Welcome to part two of the Feudums Q&A. I hope you enjoyed the first part where we talked about the game’s background, the world, enemy factions, and more. In case you missed it, here’s a link to get you going or refresh your memory. Let’s dive right in.
Question: How do players expand? Do they only have one castle or do they build more?
MS: Each feudum needs a manor house which can be upgraded later to a full castle. You can build additional castles as needed for defense. Expansion happens via occupation, but growth will be limited by the player’s financial situation. Land tiles have the ability to raise revenue for their owners, but unworked land is merely a financial drain.
The other way to expand is a political one. A natural idea to avoid overgrown feudums is sharing the realm with other players by vassalization. A lady or lord will not control those areas directly anymore, but through agreements and oaths.
ID: The most basic option is discovering and conquering the tiles nearby. Those who join a world early can explore and occupy the free tiles around them. But every tile means further responsibility for the lord or lady, and, as it happens in real life, a person cannot manage everything without limitations. Beyond a certain size, the lord or lady will feel their control start to slip away.
Players who join the game later will also have unique options. Usually players who join a persistent MMO after the early stages – if they can join at all – are hemmed in and quickly absorbed into larger, established neighbors. Most competitors close worlds once the initial amount of players are there. After that, it’s a one-way ticket and you see fewer and fewer players as the world progresses towards the endgame.
In Feudums, due to the vassalage system, a world can stay open until the last minute and let anyone join without causing any balance issues. For the liege, that means a solid flow of taxes and military aid without the hassles of micromanagement, and for the vassal, it means more land, political protection and, for new players, game tutoring in exchange for their loyalty towards the liege.
The only disadvantage to joining late in Feudums is that there is less of a chance you’ll start in a neutral position. But other than that, you’ll face no big disadvantages and there are ways to break free if you want to.
Question: Is there any tech advancement in the game, or are you locked into a short period of time?
ID: For the sake of the game balance, and focusing on the strategy elements of the game, in the first release we do not plan to offer any option to overwhelm other players with technological advancement.
MS: Eventually, players will have the possibility to develop their realms and found Kingdoms. They will have the ability to upgrade their castles, their communities, and their land as well as have a large list of military units that can be bought or trained.
ID: On top of that, one of the stretch goals we plan for the crowdfunding campaign is to introduce the idea of community research. A single player doesn’t gain from a development, but the whole allied community around does – as it happens in real life, too. In this model the players can improve, say, an agriculture and a warfare element while they distribute the costs of these researches amongst the alliance members.
Question: Speaking of time, what happens to your fiefdom when you log out?
ID: The game continues when a player is offline, but we have built in some elements to help manage their realm, even when logged off. We have a comfortable way to queue up orders to the various game units. The sequence of orders will not stop because the player is not present, but the game server will execute the orders in sequence.
MS: Another handy enhancement is the semi-autonomous units. These units can react to changes in the environment without player input. A unit can guard a settlement and wait until another player attacks them, or can patrol an area and step up against any invaders. But you can, of course, always fine-tune or override these behaviors.
Question: Are there any events in the game? Either personal or game-wide?
MS: One of the principle goals with Feudums is to create a game where the ability to plan your moves far before you would start to execute them is the focus. All these elements may appear not just on the classic 4X level, but socially, too. As a player, you can use your real-life abilities to become an emerging leader and lead a team of fellow human beings to overcome opponents.
ID: Yes, we think that by introducing too many random events into this scenario, we would harm the ecosystem; rather, we have defined these elements as a possible stretch goal or future feature. Players can enjoy earthquakes or plagues in their private worlds, if they wish, but we will keep them away from the MMO worlds.
Question: What are the family “virtues” and how do they fit in the game?
MS: Virtue and Dominion are unique features in Feudums.
Virtue is the total measurement or sum of a player’s decisions throughout the game. If a player decides to stab another in the back with a sneak attack, his virtue score may be lowered. If a player comes to the aid of an ally, his virtue score might rise. Think chivalry. You might have a weak realm but be a powerful lord because of your virtue. Everyone knows you keep your word and support your allies, and so your political weight increases.
Dominion, on the other hand, is the total sum of the player’s size and number of vassals. You may not have any virtue but you rule with an iron fist and other players fear you.
Both Dominion and Virtue are tied to the game’s moral system and both can be traded for different boosts and effects – true to the nature of what these traits stand for.
ID: These aren’t just throw-away stats either. It’s possible, if no other victory conditions are met, to win the game – and the crown – by having the highest Virtue score. Becoming king by being chivalrous could happen. Dominion is also important for another winning condition.
Question: We didn’t really discuss the economy of Feudums. What can you tell us about it?
ID: The economy of Feudums is based on three things: coins, materials, and food. Coins are the in-game currency and can be gathered by mining and collecting taxes. Materials are the medieval basics: lumber, iron and stone. Lumber is cut from nearby forests, iron is mined and stone is taken from quarries.
MS: As you might expect, food plays a huge role in a feudum’s well-being. Food is created by working farmland and tending livestock. Adding complexity to the game are the actual seasons and their effects on the world. Budding kings need to manage their food supply to keep their population fed through the winter months. You must have field hands planting wheat in the spring and not off fighting in a military campaign… or dying there.
Materials are tradeable, making player interaction even more important. If you don’t have mines in your area, you’ll need to have an ally or vassal who can help you out.
Question: How does diplomacy work in Feudums?
MS: Basically, you have three general basic types of agreements: Trading, Diplomatic, and Feudal. These can be mixed into a specific agreements between parties.
Most agreements are common enough that they don’t need explanation (ie,we trade this for that or we’re at peace, we’re at war, etc…), but Feudal agreements may need some background. Feudal agreements spell out the relationship between a liege and a vassal, like the lands and title the vassal may gain in exchange for military service and taxes granted to the liege. This is an Oath of Fealty and will be the most common way for new players to join an existing game.
ID: Almost every diplomatic action opens up space for reactions from a bunch of parties, adding a new layer to the strategic approach. Once an agreement is signed, it can’t be broken unless you have a proper reason. Breaking an agreement without cause can seriously damage your reputation (Virtue) and leave you open to sanctions such as providing someone else a proper reason to attack you freely. Of course, it’s always possible to invent a proper reason through intrigue!
MS: And keep in mind that diplomatic agreements may go down the feudal hierarchy. If a player has a liege who declares war on someone, the player must obey and also declare. There are settings and strategies on how to react if the liege and player have conflicting agreements like the liege declared on an ally – or even worse – he is revolting and declared against their king. In such delicate situations, having or fabricating a proper reason to do what you want to do becomes a key interest.
Question: Let’s talk about combat. Is there any? What’s it like?
ID: In Feudums, players assign orders to their units during each turn and then, at the end of the tick, all moves are resolved simultaneously. [Editor’s Note: A tick is a set amount of time during which all players can take an action. Turn-based usually mean I go, then you go, etc. TIck-based means, for example, we all have 5 minutes to do whatever actions we choose, and then all of those actions are executed, at once, at the end of the 5 minutes, a.k.a., the tick.] Once everyone’s orders are executed, the players see the results of the tick, combat included, in an animated recap. The recap will record every change, and you’ll be able to re-watch it, as needed. If a player missed multiple turns, the recap will show everything that’s changed since the last reviewed recap – and you can, of course, also add military orders for several turns in advance.
MS: A battle commences when hostile parties meet on the map and may last several turns. So players in a battle have an opportunity to call for aid if needed and vassals or allies can rush to your – or your opponent’s – aid. Each battle may have different phases. Some are great for projectiles, others are for close combat units, skirmishers, and so on – so all your units are important. On the map you’ll see a battle token, updated for each tick, and showing its progress and all the necessary other information.
ID:The combat happens off-screen. You can set some tactics prior to the battle (or armies can use their preset tactics), but once it starts, the combat will run its own course. Players can only influence the outcome indirectly – such as by calling for aid or preventing others from joining on the opponent’s side. We have plans for enhancing battles with more toys for direct command, but we had to draw a line for what we want in the 1.0 version.
MS: Remember, large standing armies in the Middle Ages were rare. It took a great deal of wealth to keep an army supplied. That fact is reflected in the game. In Feudums, it’s rare that you can wage war constantly – you’re more likely to run military campaigns towards specific goals. Going to war means calling in your allies and vassals – also known as your bannermen. Each small army comes together to make a larger one. We’ve built in some unique war planning tools to help make the logistics of this easier.
Question: Previously, you had mentioned several win conditions. Can you tell me more about them?
ID: For the persistent MMO, there are several possible ways to win. They range from the usual fare – having the largest realm or banking the most gold – to the more narrative ones like completing quests or proclaiming yourself the High King or Queen and surviving long enough to make it into history. If no one wins any other way, the person with the most Virtue will be crowned king.
MS: In most cases, victory means key players on the victorious side share the rewards. This is another nod to the cooperative nature of the game. If you are a direct vassal for the player crowned as king, you’ll share in that glory. However, with a quest or virtue victory, there will be only one solo winner. There are also conspiratorial rules for boosting your rewards by sacrificing alliances in key moments – so it won’t always be the biggest alliance which wins.
Question: How long does each version of the game last? Can the same save get played in each version? How does that work?
MS: No matter how you play, the length of the game will be decided before the game starts. If no player manages to gain a victory, the game will still end. We decided we’d put a time limit on games. We didn’t want games to go on forever, stuck in a stalemate where no one is having fun.
Question: It seems like you’re planning on having a lot of different features. How do you intend to roll this out?
MS: We are releasing bits of the game right now, leading up to the persistent MMO release. Single-player and classic multiplayer capability will come after the MMO is active. As a new game studio, we thought it important to show our progress and allow game backers to have insight and say on what was being created.
Single-player and classic multiplayer are what we call “private worlds” – as they are directed by the players (but still hosted on our cloud-based servers). These are free for any subscriber or can be bought at a bargain price.
Our main focus is on the MMO now, as vassalage, the heart of the game, excels the most when you have enough participants to build an extensive feudal hierarchy.
Question: Hmm, interesting. So, what games influenced Feudums? On that note, what games do you like to play?
MS: We’re all gamers, some a little more casual than others. I grew up on some of the old school classics of C64, Amiga, and later the DOS era… games like Defender of the Crown, Lords of the Realm, Warlords, Colonization, Megalomania, Supremacy, Populous, Genesia, Powermonger, Syndicate… just to name a few of the strategy games that had an influence on my taste. From the more recent PC era, I think we can all say that the [recent editions of the] Civilization series had an influence on us as well as Crusader Kings and the Endless strategy games. From cross-genre RPG-Strategy games, one of my all-time favorites is Mount & Blade. I like indie games such as Game Dev Tycoon, the Shadowrun games, Reus and the sandbox game Banished. Games come and go, but certain games have a magic around them, and that something special is what we’re trying to create with Feudums.
As for what we’re playing now, since I’m a father of two sons and creating Feudums, I don’t have much time to play anything. If I find a few moments, I go back to my classics or play Endless Legend. If I just have half an hour, I go for a quick combat in Battlefield or a Company of Heroes match, or just dig some holes in Terraria or do a quick mission in Massive Chalice.
I would like to thank 2Pence for taking the time to answer our questions. We’ll keep an eye on the continued development of Feudums and keep our hopes up that the developers are able to achieve their goals in the upcoming Kickstarter. Good luck!