New maps

Alpha 11.1 was released just recently, yet it already has 4 new maps for download (https://discord.gg/3fsaFAj) and a mapmaking tutorial by Wychor:

Posted in News, Video | 6 Comments

Alpha 11.1 update

Following initial release, here’s a minor update with several fixes and improvements:

  • Fixed bug with hotkeys assignment when Ctrl key was pressed and released before assigning a key with another Ctrl key
  • Ported the rest of FXAA 3.11 implementation (better AA)
  • Reordered render init and error messages
  • Wrapped log creation error into a human-readable message
  • Removed unnecessary settings resave on game init
  • Made hotkey UI buttons wider to fit Russian captions
  • Improved pathfinding efficiency by ~35%
  • Changed unit-house damage formula from “AverageDamage/2” to “AverageDamage/1.5*Morale” (Militia will hit weaker, Knights will hit stronger)
  • Reduced time it takes to make a savegame by ~30%
  • Fixed black shadows in Store house construction site
  • Tweaked and minorily improved some house models
Knights Province Alpha 11.1 (installer)

Knights Province Alpha 11.1 (7z package)
Posted in Downloads, News, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Alpha 11 is here!

It is the most worked-on version of the Knights Province yet (except for Alpha 1, of course). Last release was 7255 and this one is 9043. Almost 1750 bits of changes and improvements went into it.

Main features of the new version are:

  • Manned towers. Now each tower can be manned with 1-3 warriors who will pick up bows inside and shoot from atop at the enemy. Warriors will request food to be brought in by Serf when hungry, otherwise they will stop “working” and walk out, just like citizens do. It is yet unclear how warriors specialization will affect his performance in the tower, or if warriors inside could take a fraction of damage from enemy archers. At the moment, all warriors shoot with the same strength, distance and frequency and stay 100% protected inside.
  • Buildable fences. Now you can build and destroy your own fences (and enemy fences too, of course). Fences cost wood to build and block passage for citizens. Warriors can break fences on their way with several blows. So far it is quite a weak obstacle, but with more playtesting that can change. In the future fences are also planned to be used for cattle.
  • Real Fog of War. From now you can see only what you have surveyed. This is how fog behaves in the majority of the games. Implementation was quite tricky, but the end result is well worth it.
  • Early stages of multiplayer accounts. Registration and mission highscores allow you to compete with other single-player players. More on that is covered in the previous article.
  • New and updated campaign missions. Campaign scripting and persistent script storage between missions, customizable icons and maps. Now allows for more varied custom campaigns. Check updated tutorial, Intro and Hostages missions.
  • Added Russian localization as a test of a text translation engine. More localizations can be made later on.
  • Configurable shortcuts/hotkeys are finally here as well. Almost everything is configurable and Ctrl+Alt+Shift are supported as well.
  • Restyled fish count calculation and display in water bodies. Now it is smooth and informative.

Smaller features are:

  • Return of the fraction of building materials on house destruction. Nice bonus or last chance at building a Stonecutter’s – you decide.
  • Revised and improved several house models and textures.
  • Finally added some leather background to in-game forms. It’s still a work in progress though.
  • Added cinematics and speech bubbles support in missions.
  • Allowed to make terrain highlights (invoked from script).
  • Decal and Objects palettes for the MapEd. As well a couple of new objects.
  • Added support for Buttons in dynamic script messages. Your choice can now directly affect mission flow.
  • Changed how coalmaker’s house works, now the coalpiles need to be set outside.
  • Made AI to attack animal dens.
  • A lot of effort went into refactoring alliances. Neutral hands. Players instantiation and mission setup.
  • Reiterated and improved AI in Skirmish (GDP +17%, Starvation -30%).
  • A whole lot of bugfixes and improvements.
  • New music by Juan (Dark Banners, Harvest, Over the Hills).
  • Campaign Builder tool is included with the game now.
Knights Province Alpha 11 (installer) Knights Province Alpha 11 (7z package)

Join the Discord server for discussions and feedback – https://discord.gg/ZGrgC6G

Thanks to everyone who helped and supported the development with feedback, testing, ideas and suggestions, critics, mapmaking and everything else!

Posted in Downloads, News | 1 Comment

Substance Designer purchase

Thanks to monthly support from my patrons on Patreon I was able to purchase Substance Designer!

SD is a tool for procedural texture generation. Those nice shingles, wooden beams, plaster and whitewashed walls, grass and lava. Guess what, instead of painting by hand, all those textures can be generated from noise and simple functions!

So I was looking for shingles textures online again. Shingled roofs are so common in the game and they make the most screen area after terrain. Finding suitable textures (free or not) to use in the game is not easy. Every time it’s either a different scale, too low-res, watermarked, has unclear copyright, etc. So when I found another bunch of neat textures I noticed they were not hand-painted, but procedurally generated. That made me think, if those nice textures are a product of an algorithm, surely I can tweak and repeat that algorithm to get the exact result I’m looking for.

Procedural texture generation is not uncommon to me. In my 3D editing app (Lightwave 3D) there’s a procedural texture generation subsystem. It is rather clunky though, for its main goal is to produce 3D volume materials and affect the render pipeline rather than create flat surfaces. Still it’s the same idea in its core – take small pieces and interconnect them into a more complex system (just like you take houses and build towns in Knights Province).

Procedural texture generation captured my mind a long time ago, but until recently I have not met a good working example. Earlier this year I tried another texture generator – Material Maker. It’s free and open-source, it has a great variety of elements and nodes, but trying to create anything more complex than a simple brick wall texture with mortar has put its performance to its knees. It took seconds to refresh even 256×256 nodes ..

So here comes the SD. I first tried it on trial and made myself a deal – if I can create 2 decent textures in it with reasonable effort – I’m buying it, cos that’s gonna be break even with ordering the same textures from freelancers or painting them myself. After two days of tests I was convinced – albeit textures creation is a tricky and complicated job, SD as a tool offers a very good interface and instruments of doing it. I was able to get acquaintanced with SD UI and toolset in a day and after exploring some examples (included with SD and available online) to craft a decent shingles texture for the Fisherman’s house. Soon followed by wood planks texture. The purchase was made.

Having such control over textures allows me to bring my vision into the game much better.

So far the plan seems to be:
 – generate most common and prominent textures (roofs, walls, wooden beams)
 – roughly UV map them to the existing 3D models
– later on, improve the models and do the proper mapping

Posted in Artwork, How things work, Screenshots, Tools | 4 Comments

Player scores

Knights Province has got one more neat feature provided by the Knights Tavern – Player Scores!
Now you can compare your single-player skills with other players.

Scores are calculated by the following formula:

  • Each mission has a ranking mode (min time, max time, best score)
  • Each mission also has a scoring multiplier (some missions give out only 50% of the points and some 200%. Percentage is configurable in KT depending on the missions difficulty)
  • Some missions are excluded from the scoring (e.g. “Alpha 1”, since it is a development mission, not a real one. “Town Tutorial” is also excluded, since it’s very easy to “win”)
  • For each mission a player has played his place is identified
  • Points awarding system is then applied. It is made after Formula 1, but with a bias towards first 3 places. Places get the following number of points: 10, 10, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. 

The system is not final, but for now it produces rather good results.

The system is not final, but for now it produces rather good results. As usual, test version (r9018) can be downloaded and tried out from Discord (https://discord.gg/cEwJFSY). With that change I’m hoping Alpha 11 is ready to be released in a week or so.

Posted in Sidenotes | 2 Comments

Players list

Alpha 11 release is coming soon and I’m not adding any big changes to the game to not cause any new bugs. I’m getting less and less crashreports, which is a good sign of version becoming stable.

To keep myself busy and get some distraction from bugfixes, I’m also working on smaller side-features (those that don’t affect the game at large). One of such features is a Players List:

Player list is important to have for many upcoming features of the KnightsTavern. E.g. when the game allows for private messaging or sending MP room invites, and many more.

Posted in Live progress, Sidenotes | 4 Comments

Small conveniences

In the next wip build, settings location will change from games folder to “My Documents\My Games\Knights Province”. According to GDSE, this is the most popular location games save their data to. This way settings wont reset each time you download and play new wip version 🙂

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Alpha 11 news

Alpha 11 is nearing its completion and is looking for beta-testers.

It is the most worked-on version of the Knights Province yet (except for Alpha 1, of course). Last release was 7255 and this one is going to be at least 8930. Means that a whole 1600+ bits of changes and improvements went into it.

Main features of the new version are:

  • Manned towers. Now each tower can be manned with 1-3 warriors who will pick up bows inside and shoot from atop at the enemy. Warriors will request food to be brought in by Serf when hungry, otherwise they will stop “working” and walk out, just like citizens do. It is yet unclear how warriors specialization will affect his performance in the tower, or if warriors inside could take a fraction of damage from enemy archers. At the moment, all warriors shoot with the same strength, distance and frequency and stay 100% protected inside.
  • Buildable fences. Now you can build and destroy your own fences (and enemy fences too, of course). Fences cost wood to build and block passage for citizens. Warriors can break fences on their way with several blows. So far it is quite a weak obstacle, but with more playtesting that can change. In the future fences are also planned to be used for cattle.
  • Real Fog of War. From now you can see only what you have surveyed. This is how fog behaves in the majority of the games. Implementation was quite tricky, but the end result is well worth it.
  • Early stages of multiplayer accounts. Registration and mission highscores allow you to compete with other single-player players. More on that is covered in the previous article.
  • New and updated campaign missions. Campaign scripting and persistent script storage between missions, customizable icons and maps. Now allows for more varied custom campaigns. Check updated tutorial, Intro and Hostages missions.
  • Added Russian localization as a test of a text translation engine. More localizations can be made later on.
  • Configurable shortcuts/hotkeys are finally here as well. Almost everything is configurable and Ctrl+Alt+Shift are supported as well.
  • Restyled fish count calculation and display in water bodies. Now it is smooth and informative.

Smaller features are:

  • Return of the fraction of building materials on house destruction. Nice bonus or last chance at building a Stonecutter’s – you decide.
  • Revised several house models (still temp).
  • Finally added some leather background to in-game forms. It’s still a work in progress though.
  • Added cinematics and speech bubbles support in missions.
  • Allowed to make terrain highlights (invoked from script).
  • Decal and Objects palettes for the MapEd. As well a couple of new objects.
  • Added support for Buttons in dynamic script messages. Your choice can now directly affect mission flow.
  • Changed how coalmaker’s house works, now the coalpiles need to be set outside.
  • Made AI to attack animal dens
  • A lot of effort went into refactoring alliances. Neutral hands. Players instantiation and mission setup
  • Reiterated and improved AI in Skirmish (GDP +17%, Starvation -30%)
  • A whole lot of bugfixes and improvements
  • New music by Juan (Dark Banner, Harvest, Over the Hills)
  • Campaign Builder tool is included with the game now.

Join the Discord server and try it out – https://discord.gg/cEwJFSY
Please report bugs and feedback on Discord too!

If all goes well, Alpha 11 will be released this month.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Dungeon missions test

Today I got curious about what would it take to make some dungeon missions in the game. Here are the results:

That’s a tight space, How did he get into there?
Need some stairs
Should be no sun and shadows, right?
Playable in the game!
Posted in Ideas, Screenshots | 4 Comments

Knights Tavern news

Knights Province Alpha 11 is going to be ready soon and it’s time to talk about one more unique feature that it is going to have: Knights Tavern!

[Tavern Scene, 1658, by David Teniers II]

Knights Tavern (KT for short) is a codename for the accounts server we have been developing since 2019. Accounts were one of the more often requested features in KaM Remake, but we never had expertise or bravery to actually implement it (well, for numerous reasons). Attempts were made for the KP, but they did not succeed until recently, when a lucky chance has arrived (in form of an article (https://habr.com/ru/post/491272/) and a code repository (https://github.com/Cooler2/ApusEngineExamples)). Now, knowing that the backend server can be developed in the same language as the game, KT is finally taking its chance to come true.

Neat thing about KT, is that it can be used for both KaM Remake and Knights Province. Both games are very much alike in terms of accounts info they provide and can benefit from. So we can safely build KT in such a way that it allows for a single account for both Knights Province and KaM Remake. Register once and play twice. KP is our testground for the KT. Once it is sufficiently tested, KaM Remake can be upgraded and start using it too.

You can help with KT playtesting right now, but more on that later.

Basic auth functionality is mostly covered: KT has player accounts that can be registered, activated, logged in to and logged out of, forgotten passwords can be reset.

For a proof of concept, KT can report how many player accounts it has and how many players were active within the last hour.

The first useful feature in KT are mission highscores. If a single-player mission was prepared by the mapmaker in a specific way (2 lines of script, one dynamic and one static), the game can submit the mission’s winning score to KT and later on show the player his ranking in that mission.

Highscores for the mission

Word of caution, KT is still in beta and might have bugs in all different areas. We hope to iron them out over time. That’s why we start testing with simple functionality, so flaws in the authentication (which there must be) can be fixed. So, since there might be bugs and weak spots, do not use your everyday life passwords for KT.

KT future allows for many interesting things:

  • Friends, instant messaging, lobby invites, clans, etc
  • Player ratings and reputation, ELO scoring, etc.

KT poses new challenges to us:

  • It needs to be coded in an asynchronous way, so that data requests do not slow down or freeze the game.
  • Player data needs to be passed and stored securely (we already use salts and hashes)
  • We will need to preserve the players data on upgrades and between game versions

Best of all – you can already try out KT and help us improve it! See the latest KP wip builds (available on Discord https://discord.gg/cEwJFSY). Please report any bugs or flaws. We are also open for suggestions on KT functionality. It can steer it into many directions and it would be best to pick ones that are more wanted.

Posted in News | 2 Comments