Hello and welcome back to another EU4 dev diary! Today, as promised, we’re going to be talking about our design process.


Originally, Johan was the sole designer on EU4, taking design input from team members but ultimately making the design decisions himself. Those of you who have been paying attention during the last year may have noticed both that EU4 has gotten more popular, and that the design process has changed somewhat since the start of Res Publica, being more of a divided responsibility between Johan and Martin (Wiz).

Johan has had a funny role in the project as he is technically not part of the team, but has been working as lead designer, writing a majority of the design for the expansions, and have also programmed a fair bit on the project. So far, 17,5 years of EU development, and he won’t let it go just yet.

While Johan still makes the big decisions, Martin handles the day-to-day design decisions such as feature implementation, numbers tweaking and handling the input from the team. The rest of the team currently includes 3 experienced programmers and 1 scripter, and a QA team of 4 QA that give great input on the design. We also get a great deal of design input from our beta testers, several of which have experience going back all the way to EU3 and earlier. We also have an internal email group where we get feedback from the various people at the office that play the game religiously.

Though we accept a great deal of input from the team, from beta testers and from the community, EU4 design is not by committee. There is a clear hierarchy, with Johan at the top having final say. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of trust and flexibility in the team, with Johan trusting that Martin will follow the spirit of his design vision, and Martin in turn trusting developers to do the same. More often than not, if a developer raises concerns with a design while they are working on it, that design will then change, as it is impossible to consider all problems and angles when you’re writing a design document. A number of features have radically changed during development because a developer said ‘This won’t work’ or QA said ‘This isn’t fun’, and entire features have simply been cut when they didn’t work out quite as planned.

Design is mostly written in two-man meetings between Martin & Johan, where we tend to throw all sorts of ideas around to see what sticks. Of the two, Johan tends to be the visionary who comes up with the sweeping ideas, while Martin does the majority of the work refining said ideas into the final design that ends up in the game. These meetings tend to spawn a lot of ideas for future expansions, and we also use them as a means of solving balance problems in the game (‘let’s sit down for 10 minutes and figure out how to fix the economy’). Even when we don’t achieve everything we want during the meeting, it usually sets the gears in motion, and if we notice we’re not getting anywhere we’ll just stop the meeting… and usually, 15 minutes later, one of us runs over to the other with the solution to the problem.

We try to set a concept or setting for each expansion a long time in advance, and then design features from that concept. Common Sense, for example, was nicknamed the “religion & government” expansion, while Art of War obviously was a “war expansion”. At present, we have such outlines for a further 5 expansions, and no shortage of ideas even beyond that.

We keep a document of how the features for an update (expansion+free patch) should work, and we keep this up to date during the development, as we focus on having short and clear design documents. These documents are sometimes made years in advance, as we add ideas and features we come up with in our creative meetings.

Finally, and this is where we think a lot of game designers go wrong, we actually play our own game. Both Johan and Martin play EU4 in their free time, with thousands of hours of playtime between them, and QA plays even more, with Jake (DDRJake) and Carsten (ForzaA) currently having a bit of a race to 100% achievement completion (which ForzaA is currently winning).

As to where we get our ideas, there is no single answer, so to top this dev diary off, here’s a few examples of features in the game and how they evolved. Hopefully it will give you an idea of how we get from idea to implementation.

Fortresses and Zone of Control - This started as a post in the beta forum, with the usual complaints about carpet sieging, and how forts should be more important. At the same time there was a thread in the public forum about how good the March of the Eagles combat with forts were, which basically had forts. From there, Johan wrote the design. Though a lot of details had to be tweaked (garrison sizes, ZoC functionality, etc) the design originally envisioned was pretty much the same as what eventually got released in 1.12.

Government Ranks - This idea originally came out of an EU3 mod, and is something Martin has been wanting in the game for a long time. When Common Sense was being designed, we needed a few more features (we have a ‘value’ breakdown for each expansion to ensure that the number of features in the expansion match the price point), and Martin threw together a quick pitch that was added to the design.

Development - This was something we debated on quite a lot, as Johan came up with it as a way to let players build tall, but Martin had problems with combining the development system with the old buildings system (as you’d then have two competing ways to develop with monarch points) , and suggested a completely different development design whereby you’d develop building slots instead of bt/production/manpower. After a lot of discussions, Johan combined the two into a final design that tied building slots to development, ending up with a design that (in our view) was better than either of the original proposals alone.

Nation Designer - This is an idea that a number of people have proposed since the release of the CK2 character designer, but the actual outline for the design was spawned late one tuesday night at a Gyros place, when Martin and Henrik (Groogy) from CK2 were getting some post Tuesday beers food before going home. Martin suddenly had the idea of a nation designer where you created your borders by clicking on the map. From there, he bounced a number of ideas off Henrik, and sat down the next morning to write a design that was later accepted by Johan. The actual implementation then fell to Rickard (r_lazer), the senior programmer on the team, who spent more than a month on it in continuous discussion with both Martin and Johan.

1.8 Map Expansion - The massive map expansion for the 1.8 patch accompanying Art of War came about when Johan came out from his office and said ‘I want 1000 new provinces in the rest of the world’. This was partly due to the experience of playing competitive multiplayer as Ming, and finding the experience there more dull when it came to actually fighting wars compared to the maneuvers in Europe. From there, it was a massive project involving Johan, Martin, Henrik (Trin Tragula) and at least a dozen betas. Martin was originally a bit skeptic to the idea of adding so many provinces, but Johan did the optimization work needed to make it work, and Henrik (who was hired mid development) played a crucial role directing the work of the betas, who did most of the heavy lifting on the actual map.

So! That was a lot of words about making EU4 design. I hope it’s been enlightening as to how we work, and if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the dev diary forums thread.

(If anyone is wondering about the third person perspective, it's because me and Johan co-wrote the post)
 
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TheDungen

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I supose when you say that it's a heirarchial structure I'm guessing we're talking the swedish version of a hierarchial structure. Which is a whole lot more relaxed than similiar structures abroad.
 

Metz

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Armies should be able to also entench themselves for a defensive bonus and be able to garrison within a fort at the cost of extra maintenance and perhaps unrest to simulate the soldiers eating up the civilian's supplies.
 
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Denkt

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Can we (the community) advocate a session for fixing naval warfare, Trade and cultural acceptance soon?

Late game economy (and difficulty) is maybe the most important that needs improvement. Even something simple as making everything increase in cost the same way as advisors does can help alot.
 

Chaos_TLW

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I live in Finland, in an area even more Northern than Stockholm is... right now I have a fan on its highest setting blasting at my face and sweat dripping off my brow because it's so damn hot. The sun outside is ridiculously hot, and I cannot fathom why anyone would want more heat than this... it's ridiculous
Eeh, you learn to live with it. I don't know how anyone can survive temperatures below zero, where I live it is very, *very* rarely that temperatures go below 15 degrees Celsius, and the main difference between summer and winter is the humidity.
 

TheDungen

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Can we (the community) advocate a session for fixing naval warfare, Trade and cultural acceptance soon?
I'd have used the word improving rather than fixing but aside from that it's an agree.
 
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Pass_West

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but the actual outline for the design was spawned late one tuesday night at a Gyros place, when Martin and Henrik (Groogy) from CK2 were getting some post Tuesday beers food before going home

This is the kind of trivial personal info that fascinates me. It shows that the Paradox people are normal flesh and blood humans, not the inscrutable demigods of my imagination. :)

The only thing i'd like to suggest here is to increase the interval between autosaves in Ironman, just as you did in CKII. Pretty please with a cherry on top.
 
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omg_ken1

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Interesting read! Must be fun sitting around discussing these things.

Btw I think I'm stalk you guys when you're out lunching & drinking in Stockholm, in hope I get some juicy info about future expansions
 
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Mikalos

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1.8 Map Expansion - The massive map expansion for the 1.8 patch accompanying Art of War came about when Johan came out from his office and said ‘I want 1000 new provinces in the rest of the world’
i think this is my favorite part of the devdiary
 

plankicorn

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Our approach to historicity in design is mainly one of flavor and inspiration - we want mechanics that feel appropriate to the era, but historical accuracy ultimately takes a backseat to gameplay.
This is what I love about your design of EU4. I see so many suggestions people make about making the game more historically accurate, and most of them would make the game unbelievably complicated and not fun at all. It's good to know that you and your team have a firm grasp on what matters when making a game: for it to be fun.
 
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BRK

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This is absolutely fascinating! I intend to do a gaming startup someday in the not-too-distant future, and it's amazing how much passion you guys seem to have for your work.

@Johan: old guard, new blood, etc...:p It's okay, PI products will always remain your babies, and I'm sure you guys will be able to reboot Runemaster, someday. Legacy writ large.
 

LikeNothing

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Enjoy your vacation! You've earned it!

2cxz20y.png
 
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migalhone

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That Martin guy seems to be a decent person.
 
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Krajzen

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1.8 Map Expansion - The massive map expansion for the 1.8 patch accompanying Art of War came about when Johan came out from his office and said ‘I want 1000 new provinces in the rest of the world’.

The best sentence I have read on this forum for the last month :D
 

elmorteUA

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this is exactly why i much prefer CKII, which i discovered after EUIV. i now see EUIV as a substandard sequel.
Damn - I think same about 2 yerars ago, but I change my mind. EU4 much deeper than CK2 and lot & lot harder. A lot of work with
thousands events, and community create this events too. After 200 hours played in CK2 you will see ALL events and mechanics. In EU4 you will find new experience in every country.

CK2 is great game - but you can control everything, and you can not lose if you know how to play...
 
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Sexual Velociraptor

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May 13, 2015
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If you're going to do a bunch of DLCs I think you should consider including the older ones in the base game/making them free to make it easier to get into the game.

While I'm sure you'd need to do some testing, I think it's very possible that you'd see more game sales and therefore more sales of the latest DLCs if some customers didn't get turned off by a massive list of DLCs that they might feel they "need" to play the game as intended.

Obviously your multiplayer DLC implementation is extremely classy and makes it so no one is really "forced" to get any of the DLCs, but nonetheless I think it's possible people might get turned off by the wall of DLCs.

Just something to consider. I own all the main DLC so it doesn't affect me, but if this increases your profits it couldn't be a bad thing for the end user/paradox fans.
 
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