Europa Universalis IV Developer diary 17 – Honey, don’t you want to talk about it?

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Studio Manager Paradox Tinto
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Dec 14, 1999
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Welcome to the 17th development diary about Europa Universalis IV. This time we will talk about the game concept we revolutionized in the original version of the game, namely the diplomatic aspect of the game. From the very beginning of the series, Europa Universalis has tried to give nuance and flexibility to strategy game diplomacy, which so often is simply war/peace/alliance. We have a lot of new tools and tips to help you manage the delicate art of foreign relations.

Diplomacy – War, peace and anything in between
Even if you agree with the wise man that said Warfare is simply a continuation of politics, international politics and diplomacy are vital aspects of Europa Universalis in their own right – not just as peaceful alternatives to war. So yes, we have declarations of war, peace negotiations, and forming alliances. But we also encourage you to influence nations, improve your relationships, build dynastic ties, engage in covert actions, tighten economic ties and even grant or demand access to territory and ports.
The range of options can be dizzying to new players, I know. But we’re taking steps to make it all a little bit clearer.

New Interface – Meet your neighbors and see what they really think of you
Just like the rest of the game, the diplomatic interface has been redone. As always, you can get a quick overview of a country, with information about their technology & ideas, learn who and how skilled their ruler is and other vital information. You can also see their current diplomatic status and interact with them.
But our commitment to transparency and clarity is seen in the standard diplomatic menu. In the Europa Universalis games, we have a system of relations that is constantly changing. And this has meant constantly referring back to the diplomatic screen to find out what someone thought about you.

First of all, the big block of text that outlined relations in previous EU games is now a big graphical interface where we show the all the relationships a country have at the moment. We’ve also tried to make the system easier to navigate. Each type of relation has its own row, and each row lists those countries that share this relationship with you. If some vital information is relevant to a relationship, we display that, too. So ongoing wars will show their war score, and truces and other time sensitive actions have progress bars to tell you when time is up.

Secondly, the similar diplomatic actions have been grouped together into categories for an expandable list. Simply open a category to see what’s in there and close it when you’re done. Or not – it’s your list. To further improve this part of the interface, we have added two types of icons on those buttons. First there is a small diplomat icon on those actions which will require a diplomat to stay for the duration – remember that in EU4 you have limited diplomats and sometimes they will be very occupied. Secondly, for those actions where the AI has to accept or decline an offer, we’ve added a small arrow indicating the likelihood that they’ll listent o your overtures.You no longer get vague answers from the AI, but instead you always get a yes/no reply, and a detailed explanation on why they’ve declined your offer.

Then, of course, there are going to be lots of new ways to interact with other countries such as negotiating fleet basing rights, forming coalitions and naming your rivals.

Opinions – Even if you like me, I might not like you.
In Europa Universalis III, relations were bi-directional. If you liked someone, then they liked you. This is definitely not the case in the real world, and it is something we really wanted changed for Europa Universalis IV. Now someone may not like you, while you like them, and to this we’ve adapted the system we introduced in Crusader Kings II.

One of the strengths of Crusader Kings II was that when someone hated you, you knew why, and we felt this would be cool to bring into Europa Universalis IV. Because in Crusader Kings II, we moved to a system of static relation modifiers. So not only do you see who dislikes you, but you also see why. The next step is to make this value influence not just what the AI does, but also influence your actions. For example, we can make it easier to declare war on someone you hate.

We also brought in the Crusader Kings II system that laid out how different relationship values were set. We have a number of static values that affect relations. For example being allied, having a royal marriage, fighting a war together, etc. will give a set boost to relations. Obviously, fighting a war with someone will make them less inclined to like you.

Then we have the things that people will eventually stop caring about or will have less importance in how they think of you. These are relation values that will slowly decay over time. If you are familiar with Crusader Kings II, think of these as similar to the penalty for having your vassal’s levies in the field too long or the hit you take when a new king takes the throne; sooner or later these factors just go away. So, in EU4, for example, taking provinces will harm relations with countries (depending on how valuable that province is) but this resentment will fade as the years go on…

Rivals - The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend
One of the biggest changes to diplomacy in Europa Universalis IV is the new ability to designate up to three countries as rivals. Why would you want to have a rival? Doesn’t this just make the rival country angry at you? Yes, it will lower relations between you and the rival, but with an advantage too. Relations with any other country that has the same rival will improve and you can think about joining up to contain the hated So-and-sos. It’s the old “enemy of my enemy” thing. If someone has marked you as a rival, they will appear as your enemy in your diplomatic menu. We strongly believe this adds depth to the diplomacy system in Europa Universalis IV.

Here's a screenshot of the interface, as we look at my 'faithful' Saxon ally, from an internal MP campaign.
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Awesome - I'm glad to see the new change to diplomacy although there are some worries.

CKII style modifiers work well I think though and I'm glad to see it integrated, and of course more visibility is always better.

Also in the MP screenshot - that Burgundy..

Chris you jelly?
Good stuff.

(Looking at the map: Are the Ottomans controlled by an unusually cautious human, or is the continued existence of Byzantium and Candar an unfinished AI loose end? :)
Oh god.. I saw aggressive expansion in there.. Im just gonna have a ton of negative relations there ;)

at least until I can expand into India, Asia or America. I like the new additions however
Good stuff.

(Looking at the map: Are the Ottomans controlled by an unusually cautious human, or is the continued existence of Byzantium and Candar an unfinished AI loose end? :)

Thrace was probably siege stealed by his 'allies' and Candar is an Ottoman vassal, so stop this thrashing of the Ottoman player, whoever he is. Ok!? :angry:
Also in the MP screenshot - that Burgundy..

That would be Forzaa, a trusted member of the empire, and a good ally of my Austria..
Good DD! very exited about these news.
My most favourite DD yet. I really love diplomacy and I enjoy games were I try to expand peacefully, with war as the very least option. (and of course I enjoy play warmongering games too :p). The changes have pretty much 'fixed' what annoyed me about EUIII. Reasons why they like/dislike you, a explanation why they decline, expanded options etc. I especially love the rivals concept. Many times I've wanted to stop expansion of a nation without actually destroying it or taking any of it's land. Guaranteeing certain nations helped but weren't great. This rival concept were I can pick that nation as my rival then get increases relations with the hostile countries bordering it is just fantastic.

I'm not sure if war score will be covered by a DD (I don't think I've missed a detailed explanation of it). One thing about EUIII which made taking down the big nations easy, was releasing countries. Firstly it didn't cost that much warscore, secondly you are getting a new ally who will help you in other wars against your enemy and thirdly you can drastically rip apart the country by releasing a few states. Best example is France. Winning one war with France could mean you've beaten them, period. It was easy to release a few states at 100% which meant France lost 2/3 of it's land and you now had a few extra allies. I hope this has been reworked.
Sounds like aggressive expansion is a partial replacement for the badboy system. Putting that directly into the diplomacy rating sounds like a good move, particually with the enemy of my enemy mechanic.

The interface changes also sound good. Poor interfaces get fustrating and good ones make playing much more fun. They may not be as sexy as gameplay changes, but they can add just as much to the game's enjoyment.

Can I recommend that if we have a progress bar showing how long until something expires (eg a truce) that you let us right click -> set reminder?
Simply beautiful and a great work. Having more informations on the various actions would have been good, too. But I do see "Influence Actions" there - are they going to be all positive or stuff like ultimatums are present too?
Very nice development! Especially the "Enemy of my enemy" thing sounds interesting.