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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Postby cjlee » Apr 5 2015, 15:56

Reading some of this verbiage about ‘toxic environment on the forums’, I am reminded of my quarrel with Banedon (at the start of this thread) as well as the ‘defend Ubisoft, they’re doing an acceptable job” folks who have fought a lonely but determined battle ever since H6 came out.

Despite the overwhelming consensus that Ubisoft has done a terrible job, there are some people resolutely committed against criticism of Ubisoft, and who try desperately to find something good in this debacle or at least to discourage people from criticizing too strongly.

I used to quarrel with these people.

But now I see their point.

Ubisoft doesn’t care. So why bother to give them feedback? Why bother to criticize? Just don’t bother to say anything. A short “I don’t recommend the game” is enough. All that ranting and hot air doesn’t do us any good. It really creates a toxic environment in the forums (and I myself am guilty of that).

If you don’t like H7, the best thing to do would simply be to stay away. That’s what happens to the vast majority of games ever produced. You don’t hear much about it. There are no fans. Very little attention is given. The game dies a natural death in the $0.99 bargain bins at computer stores.

Lack of interest (which means lack of revenue) is the only feedback Ubisoft really cares about, and this is by far the most powerful and effective feedback. When they get zero traffic coming to their forums, when there are no Heroes 6 fan pages, when hardly anyone searches for HOMM6 in google’s keyword searches.

And this is the type of feedback that will come from me if H7 turns out another lemon. No rants. I’m not going to poison the atmosphere for whoever that likes what I think is a bad game. There will just be a resounding silence.

If H7 proves great, that’s awesome. I’ll buy it and enjoy.

If it proves the same as former iterations produced under Ubisoft’s aegis, well just too bad. I don’t buy, and I think that’s that. I’ve played as much earlier versions of Heroes as I ever will. So no more me. Just like no more my friends. The next generation of gamers may buy, or not buy, it doesn’t matter.

That’s what happens when damage is done to a franchise. Indifference. And that’s much worse than having a ‘toxic atmosphere’ – it’s no atmosphere at all, with forum traffic in the single digits every day. The people who like the bad quality will just be praising Ubisoft in a vacuum!

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Postby Panda Tar » Apr 5 2015, 20:21

I don't recommend this game whatsoever. ;)

And 3D only for the sake of being 3D is a waste, imho. There must have some real and justified use for that.
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Postby Galaad » Apr 6 2015, 8:36

cjlee wrote:Ubisoft doesn’t care. So why bother to give them feedback? Why bother to criticize?

Because now they have gone Open dev, and they need a happy fan base wishing for stuff like arachnophile zen buddhists in the side of Order as necromancers or Legolas & co into Nature town, or DE in dungeon humiliating Minos, or I can go on but that's not the point (not even mentioning the wonderful mechanics we had in h6).

How convenient, they shut us up ten years ago.

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Postby Sligneris » Apr 6 2015, 11:23

Please, just because you dislike the concepts doesn't make them objectively ridiculous. ;) I explained Ashan necromancers many times and I could repeat it again if you wanted to go past your first impressions alone, but if you're not willing to listen to any explanation, you can't blame anyone but yourself.

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Postby Groovy » Apr 6 2015, 13:55

Dalai wrote:Can you tell during a fight, which turn is it? When your "angels" made 5 moves and your "dwarfs" - only 2?

Initiative based system is NOT turn based. It's some horrid aberration. From game design point of view, first of all.

I'm quite fond of hybrid systems, so this doesn't bother me at all. For me, turn-based is more about having the time to plan my actions (instead of the winner being decided by clicking speed) than being able to tell what turn every facet of the game is on. I really don't see what we gain by making designs fit into strict categories.

That said, I wasn't fond of H5's initiative system because I felt that creatures like hydras and treants were being penalised twice - once through speed, and then again through initiative.

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Postby Dalai » Apr 6 2015, 14:12

Darkström wrote:I don't really like the 3D adventure maps. In previous games, the adventure map was very abstract, like an actual map; your hero was a symbol for a giant army marching around the world and nothing had to be for scale. Now the adventure maps are designed like beautiful landscapes with lots of decorative details, and everything is scaled to fit the hero model. The abstractness, and with it the strategic overview, is lost.
Very well put. B-)

Sligneris wrote:Please, just because you dislike the concepts doesn't make them objectively ridiculous. ;)
I wonder, what does? I'm trying to follow the logic here:
If people think it's ridiculous - it still does not mean it is. When are we right to say that it IS ridiculous? Where is the break-even point between ridiculous and still not ridiculous?

Groovy wrote:I'm quite fond of hybrid systems, so this doesn't bother me at all. For me, turn-based is more about having the time to plan my actions (instead of the winner being decided by clicking speed) than being able to tell what turn every facet of the game is on. I really don't see what we gain by making designs fit into strict categories.

That said, I wasn't fond of H5's initiative system because I felt that creatures like hydras and treants were being penalised twice - once through speed, and then again through initiative.
The way you define "turn based" is up to you, of course, but there is a common meaning ;) Essentially you take a continuous process, like life, of fight, and make pauses so that you can contemplate your next move or action. Obviously, the number of said pauses in one fight is exactly the same for all units - you stop their common time, not their individual movement. Fast units can walk/fly longer distances between these pauses. When you have equal time spans between those pauses, then this time span is called "turn". That's it. That's the turn based system.

In heroes we have added dimension to tactics - the order in which creatures move inside those turns. We may call them "individual turns". But unless we respect the whole turn based system, these individual turns have no sense. In H5 you can't really describe the turn of hydra stack. You have NOTHING to compare it to. There is no common denominator. It's senseless.

The problem with it is so obvious that you described it just in the next sentence after "I'm fine with it" :)

From balance point of view it's a disaster. To avoid penalizing said hydras so much you need to make differences between movement and initiative much smaller than game allows. You can't have 3.85 against 3.92 movement, you can only have 3 against 4. You can't have movement bonus from spell +0.25. Same with initiative. And the smaller your battlefield - the bigger the problem.

There is more. From "realistic" point of view you can not have units with high initiative and low movement, and vice versa. Unit is either fast, and then it walks long distance, or it's slow, and moves not that far. You break this rule - you break immersion. You follow this rule - fast units rule too much. Speed is THAT important.

And one more thought. Innovation is great when it has a purpose. H3 and H4 had their issues, no argument here. But I can't recall an issue with turn based fights. Can you? It seems to me that initiative based system was introduced not to solve some clearly defined problem, but just because they could. Worst kind of reasoning, if you ask me. And it seems to plague their game design process.
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Postby Pitsu » Apr 6 2015, 20:48

Dalai wrote:There is more. From "realistic" point of view you can not have units with high initiative and low movement, and vice versa. Unit is either fast, and then it walks long distance, or it's slow, and moves not that far. You break this rule - you break immersion. You follow this rule - fast units rule too much. Speed is THAT important.


Hmm, would it not be a typical behaviour of a cold-blooded predatory reptile? A crockodile has low initiative, but once it decides to act it can be fast. After energy burst a time-consuming recharge is needed.

It seems to me that initiative based system was introduced not to solve some clearly defined problem, but just because they could. Worst kind of reasoning, if you ask me. And it seems to plague their game design process.


I know that one reason was to make battles less predictable. In previous games (particularly 1-3) you could predict well who is gonna get the first turn and who next and so one. H5 has a randomness factor at the start of battle and the initial placement onto ATB cannot be predicted better than tomorrow's weather. During H5 development there was a heated debatte about it as NIVAL wanted it to be very much more random than it is now. The final version was a compromise. Other reason is probably that similar system has been used in many games successfully and there are lots of people who see it more logic or realistic than the original HoMM turn system.

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Postby parcaleste » Apr 7 2015, 4:34

For the record - I really like H5 and loved the initiative system. Could it be done better (way better) - totally. But it was something fresh in the series. Loved the way the hero was used int he battles as well. Even the fact that every faction had it's own riding animal (or beast).

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Postby Groovy » Apr 7 2015, 4:41

Dalai wrote:And one more thought. Innovation is great when it has a purpose. H3 and H4 had their issues, no argument here. But I can't recall an issue with turn based fights. Can you? It seems to me that initiative based system was introduced not to solve some clearly defined problem, but just because they could. Worst kind of reasoning, if you ask me. And it seems to plague their game design process.

The question of the design purpose underpins the discussion, so I’ll start here. :)

When I first started playing Heroes (with H3), I thought that the combat system was perfect. I couldn’t find a single fault or a way to improve it. As the novelty wore off, however, shortcomings started to surface. Now, many years later, I think it’s seriously flawed and in need of an overhaul. If you remember, I suggested some ways to do this on the Eternal Essence forum a while back (sadly, it’s no longer up). I’ve built some others into the Heroic combat system that I’m working on.

Dalai wrote:The way you define "turn based" is up to you, of course, but there is a common meaning ;) Essentially you take a continuous process, like life, of fight, and make pauses so that you can contemplate your next move or action. Obviously, the number of said pauses in one fight is exactly the same for all units - you stop their common time, not their individual movement. Fast units can walk/fly longer distances between these pauses. When you have equal time spans between those pauses, then this time span is called "turn". That's it. That's the turn based system.

The shortcoming of this system is that it is only representative of unit movement across the map, not of their other actions. All units get to attack, retaliate, cast a spell, etc, once per turn, regardless of their speed. If I were to hazard a guess as to what Nival was trying to achieve by introducing initiative (I didn't follow the discussions at the time), I’d say that it was to make combat more representative of what happens in real time – by making unit speed influence all their actions and not just movement.

Dalai wrote:There is more. From "realistic" point of view you can not have units with high initiative and low movement, and vice versa. Unit is either fast, and then it walks long distance, or it's slow, and moves not that far. You break this rule - you break immersion. You follow this rule - fast units rule too much. Speed is THAT important.

Well, the last point is a question of balance, but I agree with the rest. The way I see it, on one end, you have a system where all units have the same initiative and are differentiated by speed, and on the other, a system where all units have the same speed and are differentiated by initiative. A system that uses both will have to take away from one to give to the other, and will fall somewhere between those two end points. Though I like Pitsu’s exception as well.

Dalai wrote:From balance point of view it's a disaster. To avoid penalizing said hydras so much you need to make differences between movement and initiative much smaller than game allows. You can't have 3.85 against 3.92 movement, you can only have 3 against 4. You can't have movement bonus from spell +0.25. Same with initiative. And the smaller your battlefield - the bigger the problem.

And, as you’ve explained, this is where the initiative system struggles. It’s not that what it tries to achieve is illogical, it’s that its approach is unwieldy - the number of combat turns that a creature takes is a much coarser variable than the number of map tiles that it covers, which makes it difficult to manipulate effectively.

Dalai wrote:In heroes we have added dimension to tactics - the order in which creatures move inside those turns. We may call them "individual turns". But unless we respect the whole turn based system, these individual turns have no sense. In H5 you can't really describe the turn of hydra stack. You have NOTHING to compare it to. There is no common denominator. It's senseless.

Hmm... I don’t think I understand where you are going with this. What would be the purpose of the comparison?

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Postby Pitsu » Apr 7 2015, 6:29

Groovy wrote:
Dalai wrote:From balance point of view it's a disaster. To avoid penalizing said hydras so much you need to make differences between movement and initiative much smaller than game allows. You can't have 3.85 against 3.92 movement, you can only have 3 against 4. You can't have movement bonus from spell +0.25. Same with initiative. And the smaller your battlefield - the bigger the problem.

And, as you’ve explained, this is where the initiative system struggles. It’s not that what it tries to achieve is illogical, it’s that its approach is unwieldy - the number of combat turns that a creature takes is a much coarser variable than the number of map tiles that it covers, which makes it difficult to manipulate effectively.


Err, either something has been lost in translation or it is completely the opposite. Map tiles travelled is an ordinal variable. As Dalai said, it cannot be 3.85 tiles (although with diagonal movement we could use more than just integer numbers). I guess this is also the reason why there are no movement affecting combat spells in H5. Initiative as it is in H5 is, on the other hand, pretty much continuous variable and 1% change in it can have effect. It has been a while when I studied it, and in H5 fan manuals it may be explained better. If we take absolute scale then ATB is actually divided into 100 or 1000 or whatever number of tiny turns. It is like every unit has a cup and in each tiny turn a drop of water is added into each cup. The drop size differs by the difference in initiative. Once a creature's cup is full, it gets to act and its initiative cup is emptied and starts to refill again. So in absolute scale over 90% of combat turns have no events and are automatically passed to next. You won't see these uneventful turns in combat. Yet, creatures with initiatives 10 and 10.1 would not be equal and given enough time the one with higher initiative would get more acts.

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Postby Groovy » Apr 7 2015, 10:21

Pitsu wrote:Err, either something has been lost in translation or it is completely the opposite. Map tiles travelled is an ordinal variable. As Dalai said, it cannot be 3.85 tiles (although with diagonal movement we could use more than just integer numbers). I guess this is also the reason why there are no movement affecting combat spells in H5. Initiative as it is in H5 is, on the other hand, pretty much continuous variable and 1% change in it can have effect. It has been a while when I studied it, and in H5 fan manuals it may be explained better. If we take absolute scale then ATB is actually divided into 100 or 1000 or whatever number of tiny turns. It is like every unit has a cup and in each tiny turn a drop of water is added into each cup. The drop size differs by the difference in initiative. Once a creature's cup is full, it gets to act and its initiative cup is emptied and starts to refill again. So in absolute scale over 90% of combat turns have no events and are automatically passed to next. You won't see these uneventful turns in combat. Yet, creatures with initiatives 10 and 10.1 would not be equal and given enough time the one with higher initiative would get more acts.

I could well have misunderstood. It wouldn't be the first time. :)

To clarify, what I meant by the number of turns being a coarse variable is that a unit's turn either takes place in its entirety (the full movement, attack, spell, etc), or not at all. It doesn't matter whether the difference in initiative is 5 vs 6 or 5 vs 5.1, the net effect is turns of no advantage mixed with turns of large advantage. This creates a choppy gameplay experience that is quite unlike its real-time counterpart. By contrast, in a speed-based system, the faster unit has the same advantage on every turn (an extra tile of movement in the 5 vs 6 speed scenario).

If it weren't for this, I think that the mixed speed-initiative system would be superior to the speed-only one, since it can achieve better balance by setting initiative values to decimal numbers.

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Postby Dalai » Apr 7 2015, 14:36

Pitsu wrote:Hmm, would it not be a typical behaviour of a cold-blooded predatory reptile? A crockodile has low initiative, but once it decides to act it can be fast. After energy burst a time-consuming recharge is needed.
Not exactly. Again, I insist that you at least try to follow "from continuous process to turns" logic I described above. In your example if a crocodile has to fight for 2 hours, and he can do 10 attacks with 12 minutes "recharge time", each attack dealing 400 hp damage (attack and defence is equal for all stacks for simplicity sake), and if our turn is 2 minutes, then we have a 120 turns battle, and our crocodile has low speed and 10*400/120= 32 to 36 damage.

To go from continuous "real life" system to turns we divide his powerful attacks if they last more than 1 turn, and multiply for extremely fast fighters. If our sprite could attack 5000 times during our 2 hours fight for just 1 damage each time, we would make a sprite 5000*1/120=38 to 44 damage.

To make every creature have it's own length of turn may seem a good idea - more realistic even. Let crocodile have 10 turns instead of 120. But it's a very bad idea. In this system sprite hits 500 times when crocodile hits once. It means that player can hit 499 times and fly away. And our crocodile is limited in his attack to that exact second.

But in reality you would try to keep away from crocodile, because he is NOT limited to that exact second. He will attack at his best opportunity, and deal that 400 hp damage. So even though the system tries to make it more realistic, it ends up MUCH less realistic.

By the way, similar considerations (need to go from "reality" to some average numbers) is a strong argument FOR simultaneous retaliation. If you care about "realism".

Pitsu wrote:I know that one reason was to make battles less predictable. In previous games (particularly 1-3) you could predict well who is gonna get the first turn and who next and so one. H5 has a randomness factor at the start of battle and the initial placement onto ATB cannot be predicted better than tomorrow's weather. During H5 development there was a heated debatte about it as NIVAL wanted it to be very much more random than it is now. The final version was a compromise. Other reason is probably that similar system has been used in many games successfully and there are lots of people who see it more logic or realistic than the original HoMM turn system.
I think that the source of surprise is your opponent, not the roll of the dice. I understand why there was a heated debate, but I'll leave it there.
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Postby Dalai » Apr 7 2015, 15:09

Groovy wrote:If you remember, I suggested some ways to do this on the Eternal Essence forum a while back (sadly, it’s no longer up).
I sure hope you avoided buying it's "stocks" :)

Groovy wrote:The shortcoming of this system is that it is only representative of unit movement across the map, not of their other actions. All units get to attack, retaliate, cast a spell, etc, once per turn, regardless of their speed. If I were to hazard a guess as to what Nival was trying to achieve by introducing initiative (I didn't follow the discussions at the time), I’d say that it was to make combat more representative of what happens in real time – by making unit speed influence all their actions and not just movement.
In my reply to Pitsu above I showed a simple math to even out the problem. And avoid the bigger one. If you have a statistically significant number of troops, it does not matter if they act twice as fast or strike twice as hard.

Groovy wrote:Well, the last point is a question of balance, but I agree with the rest.
It is a question of balance, but we don't have unlimited number of options - the battlefield configuration is the huge limiting factor here.

Groovy wrote:The way I see it, on one end, you have a system where all units have the same initiative and are differentiated by speed, and on the other, a system where all units have the same speed and are differentiated by initiative. A system that uses both will have to take away from one to give to the other, and will fall somewhere between those two end points. Though I like Pitsu’s exception as well.
All creatures have same speed, but different initiative? I can't even wrap my head around it.

I described the BIG problem of initiative based system above. And the "problem" with TBS can be solved by simple math. So there is, essentially, NO problem. So any movement towards this extreme is a loss.

Groovy wrote:And, as you’ve explained, this is where the initiative system struggles. It’s not that what it tries to achieve is illogical, it’s that its approach is unwieldy - the number of combat turns that a creature takes is a much coarser variable than the number of map tiles that it covers, which makes it difficult to manipulate effectively.
It IS illogical. If it was logical, then you would make a move, ALL your stacks would start moving until one of them reaches it's destination. Then the game would stop and you would make the move with that stopped stack. After you make the move - every stacks continues it's movement, including the previous one. The same will apply to all your opponent's stacks. It's basically RTS with pauses after each order is complete. BUT! Previous orders to other stacks are NOT yet complete, stacks are still moving, you still don't know where they will be and when, and you can't even attack them in traditional heroes manner - they have not arrived to the tile that you need to attack!

Let's say that dwarf has movement of 4. And we have IBS, representing a real life fight. What does it mean, the 4? It means that after you give the order, you can not control your stack until it goes 4 tiles. That is the meaning of it's individual turn - how often you can control it. Is it logical that some griffin can be controlled twice as often? Does griffin has more developed brain so it can process more orders? What is it?

Groovy wrote:Hmm... I don’t think I understand where you are going with this. What would be the purpose of the comparison?
That is what I was talking about when I said that individual turn in IBS has no meaning. It's only meaning is the time between different orders the stack can follow. Which is not justified by anything at all.

While normal, traditional TBS let's you control your troops as if they have equally agile brains. And it still leaves you a lot of opportunities to gain advantage - the order in which your stacks make their turns is often decisive.

Pitsu wrote:although with diagonal movement we could use more than just integer numbers).
Square tiles - another example of poor design decision bringing new problems.
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Postby Groovy » Apr 7 2015, 21:08

Dalai wrote:I sure hope you avoided buying it's "stocks" :)

I sure did. :)
But... I'm still hoping against hope that something comes of it.

Dalai wrote:
Pitsu wrote:Hmm, would it not be a typical behaviour of a cold-blooded predatory reptile? A crockodile has low initiative, but once it decides to act it can be fast. After energy burst a time-consuming recharge is needed.
Not exactly. Again, I insist that you at least try to follow "from continuous process to turns" logic I described above. In your example if a crocodile has to fight for 2 hours, and he can do 10 attacks with 12 minutes "recharge time", each attack dealing 400 hp damage (attack and defence is equal for all stacks for simplicity sake), and if our turn is 2 minutes, then we have a 120 turns battle, and our crocodile has low speed and 10*400/120= 32 to 36 damage.

To go from continuous "real life" system to turns we divide his powerful attacks if they last more than 1 turn, and multiply for extremely fast fighters. If our sprite could attack 5000 times during our 2 hours fight for just 1 damage each time, we would make a sprite 5000*1/120=38 to 44 damage.

To make every creature have it's own length of turn may seem a good idea - more realistic even. Let crocodile have 10 turns instead of 120. But it's a very bad idea. In this system sprite hits 500 times when crocodile hits once. It means that player can hit 499 times and fly away. And our crocodile is limited in his attack to that exact second.

But in reality you would try to keep away from crocodile, because he is NOT limited to that exact second. He will attack at his best opportunity, and deal that 400 hp damage. So even though the system tries to make it more realistic, it ends up MUCH less realistic.

I don’t think your data supports your conclusion, Dalai. A creature that is able to attack almost every second, for two hours, and deal a single point of damage in each attack, is essentially behaving like an oversized hyperactive fly. Such a creature would certainly be able to pester a crocodile as much as it wanted without the crocodile being able to respond effectively. Especially if it concentrated on areas like the back and neck that the crocodile couldn’t defend. This would make the initiative-based system, with its 99.8% of unanswered attacks, far more realistic than the speed-based system, with its 0% of unanswered attacks. It would suck playing the crocodile, though.

Dalai wrote:In my reply to Pitsu above I showed a simple math to even out the problem. And avoid the bigger one. If you have a statistically significant number of troops, it does not matter if they act twice as fast or strike twice as hard.

I described the BIG problem of initiative based system above. And the "problem" with TBS can be solved by simple math. So there is, essentially, NO problem. So any movement towards this extreme is a loss.

I think you are conflating combat balance with its feel. It certainly matters whether troops act fast or strike hard. If it didn’t, we could do away with variation in speed altogether, and have any differences accounted for by adjusting the damage stats. The resulting combat system would still be balanced, but about as enjoyable as having dwarves fight golems every time. It’s important for creatures that are supposed to be small and zippy to actually behave like they are small and zippy, and not just deliver the same average damage.

Dalai wrote:It IS illogical. If it was logical, then you would make a move, ALL your stacks would start moving until one of them reaches it's destination. Then the game would stop and you would make the move with that stopped stack. After you make the move - every stacks continues it's movement, including the previous one. The same will apply to all your opponent's stacks. It's basically RTS with pauses after each order is complete. BUT! Previous orders to other stacks are NOT yet complete, stacks are still moving, you still don't know where they will be and when, and you can't even attack them in traditional heroes manner - they have not arrived to the tile that you need to attack!

Neither of the combat systems that we are discussing works like this. I don’t understand your point here.

Dalai wrote:Let's say that dwarf has movement of 4. And we have IBS, representing a real life fight. What does it mean, the 4? It means that after you give the order, you can not control your stack until it goes 4 tiles. That is the meaning of it's individual turn - how often you can control it.

That is its meaning in Heroes. It’s not its meaning in King’s Bounty, which also implements a speed-based system. And I’d say that it’s superior to the Heroes one.

Dalai wrote:That is what I was talking about when I said that individual turn in IBS has no meaning. It's only meaning is the time between different orders the stack can follow. Which is not justified by anything at all.

I appreciate that it has no meaning, but I don’t understand why it is so important to you to give it meaning.

Dalai wrote:Is it logical that some griffin can be controlled twice as often? Does griffin has more developed brain so it can process more orders? What is it?

While normal, traditional TBS let's you control your troops as if they have equally agile brains.

I agree that this is neat, but I don’t see what it is justified by other than a preference for neatness. It really doesn’t seem realistic for such a diverse assortment of creatures to have equally agile brains, especially since some of them don’t even have brains. :)
Besides, the Heroes speed-based system already allows the very same creatures to process orders at different rates on different turns, thanks to morale.

Dalai wrote:And it still leaves you a lot of opportunities to gain advantage - the order in which your stacks make their turns is often decisive.

This argues against the Heroes system, which doesn’t allow you to control the order of troop movement, except for the rudimentary control afforded by the Wait button. Why bring it up?

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Postby mr.hackcrag » Apr 8 2015, 2:03

I'm not really sure what's going on here. :creative:

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Postby cjlee » Apr 8 2015, 9:24

As a guy who loves the H5 initiative system, let me pump a few words in.

The initiative system is lovely in concept. Some creatures move slowly and strike slowly. They should have low movement and low initiative, simple as that. That’s the zombie versus the griffin. It shouldn’t be surprising that zombie can only chop once with their meat cleaver in the same time as a normal (unhastened griffin) can slash 2.5x. It shouldn’t be too surprising that Maeve’s hastened griffins with rings of speed aiding them can hit slowed zombies 7x in one turn.

The problem is with balance. Since initiative has a high potential of becoming a game breaker (nobody wants to buy zombies, and everyone fields griffins), cost and availability must be controlled in a better fashion.

For instance, zombies should be ultra durable, not just ‘slightly durable’. Even though they are level 2 and Griffins are level 4, zombies should have the same hp as griffins. Without increasing the cost or decreasing the weekly growth or the dark energy cost necessary to raise zombies. Otherwise who would bother to field zombies? Nobody plays zombies as damage dealers, so HP for them is much more important than initiative. Necromancer needs his zombies to stay alive for a very long time (or at least survive many attacks from faster enemies), so the current zombie hp is simply not worth the money.

If zombie doesn’t get many attacks in one turn, then it must survive many attacks in one turn, or at least be cheap enough to be worth losing many in one turn to enemies’ multiple attacks. That’s how it should work.

Blizzard has done this balancing thing very, very well. No matter how people argue about balance, Blizzard looks at how often people use a unit. That’s the most reliable indicator.

I think no one will argue with me that certain H5 units are used a lot because of their high initiative, and some are almost never used due to initiative problems. To tweak this, adjust cost and weekly growth. If griffins are made really expensive, other strategies will become more attractive relatively. EG shooter strategy using mix of squires and crossbowmen/ priests; quick tech to paladins and inquisitors; whatever prevents unbalance where players only want to field griffins, paladins and one or two spell casters.

Making these slow moving Pit Lords cheaper and numerous would also make it more likely that they get fielded. Otherwise with their low initiative they rarely see any turns, and nobody wants to buy them. But once you can get 4 initiative 7 Pit Lords per week for the same cost as 2 initiative 12 Paladins, the strategy possibility changes. Inferno can now play defensive, or play a ranged game of Succubi mistresses defended by Pit Lords. You’re no longer stuck with fielding only quick moving imps, dogs and horses.

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Postby Dalai » Apr 8 2015, 12:44

Groovy wrote:I don’t think your data supports your conclusion, Dalai. A creature that is able to attack almost every second, for two hours, and deal a single point of damage in each attack, is essentially behaving like an oversized hyperactive fly. Such a creature would certainly be able to pester a crocodile as much as it wanted without the crocodile being able to respond effectively. Especially if it concentrated on areas like the back and neck that the crocodile couldn’t defend. This would make the initiative-based system, with its 99.8% of unanswered attacks, far more realistic than the speed-based system, with its 0% of unanswered attacks. It would suck playing the crocodile, though.
Are you faster than crocodile? Most probably you are. Will you attack it at close range?

I never said that the actual crocodile's attack lasts more than a second, or a 0.001-th of a second for that matter.

But the main question would be this: how about 100 sprites against 100 crocodiles? Because, as I said, "If you have a statistically significant number of troops" it all starts to look different. As soon as crocodiles can protect each other's tails, they are not afraid of any reasonable number of sprites. That's the stack - it sees in every direction, it has NO back or side (hello, H7), it's attack or defense is equal on every side, because creatures on the left of the stack are exactly similar to creatures in the back of the stack.

But with IBS they will still lose to a single sprite.

Do you have any real example of a single fast troop able to defeat any number of slower, but heavily armored troops with high firepower? And I don't mean action movies.

Groovy wrote:I think you are conflating combat balance with its feel. It certainly matters whether troops act fast or strike hard. If it didn’t, we could do away with variation in speed altogether, and have any differences accounted for by adjusting the damage stats.
No, we could not. We still need some property to define the order of individual turns inside each battle turn. That's the speed.

And no - it does not matter. As long as all strikes find their intended target and the relative damage and speed remain in opposite proportion (in Heroes both are true) - it really does not matter.

Groovy wrote:The resulting combat system would still be balanced, but about as enjoyable as having dwarves fight golems every time. It’s important for creatures that are supposed to be small and zippy to actually behave like they are small and zippy, and not just deliver the same average damage.
Ok, I a see that we lost you.

Those are not actual creatures, those are STACKS of creatures. 30 sprites. 100 golems. 15689 skeletons. You can easily kill 100 mosquitoes in one blow if they are in swarms! Your size does not matter! If someone is zippy - he will have higher speed, and every turn he will have a choice whom to attack. That's zippy. And it's a lot already.

Groovy wrote:Neither of the combat systems that we are discussing works like this. I don’t understand your point here.
No, it does not. That is how it must have looked if it actually was logical. The way it actually works it is illogical. That is my point.

Groovy wrote:That is its meaning in Heroes. It’s not its meaning in King’s Bounty, which also implements a speed-based system. And I’d say that it’s superior to the Heroes one.
No, it is definitely not. In heroes 3 or 4 you control all your stacks exactly equal number of times during combat, regardless of their speed. KB's system is exactly the same. The move (or better call it action, like "step back and shoot") itself can be a complex one, but every turn gives every stack exactly 1 action.

Groovy wrote:I appreciate that it has no meaning, but I don’t understand why it is so important to you to give it meaning.
Let's reduce it to my personal distaste for senseless things around me. My personal cognitive ability works like that. I assumed it's common among people, but obviously it's not. Senseless things break immersion. But may be it's just me.

Groovy wrote:I agree that this is neat, but I don’t see what it is justified by other than a preference for neatness. It really doesn’t seem realistic for such a diverse assortment of creatures to have equally agile brains, especially since some of them don’t even have brains. :)
Besides, the Heroes speed-based system already allows the very same creatures to process orders at different rates on different turns, thanks to morale.
You have troops absolutely loyal to you, who will attack a dragon even alone and die with no chances for victory. They are keeping in the same army, keeping same level of discipline, don't require food or upkeep, but some of them are a little slow in their head (and some without brains - not slow at all) and that is a new strategic layer of the game? O-o-key... Should we add IQ property? Probably, some very smart troops should have a chance of deserting if they feel the odds are not great? Should that be a proper innovation?

Morale allows them to do more than they would usually do - strike earlier, choose target from more options, etc. If you are talking about h2 and h3 - developers understood the inconsistency and fixed it in h4.

Groovy wrote:This argues against the Heroes system, which doesn’t allow you to control the order of troop movement, except for the rudimentary control afforded by the Wait button. Why bring it up?
Did you ever try using "Speed", "Slow", "Mirth" and many other spells? Manipulating said order is, probably, third part of victory.

Each, let's say 1 minute, battle is paused and you give orders. It's only natural that faster units have a wider choice whom to attack, and when they are ordered to do it - they do it before others.

How it argues against Heroes system I really fail to see.

cjlee wrote:As a guy who loves the H5 initiative system, let me pump a few words in.

The initiative system is lovely in concept. Some creatures move slowly and strike slowly. They should have low movement and low initiative, simple as that. That’s the zombie versus the griffin. It shouldn’t be surprising that zombie can only chop once with their meat cleaver in the same time as a normal (unhastened griffin) can slash 2.5x. It shouldn’t be too surprising that Maeve’s hastened griffins with rings of speed aiding them can hit slowed zombies 7x in one turn.

The problem is with balance. Since initiative has a high potential of becoming a game breaker (nobody wants to buy zombies, and everyone fields griffins), cost and availability must be controlled in a better fashion.

For instance, zombies should be ultra durable, not just ‘slightly durable’. Even though they are level 2 and Griffins are level 4, zombies should have the same hp as griffins. Without increasing the cost or decreasing the weekly growth or the dark energy cost necessary to raise zombies. Otherwise who would bother to field zombies? Nobody plays zombies as damage dealers, so HP for them is much more important than initiative. Necromancer needs his zombies to stay alive for a very long time (or at least survive many attacks from faster enemies), so the current zombie hp is simply not worth the money.
Or you could simply have normal TBS and increase Griffin damage 2.5 times. Problem solved, you are welcome.

IBS is innately broken. It's unfixable. You can mask problems all you want, but you will always have less than half of the game actually playable. Other more than half will be "unpopular".
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Postby mr.hackcrag » Apr 8 2015, 22:12

I miss simultaneous retaliation.

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Postby Groovy » Apr 9 2015, 4:10

Dalai wrote:Are you faster than crocodile? Most probably you are. Will you attack it at close range?

Me? I keep my distance from all dangerous animals. How is this relevant?

Dalai wrote:But the main question would be this: how about 100 sprites against 100 crocodiles? Because, as I said, "If you have a statistically significant number of troops" it all starts to look different. As soon as crocodiles can protect each other's tails, they are not afraid of any reasonable number of sprites. That's the stack - it sees in every direction, it has NO back or side (hello, H7), it's attack or defense is equal on every side, because creatures on the left of the stack are exactly similar to creatures in the back of the stack.

The stack, as you’ve described it here, doesn’t exist in reality. The closest parallel would be troop formations, but there is no formation that simultaneously allows troops to watch each other’s backs as if they were in a tight circle, cover ground quickly as if they were in a marching column, and inflict maximum attack damage as if they were in a single line. Creatures on the left of the stack are not just similar to creatures in the back of the stack, they are the same creatures; those creatures are always everywhere, because whenever the stack engages in any action, all the creatures within it engage. I really don’t see the value of trying to gauge the realism of combat systems under conditions that are so unrealistic.

In a scenario where we had more realistic troop formations, the sprites should still leave the crocodiles alone while they were in the defensive formation, but could reasonably attack them once they changed to a different formation.

Dalai wrote:Do you have any real example of a single fast troop able to defeat any number of slower, but heavily armored troops with high firepower? And I don't mean action movies.

That’s a tough ask. The closest example I can think of would be infantry attacking tanks with Molotov cocktails in urban warfare.

Dalai wrote:We still need some property to define the order of individual turns inside each battle turn. That's the speed.

Realistically, this should be decided by the commander (player), not by the troops being commanded. Using creature speed for this purpose is really quite arbitrary. Battle orders are not some item that exists ‘out there’ that fast units get to first.

Dalai wrote:And no - it does not matter. As long as all strikes find their intended target and the relative damage and speed remain in opposite proportion (in Heroes both are true) - it really does not matter.

I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point. I would also add that you’ll have a difficult time appreciating the desire of some designers and players to use the initiative-based system as long as you hold this view.

Dalai wrote:In heroes 3 or 4 you control all your stacks exactly equal number of times during combat, regardless of their speed. KB's system is exactly the same. The move (or better call it action, like "step back and shoot") itself can be a complex one, but every turn gives every stack exactly 1 action.

I think I’ve misread your prior comment that has led to this one. I thought you were explaining the meaning of the individual turn in the context of the speed-based system, but I see now that you were talking about the initiative-based one. No matter, I think we’ve covered this adequately.

Dalai wrote:Did you ever try using "Speed", "Slow", "Mirth" and many other spells? Manipulating said order is, probably, third part of victory.

How it argues against Heroes system I really fail to see.

Okay, there are several ways to influence the troop order, not just one.

I was comparing the Heroes system with that of Ancient Empires 2 (from what I’ve seen, it’s similar to Age of Wonders 3), where the player has complete control over the order in which commands are issued. If troop order is that important, then that’s the kind of system we should be looking at.

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Postby Dalai » Apr 9 2015, 10:30

Groovy wrote:Me? I keep my distance from all dangerous animals. How is this relevant?
There is a reason why you, or anyone else, being faster than crocodile, still keeps his distance from them. Small and fast carnivores do not attack crocodiles either.

Groovy wrote:The stack, as you’ve described it here, doesn’t exist in reality. The closest parallel would be troop formations, but there is no formation that simultaneously allows troops to watch each other’s backs as if they were in a tight circle, cover ground quickly as if they were in a marching column, and inflict maximum attack damage as if they were in a single line. Creatures on the left of the stack are not just similar to creatures in the back of the stack, they are the same creatures; those creatures are always everywhere, because whenever the stack engages in any action, all the creatures within it engage. I really don’t see the value of trying to gauge the realism of combat systems under conditions that are so unrealistic.
But you see the value of example with crocodile's back or tail?

Maniples of Roman legions worked almost like you described, btw. The number of soldiers engaging in action is a relatively constant regardless of direction of attack of defense. Lower than total number of fighters, but overall behavior is very stack-like.

Groovy wrote:That’s a tough ask. The closest example I can think of would be infantry attacking tanks with Molotov cocktails in urban warfare.
Meh. Tanks can go back a little bit, destroy all cover with main guns and "clean up" with machine guns. But even with "stupid" version of tanks - 1 infantry can not possibly win 100 tanks. 1 or 2 if he's extremely lucky.

Groovy wrote:Realistically, this should be decided by the commander (player), not by the troops being commanded. Using creature speed for this purpose is really quite arbitrary. Battle orders are not some item that exists ‘out there’ that fast units get to first.
Smart commander will not give orders to slow dwarves requiring fast action, because he knows that faster enemy troops will have a lot of time to react, intercept or whatever, and task will be failed , time and lives wasted. Only after enemy's faster troops have their assignments, we can choose a task for our dwarves that can be reasonably possible to fulfill.

In Heroes orders never fail, btw. There is a reason for that too - you can only give a realistic order. Your dwarves will never tell you: "Sorry, that Dragon was huge, so we decided not to attack it" or "Your waypoint is so far, it's so hot, and we are tired, so we decided just to camp here and wait for some other order". They won't say: "You said enemy gorgon was here, but when we came - it was gone!"

Groovy wrote:I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point. I would also add that you’ll have a difficult time appreciating the desire of some designers and players to use the initiative-based system as long as you hold this view.
I have no problem with both points. For me it's a pure logic and math, not a matter of opinion or relation. Frankly, I'm not even going to try to appreciate IBS in TBS - it's a waste of time for me. I know, that 2*2=4, no matter what. No "innovation" can ever change that.

May be in other games in other genres it works better. Gaming industry can offer all types of games with all types of systems. Everyone can choose what he likes, every game developer can innovate all he likes, and that's great. I know that if I had to decide - it would be classic TBS, with rounds, 1 action per stack per round.

Groovy wrote:I was comparing the Heroes system with that of Ancient Empires 2 (from what I’ve seen, it’s similar to Age of Wonders 3), where the player has complete control over the order in which commands are issued. If troop order is that important, then that’s the kind of system we should be looking at.
That is the same logic as "If Black Dragons are that good, we should give them freely to everyone so that people can enjoy game more".

If you have complete control over important aspect of battle - you don't have to do anything to gain it. But you also can not gain any advantage over your opponent, no matter how hard you try and how smart you are. It can only be right under 1 condition - if it's not fun. But in Heroes it's a LOT of fun.

Again - hello to Ubi's "innovations" in skill and magic systems.
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