To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Heroes III (Friday the 28th), Ubisoft have released an interview with two of the guys behind it: David Mullich and Chris Vanover. Sir Mullich speaks about how he was drafted into the production and his thoughts around how the team was put together, while Sir Christian gives us a short talk about the creativity process.
"I had few concerns when I left the project for a few days when my wife gave birth to our second son. When I returned to the office, my team surprised me by creating a new hero for the game, Sir Mullich, whose in-game description was, “Generally stoic, Sir Mullich is prone to spasmodic fits of uncoordinated excitement believed to intimidate his troops into working faster.”"
I came across a Zero Punctuation review of Might and Magic X by chance on Reddit. If you're unfamiliar with this column, well you need to be properly caffeniated, open your ears wide, and not mind the NSFW language:
Do you agree or disagree with the criticism from the review?
Limbic have announced the release of the first update for Might & Magic X. Along with the list of updates, they have also commented on the issues still remaining. Here's a list of things in the first patch:
- 3 new dungeons
- Fixed modding kit
- 16/10 resolution
- Spirit beacon bug fixed
The devs also say that they're working on a Mac version of MMX to be released in the first half of 2014.
Ubisoft is having a sale on several games, including their Might and Magic titles. Included in the mix is Might and Magic X, with a 25% discount. Check out the Ubisoft Web site. I cannot see the sale from my location, but I will trust my good informer!
Deals can also be found on Steam, during the Ubisoft week-end. You can get Heroes V or Clash of Heroes for $2.49, among others, or a franchise pack that contains all the recent Might and Magic games (excluding Might and Magic X). Have a look here.
The big sites have had their say, and now it is our turn to speak. Just added to our list of game reviews is our in-house review of Might & Magic X: Legacy.
The review is written by Tress, one of our loyal members and a real fan of the Might & Magic series.
Having had to be quite stern in our criticism of the previous instalment of the Heroes series, it is pleasing to see that the results of Limbic's efforts, while it would never produce a AAA title, does indeed seem to be a good step in the right direction. Hopefully this is a step that may lead to more, bigger, games in the future.
Ubisoft's Might and Magic X: Legacy is getting fairly good reviews so far, judging from its megacritic score of 74, by the time I write this. Here are the highlights from some of the largest gaming sites:
Joystiq (4/5): Might and Magic 10 plays so smoothly, with an elegant simplicity and almost effortless depth, that I can forgive its lack of story and indifferent graphical presentation. There's a common argument that pits the more complex/confusing conventions of older games against the accessible/"dumbed down" conventions of more recent fare, with one always good and the other always bad, depending on your point of view. Might and Magic 10: Legacy reveals just how irrelevant those arguments are. It's my new favorite installment in the series, and it offers a great example of how to update old-fashioned RPG mechanics for the present day.
Game Informer (8.25/10): Might & Magic X: Legacy lives up to the quality of its long-lost predecessors. Despite streamlining and accessibility upgrades, it’s not a game for everyone. Turn-based grid walks are a rarity today and the title may feel a bit bizarre to those that never had a chance to experience 90’s era Might & Magic fare, but for those that have always wanted a legitimate heir to the classic series, Might & Magic X: Legacy provides.
Eurogamer (7/10): Might & Magic 10: Legacy feels like a pleasant throwback to dungeon crawls of decades past, but its limited scope and combat-heavy focus might put off those pining for the freedom afforded by the more recent Elder Scrolls games, or the wordy character interaction of a Dragon Age. Nonetheless, for those keen on poring over stats and comparing colour-coded loot, it serves as a modern introduction to those games' precursors, delivers a heady blast of nostalgia, and preserves a little slice of history.
GameSpot (6/10): Might & Magic X: Legacy is a somewhat successful trip back in time to an era when RPGs were both simpler and more complicated than they are today, and a lot more demanding of players when it came to combat. If nostalgia drives you to visit this particular kingdom, you'll not likely regret the time spend there. If your good old days weren't brimming with games of this nature, it's more difficult to appreciate the take-no-prisoners challenge and overlook the limitations.
PC Gamer (73/100): What gives Legacy its old school charm though is that as much as it's weighed down by an obviously low budget and the mechanical sacrifices of jumping back a decade, there's a love for its style underpinning the action. The result isn't likely to do much for anyone raised on a diet of The Elder Scrolls, and even at its best is a nostalgia trip rather than call for revolution. Even so, for old-school RPG fans as sad as its creators seem to be that nobody makes games like this any more, it’s a solid way to relive the good old days.
Many more reviews are expected during the next couple of days, so we will provide an update in time. Until then, tell us whether the critics' comment match your own impression of the game so far.
I thought I'd check out some of the good deals out there for you, so you can get your hands on some games if you haven't already. Please don't hesitate to post a comment here if you discover some other good deals out there.
GOG.com has the HoMM V bundle on sale for $20, that's a decent buy, especially considering you get the full game with all expansions, DRM free.
They also have a Might and Magic 6-pack Limited Edition available for $10 - that's a steal. What's good about this is that you get all the six first M&M titles compatible with new Windows OS. Also check out the bonus material.
If you're into point-and-click adventures, have a look at Dreamfall: The longest journey. Made by Funcom in Norway, it's actually quite a good game in its segment. Currently at $15 it's not on the cheapest side, but I think it's worth it.
That Master of Magic is available for $6 is a good note on which to end the GOG recommendations. If you see any other good deals there in the coming days, let us know; they're bound to update their sales list soon.
Amazon.com also have some good deals up; the Bioshock triple pack downloadable for $15 being one of them. These pages change all the time, and I also see the American and UK sites being hugely different, so I'd recommend browsing for good deals and see if anything piques your interest. Generally, Amazon will lower their prices on mid-range hardware slightly (since new, upgraded models are arriving in January), but most software aren't necessarily on sale just because it's New Year's.
One thing I noticed is that the Heroes VI complete edition is available for $10, so if any of you have been waiting for the price to drop on this game, now's the time. What's good about that is that the game comes ready-patched and with the expansion and the DLCs.
Steam's holiday sale ends January 3rd, and their objects change every day. They have "daily offers" and "lightning sales" (every 8 hours), and as I type this I can see the same Heroes VI Complete edition for sale at -75%
I also see some good deals on Age of Empires II HD, the indie game Legend of Dungeon and Metro: Last night. When you browse for games in this store, keep an eye out for games that are playable on multiple platforms; Windows, Apple iOS and Linux.
After years of development, the Sighisoara team have completed the second campaign: Masters of Sighisoara II: The Undead of Xerphef. It is a 5-map campaign designed for Heroes III, ready for download here.
We here at Celestial Heavens are delighted that dedicated fans are still following through on their initiated work to such an extent that they are able to complete campaigns as well as single maps. It is a testiment to their dedication as much as the quality of the H3-4 editors that we are still able to renew the database and increase the replayability of these old games, more than a decade after their release.
Here's to hoping the release of MMX: Legacy in January will be a successful one, that Heroes VII will follow soon thereafter and be a lot better than its predecessor, and that we will have many great games to play and have fun with throughout the year.
Zeriel and Broseph over at RPG Codex have posted a thorough and, frankly, excellent preview of Might & Magic X: In it, they delve deep into the story, gameplay and overall impressions from a typical diehard MM fan point of view.
"If you're an old grognard who grew up playing games like Wizardry and the earliest Might and Magic titles, you don't need to know anything more: Might & Magic X is a beautiful dinosaur that just stepped out of a time machine. It marries old-fashioned mechanics that should never have been abandoned with a modern graphical approach. There is nothing else on the market quite like it, and for the fans of this forgotten genre it's an unavoidable day one purchase."
Indeed, the game does seem like it will achieve its goal of returning to the "roots" of Might & Magic, aiming to satisfy those grumpy old MM fans who care little for effects and instead want a nostalgic revisit of their childhood's favourite passtime.
The question is, as RPG's preview also summarizes, whether this niche game will be a success beyond the core fans... A success big enough to warrant a follow-up. It will be interesting to see whether people still want to play this kind of game.
The latest expansion for the online card game Duel of Champions has been released. It is called 5 Towers and contains 80 new cards, a new creature type, a new card type called "buildings", the ability to use your cards in multiple decks, tons of updates, bugfixes and lots more.
Go here to read the official announcement with full info.
So we know that Might & Magic X will require Uplay, just like all Ubisoft PC games do. Before we go any further, I should say that there is nothing Limbic (the MMX developers) can do about this, it's a decision way above their heads. I will also mention the fact that Ubisoft have changed their old method of using Uplay (where you had to stay connected constantly while playing the games); it is now used only as a one-time activation feature when you install your game. This article on the Open Dev Blog explains Uplay implementation in MMX.
With that out of the way, it's time to move on to the critique:
1. We don't like Uplay. We don't like the concept. Why? Basically, the main problem is that you are completely reliant upon someone else's software or hardware. Much like online systems such as Steam, any problems they have will be transferred to you. The Ubisoft servers have a habit of going down, and this means that for an indeterminate amount of time, all those magnificent "special features" will be unavailable to you. The Dev Blog mentions cloud saves and social features. Good luck getting hold of them if the servers go down. If all game features were local, i.e. on a disc, you'd have full autonomy: whether Ubisoft are having hardware trouble or not, you have access to all features. This is why I believe this route, the online features, to be fundamentally flawed. It sounds good in theory, but the infrastructure is still trying to catch up with the game developers' designs. I'm not even going to get started on the potential security issues...
2. Autoupdate. In the article mentioned above, Limbic say that Uplay will auto-patch the game when an update is released. It sounds great, and very convenient... until you think about it carefully. What it means is that if you want to start the game and be connected to Uplay, in order to connect with your friends, get extra stuff/points etc... the game is automatically updated. What happens if there's a 200MB patch waiting for you, you have a slow DSL line and all you have time for is a quick half-hour game before dinner? You see, I experienced something similar the other day with Steam: I started up XCOM and just wanted a small mission to have some fun before bedtime, but Steam forced me to update the game first... and the update wasn't exactly small - it took more than an hour to download. The bottom line is: I hope the Uplay Download manager can be set to disable auto-patching and let the players choose when to update their games. We also need patches to be released in single-file format (.exe or .zip or whatever) for players with slow/no connections, so they can d/l it at work or some other place, and then take it home on a USB.
3. One-time activation. It's the lesser of two evils, so to speak. Ubisoft had to back down over their "always on DRM" solution, and this is a way they can keep at least some control over the online system. Most of us can accept the one-time activation policy as a compromise, but some cannot, for obvious reasons: what if the gaming PC is not connected to the Internet? I asked the developers of Heroes VI what they could do to help those players this applied to, and the answer was: "nothing". No wonder they got fired and went bankrupt.
Another inherent flaw in the online activation scheme is: what if Uplay is down when you try to activate the game? This has happened before, causing some fans on the official forum to rename it "Udon'tplay", rather fittingly, and also causing Ubisoft to perform a much-needed server upgrade. One wonders if this thing will never happen again. With MMX too being dependent upon Uplay for activation, you will be unable to install and play your game if the servers happen to be down at the time.
We hope Limbic (being a fairly smart bunch of people) will make every effort to satisfy the fans in these regards.
For more information about Uplay, check out Wikipedia.
Limbic have announced the second update of the early access MMX version. In addition to lots of bug fixes, the changes include a modding kit, some dialogue, passive abilities, secret door models, a minimap notes, interactive objects and lots more.
NB! Using old saves from previous versions of the game will cause issues. For example, items at the vendors will be displayed in the wrong order and items that you had in the inventory before installing the patch will be lost. Therefore, Limbic recommend that you start a new game after updating the game.
For Uplay customers, it is crucial that all 3 parts of the 2nd patch are installed before loading the game.
The free-to-play Command & Conquer title Victory Studios were working on, has been cancelled. While not clear from the cancellation post on the studio's website, EA have confirmed to Polygon that this means the Victory Studios team are being disbanded.
With that in mind, maybe Ubisoft should pounce on JVC (not literally) and recruit him for future M&M titles such as Heroes VII?
After the fans have been discussing and asking questions on various forums for some time, Marcus from the developer team comes put with this great Q&A on the dev blog; a total of 20 questions on everything from combat to character creation.
About shopping: "There will be no special trading options. However, more item tiers are planned, because we also think that currently there’s not enough item variety to keep the item progress interesting. This includes literally all kind of items from armor pieces, jewelry, weapons, shields and the prefix/suffix probabilities and combinations of magic items. The design goal is to eliminate the "Oh, it's the same dagger AGAIN"-feeling. Also, merchant offers will be a little more individual, fitting the merchant’s location and background. For instance, the chance to find fire based equipment will then be higher at dwarven merchants."
This time, in their "Meet the Ancients" interview series, the Limbic Open Blog brings out Christian Vanover from the line of former NWC designers. In this interview, Chris tells us about his thoughts on Might & Magic and allows us to catch up with his current leisures.
"In the 10 years since New World Computing's closure, I've gradually transitioned from Designer to Producer, having worked on Xbox (Forza Motorsport 1-3), then a web-based MMO (Marvel Super Hero Squad Online), and finally transitioned to work in mobile games (multiple titles, including something super-secret currently in development!)."
The developers of MMX have informed us that the "Early Access" version is now subject to its first update, with 4 new classes, a day/night cycle extension, an items comparator and some 100+ bugfixes.
More interestingly, they have also included a Q&A with some of the questions fans have been asking, like:
"Why did you propose an Early Access program for MMX? And why not a beta?"
"How far will you be able to improve/update the game?"
"What is the release date of Might & Magic X – Legacy?"
"Do you want a DRM or always-online copy protection in Might & Magic X?" Read the whole Q&A here.
While you digest that, have a look at this new speed painting video that was just published.
The Might and Magic community are a group of nostalgic diehards. Whenever something new is created, complaints immediately abound that it is not the same as before; that some past game or feature was better. With the announcement of MMX: Legacy and the intention of "going back to the roots" as it were, I started thinking about this. Why do we have this tendency to criticize all that's new instead of welcoming the changes? Yes, I include myself; I have certainly moaned enough about the graphics and design decisions of the Ubisoft era, not to mention the online systems. Why can't we just leave the past for dead, move on and focus on what we have at the moment? Why compare the current with the ancient? Why not just focus on what is here; what is good and what is not?
I recently watched an interview with Eric Idle - I think he said it best - talking about the fans who want the Pythons back together. In short, he thinks they don't. He said it was like "The Beatles". When people say how much they wish the band would get back together: that means you want to be young again, not that you want those old fossils up on a stage, playing new songs.
I think it is much the same with the M&M fans. We don't necessarily want the old games remade (albeit games like the refurbished Baldur's Gate is certainly on my "to play" list): what I think many of us want is the feeling we had when we were playing the old games. Those days, sadly, are gone. Feeling nostalgic yet? Well, it's about to get worse - keep reading. No matter how much you could wish for it, there is no returning to the days when you were sitting in your old room with your IBM Aptiva or whatever it was, your mom cooking dinner for you, or when you were in your dorm room with a whole weekend ahead of you, with no other responsibility than the occasional trip to the fridge. Does that mean you cannot remember those days with fondness? Certainly not.
It does, however, mean that there is little point in singing the old refrain that "things were better in the old days" when it comes to the new games. I think that what we should be hoping for is not the exact same game remade; what we want is a return to the feeling we had once upon a time. Sadly, no game can recreate that exact feeling. However, I think it is possible to create something similar. The feeling of being immersed in the gameplay, the puzzles, the difficulty and the eating of pizza at 3 a.m. while still in front of your screen. When you played those old games you remember so fondly today, did you sit and think that it was better in the past? No, you immersed yourself in the game. The now.