Game Development - Imperator and PDS

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Johan

Studio Manager Paradox Tinto
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To help you understand a bit more how the development of a game works, I’ve decided to give you a more thorough explanation on the subject! I hope you will enjoy it and perhaps you will learn a few things here and there!

When developing games, you basically have to get all the features of your project locked-in for Alpha (a milestone in game development, if you will). Later on, you stop adding and revising (heavily) features when you get closer to Beta - another milestone I’m sure you are all familiar with. Once you reach the last two months before release day, you have little (if not any) room to include super-critical changes to your game. The only thing you can do is iron-out the stability of the game, ensure that everything is localized and that the AI knows how to play the game, and what game to play.

You may have noticed that after the first few sessions of Dev Clash (the grand multiplayer held internally that we broadcast on Twitch every Tuesday), there were no major changes made to the game. In a nutshell: the game was locked down for a final polish before release.

The 1.1 patch (Pompey) that will get out in June started developing around the same time - that is, two months before release. The people in charge of said patch included team members that were not busy with AI development, stability issues or localization. We gathered an enormous amount of ideas that we wanted to implement when the time was right, and we started working on them (along with potential issues to be fixed).

All the features for Pompey are, so to speak, “done”. However, the version of the game tied to the Pompey patch is currently unstable, the AI is not aware of the changes we made yet, and the graphics as well as the UI are still provisional. In addition, most balance numbers are off.

When the Demetrius patch is done and out (the 1.0.1 that will release next week), our team will start working on Pompey, and it should be ready for release about five to six weeks later. Meanwhile the design-team has to juggle with the fine-tuning of Pompey, and… writing up the design for the expansion and free update that will come afterwards… ;)


And so it continues… Hope you enjoyed this post!

/Johan.
 
That's great and we appreciate it, however some of us would like some better communication on how we can help you fix the stuttering issue. Help us to help you to help us.
 
That's all fine and dandy and I like to have a glimpse behind the scene. But you have released a very unfinished, or let me rephrase it, a very unpolished and kinda rushed game now with 1.0. Why didn't you just postpone the release to summer 2019, if you and your team knew that this version feels rough?
 
I heard from one of the devs that even implementing similar features to EU4 is different due to the implementing mid-layer jomini in the engine, that makes it a bit more difficult?
that along with the feature freeze makes some sense to what is going on currently.
 
That's great and we appreciate it, however some of us would like some better communication on how we can help you fix the stuttering issue. Help us to help you to help us.

We had a meeting about this today, there are performance improvements in the hotfix next week and the team are going to investigate how they can debug the stuttering issue more effectively if general performance improvements aren't sufficient.

That's all fine and dandy and I like to have a glimpse behind the scene. But you have released a very unfinished, or let me rephrase it, a very unpolished and kinda rushed game now with 1.0. Why didn't you just postpone the release to summer 2019, if you and your team knew that this version feels rough?

We're happy with the release, our expectations and that of some players do appear to be slightly out of alignment though and we'll work on getting a better grasp of what our players expect from us. There are significantly less issues with Imperator than our previous launches, this obviously isn't an excuse for the issues we do have, but we're working on them.
 
Treat your games like Blizzard : "we will release it when it's done" and you won't have to make justifying post like this ever again.
For some games this works but if you approached lots of games (paradox games included) like this then the game would probably never release.

Where do you draw the line? Its not like you can stop yourself having ideas.

Now the UI and probably some of the stability issues probably should have been sorted earlier, particularly the ui since their other games have plenty of applicable solutions. However features is a bottomless hole and it really comes down to individuals being happy or not. I suspect your not happy, I am.
 
Game is fun but not as immersive as I would like 1.1 changes sound much better and wish it was released with those features.

Still will give a solid review this game has solid bones and know once some more features are in it will be 10/10
 
That's all fine and dandy and I like to have a glimpse behind the scene. But you have released a very unfinished, or let me rephrase it, a very unpolished and kinda rushed game now with 1.0. Why didn't you just postpone the release to summer 2019, if you and your team knew that this version feels rough?

I don't view it as rough.

I am very happy with 1.0. Its a nice and fun game.

There is not a single release or patch of a PDS game where we do not have enough ideas written and worked upon that will make the game even better the next release.
 
Game is fun but not as immersive as I would like 1.1 changes sound much better and wish it was released with those features.

Still will give a solid review this game has solid bones and know once some more features are in it will be 10/10

Thank you for your honesty.
 
imo communication is key. I:R is new; and while EU4, CK2, and Stellaris all communicate well, I've noticed the HoI4 team does not always get their intentions understood by the player base and vice versa.
 
The game is fine as far as I'm concerned. Jebus, I've played 12 hours already and I'm just getting started.
 

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Treat your games like Blizzard : "we will release it when it's done" and you won't have to make justifying post like this ever again.

Well, if Grand Strategy Games sold 30 million copies or more like Blizzard's games do, then I think I could convince management to give us an infinite supply of money to make one. Now, we do okay for ourselves given we operate in a niche market, but even the biggest strategy game in the world doesn't do anything like those kinds of numbers.
 
How is Imperator "very unfinished though"?

Can you name one map-based grand strategy game that was more polished at release? I feel people tend to compare Imperator to HOI4 and Stellaris (3 years after release) but I played those games at release, and I can assure you they weren't more polished than Imperator.

Games get improved over time based on community feedback, which is something that you unfortunately can't have during development process. Beta is very limited and sometimes is not representative of the community. So even if Release was delayed by two months, I doubt the game would've been "more polished".

I think the release state of the game is good. The only thing I didn't like is instant pop promotion/conversion and naval mechanics. But the things I liked definitely outweigh the things I didn't like.
 
We're happy with the release, our expectations and that of some players do appear to be slightly out of alignment though and we'll work on getting a better grasp of what our players expect from us. There are significantly less issues with Imperator than our previous launches, this obviously isn't an excuse for the issues we do have, but we're working on them.
This is very interesting to me. Just what did you think were the expectations of your playerbase? Because I wonder how is, for example, butchering the building part of the gameplay a response to player expectations, when, as far as I can tell, players of your games sure do like developing their provinces. On top of that, there's a lot of talk of there being too much mana use in EU4, and what does Imperator do? More mana!
 
How is Imperator "very unfinished though"?

Can you name one map-based grand strategy game that was more polished at release? I feel people tend to compare Imperator to HOI4 and Stellaris (3 years after release) but I played those games at release, and I can assure you they weren't more polished than Imperator.

Games get improved over time based on community feedback, which is something that you unfortunately can't have during development process. Beta is very limited and sometimes is not representative of the community. So even if Release was delayed by two months, I doubt the game would've been "more polished".

I think the release state of the game is good. The only thing I didn't like is instant pop promotion/conversion and naval mechanics. But the things I liked definitely outweigh the things I didn't like.

We talked about this a bit today, something even we tend to forget is that most people didn't buy CK2 or EU4, or even the later two games at launch, they got them afterwards. Very few people were there for CK2's launch and even less remember it without some form of rosy nostalgia. But we'll work on making sure we get information across better, we've been talking about the game for months and streaming it weekly, we clearly need to step it up though so people don't come into a new launch with the wrong expectations.
 
It's nice that you write to us fans.
Most of the other famous game directors of the big studios like GabeN from Valve and Sid Meier from Firaxis doesnt interact with their fans as much as you do.
 
So far, I'm enjoying the game. I don't think it's "unfinished" or not polished enough for release. Certain aspects of gameplay can be discussed, but that's more in the realm of game design. One thing I felt slightly "bolted on" was the region system. It works, but I don't feel it's fully integrated in the UI. Also, in general, I prefer more info about how the various numbers work, but there is only so much you can put in a tooltip I guess. :)
 
Well, if Grand Strategy Games sold 30 million copies or more like Blizzard's games do, then I think I could convince management to give us an infinite supply of money to make one. Now, we do okay for ourselves given we operate in a niche market, but even the biggest strategy game in the world doesn't do anything like those kinds of numbers.
Your games are very high on Steam's yearly top seller listings, on level with games with far larger dev teams.

we'll work on getting a better grasp of what our players expect from us.
For starters, when you're cloning features from your older games the implementation should be at least on the same level, not significantly worse (the atrocious macrobuilder being a prime example)
 
So far, I'm enjoying the game. I don't think it's "unfinished" or not polished enough for release. Certain aspects of gameplay can be discussed, but that's more in the realm of game design. One thing I felt slightly "bolted on" was the region system. It works, but I don't feel it's fully integrated in the UI. Also, in general, I prefer more info about how the various numbers work, but there is only so much you can put in a tooltip I guess. :)

Yes it was added in after alpha to reduce micromanagement of governors.