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Hello folks, and welcome to the first entry in the development diary for Crusader Kings II!

I am Henrik Fåhraeus, project lead on this sequel to the original Crusader Kings (on which I worked as co-designer.) Crusader Kings was a game quite different from our other franchises, in that the focus was on the powerful people of the era rather than on countries. You played a ruler, got married, had kids and watched them grow up to stab you in the back. As such, Crusader Kings was a bit of a role-playing game, while still retaining the strategy game elements of our other titles. Personally, I loved the combination, and, judging by the clamor for a sequel, it appears many others did as well. We are still proud of Crusader Kings, but time waits for no man, and the game is getting on in years...

As it happens, Crusader Kings II is coming along nicely, and, starting with this one, you should be seeing monthly CKII development diaries coming your way (on the first Thursday of the month). With Crusader Kings II, we are not trying to reinvent the wheel. Rather, we want to build on the strengths of the original game and fully realize its potential. That is not to say that Crusader Kings II will be the same game with new graphics, but it should feel instantly familiar to CK players.

What makes CK unique among our games is its character system and its RPG-like elements. The role of the player is clear since there is a ruler, a character, to identify with. The player is the king, and it's good to be the king! In Crusader Kings II, we aim to really hone in on the importance of characters - their personalities, interests and interactions - and to tone down the relevance of "countries". The sum total of the Prestige your successive rulers have gathered throughout the game determines your final score; not the size of your realm at game end. Of course, a major source of Prestige is the power of your family, your Dynasty. In fact, die without an heir from your dynasty and it's time to INSERT COIN.

The core gameplay, then, revolves around increasing the power of your dynasty and ensuring that you always have a legal heir with strong enough support. The death of your current ruler is the moment of truth: who will support the legal heir? Have you even managed to ensure one? Will anyone contest the succession? Unlike Crusader Kings, where your vassals would declare war on you simply because they disliked you (regardless, even, of their chance of success), in Crusader Kings II they are much more likely to bide their time and cause trouble during a succession crisis. The key is to choose the best Succession Law... For example, Gavelkind is almost guaranteed to be safe from succession crises. On the other hand, Gavelkind will divide your titles equally among your sons, splintering the realm and potentially decreasing your power.

I mentioned toning down the concept of countries. Here are some highlights: there is no Infamy/Badboy. Neither do characters have "loyalty", and neither is there a persistent relations value between countries. CKII is all about the characters, their opinions of each other, and their clash of interests. Therefore, we have merged the aforementioned concepts into a single opinion value between -100 and 100. I.e. what one character feels about another character... and why. The value is a sum of modifiers, like "Friend of Father's: +5", "Granted a Duchy: +30", "Betrayed Alliance: -20", etc.

Of course, characters will have traits, genetics and neat portraits like in Crusader Kings and EU:Rome. If you want to breed a dynasty of redheaded Harkonnen look-alikes, go ahead (with my blessing). Oh, and characters will age visibly; I shall leave you with a screenshot demonstrating the effect!

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Next month: Barons - why Vladimir hated Leto
 

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unmerged(105596)

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Wow! This really is before Christmas!

The aging effect is neat.
 

Teep

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Therefore, we have merged the aforementioned concepts into a single opinion value between -100 and 100. I.e. what one character feels about another character... and why. The value is a sum of modifiers, like "Friend of Father's: +5", "Granted a Duchy: +30", "Betrayed Alliance: -20", etc.

How visible and long term will these modifiers be? E.g. will a (un)faithful alliance partnership increase relationship gradually, not just a one time modifier for one accept/decline of a call to arms?
 

Doomdark

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How visible and long term will these modifiers be? E.g. will a (un)faithful alliance partnership increase relationship gradually, not just a one time modifier for one accept/decline of a call to arms?

They will be quite visible, but they will not decay or increase gradually. Some opinion modifiers are dependent on a state, such as being allies, or at war. Others, like the broken alliance one, last for a fixed amount of time and then go away.
 

Capt. Kiwi

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There are some really intriguing ideas in there. Final score based on the total prestige over time of your dynasty? No country relations, but character relations? They sound like some really good ways to make the dynasties the focus that they should be. Though as always, implementation will be key - one only needs to look at the original for that.

I've always felt that CK could be your best game, but I've barely played the original because of it's well known short comings. It looks like you guys really get what could make this game so special, so I'm looking forward to this.

Edit: Those portraits look very nice when blown up to full size, the thumbnail doesn't quite do it justice - you miss the little details.
 

TempestDK

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Niiiiice .... I actually think those portraits might work, but feel free to post most more along the way, so we can see various males and female portraits. Just to make sure that they don't all look the same except for the hair and the crown :)
 

Woody Man

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OMFG

Looking great, sounding fantastic, hurrah!

EDIT - Also, a +1 on the variety of portraits, I have a very Roman face, and I was a bit disappointed to find that there were no Roman noses in EU:Rome, give us some big noses!
 

Veldmaarschalk

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A nice surprise.

The concept is very interesting and the portraits are fantastic
 

Enewald

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Except that EU:R character didn't look very 'neat'. :p

Does this mean that vassals actually might achieve something with their dislike? :eek:
Topple the human kingdoms, just as they tear apart the kingdoms of AI?
 

unmerged(84239)

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Well, I am very satified with the things said!

Until now, just what I would like :)
 

Maldenic

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This is good news. I have long thought that Badboy didn't really represent the politics of the time well at all. My vassals all becoming disloyal simply because I conquered too much land in the crusades? That always annoyed me.

But I do hope that these new relationship effects won't just be the same flat modifier for each character, events should effect different relationships differently.
 

Txini

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Very Nice DevDiary Doomie, really interesting concepts there and by now changes look superbly, just hope there are really various types of hair colours and combinations so some get bald or not totally greyish hair when old, and that the crown, no royal but ducal in Screen, can change depending title of character as one wouldn't notice that much if a count, a duke or king but would look odd to se a bishop, archbishop or the Pope wearing one :D
 

ComradeOm

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I mentioned toning down the concept of countries. Here are some highlights: there is no Infamy/Badboy. Neither do characters have "loyalty", and neither is there a persistent relations value between countries. CK2 is all about the characters, their opinions of each other, and their clash of interests. Therefore, we have merged the aforementioned concepts into a single opinion value between -100 and 100. I.e. what one character feels about another character... and why. The value is a sum of modifiers, like "Friend of Father's: +5", "Granted a Duchy: +30", "Betrayed Alliance: -20", etc.
Sounds both radical and excellent. I'm really looking forward to hearing more and ultimately seeing this in action
 

RhoDaZZ

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I really like the RP focus but the characters appearence should be a bit more rough and realistic in my opinion. I'd rather have a king looking like a hobo drunkard (in contemporary meaning) than a plastic surgoned schoolboy. The last portrait is looking great though.
 
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