The Damage is Already Done

The game Might & Magic: Heroes VII, developed by Limbic Entertainment.

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How enthusiastic are you?

I will preorder, even if it is $99
5
6%
I will preorder without paying a premium
4
5%
I will buy when it comes out, but I have not marked the day on my calendar
19
25%
I will wait for reviews and bug fixes before I buy
22
29%
I don't mind waiting a year for it to be discounted (OP's vote)
13
17%
Highly unlikely to buy, but if I get it for Christmas I will play it
9
12%
Absolutely nothing produced by Ubisoft!
5
6%
 
Total votes: 77

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cjlee
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Postby cjlee » Mar 28 2015, 3:50

Thanks for writing Dalai.

What I don’t understand is why Ubisoft, with so much experience and expertise in the gaming world, handled the Heroes franchise so badly.

If Ubisoft didn’t have deep pockets, not wanting to invest is understandable. But if it has deep pockets and global reach, it should be wanting to maximize profits, and should be looking for the best people to make this game.

The fact that they found incompetent people, plus didn’t supervise these incompetents, twice is a poor reflection of Ubisoft as a company. If you’re in the gaming world and you don’t care for customer opinion (or at least about basic game stability) just because you ‘own’ the franchise, you’re in the wrong place. Go sell toilet paper for public toilets; user opinion is irrelevant and cheap is the imperative when in the public restroom toilet paper business.

Although I mock them a lot for their U-bi-soft name, the fact is that some companies really have a corporate culture unsuited to the business they are currently doing. That often originates from being a family business that grew big, or a company where the CEO has been in place too long and gathered too many people around him who think the same way, then the nature of this business changes and CEO doesn't change so he and his gang are out of touch.

They need to either change their business practices or to change the products they sell. I have seen many businesses in my country prosper simply by changing the lines of products offered. Ubisoft could also sell industrial detergent; it’s another product that fits the name, and which is demanded in large cheap quantities with minimal quality control needed.

In any case they are used to paying A LOT. Ubisoft just paid $68m to develop some game called WatchDogs. Without bothering to know what that game is about, I won’t read further. Until they can make my favorite game in a competent manner I have no desire to waste money on any other Ubisoft product.

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Postby Galaad » Mar 30 2015, 10:59

How many people from this place willing to fire Ubisoft from the franchise?

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Postby Groovy » Mar 30 2015, 11:25

I definitely wouldn't miss Ubisoft if they were to sell the franchise to someone who genuinely cared about it.
...but...
I'd like to see HoMM fundamentally revised, and I doubt that fan communities would handle this well.

So I don't know.

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 30 2015, 13:47

I'm in a level of displeasure that I stopped caring if this franchise would ever continue anywhere else. It's like I wonder if stopping it before becoming any worst would be a more civilized attitude.
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Postby mr.hackcrag » Mar 30 2015, 14:27

I want to sell the franchise to Groovy.

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 30 2015, 14:31

Lol.

They said Stronghold is up. I cannot enter that blog yet. It says I broke cabir's toy all the time. I would break it again, on its head if I could, if it was only not to have any more toys to break.

Anyway, as far as in HC's reports go, the line up is the best one so far - speaking on overall terms, there's little or no complaints this time. Still, VERY FAR from something that could save this game. It's like buying a whole discography because you like only 1 music.
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Postby Dalai » Mar 30 2015, 17:47

cjlee wrote:The fact that they found incompetent people, plus didn’t supervise these incompetents, twice is a poor reflection of Ubisoft as a company.
Ubisoft manages many projects. Naturally, they are prioritizing. The recent history of HoMM franchise is the reflection of it's place on priorities list. Nothing personal, HoMM is just a bastard child no one loves in Ubi, close to the end of the list. Let it earn it's keep, let's train some "young managers" with limited potential of loss, and - god forbid - don't risk any real money for it.

cjlee wrote:If you’re in the gaming world and you don’t care for customer opinion (or at least about basic game stability) just because you ‘own’ the franchise, you’re in the wrong place.
Even in gaming world you have to train your "future stars" on something. HoMM is a niche project, you can fail it and it will have no consequences on big financial picture whatsoever.

It sucks, but it's probably how it is. Just business.

cjlee wrote:Although I mock them a lot for their U-bi-soft name, the fact is that some companies really have a corporate culture unsuited to the business they are currently doing. That often originates from being a family business that grew big, or a company where the CEO has been in place too long and gathered too many people around him who think the same way, then the nature of this business changes and CEO doesn't change so he and his gang are out of touch.

They need to either change their business practices or to change the products they sell. I have seen many businesses in my country prosper simply by changing the lines of products offered. Ubisoft could also sell industrial detergent; it’s another product that fits the name, and which is demanded in large cheap quantities with minimal quality control needed.
Yep B-)

cjlee wrote:In any case they are used to paying A LOT. Ubisoft just paid $68m to develop some game called WatchDogs. Without bothering to know what that game is about, I won’t read further. Until they can make my favorite game in a competent manner I have no desire to waste money on any other Ubisoft product.
May be if they paid $68M for HoMM, we would be in a completely different situation. The concept of "sunken cost" iirc. The importance of project is determined by how much money is already spent on it. In other words, how costly it is to forget about the project.

Galaad wrote:How many people from this place willing to fire Ubisoft from the franchise?
I think, saving HoMM right now is not easier than just creating a completely new successful franchise. King's Bounty is a good example. If you are able game designer with team and resources - why would you waste some millions to buy franchise from Ubisoft? Fighting a negative perception instead of creating a game of your vision - I doubt it's a great choice.

Let Ubisoft make M&M:H a monument of their impotence, I don't care. :disagree:
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Postby Groovy » Mar 30 2015, 20:39

mr.hackcrag wrote:I want to sell the franchise to Groovy.

:D

Even if I could afford it, as Dalai explained, this probably wouldn't end well. I'd want to change far too much for the franchise to offer genuine value, and many fans would end up feeling alienated by the lack of continuity between the new game and world, and their predecessors.

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Postby Sligneris » Mar 31 2015, 5:42

Dalai wrote:Ubisoft manages many projects. Naturally, they are prioritizing. The recent history of HoMM franchise is the reflection of it's place on priorities list. Nothing personal, HoMM is just a bastard child no one loves in Ubi, close to the end of the list. Let it earn it's keep, let's train some "young managers" with limited potential of loss, and - god forbid - don't risk any real money for it.

You know, I believe Ubisoft would care much more about the franchise, if more people were actually interested in the games, rather than going "screw it, the third game is the best anyway". Whether it is or not, I'm not contesting it, but I'm pretty sure that if they had a bigger playerbase, they would care much more about not disappointing it. Some negative reviews that aren't basically "your creation sucks, go to hell" would also be welcome and would help the franchise to improve, rather than tearing apart its fanbase from inside, which helps literally no one.

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Postby Dalai » Mar 31 2015, 15:34

Sligneris wrote:You know, I believe Ubisoft would care much more about the franchise, if more people were actually interested in the games, rather than going "screw it, the third game is the best anyway". Whether it is or not, I'm not contesting it, but I'm pretty sure that if they had a bigger playerbase, they would care much more about not disappointing it.
So the logic is "Buy our games A LOT, and if you do, maybe, we will make it worth it"?

Every time you buy a game from Ubisoft, you tell them: "I trust you guys, don't ruin it again!" And they hear: "Thank you guys, you're doing it perfect!" And you always lose, and will continue to do so until you learn their language.

I don't think it's fair to say they did not get enough feedback. They got a lot of top quality feedback. But it is fair to say that they ignored it. They even went so far as to choose some "high council", or "inner circle", or whatever it was called, of experienced fans, let them inside, and only then ignored them.

Sligneris wrote:Some negative reviews that aren't basically "your creation sucks, go to hell" would also be welcome and would help the franchise to improve, rather than tearing apart its fanbase from inside, which helps literally no one.
There are over 9000 of them to safely ignore. Do they really need more?

Ubisoft is immune to external advice, or any kind of critic. But they are NOT immune to falling revenue. To change themselves they need a red flag. A BIG one. Or two. No one changes when everything is ok, it's how evolution works. They need pressure. So tearing fanbase apart from inside (I only wish I could do it!) helps Ubisoft first of all by sending the right signal, and through them - all the fans.
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Postby Sligneris » Mar 31 2015, 16:00

Actually, I'm pretty sure that Ubisoft itself remains completely unaffected by raging fanboys on the official blogs or community forums, which is mostly what I meant by tearing the fanbase apart. The only people who notice that - and suffer that - are the fans and the very tiny branch of this company, the M&M team, which actually already tries its best and is dedicated enough. But as you said yourself, Ubisoft does not and most likely will not use much of its budget on this franchise - even if there are problems with revenue, they did not risk much in this series in the first place after all, so they have nothing to worry about - for them it'll be just another failed, useless project.

There are no red flags that can be given to those in charge of Ubisoft's priority lists, and frankly, many efforts to do so are horribly naive and only make our communities incredibly toxic.
Last edited by Sligneris on Mar 31 2015, 16:16, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Kalah » Mar 31 2015, 16:13

Dalai wrote:Ubisoft is immune to external advice, or any kind of critic. But they are NOT immune to falling revenue. To change themselves they need a red flag. A BIG one.


True; I have on many an occasion tried to lobby with Ubisoft and get them to change their ways, and on almost all these occasions we see that it is not the criticism from fans that get them to change. The DRM policy was an example of this.
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Postby cjlee » Mar 31 2015, 16:39

Dalai and I seem to have stumbled on the truth between us.

Despite being one of the most anti-Ubisoft people around, I am going to posit here that we should forgive them, because what has happened is something that was not completely their fault.

It’s a question of a blind spot in the corporate structure.

When two companies merge, typically there are arrangements for the staff, so staff members get a say in the new combined company.

When a company is bought over, typically provisions are made such that the most valued staff are reassured of their future and retained.

But Ubisoft just bought the trademarks and franchise rights. It essentially parachuted into the HOMM world, without having any of its own staff build his career on Might and Magic, and without taking on a whole lot of 3DO people who understand the game and the market and could form a solid development team to lobby for resources.

So there are no dedicated departments. No established relationships and chains of communication within Ubisoft for the MM franchise. Even if mathematically the MM franchise was expected to bring in ¼ or whatever the revenue or profits of Ubisoft’s top seller, the corporate system is such that MM won’t get ¼ of the resources allocated to the top seller. And since all available personnel have been working on their pet (successful) projects for a while, MM will simply be handed off to some newbie manager with little experience, no connections to power brokers inside Ubisoft, a tiny budget, etc.

Well, after 2 screw ups, I think Ubisoft has learned a few things.

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Postby Dalai » Apr 1 2015, 16:14

Sligneris wrote:Actually, I'm pretty sure that Ubisoft itself remains completely unaffected by raging fanboys on the official blogs or community forums, which is mostly what I meant by tearing the fanbase apart.
Could not agree more. But the fact that they perceive all and every fan as a raging fanboy who must be ignored is something they should have changed a long time ago. It hurts them more than they think. And they are not even mature enough to understand that. They have NO experience and they shut down all the ways to get it. Perfect recipe for failure.

Sligneris wrote:The only people who notice that - and suffer that - are the fans and the very tiny branch of this company, the M&M team, which actually already tries its best and is dedicated enough.
As I said, I rarely post about it in the last several years, so if you wanted me to feel bad for "poisoning the forums" - well, I don't.

As for the M&M team and their dedication... I don't know if they are not experienced enough, or they are too proud to listen, or they are just not smart enough. And frankly - I don't care. If they expect to receive perfectly good money (not "beta money", not "experimental money", not "just a little bugged money") - they MUST deliver, and there should be no excuses. But all their work, from the grand concept to the tiniest details is VERY mediocre. And I am being kind here. I reminds me of Simpsons episode when Homer was tasked to design a perfect car.

A lot of questions require not more than a single 3-5 minutes long talk between two smart people. But for M&M team they are so "complex" that they spend 2 game versions to see that 2*2 is really 4. And those "raging fans" who said "4" were actually right (let's ban them from forums!). 5 years and two installations ago. But well, that's what marketing is for: "New innovative math, where 2*2 is 4, not 5 or 3! Preorder here!"

Sligneris wrote:But as you said yourself, Ubisoft does not and most likely will not use much of its budget on this franchise - even if there are problems with revenue, they did not risk much in this series in the first place after all, so they have nothing to worry about - for them it'll be just another failed, useless project.
Smart business decision. First you need to replace a whole team with someone who actually knows what he's doing. Starting with strategists who created Ashan, Dragon Gods and all that primitivism. Money comes later, it's the least complex problem for Ubi.

Sligneris wrote:There are no red flags that can be given to those in charge of Ubisoft's priority lists, and frankly, many efforts to do so are horribly naive and only make our communities incredibly toxic.
Oh, but there are ;) Money loss and bad PR are red flags that every manager understands. If a manager is a little bit more advanced - they understand, that at least 50% of Kings Bounty revenue could be Ubi's. Guys from Katauri had to create a whole new game with all new everything - from code to graphics and music, and for Ubi it is just 1 big map in a good Heroes game. Which they lack, so money goes elsewhere.

Just to be clear - I don't want more money for Heroes. You can allocate a billion dollars, and all you'll get with all the rest being as it is today - better video clips between missions with Hollywood stars' voices. I want 3DO approach. That means a new team who understand what they are doing. Who actually knows and loves the game. Not just says it to journalists as a cliche.

It's a deep game that holds places in different game design pantheons. And right now it's being made by very shallow people for equally shallow audience.

The game designer who decided to make less resources should have been banned from profession the same day. Manager, who did not fire him, should have been banned from managing. Same goes about the "Convert City" button. I can go on for the rest of the day. If you don't understand why - it's ok. You mustn't understand it. But they must. And they don't.

cjlee wrote:Well, after 2 screw ups, I think Ubisoft has learned a few things.
Doubt it. :disagree:

Firing Lead *whatever* is a big risk, so they would prefer a stable mediocre result. I don't think they have a spare team that upper management trusts, ready to take over franchise. It's like "democratic elections" in dictatorships - everybody votes for current dictator, because they are explained by TV that alternative would be much worse. "If not our greatest leader - then who?"
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Postby Panda Tar » Apr 1 2015, 16:20

Couldn't agree more on all those points.

Sadly, a red flag may cost and sacrifice something. It might be Heroes franchise. Someone is bound to lose sooner or later, and one of the sides will feel the stab.
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Postby Sligneris » Apr 1 2015, 17:59

Dalai, I admit I do have a few specific people in mind when I mentioned poisoning the fanbase, but don't worry, you're not one of them - I mean people who start making "crusades" - you on the other hand, state a negative opinion and while I might disagree with it, at least it's not as toxic as statements from some other people get.

Call me clueless, but I never know how to interpret what people mean by 'getting things right', or about the way you might define some teams more shallow and less passionate than others. This kind of advice is hard to interpret in the first place, let alone to go along with it. :) I mean, we've even got Marzhin, who was originally a fan himself, involved in Heroes 7 development - when you take that into consideration, I'm not sure what other teams you'd see gathered... You can't just bring in random fans with no experience in game development.

That's the problem, at least from my maybe a bit ignorant perspective - most fans don't give answers, they just say that your answer was wrong. Most things they say then, is mostly something about simply going back... which they actually did with the HD remake and it still didn't prove worthwhile.

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Postby Groovy » Apr 1 2015, 20:13

Panda Tar wrote:Sadly, a red flag may cost and sacrifice something. It might be Heroes franchise.

That's what I fear as well - that the conclusion will be that there's just no market left for this kind of game, rather than that the games on offer are sub par.

Sligneris wrote:Call me clueless, but I never know how to interpret what people mean by 'getting things right', or about the way you might define some teams more shallow and less passionate than others.

There's a range of meanings here, of course, depending on the person. For me, getting things right means having a clear vision of the kind of game you want to make, which is basically the kind of game that you'd love to play yourself, and then doing what it takes to bring that vision to life. Now, I don't know whether this was the story behind Heroes 6, but I didn't get that impression. The impression that I got was that the design objective was to simplify the game to make it more widely accessible. In other words, it wasn't about making the best game, but rather the most profitable one (in the short run). And that's simply not a kind of vision that I can get behind.

I'm with you on the crusades bit. I think there are better ways to handle the disappointment.

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Postby BB Shockwave » Apr 1 2015, 21:49

I actually welcome the end of Ubi's Heroes franchise. TBS gaming is back in style and thriving, with a lot of indie games like Warlock, Elemental, etc - plus the big two, Triumph's rather triumphant Age of Wonders 3 that's getting its second expansion/DLC this month, and 1C/Katauri's King's Bounty that's so successfull, they have milked the same game with small tweaks for THREE sequels now!

So yeah, let this Asha-travesty die. Then we can ask JVC to kickstart a proper HOMM game. :) He must still be out there somewhere, no?

Also, as for the "damage already done" part, check the new Behemoth. All I can see is... this.

Image

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Postby Panda Tar » Apr 1 2015, 21:55

I'm thinking on trying Endless Legend. It looks and sounds nice. :D It also has a fair metascore 82/100. I have AoW 3, although it didn't catch me too much. I'll give another go any day.
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Postby BB Shockwave » Apr 1 2015, 22:19

If that's the game I am remembering, then... the combat system was really, really basic and bad. Basically units attack on their own and best you can do is steer them in one direction. It was more of a TBS Civilization-style game, nice micromanageable empires but lack of effort on combat. Frankly, for me AOW3 is the kind of complexity I want for economy in my TBS games.

Back on HOMMVI (yeah, M&M - HVI, but I am not calling it that) - I dunno how much you know about what went on in the background. The developer was a hungarian studio so being hungarian I know more on this. Basically they had to release a partially ready product that was still woefully untested, because Ubi pushed things. The campaign, stories and idiotic characters (Svetlana, really? Is Russia a kingdom in HOMM now? Or her goody-goody necromancer aunt?) - well, that's because they did not receive ANY official background on the story from Ubi until 3 months before the release. 8| Not kidding.
The lack of dragon units, and the stupid spider-Necropolis? Ubi's idea. So was that they add basically most of the basic spells to the Might heroes as mana-free "skills", making Might heroes better at certain spells than Magic ones, ironically. And THEN Ubi expected them to continue patching this game for ages more. They said "no thanks", broke contract and (at least in Hungary) came clean about just how much of VI ended up the way it did because of lazy Ubisoft.


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