Ubisoft Q&A on Shades of Darkness
Since the release of the Heroes VI expansion, Shades of Darkness, official forums have been inundated with complaints and bug reports on everything from invalid keys and game crashes to black screens and balance issues. With the storm abating somewhat as several of the critical issues are being fixed, we thought we'd check in with the guys behind it all to see what's going on. Here, then, is our second Q&A with the Might & Magic team.
Let's take a deep breath and get this first one over with:
* The H6 expansion and patch 2.1 were eagerly antipicated by the fans, but the actual release of Shades of Darkness and the patch was a disaster ... Why? Why did all these problems happen - was it Uplay, bad code, servers ... what?
First of all, we’d like to deeply apologize for all this giant mess you experienced for the release of Shades of Darkness. We tried to implement a “new way” of releasing a Stand-Alone (at least, in Ubisoft) and it is clear we missed our target.
Before looking for the cause of all those issues, we’d like to remind you what we tried to achieve with Shades of Darkness. Our goal was to let our players access their content using only 1 executable file. It meant we had to “merge” Heroes VI Vanilla and Heroes VI Shades of Darkness. Moreover, we wanted to make sure Heroes VI Vanilla owners could play with Heroes VI Shades of Darkness owners. Basically, we had in mind your best interest all along the way.
In a nutshell, we had to apply a solution server side splitting the Vanilla content from Shades of Darkness content, to properly unlock content for all users. We then ran an update on already created accounts on our server to take this update into account. Unfortunately, something went wrong for people buying versions of Heroes VI Vanilla/Gold, as their keys were no longer unlocking the right content. We worked on finding a solution for these cases and released a script a few days after Shades of Darkness was out.
* I'd love to talk about the contents of SoD (and we'll get to that in a minute), but whatever quality the actual game contains has so far been marred by the poor state of the release; many fans are wondering if you will continue to release more patches to fix the remaining bugs - what are your plans on that? Do you have a timeframe in mind or are you just sort of improvising?
Right now, we’re closely monitoring forums looking for major issues preventing you from playing the game. So we can definitely say we’re improvising and we’ll try to fix issues when they’ll arise. Thanks to all players, we noticed an issue related to Dynasty Weapons and Mana costs for spells. Our goal is to fix it in patch 2.1.1.
* Some fans are complaining about the lack of balance and a weak AI in the SoD expansion. Is that something you can work on?
We can’t deny the fact some fans are complaining and we’re really sorry to hear that. Meanwhile, we’re also reading some comments from users who are happy about this Stand-Alone, the new campaigns and the Dungeon faction.
While developing this title, we also made sure to work on balancing it. Even if a perfect balance is hard to develop, we don’t see any major issues on this field. For sure, the campaigns are challenging!
* So to some SoD questions ... You chose to do a "stand-alone" expansion. Why?
Releasing a Stand-Alone allow new users to buy it without buying the Vanilla game. That’s why we decided to go for a “Stand-Alone” expansion. Though, as explained above, we definitely tried to make the choice of releasing a Stand-Alone expansion as transparent as possible for players who already owned the Vanilla game.
* Why Dungeon and not Academy?
Well, it’s not an easy question to answer… We had a tough time deciding which faction we should feature in this Stand-Alone expansion.
We ran a study after the Heroes VI release, asking our players which faction was their favorite. While the results were pretty close, Dungeon was ahead. In addition to that study, we also wanted to tie Shades of Darkness with Heroes VI Vanilla storyline, which features the Dungeon faction at the end of the story.
* Are you happy with the amount of stuff SoD adds to the game or would you have liked to add even more?
Basically, after working so long on a game, you can only notice its flaws.
So for sure we would have liked to add more content, more features, more, more, more! But at some point, you also have to be realistic and release your title. So we had to carefully choose what we wanted to implement, and we must say we’re happy with what we delivered.
* Since you have released a "Complete" version containing all the DLCs, the vanilla game and SoD - will this be the last of H6 or could there be another expansion coming, as many fans are requesting?
No kidding, we don’t know what will happen in the next few months for Heroes VI. Our current goal is to fix the mess we created 2 weeks ago, allowing you to enjoy the content of Shades of Darkness, which we definitely consider as great and interesting for Heroes players. No new content can be expected at this stage.
That's it - big thanks to the team for taking the time.