Knights of Honor II: Sovereign - Judicates
Dev Diary #1 : Presentation
Greetings, and welcome to the presentation and first development diary of Judicates, a module in preparation by Calliope for Knights of Honor II: Sovereign.
Judicates was born some years ago as an inspiration of custom maps made for the original Knights of Honor game. It dates back to a time when I drafted highly detailed modern day maps centered on several regions of Western Europe, that I know better than the rest of the world, since I live in this area. The ability to module its own scenario captivated me, and at first, I made designs and draws of real world places, dreaming of creating some board game, with a strong touch of Knights of Honor gameplay in it.
Initially, I tried my best to make a map scenario for the first game, and I had the chance to find several advices on how to use the map editor. However, everyone who has tried it will admit the editor was not at all easy to work with, even more so for those who installed on their computers the Ultimate High Definition module. In vanilla or in a modded game, it was, and still is way too complicated to create an original map. I presume the original Black Sea Studios lacked time to give it some care, and had to quickly release the game.
This is what some may call a sad part, where I gave up trying to make a map on it. I haven't even kept a single picture of my thoughts on paper, map drawings, or else, though I needed to go away from these things for personal reasons. Yet, I kept the idea of making a special map scenario for a Knights of Honor game.
At that time, the second opus of the franchise was going on its first diaries published, and I placed a hope on it, willing it to be released in the year 2020.
Many months passed, and though I have believed my interest for this game went down for a time, I thought it would be interesting to explore again the possibility of a map projection, and decided recently to give it a new try, with the only purpose to make it with Knights of Honor II engine. That said, I hope the game won't have too much requirements, as my computer is a bit outdated and cannot run most of the games released these last years.
So I felt I could make a map focused on a small area of Europe, but with much detail, in the spirit of the game in development and its predecessor. Then, I worked it on, using a map I drew a year earlier, centered on a beautiful place, very interesting for its unrecognized history, as well as a nice selection of maps from the Internet that gave me more information about it, in order to give the mod a more realistic approach.
This is where I am presenting you the original map I planned for my mod, and I'm talking specifically about the island of Sardinia. Here is a picture of what it looks like at the moment. Please, do remember this is a work in progress, and that there are some modifications I'm going to apply in order to balance the scenario, as you will see later.
Many will have noticed that the title of this module is uncommon, but very few are aware of its actual meaning. Most of the readers may ask : Why did you call it Judicates ?
To summarize it, the island of Sardinia fell into the hands of different powers and people through history, like the Carthaginians, the Vandals, or the kingdom of Aragon. Back in the 6th century of our era, it was reconquered by the Romans under Justinian's rule, and most of the Western Mediterranean followed the same fate. Later, the Arabs conquered Africa, and launched an invasion on the island of Sicily in the 9th century, which progressively cut off the Romans from their western possessions. As such, it became far more difficult for the governor of Sardinia to maintain contact with Constantinople.
The lack of sources that I deplore makes it hard to understand how things really happened, but it is known that in response to these events, the island constituted itself into four independent states, the Judicates, which were kingdoms or principalities, governed by people called Judges. Thus were born the medieval societies of Sardinia, as each Judicate had its own traditions, its own customs, and its own governance.
I made sure the scenario I'm proposing matches well with the start dates announced by Black Sea Games' developers, and I can even say it will match perfectly, after I had some doubt about the early eleventh century, where Sardinia knew an Arabic invasion launched from the Balearic islands (though its real purpose was the conquest of the Italian peninsula). As I said, information about these times and these areas are very precious since they're rare. So, there will be three different political situations, whether you start in the 1100's, the 1220's, or in the 1350's, as these are the starting dates announced by game developers in one of their first diaries. That's a good news, because it will offer many different strategic starting positions to the player, a lot of variety, and certainly real challenges.
I have to talk about difficulty, because I consider it's an element which should be important, and let me explain how I see it. The goal of this mod is not at all to give the player a headache or to make him suffer, or even rage quit due to an aggressive neighbour who takes all his lands. In truth, I wish the players will have a lot of fun in Judicates, and enjoy ruling the faction they will select. Moreover, I wish it will be perfectly balanced for multiplayer games, because this would be more interesting to play, and indeed, to watch.
However, I do not see this mod as a peaceful sandbox game. I estimate difficulty should be strong enough to encourage the planning of any politics, depending on the player's situation, and I guess, by saying this, I'm sharing a vision similar to the game developers' one. I'm counting on the player's intelligence and adaptation to get out of a perilous position he may have put himself in. I want difficulty to be rewarding, not punishing, so that the player should feel proud of himself, and learn from his mistakes in order to be a wiser ruler.
My will is not to forbid any total conquest on my scenario map : it is to make it less likely happen. As you can see on the map, there will be large impassable terrain, aimed to provide good defense, as well as tactical and political choices in certain spots. Is it in the interest of a player to wage war with his neighbour, or is it more profitable for both of them to make peace, and stand neutral, or either to develop interactions, such as trade, diplomacy, or even espionage ?
This first development diary about Judicates reaches its end, and I wish you've appreciated discovering this map project, which I hope to create once the game releases. Feel free to react and ask questions if you have !
Next time, another area will be unveiled, with its own presentation. Thanks for your reading.