Europa Universalis IV - Development Diary 28th September 2021

Hello everyone and welcome to a rather meaty development diary for Europa Universalis IV. This week we’ll release 1.31.6, which is a compatibility patch for the launch on Epic Store, where EU4 will be freely available for a short period of time.

This patch does not contain any bug fixes, improvements or balance changes, as we had to make sure we had a stable version for this release. Some of our programmers and qa have been working diligently to create this new version for a long while now.

Meanwhile the core-team have been working on the major 1.32 patch which we aim to have out later this year. While the other development diaries will focus mostly on what content we will add to the immersion pack, today we will talk about a lot of balance changes!

Concentrate Development

As we all know, the Concentrate Development feature, while technically working as designed, has a few drawbacks, as it can become very unbalanced and immersion breaking. For 1.32 we have been reworking this.

Now when you pillage or concentrate a set of provinces, the horde “raze” function is called, but with 20% reduction of the development. This is then converted into monarch points in the source province(s), using the cost it would improve development in each of these provinces.

These “monarch points” are then taken to the capital of your country, with a loss of 20% of points when applicable, as some countries have free concentrate development. What is left is then used to “buy” development in your capital province. Any “monarch points” left over are then lost.

A shout out to the post who inspired this new design!


We also fixed the way you could concentrate development twice, by first owning it, and then from the released vassal. Liberty desire now also increases for the subjects when you concentrate their development.

Misc Balance Changes

The catholic curia powers are gaining some improvements in 1.32 as well, with all getting another bonus and here are some examples.
  • Bless Ruler - Now also gives +10% Land Morale
  • Indulgence for Sin - Now gives +10% Improve Relations
  • Send Papal Legate- Also adds 10% cheaper annexation costs.

We made some tweaks to curry favors, so that it now relies far more on relative military power, so it's harder to gain for a smaller, weaker nation.


When it comes to natives, we added a new reform to slow down the path to becoming a duchy for settled tribes, as well as adding feudalism as a requirement.

We also added in cooldowns for migration into non-owned lands, made costs for adding tribal land that scales with owned provinces and development. There are also penalties for migration into winter territory. Also added a relation penalty that increases each month that a tribe is inside tribal land of another country.

And of course we are rebalancing, i.e. nerfing, the native development growth for 1.32, as it is completely unrealistic and does not work with the rest of the game.

We also changed when the AI released vassals for being over the governing capacity to be a much higher threshold, and also giving lucky nations a nice little boost to their governing capacity.


Now I hand over the keys to @Gnivom who will talk about some changes to Institutions and the AI for 1.32

Institution Changes



We’ve decided to change how Institutions affect tech cost.

So what was the problem?


We all know how Institutions work:

hard_to_take_seriously.png


Hard to take seriously indeed

Countries outside of Europe, and especially in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, have to pay more for a technology the longer they wait. This means they’re in a hectic struggle against time, as those who fall behind their neighbors will struggle to catch up.

The New System

From 1.32, every technology has a fixed set of required institutions. If you haven’t yet embraced one or more required institutions, that technology costs you 50% more for each.
This updated Technology View should hopefully be self explanatory:

japan_no_renaissance.png

These are some nice properties of the new system over the old:

  1. Institutions now cause a rubber-band effect on tech instead of a snowball effect
  2. Some movement in Florence doesn’t magically affect the Aztecs (until it actually spreads there)
  3. An institution spawning is now a good thing

Asian nations will find themselves getting hit by a +50% tech cost from Renaissance earlier than they would in 1.31, but as they get further behind, their tech cost will stabilize even if they don’t develop for institutions.
European nations won’t be affected as much, but those on the forefront of technology will notice the increased tech cost, making institutions more relevant in this region than previously.

When changing the code for this, it turned out we based a lot of seemingly unrelated things on countries’ “tech cost from institutions”, most of which were simply translated from the pre-Rights of Man “technology group” system. For example, joining a Trade League requires having at most +200% tech cost from institutions. Who would have known? You’ll find a lot of these addressed in 1.32’s changelog.

AI Improvements

Every version of EU4 has had its own AI issues, and it’s no secret that it has been getting worse for a while. For 1.32 some of the most debilitating issues have been fixed, and hopefully without causing too many new ones.

EU4’s AI is the product of years of incremental development, by a large number of developers. Most of the code is written after EU4’s release, but a few lines date back as far as the late 90’s. Writing AI is hard, so many of the systems are complex. And given the number of different developers, they don’t all work in harmony. Essentially, for any given choice the AI has to make in army, navy or budgeting; it often has a dozen or so voices in its head telling it what to do. It’s supposed to take all of them into account, but often the loudest voice drowns out all the rest.

ai_kill_them_underlined.png

(yes, lower numbers are better)

Here, the Ottoman army has made good progress on the Mamluk fort of Tabuk. But a voice intended for a completely different situation screams one order of magnitude louder than all other voices, that it should kill the rebels in Qahirah.

Issues like this hinder the systems that *are* made for the given situation from doing their job. A lot of what has been done for 1.32’s AI is to find and fix cases where systems interfere with each other.

Major Fixes

Army

This is really the result of a bunch of small fixes, but essentially the AI will generally be more competent at achieving stuff with its armies, although individual moves can still be erratic. They will also keep a more significant army in peacetime

Naval Invasions

The AI can now decently perform naval invasions again, without too much shenanigans. This has a huge impact on the European AIs’ colonization efforts.
new_world_colonized.png


An almost fully colonized New World from one of our observer runs

Economy

Lots of small fixes mean the AI’s economy should now be more solid. Budgeting has been improved and the choice of buildings to construct puts more emphasis on expected financial return.

A special shoutout to @Tempscire, whose reverse engineering of AI army behavior is somehow easier to understand than the code itself. We implemented his suggestion for terrain evaluation as-is, and changed how combat width is considered, albeit not as he suggested for technical reasons. Unfortunately he has many other good suggestions that will not be implemented at this point.
 
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Can't say there is anything I disagree with. Love all changes.

Institution changes are hard to gauge currently. I like the change, but with no changes how they spread, it'll still like be that Asia has a hard time at the start of the game and be at tech parity at the end of the game, while in history it was basically the other way around. Still, it's balanced somewhat by having different unit types (western units stronger at endgame).

Some love for catholics was unexpected, but awesome.

Good to see the mega cities gone. Concentrating development will still lower costs to core, so basically make blobbing easier but not result in a mega capital. Which is a good thing. It's a clear nerf, but to a mechanic that needed it badly.
 
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Sounds promising. I'm intrigued to see the new Institutions effect in practice. I do wonder, though. Is it still going to be detrimental to have Institutions spread in your country after being embraced (as it gives no advantage, but makes it easier for your neighbors to get them). Maybe Institutions should also have desirable province effects.
 
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The tech being tied to institutions sounds interesting, was not expecting something like this. I do hope that it will make east Asia fall behind in tech, as often in my games Ming is a world leader in tech despite not having an institution or two.

I hope the better AI for naval invasions means we see Asia being invaded militarily by Europe, but it may prove difficult given the Asian nations often have large armies - more than could fit on the Europeans boats. It always just feels like free real estate to me when I play in Europe because as a player we know how to invade a continent away.
 
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  • Bless Ruler - Now also gives +10% Land Morale
Totally agree that the Curia powers need another buff, but 10% Land Morale seems a little too much, compared to all other Curia options. This would be the auto-pick for everybody and all other options would be taken less frequently.
 
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Looks like you guys are looking into the really important stuff.

The last few patches have been disgusting historicalwise but absolutely hilarious gamebreaking and powergamingwise. I'll be sad to see some of my favourite broken features go but It's a necessary change!
 
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No changes to how easy or quick institutions spread? I hoped when I saw the title this issue would be mentioned, also, I miss protectorates.
Anyway, the changes look really good
 
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Some good fixes, but what about the insance force limit gain from colonial nations? Or the insane amount those nations can muster? It bloads armies of colonizers up to insane proportions, giving the ai the idea it is strong, when in reality it is a paper tiger.
 
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Although these sorts of changes really require a playthrough for me to really understand their impacts, I so far don't like the tech penalty changes... Does this mean if you hypothetically have colonialism be delayed (maybe you killed Portugal + Castile super early and France/England/etc didn't pick up explo early), you're hit with a massive 50% penalty after a certain tech? Also, how would point cap work now? Would you immediately get 50% increased point cap once the next available tech has an institution penalty?
Also regarding the whole realism argument that seems to justify this change, I'd say this is just as unrealistic and non-sensical in many situations.
There's also an argument being made that with this change, spawning institutions + embracing institutions are really desirable, but that is because there is now a hardcoded form of punishment for NOT spawning + embracing institutions.
 
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Hello everyone and welcome to a rather meaty development diary for Europa Universalis IV. This week we’ll release 1.31.6, which is a compatibility patch for the launch on Epic Store, where EU4 will be freely available for a short period of time.

This patch does not contain any bug fixes, improvements or balance changes, as we had to make sure we had a stable version for this release. Some of our programmers and qa have been working diligently to create this new version for a long while now.

Meanwhile the core-team have been working on the major 1.32 patch which we aim to have out later this year. While the other development diaries will focus mostly on what content we will add to the immersion pack, today we will talk about a lot of balance changes!

Concentrate Development

As we all know, the Concentrate Development feature, while technically working as designed, has a few drawbacks, as it can become very unbalanced and immersion breaking. For 1.32 we have been reworking this.

Now when you pillage or concentrate a set of provinces, the horde “raze” function is called, but with 20% reduction of the development. This is then converted into monarch points in the source province(s), using the cost it would improve development in each of these provinces.

These “monarch points” are then taken to the capital of your country, with a loss of 20% of points when applicable, as some countries have free concentrate development. What is left is then used to “buy” development in your capital province. Any “monarch points” left over are then lost.

A shout out to the post who inspired this new design!


We also fixed the way you could concentrate development twice, by first owning it, and then from the released vassal. Liberty desire now also increases for the subjects when you concentrate their development.

Misc Balance Changes

The catholic curia powers are gaining some improvements in 1.32 as well, with all getting another bonus and here are some examples.
  • Bless Ruler - Now also gives +10% Land Morale
  • Indulgence for Sin - Now gives +10% Improve Relations
  • Send Papal Legate- Also adds 10% cheaper annexation costs.

We made some tweaks to curry favors, so that it now relies far more on relative military power, so it's harder to gain for a smaller, weaker nation.


When it comes to natives, we added a new reform to slow down the path to becoming a duchy for settled tribes, as well as adding feudalism as a requirement.

We also added in cooldowns for migration into non-owned lands, made costs for adding tribal land that scales with owned provinces and development. There are also penalties for migration into winter territory. Also added a relation penalty that increases each month that a tribe is inside tribal land of another country.

And of course we are rebalancing, i.e. nerfing, the native development growth for 1.32, as it is completely unrealistic and does not work with the rest of the game.

We also changed when the AI released vassals for being over the governing capacity to be a much higher threshold, and also giving lucky nations a nice little boost to their governing capacity.


Now I hand over the keys to @Gnivom who will talk about some changes to Institutions and the AI for 1.32

Institution Changes


We’ve decided to change how Institutions affect tech cost.

So what was the problem?

We all know how Institutions work:

View attachment 760490

Hard to take seriously indeed

Countries outside of Europe, and especially in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, have to pay more for a technology the longer they wait. This means they’re in a hectic struggle against time, as those who fall behind their neighbors will struggle to catch up.

The New System

From 1.32, every technology has a fixed set of required institutions. If you haven’t yet embraced one or more required institutions, that technology costs you 50% more for each.
This updated Technology View should hopefully be self explanatory:

View attachment 760491
These are some nice properties of the new system over the old:

  1. Institutions now cause a rubber-band effect on tech instead of a snowball effect
  2. Some movement in Florence doesn’t magically affect the Aztecs (until it actually spreads there)
  3. An institution spawning is now a good thing

Asian nations will find themselves getting hit by a +50% tech cost from Renaissance earlier than they would in 1.31, but as they get further behind, their tech cost will stabilize even if they don’t develop for institutions.
European nations won’t be affected as much, but those on the forefront of technology will notice the increased tech cost, making institutions more relevant in this region than previously.

When changing the code for this, it turned out we based a lot of seemingly unrelated things on countries’ “tech cost from institutions”, most of which were simply translated from the pre-Rights of Man “technology group” system. For example, joining a Trade League requires having at most +200% tech cost from institutions. Who would have known? You’ll find a lot of these addressed in 1.32’s changelog.

AI Improvements

Every version of EU4 has had its own AI issues, and it’s no secret that it has been getting worse for a while. For 1.32 some of the most debilitating issues have been fixed, and hopefully without causing too many new ones.

EU4’s AI is the product of years of incremental development, by a large number of developers. Most of the code is written after EU4’s release, but a few lines date back as far as the late 90’s. Writing AI is hard, so many of the systems are complex. And given the number of different developers, they don’t all work in harmony. Essentially, for any given choice the AI has to make in army, navy or budgeting; it often has a dozen or so voices in its head telling it what to do. It’s supposed to take all of them into account, but often the loudest voice drowns out all the rest.

View attachment 760488
(yes, lower numbers are better)

Here, the Ottoman army has made good progress on the Mamluk fort of Tabuk. But a voice intended for a completely different situation screams one order of magnitude louder than all other voices, that it should kill the rebels in Qahirah.

Issues like this hinder the systems that *are* made for the given situation from doing their job. A lot of what has been done for 1.32’s AI is to find and fix cases where systems interfere with each other.

Major Fixes

Army

This is really the result of a bunch of small fixes, but essentially the AI will generally be more competent at achieving stuff with its armies, although individual moves can still be erratic. They will also keep a more significant army in peacetime

Naval Invasions

The AI can now decently perform naval invasions again, without too much shenanigans. This has a huge impact on the European AIs’ colonization efforts.
View attachment 760489

An almost fully colonized New World from one of our observer runs

Economy

Lots of small fixes mean the AI’s economy should now be more solid. Budgeting has been improved and the choice of buildings to construct puts more emphasis on expected financial return.

A special shoutout to @Tempscire, whose reverse engineering of AI army behavior is somehow easier to understand than the code itself. We implemented his suggestion for terrain evaluation as-is, and changed how combat width is considered, albeit not as he suggested for technical reasons. Unfortunately he has many other good suggestions that will not be implemented at this point.
I'm really not sure about the institutions change - so now you have a 50% tech penalty but you can still only store 999 points?

You're going from a somewhat dynamic system where ROTW countries can strategise when to develop and embrace an institution to: Oh colonialism has spawned, now i have 50% tech cost on every tech, I guess I'm forced to spend thousands of monarch points right now or fall behind because of some arbitrary rule. I'm not sure how this makes the game better at all.

Can you please explain why an institution spawning is a good thing?

This really is a step backwards in player utility..


Regarding AI changes, is this anything other than define modding? Almost all this can be achieved currently through a number of AI define changes.
 
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I like the new idea of concentrating development, but how will this favor tall over wide nations? For example, I see this specially useful as a horde, where you can raze+concentrate to get a minimum CCR and keep expanding. However a tall nation will have trouble finding more sources of new development to keep expanding its capital. The problem is that the only real downfall of this mechanic is the loss of development in the affected provinces, but this is a win-win for expanding countries, and lose-win for tall countries.
 
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I like the new idea of concentrating development, but how will this favor tall over wide nations? For example, I see this specially useful as a horde, where you can raze+concentrate to get a minimum CCR and keep expanding. However a tall nation will have trouble finding more sources of new development to keep expanding its capital. The problem is that the only real downfall of this mechanic is the loss of development in the affected provinces, but this is a win-win for expanding countries, and lose-win for tall countries.
I think this is deliberate to prevent 800 dev capitals. One City Challenge isn't the desired play style.

I wonder how this will interact with dev cost reducing effects.
 
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Happy to see some Ai changes, and REALLY glad to see things like the Natives being addressed and I look forward to see the reworked Tribal Development.

On the topic of Technologies and Institutions, this was unexpected but really welcomed, the Insitution I’ve personally never thought needed changes (Considering its predecessor Westernization) but this rework to the system is something I look forward too. I actually play in Asia a good bit so its nice to have some break from devving provinces the monment 1500,1550 comes around. I also look forward to the modding impact this has.
 
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Could you please lock "Pillage capital" CB only for tags with Chinese and Indian Tech Groups?

Let's stop building Babylons in Europe just by constantly robbing OPM HRE princes blind.
 
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I'm really not sure about the institutions change - so now you have a 50% tech penalty but you can still only store 999 points?

You're going from a somewhat dynamic system where ROTW countries can strategise when to develop and embrace an institution to: Oh colonialism has spawned, now i have 50% tech cost on every tech, I guess I'm forced to spend thousands of monarch points right now or fall behind because of some arbitrary rule. I'm not sure how this makes the game better at all.

Can you please explain why an institution spawning is a good thing?

This really is a step backwards in player utility..
As far as I understand it, it's not suddenly +50% tech cost because the institution spawned, it's +50% tech cost because Tech 5 requires Renaissance no matter if it already spawned or not.
 
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