Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

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Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby {CH}ArticleBot » Oct 8 2016, 23:28

As Heroes VII development is officially ended and Limbic's contract with Ubisoft expired, we ask: what's next? There are also rumours going around that Erwan le Breton's "M&M team" has been disbanded. The way we see it, there are three general options:

  1. Ubisoft continue to develop the franchise, publishing games like M&M 11 and another Heroes title, possibly with Erwan le Breton's team, possibly with Limbic as developers, possibly somebody else. I'm honestly not sure if this is the preferred option; with Ubisoft's financial muscle behind the franchise, at least we are assured a continuation. However, I think we can all agree that many of the choices made in recent years have not been good ones and that changes would have to be made.
  2. Ubisoft sells the franchise to another game producer. Given that fans have been unhappy with several of Ubisoft's strategies, some have argued that it would be better if the whole thing was handed over to somebody else. The hope, then, is that the new producers are more dedicated to the wellness of the franchise and develop games of which the fans approve. This, however, is far from guaranteed. Changing producers could make things even worse.
  3. The franchise is mothballed. No new Might & Magic or Heroes games are made and the world moves on to other things. Just like great games of the past can now be found on abandonia.com or GOG, some of the more well-made games in the series may still be played years or even decades from now. Fans may start to produce high-quality mods and maps, keeping the show somewhat alive, but as time passes by, most of them will move on. This will effectively mean the end, albeit a drawn-out one. As a good friend of mine put it, however: perhaps it is time.
 
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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Taro » Oct 9 2016, 6:30

I have a question. Could we make a two querys on the site here?

1) Which option of the three above do we want to see?

2) What we don't like from Ubisoft HoMM games? And I mean we should rate every important element like 3 graphics, bugs, system, storyline, similars to old heroes etc.

I think it's important because I'm afraid Ubi will not ask by themselves.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby GreatEmerald » Oct 9 2016, 8:40

Hm. Honestly I'd either take option 1 with huge reworks or option 2 with a good team. And by reworks I mean an entirely new planet (or Axeoth, that works too). Whereas by good team I mean someone who has worked on the games before (HC, HoMM4, etc. teams). Without that there's no chance of getting any relevant story out of the games and thus I'm not interested. In other words, from my perspective it's been option 3 ever since HoMM4.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby GreatEmerald » Oct 9 2016, 9:11

Taro wrote:2) What we don't like from Ubisoft HoMM games? And I mean we should rate every important element like 3 graphics, bugs, system, storyline, similars to old heroes etc.


From your list, for me the important elements are storyline, system, and to a point similarity to original Heroes games... but in two ways.

Thinking about it, what I really want is a sequel to HoMM4. A real sequel, effectively what NWC originally planned for HoMM5. From the storyline, set in Axeoth, continuing the development of the story of HoMM4 and MM9, because it really is not developed nearly as much as it could be yet. From the system, continuing down the path HoMM4 went in combining HoMM and MM games by introducing RPG elements that allow developing each hero into an individual, having multiple of them on the battlefield. Develop the system further: have a spell system that works like in the 3rd generation MM games, with mastery making existing spells more effective, and introducing Light and Dark magic. Have paperdolls for heroes instead of icons for artifacts. That sort of thing. Effectively make a game that is to HoMM4 what HoMM3 was to HoMM2. What I don't want is another HoMM3 rehash, because it already exists. Things need to be fresh, and HoMM4 is a really fresh take on the idea.

As for a new MM game... Nowadays it's tough to compete in the RPG scene. One strength of MM games has always been a turn-based first-person approch to RPG, which is cool but went in the wrong way in MMX: I don't want square grids, I want the ability to stop time. Another strength has always been the science fantasy aspect of it. The top gear and areas have to be sci-fi. Otherwise, same thing as above, a game on Axeoth or other past planets (Terra?) would be cool.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Galaad » Oct 9 2016, 10:21

Let's not forget the possible Vivendi takeover. I doubt there is someone in the high spheres at Ubisoft caring enough for the brand to realize Erwin and his minions are impostors and utterly failed the reboot, especially with 6 and 7 but let's not forget the legal issues with GW 5 had, and would start to lobby in order to find competent people, get in touch with NWC original team and propose them something, basically rewind time and put on the desk NWC's drafts originally planned for h5. They could also try to sell the IP (at black market price knowing them). At this point a kickstarter would do great.

What I don't like in the Ubi games is pretty much everything, I love the gameplay of H5 TotE but that's about it. The 3d implementation is wrong, the visuals are completely off, the new gameplay (6-7) is completely dumbed-down/streamlined, technically the games are poorly optimized (7 winning the price), Ashan is crap.

The thing with Heroes and the Might and Magic brand is that it had a unique appeal Ubisoft managed to remove, I am fairly sure a MMXI would do tremendously well if it felt like MM6-7-8.

...

It has been mistakes upon mistakes, Ubisoft had everything on their plate and replaced all the gold with poo and vomit.

What I don't want is another HoMM3 rehash, because it already exists

As far as I can tell it doesn't, what are you talking about?
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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby bitmaid » Oct 9 2016, 13:57

If I see Heroes on Kickstarter, I'm going to kill myself. In all honesty I don't think they will stoop so low. The future is uncertain, and I fear that even if they make a new Heroes game, it'll be even more dumbed down, or worse, another MMO. The way things are, no news is good news.
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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby GreatEmerald » Oct 9 2016, 14:41

Galaad wrote:As far as I can tell it doesn't, what are you talking about?


I'm talking, of course, about HoMM3. It doesn't need rehashing, you can just play the game.

The sale+Kickstarter idea is interesting... Kickstarter is a nice communication medium, which would allow for taking fan input into account. It also usually leads to the games being cross-platform and DRM-free, which is very nice. But it's also a bit of a slippery slope, and not necessary either (for example, Epic Games are taking all of user input simply by being active on their own forums).

But yes, I'd say that overall listening and engaging the fanbase would be the best idea, in whatever form it may come.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby iLiVeInAbOx05 » Oct 9 2016, 15:52

GreatEmerald wrote:Thinking about it, what I really want is a sequel to HoMM4. A real sequel, effectively what NWC originally planned for HoMM5. From the storyline, set in Axeoth, continuing the development of the story of HoMM4 and MM9, because it really is not developed nearly as much as it could be yet. From the system, continuing down the path HoMM4 went in combining HoMM and MM games by introducing RPG elements that allow developing each hero into an individual, having multiple of them on the battlefield. Develop the system further: have a spell system that works like in the 3rd generation MM games, with mastery making existing spells more effective, and introducing Light and Dark magic. Have paperdolls for heroes instead of icons for artifacts. That sort of thing. Effectively make a game that is to HoMM4 what HoMM3 was to HoMM2. What I don't want is another HoMM3 rehash, because it already exists. Things need to be fresh, and HoMM4 is a really fresh take on the idea.


Definitely the story sequel. I would even like if some stories from Enroth were told that were missed.

One thing I do miss in H4 is the upgrading of creatures. I would definitely like that back in a (true) H4 sequel.

And something to make the H3 only lovers / H4 haters happy would be a checkbox to disable heroes fighting directly in combat :)

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Wizard of Soz » Oct 9 2016, 19:56

I really hope it is not mothballed, but it does seem that everything is wrapping up at the same time. That the official M&M franchise website is now down (after being there only for 2 or so years) which I think is an indication that they have lost interest in building the franchise up.

Personally I hope they find some way to continue both Ashan and Axeoth worlds going, but I am pessimistic.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Troller » Oct 11 2016, 8:36

I lost hope in the franchise after Heroes V, I started believing a bit again with MMX and during the development of Heroes VII but I think the latter was to ambitious for its budget. This leads to the main problem for the Might and Magic franchise. It caters to a small niche. I don't think there will ever be a big budget Might and Magic game that can recoup the investment.

So where does that leave the franchise?

The interesting thing here is what JVC is doing. He has started a small company and is working on mobile games. One of the reasons for this is that mobile games are low budget with small teams.
I could see myself play Heroes or Classic Might and Magic on my Android phone. The game might be simpler but if what is there is polished polished and polished with lots of atmosphere and a compelling story I'm in. NOT a might and magic game bloated with features or fancy graphics to lure gamers into buying!

These are my thoughts you are free to share them or to disagree but they are my thoughts :-)

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby BB Shockwave » Oct 13 2016, 5:07

I used to be on this like with Star Trek, that "any Trek is better than no Trek". But while I tolerated Enterprise for 4 seasons, barely, I could not do so for Heroes since Ubi took over. That me, a hardcore HOMM fan, never finished the walkthroughs of Heroes V, and barely played VI and VII speaks about how much I hated what Ubi did with the series.
So, I am frankly hopeful that they either sell the rights to someone (like Katauri at 1C) who can do proper games with it, or they don't do anything with it. Because we don't need another half-arsed game using assets from the previous one.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby BB Shockwave » Oct 13 2016, 5:10

Troller wrote:This leads to the main problem for the Might and Magic franchise. It caters to a small niche. I don't think there will ever be a big budget Might and Magic game that can recoup the investment.


People said the same thing about XCOM, remember? After the terrible knockoff "After..." series, and 2-3 fan made or indie games, no-one thought it could come back proper. Then Firaxis made XCOM Enemy Unknown in 2012 and the game was not just a financial jackpot that spawned a huge modder following, expansion and a sequel, but also made a wider audience be interested in this formerly niche turn based combat strategy game. So much, that XCOM2 was just ported to consoles now! I can see a good developer doing the same for Heroes.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby BB Shockwave » Oct 13 2016, 5:13

Galaad wrote:I doubt there is someone in the high spheres at Ubisoft caring enough for the brand to realize Erwin and his minions are impostors and utterly failed the reboot, especially with 6 and 7 but let's not forget the legal issues with GW 5 had


Wait, GW as in Games Workshop? I never heard about that. So, they too, like me, thought the designs of Heroes 5 look too much like Warhammer designs? :D

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Troller » Oct 13 2016, 7:07

BB Shockwave wrote:People said the same thing about XCOM, remember? After the terrible knockoff "After..." series, and 2-3 fan made or indie games, no-one thought it could come back proper. Then Firaxis made XCOM Enemy Unknown in 2012 and the game was not just a financial jackpot that spawned a huge modder following, expansion and a sequel, but also made a wider audience be interested in this formerly niche turn based combat strategy game. So much, that XCOM2 was just ported to consoles now! I can see a good developer doing the same for Heroes.


Yes XCom does prove that it is possible, with someone as passionate and talented as Jake Solomon and a studio like Firaxis it could be done... That said there was a lot of controversy with removal of movement points and inventory being simplified, it improved quality of life and created a lot more streamlined game but it was a very brave decision...

Xcom had Firaxis a turn based company, which studio do you think would be able to resurrect Heroes? If we could find 4-5 studios it could be an interesting poll :-)

Classic might and magic is still another story, with Skyrim And the Witcher setting the bar very high for a massive vibrant world, it would take a huge investment to have something to compete with that, and it would be measured against them. There they need a more simple starting point and I had hoped that MMX could do that but it was poorly executed :-(

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Skullmane » Oct 14 2016, 13:07

BB Shockwave wrote:
Galaad wrote:I doubt there is someone in the high spheres at Ubisoft caring enough for the brand to realize Erwin and his minions are impostors and utterly failed the reboot, especially with 6 and 7 but let's not forget the legal issues with GW 5 had


Wait, GW as in Games Workshop? I never heard about that. So, they too, like me, thought the designs of Heroes 5 look too much like Warhammer designs? :D


For one, the original treant design from the H5 beta was scrapped due to this. They were more or less direct copies of the WH treants. Though thankfully you can just mod them back into the game.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby StoneCold » Oct 19 2016, 15:16

Maybe make a Forge town...

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Danny » Oct 22 2016, 6:42

I think Heroes is just one of the many victims of the entertainment industry. These days creators of any type of entertainment are trapped into doing more of the same since that's what gives definite profit (or so it is assumed). There are never-ending film franchises, some are resurrected like Star Wars or Alien, there are tv shows that are carbon copy of each other, not to mention popular music that is embarrassing at this point.

It does seem though that the video game industry suffers this the most as fans of games have always been rigid about change, like Starcraft II which is almost seems like an updated version of the first or the endless rehashes of GTA or CoD etc. Heroes became a victim nearly 15 years ago when Heroes IV came out and fans outraged for "ruining their game" by different gameplay elements, mixing the faction lineups and so on. Then Heroes V had to be a Heroes III retread in 3D and with a Blizzard-like story to please as many people as possible, Heroes VI tried to make some changes and they were also bashed. Then Heroes VII came which basically rehashed the faction lineups of the previous two games with little to no change (except resurrecting Heroes III monsters) and it didn't work out either.

Basically, Heroes has no future left. Even if someone buys the rights and tries to make something out of it, it will just end up being a graphically updated version of a two decade old formula, which is not going to win new fans, while the old fans would ironically complain about the lack of change thus likely no reason to invest in it for anyone...

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Pol » Oct 22 2016, 11:17

These days creators of any type of entertainment are trapped into ..

They are not trapped - they are mistaken. If you have no vision, this is an expected outcome. Cause if you lack your own goals you just copy your more succesfull forerunners.

In other words, shareholders don't make company - they just participate and have a word in financial decision. But company itself needs a leader, who show them a right way. Consider them like a rich babies. This is hard but necessary for company to establish. :D
Of course you can survive under many any other condition but that's usually not a winning strategy.

Also niche market or M&M is illusion. You create a market yourself by your product(s) and PR. Hint, that includes communities, social engineering and such stuff.

So when someone say: "There's no market", it means there is gap for it!

Myself I would like if M&M + Heroes continued in its traditional way, although last titles were also traditional, a little, by a china traditions. But imperfectly. These styles may blend, good example is Haven vs Sanctuary from Heroes 6.

For me the perfect 3D graphic is unimportant but I always though about it as a nice addition. So start with 2D, make plan, add AI (yes, AI is on second position, not almost last like it was with previous three titles), test, create tools, balance and add the sauce (graphic, story). And you have it all. No need to say, that you cannot develop such game in any half year production circle. Although maybe you can, depends on your previous assets. :mohaha:
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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Namerutan » Oct 22 2016, 13:07

Danny wrote:trapped into doing more of the same since that's what gives definite profit (or so it is assumed).

Pol wrote:They are not trapped - they are mistaken. If you have no vision, this is an expected outcome.

Agree with Pol, and the mistake comes from the next quotes:

Danny wrote:it will just end up being a graphically updated version of a two decade old formula, which is not going to win new fans

Pol wrote:For me the perfect 3D graphic is unimportant but I always though about it as a nice addition.

If you want all gamers, you will keep none; you can develop a winner if you have your mind clear.
What does your game offer to gamers? It is some nice mechanics, some nice graphics, anything different, or just more of the same?
Is the main point about the graphics? That's not good for a turn-based strategy game.
If you want to play chess, for example (well known mechanics, turn based strategy), what do you prefer?

Option A: Good AI, scalable difficulty, poor graphics;
Image

Option B: Almost inexistent AI, not scalable difficulty, very nice graphics:
Image

Of course, I like nice graphics, but these are just a plus for turn-based strategy games.

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Re: Where to Next for the M&M Franchise?

Postby Antalyan » Oct 22 2016, 14:34

@Namerutan
It may sound strange but I prefer the H7 way: both things (graphics & AI) on fine level (yes, H7 AI has some big flaws but generally it's not terrible).
If I ignore the fact I do not like the graphic style of the game you used as an example of good graphics (H6 & H7 look like better imho), graphics is more important for me.
I could play the game with bad AI, complaining about it a lot but still playing. However I cannot play H1-H4 because they are too ugly for me nowadays.
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