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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February 14

Dev Blog 14/02/19



Greetings warriors of Calradia!

In a real-life battle, clever commanders will look for as many advantages as possible: they will try to get the high ground, outnumber their enemies, flank and surround them, strike by surprise… If they could do so, they would only engage battle when odds are overwhelmingly in their favour, so the battle ends even before it begins. Video games, on the other hand, are supposed to be fun – and for that, they need to be fair, especially in multiplayer. If you see yourself in a disadvantaged position, you should be there because of taking the wrong decisions, not because the game failed to find a balance where it’s the one with the best skills who win. In a game with deep gameplay, such as Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, with so many different factions, troop types, weaponry, terrain, etc., finding that delicate balance is particularly tricky. Our level and game designers work hard to make battles as fair and fun as possible; today we talk with Level Designer and Assistant Game Designer, Paul Kaloff, to find out what he is doing for the game. By the way, if you think his name and face rings a bell, you’re right: you probably saw him in last Gamescom’s livestreams!


NAME
Paul Kaloff

FROM
Germany

JOINED TALEWORLDS
2017

EDUCATION
Game Development, School For Games

OFFICIAL JOB DESCRIPTION
Level Designer and Assistant Game Designer


WHAT DO YOU NORMALLY DO DURING YOUR DAY?
My usual day to day business involves creating and maintaining scenes for both singleplayer and multiplayer. Other than that, I work on the documentation of feature designs and the multiplayer balancing sheet, which is huge! I also became addicted to Turkish çay (black tea) since moving here, so you will usually see me with a cup of that at my desk.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT BANNERLORD?
Although the singleplayer portion of Bannerlord is shaping up to be a lot of fun, I’ve always been a multiplayer guy myself. I love the variety of the factions that we have and how differently they play. For the first match, I might be a Khuzait horse archer, shooting people in the back and then galloping away with a grin on my face, while for the second match I might be a Sturgian berserker, swinging my huge axe around in a melee encounter.

WHAT'S THE MOST DIFFICULT THING THAT YOU SOLVED SO FAR, DURING THE PRODUCTION OF BANNERLORD?
Tackling the task of balancing multiplayer. There is such a broad variety of weapons and different classes, each with their individual perks, that keeping them balanced can be quite challenging sometimes. Each faction, as well as, each class within that faction, should have their individual advantages and disadvantages, which need to be evaluated. It's certainly a buttery slope if you change one thing you affect basically everything else.

Although we have some great players in the office, the community will always perform better with certain playstyles or even find new ones. So we basically have to see into the future and do something we call ‘Metaprediction’, where we predict how a certain class will behave once it’s figured out by the community and then shape that class according to that and even think about possible counters.


WHAT DO YOU CURRENTLY WORK ON?
Besides my work on multiplayer balancing, I spend my time creating both singleplayer and multiplayer scenes. Multiplayer scenes have a slightly different workflow, which I will elaborate on.

After the first paper concept, I jump into the editor and create a rough whitebox version of the level with measured lanes, for walking/riding distances to the ‘Point of Interest’ from the spawn. After that, I go on to making a more detailed whitebox version, where I focus a lot on getting angles and sizes correct.

Having the level as a whitebox makes it very convenient to do layout changes according to feedback from playtests. It also serves to save me time and restrict myself positively during the following skinning phase, where we replace the white boxes with actual assets and focus more on visual features.




WHAT FACTION DO YOU LIKE THE MOST IN BANNERLORD?
I really like Vlandia. They have this worn down medieval vibe to them, which I would expect from a European inspired faction in the “dark ages”. It's great fun to create scenes for them, but once you see a line of Vlandian knights, the ancestors of the mighty Swadian knights, charging at you, it becomes more of a love-hate relationship!



ARE THE DIFFERENT FACTIONS BUILT TO BE VIABLE ACROSS DIFFERENT GAME MODES, OR ALL FACTIONS EVENLY MATCHED IN MOST CONTEXTS? FOR EXAMPLE, WOULD ONE FACTION PERFORM VERY WELL IN SIEGE, BUT BE NEXT-TO-USELESS IN AN OPEN FIELD MAP BECAUSE THEY HAVE POOR QUALITY CAVALRY?
We are working on making factions as viable as possible in any scenario. The way we designed multiplayer gives us a lot of opportunities to make that happen. For each Troop Class, we have individual item loadouts, items perks, skill perks, and armour + speed values (more about that in the next question). This gives us a lot more screws to adjust if units under or over perform. A more specific example would be that for siege we have specific maps for factions to defend. So while Vlandia might have a very tight castle layout, a Khuzait castle would have a wide courtyard, perfect for horse archers, and ways to sally out easily and harass/skirmish the siege camp.

With all that said, we still want factions to play differently from each other. Factions will require players to change up their playstyle and strategic approaches in team-based modes.


HOW SEVERE COMPARED TO WARBAND; WILL MOVEMENT PENALTIES FOR USING HEAVY ARMOUR/WEAPONS BE?
As mentioned above, in multiplayer, we tie movement speeds to the class rather than weapon weights or armour. This enables us to, for example, make a berserker very agile, even though his weapon may be very heavy. Also, an important factor is that, unlike in Warband, we have a combat speed and a normal speed. This means that once you raise your weapon or block, you will slow down to a combat pace, which greatly reduced the amount of face-hugging going on and prevents players from constantly holding up their shield and turtling in combat. These speeds, as well as, the acceleration can also be set for each individual multiplayer class, giving designers (and eventually modders) an easy way to create unique classes without having the hassle to cross balance the weights of the armours for every small change.

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February 7

Dev Blog 07/02/19



Greetings warriors of Calradia!

In Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord’s sandbox campaign, players are free to play the game however they like. And for some people, this might mean turning to a life of crime to facilitate their rise to power. But, just like in real life, there are consequences to your actions and crimes do not go unpunished... unless you position yourself to be above the law, of course.

The Crime Rating system keeps track of players’ misdeeds and determines how the game-world will respond to them. The aim of the system is to keep players in check, (especially for those of you who won’t suffer from the same mental anguish as Raskolnikov!), while offering a deeper experience that allows players to take a different path through the game.

Players are able to perform a variety of different actions that are considered to be illegal in Calradia. These range from petty crimes, such as smuggling in goods, to things that could be considered to be a little more serious, such as raiding a caravan and butchering its escort. Each kingdom keeps track of your crimes individually, so performing hostile actions in one territory won’t necessarily impact your gameplay in another.

The system assigns a numerical value to committed crimes based on the severity of the action that took place. There are three distinct brackets which criminals can fall into in the eyes of the law: mild, moderate, and severe.

Petty criminals can expect to see a minor level of disruption to their operations, but maybe not enough to dissuade them from committing further crimes. Criminals that fall into the moderate bracket will certainly start to feel the pinch, as they are barred from entering settlements in the territories where they are considered to be an outlaw. And, finally, individuals that are considered to be a great threat to the peace and stability of a realm will be in for a nasty shock if they are ever captured.

Criminals are expected to pay, quite literally, for their crimes. Fines are determined by the current Crime Rating of the character. However, although money can get you out of a lot of difficult situations, sometimes this won’t be enough and corporal punishment will be carried out. As for severe criminals that can’t afford to pay for their crimes, they are introduced to the judicial executioner, who helps them to shuffle off this mortal coil.

If you are a vassal of the kingdom where you have committed crimes, you may be able to exert some influence to have the charges dropped, however, your fellow lords might see this as a dishonourable action which can adversely affect your relations with them. If you are the ruler of the faction, then congratulations, you just played yourself! You can ignore the charges for as long as you like. After all, who will enforce them? However, the happiness and prosperity of your kingdom will take a hit. Oh, and your honourable lords will hate you!

For those of you who are still determined to explore the dark side of human nature, then we have some good news! Players will have a number of tricks up their sleeve which will help them negate some of the negative aspects of being an outlaw. They are able to employ bribes to have guards turn a blind eye when they visit a settlement or keep (think of it as putting them on the payroll). They can also adopt a disguise to attempt to sneak into a settlement, however, they shouldn’t expect to be allowed to visit the lord’s hall or enter into any tournaments taking place in the settlement.



In next week’s blog, we will talk with Level Designer, Paul Kaloff. 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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