Après sa newsletter du 2 novembre, Greg Fulton, directeur et concepteur du jeu Fanstratics, continue de répondre aux questions au sujet de ce futur projet. Comme promis, il nous présente la première faction. On poursuit la traduction de ces newsletters qui intéressent un certain nombre d’entre vous. J’avoue que cette newsletter me laisse sur ma faim, mais bon… il faut savoir être patient.
Et, comme la dernière fois, la seconde partie ne sera pas traduite, car elle se concentre sur une interview réalisée par Tavern of Might and Magic et GoodGame.ru, publiée le 28 février 2019, jour du 20e anniversaire de HoMM3. On notera que ce mois-ci, le croquis mis en avant, correspond à un lanceur de lances gnoll, fruit du travail de Justin Gerard, que l’on peut retrouver sur sa chaîne Twitch.
On souhaite bon rétablissement à Greg Fulton, atteint par la covid19 et on aura une pensée, suite au décès le 7 novembre, du fondateur et dirigeant de HotA, Docent Picolan, pour sa famille et ses proches. Grâce à lui et à ces compagnons de route, il a su prolonger la vie d’HOMM3 et sa magnificence bien au delà de ce que l’on pouvait l’espérer d’un mod.
Ce mois-ci, j’ai cinq questions, dont quatre ont été posées par la communauté pour “The Silent“.
Fanction numéro 1 de Fanstratics : Allegiant.
Cette première faction ne devrait pas surprendre la plupart des gens. Ils sont l’Allégeance ; loyaux, fidèles et inébranlables dans leur dévotion. Inspirée par les chevaliers médiévaux et leur code chevaleresque, cette faction à prédominance humaine s’est installée dans les prairies. Bien qu’ils aient une espérance de vie modérée, ils sont la culture la plus ancienne du continent, et curieusement prédisposés à oublier les leçons de vie plus anciennes. Quiconque connaît le “Castle” de HoMM3 devrait se sentir très à l’aise avec l’Allégiant. Actuellement, la troupe qui représente cette faction est le Cavalier, vu auparavant.
La Fanstratique est-elle liée d’une manière ou d’une autre à l’histoire des séries M&M ou H3, ou bien s’agira-t-il d’un univers complètement différent ?
Ubisoft détient les droits d’auteur légaux de Might and Magic et Heroes of Might and Magic, je n’ai donc pas d’autre choix que de placer Fanstratics (FST) dans son propre univers personnel. Dans de précédentes lettres d’information, j’ai décrit Fanstratics comme “différent, mais familier”. Il aura l’air différent, avec des personnages et des traditions différentes, mais tous ceux qui ont joué à HoMM3 devraient se sentir très à l’aise avec ses mécanismes de jeu.
Quelles sont les fonctionnalités de Heroes III qui ont été annulées avant la sortie ?
Honnêtement, à part la faction controversée “Forge”, je dirais que 99% de ce que je voulais dans le jeu… est arrivé dans le jeu. Je ne me souviens pas avoir coupé quoi que ce soit de vraiment important. Quand nous avons livré HoMM3, j’étais satisfait du travail que nous avions fait. Y a-t-il des possibilités d’amélioration et d’évolution ? Oui. C’est ce que j’essaie de faire avec FST.
Combien de types de ressources différents sont prévus pour les “Fanstratics” ?
Six ressources sont prévues : Timber, Ore, Crystal, Incense, Quicksilver, et Gold. J’ai ramené les sept premières à six, dans l’intention de créer une symétrie naturelle, et une compétition pour des ressources plus rares, entre les neuf factions de FST.
Pourquoi avez-vous décidé de développer un nouveau jeu maintenant, 20 ans voire plus, après la sortie de Restoration of Erathia ?
C’est une grande question à laquelle il faut répondre, mais je vais essayer d’être concis. Lorsque j’ai quitté le développement des jeux, j’étais épuisé et en mauvaise santé après des années de conditions de travail stressantes et de crise. J’ai essayé d’autres professions, notamment la rédaction, le trading et, finalement, la négociation de devises étrangères. Il m’a fallu des années pour apprendre à négocier de manière rentable sur les marchés des devises, mais une fois que j’ai compris, j’ai soudain eu du temps libre. Avec ce temps supplémentaire, j’ai commencé à avoir envie de revenir au développement de jeux vidéo. Lentement, j’ai commencé à réactiver mes compétences en matière de conception de jeux, lorsque la pandémie a frappé. Mon courtier en devises s’est effondré… et j’ai tout perdu. Je n’avais plus le choix. C’était “développement de jeu ou crêve”, et Fanstratics est la montagne sur laquelle j’ai choisi de me battre.
Seconde partie, non traduite
Tavern of Might and Magic
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.