Bannerlord in broad brushstrokes - What i'd like to see.

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Ingolifs

Grandmaster Knight
WB
As of yet, we have very little idea of how Bannerlord is going to look and play. I'm going to assume it's going to be 'like M&B, but moreso', and address some deficiencies in the original games that i think Bannerlord can improve on.

This is very much a broad brushstrokes thing. I'm mainly interested in overarching themes and concepts, and will try to avoid going into detail.


Simulation of mediaeval life

Key to the feeling of depth and authenticity in this game is that everything from peasants farming in villages to intrigue at the courts is simulated to some degree. Everything affects and is affected by everything else, through means that are complex and mostly hidden from the player.

Warband did a decent job of this in some areas. Villages and towns could be made poorer by looting them or by intercepting villagers or trade caravans, and this would affect the income of the lords who owned these estates. Inter-lord politics, along with different lord personality types added much-needed flavour to the endgame. But these features were incomplete. There were limits to how much economic damage you could inflict as villages would quickly recover and all lords were given a base income anyway with which to respawn their troops, blunting the effect of such measures. This results in a lack of agency of the player, as it feels like no matter how many villages you pillage or how many lords you defeat in the field, you still cannot affect real change.

What I would like to see is a fully modelled simulation, involving such things as population dynamics, food production and consumption, housing, trading, economy, famine and pestilence, taxes and popular revolts. I've gone into great detail on these topics in previous posts, so I'll keep it brief here:
Everybody depends on food to survive. When food runs out, people start dying. Villages produce food and trade the excess. Population growth depends on housing. A shortage of housing in a town halts population growth, among other effects. Farming, building houses and manufacturing items to trade all require labour, and so the rate of production of these things is tied to the population. In large population centres such as towns and cities overcrowding effects such as disease and crime rate put an upper limit onto population growth. All of these effects tie ultimately to the prosperity of a nation and its ability to field an effective fighting force.

It's important to note that this stuff takes place in the background. All of these things can be modelled 'under the hood', and done in such a way that the player can influence them to his advantage, but need not do so necessarily in order to enjoy the game.

A consequence of this is that I think there should be no respawning. Every unit and troop in the game comes from somewhere. Deserters exist because they deserted from a war party with low morale. Bandits are simply disaffected people from poor villages and towns turned to a life of crime. Conscripting a large number of peasants from a village subtracts that number from the village. Lords don't respawn in castles with several dozen fresh troops moments after defeat. Everyone is accounted for.


The tone of the game: unfiltered 'gritty' realism.

The mediaeval genre has done a profound amount of growing up since M&B first became available to play in 2005. Back then, the mediaeval theme was synonymous with fantasy, and the early forumites fought hard against the multitudes of people clamouring for orcs, spells and other fantasy elements. Lord of the rings was the closest thing people knew of to a real depiction of historical warfare. Now, I feel that with the popularity of things like Game of Thrones, along with perhaps a general maturation of the genre and the people interested in it, it is generally understood that the mediaeval period was Not All Quests And Maidens And Shining Knights. It was an incredibly brutal, hard life that many people faced. Death to violence, disease and malnourisment were commonplace, and people could be crippled for life by conditions that are easily treatable nowadays.

The tone of the game should reflect this to a degree. I'm not saying it should all be a 'grimdark warhammer'-type experience where happy things never happen, but that the game cover the whole emotional range - from the epic pre-battle speech and initial glorious cavalry charge to the horror of the aftermath when your companions lay dead and dying around you.

The best way of exploring a theme or idea within a game is through the gameplay.
As such, i think the combat in the game should have a brutal desperation to it. This can be done to an extent with gore and appropriate sounds and animations, but I think would be served better by having mortal wounds not be immediately fatal. In real life it takes a while to succumb to your wounds - and indeed there are anecdotes out there of both participants in a duel being run through multiple times before finally dying, along with reports of people receiving swords and arrows to the face and managing to persist long enough to dispatch their foes.

My previous point about all actions having consequences comes back here. For one, every enemy you kill has an effect, however small, on the game world. Each militia you kill is one less farmhand that returns to the field of a village that you may later own. Low-level enemies aren't just exp-fodder that you get your soldiers to farm.

Furthermore, tough decisions may await the player when they are a lord. One cannot rule effectively simply by choosing the 'good' options or by behaving 'honourably'. Sometimes there is no good choice to be made. You may get into situations where you somehow have to justify atrocities to maintain the greater good.

No hard limits

I am referring to things like party and inventory slots. Having an arbitrary cutoff point for how many men you can lead seems strange to me. I would much rather that the larger your army is the more frequently people desert from it. Larger armies should simply be more difficult to maintain than smaller ones, and higher level troops more difficult to maintain than lower ones. This would prevent the common situation in late game where you're constantly maxed out with the highest tier troops and wander around the map destroying every enemy that isn't a faction's entire army.

Having an inventory with a set size (that somehow magically increases with inventory management, as if you could somehow create new space by packing everything else just a bit more efficiently) also seems silly to me. In any retinue, the size of your inventory should be dependent on the number of pack horses and caravans you have with you. The more of these you have, the slower you move. 

Furthermore, I never liked the idea of Stat requirements. 'You must be at least this intelligent to read this book'. I'd prefer all heavy and/or difficult items to be available to the player, but with a hefty penalty to their usability.

Randomly generated characters

I'd like it if the distinction between immortal 'hero' units and faceless troops was blurred. While a core cast of human-made characters is essential to drive a story forward, the peripheral characters can still be randomly generated with faces, names, character traits, skills and backstories. This is not generated for every single character that comes into being, but rather is generated upon talking to them or some other event (such as someone becoming the leader of a bandit party). The beauty of randomised characters is that they can be easily disposed of, while still possessing some form of individuality.

Skills, attributes and leveling up

I think that the level and experience system used in M&B is an anachronism. I like the idea of proficiencies and how they increase over time with use, and would like to extend it wherever possible to other skills. For situations where they can't (such as where the description of a skill is sufficiently nebulous to make it unclear how to improve it, such as, say, Trainer or Tactics), an alternative is to have the player character 'practice' these skills every time he is idle on the worldmap, similar to the way how reading books is implemented currently. Skills increase rapidly when they're at low level and slowly when they're at high level. All skills decay slowly, preventing you from eventually becoming a master-at-everything, and forcing you to choose which skills are most relevant. This also negates the potential to 'ruin' a character by accidentally spending a point in the wrong slot, as mistakes can be rectified with time.

Freedom, power and delegation

To me, M&B has always represented a sandbox game of massive scope, with an amazing amount of freedom. This is one of the core attractions of the game, not just to me, but I think to many people. I think this should be maximised wherever possible. Inhabiting a complex game world and making high-level decisions with unpredictable consequences is the sort of thing that really gets me going, and in the current gaming climate, it's such a rarity to see. I like the idea that a player will reach a natural equilibrium with the level of organisation that they must put up with. Things are simpler in the early game, when all you have to worry about is food, money and your fellow sellswords. If the political game doesn't interest you, you can concentrate on becoming a mercenary captain with the baddest crew in the land.

I also think that when you're in a position of power, you should be able to delegate some tasks to companions and other characters. Choices of who you get to delegate certain tasks become important, as characters will make different decisions depending on their intelligence, personality type and native skills. These characters will by necessity never do quite as good a job as you can, in some cases with disastrous results. Some things you just will not trust the AI to handle. The old Spider-man adage applies here. With great power comes great responsibility.


A note on graphics and voices

As games get prettier and look closer to real life, I think they necessarily become less interactive. Where once you could have a single artist working on a game title, nowadays it takes large teams of artists to do the same. The more detail a scene has, the more effort it takes to fill in that detail. Half-life's rooms were primarily boxes with textures and its scientists had the same four faces. A single level editor could bash out a level in a couple of days. The quake 2 marine had 170 frames of animation, total.

It's easy to get caught up on the graphics bandwagon. People will by and large not want to pick up an ugly game. But in a large sandbox game like this, flexibility is also needed. When a character can perform 40 or so actions, and each action requires not only a different animation, but several different animations for variety's sake, the man hours really start to creep up. Adding new character actions then becomes difficult. It can no longer just be implemented by the programmer, but has to go through the art team to create suitable animations that work with all armour types without clipping and do not interfere with other animations that may be taking place simultaneously. As a result, fewer player actions get implemented and the game is limited as a result. From the screenshots i've seen, M&B looks plenty good.

I also have to ask that the written text not be removed. There's no way a voice actor could cover all the possible permutations of what the characters say in context-driven dialogue. 
 

TheGME

Veteran
M&BWBNW
I have to agree on everything but skill progression and item stat requirement.

I like the RPG-style progression system, and it wouldn't make sense for a 1-strength weakling to be able to wield great-axes and plate armor.

Other than that though, this is all good.
 

Venteus

Recruit
Some excellent points, I was thinking something like the, that over time traveling would improve party speed and taking hits ( in battle) over time would increase your iron-flesh skill etc. etc.
And then some skills decreasing with time like party speed and some not like intelligence based skills

I also like your idea of caravan pack horses ( maybe you could buy them at the tavern or "trade post")

And about the graphics I would rather have more interaction then better looking stuff.
 
SIMULATION:
While I love the Idea of 'everyone comes from somewhere' I would just like to point out how much that would change the dynamic of the game:
Look at your longest running game's save. How much time has passed? Months? Years? Perhaps even a decade or so if you stick with a game for a very long time.
Now think how many men your party has lost. Now think how many your party has killed. Now think how many the Lords have lost in their own little struggles.
To support the current level of military activity, the map would either need a great many (many) more villages, or a substantial upscaling of size. Even areas of heavy militarisation like the Welsh marches did not have this ratio of villages to castles, or the thousands of armed men about, year round.
For a realistic simulation approach you would need a focus on smaller parties, with many more villages to castles/towns and lords spending much less time out fighting. Periods of peace should last years, or even decades.. and the game is  starting to move away from M&B and towards Crusader Kings...

SKILL ATTRIBUTES:
I've tried several skill degredation systems and they allways manage to be more frustrating than they aught. Further, it's not particularly realistic for skills to degrade significantly over the periods most games will take. I may not have strung my bow in close to two years, but given ten mins warm up I'll be back to form. As a friend once said to me: "Skills may fade, but you don't forget the knack".
 

Ingolifs

Grandmaster Knight
WB
Bohemond Chesne said:
SIMULATION:

I'm okay with those things. Given that Calradia seems to span a European-sized continent, there is a potentially very large population base from which soldiers could be drawn.
Also, it seems like life is very much sped up in M&B anyway. Your character heals from his wounds in a matter of days, and villages recover from being sacked in less than a week. It's plausible that in-game population growth could very much exceed that of the real world, when peasants seem to be created as adults rather than grow up over 18 years.

The long-term gameplay of M&B feels too flat to me - While in the short term the character undergoes some interesting and unique experiences, these all blur together over longer periods as gameplay just becomes a grind. A faction can't be destroyed in one fell swoop with a perfectly executed plan. Every single castle and lord has to be defeated and captured, and when given the number of castles, town and lords in the game, this makes for some monotonous gameplay. I would prefer it if events such as battled followed a sort of Pareto law (the one that dictates frequency of earthquakes vs magnitude, wealth inequality and other such things), where the spectacularity of an event is directly correlated with its rarity.
I'm okay with extended periods of peace. The player can always find things to do in any case, and I'd like to think the people who play M&B are above the CoD-like need for constant climax.

In regard to the details of the 'simulation', it's something i've thought about in detail several times. Making a complex simulation work well and respond as it should to outside disturbances is a very hard task. There are dozens of variables that can be tweaked, and their effects on the game world may not be obvious. How fast should villages repopulate? Should there be a minimum rate to ensure survival, or should villages be allowed to become deserted? How fast should they produce food and how fast should soldiers consume it? What is a reasonable amount of time to lay siege to the average castle before food stores run out? How do you prevent towns from capitulating immediately because they have too much population but not enough food storage to support said population, when max population is tied to the number of houses which is tied to the productivity of the builders, yet max food storage isn't?
All of these issues are in principle solvable with extensive twiddling of the numbers, though I don't envy the person who would have to debug them.

SKILL ATTRIBUTES:

Skill degradation need not be a rapid thing. A slow degradation along with constant practice will mean that skills reach a certain equilibrium point, depending on how often you employ them. I had in mind an exponential decay (i.e. skills degrade at something like 0.5% a week and will approach but never quite reach 0% if they are never used.), but that isn't necessarily the only model one can use. Having skills slowly decay instead to 50% of your maximum attained value rather than 0% could be an option, for instance.
 

RalliX

Count
M&BWBWF&SVC
Surkan said:
I would prefer running around rather than pressing my mouse on a silly mini map.
And some of us prefer not playing PW.
Deliverance: Kingdom Come is the game for you sir.
 

RalliX

Count
M&BWBWF&SVC
Surkan said:
ok so walking around is pw ok
Essentially, what you're asking for is medieval ArmA. Which is not a bad idea to be honest, but it's not quite what Mount & Blade is about.
March your army around, no travel map. Might be a bit of a walking simulator, but could lead to some interesting strategic depth.

Frankly though, that would require a set map. Rather than simulating a continent by having individual scenes of it, this would require a proper open world map of considerable proportions.

Naw, TW simply needs to improve the details of their current map system. More averaged field scenes, more and better variety of parties, smarter strategic AI, and more map mechanics in general.
 

Ingolifs

Grandmaster Knight
WB
Frankly though, that would require a set map. Rather than simulating a continent by having individual scenes of it, this would require a proper open world map of considerable proportions.

Not necessarily a difficult thing.


I also would like a completely open map, but I can't think of any way of implementing that directly into M&B and still have it be M&B. Travel alone would be very monotonous towards the end game on the occasions where you're not being attacked.
 
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