EU4 - Development Diary - 19th of May 2016

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Catalack

Imperator of Outsourcing PDS Dev
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Feb 10, 2014
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Hello all, time for another EU4 dev diary!

I'm Catalack, the producer of all things DLC for all PDS in-house titles. This time I've been invited to talk a bit about the production process of our DLC's - that is; content packs, unit packs, music packs... any type of pack really. These are usually released alongside the expansions and most of the time involves cosmetic content.

Buckle up!

How DLC's are born
First off there is always the brain picking. This is the part where I hunt down the designers for what type of content they actually want to accompany the next expansion. In EU4's case this usually means Johan, Wiz and in more recent times DDRJake. This step has a varying degree of difficulty since some projects have a detailed wish list with ideas already, and some don't. Sometimes it requires making designers sit down and iron out details over an after work beer. EU4 has a well thought out plan for future content packs though, so it's usually no sweat. CK2 on the other hand…

It does also happen that I put together my own suggestions for what should go into the packs. These suggestions still need to be looked at by the designer, but it usually means less work for them.

It can look something like this:
7KtY6yL.png



Brand Team Says Yay or Nay
When the designer or product owner has given their thumbs up on the content, it's off to the Brand Team for a final confirmation before production starts. This is the part of the company where all the different parts of the organisation syncs up. Devs, sales, marketing, production etc, and it's the final threshold for any type of content that will at some point reach our customers and players. The Brand Teams at Paradox are usually very quick to respond to any type of situation and while we agree with each other most of the time, it has happened that some content needs to be cut or altered for various reasons.


Production begins
When a pack has been approved by all relevant instances, it's time to decide who does what. We have a couple of really talented in house artists and composers, as well as third party studios who sometimes help out when our in-house resources are too strained working on main expansions rather than cosmetic DLC.
Usually the work is split between both in house people and outsourcing.

Worth to mention here is that we try to also make use if our dedicated community, as we have several third party content creators who are fans and modders. Collaborating with them gives us both an excuse to pay them for their dedication, as well as opportunities to work with people who actually knows our games, rather than a random outsourcing studio who might have the technical know how, but not be familiar with games such as ours. I'm amazed at what some of them go through for the sake of making our games better. Cudos.


Historical Research
This is a topic I expect many of you are interested in! Content production always begins with extensive research and mock ups. Both me and each content creator put in a lot of time on doing the research for each piece of content created. We have a lot of history buffs both among artists and scripters, so this step usually goes pretty smoothly.

The only problem is when sources lead back to... our own games and wiki.

Here's an example of what a mock up can look like:
PNtYx2T.jpg

One of my personal favorites. The Cossacks was really fun to work with.

Good sources can sometimes be really hard to come by, and can affect the end result negatively, as we saw recently with the Mare Nostrum Content Pack.
We recently hired an artist specifically for the purpose of keeping track of outsourced material and DLC creation. I'm happy @Carlberg has joined the team!


When the art happens
After the mockups are approved, 3D work starts. This is sometimes a challenge since we have to balance the restrictions of Clausewits with a proper level of details to make units quickly recognizable at a distance - since most people play with camera zoomed out.

Example:
1Wwf8VJ.jpg



Final prep and the deep dark depths that is the Steam Backend
When all content is done and delivered, I package it and make sure everything works in game. Then I leave it in our QA departments capable hands, and wait for release to come around.

That is when I must enter the Steam backend jungle. If you ever apply for a job where the job description says "experience with steam backend", turn around and run. Unless the position is at Valve because then I urge you to please take the job and update the steam backend and make it a bit more user friendly!

Anyway, here I set up all relevant depots and give them fake names to prevent data mining/leaks among other things.
Coming up with fake names is one of the highlights of this step:
HV5gQ6V.png


Not to worry, just before release I give them their proper names!

It’s usually around this time that we also post renders on the forums and get some feedback from you guys.
Example:
jNMe0mX.jpg



Rinse Repeat
And after release, the whole process starts all over again! I usually have all of the different projects up and running at the same time, and so I'm always in the beginning, middle or end of any one DLC cycle.


And never once is it boring.


//Catalack
 
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Catalack

Imperator of Outsourcing PDS Dev
55 Badges
Feb 10, 2014
105
1.131
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Naval War: Arctic Circle
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • King Arthur II
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Starvoid
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • The Showdown Effect
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • War of the Vikings
  • Dungeonland
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
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  • Darkest Hour
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I for one really appreciate seeing inside the sausage machine of pds studios.
I never thought of our games as sausages, but now that you mention it...

Especially the steam backend bit!
It keeps me awake at night :confused:

Will you add more unit packs for Eastern European nations like Hungary, Georgia, Serbia, Bosnia?
If I told you that would be spoiling now wouldn't it :p

I also saw that you updated the Mare Nostrum pack based on the fourm's feedback. Thank you so much for that!
Although I have a small request. Could you please add in the old Italian tier 3 models in the DLC for modders to use? They were completely replaced with the new ones.
We tried to fix most of the things we got feedback on, although we didn't have time enough to fix everything. I'm immensely proud of the artists that put in the extra hours to fix them :)
About adding the old Italian T3 units - might be doable. I'll look in to it, but can't make any promises as usual!

You mean you didn't watch Taras Bulba? :)
Nah, but we did watch With Fire and Sword!

What happened to the Stellaris Chirpy Bonus?!
Look again friend ;)
Or:
I've just realised from that second to last screenshot that the blue avian portrait in Stellaris is Chirpy from Cities:Skylines.
 
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Catalack

Imperator of Outsourcing PDS Dev
55 Badges
Feb 10, 2014
105
1.131
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Naval War: Arctic Circle
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • King Arthur II
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Starvoid
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • The Showdown Effect
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • War of the Vikings
  • Dungeonland
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
Whats's the reasoning behind having the content packs separate from the expansions? Does the math work out? How many of the people who buy an expansion also buy the content pack?
The math does work out, although I don't have the numbers available to me right now. One of many the reasons is to keep the cost of the expansion down, as more people buy expansions than they do cosmetic DLC. Some people also aren't interested in anything other than new features, and some people might not be able to afford the new expansion, but is interested in modding and playing around with new units.

It's a bit of an effort from our side to try and please as many people as possible, as well as more easily keeping track of what sells and what doesn't.

Or is it just that they've run through their existing lists of ideas?
It's not really all that bad actually, but as you've rightly guessed, the game has had a long life span. We do have some more things to churn out though so stay tuned! :D
 
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Catalack

Imperator of Outsourcing PDS Dev
55 Badges
Feb 10, 2014
105
1.131
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Naval War: Arctic Circle
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • King Arthur II
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Starvoid
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • The Showdown Effect
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • War of the Vikings
  • Dungeonland
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
I'm much more interested if anyone at Paradox saw "The Deluge" (1974) ;)
I think @Carlberg actually watched it, or parts of it. We definitely did a lot of research into the "reply" and took lots of inspiration and references from those scenes.

can u have polls on Twitter or the forum to have some fan input on any upcoming unit packs?
Sounds like a fun idea, we should poke Johan about it!

Other changing is coming to mare nostrum content pack?
I'm just here waiting for them to fix the Mare Nostrum content pack
We did a major overhaul of those units and released with the latest patch last week. Italians are all updated and we fixed some of the textures and models of the other countries as well. Go check it out! :)

Nice dev diary about the inner workings of DLC content. One question, with so many studios and outsourced work, how do you keep a certain artwork standard?
This is a really good question actually. It's pretty difficult from time to time, especially when we're closing in on a deadline and have less time to put into giving feedback for our third parties. Here are some of the things we do to keep these things together:
- We have a tight knit team of artists in-house who keep track of the artistic vision of all our games.
- We also have a dedicated dlc-artist who, together with me, is in constant contact with all our third parties, usually via chat. This allows us to provide quick feedback and support for the third parties at all times, and for us to keep them in line with our vision.
- All outsourcers get exstensive guides for what workflow and level of quality we expect when collaborating.

Any word on the evangelical majors?
Unfortunately not. This ball is in another part of the company now and out of my hands.

Why do you usually not bother with artillery units when they're the same as infantry ones?
Because the infantry is scripted to artillery within the game, and often the designs are very similar. We do have some unique ones though!

Broken pictures! Post them again please
Are they working now?

could you give an example of that, i.e. for what reasons content get cut by the Brand Team?
Often it's about money, for example if there's a sale we might want to add more, or if we have a release parallel with something else we don't want to compete with we might make the Content Pack smaller than first planned. Sometimes though it's that we realize that content didn't fit because of reasons we didn't first think about. These are obviously a bit of a sensitive topic to discuss so unfortunately I can't be more specific than that.

I just wonder, it's related to EU4, do you guys ever considered to dynamically change scale of 3d models?
Interesting idea! Don't think we'd implement it anytime soon, but cool idea nevertheless!

Europa Universalis IV: Tribal Cooking Simulator.
A personal favourite of mine :cool:

Why Italian Go-Kart? :D
Well I was just researching the Italian units there, and I had also been playing a lot of Mario Kart in my free time, soo.. yeah. There you go :oops:
 
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Catalack

Imperator of Outsourcing PDS Dev
55 Badges
Feb 10, 2014
105
1.131
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Naval War: Arctic Circle
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • King Arthur II
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Starvoid
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • The Showdown Effect
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • War of the Vikings
  • Dungeonland
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
Fair enough - in that case who should we be asking? Also - would they be the same person who determines how content should be released?
Hm, well that would be the marketing department. Not sure who in particular. The decision of how it's released is up to the Brand Team. I can bring it up there and see if we can get the ball rolling, although likely there are already some plan in place that I don't know about x)

They completely ignored many people, such as myself, who were completely satisfied with the original product and felt no need to complain. I now have a product that is not the one I payed for and differs significantly from the one advertised.
I personally loved the original tier 3 Italian unit models. The new ones are still good, but they are not what I payed for and not what currently appear in the steam and paradox store pages.
We've got some questions about this, I'll see what I can do to make both available.

I assume, based on one of your replies, that you aren't on Twitter?
I am but I'm not all that active -> @sparrhult

This Dev Diary is now filed in my brain alongside the Stellaris sountrack one under "didn't expect to find this interesting at all but it was the most interesting thing I read that day".
Happy to contribute!

I wonder what you did in a past life to get stuck working with the Steam backend?
Probably butchered kittens or something ):

And yet somehow that mess of a patch with all its inaccurate historical depictions still came out
Spr7hbQ.gif
 
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Catalack

Imperator of Outsourcing PDS Dev
55 Badges
Feb 10, 2014
105
1.131
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Naval War: Arctic Circle
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • King Arthur II
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Starvoid
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • The Showdown Effect
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • War of the Vikings
  • Dungeonland
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
When you create your nation, you make a choice for their army look (Western, Eastern, South American... etc.), but I'd love to use what I buy, so would it be possible to have an update to have the choice to use the cosmetic I buy, like you'd have French unit, English Unit, etc.?
I'd also like that actually. I'll forward your suggestion!
 
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