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Heroes Community > Library of Enlightenment > Thread: Flaws in the classic HOMM formula
Thread: Flaws in the classic HOMM formula This thread is 2 pages long: 1 2 · NEXT»
b0rsuk
b0rsuk


Promising
Famous Hero
DooM prophet
posted September 07, 2016 12:05 AM
Edited by b0rsuk at 16:56, 15 Sep 2016.

Flaws in the classic HOMM formula

I'm making a thread to discuss core design parts of HOMM I don't especially like. They are central to what HOMM is, but I can't be blind to the fact they also have downsides. I mean those which can't be trivially patched. In no particular order:

1. Dwelling population starts growing only once a dwelling is built

This makes town buildup strategy very, very formulaic. Week 1 is as-many-dwellings-as-you-can, day 7 is Well or Citadel or whatever increases population growth. Then remaining buildings and upgrades (tier 6-7 is usually not reachable in week 1).

Could it be done better ? What if population simply increased anyway, and you just had to construct the building to recruit them ? You'd still need a massive gold reserve to recruit them all.

HOMM3 toyed with creature growth, but it fixed the wrong problem.

2. You mostly get spells from visiting guilds.

This promotes slow, defensive play more than necessary. Defensive power of towns is easy to boost anyway by tweaking Att/Def bonuses, turret strength (or even make them manned like in HOMM4), moat, etc. By "easy to boost" I mean mod-wise.

It skews the balance towards might heroes. On one hand it's boring to backtrack to your town to get spells. On the other, visiting a guild in a newly conquered town feels like unpacking a Christmas present. This strenghtens the feeling of Kids' strategy game HOMM has. A less patronizing term would be "tourist strategy game". This aspect has been very effectively copied by King's Bounty games.

What if you could just trade spellbooks or Scholar was built-in by default ? Would it negatively affect the game ? How ? There would still be a delay between researching spells and them seeing use on the battlefield.

3. A creature stack can be anything from 1 to billion creatures.

This causes various oddities like hordes of titans hiding behind a small force field, inability to convincingly represent healing, wraith/genie bombs (splitting creatures with nasty abilities for many times the effect), various time and space anomalies.

But... I think this shouldn't be changed. Or rather, it can't be changed without departure from what HOMM is. It's one of most unique features of the serries. I can't think of any other game that uses this.

Add army upkeep costs, and you end up with Master of Magic or Age of Wonders.

Make all stacks 1 creature and you get Disciples or Eador (not 100% sure on this one).

4. Loot, mine takes a lot of space and time to collect. And don't get me started on neutral battles.

This is fun in single player, but very bad for multiplayer. Now multiplayer was always an afterthought in HOMM and never what made the game better than competition. Autocombat is nowhere as tricky as, say, playing a Warlord in AoW3 where most of your units are specialized and need to be applied very carefully. HOMM units are straightforward and autocombat can make use of them. It's not like you have a choice regarding army composition anyway, at best you can leave some troops out of combat. But it keeps adding time to turns, and micromanagement.

H6 tried to do away with micromanagement by having auto-flagged mines within town's radius of influence. I don't like that one. I actually like those petty battles, skirmishes and sneaking around to steal resources. What I don't like is carrying a helper "hero" around for picking up resources and flagging mines.

I would prefer a compromise where a hero semi-automatically sends men to collect the resources, with delay in days based on something like Logistics/Organization skill. You would have a regenerating pool of scouts. Anything you can path to within 5 squares could be picked up remotely without using movement points.

Movement points - maybe that's the solution ? What if picking up resources simply didn't use up MP ? Heroes4 had that as one of skills, but you had to use a skill point for something that's barely useful past early game.

This doesn't bother me as much as other items on the list. Loot collecting is one of my guilty pleasures and I acknowledge other games' superiority in multiplayer department. I especially mean better design. Hell, I could name a couple board games that are more enjoyable in MP. But it has to be said that "4" is THE reason why HOMM can't be played in one session. It has been designed around single player.

Actually, I don't think it's possible to make a very successful multiplayer turn-based strategy game with many players and sequential turns. Especially with interactive combat. Games which achieve this (like Dominions4) tend to make sacrifices, like no interactive combat (you give orders in advance).

But still, it could be done better. AoW3 lets all players move at the same time. Unfortunately this doesn't extend to tactical battles. Last time I checked everyone had to pause to watch them, or watch the black screen.

I wish someone made a game where movement and tactical battles were separate phases and people could do them simultaneously. But I fear it would need sacrifices in game design. But many board games do this - people select their action simultaneously and move on to the next phase, there is very little downtime and there's much rejoycing.

5. Puzzle map.

Cool in theory, but requires so much time and resources I never found time to do this. By the time I get it, and I mean games against AI, it's mopping up phase anyway.

And the puzzle map is all or nothing. You only need a few obelisks to start tedious digging. Getting all is impractical. Brute force is the best way. Naturally, the open puzzle pieces don't contain the X so you don't have to dig there, but it doesn't change much in the big picture.

And the map may just be in another player's area, then it doesn't matter how many obelisks you got!

6. Range penalty didn't change anything

This is more of a Heroes3 thing. The damage may be halved or quadrupled, but it's usually still the best move to shoot enemies from afar. Age of Wonders 3 makes it simply impossible to shoot from the other side fo the battlefield and I think it's better. You start to think how to position archers.

7. Resources are good for nothing once your towns are built up.

Yes, you can trade them for gold. Pfft.

I think more stuff should have income in resources, not just top tier creature recruitment. Maybe magic guilds should have resource income instead of building costs... somehow. Walls costing wood/ore to maintain.

But I'm NOT a fan of Dragon Blood as a single resource. Gems, Sulphur, Mercury, Crystals have certain alchemistic appeal.

Did someone mention Alchemy ? What if eveyone had access to something like Artifact Merchants but you could only pay in resources ? Like Resource Silo, but in reverse.

8. Morale feels like gambling

HOMM already has Luck, so why duplicate it as Morale ? I think it should get a treatment similar to HOMM4. Not that it increases initiative (that could work too), but that you get to know if a unit "gets morale" in advance. At the very least when the unit's turn starts. This way you could make daring maneuvers, like casting Frenzy on hydras.

(UPDATE 08 September 2016)
9. Might heroes, while STRONG, are very passive and unexciting to play. Can something be done about it ?

I fear it would need a major redesign. In practice, you would need to give Might heroes some kind of activated abilities and military "spells" like formations, orders, ambushes. It can be designed, but it would be difficult, I especially mean the part where you need to make it consistent to feel different to magic spells.

10. The shore MOAT and water locations

Crossing the shore in either direction makes a hero lose all his remaining movement points. I think I know why they've done it - to prevent highly frustrating hit&run tactics player can do nothing about. Look at how Fly and Water Walk work - they force player to stop on dry ground, too. If there was no such limitations, a small squad could hold a city hostage. Simply wait 2 squares away from shore and strike when the army moves away.

Also note that HOMM games are very restrictive about boat building. There is one spell - Summon Boat - that can create them, but otherwise a town must be directly at shore or you need a dedicated Shipyard structure. This lets people to design maps with more intriguing and limited movement. Otherwise we'd be forced to make all barriers out of mountains or forests.

This leads to water journeys being very tedious, especially when you want to visit a few tiny islands. If we could fix the embark system, we could make water exploration intriguing. This is very strange from realism point of view as waterways and seas are a huge boon to economy and trade of many countries. Water transport is very, very cheap, something like 10 times cheaper than land transport. But in HOMM it's quite slow in practice. You waste 2 full EXTRA turns to visit a tiny inlet.

They wanted to avoid

So we got

There is something seriously wrong here - HOMM serries are largely about exploration and adventure, the word "explorer" very often conjures an image of a ship, but not so in HOMM! And there are only so many visitable locations that make sense placed directly at water.

Dominions strategy games use another approach. Sailing is very rare, but you can actually GO ON UNDERWATER EXPEDITIONS, fight tritons, mermaids, sharks, krakens, shamblers and other monstrosities. In those games you need to equip leades with items granting water breathing or magical barrels of air, then you can take a limited number of troops underwater. Most units have "poor amphibian" penalty so they're at disadvantage when fighting natives - negative modifier to movement, attack, defense...

Another problem is lack of inland sailing (rowing). A square is either passable to ships, or to land armies, but never to both. The dreaded shore barrier - shore MOAT, really - makes map designers place water around the map so it doesn't interfere, or in a restricted lake in the middle.

11. Back and forth enchanting

Sometimes you cast a spell, and your opponent will immediately dispel it or replace with haste/bless. Such ping pong casting can go on for several rounds and results in a boring battle - it seems like nothing is happening spell-wise.  It's also an easy way to counter a high-level spellcaster with a mediocre spell. A magic hero will typically have a smaller portion of his primary skill points in Attack and Defense, and that's what it boils down to when you remove magic.

At the same time, it feels like some spells MUST be dispelled or you'll lose a fair fight: blind, berserk especially.

I think the problem is two-fold: 1) the dispel mechanics 2) the mere existence of blatantly overpowered enchantments which must be removed.

12. Town Portal via "Retreat".

When a hero retreats or surrenders, he is immediately available for recruitment in a city. This means you can attack any army, especially neutral, and immediately surrender, then pay 2500 gold and the hero is instaneously teleported. This works best with spellcasters because their value doesn't really depend on the army they lead.

The reason this mechanism exists is to prevent repetitive attack/retreat/attack/retreat/attack/retreat cycle seen in Master of Magic. What's the point of retreating if the army is immediately available for next attack ? That's how sequential turn-based games work.

A fix would be simple - delayed recruitment.

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted September 07, 2016 09:18 AM

A couple of thoughts:
b0rsuk said:


2. You mostly get spells from visiting guilds.

This promotes slow, defensive play more than necessary. Defensive power of towns is easy to boost anyway by tweaking Att/Def bonuses, turret strength (or even make them manned like in HOMM4), moat, etc. By "easy to boost" I mean mod-wise.
Not necessarily. You just need "siege spells"; also "defensive power of towns" depends upon how dearly "the defending forces" are needed elsewhere - for example to flag mines.

Quote:
It skews the balance towards might heroes.
Also, not necessarily. It depends on how - if at all - might heroes can handle spells.

Quote:
3. A creature stack can be anything from 1 to billion creatures.
That is not necessarily a downside. It might be unrealistic or something, but a fantasy battle isn't "realistic" in the first place, and stacking equal things is a nice way to organise unlimited numbers. It worked fine in MOO (better than the single ship approach basically all space games after that chose), because in a war situation automated robot shipyards will crank out a lot of ships each year and not build one single ship in a couple of years. If you take the single unit approach, the question is why there is a stacking limit at all, why a seriously wounded creature can still fight as if at best health, and so on. In games like this there are always flaws like that.

Quote:
4. Loot, mine takes a lot of space and time to collect. And don't get me started on neutral battles.

This is fun in single player, but very bad for multiplayer....
I would prefer a compromise where a hero semi-automatically sends men to collect the resources, with delay in days based on something like Logistics/Organization skill. You would have a regenerating pool of scouts. Anything you can path to within 5 squares could be picked up remotely without using movement points...
The tactical battles are a central part of the game, obviously.
In AoW 3 the problem is solved insofar that in battles against the AI most games play with autocombat and only in pvp situations battles are manually fought. While this looks somehow atrocious - after all, your ability to handle the AI makes part of your skill in the game - in reality it works quite well, because using autocombat WISELY is the same thing, actually, than playing a manual battle against the AI, because in both cases you have to know what the AI will be doing und act accordingly. Of course, the autocombat AI will have to be somewhat competent.
In AoW 3 this is the case, and most live MP games played there are actually finished in one session.
There is no reason whatsoever, why that shouldn't work in HoMM as well, so what is needed is a halfway competent AI. AFAIK, H5 MP games were played with autocombat as well, at least in parts. However, this is something others know more about; Elvin should be able to tell you more about this.

Quote:
6. Range penalty didn't change anything

This is more of a Heroes3 thing. The damage may be halved or quadrupled, but it's usually still the best move to shoot enemies from afar. Age of Wonders 3 makes it simply impossible to shoot from the other side fo the battlefield and I think it's better. You start to think how to position archers.
Indeed, this is silly. Even Heroes Online gave every shooter a range (and allowed shooters to move first and shoot after moving). I've been suggesting such a change for HoMM for some time now, but no luck. Imo, giving ranged units different ranges depending on their weapons would serve to make them more individual and also make battles more dynamic.

Quote:
7. Resources are good for nothing once your towns are built up.

Yes, you can trade them for gold. Pfft.

I think more stuff should have income in resources, not just top tier creature recruitment...
Strangely enough I was thinking about that as well the other day. I was thinking more along the lines of H5's creature artefacts, you know, the Academy racial ability. Use resource combinations to build mini-artifacts that work only for one creature (slot). This would increase the late-game need for resources quite drastically.

Quote:
8. Morale feels like gambling

HOMM already has Luck, so why duplicate it as Morale ? I think it should get a treatment similar to HOMM4. Not that it increases initiative (that could work too), but that you get to know if a unit "gets morale" in advance. At the very least when the unit's turn starts. This way you could make daring maneuvers, like casting Frenzy on hydras.
While it sounds not bad, this reasoning has a flaw, and that flaw is, that the actual events of what is happening in a round may still influence the Morale of a unit. In H7, if a stack is killed, friendly units losing Morale, something I find pretty logical, so it makes sense to simply change what Morale actually does. It COULD just be used as a Modifier for attack and defense, for example.

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yogi
yogi


Promising
Famous Hero
of picnics
posted September 07, 2016 10:10 AM

b0rsuk said:

4..
Movement points - maybe that's the solution ? What if picking up resources simply didn't use up MP

not a bad idea..

b0rsuk said:

6. Range penalty didn't change anything

This is more of a Heroes3 thing. The damage may be halved or quadrupled, but it's usually still the best move to shoot enemies from afar. Age of Wonders 3 makes it simply impossible to shoot from the other side fo the battlefield and I think it's better. You start to think how to position archers.


..another good idea.

good posts b0rsuk, thanks
____________

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b0rsuk
b0rsuk


Promising
Famous Hero
DooM prophet
posted September 07, 2016 10:33 AM
Edited by b0rsuk at 10:35, 07 Sep 2016.

JollyJoker said:
That is not necessarily a downside. It might be unrealistic or something, but a fantasy battle isn't "realistic" in the first place,


Realism is orthogonal to fantasy, not opposite. Realism is how you approach world building and how serious you are about it sounding plausible.

For example, Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin is very realistic sounding fantasy. "Red Wolf Conspiracy" by Robert V.S. Redick is another one. Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, etc...

You can write fantasy like Terry Pratchett, making no pretense of plausibility, or like George Martin. Star Wars or Dune.

In this sense, I think HOMM3 started to care too deeply about realism. The actual game is still about the magical ZOO I like so much, but they waste much time trying to frame it as some kind of bullsnow kingdoms, independence fights, "nations" of elves and basilisks. Wolf Rides in HOMM3, Dragon Golem (dwarf rider) in HOMM4, and it went downhill from there.

Trying to force realism into HOMM makes it less colorful, but battles and other game mechanics can still be realistic.

Quote:
4. Loot, mine takes a lot of space and time to collect. And don't get me started on neutral battles.

Quote:
The tactical battles are a central part of the game, obviously.
In AoW 3 the problem is solved insofar that in battles against the AI most games play with autocombat and only in pvp situations battles are manually fought. While this looks somehow atrocious - after all, your ability to handle the AI makes part of your skill in the game - in reality it works quite well


Quite well as long as you use straightforward classes and units. It makes players gravitate towards simpler classes. Why use a Warlord when you can have a Sorcerer with stunning support units ?

What I would like to see in HOMM is a way to give orders in advance, plus some kind of combat scripting. Like, "protect the best shooter and attack units once they get closer", "tie enemy shooters with units X and Y and shoot", "use spells from this list".

Those scripts would be written once and copied between games. Players could exchange them and they would eventually be added for everyone's benefit in patches.

Quote:
Indeed, this is silly.

Maybe the point was a stealth nerf to shooters ?

Quote:
8. Morale feels like gambling
While it sounds not bad, this reasoning has a flaw, and that flaw is, that the actual events of what is happening in a round may still influence the Morale of a unit. In H7, if a stack is killed, friendly units losing Morale, something I find pretty logical, so it makes sense to simply change what Morale actually does. It COULD just be used as a Modifier for attack and defense, for example.


That "flaw" is nowhere to be found in HOMM1, 2, 3, 4, and I think also 5.  H7 is not even called "Heroes of Might and Magic", technically. I'd rather have more reliable and useful Morale than a minor realism improvement.

It annoys me a lot when I make a defensive move and morale triggers. If I knew, I would play differently. Luck is rarely wasted. The worst thing that can happen is you smash a stack completely.

Idea for alternative implementation:
1. Morale gives an extra move when it triggers.
2. Basic Leadership - you can see in advance morale bonus of a unit when it's your turn to move that unit. So when you're about to issue an order for it, you know it will get a morale bonus (plus standard Basic Leadership bonus).
3. Advanced Leadership - you can see in advance morale bonuses for all of your stacks when a combat round starts.
4. Expert Leadership - you can see in advance morale bonuses for ENEMY stacks at the start of a combat round.

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted September 07, 2016 10:55 AM

b0rsuk said:
JollyJoker said:
That is not necessarily a downside. It might be unrealistic or something, but a fantasy battle isn't "realistic" in the first place,


Realism is orthogonal to fantasy, not opposite. Realism is how you approach world building and how serious you are about it sounding plausible.

For example, Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin is very realistic sounding fantasy. "Red Wolf Conspiracy" by Robert V.S. Redick is another one. Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, etc...

You can write fantasy like Terry Pratchett, making no pretense of plausibility, or like George Martin. Star Wars or Dune.

In this sense, I think HOMM3 started to care too deeply about realism. The actual game is still about the magical ZOO I like so much, but they waste much time trying to frame it as some kind of bullsnow kingdoms, independence fights, "nations" of elves and basilisks. Wolf Rides in HOMM3, Dragon Golem (dwarf rider) in HOMM4, and it went downhill from there.

Trying to force realism into HOMM makes it less colorful, but battles and other game mechanics can still be realistic.

Especially since this is just kind of brainstorming, not a debate, I have to say I do not like the way you answer this, for one thing, because you leave out an important point of my answer to this and instead "argue" by way of an unfitting comparison. Reminder: the left-out part is:
Quote:
If you take the single unit approach, the question is why there is a stacking limit at all, why a seriously wounded creature can still fight as if at best health, and so on. In games like this there are always flaws like that.
The most "unrealistic" thing in a HoMM battle is the fact that it's turn-based, because in reality fighters do not wait until it's their turn. "Realism" is, therefore, in the eye of the beholder and not an objective quality, and therefore works on an individual base only. Your realism is my fantasy and vice versa.
But what's more, a game doesn't have to be realistic or even strive to be so. It is, after all, just a game, and if I'm not wrong I know you as someone who really likes HoMM 2. There is nothing realistic about HoMM 2 - or about games like Plants against Zombies and the like: HoMM isn't a SIMULATION game.

This isn't the first time I say this, but in my opinion "realism" is something that has no place when it comes to discussing features of HoMM.

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Stevie
Stevie


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
posted September 07, 2016 12:26 PM

Short mention that realism and consistency in fantasy are not one and the same.
____________
Guide to a Great Heroes Game
The Young Traveler

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OhforfSake
OhforfSake


Promising
Legendary Hero
Initiate
posted September 07, 2016 01:27 PM

I remember making a few suggestions regarding some of these topics a few years back:

b0rsuk said:

1. Dwelling population starts growing only once a dwelling is built

This makes town buildup strategy very, very formulaic. Week 1 is as-many-dwellings-as-you-can, day 7 is Well or Citadel or whatever increases population growth. Then remaining buildings and upgrades (tier 6-7 is usually not reachable in week 1).

Could it be done better ? What if population simply increased anyway, and you just had to construct the building to recruit them ? You'd still need a massive gold reserve to recruit them all.

HOMM3 toyed with creature growth, but it fixed the wrong problem.


I thought it could be interesting to do like o-game where you can purchase any amount you see fit, but it won't be constructed instantly, in stead it'll que. How long it should que however is difficult to say, perhaps do like C&C where more towns and dwellings means faster production, perhaps make citadel/caste accelerate the process or perhaps even let it depend on your wealth and territory size.

b0rsuk said:

2. You mostly get spells from visiting guilds.

This promotes slow, defensive play more than necessary. Defensive power of towns is easy to boost anyway by tweaking Att/Def bonuses, turret strength (or even make them manned like in HOMM4), moat, etc. By "easy to boost" I mean mod-wise.

It skews the balance towards might heroes. On one hand it's boring to backtrack to your town to get spells. On the other, visiting a guild in a newly conquered town feels like unpacking a Christmas present. This strenghtens the feeling of Kids' strategy game HOMM has. A less patronizing term would be "tourist strategy game". This aspect has been very effectively copied by King's Bounty games.

What if you could just trade spellbooks or Scholar was built-in by default ? Would it negatively affect the game ? How ? There would still be a delay between researching spells and them seeing use on the battlefield.


Perhaps magic heroes are better students and can get more spells or better versions of the same spells in stead? Not sure I understood the exact concern here though.

Quote:
3. A creature stack can be anything from 1 to billion creatures.

This causes various oddities like hordes of titans hiding behind a small force field, inability to convincingly represent healing, wraith/genie bombs (splitting creatures with nasty abilities for many times the effect), various time and space anomalies.

But... I think this shouldn't be changed. Or rather, it can't be changed without departure from what HOMM is. It's one of most unique features of the serries. I can't think of any other game that uses this.

Add army upkeep costs, and you end up with Master of Magic or Age of Wonders.

Make all stacks 1 creature and you get Disciples or Eador (not 100% sure on this one).


I'd like to look at M&M, the game Heroes is based on. Here it's in my opinion somewhat obvious that you cannot have 10k creatures on a map and believe you're better off than with much less. The units would block each other, and move forward extremely slowly. In that sense, I'd imagine larger stacks would move more slowly on the battlefield as well as take up a larger size of it, not to mention only a small percentage of the stack would be able to deal damage. I doubt this is something anyone wants, but I think that is how it'd be, if one did something similar in Might and Magic.

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b0rsuk
b0rsuk


Promising
Famous Hero
DooM prophet
posted September 07, 2016 09:32 PM
Edited by b0rsuk at 21:33, 07 Sep 2016.

OhforfSake said:
I remember making a few suggestions regarding some of these topics a few years back:
b0rsuk said:

1. Dwelling population starts growing only once a dwelling is built

(...)


I thought it could be interesting to do like o-game where you can purchase any amount you see fit, but it won't be constructed instantly, in stead it'll que. How long it should que however is difficult to say, perhaps do like C&C where more towns and dwellings means faster production, perhaps make citadel/caste accelerate the process or perhaps even let it depend on your wealth and territory size.


Yes, probably some kind of limit is needed so you can't just always be 1 turn away from building&recruiting Dragon Tower with 30+ dragons.
Maybe player would be allowed to recruit 2 * weekly_growth in a single day ?


b0rsuk said:

2. You mostly get spells from visiting guilds.

Quote:

Perhaps magic heroes are better students and can get more spells or better versions of the same spells in stead? Not sure I understood the exact concern here though.


My concern is that whenever you upgrade your guild you need to retreat your hero(es) or you won't benefit from the extra spells. This hurts the tempo of expansion, especially for Magic heroes. Might heroes don't rely on spells so much, sometimes they can't even use them! I just think it's an extra snag Magic heroes don't deserve.

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b0rsuk
b0rsuk


Promising
Famous Hero
DooM prophet
posted September 07, 2016 10:33 PM
Edited by b0rsuk at 11:07, 08 Sep 2016.

(moved to the first post)

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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted September 07, 2016 10:50 PM

I am asking here, both to your post and the one from the other thread, about heroes attack.

My problem with all you propose is that you go for tweaking and removing things instead of adding those that they obviously lack. When you remove things, no matter if you do it for what you believe being the good cause- balance, people are less likely to accept your changes than when you add -wisely- things and increase challenge, for same reason. Let me explain.

We have no problem with how might heroes work -by general consensus, we have a problem with how magic heroes work, but people then reversed the problem, trying to downgrade might. Same for spells, you propose to tweak or complicate the use of key spells -slow, haste etc, instead of making the creatures harder to cast on.

For example, in wog you have 10 levels of experience, each level giving one ability. I am not going into the debate "is experience system ok" but into possible variations and challenges while using those abilities.

In most wog custom maps (the ones designed with a pattern in mind, not just throw objects and scripts, those who propose a change), creatures higher level than 3 start to have immunities. Basically you can't cast anything on archangels (moreover they are enchanted with many spells), and once the game is in middle phase, your usage of mass slow, blind, force field and other is reduced to a minimum. You will have to cast dispel, curse, bless, counterstrike, and many other unused spells then you will have, for once, look at battlefield configuration and try to protect your key stacks, because the enemy is powerful and very resistant.

Same thing goes for heroes, might vs magic. Magic heroes should have synergies between magic schools, have access to multiple casting via class level up, have adventure map damaging spells, be able via magic to change magic guilds spells, to research for spells, improve spells and so on.

Personally I am against changing the game at core, but rather fixing it, if possible without removing things. For me, the fact that H4 up to H7 teams go for changing mechanics and engine instead of fixing those not working but keeping those already working in H2 then H3 is the major fault which killed the game.


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b0rsuk
b0rsuk


Promising
Famous Hero
DooM prophet
posted September 07, 2016 11:12 PM
Edited by b0rsuk at 23:16, 07 Sep 2016.

I get what you mean - that changes that boost or improve something are more popular and easier to push through as far as politics goes. But between the two - making spells scale similarly to percentage bonus of A/D, and scaling down A/D, the "nerf" approach would be much less work to balance. In the end, we care about relative balance of Might and Magic.

How do you know it's Magic that's out of the line and not Might ?

Note games like HOMM3 (multiplayer) didn't improve other spells to match Town Portal and Dimension Door in power. Multiplayer folks just banned these.

Also, "popular" and "wise" are not the same thing. In Poland, giving a bribe to an official is punishable with prison. In Finland, taking a bribe is punishable, but giving one is not! The result: VERY low corruption, because officials are terrified to take accept a bribe. The person who gave the bribe can always go to police and risks nothing. By contrast, bribe law in Poland may sound more just or ethical, but it leads to a lot higher corruption. Which is wiser ?

If you ask people what they want, they would say "free money!". But if you start giving money to everyone, your country's economy will probably go down the drain. Maybe people should be given what they need, not what they want ? Henry Ford once remarked that if he asked people what they wanted, they would say "faster horses".

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Pollo2002
Pollo2002


Known Hero
posted September 08, 2016 08:36 AM

"Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away"
That is in summary my response to Salamander.

I did not decide yet but I may start my mod again and if I do lists like this are very useful to brainstorm.

My mod was specifically thought for multiplayer, and the reason I'm considering jumping right in is because some of my friends are bugging me about it because it was a great experience and here are perceived flaws by of heroes 3 as multiplayer that I wanted to adres, in some cases I did, in others I lacked the skills to implement the solution.

1. Hero chaining
I always disliked hero chaining, it adds a lot of micromanagment, and removes any incentive to split armies.
I did create a script where when two heroes met, they both get MP left equal to the lowest one of the two.
It improved the game so much that I wouldnīt go back ever.

2.Magic
Honestly for the time my mod was live there was no elemental secondary skills, but mostly because at the time I didnīt know how to disable Mass expert spells.

Magic guilds worked different you would build a magic guild level but it would give you no spell. You would then click on a slot and choose an element, and pay resources according to the element, and get a random spell from that element.

This was the most complicated script i developed and i lost it sadly.

The system was functional, but I think it can be improved.

3. My mod was highly focused on fog of war, i created a building we called "the lantern" that was a combination of The watchtower and the the lion shroud. Everytime you went there you would trigger both buildings at the same time.
I think this was the most popular aspect of the game in my group people loved the scout wars that involved triggering these lanterns.

I would say it was highly annoying that the shroud would hide the terrain, instead of just the "variable elements" If some knows a a way to change the shroud to something similar to the obelisk puzzle (A grey display of non variable elements) it would be really awesome.

4. Fighting AI
The map we used had very little AI, and until I could implement a solution we had this agreement that AI fights were only fight in autocombat. Until I can come with a scripted way to do that.

I think it would be nice if there was a function to simulate combats to have some idea of the result.

And even if itīs unthematic maybe magic used in those combats gets restored? Though this brings me to the next point.

5. Player controlled neutrals.
Something I wanted to implement to leave some of the feeling of fighting neturals is o give ways for players to control neutrals.
For example, have a spell similar to Set elemental guardian from heroes 2.
Also maybe when you have a mine you can pay some gold to set a guardian to the mine, or maybe itīs obligatory. Im not sure. Also never implemented because I felt it twas beyond my skills.

6. Magic system 2
If i could complete rehaul the magic system, I would ask myself some questions like. Is Magic point system better than something like heroes 1? I like that at early level heroes 1 would force you to use different spells, and required more thought on what spell to use.
Maybe I would use a combined system where spells require MP, but also you forget the spells once used, or they have cooldown or something.
I dont know didnīt think much because I do not think I have the skills to revamp the system.

7.Give an incentive to defense.

One of the most boring aspects of my mod is that there was a lot of incentive to escape instead of fighting losing fight, this is specially true for castles, which is bad because castles fights can be interesting and exciting.

The way the mod worked there was a lot of trading towns and castles, and the problem is that the best strategy when you see a hero comming from the castle was to buy a new hero and flee with the units at full speed.

I wanted to create an incentive to have a fight.

An example i came up with but was never implemented was the idea that when you attack a town/castle the locals defend it, so there is always a week of creatures that canīt be bought that will defend the castle if attacked. They are added to the stack if one defends with similar units, but are removed at the end of combat similar to elementals.







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b0rsuk
b0rsuk


Promising
Famous Hero
DooM prophet
posted September 08, 2016 09:41 AM
Edited by b0rsuk at 09:42, 08 Sep 2016.

Pollo2002 said:

1. Hero chaining
I always disliked hero chaining, it adds a lot of micromanagment, and removes any incentive to split armies.


I think Age of Wonders shows how it can be done - each unit (stack) has its own MP. It may be hard or impossible to do in current HOMM engine - I don't think stacks have any variables beside unit count - but maybe in VCMI ?

Really, it shows how broken the base HOMM design is.
Quote:

I did create a script where when two heroes met, they both get MP left equal to the lowest one of the two.
It improved the game so much that I wouldnīt go back ever.


Interesting approach to fix it, but potentially nasty if you forget about it. Maybe better if there was a confirmation window displaying the number of MP's lost ?
Quote:

3. My mod was highly focused on fog of war, i created a building we called "the lantern" that was a combination of The watchtower and the the lion shroud. Everytime you went there you would trigger both buildings at the same time.
I think this was the most popular aspect of the game in my group people loved the scout wars that involved triggering these lanterns.

And that's the right way to fix Scouting skill! Did you tackle Eagle Eye as well ?

Quote:

5. Player controlled neutrals.
Something I wanted to implement to leave some of the feeling of fighting neturals is o give ways for players to control neutrals.
For example, have a spell similar to Set elemental guardian from heroes 2.
Also maybe when you have a mine you can pay some gold to set a guardian to the mine, or maybe itīs obligatory. Im not sure. Also never implemented because I felt it twas beyond my skills.

This is a brilliant idea - choose between autocombat and manual combat vs neutrals, but they will be controlled by a SMART opponent. There's a minor risk of collusion in games larger than 2 players, but it can be dealt with by letting other players spectate or something like that.

This solution is often used in board games - one player temporarily controls and performs actions for the neutral bad guys.

Quote:

If i could complete rehaul the magic system, I would ask myself some questions like. Is Magic point system better than something like heroes 1? I like that at early level heroes 1 would force you to use different spells, and required more thought on what spell to use.

And those are good questions! HOMM1 system discourages spamming the same spell over and over. Shrines are also very useful and worth fighting over in HOMM1.

If you had a wish, is HOMM2 magic system really worth keeping ? Knowledge doesn't scale anyway.

I also had an idea where each point of Knowledge would let you memorize exactly one more spell, and the game would have a huge pool of unique spells. Similar to a card game. I mean, if Race for the Galaxy can have a 100+ deck of cards that is both very balanced and has very few duplicates, it's POSSIBLE. In such system Knowledge would make those casters more versatile.

Quote:

The way the mod worked there was a lot of trading towns and castles, and the problem is that the best strategy when you see a hero comming from the castle was to buy a new hero and flee with the units at full speed.

I wanted to create an incentive to have a fight.

An example i came up with but was never implemented was the idea that when you attack a town/castle the locals defend it, so there is always a week of creatures that canīt be bought that will defend the castle if attacked. They are added to the stack if one defends with similar units, but are removed at the end of combat similar to elementals.

If you just want to strenghten defenders, maybe you could implement manned towers like in HOMM4 ? All you'd need is to have certain determined hexes provide a bonus to Attack Skill (for archers).

Another solution would be boosting Fog of War, or maybe widening the "few-pack-lots-horde-throng-swarm-zounds-legion" ranges so players are less sure how big an army is coming.

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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted September 08, 2016 09:56 AM

There is nothing hard about implementing virtual movement for each stack -you just assign an array for each creature then at the end of the hero movement you subtract from, but then you will face a head ache, as there are several bonuses for heroes movement which will complicate the maths, as stables and other map locations, then the logistic skill, the artifacts, the logistic specialty, the slowest creature in your army when you ended turn, and so on. And that does not mean Heroes is broken, imo they did it brilliantly, if you dislike and want army movement, there is H4 for that. Or AoW.

I think that movement and also chaining are working very well and there is no demand to change. Moreover, chaining is not obligatory, AI does not use it, single maps often do not require it, so is limited to a couple of multiplayer games, where indeed can make a difference between a skilled and experienced player, which has good eye, can calculate properly distances, knows on which terrains to move, which army to keep and where, and then the amateur who does not care or is too lazy.

So a limited usage but where it pays, as multiplayer is about who is better, and movement mastery -no matter what are the mechanics, is the backbone of any game. Develop faster, explore faster, become stronger faster. Heroes 2-3 offered rather original and addicting solutions to this, not so often meet in other games.

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Maurice
Maurice

Hero of Order
Part of the furniture
posted September 08, 2016 10:01 AM

Pollo2002 said:
I would say it was highly annoying that the shroud would hide the terrain, instead of just the "variable elements" If some knows a a way to change the shroud to something similar to the obelisk puzzle (A grey display of non variable elements) it would be really awesome.


This would be absolutely amazing! I've always felt the same irritation and therefore absolutely abhor fighting Necromancers who built their Cover of Darkness. One thing this grey-scale should do, though, is allow pathing through the territory (potentially disregarding variable objects within the path that are uncovered during movement - which would cause the Hero to stop as soon as that variable object is spotted).

Quote:
An example i came up with but was never implemented was the idea that when you attack a town/castle the locals defend it, so there is always a week of creatures that canīt be bought that will defend the castle if attacked. They are added to the stack if one defends with similar units, but are removed at the end of combat similar to elementals.


In a way, this was done in Heroes 7. I really like that concept. It should depend on both the dwellings present within the Town as well as the level of Town defenses.
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The last Reasonable Steward of Good Game Design and a Responsible Hero of HC. - Verriker

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Pollo2002
Pollo2002


Known Hero
posted September 08, 2016 10:14 AM

Chaining may be skillfull, so itīs juggling, or having to memorize 100.000 digits of pi.

Something requiring skill doesnīt mean is something you want to have in your game.

Is a fun test of skill? is interesting?

Well those are subjective questions. I personally think in multiplayer close maps is basically all about knowing how to chain heroes to maximize zone cleaning, recognize optimal builds,  and abuse AI. Those are not skills im interested to test, i prefer ot play other games.

In my mod chaning is a problem, because I want to test proper distribution of forces on the map. Before I removed chaining the right strategy was to have one main hero with 7 slaves working for him. And it become a game of optimization of builds.
Once i removed chaining the game played as I intended it ,and suddenly teh gae was testing proper distribituion of forces as I intended.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted September 08, 2016 10:26 AM
Edited by JollyJoker at 10:37, 08 Sep 2016.

Note, that we are talking about MP balancing here, because SP balancing isn't strictly necessary.

I was about to write a lengthy post about this, but that makes no sense, because it should be obvious: there is no correlation whatsoever between what is called "Might" (the attack and defense stats of a hero) and what is called "Magic" (the Power and Knowledge stats of a hero). But what's more (and more important): giving them a correlation would make things boring because that would mean, ultimately both would be the same.

Positively spoken, the charm of the game IS this combination of two completely different and separate things.

Now think about Artifacts and map objects. No matter what "class" a hero starts with, finding the right artifacts and map objects may lead to giving them "adverse" stats, unbalancing every balance that may be there.

That leads to the fairly obvious conclusion that there are just two ways to do this:

1) You separate "might" and "magic" heroes COMPLETELY (and that means, that you have two completely different TYPES of heroes, no matter the classes, that develop differently and cannot use the other type's artifacts and so on. Basically, a Might hero had only attack and defense stats, and could learn something like what is called "War Cries" from H5 onwards, basically tactical commands without mana usage and a personal hero attack, while a magic hero had ONLY the magic stats (which might give some passive advantage in attack and defense as well, one way or another and would exclusively work via spells. Might heroes couldn't learn ANY magic, while magic heroes couldn't learn any might skills.
You might be able to balance this, which is one advantage; the other is, that you'd offer two completely different ways to play for each faction.

2) You have heroes that are independent from factions and balance them via personal skill tree and abilities. In this case you might have, for example, the hero types "Priest" and "Knight", but they wouldn't be the Heroes of Haven/Castle anymore, but instead just HEROES with a specific skill tree. This would basically go into H4 direction (not that Heroes would have to fight on the BF) insofar that each faction could of course hire each hero class with the aim to have a distinctive play. Priest type would, for example, have access to certain kinds of magic that might be "light" (Bless, Heal, Cleanse ...) or "dark" (Curse, pain, confuse), but with a "Battle Priest" option in it as well, and this might result in heroes developing into an advanced Class as in H4.
In this case you would have to balance the Classes which I suppose would be possible as well, since ALL heroes would have Might AND Magic, just each one their own.

These two options exist - everything else is just trying to square the circle.

EDIT: The H5 way of having one hero per faction with certain development characteristics and exclusive abilities connected with their faction is a special case of the 2) scenario.

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Pollo2002
Pollo2002


Known Hero
posted September 08, 2016 10:30 AM

[quote name=Maurice

This would be absolutely amazing! I've always felt the same irritation and therefore absolutely abhor fighting Necromancers who built their Cover of Darkness. One thing this grey-scale should do, though, is allow pathing through the territory (potentially disregarding variable objects within the path that are uncovered during movement - which would cause the Hero to stop as soon as that variable object is spotted).


Yes that would be great, and Iīm sure it will be possible with VCMI, but I donīt think Era has the tools to make something like this happen.
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b0rsuk
b0rsuk


Promising
Famous Hero
DooM prophet
posted September 08, 2016 11:00 AM
Edited by b0rsuk at 11:09, 08 Sep 2016.

Chaining:

Sometimes the only way to go forward is to take one step back.

Chaining effectively removes a part of the game's strategy, especially in HOMM3 with cheap heroes where you can spam slaves to make Town Portal obsolete. You would see other strategies emerge if chaining wouldn't be so easily available.


JollyJoker said:

I was about to write a lengthy post about this, but that makes no sense, because it should be obvious: there is no correlation whatsoever between what is called "Might" (the attack and defense stats of a hero) and what is called "Magic" (the Power and Knowledge stats of a hero). But what's more (and more important): giving them a correlation would make things boring because that would mean, ultimately both would be the same.


False dichotomy, man. There is design room to make might and magic scale in similar manner but still feel distinctive.
Quote:

Positively spoken, the charm of the game IS this combination of two completely different and separate things.

It's a matter of picking some design guidelines for Might and Magic and sticking to them. Some kinds of effects should only be available to might, others to magic. You want to be consistent with it.

Quote:

Now think about Artifacts and map objects. No matter what "class" a hero starts with, finding the right artifacts and map objects may lead to giving them "adverse" stats, unbalancing every balance that may be there.

That leads to the fairly obvious conclusion that there are just two ways to do this:
(...)
These two options exist - everything else is just trying to square the circle.



How about
3) An artifact gives you +Primary Stat or +Secondary Stat, where primary/secondary is different for each type of hero. I remember something like this in ancient FPS game Hexen. Warrior got more bonus from mesh armour, mage more bonus from amulet, cleric more bonus from shield.

Note I'm not a fan of permanent +stat map locations, they introduce huge power creep problems. Artifacts too.

It's not necessary to remove all artifacts, because plenty of them affect no primary skill. And the remaining ones would have to be changed, although a sword giving Spell Power to Warlock may be a bit odd.

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted September 08, 2016 11:57 AM

b0rsuk said:


JollyJoker said:

I was about to write a lengthy post about this, but that makes no sense, because it should be obvious: there is no correlation whatsoever between what is called "Might" (the attack and defense stats of a hero) and what is called "Magic" (the Power and Knowledge stats of a hero). But what's more (and more important): giving them a correlation would make things boring because that would mean, ultimately both would be the same.


False dichotomy, man. There is design room to make might and magic scale in similar manner but still feel distinctive.

How?

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