Greetings warriors of Calradia!
For many people, Mount & Blade: Warband is a singleplayer experience which lets them rise from the rank of a commoner up to the ruler of an entire kingdom, developing their character and fighting in epic sieges along the way.
For others, it is an opportunity to run around naked with a two-handed sword and test their combat skills against players from all around the world. In this week’s blog, we talk with the person responsible for making these equally epic (and sometimes silly) experiences a reality in Bannerlord: Korneel Guns.
Digital Arts and Entertainment (DAE), Howest
OFFICIAL JOB DESCRIPTION
WHAT DO YOU NORMALLY DO DURING YOUR DAY?
“Most of the time I work on multiplayer features, optimisations and bug fixes. What I actually do varies from day to day, depending on what we're trying to achieve that week. Lately, I don't get to write much code at all and instead most of my time is spent preparing our internal playtests, monitoring the sessions, gathering feedback from the participants and planning for the next test.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT BANNERLORD?
“There are many things…
Sometimes, I just open a custom battle, put the troop count into the many hundreds, give command over my troops to the AI, and just watch as the armies clash. There's something very special about seeing this many troops doing their thing.
Lately, I've also been trying my hands on the scene editor and I'm just blown away by how easily I can make something that looks pretty nice. I believe we're going to have a lot of mods with an amazing visual quality.”
“Look: If I can make this, anyone can make something nice.”
“But I have to say that I’m mostly excited for the multiplayer part of the game. Before joining TaleWorlds, I spent a lot of time playing Napoleonic Wars and I regularly attended line-battles. It was always such a thrill to be a part of these huge organised battles, with disciplined regiments moving around in formation (only to be struck down by a single cannonball), the smoke from the musket fire, the surprise cavalry charges… It was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to see what the modding scene comes up with for Bannerlord as the possibilities are much greater than they ever were for Warband.”
WHAT'S THE MOST DIFFICULT THING THAT YOU SOLVED SO FAR, DURING THE PRODUCTION OF BANNERLORD?
“One of the hardest moments was definitely when we were starting out with serious, regular playtests to check both the game modes and combat. At the time, we didn't have any of the automated tests we have now, so the game broke pretty regularly (and in many different ways).
Since I was organizing these playtests, I felt very responsible for the failure or success of these tests. We would get a dozen people to stop working and help us playtest, only to find out that the game wasn't playable anymore and it was a waste of everyone's time.
We've improved the stability a lot since then, with the help of the QA team in combination with automated testing. Soon after, I could finally hear the cries of people getting killed in-game throughout the office, which certainly made me feel a lot better.”
WHAT DO YOU CURRENTLY WORK ON?
“I'm currently writing some extra tools that allow us to better monitor server network usage. We're aiming to have a potential maximum player limit that is well above Warband's, so it helps to be able to visualise data with real-time graphs and stats to find out about possible bottlenecks. We already have a very efficient networking system because of some great programmers on the team. I'm just making sure they can do their job even better!”
WHAT FACTION DO YOU LIKE THE MOST IN BANNERLORD?
“I struggle to choose between Battania and Vlandia.
The Empire may be in decline and crumbling, but Battania has long lost its glory. Its castles and towns are old and ruinous and each visit to a settlement tells a story of a faction just desperately trying to stay relevant. I find it fun to become part of such a faction and help it to rise up. I guess my Belgian roots may have something to do with that.
And Vlandia, because it's just a classic done well: majestic and dominating castles, chivalric knights and, of course, the crossbowmen! Fighting at range is by far my favourite thing to do. Both Battania and Vlandia excel at this, but the crossbow is definitely the coolest.”
WILL MULTIPLAYER BE LINKED WITH STEAM FOR INVITING FRIENDS?
“We have a full Steam integration, so you'll easily be able to join friends' games, or invite them to your party.”
WILL WE STILL BE ABLE TO CHOOSE WHAT SERVER WE JOIN, OR WILL IT BE PICKED FOR US?
“We will still have the server list, just like we have in Warband. It will contain both official and unofficial (community-run) servers. On top of that, there is also a matchmaking system which ties in nicely with our more competitive game modes (see question below).”
WHAT KIND OF GAME MODES CAN WE EXPECT?
“Siege has received a full overhaul. It is still all about attacking and defending an entire castle, but now with a full range of different kinds of siege weapons (ballistae, catapults, siege towers and battering rams).
Then, there are some game modes that are entirely new, such as Captain Battle: a team-based mode where each player gets command over a regiment of AI troops (just like in singleplayer). You win by either eliminating the other team, or by controlling the battlefield.
There is also Skirmish Battle, a more competitive game mode that is designed to be played 6 vs 6. You have multiple lives per round, but each troop has a different cost, which means you have to make a choice between fielding a greater number of poorly equipped troops or fewer more specialised ones. Good communication and managing your lives are key in this mode.
We also have a Duel Mode for those who want to test their skills in a more controlled environment.”
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO PREVENT CAMPING?
“The solutions to prevent camping are different for many games. For us, we realized it's a serious issue and we have designed our new game modes so that they make camping a bad choice: for Skirmish and Captain Battles, you have to be active and either fight the enemy, or move to different locations on the battlefield to control them. It's also not enough to just move to one location and hold it: you will constantly be encouraged to move and adapt until the very end of each round. We have noticed in our internal playtests that this is working out very well.”