Breathing new life into Heroes of Might & Magic

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

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Breathing new life into Heroes of Might & Magic

Postby Groovy » Sep 3 2011, 19:29

Having played HOMM 3 and its sequels, I was surprised by how much the sequels struggled to improve upon their predecessor. HOMM 3 was and still is a great game, no question, but it shouldn’t be that difficult to come up with a fresh design that is clearly a step forward from a game that was developed 12 years ago. At least I’d like to think so. This prompted me to try to figure out what it is exactly that makes HOMM such a great series, and which of those features leave the most room for improvement.

Of the several distinguishing characteristics that came to mind, one stood out for me as having been implemented significantly below its potential. It is the interdependency between various game objects (heroes, creatures, spells, etc). Not the total number of objects, but the number of ways in which they interact. This, I suspect, is what people are actually asking for when they request more strategic and tactical possibilities to be made available in a future HOMM game. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if we could have richer game play by drastically reducing the number of creatures, spells, etc, while increasing the number of ways in which they interact. This is significant because it implies that such a game could be cheaper to develop than the HOMM games developed to date.

This is, in a nutshell, what I would like to explore – a HOMM game design that makes use of relatively few game objects of any one type, more kinds of game objects than what we have now, and far more ways for them to interact in a manner that we would potentially want to make use of.

Because the subject is far too extensive for any one topic, I would like to start separate topics to discuss the individual aspects. I will start them in this forum (Heroes 6), unless someone can point me to a more appropriate location. I will use the code name Heroic in the subject line of each topic on the proposed game design in an effort to tie them together.

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Postby Dalai » Sep 3 2011, 22:30

Having thought a lot about it myself, I'm looking forward to read your thoughts on topic. :creative:
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Re: Breathing new life into Heroes of Might & Magic

Postby Panda Tar » Sep 6 2011, 14:19

Groovy wrote:This, I suspect, is what people are actually asking for when they request more strategic and tactical possibilities to be made available in a future HOMM game.


This is an issue in the current game, as far as I could tell. Things are getting simpler, but they are not getting designed as for to have many options or interactions. Sometimes you are just forced to keep in this simplicity leading you to complete boredom. If a game brings me such humdrum, I prefer practicing sadhana then.

Me too, I'd like checking out views on that. Somehow, I still have some hope for Heroes games, when developers start being more lenient about their costumers. :)
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Postby ThunderTitan » Sep 26 2011, 18:19

I'd be more interesting in thinking of way to fix H4... i still prefer it to H3 on a conceptual level.
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Postby Panda Tar » Sep 26 2011, 19:02

That's not unusual. I played H4 more than H3, although I liked 3 better. I just got addicted developing heroes.
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Postby ThunderTitan » Sep 26 2011, 20:31

The all hero armies is one of the things that needs some serious balancing though...
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Postby Panda Tar » Sep 26 2011, 21:00

Maybe allowing just a couple of heroes (one might and one magic)...? Or two of any kind. I used to play with 3 or 4 heroes in a single tema, I don't recall precisely.
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Postby Dalai » Sep 26 2011, 21:21

ThunderTitan wrote:The all hero armies is one of the things that needs some serious balancing though...

True. Heroes gain utility much faster than creature stacks.

It can be solved though, and it's not that hard. If you have access to the blueprints, you need to make changes to growth rates and magic system.

More accessible way is map design. If map author knows these issues, he can compensate them to some degree.
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Postby Variol » Sep 27 2011, 1:59

..if you want to breath new life into Heroes, buy Kings Bounty!! Honesty, I would not even bother with H6 in comparison.

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Postby Groovy » Sep 27 2011, 18:45

ThunderTitan wrote:I'd be more interesting in thinking of way to fix H4... i still prefer it to H3 on a conceptual level.

I would find this exercise too limiting. If I understand you correctly, it would amount to tweaking the H4 game mechanics in an effort to surpass the superb game play experience of H3. The exercise that I’m proposing instead is to identify exactly what it is about the H3 game play experience that makes it so superb, and then propose new game mechanics that do it even better. If done well, the end result would be a design that introduces new game objects and mechanics and refines existing ones, but strictly in a way that enhances the core strengths of H3 instead of undermining them (as H4 sometimes did).

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Postby vicheron » Sep 28 2011, 9:12

They really need to think about more than just the battlefield when balancing the factions. From Heroes 1 to 3, the different factions were never balanced in terms of army strength. However, once you take into consideration things like castle building and creeping, the weaker factions often became as powerful if not more powerful than the stronger factions. The lowly Fortress may be one of the weakest factions statistically but their heroes will have Wyverns by the time Castle heroes can get Swordsmen. On a small map that could mean death for the Castle player while on a bigger map, the Fortress can gain a significant economic advantage.

One of the problems with newer Heroes games is that they're trying so hard to balance the different factions on the battlefield that they're neglecting other factors.

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Postby Dalai » Sep 28 2011, 9:37

vicheron wrote:One of the problems with newer Heroes games is that they're trying so hard to balance the different factions on the battlefield that they're neglecting other factors.

They are not neglecting them. They just remove them. This is probably on of the few examples of strategy without economy. Oxymoron, I know. :mad:
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Postby ThunderTitan » Sep 28 2011, 18:55

Groovy wrote:I would find this exercise too limiting. If I understand you correctly, it would amount to tweaking the H4 game mechanics in an effort to surpass the superb game play experience of H3.



H4's gameplay is already better then H3's if you can get past the obvious imbalances...

But then again i always found H3 to be H2 with more stuff (and more homogeneity) and less soul...
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Postby Groovy » Sep 29 2011, 6:57

ThunderTitan wrote:H4's gameplay is already better then H3's if you can get past the obvious imbalances...

My comment was more a reference to where the emphasis should be – the superb game play features rather than the mechanics with which they are implemented. If we have a firm grasp of what makes a game tick, we can refine or replace the mechanics that it uses and reasonably expect to create a better game. Without such understanding, tinkering with the mechanics becomes a hit-and-miss affair.

ThunderTitan wrote:But then again i always found H3 to be H2 with more stuff (and more homogeneity) and less soul...

Agreed. I’ve only started playing H2 recently, but I’m really impressed with the feel of the game and the asymmetry between factions.

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Postby Panda Tar » Sep 30 2011, 2:11

H2 was superb. The game was pretty much cool whichever faction you chose to pick. And just one or another unit having upgrade was of such interesting feature, imho. Only what seemed to need an improvement had one.

Of course that some stuff could become rather imbalanced, like hiring ghosts and using them to attack neutral peasants...the special effect for genies was even more fearsome than mighty gorgon's death gaze (for elevated numbers, that is).

For a real improvement imho, a mix between town/creatures and some skills from H3 mixed to H4 hero development, and some skill schemes from H5. Blend everything and then...and then something would be born. :|
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Postby Torur » Sep 30 2011, 8:26

Panda Tar wrote:H2 was superb. The game was pretty much cool whichever faction you chose to pick. And just one or another unit having upgrade was of such interesting feature, imho. Only what seemed to need an improvement had one.

Of course that some stuff could become rather imbalanced, like hiring ghosts and using them to attack neutral peasants...the special effect for genies was even more fearsome than mighty gorgon's death gaze (for elevated numbers, that is).

For a real improvement imho, a mix between town/creatures and some skills from H3 mixed to H4 hero development, and some skill schemes from H5. Blend everything and then...and then something would be born. :|

Mixing all the good stuff from all the best HoMM games...? You are a genius! Why hasnt anyone thought of this before?
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Postby klaymen » Sep 30 2011, 9:47

Torur wrote:Mixing all the good stuff from all the best HoMM games...? You are a genius! Why hasnt anyone thought of this before?
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And let Nival do it. They are the true masters of copy&paste. Let them put everything together and call it a day.
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Re: Breathing new life into Heroes of Might & Magic

Postby wimfrits » Oct 1 2011, 9:33

Groovy wrote:This prompted me to try to figure out what it is exactly that makes HOMM such a great series, and which of those features leave the most room for improvement.


Tough as players are attracted to different features.

I think the feature with the most room for improvement is hero development and -balance. Most versions have the 1 superhero, resulting in reduced strategic play, reduced tactics, the 1 combat decides the game thing and secondary heroes with unhero-like tasks. H5 tried to reduce the last syptom by increasing costs for secondary heroes.

The only game that came with a good solution for the basic problem is H4. Teaming up heroes exponentially increases tactical play and allows even low level heroes to play a decisive part. The fact that heroes are strong compared to creatures, while considered flawed by some (definately not by me!), reduces the 1-decisive combat thing and allows for a more strategic game. No need to visit weekly resource structures and creatures able to pick up resources kills the secondary hero syptom.

To me, H4 is the perfect example of how less objects create more strategic and tactical possibilities.
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Re: Breathing new life into Heroes of Might & Magic

Postby vhilhu » Oct 1 2011, 18:49

wimfrits wrote:The only game that came with a good solution for the basic problem is H4. Teaming up heroes exponentially increases tactical play and allows even low level heroes to play a decisive part. The fact that heroes are strong compared to creatures, while considered flawed by some (definately not by me!), reduces the 1-decisive combat thing and allows for a more strategic game. No need to visit weekly resource structures and creatures able to pick up resources kills the secondary hero syptom.

To me, H4 is the perfect example of how less objects create more strategic and tactical possibilities.


I think that the idea that heroes act as organizational units of a small number of stacks of creatures, and heroes can carry those stacks of creatures around in a turn-based manner on a large-scale map (where creatures can be recruited and various aspects relevant to combat can be changed by actions such as learning new spells and gathering artifacts and visiting power-upping map locations) and bring them into turn-based battles on small-scale maps by running into enemies on the large-scale map, makes up the greater part of the "core" idea of Heroes (this is not to say that I'd think that is the entire "idea" of Heroes and the rest could be entirely rethinked without drifting away from the "spirit of HoMM"; but clearly most other features such as how the "town screen" works - which got more than its share of hatred on HoMM6 - are much more superficial).

I think that a game that doesn't have that mechanic at its core doesn't stay true to the Heroes spirit.

Often when I think what I'd like a new Heroes game to be like, I drift on towards something more like Warlords 2 or Master of Magic, and then wake up and realize that while it might work well as a game, it will miss that specific "Heroes" charm. HoMM4 did not have that specific "Heroes" charm for me, because: 1) heroes were no longer organizational units of stacks of creatures on the map, as creatures could move around on the map independently of heroes and even carry artifacts, 2) heroes were no longer organizational units of stacks of creatures, because they were, in a combat sense, a special kind of creatures themselves (as they could move and occupy space and kill and be killed and be spell'd in manners very similar to those of regular creatures).

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Postby wimfrits » Oct 2 2011, 7:16

Sound argument. The thing of course is that everyone has a different opinion of what the core of the series is. To me it's primarily a fantasy setting, developing heroes, creature stacks in combat and challenging strategic and tactical play.
The organizational unit brings some 'flaws' with it like unkillable heroes, increased micromanagement and prevents growth in the parts that I feel are most important.
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