Developer Diary 3 – Design Philosophy

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King

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Well we’ve done a couple of introductory Developer Dairies but let’s do something with a bit more meat in it. Today let’s talk about the overall goal of the Victoria design. Plus, to please the crowd, we’ll also mention a little bit about events, or perhaps not, but we’ll mention them anyway.

At its core we are seeking to set up a sandbox game. Victoria 2 is all about changing history as well as making it. So from that point of view you are not going to see the following happen: It is 1914 and you are Germany. You and your French and Russian allies have together all but destroyed Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. However, that matters not because you are now allied with Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire in a life or death struggle with Russia and France. Basically, we are looking to remove the hard coded steering out of the game and allow the player more freedom.

At the same time this is a historical game, so instead of adding in hard coded scripts to steer a country, we add game mechanics that place historical constraints on your freedom of action. Let’s take Russia here as a very good example of a country that was considered by many to be overpowered in Victoria and I’ll talk a little bit about what we mean here. First off is POP promotion; it is going to be automatic. Now there are various things you as a player can do to influence it and I will return to this subject in future developer diaries, but for now just take my word for it. The population of Russia has lower literacy than Western European powers; because of this they are less aware of opportunities than Western European POPs. This in turn makes them less likely to promote. We are trying to model Russia’s relative backwardness in the period, and at the same time giving means for the player to overcome them.

We’ve also mentioned somewhere that we have bureaucrat POPs who represent the administration. However, absolute monarchies have aristocrats who will serve in the administration (and unlike bureaucrats do it free of charge), so the classic Victoria no brainer tactic of immediate reform is no longer so obvious. If you are a more backward state where the aristocracy forms a pillar of the state, you can’t simply just ditch them immediately; you need to encourage a bureaucracy first. But wait, you are too busy encouraging a working class because you are afraid of economic backwardness... Well, you are going to need to balance these things. There are of course more things than this but if we revealed everything now there wouldn’t be anything left for future developer diaries.

Well, that’s the grand scope covered but there is another key element that shaped our design choices. Victoria is a very different animal than Hearts of Iron 3. It is more than simply just painting the map your colour. It is about politics and economics. You can have a lot of fun with Victoria without ever starting a war, and we wanted to keep this element as well as the depth (even expand on it where we could). Victoria 2 is a sequel to Victoria so we want those of you who enjoyed Victoria to enjoy this. However, we also have two other goals: Those who did not enjoy Victoria should enjoy Victoria 2, and those who never played Victoria should also have fun with Victoria 2. So, those of you who did play and enjoy Victoria should feel a certain element of familiarity with the game, while for those of you who didn’t enjoy Victoria we hope that we have removed the things that stopped you playing.

The final part of our design philosophy is the interface. To be kind to Victoria, we could say that the interface did not win many awards. So, with the Victoria 2 we are putting a lot of thought into how information is displayed. Now, I know some our recent interface efforts have lead to accusations of “dumbing down” by the fan base, but, trust me on this one, with a good interface you can actually add complexity into a game without turning it into a struggle to just get on with playing the damn game.

I suppose I should finish with events. On the one hand we have promised thousands of events and on the other hand we are kind of hinting that events do not feature heavily in our plans. Well, rigid historical events forcing the game down a certain path are not on the agenda; we don’t want people to have to read through the event files and learn to decode them just to be able to play the game. On the other hand, events in themselves do add something to a game. If you get events for Brazil then you get the feeling you are playing Brazil and not generic South American Country A. What Victoria had was two classes of event; major and flavour. We are looking to shunt the major events in decisions and make them more generic, thus if things are right in Japan you will get the Meji Restoration, but you can play another uncivilised country and get the same effect. The flavour events remain. Now, overall a point of prestige here or a small increase in CON there is not going to make or break your game, but this is your country that made a huge scientific breakthrough and won a noble prize this year and a not generic country. Thus, we are trying to balance the goal of a sand box game while trying to provide the immersion of playing a particular country.

Well, that ends this weeks developer diary, next week I’ll start talking about how we are going to make this a reality.

P.S. here is a screenshot of something other than Sweden
 

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Johan

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Basically, like the other PI latest games, you plan to give players an initial settings and then we are free ?

Yeah..

Of course there's things like American Civil War, birth of socialism, and the liberal revolution, and those will happen in Victoria2.

But we've seen that our fans here do not want hardcoded events, so we cater to the community.
 

Johan

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King

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Auto-promotion....hmmm....are we talking no direct player input on POP promotion whatsoever and leaving it to the AI?

Im not sure how I feel about that a) because I like to guide my POPs personally to those higher classes & productivity, b) what about soldiers in war time or whatever, is the AI going to choose to covert POPs in my most profitable factory rather than some farmers in a backwater farm? and c) the AI in Ricky was known to make some wacky decisions...ie- build another glass factory, you have deleted the last 5 attempts to build one, so lets try another!?! and then its 1920 and you really want that tank factory...which the AI finally builds, in one of your lowest POP provinces etc etc etc

I think Id at least like the option to keep POP promotion/demotion under player control if desired.

Did we say AI control?
 

Johan

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I suspect events will have triggers, just not ones based on dates... could be wrong.

yeah, but there will never be events checking on a "day of month" trigger for multiple reasons.
 

King

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Sounds to me like funneling your POPs in order to reshape your country as you please is going to be much more of a challenge now, and I welcome that. Its true, in V1 there was basically a generic goal of POP manipulation for every country, easier for some countries than others, but you knew what to do, it was just a matter of stockpiling enough money to do it. Sounds like this will present much more of a strategic challenge... brilliant stuff.

King, I notice the reference ot the Meiji restoration, does this mean that a similar event will now be open to all uncivilised countries (I'm not wild about that category existing, but thats OK), so for example, if I play my cards right as Persia I could get something akin to Meiji?

basically yes, there is no reason why you should do everything right playing an uncivilised country but be hosed because you forgot to pick Japan.
 

King

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I would ask you to forgive my ignorance here but a developer's diary attempting to appeal to the masses should probably explain it, what's a POP? I've heard it discussed in relation to Vicky before but nobody has ever explained it.

POP is a unit of population. Has a class, religion, culture, militancy (how angry it is) Conciousness (how much it understands its place in the world, ideology and issues. It also has money, needs it will buy and a tax rate it will pay. Basically the POP is the most basic unit in Victoria 2.
 

King

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I agree. New PI games are already dumbed down enough.:eek:o

Yes of course they are, we have made no effort to add any deeper game mechanics or anything like that and just simply removed events. Really come on, this is not true and you know it.
 

Johan

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IMHO they mostly give historical flavour into the game and without them it just doesnt feel like playing a certain country at that certain time

Guys, calm down.

Almost all flavor events in Victoria 1 will be in Victoria 2.

Its just the silly events like Crimean Wars, Opium Wars etc that had no basis in how the game is that will not happen.

As 95% of our fans seem to say, Gameplay > bookreading.
 

King

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No Crimean War!? No Opium War?! :( Now i'm sad.

no hard coded Crimean War and No hardcoded Opium War. So no need to read the event files to find out when you will end up at war and thus plan your game accordingly.
 

King

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Does it mean that POPs have fixed size (sort of like Rome's semi-POPs) and splitting is replaced by spawning new POP instead?

BTW, very informative diary.
Do you plan to use VIP project for the source of both normal and flavor events?

No POPs don't have a fixed size.

No we don't plan to use VIP as a source for events. Mainly because these are conceptualised around the Victoria game engine, Victoria 2 is not the same.
 

Johan

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in the "just plain ridiculous" sense - the celibate Llamas of Tibet inheriting China's empire through dynastic politics, and so on.

Like how a tiny polish duchy could dominate entire Europe...
 

King

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Yeah - an effective national unification/liberation set of game mechanics is really a must for Vicky 2, and I'm hoping it's being planned as a major feature...

Don't they just make the perfect fodder for decisions in EU3, like form the Spanish Nation?
 

King

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Hmm, I do hope the AI will be more prone to actually declare war then. As often the majority of AI-declared wars in Victoria I came from events.

In order to get an suitable for Everyone Rating we have had remove all references to violence out fo the game. Thus the declaration of war funcationality will be disabled.
 

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It should be stated I think that for all those who love historical events of the old school there are probably as many who does like the new, dynamic, events and decisions that paradox has been putting out in their newer games.

An engine should modell the reasons for things turning out a certain way, not force them regardless. But this is a very old discussion and perhaps best left for some other thread. I like all I've read in the developer's diary :) If anything I'm a bit worried about the inclussion of too many unrelated flavour events ;) But I do have confidence in the authors. ;)