We’ve had a pleasantly surprising response to the beta announcement, and also just to us working on the remake. As such, we have seen a lot of new ‘faces’ on our community sites. With that in mind, I decided that this month’s dev diary will take a look at the team and try to give you an insight on how we’ve been doing thus far.
So, for those of you who are new here, our team is made up of six people:
A’vee - CEO’s Boss, UI master, creative director, sound designer.
Khash - ‘The Programmer’ aka grandmaster of all MuHa code!, CEO
SirPi - Lead Game Designer
Yuuki - Writer/Quest designer/Community manager
Obi - Programmer
Shell - Lead QA and everything else we might need of him...
In addition to the fantastic six, we work with freelance artists and composers and the wonderful Andy, a programmer who worked with us on the UI code.
We will start with a few questions I actually asked the team myself:
What is so far, your favourite part of working on Master of Magic?
Khash: Modability is by far the most interesting part for me, as this opens the possibility for players to make the game truly their own, something that a team of any size won't be able to achieve.
A’vee: I had a lot of fun creating those tiny animations for the 2d town map - things like little characters debating in front of the university building or a tiny wizard atop the Wizards' Guild. I feel these have really added life into that map, I wish I could spend some more time on this task.
SirPi: For me, the joy and tribulations come together in the complexity of the original game’s rules. There are just so many little exceptions and quirks. And then you try to capture them, and recreate them, but also keeping in mind we want new players to discover this magic too. If we had more than six people and our resources, I think there could easily be a whole team with me working on how to approach this. So yes, I love doing it, but it is also tough.
Obi: It’s probably been said before by someone, but the spells and working on them. The key role spells play in the game and their versatility are the true selling point and the thing that makes Master of Magic stand out. And so working on recreating and implementing those spells, so that they continue to give the player that sense of magic and power has been really interesting and inspiring.
Shell: Working on an existing and classic IP, or more specifically, attempting to recreate the old magic while bringing it into the current game market. I spent a lot of time playing and researching classic MoM in preparation for this, so seeing our version and how the two work together is what I enjoy.
Me (Yuuki): Delving into a wonderful, magical world that has meant so much for the history of gaming. Interacting with the awesome fanbase, even when they are critical, I just like the fact that we’re talking and resolving stuff. I also really liked adding some background story/lore to wizards and heroes and races, although I will say that also goes into the ‘stressful category’. I loved doing it, but I didn’t always get it right, and I hate it when my recreation causes disappointment for the core fans. Still, MoM is such a rich game, it is a blast to work with its many, magical possibilities.
What has been the most challenging aspect of working on MoM so far?
Khash: Recreation of someone's idea is much harder than inventing one on your own. Trying to get such a huge list of features and mechanics of the game the way the original inventors wanted it to be, was the most challenging work I ever worked on.
A’vee: For me it was unit and hero design - recreating full unit portraits in high resolution based on the few pixels in the classic MoM. Back then it was mostly the player's imagination that designed these units. Doing them afresh (yet still in a way that would resemble their specific features!) was quite fun but due to the great number of units and time,as well as budgetary frameworks, there wasn't a lot of wiggle room for creating different versions to choose from - we had to get it right the first time.
SirPi: Exceptions to rules and features that need to be implemented just for one thing. This is what makes MoM special, but also what makes it a nightmare sometimes to implement, track and balance... You need to code it all, implement it, then find space on the UI to try and explain it to the player. It can be a real headache - I am looking at you Torin, master of exceptions...
Obi: I am actually gonna say spells again, because as inspiring and cool as they are, they are also insanely complex and often riddled with exceptions and mechanics that apply only to one spell. And then of course you have to make sure the AI is able to use all of those wonderful spells properly. So that has been and continues to be a real challenge.
Shell: Catching all the exceptions and nuances that may have escaped us. And I am looking forward to sifting through all the beta tester bug reports and feedback by myself soon...
Me (Yuuki): Managing fan expectations. I am constantly worried about remaking such a great classic with a small team and available resources. In Thea, our restrictions didn’t matter as much, we were able to adjust our work as we saw fit or as we had to due to limitations, but here, there are targets we need to hit for the game to be a real remake, and so, there is little room left to cut or even to add a bit of ‘us’ to it.
We also reached out to the community for any questions they may have.
Here's a fun question to try to answer without upsetting fans of either camp: How much influence of Thea will there be in the new MoM?
This is a tough one to answer really. Thea and Master of Magic are very different games and while they obviously share some aspects of the 4x genre, the two/three games approach those aspects in vastly divergent ways.
But, if I was to fish out an aspect, apart from hexes and some genre similarities, I would say that both games appreciate that perfect balance is not always the way to have fun in games.
Will there be any balance changes to existing spell factions?
No, we are not balancing the magic for now, however, this is subject to change, pending the beta tests and player feedback, that’s when we will consider tweaks and changes to mechanics and balance.
When will we see the first animations? When magic effects? When will we hear music?
A question I have been wondering about is: is there going to be like a couple minute play through that THEY have done and recorded? Not necessarily for us which I know beta is coming for us… but if we don’t get picked for it. I’d like to just see a couple minutes of it if nothing else.
In answer to both of the above, Slitherine is planning their Home of Wargamers Live on May 10th and you can expect some Master of Magic exposure there, so note the date!
How much of the gameplay is 1:1 with the original game and how much is revisited? I’m interested from the perspective of future plans: are you going to expand on the original concept more on a future game? Or DLC to this upcoming game? Or are you planning to encourage more user content and mods as a primary means to extend the game?
We have tried to recreate as much as we were able to without the source code and detailed design notes. As for the future plans, well, we are not counting anything out, but neither do we have any solid plans right now. This is because we are a small team, and we tend to focus on the project at hand as it is, and then expand our plans accordingly once we see how it is all going. However, we have included a lot of modability, so yes, we do hope modding will pick up and be great.
Will the music be done in house, or are you looking at outside talent? Also, will it be only remasters of the originals, or are there plans to add a few more entries?
Our music is outsourced, and done by the wonderful Murmur Studio. The OST is actually ready, and the music is inspired by the original rather than a remaking of it.
Do you intend to make AI profiles, that means different AI routines that play differently instead of one AI master routine?
Our diplomacy AI does have several variants depending on the Wizard’s character (see answer below). Apart from the diplomacy AI, at the moment, we have only one AI routine, although this routine can be modified in the game settings to raise/lower difficulty. The scripts for the AI are moddable though, so perhaps in the future,either we ,or the modders, will be able to adjust this.
How smart will the AI behave in regards to diplomacy and co? Pls don't give us something like the original that goes like: "you want peace? Ok!" and "you want this awesome spell that is gamebreaking? ok!"
An mentioned in dev diary #7 January 2022 , we are working on the diplomacy AI having a lot of complexity. So the enemy Wizards have their behaviour patterns, and should act in accordance to those, as well as our actions towards them, or any needs they may have (so, in theory, they should offer to trade when they actually need something from us, and not randomly offer up spells).
How is the New MoM going to address the 'final 50 turns' problem? Mainly that the latter 1/4 to 1/3rd of most 4X games range between 'dull' and 'perfunctory', where the outcome is defined and known by the player but not yet the game engine.
This one is a huge question, for most of the 4X genre, I guess. In short, and I will sound like a broken record here, we have not addressed such things a lot, beyond putting an effort into working on the AI and its complexity. We are finding that recreating Master of Magic in all its glory and faults alike, is a huge task for us already, so we will approach such questions most likely during the beta process. In the past, with our Thea games, we found working with our community was the best way to find/add/polish and in doing so, also address those kinds of big questions from new angles. So, in short, we hope to find some ways to address this, but our focus remains on the remake first.
This [MoM] story needs a proper wrap up! Could we have an interview of the original creators together with the new team and modders? This game has been burnt in so many minds since the 90s, I think the world needs to know more about it. Such brilliant ideas surviving the test of time mean a lot more than what meets the eye.
I [Yuuki] would be happy to participate in such an event, for sure, but apart from the modders and dedicated fans with whom I am always open to talk to, we have not had any contact with the original game creators.
We now have the map view as you enter your city, which we implemented so that it would be easier to instantly know which city you are managing.
One in the city view, you can still switch to the 2D map view, to see what building you have, or just have a look at the nice map...
We finally also have a working mini map, yay. And, at the very top right corner, you can see our nifty Bug report button, which will become invaluable in the months to come, during our beta.
Our plan is to begin beta tests this week!
We will do the tests in waves, meaning that we will not invite everyone who applied at once. Our first wave, in fact, will be very small. We do not have precise plans on the frequency with which we will increase the beta tests, so please remain patient with us as we do our best to include as many willing participants as we can.
Thank you so much to everyone who has applied by the way! The response has been super cool, and I know together we will make Master of Magic great again.