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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 2:11 am    Post subject: Paradox Interactive's Strategy Games-Featuring Sengoku Reply with quote

Paradox Interactive has been in business since 1999 and has produced/developed some of the most popular PC warfare/strategy games series around. Their catalog of games spans virtually every period of recorded history and every civilization-not to mention their fantasy and SF strategy games. If you've ever played a tabletop wargame or sim, you'll feel right at home with these games. They feature an incredible amount of depth, detail, and playability with none of the drawbacks of a boardgame (like massive amounts of recordkeeping). Paradox games are available for download through many online sites such as Gamersgate or Steam, with selected titles seeing retail releases. They're also expanding to other platforms, such as the PS3 and the IPad. Some of their better known games include the Hearts Of Iron series (WWII in detail in both the European and Pacific Theaters), Magicka (fantasy with a twisted difference), Crusader Kings (the power struggle for Medieval Europe), Victoria (the age of Colonialism), and Europa Universalis (a generations spanning game of global conquest). There's also less traditional releases that are every bit as fun-like the upcoming Gettysburg: Armored Warfare (an alternate American Civil War with advanced weaponry), Lead And Gold (gunslinging Wild West Action), and the soon to be released expansion for Cities In Motion; Tokyo (an addicting game that challenges you to build a transportation system for Tokyo, complete with actual vehicles, street plans, railcars, etc).
However, we're going to be focusing on the upcoming game Sengoku (slated for a September release). Starting with the beginning of the Onin War in 1467, the player takes the role of a Japanese leader (at one of several different levels of influence, from Shugo to Shugodai to minor clan member) and attempts to expand his power base and perhaps unify Japan under their leadership. From the Paradox Press release:
"The year is 1467 and civil war has broken out. The authority of the Ashikaga Shoguns has collapsed and it is every man for himself in the provinces. Honor and duty vie with survival in the delicate dance of power, conquest and betrayal as you attempt to unite the land of the Rising Sun through a combination of deal-making with foreign powers, sending your powerful samurai armies into battle against your enemies, and unleashing shadowy Ninja clans under the cover of darkness to assassinate your rivals!
Features
Control a noble family in Feudal Japan
Rise in influence and power within your clan and go on to claim the ultimate prize
Conquer and grow while rewarding your most valued retainers in your bid to become Shogun
Detailed historical map of Japan during the warring states period
Make deals with external powers, including the Portuguese and the Dutch
Employ the aid of powerful Ninja clans when your Samurai armies are not enough"

This will be a character driven, hard core strategy game. You won't be taking a direct part in battles like you might in Total War: Shogun 2, and you're not going to be able to depend on your battlefield wizardry to win. Victory will rely on your diplomatic and economic skills (and also your ability to put together a quality fighting force-and know the right time to use it). The choices, options, and deep gameplay promise to challenge even the best players. If you want a game that will challenge your mind rather than your reflexes, look no further.
We'll be using this thread to follow Sengoku as it develops and also to review other games of interest to the board. Two of these will be featured in the next couple of weeks-Europa Universalis Divine Wind (the introduction of Japan and China to the long running 'world domination' Europa Universalis series) and Pride of Nations (where, among other countries, you can play as Bakumatsu era Japan and guide it into the Meiji and Taisho eras). We'll also be doing interviews with the design team and posting images and artwork from their press server. Unlike most of the gaming threads here on the SA, this one is open to your comments, questions, and suggestions for the game.
Here are some Sengoku links of interest:
Sengoku Game Website
Sengoku Game Facebook
Sengoku Game Twitter
Paradox Forums
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here are some map shots of the game in progress:
Early Development Alpha Screenshot:

The 'political view' of the map:

The political situation a bit further west:

Topographical map with province window:

Character interaction screen:

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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Sengoku team has been doing a series of 'developer diaries' describing the features they're weaving into the game and explaining some of the reasons behind certain game decisions. Here are the first few entries in the series-we'll be updating with new entries as available.
And if you'd like to watch a Developer Video Diary...well, here you go.
"I'm Johan Andersson, the Producer of this game. In this the first development diary, I just want to give a quick outline of what we aim to achieve with the game, and introduce the core of the team.
We've been talking for years about making a game set in Japan, as we have several employees with a deep interest in East Asia, and our CEO once lived there for a while. When we worked on the design for CKII (Crusader Kings II), we realised that we could actually make a game set in 16th and 17th century Japan, a game that would feel like a true Paradox game.
Our vision for the game is to take one large pinch of character focus from Crusader Kings, one pinch of clear mechanics from EU3, one pinch of interface knowledge from Victoria II and a large base of cool, new mechanics that would fit Japan.
The core of the team consists of Besuchov as the project lead - he was the lead for Victoria 2 and has been working with us as a senior programmer since HoI2 - Aerie, who handles the look of the game, Birken who does the bulk of the programming, King who made the design, and Captain Gars for the scripts. Other people heavily involved in the project is Yonaz, Solsara & Viktor. Finally, there is me who ends up with the fun tasks of writing development diaries.
Sengoku lets you take control of a noble daimyo in feudal Japan, with the eventual goal of uniting the fractured nation under one Shogun, namely YOU!
At Paradox we have a tradition of making games that we want to play ourselves. Sengoku follows this tradition very closely, and people familiar with our games will instantly recognise what we are trying to do create here. This is a game in the tradition of Crusader Kings and EU: Rome, a game based more on playing characters than countries. I would not call it as much a strategy-RPG as Crusader Kings is, but somewhere in between Rome and CK when it comes to character interaction.
There are over fifty different clans at the start of the game, clans that a player can either be a lesser part of or rule in their sprawling entirety, with control over multiple daimyos. This clan mechanic is something we'll delve into more detail with in future development diaries, but in short it can be described as a cross between a feudal hierarchy and alliances of convenience.
The game is played out on what is, so far, probably the most beautiful map we've made here at Paradox. This detailed map depicts historical 15th century Japan in beautiful detail, where you'll see everything from rice fields to fortresses.
Where we in previous games have relied upon concepts like stability, infamy and prestige to balance internal and external relations, Sengoku features the new concept of Honor. Honor is both a way of keeping score and a resource that can be used for various actions that may be more or less shady. Be warned though, as losing all your honor has dire consequences.
You need to balance the influence of foreign factions to not rely on just one, and avoid antagonizing a faction enough that you won't get its benefits. Do you rely on the Christians or the Buddhists? Which one will make your rule the most efficient?
Diplomacy in Sengoku is different from what you have seen before, with not just alliances and wars, but also with completely unique new concepts fitting a Japanese style game. There are multiple development diaries in the works which will go into detail about all these intriguing options.
The game also contains provincial management, where you have to build up the economical capabilities of your domains, or you may choose to focus more on a military buildup, or a mixture.
Finally, you also have to deal with your personal relations with your family, your clan, the members of your court, your potential lieges and vassals. Personal opinions matter almost as much as strategic interests when it comes to who fights who.
Our goal with Sengoku is to create a game where your actions matter, where you truly act like a Japanese noble in the struggle to become Shogun, with our focus on playability and easing the learning curve while still being a deep and complex Paradox game. What truly makes Sengoku unique is the free flowing way of switching alliances and conquests in contrast to the long-term build-up of your holdings and your relations. Maybe it is better to manuever for the future than to spend resources fighting now.
And always remember.. "Double cross your enemies in an honorable an auspicious manner".
Today we'll talk a bit about the map of Sengoku and how we wanted it made. I think you'll all agree with me when I say that maps are among the coolest things that exist, and that we play and make these games because we all love maps. There is this thing with depicting the world and dividing it in different shapes, and then paint it in your own color.
When we first took a look at how to play and enjoy Sengoku we went back to our previous games, and the amount of provinces you can reasonably handle as a major empire while still enjoying the game as a smaller nation. Tying this together with the goal of the game being to conquer the entire map, we had a base number of provinces we thought the map could be divided into. When designing the map we wanted to use a historical setup of kunis from around the time the Sengoku period starts. To avoid having a third of Japan divided into only two kuni, we took the liberty of dividing Dewa and Mutsu into a few smaller ones, using a later date map. We also included a couple of islands not typically perceived as kunis. Each kuni was then divided into smaller provinces - kori - giving us a total of about 350 provinces.
With Sengoku we wanted to create a graphical feel to the map that was distinctly different from other Paradox games - something that gives a unique Japanese feeling to the game - and when you saw it, you would know that this is something new. Adding post effects to our engine allowed us to really do this, and we created a style with something like a sun bleached photograph, which not only made it feel very eastern, but also made the game feel a lot more historical. For the interface we went for a very clean and simple look reminiscent of Japanese architecture. With thin wood frames, paper surfaces and rice carpets, we achieved a look that is very Japanese. With just Japan as the scope, we could also focus on creating a detailed look for the islands, where we have everything from the deep sea to running rivers, rice fields to deep forests.
One thing you may notice in these screenshots is the flags on the map. As you can see here, they have different sizes, all depending on relative rank of the ruler inside the daimyo. As you notice, we do not have any sea zones, and there is no naval aspect to the game.
Since Sengoku is based on the experiences of Crusader Kings and Rome, it is definitely a character driven game. So in this development diary I'll talk a little about how the characters work in the game. The characters in the game is the core, the things that everything revolve around. In EU we have the countries as the core, in Victoria its the pops, in HoI3 its your armies, while here we have the characters.
As you may notice on the screenshot here, we are using a similar technique as in Crusader Kings 2. There is DNA that descibes how characters look like, and children will inherit those from their parents, which will make people in a families resemble each other. We've been aiming for a stylistic approach on the look of the characters, which will create a specific feeling when playing.
Sengoku has in its historical setup a number of famous characters from the period. The two big war lords at the time were the bitter enemies Yamana Sozen and Hosokawa Katsumoto who would lead the Western and Eastern armies of the Onin War. There's Akamatsu Masanori, who would become one of Hosokawa's leading generals who fought to restore his family's standing, and who starts out as a small vassal. You have the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa who is in a dispute with his brother Ashikaga Yoshimi over who will inherit the shogun title, Yoshimi or Yoshimasa's infant son.
Each character have three specific attirbutes that defines them. First of all there is the martial ability, this one affects how good a commander is in battle and how good is troops is fighting. The second one is diplomacy that affects your interactions with other characters. Finally there is intrigue, which impacts how a character performs in plots and handling ninjas.
Characters also have two resources, which they can gain or lose, and those two are honor and gold. Honor is resource that is gained by doing what is expected of a proper Japanese samurai, while you lose it from doing things which may not be perfectly proper. Gold, well, if I need to explain this.. then just send me all gold you have.
Of course, characters will also have traits. Traits are descriptive statements of a character that has gameplay effects. As an example, one character may be stressed, which impacts his abilities to perform, while another is a genius which gives some very nice bonuses to what he does. A character can have several traits at once, but some are mutually exclusive, as you can't be both quick and slow at the same time. Other types of traits include brilliant strategist, calligraphist and ruthless.
Besuchov is posting this development diary.
This time we want to talk a little about the options that you get from the diplomacy. Diplomacy is the slightly more peaceful way to become more powerful compared to the paths of martialness and intrigue.
Only independent rulers can negotiate with someone outside their clan. If you are part of a clan and not the clan leader, you do not talk to anyone outside the clan.
You can always try to ask a weaker clan to join your clan, and if they like you enough and respect you enough they may become a vassal of your clan.
In most of our games, alliances tend to be just words, broken at will when a player decides this is not to their advantage anymore. In sengoku this is no longer true. To arrange an alliance you have to exchange hostages, which will be actual characters that are closely related to you. So if you break your alliance, there are direct repercussions to those poor hostages.
Of course, since this is a character-driven game, you can always arrange marriages for your lord and/or his children. This is usually a way to get good relations with another clan. The impact on relations depends on how closely related the people are to the clan leaders. The difference between Sengoku and a game like Crusader Kings is that there is no inheritance of lands outside of a clan, so you don't marry to gain land immediately.
Since Sengoku is a game based on a feudal system, you can not control all the land your self, its neither efficient nor possible. Therefore there are several ways to organise your clan's holdings by setting up who controls which province. You can give titles to your vassals to strengthen them, or you can create new vassals from courtiers by handing them control over a province. If someone is slightly disloyal to you, or you have need of their lands, you may try to revoke the title from them.
Have you ever played Crusader Kings or Rome, and had a court filled to the brim with characters you had no reason to use for anything. In Sengoku you have the new option to Retire them to a Monastery, which will remove them from the game, at your choice.
If you have a vassal in your clan that has conspired against you, and is at low honor, you can always demand that he commits seppuku. Of course he can refuse, losing even more honor... and you will lose some honor as well.
Today, let's sneak a peek at one of the aspects of Diplomacy that we didn't touch upon last week, namely War and Peace.
First off, all independent rulers have the opportunity to declare war on another ruler. Be wary though, about who they have as allies or if they are part of a stronger clan, since the lords of Japan take honoring their treaties very seriously. There is no casus belli concept in Sengoku, but you will lose honor when you declare a war. The amount of honor lost depends on your relation with the person you declare war upon, so declaring war on a trusted friend might not always be beneficial...
In Sengoku, the fighting and conquest all occurs within the same country and there are no formal negotiations about which clan controls which village or castle. With the breakdown of central authority, the right of control is settled on the battlefield.
There are five different types of peace that can be negotiated. First, there is the white peace, which means that you sign a peace keeping all control of the territory you hold at the time of the signing (and not as it was at the start of the war!) There is also the option of demanding or offering a hostage as a guarantee for a peace to be kept. Finally, there are the two options of either forcing your enemy to become your vassal, or you submitting to their overlordship.
Today, we'll talk a little bit about the internal dynamics in your own court. Every playable lord has their own court in their home castle. While the court contains several characters beyond the lord's immediate family, there are three specific titles in the court that have special abilities that you can utilize to strengthen your rule. Each of these characters can be given a task that will help your rule in various ways.
First of all there is the Master of Ceremonies. The character placed in this role relies on his diplomatic ability to perform his given tasks. He can be put on improving the village of a province, which will make him order people around to build new buildings and strengthen the economic base of the village. He can also be sent to another lord to improve the relations between you and that lord. Finally, he can be sent to a province to squeeze out extra taxes from it, which is useful when you need that extra money.
Secondly, we have the Master of Arms, who uses his martial attribute as the ability affecting how well he does his tasks. He can be sent to improve the castle of a province, which increases its defensive capabilities. If you need to get more troops out of a province, he can be sent there to hire troops, and if a province is particularly unruly, he can go there to restore order.
The final title is the Master of the Guard. The person you select for this role should be the one that has the best intrigue attribute. One of the tasks he can perform is improving guilds in a province, which slowly unlocks manufactory slots, where you can build some unique and special buildings. If you wish to harass a rival lord, send this character to him with the order to sow dissent in one province which will make his peasants unruly. Finally, you can task this master with hiring ninjas. And no, we won't spill the details just yet on the ninjas..."
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here's the second of four video developer diaries.

This one covers factions (as in religious factions) and their effect on gameplay.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Paradox has just released three games/DLC that involve Japan. What's really nice about these releases is that Paradox will be donating 50% of the net revenue of the two that are on sale to the Japan Relief Support program.



The first two are Cities in Motion: Tokyo (an expansion for the popular Cities In Motion game-you'll need the original to play) and the Magicka: Nippon DLC pack (you'll need to have Magicka installed to use it). They're both inexpensive, so if you have the original games, consider adding these expansions and help out the quake/tsunami victims while you're at it. You can get Cities In Motion at Gamersgate or Steam and Magicka on the Steam platform. I was playing Magicka today and while I normally don't care for fantasy games, this one breaks the genre and is hilarious-there's even DLC where you can have a assault rifle toting wizard on the battlefields of Vietnam. And the video for Cities In Motion Tokyo looks great. Anyway, here's the official press release:

"Welcome to Tokyo, Japan’s largest and capital city. The citizens of this sprawling metropolis await your transit guidance and expertise. You must build a reliable and efficient transit system while playing through an all new campaign with four different scenarios. Start in the 1970’s and experience four decades of all new vehicles and challenges. Or make the city your playground in the included sandbox mode. With 7 new vehicles and the new Monorail vehicle type you are sure to transport the masses. Available now via all major digital download portals for $9.99.

The Magicka Nippon DLC, created by Arrowhead Games, contains everything a wizard could need to honor their Far-East friends in a time of need. Available now via all major digital download portals for $ 0.99."



Paradox has also released a free demo for the upcoming Pride Of Nations game-you can get it HERE. We'll be reviewing this game in-depth in a couple of weeks-as we stated earlier in the thread, you can play as 1850's Japan, bridging the gap from the Shogunate of the Bakumatsu through the Meiji and into the Taisho era. There are also seven more nations you can play as. Here's the video walkthrough for Pride Of Nations-the game will be available at Gamersgate and Steam June 7th. The press release:

"Paradox Interactive and AGEOD have today released a playable demo for their turn-based historical strategy game set in the colonial era of the 19th century, Pride of Nations, as well as details of free downloadable content for anyone that pre-orders the game prior to its PC release on June 7th.

The demo includes five tutorial levels for players to familiarize themselves with the game, along with 12 turns of the Grand Campaign.

As a reward for anyone that pre-orders Pride of Nations on June 7th, the first DLC content will be given away completely free of charge. Set during the Spanish-American War of 1898, this brand new epic scenario covers the 10 months of the ’Splendid Little War’ fought between the USA and Spain. This is a fast paced scenario where the player playing as America bears the pressure of having to achieve total victory in the same time-frame as was achieved in reality, mastering naval operations as well as lightning fast land maneuvers. The Spanish-American War DLC will also be available to purchase post-release.

About Pride of Nations
Pride of Nations is a turn-based historical strategy game set in the colonial era of the 19th century, wher the player takes control of a country and guides it through industrialization, military conquest and colonization.

Features:
- Immerse yourself in realistic historical gameplay set on a global map
- Play as the world’s Great Powers between 1850 and 1920
- Lead one of eight different countries, each with their own personality and agenda: USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Italy
- Experience the most original diplomacy model ever created for a grand strategy game
- Discover an involved colonization and exploration system.
- Fight against a strong, non scripted AI through a number of new game mechanisms
- Battle it out with others in multiplayer with a new simultaneous turn-based engine
- Engage in a detailed world economy with realistic components"

I've only just begun to play this, but the game map is a delight to mess around with and gameplay is deep and involved.

For more info, go to http://www.facebook.com/ParadoxInteractive .
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm involved with the Beta Test, and while I can't give details because I signed a non-disclosure agreement, I can say that I really like the way the game is organized. The ability to play as a lower level flunky is pretty awesome.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
LtDomer98 wrote:
The ability to play as a lower level flunky is pretty awesome.


That feature's the one that jumped out at me. I don't think it's been done in an English J-History game of this type since the venerable 'Sword of the Samurai' from 20 years or so ago.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
LtDomer98 wrote:
The ability to play as a lower level flunky is pretty awesome.


That feature's the one that jumped out at me. I don't think it's been done in an English J-History game of this type since the venerable 'Sword of the Samurai' from 20 years or so ago.


Had that game. Would still play it now if I could find it.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I've still got it installed on my 'year 2001' computer. I tried putting it on my new laptop, but it won't work (looks like Windows 7 isn't DOS friendly, even with changing the compatibility-can't get 'James Clavell's Shogun' to work either).
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
I've still got it installed on my 'year 2001' computer. I tried putting it on my new laptop, but it won't work (looks like Windows 7 isn't DOS friendly, even with changing the compatibility-can't get 'James Clavell's Shogun' to work either).


That game was awesome. I wish STW:II had authentic battle formations like the "kakuyoku" and "gyorin". Occupy them in the center, then hit the flank--just like Sex Panther, 60% of the time it worked every time.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
That game was awesome. I wish STW:II had authentic battle formations like the "kakuyoku" and "gyorin".


TWS2 does have preset 'historical' formations, but since I never use them, I haven't noticed if they're historical or not. Historical formations are prominently featured in the Takeda series of computer games.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
can't get 'James Clavell's Shogun' to work either).


I had that for my commodore 64 in the '80s. I never figured out how to play it, I just used to walk around in the clouds and other psychedelic locations bowing to people, if I remember correctly.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I had forgotten about that version (the one I was messing with was the Infocom interactive illustrated text adventure)! The C64 version was indeed a huge mess. Whoever put it together had to have been completely wasted the entire time-it should have been called Acid Trip Through Japan. It was put together by the same geniuses who did the Friday The 13th game, where Jason was a shoeless skinny guy in black shirt and slacks that could take on the appearance of any of the player characters.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
A new developer diary spotlights buildings in Sengoku:

"We are back to talk about buildings and province improvements. As "For the Motherland" is in its final stretch and "Sengoku" has reached beta stage, both Johan and Besuchov are busy knocking out code today, so the task of writing this diary passed down the chain of command and ended up with me.

In Sengoku every province - or kori as they are called - has a village that can be expanded with eight new buildings, giving mainly bonuses to tax income and your force limit. To build one of these you assign this task to your Master of Ceremonies. This means that you can only build one of these at a time - so choose wisely. These buildings have no upfront cost but instead heavily decrease your tax income during the construction time.



Every kori also have a castle that can be upgraded with four new castle levels that increase the size of the local levy as well as four defensive upgrades. Building one of these works the same way as for the village except that it is your Master of Arms that gets sent to the province to oversee the construction.

By using your third advisor, the Master of the Guard, you can expand a kori to hold up to four manufactory slots. Once one of these have been unlocked you can chose to construct one of eight powerful buildings with effects ranging from increasing your cavalry shock value to giving you more monthly honor.

The last building category is the religious one. Every kori can house one religious building, either a Shinto shrine, Buddhist temple or a Christian church, each giving a unique bonus. You can decide to build different ones in your koris, but having built enough of one kind will let you officially join that religious faction, giving you further bonuses. Being associated with a faction however doesn't come for free... But more on that later.



And of course: Christian churches, as well as gun manufactories, can only be built once Japan has come in contact with Europeans..."
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:

That feature's the one that jumped out at me. I don't think it's been done in an English J-History game of this type since the venerable 'Sword of the Samurai' from 20 years or so ago.


Had that game too. Man I was a bastard, I basically murdered my way up and forward to clan leadership all the time.

I would have been a great Matsunaga Hisahide - except for that small, trivial temple-burning thing. Twisted Evil

I wish there were plans for a remake. Crying or Very sad
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:

We'll be reviewing this game in-depth in a couple of weeks-as we stated earlier in the thread, you can play as 1850's Japan, bridging the gap from the Shogunate of the Bakumatsu through the Meiji and into the Taisho era.


What's great about Japan in PoN is that AGEOD made it so that you gain more Prestige by retarding the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate after the Black Ships arrive. Contrarily to Victoria II, there is no Prestige benefit in rushing to convert away from the Bakumatsu into an industrialized Imperial dictatorship. You can't import what you need to feed your Industries, and the only available fleet for trade is a small fleet of junks that can trade only from the Asian mainland.

It makes for a more boring start of game, but it's still utterly realistic. Keeping the barbarians away is an objective for Japan until it can't keep on.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here is my intervention on the question of why Japan won't magically trigger the Meiji restoration if the player industrializes in PoN.

http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?543329-A-comment-on-Pride-Of-Nations-playing-as-Japan-(1850GC)/page2

It's pretty simplistic, perhaps too much simplistic. But most people online there think in term of a systemic, one-size-fits-all European template of revolution: bourgeoisie get rich, bourgeoisie claims more power, bourgeoisie gets pissed, bourgoisie revolts and wins. From my two-bit knowledge about the Bakumatsu era, it isn't the case at all for Japan.

Quote:
Because the Meiji restoration didn't trigger solely because of a sudden boost in Industries and entrepreneurship? The fall of the Tokugawa didn't come from pressures from an increasingly richer bourgeoisie. This ain't the French revolution. It was a thoroughly nobiliar and political affair. The bakufu fell because the big losers of the aftermath of the battle of Sekigahara decided that the time was ripe for revenge, and they succeeded.

You can build industries in Japan until the cows come home, the pressures and the cracks didn't come from the merchants, and AGEOD is spot-on in that. It came from inside the warrior buke caste itself.

The problem of increasingly rich merchants and entrepreneurs against a malingering, increasingly obsolete and impoverished warrior caste holding the leverages of power wasn't a new phenomenon in Japan. It had been so since at least the middle of the 18th century. The merchant class as a whole was already the richest class around for decades. Yet the system kept going on, most samurai retainers who were anything less than the top cream of the Tokugawa/Matsudaira clan increasingly borrowing money from the richer merchant class for their living expenses, yet the regime gave nothing in return except accepting that their daughters get married into well-respected samurai families.

What triggered the events that would lead to the Meiji restoration was :

A) Dealing with the threats and increasing demands coming from the West for trade and open markets, and the realization that the current bakufu system was not functional at all against the clout of a way better equipped military threat and the pressure from faction conflicts between traditional members of the Tokugawa court who wanted the barbarians out, and more modernist elements who wanted to use the West to modernize the regime.

Which lead to...

B) The fact that the bigger tozama daimyos, most notably the Shimazu of Satsuma domain and the Mori of Choshu domain, dropped the mask of support toward a divided and paralyzed bakufu. Now that they saw the shogun had no clothes, the time to get even with the Tokugawa clan and overthrow the regime had come. They used the future Emperor Meiji as focus to destroy the bakufu, using as argument the need put back the all-divine Emperor back to power to keep the Barbarians away under the rallying cry of Sonno Joi! : Revere the Emperor, expel the Barbarians. Even if, in fact, the Shimazu had very good relations with the West, buying their guns, ships, and techs.

In fact, there should be Civil War events in Japan to simulate the revolts of the Satsuma and Chosen domains, plus the Ezo Republic. Having not reached that point yet, I do not know if they are already present.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
This week the developers explain the religious factions found in Sengoku:



"Factions. Or more precisely, religious factions. At the start of the game there are two religious factions present in Japan: Shinto and Buddhism. Then sometime in the 16th century when westerners arrive, Christianity will be introduced and become the third and final one.

Each of these religions have a building associated with them - Shinto Shrine, Buddhist Temple and Christian Church. Every province can hold one of these, and building one will increase your relation with that faction as well as give you a small unique bonus connected with it. If a clan's relation with a faction is positive, the clan leader can decide to officially support it, and in doing so will receive a bigger faction bonus. The clan leader who has the highest relation score, and therefor is considered being the leading supporter of that religion, will receive an additional bonus.

But being officially part of a faction also means that demands may start to come your way. Either to build more religious buildings or tear down the ones from another faction... And while characters of the same religion will like you slightly more, those of another religion will like you less. Joining a faction is not mandatory though, and a clan leader can decide to not declare his faith at all. Instead he can try to balance all factions to gain smaller, but more diverse bonuses.

If a character joins a faction it will be desirable to capture the position of faction leader. To do this will require a lot of time and money but it might also be a good idea to sabotage the position of another member. And there is when ninjas come in handy... But more on that next week."
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
As it looks like the board topic of the day might be ninja, it's fitting that this week's Sengoku developer diary examines these sneaky assassins:



"This week has been very busy as the team is getting the last features into place, and because of it today's diary will be a short one. As said at the end of last week's developer diary, today's topic will be ninjas.

In Sengoku there are about twenty historical ninja clans present. Unlike other clans, these will not hold any land or titles, and will instead travel around Japan in search of a temporary employer who wants to claim their services. To increase the chance of one of these clans turning up in your domain you can give your Master of the Guard the task of recruiting them. Once a ninja clan show up in one of your koris, it will stay there for a period of time before moving on. During this time you have the choice of hiring them to perform one specific mission, such as assassinate or kidnap a character, rescue a hostage or weaken the defense of a castle in an enemy kori. Every mission will have a difficulty level as well as a discovery chance, and each ninja clan will have two stats that will determine how well they will perform these missions - ability and stealth.

To defend yourself against attacks from ninja clans hired by your opponents, the intrigue skill of your Master of the Guard will be essential. The higher his intrigue value is, the better the chance is of a hostile mission not succeeding or being discovered. Should a mission go wrong, there is a chance that the employer is exposed as being behind the attempt. In that case the target character will have the option to sacrifice some of his own honor in order to expose the attacker and make him lose face - and a lot of honor. Should you feel really worried about being attacked you could also hire a ninja clan to act as your personal body guard."
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Recently got a preview copy of this, and I'm loving it (aside from some of the European terms used which are at odds with the theme of the game). And best of all, you can indeed play as the Chiba! Happy dance The two beginning scenarios so far cover the Onin War (the confilct centering in Kyoto between the Hosokawa and Yamana) and the Kanto War (the fighting between the Uesugi and Ashikaga, with valiant members of the ass-kicking Chiba killing each other on both sides). So much information-so many subtleties-so little time. I'll have more on it next weekend.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The newest developer diary covers 'honor'.

"Today we'll talk about the important concept of honour.

In Europe we have chivalry and Japan they had the way of the warrior, Bushido. A code of honour and duty that spelt out how a samurai was supposed to live. However, like European chivalry the violence of the Sengoku era forced interesting interpretations on the code of Bushido. The era is filled with betrayals, how Togugawa went from being most loyal guardian of Hideyoshi’s son and heir to Shogun was rather creative interpretation.

Our solution is to make honour a currency in Sengoku. Actions that are considered bad, like attacking your evil neighbours, which in reality means advances your chances to win, the game cost honour. The honour cost for declaring war on someone depends on your relationship to them. Attacking someone you dislike is not as bad as attacking your best friend. While things are considered good, like giving out land to worthless good for nothing retainers, which sort of slow you down, gain you honour.

If you go below zero honour, it is an automatical game-over. If you are low on honour and want to restore some, and have some heirs, you can always commit seppuku, which will restore some honor to your family."
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Paradox Interactive has long been known as a producer of highly detailed, accurate, and immersive historical simulations for home computers. Their upcoming effort "Sengoku" promises to debut as the be-all end-all of strategy games for Japan's Warring States period (the Sengoku Jidai, which began with the Onin War in 1467 and lasted for well over a hundred years). Slated for a September release, we'll be doing an interview with the game's developers and designers along with an in-depth review. Until then, we'd thought we'd spotlight two other recent Paradox sims that between them stretch from the days of the Muromachi Bakufu in 1399 to the early years of the 20th century. "Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind" introduces Japan and China to the popular Europa Universalis series, while "Pride of Nations" is an original effort by AGEOD that covers the world's great powers between 1850 and 1920.



The original Europa Universalis was introduced in 2000 and proved to be wildly popular among strategy gamers, with two later versions of the game and four expansion packs. Currently, you can play as any of over 300 historical nations controlling more than 1700 provinces and regions in games that can stretch from 1399-1820. And in DAILY turns. Yes, daily-and we're not even going to speculate if it's the Gregorian, Julian, or Lunar calendar. "Divine Wind" is the latest expansion pack, giving a new dimension to the previously generic nations of Japan and China. While Europa Universalis II had released a special version (entitled 'Asia Chapters') giving life to the Orient for Asian markets, this is the first time it has done so in the West. Since this is, after all, the Shogun-ki, we'll be focusing on gameplay as Japan.



The first thing you'll notice is that instead of the game using historical 'clans', it uses a system popular in Japanese gaming-having the nation controlled by the Genpei Toukitsu, the "Four Famous Clans" of Minamoto, Taira, Tachibana, and Fujiwara that almost all samurai supposedly can trace their roots to. Since the game covers roughly 400 years and the entire world, this was probably a good choice-with all the other nations, it simply wouldn't have been possible to keep track of all the tiny clans that emerged and were destroyed over the years. Just think of the 'Genpei Toukitsu' as representing the different clans that descended from them. While you're perfectly free to try anything you want anywhere in the world (we invaded Ming China on Turn One just to see if we could), this will cause disruption and unrest among your people, so it's best to concentrate on consolidating Japan under your leadership first. After all, only the Shogun can effectively carry on diplomatic relations with outside countries.

Juggling your economic resources to keep your people happy, developing your provinces with buildings, and recruiting military units are the basic building blocks of this type of game. However, you can also recruit leaders and other 'great men of history', each with their unique strengths and weaknesses. As the economy and technology develop, more and more choices and options open to players. Missions are given to players and can range from elaborate to simple-our first mission involved adding to the nation's culture by cultivating the art of tending to cherry blossoms. These missions sometimes require concurrent advances in different fields along with using up specialized personnel. Diplomacy allows players to do something as subtle as insulting a rival to provoke a war and leave your opponent looking like the bad guy. You can sponsor artists and writers to heighten the nation's culture. Keeping your military tradition high is crucial in insuring you will have effective generals and admirals to recruit. Battles are played out on a strategic level, and there are no 'real time' tactical level battles. Players can set priorities for their nations by adjusting sliders that determine how much of a country's resources will go into them. Each aspect of the game has repercussions for every other aspect, meaning that a wise player will not just look at the immediate effects of a decision but also how it will affect other factors over time.

The level of depth and options in Europa Universalis is staggering. You can recruit all sorts of agents-spies, admirals, conquistadors, diplomats, missionaries, all with different functions. Spies can perform all sorts of actions, ranging from counterfeiting another area's currency to undermining their guild structures and spreading false rumors. Unlike many games of this ilk, steamrolling province after province without provocation will result in bad things happening to the player. Unbridled aggression will drive up a player's infamy, a game device which fits in well with Japanese history-think of how Oda Nobunaga or Taira no Kiyomori tended to unite the ranks of their disorganized foes. Provoking opponents into rash attacks or coming into a war on the side of an ally who was 'unjustly attacked' provide much safer avenues for expansion.

One area in the game we noticed that comes up a bit short is 'localization'. Most game terms are European (understandable, since the game is centered on Europe, and having more than one set of commands would cause mass confusion). Likewise, many of the portraits the game uses are of Europeans and look completely out of place when matched up with a Japanese character. Many of the Japanese characters have clearly Chinese names. Overall, given the scale of the game, this a relatively minor annoyance.



Graphics are effective, relatively uncluttered, and there are multiple intuitive interfaces and filters that will tell you at the click of a button virtually any bit of information you'd ever want to know. Even though the game runs day-by-day over 400 years, it can be sped up greatly so the days fall away like a fluttering desk calendar. It can also be slowed down or paused during times of great activity where precision is paramount. And of course, playing as Japan just scratches the surface of what's on tap. Virtually any nation you can think of in any time period covered is available, offering a whole new gaming experience. Exploration, colonization, and developing new technologies become a big part of gameplay. While historical technology can be sped up by infusing it with development cash, it becomes much harder to do so the further it diverges from its historical appearance. Victory is determined largely by the goals players set for themselves-obviously, making France, England, or Russia the #1 nation in the world will be much easier than doing so with a small Germanic state-or even Japan. But often realizing a modest goal with a small faction is far tougher than meeting a large goal with a large nation. This makes for an almost endless variety of game experiences, as the goals for each nation are set by the players themselves and are easily changed from game to game. While there are no scenarios per se, there are bookmarked years that allow players to start the game in years of note-like the discovery of the new world, the League of Cambrai, the Thirty Years War, and the American and French Revolutions. There are ample mods for the game, which we'll delve into later in the review. Anyone interested in the game would likely be better off buying the "Europa Universalis III: Chronicles" pack which includes the original game and all the expansions, including Divine Wind. It's far more convenient than buying them separately.



We could go on and on giving details for Europa Universalis, but we still have "Pride of Nations" to cover. While similar in play to the Europa Universalis series, Pride of Nations is even more elaborate. While the main playable choices are the USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, you can actually play as virtually any country on the map (albeit without getting country specific 'events').



We started off as Japan again, and found that the game rewards players that proceed in an historical manner. Thus your early goal is to keep the Tokugawa Shogunate in business, putting down rebels and earning valuable Prestige Points that make your nation stronger. Early turns in our mini-campaign were spent building up Japan's basic economy as quickly as possible while also putting together a small fleet that could trade with Southeast Asia. Trying to speed up history and getting rid of the Tokugawa will result in a shattered country that could provide easy pickings for circling Europeans. The change in the political climate will come soon enough, and it's important to have a Japan that can economically take advantage of it-as well as one with enough prestige to count on the world stage.



The strongest aspect of the game is the military component (an aspect of play that AGEOD has excelled at), an armchair general's fantasy. You have all the building blocks you need to form any unit from a company to an army, and they can be combined in any way imaginable (although there is a minimum size for an independent unit). Supply units, engineers, infantry, artillery, cavalry, and more-they're all here. Leader units usually have a photo of the historical leader on their counters, and clicking on each unit will show an illustration of their uniforms and arms-again, specific to each country. Individual ships will have a photo of the historical ship on the counter wherever possible. Garrisons are raised automatically as needed (representing a sort of 'local militia'). Each unit is rated in a mind-boggling variety of categories-range, ammo, cohesion, aggressiveness, speed, discipline, and recon being a few. There are over FIVE HUNDRED special abilities a unit can possess. Combat is again played out on the strategic level-no tactical battles. Units can simply march to a location, or use rail and naval transport (if you have it).

Pride of Nations also emphasizes logistics and supply. Putting together a large force to send to East Africa is easy-keeping it alive once it's there is a whole other story. An army far from home that doesn't has access to plentiful ammo, food, and replacement parts is an army in a world of trouble. Whether it's horse drawn supply attached to units, rail, or naval transport, setting up your the supply network is all important. Attrition to units via climate, disease, and moving through rough terrain can deplete an elite unit in no time. Much like the real world, non-battlefield casualties account for just as much damage or more than those sustained in battle. And also much like the real world, the army with the best logistics will be the one in the best position to win. Players with the patience and ability to put together a strong supply network will find the going much easier. Other than the Takeda series of games, we can't recall a sim involving Japan where supply was such a crucial element.

Diplomacy is a bit abstract-there are the standard options for making alliances, defensive treaties, and right of access along with less common ones like making inter-country loans. Declaring war is somewhat difficult-it's not as easy as just saying so. Players will need a casus belli to do so, which often comes out of a 'crisis'. This is an event generated by the game and is determined by several factors-the state of diplomatic relations between counties, troops gathered on a border, or a disputed parcel of land being some of these. This triggers a crisis where the player has six turns to either go up by three dominance points or simply be ahead at the end. Dominance is established by press conferences, oratory, calling for a resolution or delay, or attempting to gain the support of third parties. Winning a crisis might garner enough prestige points to justify declaring war on an opponent.

The economic aspect of the game is excellent. It's largely based on manufacturing while keeping your population happy enough to prevent rioting. Manufacturing allows for lucrative international trade in conjunction with a merchant fleet. These are vital for procuring raw materials and items not found in your country (a real problem for resource-starved Japan) to keep those factories running and the cash rolling in. The level of detail is so layered that a player can actually set up a factory in a different country (pursuant to an agreement to do so) and ship finished goods back to the homeland. Another nice aspect is the distinction between private and government funds-government funds are raised from different sources and are used mainly for military funding, whereas private funds bankroll factories. Colonization is obviously a big help in supplying whatever resource a country might be lacking in, so most of the game's battles center on colony disputes rather than direct invasions of the mother country. In countries that have elections, you can also attempt to push one candidate over the other (although as always your people might have different ideas!). Social classes, education, religion, nationalism, and ethnicity all have a hand in determining the stability of the home front.

Graphics are a bit more whimsical than in Europa Universalis, with tiny animated ships traversing the globe. We found the old fashioned real-time clock in the upper right a nice reminder that we needed to keep track of things in the real world, since the game is very addictive. Another nice touch was the background music-over 100 selections that reprise some of the more memorable period tunes. The map has several different modes (military, economic, decision, colonial) and several filters can show the supply grid, key cities, and even the weather. Unlike a lot of games, turns are simultaneous-when you click end turn, all of your orders made during the turn are then executed at the same time that every other country's orders are executed. This makes things far more unpredictable, as enemy forces will often move before an attack can be carried out.

Even with all of the research that went into the game, there were still some things that made us groan in the set-up. Shimazu Nariakira was shown as Daimyo of Tosa on Shikoku, not in Kagoshima (Satsuma) on Kyushu. Likewise, one of the Tokugawa is shown as being in control of Hiroshima and Tokugawa Yoshinobu is installed as a leader in Edo in 1850 (when he's only 13 and should be in Mito). Thankfully, he hasn't been made Shogun yet.

The biggest complaint among players of the game centers around its length. The Grand Campaign runs for 1680 turns, and on top of that the computer AI takes a LONG time between turns to make its decisions and sort out/coordinate all the orders given by all the factions. Mods are on the way that will double the time periods each turn covers (halving the number of turns), and hopefully some sort of patch that will address the AI decision making lag. If you're really impatient, there are four short 'battle scenarios' (including the Russo-Japanese War) that remove the economic element and allow you to slug it out-with the Spanish-American War scenario also available as DLC.

Pride of Nations is an amazing game that provides players with an avalanche of information, options, and materials but somehow makes it all manageable. With the different situations facing each country, it also has unlimited replay value-which is extended even further by the AI giving each country different objective cities each playthrough. With a strong military aspect, an excellent economic and diplomatic component, and establishing trade and colonialism as an integral part of success, it takes its place at the top of the list in grand strategic games.

Paradox makes their strategy games mod-friendly, so there are tons of interesting player-created mods for Europa Universalis and there are probably just as many on the way for the recently released Pride of Nations. Mods range from simply setting up new scenarios to changing the map, introducing new artwork and unit appearances, and plugging in new scripts. The load screens for the games even allow you to choose any mod you've downloaded before booting up! The best place to find mods to download is at the Paradox Interactive Forums...not to mention the skilled and knowledgeable players that will be able to help you out in any situation you might get into. Both games also offer online multiplayer (both LAN and online), with up to 32 different players taking part in the same campaign for Europa Universalis.

Both of these games make for great learning tools for those who don't just want to read about why history played out as it did, but also to experience it. They're the descendants of the monster board wargames of the 1970's and 80's with the advantages of greater depth and zero recordkeeping. While you won't get the 'real time battles' of "Total War-Shogun 2", you will get a much greater sense of running a faction's diplomacy, economy, and military along with an unmatched level of control and detail. There are no quick fixes here-you have to be thinking out your strategy years in advance, just not a couple of turns. You won't find more involved, well-researched, and addictive history games than these. Did we mention how inexpensive they are? Europa Universalis Chronicles lately has been on sale at Gamersgate for under $10, a steal. Pride of Nations is less than 20 bucks. Considering the amount of well-spent time you can enjoy playing them, it's the cheapest entertainment option around.You can find "Europa Universalis III Chronicles" and "Pride of Nations" on Amazon.com, or (recommended) in downloadable form at venues such as Gamersgate or Steam.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The latest (#3) Sengoku Video developer's diary covers raising and deploying armies. You can check it out HERE.

I've been playing the game the last several days, and I absolutely love it.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Read the SA's Shogun-ki preview of the Sengoku game HERE.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The newest Sengoku Developer Diary focuses on succession disputes within a clan:

"The topic this week will be civil war.

Even though large parts of Japan are already embroiled in a civil war when the game starts, an individual clan may also find itself in an internal civil war - a power struggle for the title of clan leader.

Unlike the kokujin and daimyo titles who are automatically passed on to your heir, the clan leader title is an elective title. So to make sure that your heir will continue to also lead the clan you need to make sure that he receives more votes than any other eligible character. Anyone who has received a vote is a pretender for the title and as such can decide to declare a civil war to challenge the reigning clan leader for his position. Even the nominated heir can do this should he be too impatient to take over.



Once a civil war is declared the clan will split in two halves, where the revolting side adds the name of the pretender's home province in front of the clan name, like Soejimo-Ashikaga. The clan crest will be the same as the original clan with the addition of two crossed swords on top of it.

The two halves will then fight it out with each other until one side either concedes defeat or are wiped out. Whatever side won the conflict then continues under the original clan name and clan crest.

Historically many of the clan civil wars were often triggered by a succession crisis, and at the start of the game there are already three of these going on. So if you start as the Hatakeyama, Takeda or the reigning shogun's clan, the Ashikaga, you will not only find yourself entangled in the Onin War that rages in the middle of Japan, but you also need to defeat a threat from within before both halves of the clan are overrun by power hungry neighbors taking advantage of your temporary weakness... "
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