After your announcement I went out into many communities and asked fans what they want to see in a new Master of Magic game. I feel enough time has passed to post the results here for your viewing. Most fans so far appear to be mostly wanting MoM with a fresh coat of paint and don't want the wheel reinvented. Some have made some crazy suggestions but generally most game changing suggestions people came up with had already been done in one of the MoM style spin off games (eg Age of Wonders, Warlock, Endless Legend, Sorcerer/Elemental/FE, Worlds of Magic/PQ, Eador, Dominions etc) so such a change would make it feel more like them than a MoM sequel. So perhaps you guys need to update the traditional style MoM game but also be careful that you don't turn it into something else with too many drastic changes that have already been done and quite possibly done better.
I hope this helps you craft a great game in this early conceptual faze. Obviously us fans are a demanding, disagreeing, inconsistent, pessimistic folk lol so I apologise for some of the negative comments here and there. You're not new to this and you know how passionate fans are about this game so I'm sure its nothing you didn't expect and can't handle haha. However mostly the feedback has been really interesting with all sorts of Do's and Don'ts posted! I'm going to try and post it all here. People feel free to add your own wishlist items in comments below!
Source 1 - Me lol!:
For purely selfish reasons I'm going to stick my own preferences first haha sorry.
• BIG ONE - More than 4 enemy players. Implode's MoM HD Multiplayer Remake allowed EVERY wizard in one game for super 14 player games which would have bee EPIC and so much fun had he finished the project.
• Include a map editor/scenario creator! Very important feature!
• Larger maps (Insectiside fan patch added huge map size to the original)
• Limited Spying (most fantasy rpgs have thieves/rogues so it fits and stealing spells would be fun)
• Time limit and bigger cost on time stop spell (if you're planning on having that annoying spell again)
• Demand or give cities in Diplomacy (most 4x games have this now and I like using it to play god/peacekeep and save bullied Civs and minor factions from deaths door)
• Expand Grey Neutral Faction into lots of minor factions with identities and race affiliations (eg a minor Elven race with a minor elf wizard that likes Elven main civs and makes trouble for others.. this is another thing done in modern 4x fantasy and space games)
• More worlds and/or an underground world (although this has already been done before in AoW, HoMM & Warlock series)
• More ocean content eg HoMM series filled oceans with shipwreck lairs and treasures (even Morrowind had underwater caves filled with creatures and treasure so this is not new to fantasy games). You could even have a Merfolk faction with cities in the ocean. The fun Fantasy and Midgard scenarios for Civilization 2 Test of Time had a good underwater Merfolk faction with lots of sea based units/creatures.
• Not essential but some cool weather effects would be a fun immersion factor (especially as you can tie spells into them for gameplay events such as huge storms and earthquakes etc). The Official Playstation remake of Master of Magic has clouds rolling over and some cool weather effects from spells. The new Civ6 addon Gathering Storm is another good example of world changing weather effects.
• Talk to Seravy, he's da man on all things MoM and the creator of the super popular MoM overhaul mod Caster of Magic
• I posted in your announcement thread that there are a multitude of online resources for MoM such as the MoM Wiki and the Realms forum fan mods that dissected every part of the original. The Master of Magic Official Strategy Guide Book is another excellent resource I recently read, probably a pdf copy of it somewhere online. I'd recommend these resources if you don't have the original MoM source files.
Source 2 - Master of Magic Fans Facebook Group - Wishlist Convo:
Had really good feedback from the guys in my group and I'm loyal to my members so I'm going to be selfish again and give them second slot haha.
I use to love the variety of character and breeds you could play! I hope they don’t element to save time or cost ...
There's only one way to make a sequel to MoM: just improve the AI and graphics to modern standards. I would suggest to add some units/buildings/spells, but I fear it could ruin everything .
target platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS (iPad and iPhone), Android.
do not make it real time (keep it turn based)
multiplayer is a bonus, but not if it ruins the solo player game
I would like to have all options visible on main window. No clicking for info and one of the advisers to check each tile where is the good place for city. Even city panel with buildings and workers could be squeezed into main screen UI, so you could quickly click city on main screen and check on left UI bar, what is build everywhere.
Would kill for auto-scout command; manually commanding each scout to move 2 tile each turn is extremely wearing.
old master of magic in gameplay with graphical today + multiplayer = perfect!!
Often when in the game you have a lot of cities, it should would be great if we could see the city name when one of them gets attacked.
I wish the Wizard's Tower was visible on the overland map. Save a lot of trouble clicking on every enemy city.
Niccolò Maria Ricchio Just tell them to hire seravy (Blake Note: Seravy is the creator of the super popular MoM overhaul mod Caster of Magic )
I want the same feeling of being a wizard. That's what I love. I want spells that effect the unit and spells as big as world enchantments.
My dream would be to play the game on my Android phone, or my iPad, or my Mac laptop, or on my Linux box. If the engine was flexible enough so that it could be customized to play EXACTLY like v1.31 (bugs and all), then I don't care what else they do to jazz it up.
A very important thing: decide if your game is going to be single player or "multiplayer with simulated human players", i.e. decide if other wizards are bound to the same rules as the human player (opening up the possibility for multiplayer) or have their own rules (making it easier to improve the single player gameplay) .
All I really want is improved graphics and sound, improved AI and some UI enhancements. MoM has a fantastic set of systems and I'm worried that attempts to change them will make it worse. My most important request is: by all means do what you like with the franchise - make it real time, change all the units, bring in new races, literally do anything you like - but please give us the option to turn off all of the new stuff and play "classic" MoM with better graphics, sound, AI and UI.
I think one thing that is missing here is the charm. Master of magic was so good in part because of the charm it had. The wizards were lovingly crafted, the music gave you a melancholic mood that is rare in games, and the graphics left TONS to the imagination. One tiny example that comes to my mind is the blacksmith sprite. You can juuuust barely make out a hammer banging out something, while sparks fly from it, but the distance makes it really easy for you to fill out the space with your imagination.
As far as the game-play goes, I think balance was over-rated back in the day before perfect information existed. The advent of the internet has made exploring/optimizing strategies less fun because it gets solved so quickly that its impossible to recreate the feeling of discovery that the original had so much of. So In the name of keeping that original feeling, I propose something a little different: Slight to moderate randomization of stats+abilities per game. Therefore each time you play you are rediscovering the game and therefore there won't be set "Strategies", but you will have to figure out on the fly which units are the best, which spells will work well, and which heroes to hire. This prevents a "Solved" meta-game state from ever appearing.
FMerripen I think random stats would be horrible to ... Balance!
Instead of constant there is variable range to estimate. You don't expect f.ex. doom draces to have possible attack value lower than spearman. Or lower cost.
Anyway very interesting concept, would like to try it. I think it could expand even further each unit having random stats. So 2 lizardam helbardiers can have different stats.
Right, I never intended a TOTAL randomization, but the example you brought forward is a good way to think about it. Solving the problem of perfect information in games has been a tough one to grapple with. Rogue-like mechanics seem to slow it down for a time in more action based games, however in strategy games and traditional rogue-likes that element of spacial randomness has ALWAYS existed. But I think an extra element of mechanical randomness could help hold back the tide of perfect information.
I must say i find reading the thread where people argue it's so easy to just "deep mind" the AI hilarious. "Easy" if you are Google maybe. (Blake Note: He's reffering to what I'm posting next below. The MoM realms beyond wishlist thread which turned into a bit of a farce)
Source 2.5 - Master of Magic Fans Facebook Group - MoM Remake Vote:
This is an interesting separate topic where one of my members interested in doing his own fan remake asked about a number of features people want to see in a new MoM game and it lead to a good discussion with lots of replies that would useful to the official game you guys are making.It's another huge convo so I'm not going to quote all the posts here but there's some good stuff in there you might want to check out.
Source 3 - Realms Beyond Master of Magic Forum - Wishlist Thread:
I had high hopes for this place as its the last dedicated MoM forum in existence (as far as I know) however unfortunately thread turned into a bit of joke and a spectacle as certain members decided to aggressively push their rather out there suggestions and fiercely argue with anyone who disagreed (which was everyone) while other posted pessimistic Slitherine bashing which helped no one. I'm not going to reward that rubbish by copying it all here (plus it went for like 5 pages) so if you wanna see it go follow the link above. I'm gonna post the constructive posts I saw in-between and around the debate.
We should make a list of DO's and DON'Ts: What is working good and what is working bad. After so much bad successors should be a discussion about the game design of MoM a good and inspiring idea.
- a lot of content (magic, units, ... yeah!)
- fast but a lot of tactical battles (perfect to test new unit combinations)
- living worlds in the endgame (with hundreds of armys on the screen)
- best power development (from a novice to a god - from 20mana to 1000mana per turn, from a little ghost to a game changer spell)
- good magic system like MtG with game changers and global spells
Well, if they read through the 1000s of pages of posts on the CoM subforum, they'll get a pretty good idea about what to/not to do to the smallest detail, otherwise, idk. MoM is a game designer's worst nightmare, obviously you need decent game balance because it's a strategy game, but you also need super powerful spells because nothing hurts a fantasy game more than underwhelming and boring magic and fantasy elements.
Unfortunately I can't provide a wish list, and in fact we better don't. 90% of the things people wish for are not viable to implement due to game balance reasons.
I can provide some generic advice though :
-Whenever you implement a feature or game mechanic, immediately implement the full AI for it. Don't use game mechanics that aren't AI friendly. The AI should be the responsibility of one person, otherwise it'll end up doing self-contradicting stuff. This person should have the right to veto any game mechanic decision if it's not playable for the AI. (Yes, this restricts the options quite a lot, but it's necessary.)
-Don't be lazy testing. Play the game for thousands of hours before releasing it otherwise balance issues won't be noticed. Important : the SAME person has to do the full testing schedule. Otherwise how will you know some faction is stronger than another? It wasn't the same person playing them so they won't notice the difference.
-Graphics are not a priority.
-UI is a priority though. Don't make mobile friendly crap, design it for PC users. Make the UI consistent : left click to act, right click to get help, esc button to cancel for example. Everywhere. No "move by right button, cancel building by right button as well" madness. That's unplayable. MoM has about the best UI I've ever seen in a game. Keep it the same.
-Don't hide information. This is a strategy game. We need to know about all stats and unit abilities, we need to know all game formulas. All of it needs to be readily available by right clicking on the appropriate part of the UI.
-Magic is a big deal. Spells need to be powerful. That's why this is "Master of Magic"... but this applies to all types of magic, not just one or two.
-There shouldn't be an "always wins" strategy. Players should need to adapt to what their enemy plays to succeed. Different methods should be used against different races and realms. All relevant setups the player can play should have at least one way to deal with all reasonably possible enemy configurations. The most powerful strategies (for example buffing in CoM) should have powerful counters that can say "no, try something else" every once in a while. Not every strategy has to be perfectly equal, that's what difficulty levels are for. But every race or realm of magic has to have at least one top tier strategy.
-Bugs are not okay. Especially AI bugs. They ruin your carefully designed game balance because the AI might fail to use the spells that would counter the most dominant strategies.
-The AI is important. The AI is important. The AI is important. The AI is important. The AI is important. Can't say this enough times.
-Heroes are a huge risk to game balance but also a lot of fun. Be careful with them. Same for the random treasure.
-The AI isn't as smart as a human player in executing plans. It works better if it tries to focus on overwhelming players with quantity or powerful units than if it aims to do a precise strike. Remember you have multiple AI players on the board so it's okay if some lose if it benefits the others.
-Diplomacy is the most powerful element of the game. The game plays entirely different when you're at peace and the AI's are fighting each other compared to when you are at war with 4 AI players at once who are allied. So it should be difficult and unlikely to end up with the "all war" or "no one ever attacks" cases, but the latter is okay if the AI is programmed to peacefully settle territory at least as fast as the human player can at their highest effectiveness. Once the territory is all taken, the difficulty level modifiers on their income will do the rest. (or not if the difficulty is low, but then we want the human to win anyway...) - just be sure the player can't claim all the territory with settlers early then make treaties and force peace to win through that advantage - unless they are playing whichever strategies specializes in that heavily.
-4X games are long. So make the combat animations (and the UI in general) fast and skippable.
-This is a game of the highest complexity. Don't rush it, it'll take years to get it done right.
That's about everything I can think of right now.
Esp the fast movement - in AoW3 was it my wish in the beta test wink But in AoW3 you can wider go in one turn as your unit can see - hello micromanagement...
This is a game of the highest complexity! Test it via "Early Access"! Give us an AI editor or a possibility for AI modding - so we players can build the best AI for it.
Here is my DON'T: just DON'T do it. We don't need another "Not Master of Orion". wink
Make it multiplayer from the get go. Concurrent turns are a must.
In this day and age, and despite what most of the denizens of this forum think, this will make or break the game.
With that approach, you don't need to invest so much on ai, just build a multiplayer agent that uses Deepmind. Better results guaranteed for solo players as well.
I wouldn't play a game with concurrent turns. That's not strategy anymore, it's a "who clicks faster" game. Try playing chess with simultaneous turns. Nonsense. I did play a simultaneous turn card game once and hated it.
Multiplayer would be a good idea in theory but the game length is too long for it to work, unless the other players are AI.
You said it! I have played AoW2 and 3 a lot in MP, but it needs house rules: "Don't move as fast as you can to obtain a winning battle", because that is unfair.
I made a list of problems of 4X games some years ago.
Concurrent Turns is one of them.
The next MP problem is the "I can't win and bye.."-Player. A good 4X game should not have a mass of counter (like Mana, Gold,...), because the players feel outdistanced and frustrated. It need a chance for small and slow nations to win a game too (f.e. by a quest or a game changing mechanic).
"Instant kill"-Spells are not the best choice for a MP game (say good bye to Cracks Call and Lightning...) and a living world with hundreds of armys like in MoM can't work well in MP.
The list is much longer, but you feel the problems to design a good successor.
IMO a good game has an exciting showdown for all players. MoM2 has potential for it, but 4X games are designed by the same design principles for years.
(Blake Note: The ridiculous debate kicks off so I'm going to start skipping stuff sorry).
Oh and about multiplayer, this particular game is full of rage quitting inducing stuff that simply wouldn't work if coming from an actual human person. Hey, I'll cast Time Stop now and take 10 turns while you don't do anything. Guys, care to have some Armageddon? Or : Okay so I'm going to lose this game now and I can't stop it but you'll spend 10 turns conquering all my cities so I'll spend these 10 turns spamming corruption on your and my own cities, corrupting every single tile there is, and sell all my buildings. Next time you'll think twice about attacking MY empire you loser. Oh, and let's not forget I'll donate all my gold to the person who is planning to backstab you right after this war. Also, I'll find your heroes and kill every single one of them with web+crack's call. Even if you're smart enough to not use them against my green/red wizard, too bad, I'm not an AI so I can intentionally seek out and attack them with these bunches of spearmen.
I want to add my support to Seravy's point about not hiding information from the player. How much gets shown in the main layer of the UI is a separate issue -- UIs should not be too cluttered -- but the info needs to be available if the player wants to drill down for it. Strategy games should be about making interesting, meaningful decisions. And to do that the player needs information.
I also think that decent AI is a must. Unless it takes only a short amount of time to play the full game -- a few hours at the very most -- getting a group together who can consistently play to keep a multi-player game going is tough. So most players are going to be playing single player, and that means AI opponents who can actually play the game and provide a decent challenge. The game mechanics must take the need for effective AI into account -- anything the AI can not handle needs to be removed or modified, no matter how cool the designer thinks it is. (Hello, 1UPT Civ games, I'm looking at you.)
Testing, lots of testing, is very important. Including AI testing -- something like Sullla's Civ AI Survivor would be a very good idea. Make sure your AIs can expand, attack and conquer a rival, defend themselves from an attack, and actually reach a victory condition. Preferably all the victory conditions which exist in the game, if there are more than one. AIs should actually use all the major features in the game, not ignore some of them. (This is usually more of a problem with expansions, but sometimes occurs in initial releases.)
I hope to see something good come out of Slytherine and the MoM IP. But I worry that we will get yet another game that has the name but none of the flavor of the original.
Simultaneous turns converts MoM into a different game... and that game already exists and has several sequels. wink
Drastic changes like that are exactly what will turn a lot of the old fans away from a remake or sequel. I've started threads like this across multiple forums and the recurring theme is that most people want MoM with a fresh coat of paint. They don't want the wheel reinvented.
If you want simultaneous go play AoW3, if you want no zoomed in battles go play Warlock, if you want extremely diverse factions go play Endless Legend, if you want.. well I could keep going on and on as the MoM formula has been twisted in many directions over the years.. whether it be Sorcerer/Elemental/FE, Worlds of Magic/PQ, Eador, Dominions or others out there odds are for nearly every game changing suggestion people throw at a MoM remake it already exists out there and by changing MoM into that it then becomes that instead of MoM.
And TBS is not some long lost 90s concept. Every year there are multiple TBS games coming out lol.
However all that being said the newer Civilization games added simultaneous turns for multiplayer but kept the single player game turn based so if they want to do that with MoM then that at least won't affect me as I don't play multiplayer lol.
Agree with Blake00 that many of the possible "major" variations of MoM already exist in other games/series. I have played most of them, and enjoyed some of them quite a lot. But they are not MoM.
The only reason a company buys an existing IP and puts it on something totally new is to try to lure in fans of the old IP to try their game. If the new product is too different from the original, a lot of those fans will feel cheated/misled. The company may say "It worked, we got their money, who cares that they are unhappy?" but that harms the company's reputation for future games. Hopefully Slytherine is looking to make a solid game and build longer-term appeal, and not just for a quick cash grab.
IMO Slitherine should hire Seravy and a good player of 'Magic the Gathering' to build a new and perfect 'Master of Magic 2'
"Just hire Seravy, cover him in money if he resists"
(Blake Note: The Slitherine bashing, Deep AI and Simultanious turns debate continued to rage on for entire pages around these useful posts above and I eventually lost my temper haha sorry)
Oh enough about bloody AIs lol!!!! I posted wishlist requests in a few places and got great feedback and positive conversation. People came forward, listed the things they wanted, and left it at that. While here (the place I had biggest and highest hopes for) I've got 5 pages of bickering about super AIs and pessimistic Slitherine bashing which HELPS NO ONE.
I can pretty much sum up the 5 pages in 2 wishlist items for Slitherine:
1. Add multiplayer mode and take advantage of modern improvements to such as simultaneous turns BUT still give option in settings for traditional turn based. Leave single player as turn based or once again provide settings option for both ways to keep everyone happy. DONE.
2. Make a good AI and don't f*ck it up, see examples above. There DONE. If you really wanna debate about different AIs do it in another thread, not a MoM feature wishlist thread.
Maybe another 4 or 5 posts here (that weren't part of the bickering) that I can use too. Thank you to those people. I'll make sure I copy across your suggestions.
I can't remember a single sequel to a classic game which didn't disappoint. The only wish I have for Slitherine - release the game's source code. MoM doesn't have the popularity to quite go the OpenXcom/Daggerfall Unity/OpenMW etc. route by itself (even though some attempts and progress has been made, they are not quite on the same level as the ones mentioned, no offense to the people behind them). MoM doesn't even get the effort that Rocco and co. are putting into MoO2, let alone to get something on the level of what Heroes III is getting with it's Horn of the Abyss and HD mods (though CoM is doing as great a work as it can under the circumstances I think). So the only hope I see for a classic MoM experience, but improved, is for the source code to be released, which might create enough interest for a source port with extensive editing and modding capability to happen. Anything else will result in disappointment imo.
Though it could be interesting to think about changes to MoM that I would want to see in a MoM like game.
Well my two biggest problems with current MoM is the level if micromanagement tedium in regards to town and unit numbers (and proximity in regards to towns) on the map.
So what I would like is a style of game more oriented towards "tall" playstyles, where players don't own more than a couple of cities, maybe a dozen at max if they conquer the whole map and every AI city in addition to their own, but offer more variety and choice about how you develop those cities. So for example lets say you have 2 Barbarian cities, each one should offer so much mutually exclusive choices in regards to development (sometimes only possible because of city location etc.), that they function differently enough to one another, for example they might have no or little overlap in units produced. That would be better than the non choices which we have to do dozens and dozens of times now in town management.
In regards to units on the map I personally think the Heroes of Might and Magic style of heroes leading armies, and you having only a limited number of heroes that you can employ at a time, to be simply superior. But it has to be less than HoMaM's 8. Maybe it can be related to map size, or with the fame categorization of heroes, or related to how powerful summoning spells you know, but each player/AI shouldn't have more than 4-5 heroes at max on the map, each having a stack under him. This will lead to two improvements - no more playing whack-a-mole with dozens of weak AI units running around, now each encounter will be more challenging, as the AI will pool its units more, and also open up more interesting choices about unit compositions, since now you being able to field only a limited number of units at a time, you would always want to have the strongest ones possible for your strategy, which of course means having the resources to get and maintain them, which feeds into economy etc. This aspect obviously exists now, but is muddied by the sheer quantity of garbage cheap units that a player/AI can push out. Obviously increasing the power disparity between units will make the game even more interesting in this regard.
These changes of course lead to new and interesting design possibilities as well. You can bend these rules in certain situations - for example one race might have mechanics that let it have many more towns, or a specific hero might have a bigger capacity for leading armies (so bigger stack under this specific hero), and so on which would lead to a level of variety that currently doesn't exist in the game now.
These are my main ones, but there are of course other minor things that can be done. Like Sulla has said in his MoO1 videos, MoO2 in many ways is a sequel to MoM rather than MoO, so a lot of ideas and mechanics can be taken from there and adapted, or minor things from other games, like each town (or towns of specific races/realms) having a powerful guardian unit like in Disciples II, more varied map design, including impassable terrain, maybe terrain elevation, introduction of zones, improved map object quantity and variety, and generally things to do on the map which aren't waging war with the AI, etc.
The main thing to note, that I don't think many people realize, is that good design comes from limitations. If you have a maximalist approach to number of town, units and other aspects of the game, you are actually shrinking the design space you have to create meaningful and interesting choices that can keep you playing for a long time. I think Seravy said it best with the 20% thing, but getting the other 80% will be done by general subtraction of things already in MoM, and reintroducing them sparingly only in certain situations to certain races/realms etc.
I know most people won't agree or like my views, but it's my two cents anyway, not that any of these discussions matter for anything in reality.
"So what I would like is a style of game more oriented towards "tall" playstyles, where players don't own more than a couple of cities, maybe a dozen at max if they conquer the whole map and every AI city in addition to their own, but offer more variety and choice about how you develop those cities."
I would love that, but I don't see it actually working.
Most of the time the human player is the aggressor and the AI needs quite a bit of time in game turns to send troops at them and retaliate (even more so if the AI actually respects the player's borders during peacetime). Not enough cities means the AI goes down before their transports even reach the player's shores.
Of course, there is always a workaround - if conquering cities is a slow progress (like, you need to siege them for 10 turns each) that works but then we are back to square one - conquering cities takes painfully long.
Nonetheless, if there is a way this can be made to work, it's definitely worth doing so.
...actually I might have a good idea to solve this. If players lose the game only after losing all their units and cities, instead of only their cities, this can work. Then conquering those few cities the other player has doesn't also make them lose their main armies, so those armies will attack the aggressor and likely give the AI new cities to work with. Of course this mechanic doesn't really work if units have maintenance (you can't pay for it without cities) so this isn't as easy to do as it sounds, but it might be the correct direction nonetheless. Upkeep is a pretty bad game mechanic either way as human players absolutely hate it while AI's can't really work with it and need to cheat their way around - they lack the foresight to be able to know when they can't afford building more units. So in this regard, HOMM style gameplay might work well (there was no upkeep there and you had a few turns to recapture your towns before losing), however, I disagree on HOMM style gameplay in the number of units. I have been playing that on large maps and it's a horrible whack-a-mole even worse than MoM. If your few heroes are out conquering enemies, then their heroes can get a free pass at conquering yours. There are more cities than heroes, so you can never defend your stuff properly (yes, you can leave garrisons but a higher level hero makes the units in their stack worth many times more so...any battles you do without a hero present is a net loss in dead units anyway, and against the enemy main armies it just doesn't work at all) as long as the map is open enough that heroes can just walk past each other without actually meeting. (Also, as heroes generally move at the same speed, chasing down that one enemy hero that's 2 tiles ahead can take many many turns, keeping one of your significant stacks busy if they actually bother to move away from you.)
Sure there are fewer stacks but you also lack the amount of stacks to stop anything and...it's per player. So it's your 8 stacks against the 4*8=32 enemy stacks. So it's pretty difficult to keep up on large maps.
This isn't noticeable because campaign maps simply don't have that setup on them (usually only 1-2 enemy factions) AND you can't build new towns in HOMM at all, but try an XL size map with 8 enemy factions and 30 towns, it's a nightmare.(Note, I do like HoMM, it's a great game...but it's also a very different game. Also, I mostly played HOMM 2, and 4, maybe newer versions are different.)
Seravy I did say only the part about heroes leading stacks and having a limited number of heroes to be better in Heroes specifically in regards to MoM's anything goes style. Heroes does indeed have a whack-a-mole problem, but it has remedies to it as well, and its causes are different, as well as the way it works compared to MoM.
In Heroes each player/AI can have 8 heroes, and there can be 8 total players/AI (Heroes III), meaning that you have 8 units to defend against 56, and you are constantly at war, from the first turn, since you can't form alliances in game - you either start allied or you don't. That's one of the main problems leading to whack-a-mole and frustration with defending towns in Heroes. The other is number of towns on the map (again something the player doesn't have control over) since each town's tavern hires Heroes at a cheap rate which is in fact the main reason why conquering and defending towns is frustrating. But if the map has a small number of town the whack-a-mole problem is greatly reduced/doesn't exist, or if there is a large number of towns - the spell Town Portal essentially eliminates the tedium in regards to defending towns and whack-a-mole, so the game has tools to alleviate it's problems, at least to a degree.
And because you can only move 8 units, it has smaller problems in regards to army logistics as well, again compared to MoM, unless you are doing optimal and perfect hero chaining, something which you won't need in MoM since you can teleport artifacts, and if something like this was implemented, summon and teleport units to them as well I think would be the case.
But if MoM had a similar restriction, it will work much, much better, since you usually have a degree of control in regards to how many opponents you are at war with (so MUCH smaller number of potential stacks to defend against), and also in MoM at least currently you can have only up to 4 opponents, not 7 (also I proposed 4-5 and not 8 units as well per player/AI). Also in MoM getting heroes is a lot harder. I like the idea of you starting with a hero, but getting more being difficult (or like only 1 race having a Tavern equivalent from which it can hire heroes from this specific town only, other races have to go spell route, or something new).
Of course Heroes has its own mechanics which MoM doesn't and I personally think would improve it (like maps being sectioned into zones and greater map object variety).
Anyway, the point is, why Heroes is whack-a-moley and frustrating in its micromanagement is different than MoM's, and I actually think a few mechanics adapted from Heroes to MoM would greatly improve MoM's own problems, exactly because the system and mechanical context is so different.
In regards to you doing something in reducing town/unit micromanagement tedium in MoM somehow, I'm open to all attempts and experimentation at this stage, the game is not getting any younger, and I certainly won't rest my hopes on Slitherine or whichever else developer.
Edit: One more thing to note when comparing Heroes and MoM is the AI. The strength of the AI has rarely if ever been an issue for Heroes II/III, especially not the overland AI (battle AI has its quirks, but even when exploiting them you can only go so far in most cases), and the game does it without letting the AI cheat. On higher difficult setting (above Normal) it gives it more starting resources, and reduces yours, but the AI doesn't get any other bonus, his mines don't produce more resources compared to yours, he doesn't get more growth in his dwellings etc. Sure the AI is not without it's flaws, but its more than serviceable, even with decades of player experience against it, and some aspect of it people think are too strong even now (like him targeting your shooters relentlessly), so I don't get why people think good AI in a strategy game is some sort of myth, or it has to cheat to be good...
MoM + HoMM = AoW (Age of Wonders 2: Shadow Magic is the best part of the series):
- few citys
- heroes (from beginning, but you need no heroes) and units (both with special abillities)
- magic spells
- tactical battles
- lot of items
- nice special race abilities
I have played AoW2 a lot in multiplayer. Nice game!
But the great problem of 4X games are counter: gold, mana, research, production, units, techlevel, citys. The leader wins.
Someone earlier suggested that it be multiplayer (for a super AI to play and develop a good game AI). I strongly disagree. Too many single-player games have been ruined by compromises for MP. In other games, I could imagine the designers coming up with great ideas, shot down by the MP director saying "No, that wouldn't work for MP." Slitherine should do a poll to determine how important MP is for sales vs a good optimized-for-SP game. My guess is that the majority of played hours for MOM are SP, and would also be for a new game. I expect that the positive feedback and forum activity generated by a really good SP game would generate more long-term sales than a compromised game that gets lukewarm reviews and no forum activity because people stop playing it after a few games.
Once a good SP game is done, they can add on the tools for MP, plus the extra tools for modding it for MP. It might need some extra switches to allow some MP-breaking SP features to be easily turned off. Then let the MP community mod it to their desires. They might have more fun balancing the mod than they do playing the game.
One common 4X problem isexcessive micromanagement of city building in late game. Build queue templates would help, but I think we'd still get bogged down in checking each city to tweak them (or override bad manager decisions) or changing the city goals occasionally.
One possibility to think over: you have the fun of managing the build queue for your capitol, and the pleasure of seeing your Foresters Guild or whatever get finished, but all your later settlements and captured cities don't have a build queue (unless designated as a unit building city). Instead, they provide taxes, mana, etc, based on their population and the buildings in the capitol, modified by local resources or spells or morale. You can designate them as military training bases (allows a build queue for units), and the training level depends on population and whatever other factors are good for game play. Maybe you can designate other cities as mercantile centres, religious centres, magic research centres, or whatever else. There's no temptation to check the city or adjust it, because you simply can't do it. City placement, and which site to settle next, are still important decisions. Captured (or retaken) cities would start at minimal growth, production, etc, and gradually grow to what should be provided from their population.
Another possibility is to make settling cities uncommon, as opposed to city spam always being the right choice. Instead of settling a city at some good resources, you set some military units to secure a site. The stronger the military presence, the larger the area. Secured areas send resources (production bonus, gold, mana) to the capitol, or the nearest city, or all cities at once. I imagine this as small settlements (that you don'tdirectly manage) that form where the people feel safe (due to the military patrols). Locations near borders or monster-producing sites require more military strength to maximize production. Maybe by mid-game you'd have a few cities, and dozens of resource sites. Warfare would mostly take place at the resources, with cities being difficult to take. The cost of creating and maintaining the military units should be such that you never have enough to satisfy all your needs. You need to keep making construction and deployment decisions. Move some from one site to strengthen another, and raiders/monsters move in, reducing production. I find that games get boring when I have more gold/units/whatever than I need. The game is fun when I'm desperate for just one more 'whatever', and a new building, resource, or spell that becomes available is exciting.
Hmm, I think that last bit is the most important wish for the new game: set things so that we're always desperate for something and have to make critical decisions of how to best employ limited resources. Why do we stay up to 3 AM saying "just one more turn until..."? It's because we want that extra whatever: building, unit, spell, treasure that will make a difference. I'm not interested in 'one more turn' if all it does is change my gold number from 5464654002544 to 5464654002566; especially if there's nothing to spend the gold on. If I already have dozens of stacks on the map, adding one more unit is just part of the grind. By mid-game, MOM was just a matter of pumping out more units and settlers, and moving them tediously about. I'd rather have a few cities and units that make a real difference.
Oh yes, I'd also rather have late game not involve dozens of battles per turn. That's just tedious, and I usually quit by that point. I'm not sure what the proper level would be. Maybe averaging one battle per turn?
That brings up yet another issue: unit movement. Directing all those units every turn is another tedious thing that makes me quit (and maybe start a new game). Yes, moving units across the map is realistic, but I don't find it fun. The delay in moving the latest units to the front line is also realistic but not fun. Magic to speed up movement helps, but still requires a lot of mouse clicks and scrolling. Can we come up with an alternative, such as designating a deployment point (or unit/stack) for a unit build queue, and the unit just appears there x turns later? Less realistic, but more fun?
Something I posted in the 'can't stand about MOM' thread probably fits better in this thread. What is fun at the start--building things, moving your few units around--is not fun when you have dozens of cities and many dozens of units. I wish that the game developers would keep asking themselves: "Will this feature still be fun later in the game?" Maybe have playtesting sessions specifically to look for things that are no longer fun at that stage, and if it's still worthwhile keeping for the early part of the game, see if there's a way to switch to a different method at some point. For example, optimizing what your population is doing might be fun at the beginning, with one city, but when you have 'x' cities, maybe you are awarded with a minister who takes care of that burden. Managers in other games have been hated for their poor performance, but if the AI isn't as good as a human at that task, add some bonuses so that the overall results are better than if you kept tweaking cities yourself.
I have played a lot of HoMM and AoW games, both series with few citys: If you lost one city, you can give up. AoW and HoMM are games with one great battle and the game is over. IMO is that no good game design.
MoM simulate a world, this needs a lot of citys. The feeling is like in the 'Lords of the Rings': Some units at the beginning and a great war with hundreds of unit at the end. I love this immersion.
'Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes' has a good idea: units, heroes and citys are characters and customizable. A city can be a military outpost or a trade center or a center for science. You have to decide after a while and you get your own building possibilites per city.
The battles are the core of MoM: Research a spell, build an army and test it agains a lot of different combinations of enemy units. That is fun. You feel your strength and weaknesses, you should rebuild your army to be better. That is a core mechanic in MoM.
Other as AoW or HoMM is MoM designed as: 'You can make a failure, but this is not the end of the game.'
"The battles are the core of MoM"
A part of the core, but certainly not the whole game. There's exploring, expanding and exploiting too, and some people consider those parts to be more important than the exterminate part. I play 4X games to watch the story of my marvelous empire unfold. I consider winning battles to be a validation of the other parts done properly. All the research and other resources I put into developing certain units and spells is validated by defeating an attacker or successfully adding to my empire. Having my troops feast on the livers of those slimey <insert appropriate race> troops is just a bonus.
If MOM was just a tactical battle simulator, I wouldn't have even considered playing it. I tried AOW shadow magic and didn't like it because there wasn't enough empire building. I wish that a new MOM will properly develop those other aspects of a 4X game. If the later game turns into too many tedious battles each turn, I'll have to decide if the early game is satisfying enough to be worth buying the game.
I don't think there exist a sales analytics team that would advise a MoM type game to not have a multiplayer mode... Whether that would be best for the game or not in terms of quality is another matter, but in terms of sales and longevity, you have to have multiplayer (OR extremely good modding tools, which seem to be harder for studios to pull off than mp).
HoMaM is a one battle game only in multiplayer. One of the great things about those games is that you play as much (basically all game if mp except last battle) against the neutrals as much as the other AIs. This gives a lot more variety to the minute to minute (or rather turn to turn) gameplay than MoM.
I definitely don't think hundreds of units roaming the map is a fun mechanic. Actually I think its the exact opposite. The design principle why its bad is simple and straightforward - the more you have of a thing/mechanic/gameplay element, the less meaningful it becomes. The less you have of it, the more interesting choices you can built around it.
Yes, one part. But a very important part. There are different type of games with tactical battles:
- MoM has a lot of short battles
- HoMM has a lot of 'PvE' battles and one or two big 'PvP' battles
- AoW has a few battles, more 'PvE' as 'PvP'
- Total War has some 'PvP' battles, but they are very long
I prefer a lot of short battles. Games with an explicit tactical battle maps are not suitable for MP. One solution would be a design like in a game like 'Warlock'/'Civilization' with battles on the world map.
MoM and AoW are wargames. Empire Builders are an own subgenre in 4X. I found this great article for more informations (there are some other interesting articles on this site about 4X games too): http://www.big-game-theory.com/2015/04/ ... genre.html
Thanks, vicwaberub for that link. Good article. The parts about decision depth and pacing are particularly useful. I want to have to make definite game-changing decisions all through the game, rather than a few decisions at the setup part, with the rest of the game being just micromanaging the never-changing strategy. I don't want "On turn 57, set the tax rate in city 7 to 5.317 and start building a cavalry unit." which applies to every game, regardless of the random map or which AI races are where or what retorts/spellbooks they have. I want to be surprised in the game, and have to change my strategies to meet those surprises.
MoM needs more support units and more empire build spells.
I hope for a new MoM2 a mixture of
- MoM (magic system, mass of units, a lot of short battles)
- Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes (citys and units are like RPG characters and can be customized)
- Dominions 5 (800 spells, 3.000 story events (!!))
- AoW:SM (nice world graphic, underground as second world)
- Warlock (battles on the world map)
There are so much good ideas for a new and better turn based fantasy strategy system. I hope they ask us to get new ideas.
MoM needs more support units and more empire build spells.
The problem with support units is that it makes for more tedious scrolling and clicking each turn. In late game Civ, you might have scores of engineers demanding attention each turn. I consider that kind of support unit to be one of those things that is fun in early game (when you only have a few) but which become a real drag later. For such things as road-building, I'd rather see a system where you have to make some real decisions (allocate some of your limited resources to linking town 23 with town 17, or maybe just allocating a % of resources to imperial roads) and let the computer deal with the tedious stuff; a system that doesn't grow in tedious micromanagement as your empire grows in size.
"- Dominions 5 (800 spells, 3.000 story events (!!))"
The problem with Dominions as I remember from version 3 is that a lot of those spells and units pretty much never get used. A nation might have two dozen regular units to choose from, but your armies will consist of only a few types, every single game. If you use more than that, they're probably just minor variations of each other, and the combat difference is minor too. If I read the suggestions for a nation, it's usually "this is the unit your armies will consist mainly of" and "research this area to get this spell, then switch to that area to get that spell" and that applies regardless of the map or the other nations on the map, with occasional exceptions.
For MOM2, I'd rather see a smaller selection of good spells that you really have a hard choice deciding between, and the decision of which makes a real difference in how the game unfolds. I'd also like the system to offer definite 'this spell OR that spell' decisions, meaning that once you've decided on one spell, the other option doesn't show up again. I didn't like Dominion's system of getting all the spells in a certain branch/level after putting x points into it. Having a different (limited) selection of spells each game improves replay value.
"- AoW:SM (nice world graphic, underground as second world)"
I vaguely remember detesting the graphics and limitations of the map. Worlds of Magic was supposed to be MOM2, but they put a lot of effort into 3D graphics (instead of gameplay) and the screenshots showed something that I think would have caused me great eyestrain trying to pick out a green&brown elvish unit on a green&brown 3D map. For a _strategy_ game, the map's primary purpose is to deliver critical information in a convenient manner, not looking pretty.
When WOM's developers asked for input, I said I'd accept MOM's graphics as long as it came with deeper gameplay. Their response was that they didn't want deeper gameplay, since MOM was perfect already, it just needed better graphics. I wonder if they're regretting that decision now.
It's been nearly a quarter century since MOM was released. I'm really disappointed in the lack of advances in 4X games in that time. Hopefully Slitherine can identify some advances to apply, and also what mistakes to avoid.
Well Caster of Magic is almost my perfect game, so that with a higher resolution and a bit prettier would be nice (but not too pretty to detract from the gameplay eg. 3D).
There's a few things I'd change though, I find city curses and corruption/raise volcano can be annoying as there's no real way to counter them especially corruption in the early game. If you are playing against a chaos wizards and have a race without a unit that can purify, then those gold and mithril tiles you carefully placed your cities around are pretty much useless and there's nothing you can do about it.
Same if you aren't life with consecration then curses can hit your cities and there's no spell or building that can counter it.
Also this is a 4X problem in general, but I find moving hundreds of units around the map each turn really tiresome towards the end game. Some way of managing this better would be great, but I'm not really sure if there is a solution to that problem.
There are aspects of games that can be simple to mod out to meet personal taste, so as long as the developer provides good access for modding, those things aren't a problem. Some mods will break the AI, so it would be nice if the developers would take modding in mind when developing the AI.
I think the late game problems, such as moving too many units, comes from not thinking aspects of the game through to how they work in the late game stage. Perhaps developers should take the time to think of what would be a fun late game. Middle game too. Early game is critical, since a not-fun early game will result in many returns. Reviewers probably focus on early game too, and certainly don't write about long-term replayability.
There are some possible solutions to the 'too many units' problem. The game could be designed to build up a few strong armies. Instead of just a few levels of experience, there could be equipment upgrades, special abilities/bonuses. Instead of just an elite mithral swordsman unit, it could have bonuses against klackons because it lost many figures in battle with them, or maybe it gained a bonus against death magic from other battles. Maybe the chance to gain improvements depends on how many armies you have?
Ability to produce more units grows with the number of cities. Maybe the cost of maintaining armies could grow non-linearly (bureaucracy, logistics, etc). Command points are another solution. There are possible solutions, I just don't know which would be most fun/satisfying.
Civ 4 had maintenance growing exponentially as your number of cities grew, which helped stop endless expansion. Although it had the same problem in the end.
It's not just the number of units, it's moving them all separately at different speeds and keeping track of them all.
I always thought that having a city building phase and then a war phase where you can move troops over longer distances in one go would help keep track of everything. Taking months or years to make an invasion is annoying.
As I've explained previously, the large amount of units in the late game is part of the design. There is no way in this genre for the AI to remain competent unless they rely on numbers, both because the AI lacks human intelligence and can't do precision strikes that actually have a high chance of working, and because it's super easy to counter an incoming attack by attacking the incoming enemy before they reach their target, and destroying or weakening it using combat magic. And that design is necessary because it allows the player to feel in control of the situation. If you couldn't respond to incoming armies before they hit your cities, and the AI knew to specifically send stacks that are guaranteed to counter yours and win, it would be a very unfun game. Finally, in the 4X genre, players with significantly more resources should win, and the only way to achieve that is through making the players clash constantly, spending their resources in the battle until one of them runs out. (resources : mana crystals spent and the units who die)
Without large numbers, we'd need even more tiers of units and a larger gap between each tier to achieve a "quality over quantity" style gameplay, but as explained above, that'd be less fun because you'd basically have no way of defending yourself. You'd be like "oh the enemy already has titans, and I only have giants, I lost. Time to start another game." That doesn't happen currently, even if the enemy has a tier higher spells, you can still put up a fight and if you play well enough and/or have the larger pool of resources, win.
That said, I agree having too much units can be a bit exhausting in the late game. Still, the only two other options I see - incompetent AI or unstoppable AI - are worse. Regardless whether the AI simply is too good and always sends the perfect stacks to win or the game relies on fewer but stronger armies.
Okay, I can't argue with that argument. AI limitations really do spoil otherwise good ideas. Maybe we can come up with some ideas for reducing the player's management burden of all those units? Even replacing the engineer unit with a unit-less 'build a road from here to here' command would help reduce tedious mouse-clicking. The chance of engineer units having surprise encounters isn't important to the game.
How about a 'patrol pool' where assigning units to the pool (or just a slider for resources allocated to it) sets the chances of detecting enemy troops within your borders, and the rate at which engineering projects finish? It could set basic city garrisons too, without all the mouse-clicking of building specific units and moving them around. MOM is too unit-centered for that as a mod, but for a future game it might be worth considering.
I'll have to play MOM (or rather, COM) a lot more while paying attention to what detracts from smooth gameplay.
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One thing that definitely detracts from smooth gameplay for me was getting 10-20 "building completed" reports each turn, but that is easy to solve by implementing a building queue, or even a grand vizier function that can be controlled on a per city basis.
The other thing is not having the ability to set up a rally point where newly produced units will move from the city that produced them, but this too, should be trivial for a new game to add.
Having to protect engineers when there is enemy presence is part of the game and considering how much gold you earn by having roads, it's the least to be expected.
oh yes Seravy! That's a big one for me too. Having build queues that stop/reduce the endless building completed msgs when you have a big empire would be wonderful.
BTW Glad to see this thread has gone back to something productive with interesting suggestions and discussions.
To be continued...