As the expansion draws ever closer to being feature complete, tension is building in the office. Will we be done on time, will our new features be as fun when as we envisioned, will the fans appreciate them? While frantically working on putting the final pieces of the puzzle in place, I will take a moment to tell you a bit about what we worked on last week, namely Trade.
One of the key features of Europa Universalis III is trade. The basic system involves Centers of Trade (CoT) that draw value from provinces, value of which the player can get a piece by sending merchants to the Center of Trade. As a central feature of the game it has gotten upgrades over the years, such as Trade Leagues and the ability to build new centers of trade. The time has now come for the next step in this evolution.
The first thing we decided to take a look at was in which CoTs you can trade and how we handle the difference between being a Mercantilist or a Tree Trader. The way it has worked up until now is that you could trade in any Center of Trade you had discovered, from which you weren't blocked. A Mercantilist got an increased compete chance in owned Centers of Trade, while a Free Trader got an increased compete chance everywhere else. Gaining physical control of more provinces gave you an advantage if the conquest made it into a CoT you owned, but if you didn't have your own CoT there wasn't much point in gaining good trading provinces.
We've tried to change this by introducing two new concepts; Trade Range and a compete chance bonus for each province you own that is connected to the specific center. The first one is a range which works very similarly to Naval Range, but instead of influencing colonies it influences how far away a center of trade can be for you to trade in it. It also calculates range from your closest province, so that it now pays to control provinces in strategic places the world over. The second one means that the greater fraction of the value of a CoT you physically control, the greater chance you have of actually getting a piece of that value. We then rebalanced Mercantilism and Free Trade to work with these new concepts so that a Mercantilist gets an increased bonus for owning provinces while a Free Trader gets an increased base chance and longer range. In conclusion, all this means that you now have two distinct paths to gain access to the great wealth of trade; you can either take direct control over the rich provinces and protect that wealth through mercantilism (even if you don't happen to own every CoT in the neighborhood) or you can be a free trader and get a piece of the action everywhere.
Now, while this is a fairly big step in evolving the existing trade system, it's not the only step we've taken. As you all know, each province has a specific trade goods which contributes to the CoT's value. The value, however, used to be the only difference between them and there was not really any reason for a naval nation to keep an eye on the naval supplies trade, not so any more. We've added a concept we call strategic resources, where each trade good brings a bonus. Naval Supplies for example will give you a bonus to naval force limit. So how do you get access to this bonus? The answer is of course trade. You need to have access to a certain fraction of the world market to get the bonus, and you do this by having a least one trade in CoTs representing this fraction of the market. If, say 10% of the worlds Naval Supplies are traded out of Riga and you have at least one trader there, you have access to 10% and so on. We believe this will give a new dimension to trading even if you aren't one of the top five trading nations in the world. You will need to make sure you keep an eye on those pesky ex-vikings up north that start to put their hands on the Naval Supplies provinces around the Baltic Sea; with all those in the hands of one nation what would a sudden embargo do to your Grand Fleet?
Finally, we added one last feature that uses the trade goods, namely the concept of Trade and Production leader. This means that if you are the nation that either controls the majority of the world production (by owning the provinces) or the world trade (by gaining access via trading) of a certain good, you will get a bonus. It's not a major bonus but we believe it's enough to bring yet another area of conflict and competition to the game and new areas of conflict increase replayability even more.
That's it for this time so until next week, Play Safe.
Associate Producer and Project Lead on Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind