How to give a "soul" to this game?

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MostBlunted

Sergeant Knight at Arms
How to give this game a soul?

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Nawari

Regular
I am going to give a more detailed, argued and above all "documented" opinion, facts, facts, facts.

It's not about saying "is the game good" "yes" "no".
It's about saying, "What is this game?" "How can we play it?" "What do we do during the game?" "What are the different ways to play?" And, finally, a subjective opinion on "Why do we find the game both interesting and boring?" "Why do we call this game a 'skeleton game'? "What do we think is missing to make a good Bannerlord game?"

Already, to start, there are four generic ways to play:

- a "campaign" mode,
- a "sandbox" mode,
- a "battle" mode,
- a multiplayer mode.

The battle mode:

We will only talk here about the "campaign" and "sandbox" mode. The battle games did not catch our attention even if "we" (me and many friends) spent hours there, it is not in our opinion the heart of the game. If the battles are truly a success , we did not find a great "strategic" interest in it. The battle modalities are quite limited, it is difficult to develop clever strategies, on the other hand we can have fun doing fun experiments by mixing the troops, doing grandiose fights with a thousand troops... It's fun , but that's not what caught our attention the most. We fought more battles playing the "campaign" or playing in "sandbox", than on the specialized mode.

The battles themselves:

This is undoubtedly the greatest achievement of this game even if many criticisms are made by players who like to "calculate everything". Galloping in the middle of the fray while cutting, stabbing, piercing the opposing troops, it must be admitted that it is quite exciting. At the beginning... Because we expected more than that like many other players.
Why ?

Character creation and the big map:

Already, when we read the "advertisement" made on Steam, we could believe that we will discover a detailed Universe, RPG, an epic Universe with a real "lore", maybe even a story, memorable quests, or simply an atmosphere a "soul", a spirit, a dark world where war reigns permanently, moving, dark or funny NPCs (npc), secret points, points of interest, mysteries...
There is none of that. We are former Mount and Blade Warband players, we were impatiently waiting for this new opus. We thought Taleworld would take a leap forward, give us a livelier world than Warband was... Warband, we were sorry, because it was a small studio production, and the game mechanics didn It wasn't perfect, but there was, with the battles, something new, an interesting new game proposal even if incomplete and sometimes a little "wobbly".
We thought then that Bannerlord would progress towards a more dreamlike, more epic world, to compensate for what was the weakness of Warband, a great feeling of loneliness, if I may say so. The game was cold, very cold, only the mods had managed to break through the ice, and even then, not always.


What is Bannerlord's progress?

Bannerlord offers us a game very close to "Warband", with the same problem of lack of life, spirit, "soul", environment... Neither lore, nor point of interest, nor RPG proposal, in revenge, better graphics, "better-tuned" battles, some interesting gameplay intros with weddings.

You can lead, it is true, a dynasty over several generations.

Campaign mode

When you play the campaign mode, you are effectively led to create your own dynasty. The problem is that after a few hours of play, you realize that you will repeat the same actions a lot:

- do very uninteresting mini-quests, we expected more from this second opus,
- browse a large map for hours without having randomized events, as a result, it's quickly boring, not to say "irritating", "irritating", to become totally schizophrenic so much at the same time the game is sometimes pleasant ( when playing a crucial battle for example for the expansion of our Kingdom), as it can too often be "painful" because "not fun at all to walk around on a large map where there are no d interests, nor of unforeseeable events,

The diplomacy part:
it is currently in a "larval" state, the options are:
- you can convert an opposing lord to your cause and ask him to join your kingdom,
- you can offer influence points to improve your relations with a clan of your faction,
- you can donate money to improve your relations with a clan,
- you can improve your relations with a clan through marriage but it won't have a lot of consequences on the course of the game,
- you can improve your relations with a clan by helping them during a battle or a siege,
- you can improve your relations with a clan by voting for it in political decisions.

But this "economy" of influence is very quickly mastered. It is such a visible mechanism that it quickly loses interest. Something is missing in this game for this economy of influence to cause specific events. You can, thanks to your "reputation", another important DATA, become the King of your faction. This fame, you build it thanks to all the actions you carry out, winning fights, successful small quests, destroyed bandit bases, etc.

All this mechanics, we already knew it with Warband.


With hindsight, the movement system on the map, even though we are only masters of a single troop or army (the other troops are autonomous), is useless or of little use.
We are in a bad version of the game "Civilization", or we are in a bad version of a medieval fantasy RPG.
It lacks all the options of a management game:
- the management of the cities is very basic and does not present any interest, you put a governor, money, the city develops, and that's it... nothing happens, neither randomized events, nor anything. .. Life in the cities is almost non-existent. There are many NPCs, but they hardly speak, repeat all the same words everywhere. There is no work on the dialogues. Nothing. There are no notable NPCs and no amusing dialogues. Cities are dead. No creative effort has been made, and like in the first game, the cities are meaningless.

- the management of your kingdom seems to be more complex, but it is only an illusion. When your "dynasty" has developed (let's imagine that you are in the third generation, children and grandchildren), you will certainly have some difficulty knowing what to do with all these cherubim.
They grow up. You marry them. You have a big family. To do what ? Nothing in particular. For now, with version 1.8.0, this dynasty is only used to have "companions" whose characteristics you choose yourself from birth. So what ? Will you tell me... And that's a good question... So what? Ben... nothing... It has no playful interest. It makes no sense, neither "spiritual", nor "fun", nor "nothing". We end up with a big family but we don't know what to do with it.

The interactions :
As we said, NPCs are "living dead", they have nothing to say, they bring no story, no exciting quests (just repetitive "mini-quests").
The interactions with the other clans are summarized in the dialogues with 5 or 6 propositions, always the same, and without any "narrative" interest or Role Play. These dialogues are only useful for the overly visible and overly simplistic "mechanics" of the game.
The interactions between characters are therefore absolutely tasteless and repetitive. No character has been planned to surprise us. No randomized event to surprise the player with an NPC that could bring us a touch of humor, poetry, mystery, or other... nothing.
The whole "RPG" dimension has been completely abandoned, like for Warband, which gives the impression of sucking a bone. We have a game skeleton and all the wrapping is missing.
We had already felt that with "Warband", but at the time, this game brought us something new: grandiose battles in a totally original medieval world even if already poor in Role Play information. It was forgivable, it was a first version.
This game called itself a "sandbox game". But the options for "building your Kingdom" were quite short: management of oversimplified cities (a kind of pale and very bad copy of "Civilization" in terms of "politics", economy, diplomacy, and management of the cited). We thought then that with Bannerlord, Taleworld would free itself from the bad choices made in Warband (either to make a totally management game, or to make a totally "RPG" game), but they came back with a "bastard" game, neither management, neither "sandbox", nor "RPG", just a pretext to fight battles with 1000 troops.
In short, they made no choice and came back with a relatively unfinished game.

They have made some improvements since the release of the first Early Access version of Bannerlord:
- on scientific calculations on the strength of the troops, without any great playful interests but it interests a small niche of players,
- on the aesthetics of armor,
- on the rebellions in the cities,
- on marriages and the birth of children,
- on the battle maps (the large map is squared with different battle "minimaps"),
- many bugs have been fixed,
- some balances have been made concerning diplomacy but the game mechanics are still as limited,
- the mini-quests are still repetitive and uninteresting.

In short, there were no major changes in the mechanics of the game.

The "RPG" dimension of the game is totally neglected in favor of a small niche of players who are only interested in battles.
The global "strategic" dimension on the map is totally an illusion, and all the mechanics of the game would only be of interest if, implicitly, we were following a "story", a scenario, in an elaborate world with a lore rich and many surprises. But all that does not exist, there remains only a cold mechanics without "souls".

The "campaign" does not bring any "RPG" dimension.

The "sandbox" part offers too few ways to build your Kingdom, manage your city... You control almost nothing.

The battle part: TW could have sold the game without a map, without a Sandbox part and without a campaign, it would have been more honest, because ultimately it's the only successful dimension in this game.

Multiplayer mode: if you like playing with a slew of skills, if you like "FPS", if you like playing with many possibilities, go your way. No, the multiplayer is a bit "outdated"...

This game is very cold. It's a game without souls, without stories, therefore all the repetitive actions quickly become heavy.

TW forgot that what made it possible to accept repetitive actions, the artistic and narrative coating.

So there is a somewhat paradoxical, somewhat schizophrenic feeling, both an attachment to a game full of promise, and anger at false promises and false announcements.

There's no shame in playing this game. There should be a shame in selling it as is.
This game is simply not "finished". In the end, they will lose a lot of enthusiasts.
TW waits too much for modders to do their job.

I would like the modders to cease all activity to give a "lesson" to TW, TW makes fun of its public too much.
 
I am going to give a more detailed, argued and above all "documented" opinion, facts, facts, facts.

Brilliantly put and very accurate . I put i on today to continue my campaign and turned it off after a few minutes because i got bored . I have a personal army of 220 and only 5 factions left. I don't even want to start a new campaign because pretty much everything you have written . I think modders should stop moddding until release for sure . On youtube if bannerlord is on its becasue of a new mod. I like bannerlord a lot be the longevity isn't there and it shouldn't be up the modders to add all the things you stated.
 

sh1ny4

Regular
Honestly to me the cut scenes have given the game a good 'SOVL', only issue being how rare they are and the fact that they aren't fullscreen (TW why ?)
Now the only thing missing for me NPC-wise is memorable NPCs, I can't even give the name of the 8 rulers of calradia, nor of my last wife.
Just giving them a few lines of dialogue on their own though on any topics would be a great improvement. Even something basic like 'cruel lord from battania say x, while merciful lord from khuzaits say y'.
The game doesn't need narrative experience, it doesn't need specific graphics. It needs interactivity with it's world.
I really appreciate the addition of dialogue to towns NPCs, even if limited, but please give us the same for lords
 
Honestly to me the cut scenes have given the game a good 'SOVL', only issue being how rare they are and the fact that they aren't fullscreen (TW why ?)
Now the only thing missing for me NPC-wise is memorable NPCs, I can't even give the name of the 8 rulers of calradia, nor of my last wife.
Just giving them a few lines of dialogue on their own though on any topics would be a great improvement. Even something basic like 'cruel lord from battania say x, while merciful lord from khuzaits say y'.
The game doesn't need narrative experience, it doesn't need specific graphics. It needs interactivity with it's world.
I really appreciate the addition of dialogue to towns NPCs, even if limited, but please give us the same for lords
It needs better ncp's have traits give the set dialogues and some atcions like duel offer exections. charges in battle always defends . Give them character. I am the same i can't remember the kings/queens names and when a companion dies sometimes i don't even notice until i go to clan screen and see 7 or 8 companions then i try work out who died because is don't have any interaction with them unless we run out of food or raid a village. If a companion said i didn't like the attack on the village so i am leaving . I would remember that so instance . The ncp's are flat boring.
 
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sh1ny4

Regular
It needs better ncp's have traits give the set dialogues and some atcions like duel offer exections. charges in battle always defends . Give them character. I am the same i can't remember the kings/queens names and when a companion dies sometimes i don't even notice until i go to clan screen and see 7 or 8 companions then i try work out who died because is don't have any interaction with them unless we run out of food or raid a village. If a companion said i didn't like the attack on the village so i am leaving . I would remember that so instance . The ncp's are flat boring.
you already get comments on if you don't ave enough food/ can't pay party wage so I don't understand why we don't have it yet
 

ElCrisp

Sergeant
- the management of your kingdom seems to be more complex, but it is only an illusion. When your "dynasty" has developed (let's imagine that you are in the third generation, children and grandchildren), you will certainly have some difficulty knowing what to do with all these cherubim.
They grow up. You marry them. You have a big family. To do what ? Nothing in particular. For now, with version 1.8.0, this dynasty is only used to have "companions" whose characteristics you choose yourself from birth. So what ? Will you tell me... And that's a good question... So what? Ben... nothing... It has no playful interest. It makes no sense, neither "spiritual", nor "fun", nor "nothing". We end up with a big family but we don't know what to do with it.
This is the large throbbing thumb at the centre of bannerlord that shows the complete lack of game design of any sort and especially of the unified sort. By game design I mean like that of a boardgame. What makes this a fun game, what are the gameplay loops how do minor goals feed into longer win or success conditions, is that experience fun?
So much work has gone into the intergenerational clan system for the sake of the player fantasy of a long lasting playthrough in a procedurally simulated world with emergent story lines. But this world is funished with nothing. The companions in bannerlord are empty shells in service of this 'tell you own story' build your clan project so when they die they can be easily replaced.
.
This dynasty type system is also in strong conflict with the apparent keep it simple and casual game design they later adopted.
There needs to be long term goals for a intergenerational system to have any meaning. And not just goals but pressures for the player to use different apporaches to achive goals with each new generation along the lines of - "I sit on my fathers legacy but I must face the challenges of my own rule"
Otherwise what is the point from a game play perspective in having this distinction between father and son, if both just go about the exact same gameplay loop in the exact same way. There fore this intergenerational system demands and promises a complexity of game systems that for whatever reason TW decided late in the piece it was unwilling to or incapable of dilivering.

This game is a skeleton because it is full of these tick box systems, no flesh. The promise of something just enough for players to fanatsize about a better game . For example internal policies that can be voted on: most of these policies are minute numeric changes that barely have an impact. They dont represent meaningful changes to governance or play style. Have they even written a logic for why AI vote on these respective policies because last time I checked there was literally nothing at that time.
The thing is procedurally generated or simulated type worlds the likes promised by the clan system can go from very dull to very rich and fun surprisingly quickly they just need to pass a threshhold where by the time it takes for you to encounter a sequence you have seen before is long enough, that you are not bored by its repetition. Simple fetch quest sure, fighting off armies sure, shutting down raids sure, you just need a number more things in that cycle. With game design putting impetus on the player to do those other things.

This added variety would make working parts like battles shine even brighter.
But that take someone at TW willing to fight for and make those things into the game.
 

ElCrisp

Sergeant
Sorry to double post and continue on this game design rant but the biggest sign TW have checked out is I think the lack of ability to send messengers to lords. Now obviously I can't call them on their cell phones late night when I need their love. But the idea I cant set up a meeting or correspond with them for a price from a world and believabilty perspective is laughable. Thats the immersion case.

But the gameplay case.. by Yahweh and Allah what possible reason do you have to make your players play the blues clues of outdated intel? Running back and forth and back across the map every time to find someone. This is in now way fun. You feel like a dumb ******* getting your village raided as you try to talk to people so its not just boring its punishing.

Like the much needed diplomacy system I get it at least there TW can level the argument of added complexity (Because Xbox players are unfamiliar with the concept of alliances and the name: non-aggression pact isnt enough of a clue?) Or the added time balancing said systems (Just like how you have to balance the current incoherent system of war for negotiations) but in the case of sending messengers to lords. There is no reason to leave the game in its current state. So why then 2 years in are we here.
 

Nawari

Regular
Sorry to double post and continue on this game design rant but the biggest sign TW have checked out is I think the lack of ability to send messengers to lords. Now obviously I can't call them on their cell phones late night when I need their love. But the idea I cant set up a meeting or correspond with them for a price from a world and believabilty perspective is laughable. Thats the immersion case.

But the gameplay case.. by Yahweh and Allah what possible reason do you have to make your players play the blues clues of outdated intel? Running back and forth and back across the map every time to find someone. This is in now way fun. You feel like a dumb ******* getting your village raided as you try to talk to people so its not just boring its punishing.

Like the much needed diplomacy system I get it at least there TW can level the argument of added complexity (Because Xbox players are unfamiliar with the concept of alliances and the name: non-aggression pact isnt enough of a clue?) Or the added time balancing said systems (Just like how you have to balance the current incoherent system of war for negotiations) but in the case of sending messengers to lords. There is no reason to leave the game in its current state. So why then 2 years in are we here.
There is a moment in the game where we should be able to negotiate "boundaries" even if it is "fragile". But for that, the diplomacy system would have to be much more developed. Marriages at this time would be important because it could help strengthen peace pacts. But for that we would also need a more developed economy so that during these periods of peace we have something to do. To achieve this, we would indeed need clearer "rules of the game".

Generally, the eldest was the heir. Also, our decision to choose this or that lord as heir should have an impact on the stability of our clan, which would mean that it could split into several.

The new generation (the children of our hero) could become an issue of inheritance disputes. And that could be the source of new conflicts and new divisions of the map. We would then need "a rule" that allows us to anticipate these inheritance conflicts to force us to try to reduce their impact.

Of course, all the clans would be impacted, which would give a new map.

Ideally, it would have been fantastic if the "people", tired of the incessant wars, could revolt to cut off the heads of the Lords. The choice of the player then to take the head of a "popular faction" led by a kind of Robin Hood or to quell the rebellion.

Historically, young children of the Lord, often younger, disinherited because the inheritance went to the eldest, led popular rebellions. It's complex, but it would have given the game "body". through literature and film. They were rebellious children because they were not recognized by their families as legitimate heirs.

They then sometimes became accomplices of the people against the power in place.

This would also give meaning to political decisions. Because the decisions taken would accelerate or on the contrary slow down the risks of popular rebellions.

I do not know if I'm clear.
 
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Gnjus

Knight at Arms
For this game to become unforgettable, it lacks:
- an unforgettable campaign,
or and
- unforgettable characters,
or and
- an unforgettable atmosphere,
or and
- an unforgettable plot,
or and
- a "soul" to this game, an "artistic touch" to give it the place it deserves in the world of video games.


Unforgettable haircuts.


uWJCahV.jpg
 

ElCrisp

Sergeant
There is a moment in the game where we should be able to negotiate "boundaries" even if it is "fragile". But for that, the diplomacy system would have to be much more developed. Marriages at this time would be important because it could help strengthen peace pacts. But for that we would also need a more developed economy so that during these periods of peace we have something to do. To achieve this, we would indeed need clearer "rules of the game".

Generally, the eldest was the heir. Also, our decision to choose this or that lord as heir should have an impact on the stability of our clan, which would mean that it could split into several.

The new generation (the children of our hero) could become an issue of inheritance disputes. And that could be the source of new conflicts and new divisions of the map. We would then need "a rule" that allows us to anticipate these inheritance conflicts to force us to try to reduce their impact.

Of course, all the clans would be impacted, which would give a new map.

Ideally, it would have been fantastic if the "people", tired of the incessant wars, could revolt to cut off the heads of the Lords. The choice of the player then to take the head of a "popular faction" led by a kind of Robin Hood or to quell the rebellion.

Historically, young children of the Lord, often younger, disinherited because the inheritance went to the eldest, led popular rebellions. It's complex, but it would have given the game "body". through literature and film. They were rebellious children because they were not recognized by their families as legitimate heirs.

They then sometimes became accomplices of the people against the power in place.

This would also give meaning to political decisions. Because the decisions taken would accelerate or on the contrary slow down the risks of popular rebellions.

I do not know if I'm clear.
I get what you are saying and it sounds complex but there are small ways to create the feel for what you are talking about feature by feature.

Take for example Kingdom fractures or Claiment rebellions as a way to add some intergenerational story telling. There are already hooks for this in the relationship and trait systems, using these quantitities to affect AI choices, but also cruscially letting the player know that it was these factors that swung the AI choices - giving the player a feeling of agency.
This can be done with a simple pop up flavour text with a quote from a lord or a rumour. "whispers from so and so's court suggest that they joined the cause of the rebellion because.."

Due to traits certain members of a clan could disagree with a marriage and join forces with other consiprators.
The popular rebellions we have currently due to poor loyalty could see disgruntaled second children deffect to join and lead them.
Again accompanied by flavour text or popups. One of this games biggest problems remains that some descisions are made by the AI taking into account a range of factors but that is entirely opaque to the player, so the choices appear entirely random. At the same time these descisions making logics need to go through some balancing as is exemplified by the current defection bugs..
Unforgettable haircuts.


uWJCahV.jpg
+ 100 Beauty and soul
 

Nawari

Regular
Unforgettable haircuts.


uWJCahV.jpg

I get what you are saying and it sounds complex but there are small ways to create the feel for what you are talking about feature by feature.

Take for example Kingdom fractures or Claiment rebellions as a way to add some intergenerational story telling. There are already hooks for this in the relationship and trait systems, using these quantitities to affect AI choices, but also cruscially letting the player know that it was these factors that swung the AI choices - giving the player a feeling of agency.
This can be done with a simple pop up flavour text with a quote from a lord or a rumour. "whispers from so and so's court suggest that they joined the cause of the rebellion because.."

Due to traits certain members of a clan could disagree with a marriage and join forces with other consiprators.
The popular rebellions we have currently due to poor loyalty could see disgruntaled second children deffect to join and lead them.
Again accompanied by flavour text or popups. One of this games biggest problems remains that some descisions are made by the AI taking into account a range of factors but that is entirely opaque to the player, so the choices appear entirely random. At the same time these descisions making logics need to go through some balancing as is exemplified by the current defection bugs..

+ 100 Beauty and soul
Yes. It would be necessary if we could make list all these "things", I do not know how to call them, which occur in the game and which it would be necessary to explain by "pop up", rumors or contextual windows in order to make the game More legible. The problem is that the decisions made by the AI are difficult to identify and therefore to list. And since this thread is about "soul", these pop ups would no doubt add a "soul" dimension if there is a little "literary" effort to give it expression along those lines.
I would add that today, but even always, players don't like games where they don't understand how the AI makes decisions. Everything must be explicit. Otherwise, players think there is a flaw (sometimes they are right).
The rules of the game must be limpid, clear and without shadows. Even if they are sometimes "borderline" or a little "wobbly", it is better to explain the weaknesses of a game even if it means diverting them in a fun way to make them an element of the game, rather than hiding them.
 
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I agree with everyone but if soul is our subjext here and how about the repetitive scenery especially interiors?
I never go into cities or villages or castles because the game give me no need to. Apart from battles where i don't pay attention to the surroundings. The taverns could have strippers i wouldn't know.
 

Nawari

Regular
I never go into cities or villages or castles because the game give me no need to. Apart from battles where i don't pay attention to the surroundings. The taverns could have strippers i wouldn't know.
This is what we "denounce", there are all the elements of a good RPG, but they are useless. It's totally amazing, because it wouldn't be the hardest thing to do... Everything is in place to give life to this game and yet, nothing is done. For me, it is incomprehensible.
 

Honved

Knight
The "sandbox" part offers too few ways to build your Kingdom, manage your city... You control almost nothing.
TW gave us a "sandbox", but forgot to put "sand" in it. As it currently stands, aside from a few stray grains in the corners, it's empty.

The game lacks a few "small details", like meaningful diplomacy, an economy, village/city building/development, personal interactions with ANYONE (all peasants with the same "filler" dialog, Lords with the same handful of mostly meaningless options), or a reason to CARE about anyone or anything in the game.

Modders have shown that it's possible to do so much more with it, but despite all of the glowing promises for buildable castles, meaningful politics, a working economy, and so on, after a decade of development TW has barely even begun to put a touch of "life" into the game. What little has been done mostly serves no actual in-game purpose and has no impact on anything, so once you've seen it, you can just ignore it.

The strength of the game is that you can tell your own story. The weakness is that there's nothing to tell, except "I fought 300 battles".
 

Apocal

Grandmaster Knight
I'm no longer in my twenties and I've played a lot of games since 2007 or so when I first played M&B, so there is probably nothing this game could do to inspire the same awe.

I try to avoid going back and playing Warband, because whenever I do, the nostalgia gets ripped away and I realize just how jank that game was. But it was like the only one where you could ride on a horse and hit people while also being an open world at the time. And I hadn't figured out how everything worked (or didn't).
 

Nawari

Regular
To tell the truth, I no longer believe in a positive evolution of this game for a long time. I also uninstalled it. I will re-test perhaps in ten years to see if there is finally something new... I'll say what I really think but I don't want to get kicked out of this forum. By not doing the right thing, other developers will end up releasing a better game without TW. I smell it. Good luck TW, I wish you no harm, but mocking your audience is not good long-term policy. I really hope I'm wrong. I'll probably try 1.9.0, if you manage to get it out. I hope she will surprise me, finally!
 
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