- by MadMax
Marcus Pregent, Level Designer Heroes of Might and Magic 3, Might & Magic 6, Part 1
F I N A L L Y
I present to you, the first part of the interview between me and Marcus Pregent.
Once again, I want to apologize (I had it recorded at first, but intro got to long featuring me apologizing) for it taking so long.
Editing the video has been quite tough and I've just been way to busy.
I also want to add that during this interview, I was still dealing with post covid symptoms such as being extremely tired and my head simply not wanting to work with me. I realized watching this video, I was simply looking and feeling "down".
Fortunately though, Marcus Pregent is a rock and delivers some great anecdotes and stories. You'll get to hear about some of his less conventional working places, the story behind the quite graphic event in the map "Faeries" and it's background.
This is the first part of (most likely) 3 videos of us meeting with Marcus Pregent. What's your favorite part of it? Who should we try to contact next?
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- by Angelspit
Tim Lang, now at Electronic Arts, was the lead designer of Might and Magic IX. The Round Table regulars might remember seeing him in the forums after 3DO filed for bankruptcy last year. Tim is also an advisor in the fan-made Might and Magic Tribute project. The picture on the right was taken during an EA party.
Celestial Heavens: The last time I read something about you was in Might and Magic IX preview somewhere on the Net. What were you working on afterwards, and when did you leave NWC/3DO exactly? And what are you doing these days?
Tim Lang: After the great purge at the end of H4 and MM9, I had about 4 months off, then went to work for EA. I'm still there working on the Medal of Honor series.
CH: Did you stay in touch with former New World Computing employees?
Tim: I kept in contact with a lot of the ex-NWC people. A lot of them found work here at EA, and a few others at Liquid Entertainment. The rest are scattered throughout the industry, at least those who chose to stay in the games-making industry. For the rest, well I can't blame them for finding a new line of work.
CH: You have been somewhat active in the community following the auction of the 3DO assets. How confident are you in Ubisoft's ability to deliver *two* good Heroes/M&M games?
Tim: There's no question that Ubi really wanted the Might and Magic license for a long time. During the H4 and MM9 development, they came down and made an offer to 3DO for NWC. Trip Hawkins declined, hoping for more money, and of course, went bust. I am still a little amused that in the end Ubi ended up with the MM licenses. As far as their ability to deliver great games, it all depends on their commitment to the series'. Are they going to deliver more games like Crusaders and Warriors that just cashed in on the recognizable name? Or will they actually try to make something that we former NWCers would be proud of? I don't know. I hope so.
CH: Might and Magic IX is considered a disappointment by more than one fan. How do you explain that the last few games of the series never quite managed to match the fun factor and polish of The Mandate of Heaven?
Tim: I think there's two reasons why Might and Magic took such a drastic downturn. First and foremost 3DO seemed intent on driving every single intellectual property they owned into the ground. We got shorter and shorter schedules, and less and less financial support from them. In MM9's case, a lot of the people we were depending on to finish the game were tied up with finishing Legends. Since that thing just stayed around and lingered in the depths of not-being-doneness it really pushed MM9 onto a tighter schedule. Secondly, I'm pretty sure JVC was burned out, disillusioned and just plain didn't like coming to work anymore. Most of us rarely saw him around the office, and when we did see him, he usually told us that we were doing things wrong much too late for us to fix them. He's made no bones about disliking MM9. I think that if he had taken a more proactive role in its development, things might have turned out better. As far as the reason why MM9 was considered the worst in the series, that's really because we delivered a game that was pre-alpha at best. It needed at least another 3 months, if not another 6 to get it to a playable level of quality. Knowing we didn't have much time, we cut a lot of corners, and left out features the fans liked, but would have been too time consuming to implement. It was a half done game, and it shows.
CH: Has there been any plan for an *official* 1.3 patch at some point? Some major bugs were still remaining after patch 1.2.
Tim: Now that NWC is gone, I doubt there's going to be any official support at all. I don't think that 3DO even wanted to do the 1.2 patch, and if it wasn't for the return of the Anskram Keep bug or the "yell" crash, we probably wouldn't have done one at all. I think if anyone's still looking for a patch, the should check out TELP. Bones has been doing a great job fixing all the stuff we left behind. I'm really surprised that people are still playing MM9, and I'm pretty sure it's because of him and TELP that people are still interested in it.
CH: A former NWC artist has blamed Jon Van Caneghem for not trusting his team with the design of Heroes IV. Jon had previously admitted not liking Heroes IV much during an interview with Celestial Heavens at the 2003 E3 exhibit. Was there some tension during the final days of H4 and MM9?
Tim: I hate to point a finger at one person, because if one person really deserves it, it might be Trip Hawkins for driving NWC into the ground. There's absolutely no question that Jon was in absentia during most of MM9 and H4, and when he finally started paying attention to them, a lot of things were already too far gone. He came in right near the end of H4 and as I understand it changed a whole lot of things. Mostly for the better, I think, but that sort of late night meddling is sure to cause some resentment. As far as his comments in the interview, I thought they were a little inappropriate. He basically blamed the teams for the failures of the games. These were people who worked their butts off, working unpaid late nights and weekends for 80-90+ hour weeks while Jon was off racing cars and not showing up to work. I won't say that we were totally faultless, but when you've got someone with 20+ years in the industry, not having his support and guidance really hurts the projects.
CH: Your name appears in the credits of the Might and Magic Tribute game. How did you get started on the project? What are your tasks? What is it like to work with a team of fans?
Tim: I've been pretty active helping Bones out with his TELP patches, and when I saw that some fans were going to take it upon themselves to make their own MM game, I jumped at the chance to help. I really don't do that much. I usually just lurk in the forums, and post once in a while. I'm there to help prevent them from making gigantic game-breaking problems in their design. So far, I haven't been needed much in that capacity. I also am there to answer any MM trivia questions they may have. The MMT team is as excited and motivated as any team I've ever seen. I wish that some of the people I worked with in the past had such energy. I think it's fantastic that Might and Magic has such great fans.
CH: In the Tribute forums, you agreed with a statement saying that Heroes Online will probably not have anything to do with the previous Might and Magic games. How does it feel to see a product you have been working on for years being exported to the other side of the world?
Tim: It's funny, because when I went to work for NWC in '96 I had never heard of them or of Might and Magic, even though I've been a huge RPG fan ever since the Bard's Tale/Wasteland eras. But during my time there, I grew pretty attached to Might and Magic. I actually have caught myself thinking things like "They better not screw up my game!" But I'm glad that they're keeping Might and Magic going, and am looking forward to playing the next installment of either Might and Magic series.
CH: Speaking of multiplayer, was there any plan to introduce multiplayer features in the Might and Magic games during the New World Computing era?
Tim: That was what Legends was originally supposed to be. Christian Vanover had designed this multi-player RPG-"lite" game that was sort of a "Diablo in First Person" sort of game. I was real excited to work on it, but it turned out that the networking code in Lithtech wasn't really suited for the type of game we wanted to make. We had to change the designs of the game to suit the technology.
CH: Finally, the age-old questions: Might or Magic? Gold or experience? Titan or Black Dragon?
Tim: Ask anyone I used to work with at NWC, and they'll tell you: Might. While we were working on MM6, I tried to beat the game using an all knight party. I got to a point where they wouldn't dish out enough damage though. Experience, and Titans. gold doesn't do you a lot of good if you don't have the levels to back it up. And Titans because, as I recall they were cheaper than the Black Dragons.
Celestial Heavens would like to thank Tim for his time. We wish him the best of luck in his current projects.
- by MadMax
Songs of Conquest - Trailer, Release Date
Songs of Conquest is back and banging the drums in an all new trailer featuring gameplay footage and more epic sounding music.
They have also launched their new, updated website containing some sweet new designs and information about their game. Make sure to check it out here:
Coming Early 2022
That's some huge news, which we have been looking forward to A LOT! You are already able to Wishlist it on Steam here and on GOG.com here
With the news out there, let's dive into some of the good stuff from the trailer.
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- by Angelspit
Christian "Evil C" Vanover was one of the most popular New World Computing employees. With Jennifer Bullard, he was one of the contact persons at the 3DO Community forums. He took the time to answer the questions of the fans, as well as tease them a little. He was never afraid to step into the forums whenever there was some panic or confusion. He stayed with Jon Van Caneghem's team until the very end, before accepting a job at Microsoft.
Celestial Heavens: First of all, how are you, and where do you live these days?
Christian Vanover: I'm doing well, thank you. In the near two years since I left NWC, I became a dad, moved to Seattle, and as you know, now work at Microsoft.
CH: Now, where does that nickname come from, and that fascination for all things evil?
CV: Back when I was first posting to the NWC/3DO message boards (during the development of Heroes III), I developed a knack for hinting that I would be about to give out new info, but then I'd tell everything except the one thing I had hinted at. It was visitors to the boards that started calling me evil, and it just kind of stuck. I could post real info as "Good" C., and be a smartass with "Evil" C. (well, within the limits of general good taste, at least).
CH: Not that I want to make a connection between evil and Microsoft, but what have you been doing over there?
CV : No no, go right ahead and make the connection. In fact, when I got the job here I very nearly posted to the CH boards a thread called "Evil C. Joins Evil Empire, Says Plan of World Domination Nearly Complete!" And as strange as it may seem to longtime fans of the Might and Magic games, I'm currently part of the Design team working on a racing simulator for the Xbox called Forza Motorsport, due out this year.
CH: Did you stay in touch with former New World employees?
CV: Absolutely! Many of the people at New World were friends before they started working there, and there are many that I stay in touch with or visit with when I get the chance to go back to L.A.
CH : Now, if you could step into the time machine... You've done a lot of work on Heroes IV, especially on the expansions. Despite the good reviews, the game is considered by many the bastard child of the series. What should New World Computing as a whole should have done differently if we could go back in time?
CV: I personally consider Heroes II to be the best in the series, with Heroes III a close second. So for me, Heroes IV was the lesser of them all. But that's just me, and I know that opinions differ greatly. As for what could have been done differently, that's a tough call, because essentially Heroes IV was done differently.
CH : Jon Van Caneghem was very critical towards that game, even though his participation on the project has been... minimal. "It just wasn't done right" he told us two years ago. We also got the feeling that he wanted Heroes V to be a Heroes III remake. How did you feel about this?
CV: Honestly I felt the same way Jon did, but I think I can clarify the statement some. After so much close work on Heroes I-III, Heroes IV was the first time the game was out of Jon's direct control. I had also gone off to work on a different game, and as a result I missed all the Heroes III expansions and didn’t get to see Heroes IV until it was nearly done. With a different group of people, you undoubtedly get some different choices being made, and so I think that when Jon finally got to see the game it was completely different from what he would have created himself. Speaking for myself it was a strange feeling the first time I got to sit down and give it a spin.
CH: What was Heroes V like later on? Was development coming along well? Did you have high hopes on that games, or was it just a project on life support?
CV: We had actually pitched a few game ideas to 3DO, and encouraged them to shelve both the Might and Magic and Heroes series for a few years to give everybody a break (both us and the fans). Unfortunately, 3DO insisted we deliver two Heroes IV expansions and get to work on Heroes V, so off we went. I spearheaded the expansions, and by the time they were done, Jon and Bryan (Farina) had a pretty solid framework in place for how we would build Heroes V. Our Art lead already had an entirely new set of gorgeous looking terrains ready for the map editor, and creation of the new towns and creatures was well underway. We were all pretty excited.
CH : The last time we talked, the news of the move to Solvang just appeared on Celestial Heavens and generated some controversy. It was the beginning of the end after all, wasn't it? What was the atmosphere in the offices during that time?
CV: The move to Solvang was more of a new beginning. I never got to confirm it, but I suspect that Jon was prepared for 3DO to close its doors, and wanted to be set up "lean and mean" for when that happened, so that New World could hopefully continue on as their own game studio. The atmosphere beforehand was mixed... those moving saw a fresh start, but there was a touch of sadness because there were others leaving.
CH : Have you been keeping an eye on the details of Ubisoft's Heroes V? What do you think of the artwork? Do you agree with the decision to take heroes out of the battlefield?
CV: Yes, I've been watching. It will be interesting to see what direction they take the game in. As for taking heroes off the battlefield, that was something we were going to do ourselves, so yes I do agree with the decision. But we weren't "just" removing them... we had found what we thought was going to be an engaging way to keep them involved that would have improved combat overall.
CH : The first non-NWC Might and Magic title to be announced is some sort of MMORPG for the Chinese market. Aren't these plans similar to what Jon Van Caneghem wanted to do at some point? Isn't it ironic that Jon is now at NCSoft, working on a MMORPG?
CV : Well Jon originally brokered the deal with 3DO because they were planning on using their existing online technology to develop Might and Magic Online. As often happened at 3DO, however, plans changed, and MMO was shelved before it ever really got off the ground. As for Jon being at NCSoft working on an MMORPG, I wouldn't call it irony... I would call it justice!
CH: Do you miss the Heroes/Might and Magic fan community? Do you sometimes feel we were a little tough on New World and 3DO?
CV: Like anything else from my past, there are things I miss and will always remember fondly. As for being tough on us... you can never be too tough on 3DO, but y'all could have cut New World some slack! Heh.
CH: Finally, the age-old questions: Might or Magic? Gold or experience? Titan or Black Dragon?
CV: Might, Experience, and Black Dragons. And a certain hero named Sir Christian!
We would like to thank Christian for his time. His new game, Forza Motorsport, is scheduled for a May release.
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- by Pol
Welcome. Hope each of you is doing well.
Until next time.
Fanstratics Game Director & Designer
- by Kalah
With the coming expansion to Heroes V, we thought it would be a good time to send the producer some questions. Here they are - oh, and the answers as well.
First, let me ask you what word UbiSoft would use to express their opinion on Heroes V sales so far - satisfactory, good, excellent? Is the game selling as well as expected - is your management happy?
H5 has been selling very well up to now, and the feedback from the top management is satisfaction. The US market, for instance, had to raise its expectations twice after the launch and do quite a number of new copies. I hope the arrival of the addon will revive the interest during the Christmas season :)
Second, the Community is very excited about the return of the Dwarves; when did you decide what structure the expansion town was going to have?
This was actually decided a long time ago. We knew what sort of content we would include, the race and creatures, some time before the release of H5. As the game buzz was growing fairly well, the project was greenlighted, and the work started right after H5 went gold, and in parallel to the patch plan.
How do you feel about dealing with the Communities' regulars; their demands, their protests? Do you feel it's a goal for you to satisfy the wishes of the fans with these expansions?
I'm sure it's impossible to meet all of the demands :) However, we know quite well what is important to the communities, and I think we have provided it either through the patches, or with the addon. What is really important, like the map editor and its updates, is not linked to buying the addon, and is given through patches. I hope we will have covered most demands, I know that many people felt some features were missing at the release.
Continuing that, will there be a swamp town coming our way some day?
You have to play with the swamp town you have, not the one you wish to have or will have at a later date. :)
The RMG is also longed for, and will no doubt have a great impact on the game's replayability. But will maps generated with this RMG will be compatible with the standard version as well as the expansion?
No, the RMG will only be compatible with the addon data and exe file.
A more general question now: Fans are divided in their opinions on the patches, that is to say: the game's balance etc. – but they seem to appreciate your efforts in continuing to issue updates. Do you plan to continue issuing patches/updates for the standard version also after the expansion is released?
Yes, we still haven't concluded our initial patch plan, mixing balance tweaks and new features. We've been gathering delays in this respect, especially as the addon was entering a crunch phase. In the last few weeks of patch 1.4, we have also concentrated on the desynch problems, as it seemed cases were still being encountered. Nival produced a special version of the game for our testers to track these issues, which are stemming from various and specific game situations. I hope these problems will now be behind us. After this initial plan is done, I think we will draft a new one to continue providing new content!
Did/do you personally take an active part in the making of the expansions? What is your role?
I have the same role on the addon production as I had during H5's production :)
The first expansion yields a "Silver" edition... Do I smell gold? Platinum, perhaps? How many expansions do you think you can make for Heroes V?
I can only answer the question that was asked by Archangel Castle: the number of expansions has been decided already :)
How is the outlook for a continuation of the HoMM universe, in other words: if the expansion(s) reach the same level of success the standard version did, how are the chances we'll see a Heroes VI some day?
Making expansions is a way for a publisher to continue providing content for a complex game (strategy games, usually), and increase its quality long after the initial game was released. So, it does help increase the revenue, but you need to have a success with the original game first :) As it is the case with H5, the addon should hopefully be a success too. It will in turn increase the chances that Ubisoft invests in the future of the series :)
At the end, for something completely different: You have been fairly efficient in re-releasing the older games in the series in 'Complete'-packages, much to the delight of the fans. Is there any chance at all you might do the same with the old 'Might and Magic' series?
This is not planned in the near future as far as I know, but if we start working on this series, it will certainly happen :)
Thanks, Fabrice - let's hear it, everybody! Drinks all round!
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- by Pol
Lo and behold, work on "Ultimate Mod for Heroes IV" begun. Nothing is confirmed and set in stone at this stage. You can watch or talk to him at HC here.
What to expect in UM?
- Full HD and widescreen support: Incorporation of the HD Wrapper, with edited fullscreen remastered menues and altered, brilliant buttons.
- Contrast-enhanced, color-corrected: A darker, more moody Heroes IV experience, fully reconfigurable from the menues.
- Relive campaigns like never before: Remastered campaigns with better ambience, added secrets, enabled previously unfinished events, story and features.
- Rediscover creatures: Thanks to the creature plugin, all creatures have abilities overhauled, with up to four abilities each. Discover the blocking Nagas, reevaluate tier 1 creatures such as double-hacking dwarves, and ambush your enemies in the woods with Stealth elves!
- Completely stable: Reliance on modern DLL methods and not hex hacking of the executable permits much less crashes. Enjoy hours of uninterrupted gameplay and worry not about your actions!
- No false positives: Unlike Equilibris 3.55 hacks, this doesn't trigger antiviruses warnings. Play with the security of knowing nothing fishy is going on.
- Incorporated objects: All map objects in the pack and both Equlibris versions have been added and are load-compatible. In addition, several completely new objects have been added just for this mod.
- Improved terrain: Fractal landscaping allows hybrid terrains for more lush and interesting sights, both in adventure and combat maps.
- Re-slotted Artifacts: Accumulate up to four tomes or scrolls in your Misc slots while you still hold Shields in your hand, upgrade your health to 200% with the Rigs of Health... but you can no longer obsolete Scouting by buying four spyglasses. After all, you can only look into one at a time ; ).
- Improved heroes: Now all hero classes come with a third skill! Use wisely the Diplomacy of Nobles, encourage the daily Summoning of your Druids, shine with the Leadership of Knights, or immediately raise hordes of undead with your actual Necromancers...
- New and Rebalanced Spells: Turned every cast-enabable pseudo-spell into a learnable spell. Rebalanced schools and gave more variety. Applied unused magic bonuses to corresponding ones. You think Banish is useless? Not any more! You can also now Freeze your opponents in Order, or obliterate your enemies with Nature lightning.
- Conserved lineups: No creature has been level-altered, town-switched, removed or substitued. Reuse the factions you know and love from default Heroes 4, with all the same levels, monsters, and classic choices; now revamped with all the new features.
Special thanks: Karmakeld, mirage, and radmutant for making object pack, Iliveinabox for his tool which helped mass-packing, RoseKavalier for creature ability plugin, verokster for HD wrapper.
-- Expected release date is around mid of 2021. --
What to say? It's nice when the community works together. This can become the best mod for Heroes IV, including many other mods and work incorporated in this one.
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- by Staff
Q&A with the Masters of Sighisoara
Back in 2009, CH member HeroofPunk announced his intention to create a whole new continent called Sighisoara. Joined by fellow map makers Maygwan and Yurian Stonebow, the team have since created a whole series of maps for Heroes III. What follows is a Q&A about how it all began, where the project is now and where it is going next ...
Tell us a little about Masters of Sighisoara, how did it all start?
"Well, for me it started with a fantasy map being painted in school. After that, I got home and realised that I wanted to create my own fantasy world, and since I had some earlier experience of map creating in the Heroes 3 Map Editor, I decided to go with that.
I also knew that I would need some expert guiding, that was why I contacted Yurian and Maygwan. It really just developed from there and I got more and more into the world that we have built up around the campaigns and scenarios."
You mentioned earlier in the thread that some custom music could be made for the campaigns, what is the current status of that?
Well, as you may know I posted a clue (I only left you with the letters PAR) in the Masters of Sighisoara main thread. Well, it actually has to do with the custom music being made.
And it is my honor to tell you that we will be getting a custom made campaign song for our third campaign (yes, there will be another one!), composed by none other than Paul Anthony Romero! So that feels very huge for us. Both Yurian and I are finding his work inspirational and I practically grew up with some of his tunes (my favorite being Necropolis town and Evil theme from HoMM3).
I have also been in touch with a friend of mine and we have together created some more customs songs to be released with Masters of Sighisoara III.
Your team just released the second campaign in the series, what do you have in the works now?
We have been working closer together and more effective then ever the latest month now and we currently are working on Masters of Sighisoara III. Map 1 is a 0.95 version for now and Map 2 is something along the lines of 0.75, map 3 is currently in a 0.25 state. I myself are in good contact with Paul Anthony Romero and have received the recording of our very own song composed by him.
We are also working on a wiki for MoS and it can be found here. It is not fully finished yet, but you can read up on storylines, quests from the first campaign, see pictures, read about certain artifacts and relics, heroes, campaigns, releases, everything will be posted and updated on there, so keep checking it out and feel free to contribute to the wikia as well!
I can already in this early state of campaign 3 tell you that we have been putting a LOT of focus on fine-tuning story lines, checking up on dates etc. And what I can tell you now is that you will be exploring 4 different islands, you will be able to search through historical documents about the entire continent and the story line will be deeper than ever before! Really looking forward to it!
Yes, we are also holding a little competition and handing out some prizes to the person who can finish MoSII - The Undead of Xerphef with the highest score. To enter the contest simply link us a screenshot of your high score in the main thread in the Round Table forum and we will contact the winner!
- by Pol
fheroes2 - release 0.9.3
With small steps I measure Earth but nothing can stop me. Could be a motto of fheroes2 team . This time they added easy hero and artifacts meeting screens, fixed many shadows. Marked liches area attack and added language support for Polish, French, German and Russian. Bug hunts marked additonal 80 down.
And finally we almost finished the support of "The Succession Wars" campaigns, including bonuses and special victory conditions.
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- by Kalah
Julien "Marzhin" Pirou Q&A
April 10th, 2011.
CH: 1. Will the player have the opportunity to customize the game mechanics (e.g. activate/deactivate the area of control, enable/disable town conversion)?
Marzhin: "We're still working on the actual options that will be available to customize the game experience outside of the campaign. What is possible today is to create maps without Areas of Control in the editor. If there is no control point in an area, then mines work the same way they did in the previous Heroes. You can also block the ability to convert towns, so it's possible to create "old school" maps. The only things that won't work without Areas of Control are the neutral dwellings."
CH: 2. How did you decide which towns/units were going to make it into the game?
Marzhin: "That was decided pretty early during development (even before my arrival on the project). The game designers thought about what factions would be interesting and unique to play, and then they conceived the unit line-up according to the faction's gameplay."
CH: 3. Do you plan for a strategic mode view? Like "2D" view from above or lowly skewed angle in the battles and alternatives to "View Air&Earth" in the overall map?
Marzhin: "In H6 we brought back the "kingdom overview" screen, where you can see a larger, more detailed minimap. You have different layers that can be activated or deactivated if you want to only see the mines, towns, areas or quest locations, or all at once. It also summarizes the towns you own, your heroes, the creatures available for recruitment and the resources produced each turn.
As for the in-game view, you can zoom out more than in H5. It's not a 2D view, but you have a better sense of your surroundings."
CH: 4. Is it possible to do terrain "terramorphing"? I.e. that the ground can change to look like it actually belongs to the faction that owns the nearby castle; Inferno would change the ground to lava, Necro to cursed ground etc.?
Marzhin: "Currently the ground below the town changes to reflect the faction, but not the whole Area. On the other hand, the unique building of each faction can cause interesting effects on the Heroes travelling in the Area. So having an Inferno or Necro town in an Area does have an effect on the terrain – only it's a gameplay effect, not a visual one."
CH: 5. How was the decision making process concerning the number of male/female units?
Marzhin: "Once again, pretty early-on. Having more female units was a design choice done when the line-ups were being revised. Ashan is a world of equal opportunities after all."
CH: 6. Ubi mentioned they might release a preview of the new editor before the game. Have they decided on that?
Marzhin: "It's something we'd really like to do. However, there are a number of things that must be considered – most notably, the security of such a release (since to make maps you basically need all the assets of the game). We're still looking for the best solution."
CH: 7. Is there a chance simultaneous could return – if not in H6, then some day?
Marzhin: "I have no definitive answer on this right now, but clearly it would be a logical feature to add in a patch or add-on."
CH: 8. How will the difficulty system work – will the AI "cheat"?
Marzhin: "The H6 AI is still a work in progress, but obviously we'd like to have something better and "cleaner" that the one in H5. I can already tell you the AI turns are way faster this time around.
Also, in H6, the AI will cheat much less and less obviously than in H5. It doesn't cheat at all in Easy difficulty, and not too much in Normal either. In Hard, the AI will lose less troops and will receive some extra resources. That's all. But honestly: the AI always cheats in strategy games - I have yet to see a game where the AI doesn't cheat.
As far as difficulty is concerned, there are the classic difficulty levels, plus it's possible to customize the details (amounts of resources, strength of neutral stacks ...)."
CH: 9. What can you tell us about human-AI interaction, say, in an alliance ... can they communicate (like "attack now", "send me money", "explore here" etc.); will you be able to watch your AI allies moves?
Marzhin: "It's not possible to interact with the AI, but of course, you can send resources to allied AI players and see their movements."
CH: 10. How far along is the town screen, and will it be animated?
Marzhin: "We know there is a lot of confusion and worry in the community on this subject. Here is all I can tell you about the current town screens at this point:
- The town screen is actually a town window. It is designed to remain the same size whatever your screen resolution is, even if you use a 16:9 monitor.
- The town visuals will be animated and are what could be described as "2.5D".
- Each town has its own musical theme (as usual).
- The town visuals change when you build stuff (although in the current design, not all buildings appear).
- Building and recruiting is done through the window interface, rather than clicking on the buildings directly."
CH: On a less serious note ... You entered this business as a fan; what is your favourite PC game of all time?
Marzhin: "It's hard to pick only one ... I hesitate between Fallout and Dungeon Keeper. And there's also Heroes of Might & Magic II and Might & Magic VI, of course."
CH: How exactly did you get this job, and how did your mom react to the big news?
Marzhin: "Well as you know I've done the Legends of the Ancients campaign for H5 (hosted here on CH). Before that, I did countless maps for H2, H3, H4, WarCraft 2 and 3, StarCraft, Duke Nukem 3D, Unreal Tournament, even Freespace 2. Those were the days before Internet was widely available here in France, so my maps were mainly used by my friends in our local LAN club.
Back to LotA, someone (I don't know who) forwarded the link to the campaign to someone at Ubisoft, and a few days later I received an e-mail from Fabrice Cambounet who said he liked what I did and wanted to give it the "Seal of Approval". Later, Ubisoft needed someone to do the Dark Messiah map for the Complete Edition. Fabrice and Erwan contacted me. They were satisfied with my work on this map (done under a very tight deadline), so Erwan told me: "When we do Heroes VI, we may contact you again". And he did.
As for my parents, they are pretty zen about it. My father is a big fan of Heroes so he waits eagerly for Heroes VI. Funny thing considering he was the "playtester" of my very first H2 maps."
CH: You know how fans like to shorten names, like Ubisoft + Nival = "Ubival". How do you like the name "Ubihole"?
Marzhin: "I think it's a name that has depth."
CH: Which is the better Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter or Adrianne Palicki?
Marzhin: "The best Wonder Woman is, without a doubt, the one Adam Hughes draws (but his Catwoman is even better)."
CH: Was it a mistake not to get del Toro to direct "The Hobbit"?
Marzhin: "I think Del Toro's Hobbit was going to be something very special, and it's unfortunate he left the project. But I'm confident his next films will be amazing anyway (too bad Universal canned "At the Mountains of Madness"). I really love his movies. I think he's one of the most creative filmmakers out there, one of the few who managed to cross the gap between great entertainment and artistic vision.
Actually, I was lucky enough to exchange a couple of e-mails with Guillermo a few years ago (when he was less busy), and then to meet him in person (albeit briefly). Not only is he incredibly talented, he's also a genuinely nice person."
CH: What is your favourite drink, your favourite sexy actress, and do you prefer fresh mozzarella on your pizza, or that rubbery stuff Pizza Hut use?
Marzhin: "I unfortunately drink way too much Coca-Cola Zero. I suspect I'm addicted to that stuff. And fresh mozzarella of course. Although I'm not sure what a "Pizza Hut" is – is it related to the place where strange hermits give you quests?
As for my favourite sexy actress, I'd say Zooey Deschanel."
CH: What do you like most about working on the "inside"? Don't tell me - there are wild parties, aren't there ...
Marzhin: "You know, the usual – sex, drugs and rock'n roll. Or so I'm told – nobody invites me to those parties. So I go to the Ubi association of Cthulhu worshippers instead. There's a ritual sacrifice every Thursday, and they have cookies."
CH: I'd also like to ask you for your shoe size, whether you like fresh or dried pasta, and whether you prefer the new or the original "Battlestar Galactica" – but I understand if you consider those questions to be too personal.
Marzhin: "44 (European standard). Fresh pasta (preferably Penne, with Carbonara sauce).
As for "Battlestar Galactica", the original had its charm, but I prefer the recent series, especially thanks to actors like Edward James Olmos or the great James Callis. Contrary to some, I thought the ending was satisfying and managed to wrap up the story decently. Not a mind-blowing finale, but it did the job. Of course there were some plot holes and stuff left unexplained, but I actually didn't mind. I think movies nowadays try to explain too much.
But anyway, who needs "Battlestar Galactica" when you can have "Doctor Who"? Steven Moffat is an amazing writer and I just love Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor. He had big shoes to fill after David Tennant's departure, but he really created a unique, fun and likeable version of this iconic character."
CH: Semi-serious, then, to round off the interview: What's the future of Might and Magic, in the RPG area, future games ... where do you think we'll go from here?
Marzhin: "What I can tell you is that Might & Magic does not stop with Heroes VI. If I say more they'll send Ezio or Altaïr after me ... As for a new M&M RPG, there's not a single day that passes without me harassing ... I mean, politely advocating the need to make a new one.
A big thanks to Marzhin for taking the time to answer some of our questions. We are eagerly anticipating the upcoming release of Heroes VI, and you just know that having guys like Julien on the inside is going to be a good thing.
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