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Heroes Community > Heroes 7+ Altar of Wishes > Thread: H8 concept document
Thread: H8 concept document This thread is 2 pages long: 1 2 · NEXT»
Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 14, 2019 02:46 PM
Edited by Alon at 18:23, 14 Oct 2019.

H8 concept document

I typed this out last night in a Discord chat for disaffected Starcraft 2 fans:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CdX297XajGhQ2RifnvMtlmTLXQB5Dqv5XNfY1a0x3Ho/edit

The tl;dr version is that a fan-made TBS is not tooooooo difficult to make (Battle for Wesnoth, anyone?), but to be fun, it can't just be a list of cool-sounding factions and units. Designers have to think about fundamentals including macro, micro, and faction differentiation.

For example, the underworld/necropolis town should feel like a zombie horror movie, just as the zerg in Starcraft 1 and Starcraft 2 feel like cosmic horror, in two different ways (in SC 1 the wave of zerglings keeps flooding in and never ends, in SC 2 it's a single quick engagement with lings surrounding you from all sides). The castle town should feel like an organized army marching in formation. The chaotic-aligned towns, i.e. preserve/nature/sylvan and wilderness/stronghold, should feel like small-army skirmishers using their mobility to wear you down.

More points, not directly mentioned in the document, which as I said was written originally for SC 2 fans who are not familiar with H3 assumptions:

- Each alignment should have more than 7 units, to enable a variety of interesting unit combos; SC 1 has 9 not including workers and transports, and the expansion has 11-12, so around 10 is probably the best number.
- Cities should be able to build multiple unit-producing structures, including several of the same type to produce more of that unit. The limiting factors should be resources and army stack size caps, to make the decision of which army to produce more interesting.
- Ranged units should have limited range. Foot archers, like castle crossbowmen and preserve elven archers, should have the highest range, which should be the counter to skirmishers; this is historically how sedentary mass armies countered mounted archers, which had mobility but not enough range.
- Upgrades (no melee penalty for shooters, double attack for some units, etc.) should go in the tech tree, like the +1 upgrades in SC, rather than be features of the unit. So once I research the upgrade, it should apply to all of my units of that type immediately.
- There should be no PvE random combat encounters whatsoever. They slow down the game. Keep that snow to single-player mode.
- A turn should represent a season, and 100 turns and 90 minutes should be an extremely long game. A typical 1v1 macro game should be 40 turns and 30 minutes. A rush should be executable in less than 10 minutes.
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MattII
MattII


Legendary Hero
posted October 16, 2019 02:45 AM

In other words, you want to make a game that isn't really Heroes, but is instead some weird hybrid of Heroes and a RTS?

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Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 16, 2019 05:41 AM

I mean, what does "really Heroes" even mean? It's not a reskin of H3, no. I don't even think it has RTS elements - the concepts of macro and micro come from Starcraft because that game became a big enough esport that people talk widely about strategies, but you can equally well talk about macro and micro in a variety of genres, not even just strategy.
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MattII
MattII


Legendary Hero
posted October 16, 2019 06:23 AM

You mention things like multiple structures (in each town) producing the same unit, or 'food'/population. Thing is, that these elements will break the feel of the game. Add these, and the game stops being 'Heroes', and just become a weird mashup game.

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Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 16, 2019 08:14 PM

I don't think the production cap per town is really a core aspect of Heroes. That's not what made H3 so fun to play. What made H3 fun is a) the RPG elements in single-player, b) the interesting overland and combat maps, and c) the turn-based combat micro.

Point c is probably the most crucial - micro looks very different in TBS from RTS. The 7-stack cap in each army is part of that: in a TBS, you can micro each individual stack, so letting players micro individual units as in RTS would make combat take forever. So I'm specifically keeping the stack cap in my writeup.

Multiple production buildings of the same type may look weird in Heroes, but they looked weird in all strategy games at the time. Starcraft was not designed with multiple production buildings in mind, players just discovered this when experimenting with competitive play. It's just a question of whether to allow or prohibit this in the future.
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MattII
MattII


Legendary Hero
posted October 16, 2019 10:20 PM

The issue with multiple production buildings of the same type isn't that it looks weird, it's that it plain doesn't work for Heroes. On an RTS, you just lay down another building in a bit of free ground. In Heroes, that isn't an option, every building has to be crafted to fit into the town screen.

Also, I think size limits on stacks is going to be awkward to write in, and would be vehemently protested if tried.

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Elvin
Elvin


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
What if Elvin was female?
posted October 16, 2019 11:34 PM

In a game where first strike gives an edge, superboosting a stack is a game changer. One of the things H7 did well was giving you the choice between boosting the growth of creature A or creature B in the same tier. That way you can have players with a different creature focus, without the balance going haywire.

I very much agree on faction feel and gameplay variety. Unit upgrades in skill system sounds fair enough, the game could stand to gain more if your build could focus more on boosting or hindering melee/ranged/support.

PVE sure slows down the game but what is the alternative? Have mines/treasures protected by enemy-controlled troops? And what happens when there are multiple players? What happens in sim turns when a player is already fighting, would the other players wait? Would sim turns have to be cut because of such complications?

To be sure, games should be appropriately shortened if we're talking multiplayer. Turns should not be possible to extend beyond a few mins so there should be no exploits to take on ridiculous amounts of armies in earlygame - 45 min turns were common in H5 multiplayer for instance :/
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Galaad
Galaad

Hero of Order
Li mort as morz, li vif as vis
posted October 17, 2019 01:18 AM
Edited by Galaad at 01:19, 17 Oct 2019.

Elvin said:
To be sure, games should be appropriately shortened if we're talking multiplayer. Turns should not be possible to extend beyond a few mins so there should be no exploits to take on ridiculous amounts of armies in earlygame - 45 min turns were common in H5 multiplayer for instance :/


While nowadays I clearly don't have the time, man the best Heroes games take a while. Setup a night for hotseats with a couple of friends, brings back memories.
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Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 17, 2019 01:39 AM

Elvin said:
In a game where first strike gives an edge, superboosting a stack is a game changer. One of the things H7 did well was giving you the choice between boosting the growth of creature A or creature B in the same tier. That way you can have players with a different creature focus, without the balance going haywire.


Ooh, that's definitely one way to do it. MattII is right that having an uncapped number of production structures in one city is bad from a town design perspective, so presumably the way to do it is to let you build up to N structures per type in each town, and they can stack like the mage guilds or like the one-off boosters from H3.

Quote:
PVE sure slows down the game but what is the alternative? Have mines/treasures protected by enemy-controlled troops? And what happens when there are multiple players? What happens in sim turns when a player is already fighting, would the other players wait? Would sim turns have to be cut because of such complications?


One way is to require players to spend resources on reactivating a mine, and maybe make sure every mine has a garrison where you can leave troops for defense, with or without a hero.

In sim turns, without any PvE fights, each turn really has two phases: the overland map phase, and the combat phase. So let's say my hero #1 is within sight of your hero #3, and I want to initiate combat. I indicate that I wish to fight. Let's also say my hero #2 is near your city #4 and I wish to besiege it. I move my hero to your city and initiate a siege. After the overland map phase is over, you're informed that your #4 city is under siege and that I'm trying to attack your #3 hero. With the #3 hero you can turn and fight, or maybe try to run away, say if your hero moves fast, or if in the overland map phase you moved the hero in the opposite direction from my hero #1, etc. With the siege, you can't avoid it, the fight is forced.
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MattII
MattII


Legendary Hero
posted October 17, 2019 07:37 AM
Edited by MattII at 07:38, 17 Oct 2019.

Except you don't need multiple production buildings per unit, because you can just allow each building to get several hoardings (don't know if that's the actual name) to increase production from that building.

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Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 17, 2019 08:36 AM

MattII said:
Except you don't need multiple production buildings per unit, because you can just allow each building to get several hoardings (don't know if that's the actual name) to increase production from that building.


Yeah, that could work too, the only difference is graphics and that hoarding could have different cost from the base building (which is fine).
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MattII
MattII


Legendary Hero
posted October 18, 2019 12:05 PM
Edited by MattII at 12:09, 18 Oct 2019.

Also, cutting the number of resources down is a critical problem. Heroes isn't heroes if you reduce the number of resources by three, or four, since food is a limiter on population (another thing that Heroes will be worse for, population control), or five, since magic doesn't appear to be much of resource as you'd use for making units.

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Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 18, 2019 07:16 PM

Magic as a resource is for high-tier units and some high-level buildings, like mage guilds and magical city defenses like the H3 Tower mines. It should also be for various tech upgrades, if there are any that are independent of a specific city (think the Civ tech tree or the Starcraft upgrades). It's really a streamline of gems, sulfur, crystals, and mercury, which H3 doesn't do a good job of differentiating.
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MattII
MattII


Legendary Hero
posted October 18, 2019 08:07 PM

One of the factors that made Heroes the game it is is having to manage the resource system. Remove that, and the game is no longer a Heroes game.

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Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 19, 2019 10:15 AM

That's every strategy game... but what added value comes from four separate high-end resources? It's not exactly about managing several things at once, or about making it harder to manage an economy with two separate town types, because with enough marketplaces you can convert between resources.
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MattII
MattII


Legendary Hero
posted October 19, 2019 11:20 AM

Regardless, reducing the number of resources changes the metric of the game, as Ubisoft found out to their detriment with Heroes 6.

Converting is inefficient, it's never 1:1, so you always lose resources.

And you could say what value comes from having more than one resources? Why doesn't every game just follow the old Westwood formula and just reduce everything to cash? Sometimes it's not about the 'value' of a mechanic, as much as the feeling of it. Reducing the number of resources to be more in line with an RTS is going to do the game no favours.

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Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 20, 2019 12:00 PM
Edited by Alon at 12:17, 20 Oct 2019.

First of all, Red Alert (and I think other Westwood games) has two resources, money and electric power.

Second, Civ has three resources, same as Starcraft.

Third, having multiple resources has a couple goals:

- In Starcraft, gas as a separate resource from minerals forces the player to decide early on whether to commit to teching up or to building more economy and tier-1 units. This is the goal I believe having non-gold resources in H3 serves, and therefore my writeup proposes to extend this by making more mid-tier units require magic and not just the highest-tier unit. Ore as a resource is likewise to be used if the player wants to prioritize city buildings.

- In all strategy games, scouting is critical. Resources with visible collection, like the gas-producing structures of Starcraft, make it possible for a player to check to see what you're mining and, if they're good at the game, make an educated guess at what you're doing. For this reason, it's important to have resources that can't be produced inside cities in a TBS but only from mines.

- Harassing the opponent's economy should be a viable strategy. In an RTS this is achievable even with one mined resource like money in Red Alert, but in a TBS this requires extensive mining from nodes that are difficult to defend. This is a reason for requiring external mines for some resources, and in my writeup this is predominantly food, produced out of dispersed farms. Harassing farms plays especially well to the flavor of the Preserve and Wilderness factions.

- In both Starcraft and Red Alert, the upkeep resource (supply in SC, power in RA) makes macro more difficult, because you need to remember to build more supply in SC or power plants in RA. Making macro hard is sometimes a design goal, to increase the skill ceiling. This is only marginally relevant in a TBS, in which APM is not a factor.

EDIT: I forgot to add - we can see some of these principles in the transition from Warcraft 2 to SC 1. Oil was removed as a resource, used in WC 2 only for ships. Gold and lumber turned into minerals and gas, but whereas WC buildings all cost lumber, SC 1 better differentiates the two non-supply resources by making the basic units as well as buildings cost only minerals, just as in H3 the town hall upgrades only cost gold and the other basic buildings only cost gold, wood, and ore.
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MattII
MattII


Legendary Hero
posted October 20, 2019 08:15 PM

Red Alert has one 'Primary' (collected from the environment) resource, and one 'Secondary' (generated by the civilisation) resource, those being, specifically, money and power. Your suggestion drop the number of Primary resources from 7 to at most 4. This is such a dramatic change to the system that the game is no longer a Heroes game.

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Alon
Alon


Hired Hero
posted October 22, 2019 09:51 AM

Sure, but my contention is that the wood/ore pair and the crystals/mercury/sulfur/gems quad are not very well distinguished internally, so merging them to ore and magic respectively wouldn't affect the game much. I'd argue that changes modders routinely make, like letting players build new cities and raze enemy cities, are a lot more consequential.
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Maurice
Maurice

Hero of Order
Part of the furniture
posted October 22, 2019 10:23 AM

Alon said:
Sure, but my contention is that the wood/ore pair and the crystals/mercury/sulfur/gems quad are not very well distinguished internally, so merging them to ore and magic respectively wouldn't affect the game much. I'd argue that changes modders routinely make, like letting players build new cities and raze enemy cities, are a lot more consequential.


That's basically what they did in H6 / H7, and it was received very poorly in the community.
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