How Taleworlds Can Fix Snowballing By Examining Similar Games

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Firstly, the dynamic and systemic approach TaleWorlds has taken to the campaign should be praised and encouraged! It will allow the game to feel alive and fresh over many playthroughs, and create unique situations in every campaign. Not enough games do this, and Bannerlord has the potential to be the best one to do so!

Games with highly-simulated dynamic systemic worlds and economies in which the NPCs are on similar footing with the player have all suffered from teething issues around faction balancing. From The Guild 2, to X4, and now Bannerlord, there is an art to balancing the different actors in these games. Bannerlord’s development can be aided by examining how similar games balanced different factions and actors.

In Egosoft's X4, another recent game besides Bannerlord to have a dynamic highly-simulated systemic world, many measures are in place to ensure that conflicts between factions do not snowball too quickly. These include things such as enabling factions to build up defences on their borders, softly limiting the scope of any one incursion, giving factions whose military has been beaten a priority to rebuild their forces, and missions for players and NPCs that can improve the odds of winning for a faction via systemic elements (such as the player being tasked with patrolling a contested area, or killing off persistent enemies).

It might even be worthwhile for TaleWorlds and Egosoft to consider discussing this subject together, as I’m sure both studios could learn from each other!

Here are some ideas I can think of that might improve campaign faction balance in Bannerlord, and I invite people to make their own suggestions in this thread:

Lord behaviours:

- Factions could heavily prioritise relieving besieged castles and towns.

- Having factions prioritise the defence of castles on chokepoints. Perhaps have Lords far more likely to patrol near them, and retreat to the nearby castle to defend it if they meet a superior force. Bannerlord has beautifully placed mountain passes, make sure the Lords make use of them!

- Make winning factions more complacent and less aggressive in wars, and make losing factions more aggressive.

- When a faction is very militarily outmatched by a faction they are at war with, the faction’s Lords could prioritise recruiting, and upgrading their forces before assembling to fight their enemy’s armies.

- When armies are defeated, surviving Lords could prioritise recruiting and regrouping.

- Lords could prioritise regaining their lost fiefs. Perhaps by making Lords who are leading armies and have lost fiefs more likely to try to retake fiefs that they’ve lost over other fiefs so long as the fiefs are adjacent to their faction’s current territory.

Additions:

- Enabling losing factions to recruit more troops from towns at the expense of economic growth. Perhaps factions enter a ‘crisis mode’ if the faction is losing, where economic growth of towns is stunted in favour of allowing their Lords to recruit more units from fiefs.

- There could be quests for players to defeat a number of enemy Lords in a war, or capture specific fiefs.

- Towns and Castles of losing factions could benefit from having some mobile defence in lieu of their Lord when their Lord is captured. This could be medium sized patrols that have low troop quality, but offer a buffer against weak enemies. They would return to their fief and despawn once the captured Lord is freed. Perhaps they could be led by castellans, or town militia leaders.

- Enable castles to limit enemy movement by periodically spawning small patrols around castles, this could also help thin bandit parties down if they stray too near.

Bannerlord has a ton of potential, and I’m sure other people will come up with even better ideas!
 

Wehveechen

Regular
Those are some very good suggestions! It would make sense to have losing factions be the desperate ones.
Flashback to warband and Lords telling me they'll take their conquered fiefs back without ever attempting to :sad:
 
Those are some very good suggestions! It would make sense to have losing factions be the desperate ones.
Flashback to warband and Lords telling me they'll take their conquered fiefs back without ever attempting to :sad:

Thanks!

Great point to bring up! I sympathise with you on feeling that there was a missed opportunity that the Lords in Warband never followed up on that. It would be interesting to watch rivalries between Lords over fiefs develop throughout your campaign. And even more interesting to be given a very contested fief by your liege!

Hopefully TaleWorlds will be able to get around to expanding on things like that with Bannerlord. Especially with the community helping them in Early Access!
 
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Mjornian

Recruit
These are some great ideas. I agree that we should feel the consequences of war more with deserters becoming frequent in heavily fought areas. Expanding from that point I would like to see a system in which Kingdoms that expand too fast start to struggle to maintain control over their territory (especially the recently conquered). Bandits could spawn in higher numbers to simulate the lawlessness of the region and subsequently Lords would have to invest significant amounts towards patrols (maybe taken out of garrison leading to it being easier to retake castles).

Peasant cultural revolts is also an idea although it would take some effort to make revolts work.
 
These are some great ideas. I agree that we should feel the consequences of war more with deserters becoming frequent in heavily fought areas. Expanding from that point I would like to see a system in which Kingdoms that expand too fast start to struggle to maintain control over their territory (especially the recently conquered). Bandits could spawn in higher numbers to simulate the lawlessness of the region and subsequently Lords would have to invest significant amounts towards patrols (maybe taken out of garrison leading to it being easier to retake castles).

Peasant cultural revolts is also an idea although it would take some effort to make revolts work.

Really good idea regarding too hasty of an expansion resulting in a lawless frontier! It could also give outlaw players a temporary home. And the mechanic you suggested for subduing the lawless area is a great way to make it engaging to be in the expanding faction.

Something that could tie into your idea about deserters is having battles, low morale parties, and low cohesion armies spawn deserter parties when troops desert them. And looted villages could result in spawning bandit parties, perhaps due to escaping villagers who turn to banditry to survive.
 

Arhu

Recruit
I was thinking of seasonal siege mechanic. Just as it'd happened in real life, lords would start a siege campaign only during summer. Maybe modifying the AI to siege only during summer and spring seasons would give the weak factions two months of recuperation period.

It's just a far fetched idea, but the current state of the game is in need of dire changes to hotfix this issue.
 
I was thinking of seasonal siege mechanic. Just it'd happened in real life, lords would start a siege campaign only during summer. Maybe modifying the AI to siege only during summer and spring seasons would give the weak factions two months of recuperation period.

It's just a far fetched idea, but the current state of the game is in need of dire changes to hotfix this issue.

That's a good idea! Especially as a hotfix. The decision not to siege during colder months could be weighted so that sieges would still sometimes occur during winters.

An accompanying mechanic to make laying siege during winter a worse idea than during summer would also help keep the player and NPC Lords on a similarly level playing field.
 
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JoshuaEN

Recruit
(I haven't played long enough to see this snowballing happen myself, so perhaps the AI already does this)

One mechanic games tend to use is having factions prefer the status quo, or at the very least prefer no one faction become vastly more powerful than everyone else (because that leads to snowballs, which any faction would want to prevent).

Thus, if one faction is gaining too much power, other factions could look to form alliances of mutual defence, or perhaps even aggressively attacking the powerful faction to take advantage of it already being engaged in a war or preempt an attack.

Ideally, this would lead to factions leaders naturally preferring small tactical gains, vs. trying to outright destroy other factions.

Though the fact it seems unrealistic for factions to liberate captured land may make this only a delaying measure (since the alliance created to stop the one faction would itself just become powerful, and the net result may still be factions being destroyed), rather than an outright solution.

Peasant cultural revolts is also an idea although it would take some effort to make revolts work.

I really like the idea of revolts, both lords from a section of a vast empire revolting to create a new faction (or join an existing one), and civilian revolts when they are treated poorly (or were treated well by the previous lord).

It seems like a great way to create new factions to replace destroyed factions and encourage factions not to completely destroy other factions, even if militarily they could.
 

JoshuaEN

Recruit
I was thinking of seasonal siege mechanic. Just as it'd happened in real life, lords would start a siege campaign only during summer. Maybe modifying the AI to siege only during summer and spring seasons would give the weak factions two months of recuperation period.

It's just a far fetched idea, but the current state of the game is in need of dire changes to hotfix this issue.

Would it make sense to do this mechanically through say additional food consumption and less effective foraging during the winter?
 

phillies6f

Recruit
Also would really like to see culture and rebellions factor in more! Would probably be easier for one Imperial faction to hang onto another's territory but much more difficult to occupy a Khuzait or Aserai city. But yes, these are great suggestions!
 

Vicmona

Veteran
WBNW
They can also decrease the chance of lords getting captured after battles. Also after they escape, they should take proper amount of troops with them so that they won't get captured by some random bandits again.
Additionally, when a faction' lords in enemy's land, they can get additional food consumption and morale penalty.
 

froggyluv

Master Knight
NW
I like games in which "ITS POSSIBLE" for AI Lord to quickly dominate the entire map but NOT LIKELY due to a wide swath of Rulership variables
 

Figulus

Regular
Agree re potential but wonder wether the AI considers the geographical situ at all. I've seen all to often Vlandia at peace with Battania / West Emp and then go and declare war on Khuzait and march the entire map to besiege one of their castles..dumb.
 

Zwade

Sergeant
Ai armies/parties should start with a patrol of their border, at least a quick trip patrolling around frontier cities or something, before heading into enemy territory to besiege.
As for the player: spies that can be hired and told which city to station at would help with getting the player to head off a raiding party. Every once in a while a courier would arrive with some spy intelligence. It might be rumor or fact, to keep it from being op.
 

Dabos37

Sergeant Knight
Good suggestions. Some of them are already planed to be introduced in next beta patch like making settlements defence prioritary.

Anyway, to be honest, I think that the best ways to avoid snowballing are:

- Fixing diplomacy and avoid some factions going to war against everyone.
- Make settlements defence prioritary
- Fix autocalc to make cavalry less OP in simulated battles (probably also included in next patch).
- Keep defection chance low.
- Introduce Rebelion/Revolt system ASAP.
- Allow coalitions in future to deal with factions getting too strong.
 

eritchie

Recruit
These are some great ideas. I agree that we should feel the consequences of war more with deserters becoming frequent in heavily fought areas. Expanding from that point I would like to see a system in which Kingdoms that expand too fast start to struggle to maintain control over their territory (especially the recently conquered). Bandits could spawn in higher numbers to simulate the lawlessness of the region and subsequently Lords would have to invest significant amounts towards patrols (maybe taken out of garrison leading to it being easier to retake castles).

Peasant cultural revolts is also an idea although it would take some effort to make revolts work.

I think this is a great idea. Newly conquered fiefs especially those of a different culture could have much lower loyalty and security eventually leading to uprisings by either peasants, bandits, or loyalists to their culture if left unchecked.

This could then be combatted:
1. Over time through cultural assimilation and immigration
2. Through good relations with the NPC's
3. Through constructing buildings, completing quests and spending time in the settlement
 

ukas2

Recruit
" Make winning factions more complacent and less aggressive in wars, and make losing factions more aggressive. "

I take it you mean tactically aggressive? Strategically they don't need to be more aggressive, on the contrary, as losing factions often start new wars when they are down to one city, even if the new enemy is the biggest faction making it really impossible for them to survive at all.
 

GitiUsir

Sergeant
WB
In Egosoft's X4, another recent game besides Bannerlord to have a dynamic highly-simulated systemic world, many measures are in place to ensure that conflicts between factions do not snowball too quickly. These include things such as enabling factions to build up defences on their borders, softly limiting the scope of any one incursion, giving factions whose military has been beaten a priority to rebuild their forces, and missions for players and NPCs that can improve the odds of winning for a faction via systemic elements (such as the player being tasked with patrolling a contested area, or killing off persistent enemies).
I haven't played that game but I wonder if you know how did they code their map locations and pathfinding. I commented recently about a node system combined with map layers for Bannerlord which would do it.

Another thing to prioritize is to find and chase enemy armies rather than besieging fiefs. I mean the biggest threat is the enemy army, if it is detected approaching they should go for it
 
A lot of your guy's suggestions are solving two problems actually: The balance problem, which is huge. But also, it's the lack of any real direction on how to maintain lands.

Don't get me wrong. I love that I can own a castle and not have it or the nearby villages attacked every fifteen seconds, to a point where I can barely hang onto them. But I don't like how joining a kingdom places me at such a terrible disadvantage.
 
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