EU4 - Development Diary - 19th of March 2019

Good morning everyone. Today I’ll be shifting the focus from maps to missions. I’ll be offering a retrospective on the history of the mission system, some insight into our design philosophy, and speculating about future mission trees.

oldmissions.png

A rather boring selection of missions in patch 1.24

Here we see a relic of the past, the old mission system as seen prior to the 1.25 patch. Practically identical to the mission system of EU3, it was long due for a change. Chief among the reasons for transitioning into a new system was the desire for missions to be impactful and immersive rather than forgettable and generic. While the old system still has a few ardent defenders, we consider the redesign of missions to be a great success both in terms of improving the game and in terms of community reception.

The mission redesign was rolled out in patch 1.25, alongside the release of the Rule Britannia immersion pack. This first round of mission updates was highly experimental. Much of the work involved translating as many of the ‘unique’ old missions as possible into the new system, taking the opportunity to improve many of them and find interesting ways of linking them together to create some semblance of narrative. Examples of this process include the current French, Burgundian, Ottoman, and Swedish trees.

currentmissions.png

Burgundy had very few missions prior to 1.25. After translating the old missions into the new system the result didn't feel adequate, so we added a few original missions.

Notably, most of these adapted trees contain only simple ‘Conquer [place]’ style missions. These kinds of missions certainly have a place, but we quickly recognized that we could do so much more with this new system. Cue the impressive English/British mission tree:
britishmissions.png

The British mission tree remains one of the largest and most content-heavy trees in the game

The British mission tree is extensive and covers nearly everything you might want to do while playing as England and Great Britain. We simply don’t have the time or resources to make something of this scale for every nation, but it was certainly fitting for Rule Britannia, and opened our eyes to the possibilities both in terms of extent and design.

Mission tree design evolved further over the course of the ‘Mughals’ (Dharma), ‘Poland’, and ‘Spain’ (Golden Century) updates. While we had plenty of unique mission trees in Dharma, we also create a ‘generic Indian’ tree for those nations without them, as well as for players without the Dharma DLC. We found generic missions both inherently more difficult and more time-consuming to design, and less fun to play through than even shorter mission trees that were unique to a country. In the future we’ll be less likely to take this approach, instead adding smaller but more immersive missions for minor nations. Navarra, for instance, received a small but interesting mission tree in the 1.28 ‘Spain’ patch that contained high risk/high reward options for the plucky OPM as well as a colonial branch allows them to bypass the usual restrictions and move their capital to the New World.

So how do we design a mission tree? First we need to establish design goals by asking ourselves some key questions - how large will the tree be? Will it be free or part of a DLC? Will the theme be conquest, colonization, trade, etc? How far to we want to incorporate existing content such as events? I’m currently in the process of drafting a new mission tree for the nation of Burgundy. As an example, some design goals for Burgundy include: a) concerned with elevating rank to kingdom and eventually empire, potentially incorporating a tag switch to Lotharingia, b) interacting with and potentially joining and leading the HRE, and c) clashing with France, possibly through interaction with a restored French vassal swarm (inspired by the League of Public Weal). When we have a clear idea of what we want to achieve, we hit the books and start researching. Research can include not only looking through books, maps, and academic articles, but also reading through community suggestions and seeking inspiration from mods. When we feel like we have a solid set of ideas for missions, we create a first draft. Personally I like to do this with good old pen and paper, but others sometimes use fancy computer software.

burgundy.png

A very messy, confusing, and unimplementable early draft of a new Burgundian mission tree. Yes, I know my handwriting is awful.

Drafts usually have to go through many iterations as we discover that our original plans don’t even fit into the interface, or we need to rethink positioning because we had a great idea for a mission that needs to be squeezed in further up the chain. It’s at this stage that we start to get an idea of how each mission will work mechanically. After all this, it’s finally time for implementation into the game using our scripting language. This can be a time-consuming process - we need to make sure that we always have fallbacks in place in case the player does something unexpected like converting to Shinto as Gujarat, we need to make sure that highlighting functions correctly and is intuitive, and of course we need to iron out as many potential bugs as possible before QA get their hands on it.

What can you expect from the mission trees in the Q4 European update? It should come as no surprise at this point that Burgundy is on the cards. We’re planning to bring a mix of large and small, paid and free missions to nations across our focus areas (Germany, France, Italy, and the Balkans). Some other strong contenders for larger mission trees include France, Austria, and the Papal State. There’s a great deal of space, both historical and fantastical, to create content for these nations, and they’re consistently popular among players. Serbia, Provence, and Saxony are good candidates for mid-sized mission trees, while Ulm and Hesse may receive minor additions.

As always, we’re eager to hear your thoughts on which nations are most deserving of a brand new mission tree, and we welcome your ideas for what kinds of missions these trees could contain. Next week I’ll be taking a break from writing dev diaries. Instead I’ll hand you over to Jake, who’ll be discussing our future ambitions for more mechanical aspects of the game
 
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TheDungen

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I think a limitation of the misison system is that the missions activate as soon as you meet the prerequistites, that means you can't have the path lockouts you have in the HoI4 focus trees. Where pursuing one goal is at the expense of another. essentially you don't have choices. You can chose to not pursue a mission but it will always just be sitting there with no real drawback for pursuing it. It makes not doing a mission seem like a less meaningful choice.

Also I get you were flexing the muscles of the system with England but doing so totally blew all balance out of the water. They need to be reigned in, they get permanent claims to everything.
 
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RMS Oceanic

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On the whole I agree the new mission system has been pretty great. There are two parts of the old system however that I think keeps people defending them

- They never run out. Once you finish a new mission tree, that's it. The old missions could nudge you into doing something if you were running out of ideas.
- They were dynamic. Spain could randomly get a claim in the middle of Persia if they had expanded there. Now that is exceedingly unlikely.

On the whole the tradeoff is worth it, but I can sympathise with those who miss that part of it.

To offer my own critique of the generic tree, I think it's a shame it never gives you claims to help you get your empire up and running. The big nations get permaclaims like candy, while the minor nations have to do absolutely everything themselves. It would be neat if, say, Build To Force Limit let you get some claims on adjacent territories or what have you.
 

Didymus

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Please give Bavaria proper missions. For example The Mission tree completely ignores its role during thirty years war, or its diplomatic connections to France on one side and Austria on the other. Not even talk about its influence in Colonge, and so on.
 

mag_zbc

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What I'd like to see changed in missions is polish tree, namely the "Break the Rus" branch. It should be replaced with missions leading to a personal union with Muscovy, to reflect Polish-Muscovite war of 1605-1618 and putting Władysław IV on muscovite throne.
 

BelgianGentleman

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I see you put the feast of pheasant in the misson tree very cool. for the reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Pheasant This was a lavish party thrown by the burgundian duke to convince the nobility to wage a crusade against the Turks. very interesting

does this mean we can expect a Burgundian crusade ? DEUS VULT my brethren
 
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TheDungen

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On the whole I agree the new mission system has been pretty great. There are two parts of the old system however that I think keeps people defending them

- They never run out. Once you finish a new mission tree, that's it. The old missions could nudge you into doing something if you were running out of ideas.
- They were dynamic. Spain could randomly get a claim in the middle of Persia if they had expanded there. Now that is exceedingly unlikely.

On the whole the tradeoff is worth it, but I can sympathise with those who miss that part of it.

To offer my own critique of the generic tree, I think it's a shame it never gives you claims to help you get your empire up and running. The big nations get permaclaims like candy, while the minor nations have to do absolutely everything themselves. It would be neat if, say, Build To Force Limit let you get some claims on adjacent territories or what have you.
The big ones need less permaclaims not the small ones more. The game is blobby as it is. Especially early blobbing is a problem (because of snowballing), I wouldn't mind a CB late game (In the Age of revolutions) for taking entire states, and with interface to support it. The interface could be in every age, an option in the peace screen for taking all provinces in state x, or heck shift clicking on the map when in the peace screen selecting every province in that state (like how you I think it is shift click to build railroads in an entire state in vic2).
 
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claivin

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When the new missions were first introduced, the Feb. 13 DD mentioned that they would be moddable such that they could be any number of columns wide, however this is still not possible without altering the UI to include a larger mission window. Will there be a horizontal scroll bar in the future?
 

maxirage

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Missions add nice depth, but they have a huge downside that's the same as in HOI4: they increase the learning curve and threshold you need to play nations effectively. Before you can play countries like England well, in addition to mastering all its mechanics, you also have to memorize its mission tree and know what to prioritize. You have to adapt your playstyle around them and can feel very gamey and arbitrary (like the mission that gives you claims over Ireland + Scotland). I don't know how to solve this, but I really wish they were more intuitive and easier to follow.
 

Krebsig

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On the whole I agree the new mission system has been pretty great. There are two parts of the old system however that I think keeps people defending them

- They never run out. Once you finish a new mission tree, that's it. The old missions could nudge you into doing something if you were running out of ideas.
- They were dynamic. Spain could randomly get a claim in the middle of Persia if they had expanded there. Now that is exceedingly unlikely.

On the whole the tradeoff is worth it, but I can sympathise with those who miss that part of it.

To offer my own critique of the generic tree, I think it's a shame it never gives you claims to help you get your empire up and running. The big nations get permaclaims like candy, while the minor nations have to do absolutely everything themselves. It would be neat if, say, Build To Force Limit let you get some claims on adjacent territories or what have you.

I agree, the older mission system gave minors a lot more chances at expanding logically and felt right even with custom nations. The new system is cooler and more immersive, but also demands a lot more ressources to create and this leaves a lot of minor nations behind because they are simply not worth that time investment for Paradox devs.

I feel like a mix between the two would be great: Have a generic mission tree like in the current system, but have some missions in it be flexible with their goals. For example a "conquer adjacent territories" mission that just checks at the start of the game where you are and randomly selects territories or a region near your starting province for said mission which is then locked in. Have a few of those in the generic tree and a lot of people would be pretty happy.

Plus, a lot more achievements could be missions in the new system, too. That's some easy, but tasteful content recycling right here and naturally gives a lot of minors unique missions as well.
 
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claivin

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Also, are there any plans to implement mutually exclusive paths in either mission design or by simply adding a usable visual indicator in mission trees similar to the mutually exclusive indicator in HOI4 focus trees?
 

Nyrael

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If a mission tree comes mainly from the suggestions forum, can we be sure that it will be free, not paid?

I think that would depend on work needed to create them. Simpler trees with mostly conquest goals are simple, more complex prerequisites and more event-driven consequences are probably a different story.
 

TheDungen

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Also the mission trees could do with being a bit more dynamic for an example if Muscovy gets the mission to take Novgorod they get claims to everything novgorod had in 1444, but not stuff Novogorod got since and also to stuff novgorod no longer owns. It would be much better if they simply got them on the stuff novogord has cores on, or perhaps the stuff that is in the russian culture group.

Also missions that ask you to found a certain city should be more available to the people who happen to own that province.
 

Nyrael

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When are we going to see actual changes and improvements for the next patch/expansion?

The update is still in design phase, there is nothing to guarantee yet. As the DD says at its end, next week we will be seeing what mechanical changes and new features might be in plans though. In plans.
 

Hessian Mercenary

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Serbia, Provence, and Saxony are good candidates for mid-sized mission trees, while Ulm and Hesse may receive minor additions.

Woop woop :D I always felt that Hesse is fairly misrepresented in EUIV. Already in the mid 15th century it was a medium power of the HRE and after inheriting Ziegenhain and Katzenelnbogen (plus some other minor stuff) it became a major player in the initial Reformation under Philipp I. (being leader of the Schmalkaldic league together with the electorate of Saxony). A handful of missions centering around Hesse's role in the Reformation and its long time aspiration to become an elector (which Hesse-Cassel succeeded with in 1803) would make for something quite unique :)