DevDiary 19 - Multiplayer Part 1
Hello friends and welcome to the 19th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! The time has finally come for us to talk about the multiplayer features in our game, and we can say that we’ve been waiting for this moment with a mounting anticipation ever since DevDiary 1. There we mentioned that “multiplayer” is one of the pillars of KoH2:S and indeed, it nearly doubled the game design and programming efforts, but we still think it is worth it.
Maybe you wonder why is it so much more difficult for such a game to support multiplayer. Well, the technical reasons are more straightforward – every simple logic must be well synchronized between the host and clients and split to request and responses. Permission levels and cheating protection are also important and there is really a lot of work on lobbies, connections and reconnections between players, chats, saving multiplayer games and so on. What is a bit less obvious is that many mechanics are way more difficult to be balanced and fun simultaneously in multiplayer and singleplayer modes – especially diplomacy, battles, espionage, but many others as well. Let us focus on the major questions first, though.
KoH2:S will be playable with up to 6 players in a game. That number might be increased later on, but for now, we find it suitable. All of the 3 popular variants of team formations are available – cooperative play, team games and free-for-all. When playing in teams, the players’ efforts and results towards a common goal are united and there are some additional benefits and rules, e.g. no force in the game can drive teammates into war, including espionage, pacts and others.
The second major setting is the game mode, which defines the victory condition. As these are very different between each other, they require vastly different strategies from the players in order to win.
For example, in “Peasants’ rush” the players (teams) are tasked with expanding their kingdoms to a selected size, so they have to find a way to make a rapid expansion and usually overtake their weakest neighbors, but also to defend their starting and newly taken lands. In “Greedy kings” the goal is collecting a large amount of gold as fast as possible, so here trading and economy are crucial, but waging war for that purpose is also a viable strategy. In “War for goods”, players have to find an efficient way to produce many different resources and thus they would be wise to carefully choose which territories provide the province features which they need to unlock and develop production chains. This mode requires especially good planning in team games, as long-term expansion, trading and development strategies for the kingdoms in a team must be well synchronized to avoid producing the same resources.
There are already a few other modes implemented, but we are still iterating and have yet to decide how many and which will be included. This is one of those things we can continue to work on even after the release of the game, too.
Beside modes, there are many other game settings available that are useful in shaping up the experience the way players like it, but also provide more variety. Some non-default settings can result in substantial differences in the gameplay rules, which players must take into consideration and adapt their strategies accordingly if they want to maximize their chances of success. As there are many such settings, we shall talk about them in part 2 of the Multiplayer DevDiaries. For now, let’s take a look just on those, which tie especially well with game modes.
Time limit is an option, that can be set in several ways – it can be strictly specified, it can be specified with some random (and hidden to the players) extended time, and it can be set to “generations”. One “generation” is counted when the last of the players’ kings dies and is replaced by a new one. So, this limit can vary greatly depending on how protective the players are towards their kings, as well as some other settings like aging speed and espionage restrictions.
The combination between game modes and time limit allows the players to setup their sessions the way they want – it is easy to configure a blitz game by defining low targets for the modes, e.g. only 10 resources produced for “War for goods” and a 1-hour limit to do it. Of course, if players want a long game, they can increase the target resources to 60 and not set any time limit at all. The balance between the goal and time limit defines how challenging the game shall be, of course.
Finally, for players that dislike games resulting in draws, there is an option to set one or two tiebreakers for when early end (usually time limit) triggers. Tiebreakers are set separately from victory condition, so they can be configured to “complement” it, or to be completely different. For example, in “War for goods” setting the first tiebreaker to be “number of unique goods” will make the players race towards that goal no matter what, but setting it as “most gold” or “most provinces” will allow some players to focus on completely different strategies if and when they assume no one would reach the main goal in time.
It is important for us to hear about the preferences of our most devoted audience – the people, that follow us here and in our other social channels throughout the development process – you. Do you prefer playing such games alone, or do you love the concept of playing them together with friends or allies and enemies unknown from all around the world? Are you more eager to join forces with other players and rule over the evil AI kingdoms, or are you looking forward to some merciless campaigns where you will face the unmatched cunningness and creativity that only real players can offer? Do you find the pressure of time as a fun element, or do you prefer to take your time and calmly make your way towards the final goal you’ve chosen?
If you have some cool ideas for game modes and victory conditions, or for some special settings that you think that would be important, it is now a great time to share them with us!
We’ll talk more about Multiplayer in our DevStream on Thursday, June 24th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST and we’ll be happy if you can join in our conversation – we will surely mention more game modes, settings and details about them. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.
Next time we will talk about Clerics and Christianity – since the religion topic is vast and Christianity, Islam and Paganism are very different in KoH2:S, we decided that it is simply impossible to talk about all of them in a single entry. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!
DevDiary 20 - Religion
Hello friends and welcome to the 20th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! Today we will start talking about religion, going through all key points of the feature and the common gameplay options it presents to all kingdoms. Though this is not one of the central elements of the game, it still plays a big importance and different religions offer quite a few unique elements, thus leading to unique strengths and strategies the players can explore.
So, starting with the basics, we have 3 different religious “families” – Christianity, Islam and Paganism. Christianity has a subdivision to Orthodoxy and Catholicism and Islam – to Sunnism and Shiism. Indeed, we have considered Coptic Christianity, Ibadi Islam, Bogomilism and many others, as well as simply adding “heresy,” but we wanted to keep this feature simple enough, so we didn’t branch the religions any further. Things were getting way too burdening for the average player and the gameplay differences we would introduce were too insignificant compared to all the confusion. Paganism is the “religion” we made the biggest “historical” simplification to, as we unified all religions that are not Christian and Islamic in that category. As a result, this turned Pagans into more of a sandbox, which led to some really cool gameplay options for players. In another two or three DevDiaries we will have a deeper look on the specifics of each religion and sub-religion, but right now, we will focus on the common stuff.
For starters, religion plays a role in kingdom-to-kingdom relations. This means that kingdoms from one and the same religion are more eager to sign trade agreements, non-aggression pacts, marriages and others. In the same vein, kingdoms from different religions are more aggressive towards each other, especially if a “heathen” (in their eyes) takes hold of a holy city.
Depending on the religion, kingdoms also have slightly different building possibilities – the Christians have Churches, Cathedrals and Universities, the Muslims have Mosques, Grand mosques and Madrasahs, while the Pagans only have Temples. Within those (and within other buildings), there are some different upgrades, effects and requirements, so some resources are more valuable to kingdoms following specific religions. Certain types of units may also require a specific religion – for example, only Catholic kingdoms may recruit Templar Knights.
Within a kingdom, religion plays a significant role, as provinces that preach religions different than the official one of the kingdom have some religious tension. Ruling over a Shia province within a Sunni kingdom leads to a smaller hit to the local stability, for example, but if it was within a Catholic kingdom – well, that could be trouble. On top of that, religious settlements such as Shrines and Monasteries aren’t so beneficial to a Muslim kingdom and pre-built (from the previous owner) buildings like Cathedrals or Temples also have very limited bonuses.
And here comes one very important role of each Cleric/Scholar/Shaman (called differently depending on their kingdoms’ religions) – the “Preach” action. This is a slow and very expensive action, which costs both gold and piety/faith/tradition – the main “currency” for all kinds of religious actions, named differently for each religion. Preaching is done in a region – a starting province is selected and once it’s converted, the religious character will simply continue to another near-by one. If he succeeds to convert the religion of a province, this will ease the tension and convert the religious settlements in it to the one of his kingdom’s type – e.g. Temples will convert to Monasteries if the religion of a Pagan province is converted to Christianity. All previously built structures will also continue to function, with the caveat that some effects related to buildings like Universities and Cathedrals might be altered, or even stop working. And besides being expensive, the “Preach” action also presents a serious threat to the life of the religious person doing it, especially if crown authority is low, the kingdom is at war, or the knight is of lower level.
If a religious character learns the “Charity” skill, he also gains an additional action – “Commit to charity”. As you’ve probably guessed, this is also an expensive one that has an upkeep, and while the cost scales with the size of the kingdom, so does its effect, as it increases the stability within all provinces. There is no limit to how many knights can perform this action at once, so if things start to get really ugly within a kingdom, having several of them committed to charity can really be life-saving.
Apart from these character actions, there are also a few key religion-specific ones that Clerics/Scholars/Shamans can utilize, but we’ll touch on them in more detail in future dev diaries, when we delve more in-depth into each specific religion. Of course, when not performing any actions, religious characters continue to play a key role in governing, particularly if you have provinces which have a lot of religious settlements. For example, putting a cleric in a province with many monasteries will result in a steady influx of faith and books, which in combination with the right buildings can turn the realm into an important location for boosting your kingdom’s culture.
Finally, one common action that is available to all kingdoms is the option to accept a new religion. This is a kingdom action, instead of a knight’s one, and can be extremely risky. Even upon success, it has some consequences, like possible rebellions, religious characters leaving your court due to disapproval of the change, and a severe drop of the opinion of your religious cast. Failing adds a huge crown authority drop on top of that. To increase its chances, a kingdom needs to have many provinces already preaching the target religion, as well as a respected king, preferably skilled in some particular disciplines like Theology, Leadership and others. But, of course, changing a religion can open huge gameplay possibilities and instantly has an effect on the diplomatic relations, both to kingdoms following its old and its new religion. This action is easiest for pagans, as they don’t have such a strong religious institution and are the least reluctant to accept another religion.
But in the end, we’d love to hear on your opinion on the topic! Are you the type of player who enjoys delving into the religious side of things in strategy games, or do you prefer to take on a different approach? And do you see yourself using many religious characters in your court, in comparison to other classes?
We’ll talk more about Religion in our DevStream on Thursday, July 22nd, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST and we’ll be thrilled if you join in our conversation – we will talk more in-depth about our approach to designing the religions in our game, some key differences between each one and how vital of a role religious characters have. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.
Next time we will return to the topic of Multiplayer, talking more about starting conditions, rules and how those can shape each campaign. Until then, we bid thee farewell!
DevDiary 21 - Royal Dungeon
Hello friends and welcome to the 21st DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! We initially planned to talk more about Multiplayer in this one, but since we are still iterating on a few settings and the lobby UI, we decided to tell you first about the Royal dungeon – how knights get imprisoned, what events can take place afterwards and actions undertaken – by the prisoners’ kingdoms and by the “dungeon keepers”.
Surely, the most common way knights get imprisoned in KoH2:S is in battles – when Marshals, or any other knights leading armies, fail to retreat in time and lose, they are either killed on the battlefield, or more often – captured. Historically, it was very common practice for noblemen to make their status and heraldry noticeable, and the enemy soldiers knew that they are worth much more alive than dead.
Spies, of course, can also often get imprisoned, considering the illegal and risky nature of their activity in foreign kingdoms. Sometimes, even more peaceful and “innocent” knights can end up in a Royal dungeon. If war occurs with a kingdom where a merchant or diplomat is, there is some chance the enemies will hold them as prisoners. Also, the sneaky spies can try to frame knights on missions and, if successful, they get imprisoned in the kingdom they are in.
Once imprisoned, knights cannot perform any of their actions and the only role they continue to contribute with is governing. They cannot be assigned or reassigned as governors, but if they already were, then their advisors, skills and “governing policy” continue to affect their province. Not all prisoners are helpless, though. Leadership skill makes “Inspire riot” available and Plotting skill – “Organize escape”. These are both risky actions, but still – a possibility for the imprisoned knights to escape on their own.
They can also be rescued from the outside. Spies can try to help own or friendly prisoners escape and this is not an opportunity, but simply an action – when a spies arrive in kingdoms, they can immediately start plotting the escape.
There are risk-free ways of getting back imprisoned knights. There is the diplomatic way, convincing the other kingdom to let them go, or paying a requested ransom. There is nothing that can go wrong in both cases and the kingdom’s nobility will appreciate the effort of saving one of them.
In case none of these options is available or affordable, imprisoned knights can simply be abandoned. This, of course, decreases the Nobility opinion, but frees the prisoners’ position in the Royal court, so that a new knight can be hired. After all, desperate times call for desperate measures.
When kingdoms capture a knight, there are several actions available. The most merciful is releasing that knight. If he is a foreign knight, that leads to relations improvement. Your noblemen would also approve that decision. They will also approve if the released prisoner is a knight of yours who rebelled against you – in that case, he will be back in the royal court. This will hurt your crown authority, though, as mercy against betrayers might be considered by some as a sign of weakness. Lastly, releasing simple rebels is well received by the peasantry and ill-received by the nobility. We are still considering adding the possibility to invite knights, renounced by their kingdoms, to become members of your royal court and this will most likely make it into the game.
Executing knights leads to pretty much the opposite results. If they are foreign knights, this will surely worsen your relations and in times of peace, lead to a crown authority loss, as it is considered rather barbaric. Executing your own knights is frowned upon by the nobility, but increases crown authority. Crown authority is also increased upon executing rebels and some gold is acquired. Sometimes nobility would also approve, but the peasantry will definitely not and sometimes the clergy as well – after all, rebels are part of the local population and often popular among them.
Finally, there is the “deal” action. Prisoners can be given some funds to lead a rebellion in another kingdom. This can end in many ways – the prisoner might really become a loyalist rebel leader, he can just go rogue and lead an independent rebellion, or even take the gold and disappear. As powerful as they can be, such shady dealings are always a bit of a gamble.
Even if no actions are taken, various events can occur within a dungeon. Prisoners can die there, escape by themselves or even form riots or mass escapes. The last two options are more likely to happen if a royal dungeon gets filled up over a certain threshold, which can be increased by some traditions and buildings. Thus, it is generally unwise to keep too many important people in a dungeon for a long time and getting rid of at least some of them from time to time, one way or another, will reduce the likelihood of such unwanted events.
In this section of the DevDiary, we’d usually say something like “we’d love to hear what you’d like to do with your prisoners”, but it sounds kind of wrong and we are also afraid what you might answer… But, jokes aside, tell us what you think of these features – do these actions and options sound interesting to you and if you have other ideas – feel free to share them – who knows what neat features can still make it into the game.
We’ll talk more about Royal Dungeon in our DevStream on Thursday, September 2nd, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST and we’ll be thrilled if you join in our conversation. Do come right in, our wardens expect you! If you behave nicely and do not ask for the release date of the game, we might even lower the ransom price for letting you go. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.
Next time we will return to the topic of Multiplayer as planned, talking more about starting conditions, rules and how those can shape each campaign. Until then, we bid thee farewell! Go forth and conquer!
-> https://community.knightsofhonor.com/in ... ngeon-r29/
-> https://community.knightsofhonor.com/in ... anity-r30/
DevDiary 22 - Religion: Christianity
Hello friends and welcome to the 22nd DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! We decided to return to the Religion topic, started in DevDIary 20 in which we made an overview about the common Cleric actions and religion effects. Today we will take a closer look at Christianity – the religion, followed by the most European kingdoms at the historical period and region the game takes place in.
In KoH2:S, there are two vastly different branches (families) of Christianity – Catholicism and Orthodoxy. As we mentioned earlier, we’ve chosen this simplified model after considering and experimenting with a lot of variants and sub-branches, since we felt it serves best the purposes of the gameplay. Further segmentation seemed to bring a lot of complexity for little gameplay and strategical effect.
Catholic kingdoms have arguably the best starting bonuses – they have trading and commercial bonuses, as well as lower cost for buildings. Their religious gameplay is centered around the Papacy – good relations with it can lead to a lot of benefits, like promoting Clerics to Cardinals, which have significant bonuses on piety and books production, as well as on their actions. Eventually, when black smoke rises above the Sistine Chapel, one of the Cardinals is chosen to become the new Pope. In case the new Pope is not from the Papacy, the kingdom from which he was selected from loses him as a knight in their royal court, but now have new special actions available only to those very close to the Pope- like instigating a crusade or requesting a kingdom to be excommunicated.
When a Crusade starts, a strong army is assigned to a leader, chosen among those army leaders who are deemed worthy. Then the army marches (without any player’s or kingdom’s control) towards a chosen excommunicated or heathen kingdom. This powerful army will try to destroy its target, usually providing control over the conquered towns either to the kingdom of its leader, or to the Papacy. Sometimes, especially when their quest goes wrong, Crusades go rogue and can establish their own kingdom or simply turn to (in)famous rebels. Things can go wrong in quite a few ways, especially with some help, like assassinating its leader, pulling some strings with a spy to divert it, or destroying the Papacy just to name a few.
Playing as a Catholic kingdom is not as easy as it sounds, though. Its Clergy is the most demanding and easiest to offend – actions like attacking other Catholics and refusing Papacy demands will reduce Clergy opinion, as well as the relations with the Papacy. And Papacy’s demands are not always easy to fulfill – for example, gold is often demanded for crusades and the sums are definitely not neglectable. Getting excommunicated is also disastrous, as Catholics, hated and declared as an enemy to all other Catholics, may lead to a lot of problems and it is hard to receive an absolution from the Holy See.
There is also the danger that someone will overtake Rome and destroy the Papacy – regardless of the religion of the conqueror, the Papacy cannot exist while another kingdom holds Rome. This, of course, brings a lot of hatred towards the conqueror from all Catholic kingdoms and they will struggle to drive the invaders out and restore it. This will bring the liberator a lot of bonuses if accomplished– relations with the Papacy and the whole Catholic world, as well as significantly increased Clergy opinion.
Orthodox kingdoms have the highest books production. Their gameplay revolves around the relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchy and/or having an Autocephalous (independent) church. Claiming Autocephaly is not an easy task to do, though, as it requires high crown authority, a very experienced Cleric, and some sort of influence over the kingdom controlling Constantinople and the Ecumenical Patriarchy. The more autocephalous kingdoms there are, the harder it gets for a new one to be recognized as such, so usually reducing their numbers by force or espionage is usually a necessity.
Unlike in the case with Rome, controlling Constantinople means controlling the Ecumenical Patriarchy and the Ecumenical Patriarch himself. Every Patriarch, especially the Ecumenical, is a very powerful cleric with significant bonuses on books and piety production, as well as on their actions. Patriarchs also provide a few random bonuses (which significantly vary between one patriarch to another) to the entire kingdom. Orthodox kingdoms can choose among their clerics and a few characters, outside their court, to succeed the Patriarch title, once the previous one dies.
Both Catholic and Orthodox kingdoms can send their Clerics on missions in Constantinople AND Rome, where they get different bonuses depending on their sub-religion – books, piety, commerce and relations. If they are in the religious center of their own Church, the bonuses are increased, based on their level. Being on such missions allocates their full attention, but when they are needed for something else, they can quickly return to their kingdom and once the tasks at hand are done, they can easily return to the religious centers. In this aspect, Christian Clerics are more versatile to play with than Scholars and Shamans, as well as Merchants, who, in comparison, require more time to build up a good trade with a kingdom and lose that progress when they are recalled.
We’d like to hear what you guys think – which one do you think will be your preferred religion, or would you prefer to experiment and try all of them? Are you looking forward to leading mighty crusades, or do you prefer to pick kingdoms, following less demanding religions than Catholicism and focus on other kingdom aspects?
We’ll talk more about Christianity in our DevStream on Thursday, October 14th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST and we’ll be thrilled if you join in our conversation. You can come and repent, ask for forgiveness, but Though Shalt Not ask for the release date! The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.
Next time, if the Pope allows it, we will return to the topic of Multiplayer, talking more about starting conditions, rules and how those can shape each campaign. Until then, we bid thee farewell! Go forth and conquer!