The horns sound, the ravens gather. An empire is torn by civil war. Beyond its borders, new kingdoms rise. Gird on your sword, don your armour, summon your followers and ride forth to win glory on the battlefields of Calradia. Establish your hegemony and create a new world out of the ashes of the old.
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October 18

Dev Blog 18/10/18



Greetings warriors of Calradia!

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to do the Q&A with Assistant Designer, Cihan Şekercioğlu that we announced last week. But, it is Thursday my dudes and the show must go on... Instead, in this week’s blog, we will talk about how we approach game design here at TaleWorlds, giving you a brief insight into the general process of taking an idea and turning it into a game feature.

Game design is possibly one of the most rewarding jobs in the game industry. Seeing an idea come to life and being enjoyed by others is most certainly a fulfilling experience. However, it is also one of the most difficult jobs that the industry has to offer. Something which might seem great on paper may turn out to be rather dull when implemented into a game. And to even get it to this stage, you need to be able to formulate your idea in a way which makes sense to your peers.

At TaleWorlds, we feel that for a game to be fun, it should be built around a solid core mechanic. In the case of Mount & Blade games, this is the combat system. We think that the combat system in our games is fun, intuitive, easy to learn, but difficult to master. And, in the end, if the core mechanic isn’t fun, then whatever is built around it becomes irrelevant.

With Bannerlord, we are building on a solid foundation of what we had achieved in previous Mount & Blade games. But, at all times, we keep it in mind that the combat is the main draw for the game. We always aim to ensure that any new mechanics we add don’t adversely affect this core mechanic. This was something we had to consider when we decided to implement directional blocking for shields. We had to ask ourselves questions such as, “does this actually enhance the combat in any way, or are we interfering with something which already works and is enjoyable?” (Ultimately, we decided that directional shield blocking actually fits in really well with the skill-based design of our combat system.)

We try to be as inclusive as possible when it comes to the design process. Everyone in the studio is a gamer (after all, we all got into this business because we love to play games!) so we try our best to make use of this wide range of opinions and experiences when it comes to designing our own game. But that’s not to say that we don’t have professionals who specialise in this aspect of development, only that we understand the importance of hearing the different opinions and thoughts of everyone in our company. And in many instances, this kind of approach allows us to highlight potential issues early on in a design as people visualise the idea differently in their own head.

With this in mind, we tend to include everyone who would be involved in implementing a feature in the design meetings alongside the game designers. Not only to offer their feedback on the actual design but so a plan can be formulated for the implementation of the design. The professional expertise of the people responsible for implementing each design is required to ensure that any new feature or mechanic is technically viable and can be implemented into the game. And in many cases, these professionals have unique solutions to any problems that arise.

Following design meetings, a document is created which the team can then refer to. This process of holding meetings and revising the design document is repeated until we feel that the design adds an additional layer to the game in a way which is positive and enjoyable for players.

We can’t say for sure if this is the best approach to development, but we certainly feel that it works well for our company, and has led to the introduction of some features that otherwise might never have seen the light of day!



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October 11

Dev Blog 11/10/18



Greetings warriors of Calradia!

Game development can be a tricky business. Sometimes an existing technology or tool just doesn’t do quite what you want it to do or it isn’t as efficient as you would hope. This leaves you with a difficult choice to make: change your design or create your own bespoke solution.

This is something we came to realise while working on the User Interface (UI) for Bannerlord. Previously, we were using a combination of Flash and Scaleform to create our UI, which is actually a pretty common method in the game industry. We would start out by creating the UI in Flash, before using Scaleform to make the UI work in the game. Technically, both Scaleform and Flash functioned perfectly and provided us with the capability to implement the UI in the way that we liked. However, it wasn’t too long before we noticed some issues with the overall process of creating and implementing the UI that we thought needed addressing.

To start with, the process was actually quite slow. Any changes to the UI had to be made in Flash, before being implemented in the game to be tested. As the screens grew in complexity, the .swf file generation would take longer. And with each change we made, the game would need to be reloaded to see the result. Even a small change, such as moving an element 5 pixels to the left, would require going through this entire process.

Additionally, Scaleform and Flash are both third-party frameworks that we had limited control over. The difficulty of changing and modifying these systems, depending on our needs, made us question the effort that we were putting in just to make it work.

Eventually, we realised that the time and energy we were spending on UI was really holding us back, and the only way to have a UI that would fit our vision for the game would be creating our own UI library. After all, some problems are just opportunities in disguise!

Now, that was a really scary prospect because we had already invested thousands of man-hours into the existing UI. Fortunately, early in the development process, we had decided to use a paradigm called MVVM to create the UI. This meant that part of our code was in neat C# classes that did not depend on any specific UI library, and we would be able to re-use this part of our work even if we had to re-do the rest. Yay!

Next, we had to decide what our new UI library would be like. We came up with a list of requirements:
  • The new library had to be fast and snappy. Our engine team worked really hard to shave off a single millisecond from our render cycle and they wouldn’t appreciate the UI wasting away their savings with poor performance.
  • The new library also had to be very easy to work with and make changes on the fly. It would preferably use a text-based specification file format, such as XML, since text-based files make collaboration by multiple developers so much easier.
  • The system had to make it easy to create highly interactive UIs.
  • The UI layout had to be independent of how it would look visually. This would allow the UI designer to work independently from the artist.

We decided to name our new UI framework Gauntlet (for no other reason than we thought it sounded cool!). With Gauntlet, we can make changes on the fly. This means we can edit a screen without closing the game once, with no file generation or any additional steps needed. When we make changes to the .xml file of a screen, we see the results as soon as we save that file. And because we have full control over the system, we can make changes to the system as our needs demand it.

So how does it work? Well, the system is actually pretty simple. We couple a .xml file to a screen in the game, which the game loads when the screen is opened. All of the layout information for the screen is specified in this file. We can also reference other .xml files in each .xml, which means that if we create a UI element that we know we are going to use more than once (i.e. in other screens) we can just refer to that element. This allows us to make changes to the file and have these changes occur anywhere that we reference this .xml.

We also have a set of separate XML files that specify how various elements will look, much like CSS files are used for HTML pages. This skinning system is very powerful and the artist can easily specify every detail about how a UI element will look and behave. For example, a button can change colour when the user moves the mouse over it and it can go through an animation when the user clicks on it.


Inventory screen .xml


Inventory screen in-game

We hope that Gauntlet will come as a welcome addition for our modding community. In Warband, editing the UI was always a bit of a headache and there were some limitations that couldn’t be overcome. With Gauntlet, modders will have total control over each screen, with the only limitation being their imagination.


In next week’s blog, we will talk to Assistant Designer, Cihan Şekercioğlu. If you have any questions you would like to ask him, please leave a reply in the comments and we will pick one out for him to answer.

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About This Game

The horns sound, the ravens gather. An empire is torn by civil war. Beyond its borders, new kingdoms rise. Gird on your sword, don your armour, summon your followers and ride forth to win glory on the battlefields of Calradia. Establish your hegemony and create a new world out of the ashes of the old.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is the eagerly awaited sequel to the acclaimed medieval combat simulator and role-playing game Mount & Blade: Warband. Set 200 years before, it expands both the detailed fighting system and the world of Calradia. Bombard mountain fastnesses with siege engines, establish secret criminal empires in the back alleys of cities, or charge into the thick of chaotic battles in your quest for power.

SIEGE GAMEPLAY
Construct, position and fire a range of heavy machinery in sieges that will test your wits and skill like never before. Experience epic, sprawling combat across ramparts and rubble as you desperately hold on to your castle or seek to seize one from the enemy.

Historically authentic defensive structures offer the ultimate medieval warfare experience, as you batter a rival's gate with your ram or burn his siege tower to ashes. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord lets you live every moment of a chaotic battle through the eyes of a single soldier.

DIPLOMACY
Engage in diplomacy, with meaningful consequences that impact the world. Strike historic peace deals that win land for your kingdom or free you to take on a new foe. An all-new barter system gives players flexibility in cementing deals, from marriage offers to treason pacts, offering all the options available to NPCs. Use a new influence system to direct your faction's energies or strangle the aspirations of a rival.

SANDBOX ECONOMY
See the availability of goods ebb and flow in a simulated feudal economy, where the price of everything from incense to warhorses fluctuates with supply and demand. Invest in farms and workshops, or turn anarchy to your advantage by being the first to bring grain to a starving town after a siege or reopening a bandit-plagued caravan route.

CRAFTING
Craft your own weapon, name it and carry it with you to the field of battle! A deep, physics-based system gives each weapon you create a unique set of attributes, strengths and weaknesses. Forge a finely-tuned killing machine to match your own prowess and complement your play-style, or take the sword of your enemy and brandish it as a trophy of war.

MODDING
The engine and tools used to develop Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord are being made available to the community, so that modders can re-interpret Calradia or create their own worlds! Players can now combine different mods, making it easier than ever to play the game of your dreams.

ENGINE
An all-new tailor-made game engine, developed in-house to fulfill the unique needs of the series, offers the perfect balance of performance and graphical fidelity, scalable with the power of your hardware.

Experience Mount & Blade with richer, more beautiful graphics than ever, immersing you in the world of Calradia, rendering the game's magnificent battles with equally spectacular detail.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • Processor: Intel i3-2100 / AMD FX-6300
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel HD 4600 / Nvidia GT730 / AMD R7 240
    • Storage: 40 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: These estimates may change during final release

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