Victoria 3: exclusive interview with game director Mikael Andersson

Victoria 3: exclusive interview with game director Mikael Andersson

Victoria 3

Twelve years after the second game in the series, which has meanwhile become an untouchable cult, Victoria 3 is finally a reality. The new Paradox game has even managed to soften the fierce and unfailing criticism from the most uncompromising players, a sign that the basic idea is good and largely appreciated. This does not mean that the game is perfect: now that it is available to the public, all those problems are also emerging that only a mass test could find so effectively.

The good news is that there is nothing that cannot be fixed with the inevitable patches. In the meantime, we had the opportunity to make an interview with Mikael Andersson, game director of Victoria 3 together with Martin Adward. Happy reading, and if you are trying Victoria 3 don't forget to tell us about your adventures in the comments!

Choosing and reinventing

Victoria 3: There are several problems with the UI but this was one of the Smoothest casts ever for a Paradox game How long has Victoria 3 been in development and what is the team's philosophy regarding this specific chapter?

I (Mikael) joined a small team created to prototype the game in January 2017 and have been working tirelessly on the project ever since. We went into full production in early 2019. Our vision for Victoria 3 was simple: take the idea that audiences have so appreciated by turning the series into a cult, while reinventing many of the mechanics to avoid some of the past pitfalls. For example, we wanted to make the game more dynamic by always giving the player things to do without creating overwhelming moments. We also wanted to reduce the learning curve by giving players quick and contextual access to all data used by the game. In essence, the goal of Victoria 3 is to take the infinite intricacies of realistic construction and management of a large-scale country into an even more enjoyable game.

Moving from Victoria 2 to Victoria 3, how did you choose what to keep and what to cut, and why?

It was never about "cutting or keeping" a feature, but rather "how much we need to reinvent this feature to make it enjoyable". We started by designing the infrastructure of Victoria 2, which involves the building-based economy and the interest-group-based political system, and gradually transformed every other feature of Victoria II to adapt it to the new systems. Of course there are some things we chose not to include as they didn't quite fit in, such as individually controlled military units and random technological innovations.

One of the potentially coolest things about Victoria 3 is cultures and religions and how they influence the course of the game. It looks like a big step up from Victoria 2. Can you tell us more?

Both culture and religion have a great impact on the various systems of the game, and interact with the population and laws of the country used by the player. If your country has many religious minorities, your dominant religious organization will have less political power and if it has cultural minorities they may seek national self-determination. Minorities oppressed by your laws will be a source of turmoil in your nation, which can lead to specific sanctions. Cultures may seek to gain territorial control of the regions they regard as their homelands or unify into individual nation-states. Religions can have taboos against the consumption of particular goods and cultures can acquire obsessions for the most fashionable luxuries. They are secondary systems but affect a number of primary systems.

War and Peace

Victoria 3: Secondary element, but Victoria 3 is a graphic prodigy by company standards It seems that all eyes are on the new war system. Can you tell us why you have made so many changes and if you are planning to expand this area in the future?

There were several reasons why we wanted to reinvent Victoria 3's military system:

- Pace. Especially if you are playing a larger country involved in multiple conflicts, or a world conflict involving a number of operational areas around the world, manually moving individual units across dozens of provinces would be daunting, it would also divert attention from the socioeconomic gameplay of base. We could have addressed this problem with a traditional "Paradox-like" unit movement system, but we would also have been forced to automate a lot, otherwise the most meticulous players would have been forced to use the pause for most of the game. This would have made the transition from single-player to multiplayer difficult and severely damaged single-player pacing. Anecdotally, getting involved in a world war is one of the main reasons players leave their Victoria II campaigns prematurely and we have established an initial design constraint to avoid it in Victoria 3.

- Balance of functions. Hearts of Iron is a fantastic war game and is designed to tackle many of the pacing problems described above, but it is also primarily a war game that can afford a high level of complexity in its military systems. On the contrary, Victoria is primarily a campaign-building game in which reaching a diplomatic solution to international conflicts should be preferable to a full-scale war. We wanted the complexities of the military system to relate to, depend on and feed the main economic, political and diplomatic systems of the game and for the player to interact more with the latter than the former.

- Diplomatic games. The new system is based on the ability of AI to assess the strength of armies and states and make workable and logical decisions. If the outcome of the war depended heavily on the skills of a player, or vice versa on an AI capable of constantly managing dozens of units on the field, imbalances would be created. In the system we have built, player and AI can face off on a fairer pitch.

Obviously we plan to expand military gameplay in the future, at least to the same extent that we plan expansions for other parts of the game. This new way of conducting military campaigns offers us a number of potential new features, such as guerilla warfare and diplomatically limited wars, which we are very keen to explore and further develop in the years to come.

Heads state and general

Can you tell us more about the dynamic strategies AI is capable of?

In a game like Victoria we don't want the AI ​​to only play competently and provide a good challenge for the player, we also want it to act in ways that we can understand and to some extent foresee. By making sure that the AI ​​chooses strategies based on their current conditions rather than simply what seems optimal at the moment, we hope to add some humanity to international relations and invite the player to make plans based on those of the countries that surround. If Prussia is currently looking to develop its resource industries, it is good for Saxony to establish a trade agreement with them and focus more on producing other goods; and if France is looking to expand her borders, Switzerland might decide it would be a good time to befriend Austria, just in case. This way you won't be able to fully predict what a computer-controlled nation will do, but you will always have enough information to make decisions.

You, like your users, see the world through the eyes of a gaming enthusiast Paradox? Or vice versa, has it ever happened that modern geopolitical events have suggested a function to you, or inspired you in some way?

I think a little of both. Games can be powerful learning experiences and the way we represent the mechanics of geopolitics is the result of what we see in the world, at the same time it shapes the way we perceive it. I've definitely started thinking about world events and politics a lot more in terms of market forces and resource trading since I started working on Vicky. Whether it's because I've had to learn a lot more about how the world works in an attempt to shape it, or because I've reduced it to a relatively simplistic set of relationships to understand it better, I think perception always changes based on the eye of the beholder. .

Goals and uprisings

Victoria 3: Hopefully new country specific goals will be added soon, which are quite lacking at the moment A problem we encountered in introducing our audience to Paradox games is that once the tutorial is done they don't know what kind of goal they can achieve, especially in a game where war is often the worst answer. How does Victoria 3 try to keep newbies' attention and point them in the right direction?

This is a big question and one of prime importance for Victoria 3, as the game leaves so much freedom that it can blow you away. Our method of dealing with this problem has been to provide, in addition to the tutorial and sandbox modes, three specialized modes in different fields of interest that the player can select at the beginning of his campaign. Each of these modes suggests to the player three countries on which the selected goal can be pursued much more aggressively than in a normal match. We have noticed that, through this system, after learning more about the dynamics and challenges of the game it is much more likely that users will start setting goals for themselves, independently exploring the gameplay of different countries just like in our other games. The "sandbox" is still the default way to play and, in my opinion, the most fun once you have really mastered the game.

One of the weakest aspects of Victoria 2 in our opinion are the rebellions, which they rarely represent a real problem for the player. How did you try to solve this lack in the following?

Our goal from the start was to make rebellions rarer but also more dangerous and crucial than they were in Victoria II. Riots are closely linked to economic and political systems and usually take place when trying to impose a law on powerful groups who do not want it, or when they fail to meet the demands of an impoverished and angry crowd. There are numerous ways to deal with an impending uprising, from making various political changes, issuing decrees to alleviate or suppress tensions, improve the material conditions of revolutionaries or (if all else fails) defeat it on the battlefield. If a revolution is successful and a new nation is born against ours, we will be able to choose to play under this new flag. Considering the changes to the military system, revolutionary wars are no longer fought between your army and rebel groups, but between you and a part of your country already on the side of the revolution, as well as any outside allies. This makes the threat much bigger and the stakes higher, leading to much more exciting gameplay.

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