Well, we’ve done a lot of diaries about features and things like that, but don’t you sometimes wonder what we are up to? So this week I thought I’d give you a behind the scenes look at this stage of Victoria 2’s development. The state of play at the moment is that we are feature complete and currently in Beta. So we are looking to improve what is already there. How do we do that?
1) Fixing Bugs. We don’t like them. Now, the nature of software development is that there always seems to be another bug. There is always something you have missed. Even though we know that we are fighting a never ending battle, every bug squashed means a better game on release. Every bug squashed means a few more happy customers. Fixing bugs is good.
2) Improving features. Take the war goal system as a prime example here. Brother Bean, as is his wont, was trying out Prussia to see how the reunification of Germany works out. The goods news is that the way the rules have been set and the scenario is set, the three historical wars (against Denmark, Austria and France) work as a way to form Germany. However, we ran into a problem with Holstein, we did not have a CB type to cover satellite nations. Now our CB system has been expanded out (and I consider it improved, because more good choices are always good) with new CB types specifically to deal with satellites, not just for the specific problem we encountered, but to cover others as well.
3) Balance. This is one in which I ask you to feel my pain here. I have had the fun job of trying to get the Victoria 2 economic system into some sort of balance. Not perfect balance, we want to change over time, but balanced enough to run. So far I consider things to be a bit of success. One of the interesting things is there is something like 10 times more tea than coffee produced in the world in 1836. So I dutifully went through the POP files to increase demand for tea and reduce the demand for coffee so that POPs who work these RGOs can earn closer to the same amount of money. This spreads the money more evenly, allowing the economic system to function more effectively. It is a long process, but gradually we are moving supply and demand into closer balance. This allows the economic system to work much better, since money circulates more, giving more countries a better chance of doing things. The Perfect Balance may well elude me, but at least each country should be playable at the start.
4) Interface Improvements. As the game gets more into shape we start to see clearly which information should be prioritised, and which is nice to know but not essential. So we have been slowly (and sometimes subtly) reworking the interfaces to increase the visibility of the key information to make the game easier to play.
Now the next question is how do we do this. Well, first up we have our own internal work. I myself constantly start games, see how things pan out after a couple of months and think about how the economic system is doing. We also have our beta testers who are giving us all sorts of feedback on the shape of the game. Finally we have our external QA team working away reporting bugs. Some we can’t reproduce (we assume we have fixed them), some are quite major. The most interesting class of bugs are those I will call quirks. Those little things that if you play Paradox games a lot you just kind of accept. Tegus got a bug last week about select boxes remaining on the map after you go to a popup. It has now been fixed. We feel that we are well on track to getting Victoria 2 to be in great shape for release.
Here is a screenshot of some of the Bugs our external QA team has assigned to me, and one of the game.