HoI4 Dev Diary from the Product Manager

HoI4 Dev Diary from the Product Manager

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Firebolt

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Hello everyone,

For those of you following these Dev Diaries, you know that we are taking a short break from the regular diaries to talk about other things we do in order to bring a game your way (not to worry, next week podcat will be back with more juicy stuff on what we are working on). Last week KimchiViking, the Project Lead on HoI IV, described what our development process looks like. This week I will try to give you some insight from a publisher’s perspective, as I work as the Product Manager for HoI IV at Paradox Interactive.

Many of you probably already have an inkling as to what a publisher does, but just to set the bottom-line straight, the publisher finances the development of a game and is in charge of the distribution and marketing of it! My role as a Product Manager is to make sure that we can deliver the best possible game to you guys whilst ensuring that the teams involved get the resources they need to do so.

In the case of HoI IV, I work closely together with the Product Team, meaning the Game Director (podcat),the Project Lead (KimchiViking) and the Product Marketing Manager who coordinates all the activities dealing with the marketing & sales department. It is in this constellation we discuss what we need to do for upcoming months/year. The Game Director is the one who is responsible for coming up with ideas for the expansion(s), the PL works out when we can deliver these and the PMM is in charge of how we market the expansion in question. And I am responsible for the budget (profit/loss).

Normally we work with yearly plans (even though we naturally also have a more long term vision of where we want to take the game). This means that around this time of year we start planning more concretely for what we want to do in the next 12-18 months.

This is an iterative process where we look at:

- the content we want to add to the game (i.e. what each expansion should be),

- what development staff is required to do this (no of programmers, content designers, QA etc),

- the optimal timing of release and the cost of marketing to make you, the players, aware of the expansion (competing releases, campaigns such as the Paradox Weekend on Steam and various trade shows etc.),

- and finally the business case for all of the above.
(For a more detailed description how we work within the Product Teams around an expansion, I recommend my colleague Gruffa’s, PM for CK2, dev diary. We work in a similar way to them; https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/ck2-dev-diary-59-publishing-ck2.1036690/)

When all of this is done I look at the budget requirements and compare that to my initial estimates and goals. Hopefully those match, or else I have to revisit and change the plans or I need to request additional funds from management, be it that the developers need additional funds to add amazing new features to the expansion or that we would like to buy 30 seconds of airtime during Super Bowl. ☺

So, in a world of infinite money and time, I would say yes to most requests, but alas it is also for me to sometimes set tighter deadlines and/or budgets due to whatever constraints we may face. But normally we sit down and try to agree together on how to best proceed.


The Product Team busy planning the next move for HoI IV

A very concrete case for HoI where we have had to alter our plans was for the first expansions which has affected those of you who bought the Expansion Pass. Our initial plan was to include the first two expansions at a USD 50 value for USD 40. After the launch of HoI IV we realised after your feedback that certain aspects of the base game needed attention. We already had plans for these expansions, but we decided to scope Together for Victory and Death or Dishonor down and put more effort into the free updates and bug fixing.

We believe that we have made the base game a better experience thanks to these fixes but this has made the Expansion Pass holders confused as to what and when they will get their promised content. And rightly so. What I can say is that we are aware of the situation and are working on a solution. Our goal is to make the holders of the Expansion Pass feel it was worth the wait even though it is taking longer than initially planned. Stay tuned!

KimchiViking mentioned last week that I would mention how we decide our release dates/frequency. This is really down to two things: how long it will take to make the content for a particular expansion and secondly how much money we need to make in any given period of time. If we were to need 52 weeks to create an expansion with all the people that are involved, it would be pretty hard to recoup that cost. So it’s about finding a balance between the time we spend on making the expansion and how much we can charge for it. We want to have a dedicated team working on the game over the year to ensure continuity. We also want to support the game long term, just like we are doing with other titles like CK2 and EUIV. This means that we will have a certain amount of cost that we need to recoup. This will be done by releasing a certain number of expansions over a year. Meaning that with smaller expansions we normally need to have a more frequent release schedule and less so for larger expansions. With this logic Death or Dishonor should have come out sooner after Together for Victory. In this particular case we decided to put extra effort on bug squashing and other fixes during Q1 this year rather than releasing an expansion. Additionally having paid content allows us to work on the free stuff that we provide with all releases.

We also want to ensure that we reach as many as possible once we do release an expansion. Once we have decided on the expansions that we plan on releasing within the next 12-18 months, we need to look at when it is deemed best to make them available to the players. In the Product Team we decide on a release window (usually a couple of weeks) and then our marketing team gets back to us with a proper release date as we approach that “window”. This date is based on other competing releases and when we can have suitable campaigns on platforms such as Steam, Green Man Gaming etc.

Once we have released an expansion we always look at the reception from you guys and the sales numbers to see if and what we need to address going forward. We value your comments and strive to make adjustments where it is feasible. We are thrilled and happy to see that so many of you keep on coming back to the game on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean that we are content and sated! Hopefully you will be pleased with the stuff that we have in the pipeline which podcat will start revealing next week in the next dev diary.

Please continue giving us your feedback! I will stay around the thread to answer as many questions as I can.
 
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Anraz

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Interesting. You don`t have registered copy of the game and this is the first post of yours on the forum ;) BTW do you play HoI4? :)
 

Neigel

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Hello everyone,

For those of you following these Dev Diaries, you know that we are taking a short break from the regular diaries to talk about other things we do in order to bring a game your way (not to worry, next week podcat will be back with more juicy stuff on what we are working on). Last week KimchiViking, the Project Lead on HoI IV, described what our development process looks like. This week I will try to give you some insight from a publisher’s perspective, as I work as the Product Manager for HoI IV at Paradox Interactive.

Many of you probably already have an inkling as to what a publisher does, but just to set the bottom-line straight, the publisher finances the development of a game and is in charge of the distribution and marketing of it! My role as a Product Manager is to make sure that we can deliver the best possible game to you guys whilst ensuring that the teams involved get the resources they need to do so.

In the case of HoI IV, I work closely together with the Product Team, meaning the Game Director (podcat),the Project Lead (KimchiViking) and the Product Marketing Manager who coordinates all the activities dealing with the marketing & sales department. It is in this constellation we discuss what we need to do for upcoming months/year. The Game Director is the one who is responsible for coming up with ideas for the expansion(s), the PL works out when we can deliver these and the PMM is in charge of how we market the expansion in question. And I am responsible for the budget (profit/loss).

Normally we work with yearly plans (even though we naturally also have a more long term vision of where we want to take the game). This means that around this time of year we start planning more concretely for what we want to do in the next 12-18 months.

This is an iterative process where we look at:

- the content we want to add to the game (i.e. what each expansion should be),

- what development staff is required to do this (no of programmers, content designers, QA etc),

- the optimal timing of release and the cost of marketing to make you, the players, aware of the expansion (competing releases, campaigns such as the Paradox Weekend on Steam and various trade shows etc.),

- and finally the business case for all of the above.
(For a more detailed description how we work within the Product Teams around an expansion, I recommend my colleague Gruffa’s, PM for CK2, dev diary. We work in a similar way to them; https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/ck2-dev-diary-59-publishing-ck2.1036690/)

When all of this is done I look at the budget requirements and compare that to my initial estimates and goals. Hopefully those match, or else I have to revisit and change the plans or I need to request additional funds from management, be it that the developers need additional funds to add amazing new features to the expansion or that we would like to buy 30 seconds of airtime during Super Bowl. ☺

So, in a world of infinite money and time, I would say yes to most requests, but alas it is also for me to sometimes set tighter deadlines and/or budgets due to whatever constraints we may face. But normally we sit down and try to agree together on how to best proceed.


The Product Team busy planning the next move for HoI IV

A very concrete case for HoI where we have had to alter our plans was for the first expansions which has affected those of you who bought the Expansion Pass. Our initial plan was to include the first two expansions at a USD 50 value for USD 40. After the launch of HoI IV we realised after your feedback that certain aspects of the base game needed attention. We already had plans for these expansions, but we decided to scope Together for Victory and Death or Dishonor down and put more effort into the free updates and bug fixing.

We believe that we have made the base game a better experience thanks to these fixes but this has made the Expansion Pass holders confused as to what and when they will get their promised content. And rightly so. What I can say is that we are aware of the situation and are working on a solution. Our goal is to make the holders of the Expansion Pass feel it was worth the wait even though it is taking longer than initially planned. Stay tuned!

KimchiViking mentioned last week that I would mention how we decide our release dates/frequency. This is really down to two things: how long it will take to make the content for a particular expansion and secondly how much money we need to make in any given period of time. If we were to need 52 weeks to create an expansion with all the people that are involved, it would be pretty hard to recoup that cost. So it’s about finding a balance between the time we spend on making the expansion and how much we can charge for it. We want to have a dedicated team working on the game over the year to ensure continuity. We also want to support the game long term, just like we are doing with other titles like CK2 and EUIV. This means that we will have a certain amount of cost that we need to recoup. This will be done by releasing a certain number of expansions over a year. Meaning that with smaller expansions we normally need to have a more frequent release schedule and less so for larger expansions. With this logic Death or Dishonor should have come out sooner after Together for Victory. In this particular case we decided to put extra effort on bug squashing and other fixes during Q1 this year rather than releasing an expansion. Additionally having paid content allows us to work on the free stuff that we provide with all releases.

We also want to ensure that we reach as many as possible once we do release an expansion. Once we have decided on the expansions that we plan on releasing within the next 12-18 months, we need to look at when it is deemed best to make them available to the players. In the Product Team we decide on a release window (usually a couple of weeks) and then our marketing team gets back to us with a proper release date as we approach that “window”. This date is based on other competing releases and when we can have suitable campaigns on platforms such as Steam, Green Man Gaming etc.

Once we have released an expansion we always look at the reception from you guys and the sales numbers to see if and what we need to address going forward. We value your comments and strive to make adjustments where it is feasible. We are thrilled and happy to see that so many of you keep on coming back to the game on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean that we are content and sated! Hopefully you will be pleased with the stuff that we have in the pipeline which podcat will start revealing next week in the next dev diary.

Please continue giving us your feedback! I will stay around the thread to answer as many questions as I can.
First post on the forums, and first on the thread. Fitting :)

Fun to hear about your though process and what goes on. I have a few question you might ( or might not ;) ) be willing or able to answer.

I hold a season pass and I do not mind paying 15 or 20 euro ( or even more ) for a good expansion, however both TvF and DoD have for me been extremely small and lacking any meaningful changes to how the game plays. It just feels the same, but with new focus trees. This sort of reflects in the 50%ish approval on steam, while some of them are just a angry mob voicing their option at the dlc policy and automatically down vote everything it must still be a concern. Anywho..

1.what I really want to ask is has this been talked about and are their plans to stop this from happening in the future releases?

2.Will their be a expansion pass 2 despite the issues with the first one ?

I hope you keep up the work with the game and I will gladly keep support you guys and gals by buying new expansions, but I also hope you up the game on them.
Thanks :)

edit: Anraz beat me
 

Ted52

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Have you considered providing additional funds towards AI development? Increasing the size of the team in that aspect, perhaps? The current team appears to not be quite up to the task considering the state of the game (which was already a year overdue from the initial release date).

Don't get me wrong, I love me some juicy content, but planting trees next to a crumbling bridge is not the solution. We as consumers appreciate some pretty trees and we acknowledge that they can do some good to the environment, but we want the bridge fixed first and foremost.
 

Telenil

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Hello Firebolt, thank you for the diary.

I have a question that must be asked: are you that HEARTLESS MARKETING EXEC guy Archangel talked about when he described the volcano base?

How people think DLC decisions are made:

Code:
PARADOX INTERACTIVE OFFICES, INTERIOR, DAY


WELL-MEANING DEV 1: "And here we have feature A, which is perfectly functional and ready to release in the base game..."


HEARTLESS MARKETING EXEC: "Cut it."


WELL-MEANING DEV 1: "But Sir!"


HEARTLESS MARKETING EXEC: "Cut it."


WELL-MEANING DEV 1: "Wh-What!? Why?"


HEARTLESS MARKETING EXEC: "We will repackage it as DLC and sell it...for one million dollars."


HEARTLESS MARKETING EXEC turns around, strokes a fluffy cat, gazes out over volcano lair.

How DLC decisions are actually made:


Code:
PARADOX INTERACTIVE OFFICES, INTERIOR, SHORTLY AFTER MIDNIGHT


WELL-MEANING DEV 1: "And here we have feature A, which is half way done and only crashes the game a few times per hour..."


HEARTLESS MARKETING EXEC: "Cut it."


WELL-MEANING DEV 1: "But Sir!"


HEARTLESS MARKETING EXEC: "Cut it."


WELL-MEANING DEV 1: "Wh-What!? Why?"


HEARTLESS MARKETING EXEC: "We are 3 months from release, QA has just failed our latest release candidate because feature A keeps crashing the game, you haven't even started on feature B.

We don't have the time. Cut it."


WELL-MEANING DEV 1: "I guess we can do A in a DLC..."


WELL-MEANING DEV 2: "Oh, the forums are going to love this..."
 

Thracian

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imho, hoi series are not suitable for dlc policies of eu4 and ck2
eu and ck are sandbox games that takes place in many centuries. hoi games are focused on war in a small time frame. so you will not have so many options for dlcs (excluding cosmetic ones). so i advice a comprehensive vanilla game with one or two expansions only.
eu and ck dlcs can go on forever
 

Captured Joe

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Quick question for the devs: Who the heck is Barbu Paraianu?
 

Captured Joe

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That's just great, I mean I speak neither fake Roman nor potato but I guess he seems a rather unknown and uninteresting Romanian officer. So, second question: Why the heck is Paraianu in the game while Constantinescu-Claps, Lascar, Mihai and Ciuperca aren't?
 

Archangel85

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So, in a world of infinite money and time, I would say yes to most requests, but alas it is also for me to sometimes set tighter deadlines and/or budgets due to whatever constraints we may face.
So is that a no on the whole "self-learning fully aware strategic AI" thing?
 

Captured Joe

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We'll sooner get sex bots in HoI4, I warrant.
 

Axe99

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Cheers for the DD Firebolt and epic first post :D. It sounds like you have a very sensible process set up for the business end of things (note - this is not a surprise :)), thank you very much for the insight :).

One quick question, but as with all things management wise it may well not be something that you're happy to talk about (no worries at all if it isn't - just ignore you ever read this and move onto the next post :)). Roughly what's the balance of "full" (from an EU4 perspective, something like Art of War or Rights of Man, say) and 'country pack' (TfV, DoD) that you might aim at, on average (so if you do respond, we should in no way, shape or form take it as an indication of what to expect over the next couple of years) over a two-year (or if two years isn't a good time period, pick one that's better) period, say? Absolutely no pressure (which is not to say I'm not interested in expansions - just that the team should do them on to their own pace :)), just curious what the target is.

We believe that we have made the base game a better experience thanks to these fixes but this has made the Expansion Pass holders confused as to what and when they will get their promised content. And rightly so. What I can say is that we are aware of the situation and are working on a solution. Our goal is to make the holders of the Expansion Pass feel it was worth the wait even though it is taking longer than initially planned. Stay tuned!
Big props for still thinking about this :). Not saying you made the wrong decision focussing on the base game (from my angle, quite the contrary), but I know quite a few people were a bit confused about it and if there was some arrangement to give them some closure in a positive way I'm sure that'd go down well :).
 

frolix42

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Welcome to the forum @Firebolt .

I appreciate the whole team's ongoing effort in squashing bugs and balancing the game. All the fans wish you luck and many years of HoI4 development.

Are future DLC content focuses going to be on more countries and regions? Or are you guys thinking of DLCs focused on different themes, such as "Resistance" or "Submarine Warfare"?
 

Praetori

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Please continue giving us your feedback! I will stay around the thread to answer as many questions as I can.
Pretty thorough diary. You mention collaboration with the Game Director, Project Lead and Marketing Manager but I'm wondering how the Product Manager role interfaces with the Brand Manager.
 

Firebolt

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First post on the forums, and first on the thread. Fitting :)

Fun to hear about your though process and what goes on. I have a few question you might ( or might not ;) ) be willing or able to answer.

I hold a season pass and I do not mind paying 15 or 20 euro ( or even more ) for a good expansion, however both TvF and DoD have for me been extremely small and lacking any meaningful changes to how the game plays. It just feels the same, but with new focus trees. This sort of reflects in the 50%ish approval on steam, while some of them are just a angry mob voicing their option at the dlc policy and automatically down vote everything it must still be a concern. Anywho..

1.what I really want to ask is has this been talked about and are their plans to stop this from happening in the future releases?

2.Will their be a expansion pass 2 despite the issues with the first one ?

I hope you keep up the work with the game and I will gladly keep support you guys and gals by buying new expansions, but I also hope you up the game on them.
Thanks :)

edit: Anraz beat me
Thanks for your comments!

As I mentioned in my post we decided to scope down the first expansions to work on improving things with the base game. This has naturally led to us to discuss how to avoid this from happening in the future. There will always be a need to kill bugs and make quality of life improvements to any game. Our goal is to have a manageable number of those to take care of, in order for us to be able to work on new and interesting features for the game.

Regarding a second Expansion Pass we have not decided anything yet. First we want to make sure that we deliver on the first one!
 

Neigel

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Thanks for your comments!

As I mentioned in my post we decided to scope down the first expansions to work on improving things with the base game. This has naturally led to us to discuss how to avoid this from happening in the future. There will always be a need to kill bugs and make quality of life improvements to any game. Our goal is to have a manageable number of those to take care of, in order for us to be able to work on new and interesting features for the game.

Regarding a second Expansion Pass we have not decided anything yet. First we want to make sure that we deliver on the first one!
Thanks for the response. Love that you all talk to your customers :)

Best of luck and have a nice day!
 

podcat

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Are future DLC content focuses going to be on more regions? Or are you guys thinking of a DLC focused on different themes, such as "Resistance" or "Submarine Warfare"?
Stuff like country packs (like DoD) will focus on a region, while expansions generally focus on one or more themes (I tend to have two themes generally planned for each one). A minor theme might also be an area focus though.

We'll sooner get sex bots in HoI4, I warrant.
still trying to figure out how to make it fit in! (Goering special project to spice up his parties?)
 

Anraz

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still trying to figure out how to make it fit in! (Goering special project to spice up his parties?)

Rather Doenitz secret project – sex bots were meant to replace U-boats…., you know as a kind of mermaids to lure allied sailors…
 

Sleight of Hand

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Focus everything on the AI, division templates and cutting down division spam; everything else is secondary, and you can only put so much polish on something that is fundamentally flawed as soon as the war begins. :(
 

Praetori

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Rather Doenitz secret project – sex bots were meant to replace U-boats…., you know as a kind of mermaids to lure allied sailors…
Unternehmen Siren