- by MadMax
Hi all of you that are a part of the lovely Celestial Heavens community, where did the time go?!
It's been 2 months, no wait, it has actually been 3 months since I finished the interview with Marcus Pregent for Celestial Heavens. I was finally starting to feel a little bit better after having suffered from covid-19 for a couple of weeks. I was finally on the road to recovery and I decided to carry on and have the interview.
The interview turned in to a 3 hour long one, with lots of fun and juicy information about the Heroes of Might and Magic series, and a lot about Marcus Pregent's carreer and experiences within the gaming industry.
I saved all the videos and then I told myself "I'll try to finish the editing by this weekend."
The weekend passed. Once more I was feeling the aftermaths of the corona virus, and I slept and I slept and I slept.
One week passed. I was still feeling under the weather, unable to get back to exercising and a full 10 kg lighter than before.
The weeks passed and once again I was feeling better, but instead of the pressing tiredness of the virus, there was now college courses who drained my energy (I'll spare you the details but let's just say that I have a lot more knowledge about Satanism, occultism, AI-based intelligence and more now).
Anyways, here we are, it's April 21st and I am finally opening Premiere Pro with the intention of editing the 3 hour long video (don't worry, I am going to try to trim it down as much as possible without losing any of it's juicyness) and I am finally getting to the point of this entire post.
I just want to say that I am sorry. I am sorry for keeping you all, and of course Mr.Pregent as well waiting. But even more so, I am sorry for keeping you in the dark, without taking the time to update you all on the progress, even if there was none.
I do want to point out that I have about 3 weeks until my next exam, the most important one of my life so far. But I am taking all the time I possibly can to get this video out asap!
Now let's edit and get this video out to you all!
(PS. If anyone out there reading is some sort of a video editing guy or girl or anything like that, we'd gladly take your help in future endeavours)
- by Pol
Welcome. Hope each of you is doing relatively well.
With this Newsletter... another change. Previously, whenever anyone signed up for the Newsletter, they received all of the previous Newsletters, one-by-one, week-by-week, until they were caught up. This approach turned out to be pointless, as it isn’t too difficult to hunt down all of the earlier Newsletters. So, with this month, all past and future Newsletters will be available via the Fanstratics website. No more trickle of content.
For those of you seeking past Newsletters, you will find links for each at the end of this and future Newsletters.
Until next time.
Fanstratics Game Director & Designer
Questions, Answers & Comments
Fanstratics Faction #5: Krasadox.
In the craggy, Arid desert, dwell the vulgar Krasadox. Unkind to the weak, their crass culture, like their environment, elevates the strong and debases the delicate. While most would consider them to be crude and barbaric, they consider confrontation to the purest form of respect and honesty. Nature is not cute. Nature is cruel and uncompromising. Why untie the knot, when you can hack through it? Why solve the puzzle box, when you can simply crush it? Krasadox believe in brutal efficiency.
This faction will be familiar to anyone acquainted with HoMM3’s ‘Stronghold’. Representing the Krasadox is the Gnoll Spear Thrower, which can be viewed in the Fanstratics Gallery. This inclusion may surprise some, as the Gnoll was originally in HoMM3’s ‘Fortress’. When building the troop rosters for the various factions, relative themes were adjusted, and in the end... the Gnoll was a better fit with the Krasadox. So, a modification was made.
Fanstratics Feature: Legendary ‘Boss’ Battles.
In last month’s ‘feature highlight’, I described the Troop Rally Ability as an old idea which never made it past the conceptual stage. Legendary Boss Battles is another such idea... and another logical one. If you look at HoMM3, it is clear where I wanted to have these events, specifically the ‘creature banks’.
Why were full boss battles not implemented in HoMM3? Time. We simply didn’t have the time. Like the Troop Rally Ability, it was a new feature and would require new programming and more unique art. So, I quickly discarded the idea, and instead settled for battles where the Hero’s Army was ‘surrounded’ by the Enemy Army (versus the typical Left against Right arrangement). Later, with the Armageddon’s Blade expansion, we implemented the four neutral dragons (Faerie, Rust, Crystal, and Azure), which were arguably the game’s first boss creatures. While these dragons were more powerful, they were not what I ultimately wanted.
Almost 10 years later, I specifically remember playing ‘King’s Bounty: The Legend’, encountering the ‘giant turtle’, and thinking to myself, “Yep. There it is.” There were other such encounters in ‘King’s Bounty: The Legend’: a giant spider, a giant lizardman, a giant demon, a giant mech, etc. My favorite was the Kraken. Regardless, for Fanstratics, the plan is to have one ‘boss’ loosely associated with each of the nine Factions.
It is very interesting to know if you are familiar with the gameplay and game mechanics of the subsequent games of Heroes of Might and Magic (IV — VII), and King’s Bounty Legends? Will you take ideas for the most successful game elements from there?
Speaking of ‘King’s Bounty: The Legend’...
While it is more difficult than ever before, due to the sheer quantity of games being published today, I do try to stay market informed. All of the HoMM’s, and HoMM related games, are typically on my radar, and if there is an idea or mechanic I find inspiring... yes... I try to incorporate it. I’d be a fool to ignore a good idea.
Keep in mind, for all the people who love a unique element from a specific game, there are always others who hate it. Obviously, as a game designer, this results in a ‘no win’ situation. For myself, this leads to what I find so interesting about this question. It gets to the inherent conflict of any creative endeavor... audience expectations versus author aspirations.
Game development is a production triathlon. It requires focused attention, one day after the next, over the course of years. If I’m not in love with the product I’m creating... my desire will evaporate and the production will falter.
I must create the game I long to play. With this in mind, for Fanstratics, I have two general design guidelines.
First... do I find ‘it’ inspiring (author)?
Second... is ‘it’ in the spirit of the original HoMM games (audience)?
If I believe the answer to both questions is ‘yes’... I work to integrate ‘it’ into the game (time and budget permitting).
In my humble opinion, you should definitely consider making the game cross platform. Many users are switching to Apple and Linux.
HoMM3 was eventually ported to Linux, so a part of me wants to continue this tradition. Unity makes compiling the game for Linux relatively easy, Steam encourages developers to port their games to Linux, and there’s always Wine. It’s testing, with different distros, with different hardware configurations, where things become complicated. In the end, it’s a cost/benefit issue, with the ultimate question being, “Will we sell enough copies on Linux to reap the costs spent converting and testing the game?” All I can say is, “We will look into it.”
Behemoth Cave Interview
Questions 1a-4c, of 18
This interview was conducted by Behemoth Cave (Webpage & Facebook) and originally published on November 10th, 2020. It’s another relatively long interview, comprised of 18 questions in 33 parts. I’ll be posting around 5 to 7 ‘parts’ per Newsletter, until we reach the end, after which we will roll into another interview. Below are questions 1a to 4c, of 18.
1a. Let's begin with a topic that always raises a lot of controversy among the community: The Heavenly Forge. Story about the futuristic town and the negative reaction of the Heroes’ fandom which lead to cancelation of the project is well known. The whole criticism was mainly based on materials for the press containing the pictures and information about infamous Naga Tanks, Zombies with chainsaws and Minotaurs with jetpacks. Was this really the actual, up-to-date vision on Heavenly Forge at the time?
Yes. Everything now known, was planned, with some obvious exceptions (i.e. the Naga Tanks were not going to be partly nude).
1b. Have you considered “mitigating the design”, “toning it down”?
We did go back-and-forth, to a minor degree, about how we might ‘adapt’ the concept, but after the controversy... we were basically unmotivated. We soured on the concept after the negative reaction and the subsequent rift with a portion of the fandom. In the end, it was easier, and more comfortable, to move onto the Conflux, which was waiting in the wings.
1c. What other ideas for this faction came up among the Heroes 3 developers team?
Jennifer Bullard and the map making team proposed the idea of a Clockwork Town, but I shot it down. New World Computing’s (NWC) art staff was struggling with the Forge, and I had lost confidence in their ability to craft anything not fantasy related.
1d. After all these years, can you shed some new light on the technology present in the world of M&M?
When it comes to deep Might and Magic lore, Paul Rattner is really the best person to ask, but I will do my best. To start, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘new light’, as what is publicly known is relatively accurate. Regardless, from my understanding, at its most basic, the idea was simple. ‘Ancient’ high technology machines, typically hidden, could be accessed and manipulated to produce ‘magical’ events, via ‘physical and mental ritual’. This excluded high tech machines, such as the Heavenly Forge, which made magical artifacts via simple instruction.
2a. Abandoning the idea of Forge also left an empty slot for a new town in expansion, the Armageddon’s Blade. In the end, Conflux made it into the game - a mix of elemental forces. How do you feel about this decision?
In the end, I was satisfied with how it transpired. In general, I like the Conflux town, but I do wish there had been more time to flesh it out.
2b. Have you considered any alternatives for the 9th faction? If so, can you name any of them?
As I mentioned, Jennifer Bullard and the map making team came up with the idea for a Clockwork Town, which I liked, but as I mentioned, I had strong doubts the NWC art staff could deliver.
Personally, at the time, I didn’t have any further factions in reserve. This doesn’t mean more couldn’t be done, but the overall plan was two new towns (Forge and Conflux), followed by a pure map pack. In the end, it became two expansions: 1 new town (AB) and 1 pure map pack (SoD). Later, the Chronicles were added, which collectively could be considered a third expansion, but this was long after I left NWC.
Link to all the Fanstratics News at CH and at Greg's page:
Fanstratics Newsletter #01 (September 2020)
Fanstratics Newsletter #02 (October 2020)
Fanstratics Newsletter #03 (November 2020)
Fanstratics Newsletter #04 (December 2021)
Fanstratics Newsletter #05 (January 2021)
Fanstratics Newsletter #06 (February 2021)
Fanstratics Newsletter #07 (March 2021)
Fanstratics Newsletter #08 (April 2021)
- by Pol
I will be pushing this year to finish our database and the merge. For now you will find overview of all maps submitted to CH in this article.
Our old "Map Page" still serves well but you cannot log in and rate, as the old site is permanently disabled. The rest is on this page.
In menu were added direct links to our "Campaigns" and "Other Features", to be more on eyes.
If you are looking for something use "Tags", as our content is tagged, in addition to categories. Check Top or Main menu for them.
As for future MapdDB, let me know, if you have any refined idea for sorting or searching. There will be marked map version, size, author, name, contact (if available), number of players (human/computer), teams (Co-op, AI, No), Language, Win and Lose conditions, description, download, hits and rating. And comments.
Happy gaming! Because even inspite of all these new mobile games, the original H2+ line is still more fun. Especially HotA spurred lots of attention, finally. And HDMod with SP_plugin. Or Verokster Open GL wrappers.
H4 The Unity campaign. Unity project is revolving around original texts from Terry Ray, written for Heroes IV. Which is Unity Team bringing to life. Currently the first map of the campaign, "The Isle of Order" is ready and in need of testing. Next planned maps are Isle of Life, Isle of Nature, Isle of Chaos and Isle of Death. Visit the linked thread to download it. Unity Project is striking for audience!
Legends of the Ancients with Quantomas AI have been updated and are currently available as a part of his H5AI_31n_beta.zip.That include fixes of some game breaking bugs in books 1&2. We therefore, humbly recommend to play them again. Of course, they will be made available as a separated books download from official LotA pages later on, waiting on Quantomas' split.
For newcomers, Legends of the Ancients features good old heroes from Might & Magic universe in the world of Ashan. Of course, expect Sandro and Solmyr and the kind king Archibald, to save the world. (In Book 4, which is not yet written) But the full story to read on is here, available as pdf, with some nice art. Read it, play it and leave us your comment.
New Maps by Yurian Stonebow and MadMax:
H3C: A Quest for no Mortal by MadMax (HoP) | M | 1 Human
H3C: Imperial Days by Yurian Stonebow | XL | 5/3
H3C: Mutare's Apprentice (Allies) by Yurian Stonebow | L | 8 Humans
H3C: Prime Suspect by MadMax (HoP) | L | 4 Humans
H3C: Tolkien's War of the Ring by Yurian Stonebow | XL | 6/2
H3C: Viking Invasion 1.3 (Allies) by Yurian Stonebow | XL | 7/1
Maps Sent For Testing:
H3_HotA: The Hobbit by Bilbo Baggins by PatrickAce | XXL | 1 Human
H4_WoW: Archmages by Kuron | XL | 1-6 Humans, no Allies
H4_WoW: Stone Soup RPG by Aranei | XL | 1 Human
H3C: It's time for rebellion! by Sensai | XL | 1 Human vs 6 AI teamed up
H5_ToTE: Demonic Defense by mctronic | N | 1 Human vs 4 AI
H3_HotA: Surrea: The Shift by Echo | XL | 8 Humans
H5_ToTE: Battle for Crimea by Milos Gajic | N | 3 Humans
H5_ToTE: The Initiation by mctronic | S | 1 Human vs 1 AI
H4_WoW: Maximus by NATSSIRK | XL | 6 Humans
H7TbF: The Hunger Games Map by Antalyan | L | 6 Humans
H5.5: The Keymaster by Silentine | XL | 6 Humans
H3C: Kill 'em All (Allies) by Adam Simms | XL | 3 Humans vs 3 AI
H3C: Hold the Line by Sachertorte | S | 2 Humans
H7TbF: Dragonpass by Sandmean87 | L | 6 Humans
H3_HotA: Blushing Tide by AsJo | XL | 8
H3_HotA: Founderling Ventures by AsJo | XL | 8
H3_HotA: Plight of Conquest by AsJo | XL | 8
- by Pol
We will focus on what happened in this month and what wasn't summoned on our table yet.
First goes fheroes2 project by fheroes2 Resurrection team. Who work with constant passion to get to the 1.0 milestone. This time, release 0.9.1, they added:
- Instant battles
- Upgraded their AI to be more 'craftier and smarter'
- View Word Spell
- Easy units splitting by a few mouse clicks
- Another part of campaing
Heroes Orchestra presents new arrangement, Battle Theme II from Heroes IV
Myself I remember listening to Heroes IV. soundtrack again and again for almost a year. Always enthralling, always yours. Opera music.
This is a small Heroes like game, with it's own engine and simplified graphic. You can take for pay what you want. Take a look here. We have been alerted about the game by Darmani, here, thanks for it!
- Random map generation from 25 map types
- 6 factions, each with 7 different creatures + upgrades
- 43 unique creature abilities
- Additional nonplayable creatures
- Real-time combat
- Give orders and change stances - or just watch!
- Procedural town tech trees
- Unique town perks as your town levels up
- Level up your heroes
- 28 unique skills to level up
- Challenging but fair AI opponents
- 53 spells
- 120 artifacts
- Unique artifact sets
- ~30 adventure objects
- True to the original gameplay
- Tweaks to gameplay, like the infirmary system
What says Darmani about the game:
"When they say "based on", that's an understatement. It has the same 7 resources as HoMM, units spawn in a castle on day 1 of every 7 day week, there are treasure chests that give gold or experience, and many of the adventure map objects are identical to ones from HoMM (Fountain, Rally Flag, Idol of Fortune). The town mechanics are most similar to HoMM VI, with a "town level" that increments when you build enough, unlocking more buildings (hope I'm remembering HoMM VI correctly). Main difference is the real-time combat, of course, though there are also differences in the magic system, and the "hospital mechanic" by which some of your lost creatures will very slowly become available to hire back at the castle.
It doesn't come with instructions, and, on my machine, had a problem that the mouse's hitbox wasn't under the cursor (meaning I thought many buttons were broken and unusable), and that tooltips appeared pretty far from what I was mousing over (meaning I initially had no idea the strength of what I was fighting). Once I got the hang of it though, it was a pretty cool game.
I don't know how much longevity it has (I'm finding the real-time combat rather shallow --- past the early game, I usually just watch my army fight by itself and win with no casualties), but it's an interesting twist on the HoMM series. One thing that impresses me game-design wise is that it manages to make the obelisk/buried treasure mechanic actually fun. No hunting down obelisks all across the map and then spending days doing nothing but digging in some forgotten corner of the map. Instead, each obelisk gives you a flavorful paragraph like "Ki-g Ragna- left his treas-re som-where n-ear the mino-r shrine" you walk over to the nearest minor shrine, and watch as your "Dig for treasure" button turns from gray to black when you get close enough.
It's pay-what-you-want right now. I've played about 5 hours the last 2 days. Still buggy (e.g.: the win-condition doesn't work; it just keeps going), and has a terrible AI (I let it run around an area for weeks....and it still never reclaimed a Sawmill I took). Still, I had fun, and I'll be giving him some of my money."
- by Pol
Welcome. Hope each of you is doing relatively well.
With this Newsletter, I’m making a couple changes. First, this will be last update on subscriber numbers. As to the reason why, see Questions, Answers & Comments.
Last Newsletter: ~2725.
This Newsletter: ~2900.
+ If you would like to support Greg with FANSTRATICS, subscribe here. +
Second, I’m going to begin talking ‘features’.
As for this month's Troop concept sketch, I give you the Medusa Vanguard. For those of you who want to see Justin actually render the drawing, you can watch a VOD of his Twitch stream here...
Also, a quick shoutout to Tim Lang and Aeolwyn’s Legacy. Tim and I both worked at New World Computing (NWC), but our paths rarely crossed. However, I do have one story.
HoMM3 was winding down. HoMM3 Armageddon’s Blade and Might and Magic 7 were both ramping up. Frequently, when a project needed additional staff, the first place we looked was Quality Assurance (QA). Jennifer Bullard and a couple of HoMM3 Map Makers asked me to try and bring Tim onto the team. Subsequently, I went into a meeting with Paul Rattner (MM7 Design Lead) where we talked personnel. At the time, we had already solidified our teams, with a couple exceptions. Tim was one of those exceptions. When I told Paul, I wanted Tim on the HoMM3 team, he flatly said, “I talked to Tim. He doesn’t want to work on Heroes. He wants to work on Might and Magic.” I must admit to feeling oddly rejected. Tim was the first person I’d encountered who didn’t want to work on HoMM3. Regardless, Tim went on to work on MM7, MM9, and more. Ironically, Tim and I have chatted more in the past few months, than the entirety of my time at NWC. ;-)
This month, I have seven initial questions, followed by the final part of my lengthy interview with Tavern of Might and Magic.
Until next time.
Fanstratics Game Director & Designer
- by Pol
World Championship in Heroes 3 has started!
Four different eliminations - Poland, Russia, Ukraine & Belarus, and the 'rest of the world' (representing all countries not named before).
Do you feel overwhelmed by the tournament format? Worried that you aren't strong enough to participate? You are not alone, there are many who have similar doubts - all the more reason to overcome them! Also, it feels like a good time to remind you that the more players sign up for a given elimination, the more places in the final will be awarded to that elimination. So every player, no matter their skill or experience, can help their country.
You can find more info in two places.
First is the main website of the whole tournament, and the second is HotA discord - official communications channel of the tournament.