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  1. Knights of Honor II: Sovereign - Judicates Dev Diary #3 : Teambuilding Hello there, and welcome to the third development diary of Judicates. We hope you are fine during these first days of Autumn, or Fall, as the 'mericans say. In the previous diary, I was expecting to write a topic on a new region of the map, but instead, the mod made a nice progression, and its map, though necessary, is not the only thing that matters. Today, we're going to dive into a sort of subreality, on which rest great hopes. Without further delay, let's talk about it! The mod was initially planned to be focused on the sole island of Sardinia, as it was explained in the first diary. At that moment, I felt it was too little for a mod, because except historical and geographical research rendered on a single picture, there was almost nothing yet behind. Back in early Spring, there was not enough information known about Knights of Honor II. We could only rely on still images in order to guess and try to find how the game was going to be played. Then, everyone waited a couple of months to discover gameplay footage, internal mechanics, and all sorts of features, to learn a bit more about the way the game behaves. Military units, buildings, battles, knights special actions, among other parts of the game, are now less of a secret (though all of this is still a bit unknown). Actually, it led to the mod's general improvement, for the best. As I wrote it in the previous dev diary, I thought about the possibility of creating scenarios focused on a specific area, instead of a huge map. Thus, with some help, I was convinced it could be great to work on one of these. This led to the development of a new project, which won't replace Judicates, but rather launch it, and possibly make it grow. As such, we are proud to present you: The Beginning. Judicates: The Beginning is a submod for the main project, or a demo if you prefer. Its purpose is to allow the player to discover and familiarize with the world of Knights of Honor II: Sovereign, on a manageable map for a first mod, which is not divided into hundreds of provinces, since it will put the player on the sole island of Sardinia, at the head of one of its realms. This decision has been taken because creating an overhaul extending on a larger scale implies lots of efforts, time and motivation. These can go off at any moment, and slow down, or even stop the project. Yes, you have to be aware that until the mod comes out, anything can influence its process of creation. This is why, as non professionals, we definitely want and hope we'll be able to achieve this one! Then maybe we'll have enough energy to create the main mod. Concretely, the goal of The Beginning is to offer the player different interesting features, such as additional interface languages (German, Russian and French), so that the mod has full coverage and is not intended only for English speakers. We want to allow both Single player and Multiplayer (up to five players). Although the submod only allows you to start on the first start date (around 1100 AD), we want to offer different experiences, depending on the starting location chosen by a player, because each realm has a different situation and each king available right at the start will take the role of one of the five knights classes. But beware, selecting a large judicate does not necessarily mean your game will be easy; actually, it may be the contrary. The overhauled political situation of Sardinia in 1100 AD, recalling the classic colors of a board game. Though work has been made on several features we will cover in a future diary, here we want to present you another part of the mod that has known progress too: visuals. This part concerns essentially flags and portraits for the moment, as we wanted to represent each judicate with its historical emblem, and as we also wanted to extend the amount of portraits available. Right now, we don't know how many portraits will be available in vanilla game, but as you will notice with our two examples, the ones created below differ by far in their style. Noblemen drawn by a mysterious man whom we do not know but is very human. To say it in a few words, these pictures are obtained through a random generation of men's and women's faces, then it requires artistic skills and passion to obtain these realistic people... or are they actually real people? We can't affirm it. The flag which represents the judicate of Gallura. Cock-a-doodle-doo! Most flags for the submod are already done, and we're having quite a nice amount of portraits, especially for men. As the mod grew, it was decided to launch a mod specific platform, in order to be able to work more efficiently on it, upload, download and exchange files, or talk about Judicates and everything related to Knights of Honor series, in lounges set up for this purpose. Thus was set up a Discord server, initially quite simplistic and sometimes chaotic, but which quickly gained in organization. Being a modder or moderator is a rewarding experience, but becoming an administrator allows you to discover unsuspected things by seeing them from another angle. Similarly to Knights of Honor, it allows you to develop certain skills, and to gain confidence in what you're doing. We'll talk a bit more about this later in this blog. But Judicates and its Discord server wouldn't be the same without a special guest that helped a lot in this project, notably on arts, but overall in every aspect of it. Because Judicates is no more the project of a sole man, but of two now. Therefore, I present you Heragoga, who joined the team this month, and is co-ruling the server with me. Heragoga, I give you the floor, so that readers can discover your multiple talents. Hello there everybody. I am a German game development student with quite some modding experience in Hearts of Iron 4. My skills mostly lie in coding, technical knowledge and 3d modelling, tho I am able to create 2d art up to some extend as you can see. My main motivation for joining this projects are my high hopes for KoH2 and the desire to greet it "with open arms and a bucket of flowers", in a manner of speaking. Thanks Heragoga. As you have noticed, the arrival of Heragoga brought a lot to the project. However, we are still looking for more people who are passionate about the game and who could contribute to the development of Judicates. A varied team, made up of various nationalities, would indeed be beneficial. Speaking anything other than English, Russian, French or German would be a great asset, since we want to put additional languages to the game and to the mod. These are the ones we are looking for essentially: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Polish and Korean. If you speak any of these and want to help the mod or the game, notably with translation, you are very welcome; and so you are if you speak any other language too! Whether you have talents in graphics, writing, coding, research, drawing, musical composition or anything you think can improve the mod, we will prepare and make a place for you. We don't mean to compete with Black Sea Games, but rather honor their job and what they're creating, as to show the passion Knights of Honor II community has for this game. Thereby, we invite you to join the team, if you are interested to take a part in it, or even just discover a bit more of the project. However, since there are rules on the Forum and on KoH2 server, and since we want to respect them, we cannot publicly display the link to Judicates server ; otherwise, this would be considered advertising, repetitive, aggressive, self-promotion, and we don't want that, or any conflict at all. A solution has been found with the Forum and Discord moderators: if you want to join Judicates server, you need to send Heragoga or myself a private message and ask for the link that leads to it. Then, we will send it to you discreetly, so that you can access the server. Our tags are #8147 and #9916, respectively, if you ever need them to find us. This blog is now finished. We hope it is still a pleasure for you to read us. In the next diary, we may talk again about historical details, or about concrete, internal work we're preparing for the mod before the game comes out. Have some patience! We all want to discover it after this long waiting. Meanwhile, rule well, sovereigns. See you next time!
  2. Knights of Honor II: Sovereign - Judicates Dev Diary #2 : The Mediterranean keystone Hello everyone, and welcome to the second development diary of Judicates. I hope you're doing well ! Please, take a seat : today, we're going to focus on a specific region that always had a great importance. First of all, this very diary is coming several months after the previous one, and I apologize for that, because that was not my initial plan. Reflexions, other map making works and IRL issues slowed down this project, although I made some progress. By that time, the official developpers of the game published their own diaries, with a better regularity, and I have to admit I could not read it all. However, the explanation of several game mechanics was highly useful. Even though it has been said the players will have a wide freedom and proper tools in order to make their own mods with ease, remember that Judicates aims at melting into the core game and using the same game mechanics, at least when it comes out. Obviously, this is a map expanding mod before all. Still, if it becomes a concrete sandbox for all types of players, I'm all ears with the addition of new mechanics, or the reshape of basic ones, should modders want to collaborate and freely share their ideas. The rule is simple : you can take my ideas, I can take yours ! If sharing is the motto, then anyone can help anyone. You might ask : I know nothing about modding, what if I can't help in any way ? And I'll answer : Any help of yours will always be welcome and appreciated, don't underestimate that. It could be historical infos and sources in a language I can't understand or do not master, as well as your own thoughts on the project, like your thinking about its balance, the relevance of one of its elements, or even a single encouragement. In a house made of bricks, there is no insignificant one, not even the smallest ones. So, as I said above, I made progress on the map, though not as fast as I wanted to, yet I made it. The region I wished to present to you, back in Spring, is still on works, and gave me a hard time deciding which towns, which settlements, which frontiers, which rivers should be represented, how to connect the roads and how to enhance the terrain to make it realistic, pleasant and playable. To this day, there are still a lot of enigmas around it, but I hope I'll be able to finish it and publish it during the next months. Consequently, I worked on other parts of the map, especially on another region I know a bit more, and it paid off well. I encountered almost no problem on it, and went to a fine result, flexible enough to represent its geographical, political and cultural varieties, which played a major role in this territory's identity. Thereby, without further delay, I am proud to show you which is this jewel jealously coveted by foreigners, often times invaded, rarely conquered : here is the Mediterranean keystone, Sicily ! The island shares some similarities with Sardinia, since it was conquered by the Berbers and the Arabs over the Romans too. However, there grew an emirate that lasted for a couple of centuries, quite autonomous from North Africa (where came the invasion), as well as prosperous, to the point of letting some Arabic influence in certain words of Sicilian language. This is under their reign the capital was moved from Syracuse to Palermo, more suitable for a western power, but the Romans never renounced to reconquer the island, and tried several times to retake it many years after they completely lost it. Then, the Normans appeared in south Italy during the eleventh century, and after seizing there a large amount of land for themselves, they conquered Sicily in one generation, even faster than did its previous masters. Though the proper term of crusade did not exist yet, it looks like this one saw its beta test succeed (!). On the first start date, which is set in the early twelfth century, the player choosing to begin here will rule over a quite steady and unified realm owned by Roger II, Count of Sicily, a unique character leaving then his childhood and on the brink of becoming one of the most famous rulers of its time. Concretely, the twenty-three provinces of Sicily (of which Malta) offer a formidable base, with perhaps the best average rank of settlements per province of all the map. However, it will be in your hands to satisfy the barons, or crush them if needed to, as well as control the rest of your internal factions. Should you stabilize your realm, you may, as Roger did historically, invade other places, such as Africa, or wage war to inherit the south continental part of Italy. Foreign rulers, both muslims and christians, will observe you with a strange eye, since the area was very multicultural until the mid 1200's. It may be in your best interest to leave it as it is, and shape your traditions by keeping in mind the benefits that can bring you tolerance of your subjects belonging to the two religions (and I really hope such a system already exists ingame). After all, most of its inhabitants were muslims until mass conversions and expulsions, which occurred under the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (with whom will open the second start date). At last, on the third start date, Sicily is under the control of the distant kingdom of Aragon, and plays no longer a center of power of its own (though a cunning and disloyal player may want to gain its own independence). Since Sicily has been set as it is, I went back to Sardinia and polished it to better shape its traditional territories, adding there a few provinces, towns and settlements (which will better represent its political and cultural situations on each start date). In my mind, an area's average number of settlements represents its development and its potential wealth. Though there is a great difference between the current poorest region to the richest one, it's up to the player to survive and expand its realm the way he can or he want, depending on his situation. I would like to speak about start dates again : on the previous development diary, I explained I aimed at following the same dates available in the core game. However, due to the complexity of History, I wish to add a few ones, if it is ever possible. I am currently thinking about a start date in the late XIIIth century, which, in Sicily, would represent the Angevine dominion and the risk of a massive rebellion, like during the Sicilian Vespers. Also, an earlier start date, set in the eleventh century, which would preferably cover the Norman conquest of Sicily, would be very interesting, for both sides (Normans and Sicilian Arabs). These are only ideas for the moment, as it would imply to choose perfect and interesting dates for most realms on this large map. Another option would be to create scenarios focused on a single region, and set on a specific single start date, to cover a famous historical event, or a reknowned character . But yet again, these are potential ideas, which, remember, can be taken by anyone. So be free to take and share ! Here is the end for today. I hope you enjoyed reading this diary, it's been a pleasure for me to write it. I should come back with a third one sooner this time, expanding the map with a new place worthy of interest. Until then, please, take care.
  3. …rather than "Knights of Honor"? And shouldn't the whole English version be in BE, not AE, given that neither did American English exist in the Middle Ages nor did knights, honourous or not, EVER hop around in North America. I know this is "just" a detail, but since immersion in a game's world is all about details, and you guys are really showing much love for the smaller things, I wanted to raise this linguistic topic. Personally, I would definitely be reminded of the US production company every time I read a word in AE, rather than feel I am in the middle ages for a couple of hours. Ideally, thou could even go forth and add some Oulde English lingo, that would be even better. (I don't know how to write "Oulde English", but you get the idea… 😉 )
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