I hope Hearts of Iron 5 does away with focus trees and instead focus more on the logistics war

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Spy01

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Dec 22, 2013
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TLDR: Make HoI5 more of a logistics simulator inspired by Arsenal of Democracy or Darkest Hour, don't reuse the focus tree mechanic from HoI4. The fun should come from interacting with dynamic mechanics that are focused on war and logistics, not text boxes and scripted behavior.


I think the concept of focus trees was really good, and has enabled some interesting mods to be made as well as DLC.

But it is a nightmare to maintain all the different possible paths and how they interact with eachother. With each DLC the game becomes more broken. Going in any way away from the historical focus tree path will lead to some AI nations to end up breaking. Try winning the land war vs Japan as China before integrating Shanxi, Japan will then just attack them and restart the war. The Turkey focus tree had broken focuses for over 1 year. I'm not blaming Paradox, as its become a gigantic web of options where it just is completely impossible to have every option work. At the end of the day these focuses have taken a lot of the attention that should have gone to making it a better WW2 simulator.

For Hearts of Iron 5, whenever it might get announced, I hope they don't reuse the focus trees. Instead there should be more diplomatic actions to enable you to do the things you wanted to do with focuses.

The main focus on Hearts of Iron 5 should be a more neglected/forgotten aspect of World War 2: logistics, supply chains and resources. A huge part of WW2 was the logistics war, with international shipping, stockpiles, supply chains turning metals into guns and tanks. In HoI4, there are no stockpiles, and being out of goods just gives a percentage debuff to a production line. The enemy can bomb your factories and vise versa, but its impossible to see which factories are assigned to which production line. Historically bombing campaigns often targeted specific factories where a certain tank or plane was being made from.

Civilian goods are always produced nationally, but during WW2 a huge amount of food was produced in places like South America and shipped to the UK and US to feed their people. If the Germans had succeeded in blockading the UK with their submarines, then these shipments would also have been a huge target. Instead of just having a percentage of civ factories used for goods, there should be a demand for food and such to satisfy your people. (Edit: alright fine no "food" mentioned directly, but consumer goods should also be bought internationally to make shipping and neutral countries more important).

Trade is in HoI4, but its very simplified. You can buy goods with civilian factories and either have them transported by land or sea, and if its by sea it can be sunk by enemy ships raiding your convoys, its a decent system, but its hard to get an overview of both your own total supply chains, from raw materials to being in the hands of your troops, and your enemy supply chains so you know where to target them. In HoI4 its just raw material goes in, tank/plane/gun comes out. You aren't producing engines and other semi manufactured parts. You also aren't making munitions, supply is just more of the finished goods,

Having a supply chain tab or screen where you could then get this overview in one place both for you and your enemies and allies would be great. Are your allies missing oil? Set up a trade with them to send your surplus their way. Are your enemies getting a ton of rubber from a certain province in Africa? Raid their convoys or try and capture it. Are their newest tanks or planes bothering you? Set up a bombing run targeting the factory where its being made.

I think it would make for a much more interesting core WW2 experience.
 
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I guess the biggest dilema for the future HOI5 devs will be whether they want to focus on more politically-economical war simulator during ww2, or just historical war strategy, or a compromise inbetween. No matter which route you take, you always alienate some part of the HOI3/HOI4 playerbase. I do not envy them, but in 10 years I will be 50 and probably not care much about the new game anyways.
 
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I guess the biggest dilema for the future HOI5 devs will be whether they want to focus on more politically-economical war simulator during ww2, or just historical war strategy, or a compromise inbetween. No matter which route you take, you always alienate some part of the HOI3/HOI4 playerbase. I do not envy them, but in 10 years I will be 50 and probably not care much about the new game anyways.
I think Arsenal of Democracy with the improvements HoI4 has made, minus focus trees, is the compromise. It has a decent economic system and political system. If you want then you can go alt history and do a Denmark fascist world conquest, but there aren't any special events or flavor for it. With the combat/frontlines of HoI4 it would be really good.
 
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I think you may misunderstand how the game is played by many people.

The number of people who want an in-depth war or economics simulator is much lower than that of people that want a standard RPG where instead of an individual character they have a collective one, AKA the country, to max out and dominate the map with.

The stuff you are proposing: sounds great for people that want a challenge. But most people want things to go easier and produce more positive feelings, not something complex. That's why they play on easy modes and leave when they get wrecked by something they weren't prepared for.

Getting rid of focus trees: turns the game from a narrative-RPG into more of a strategy game, and removes a key item that the devs can sell to old players at a fraction of an effort that rebalancing the combat & economics costs.

When HOI5 comes out: I guarantee you there will some sort of non-standard customization like focus trees made for each country because it's just so damn profitable.

Right now people are already begging for focus tree tweaks to Germany: soon we'll have the same cries for every other major, and a bunch of minors are still untouched. It's basically an endless cash cow where every time you add a focus tree, other trees get dated so you can sell their upgrade for 50-100% of the base game cost.

Why would the devs want to get rid of such a great feature?
 
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The last thing I want is for Hearts of Iron to turn into a spreadsheet simulator.
What you call being a spreadsheet simulator is what the HoI franchise was before it became a game where you make world conquests as the restored Habsburg monarchy or conquer America as some nordic viking kingdom. It was what HoI4 was until everyone hated the first DLCs and loved Kaiserreich, and Paradox then saw that as a sign to make DLC focus trees Kaiserreich sized and added super weird paths.

I think that stuff should be for modders to make.
 
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I think you may misunderstand how the game is played by many people.

The number of people who want an in-depth war or economics simulator is much lower than that of people that want a standard RPG where instead of an individual character they have a collective one, AKA the country, to max out and dominate the map with.

The stuff you are proposing: sounds great for people that want a challenge. But most people want things to go easier and produce more positive feelings, not something complex. That's why they play on easy modes and leave when they get wrecked by something they weren't prepared for.

Getting rid of focus trees: turns the game from a narrative-RPG into more of a strategy game, and removes a key item that the devs can sell to old players at a fraction of an effort that rebalancing the combat & economics costs.

When HOI5 comes out: I guarantee you there will some sort of non-standard customization like focus trees made for each country because it's just so damn profitable.

Right now people are already begging for focus tree tweaks to Germany: soon we'll have the same cries for every other major, and a bunch of minors are still untouched. It's basically an endless cash cow where every time you add a focus tree, other trees get dated so you can sell their upgrade for 50-100% of the base game cost.

Why would the devs want to get rid of such a great feature?

I never said my opinion is meant to represent the majority of the players or even anyone other than me. From the HoI4 youtube community and the DLCs we are getting I can see that there are many people who like this alt history and unrealistic stuff.

That's fine, but its just not for me and I want to include my opinion on this subject. HoI as a series wasn't like this before the HoI4 DLCs.
 
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What you call being a spreadsheet simulator is what the HoI franchise was before it became a game where you make world conquests as the restored Habsburg monarchy or conquer America as some nordic viking kingdom. It was what HoI4 was until everyone hated the first DLCs and loved Kaiserreich, and Paradox then saw that as a sign to make DLC focus trees Kaiserreich sized and added super weird paths.

I think that stuff should be for modders to make.
Mate, you can see it in my profile, I'm here since 2007. I've played HoI2 and AoD to death. HoI3 felt to much of a hassle to play, the tech system was hard to understand and the OOB management was insane. You could say it was close to a spreadsheet simulator.
While there was some stuff from back then that I'd like devs to take a look at for inspiration, we're at a much better place right now. NFs are far from perfect but they're a great tool for:
1 - Storytelling.
2 - Replayability.

Which are two strenghts of HoI4, reflected in the consistent (and large, by grand strategy game's standards) playerbase. I'd much rather have NFs tweaked to some capacity, or replaced by something with the same-ish purpose, than removed altogether.
 
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NF are there to untie system from rely too much on scripts.

Theres desires for customization since hoi2, but any sort of alt-path needed be scripted/modded, like the Alien invasion cheat.

NF is just a "path structure" database. instead of long chains of IF ELSE in a text files, u have database with a list of NF paths.
 
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Where do they say this? Starvation is in both Victoria and Stellaris.

It also doesn't have to lead to starvation, just a reduction in stability.
From time to time ppl ask for food implementation and they aswer that.

I think they just call it anything else, but food // starving is a verbotten.
 
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I am with you in believing that it would be best if HOI5 were to evolve beyond focus trees, and I agree that logistics should continue to receive development to expand its complexity. However, I do differ a bit in why, and I also see those points as separate.

I think logistics and industry can be a fun, interesting, and complex challenges, and as you have stated, there’s a level of abstraction right now that limits what that complexity can be. I think that potentially whatever lessons are learned from the development of Victoria 3 can be applied to the next Hearts of Iron game in some moderated way.

However, to me, what makes logistics and industry interesting in a World War II context is precisely that warfare was so dependent upon them in this era. and I do hope that the warfare continues to be the focus. Hearts of Iron is my favorite Paradox game precisely because it is so focused on combat. Therefore, I hope that the primary development goal of the next game is to increase the complexity and challenge of the combat, with logistics and industry existing as a layer supporting that combat. I most certainly do not want a game where I am crunching numbers on a spreadsheet, literally or not, while I sit back and watch my armies consume bullets and Boston cream pies on the march to Berlin.

But those desires of mine are not the reason why I hope that the devs create something beyond focus trees—that desire extends from the purpose of the focus trees in the first place.

The purpose of focus trees is not to generally do stuff—the purpose is narrative. That is a word that I’ve seen devs use several times. It’s part of the core Paradox design philosophy, it seems. Paradox games aren’t built to simply be menu simulators: the decisions are intended to mean something. I don’t imagine the devs are going to abandon that, and I don’t think they should.

So, in HOI5 I want, and think we will see, the next level of narrative systems—hopefully, this will allow for more flexible, organic, and realistic games.
 
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I am with you in believing that it would be best if HOI5 were to evolve beyond focus trees, and I agree that logistics should continue to receive development to expand its complexity. However, I do differ a bit in why, and I also see those points as separate.

I think logistics and industry can be a fun, interesting, and complex challenges, and as you have stated, there’s a level of abstraction right now that limits what that complexity can be. I think that potentially whatever lessons are learned from the development of Victoria 3 can be applied to the next Hearts of Iron game in some moderated way.

However, to me, what makes logistics and industry interesting in a World War II context is precisely that warfare was so dependent upon them in this era. and I do hope that the warfare continues to be the focus. Hearts of Iron is my favorite Paradox game precisely because it is so focused on combat. Therefore, I hope that the primary development goal of the next game is to increase the complexity and challenge of the combat, with logistics and industry existing as a layer supporting that combat. I most certainly do not want a game where I am crunching numbers on a spreadsheet, literally or not, while I sit back and watch my armies consume bullets and Boston cream pies on the march to Berlin.

But those desires of mine are not the reason why I hope that the devs create something beyond focus trees—that desire extends from the purpose of the focus trees in the first place.

The purpose of focus trees is not to generally do stuff—the purpose is narrative. That is a word that I’ve seen devs use several times. It’s part of the core Paradox design philosophy, it seems. Paradox games aren’t built to simply be menu simulators: the decisions are intended to mean something. I don’t imagine the devs are going to abandon that, and I don’t think they should.

So, in HOI5 I want, and think we will see, the next level of narrative systems—hopefully, this will allow for more flexible, organic, and realistic games.
Well said.
 
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There are some features of the Focus Trees/National sprits that I really like, where they give different Nations a different set of abilities that drive them down separate (but logical paths). (MIO's seem to do this to an extent, but right now, they seem a bit "generic" for my tastes). Giving Germany an edge with their armored/motorized formations makes mobile warfare appealing, Given the US's industrial size and research abilities, a focus on air force is logical. Maybe give the larger power's a buff in some of their MIO's in some area's would help to personalize each nation a little more. I'd also add some Buff/Debuffs to the politcal scene as well. Democracies being casualty adverse relative to Communism/Fascism, but getting some research/production buffs in exchange, with other ideologies getting various buffs/debuffs as well. (there is some of this is embedded in the focus trees, but I'd prefer to see it as more explicit trade off's inherent in the choices). Basically a little more of the situation where "The tools are basically the same", but "some nations are a little better with some tools than most other nations, and worse with some other tools than a few other nations ". Nothing so blatant as to straitjacket you to doing the same thing every time, but enough to gently trend the situation toward "historical" decisions.
Yea, I know, this is easier said than done, coercing a Nation down a path is a lot harder than forcing it down a path (focus tree), and "keeping it all balanced" is got to be a Dev's nightmare, "but" I do like playing against opponents with asymmetric abilities (he's a better at some things than I am, but I'm a bit better at some other things than he is), forces both sides to "think and plan" hard, about what to build and how to execute...
 
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Where do they say this? Starvation is in both Victoria and Stellaris.

It also doesn't have to lead to starvation, just a reduction in stability.
Problem is HOI4 is a game that can be connected with modern politics in a very significant way.

Stellaris: if you want to starve a certain fantasy species that never existed in real life, nobody cares. Even PETA can't file a complaint about some "Tzynn fungoid" that went extinct, so no bad media.

Victoria 3: Starvation is allowed, but generally speaking pops don't die. It's not really possible to starve a major country or population group. That's because Victoria 3 is more relevant to our times, and there is fear that giving direct political control to players may lead to economically-dangerous memes for Paradox as a company.

Hearts of Iron IV: covers a time whose political legacy is still referenced widely in the modern media. There's always the risk that if you add any such opportunity to starve civilians or treat a certain group harshly and grotesquely (even prisoners of war), that some influencer will find a way to exploit it to please folks from their far-political spectrum fanbase with a new meme.

HOI4 already got banned in China for not showing things the way the Communist Chinese government wanted 1936 to appear for China. And I bet they fear similar treatment in the US, UK or Germany (which is why they even released HOI4 without a Hitler portrait in Germany). It's too much of a risk, for not much of a gain.
 
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This question comes up a lot. The last thread to question whether to have Focus Trees in HOI5 is barely a month old.

FWIW I think they're a useful tool to keep WWII on historical broadly on track. If you didn't have focus trees then you would need to use other tools like events and AI triggers that are far more opaque. Running HOI4 as a simulation where events and AI behaviour emerge organically has a certain appeal but it's unworkable as a game.

Suppose that as France I'm preparing for Germany to invade in May 1940, but there was some unexpected rain in 1938 which pushed Germany to build fewer planes so now they feel they need to shore up Scandinavia before they invade France and I'm just waiting for the invasion that never comes and there's no explanation why. Whereas a focus tree makes it super clear - I see that Germany is doing Operation Wesserbung, that's why they haven't invaded yet.

The focus trees bring structure, narrative and communication that was lacking in past games.
 
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From my perspective i see the benefits of Focus Tree but also the downsides.
Benefits are clear is a very good way of scripting certain behavious while also allowing guided replayability that somewhat tie to realistic developments of a country.
It also ensures that no matter what boosts you give the AI or Player the focus tree always tie the event to a somehow realistic pacing of the game.

But the focus trees are for me to much interferring with other aspects of the game that are either already modeled in or could be modeled in for a HOI5.

For me since day one it felt weired that you go down a 2x70 day focus and nearly double your industrial capacity by doing that.
NF's should be some "guiding" principles that emphasize different aspects and routes you could have choosen. For example instead of giving you 12 civs it should boost building a specific aspects of your economy or military.
A positive example is everything around politics, who you make your ally, who do you want to start wars with i think it is fine to do this as a focus tree.
Also deciding where to invest i.e. going into the route of "focus" on specific aspects within Navy, Army, Airforce, production, ressources is fine for me.

What i don't like are National Focus trees where it feels like you need to study the tree in order to find some "optimal" path down and if you are not doing it in that way you basically kill your entire country before the war even starts.
As a somewhat negative example i take the Soviet Tree where it feels like there is a nearly optimal path that makes sure you do not purge everyone and crumble your entire economy..
On the otherhand some aspects of the new italian focus tree is going somewhat into a directon where you have multiple viable pathes that allow you to focus on certain aspects.
Besides that there are also downsides of the italian focus tree like:
getting specific Variants of tanks, airplanes, ships etc. i somehow see the reason for that in the German-Soviet tech treaty but i dislike how it is handled in the italian focus tree where you basically have a dozens variants hidden behind focus trees.
This mechanic is to much "Study" the focus tree before designing any variant yourself.

In a lot of focus tree's you also have Event names that you can't understand what they are doing. For example you run focus X and then it says this triggers "Event XYZ for Country X" what does it mean, you only know once you played it which is a nightmare for any newcomer.
 
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I am really sad for current state of the game but I play it because there is no alternative. I love my spreadsheet simulator. Why Paradox? Why you try to turn this game into a hexagon mobile strategy game?
 
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Star Trek Infinite is a copy and paste of Stellaris with some smaller changes.., so why can't HOI 5 be similar in that it takes HOI 4 and copies and pastes it into Old World Blues? Tons of stuff they could expand on.