International Press Coverage

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

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International Press Coverage

Postby Kalah » Mar 29 2011, 18:07

In this thread, post what foreign press are saying. Translate to English, entire article or at least a "shortened" version.

Here is an interview made by Norwegian gaming magazine Gamer.no during a press event in Budapest.
What follows is my translation from Norwegian to English:

- We listen to the fans
We find out why the Heroes series is back

When an interview starts with a five minute talk about what I think about what I have tried of a game, it can mean several things. One obvious reflex is one of these made-up PR stunts where you as a journalist is being injected with enthusiasm and love, and put on a pedestal. These are probably more difficult to detect than the better stepbrother: genuine love for the product.

I sat down with assistant producer Max Von Knorring and lead level designer Julien Pirou, to talk about the next chapter in one of the most well-reknowned strategy game series of all time. There was never any doubt that the enthusiasm was genuine, and the game felt better than the series has been in a long time. The interview quickly made it clear why.

- This game series has a mass of highly enthusiastic and dedicated fans. How do you communicate with the customer base?


Julien: – The first thing we did was open up a separate VIP forum for 25 select fans, fansite writers and mod makers etc. Here we discuss what they would most want to see in a new game. What you should know about the fans of these games is that they are very diverse. You've got young and old players, as well as 30% girls. That's a very high number for a PC strategy game.

Max: – One thing worth noticing is that people like this series for different reasons, and everybody has a different favourite. That's why we have established a relationship of confidence with this group. Among other things, we showed them an early draft of the skill system, which was much simpler and more similar to the one used in Diablo. The feedback we got was that we were missing the essence of the series, which is depth in choices and great flexibility. So we threw it out.

– You really deleted the whole thing and started over from scratch?

Max: – Quite simply! We mixed their many suggestions with the best from our system, and made a compromise. Some of the skills you see in the system are actually direct suggestions from our users. We are very happy about all their feedback, and keep in continous contact. We have actually flown them over to both Gamescom and this arrangement, where we eat dinner together, talk and let them try the game.

– And many of them probably have strong opinions about your last interpretation of the series, Heroes of Might & Magic V. What did you do wrong with that game?

Julien: – First let me clarify that I was employed after the development of Heroes 5, so I can speak as a fan. First and foremost, the game was released with too little polishing and too many bugs. It was also unbalanced. I was a big fan of the game and made many maps for it, but I couldn't quite enjoy it until after three patches and two expansions.

Max: – Another problem was that we introduced 3D maps, with rotation and a very flexible camera. This enabled us to hide resources behind buildings and landscape. This confused the players a lot. Now we have been inspired by Heroes 3 again, and that creates a far less ambiguous map that is easier to understand.

Having played for a while, it seems that you are moving slightly away from the game's strategy roots, with smaller maps and the possibility to enter the different towns. How well does this fit?

Julien: – Firstly, I think perhaps we have the biggest game levels in the series so far, but of course the size varies a lot. I think perhaps that things appear closer then. In the first three games in the series , everything was observed from afar, and the surroundings became more like icons than actual depictions. Now everything looks to be a lot closer.

Max: – You mentioned the possibility of viewing your buildings in full screen as they are built, and it is true that this function has been removed. We know it was popular with the players, but how annoying is it with a several seconds long pause every time you build something? After a couple missions you are tired of it. You can still see an accurate representation of your town in the new, smaller menu. At the same time, some of the buildings (among others the unique buildings) are shown on the world map so that other players can actually learn from your bases by looking at them.

At the same time, you have introduced boss fights for the first time in the series. What purpose do they serve?

Julien: – They are there first and foremost to give variation to the fights, something which was very important to us. We have also taken this onwards to other types of battles, where you may for instance have to protect or kill acertain unit in a given number of rounds. Bosses are part of an attempt to spice up this part of the game. These fights require all new strategies, like using an item at the right time in order to penetrate the enemy's defence, and see how much you have learned.

My first thought is that you have been inspired by similar fights in MMORPGS. Is that right?

Max: – Undoubtedly for some if the fights, and the one you have tried out is a good example. All the fights should be different and require different strategies. At the same time, it lets us be more creative with the story and set up obstacles that aren't just normal enemies.

Julien: – But this is not really a completely new concept Heroes-wise. In the final expansion pack for Heroes 3, seven new dragons were introduced - more difficult to kill than other enemies. In that game, many of the maps were also based on killing a neutral enemy stack to win. The difference is that we have now given them a unique pattern and new properties.

Can we expect to see boss fights in multiplayer too?

Max: – We actually don't have an answer to that yet; you have to ask Black Hole Games about that. It would undoubtedly be cool, and we have nagged a lot about it, but it all depends on how much time we will have. You can write down that we are working hard on getting them into the multiplayer part, and then we'll have to see what we have time for.

On to something different - you seem to be a lot more focused on the story than before. Why?

Max: – There is a focus on the story in this game, and there's a good reason for that. In Heroes 5, the story was made by the Russian developer Nival, and Ubisoft were given the job of writing dialogues when they were finished creating this world with a full story. Now, control is back with us again, and that's another reason why we are emphasizing it more. This is finally our project again.

Julien: – Another reason is the staff we're working with right now. We have four skilled writers who have been inspired by great works like A Song of Ice and Fire, where one of them has also worked as a text writer for comic books. We are playing with plot twists and the meta plot to create a coherent story across the different campaigns.

Have you received feedback from the players that they actually care about the story in these games?

Julien: – I think the players are basically divided down the middle. Half are very interested in the mythology and make wiki pages to gather all sorts of background info even we have forgotten. The other half don't care and only want to play the game. By balancing story and gameplay we aim to please both types of players. By implementing a bad story and excellent gameplay, only one half will be happy. These games have always been part of a heroic fantasy universe, and I think that's where the appeal has been. By building on this and tie it into a good story, I think we're adding new dimension.

How has the cooperation with Black Hole worked out for you guys at Ubisoft?

Max: – Very good! They have super experience with strategy- and tactical games, since they developed Warhammer: Mark of Chaos og Armies of Exigo. They had a lot of experience with fantasy games, a good game engine and - not least - a good work flow. They used to work with Games Workshop on the Warhammer license, and they are extremely particular about how their concept should be treated. That's why the are used to delivering quality work at zero time.

Might & Magic Heroes VI is released June 23. for PC.
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Postby jeff » Mar 29 2011, 20:27

I guess my main problem with the fan input was the 25 'select' fans. That has always rubbed me wrong. The ones whose identity has been mentioned here at CH are good choices, but what has been revealed about H-6, it seems a qualification for being one of these is you at least liked H-5. I may be wrong, but if I am correct then the view was slanted in the direction that UBI wanted not necessarily what the fanbase wanted. ;|
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Postby Kalah » Mar 29 2011, 23:09

Trust me ... not all the guys in the VIP forum liked H5. No, indeed, not all of them liked it at all ... Did you notice what Marzhin himself said? ;)

I think it's sensible to talk to your sharpest critics. That way, the game gets better. B-)
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Postby jeff » Mar 29 2011, 23:50

I do trust you on this and hopefully they made a few steps by bringing in more H-IV features to improve the game.
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Postby Pitsu » Mar 30 2011, 6:40

Since the topic was raised, i'd add that more than the percentage of females, it would be interesting to know how many of those VIPs define themselves as competive multiplayer gamers and how many have the map editor as first priority. Anyone else than Vesuvius (if he is there) and Marzin in these respective groups? Regarding modmakers, I know that Ubi has been in contact with Wog and maybe with Equilibris teams, but I would frankly be surprised is anyone from these teams is actually there...
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Postby Dalai » Mar 30 2011, 14:54

Kalah wrote:So we threw it out.
...then we went back to our garbage heap and tried to salvage as much as we can, so we took
Kalah wrote:the best from our system, and made a compromise.
I'm delighted with this throw-it-all-out-approach. :D

Kalah wrote:Now we have been inspired by Heroes 3 again

Again... That's nice! Very much like... H5? :D Just awesome!... :proud:

Kalah wrote:We actually don't have an answer to that yet; you have to ask Black Hole Games about that.

That means that developer's leash is quite long, as it probably was in Nival's case.

Kalah wrote:it seems that you are moving slightly away from the game's strategy roots

Interviewer is very, very diplomatic. Yes, the right word is "slightly" :D

And the main line in the whole interview:
Kalah wrote:we were missing the essence of the series

...and still are, alas. :disagree: At least if they make a 6-th game in series, not the second.


Pitsu wrote:...it would be interesting to know how many of those VIPs define themselves as competive multiplayer gamers and how many have the map editor as first priority.

Now THAT are the right questions!

Pitsu wrote:Regarding modmakers, I know that Ubi has been in contact with Wog and maybe with Equilibris teams, but I would frankly be surprised is anyone from these teams is actually there...

Yep, we've been in contact. I met FC in person. Among a lot of other things I discovered that we were putting emphasis on very different things. I was a bit confused by this, because they make money on that and I don't, so they simply must know better. But recent history shows they probably don't.

And no, we were not presented an opportunity to take part in s any kind of sensible discussion. Probably, the word "modder" means something different for Ubisoft.
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Postby jeff » Mar 30 2011, 22:32

Dalai wrote:
Pitsu wrote:...it would be interesting to know how many of those VIPs define themselves as competive multiplayer gamers and how many have the map editor as first priority.

Now THAT are the right questions!


That is always lurking in the back of my mind, but the lack of information on the editor except the fact a campaign function may be added later. Convinced me UBI learned nothing from the H-5 experiment. Frankly as much as I would like to believe the few who have told me otherwise; I just have no reason to trust UBI.
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Postby Thelonious » Mar 31 2011, 18:30

Sorry for going off-topic but I just felt the need to add this...

jeff wrote:That is always lurking in the back of my mind, but the lack of information on the editor except the fact a campaign function may be added later. Convinced me UBI learned nothing from the H-5 experiment. Frankly as much as I would like to believe the few who have told me otherwise; I just have no reason to trust UBI.


I doubt the editor will be completely unworkable; and I bet a lot of that has to do with Marzhin. Not that he will make all the calls or anything, but I guess that he'll at least note the fans wish for a usable editor which makes his job easier aswell... But that's just my idea on the matter.
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Postby jeff » Mar 31 2011, 20:31

Thelonious wrote:Sorry for going off-topic but I just felt the need to add this...

jeff wrote:That is always lurking in the back of my mind, but the lack of information on the editor except the fact a campaign function may be added later. Convinced me UBI learned nothing from the H-5 experiment. Frankly as much as I would like to believe the few who have told me otherwise; I just have no reason to trust UBI.


I doubt the editor will be completely unworkable; and I bet a lot of that has to do with Marzhin. Not that he will make all the calls or anything, but I guess that he'll at least note the fans wish for a usable editor which makes his job easier aswell... But that's just my idea on the matter.


I have no doubt the map editor will be more functional than H-5 (I don't think it could be worse). As I have said elsewhere, if a map editor is all they are going to release. The community would be better served spending that money on an awesome RMG and forget the editor. Fans will make great single maps with a good editor, but to me what's the point. Without a living MM RPG the only way to enjoy that experience in Heroes is to develop a story over multiple maps. Frankly I don't think Marzhin will have a major impact on this decision regardless of his intentions. But it's just me whining, and I am sorry as I really don't wish to wave good-bye to the MM community, but UBI seems to keep pushing me out the door.
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Postby ThunderTitan » Apr 1 2011, 23:03

Kalah wrote:I think it's sensible to talk to your sharpest critics. That way, the game gets better. B-)


Or they can punk out and pick Marzhin instead of me...


...it would be interesting to know how many of those VIPs define themselves as competive multiplayer gamers and how many have the map editor as first priority.


Didn't H4 pretty much proved that you can ship a good editor later and that focusing on the basic game first is the best idea?
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Postby Dalai » Apr 3 2011, 12:41

ThunderTitan wrote:Didn't H4 pretty much proved that you can ship a good editor later and that focusing on the basic game first is the best idea?

I think that it only proved how loyal and patient heroes fan base is. But even this giant pool of patience (carefully earned by NWC) can go dry, and with many fans it already is.
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Postby jeff » Apr 3 2011, 16:42

Dalai wrote:I think that it only proved how loyal and patient heroes fan base is. But even this giant pool of patience (carefully earned by NWC) can go dry, and with many fans it already is.


Sadly this is more true everyday.
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Postby Pitsu » Apr 3 2011, 17:24

ThunderTitan wrote: Didn't H4 pretty much proved that you can ship a good editor later and that focusing on the basic game first is the best idea?


Ok, if we look at the statement above, then can someone enlighten me what was wrong with the H4 editor? Was the editor that was there in the very initial release so awfully bad compared to the final improved version? Or is TT meaning multiplayer, which was not available in H4 initial release? Is he trying to say that releasing SP, MP, editor and maybe each map separately is "the best idea"? Or only "the best idea" for a company that has not made any profit for years like 3DO and Ubi? Uh, there are so many questions, that after reading it 5 times, i thought that it is again one of these TT posts where he takes a random quote, adds a random comment and gets +1 to his post count.
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Postby jeff » Apr 3 2011, 18:29

There is very little wrong with the H-IV editor and with very little time NWC could have fixed the little things like both post combat scripts running and the morale boost errors. Neither of these is a killer and workarounds for the most part are available. The H-IV campaign capabilities far exceed the H-V campaign editor. UBI should be embarrassed that even after 8 years they still cannot match it. Perhaps it’s that inability to match the H-IV campaign editor's capability, flexibility and ease of use, is the real reason they may give up on the campaign editor for H-6. Who am I kidding; little embarrasses UBI, particularly since people are willing to accept their products.
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Postby ThunderTitan » Apr 3 2011, 18:57

Wait, H4 came with the editor out of the box? Guess i must be confusing it with what i see is an update to the editor that came with GS...


The idea was the the greatest editor in Heroes history didn't help much when the base game was broken...
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Postby jeff » Apr 3 2011, 22:12

ThunderTitan wrote: The idea was the the greatest editor in Heroes history didn't help much when the base game was broken...


Except people are still playing H-IV, and new maps are still being released. A new campaign Astral Romance was released just last week. I doubt the same will be said of H-5 in another year or two.
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Postby Nelgirith » Apr 4 2011, 8:53

jeff wrote:
ThunderTitan wrote: The idea was the the greatest editor in Heroes history didn't help much when the base game was broken...


Except people are still playing H-IV, and new maps are still being released. A new campaign Astral Romance was released just last week. I doubt the same will be said of H-5 in another year or two.

I wonder how many people would still play H3 or H4 if you removed WoG and Equilibris :P

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Postby ThunderTitan » Apr 4 2011, 9:45

jeff wrote:
ThunderTitan wrote: The idea was the the greatest editor in Heroes history didn't help much when the base game was broken...


Except people are still playing H-IV, and new maps are still being released. A new campaign Astral Romance was released just last week. I doubt the same will be said of H-5 in another year or two.


And why would i be comparing it to H5 instead of one of the better games in the series that i still know is played by people i know IRL (and i don't even think they heard of WoG)?


But my last statement was exaggerated, the editor obviously helped a lot based on my experience with the fanbase here, but i also know many people (here and IRL) that don't like H4 and didn't give it enough a chance to get to the editor goodness because of how broken it was at the start.
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Postby Dalai » Apr 4 2011, 10:16

Nelgirith wrote:I wonder how many people would still play H3 or H4 if you removed WoG and Equilibris :P

How many people would still use Facebook if you leave only the content that Facebook created? ;)

H3 and H4 inspired people to create mods for them, H5 didn't succeed in this. This fact alone speaks louder than many pages of arguing about fine details of editor, multiplayer, etc.

I can talk about beauty of H4 design for hours, even though it was shipped too early, too buggy, without multiplayer, RMG and with impotent AI. It is still far superior than H5, and, seemingly, even more so than H6. I mean design by Apple's definition - not only how something looks, but how it works and feels.

But if we return to editor - it enables the mapmaker to use the whole wealth of ideas, and do it in intuitive, visual, non-programmer's way. In short - to create, as opposed to simply use. This adds a lot of longevity to the game. If a campaign is created by someone not for his paycheck, than it is created for passion. Even if you do not create maps yourself - you have a lot of such maps and campaigns to choose from. And experience shows, that if you take just a top 10% of them - they will be far superior in quality than those shipped with game, and their number will be significantly higher.

This is one of those really basic things that Ubi seems to miss all this time they own a franchise. :? And there are a lot more of not-so-basic things. This is really sad.:sad:
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Postby Metathron » Apr 4 2011, 10:44

Dalai wrote:
Nelgirith wrote:H3 and H4 inspired people to create mods for them, H5 didn't succeed in this.


Just FYI, HoMM V spawned an ocean of mods and improvements made by the community, so your point that it didn't succeed is moot.
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