Posts Tagged ‘Paradox Interactive’

Jon Shafer on designing Civilization 5, joining Paradox and making strategy games better

Jon Shafer was 21 years old when he became lead designer of Civilization V. Now working at Paradox on an unannounced project and on his own historical strategy game At The Gates in his spare time, he says he’s learning from the likes of Spelunky along with the more obvious strategic influences. We spoke about how the second half of every Civ sucks, the part the series played in his life, the perils of boredom in strategy design, how much we love maps, and what the future holds for both Shafer and Paradox.

I began by asking how he ended up sitting at the Paradox Convention, in Stockholm, the city that has now been his home for two weeks: “It’s quite a long story, actually.”

That story begins in Denver, around 2003.

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Surviving Mars brings hard science to colony-building

During the opening hours, you won’t see a single person in Surviving Mars [official site]. It’s a bold choice, having impersonal robots out there laying the groundwork of a colony, but the benefits are immediately obvious when watching the game in action. There’s a certain Factorium-like mechanical satisfaction to the flow of metal, creating supply chains that stud the surface with structures. The great advantage is the gradual shift from a red planet to a green planet though, even if those bubbles of green are few and far between.

More than any other city builder I can think of, Surviving Mars has the potential to show the life of a settlement, and it does that by beginning in a dead place.

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Best Europa Universalis 4 mods

Since you already know what the best Crusader Kings 2 mods are, I thought you should probably get the skinny on the best additions to Paradox’s other grand strategy romp: Europa Universalis 4. It’s got more than a few, too.

Tweaks, fantastical overhauls, graphics improvements – modders have given the game plenty of love. And while some mods have fallen by the wayside, there’s still a mountain of crackers to dig through. Read the rest of this entry »

Crusader Kings 2 expanding eastward

Crusader Kings 2 [official site] is secretly Crusader Kings 5 or 6. The specific number isn’t important; the point is, Paradox’s alternate history generator has grown in all directions since release. The timeline covered has expanded, the map is much bigger, there are more cultures and religions, and you can join a cult and give birth to the antichrist.

There wasn’t an official expansion announcement at PDXCON, the media event and fan gathering that I returned from yesterday, but today game director Henrik Fåhraeus published a post discussing some future changes. The playable world is getting bigger, again: “the Himalayas and the vast Tibetan plateau” are opening for business.

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Fight me! Stellaris beta patch fixes AI not declaring war

War has returned to the galaxy with a hasty hotfix for Stellaris [official site], clearing up some big problems created by the recent update 1.6 (nicknamed ‘Adams’). Here’s the biggest one: AI factions were not declaring war. That’s a bold utopian vision of our spacefuture but a bit wonky for a game full of spacewar. That’s a mighty embarrassing bug, both for developers Paradox and for me. I’ve been feeling chuffed about my diplomatic skills in my current game but, er, nope, my spacepeacocks flourished because my rivals were entirely unable to spacepunch me in my beautiful spaceface. Read the rest of this entry »

Paradox and Tropico devs announce colonial management game Surviving Mars

In a new partnership with Tropico developers Haemimont Games, Paradox have announced a Matt Damon simulator / colonial-management-city-builder Surviving Mars [official site]. It’s a “hardcore management game” about the colonisation of Mars and if the short trailer is anything to go by, it’ll be leaning toward the EVERYTHING GOES WRONG end of the management spectrum. One for Brendan, then, who does like to put poor little colonists through the wringer.

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Stellaris launches Update 1.6, hands out birthday DLC

Happy birthday, Stellaris [official site]! To celebrate the first birthday of their space strategy game, Paradox have released a new update and are giving all spaceguests party favours in the form of free cosmetic DLC. The pack of species portraits offered as a pre-order bonus are now free to all players, and Paradox have thrown in some colourful new ones too – like that ↑ spacepeacock. As for Update 1.6, nicknamed ‘Adams’ after the interactive fiction writer, that’s smaller than many updates but still brings some good changes. The game has come a fair way over the past year. Read the rest of this entry »

Stellaris: A utopian race of multicultural turtles, part 2

Last time in this diary on grand space strategy Stellaris, my species of sugary, democratic Tortals invited everyone to their space nation regardless of race, creed or culture. It was a burgeoning multicultural utopia called the Open Gates. Then a terrifying horde of transdimensional beings arrived and started to eat everyone like a rack of saucy ribs, which is against the rules.

The Tortals and their compatriots have now escaped in a flotilla of refugee ships to the Shell, a corner of space where they hope to be safe. They are far from the Unbidden, the aforementioned interdimensional gatecrashers, but now they have new neighbours in the form of of two very large despotic empires. And, as any cultured dictator knows, shells usually contain something tasty and soft inside. Read the rest of this entry »

Hearts of Iron 4: Death or Dishonor announced

A mid-sized expansion for Hearts of Iron 4 [official site] will focus on expanding Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, Paradox announced today. Named ‘Death or Dishonor’, the expansion will bring unique National Focus trees to those countries Paradox say were “caught between the dueling ambitions of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.” They’re calling it a ‘Country Pack’ rather than a full expansion, though it will bring a new feature or two. And, in the traditional Paradox way, it’ll be accompanied by a big patch. AI and air action are both due touch-ups in that. Read the rest of this entry »

Cities: Skylines – Mass Transit disembarking May 18th

I don’t really ‘get’ driving cars in cities. Having always lived places where I can get everywhere I need by foot, bus, train, or bike, I am bamboozled by city-building games nudging me to build intersections resembling Celtic knots. I’m relieved that Cities: Skylines [official site] will focus on public transport in its next expansion, Mass Transit, which publishers Paradox have announced will launch on May 18th. Mass Transit will bring new forms of public transport, from ferries to whimsically utopian blimps, along with new transit hubs to ease interchanges. Here, have a look at all this in a new trailer: Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think – Stellaris: Utopia

Utopia is the first major expansion for Stellaris, Paradox Development Studio’s 4X, grand strategy space hydra. It’s a term that normally conjures up images of a perfect society, all green and chill and maybe a little like Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets. That’s nice, I guess, but what if your idea of perfection is building a civilization on the backs of robotic slaves? And what about a monstrous hive of ravenous beasties that won’t rest until all matter in the universe has been consumed? What would its utopia look like? I’ve been experimenting with a galaxy-sized petri dish to find out. Read the rest of this entry »

Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven released

Oh goodness me, I’d forgotten that Europa Universalis 4 [official site] has an expansion out today too. Along with releasing Stellaris: Utopia, those busy bees have launched EU4: Mandate of Heaven. This tenth expansion for the historical grand strategy game focuses on China and Japan, expanding them with new unique systems. Have a peek: Read the rest of this entry »

Stellaris launches Utopia expansion and Banks update

Today’s a big day for Stellaris [official site], as developers Paradox have launched its first proper expansion and a big game-changing patch. Headline features for the Utopia expansion include space habitats, dreadful new forms of enslaving and purging species, and ‘ascension perks’ to customise and shape species towards mechanical, biological, or psionic final forms. Update 1.5 (nicknamed Banks), meanwhile, reworks the government system, adds a civics system to make empires more unique, improves AI, fixes bugs, adds technologies, and changes plenty more. Exciting times in space. Read the rest of this entry »

Steel Division: Normandy 44 advancing on May 23rd

“If Steel Division’s tactical cleverness and smart phase structure work as well as this initial demo suggests they might, this’ll be a winner,” our Adam said after seeing Steel Division: Normandy 44 [official site]. Oh, because he’s so special he deserves an early look at the new RTS from Wargame and R.U.S.E. devs Eugen Systems. Tch! No matter. We plebs don’t have too long to wait to achieve equality with Adam, as publishers Paradox have announced that Normandy 44 will launch on May 23rd. Then we’ll see who’s so flipping special. Read the rest of this entry »

Paradox are bringing devs and games to Rezzed

in my experience, paradox always arrive by blimp

As long-time readers will know, I don’t believe there’s any possibility of a party unless someone brings a strategy game to the dancefloor. This year, EGX Rezzed is going to be party central. For the first time, Paradox will have a presence at the show, in the form of three playable games (including the just-announced Steel Division: Normandy 44’s multiplayer) and two developer sessions. They’re both on the Friday, with Cities: Skylines up first at 12PM and Stellaris following at 2PM. In the former, you’ll hear Colossal Order’s CEO on continuous development post-release, and working with a large community, and in the latter Stellaris’ game director will talk about the first year post-release, and the major expansion, Utopia.

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Wot I Think: Crusader Kings 2 – Monks and Mystics

I’ve been hanging around with a bad crowd, staying up all night, attending weird orgies and torturing rivals until they embrace the teachings of Lucifer. Last night I ate my cousin because the Devil told me to do it. Crusader Kings 2 [official site] has always had a bit of a dark side, but with the new Monks and Mystics DLC, it’s been cranked up to 666.

Ostensibly, Monks and Mystics is all about opening up new roleplaying possibilities in regards to faith. You can join a variety of societies, including monastic orders, secret organisations and devilish cults. These sects offer new ways to interact with the religious side of medieval society and for the adventurous can offer strange powers, forbidden knowledge, and the ability to champion heretical religions. Guess which path I followed?

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Europa Universalis 4: Mandate of Heaven ascending April

You must choose: history or sci-fi? No time to explain. Pick now. No do-overs. 3. 2. 1. Time’s up! Huh, that’s your decision? Interesting. You’ll have to stick with that. Okay, now there’s time to explain: Paradox have announced a release date of April 6th for the next Europa Universalis 4 [official site] expansion, Mandate of Heaven, which is also the release date for Stellaris’s Utopia expansion. What are you going to do, play them at separate times? Tch! So if you chose history, you can look forward to an expansion focused on China and Japan. Read the rest of this entry »

Cult hit: Crusader Kings 2’s Monks & Mystics DLC is out

Cults and orders of assassins, satananiacs, Hermetics, monks, and more are now roaming the historical simulation of Crusader Kings 2 [official site], if you buy the latest expansion anyway. Paradox today launched Monks and Mystics, which boshes in secret (and not-so secret) orders who reward loyalty with handy abilities, pops in holy relics and masterwork weapons, and more. In short, yes, you can sacrifice people in Lucifer’s name and try to summon a familiar.

As is the Paradox way, also out today is a big new update free for all players. It brings new features, useful changes, welcome fixes, and things that, y’know, sound funny. Sadly, the endless carousing has ended. Read the rest of this entry »

Steel Division brings fresh tactical ideas to the battlefield

I can appreciate a carefully crafted digital tank rolling into combat as much as the next war game fan, but there are few things I enjoy more than a visible front line. Not the actual troops huddling beneath hedgerows as explosions tear up the dirt, but an actual line, drawn onto the map, bendling, flexing and breaking as the battle plays out.

Steel Division [official site] has authentically modeled units and detailed rules of engagement controlling their clashes, but it’s the front line that got me all excited when I saw a demo last week at GDC.

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Europa Universalis IV looks east with Mandate Of Heaven

Space is getting grander and more interesting thanks to the Utopia dlc for Stellaris, and Crusader Kings II is receiving a rabble of Monks and Mystics next week, but Europa Universalis IV [official site] hasn’t been left out. A tenth expansion is coming. It’s called Mandate Of Heaven and it adds an objective system based around semi-dynamic ages (from Discovery to Revolutions) to the world while introducing new mechanics for the Empire of China, daimyos and Shogunate of Japan, and Manchu. Read the rest of this entry »