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As you have already heard, the TW team is currently working flat out to fix issues with the game. The highest priority has been given to technical and performance issues, but we are also working on changes that affect AI performance (on battle and campaign).
It’s worth noting that the issues some players are reporting regarding AI behaviour are primarily a result of bugs influencing the input the AI receives before deciding how to react. The brain itself is working but the info it gets isn’t always appropriate.
Like a soccer forward whose team don’t always manage to get the passes to him, he can do all the incredible shots on goal he likes, but he’s going to look silly without a ball.
Of course, that makes no difference to the player, because the end effect is the same, the AI doesn’t perform as it should in some situations. However, it does mean that as various other fixes go in the AI starts getting the right info and you’ll start seeing those issues go away.
Because AI changes have to be effective across all situations in the game, and not create any knock-on problems, they are much more complicated to test, so it’s not always possible to release updates that affect the AI as quickly as we would like – but we are doing everything we can. Over the coming weeks you will begin to notice changes to the AI in campaign and battles as we patch the game. We will also let you know more about those changes as we roll them out.
Beyond technical & AI considerations, various gameplay issues have also been raised, and we wanted to comment on just a few of these, and make a start by explaining some of our thinking behind what’s in the game, and what we intend to do in the near future.
We’ll comment on campaign issues soon, but first – battles.
There has been a lot of hostility to capture points – at least outside of standard siege battles. The battle design plan was for 2 main instances of this kind of battle:
First, when you have a combined battle (land forces and navy fighting on an open field). The capture point was added to force a fight for control of the land, avoiding the situation where a defender, with a reinforcing navy, would be untouchable and thus undefeatable for an attacker without a navy.
The second situation was for an attack on an over-extended enemy army caught in “Forced March” stance. Here the capture point was introduced to reduce defender advantage, and introduce a change in tactics, requiring the defender - who was meant to be on the back foot & unprepared - to defend positions they may not want to defend.
Outside of settlement sieges, the plan was to create a variety of battle experiences in specific circumstances, with a variety of tactical scenarios. The frequency of capture point battles was not intended to be high.
So for patches 3 and onwards, we’re currently testing a number of changes:
First off, attacks on armies in forced march will be ambush battles instead. Ambushes are very intense and have a clear penalty to the defender who is attacked as they are more likely to be overwhelmed by well-prepared attacking forces. It is important there’s a risk to committing to a Forced March stance, and this should help make that more apparent.
Secondly for combined battles, we’ll make sure a capture point only appears when there actually is a reinforcing defender navy taking part in the battle. In all other combined battle instances the capture point will not be present.
Thirdly we’re increasing the time required to capture the point, to improve the gameplay in the few remaining situations that instigate capture point battles. Small forces making a dash for a strategic position while the rest of the enemy is engaged and distracted should still be a viable and creative tactic if it can be pulled off, but this change will increase the chance of both sides reacting to that in a more realistic way.
Fourth, follow up attacks - attacking a defeated, retreating army - will be treated as a normal battle with any penalties that are accrued as a result of campaign game situation, and the inability to retreat any further without being destroyed.
As a result of all these changes, the frequency of capture point battles should be significantly reduced. We are looking at alternative mechanics to resolve combined land & naval battles. We will talk more about this when we feel we have tested and tried out the possibilities and settled on the best solution.
Guard Mode and Unit ‘Blobbiness’
A number of people have expressed disappointment that we have removed the Guard Mode button. In fact (as many have realised), guard mode behaviour has not been removed – it is now an inherent property of units: they have guard mode behaviour by default. If you want units to chase down routers & retreaters, you have to order them to do so. However, some unintended pursuit actions are occurring and will be fixed in upcoming patches. This should improve some of the line cohesion issues people have been raising. Also, we have fixed an animation control code bug where formed units have not been fighting in a formed manner, causing some “blobbing” issues.
The design intention was to have some unit types (e.g. some less disciplined barbarians) fight in an unformed manner, so on contact that unit would ‘collapse’ into the enemy to find individual targets. Formed units (e.g. your disciplined Roman legionary) are intended to fight in a more rigid manner and try to hold their formation cohesion as much as possible (meaning some unengaged men would stand in position and not seek an enemy target). A specific formed combat bug has been fixed in the forthcoming patch 3, which should significantly improve formed melee behaviour.
We also intended for some traditionally unruly units to not behave as though in guard mode, but instead be undisciplined in their behaviour, and disregard attempts at holding the line if their opponents retreat or route. We are looking at the behaviour of this currently.
Speed of Battles
In terms of battle speed, we are looking to tweak combat with on-going stat balance improvements. We are looking at reducing some run speeds, combat speed, and some morale balancing, but of course it depends on the campaign situation too – strong, disciplined troops are intended to rout light undisciplined men with ease. We also wanted to allow scope for the campaign-derived morale buffs to be significant, but not overpowered. This means un-buffed morale for some weaker/ lighter units needs attention… stat balance updates are coming. We’re also looking at improving missile balance overall.
The first part of this rebalance is in patch 2 with reduction to infantry run speed and tweaks to the morale system with more significant changes in patch 3. We’ll be keeping an eye on community feedback after these patches come out and make further changes based on that.
A variety of opinions have been expressed about special abilities. To be clear, our design intent is that they are not necessarily meant to turn the tide of battle on their own, nor are most meant to be used all the time and frequently throughout a battle. The design is for them to be used in certain circumstances to provide a reasonable bonus, and for there to be real choice in when players use them. They are not meant to be “magical” and are based on real world behaviour expressed in a game setting. For example: Rallying calls to units, urging your tired troops to fight harder, getting men to run faster by pushing themselves to the limit, calling on their loyalty, threatening them and so on.
We are looking at making a number of changes, particularly in relation to the cool down times and the effects of some abilities. This is a current focus of ours and once we have more definitive plans of what we will be doing with them balance wise we will let you know. Do expect to see changes in patch 3 and upcoming patches. We are also looking at changes to when and how some abilities are triggered and improving their behaviours. These changes can’t always be instant as there are interconnections between Campaign and Battle.
Many have raised concerns about the balance between transported units and naval ships in naval battles. We are looking at relative strengths of these as well as potential changes on the campaign map as well to improve this situation.
The design intent was that transported armies are weak and vulnerable. Thus moving an army without an escorting fleet should be a bigger risk if they encounter a sufficiently well-armed attacking force. We are looking to address this issue. You will see the first parts of a series of changes in both patches 2 and 3 with further changes occurring in later patches. Some of these changes need to be made across both campaign and battle so aren’t trivial to achieve.
PS: On a point of History
We always look to history for inspiration and if there is any mention of something that seems fun we use that as a basis for a game mechanic. As an example some people have asked where we got the idea for flaming javelins from. Our source in this case was primary. Please refer to Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic and Civil Wars.
We hope this not only shows you all that we are looking at raised issues and are making changes to address them but also the design intention behind some of the features in the game as well. These changes will not all come in one update, but we have a number of updates planned already and are working on those full time. Thank you for taking time to read this and for your continued support.
New Content Team Director
Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed here are those of the poster and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Creative Assembly or SEGA.