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EU4 - Development Diary - 19th of May 2016

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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Do you plan on making formable countries inheriting old sprites? I'd love to play as Milan, form Italy and keep those beautiful Milanese sprites
 
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What was the deal with the Mare Nostrum Content Pack? I didn't follow the forum at that time.

Tunis and Algiers units have way too dark skin tones as well as the Tunis one giving us a strip tease to look like some Somali pirate. That's the biggest issue AFAIK, especially considering that the Morocco troops look great and have a skin tone that makes sense.

If they fix the Tunis and Algiers units I'd buy it because the rest looked pretty slick.
 
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Will there ever be the option for the player to pick the default type of unit for his stacks ? There are some really great cavalry models that are nicer than the infantry and I would like them to represent my armies.
 
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I hope They add unit sprites for Taungu, Champa, Khmer, Malacca, Majapahit, Atjeh, Tibet, Khalkha, Chagatai,Oirat, Korea.

They should make new unit Sprite or adding tier 4 unit Sprite for Manchu/Qing, Ayutthaya, Ming and Japanese as these nations have unit Sprite with newly released of EU4 and lack tier 4 unit Sprite.

Byzantine Sprite is definitely needed to be changed especially tier 3 which looks too Ottoman and Non Byzantine Greek, also add tier 4 for Byzantium too.
 
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Unfortunately not. This ball is in another part of the company now and out of my hands.

Fair enough - in that case who should we be asking? Also - would they be the same person who determines how content should be released? In particular whether it should be time-limited (like the Evangelical Majors and Stellaris Platypus portrait) or strictly pre-order exclusive (as with some of the Stellaris and HoI4 content)? I'd like to humbly suggest to them that they rethink their plans on releasing content in that way - it tends to cause a lot of contention later.

Also - useful dev diary and responses - thank you!
 

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Thanks for giving us this kind of info Paradox, not very many Corporations are willing to share so much with their consumers.
 

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I'm glad the skin tones for the North African unit pack were updated, but I find the decision to replace the third tier model from the Italian unit pack very disappointing. I read the disparaging comments about them on this forum, but I think paradox made a huge mistake by changing the product based on a few complaints. 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.
 

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Props for that dev diary and especially for your following answers Catalack. You covered all that I would have asked too. :)
I assume, based on one of your replies, that you aren't on Twitter?
 

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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!
Or:

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. When you decided to change this product based on a few complaints on the forum, didn't you consider the people who were satisfied with the original and didn't feel the need to complain? I do appreciate the work that was put in to fix this so-called problem, but those who were happy with what they had bought have been completely ignored.
 

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Maybe a Celtic unit pack? I'd love to see Irish units, particularly as Ireland has recently been updated. Scottish units would also be nice.
 

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Wish this was about regular DLCs and not the useless bonus clothing DLCs
 

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Wish this was about regular DLCs and not the useless bonus clothing DLCs


If they gave you everything at once, what purpose does these posts have? Its a sneak peek into (well, now expanded) internal "stuff", its what most people I've read on the forum wants.

Perhaps its a bad choice to just focus on their topic and not give some details of eu4.future. But for them, as for us (as they try listen to) its a trial and modify (instead of error).

IIRC, a "product owner" is basically person overseeing the project, in this case its EU4. Its his/her responsibility to make sure the development pipeline is progressing, at all. Hence the owner can correct perhaps a team going off focus(aka DLC, feature, issue...whatever).. and keep all the bits and pieces progressing towards an end, specified by the team kings and princes (or queen and princesses).
 
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IIRC, a "product owner" is basically person overseeing the project, in this case its EU4. Its his/her responsibility to make sure the development pipeline is progressing, at all. Hence the owner can correct perhaps a team going off focus(aka DLC, feature, issue...whatever).. and keep all the bits and pieces progressing towards an end, specified by the team kings and princes (or queen and princesses).
How is that different from the project designer or project lead?
 

CoolSpin

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How is that different from the project designer or project lead?

Well, I guess you have to ask PDX about that. Its just theory on my end.

Top-level guys plan the future, each "department" try to make it happen. Be it one, be it many in each "area". Its not top-down-only structure, PDX seem pretty relaxed, considering their transparency in these posts. Since they actively monitor user(customer) input, AND actually give actual feedback.

Let this rest until official reply. Thx.

PS: Consider this a theory, NOT fact.
 

Noobleton

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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". It's always great to read about the processes companies go through :)
 
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Palaiologos

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The problem with the Byzantine sprites is not that they are looking "too Turkish" or whatever, but rather too "irregular". Its like somebody googled about Greek soldiers of 16th to 19th centuries and came up with the irregular bands and vagabond mercenaries that the Greeks/Albanians had. Don't take it from me without researching but a surviving Byzantium would have had an Italian influenced army for 2nd tier and Russian influenced for 3rd. The 4th should be something like this (pic)
You guys have done an excellent job for Theodoro historical fiction-wise. And while the current byzantine 2nd tier could be stretched to be considered historical it looks a bit unsoldierly. More like ceremonial dress. Imagine the 2nd tier Byzies as a mix South Italians and backward balkans and you can't go wrong.
 

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Martin_Mortyry

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The problem with the Byzantine sprites is not that they are looking "too Turkish" or whatever, but rather too "irregular". Its like somebody googled about Greek soldiers of 16th to 19th centuries and came up with the irregular bands and vagabond mercenaries that the Greeks/Albanians had. Don't take it from me without researching but a surviving Byzantium would have had an Italian influenced army for 2nd tier and Russian influenced for 3rd. The 4th should be something like this (pic)
You guys have done an excellent job for Theodoro historical fiction-wise. And while the current byzantine 2nd tier could be stretched to be considered historical it looks a bit unsoldierly. More like ceremonial dress. Imagine the 2nd tier Byzies as a mix South Italians and backward balkans and you can't go wrong.
I really wish they would change the Byzantine sprites(damn, they could even recolor Theodorian units for all I care) and reuse the current ones for Anatolian minors and whatnot.
 
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