Znork was one of the people who recently visited Paris for a fan day with the dev team. With him, he brought 10 questions asked frequently by the fans. Here are the answers - which will also be made into a video soon. I have translated the answers for your convenience - if you wish to read the Q&A in original Znorkish, visit the forum.
A video of the interview is available here.
Question 1: (by znork)
When are you going to understand that the "always online" feature is a sure way to piss off your customers?
We were trying to make more than an offline game - we would have liked the user to be online when they played the game but there were some shortcomings. We were working for the offline game to have classic play like Heroes of Might and Magic V and we wanted the Conflux to be a new Heroes experience online. The incentive would be that the online part would add more fun gameplay like ladder and achievements. The quality of the online server was not up to what we were hoping for, but we are working on making them better. We do want to keep the online part of the game and make it better - and as a part of this we are are fixing the online/offline save games so that the online experience will be better even when the server is down.
Question 2: (by znork)
Do you realize that the game's being poorly balanced and having lots of bugs, and your being slow to patch it after release, have made the fans even more angry?
Yes, we understand! There have been lots of problems with the game and there have been lots of problems with patching due to the transition from Black Hole to Limbic. We really understand that this angered the fans, but we still believe the game has potential. We are now starting to improve what needs to be improved in the game. We had some problems at the end of the production because of the budget, but in the end we released the game as good as we could with the resources we had. It's really good that we can release patch 1.5 with balancing, online-offline save compatibility and much much more.
We understand that fans were angry. We now have one person dedicated to balancing the game, reading the forums and just changing the numbers. He has also been working with the VIPs to improve the balance. There are lots of things we would like to improve; we have over 100 issues we would like address. We are not going to do them all, but we are really now working on doing as many of them as possible. We have improved the patching process and we now feel that this is going a lot smother. We are no longer in crunch mode, but are now looking at what important stuff can we do to improve the game.
Question 3: (by kingimp)
Do you not realize how badly you have turned off the majority of long-time Heroes fans by charging an exorbitant amount for this DLC when you haven't even proved you can properly fix this broken game first?
We really wanted to some support and patching before we released content people would have to pay for. Fixing the game is our number 1 priority. We believe the adventure pack is reasonably priced by how much gameplay the customers are getting and we have kept to the industry standard on the pricing. We believe you really get a lot form the adventure pack. The prices will of course drop as times goes.
Question 4: (by kingimp)
How about giving us this DLC for free as a sign of goodwill for releasing a product that in essence was no better than a Beta?
There are 15 people working on supporting and improving the game, and they need to get paid. But we believe the adventure pack is good and people should give it a chance. We would also add that patch 1.5 adds a multiplayer map from the adventure pack for free.
Question 5: (by kingimp)
Are there any plans of simplifying the map editor at all?
Yes, there are! When we were working on Heroes VI, there were a lot of things we would like to improve; the map editor was one of these, but since the end of development was as it was, we sadly did not have the time. One thing to know about the map editor is that it is a very powerful tool. The main issue is a huge gap between the hardcore map makers and the casual map makers. We are now trying to make the map editor more rewarding and pleasing to use. We are no really working on this, but it will still be a complex tool. This will be on the main topics we will be working on the next 3-4 months.
Question 6: (by Fyrestorme)
What was the primary motivator for making weapon artifacts tied directly into the dynasty system?
There were two obvious reasons for that: we wanted something that was powerful and part of the game. We also wanted something to be highly visual in the 3D models. That was why we also added dynasty pets for Heroes VI.
Question 7: (by Fyrestorme)
If you were to make another Heroes game in the future, what types of things did you learn from H6 that you would apply to it?
Try not to release an unfinished game! We could have long list, but we will try to get a more global answer. Area of control worked very well. The reputation system did not work so well. The skill sytem was not good enough and we would like to improve that. We are very concerned about the quality of the Conflux and want the service to be improved but not removed. The story part the game was not very good, but we believe the adventure pack will show how much we have improved the story telling. We are talking about resources, spell books and things like that and we are listening to what the Community is saying. We believe we lost something making the game too rational. And we would be having town screen right from the start!
Question 8: (by Gabryelxxx)
Are we ever going to get the free DLC with the Academy faction that Black Hole promised back during the beta?
We do remember this, and we know this is based on miscommunication. But there is a lot of things going to happen, and we have plans.
Question 9: (by broui)
Used to be that when we clicked on a destination point for our hero to travel, you'd know how many turns it would take to get there. Got plans to put that back in?
We've actually been asked this question twice. I'll have to take it back to the team, see what's possible and get back to you on this topic.
Question 10: (by broui)
Is Crag hack the only classic hero on tap for a return?
There is a lot of other heroes we would like to return to Ashan. But only time will tell. You'll have to buy the adventure pack.
To read Znork's early H6 preview, posted after the Budapest fan day in January, go here.
For more Q&As, see this page.