Small Changes, Big Impact

I mentioned that one of my favorite games was having a big upgrade recently in the form of a free patch and paid dlc. One of the free features in particular attracted some deserved attention. However, I think the developers intentionally designed this fix to change another aspect of the game and correct an irritating design flaw. Continue reading

Working on Young Wizards

Lately I’ve been trying to finish up Young Wizards. The basics of the book came pretty easily but filling and fleshing it out to full length proved to be a lot harder. Anyway, it’s coming up bit by bit.

Love it when I’m right

Guess I missed this one folks: Elder Scrolls Online announced a while back they would indeed be going to some format of free-to-play. This was probably because the game had been so quickly marginalized that it was possible to actually miss that announcement.

This was followed by them groveling at my feet for twenty minutes and insisting I be showered with rose petals for a full year as penance for the general stupidity of ZeniMax online. Well, not really, but a man can dream anyway.

EU4 – A few suggestions from an insane fan

Europa Universalis is one of my favorite games. I admit I’ve put way too many hours into this sucker. The game is, however, evil as all get out. EU4 easily lures the player into that “one more turn” attitude that tends to make me (*cough* I mean, the player) stay up far, far too late.

For those not familiar with the series, it covers (depending on which game you play) about 1450-1815, and contra the name covers every single nation on the planet, including some tiny ones you may never had heard about. Even more insanely, the game runs for every single day in the entire time period. I assume the AI operates via kind of magic computer imported from the year 3000. That makes more send than believe they can craft AI which makes reasonable strategic decisions for each nation independently.

That said, it might be favorite game but hoo boy does it have some holes. The normally halfway-cunning AI can completely flake out at times, almost actively trying to destroy itself. But there are some areas where the game just isn’t well-designed. While you might not entirely understand the exact details here, you may get the gist.

Idea Groups

Who invented Maritime and Naval? And have they been properly smacked yet? These ideas are so narrow they mean nothing at all.

Religious Reform

I like the new Reform system implemented for the New World religions so much I’d greatly enjoy seeing this developed and implemented for other religions.

Catholicism

The Catholic Papal Influence mechanic is pretty good, although I’d probably support a change to a model where there the number of Cardinals can permanently grow over the course of the game. However, some of the bonuses are just painfully small, or at least are grossly overcosted. The Holy War bonus, for example, gives a pathetically trivial amount of manpower. Meanwhile the Church Tax is too small to even notice for most nations.

Some of these should be buffed, or preferably just the mechanic changed. Giving a percentage change to tax income or manpower regeneration that lasted for a year or so would make more sense and could be easily tweaked into usefulness. And don’t even tell me about “Send Papal Legate”. That would be far more useful if you got to choose what kind of advisor you get. As is, it’s kinda pointless. Doubling the Legitimacy or Prestige bonuses – or halving the cost, would go far towards making these more practical.

Protestantism

Protestantism was principally a nationally-focused faith as most of the churches were controlled by a national organization, so…

Well, never mind. Paradox’s latest developer diary just revealed almost exactly what I was thinking here. So… yeah.

War

Military Units

One change I’d like to see relating to military units is to get away from the pips model for deciding combat strength. The pip system is obscure and doesn’t seem to fit the macro-concept of the game. Instead, I’d suggest making all units, for a specific tech type and tech level, have the same amount of pips. However, they would have different direct bonuses. One type of units might have combat ability, another bonus morale, another a defense bonus, etc. Over the course of the game, you can gain improved bonuses.

Army Size

I’d like to see a bigger opportunity to raise armies after war begins. Ideally, war should be kind-sorta pricy, to the point where even rich nations consider how much they can actually deploy. Professional, standing regiments should have bonuses such as improved morale and discipline. However, when a serious war threatens then nations should be able to deploy much larger armies than normal, but would likely go into serious debt to do it.

One area I’d suggest changing this is to have a small force limit for your professional standing army, and a much larger limit for your total mobilization. While it’s not technically accurate, the standing force limit should be *cheaper* to keep active, while other units are actually more expensive. The reason for this is that, while technically it shouldn’t cost more, going into that mass mobilization means you’re pulling huge amounts of people away from farms and workshops in order to fill up the ranks. Yes, you could use a tax and production penalty but it’s easier conceptually for the player to understand it this way.

And return people to the manpower pool when demobilized! Gah!

Military Tradition

Slow down the loss of military tradition. It drains amazingly fast still, but you can’t gain it quickly, either. And usually fighting intelligently means you don’t gain much, or any, tradition.

Wastelands

A few more wastelands would greatly improve the game, but they probably ought to be changed in how they function. Specifically, wastelands should be uninhabited (more or less) but not completely impassible. having some more such barriers in Scandinavia, the Alps, and a few other mountain ranges would add some interesting strategic challenges. A general with high maneuver might be able to pass through. This makes them much more interesting from a gameplay point of view, while adding a little map diversity as well.