HOI4 - Development Diary - September 23rd 2016

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podcat

Game Director <unannounced>
Paradox Staff
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Jul 23, 2007
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Hi everyone, with the release of Sunflower and a smaller hotfix it's time to start looking at the long game.

Some people here might have gotten Hearts of Iron IV as their first Paradox game, or are new around here, so I best explain what I mean with that. For us the release of a game is just the beginning, and we plan on improving it for as long as people are interested. Crusader Kings II has been out for over 4 years and just had its 11th expansion as an example. Always together with each expansion we also release a bigger patch, usually with a bunch of free features too. There are often smaller patches in between also, but the big stuff happens when we release expansions.

For Hearts of Iron that means the next step is an expansion combined with the next 1.3 patch we've named Torch. The name of the expansion is still secret but the core theme will be around allied cooperation and the commonwealth (but not limited to this). Long term (and honestly at this point it's mostly speculation), I plan the next expansion to focus on the core of the game - the land war, and after that perhaps naval or air focus. Those are just rough themes and not strict limitations and might change of course. The first expansion will be a bit heavier on content and flavor while the second is likely going to be slightly more code heavy. We will be talking details in future diaries, both about fixes, UI improvements and free or paid features.
For the Torch patch the top priority when it comes to AI development will be the island hopping campaign to make playing USA vs Japan more exciting. Expect a future diary on a roadmap for what parts of the game we feel work well, which could do with improvement and roughly in what order we consider priorities for these and ai improvements.
We aim to have expansion and 1.3 out before Christmas if all goes well :)

I hope you are all as excited as me to see where we will be going over the next years of development and growing HOI4 :)

Starting next week we are going to be doing dev diaries on Wednesdays instead. That means Wednesday will be HOI day with both the World War Wednesday stream (and expansion related streams in the future) and dev diary on the same day (Fridays are always hard to get the time to answer questions on so this will work better I think). Next week the topic will be the HOI4 dev team. Since release and patch development we have been reorganizing ourselves and I think it's important to present the team as it looks now.

p.s @Sideburnout apparently had a bunch of requests for a wallpaper for the Sunflower patch, so here goes! Both Debug Dog and Sergeant Console on an afternoon drive in the desert ;)

bark_wagon.png
 
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Cool!
 
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I'm looking forward to your improvement ideas, though I'd wish you start with air over land war, since currently you can ignore your air force and still conquer the world, which is great for minors, but still. Also I really hope espionage will be in the first DLC, even if not strictly Land War, because WW2 without espionage feels wrong (;

@podcat, a quesiton about last weeks DD, you mentioned statistics and that 12% play MP. What does "play MP" mean? Spend a given time of their playtime in MP? Or do ppl count in those 12% if they even so much as started the Lounge? Becaues 12% seems a high number to me.
 
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@podcat, a quesiton about last weeks DD, you mentioned statistics and that 12% play MP. What does "play MP" mean? Spend a given time of their playtime in MP? Or do ppl count in those 12% if they even so much as started the Lounge? Becaues 12% seems a high number to me.
the percentage is for daily unique players playing MP. It moves around a bit as its daily, but sits roughly there
 
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Sounds great, really excited to see what you guys come up with for the expansions. More flavor sounds really good as well, any thing Italy themed would be just fine with me :p
 
This means the next big patch will be around xmas, if all goes well? A bit longer than I expected.
Anyways I can`t wait what the expansion might be.
 
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If it's a Commonwealth-themed expansion then I suspect we might see some new focus trees for Canada, Australia, South Africa and Raj, which would be cool.

Although I have to say that I'm a little surprised you think that with 1.2, the base game is in a good enough place to shift resources into DLC instead of focusing on balancing, quality of life and AI improvements. I thought we'd get at least one more major patch before the DLC tail began extending.
 
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I have to say I was a bit skeptical with the game as so many Problems were reported in the beginning so I was waiting for sale and started my first game after the 1.2 patch and.... wow this game really was an amazing experience. I love what you did there how the game feels and Looks. I didn't recognize any bigger AI failure or anything. Can't say that the game was easy (I was France and got crushed by Germany and Italy) as many People say here on the Forum. But I mean These People are probably pretty good Players and I am not (not yet).

I am looking forward spending more time with the game and seeing more dlc and stuff.

Good Work, Respect!
 
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Zealuu, look at the Stellaris and CK2.
Part of the patch is free, and usually includes balancing improvements, bugfixes etc
It was especially pronounced with CK2.

Then new features, for which you have to pay. Like in Stellaris, Fallen empires which can wake up.
 
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The name of the expansion is still secret but the core theme will be around allied cooperation and the commonwealth (but not limited to this). Long term (and honestly at this point it's mostly speculation), I plan the next expansion to focus on the core of the game - the land war, and after that perhaps naval or air focus.

While those don't sound too exciting at first glance (like a Cold War expansion would), they are exactly the correct steps to take and I applaude you for that choice.

I'm sure you are perfectly aware of what's going on in the steam workshop. To summarize the main modding focuses seem to be:
1. Great War, Cold War, Modern Warfare major mods ==> full fledged expansions on these themes would be redundant
2. National focuses ==> those would technically be perfect for small DLCs, but since the modders do such a great and free job on these, paid DLC wouldn't be wise (think of Civ5 and the hundreds of free new nations in the workshop while Firaxis tries to sell a handful of nations) ==> leave it to the community or give away a new focus tree for free once in a while
3. Usability ==> mods improving unit selection, resizing windows, colouring buttons, improving strategic, political and terrain view etc. ==> incorporate the best ones, credit the modders but don't charge money for something that's already available for free
4. A.I. ==> better peace conferences (already included), better unit production, templates etc. ==> incorporate in free patches, charging money for a.i. improvements wouldn't be accepted by customers because that's considered a core feature

In other words, you're doing exactly what makes the most sense: Focusing the expansions on content that can't be provided by the community and implementing core improvements in free patches.

I think the most anticipated two features would be:
- a proper intelligence system, not the micro hell that were spies in Armageddon, but a well-made macro-centric espionage system. That's again something that modders can't provide but is essential in warfare, especially WW2 (considering that the Allied intelligence played vital roles in the War of the Atlantic with Enigma and also in the Pacific at Midway).
- the return of the essential ledger! There's currently no way to properly analyze how certain aspects of warfare are going on. In land warfare you have casualty stats which immediately disappear forever once a war has ende. In air warfare you have to check region by region which is better than nothing. In naval warfare you have the worst solution with the icon spam on the map. Are we supposed to use and excel sheet and manually write down all reports to get an idea how the war is going?

The ledger would work perfectly in combination with intelligence. The better your intelligence system, the more accurate the estimates. You already have estimates for each nation in the specific diplomacy detail screen. The ledger would simply summarize all those infos in one place with accuracy depending on level of intelligence.
 
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Are you planning to focus on MP balancing aswell (mainly focuses,tensions,forts) ? Lets face it the SP is too easy anyway, unless you give the AI massive pasive bonuses to production/research etc.
 
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@podcat Any chance air force UI will arrive in 1.3? It is really, really tedious and inconvenient even with undmoded game having 3-5 times less airplanes than historical production.

Why did you decided to go for allies cooperation? AI Axis is still so weak, I can`t see how that is exciting game.
 
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@podcat Any chance air force UI will arrive in 1.3? It is really, really tedious and inconvenient even with undmoded game having 3-5 times less airplanes than historical production.

The solution for the clunky air system would be very simple: Scratch air bases and only assign a desired target number of planes per type to a region. The a.i. assistant could handle the rest. Why would the player care which air base a plane is based on? The player builds airport capacity per region and the rest is abstracted. No need for actual bases on the map and micro-ing wings and base-attachment.
 
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Zealuu, look at the Stellaris and CK2.
Part of the patch is free, and usually includes balancing improvements, bugfixes etc
It was especially pronounced with CK2.

Then new features, for which you have to pay. Like in Stellaris, Fallen empires which can wake up.

I know their business model - because I own all those games listed below my avatar. The reason I bring this up is because this would be like Stellaris going straight to DLC without, say, fixing sectors and making slavery less OP first - which they didn't, because they recognized some critical issues that had to be sorted before the game could be expanded. Unlike a lot of PDX games, HoI 4 doesn't have any glaring features that feel like they're missing from vanilla (with the possible exception of all those generic NF trees for medium-sized and fairly important countries), but it lacks basic polish and seems under-tested in several areas.
 
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And this DLC will be included in the marshall ed. ? I can't wait for this.

season pass people will get it free yes

Are you planning to focus on MP balancing aswell (mainly focuses,tensions,forts) ? Lets face it the SP is too easy anyway, unless you give the AI massive pasive bonuses to production/research etc.
A few of those for sure. but I consider forts messing up SP balance too.

@podcat Any chance air force UI will arrive in 1.3? It is really, really tedious and inconvenient even with undmoded game having 3-5 times less airplanes than historical production.

Why did you decided to go for allies cooperation? AI Axis is still so weak, I can`t see how that is exciting game.

There was a lot of requests for it :) the Air management is one of those big things that didnt turn out as great as we imagined so you can be pretty sure its going to improve in the future. I dont think we will have time for any major changes to that in 1.3 though. Its more likely for expansion after that perhaps.
 
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Cheers for the DD Podcat :D. Those priorities sound spot-on from my angle (well, other than doing land before naval :p *). Looking forward to hearing about how the team's travelling and who's powering HoI4's development going forward :).

As a friendly "please don't forget about it", a lot of features in the game are still a bit hidden behind the UI - I don't need pop-ups, but it would be nice to know when an army had finished its offensive, or finished planning for one, or an air wing was getting mauled (or mauling), or all the other things that were mentioned the last time this came up. As has been noted before, and counter to the design goals, the lack of information presented through the UI means that in many instances the game does, in effect, play itself (and, at least from my perspective, in many situations where I'd much rather be involved).

For example, playing China today to give the Sunflower 1.2.1 beta a thrashing (and it held up well :)), and I must have glossed over one (of dozens) of invasion notifications, as I noticed troops were convoying along the coast (and getting sunk) and looked down to southern China to see three states in Japanese hands. That's something I'd definitely like to have been involved in! If you can lose three states without the game telling you something's happening, then there's still room to improve the UI (where the UI handles the transmission of important information to the player, which in this case it didn't).

*Just joking, totally appreciate that more people get excited by tanks than ships and planes, so this is a very sensible choice :).

The solution for the clunky air system would be very simple: Scratch air bases and only assign a desired target number of planes per type to a region. The a.i. assistant could handle the rest. Why would the player care which air base a plane is based on? The player builds airport capacity per region and the rest is abstracted. No need for actual bases on the map and micro-ing wings and base-attachment.

Air base location is handy in terms of the distance it has to travel (particularly in and next to larger air regions), but a system where you just assigned planes to a region and then the AI automatically optimised them would get the best of both worlds?
 
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Those priorities sound spot-on from my angle (well, other than doing land before naval :p *).

there is a very good reason for that actually in the Grand Plan. Stuff that needs to be in to make future improvements possible. You'll understand when we show it next year for next expansion.

As a friendly "please don't forget about it", a lot of features in the game are still a bit hidden behind the UI - I don't need pop-ups, but it would be nice to know when an army had finished its offensive, or finished planning for one, or an air wing was getting mauled (or mauling), or all the other things that were mentioned the last time this came up. As has been noted before, and counter to the design goals, the lack of information presented through the UI means that in many instances the game does, in effect, play itself (and, at least from my perspective, in many situations where I'd much rather be involved).

improving UI and information to players is high prio and each major patch/expansion will improve that.
 
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