Here's a small and interesting story: New Scientist have a report from an experiment done by Paul Cairns, a professor of human-computer interaction at the University of York. The idea was to see if the placebo effect which has been tested in other areas works the say way in computer gaming.

To test this, his team had several players play Don't Starve and told them that while the first map would be random, the second map would be using an adaptive AI that changed the difficulty level according to the player's skill. The better the player, the harder the map would become, and vice versa. In the survey the players filled out after finishing the game, players revealed the placebo effect. According to the article:

"[N]either game used AI – both versions of the game were identically random. But when players thought that they were playing with AI, they rated the game as more immersive and more entertaining."

The results are backed up by psychologist Walter Boot at Florida State University, who concludes that the experiments clearly show how "expectations influence people’s gaming experiences".


I find it an interesting read and it makes me wonder how many Heroes VII players have their playing experience marred by having their expectations lowered by reading reviews beforehand. After all, as the experiment clearly shows: if you expect the AI to be bad because people have told you it is, you may experience it as such no matter the actual quality. What if you're a medium to low-level player who doesn't care too much about the AI - maybe it would be good enough if it was of a medium quality? A competitive player would find it inadequate. Reading a review written by the latter could lower expectations even for players who have lower requirements.

Something I will definitely keep in mind when writing our review.

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Despite what the programmers at Limbic thought on release day, and in spite of the ridiculously huge day-1-patch, Heroes VII was released with quite a lots of bugs, confirming our earlier statements that beta testing is not as thorough as the testing done by actual consumers. Both the Ubisoft and Steam forums, as well as our own, have been inundated with complaints from disappointed customers. For those of you who are waiting for more stable and polished versions, there is light in the tunnel.

Ubisoft have announced that the first patch is coming soon, possibly some time next week. We think back to the days when Limbic were put on the impossible task of saving Heroes VI, working over night if necessary and taking great pride in giving their customers as good a product as possible. We here at Celestial Heavens agree with the fans' criticism of the game's current state, but also remain hopfeul that the eager gremlins over at the Limbic office can fix it. Our current recommendation is to wait a bit and keep tabs on the forums to see if the situation improves.

We are encouraged to help the team hunt down the remaining bugs by reporting them when we find them. This post explains how you can report bugs, but we also know that the developers are keeping tabs on this dedicated bug report thread in our Round Table forums, so you can report them there as well.

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Are you playing Heroes VII?

Got some funny or interesting things happening?

Why not This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can display them on our "Picture of the Day" feature?

Standing by. :)

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Might & Magic: Heroes VII was launched today. The wait is over, now it is time to see what the finished product actually looks like! I just downloaded the game (10GB) through Steam, but I presume downloading is not an option for everyone; thankfully, there are physical copies being sold as well.

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We will publish a review in due course, but only after playing the game properly and also trying to use the editor. In the mean time, you can all discuss the game in our forums.

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Ubisoft have announced that as Heroes VII approaches its official launch date, there will be two new streaming sessions on Twitch with Limbic and Ubisoft, respectively:

This may be your final opportunity to quiz the developers on the game's features. Wanna play your part?

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Today's Twitching session about the H7 map editor also featured an interview with Jon Van Caneghem, who had some interesting things to say about the early days of the franchise and the road it has taken to today.


  • Currently works on mobile games. Still races cars.
  • Tells of what it was like Heroes 1 and 2.The size of the team when working on H1 was 10-15 people, H2 needed about 50.
  • H2 started out as a strategy game, but went in the direction of RPG with the expansions.
  • Why was H3 such a success? They had learned from the earlier games, and lots of time was put into the editor.
  • Was surprised and pleased to hear that Heroes games was a success in Russia and China. Sales were low there (the games were pirated instead), so they didn't know.
  • Favourite Heroes game: H3 since he spent lots of time on it.
  • Some stuff about the Forge faction and mixing fantasy with sci-fi.
  • JVC felt the pressure to turn Heroes into a real-time game as more and more games went in that direction but eventually decided for it to stay turn-based.
  • Excited that Ubisoft took over the franchise and continued making games - that they would live on.
  • JVC was approached by Ubisoft back in the days of creating H5 but was busy with his new company and couldn't dedicate his entire time to they decided not to work together.
  • Favourite features of the Heroes games: balance and replayability, and having an editor players could use.
  • Questions from the VIP fans:
    • Would he still mix fantasy and sci-fi together if creating the games today? For the RPG games, yes. That was part of the original canon.
    • Kreegans invented as a race that would invade and cause havoc. Not the same as the Creators, which started off as being the dev team. The Ancients started out being the same thing as the Creators - the people making the game. It was integrated into the game when fans put the story together.
    • Did want to make an MMO but never got to try that. Also liked the direction Dark Messiah took, but generally just likes that new games are created.

Watch live video from Ubisoft on Twitch

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Our old buddy Marzhin popped by and said here will be another Twitch stream by Ubisoft on September 8th, this time featuring stuff about the H7 map editor, as well as what Marzhin calls "some surprises and announcements".

The official announcement about the video is here.

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We have gotten word that Limbic are going to set up a live stream of the closed beta #2 tomorrow. During the stream, Dan S and a level designer will be playing a skirmish map and answer questions from you fans, chatting and having a good time.

You wanna hang out with the devs?

Join the stream here at 15:00-18:00 GMT+2 (German time)

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The "gold version" of a game traditionally means the version that is printed on CDs/DVDs and shipped to stores for distribution. In later years, though, especially with the breakthrough of digital distribution, the term has become somewhat ambiguous: it usually means the finished product as the players see it on day 1 of sales.

The Heroes VII developers have now announced that the game is "content & feature complete", but that bugfixing and polishing will continue for another month right up until release on Sept. 29th. With Ubisoft, that means a "day-1 patch" to accompany the physical copies if that is what you have bought.

This final development is what the second beta test is for. If you're playing that, please help the devs all you can by reporting any weaknesses you encounter, so that the final version gets as good as possible. The devs would like you to focus in particular on multiplayer bug reports and AI optimization. Go here to read all about the second beta.

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