"Do you, Aragorn, son of Arathorn, also known as Strider, from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, take Shelob, a huge terrifying man-eating spider, as your wedded wife?" I do. I did. I married a giant spider! And that's just one of the many bizarre fan-fiction adventures you can have with The Middle Earth Project mod for Crusader Kings II. If marrying a spider sounds weird, it'll make more sense when I explain that I began the game playing as Aragorn's liege: a Balrog.
Crusader Kings II
You see folks, this is why April Fools' Day is dangerous. Or awesome. Delete depending on your affinity for zombies. Back in the dark ages of seven and a bit months ago, Paradox Interactive released a teaser for a fictional Crusader Kings Z, a game that hypothetically merged zombie invasions with medieval European strategy. Months later, and that joke is now a real thing that you can play in Crusader Kings 2. Thanks mods!
Thanks to a slip of the finger, I'm now thinking about the game Crusader Kingz. I imagine it would be a grand strategy in which you formed a hip-hop collective and, through bribery, intrigue, and sick rhymes, conspired to bring down the So Solid Crew. I would play the heck out of that game. As it turns out, though, this development diary is more concerned with Crusader Kings 2 and its Sons of Abraham DLC. Where the last video concentrated on changes to Christianity and Papal politics, this time Paradox explain their Jewish and Muslim mechanics. That's mechanics as in game systems.
With the Sons of Abraham expansion for Crusader Kings II arriving next week, the medieval strategy sandbox will also receive the massive 2.0 patch. Heralding the arrival of what Paradox Development Studio calls "phase two" of the game's expansion and DLC cycle, 2.0 has one of the longest change lists of any patch the game has ever received. In addition to Steam achievements, workshop support, Ironman mode, and the replacement of the dismal metaserver-based multiplayer, the patch notes are also laden with the usual, hilarious-sounding fixes you only find in Crusader Kings.
Oh, it's about the Abrahamic religions. I had entirely the wrong end of the stick. I'd assumed Sons of Abraham would transform CK2 into a game in which you played as Tad Lincoln - fourth son of Abraham - running around the White House and getting into comedy scrapes. Come to think of it, an overhaul of Christianity, and the introduction of playable Jewish characters, makes a lot more sense for the medieval grand strategy soap opera. A new development diary provides a complete overview of what Paradox hope to achieve with this latest expansion.
Paradox Development Studio has just announced the fifth expansion for Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham. Two long-requested features, playable Jewish characters and the ability to interact with the Catholic college of cardinals, will make their way into the medieval murder your brother and steal his stuff simulator. The ability to part the seas and march your armies through has yet to be confirmed, but quite a bit else has.
Valve has revealed the specs for the Steam Machines prototypes. Evan, Tyler, Cory, and T.J. weigh in on the implications. Plus: Mongols racing F1 cars, gobbleshaft transplants, the Battlefield 4 beta, and callbacks to the bizarre world of early '90s television.
Remember when buying a game didn’t feel like a guarantee of seeing the ending? There are still hard games out there, Dark Souls flying the flag most recently, but increasingly, the challenge has dripped out or at least softened, often leading to sadly wasted opportunities. What would Skyrim be like, for instance, if its ice and snow wasn’t simply cosmetic, but actually punished you for going mountain climbing in your underpants?
With a quick mod – Frostfall in this case – you’re forced to dress up warm before facing the elements, and things become much more interesting. That’s just one example, and over the next couple of pages you’ll find plenty more. These aren’t mods that just do something cheap like double your enemy’s hit-points, they’re full rebalances and total conversions. Face their challenge, and they’ll reward you with both a whole new experience and the satisfaction of going above and beyond the call of duty.
Paradox Interactive has weighed in on the recent announcement of SteamOS, and with a very positive attitude. CEO Fredrik Wester called it a "great thing for PC gaming," and confirmed that the publisher fully intends to support it going forward. Titles like Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis IV, which already have working Linux versions, will run natively on the new OS.
And so it was that August 30th, 2013 did come to be known as the Day of The Deals. Internet denizens bravely descended on their stores, dodging pay-what-you-want here, and 75% off there. Could any make it through this budgetary gauntlet with their wallets unharmed? That, dear reader, is for you to find out...
Look, basically what I'm saying is there are a lot of cheap games today. The first of which is a staggeringly good Humble Weekly Sale featuring entrées from the Paradox plate.
Two weeks ago, we interviewed Paradox Development Studio on the new converter DLC that lets you import your version of medieval Europe from Crusader Kings II into Europa Univesalis IV. Now that the DLC is out, we went hunting for some of the less than historically accurate groups and nations that can be carried over. From Viking holy orders to a restored Roman Empire, here's how they pan out in EU4.
Last week we brought Dishonored into Skyrim, so this week let’s bring The Elder Scrolls into Crusader Kings II. The Elder Kings mod beautifully transforms medieval Europe into Tamriel, a place I'm much more familiar with than medieval Europe because I play games instead of reading books. The mod introduces elements like birth signs, racial traits, spells, Dark Brotherhood assassins, and problematic monsters, plus new buildings, new council members, and a host of new decisions. Stick around long enough and a new Dragonborn might even pop up somewhere.
This week, we bid hello to a new direction for MMOs as Tyler regales us with voxely tales of Everquest Next from SOE Live... and we bid farewell to intern Jake Godin on his very last podcast. Plus, what's a PC gamer to do when the dreaded Gaming Funk makes everything in your Steam library sound like watching paint dry? All this, our playlist, and more on...
Paradox Development Studio has announced ambitious DLC for Crusader Kings II which will convert your saves from the medieval, Eurocentric sandbox into a playable mod for the upcoming, globe-spanning Renaissance simulator, Europa Universalis IV. Yes, this means that you could potentially play the same faction through over 950 years of alternate history, from CK2: The Old Gods' start date in 867 A.D. to the end point of EU4 in 1821 A.D. I had a chance to grill Henrik Hansson, a programmer who worked on the DLC, on the specifics.
This week, Cory ruins the space-time continuum by moving playlists to the front of the show, while Evan, Tyler, and T.J. look on in horror. We read some real live listener emails, and discuss the concept of mundanity in games. And yes, we discuss Euro Truck Simulator 2... on a US-based podcast!
Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. The diary may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones book one and season one of the TV show. Missed the story so far? Here's part one, part two, part three and part four.
My wife tried to kill me, but that’s OK. I’ve decided Mya Stone – King Robert Baratheon’s bastard daughter, and my new bride who professes to love me – slipped and put the poison in the wrong cup. She must’ve been trying to kill someone else in the castle. An innocent mistake. A totally innocent mistake with absolutely no troubling connotations whatsoever for my rule of the largest bit of Westeros.
Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. The diary may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones book one and season one of the TV show. Missed the start? Here's part one, part two and part three.
My wife is dead and I am sad. Catelyn Stark died last month, and Ned Stark – still ruler of the North of Westeros, and still alive at my hands – is in some serious mourning. Crusader Kings II codifies that mourning in the form of negative character traits: my Ned is now ‘depressed’, ‘chaste’, and a ‘widower’ – traits that conspire to make him about as fertile as a socially awkward panda. That’s a problem when Crusader Kings II’s explicit aim is to create as strong a dynasty as possible, and my eldest son Robb is useless in a fight, diplomatic or otherwise.
Ned’s sad right now but I’m confident, thanks to some Wiki reading, that his malaise will lift. I’ll get over Catelyn, shake off my temporary chasteness and get back to the business of making strong little babies to continue the Stark name. But to do that, I need a new wife.
For the Old Gods’ sake Robert, can you please let someone else have some fun? No sooner have I re-rallied my northern forces (for the second time in as many months) with the express intention of crushing Mace Tyrell’s bid for kingship (also the second in as many months), than Robert beats him up in battle and puts him in his castle. The last time Robert did this, he let Mace go after a stern telling off, patting him on the Tyrell posterior and asking him nicely not to rebel again. Mace, being head of one of Westeros’s most powerful families and ‘Ambitious’ by nature – by character sheet anyway – immediately made another bid for the kingship.
Robert isn’t going to make the same mistake again. Out comes old headlopper, and Mace is no more, executed on Baratheon turf for his repeated treasons. My armies, raised from local peasantry and armed with northern steel – and some sticks and pitchforks – have to once again lay down arms and go back to their respective villages, their swords and pointy objects boringly blood-free. I feel bad. I promised these guys a war – several, really – but my remoteness in comparison to the rest of Westeros means I’m always the warmaid, never the warbastard.
Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. Missed the start? Here's part one.
Ned Stark has killed hundreds of people – including, last week, one of his best mates for a minor transgression. But Ned always stared in their faces as he lopped their heads off, never breaking eye contact as their heads bounced around on the floor like bony footballs. I’m about to make him take a life by nefarious, sneaky means, and I feel bad.
Ned is boss of Westeros’s North, and looks after a vast swathe of land. But I wasn’t happy with the size of his territory. I wanted more for Ned. Last week, I decided he would do whatever it took to increase his holdings – even if that meant taking a life to get at that land.
Victory or Valhall! With the release of Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods, the time has come once again to weave a stirring saga of war, love, betrayal, and adventure. This is the Crusader Kings Chronicle: Lords of the North.