We are Paradox Development Studio. We have made the best selling strategy games Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, and are now working on Hearts of Iron IV and Stellaris.

Joining this AMA are Johan Andersson (EVP Creative Director, aka producerjohan), Dan Lind (Design Lead, aka pocat2), Thomas Johansson (Studio Manager, aka PDS_Besuchov), Bjorn Blomberg (Community Manager, aka Paradoxal_Bear), Jakob Munthe (Brand Manager, aka JMunthe) and me, Troy Goodfellow (PR/Asst Dev, aka TroyatPdx).

We start answering questions at 1:00 PM Eastern, today, and will end at 5:00 PM

Here is our proof! https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/paradox-development-studio-doing-an-iama-on-reddit-tomorrow-tuesday-23rd.909936/#post-20706054

Comments: 1989 • Responses: 15  • Date: 

a_guile878 karma

Can we get another option on the Comet event in EU4? I feel like it does not offer the breadth of possibilities that it deserves.

TroyAtPdx1556 karma

You Pause to Consider the Possibilities. (Stability -1)

UnknownPekingDuck312 karma

What historical period would you want to explore if you had to create a new licence ?

TroyAtPdx1083 karma

I want a Bronze Age game. I am alone in this.

Vysys125 karma

What's the biggest draw for you with the bronze age? I assume it would be a Grand Strategy game, so what unique or interesting twists on the game would make it stand out from CK2 and EU4?

TroyAtPdx441 karma

The Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean has it all. Empires rising and falling, new religions, new social structures, diplomatic marriages, everything on a knife's edge because the social structures aren't quite robust enough to withstand catastrophic events.

Loregoyle213 karma

Huge fan of Crusader Kings II and EUIV. Stellaris is my most anticipated game of 2016!

It seems that most players (including me!) learned to play CK2 and EU4 by watching fan-made "how to play" videos on YouTube, which made the games far easier to learn than using the in-game tutorials. Do you plan to include more robust tutorials for your future games, or do you think that the nature of grand strategy means that a comprehensive in-game tutorial is just not possible?

TroyAtPdx313 karma

Tutorials are something we're very interested in being better at. Our grand strategy games aren't something like Civilization, where you start with a few small decisions and then they build on each other. You are immediately given all the toys to play with and it can be overwhelming.

And fan-made videos - even the best ones - can be made obsolete in a year or two because of our DLC. So this really falls on us to do it better.

We are working on better in-game documentation, official tutorial videos, quick start tours of the interface, more structured tutorial scenarios. Then we should keep updating them.

This is a known issue for PDS. We want to do it right.

KurtiKurt117 karma

Hey guys, I ‘am a really big fan of your work. Since I discovered Eu4 I stopped playing almost all other games and bought all of your recent grand strategy titles + cities skylines. One thing I especially enjoy is that your games get even better over time because you develop additional content. This is what I always wished for many of my favorite games in the past and I’m happy to spend some money on a DLCs to have the game even more awesome. However, one thing I realized is that you always need some special features for your DLCs to have a unique selling point. And to be honest, sometimes I don’t even need these features. I almost never played in the new world (El Dorado) or hordes (Cossacks) or in the RNW (Conquest of Paradise) in EU4. What I enjoy way more are new features which might not be so sexy If you look at them the first time. The best new features in EU4 for example have been simple things like an improved diplomacy / diplomatic feedback, better vassal interaction, new province autonomy, transferring occupation, improved religions, province development… The same is true for Cities Skylines. Many people complained that the new features like snow and heating are to specific and that they would have rather liked more fine-tuning of the game mechanics. So my point is that you should not be too shy about working on core mechanics which might not be so shiny because people like me will buy your DLCs because of these changes (even though they are free) and not because of the features which are completely new (like the Estates). So one of my questions is what do you as a fan of your own product actually enjoy more? An improvement in overall gameplay or the introduction of new features?

TroyAtPdx145 karma

Ah, the old balance between free and paid content. I think that updating and fine-tuning the core mechanics is something we should do anyway, and not necessarily go around selling DLC as "now coalitions suck less!" or "ping pong armies are gone!"

New features are fun for the dev team since each one brings us ever closer to the perfect world sim that will consume all of our time and probably some souls. So many hours...

For me, it really does depend. For EU, I really like Estates, still indifferent to Parliaments, love the free changes to the map. (Honestly, I would be happy with constant map updates. I'm an atlas freak).

But I am quite sure a huge chunk of the dev team would disagree on this. Still, be aware that this is a balance we think about all the time.

King_Henry_LXIX38 karma

How much time do you intend to put into improving EU4 and CK2 in the future via DLC's, patches, etc.? Will support for these titles cease once Hearts of Iron 4 comes out?

TroyAtPdx69 karma

Support will continue. We love working on EU4 and CK2 and people are still playing them! We won't work on them indefinitely - eventually you add so much that a sequel starts to make more sense (for financial or technical reasons.)

But for now, everything continues as normal.

LukeKynic31 karma

Is Europa worth a buy if you're into games like Sid Meier's Civilization V?

TroyAtPdx87 karma

I think so? But EU4 and Civ 5 are my two most played games on Steam, so what do I know?

The two are very different - EU4 doesn't have a symmetrical start and there's no scaffolding of small decisions and then medium decisions and then big decisions; it's everything at once.

But EU4 does offer, I think, the opportunity to genuinely pursue new strategies and experiments every time you play. It's more unpredictable than Civ and requires a lot of adaptability.

And you can play as Ulm.

ShadowMantis50020 karma

Hi, thanks for this AMA!

I was wondering what each of the development team's favourite games are, either that you made or in general?

TroyAtPdx22 karma

EU4, honestly. But I also have 2000 hours in Civ 5, so I guess that is my favorite non-PDS game.

Fatherlorris17 karma

Hey Paradox, I love your work!

I’ve noticed recently that there is a big gender disparity in the grand strategy community.

I know you are committed to fixing it, but what are your future plans to help other genders feel more welcome?

TroyAtPdx35 karma

It's always hard to get an accurate read on the precise gender balance of who is playing your games. Women online tend to talk about the games they play in different spaces and in different ways - often for very good reasons.

But yes, the genre is clearly male dominated despite the fact that women have a demonstrated interest in history and politics.

Crusader Kings II did well with women according to our internal metrics - much better than our previous games - and I think that selling the role-playing and story-telling aspect was a big help here from a marketing perspective.

So what can we do proactively to attract more women to grand strategy? The best thing I think we can do is, in fact, something that would help everyone. Encourage people to play and fail and then give them the tools to learn from their mistakes and try again.

I've seen women streamers experiment with our games and try to learn them, only to have commenters take them to task for not mastering the game first. But I haven't mastered EU4 thousands of hours later. We need to encourage this sort of public play by women, since, increasingly, streaming is a way we model how games are played.

I think that adding things in our historical games that do not ignore the female experience or historical possibilities is also very important. Our historical titles are great at so much geographic representation.

And, honestly, a lot of this comes down on me in the PR side to help present our games as challenging and fun for everyone. We have a big hill to climb, but Civilization was once a very male dominated series, too. We can get there. Expanding our market is important.

Meneth16 karma

To expand slightly on this, surveys I've run in /r/paradoxplaza shows there's 60 men for every woman in that subreddit.

The overall community probably isn't quite that polarized, but there's no doubt it is a bit of a sausage fest.

TroyAtPdx24 karma

Right, but again, this ties into how women and men socialize about games differently. Reddit itself is about 2/3 male.

SAeN6 karma

Troy when are we going to get a Xenonauts 3MA?

TroyAtPdx9 karma

Ha, should probably not address podcast questions on my work time. But I think this was on our schedule last year and slipped. It is another game I am bad at.

AugenRollen3 karma

Hello Paradox Games. I am a huge fan of Hearts of Iron series and I just signed up on reddit just to participate in this ama.

I want to ask if Hearts of Iron 4 will be available to early access on Steam? I think many of your fans would be interested in paying for it.

Love your work, thank you

TroyAtPdx5 karma

I get a lot of requests from people asking for chances to play Hearts of Iron 4 early. But we don't do early access, I'm afraid. Company policy.

gohuskies2 karma

One thing that Paradox games do really well is model internal issues for your nation/dynasty. In peacetime, you don't only try to optimize your cities and regions, but you also have a lot of existential threats from within - that pesky cousin with a claim on your duchy in CK2 or the legions of Communist rebels in Vicky 2. I feel that having significant internal affairs to deal with are really important in preventing games from turning into a Civilization-esque race through the tech tree to blow everyone to pieces.

How will that sense of constant internal tension be implemented in Stellaris?

TroyAtPdx4 karma

In Stellaris, your planet has POPs (kinda like in Vicky). These POPs will, at the start, be a homogeneous lot. As the game evolves though, some of your citizens will start to diverge from your species's core beliefs. Or nomadic species have taken up residence. Or you have conquered some not-very-happy people.

All of this will lead to complications in your empire at both the planetary level and the overall level. Some will agitate for independence, some will demand policy changes.

Internal strife will still be there.