Progression: the Drug of Any Game - and something Bannerlord Needs a LOT more of...

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stevepine

Sergeant Knight
It doesn't matter if it's a dungeon crawling RPG - where you character opens a dusty chest to find an ancient but powerful sword or a military sim where you win a medal and get a promotion. Games depend on 'progression' to be their drug. It's their dopamine hit. It's what keeps us hooked.

Bannerlord has some ... but not enough. Nowhere near enough. Let me explain: In Bannerlord, almost every real opportunity for character progression is crippled.

Can you get cool gear? ... Yes, but without mods, Armour makes little difference. (Part of the reason so many people use Realistic Battle Mod is to make armour worth wearing).

Can you join a faction? ... Yes, but so what? you will be given a castle and win a battle .... but there is nothing to DO with or inside your castle. You just defend it. Nothing more.

Also what does joining a faction mean? ... I mean, is there any chance to work your way up the ranks of nobility? become one of your king's most trusted commanders? No. Once you join a faction, that's it. You're in. No ranks. No future progression with that nation or faction.

Can you start your own Kingdom? ... Yes, but you better bring a few thousand Saudi oil-tankers of gold and be ready to fight everyone, almost from the first second! (How is that fun? or appealing?)

Like why actually bother playing beyond mid game? I can't see the fun in it? I'm sure it's not just me. I think these things need to be the number one priority for our community's modders.

Modders... bring us back that motivation to play this game.

Bring the community back that " I want to play to 3 am in the morning , just to get THIS! "
 
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relam10

Knight
Modders... bring us back that motivation to play.

This is one of the main aspects that made POP mod so popular.

Adding so many groups of varying difficulty and super strong single combats keeps the need to progress to be able to face more powerful groups without failing in the attempt.

On the other hand, the system of qualis gems forces you to farm to access unique items or get more powerful troops.

And the custom order system allows you that almost infinite progression to rival even the noldors.

There are simply so many options that add soul to the game and a sense to keep putting in the hours beyond getting into a loop of conquering all the castles and feeling like you're doing the same thing over and over again.

Supposedly Taleworlds prefers to turn it into a battle simulator rather than an RPG, but given the somewhat poor AI behavior and general malfunctioning of basic behaviors like horses or spearmen, complete superiority of archers, paper armor... does not fulfill this role adequately. Battles are far from being polished in order to be the main attraction of Bannerlord.

The game need to focus on the other aspects aswell to create an enjoyable experience. Balance is the way to go, too much of anything is tiring.
 
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I mean, is there any chance to work your way up the ranks of nobility?
From the get go, you are given one of the privilege of the ruler which is everyone in the faction can not summon you to their armies. Not to mention that, you can summon anyone with enough "influence", which is a system anything near its given name, except the ruler. It is ridiculous.
 

Ananda_The_Destroyer

Grandmaster Knight
Can you get cool gear? ... Yes, but without mods, Armour makes little difference. (Part of the reason so many people use Realistic Battle Mod is to make armour worth wearing).
NO! There's no glaives or Long Glaives to be had! I have all the khuzlands in 1.9 and still no glaive to buy! And yes, armor is still kinda bad, even with the max body armor. You can potentially get even more armor in 1.9 from positive modifiers though. Picked up a few shoulder, glove and boot pieces, even from loot, that exceed the previous BIS gear.
Can you join a faction? ... Yes, but so what? you will be given a castle and win a battle .... but there is nothing to DO with or inside your castle. You just defend it.
I don't even do that! Give it back and vote for someone else to get charm skill!
Also what does joining a faction mean? ... I mean, is there any chance to work your way up the ranks of nobility? become one of your king's most trusted commanders?
The 1 and only reason is build additional parties sooner so your clan mates can lead them and begin raising skills they can't raise in your party and to have garrison fillers ready for when you go solo at rank 4. All I do is go around starting wars and building my own forces power.
Can you start your own Kingdom? ... Yes, but you better bring a few thousand Saudi oil-tankers of gold Hundred Khans guards and Cataphracts and be ready to fight everyone, almost from the first second! (How is that fun? or appealing?)
I can handle the first 2 factions fine, meaning the one I leave (weaken'd and discombobulated) and the one I'm settling in, which I have been aggressively attacking the whole game to keep it weak for when I become a faction in their territory. It's the 3rd faction who declares war on me and rolls up with THE ENTIRE FACTION in a near 2k man army blob (or several armies) that annoys me. Because I can use planning and strategy to deal with the first two, but there's nothing proactive I can do about which of the other 6 factions may decide to attack' me and send their pristine, ready and waiting armies to attack me. Of course I can kill them anyways, but it's the principle that's annoying. I also don't like how making peace with one seems to just increase the lol random chances of another declaring war.
Like why actually bother playing beyond mid game? I can't see the fun in it? I'm sure it's not just me. I think these things need to be the number one priority for our community's modders.
It's like popping bubble wrap but sieg'n castles and beating armies. I just do it compulsively.
 

Sweynforkbeard

Sergeant at Arms
Like why actually bother playing beyond mid game? I can't see the fun in it? I'm sure it's not just me. I think these things need to be the number one priority for our community's modders.
In the beginning of the game you enjoy progression on multiple parameters; money, clan tier, skill level, gear...hell even making friends. But one by one you tick off all those boxes and ultimately you have only one source of progression left; to add more clans to your kingdom.

However, I dont really think that this is so terribly different from many other games of this general nature. It a pretty common problem. Off the top of my head I can only think of a single game that has succeed in that, Civ, and that is by adding other victory conditions besides painting the map your color.

Unless you are the compulsive, restart:wink:
 
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xdj1nn

Knight at Arms
WBWF&S
In the beginning of the game you enjoy progression on multiple parameters; money, clan tier, skill level, gear...hell even making friends. But one by one you tick off all those boxes and ultimately you have only one source of progression left; to add more clans to your kingdom.

However, I dont really think that this is so terribly different from many other games of this general nature. It a pretty common problem. Off the top of my head I can only think of a single game that has succeed in that, Civ, and that is by adding other victory conditions besides painting the map your color.

Unless you are the compulsive, restart:wink:
leveling and exploring mechanics to their full potential takes too long in BL, so long that most ppl never reach them - that makes for bad progression.
Worse than that is having the ultimate power and absolutely nothing to do with it - BL checks that box too, if you gather the ZEN patience to grind all the way there you achieve absolutely nothing with it besides some better taxes to fund your full t6 army filled with perfect captains only to fight looters or if you've messed up kingdom policies and fief distribution, some pathetic rebel clan... That hurts the progress terminally...

If they instead made the world more realistically alive, than there would be not need of inserting virtual difficulty with possible future novelty like PoP does (armies with troops that have 500 HP each - wow; don't get me wrong I like pop, but it's late game's only as good as qualis gem farming - the battles and challenges are just sad) - so how could they do that? Well, add realistic looming threats, like robber barons, actual sea raiders, vegeful outlander tribes from the desert, forest folk rebellions and robin hoodds, internal strife and vassal wars (vassal vs vassal). If done properly the game would be quite round on that regard.

Later down the line they could add "super-challenges" through DLC and we'd all be happy for it.

The issue is the game doesn't come even close to those things - and even what we already have suffers from disjointed mechanics and systems that do not work together, instead work as independent and isolated things.

To fix BL they must reduce grindness for basic things - increase variety (including gear BIS & playstyle specializations) - turn most of it's RNG into influenceable outcomes where we can act to reliably achieve specific results - and make their systems work together for the overall experience as a whole, not as a taped bunch of meaningless features, to achieve that they don't need to do much, but I'd gather it could take ages for them to pull it off. In the end this' the cost of working without a Game Design Document and without deadlines; disjointed final product with astonishing delays...
 
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xdj1nn

Knight at Arms
WBWF&S
I am not really sure I understand what you mean
full governor builds - full captain builds - achieving 10k+ prosperity on towns - achieving high level of hearts on villages - manipulating the economy to maximize workshop and caravan profits - building your progeny and actually flipping to play with them.

a full governor build takes about 10 in-game years to be fully flushed. You take 2 to conquer the entire map. - To play with your kids it takes whooping 18 in-game years at bare minimum making the entire novelty of "building them" useless. - to achieve full captain builds it takes about 5 in-game years - to maximize economy you must own the town where you have workshops and combo governor + buy all surrounding towns workshops and change them to something different than yours (monopoly). - there's a lot to do in the game, and the advanced stuff's utterly meaningless / useless for what we have available to actually accomplish in the game - it could be useful if it took longer to achieve world conquest. - but than again if that's pushed, the game would become excrutiatingly boring.
 
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Sweynforkbeard

Sergeant at Arms
full governor builds - full captain builds - achieving 10k+ prosperity on towns - achieving high level of hearts on villages - manipulating the economy to maximize workshop and caravan profits - building your progeny and actually flipping to play with them.
Yeah ok, this I understand.

When it comes to e.g. governors I dont think the intension is for you to get everything. If that was the case then it would have made more sense to make specific trees for governors. So the intention is probably more like that you can choose different parths/tradeoffs in building you governors.

In terms of the things related to the economy. Money is just not a particularly difficult resource to come by, so it mostly become a RP thing.

And yeah, I dont play with the family stuff. The time scale makes no sense relative to those other progression variables. (and thank you to TW for that, I reeeaally dont want to grind for 20+ years to get somewhere)
 
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xdj1nn

Knight at Arms
WBWF&S
Yeah ok, this I understand.

When it comes to e.g. governors I dont think the intension is for you to get everything. If that was the case then it would have made more sense to make specific trees for governors. So the intention is probably more like that you can choose different parths/tradeoffs in building you governors.

In terms of the things related to the economy. Money is just not a particularly difficult resource to come by, so it mostly become a RP thing.

And yeah, I dont play with the family stuff. The time scale makes no sense relative to those other progression variables.
most of the gov perks are far apart, some being exceptionally deep on the skill tree they are in - it's simply poorly designed. To top it off, not having at least 3/4 of the gov perks for the build objective you want to achieve makes them useless.
Gov builds can be about maximizing income, reducing garrison costs, increasing prosperity, increasing village hearts, builder/engineer, defender/engineer and new conquest stabilizer (security + loyalty). - None of which are achievable without ludicrous amounts of time spent on leveling the companion. If you place them half-baked, they'll achieve whooping "1%" bonuses that make absolutely zero difference, which winds up turning the whole thing into a game of "spare companion - place as governor" / "match the culture of the fief with the culture of the governor"... Not good.

And in the end the difference they make is only really worth it by mid-late game, meaning most of the time you won't need them unless you are RPing or fixated at achieving specific numbers.

Regardless, everything you can "complete" in the game takes longer than conquering the entire map - that's just bad design. If they make conquest take longer than the game will become boring - the only solution is fixing the entire thing to work better and add late game challenges.
 
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Sweynforkbeard

Sergeant at Arms
most of the gov perks are far apart, some being exceptionally deep on the skill tree they are in - it's simply poorly designed. To top it off, not having at least 3/4 of the gov perks for the build objective you want to achieve makes them useless.
Gov builds can be about maximizing income, reducing garrison costs, increasing prosperity, increasing village hearts, builder/engineer, defender/engineer and new conquest stabilizer (security + loyalty). - None of which are achievable without ludicrous amounts of time spent on leveling the companion. If you place them half-baked, they'll achieve whooping "1%" bonuses that make absolutely zero difference, which winds up turning the whole thing into a game of "spare companion - place as governor" / "match the culture of the fief with the culture of the governor"... Not good.
Sure, there is some truth in that.

TW did give us an opportunity to respec people, so it makes your skilled wives more useful as governors. That aside, towns only really provide money (fairly unimportant) and personally holding too many is potentially counterproductive in terms of the number of clans you can have.

But, I generally agree with you that levelling companions is a problem.
 
Honestly, fixing the very end game isn't really hard imo. Making kingdoms be destroyed 50 days or so after losing all their fiefs would get rid of a SIGNIFICANT chunk of the end game grind. Of course, there're plenty of problems with the lack of diplomacy, no messengers, the terrible voting system, years passing too slowly in game, etc. I think the actual problem with the game is the late game (the definitions of when is late and when is end game are arbitrary ofc). As you said, we joined a kingdom, but so what? We can't depose the king, we can secede from the kingdom with our land, but only the player can do this. The kingdom policies don't really affect how the kingdom really works, just provides buffs and debuffs, so there're optimal policies that are true for every kingdom. We can't really ally with other clans in the kingdom, and gaining relations with everyone is too easy due to voting. We will get claimants and civil wars sometime in the future, so there's that. I think city management is okay at the moment, I don't really expect an incredible city management from a medieval sandbox game primarily focused on fighting, although I still hope that prosperity softcaps will be implemented to be actual softcaps rather than a ceiling you bump your head repeatedly and you starve and then go back up to bump it again and starve again. I also wish that they would implement 1-2 unique buildings for different cultures, such as Empire towns having baths, Battanian ones having Ceilidh halls, etc that give out unique bonuses. We should also be able to govern our settlement when we're near the fief.

I don't understand the problem with character progression (not companions, they level up too slowly and need to gain skills at roughly 2x current rate imo), you can become a god with pretty much any build (and grinding renown unfortunately, I wish they lowered the renown requirements drastically like I suggested). All skills (except tactics) are relatively easy to level up, and pretty much all builds (except engineering, engineering sucks ass) can make you a god. Some are better of course; scouting, stewardship, medicine and tactics at level 300+ are ridiculously OP whereas vigor, control, endurance, roguery, charm & leadership skills at their height are just 'good'. I haven't tried how trade is in quite a while, but it's basically the pacifist way of playing and can be either the most OP or the most grindy skill depending on the economy. I do understand that some people prefer the Warband system, but I like what we have.

I wish they would massively buff the engineering tree, it barely does anything currently. At level 300+ we should be able to set up siege camp, build engines and destroy walls 3x the speed, etc., we should be the gods of siege warfare (and governing a settlement), not just being idk 30%(?) better overall than we would without an engineer like it is currently. I'm going on a slight tangent but the whole siege camp set up doesn't make sense. The speed of setting up camp directly correlates with the men we have for some reason. TW devs out of anyone should know that throwing more bodies to the development doesn't make it necessarily faster, more numbers after some point can and do in fact slow the process down. Hell, the "engineering" tree doesn't have much to do with what I'm guessing actual engineers do (well, unless they're industrial engineers), it probably has more to do with operations & project management, not creating engines.
 

Sweynforkbeard

Sergeant at Arms
Honestly, fixing the very end game isn't really hard imo. Making kingdoms be destroyed 50 days or so after losing all their fiefs would get rid of a SIGNIFICANT chunk of the end game grind.
Yeah that would help some, but at then end of the day it will not really change the fact that, beyond a certain point, you are really just adding more clans to your kingdom.
 
I mean, what can realistically be done though? As you said, civ added other ways of winning the game, but is there really a way to "win" in M&B without conquering the whole map? I think being able to destroy kingdoms, lords/armies taking longer to recuperate after we defeat them and lowering the renown requirements of reaching clans tier 3+ would make the game SOOO much better, but what else?

The devs can add some goals for the players to choose like in Viking Conquest that give rewards based on the chosen goal, sure, and then we can ...choose a new goal to complete until we complete the hardest goal? They can add end game invasions, but the problem with that suggestion is it won't change the actual problem of the end game loop of constant fighting (would probably exacerbate it imo), will end up either as a grind if they're too strong/numerous or a breeze if they're not, but it will add a timer of sorts to the game for the players to prepare and will probably cause snowball to some degree.

When they add the option of retiring, we can also have a scoreboard like in Warband so we can compare highscores? Maybe they can make it so that every rival kingdom bands together against us after our faction becomes too strong (which I think they already do, but I'm not sure). In the end, this is a sandbox RPG that we set our own goals, we decide when the "end" is. I think maybe giving us an epilogue of sorts after we retire or our clan dies would be some sort of closure, but I honestly can't think of anything else to make the endgame better except making it less grindy. They can also add a final year to the game for artificially bringing an end like EU4, but it would probably the worst thing they could do in Mount and Blade.
 
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AxiosXiphos

Sergeant Knight
M&BWBWF&SNWVC
Late game grind is just a common issue in these style of games; I mean go look at the percentage of people who finish a total war campaign (spoiler - it's very low).

CA & Paradox have tried to address this with Crises events that emerge in the very late game; TW have tried to do the same with their 'Conspiracy' event in the late story-arc. I don't believe TW's version really holds up regrettably - so this is certainly something they could/ should look at.
 
Late game grind is just a common issue in these style of games; I mean go look at the percentage of people who finish a total war campaign (spoiler - it's very low).

CA & Paradox have tried to address this with Crises events that emerge in the very late game; TW have tried to do the same with their 'Conspiracy' event in the late story-arc. I don't believe TW's version really holds up regrettably - so this is certainly something they could/ should look at.
I completely agree. The game is an open ended sandbox, I don't know why they chose to make the story about taking roughly half the map. At least even the devs didn't think that forcing the players to conquer all of the map is a good and reasonable goal. The story mode should've been a glorified tutorial that also gives lore on the world and maybe some unique companions like Galter.

I don't know why they chose for the scope of the story to be this large. Imo it should've been a tutorial where you: Do the first tutorial recruitment and battle -> reach tier 1 clan -> get your family back -> get the Dragon Banner (maybe decrease the necessary number of Neretzes' Folly stories to 5) -> join a kingdom or an empire faction or form your own faction using the Dragon Banner -> Istiana/Arzagos is conspiring against you by preparing a massive army -> you are tasked with conquering a town & 2 castles or something while also delaying the building of a conspiracy army by doing the conspiracy quests -> you need to defeat a "giga" army of 1,5k troops or something (with the size depending on how you handled the conspiracy) commanded by Istiana or Arzagos that is coming to take the fiefs you took (this can also be a tutorial in siege defence) -> you beat them, capture Istiana/Arzagos, choose to either permanently imprison or execute them -> game congratulates you for beating the main "story", plays a cutscene, maybe gives a reward and the game continues as normal sandbox.
 

Sweynforkbeard

Sergeant at Arms
I mean, what can realistically be done though?
Yes, this. That said, there has been one major improvement to the endgame process; that we are now able to hire clans from our prisoners. So it is possible to make the process less tedious and removing defeated factions could also help in this respect.

On the other hand, actually introducing something that makes the part of the game that goes beyond "I have already won" interesting. Mehh, difficult.
 

Sweynforkbeard

Sergeant at Arms
CA & Paradox have tried to address this with Crises events that emerge in the very late game; TW have tried to do the same with their 'Conspiracy' event in the late story-arc. I don't believe TW's version really holds up regrettably - so this is certainly something they could/ should look at.
Thats also a very good point. The conspiracy thing is basically another variant of introducing some lategame crisis. And if you look around, you dont really see all that many (anyone?) praising that quest.
 
Conspiracy quest is just so dumb on so many levels. It's grindy and never-ending, the quests take place in all over Calradia, you can't "complete" the conspiracy quest other than conquering half the map (so completing the campaign) or by failing and having all the factions declare war on you.
 
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