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Fanstratics: A HoMM 3 Spiritual Successor

Discussion in 'Strategy and Simulation' started by AdvancedHero, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. Archibald Arcane

    Archibald
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    I think it is going to be shit, but developer not looking for an input from people who never played old Homm games in the first place isn't bad.
     
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  2. Nice news. Time to play some Hammer of the Gods now.
    There are some pictures in the gallery that weren't posted in this thread:
    [​IMG]
    Necrotic Feral Vampire

    [​IMG]
    Sharpshooter

    [​IMG]
    Cavalier
     
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  3. Morblot Aberrant Member Patron

    Morblot
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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Insert Title Here RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In
    Companies listening to "feedback" from the perpetually butthurt minority is a big reason why everything's shit today.
     
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  4. luj1 You're all shills

    luj1
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    Yeah like the Discord for Wayward Realms (Daggerfall successor) was a pile of shit. Bunch of experts spamming their shitty ideas and dumb developers swallowing it. You need to have a vision and follow it, nothing else. Like in the old days. None of the classics had feedback boards, they were made in a creative bubble. Hinging on feedback is a red flag for me, like consulting with the community before every step is a big sign of cluelessness. I think the Starcraft successor thing is headed that way. It wasn't needed before because it was 'by gamers for gamers' and now it's 'by old geezers for zoomers'.
     
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  5. Catacombs Magister Patron

    Catacombs
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    You all proved forum feedback is shit. I concede. Also, there's no need for a forum when we have this thread.
     
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  6. Endemic Arcane

    Endemic
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    Didn't Interplay take feedback from players on their forums RE: the Fallout demo back in the day? There's a difference between taking core concepts from players and taking feedback on a demo or alpha\beta version.
     
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  7. Archibald Arcane

    Archibald
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    Yes, so maybe you shouldn't start a forum before you have a demo/beta version.
     
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  8. Corvinus Arcane

    Corvinus
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    We will hold you to this promise! Death squads will be inserted into your techbases if you lie.
     
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  9. Latelistener Arcane

    Latelistener
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    I don't think we will somehow manage to get the game without the usual Kickstarter drama, Epic whoring and a bag of broken promises, but I'm still curious.
     
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  10. Absinthe Arcane

    Absinthe
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    Feedback isn't bad in and of itself, but it's important to have some fucking sense when you look at the feedback. The new Unreal Tournament game got ruined because they were all about community feedback and they had a community of casuals so the FPS arena players didn't bother with the new UT and a negative feedback loop set in where the casuals were left, who bitched for things to make it even more casual, which is why no one plays the new UT except for a few handfuls of retards who think playing Call of Duty on a console makes them FPS masters.

    But there are other times when devs fuck shit up badly and community feedback is spelling it out and the devs ignore it because they're the pros so they know best even though people in the community have managed a deeper understanding of the game than the designers at the helm. And the result was they squandered perfectly good mechanics because they didn't understand what was good about it or they didn't fix the parts that were undermining the game and ultimately they shat up something that could have been good.

    Overall devs need to be willing to listen to feedback, but also maintain their skepticism about whether the feedback is good and whether the perspective actually considers what would make the game better for players at large or only for players like him at the expense of other playstyles. The last thing you want is to take your feedback from scrubs who think the game would be great if the rules forced everyone to play the game their way and punished any attempts at disrupting or deviating from such playstyles.
     
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  11. AdvancedHero Augur

    AdvancedHero
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    Show Spoiler

    Hey, All.



    Hope each of you is doing relatively well, and welcome to Fanstratics Newsletter #4 (December 2020).



    Greetings those of you finding your way here from...



    acidcave.net



    A quick subscriber update...



    Last Newsletter: ~1950.

    This Newsletter: ~2300.



    This month's Troop concept sketch is the Gnoll Spear Thrower. For those of you who find art production interesting, Justin showcased his rendering the Gnoll via this Twitch stream.



    ‘Thank you’ to everyone who wrote, especially the well wishers. If you have any questions or comments, regarding Fanstratics (FST) or Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (HoMM3), feel free to send them along, and I’ll try to answer them in future newsletters (newsletter@fanstratics.com). Please keep in mind, it may take at least 7 days before I reply.



    This month, I have five initial questions, four of which were asked by the community for ‘The Silent’. Following those, is part two of the lengthy interview I did with Tavern of Might and Magic.



    In other news, earlier this month, I fell ill. At the local clinic, a test for strep throat proved negative, but two days later, a test for COVID returned positive. In my case, hospitalization was not required, but I’ve experienced all the symptoms to varying degrees. Persistent fatigue has been the worst, and as of this writing... it continues. For me, November hasn’t been a productive month. Hopefully, by the next Newsletter, I’ll be past it.



    Lastly... an unfortunate report. On November 7th, the founder and leader of HotA, Docent Picolan passed away. After all these years, I feel an inherent debt of gratitude to the HotA team for helping keep HoMM3 in the public eye, and while I never met Docent, I believe we would have had much to discuss. To Docent’s family, friends, and the HotA team, please accept my heartfelt sympathies.



    Until next time.





    Greg

    Fanstratics Game Director & Designer





    *****



    (Questions, Answers & Comments)





    Fanstratics Faction #1: Allegiant.



    This first faction should be unsurprising to most. They are the Allegiant; loyal, faithful, and steadfast in devotion. Inspired by medieval Knights, and their chivalric code, this predominantly Human faction makes their homes on the Grasslands. Despite having a moderate lifespan, they are the eldest culture on the continent, and oddly predisposed to forgetting older life lessons. Anyone familiar with the ‘Castle’ from HoMM3, should feel very much at home with the Allegiant. Currently, the Troop representing this faction is the Cavalier, which can be viewed in the Fanstratics Gallery.





    Is Fanstratics connected somehow to the lore of M&M or H3 series, or it will be a completely different universe? (adamnavel)



    Ubisoft owns the legal copyrights to Might and Magic and Heroes of Might and Magic, so I have no choice but to place Fanstratics (FST) in its own unique universe. In previous newsletters, I described Fanstratics as ‘different but familiar’. It will look different, with different characters and different lore, but anyone who has played HoMM3, should feel very much at home with its game play mechanics.





    What features of Heroes III were cancelled before release? (ABC)



    Truthfully, other than the controversial Forge faction, I would say 99% of what I wanted in the game... made it into the game. I don’t honestly remember cutting anything of real significance. When we shipped HoMM3, I was satisfied with the work we had done. Is there room for improvement and evolution? Yes. This is what I am attempting with FST.





    How many different types of resources are planned for ‘Fanstratics’? (fen)



    Six resources are planned: Timber, Ore, Crystal, Incense, Quicksilver, and Gold. I trimmed the original seven down to six, with the intention to create a natural symmetry, and more rare resource competition, between FST’s 9 factions.





    Why did you decide to develop a new game now, 20+ years after the release of Restoration of Erathia? (Silent)



    This is a big question to answer, but I will try to be concise. When I left game development, I was burned out and unhealthy from years of stressful working conditions and crunch. I tried other professions, specifically, writing, stock options trading, and ultimately... foreign currency trading. It took years to learn how to profitably trade the currency markets, but once I figured it out, I suddenly had spare time on my hands. With this extra time, I began to crave a return to computer game development. Slowly, I started to reawaken my game design skills, when disaster struck. My foreign currency broker collapsed... and I lost everything. I no longer had a choice. It was ‘game dev or die’, and Fanstratics is the hill on which I have chosen to fight.





    *****



    Tavern of Might and Magic

    2019.02.28

    Questions 12-23, of 58



    This interview was conducted by Tavern of Might and Magic and GoodGame.ru, and published on February 28th, 2019, the 20th Anniversary of HoMM3. It’s a very long interview, almost 60 questions, and delves deep into unresolved lore, as well as other common questions. I’ll be posting between 10 to 15 questions per Newsletter, until we reach the end, after which we will roll into another interview. Below are questions 12 to 23, of 58.





    12. Can you tell us more about the original version of AB with the Forge? What was the story and its key characters

    Conceptually, the story went something like this…

    Following M&M7, Archibald's former 'Advisors' restored production to an ancient wonder called the 'Heavenly Forge'. Using the Heavenly Forge, these Advisors could fashion any manner of artifact or technology. Creating a futuristic city (Forge) and an army composed of cybernetically enhanced creatures armed with high tech weaponry, the Advisors set out to conquer the world. Ground zero was Erathia.

    Following the Restoration of Erathia, Catherine musters the nation’s remaining forces to halt the techno-hordes of the Forge cities. If the line breaks, Erathia will be lost. With Catherine and Roland commanding the front lines, another hero is needed to search for Erathia's last hope for survival; the fabled Armageddon’s Blade. For this sacred quest, Catherine chooses Gelu, the half-human, half-elf commander of the Erathia's elite guerilla warriors: Forestguard. Gelu understands the importance of his quest. What he does not know is the truth of his origins.

    A campaign structure was in place, with Marcus responsible for putting it all together. To the best of my knowledge, the campaign story went something like this…


    1. Deyja solders with ‘strange equipment’ invade Erathia’s northern border. Catherine leads the charge to stop them.

    2. Gelu is enlisted to fight a shadow war on the Deyja-Erathian border.

    3. Roland leads an army to assist and reinforce Catherine’s position.

    4. Gelu is tasked with locating the pieces to construct Armageddon’s Blade.

    5. Gelu is tasked with finding a Grand Smith to fashion Armageddon’s Blade.

    6. Gelu, Catherine, and Roland lead the final push to destroy the Heavenly Forge.


    There was supposed to be an ending cinematic where Gelu drives Armageddon’s Blade into the Heavenly Forge, creating a blast wave destroying only the Forge towns and troops, leaving the land and its people cleansed of its influence.

    There were additional branch missions involving a Forge hero (so players could experience the Forge town), but I cannot recall specifically the story or mission details.

    I also had plans to divulge information proving Catherine and Gelu were related by blood. Ever notice both have red hair?



    13. Were the five side campaigns and their protagonists different, and to what degree?

    No, the five side campaigns were conceived completely separate from the main Armageddon’s Blade campaign, but there were adjustments after the Forge was cut.



    14. What was the creature line-up of the Forge?



    Concerning the Forge, this webpage gets almost everything right. What is missing are details for the Tier 7 troop, which was supposed to be dragon-like Mech.

    Personally, I got a kick out of Ubisoft’s April Fool’s concept art for the Pyro, Jump Soldier, and Tank.



    15. Since the rise of an entire technological faction in Deyja is a very significant event, what was supposed to happen with the world later? What happens to the Heavenly Forge itself after Kastore and his allies are defeated?

    As you can determine from the original story synopsis, in the end, Armageddon’s Blade was supposed to wipe the world clean of all Forge influence. Basically, the world was restored to its pre-Forge state.



    16. Is there a chance that the original maps for the campaign or their texts remain somewhere? It’d be interesting to know the actual plans and progress made by the team head as well as your personal thoughts on the matter.

    Possible, but unlikely.

    Someone at Ubisoft, with access to the original game assets from the 3D0 auction, might be able to turn up something, but keep in mind, the working AB campaign maps were effectively ‘converted’.

    There was little reason to hold onto the old material, and if the original working AB campaign maps do exist, I suspect they are in an unfinished form.

    As for my personal thoughts… I think the cancelation of the Forge content, and its subsequent replacement by the Conflux content… was a blessing in disguise. My answers to subsequent questions reveal my reasons as to why.



    17. David Mullich has mentioned different versions of the Forge town being pitched during the development: We did have some debate about what visual form this technology would take. I advocated more of a Jules Verne glass-and-brass look; others wanted a WWII look. Can you provide more information on these?

    I vaguely remember the initial conversation I had with David Mullich as to the competing visual styles. At the time, year 1999, when David dropped the name Jules Verne, I immediately thought of 20K Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, etc. What was being proposed was art deco, and I had envisioned the Forge being a horrifying, corrupting, evil faction. To me, the WW2 option made more sense.

    Later, Phelan Sykes (HoMM3’s Lead Artist) showed to me a number of different books with ‘oppressive’ art deco architecture. Where David pointed to Jules Verne, Phelan pointed to the movie Metropolis. Phelan wanted a very gritty, very grungy, very squalid conception of what we today commonly call ‘steampunk’. After my conversations with her, I was sold on the direction.

    Weeks later, I began to realize, what Phelan had envisioned, and what the NWC art staff could deliver, were two very different things. Initial work on the Forge was not promising. After the Forge was canceled, I told David I had doubts about the ability of the NWC art staff to deliver on what Phelan had in mind. David thought, as it was with HoMM3, it would take a lot of effort and numerous revisions to get what we wanted, but he thought it could be done.



    18. What is your opinion: would Forge work in HoMM3?

    I believe so, but it would not be a trivial task. The Forge can work as a high power, high maintenance, low population, steampunk faction, but artistic execution is absolutely critical and the troop line-up could use conceptual revision. Provided the town and troops were visually exciting and inventive, and fit within the existing HoMM3 art style, I would hope most people would put aside any ‘cross genre’ reservations and simply enjoy the outrageousness.



    19. Looking back on it after all these years, was it a concept that could have been realized well?

    In hindsight, was NWC capable of realizing the Forge concept? I have my doubts. I could have easily revised the troop line-up to deliver something more traditional, but in the end, my biggest concern was art.

    Phelan Sykes gets nowhere near enough credit for the work she did as Lead Artist. With David Mullich’s assistance, she, Scott White, Adam McCarthy, and George Almond, carried the NWC art staff to a level of quality they simply hadn’t reached before. With HoMM3, the NWC art staff overachieved. Unfortunately, when it came to the Forge, I think we simply asked of them something they simply could not deliver.



    20. And can it still potentially be done well by modders?

    As for the modders, a small dedicated team with a clearly defined vision could certainly pull it off. My suggestion? Embrace the basic concept, but don’t be afraid to deviate from the original idea, or play around with the troop types. For artistic inspiration, I would point to Ubisoft’s April Fool’s concept art and the miniatures game Warmachine.



    21. Conflux was originally supposed to be the new town in the second expansion. What was the original idea for Conflux’s backstory and the expansion itself?

    Originally, the Conflux was little more than a high concept; Elemental troops in an Elemental town. Prior to Armageddon’s Blade, there was never any unique lore developed for it.

    Like the Forge, the Conflux was supposed to be a relatively self-contained endeavor, and I did not expect to address it until after the first expansion was finished. After the Forge was cancelled, the work on the Conflux was simply moved forward.



    22. The released version of AB establishes the Great Conflux as the union of armies from the four Elemental Planes (plus the fifth and sixth element, thought and magic) that was sent by the Elemental Lords (called the elemental gods by Roland in the campaign) to help stop Lucifer Kreegan from using Armageddon’s Blade to burn the world of Enroth.

    The Conflux itself is shown to be composed of elementals who respect mortals, but the reasons of the Elemental Lords themselves for sending them to Erathia’s aid are not made clear (which is highlighted by characters), only hinted at in AB and MM8 (the latter revealing that the Elemental Lords created the planet long ago, and that it’s destruction would victimize their plane), Roland wondering about it and harboring some distrust towards the Conflux heroes.

    Can you tell us more about the forming of the Conflux and it aiding Erathia against the Kreegans?

    My conception of the Conflux was relatively straightforward. Conflux Heroes and the associated Elemental troops were defenders of the natural world. When there is a threat to its continued existence, they make their presence known, assert themselves, and attempt to eliminate the threat. They have no allegiance to anyone or anything, other than the preservation of the world.

    Anything beyond this was developed after I departed NWC.



    23. A key leader of the Conflux is Tamar the Wanderer, one of the Elemental Lords of Air, who seeks to gain knowledge and help those in need. He and his compatriots aid Erathia against the Kreegans, and Tamar uses his gift of premonition to warn her about important things regarding Roland, Gelu and Armageddon’s Blade. However, Tamar’s face is described as hidden, only his beard being visible, and it isn’t clarified whether he’s an air elemental, a human, a genie or something else. Can you tell us more about him?

    Human. This webpage gets the essentials correct.
     
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  12. Archibald Arcane

    Archibald
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    Interesting read, why he is not doing 1-12 questions? And glad to hear that he is not doing retarded sounding resource names like last Ubisoft homms had.
     
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  13. Aemar Arcane

    Aemar
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  14. Archibald Arcane

    Archibald
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    New one is out and man those lore questions do bring back memories. Random question, has anyone tried to create rpg setting with all that information? There are obviously some inconsistencies and conflicting stories, but I feel like you could probably create a rich rpg setting from all the bits and pieces to play in.
     
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  15. Transfiguring Roar Arcane Patron

    Transfiguring Roar
    Joined:
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Newsletter and Q&A:
    Show Spoiler

    Hey, All.

    Hope each of you is doing relatively well. Happy New Year and welcome to Fanstratics Newsletter #5 (January 2020).

    A quick subscriber update...

    Last Newsletter: ~2300.
    This Newsletter: ~2550.

    This month's Troop concept sketch is the Troll Witch.

    ‘Thank you’ to everyone who wrote, especially the well wishers. If you have any questions or comments, regarding Fanstratics (FST) or Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (HoMM3), feel free to send them along, and I’ll try to answer them in future newsletters (newsletter@fanstratics.com). Please keep in mind, it may take at least 7 days before I reply.

    This month, I have seven initial questions, including a COVID wrap-up, followed by part three of the lengthy interview I did with Tavern of Might and Magic.

    Until next time.

    Greg
    Fanstratics Game Director & Designer


    *****

    (Questions, Answers & Comments)

    Fanstratics Faction #2: Stoutbluds.

    Our second faction may be a touch surprising to some. They are the Stoutbluds; a largely Dwarven faction, persisting within vast metropolitan civilizations, on and under wintery Alpine mountains. Long-lived and visionary, these noble craftsmen have a predisposition for runic artifacts and clockwork machinery. Anyone familiar with the ‘Tower’ from HoMM3, will find much in common with this wise, honorable, and enduring faction. Currently, the Troop representing them is the Hammersmith, which can be viewed in the Fanstratics Gallery.

    -

    What was the Market of Time, which was cut from HoMM3?

    Originally, the Market of Time was called ‘Brigadoon’. It would randomly appear after long periods of time, and for a Day, a Hero could purchase very high value artifacts and very cheap resources. It was ‘cut’ because it required new programming functionality, we were running out of development time, and I was worried players would ‘park’ a Hero at the destination and simply wait for the Market. Also, for the record, it was never a place where Heroes could unlearn Secondary Skills.

    -

    Why was the Fear Spell cut from HoMM3?

    The Fear spell was ‘cut’ because it was little more than ‘bad morale’ in another form. Later, I thought it was better to convert the mechanic into the Fear ability for the Azure Dragon.

    -

    What do you know about unused artifacts from the Shadow of Death: Diplomat’s Suit, Ironfist of the Ogre, and Mired in Neutrality?

    By the time New World Computing (NWC) began work on Shadow of Death, I was long gone. So, I can't speak to anything regarding the expansion.

    -

    What happened to the Mac Port of HoMM3?

    Similar to Shadow of Death, I was long gone from NWC when these ports were undertaken. For instance, there was an attempt to port HoMM3 to Dreamcast. I didn't know it existed until earlier this year. As to Ubisoft, I have never worked for them in any capacity, and they have never reached out to me for any reason. So, I can't say why they do one thing and avoid another. I will say this... if they could make reasonable money from it... only office politics or incompetence would prevent it.

    -

    Do you happen to know the situation with the HD release? Is there any chance whatsoever that an HD version of the full Heroes III Complete might ever appear?

    As to the HD release, Ubisoft claims to have lost the original source code for the Armageddon's Blade expansion, hence the reason there is no HD version of Complete. This does puzzle me. If they let someone like myself, or David Mullich, rummage through their archives, we might be able to dig it up, but there's no guarantee. Personally, I'd work something out with the guys who made VCMI, but as I just stated... if they could make reasonable money from it... only office politics or incompetence would prevent it.

    -

    I’m curious about your COVID experience. My symptoms were few and only lasted a couple weeks, but I’ve had friends who stayed in bed for more than a month. Is your experience mild or severe?

    I know this is not game related, but it is relevant to the present day. So...

    On the day before my birthday, I fell ill with earaches and the inability swallow without intense pain. Initially, I suspected strep throat, as it was going around, but a quick five minute test, at a nearby clinic, produced a negative result.

    My doctor wanted me tested for COVID, and a couple days later, I took another quick test. Two days after, my COVID test came back positive.

    For the next five weeks, I took a handful of vitamins every eight hours, and lived on Aleve and Excedrin (not at the same time). I had almost every symptom: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, loss of taste, sore throat, lack of appetite, and brain fog. Of these symptoms, fatigue and lack of appetite were the worst. It created a vicious cycle; I’m tired and not hungry... which leads to be being even more tired with even further diminished appetite. It’s difficult to put into words, especially the oppressive weight of the fatigue.

    I had no energy for work, and when I did muster the strength for thirty to sixty minutes... I couldn’t focus. Browsing the web... watching a movie... quickly gave me splitting headaches. On the day Cyberpunk 2077 released, I made an effort to play, and after thirty minutes, I’d acquired a raging headache and queasiness.

    In the end, I spent most of my time... existing. I began to wonder if I had ‘Long COVID’, which is measured in months, not weeks. It was demoralizing, and if it wasn’t for family and friends, I’m not sure how I would have managed.

    Thankfully, on Day 1 of Week 6, I began to feel less miserable, and by Day 1 of Week 7, I was feeling relatively normal. Presently, I’m still working my way back, and experience bad days and good days.


    Tavern of Might and Magic Interview Part 3:
    Show Spoiler

    ****

    Tavern of Might and Magic

    2019.02.28

    Questions 24-34, of 58

    This interview was conducted by Tavern of Might and Magic and GoodGame.ru, and published on February 28th, 019, the 20th Anniversary of HoMM3. It’s a very long interview, almost 60 questions, and delves deep into unresolved lore, as well as other common questions. I’ll be posting between 10 to 15 questions per Newsletter, until we reach the end, after which we will roll into another interview. Below are questions 24 to 34, of 58.


    24. What was the conclusion of Seeds of Discontent, the secret campaign from The Restoration of Erathia? There’s a reference campaign in Archibald’s diary in the MM7 manual (perhaps my seed of discontent will grow in these ‘disputed lands’; that also implies that he was somehow involved in the events per his plans to stir up tensions between Erathia and AvLee), but other than that, the game doesn’t mention the events of Seeds of Discontent at all. It indirectly suggests -- in that the lands between Erathia and AvLee are still being disputed -- that the rebels failed to make the Contested Lands independent. Can you provide more details on the outcome of Seeds of Discontent? How was Archibald involved, if at all? What is the eventual fate of Faruk Welnin? Was Ryland severely reprimanded for basically going against AvLee?

    The purpose of the Seeds of Discontent campaign, aside from being the ‘secret’ campaign, was to showcase the ‘upgrade a town’ victory condition. There was no planned ‘official’ story conclusion for the campaign.

    So, like many lore threads, we laid down enough story to satisfy the design requirements, then left the various elements to be possibly picked up by someone else at a later time. This occurred when the MM7 team decided to give Archibald an undefined ‘behind the scenes’ role in the Seeds of Discontent. So, yes, Archibald did play a role in the Contested Lands becoming independent.

    In my opinion, as to the conclusion of the Seeds of Discontent, upon making Welnin the Capital in the campaign, the Contested Lands became their own kingdom. Despite the rebels declaring independence, this does not mean Erathia and AvLee acknowledged this reality. It is one thing to declare independence. It is another to remain independent. As for Faruk Welnin and Ryland, their fates were left unresolved, again, to be possibly picked up by someone else at a later time.


    25. MM7 focuses on Harmondale – a town and castle in the Contested Lands that has been a key point of human-elven disputes since the Timber Wars, changing hands numerous times. The negotiations to divide Harmondale and other Contested Lands between Erathia and AvLee is a crucial plot point and choice in the game. Harmondale itself can become a small indepenent kingdom, or come under the control of either side. It is established in Armageddon’s Blade that Brandis Fairweather was chosen to be the Arbiter, thus making it clear that the Path of Light in MM7 is canon. Other than Gelu asking Judge Fairweather for advice, Harmondale is unrelated to AB’s plot – the Erathia-Eeofol war never reaches it, with Catherine holding the Kreegan off, and the lords of Harmondale were most likely in an expedition to other planets per MM7’s canonical ending. Thus, no clear indication is given about Harmondale’s political status. The campaign shows that at least some of the Contested Lands, like the Moss Valley near Eeofol’s border, belong to Erathia (which fits with all three outcomes, since the majority of the Contested Lands are divided between the two kingdoms anyway), but nothing is directly said about Harmondale. Lucifer calls Xenofex’s killers those heroes from Erathia, but that can easily be taken as him talking about the heroes place of origin, not their affiliation at the time. Was there a canonical outcome of the choice regarding Harmondale, or was it left entirely up in the air for players’ interpretation and potential further use of any option?

    To my knowledge, there was no canonical outcome regarding Harmondale. This was strictly a MM7 thing, and I suspect, purposefully left open ended for player interpretation.


    26. A small bit about Harmondale and Welnin. Two maps -- one of HoMM3 promotional images and a map from MM’s strategy guide – mark Welnin as a region, thus implying that the name is also used for the area around the town. In MM7 one of NPCs is mentioned as living in a small village in Welnin, just south of the city of Harmondale, and there’s Welnin Cathedral in Harmondale. Are the two towns located rather close to each another?

    This is a tough one. I would reference the following maps.

    World of Enroth (https://bit.ly/2Viv6oC)
    Map of Antagarich (https://bit.ly/2AmbN4O)
    Contested Lands (campaign) (https://bit.ly/2EVzPYa)

    The Map of Antagarich, the one with the Chinese characters, is essentially the map the MM7 team used when they started work on MM7. On this map, you can see within Erathia, three smaller regions colored redish-purple. These were The Contested Lands.

    Welnin was supposed to be a town, later converted into the capitol of The Contested Lands. When the campaign was created, there was no formal location for Welnin. The Contested Lands campaign map clearly shows it belongs in the upper region, but there is no specific spot indicated within this region.

    When MM7 was created, the MM7 team placed both Harmondale and Welnin for their own purposes. At this point in time, unless you can reach Paul Rattner or Tim Lang for contrary information, I would run with the World of Enroth map showing Harmondale and Welnin almost parallel to one another. As for the NPC from MM7, I would disregard the line of dialog. It feels like a continuity error to me.


    27. MM 6-7 and HoMM3 have several mentions of Phynaxia, a nation that was part of Erathia, but later became independent, forming the Phynaxian Empire. Phynaxia was located to the south of what is now the Contested Lands (thus placing it in the area of Grainrich, Fire Coast and Rionpoint), and Erathia expanding it’s borders beyond Phynaxia was the cause of the Timber Wars. The date of the rise of Phynaxian Empire in the steppes of southern Erathiai is a year after the end of the Timber Wars. Was Erathia and AvLee being weakened after over a century of warfare what triggered Phynaxia becoming independent and rising to power? Considering that Phynaxia fell to the elves, has Avleeans settlers (the ones that we fight in the first Inferno mention of Dungeons and Devils; Ryland is one of them) arrived in Rionpoint around that time, or was that unrelated?

    This is another tough one.

    After the Timber Wars, I think is it is safe to assume the armies of Erathia and AvLee were relatively depleted. Under these conditions, you would have an obvious power vacuum, into which Phynaxia would attempt to rise. Under any other circumstances, I couldn’t imagine Phynaxia standing against healthy armies from either Erathia or AvLee.

    As to Avleean settlers, again, I think you make a reasonable assumption. I see no reason why elvish settlers would not expand from Phynaxia, into other nearby areas, after it fell.


    28. Was Rionpoint named after Rion Gryphonheart, the founder of Erathia? Was it the region from which he hailed or the one from which he started to unite the humans or something else?

    To my knowledge, this was never specified, but it is logical to assume Rionpoint was named after Rion Gyrphonheart.


    29. Edric’s bio says: Edric's father was the first man in Erathia to domesticate and train a wild Griffin. Now, Edric continues what his father started by setting up Erathia's largest Griffin breeding grounds for use in the King's armies. However, a campaign texts says that the aforementioned first King Gryphonheart tamed the griffins and trained them for war, eventually uniting the divergent human colonies into Erathia. I guess it is a mistake in Edric’s bio and it was instead an ancestor of his who was the first man to tame a griffin, is that correct?

    This appears to be a continuity error created by a lack of research or simple miscommunication. It happens. Were I to correct it, your solution, specifying an ‘ancestor’ would be appropriate.


    30. Sephinroth is introduced in The Restoration of Erathia and described in her bio as the only known woman ever to bear the title of warlock. In MM7, which takes place after RoE, there are female warlocks in Nighon. From the lore standpoint, it means that by the time of MM7, the warlocks have admitted more female members into their ranks. Can you tell us more about this development?

    I cannot. This is really a question for the designers of MM7.


    31. Did you have ideas on what Vokial’s kingdom was, where it's located and what is its current status?

    In the course of production, assistant designers routinely create dangling ‘story hooks’. These ‘hooks’ are purposely laid down to later be picked up by the creator of the hook, or someone else. Vokial’s biography was written by Christian Vanover. After HoMM3 shipped, Christian moved onto Legends of Might and Magic, and Vokial’s story was left untold.


    32. The Forest Guard is described as having been Erathia's eyes and ears for centuries. It is also distinct from the rest of Erathian military in that it has worked together with the forces of AvLee numerous, even admitting Avleeans to fight in their ranks. Was the Forest Guard formed before, during or after the Timber Wars?

    This is a tough one. I remember creating the Forest Guard, but do not remember at what point in the timeline they were conceived. Do not hold me to this, but if I recall correctly, they were created during the Timber Wars, specifically to counter the elves of AvLee. Later, after the Timber Wars, Forest Guard evolved and became a general purpose ‘special forces’ group.


    33. There is a scenario map in SoD called Adventures of Jared Haret. In it, the eponymous explorer, Jared Haret the Knight, return from an expedition into subterranean tunnels under a lake to find his castle in the highlands (snowy landscape on the map) captured by the neighboring wizard. Scenarios in Heroes, with only a few exceptions, usually depict some 'random' world without any connection to the main setting. Is this the case with AoJH, or could it take place in the game's world? On the Erathian-Bracadan border, for instance.

    I did not work on SoD, and cannot speak specifically to AoJH, but in general, individual single player scenarios were considered isolated creations. However, as you point out, there are exceptions.

    Typically, these exceptions had to do with individual Map Makers and the unique storylines they created and pursued. In these instances, as long as what they created did not interface with the over arching story goals, it was permitted.


    34. Can you tell us some additional details on Gelu's background and potential eventual fate you and/or Marcus Pregent created.

    Unfortunately, there really is nothing more to tell. What few ideas I had in mind were thrown away and never developed when the Forge was cut, and there was no long term plan beyond the second expansion. Marcus may have had some ideas, but we never discussed them.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  16. Transfiguring Roar Arcane Patron

    Transfiguring Roar
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    Didn't see this posted earlier in the thread, so for those interested...

    Tavern of Might and Magic Interview Part 1:
    Show Spoiler

    Tavern of Might and Magic

    2019.02.28

    Questions 1-11, of 58

    This interview was conducted by Tavern of Might and Magic and GoodGame.ru, and published on February 28th, 2019, the 20th Anniversary of HoMM3. It’s a very long interview, almost 60 questions, and delves deep into unresolved lore, as well as other common questions. I’ll be posting between 10 to 15 questions per Newsletter, until we reach the end, after which we will roll into another interview.


    0. Preface.

    I will answer these questions to the best of my recollection, but please keep in mind, it has been almost 20 years since HoMM3 and HoMM3: AB were created.


    1. Have you followed the games that came out after you quit NWC (like Heroes Chronicles, HoMM4, etc,) to some degree?

    I continue to follow the M&M catalog of games. Specifically, I have all seven HoMM titles, and have played each to varying degrees.


    2. Did you consider the Price of Loyalty expansion for HoMM2 canon?

    Price of Loyalty was not developed in house at New World Computing, but contracted out to Cyberlore Studios. It was on the shelves before I ever joined NWC, and I do not recall ever having any lore discussions regarding the expansion. With this in mind, I cannot give an authoritative answer to this question… I can only give you my personal opinion. Yes, I consider it cannon.


    3. Does Price of Loyalty take place on planet Enroth or just some random world (like HoMM 1-4 scenarios do)?

    Succession Wars, Restoration of Erathia, and Armageddon’s Blade all took place on the same planet, but in different locales. For Price of Loyalty, I had no reason to believe it was not on the same planet, but tucked away in a different region so it would not interfere with NWC’s ongoing work. Keep in mind, if in some way it did present a ‘creative or continuity issue’, I could easily imagine a quick conversation among the design leads to retcon it to another world.


    4. How familiar were you with the story and lore of the core Might and Magic series (particularly MM7, as it also takes place in Antagarich) and other Heroes titles?

    Prior to becoming an employee at New World Computing, I was like most fans. I played the games, followed the story, but was not deep into the lore.

    After becoming an employee, I focused on ‘big picture’ elements affecting what I was doing. For the gritty details, I relied on Christian Vanover and Jennifer Bullard to notify me of any thorny issues.

    I had near zero involvement in the development of MM7.


    5. How far ahead had you planned the storyline for future installments when working on HoMM3?

    Officially, there were never any storylines planned beyond the games in production. If we had any goal, it was to loosely tie one game into the next. MM6 into HoMM3 into MM7 into HoMM3:AB, etc.

    Having a ‘grand plan’ typically requires a singular individual, with the desire and power, to enforce such a long term goal over multiple years and multiple teams. In game development, people come and go, teams come and go, and turnover is high. For example, after HoMM3:AB, 3 of the 5 team leads either left the company or moved on to other projects.


    6. How much were you involved in the second HoMM3 expansion’s development? The Shadow of Death was released after you’ve already left NWC, but maybe you know something about its story and lore details (so that we know if it’s appropriate to ask you questions regarding SoD)?

    I was not involved in the conception or creation of SoD. As far as I know, Jennifer Bullard was the project’s Lead Designer, and any questions you have about SoD would best be directed to her.


    7. In one of pre-release short stories published on the official website prior to the release of HoMM3, the one that serves as a brief introduction to the continent, there’s this phrase: The History of Erathia is long indeed, and like the Ironfists of Enroth, the Gryphonhearts have been the ruling family since before the Silence. However, HoMM1’s manual features letters from Lord Ironfist that established him coming to Enroth from another world and uniting that continent-spanning kingdom under his rule. HoMM2 was stated to take place 25 years after the end of HoMM1 campaign, Roland and Archibald being Lord Ironfist’s sons. That makes Ironfists ruling from around 1126 A.S. Was that backstory subtly retconned (and thus, HoMM1 is just Ironfist fighting other lords to succeed the throne that has already belong to his family)? Was it just a mistake? Or something else entirely?

    To me, this looks like a simple mistake.

    Fun fact: the part about the Gryphonhearts ruling Erathia since before the Silence was retconned in Heroes Chronicles: Warlords of the Wasteland. That game clearly takes place after the Silence and the downfall of Colonial Government, with technology already being quasi-medieval, the oppressive empire of Bracaduun ruling over most of the continent, and there being a barbarian conquest several generations prior. Granted, the campaign texts never directly state that WotW takes place after the Silence, but the depiction of the world heavily implies that. Plus, Armageddon’s Blade appears on the final map along with its default text about the hero finding the vault of the Ancients from before the Silence.


    8. There’s also an obvious retcon in another HoMM3 short story that deals with the origin of Deyja. It mentions this land being home to necromancers for nearly a millennium. MM6 establishes that Ethric the Mad simultaneously became the world’s first lich and necromancer after being buried in his tomb and rising from the dead. The tomb is said to have been built not very long ago, during the life of Edrics' great grandfather. Another NPC text calls necromancy a very new science. Thus, Deyja’s origin story retcons the time of Ethric becoming the first necromancer, making it take place much further in the past. I find this change to be interesting, as it makes necromancy an ancient menace (although the original concept of it being a new, but still very dangerous science is no less appealing to me), but am curious to know about how it was made, and how the backstory for Deyja was developed. Also, Deyja’s origin story mentions liches having to feed on the living to sustain their existence, which hasn’t been brought up since? Is it something more subtly that a vampire draining its victim, like the lich slowly causing the life around it to die, much as the necromancer did to that part of AvLee which is now Deyja?

    Unfortunately, for HoMM3, Deyja had no real backstory developed beyond what is commonly known.

    The Necromancers' cult was exiled from the nation of Bracada (the southern mountains I mentioned earlier). Wandering the continent, the cult eventually settled in AvLee - a region teeming with life.

    As for Liches feeding on the ‘living’, I suspect you are referring to the short story, ‘Necromancy Origin’ by Marcus Finch. Your assumptions are generally correct.

    In the short story, Liches are described as needing to ‘feed on life to survive’. Think of a Lich as something of a ‘lifeforce vortex’, slowly and progressively draining life from its living surroundings. For a Lich, ‘lifeforce’ is the air in which it breathes. This doesn’t mean a Lich couldn’t ‘life drain’ a singular human target, but a Lich certainly has no taste for flesh or blood.


    9. On that note, a question about Armageddon’s Blade. From what is revealed about it both in the original version of the expansion’s story (a fragment of that is the cinematic intro) and the final one, this artifact is an Ancient weapon, either created by the Ancients or stored by them underground. One Armageddon’s Blade is created by Kreegans, forged from demonic relics by Kazandar. The text about another such blade being found in an Ancient vault still remains in the game (and this weapon is already fabled in the world before being constructed by Kazandar). Can you tell us something more about Armageddon’s Blade? Was the one that is deep underground ever found?

    If I understand this correctly, ‘context’ appears to have led to a continuity issue.

    There are Armageddon’s Blade references in the intro movie, the origin campaign, and the single player maps. For the campaign, Armageddon’s Blade was supposed to be a ‘recipe’. A terrible weapon from before the Silence. Anyone could create it with the required parts. The obvious analogy is a nuclear bomb. Anyone can make a nuclear bomb if they have the resources and knowledge. In the case of the campaign, Xeron has the resources and Kazandar has the knowledge.

    In the case of the intro cinematic and single player maps, Armageddon’s Blade is presented as a singular artifact. When an artifact is collected by a Hero, there is a window displaying a paragraph of flavor text. For Armageddon’s Blade, the text is...

    “Deep beneath the earth, you find a vault of the Ancients from before the Silence. Inside you find a sealed casket, deeply etched with dire warnings. Ignoring them, you break the seal. Inside, you find Armageddon's Blade.”

    How would I resolve all of this? I would say, Armageddon’s Blade was built by Kazandar for Xeron to use in the war between Lucifer and Catherine. This does not exclude other constructions of the same recipe from existing elsewhere. Regarding deep lore, unless there is evidence to the contrary, I would say Armageddon’s Blade was an angelic weapon (note the golden bird on the hilt), forged from demonic weapons, used primarily to exterminate the Kreegans. Knowing this, the Kreegans attempted use of the blade in the campaign is rather ironic.


    10. Near the end of the Armageddon’s Blade campaign, Gelu has a dream that involves him uniting Antagarich, doing so with the help of a blade (presumed to be the eponymous sword) and a mysterious steel-haired woman. Who was the woman?

    Marcus Pregent was responsible for putting together the fine details of the Armageddon’s Blade Campaign. If I remember correctly, he was simply laying the groundwork for potential storylines he was hoping to develop in later expansions. Officially, there were no plans for the ‘steel-haired woman’.


    11. Also, Gelu’s dream is revealed to be prophetic, as one possible course of events. The other being that a great destruction befalls the worlds if Gelu’s destiny is disrupted. Was the Reckoning (the destruction of the world depicted in HoMM4) planned way back then, or was it just a potential story branch you guys considered, and the team decided to make it happen later?

    Again, this was Marcus laying the groundwork for potential storylines in later expansions. At the time, this ‘story hook’ was unrelated to HoMM4. Lore work for HoMM4, and the idea for ‘the Reckoning’, did not begin until long after I had left NWC.
     
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  17. AdvancedHero Augur

    AdvancedHero
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    Uh, you mean Might and Magic? The Heroes series comes from the lore of M&M.
     
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  18. Archibald Arcane

    Archibald
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    I guess I wasn't clear enough, I had pnp rpg in mind.
     
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  19. Transfiguring Roar Arcane Patron

    Transfiguring Roar
    Joined:
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    Newsletter and Q&A:
    Show Spoiler

    Hey, All.

    Welcome. Hope each of you is doing relatively well. Greetings to those of you finding your way here from...

    might-and-magic.ru

    Here’s the subscriber update...

    Last Newsletter: ~2550.
    This Newsletter: ~2725.

    This month's Troop concept sketch is the Bile Worm.

    ‘Thank you’ to everyone who wrote, especially those with positive sentiments. If you have any questions or comments, regarding Fanstratics (FST) or Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (HoMM3), feel free to send them along, and I’ll try to answer them in future newsletters (newsletter@fanstratics.com). Please keep in mind, it may take at least 7 days before I reply.

    This month, I have five initial questions, followed by part four of the lengthy interview I did with Tavern of Might and Magic.

    Until next time.

    Greg
    Fanstratics Game Director & Designer

    *****

    (Questions, Answers & Comments)

    Fanstratics Faction #3: Thornwood.

    This faction rounds out the three ‘good’ cultures. Elfin in origin, the Thornwood inhabit tribal towns throughout the enchanted Spring Lands. Where most cultures resist nature’s merciless cycles of birth, life, transformation, and death, the Thornwood zealously embrace them. If you are familiar with HoMM3’s ‘Rampart’, you should find comfort in playing this fierce, wild, and virtuous faction. Representing the Thornwood is the Elfin Sharpshooter, which can be viewed in the Fanstratics Gallery.

    -

    When HoMM3 was in development, did the team think Eagle Eye would be a viable or competitive secondary skill? I've seen players say it was meant to be a bad one to balance out with the good ones, but things like the boosting artifacts, a few pre-made Seer Huts and Witches high learning chance tell me otherwise.

    Regarding Eagle Eye... it was a holdover from HoMM2. While we knew it was a ‘lesser’ skill, we didn’t consider it ‘useless’. In hindsight, I should have cut it, but like I said... it was a legacy skill from HoMM2, and there was a desire to maintain some consistency between HoMM2 and HoMM3. So, to directly answer your question, we never intentionally created ‘bad’ skills to balance out ‘good’ skills.
    Originally, the concept of Eagle Eye was simple. An Allied Hero ‘sees’ an Enemy Hero use an unlearned Spell, and upon seeing it, the Allied Hero learns the Spell. In practice, it didn’t work out so well.
    First, there was only a ‘chance’ to the learn the spell. Second, an Allied Hero typically fought and defeated lesser Enemy Heroes, thus rarely saw a Spell the Hero didn’t already know. Third, Enemy Towns are not necessarily difficult to acquire, thus Enemy Spells are not necessarily difficult to acquire. Also, big maps tend to give plenty of opportunities for learning ‘other’ Spells.
    I’ve given Eagle Eye a lot of thought, but ultimately... I’m discarding its equivalent. Once it is gone, I strongly doubt most people will miss it.

    -

    Astrologers from HoMM3 but have long been a meme. Will they proclaim weeks and months in the Fanstratics?

    Fanstratics will have weekly and monthly Astrological events.

    -

    The story you related for the Forge faction sounds great, a pity that it didn't come to pass. From what you say, it nearly seems that in AB, destroying the whole world was born from frustration coming with the cancellation of the Forge.

    Regarding the Armageddon's Blade story, it was written well before the cancellation, but was oddly prescient.

    -

    Gamers in Russia and the CIS countries are very fond of HoMM3 and are one of the most active community of the game. In this case, have you thought about adding creatures from Russian/Slavic mythology and fairy tales or about creating a faction in the Slavic style in the Fanstratics?

    Truthfully, I have investigated Slavic mythology, but shied away from it. In my estimation, one of the reasons why HoMM3 was successful, was in how it embraced stereotypical fantasy creatures: dragons, unicorns, dwarves, elves, etc. Worldwide fantasy tropes are largely driven by Western and Central European mythology, specifically Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of Rings’ (which largely inspired ‘Dungeons & Dragons’). Other fantasy tropes... Chinese, Japanese, Indian, African, North/South American, Russian/Slavic, etc... have for the most part... stayed regional.
    With this in mind, there is a fair amount of visual crossover between Central/Western/Eastern mythology. For example, if outside of Russia or East Europe, I showed most people a picture of a Zmei... they would tell me it was a Hydra. Another example would be the Psoglav (human torso, horse legs, dog’s head, one eye), which most people would see as a weird-looking, cyclopean Werewolf (which, by the way, is a lot of fun).
    In the end, when you have 60+ creatures, quick identification and natural assumptions, are especially paramount. So, it’s safer to embrace common stereotypes, and avoid any potential for confusion. This being said, I’ll take another look into Russian/Slavic mythology, and see if I can’t sprinkle a couple creatures into the Neutral roster.


    Tavern of Might and Magic Interview Part 4:
    Show Spoiler

    ****

    Tavern of Might and Magic

    2019.02.28

    Questions 35-45, of 58

    This interview was conducted by Tavern of Might and Magic and GoodGame.ru, and published on February 28th, 019, the 20th Anniversary of HoMM3. It’s a very long interview, almost 60 questions, and delves deep into unresolved lore, as well as other common questions. I’ll be posting between 10 to 15 questions per Newsletter, until we reach the end, after which we will roll into another interview. Below are questions 35 to 45, of 58.


    35. In your FAQ on the Forge’s cancellation you highlighted the fact that the Inferno town is populated by aliens who look like demons. Those being Kreegans and the demon-like creatures they breed and summon, like pit fiends, demons, imps, efreeti, etc. Jennifer Bullard has mentioned in an interview that the Kreegan are the original demons faced in MM worlds, and you viewed them as such. That means the demons in MM 1-5 and MM9 are Kreegans and their creatures, like in the case of the Inferno line-up. Inferno creatures are also present in the Underworld, a deep and vast network of cavern below Erathia, nearly a millennium before HoMM3 (and they are mostly exterminated in Heroes Chronicles: Conquest of the Underworld). In MM2 Devil Kings are even seen guarding an Ancient installation, which has an interesting implication of it being possible to tame Kreegans and/or their creatures in some way. Kreegans and their creatures present in those games are probably remnants of past invasion and/or agents that has arrived on a particular world (which fits well with demons being summoned in MM3). Can you provide insights into how you viewed demons present in different games when developing the game?

    When developing HoMM3, my view of demons in MM was defined by Paul Rattner (Lead Designer of MM6). He established their lore in MM6. In doing this, as far as I was concerned, he laid the foundation for their story going forward.

    As to ‘demons in MM1-5 and MM9 being Kreegans’, I think it is safe to assume all demons in the Jon Van Caneghem era are Kreegans, until a different developer or another game effectively explains otherwise.


    36. Did you have some ideas on the origin of Kreegan? One tavern rumor says: when a devil travels, it journeys to its plane before returning to our world. This implies that Kreegans control or at least have access to another plane of existence. Can you tell us more?

    This really is a question for Paul Rattner, as I did not create the Kreegans, I merely inherited them. Nevertheless, I understood the Kreegans to be alien invaders from another plane of existence. Folklore would call them Demons from Hell.


    37. What is the origin of angels and archangels? Don’t worry, we won’t have a heart attack.

    Over the course of my time at New World, on occasion, typically when taking a break, I would wander into Paul Rattner’s office. Even though MM6 was in mid production, Paul was already thinking about MM7, so I made sure to update him on what was happening with HoMM3.

    When I told him about the changes to the factions, I specifically mentioned the Angels. At that point in time, Paul was essentially the lore master for the MM universe. On the topic of the Angels and Arch Angels, he proposed they be sophisticated robots created by the Ancients to hunt down and eradicate the Kreegans. I agreed, and we ran with it.

    Later, after the Forge was shelved, I remember thinking to myself, If people have a problem with the whole ‘goblins are aliens’ idea, I can only imagine what they will think if they figure out the true origins of the Angels.


    38. Giants and titans are made of some rock-like material (which is especially evident in the titan’s HoMM2 and MM 6-7 death animation), but appear to be something more than just a golem. Moreover, their HoMM4 variation is clearly made of flesh? Also a notable thing is that both angels and some giants and titans are allied with Bracada. Did you have any ideas about titan lore?

    Starting with HoMM4, I can tell you, I was only on the project for the first two weeks of its existence. Why did the Titans shed their apparent inorganic appearance? I honestly do not know. It is possible the HoMM4 team, by setting the game on a completely new world, chose to reinvent the Titans as flesh and blood giants the Greek tradition. It is also possible a ‘lack of communication led to creative inconsistency’.

    In terms of game mechanics, what Jon and I wanted to avoid, was having yet another group of troops immune to Mind Spells. To this end, I considered Naga, Giants, and Titans to be conceptually similar to Dendroids, but there was never any specific lore explanation crafted to elaborate on this idea.


    39. Was there a specific reason (or several reason) for the exclusion of halflings from the Tower faction?

    I wanted something more creative and more visually interesting than a halfling. For a replacement candidate, it was a toss up between Gremlins and Red Caps. Gremlins were more familiar, so they made the cut. When the Halflings were removed, there was always an intention to use one of the expansions as an opportunity to reinsert them as a neutral troop.


    40. Did you have any lore and story ideas about characters that weren't realized or properly reflected in the game?

    Not really. HoMM story was basically created on-the-fly, very similar to comic book storytelling and continuity. A long term, game-to-game plan is rare and something of a luxury.


    41. Was there any ideas on the future of Deyja and Archibald's advisors (who became its new rulers in MM7) in the light of Forge's cancellation?

    Paul Rattner may have had some ideas pertaining to the subject, but we never discussed any such subject.


    42. What is your personal opinion on the advisor's (and, by extension, the Forge faction they created) actions and motivations? Do you think they were driven more by their desire to lead the world to a better future (with them as leaders) or their lust for power? Or were those motivations roughly equally present?

    Simple lust for power and domination, but I am sure there were plenty of rationalizations.


    43. Can you tell us more about Forge's 7th lvl creature. Was that a cyborg dragon or something more akin to a golem (like in HoMM4)? Was it flying?

    It was not flying and definitely not a cyborg. If my memory is correct, it was supposed to be robotic, so more golem-like in origin.


    44. The intro cinematic for Armageddon's Blade is apparently a remnant of the original version of the story with the Forge, or at least inspired by it. The most notable difference is that the Blade is found rather that Forge. Can you tell us more about the intro's conception and inclusion?

    Originally, the intro cinematic was a teaser trailer made specifically for E3, with the intention to eventually use it for the final game. At the end of the cinematic, instead of finding Armageddon’s Blade, there was supposed to be something akin to high tech ‘Predator vision’ scanning Gelu, Roland, and Catherine. This implication was to set the stage for the Forge as a sci-fi town. After the Forge was cancelled, Armageddon’s Blade was inserted as the replacement.


    45. Did NWC have plans or rather ideas for any town types other than Forge and Conflux? If yes, do you remember some details about them?

    At the time, there were no such plans for additional town types.

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    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  20. Transfiguring Roar Arcane Patron

    Transfiguring Roar
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    1,381
    Location:
    Australia
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Newsletter #7

    Newsletter and Q&A:
    Show Spoiler

    Hey, All.

    Welcome. Hope each of you is doing relatively well.

    With this Newsletter, I’m making a couple changes. First, this will be last update on subscriber numbers. As to the reason why, see Questions, Answers & Comments.

    Last Newsletter: ~2725.
    This Newsletter: ~2900.

    Second, I’m going to begin talking ‘features’.

    As for this month's Troop concept sketch, I give you the Medusa Vanguard. For those of you who want to see Justin actually render the drawing, you can watch a VOD of his Twitch stream here... https://tinyurl.com/v2t8p9de

    Also, a quick shoutout to Tim Lang and Aeolwyn’s Legacy. Tim and I both worked at New World Computing (NWC), but our paths rarely crossed. However, I do have one story.

    HoMM3 was winding down. HoMM3 Armageddon’s Blade and Might and Magic 7 were both ramping up. Frequently, when a project needed additional staff, the first place we looked was Quality Assurance (QA). Jennifer Bullard and a couple of HoMM3 Map Makers asked me to try and bring Tim onto the team. Subsequently, I went into a meeting with Paul Rattner (MM7 Design Lead) where we talked personnel. At the time, we had already solidified our teams, with a couple exceptions. Tim was one of those exceptions. When I told Paul, I wanted Tim on the HoMM3 team, he flatly said, “I talked to Tim. He doesn’t want to work on Heroes. He wants to work on Might and Magic.” I must admit to feeling oddly rejected. Tim was the first person I’d encountered who didn’t want to work on HoMM3. Regardless, Tim went on to work on MM7, MM9, and more. Ironically, Tim and I have chatted more in the past few months, than the entirety of my time at NWC. ;-)

    As always, ‘thank you’ to everyone who wrote, especially those with positive sentiments. If you have any questions or comments, regarding Fanstratics (FST) or Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (HoMM3), feel free to send them along, and I’ll try to answer them in future newsletters (newsletter@fanstratics.com). Please keep in mind, it may take at least 7 days before I reply.

    This month, I have seven initial questions, followed by the final part of my lengthy interview with Tavern of Might and Magic.

    Until next time.

    Greg
    Fanstratics Game Director & Designer

    *****

    (Questions, Answers & Comments)

    Fanstratics Faction #4: Necrotics.
    Lifeforce drained from the living, is most sweet when consumed at the moment of their inevitable death. To this end, tyrannical Necromancers create and control vast hordes of undead, directing them to consume all... to feed their immortality addiction. Decayed on the outside, dead on the inside, the diseased Necrotic exist on the vacillating Dead Lands. Forever they creep forward... unrelenting... unforgiving... unbowed. Playing the undead can be a lot of fun, so... did anyone really think there wouldn’t be a faction in the spirit of HoMM3’s ‘Necropolis’? Representing the Necrotic is the Feral Vampire, which can be viewed in the Fanstratics Gallery.

    -

    The HOMM series has a storied history but doesn't really have consistency since it has been remade and its previous canon thrown away every time. Are you planning for the longevity of what you're attempting to make? Are you planning to keep the great writing that made HoMM3 so great going in your successor?

    My goal for Fanstratics (FST) is ‘longevity’. There may be other stories, involving different characters from different continents, but I would prefer to stick with one world and one line of characters. Truthfully, I didn’t have a lot of time to work on HoMM3s’s story elements, and map makers were given relative freedom to work within established guidelines. With FST, I want to lay a strong foundation and put a considerable amount of effort into the story. We’ll see what happens. There are many hurdles to overcome.

    -

    For its time, the graphics for HoMM3 were insanely good, and the method of producing sprites from 3d models made it age like fine wine - it still looks good to this very day (if somewhat small/low res). Something very typical and important in H3 spirit, imo, is the photo-realistic environment. And overall, I think the "realistic" side is an important point, 'cause it makes me feel like going for a true adventure back in old times, not playing a random video game inspired by Japanese anime. For example, for me the undead has to be kind of "sober", not as colorful and distorted as in H5 or Warcraft3, where it feels like Halloween in Disneyland.

    Your point regarding sprites from 3D models is well taken, but keep in mind, HoMM4 also produced sprites from 3D models. In my opinion, it really comes down to the people involved: Phelan Sykes, Scott White, Adam McCarthy, George Almond, and David Mullich. Phelan and Scott were not involved in HoMM4... and it showed.
    Fanstratics’ art will be 3D, but with a forced perspective mimicking an old school 2D presentation (sometimes called 2.5D). This type of interaction is habitual for every HoMM3 player, and I believe it is important to stick with what is familiar. As for the art style, we are attempting to fashion a ‘realistic fairy tale’ or ‘creative caricature’, which I believe Justin Gerard is accomplishing. Just as the game play will be a spiritual successor to HoMM3, I want to art style to also be a spiritual successor.

    -

    How soon can we get some map pictures, town screens, or some tiny video?

    Unfortunately, images or video are a long way off. For a couple of reasons, my approach to development has been ‘design and programming first’. This means art and audio will be fashioned only after most of the design and programming are in place. While this method is more efficient and cost effective, the approach is uncommon as it requires ‘vision’.
    Most people have a difficult time ‘seeing’ anything unless it is shown to them. One of the reasons developers produce ‘fake demos’ for publishers, management, media, and gamers, is to ‘show’ them the ‘vision’ for the game they are attempting to make.
    In 1998, at E3 in Atlanta, I sat on a chair for eight hours a day, showcasing HoMM3 to numerous industry people. Our HoMM3 E3 demo was effectively fake, but it got HoMM3 the mainstream press coverage it needed. It also helped the team ‘see’ what we were building.
    Remember the ‘No Man’s Sky’ demos from 2013 and 2014? Heavily scripted. If Sean Murray didn’t have a scripted demo, how many people could have ‘seen’ what he was talking about? Remember Cyberpunk 2077’s demo from 2018? Heavily scripted. I’m not excusing what Hello Games and CDPR did, but I understand how and why it happened.
    Overall, fake demos are a deceptive practice, but without it, most developers cannot get the external or internal support they need. As for myself, I know asking people to wait is asking a lot, but I want to avoid producing a ‘scripted demo’. So... as I mentioned... images or video are a long way off. Which leads me into the next question...

    -

    To successfully crowd fund the game, you say you need 50,000 subscribers, yet you have less than 3,000. Are you concerned? When do you see a possible release happening?

    Truthfully, I’m satisfied to see we’re closing in on 3,000. I do sincerely wish I was emailing 50,000 people each month, but I don’t expect to see subscriber numbers accelerate until I reach out to the mainstream media. I can only reach out to the mainstream media when I have a collection of screenshots, clips, and a video. Anything short of this will simply be ignored (as for the reasons detailed above). Until I have more to show, I’m content to fly under the radar, communicating specifically with the hardcore fans. So, to avoid any concerns, miscommunication, or misunderstanding, I’m removing the ongoing subscriber count.
    As for the game’s release, I have a very, very loose timeline for Fanstratics. This year’s goal is to program, program, and program, while finalizing the game’s design. If things go reasonably well, I want to crowd fund sometime in 2022, with an Early Access release sometime in 2023. I know it’s a long time to wait, but it’s the eternal dilemma of ‘good-fast-cheap (pick two)’. At this stage, I can only afford good and cheap, so development will be slow.
    For some perspective, consider Valheim, which sold over 3,000,000 copies in February, and is still in Early Access. Most people don’t know the game’s Steam page has been live since October of 2018. In January of 2020, they had ~5,100 Steam followers, with ~50,000 wish lists. Prior to February of 2021, they had ~1,700 Twitter followers, but now have over ~58,000.
    What changed? A couple mid-tier Twitch streamers played the game. Soon thereafter, larger Twitch streamers liked what they saw and joined in. Add in some Youtubers and the game took off like a rocket. I’d surprised if there weren’t some complimentary Steam keys handed out, but the point is this... at this stage, ~3,000 non-Steam newsletter subscribers isn’t bad.

    -

    Fanstratics Feature List.

    Why am I now revealing a list of features? Since June of 2020, I have sent a Fanstratics Game Proposal to different publishers, venture capitalists, game investments firms, and government grant programs. At this point, what I am attempting to do is not really a secret, so I thought... why not publish the features list and expand upon each one every month?
    Keep in mind, these are ‘new’ features, in addition to those commonly expected from a HoMM inspired game. Also, this list avoids detailing the real core of the game: heroes, troops, spells, skills, destinations, structures, etc. Some items have been purposely omitted as they have been mentioned before (fully 3D game, 6 resources not 7, etc.), and others have been purposely omitted (i.e. spells, skills, etc.) as they are currently unresolved. In the end, I suspect most fans will find the proposed items to be relatively logical and evolutionary. Please remember, if a feature does not work as envisioned... it will be cut. Nothing is set in stone.

    - 9 Playable Factions
    - Base and Alternate Troop Types
    - Troop Rally Ability (this month’s feature)
    - Ether Gate Structure
    - Player Determined Weekly Events
    - Battlefield Artifacts
    - Artifact Upgrade System
    - Legendary ‘Boss’ Battles
    - Experience Potions
    - Quality of Life & HotA Efficiencies
    - 2 or 3 Campaigns and ~45 Solo Maps
    - Hardcore Mode
    - Community Map Editor & Random Map Generator

    As for this month’s feature, I’m going to start with... Troop Rally Ability.

    -

    Feature: Troop Rally Ability.

    For those of you who haven’t already figured it out, this feature is clearly inspired by Street Fighter, and was actually an old idea I had back in 1997, when I was working on HoMM3. I didn’t push for it in HoMM3 for a couple of reasons. First, I was already asking for a lot of new features, and the programmers had their hands full. Second, I thought it was foisting upon the fanbase, too much complication too quickly.
    Now, as to the feature... on the Battlefield, in the course of basic attack and defense, a Troop Division will accumulate ‘Energy’. When a Troop Division acquires 100% Energy, it earns the option to activate a Rally Ability (aka. a Super or an Ultimate). Each Rally Ability is relatively unique to each Troop Type, and largely amplifies a Troop’s unique attributes for one action. Conceptually, the purpose of the Rally Ability is to add an extra layer of strategy to Battlefield Combat. Specifically, ‘focusing down’ a Troop Division may not be the best or most obvious tactic.


    Tavern of Might and Magic Interview Part 5:
    Show Spoiler

    ****

    Tavern of Might and Magic

    2019.02.28

    Questions 46-58, of 58

    This interview was conducted by Tavern of Might and Magic and GoodGame.ru, and published on February 28th, 019, the 20th Anniversary of HoMM3. It’s a very long interview, almost 60 questions, and delves deep into unresolved lore, as well as other common questions. This is the end of this interview, covering questions 46 to 58, of 58. Next Newsletter, I’ll begin posting questions from an interview I did with Behemoth Cave (Webpage & Facebook).


    46. How did you join NWC?

    I submitted a resume via the internet. Keep in mind, it was 1997, so submitting a resume via email was a new thing. I lived within driving distance, interviewed first with JVC, then a second time with JVC and Mark Caldwell. Later, Mark called me, told me the salary, and I accepted. 7 days later I started my first day, and met David Mullich for the first time.


    47. What did you like (or dislike) about working there?

    Working at NWC was an odd experience. Don’t misunderstand me, it had periodic moments of drama, but in general, it was ‘quiet and repressed’.
    In personnel terms, the company was filled to the brim with shy, dorky, socially inept introverts. Some might think, “It’s a video game company. Isn’t that normal?” Well, yes, it would be normal, except shy, dorky, socially inept introverts, would point at NWC and say, “Wow. Look at those shy, dorky, socially inept introverts.” Compared to NWC, everyplace else I’ve worked, felt like a Friday night party.
    With all this in mind, I must admit, I was the most productive when I worked at NWC. Perhaps there’s something to be said for working at the library.


    48. Your impressions in general?

    Of all the game companies I’ve worked with, tech and art were rarely an issue. Typically, a company’s weakness was average design and idiotic management.
    With NWC, the formula was inverted: average art, average management, below average tech, but great design. This led to NWC being the least talented, but the most successful developer with whom I ever worked. It was ironic.


    49. Could you tell us about your impressions of HoMM III at its development stage, after the release and now, 20 years later. How did your opinions change?

    While we were working on HoMM3, I felt we would do well, but had to continually remind myself, we aren’t a hot 3D game. It won’t light the world on fire.
    As was typical, at the time, game magazines and game websites focused more on features, and less on pure gameplay. Specifically, I remember when Starcraft hit the shelves and received a cool reception. Sure, it was a good game, but it was a 2D game in an emerging 3D market. Only later, months after release, did fans and critics discover the excellence in Starcraft.
    HoMM3 traveled a similar road. It did well when it released, and received excellent reviews, but it took months and years before fans and critics understood the game’s depth and breath.
    It may be just me, but it feels like HoMM3 gets infinitely more attention and respect today, compared to its initial release.


    50. What are your favorite features in the game?

    Honestly, I do not have a favorite feature. When I look at the game, I see everything working in concert: design, art, programming, audio, and music.


    51. Was it possible to save NWC?

    Highly unlikely.
    Most game companies, who don’t turn into corporate entities, undergo a typical Birth-Life-Death cycle. Where a developer sits in this sequence, almost always correlates to the passion and involvement of the person who founded the company. If you look at organizations like Origin, Bullfrog, and NWC, each company began to falter when its founder simply grew weary from the grind.
    If I remember correctly, JVC told me it took him 5 years to bring the original MM to market in 1986. This means, by the time I joined the company in 1997, JVC had been making video games for 10-15 years. Putting aside any issues regarding development ‘crunch’, JVC had also seen NWC through some rocky times, leading to it being bought by NTN Communications, and later to being bought again by 3DO. In my observation, JVC had completed his ‘opus’ with World of Xeen, and simply wanted to slow down and take a back seat. He was coming into work 2 or 3 days a week, and everyone at the company was perfectly okay with it. He had earned it. However, the game industry had no interest in giving JVC, or anyone else, a moment’s rest.
    3DO wanted yearly franchise releases; the Madden model, not today’s ‘games as a service’. I could go into depth about how bad an idea this was at the time, but I think most people understand how such an approach is incredibly shortsighted.
    It almost always dilutes product quality, and grinds a developer into dust. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done successfully, but it requires strong personalities, an unflinching commitment to quality, efficient organization, and multiple teams working in tandem. 3DO had none of this.
    Additionally, in 1999, the video game industry was also undergoing technological revolution. Sega’s Dreamcast on was on the shelves, with the Playstation 2 and the original Xbox on the horizon. Nvidia’s GeForce 256 was laying the foundation for the PC Master Race. Ultima Online and EverQuest were changing the concepts of what makes an RPG. In this respect, NWC was well behind the technological curve on all fronts. As good as MM6 and MM7 played, they simply looked primitive when put up against games like Team Fortress, Half-life, and Quake 3 Arena.
    Bottom line, NWC as a company, was exhausted on multiple levels, and struggling to remain relevant in a changing market.


    52. Broad question, but do you think that maybe 3DO selling NWC and MM to another company around 2003 would have helped? Or something else?

    When MM was sold in the 3DO bankruptcy, Ubisoft was the only bidder. No one else, other than Ubisoft, wanted what was essentially a dead franchise. Had MM been sold to another company, say EA or Activision, I doubt the results would have been different. I strongly suspect they would have been worse.
    What made MM and HoMM special, were the people and company culture (which as I mentioned, typically has a finite lifespan). It’s rare to take a creative property, put it in the hands of someone else, and see an exceptional result.
    ‘Franchise neglect’ is common. You see it frequently with movie sequels and reboots.


    53. Do you have any funny stories related to HOMM3: the development, lore/story writing, PR field, etc. I still fondly remember your witty FAQ about the whole anti-Forge backlash fiasco :)

    I’ve told this tale numerous times as an industry ‘war story’. I don’t know if I would consider it ‘funny’. At the very least, most might consider it ‘amusing’.
    We were crunching on HoMM3. I was already putting in 9 and 10 hour days before crunch began. At some point, I began to wonder exactly how many hours I was working, and with my salary, what I was making per hour. So, I began tracking when I arrived and departed from work. After I had accumulated over 300 hours of overtime... I did the math. In the year 1998, I was making about $5 an hour.
    With this number in my head, I needed a break, so I left my desk, and drove to McDonalds for a quick dinner. I was waiting in line, looking at the young lady who was about to take my order, when it dawned on me. On a per hour basis, she was probably making more money than I was.
    Something to think about for anyone wanting to get into video game development.


    54. Why did you quit NWC? What were the key reasons? How did you feel about the company and other related stuff at the time?

    After we finished Armageddon’s Blade, I was angry for a number of well documented reasons. I remember thinking things over, and asking myself, “Should I stay, or should I go?” It didn’t take long to draft a mental list of positives and negatives.

    To the positive...

    Working with JVC, David Mullich, and the HoMM3 team.

    To the negative...

    Didn’t feel my efforts were appreciated.
    Wanted a better salary.
    Long work hours; poor work/life balance.
    Wanted to work on something other than TBS games.
    Wanted to work with newer technologies.
    Felt NWC had fallen behind the industry ‘evolutionary’ curve.
    3DO was slowly zombifying NWC.

    I felt the writing was on the wall. NWC’s days of producing quality product were quickly coming to an end. I had the freedom to make a change, and wanted to see if the grass was greener on the other side of the fence. I sent out my resume, took some days off, did a handful of jobs interviews, and got a handful of exceptional offers. In the end, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.


    55. Even after 20 years, fans continue to support and improve Heroes III. Almost 10 years ago, a team of fans created a non-commercial project named Horn of the Abyss. Its main idea was to create new expansion as it could be made by NWC. It contains bugfixes, new heroes, objects and new town of pirates named Cove. Now the team plans to create a new Factory town. It is a rethinking of the ideas about the Forge town and inspired by classic steampunk of brass and glass. If you know about it, what are your thoughts?

    I’m looking forward to it. Modding and fan patches have kept HoMM3 alive for the last 20 years. Now more than ever, HoMM3 belongs to the fans. Keep going. Have fun.


    56. What is your vision of the perfect MM game and the perfect HoMM game? We realize that this is a very broad subject, but it's be nice if you list your key thoughts on both.

    Yes, this is a very broad subject and well beyond the scope of this interview. It is also an extremely tough question to answer because there is no objectively right answer. Video game design is one big ‘judgement call’. You create what you find exciting and appealing. In the end, when the final product reaches the retail market, you hope there will be plenty of people who agree with your vision. Nevertheless…
    As to my idea of a perfect HoMM game… I would respectfully decline to answer. I am currently working on two personal indie projects, both in early pre-production. One of them is a HoMM style game. In any conversation pertaining to an ‘ideal HoMM’ game, I would be effectively talking about what I am currently attempting, and at this time, I would prefer to keep all details private. Within the next 3-5 years, I hope both games will be published, but as with any entrepreneurial effort, the likelihood for failure is far greater than the chance for success.
    As to my idea of a perfect MM game… this one gives me pause. With a finite scope and limited ambition, one part of me desires a high quality, traditional, single player, turn based, tile based, RPG, with a party of six adventurers. With a larger scope and unlimited ambition, another part of me wants a real time, first person, 1 to 4 player, co-operative, action-adventure game with a moderate story, heavy RPG elements, and a reactive world. With these basic concepts as a starting point, the next step would be 6 to 12 months of franchise research and current market examinations. Along the way, I would expect there to be mild, major, or wholesale alterations. In the end, I would hope for something unique, honoring the franchise’s traditional foundations, with one foot in the past and another in the future.


    57. What can you say to Might and Magic fans? Any wishes, advices, etc.

    When you think of the ‘old school’ RPG’s from the 1980’s (Ultima, Bard’s Tale, Dungeon Master, and Wizardry), all of them are essentially gone. Surprisingly, M&M is still here in one form or another. When I watch Twitch.tv, it still amazes me to see a moderately active HoMM3 community. On behalf of JVC and everyone who worked at NWC, thank you for continuing to play Might & Magic.


    58. Please write a few words of congratulations to the fans from the ru segment and our communities (RPG Geeks, GoodGame, Tavern of Might and Magic, HotA Community)?

    Just last week, I saw over 12.5k people, largely Russian, watching HoMM3 multiplayer games on Twitch. It absolutely blows me away, when a 20-year-old game I designed, creeps into the modern Twitch top 20. I knew HoMM had Russian fans, but I had no idea the base was so large, so dedicated, and so passionate.

    To everyone who has played HoMM3, and continues to play it today, know this... there is at least one developer who appreciates your passion. Happy 20th.

    Medusa Vanguard.png
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  21. Aemar Arcane

    Aemar
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2018
    Messages:
    3,056
    Fulton is surely trying to ride on HoMM's coattail while building the hype for his new game. To be perfectly honest I'd rather see him speak more about this upcoming project than about days gone by.
     
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  22. Archibald Arcane

    Archibald
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    Messages:
    7,352
    It is not like there is much to talk about.
     
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  23. Transfiguring Roar Arcane Patron

    Transfiguring Roar
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    1,381
    Location:
    Australia
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Yeah, it's early days still.
     
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