My H5-rant\whine (long post)

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My H5-rant\whine (long post)

Postby Ethric » Jun 10 2006, 12:01

Warning: reading the below may induce feelings of hostility towards the authour and\or severe boredom.

First a fair warning for those who don't know: I like HoMM 4 and what it brought to the heroes of Might and Magic series. And I wanted to see a further development of the aspects therein, especially the expanded role of the heroes themselves battles. So when it was known that ubisoft was making HoMM 5, and they even wanted suggestions from fans on how to do it, I jumped on the oppurtunity and participated among the rest of the community in bringing forth ideas. But as time passed and info about the game got out it seemed like Nival didn't like H4 one bit and wanted nothing to do with it in terms of features for H5. And eventually the game was so far along that any hope of changes seemed futile. I participated in the beta at the start but quickly lost patience with it, seing as how I disagreed with the game at large and it was quite unplayable in terms of performance and stability.

But that is all water under the bridge, and after a time of sulking and shouting "H3 CLONE, BOOOH!" from the sidelines I thought that fine, they may not make it like I would have but it could still be an ok game if done properly. Afterall, H3 which nival is so fond of is a really good game, and there are new features in H5 not seen in any of the previous games.

And this is where things start to fall apart, again, for me. First and foremost because the game was released in a very unfinished state, as shown not primarily because of the numerous small bugs (which is to be expected in all new games, though it certainly doesn't help), but more from the lack of documentation, ingame and in manual form, the shortage of playable maps, and the lack of a key feature of HoMM: the map editor.

Now many actual features of the game are quite allright. The town lineups suffer the same "Must have upgrade on all creatures"-syndrome that H3 have, but they do seem more varied; buildings get quite expensive further up and you find yourself playing quite some time with the unupgraded versions, much more so than in H3. One might of course argue that the story of the towns, with dragons, dragons, more dragons, good elves vs bad elves and dragons and so on is a tad on the unoriginal side, but on the other hand I wouldn't want their grubby hands sullying the stories of the proper HoMM\MM universe either ;)

Then there's the doing away with battle in rounds in favour of a purely initiative-driven system, where each creature acts as often as their initiative allows compared with the other creatures. Now I for one think that having rounds where all get their turn is best, but this new system works too, and opens up some new possibilites. My biggest concern here is that high initiative gets so extremely important, with the fast units getting many turns before the slow ones have gotten even one. But that's a balance issue, and can be tweaked if imbalances show themselves over time.

And not to mention the skillsystem, which is in my opinion the only gem in this heap. There is plenty of room for improvement, but there's no denying that the skill system is quite interesting, with good room for experimentation and customization of your hero. And with some of the more advanced skills requireing several others to obtain, there'll be new things to try out for quite some time, compared to the skills of previous games.

But then it's time for the bad things, where there are several disturbing issues. For one thing, there's the disinclusion of several features new to H4 that was generally viewed as positive, compared to the more controversial issues like fighting heroes and simultaneous retaliation. I am of course referring to caravans and the ability to flag resourcedwellings other than mines, so as to not have to run around constantly to pick up creatures and resources around the map. It is for me quite a mystery why these things aren't included, especially since it was a stated goal in the development of H5 to speed up the gameplay. It takes considerable time to run around to pick up stuff, and it gets very boring very soon. Having it automated\doable through structures like the caravan in H4 would be a good way to actually speed up gameplay. As opposed to removing various popup windows ingame like in H5, so that info that you might want to actually obtain instead flutter by in some small numbers that gets lost most of the time anyway. The increase in speed here seem quite miniscule, and you loose the option to view a lot of info. Some of us actually like to have the option to know exactly what goes on ingame. Also the outstanding lack of info on what things like artifacts and spells\effects thereof actually do ingame seem to hint that nival works under the policy that this is on a need to know basis, and the player doesn't need to know. This last issue is now presumeably being remedied through patching, but it should have been there in the first place, it shouldn't be added as an afterthought after fans complaining about it.

And on the subject of "speeding up" gameplay, there's the delightful interface of H5. It is, by and large, dreadful. Now, my main complaint here is that it seems nival is of the opinion that showing of 3d graphics is more important than functionality. Take the heroscreen now. You see the info window covering about 1\3 of the screen. Then there's a large model of the hero covering half the screen. The hero doesn't do anything. He doesn't perform a pantomime version of the info you're after. He just sits\stands there, looking 3d'y. Meanwhile, to find the info you're after you often have to use on of the submenus in the small infowindow. Now, I'm pretty sure that if they had percieved the thought that maybe, just maybe, a large 3d model of the hero is slightly unnecessary in that place, they could have gotten all the info into one window, without the need for subsections. Look at H3 and H4, they have all the info in one window (except spellbook and biography), there is even a paperdoll model of the hero where you can place your artifacts. It is much more functional in those games, and I never once thought to myself that there should really be a model of the hero covering half the screen instead. The townscreen suffers from the same thing; small chart, lots of pointless graphics taking up most of the space. All previous HoMM's use the same functional and aestheticly pleasing buildingchart, that they changed it to what's in H5 is to me quite baffling.

Then there's the issue of overview. On the adventuremap, you have 3d models of trees and buildings and whatnot, where you can swirl the camera around and view them from many angles. My beef with this is that you HAVE to swirl the camera around to see where you are going, and what objects are on the map. Add to that that the scouted area around your hero doesn't update as he moves; you have to stop moving to see what you have explored, and manouvering the adventuremap can be quite frustrating. Some of the same goes for the battlefield, it can sometimes be very hard to get the cursor to mark where you want to attack\cast a spell. You may have to rotate the camera and zoom in, only to find that placing the cursor bang center on the huge square you aim to aim at isn't the way to go. Rather, you sometimes have to balance it on the very edge of the square, for reasons unknown. Also, the battlefield itself is quite a strange affair. Consisting of quite big squares, where each creature takes either 1 or 2x2 squares of space, I find it quite hard to suspend my disbelief when I see that a unicorn actually only uses less than 1\3 of it's allotted 4 squares. Why couldn't it, and the other oblong creatures, have taken up 1x2 squares instead? Other 2x2 creatures justify their space by voluminous clothing alone, like the Lich that presumeably is going straight to a ball after the fight, seeing as it has the ballgown on already.

Of course, many of these things is just a matter of getting used to. But I don't want to :tongue:

This isn't really a review, and I'm not going to give any "score". But I certainly don't feel any urge to buy this game in the foreseeable future, I have enough shelfed games as it is. Maybe some time later on, when it's patched up and there's a decent mapeditor and an expansion or two, and if I can forget how poorly ubisoft treated it's customers by releasing a far from finished game at full price (not that that is anything new), I might get it (and in case any wiseguys have any grief with me complaining about a game I don't own: I have played it for hours on end with someone who has bought it ;) )

Good to get it of my chest all in one go :)

PS: sure there are more things to mention, both good and bad, but I think this is long enough.
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Postby galganog » Jun 10 2006, 12:16

Let me get the worlds smallest violin and play for you.

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Postby ThunderTitan » Jun 10 2006, 13:03

Now, I'm pretty sure that if they had percieved the thought that maybe, just maybe, a large 3d model of the hero is slightly unnecessary in that place, they could have gotten all the info into one window, without the need for subsections.


Or they could have done the smart thing and made one subsection with all the info, and another with the 3D model of the hero and it's creatures.
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Postby Kristo » Jun 10 2006, 13:09

Amen Ethric. Amen. I couldn't have said it better myself. :applause:

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Postby Angelspit » Jun 10 2006, 13:45

ThunderTitan wrote:Or they could have done the smart thing and made one subsection with all the info, and another with the 3D model of the hero and it's creatures.

Yes, yes! The list of creatures that are under the control of a hero is one of the most important piece of information in the whole game, it should be right in your face. A half-screen view of the hero with his creatures, as shown during some of the cutscenes, would help with that.

Good post there Ethric. Don't you want to publish it as a "staff review" like Biggles did?
I'm on Steam and Xbox Live.

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Postby Ethric » Jun 10 2006, 14:13

Angelspit wrote:
Good post there Ethric. Don't you want to publish it as a "staff review" like Biggles did?


Reading his review was what made me write it :) Could set it up on the frontpage I suppose, I'll see what I can manage ;)

edit: help help I made a mess of the frontpage :D
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Postby Pitsu » Jun 10 2006, 14:42

Ethric wrote:edit: help help I made a mess of the frontpage :D


Better now? :)

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Postby Orfinn » Jun 10 2006, 14:46

Very nice review there. You argumented the not so good things about H5 in a constructive, neutral way. And IMO what you wrought wasnt whining ;)

Still I wonder, why not ask out Fabrice about the lack of H4 features in H5? If done before, well thats quite a long time ago. And as far I can remember the questions about the lack of H4 content wasnt exactly directly asked more like a "walk around the park".
I say its time for asking him yet again no matter if its done before or not. I guess both myself and many others are eager to know why they didnt include flaggable windmills, waterweels, caravan like system etc. It would be nice with some enlightment on those topics, really.

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Postby Ethric » Jun 10 2006, 14:58

Pitsu wrote:
Better now? :)


Yes, thank you :sweat:

Hopefully I will learn not to meddle with stuff I don't know how to meddle with some day.

Orfinn wrote:Still I wonder, why not ask out Fabrice about the lack of H4 features in H5?


You could send him an email and ask :)
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Postby Orfinn » Jun 10 2006, 15:11

Yeah I could do so, but I had in mind a interview. But Im not really good at it, second Im going too take a trip to Greece early next week :D B-), third its plenty sun out now, and I dont want to be indoors. Gotta enjoy the sunshine to the fullest, since the weather here changes in one go! ;)

BTW I PM MuadDib with suggestions about the inclusion of a werewolf in the expansion (couldnt resist :D ), havent recieved any reply but oh well now I have done it and dont want to bother with it anymore.

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Postby PhoenixReborn » Jun 10 2006, 15:15

Angelspit wrote:
ThunderTitan wrote:Or they could have done the smart thing and made one subsection with all the info, and another with the 3D model of the hero and it's creatures.

Yes, yes! The list of creatures that are under the control of a hero is one of the most important piece of information in the whole game, it should be right in your face. A half-screen view of the hero with his creatures, as shown during some of the cutscenes, would help with that.



On the adventure map screen, if you right click on the portrait of the hero (above the enter castle button), it will show you your army without having to go into the hero screen.

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Re: My H5-rant\whine (long post)

Postby DaemianLucifer » Jun 10 2006, 15:18

Ethric wrote:Warning: reading the below may induce feelings of hostility towards the authour and\or severe boredom.


Like we already dont have those feelings :devious:

I agree with you mostly.The initiative system,however,is another gem in this heap,right next to the skill system.Although this one would work much better with sim-retal,or even with attack speed.For those of you that dont keep a close eye on my every post,heres a brief description of what I have in mind by attack speed:

Each creature is asigned an attack speed.Whenever a creature attacks another one,the creature with the higher attack speed gets the first blow.If their AS is the same,they strike at the same time.Further more,whenever a creature retaliates,its attack speed drops by ten(or some other number),and stays like that until it gets its next turn.So instead of being able to steal a retaliation from any creature by a single imp,and then attacking with your cerberi without fear,youll just slow down that units retaliation for the next attack.If the AS drops to zero,however,the unit cannot retaliate.

Also,you shouldve stated your oppinion about going through walls,and no LOS.

Btw,the funniest thing about this BF is that its supposed to be easier to navigate than the HIV one,because you can adjust the camera any way you like,but it simply isnt so.

Oh,and just for curiositys sake,what score would you give the game?

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Postby Kareeah Indaga » Jun 10 2006, 15:35

Good review Ethric! I just wish I could add to it, but unfortunately HV dislikes my comp. Maybe I can get mon petit frere to let me use his…

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Re: My H5-rant\whine (long post)

Postby ThunderTitan » Jun 10 2006, 15:45

DaemianLucifer wrote:I agree with you mostly.The initiative system,however,is another gem in this heap,right next to the skill system.


The Blood Fury can attack 3 times before a Zombie moves even once. That's too much in my book. Of course that has more to do with balancing then the init. system itself.

It's neither exactly bad, nor an improvement in my book. But like everything else atm it needs some finetuning.
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Postby bahaa » Jun 10 2006, 16:23

This is my first post :D but I've been visiting this website for quite some time.

Actually I accidently grabbed Heroes III from a local store one day (back in 1998). I had no idea what it was, but once I tried it I was so delighted with the game that my brother and I got so addicted to it. I used to play nothing but Starcraft and Heroes III.

Then came Heroes 4. At first I found it awkward especially that they changed the battlefield view and you no longer got a clear closeup view at any creature (plus I missed the hex grids from Heroes III). I also missed the elemental magic system (fire, water, earth, and air); elements and the colors associated with them create a nice atmosphere with all the eye-candy and the beautiful mage guild view plus spells design. What made each faction unique in Heroes III was also the town view and the town feel associated with each faction. You've got the culturized grass-land associated humans with all those stone medieval-look structures. Those woodland elves with their mystic nature feel and wooden buildings. The tower of course with the snow-wizard feel (I think snow is the best theme for academy, especially since their creatures had blue, green and dark colors). The feel of the "tower" town in Heroes III leaned towards intelligence. You could just tell from the town feel and the tune that this town was a wizard town; powerful at spells. Inferno, same goes here. The red fiery background suits the demons very well and the tune had an angry feel. The dark (black) undead town and their theme of death follow (also fits perfectly). Then the dungoen with their brown underground color and their tune gave a mythological feel suiting the town's prowess in magic and creature abilities, the stronghold with their rough mountainous terrain and mighty creatures, and the fortress with the dark green swamp theme. I guess you got the picture if what we lost in Heroes 4.

However, I really enjoyed Heroes 4. The new magic system and alignments (the pentagonal star featuring life, order, death, chaos, and nature) made a lot of sense and was extremely interesting. You could customize your army in many unique ways. I used to enjoy hiring 3 magic heroes of the main town alignment and the neighboring ones to gain access to all the spells and create a powerful combination. Imagine choosing nature and hiring a nature magic hero, a chaos magic hero, and a life magic hero, then gaining access to these combinations: "Giant Strength, Dragon Strength, Stone skin, fortune, snake strike/first strike, cat reflexes, bloodlust", "Armageddon plus sanctuary plus antimagic on the chaos hero", and many many other powerful combinations. Being able to use chaos magic with order magic and death magic when playing as Death was so cool too.

One of the things that should have been included in Heroes 5 are the simultaneous retaliation (making way for the first strike and negate forst strike abilities and the way placing your creatures behind each others protected them from being hit by the enemy archers/casters, but made them more vulnerable to AOE spells like fireball). That was really a great feature of heroes 4 and should have not been removed. In fact the new tactics phase in Heroes 5 would have made more use of these features if they were included.

Heroes III and Heroes 4 had very nice tunes, but I especially enjoyed the combat tunes of Heroes 4; they were simply the best.

Overall I think my opinion towards Heroes 5 is a lot like Ethric's. I think an expansion has the potential to add so much to the game, and it shouldn't be rushed as was the case with the game.

Baha'a

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Re: My H5-rant\whine (long post)

Postby Sir Alock » Jun 10 2006, 17:03

I agree with some of your opinions. The Caravan is 1st in my wish book for HoMMV. Silly that Nival didn't include that gem. Simply more work for us & it does get a little old over time.

As for HoMMV being released early, there is always two schools of thought. 1st being..."Do you want the game now?" 2nd..."Wait until everything is included & ship later" I'll go along with #1 but that's just me!

HoMMV is very stable & runs like a charm on my AMD Athlon 64 3500 CPU & my older eVGA 6800NU (128 MB) VC w/ 1 GB RAM. My system in over 2 1/2 years old & I'm playing @ 1280x1024 with maxed out details! That's a positive you forgot to mention.

HoMMV gives me that "Wow" feeling & I own every HoMM game & add-on ever made! Let's look @ some of the positive things, 1st "We have another HoMM game to play" That speaks volumes for me IMHO! I trust Nival will come back to us & get more patches & of course the almighty Map Editor. Bottom line..It's summertime (here in New England) & we don't have long to enjoy the sun & the water. I usually don't play that much anyway this time of year, so I can wait another 6 weeks until teh ME comes.

As for the rest of your review (written very well BTW) I agree with just "some" of your thoughts. Maybe you should have made more of an effort to look @ positives & there are plenty. I appreciate your thread & I hope you'll join the HoMMV bandwagon overtime. It appears as if you will, so there's a "positive" right there!

Alex

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Re: My H5-rant\whine (long post)

Postby ThunderTitan » Jun 10 2006, 17:09

Sir Alock wrote:I
As for HoMMV being released early, there is always two schools of thought. 1st being..."Do you want the game now?" 2nd..."Wait until everything is included & ship later" I'll go along with #1 but that's just me!

Alex


The problem is that they did that with H4, and look where that got them. Not to mention that most of the missing stuff (buttons, info, descriptions) could and should have been done during the development, they just didn't 'cause they didn't think it was important.

The Editor might be excusable because it's 3D, and might take more time, but the rest is just lazyness. I mean they had an entire extra month from the date they wanted to release it.
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Re: My H5-rant\whine (long post)

Postby Ethric » Jun 10 2006, 17:13

Sir Alock wrote:Maybe you should have made more of an effort to look @ positives & there are plenty.


The negative have had a long time to brew. And I don't go around telling people to stop being so positive even though for me personally the positiveness seems unwarranted ;)
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Postby Monastor » Jun 10 2006, 17:55

Hmm... That's too optimistic and way too positive... but I agree at some points ;)

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Postby addicted » Jun 10 2006, 18:48

This is a fantastic review and I completely agree.. :D
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