinces, since rebels nearby can cause it, even if they are not within your kingdom. Finally, you don’t want immensely strong rebellions growing near you anyway, since their armies might march towards you as well! In many cases, this is more than a worthy motivation to get involved. Though, sometimes it also may be fun to stay calm and watch the neighboring lands burn and fade, especially if you have plans to take a piece of the falling kingdom afterwards. The bottom line is that we put a lot of focus and attention in trying to make rebels not just a tedious problem that players must deal with in one possible manner – extermination – but rather allow more strategies for how to face them and even to use them to your advantage. We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, June 11th, @ 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’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you find rebel armies an important part of the KoH series, or rather something tiresome to deal with? Do you prefer just to deal with the emerging rebels by force or prefer to make some effort in keeping your population calm – and by making them happy or instilling fear? What reactions of the disobedient population do you find interesting – maybe strikes, crimes, robberies and corruption, or something fancier? Or do you prefer less significant events to be left out of the game and focus just on the important stuff – rebellions? Next time we will take a break from the gameplay and talk about another significant aspect of the game – Audio design and Music. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer! View full article
  14. Hello friends, and welcome to the sixth entry of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today’s topic is all about the cultures in KoH2:S and how we weaved their historical representation into the gameplay and visuals of the game. When we talk about cultures, there is one really important thing to keep in mind. Diversity. We live in a world with a rich variety of cultures, every one of which has its own specific histories, songs, food and even mannerisms. All this is valid for the Middle ages as well and thus it became the foundation of how cultures work in KoH2:S. We dived deep into historical sources so that the various regions of our map reflected the cultures that thrived there during the Middle ages. We didn’t just stop with the big cultures like Arabic, or Nordic and the state of “there were Berbers in Northern Africa,” but were aiming to include unique tribes of certain regions too – the Sanhaja, Zenata, Tuareg – the “small” cultures the compose the big, widely known, cultural groups. Same goes for the European cultures – yes, there are the French, but also the Occitans, the Normans, and other cultures that are classified in the Latin group. Mirroring this rich cultural landscape in KoH2:S naturally adds another layer of gameplay depth in the game. Just as in the original, it’s not enough to conquer territories to “paint the map”. Your army might physically occupy a territory, but the people may not be loyal to you yet. They could riot, they could resist. One occupied province might bleed your kingdom dry in the wrong circumstances – from your armies, to your economy. Here our cultural spread system comes into play. It’s based on how civilization’s culture evolves, diversifies and disappears throughout history. This was mostly a slow and continuous process, but sometimes it could’ve been forceful – with one culture assimilating another with stark change in the population’s lifestyle (like religious conversion). In KoH2:S, this process works like this: the culture of one province or kingdom is constantly affecting its neighbouring provinces. More provinces with the same culture all bordering one province with different culture have a greater conversion influence, meaning this province could be ripe for conquering by providing less problems when assimilating it into your kingdom. There are some ground rules to that, of course. Cultures from the same group influence each other easier, while those from different ones have a hard time taking over one another. For example, you can play through the historical cultural tensions on the Iberian Peninsula – both before and after the Reconquista, depending on which period you choose at start. If a Catalan king decides to conquer a Castilian province, the closely related cultures will allow for smoother conquest in that aspect. Matters would be even easier if the player made an effort to expand his kingdom’s influence to those particular neighbors by taking advantage of the other tools we prepared for faster cultural conversion (more on that in a future DevDiary), but the Andalusians will have a hard time spreading their influence over the Catalans, and vice versa, even if the territories held by them are bigger, better, stronger. Cultures play a noticeable role when it comes to visuals as well. Castles, cities, clothes – we’re trying our best to have each rooted in the respective culture of their region. There is a delicate balance when creating these elements though, one between the rich cultural diversity of the Medieval World and the amount of historical visual data available for the different cultures we’re exploring, some of which is quite limited. We often felt pulled between two choices: choice A, to fully capture the visual nuance of all well documented cultures, leaving a number of cultures with less than ideal visualization, bordering on Narnia, and not history, or choice B, to compile known elements from cultures in a major cultural group in order to achieve combined a visual style that would be most appropriate. We choose the latter. In KoH2:S, you can see the iconic castles of Western Europe and also the traditional wooden Stave Churches of the freshly Christianized Nordic lands. The European queens are admiring their tiaras, while the Arabic malikas are putting on their beautiful hijabs. We aimed for equal representation for each culture as much as possible, keeping in mind what the player actually sees most of the time. There is less emphasis on the so called “ambient life” (villagers, region specific animals, flying fish), although there are some unique aspects there as well, and more on what’s really important, like the armies. We wanted each cultural group to field distinctive units when possible – both from a visual and a gameplay standpoint - to ensure the lasting feeling of “Yes, I am a Nordic king and this is my fearsome Nordic army”. The Europeans have their heavier armors, while the Steppe armies are relying on equipment that doesn’t hinder their superior swiftness. The real sight to behold, however, are the special units like the Mongol heavy lancers riding against the Novgorodian Boyars, or Camel riders walking the sands of North Africa, side by side with the Mamluk cavalry. Riding at the front of each army is the Marshal, whose model we’re pushing to be the most iconic of them all. Another crucial piece of visual information we wanted to get just right was accurate names and nobility titles for each cultural group, so the Royal court had a genuine feel to it. For each culture we filled pools with names, sometimes numbering in the thousands, and the majority of which belonged to real medieval people. Naturally, we wanted to emphasize this even further and what better way to do that than to include starting real-life dynasties. We went over mountains of data in order to put the rightful king, queen and their offspring on their respective thrones as best we could for each of the game periods. We even tried to find how Dobrotitsa’s wife was called, and where historical sources failed us (like in the case of Dobrotitsa), we left it to chance and those huge pools of names. We are pretty sure that the Doge of Venice won’t ever be called Tvrtko, as long as the republic keeps its original culture. All this work is really oriented towards one goal - to immerse you in the medieval setting of KoH2 through the unique cultures of that time. We hope you enjoy it, and have a great time playing in this unique era the way you want to, in a backdrop that is immersive and engaging. We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, May 7th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream. We really want to hear your thoughts, as cultures are a defining element of the KoH2:S’s experience and we want to make them the best they can be. Jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. Would you take your time to strategically influence provinces with your kingdom’s culture before conquering them, or would you crush the resistance with brute force? Would you accept a different culture overtaking your own just to get its unique special units? Would you pick a starting kingdom based on its culture because of the special visuals and cultural perks that come with it, or do these aspects not really factor into your decisions? Your feedback is critically important, as you never know what comments may help us build the best KoH2:S Culture feature set we can!
  15. Hello friends, and welcome to the sixth entry of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today’s topic is all about the cultures in KoH2:S and how we weaved their historical representation into the gameplay and visuals of the game. When we talk about cultures, there is one really important thing to keep in mind. Diversity. We live in a world with a rich variety of cultures, every one of which has its own specific histories, songs, food and even mannerisms. All this is valid for the Middle ages as well and thus it became the foundation of how cultures work in KoH2:S. We dived deep into historical sources so that the various regions of our map reflected the cultures that thrived there during the Middle ages. We didn’t just stop with the big cultures like Arabic, or Nordic and the state of “there were Berbers in Northern Africa,” but were aiming to include unique tribes of certain regions too – the Sanhaja, Zenata, Tuareg – the “small” cultures the compose the big, widely known, cultural groups. Same goes for the European cultures – yes, there are the French, but also the Occitans, the Normans, and other cultures that are classified in the Latin group. Mirroring this rich cultural landscape in KoH2:S naturally adds another layer of gameplay depth in the game. Just as in the original, it’s not enough to conquer territories to “paint the map”. Your army might physically occupy a territory, but the people may not be loyal to you yet. They could riot, they could resist. One occupied province might bleed your kingdom dry in the wrong circumstances – from your armies, to your economy. Here our cultural spread system comes into play. It’s based on how civilization’s culture evolves, diversifies and disappears throughout history. This was mostly a slow and continuous process, but sometimes it could’ve been forceful – with one culture assimilating another with stark change in the population’s lifestyle (like religious conversion). In KoH2:S, this process works like this: the culture of one province or kingdom is constantly affecting its neighbouring provinces. More provinces with the same culture all bordering one province with different culture have a greater conversion influence, meaning this province could be ripe for conquering by providing less problems when assimilating it into your kingdom. There are some ground rules to that, of course. Cultures from the same group influence each other easier, while those from different ones have a hard time taking over one another. For example, you can play through the historical cultural tensions on the Iberian Peninsula – both before and after the Reconquista, depending on which period you choose at start. If a Catalan king decides to conquer a Castilian province, the closely related cultures will allow for smoother conquest in that aspect. Matters would be even easier if the player made an effort to expand his kingdom’s influence to those particular neighbors by taking advantage of the other tools we prepared for faster cultural conversion (more on that in a future DevDiary), but the Andalusians will have a hard time spreading their influence over the Catalans, and vice versa, even if the territories held by them are bigger, better, stronger. Cultures play a noticeable role when it comes to visuals as well. Castles, cities, clothes – we’re trying our best to have each rooted in the respective culture of their region. There is a delicate balance when creating these elements though, one between the rich cultural diversity of the Medieval World and the amount of historical visual data available for the different cultures we’re exploring, some of which is quite limited. We often felt pulled between two choices: choice A, to fully capture the visual nuance of all well documented cultures, leaving a number of cultures with less than ideal visualization, bordering on Narnia, and not history, or choice B, to compile known elements from cultures in a major cultural group in order to achieve combined a visual style that would be most appropriate. We choose the latter. In KoH2:S, you can see the iconic castles of Western Europe and also the traditional wooden Stave Churches of the freshly Christianized Nordic lands. The European queens are admiring their tiaras, while the Arabic malikas are putting on their beautiful hijabs. We aimed for equal representation for each culture as much as possible, keeping in mind what the player actually sees most of the time. There is less emphasis on the so called “ambient life” (villagers, region specific animals, flying fish), although there are some unique aspects there as well, and more on what’s really important, like the armies. We wanted each cultural group to field distinctive units when possible – both from a visual and a gameplay standpoint - to ensure the lasting feeling of “Yes, I am a Nordic king and this is my fearsome Nordic army”. The Europeans have their heavier armors, while the Steppe armies are relying on equipment that doesn’t hinder their superior swiftness. The real sight to behold, however, are the special units like the Mongol heavy lancers riding against the Novgorodian Boyars, or Camel riders walking the sands of North Africa, side by side with the Mamluk cavalry. Riding at the front of each army is the Marshal, whose model we’re pushing to be the most iconic of them all. Another crucial piece of visual information we wanted to get just right was accurate names and nobility titles for each cultural group, so the Royal court had a genuine feel to it. For each culture we filled pools with names, sometimes numbering in the thousands, and the majority of which belonged to real medieval people. Naturally, we wanted to emphasize this even further and what better way to do that than to include starting real-life dynasties. We went over mountains of data in order to put the rightful king, queen and their offspring on their respective thrones as best we could for each of the game periods. We even tried to find how Dobrotitsa’s wife was called, and where historical sources failed us (like in the case of Dobrotitsa), we left it to chance and those huge pools of names. We are pretty sure that the Doge of Venice won’t ever be called Tvrtko, as long as the republic keeps its original culture. All this work is really oriented towards one goal - to immerse you in the medieval setting of KoH2 through the unique cultures of that time. We hope you enjoy it, and have a great time playing in this unique era the way you want to, in a backdrop that is immersive and engaging. We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, May 7th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream. We really want to hear your thoughts, as cultures are a defining element of the KoH2:S’s experience and we want to make them the best they can be. Jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. Would you take your time to strategically influence provinces with your kingdom’s culture before conquering them, or would you crush the resistance with brute force? Would you accept a different culture overtaking your own just to get its unique special units? Would you pick a starting kingdom based on its culture because of the special visuals and cultural perks that come with it, or do these aspects not really factor into your decisions? Your feedback is critically important, as you never know what comments may help us build the best KoH2:S Culture feature set we can! View full article
  16. Hello friends, and welcome to the fifth entry of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today, we will be talking about one of the game’s most fundamental aspects - warfare. More precisely, the focus will be on marshals, their role, and the types of troops which can fall under their command. Being one of the five main classes in KoH2:S, marshals play a very specific and important part in the game, and that’s to lead armies across provinces, fight enemy forces, and paint the political map with your kingdom’s colors. As conquest and expansion were arguably amongst the most important aspects of the original game, we have made sure to encapsulate what marshals were and expand on their concept further. Each knight in the royal court may lead a number of squads depending on his class and specialization. This is a major change compared to the original game and means that you can turn merchants, spies, diplomats and even clerics into somewhat efficient commanders. The ability to lead troops is unlocked for these classes by certain skills – in specific, all military ones. So, if your trusty merchant learns Infantry tactics, this means he can now muster up a hefty army and replace the quill with a sword at any time. However, marshals possess a major advantage to these classes, and that’s the ability to control a larger number of squads. For the time being, marshals can lead up to 9 squads, which is 3 more than what other classes may have within their retinues. Kings and crusaders also have an additional bonus on the number of squads they can control, making encounters against their forces particularly challenging. An additional military advantage of marshals is the skills the class can acquire. Specifically, marshals can learn more military-related skills than the other classes. These mostly focus on aspects of warfare such as siegecraft, archery and leadership, and usually grant additional battle tactics and actions that knights of other classes wouldn’t normally gain. As marshal are natural-born leaders, they also tend to inspire their troops more, which results in higher morale and more epic battles. It’s important to note that not every skill is necessarily locked to marshals, as other knights may also end up possessing them in one way or another. To explain this best, let’s take Archery as an example. For all classes, having the skill means ranged squads under their command gain higher attack values. However, if a marshal owns the same skill, he has the added benefit of recruiting archers with an increased squad size. We can even go further and look at spies, which instead have their own unique take on Archery, both on and off the battlefield. As an example, they might have a higher chance to “snipe” enemy marshals on the battlefield, or obtain an affinity for arranging “hunting incidents” on foreign grounds. These are just a few cool samples; skills are a compelling aspect of how classes work, and we’ll talk about skills more in a future diary. Squads and armies can normally be recruited from any town within your kingdom. In general, the resources which are required to produce troops include food and population, which are gathered in each town - just like in the original game. Additionally, some squads may also require specific goods produced or imported within your kingdom. A typical example are horses, which are needed for producing all sorts of cavalry. Each squad then consists of a varying number of units, depending on what fits the type of troops from both a balance and historical point of view. In general, we aim to have numbers similar to those in the original games, as we favor smaller squad sizes and more dynamic battles. As a rough orientation, most infantry squads currently consist of 30 units, while the majority of cavalry squads have 21 horsemen. Militia type squads are also the biggest, since their only combat advantage is their strength in numbers. However, players will be able to control larger numbers of squads, so expect to see significantly bigger battles compared to the original game. Now, let’s see what it takes to maintain a marshal with a sizeable army. Like other classes in the game, marshals don’t work for free and cost gold to be hired. (The only exceptions to this rule are members of the royal family, which may enter the court for free.) After hiring a knight, players must also pay his wage, which increases progressively with each additional knight of the same type recruited within the court. In other words - having too many knights of the same class is really costly. Additionally, each army squad also has an upkeep cost, with the exact resources depending on what recruiting strategies players decide to utilize. All recruited armies take up some amount of food upkeep from the kingdom’s global food reserves. Mercenary squads prefer more gold, though. One significant addition is that squads now also have their own level, which also increases as they participate in successful battles. Each level increases various squad statistics such as attack, defense, stamina and morale. This means that as you find the right synergy between your knights’ skills and their armies’ characteristics, you’ll want to make sure specific squads are kept alive for longer periods. All of these factors play a deciding role in close battles, where numbers might not seem to be in your favour. When developing an army, picking a healthy mix of varied unit types is often the best approach if you want to be equipped to handle all types of invading troops. For example, you might want to include a bunch of spearmen to defend against enemy cavalry squads charging against your archers, as you have your sturdy infantry troops maintain the frontline. On the side, you could also throw in some highly mobile horse archers for flanking and harassing purposes. Of course, focusing on one type of units may also be beneficial. For example, fast horsemen can quickly deal with weak rebel armies across your kingdom or harass and pillage enemy provinces, avoiding heavier but slower armies. The composition of armies affects not only their speed in battle, but also the traveling speed in the world map. There’s so much more we can talk about when it comes to combat, but this should at least cover the essentials of what it takes to manage skilled commanders and fearsome armies. Be sure to tune in to our DevStream on Thursday, April 9th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST, where we will try to answer any questions you might have about marshals and squads in Knights of Honor 2: Sovereign. As usual, expect to see us on THQ Nordic’s Twitch channel over at https://www.twitch.tv/thqnordic. Are there any specific new units you wish to see in Knights of Honor 2? Can you name your most preferred army setup? What’s the perfect number of marshals to have in your royal court? Feel free to ask any questions in advance on our forums, or join our Facebook and Discord channels. Next time, we will discuss culture, and how it affects different aspects of the game. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!
  17. Hello friends, and welcome to the fifth entry of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today, we will be talking about one of the game’s most fundamental aspects - warfare. More precisely, the focus will be on marshals, their role, and the types of troops which can fall under their command. Being one of the five main classes in KoH2:S, marshals play a very specific and important part in the game, and that’s to lead armies across provinces, fight enemy forces, and paint the political map with your kingdom’s colors. As conquest and expansion were arguably amongst the most important aspects of the original game, we have made sure to encapsulate what marshals were and expand on their concept further. Each knight in the royal court may lead a number of squads depending on his class and specialization. This is a major change compared to the original game and means that you can turn merchants, spies, diplomats and even clerics into somewhat efficient commanders. The ability to lead troops is unlocked for these classes by certain skills – in specific, all military ones. So, if your trusty merchant learns Infantry tactics, this means he can now muster up a hefty army and replace the quill with a sword at any time. However, marshals possess a major advantage to these classes, and that’s the ability to control a larger number of squads. For the time being, marshals can lead up to 9 squads, which is 3 more than what other classes may have within their retinues. Kings and crusaders also have an additional bonus on the number of squads they can control, making encounters against their forces particularly challenging. An additional military advantage of marshals is the skills the class can acquire. Specifically, marshals can learn more military-related skills than the other classes. These mostly focus on aspects of warfare such as siegecraft, archery and leadership, and usually grant additional battle tactics and actions that knights of other classes wouldn’t normally gain. As marshal are natural-born leaders, they also tend to inspire their troops more, which results in higher morale and more epic battles. It’s important to note that not every skill is necessarily locked to marshals, as other knights may also end up possessing them in one way or another. To explain this best, let’s take Archery as an example. For all classes, having the skill means ranged squads under their command gain higher attack values. However, if a marshal owns the same skill, he has the added benefit of recruiting archers with an increased squad size. We can even go further and look at spies, which instead have their own unique take on Archery, both on and off the battlefield. As an example, they might have a higher chance to “snipe” enemy marshals on the battlefield, or obtain an affinity for arranging “hunting incidents” on foreign grounds. These are just a few cool samples; skills are a compelling aspect of how classes work, and we’ll talk about skills more in a future diary. Squads and armies can normally be recruited from any town within your kingdom. In general, the resources which are required to produce troops include food and population, which are gathered in each town - just like in the original game. Additionally, some squads may also require specific goods produced or imported within your kingdom. A typical example are horses, which are needed for producing all sorts of cavalry. Each squad then consists of a varying number of units, depending on what fits the type of troops from both a balance and historical point of view. In general, we aim to have numbers similar to those in the original games, as we favor smaller squad sizes and more dynamic battles. As a rough orientation, most infantry squads currently consist of 30 units, while the majority of cavalry squads have 21 horsemen. Militia type squads are also the biggest, since their only combat advantage is their strength in numbers. However, players will be able to control larger numbers of squads, so expect to see significantly bigger battles compared to the original game. Now, let’s see what it takes to maintain a marshal with a sizeable army. Like other classes in the game, marshals don’t work for free and cost gold to be hired. (The only exceptions to this rule are members of the royal family, which may enter the court for free.) After hiring a knight, players must also pay his wage, which increases progressively with each additional knight of the same type recruited within the court. In other words - having too many knights of the same class is really costly. Additionally, each army squad also has an upkeep cost, with the exact resources depending on what recruiting strategies players decide to utilize. All recruited armies take up some amount of food upkeep from the kingdom’s global food reserves. Mercenary squads prefer more gold, though. One significant addition is that squads now also have their own level, which also increases as they participate in successful battles. Each level increases various squad statistics such as attack, defense, stamina and morale. This means that as you find the right synergy between your knights’ skills and their armies’ characteristics, you’ll want to make sure specific squads are kept alive for longer periods. All of these factors play a deciding role in close battles, where numbers might not seem to be in your favour. When developing an army, picking a healthy mix of varied unit types is often the best approach if you want to be equipped to handle all types of invading troops. For example, you might want to include a bunch of spearmen to defend against enemy cavalry squads charging against your archers, as you have your sturdy infantry troops maintain the frontline. On the side, you could also throw in some highly mobile horse archers for flanking and harassing purposes. Of course, focusing on one type of units may also be beneficial. For example, fast horsemen can quickly deal with weak rebel armies across your kingdom or harass and pillage enemy provinces, avoiding heavier but slower armies. The composition of armies affects not only their speed in battle, but also the traveling speed in the world map. There’s so much more we can talk about when it comes to combat, but this should at least cover the essentials of what it takes to manage skilled commanders and fearsome armies. Be sure to tune in to our DevStream on Thursday, April 9th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST, where we will try to answer any questions you might have about marshals and squads in Knights of Honor 2: Sovereign. As usual, expect to see us on THQ Nordic’s Twitch channel over at https://www.twitch.tv/thqnordic. Are there any specific new units you wish to see in Knights of Honor 2? Can you name your most preferred army setup? What’s the perfect number of marshals to have in your royal court? Feel free to ask any questions in advance on our forums, or join our Facebook and Discord channels. Next time, we will discuss culture, and how it affects different aspects of the game. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer! View full article
  18. Hello friends, and welcome to the fourth DevDiary of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today we start talking about the military aspect of the game, covering the invasion process, which includes battles, occupations, and assimilation. Though there are different strategies that players can explore to defend and broaden their empires, wars are almost inevitable, and they are undoubtedly the most straightforward expansion method as well. However, victory is not always easy to accomplish, as you will soon see. Let’s first sidetrack a bit and take a quick look at the territorial structure of the world in KoH2:S. As in the first game, the world is divided into roughly 300 provinces, which vary greatly in size, settlement types and count, natural resources, geographical features and more. Each province is centralized around a single town, representing the province’s seat of power. Ownership over the town equals ownership over the entire province, including all their settlements, so, regarding control, it is all or nothing. There is one interesting exception of this rule in KoH2:S – Keeps can be controlled separately from the provinces, which reduces the overall defensive capabilities of the province and provides some attrition damage against the enemies of a keeps’ occupier (including armies of the province’s owner). In a future DevDiary, we will take a closer look at the provinces, settlements and towns from an economy perspective, but for now, let’s leave it there. Back on overtaking an enemy town and thus – a province. Conquering a town requires good preparation and a strong army. It always starts with a siege. Sieges are long, with different ways in which the defenses can crack. One primary factor is based on the defender’s resilience. Another major factor is how strong and experienced the enemy troops and marshal are at siege warfare. You also take into account many elements of the town itself: is the town well-guarded? Are their strong walls? How long will the food supplies last? Starving and hopeless, the defending armies can be driven into a desperate attempt to break the siege or forced into surrendering. Once the defenders are lured in a break siege battle or the attackers start a full-fledged assault (costly action while the defenses stay strong), things develop quickly. If the attackers win, the province is now occupied. They now have control, but not yet ownership. In this specific state, they cannot substantially benefit from the province, but neither can the owner – all constructions, production, trade, army training and otherwise are put on hold. The occupier controls the military facilities, though, and benefits from the fortifications. They can visit the town with an army and deploy garrison troops. These are often dark times for the population – there is no civil government, the stability drops, there is a high chance of migration, rebellions and such. Note the stripes in the image above. The world view in KoH2:S is a beautiful miniature and we want it to stay that way, but it's easy to lose perspective over the political situation. As in the old game, we’re adding advanced political view UIs with different modes, filters, etc., which provide plenty of information to the player. However, we are also working on quick, easy, and clear ways for players to see what’s most important in the world at a glance, without needing to switch views. So, we’re adding additional layers of information in the world view itself, which players can toggle on/off with the press of a button or see while a hotkey is held – whichever they prefer. In the example above, we can see that the town of Barcelona is owned by Aragon but controlled by enemies of the player: the province of Catalonia is occupied. Once occupied, the original owner and their allies can attempt to drive back the invaders and restore control of the province. If the population hasn’t lost its loyalty, inevitably some of the people will rise up and help in the battles for liberation, forming militia squads. Loyal rebel armies can also arise. If a kingdom friendly to the owner faction performs a successful counter-attack, the owner regains control and everything starts returning to normal. Restoration of stability does take some time, since the population is usually quite agitated at this point, to say the least. The occupier, on the other side, has several different methods to take full control of the province and become the new owner. If all the initial owner’s territories are occupied, the occupier can forcefully annex the lands they control. This is easier if they solely control the defeated kingdom, and more complicated if there are multiple kingdoms involved in the occupation – it is a bit unpredictable how the separation of the kingdom’s territories will go if the spoils are divided among multiple parties. Even if the owner kingdom is not completely occupied, a peace treaty can lead to exchange of some lands as well. While a war is going on, an individual province can be annexed in several different ways as well. Some of these options are more forceful than others, but all require the time and attention of a trusted Royal Court knight. These methods shouldn’t be used haphazardly, however, as they all have their cost and some may have various severe repercussions, not the least of which is being “frowned upon” by other kingdoms. There is risk, as being too ruthless could have the world start viewing you as “The mad king who must to be stopped”. Even gaining full control and ownership of a province is not the end. Yes, at this point order is restored and with it economy, development and army training, but culture, religion and loyalty of the population are key factors for the stability of the province. If a kingdom cares too little for these factors and expands quickly and recklessly, tension within the kingdom’s borders can rise and chaos may follow. It takes time and proper measures to reduce the tension, possibly converting the local religion and culture and in the end – gain the loyalty of the population to assimilate them properly. Only then can the province be fully considered as a stable, fully functional part of the kingdom. In the end, it takes a good strategist to build an empire. Poor decisions can cause kingdoms to crumble from the inside, so wise actions are needed when problems arise. Whether players choose to tackle problems by gaining the sympathy of their subjects or by crushing any disobedience with an iron fist, it is completely up to them to forge their people’s future. In comparison to KoH:1, we are working hard to enable even more playstyles to bring out additional strategies when players start Invasions. However, we want to preserve the aggressive conquest playstyle too – yes, there will be different obstacles to overcome compared to expanding slowly – but it will still be a valid strategy for those who prefer it. If you want to organize a military force that makes the Old World tremble, and disregard what the other kingdoms like and find “civilized,” you certainly can! We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, March 12th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream. We really want to hear your thoughts, as Invasions are a defining element of the core gameplay loop and we are still iterating here. Jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. Would you rather try to make a rapid expansion, overwhelming your enemies and dealing with the population uproar later on, or slowly and steadily acquire new territories, ensuring the stability of your lands before taking new ones? Would you rely on cultural and religious influence to convert your new subjects, or show that any resistance against the crown will not be tolerated? Would you like more depth in the process of conquering territories, or do you find everything besides maintaining a strong army and crushing your enemies in battle more of a boring and tedious activity? Your feedback is critically important. You never know what comments may help us build the best KoH2:S Invasion feature set we can! Next time we will take a deeper look on the pawns of war – Marshals and Armies. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!
  19. Hello friends, and welcome to the fourth DevDiary of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today we start talking about the military aspect of the game, covering the invasion process, which includes battles, occupations, and assimilation. Though there are different strategies that players can explore to defend and broaden their empires, wars are almost inevitable, and they are undoubtedly the most straightforward expansion method as well. However, victory is not always easy to accomplish, as you will soon see. Let’s first sidetrack a bit and take a quick look at the territorial structure of the world in KoH2:S. As in the first game, the world is divided into roughly 300 provinces, which vary greatly in size, settlement types and count, natural resources, geographical features and more. Each province is centralized around a single town, representing the province’s seat of power. Ownership over the town equals ownership over the entire province, including all their settlements, so, regarding control, it is all or nothing. There is one interesting exception of this rule in KoH2:S – Keeps can be controlled separately from the provinces, which reduces the overall defensive capabilities of the province and provides some attrition damage against the enemies of a keeps’ occupier (including armies of the province’s owner). In a future DevDiary, we will take a closer look at the provinces, settlements and towns from an economy perspective, but for now, let’s leave it there. Back on overtaking an enemy town and thus – a province. Conquering a town requires good preparation and a strong army. It always starts with a siege. Sieges are long, with different ways in which the defenses can crack. One primary factor is based on the defender’s resilience. Another major factor is how strong and experienced the enemy troops and marshal are at siege warfare. You also take into account many elements of the town itself: is the town well-guarded? Are their strong walls? How long will the food supplies last? Starving and hopeless, the defending armies can be driven into a desperate attempt to break the siege or forced into surrendering. Once the defenders are lured in a break siege battle or the attackers start a full-fledged assault (costly action while the defenses stay strong), things develop quickly. If the attackers win, the province is now occupied. They now have control, but not yet ownership. In this specific state, they cannot substantially benefit from the province, but neither can the owner – all constructions, production, trade, army training and otherwise are put on hold. The occupier controls the military facilities, though, and benefits from the fortifications. They can visit the town with an army and deploy garrison troops. These are often dark times for the population – there is no civil government, the stability drops, there is a high chance of migration, rebellions and such. Note the stripes in the image above. The world view in KoH2:S is a beautiful miniature and we want it to stay that way, but it's easy to lose perspective over the political situation. As in the old game, we’re adding advanced political view UIs with different modes, filters, etc., which provide plenty of information to the player. However, we are also working on quick, easy, and clear ways for players to see what’s most important in the world at a glance, without needing to switch views. So, we’re adding additional layers of information in the world view itself, which players can toggle on/off with the press of a button or see while a hotkey is held – whichever they prefer. In the example above, we can see that the town of Barcelona is owned by Aragon but controlled by enemies of the player: the province of Catalonia is occupied. Once occupied, the original owner and their allies can attempt to drive back the invaders and restore control of the province. If the population hasn’t lost its loyalty, inevitably some of the people will rise up and help in the battles for liberation, forming militia squads. Loyal rebel armies can also arise. If a kingdom friendly to the owner faction performs a successful counter-attack, the owner regains control and everything starts returning to normal. Restoration of stability does take some time, since the population is usually quite agitated at this point, to say the least. The occupier, on the other side, has several different methods to take full control of the province and become the new owner. If all the initial owner’s territories are occupied, the occupier can forcefully annex the lands they control. This is easier if they solely control the defeated kingdom, and more complicated if there are multiple kingdoms involved in the occupation – it is a bit unpredictable how the separation of the kingdom’s territories will go if the spoils are divided among multiple parties. Even if the owner kingdom is not completely occupied, a peace treaty can lead to exchange of some lands as well. While a war is going on, an individual province can be annexed in several different ways as well. Some of these options are more forceful than others, but all require the time and attention of a trusted Royal Court knight. These methods shouldn’t be used haphazardly, however, as they all have their cost and some may have various severe repercussions, not the least of which is being “frowned upon” by other kingdoms. There is risk, as being too ruthless could have the world start viewing you as “The mad king who must to be stopped”. Even gaining full control and ownership of a province is not the end. Yes, at this point order is restored and with it economy, development and army training, but culture, religion and loyalty of the population are key factors for the stability of the province. If a kingdom cares too little for these factors and expands quickly and recklessly, tension within the kingdom’s borders can rise and chaos may follow. It takes time and proper measures to reduce the tension, possibly converting the local religion and culture and in the end – gain the loyalty of the population to assimilate them properly. Only then can the province be fully considered as a stable, fully functional part of the kingdom. In the end, it takes a good strategist to build an empire. Poor decisions can cause kingdoms to crumble from the inside, so wise actions are needed when problems arise. Whether players choose to tackle problems by gaining the sympathy of their subjects or by crushing any disobedience with an iron fist, it is completely up to them to forge their people’s future. In comparison to KoH:1, we are working hard to enable even more playstyles to bring out additional strategies when players start Invasions. However, we want to preserve the aggressive conquest playstyle too – yes, there will be different obstacles to overcome compared to expanding slowly – but it will still be a valid strategy for those who prefer it. If you want to organize a military force that makes the Old World tremble, and disregard what the other kingdoms like and find “civilized,” you certainly can! We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, March 12th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream. We really want to hear your thoughts, as Invasions are a defining element of the core gameplay loop and we are still iterating here. Jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. Would you rather try to make a rapid expansion, overwhelming your enemies and dealing with the population uproar later on, or slowly and steadily acquire new territories, ensuring the stability of your lands before taking new ones? Would you rely on cultural and religious influence to convert your new subjects, or show that any resistance against the crown will not be tolerated? Would you like more depth in the process of conquering territories, or do you find everything besides maintaining a strong army and crushing your enemies in battle more of a boring and tedious activity? Your feedback is critically important. You never know what comments may help us build the best KoH2:S Invasion feature set we can! Next time we will take a deeper look on the pawns of war – Marshals and Armies. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer! View full article
  20. Hello friends, and welcome to the third entry of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! In this one we will take a look at one of the most emblematic features for the KoH series – the royal court. We love both the atmosphere it creates and the “deck-building” element it adds to the gameplay. The royal court plays a fundamental role in our game, thus it’s not much of a coincidence our teaser trailer had the concept front and center! With this feature we are not trying to make a realistic depiction of medieval rulership. Think more of the famed King Arthur’s Round Table – the king is the central, most important figure, and by his side stand the most capable and trustworthy knights. Dynasties and the royal family also play an important role, but we’ll tell you more about the royal family in a future DevDiary. For now, let’s focus on the knights. The royal court consists of the king, who is now always a member of your court (unlike in the previous game), and up to 8 more knights, which you can recruit during the course of the game. Each knight has a class, which defines his strengths and abilities and thus they play a completely different role: Marshals: These are the most efficient army leaders and they are good at solving matters in one way only – by force. Marshals can lead bigger armies compared to other classes and usually focus on skills that improve their troop’s capabilities in battle. Merchants: Building, development, diplomacy, espionage and war – besides other things, they all require a lot of gold. Merchants are the best knights to take care of this need by exploring profitable trade opportunities with other kingdoms. Diplomats: Regardless the strength of a kingdom, it needs allies to ensure its safety and to prevail against strong enemy factions. Diplomats’ function is to make important friends and help bury the hatchet of war with enemies, before all Hell breaks loose. Spies: The usage of cunning spies is more of an offensive function. They can infiltrate enemy kingdoms, corrupt and build networks of puppets in their royal courts, and then create chaos. Kingdoms can shatter from within as a result of their actions. Clerics: A strong clergy improves the stability of the crown and calms the people, halting the spread of heresy and foreign religious influences. Clerics are also the ones to keep and protect the ancestral knowledge and wisdom. In the first game there were also Builders and Farmers, but since these turned out to be underused, we decided to skip them and instead focus on a smaller, but significant, number of classes. For example, a new feature for knights is the ability for each knight to be appointed as governor of a province, making that province become part of the Royal Lands. This increases the benefits your kingdom receives from a province and is another area where a knight’s class can play a role – different knights boost different aspects of a province, e.g. gold income and production, defensive capabilities, etc. We will share more details of the classes in upcoming DevDiaries where we have time to dig deep into their unique features. Of course, all that aid doesn’t come for free – knight wages are certainly not trivial. Players should also be careful with their actions and keep the crown authority high. Who knows what disasters might befall a kingdom whose knights lose trust in the rulership of their king and decide to serve another…? With the choice and usage of knights, players open up different possibilities to craft and shape the strategies of their kingdoms to fit their playstyles. Whether you like to overwhelm your enemies with a dreadful army, destabilize their kingdoms through espionage, influence them culturally and wait for their rulers to beg themselves for your wise rulership, or buy your way to victory with economic dominance over Europe – it is all up to you. We’re trying to make the number of combinations and different ways you can leverage your Royal Court quite expansive, and we’re excited to see how players try different strategies with the tools at their fingertips. We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, February 6th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 10:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream. So, jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. Do you find royal court management interesting and challenging? What were your favorite knight strategies and combinations from the first game? Share with us what is your preferred playstyle in grand strategies and what features you find most enjoyable. Next time we will focus more on the art of war – Marshals and armies. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!
  21. Hello friends, and welcome to the third entry of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! In this one we will take a look at one of the most emblematic features for the KoH series – the royal court. We love both the atmosphere it creates and the “deck-building” element it adds to the gameplay. The royal court plays a fundamental role in our game, thus it’s not much of a coincidence our teaser trailer had the concept front and center! With this feature we are not trying to make a realistic depiction of medieval rulership. Think more of the famed King Arthur’s Round Table – the king is the central, most important figure, and by his side stand the most capable and trustworthy knights. Dynasties and the royal family also play an important role, but we’ll tell you more about the royal family in a future DevDiary. For now, let’s focus on the knights. The royal court consists of the king, who is now always a member of your court (unlike in the previous game), and up to 8 more knights, which you can recruit during the course of the game. Each knight has a class, which defines his strengths and abilities and thus they play a completely different role: Marshals: These are the most efficient army leaders and they are good at solving matters in one way only – by force. Marshals can lead bigger armies compared to other classes and usually focus on skills that improve their troop’s capabilities in battle. Merchants: Building, development, diplomacy, espionage and war – besides other things, they all require a lot of gold. Merchants are the best knights to take care of this need by exploring profitable trade opportunities with other kingdoms. Diplomats: Regardless the strength of a kingdom, it needs allies to ensure its safety and to prevail against strong enemy factions. Diplomats’ function is to make important friends and help bury the hatchet of war with enemies, before all Hell breaks loose. Spies: The usage of cunning spies is more of an offensive function. They can infiltrate enemy kingdoms, corrupt and build networks of puppets in their royal courts, and then create chaos. Kingdoms can shatter from within as a result of their actions. Clerics: A strong clergy improves the stability of the crown and calms the people, halting the spread of heresy and foreign religious influences. Clerics are also the ones to keep and protect the ancestral knowledge and wisdom. In the first game there were also Builders and Farmers, but since these turned out to be underused, we decided to skip them and instead focus on a smaller, but significant, number of classes. For example, a new feature for knights is the ability for each knight to be appointed as governor of a province, making that province become part of the Royal Lands. This increases the benefits your kingdom receives from a province and is another area where a knight’s class can play a role – different knights boost different aspects of a province, e.g. gold income and production, defensive capabilities, etc. We will share more details of the classes in upcoming DevDiaries where we have time to dig deep into their unique features. Of course, all that aid doesn’t come for free – knight wages are certainly not trivial. Players should also be careful with their actions and keep the crown authority high. Who knows what disasters might befall a kingdom whose knights lose trust in the rulership of their king and decide to serve another…? With the choice and usage of knights, players open up different possibilities to craft and shape the strategies of their kingdoms to fit their playstyles. Whether you like to overwhelm your enemies with a dreadful army, destabilize their kingdoms through espionage, influence them culturally and wait for their rulers to beg themselves for your wise rulership, or buy your way to victory with economic dominance over Europe – it is all up to you. We’re trying to make the number of combinations and different ways you can leverage your Royal Court quite expansive, and we’re excited to see how players try different strategies with the tools at their fingertips. We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, February 6th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 10:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream. So, jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. Do you find royal court management interesting and challenging? What were your favorite knight strategies and combinations from the first game? Share with us what is your preferred playstyle in grand strategies and what features you find most enjoyable. Next time we will focus more on the art of war – Marshals and armies. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer! View full article
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