Greg Fulton, le lead designer d’Heroes of Might and Magic 3 et de ses extensions, et maintenant directeur et concepteur du jeu Fanstratics, nous revient avec la newsletter de novembre dans laquelle il répond à un certain nombre de questions. Et nous, on se permet de vous le traduire, en attendant plus. Pour la newsletter précédente, c’est par ici. A noter que la newsletter 2 était suivie par 1150 personnes, celle-ci est envoyé à 1950 personnes. On vous laisse relire la dernière question de la première newsletter qui espérait 50 000 abonnés pour que le projet s’annonce viable. Pour le moment , on en est loin. Mais l’espoir fait vivre.


Fanstratics Factions ?

J’ai conçu 9 Factions, sans compter les troupes neutres, qui pourraient être considérées comme une dixième faction non officielle. Il existe également des modèles conceptuelles pour 2 ou 3 factions supplémentaires qui pourraient faire partie des extensions ultérieures de Fanstratics (FST), en supposant que le jeu sorte et connaisse un certain succès.

Notez que je dis factions… pas villes. Dans Heroes of might and magic 3 (HoMM3), nous aurions dû changer la terminologie de “villes” en “factions”, mais nous avons essayé de rester quelque peu cohérents avec la terminologie de HoMM2 (Barbarian Town, Knight Town, Warlock Town, etc.).

C’est la raison pour laquelle la culture, essentiellement humaine, a été appelée “château” et non pas autre chose, comme… l’Alliance. Dans FST, chaque culture aura un nom de faction propre.

Le nombre de factions livrées avec le jeu initial dépend en fin de compte du budget. Si le financement par le public et les ventes de l’accès anticipé répondent aux attentes, il serait raisonnable de créer et de sortir les neuf factions. Si le financement par le public et les ventes de l’accès anticipé ne répondent pas aux attentes, nous pourrions être obligés d’en créer moins de neuf. Ensuite, il y a toujours l’espoir, les ventes qui suivront génèreraient les revenus nécessaires pour continuer à construire les factions restantes, mais il n’y a pas de garanties.

À partir du mois prochain, je vous donnerai quelques détails sur chaque faction, mais vous pouvez déjà commencer à déduire les différentes cultures à partir du concept art publié. À ce jour, chaque concept art d’unité est tiré d’une faction, et cela continuera jusqu’à ce que nous ayons révélé 9 troupes. Par la suite, nous commencerons un autre cycle de 9 .

Je révélerai les détails conceptuels de la première faction dans la prochaine newsletter.

Y aura-t-il un forum pour les suggestions et les réactions ?

À ce stade, je n’en suis pas sûr. En général, si quelqu’un aime le jeu… il a tendance à l’apprécier “tranquillement”. Si quelqu’un joue au jeu, mais est contrarié par un aspect particulier, il rejoint le forum de l’entreprise et vomira verbalement du poison dessus.

J’étudie la viabilité d’un système dans le jeu permettant de signaler les bugs et de donner un avis. De cette façon, nous obtiendrions les évaluations de joueurs que nous souhaitons, sans que le public se comporte mal. Quoi qu’il en soit, tout système de retour d’information n’existera pas avant l’accès anticipé.

Sir Mullich sera-t-il dans le jeu ?

Sir Mullich est protégé par les droits d’auteur d’Ubisoft et ne sera pas dans le jeu… mais il ne serait pas convenable, pour un successeur spirituel de HoMM, de ne pas avoir l’expression farfelue de “David Mullich” quelque part dans le jeu. J’ai fait part à David de mon désir de le mettre dans le jeu, et il n’a pas exprimé d’opposition. Bien sûr, nous aurons besoin d’une photo récente de lui, ce qui ne devrait pas poser de problème, car il aime se faire prendre en photo.

Travailleriez-vous avec Ubisoft, s’ils vous approchaient pour faire un autre jeu HoMM ?

Je doute sérieusement qu’Ubisoft m’approche. S’il le faisait, je voudrais des garanties spécifiques (de production, financières et créatives), et je doute fortement que les responsables acceptent. Dans l’ensemble, si l’on considère la collection de jeux Might & Magic qu’Ubisoft a créée, je les soupçonne d’avoir gagné de l’argent, mais pas autant qu’ils le souhaitaient. Malheureusement, pour Ubisoft, Might & Magic est devenu une franchise moyenne, plus adaptée à des produits dérivés faciles à commercialiser. Ce qui nous amène à la question suivante…

Avez-vous vu Might & Magic Era of Chaos ?

Oui, je joue à Era of Chaos (EoC) depuis qu’il est disponible en dehors de la Chine. C’est à peu près ce que l’on attend d’un jeu mobile F2P ; jeu semi-automatisé, système de progression très long, éléments spécifiques de paiement à la sortie, etc. Ceci étant dit… ce n’est pas mal. À bien des égards, le système HoMM3, les personnages et la mécanique, sont bien adaptés à un portage mobile. Je dois cependant admettre qu’il est un peu étrange de voir l'”univers” des HoMM3 prendre vie dans un autre genre. Une fois que HoMM5 a été mis en vente, j’ai pensé qu’Erathia et Catherine étaient une fin logique.

La suite de la newsletter fait référence à une interview réalisée par Tavern of Might and Magic et GoodGame.ru, et publiée le 28 février 2019, jour du 20e anniversaire de HoMM3. Nous ne l’avons pas traduite car ce n’est pas le sujet de notre article.


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.