The Best And The Worst

The new Heroes games produced by Ubisoft. Please specify which game you are referring to in your post.

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Postby ThunderTitan » Jan 2 2011, 21:07

Man, and me here thinking it was all the real death and devastation...
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Postby vicheron » Jan 13 2011, 13:05

Are people forgetting about trading posts? They were introduced to mitigate some of the effects of random chance. Sure the exchange rates were terrible but that was pretty much fixed in Heroes 4.

Regardless, chance has always been an important factor in the series. Units do not have fixed damage. Mage guilds do not always carry the spells you want. Heroes gain attributes randomly when they level. The solution is not to eliminate chance, otherwise you might as well just play chess, but to give options to mitigate the effects of chance.

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Postby wimfrits » Jan 13 2011, 16:08

vicheron wrote:The solution is not to eliminate chance, otherwise you might as well just play chess, but to give options to mitigate the effects of chance.


I can agree with that. But going from 7 to 4 resources is not exactly eliminating chance. It's reducing chance.
So going from 1-11 damage to 5-7 damage.
Market places help some, but not enough in the first week. Buying a market place might already be part of backup plan D.
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Postby ThunderTitan » Jan 13 2011, 16:22

Yeah dude, but that's how it starts...
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Postby vicheron » Jan 14 2011, 0:47

wimfrits wrote:
vicheron wrote:The solution is not to eliminate chance, otherwise you might as well just play chess, but to give options to mitigate the effects of chance.


I can agree with that. But going from 7 to 4 resources is not exactly eliminating chance. It's reducing chance.
So going from 1-11 damage to 5-7 damage.
Market places help some, but not enough in the first week. Buying a market place might already be part of backup plan D.


Reducing resources also reduces gameplay features and potential gameplay features. The mini-artifacts and rune magic from Heroes 5 won't work as well with only 1 rare resources. Trading posts won't be as useful anymore. Buying spells will be either too easy or too expensive.

There are also a lot more new things you can do with 4 rare resources. Artifact crafting is an obvious choice. Each rare resource could correspond to a certain attribute so an artifact that adds attack requires sulfur, an artifact that adds defense requires mercury, etc. Spell research is another thing they could add with each rare resource corresponding to a school of magic. Some kind of research system would also be better with a greater variety of resources. Terrain alteration is another possible gameplay feature that could make use of multiple rare resources.

As for the damage range, there's nothing wrong with including creatures with 1-11 damage and creatures with 5-7 damage. It's a matter of play style and personal preferences. One town can have creatures with greater damage range while another town can have creatures with smaller damage ranges. The player chooses the town based on their own playstyle. If they like to gamble, then they pick the town with bigger damage range. If they like to know exactly what's going to happen, they pick the town with smaller damage range. It's like roulette, you get to chose how much chance you take.

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Postby wimfrits » Jan 14 2011, 8:22

vicheron wrote:It's like roulette, you get to chose how much chance you take.


Yes. The difference though is that every player is forced to play with 7 resources. No choice there. While 4 resources still allow the 'random lovers' to choose a random building path. So in terms of 'choosing chance', 4 resources is a lot better than 7.

As for the gameplay features you mention:
- Trading posts had very limited use already. Usually you would only trade for 1-3 resource types (gold, wood or ore, special of your town type). So in practice, I don't see a real difference there.
Come to think of it, 4 resources will probably increase market place strategy. After all, you no longer have expendable resource types so have to be more careful with what you trade.
- for all other features: your gripe seems to be that less resources means less variation. If variation in resource cost is what we want, simply use combinations of resources to get more variation.
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Postby vicheron » Jan 14 2011, 14:32

The faction you chose determines your chance. You could pick a faction that uses a lot of rare resources like Inferno or Academy/Tower, or you can chose a faction that doesn't use a lot of rare resources like Castle/Haven or Stronghold.

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Postby wimfrits » Jan 14 2011, 18:28

A lot depends on the map played, but I disagree. Imo all factions have an equal difficulty in getting the required resources. With (in H5) the exceptions of Sylvan's high wood and Haven's high crystal requirements
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Postby vicheron » Jan 14 2011, 22:11

That was a problem Heroes 5 had. One that can be easily remedied by making certain towns require less rare resources and others requiring more. Balance can be achieved by making less resource intensive towns have more tiered build order where buildings have more prerequisites and more resource intensive towns have less restrictive building orders where the buildings are limited more by resources rather than prerequisite buildings.

As for the trading post, their usefulness have increased as more uses are created for the rare resources like how purchasing spells was added in Heroes 4 and mini-artifacts and rune spells were added in Heroes 5. It can be even more useful if the new gameplay features I mentioned were implemented. Getting rid of 3 of the rare resources would make potential new features like artifact crafting, spell research, terrain alteration, and a research feature much less strategic and too simplistic.

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Postby wimfrits » Jan 14 2011, 23:31

I'm not a believer of dynamic balance. As the map you play has already been decided.

I agree that purchasing spells and artifact crafting increased the use of the marketplace. A tiny bit.
And I can also agree that more resources allow more variety. More complex, perhaps. Although like I said, combinations of resources can cover a whole lot in that direction and can cover for any feature you think of.

More strategic? No, I'd say less strategic.
Because artifact x now requires sulfur which you don't need for anything else anyway. A no-brainer! With 4 resources, artifact x will require something you need for other things as well. That's a strategic decision.
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Postby vicheron » Jan 15 2011, 1:46

wimfrits wrote:I'm not a believer of dynamic balance. As the map you play has already been decided.


The series has always had dynamic balance. The different towns have always had significantly different resource requirements and build orders. Heroes 5 changed the dynamics a bit but all they did was made it so that each faction required at least one main resource but there were still factions that required greater variety of resources than others.

I agree that purchasing spells and artifact crafting increased the use of the marketplace. A tiny bit.
And I can also agree that more resources allow more variety. More complex, perhaps. Although like I said, combinations of resources can cover a whole lot in that direction and can cover for any feature you think of.


Part of the problem is with the marketplace. The exchange rates are too high. Heroes 4 made the exchange rates much more reasonable. A new Heroes game can modify it further so that the exchange rates depend on how much trading you've done. So the exchange rate would start very low, maybe at a 1 to 1 ratio for the first two unit of each resource you want to buy but increase to a 3 to 2 ration for the next two units, 2 to 1 for the next two units, 5 to 2 for the next two, and so on, until you get to a maximum exchange rate determined by the number of marketplaces you own. The exchange rates could then reset or slowly lower back to 1 to 1 ratio as time passes.

More strategic? No, I'd say less strategic.
Because artifact x now requires sulfur which you don't need for anything else anyway. A no-brainer! With 4 resources, artifact x will require something you need for other things as well. That's a strategic decision.


But the artifact you want may require a resource that you need for something else.

With only one rare resource, every type of artifact will be available to you. Once you've made the choice to craft an artifact, you just make the artifact that will be most useful to you. As I mentioned before, with multiple resources, each resource could correspond to a certain bonus so for example, an artifact that raises attack needs more sulfur while an artifact that raises defense needs more mercury. That way, even with excess resources, you might not be able to create the artifact that's most useful for you, which adds another layer to your decision making.

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Postby Pitsu » Jan 15 2011, 8:39

wimfrits wrote:Because artifact x now requires sulfur which you don't need for anything else anyway. A no-brainer! With 4 resources, artifact x will require something you need for other things as well. That's a strategic decision.


Not very interested in getting into this debate, but a brief comment. AFAIK the strategic value of something is not defined only by its direct uses, but as a sum of all uses and synergies. If a country has no need for oil, but it can trade it for something else, oil is still a strategic resource for it. If we compere two imaginary situations:

a) build dwelling <- crystals -> buy artifact
b) build dwelling <- crystals -> trade for sulfur -> buy artifact

then, as Wimfrits said, the second situation is certainly more complex. However, it also has the trading effect involved which does increase its potential strategic value. This, on the other hand, does not necessarily lead to an increase in the actual strategic value. Lets see: in first case the choice is affected by factors defining the value(need for monsters) of dwelling and the value(usability) of the artifact. In second case, everything affecting the market price come into equation. Giving a balanced choice in first case is more straightforward. To have an actual choice in second case the value of the artifact has to be increased or the player must have methods to alter the marketplace prices into its favor. If the dwelling and artifact costs are constant and trade prices are too bad or good, there is no actual choice in the second case. But if prices are bad and the player has means to alter the price by his actions, we instantly get a more strategic situation where dwelling vs artifact is not an independent choice, but which is affected by other choices the player has made (and which affect the marketplace price).

In conclusion, strategy is not only about making choices, but to link the consequences of the choices together for bringing you closer to your goal. Higher number of resources and related structures in game IMO increases the potential strategic value of resources in general. However, whether the potency is released, depends on implementation. It is not impossible that a game with lower variety of resources utilizes their potency better.

PS. i personally do not like the reduction of resource numbers.
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Postby wimfrits » Jan 15 2011, 9:20

vicheron wrote:The series has always had dynamic balance. The different towns have always had significantly different resource requirements and build orders. Heroes 5 changed the dynamics a bit but all they did was made it so that each faction required at least one main resource but there were still factions that required greater variety of resources than others.


I disagree. There's dynamic balance and dynamic balance. H2 had dynamic balance. Which I think is great fun, but not balanced, only dynamic.

In terms of resources, on an average map all sides can gather sufficient of all required resources. Except for 1. There are small exceptions to this rule, but overall this is the case. That's balanced. This goes for all Heroes games, not only H5.

Part of the problem is with the marketplace. The exchange rates are too high.


That's one way of looking at it. Another is: why have a marketplace in the first place? The main reason for existance of a marketplace the way I see it is: "Else there'd be nothing we could do with the 3 unneeded special resources"
Simple solution: use 1 special resource instead.
I don't think the marketplace is an integral part of the Heroes formula. I think it's merely an additional feature.

So I don't see much point in expanding the marketplace feature even more. There's enough micromanagement already.
However, if one really thinks of the marketplace as an integral strategic part of the game, your reasoning makes perfect sense.

But the artifact you want may require a resource that you need for something else.


Exactly. With only 4 resources, any combination of resources will 'hurt' your strategic plans in other ways. With 7 resources, only some combinations will hurt your strategic plans, as 3 of the 7 resources are less needed for your faction.


With only one rare resource, every type of artifact will be available to you. Once you've made the choice to craft an artifact, you just make the artifact that will be most useful to you. As I mentioned before, with multiple resources, each resource could correspond to a certain bonus so for example, an artifact that raises attack needs more sulfur while an artifact that raises defense needs more mercury. That way, even with excess resources, you might not be able to create the artifact that's most useful for you, which adds another layer to your decision making.


As I said before, use combinations of resource requirements to get the same decision making effect.

As for Pitsu's comments on strategy; nice read.
The crucial point here is that 3 of the 7 resources are less needed for the faction in question. So in x% of cases, creating an artifact will not be a strategic decision at all. It would be when trading unneeded resources or directly using unneeded resources for artifact creation is a real choice. In the current Heroes games I don't see this happening as the building time-frame is short and building takes precedence over anything else. And that's why a 4 resource system is more strategic.

It would be different when all sides required all 7 resources in a more or less equal way throughout the game. That could work out nice, but I fear Heroes would become a resource management game instead of a strategy game.
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Postby MattII » Jan 15 2011, 11:03

You know what I find amazing? People will throw a tantrum over the dropping of a single boring, clichéd faction, but won't even bat an eyelid at the removal of a good portion of the economic system, and about a third of the uses thereof.

It doesn't matter that the resources haven't been used well up to now, past trends need not be the predictor of future choices.

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Postby Pitsu » Jan 15 2011, 11:12

wimfrits wrote:It would be different when all sides required all 7 resources in a more or less equal way throughout the game. That could work out nice, but I fear Heroes would become a resource management game instead of a strategy game.


since i already got involved one more thing :p
I have most recent memories from H2, so i am using this. In an average above medium sized H2 map the resource difference is obvious only in the begin. Knight needs wood, warlock gems (minotaurs) and so one. Once you venture out of your starting region you can find towns and settlements of different type. Like there is no need to keep the starting hero as main hero, there is no need to keep starting town as main town. Depending on available resources and settlements one can chose the best combinations. Thus, on a large H2 maps all sides (players) have pretty much access to every town type and if they want, they can use all rares for different top level monsters or trade them for a single rare. So, after the starting phase all players have more or less equal use for all 7 resources, but IMO it is not at all a managment game.
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Postby sezerp » Jan 15 2011, 12:02

That's an interesting though Pitsu. In HoMM 1-3 you could easily have 20+ settlements on a XL map. Also, the abilities of heroes where not so stricly tied to the creatures (with the exception of Necromancers). This meant you could and actually had to use the creatures and heroes from other factions and you needed more than 1 type of resources. In H5 we all know how it looked.

Conclusion: we need really big maps in H6, not 'big' in terms of number of tiles, but big in terms what mapmakers can actually fit on them. What worries me is, as I heard, part of reason for only 4 resources is that its hard to place all that mines on a map.... I want to run a kingdom not a single city with one uberhero!

But back to the resources: it is really not that hard to make single faction use more than 1 resource in the endgame:

Step 1: change the value of single resource unit. For example daily production of a sawmill could be not 2 units but 20. Or 100. Or whatever is best.

Step 2: make some units from tiers 1-6 (or using H6 terms: core and elite units) costs some resources. Because of the unit change it's now feasible, as 1 unit means just a fraction of daily production.

Lo and behold: your faction now uses different resources during entire game. Trade is now more important. Competition for resources exists because given 2 factions, there will be at least 1 resource they both need. You can be put in situation when you can buy top level creatures but not low level ones. Artifact crafting or rune casting now has a hidden cost. All in all: more strategic depth.

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Postby wimfrits » Jan 15 2011, 12:34

Large maps with multiple towns require more resources of various types; I agree. In my experience the accumulation of resources you don't need for your starting town more or less compensates for your need of those for conquered towns later on. But a lot depends on personal experiences and maps played. And on the types of towns conquered of course. Wouldn't it be much more strategic and less random if the town you conquer will always require the same types of resources of your starting town?

As for the idea of all 7 resources being used throughout the game through unit costs; good idea.
But.. isn't that the same as using 4 resources without complex systems of involving rare resources in unit pricing?

Properly balancing 7 resources is complex. Just look at previous Heroes game for failed attempts at that. Because people get used to 7 resources, people unconsciously accept the unbalances of the system.
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Postby sezerp » Jan 15 2011, 15:04

wimfrits wrote:But.. isn't that the same as using 4 resources without complex systems of involving rare resources in unit pricing?


It's not 100% the same. The more units depend on resource gathering the more important it becomes. There are also more constraints to consider. I agree that competition over one resource is better than no competition. What I believe is even better though is competition over several resources, which I've just proved possible :-)

wimfrits wrote:Properly balancing 7 resources is complex. Just look at previous Heroes game for failed attempts at that. Because people get used to 7 resources, people unconsciously accept the unbalances of the system.
The trick is to free yourself of old and rusty ways of thinking and open yourself up for new lines of thought! :D


'Complex' is good in strategy games :D And what one calls 'old ad rusty ways' is called 'tradition' by the others :-) 4 resources is not necessarily bad gameplay-wise, all I say is you can achieve similar effect and remain true to the tradition.

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Postby wimfrits » Jan 15 2011, 18:43

I can see the merit of that line of thought. Personally I think that more resources either increase randomness (like in previous games) or, if balanced properly, will transform the series to a resource (micro) management game.

Still, anything is possible. Let's see how the 4 resources of H6 will work out and then we could always go back to 7 in the next game if needed.
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Postby MattII » Jan 15 2011, 20:37

Well it didn't with H3, and that worked with 7 resources.

And yeah, I was going to suggest boosting all the non-gold productions and costs, thus allowing you to add those resources into unit costs down to tier 3.


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