Chris King: I am Chris King and game designer at Paradox Interactive.
Hooked Gamers: Generally speaking, fans of the original Crusader Kings (or any Paradox grand strategy game for that matter) are more ‘historically aware’ than the average gamer and are very vocal about all sorts of data and events used in the game. What is it like to create games for such an outspoken and involved group?
Chris King: Interesting! When you work very hard to get real history into a game it is nice to have an audience that appreciates the effort you put in. It can also be frustrating because no matter how much history you add, you always feel that there is always something more you could add...
Hooked Gamers: We’ve read about the concept of the player not really playing a nation anymore but playing a ruler instead and that your options in the game are bound to your character’s traits. We like! Can you explain the character system a bit more, and perhaps give us an idea of the impact of succession?
Chris King: From a technical point of view the character is the base unit in the game. When we set up the game we script wars, like the Norman Conquest of England for example. This is not defined as the Duchy of Normandy at war with the Kingdom of England. It is William the Conqueror, in his capacity as Duke of Normandy, being at war with Harold Godwinson, in his capacity as King of England. Characters are the hook that everything else runs off. Succession is the key point of the game. We have a number of laws in the game that will determine which character will inherit. However we have made some very nice changes. Kingdoms and Empires can have separate inheritances. So you can for instance be King of England and France at the same time. Your grandson - via your daughter - inherits England but your nephew - the son of your brother - inherits France because the French do not allow female inheritance. This will allow us to create a more fluid map where Kingdoms came together and then split. Capturing the period much better in my opinion.
Hooked Gamers: The time of the crusades was a period in which the nobility, the wealthy and religious factions really ramped up their diplomatic actions. Many alliances were forged and broken and betrayal was an everyday occurrence. Even the Templars - at the heart of the crusades - were betrayed the moment their political enemies smelled blood. How is this politically volatile era depicted in the game?
Chris King: It all comes down to personalities. The envious lust after the wealth of others, the ambitious seek to advance their status. The patient are prepared to wait for their moment. The different character traits influence the opinion that a character holds about others and this is the foundation that drives the game. We have also have a new feature called plots which is really exciting. A character with an ambition will start to gather up friends to help in his quest for power.