Crusader Kings II

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Base icon CK2.png Crusader Kings II
CK2 banner.jpg
Release date / Patch
2012-02-14 / 1.02b

Store: Base game
"Character database": Game designer Chris King sheds details on the database used to keep track of the in-characters (part of a series of video diaries leading to the release).

Base icon CK2.png Crusader Kings II is a grand strategy game with RPG elements, developed by Paradoxwiki.png Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive in 2012. It is the sequel to the original Crusader Kings released in 2004.

Contrary to what the title indicates, the game is not primarily about the Crusades, but it was too late to rebrand it.[1] The game is a dynasty and feudalism simulator, set during the Early, High and Late Middle Ages in Europe, north and east Africa, and western Asia. It is based on the Clausewitz 2.5 Engine, which it shares in common with Europa Universalis IV.

It was met with generally positive reviews and has attained a metascore of 82 on Metacritic.

Key milestones[edit | edit source]

3 years of Crusader Kings II
  • August 19, 2010: Crusader Kings II development is officially announced.
  • October 11, 2011: a closed beta is announced.
  • February 4, 2012: a demo is released, featuring four playable characters over a 20-year span
  • February 14, 2012: game is released for Microsoft Windows.
  • May 24, 2012: game is released for Mac OS X.
  • June 26, 2012: Sword of Islam major DLC is released.
  • October 16, 2012: Legacy of Rome major DLC is released.
  • January 14, 2013: game is released for Linux.
  • January 15, 2013: The Republic major DLC is released.
  • May 28, 2013: The Old Gods major DLC is released.
  • November 18, 2013: Sons of Abraham major DLC is released.
  • December 20, 2013: GamersGate version is discontinued, and users receive free Steam keys for their purchased base game and DLCs.
  • March 25, 2014: Rajas of India major DLC is released, Steam Workshop support added.
  • September 18, 2014: CKII base game has sold over one million copies, and 7 million units of DLCs/expansions.[2]
  • October 14, 2014: Charlemagne major DLC is released.
  • December 16, 2014: Way of Life major DLC is released.
  • July 14, 2015: Horse Lords major DLC is released.
  • February 2, 2016: Conclave major DLC is released.
  • August 25, 2016: The Reaper's Due major DLC is released.
  • March 7, 2017: Monks and Mystics major DLC is released.
  • November 16, 2017: Jade Dragon major DLC is released.
  • November 13, 2018: Holy Fury major DLC is released.
  • October 19, 2019: Crusader Kings II becomes free to play forever

Expansion model[edit | edit source]

Main article: Downloadable content

Expansion model is based on a combination of:

  • paying major DLCs that unlock new gameplay (new playable characters or new features)
  • free major content patches that contain the updates on core mechanics and essential features used by the DLC
  • paying minor DLCs that unlock music, graphical or customization features that do not impact gameplay

According to CKII project lead, some features were cut from base game to fit in the 18-month project duration and a few ended up in either DLC or free content patch, who is basically paid by those who do buy the DLCs.[3]

One of the lessons learnt from Sons of Abraham expansion and the dilemma between putting larger more central features in the DLC, but keeping core mechanics in the free patch is that "future expansions will either have to unlock new areas of the game or feature more noticeable (graphically or through sheer weight of content) stuff."[4]

Starting with Horse Lords, all graphical and music packs are marketed into a single "content pack" named after the associated major expansion.[5]

Going further into the reduction of new DLCs, starting with Monks and Mystics packs are directly bundled inside the expansion.

Quality assurance[edit | edit source]

Being a sandbox game, CKII testing process is not trivial. Paradox has reported running nightly automated playthroughs in Observer mode, to check game balance.

After the difficult launch of patch 2.0, Paradox acknowledged an overload and complexity issue regarding QA, and decided to rely more on Steam Open Beta patches while at the same time hiring more QA and increasing size of closed beta test group.[6]

Performance[edit | edit source]

Main article: Optimization

RAM and CPU load has been the limiting factor in expanding the map,[7] due to the low system requirements dating from 2012 (32-bit, 2Gb of RAM, Intel® Pentium® IV). As the in game years go by, the game may slow down due to:

  • the increased number of characters, and the time required to process events and decisions on them.
  • the increased character and title history, increasing auto-save time.

Despite many optimizations, the release of Rajas of India patch, with the inclusion of 327 new provinces (+22%), had the most noticeable impacts.

In order to be able to continue adding new content, a special focus on optimization took place during the development of patch 2.7, with a -30% to -50% speed improvement.[8]

With patch 3.3 the game switched to a 64-bits executable, which should resolve out of memory errors with some very large mods.[9]

See also[edit | edit source]

Dev diaries[edit | edit source]

Main article: Developer diaries

All developer diaries about Crusader Kings II (the base game).

No. Title and Link Description Date
1 Character portraits Covers the new portrait system. 2010-10-11
2 Barons and Settlements Discusses barony-tier characters and the three types of settlements (castles, cities, and churches). 2010-11-04
3 Laws Covers the various Kingdom and Demesne laws, and the differences between the two categories. 2010-12-02
4 Regnal Numbers Covers how regnal numbers are generated. 2011-01-13
5 The map Covers the new map and the graphics used for it. 2011-02-03
6 Events Covers normal events and special letter and narrative events. 2011-03-10
7 Character Portraits and Modding Describes the portrait system in more detail, as well answers questions concerning the modding of portraits. 2011-04-07
8 Religion Discusses the mechanics of the three major religion groups (Christian, Muslim, Pagan). 2011-05-05
9 Mercenaries and Holy Orders Covers the mechanics of mercenaries and holy orders. 2011-06-03
10 Combat Covers the mechanics of the combat system. 2011-07-12
11 War Covers the mechanics of war including casus-bellis and warscore. 2011-08-25
12 Beta Feedback Bonus diary that discusses the beta and includes quotes from several new beta testers. 2011-09-19
13 Don't Mess with the Pope! Short diary about changes to vassal mechanics and the papacy. 2011-09-29
14 Plots Covers how the plot mechanic works. 2011-10-06
15 Buildings Discusses holdings and buildings. 2011-10-13
16 Technology Covers how technology spreads. 2011-10-20
17 The Message System Covers the message system. 2011-10-27
18 The Council Covers the council and the positions within. 2011-11-10
19 Crusades Covers the crusade mechanics. 2011-11-17
20 The Mongols Discusses the arrival of the Mongols. 2011-11-24
21 Usermodding Covers the file-system for mods and event scripting. 2011-12-01
22 Combat Tactics Covers the mechanics of the combat tactics system. 2011-12-15
23 Christmas Q&A Developer question-and-answer thread. 2011-12-22

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]