Paradox on the revival of its long-dormant society builder series in Victoria 3 •

Paradox on the revival of its long-dormant society builder series in Victoria 3 •

Fans have been waiting for nearly a decade for a word on a new installment of Paradox Interactive’s beloved company-building series Victoria, but that day has finally arrived with the announcement of Victoria 3. It’s still early for this. new entry into the sprawling Industrial – The Great Revolution Era Strategy Series, but we recently had the opportunity to chat with Victoria 3 Game Director Martin Anward and Game Designer Mikael Andersson for find out a little more.

For players who may not be familiar with the Victoria franchise, given that the previous game is almost ten years old, let’s just start. What is Victoria?

Mikael Andersson: So Victoria is our franchise of company builders. All of our great strategy games have some kind of niche and the historical period they’re in, but they also have a specific focus. So Crusader Kings is like an RPG. For Victoria, however, it feels more like a management game.

Victoria is all about building your economic strength and then working your way through this 19th century industrialization process – the changes that happen when you do, both in terms of personal power and political evolution. from your country. It gives you political challenges that you have to face, as well as diplomatic challenges on the world stage. So in short, he is a builder of society. It’s set in the Victorian era and it’s about this incredible change that is happening during that time.

Victoria 3 – Announcement trailer.

You’ve talked about it a bit here, but for players who might be more familiar with Paradox games like Crusader Kings 3 or Europa Universalis 4, how does Victoria feel different in terms of game-by-moment play?

Martin Anward: I would say the big difference in terms of instant play is in the main actions you take around the center loop. So where Europa Universalis 4 is very much about smart diplomacy – like preparing for your next land acquisition and building the force for the next war – and Crusader Kings 3 is all about managing your dynasty, preparing your heirs, and interacting. generally with other characters, Victoria is about gardening your country.

And by that I mean making small changes and adjustments, but also bigger changes, to your nation and its people. So, for example, building industries, changing the priority of your economy by passing laws, setting directions, and simply fine-tuning, guiding and strengthening the cogs of your state and country.

This does not mean that diplomacy, conflict and war are not part of the game; diplomacy, in particular, is a big part of the times, but everything in the game is in context with what’s going on inside your borders and with your people. You’re supposed to be able to play the game entirely without ever going to war and still have a lot of fun, so it’s not all about preparing for the next conflict or necessarily growing your political borders. It’s a lot more about what’s going on in your country.

It’s been over a decade since Victoria 2. Why did you now feel like the right time to relaunch the franchise?

Martin Anward: Basically every time we start a project at Paradox it always starts with a champion. Someone comes up and says, “I want to do this, I want to make this game, I want the design to be like this.” It might be a bit of a boring answer, but in reality there is no special story in that sense. Basically, we had a champion, we had the design, and we had a pitch, it got approved, and then the game went into production.

Even though it’s different in the sense of all the hype and expectations, and how it kind of became this legendary thing, we didn’t start it just to start Victoria 3 – we started it because that we wanted to build this game, because we were excited to build this game.

What will returning players find in Victoria 3 that will still make them feel like Victoria, but add something new to the experience?

Mikael Andersson: So the obvious answer here is POPs. They’re the heart of the franchise and it wouldn’t be a Victoria game without the POPs. Victoria’s goal is to manage your people and meet their needs, and make sure that when they get ideas, you get them on top of things. So it is for sure to come back.

One thing that brings something new to Victoria 3, however, is the interest groups. Previous titles had political parties that POPs would support, but interest groups fill a different kind of role, or they fill the same kind of niche, but they operate in a different way. You have a much more direct interaction with the interest groups and they are represented by leaders who have their own personalities and ideologies who will try to push their agendas.

So putting that interest group interface between the POPs and the player means you have a lot more scalable political gameplay. Just because you’re playing a great nation doesn’t mean you suddenly have millions and millions of POPs to deal with. You still have the same interest groups that serve the same kind of purposes in all countries.

Martin Anward: I think that’s a great example. POPs are something that came back from previous Victorias which work very similarly, but they also have more to them, with a simulated addiction – this is where we actually simulate the entire world population instead of a quarter of the world population, because the previous games simulated only the workforce.

And that, of course, influences the game in so many ways and makes things like women in the workforce, women’s rights and old age pensions more interesting because they actually impact POPs in the world. instead of having abstract effects, because these POPs were not. t actually simulated in previous games.


Which of the lessons Paradox has learned from developing and evolving great strategy games in the 10 years since the release of Victoria 2 has been incorporated into Victoria 3?

Martin Anward: I would say the most important thing is probably the accessibility levels and trying to bring our games to more people because they have a pretty steep learning curve, there is a lot to consider. Crusader Kings 3 was, of course, a big pioneer of this, adding things like nested tooltips, important action alerts, and more.

We’re building a deep and complex game – and we want to build a deep and complex game, we don’t want to streamline it or downgrade it – but it also means all that extra challenge to make people understand the different kinds of tools and ways. to approach it. I think that’s something that really shaped the decisions for this project.

One of the examples that we follow is that we really want to make the cause and effect as obvious as possible in the game. So you know, when you start out as a new player, there is everything that happens, but you you don’t need to be bombarded with all the information at once, you don’t need to understand everything that’s going on. But when something goes wrong, you should be able to figure out why and what you can do about it, and how you can do something different next time. You should be able to pick up the game piece by piece and learn to adapt to situations like this, instead of just, “My economy has collapsed. I don’t know why, I guess I’ll restart and hope it doesn’t fall apart next time.

What are the challenges in making the game accessible without compromising the kind of complexity for which Paradox titles are known?

Mikael Andersson: Obviously there are huge challenges in making complex games accessible. Cause and effect is a prime example of this, as a lot of things in Victoria evolve over time – like how the changes you make to your country impact POPs – but those impacts can be gradual and can trickle down. several years.

Make the player able to understand this cause and effect – like, five years later there is a revolution, what did I do wrong? – you must be able to establish a connection between [actions and outcomes]. We can never really fix this perfectly, but one of the ways we’ve done this in Victoria 3, for example, is by using charts so you can see trends over time.

You can retrace how angry people have been, or what the wealth levels have been in a state for several decades, and try to map that to “Oh, what was I doing then?” The heart of Victoria 3 is industry expansion, strategic growth, making trade deals to try to improve your country’s engine, and you can [see the impact your decisions had] and learn.

Martin Anward: One of the biggest challenges for us in general is just the information overload, because we know it takes some players away from our games; you come in and get bombarded with five alerts, ten things, and all these countries are trying to talk to you. You, as a player who has never played before, you don’t know what’s important and what isn’t, so everything seems just as important which can lead to a sort of decision paralysis.

This is definitely one of the major challenges that we have to tackle, like signaling to the player: ‘This is a problem that you have to solve immediately’ versus’ This is something that could [wait]”.

To conclude, why should gamers be excited about Victoria 3? What do you hope to offer newcomers and alumni?

Martin Anward: Why I’m excited and why I accepted it as a fan was to create a new experience in the unique niche Victoria occupied. Because board simulators are something that as far as I know barely exists outside of the Victoria series, that kind of high-profile games about politics and economics, where everything is connected and where something as simple as increasing the production of luxury clothing can have knock-on effects on your political system and result in easier laws to pass. And I think that’s what a lot of people want from Victoria.

I also think it has something for people outside of existing Victoria fans, as it provides the ability to play a game that is not primarily conflict-focused, but a lot more management-oriented, l ‘adjustment, construction and gardening, and on the outlook. you produce, the people who live there, and you really get a feel for this nation that you made that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

Mikael Andersson: Yeah, one thing that’s been really encouraging throughout the development process is seeing the kind of people in the office who are drawn to this game – not because they’re longtime Victoria fans, but because they are really drawn to the idea. to create and shape their own society, and who approach it like a city builder, like, “I just want to improve the lives of my people.” And there are all kinds of things happening while they’re trying to do that that will get them involved in the grand strategy, and it’s really encouraging to see.

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