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- Hello everybody, and welcome to the first development diary for Europa Universalis IV. We've been working on this project for quite a long time, with the first design dicussions starting not long after Divine Wind was released. During last year we spent a lot of time working on the design concepts, and late in 2011, the core team was assembled, and actual development started.
Earlier this month, we announced the game at Gamescom, and showed a minor subset of the features for the game. Today we start a series of weekly development diaries where we'll go into detail about the game. Our goal is to release an entry each friday, with breaks for holidays.
The subject of todays diary is 'Why do Europa Universalis IV and what is our goal with the game?'.
Why are we working on a sequel to Europa Universalis?
Well, first of all, the team we are all major fans of this series, with me personally being the core guy behind the original game, back in the late 90's, and the others being involved for quite a lot of time on it. We are a group who love playing Europa Universalis (EU), both in singleplayer and in multiplayer together, so you could definitely say it is the favorite series for the people working on Europa Universalis IV.
Originally EU1 started development in 1997, EU2 in 2001, EU3 started in 2005, so we were overdue a new take on the genre. During those years we've accumulated quite a lot of ideas, and discarded far more. We've come to understand what Europa Universalis is about for a lot of people, and what it means for ourselves.
One important thing though, is that while we had lots of cool and interesting ideas for EU, we simply couldn't just add them all in, as the game would become an unwieldly mass. EU has a complexity level we do not want to dramatically increase and while improving the interface can reduce it a fair bit, it is a very fine balance when it comes to designing a game.
So we took a step back and looked at what Europa Universalis was and what we wanted to do, and since its a new game, we had quite a large amount of flexibility. We could rewrite entire systems from scratch, and do some paradigm shifts. One such example is the complete removal of the old trade system with centers of trade, which was replaced with a new trade system with dynamic flow of trade. This flexibility has been a great benefit when it comes to designing the game.
So then, what is our goal with Europa Universalis IV?
In all our games we aim to have believable mechanics. When playing a Grand Strategy game it should be about immersion and suspension of disbelief. You should feel like you are playing a country in the time period. This is something all our EU games have managed to achieve, and it is very important that EU4 will have that same feeling.
The game should, as we mentioned earlier, not increase its complexity levels dramatically. We are happy with the level of complexity the Eu-series has, and want to keep it at this level.
One of the most important aspects of EU4 is to make an interface that is both easier to get into, and less hassle for an expert user. This a fine line to balance, and we are rather happy with the interfaces we have done so far for EU4.
We also want to make sure that players feel that this is a new game, that this is worth paying money for, and this comes from new mechanics and better interfaces. With detailed dev-diaries every week until release, we are rather confident that you'll all be excited about it when its finally ready.
So, now we've just talked about history and visions, I'll try to clarify a confusion about sandbox, historical events and plausibility. Europa Universalis have always been about historically plausible outcomes, as [url="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?260247-Development-Diary-16th-of-August-2006&p=5795425&viewfull=1#post5795425"]I mentioned over six years ago[/url] , and EU4 is no different in that regard. No determenism or full sandbox will ever be in the EU series. In EU3 we scrapped historical events and added lots and lots of system and mechanics to create more plausible gameplay. While we are continuing on that concept and keep making more plausible mechanics, we are in EU4 doing something new...
We'e adding in Dynamic Historical Events. We'll have more of those than we had historical in EU2, and together with a fair amount of other planned features, this is creating an even more immersive type of gameplay, where countries feel far more unique than they did in any previous game in the series. A 'dynamic historical event', or DHE for short, is an event that has some rather rigid triggers that they feel plausible to happen with, ie, no Spanish Bankruptcy just because its a certain date, but events that tie into mechanics rather heavily.
The example I want to talk about is War of the Roses for England. At any point of time, before 1500, if England lacks an heir, then the chain for War of the Roses can start, which creates a lot of interesting situations for the player, as well as giving unique historical immersion.
Next week we'll talk more about the map, so enjoy for now!
- Welcome to the first installment in our development diary series for Europa Universalis IV (EU4)! Last week's little prologue doesn't really count ;)
If the world of Europa Universalis IV is your playground, then the map is the sandbox – this is where you shape your plans and turn various traits associated with the territories into mighty empires. If you are familiar with Paradox Development Studio (PDS) games, then you already know that the map is almost everything. The map is where the magic happens. You know it, we know it.
Crusader Kings II (CK2) was a large step forward in terms of visuals for us, but in Europa Universalis IV, we hope to take it one step further and add a few bells and whistles,
because we really want the world to come alive for you. This means making the map more intuitive, more attractive and something you won't mind staring at for hours on end. The feeling and atmosphere created by the map is important and will not make your eyes bleed. We promise.
To understand where we are going, it's important to understand where we've been. In Europa Universalis III (EU3), we built the map with quite low resolution. We increased the resolution in the Divine Wind expansion, which helped a lot with how the map looked but the provinces still felt a little weird – the borders didn't look as natural as we wanted them.
At this point, we haven't yet come to the phase where the borders will be tweaked, but our ultimate goal is to make borders feel smooth and adapted to the real life terrain and historical borders.
We occasionally get comments from our players that our province borders are ahistorical – that they do not accurately reflect the composition of nations or their historical shape.
So I want to clarify that when we make the designs of the provinces But in the long run, historical shapes for provinces are not really relevant.
“What?” I hear you say? “Did I hear that right?”
Yes, and there are good reasons for it.
A game map has to communicate a lot of information quickly, so first of all you need to be sure you can fit all the necessary graphical elements into the province.
Second, you need to have a rather convex shape of a province. If you don?t do this, you'll end up with all sorts of unintuitive thoughts when it comes to where units should move and how quickly.
Third, you need to bear in mind the number of connections a province has to neighboring territories. The number of neighbors is a crucial factor in military matters, and for game balance purposes.
So, if we valued history over balance or ease of play, an historical province of Warmia would be small, serpentine and surrounded by a concave province. This presents a lot of problems for a province-based game as we mentioned earlier.
The number of provinces you have on a map is limited by the number that one person can reasonably handle. Since provincial development and movement happens in real time, you need to make it relatively easy for players to locate and take action in a given province. We've learned what an optimal amount of provinces is, and in EU4, we aim to have a small increase of about ten percent cimpared to EU3. There will be significant changes, primarily in Eastern Europe, Japan & India, but also in other places on the map.
Here is a quick look of a small version of the underlying map defining which province is which, as it looks right now, before the major province overhaul.
Gameplay, of course, is only one reason to make a map. The play area should be pleasing to the eye so that it makes the world come alive and immerses you more deeply in the history. So in EU4, we have added back in the topology that we removed in the expansion Divine Wind and added trees to the map.
We also took the colored border system from Crusader Kings II (CK2) which makes playing on the terrain mapmode a more attractive option for many players.
As you may have noticed, we have changed map projection to the one we had in Victoria 2; a map that has been received positively by pretty much everyone in the community.
We are also making the map more of an interface tool for players, with cleared on-map interface windows, as you've seen in CK2.
We aim for a "believable world"-feeling on our maps. You will see the seasons changing. You will see when winter is coming and when it melts away to give room for a glorious summer. Mountains will rise and cast shadow over your provinces, you will see reflections in the water, ships with rippling sails and birds flying over the map.
The map will make information accessible and make it easier to get the big picture for when you build your empire.
But remember that eye-catching improvements are not just there to be pretty!
Many will show you very important things that affect how you play on the map. Your actions in Europa Universalis IV are affected by the season changes and the terrain and we want to make that visible for you.
Here is an example of the Nile Delta, with shadows, trees, and all other nice new things.