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 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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October 4

Dev Blog 04/10/18



Greetings warriors of Calradia!

When you set out on your adventures in Mount & Blade games, you are just a humble traveller with only a sword and a horse to your name. As you progress through the game and establish a foothold in Calradia, you can pledge your sword to a faction and be welcomed into the fold of the nobility. Eventually, you will have the option of branching out and establishing your own kingdom, or, as is the case with Bannerlord, if you have taken a liking to your current one, you can subvert it and seize power for yourself! In this week’s blog, we discuss how players can interact with their fellow nobles after joining or establishing their own kingdom, looking specifically at the kingdom screen, which is an entirely new addition to the Mount & Blade series.

The main focus of Mount & Blade games revolves around the aforementioned journey from rags to riches. Almost every action you take in the game is done in the effort of increasing your wealth, prestige and ultimately, your power. However, in our previous games, there are parts of this journey which were somewhat overlooked during development.

In our previous games, managing and interacting with the lords of your realm is an arduous task that requires some level of patience. The information presented to the player can be hard to locate and the kinds of interactions available are rather limited in scope. This is something we wanted to address for Bannerlord, making the mid-late game a more fluid and enjoyable experience for players.

Our solution was to implement a screen dedicated entirely to this aspect of the game (along with some additional mechanics to expand upon the existing interactions available of course!). The Kingdom screen is split into four separate tabs: Clans, Fiefs, Policies and Armies. These tabs cover practically every piece of information that the player needs to make informed decisions and manage their kingdom effectively. The screen is still a work in progress and new elements are still being added, however, what we are showing you in this week’s blog is something close to what you can expect from the final game.

Clans
The Clans tab shows detailed information about every clan that is a member of the faction. This information includes the clan name, banner, influence, members and fiefs. In this screen, you can lend your support for one of the clans to become the leader of the faction or initiate a vote to have a clan expelled from the kingdom.



Fiefs
The Fiefs tab shows the towns, castles and villages which are under the control of the faction. There is also an option in this tab which lets you spend a large sum of influence to try and retract a fief from another lord. However, this is still subject to a vote from the other lords and the person on the receiving end of this action may not be too pleased with your meddling. If the vote is successful, then a second vote will begin to decide who will take control of the fief.



Policies
The Policies tab allows players to propose new policies or initiate a vote to repeal existing ones. Policies affect the entire kingdom and range from laws which give greater protections to vassals or transfer more power to the ruler.



Armies
Finally, we have the Armies tab. This tab lets you create and manage different armies within your faction. The screen gives you a detailed breakdown of each army, including the lords that comprise the army, the strength and cohesion of the army, and the army’s current objective. Faction leaders are able to assign objectives to the armies through this tab, giving players greater control over the strategic aspects of warfare in the game.




Overall, we think the Kingdom screen is a welcome new addition and helps to enhance the mid-late game experience for players. Information is presented in a much more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing way and the new additions of clans, policies and armies all come together to give a more accurate representation of an actual medieval kingdom, especially when it comes to internal power struggles.

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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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