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Heroes Community > Heroes 7+ Altar of Wishes > Thread: Creature experience instead of upgrades
Thread: Creature experience instead of upgrades This thread is 3 pages long: 1 2 3 · NEXT»
mvassilev
mvassilev


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
posted November 19, 2018 05:05 AM
Edited by mvassilev at 05:05, 19 Nov 2018.

Creature experience instead of upgrades

It's the endgame, and you're moving with your colossal full late-game army in the direction of the enemy, ready to settle things. But a creature of the week stands in the way. You could crush it easily, but they offer to join your army. A hundred Minotaur Janitors would be welcome, but you have no room - you've upgraded yours to Minotaur Accountants two weeks ago. And while it's a decent number, it's not worth replacing any of your existing stacks. So you just let them scatter, wasting the game's generosity.
That doesn't feel good for the player.

Creatures having basic and upgraded forms increases competition for army slots in a way that's sometimes a hassle. Dwellings give you the basic creature, so you have to caravan it to your town (who knows how long that takes?), upgrade it there, and give it to your hero next time they're in town, when they could've just hired it themselves if they had room.

The solution is to get rid of upgrades. But we want the feeling of our individual stacks getting stronger, so battling (and upgraded dwellings) would give experience to creatures, which would give them improved stats and new abilities. By default, new hires would start out with 0 experience, and if combined with a more experienced stack, their experience would be subdivided within the new stack. For example, if it takes 1000 EXP for a black dragon to get a level, 1 Level 6 black dragon (5000 EXP) + 4 Level 1 black dragons (0 EXP) = 5 Level 2 black dragons (5000 EXP).
It's not a new idea (WoG has it), but it has unexplored potential.

Advantages:
- Less unfun competition for army slots, as described above. Assuming we don't want to do something radical like allowing unlimited stacks per army.

- Flavor. For example, in a campaign, you might have a single black dragon in your army, and you would see it getting stronger throughout the map. This lets the player get more attached to it (it's not just a generic black dragon, it's my black dragon!), and it's also more realistic - after a hundred battles, it should've learned something useful.

- Fewer redundant creature designs. Currently, the upgraded creature has to look more powerful than the base form, which sometimes requires compromises in the art. The upgrade's design might be excessively elaborate (more spikes - more power!) or the base form could be lacking some detail. It also solves the problem of hordes of Naga Queens and Minotaur Taskmasters.

- It could solve the Necromancy problem. Raising legions of skeletons is the fun of playing Necro, but it's easy for that to get out of hand. But with creature experience, if you keep adding new skeletons to the stack, it'll stay at a relatively low level, and Level 1 Skeletons could be really weak (with Level 2 ones being much stronger, relatively).

- It'd naturally go well with H5 Haven Training - better than the original. "Okay, Peasant, we want you to enter the priesthood. So the first thing you have to do is learn how to shoot a bow. But then forget all that, you need to bash enemies with a huge shield. No, priests do none of this, why do you ask? Griffin Eternal!"

Disadvantages:
- Could be difficult to balance. Specifically, you never want a stack to get weaker by adding creatures to it, but if it's at the cutoff point for a creature level granting some ability, that could happen. So maybe instead of discrete creature levels, stats and abilities could scale directly with experience, e.g. a Unicorn might start out with 10% chance to blind, and each additional experience point (per creature) would give it an extra 0.01% chance, up to some limit.
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NimoStar
NimoStar


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Supreme Hero
Modding the Unmoddable
posted November 19, 2018 03:12 PM

I like this idea but players like to have a visual upgrade as well as more abilities.

H3 WOG gave creature stacks with experience extra abilities so I think this woudn't be a problem.

But I would think every "level up" of the creature also requires a graphical enchancement.

For example, Minotaur Janitors (LVL1) could level up to Minotaur Accountants (LVL2) with experience alone, but their outfit would change.

I don't think this would be particularly hard with today's technology, plus most games nowadays with characters alreafdy include hundreds of wearable items. These would need only a few (Imagine max level is 5)
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lantranar
lantranar


Hired Hero
posted November 19, 2018 05:04 PM

NimoStar said:
I don't think this would be particularly hard with today's technology, plus most games nowadays with characters alreafdy include hundreds of wearable items. These would need only a few (Imagine max level is 5)


Age of Wonder 3 has this feature, that after a certain level, creatures would stop getting more abilities, they ll have stat increase instead when they level up.
However, exp acquisition in AoW works abit differently as it links to how much a unit actively engage into battle, whereas in GoG it is too imbalanced (units' and heroes' exp seem to work independently).

Im splitted with this idea. When I first tried GoG, it looked cool as first but it felt clunkier the more I played it. Still, if it is well tuned, it would work much better than forcefully imposing unit cap for each army stack for the sake of balance.

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PandaTar
PandaTar


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posted November 19, 2018 05:30 PM

I'm not a fan of upgrades, unless they really mean something evolved from the structural level, even changing the perceptive role of a unit on a whole. Still, I do think both ideas can coexist, even merging both armies, normal and upgraded. Say there's a small pointer showing that the armies are merged together, and they use the weaker ones as the first to fall when fatalities occur (maybe you can toggle which of them are "sent first" in confrontation). The overall improvement over stats are fixed on a % of the upgraded one, as if they count something like 70% of the numbers of upgraded ones, in comparison. So you don't waste a new slot because of upgrade differences and still have different attributes in a single army.

One thing that I think would be really interesting was adding proficiency to units when facing repetitive enemies. The more they face the same foes, the more effective they become at defeating them, like a pseudo-experience which tweaks with attributes whenever your troops fight already known foes. And the less you gain experience as well, until reaching a minimal cap.
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Elvin
Elvin


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What if Elvin was female?
posted November 19, 2018 09:37 PM

Upgrades good, unit experience bad. Part of the reason H4 was meh was the lack of upgrades. Random joiners is not a good enough reason to weaken the gameplay, much better to introduce reserve slots or send leftover joiners elsewhere with a caravan.
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Galaad
Galaad

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Li mort as morz, li vif as vis
posted November 19, 2018 11:13 PM

In campaigns or single scenarios creatures gaining XP can be very interesting. In a regular pvp game might be hell to balance but screw balance? Idk the imba aspect of the homm games always contributed to the fun for me. I don't think adding a feature should remove another existing one. Of course in Ashan it sucks (more spikes...) but not in the original games were the upgrades looked elegant and the basic forms very good on their own.
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Elvin
Elvin


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What if Elvin was female?
posted November 20, 2018 09:12 AM

Unit experience is for aow and pokemon, mixing units to dilute their xp just feels messy and half-baked. I'd like a more customized system for unit specialists though, as opposed to the classic +1 att/def every x levels.

Upgrades are a good way to improve your power without building a higher tier or at the very least an option. Magic heroes build guilds, might heroes upgrading units is only reasonable. Assuming that you can creep with 4 units and a mage guild, whether you go for guild 3 or 2 unit upgrades can change your creeping gameplay a lot. Assuming that the faction creeping is not one-dimensional ofc. Now, adding to it alternative upgrades further increases your options.  

Two things to note: 1) I am not suggesting that all units should have an upgrade, only where it makes a difference. 2) Alternative upgrades should be about enabling or supporting alternative gameplay.
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Stevie
Stevie


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Undefeatable Hero
posted November 21, 2018 08:29 AM

mvassilev said:
It's the endgame, and you're moving with your colossal full late-game army in the direction of the enemy, ready to settle things. But a creature of the week stands in the way. You could crush it easily, but they offer to join your army. A hundred Minotaur Janitors would be welcome, but you have no room - you've upgraded yours to Minotaur Accountants two weeks ago. And while it's a decent number, it's not worth replacing any of your existing stacks. So you just let them scatter, wasting the game's generosity.
That doesn't feel good for the player.


I find this scenario misleading and unrepresentative of your average Heroes game. As for the issue you bring to light, it could be solved in some other way than removing upgrades. Army slots, joiners get upgraded for gold, send them elsewhere, sacrifice them, etc.
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mvassilev
mvassilev


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Undefeatable Hero
posted November 21, 2018 07:17 PM
Edited by mvassilev at 16:39, 06 Jan 2019.

I don't know what the average Heroes game is like, but this thread was inspired by my annoyances while playing through the H5 campaign. To a lesser degree, this also happens on normal larger maps. It compares unfavorably to H4, where joiners are much more welcome because they don't compete with upgraded creature stacks.
But as I said, there's also the advantage of fewer and better-concentrated creature designs. They only need to design one peasant/minotaur/centaur, not two or three where one looks weaker than the others, so it's easier to make well-designed creatures.

I also don't think that upgrades add that much to the game - they're kind of quantity for the sake of quantity. Building dwellings and then upgrading them is kind of a hassle, and while it doubles the number of creatures in the game, they're not as unique or memorable.
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Elvin
Elvin


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What if Elvin was female?
posted November 21, 2018 08:25 PM
Edited by Elvin at 20:28, 21 Nov 2018.

That is a great mentality, taking a look at the things that displease you and start working on how to make them better. Doesn't matter if it's a rare situation, there is no reason to get used to something you dislike. It's the solution I disagree with.

For one, H4 is not exactly a stellar example of well-designed creatures. H2 was, H3 was, H5.. well, not so much ^^ So what if someone has to do additional model work? It's just a means of identifying the role the unit serves. It's all about the gameplay.

I found a lot of upgrades memorable throughout the games, I mean who would forget the archangel, crusader or titan? H5 had some unconventional ones like shaman casters with chain lightning and sacrifice, warmonger tanks with taunt and fierce retaliation, hero-boosting druids, demon leapers, banshees with aoe wail and archdemons with enemy relocation that had nothing to do with the original unit's gameplay and I found that great. Balance sucked but that's because nival was drunk during the making of H5.

And adding any of those on a basic unit would be kind of nuts. But as long as you have to invest in it at the cost of something else..
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mvassilev
mvassilev


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Undefeatable Hero
posted November 21, 2018 08:49 PM
Edited by mvassilev at 20:50, 21 Nov 2018.

The problem isn't that making models is too much work (that's just a question of time/money) but that it's hard to make two/three good variants of a single creature design. Yeah, H4 did poorly by that metric, but that's because they chose a bad art style in general - almost all of its creatures look ugly. And H2 and H3 did suffer a little from forgettable or bad creature designs: as a kid, I hated upgrading the Paladin to the Crusader because I thought the former looked cooler; and in H3, who remembers the Basilisk, Archer, Angel, etc; there were creatures where the base form looked better (Monk, Black Knight); and the neutral creatures, which didn't have upgrades, had better designs (and in H2, the creatures without upgrades looked better, on average).
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted November 21, 2018 10:26 PM

Just out of curiosity: isn't "creature experience" delivering upgrades as well, just by way of different resources?

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mvassilev
mvassilev


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
posted November 21, 2018 10:53 PM

The main gameplay difference is that stacks with different experiences could be combined, while stacks of different upgrade levels can't be. The aesthetic difference is that they'd have the same name and use the same model.
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Salamandre
Salamandre


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Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted November 21, 2018 11:42 PM

In Wog you can take various experience-upgrades paths, but once you buy one, all the creatures of that type and on map, regardless of owner, will have it, so is not about stack, but type. I like this because you also pay attention to what your opponent may get or not (does he have that type of creature or not?). I think that upgrades due to experience ranks should not be carved in stone, but picked wisely from external structures on adventure map. Like when you visit a star axis, you get spell power, when you visit some other, you can get double attack, given your creature has the rank. The ability will not work at lower ranks, so you will have to manage also when you combine with joiners or new recruits and get experience constantly. This is the part I liked the most in wog.
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lantranar
lantranar


Hired Hero
posted November 22, 2018 01:37 AM
Edited by lantranar at 07:35, 22 Nov 2018.

Elvin said:
For one, H4 is not exactly a stellar example of well-designed creatures. H2 was, H3 was, H5.. well, not so much ^^ So what if someone has to do additional model work? It's just a means of identifying the role the unit serves. It's all about the gameplay.


Are we talking about gameplay or aesthetics here? coz imo H4 is better in terms of designing individual creature roles.

As for aesthetics, well, I agree somewhat about H4 art direction, but  I think H4 models looking bigger and more detailed is a part of the reason. I assume they would look just as good or even better if you convert them into horizontal view like H3. Afterall, H3 3d models look worse.

Btw, talking about H5, we can clearly see the art team's ideas kinda ran out when they decided to make the third upgrade.

Quote:
it's hard to make two/three good variants of a single creature design


This. As an astist myself, I would say designing multiple option for the same character/asset is a nasty job. Unless the upgraded version has a different function (like skeleton melee -> skeleton archer), its hard to find a good balance when it comes to design something which is strictly better than another. Artists usually come up with a fine version and then rack their head to make another neither too bland nor too clunky.
Even if you manage to do it well, you ll end up with different reaction from players. Some would just prefer one version and dislike the other.
In games like Clash of Clan where you can have a dozen upgrades for each building, the designs keep getting worse.


Back to the topic, I would prefer a UI indication to tell a stack's level/veterancy (star,medal, or silver/gold, or even number) rather than visible appearance.

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Elvin
Elvin


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What if Elvin was female?
posted November 22, 2018 05:54 AM

Other than glorious transformations in the style of archangel, it would be easier to just change the unit's equipment, no? Weapon, armour, cape.. Lazy perhaps but gets the point across just fine.
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lantranar
lantranar


Hired Hero
posted November 22, 2018 08:01 AM

Elvin said:
Other than glorious transformations in the style of archangel, it would be easier to just change the unit's equipment, no? Weapon, armour, cape.. Lazy perhaps but gets the point across just fine.


even tho it also has its own flaws (like the versions dont look different enough, or ), this is indeed a way to go, especially if you want a visual change for every levelup/rank.
It is easy with 3d and 2d nowadays (if the bodyparts are separated before animating). However, I can only see it works wonder with humanoid creatures. I wonder how it should be done with beasts and monsters tho. It is fast to make 10 versions of a knight by just changing weapons/armor paddings, but I cant see how to make 10 versions of dragon using the same method without redrawing the whole thing for each one. Plus, It would have the same problem I mentioned before (for monsters)

Im actually interested in this method. Might give me some good technical ideas later on.

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Elvin
Elvin


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What if Elvin was female?
posted November 22, 2018 08:26 AM
Edited by Elvin at 08:27, 22 Nov 2018.

In that respect I liked H3. Infernal Troglodyte pattern colour and protruding bones made them look more dominant. Medusa queens had a different skin pattern and longer tail. Thunderbirds had that wonderful plummage. Greater basilisks had those.. thingies. Ancient behemoths looked greyed with age. There were some that felt superfluous like horned demon, dendroid soldier and scorpicore but overall you could tell apart basic from upgrade.
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fidanas
fidanas


Adventuring Hero
posted November 22, 2018 08:57 AM
Edited by fidanas at 08:59, 22 Nov 2018.

I don't want to puzzle my mind about a potential experience based creature system.
The glory of diplomacy in most HOMM games, and the need to get more and more random stacks to our ranks is timeless. Very good suggestions in previews posts...extra slots for carry over, assign caravans for the surplus troops.
And what about a specific leadership perk? Something like the necromancers "Herald of Death". The perk will allow players to upgrade incoming stacks to their taste, and gives them the extra carry over slots or caravans orders.
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Elvin
Elvin


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What if Elvin was female?
posted November 22, 2018 11:01 AM

I dislike town backtracking in general so some form of remote spell learning or creature upgrading(as long as appropriate buildings are upgraded) would be welcome. Not instantly or without some drawback of course. For instance.. Upgrading units out of town should definitely have a movement cost. Learning spells could work like a scroll delivery where time delivery depends on distance. Or cost mana just like the summon creatures spell did in h5.
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