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Ask the Devs a Question: Worlds of Magic

By on February 14th, 2014 9:11 am

Worlds of Magic - the Water Plane

Great games are often imitated, but rarely duplicated. Simtex, together with MicroProse, is widely regarded as one of the most influential developers of 4X games in both the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Both the Master of Orion and the Master of Magic series, despite being released nearly 20 years ago, are still often considered the pinnacle, or gold standard, in their respective genres. Many developers have tried to channel the magic of these two legendary titles into their work, but far more often than not, we’ve disappointingly watched them fall short of their goals. Despite these failed attempts, and despite the seemingly impossible task of pleasing our nostalgic desires, something about those classic titles still has us thirsting for a successor. Master of Magic fans, prepare yourselves, a new contender shall soon be ready to be tested.

Of all the upcoming games in this genre, the closest in both spirit and form to Master of Magic certainly seems to be Wastelands Interactive’s Worlds of Magic. Worlds of Magic was successful on Kickstarter, not once, but twice, and the reason for that seems pretty clear. Fans are hungry for a successor. I’ve discussed Worlds of Magic a few times now, and based on what I’ve seen and experienced, it appears they are doing everything they can to stay true to their goal. Their frequently updated wiki contains a wealth of information, and I highly recommend you give it a look for yourself. Once you’ve read about the global spells, the artifact creation, the way faction leader sorcerers are created, the unique unit abilities, and so on, the path they are on is pretty clear.

The inspiration here is clear.  Look below to see what I mean.

The inspiration here is clear. Look below to see what I mean.

Master of Magic - Magic Menu

Master of Magic - Magic Menu

With all the disappointments we have faced over the years, everyone certainly has a right to be skeptical. You also probably have some questions about Worlds of Magic and its claims. Well, curious gamers, now is your time to shine. I’ve been in contact with Wastelands Interactive, and they have been kind enough to agree to an interview with SpaceSector. Rather than ask all the questions myself, I’d actually really like to get the input of you, our readers and fans. Let’s ask them the tough questions and gather the details we need to know. Who knows, we may even be able to get them thinking about features and elements in a whole new light prior to release. Worlds of Magic is coming from a new developer, and it is certainly up against some tough competition this year, so I’m certain they’ll appreciate the comments and suggestions.

Please leave your comments and questions below. Once everyone has had a chance to get their question in, I’ll gather them up, and then I’ll send them as many questions as possible. I can’t guarantee to ask every question, or that they’ll be able to answer every question, but at least together we’ll do our best to uncover the mysteries. Once I’ve gathered the responses, a new article will be posted with both your questions and their answers.

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  1. JoshT says:

    I understand that Worlds of Magic is a spiritual successor to Master of Magic, but are there lots of new additions to the game rather than just a revamp? If so what the biggest new features that weren’t in Master of magic?

  2. vmxa says:

    I suspect that the failures are due in no small part to the times. If you were around and playing games like MOO or MoM at the time, you had a special perspective.

    Everything was newish and a mystery. Now you have had decades of games with better and better graphics and computers. You won’t have that wonder and awe.

    In any event, I hope they are able to make a new classic. Always looking out for the new Moo or Homm or MM, et al.

    • jackswift says:

      I had not played MoM as a kid, in fact, i had never heard of it until Elemental was in beta. I picked it up on GoG a year ago, and it’s amazing. I get why everyone wants a true successor… the gameplay is addicting in a good way, makes me feel like I’m a kid again booting up Civ 2 or MoO 2.

  3. csebal says:

    Question #1:
    What is your favorite game of the genre, besides your own obviously?

    Question #2:
    What do you consider to be the most important and least important game mechanics for games in this genre.

    Question #3:
    What would you pick as the most significant game design difference compared to your favorite and what is the design reasoning behind it?

    Question #4:
    If you would have to convince an old-school MoM fan on why yours is a game they cannot miss, what would be your ultimate argument?

  4. Osito says:

    (1) Why do you think no one has ever made a proper successor to MOO/MOO2 and MOM?
    (2) Why do you think that you will succeed where everyone else has failed?

  5. SQW says:

    How did you decide what to do when faced with the option of including a new, untested but potentially refreshing feature or sticking with the old mechanics in a game that began effectively a fan-service project – all the while knowing that half of the rabid fans are simply screaming for a graphic update of the original while the other half would call you out for not innovating enough.

  6. Ervin Rome says:

    Will you be able to WIN the game through DIPLOMATIC/OTHER means besides WAR?

  7. Keith says:

    A grid map? really? I’m wondering why they went with grid over Hex. All the cool kids have switched to Hex.

    • csebal says:

      I’m curious: why do you think a hex map is better for a computer game?

      • Osito says:

        Of course, we could ask you the same question (in reverse) ;-)

        But if I could step in and answer your question, personally I prefer the hex structure, because it allows for a better approximation of movement distances, but can still fill the playing area. Octagonal might be an even better approximation, but octagons won’t fit. Circles might be optimum, but they won’t fit either. As I’m sure you know, if you move diagonally in a grid based system, you gain a massive movement bonus. Yes, the computer can do a calculation to adjust for that, but do we really want a root-2 adjustment? I guess the grid based structure does have the ‘advantage’ that you can move in 8 directions rather than 6, but I’ve never really seen that as particularly important.

        I’m not saying this choice is a deal-breaker, just that, given the choice, I would take hexes.

        • csebal says:

          You are spot on with your observations. I could probably add a few points in favor of square grids, but let’s save that for a different topic. :)

      • Keith says:

        Who says I think it is better? I was asking why, not condemning their choice.
        I’m guessing it’s probably a legacy D20 thing.
        I prefer hexes myself, but mostly for aesthetic reasons, and the diagonal move issue.

        • csebal says:

          Well, the form of your question suggested preference and apparently there is at least a slight bias towards hexes on your end. The reason for my curiosity was quite simple: A while ago I spent weeks pondering about the pros and cons of the two approaches and did not arrive to any satisfactory conclusion.

          The diagonal move issue is clearly an advantage hexes have over squares.

          Anyway, thanks for the insight into your reasoning.

  8. AstralWanderer says:

    AI is a key part of most strategy games, yet few manage to do it well (Master of Magic itself was criticised for poor AI). What steps are you taking to make your AI challenging (without cheating) and what have been the biggest challenges in doing so?

  9. Tubifix says:

    there is a quick test you can do to see if you are close to the goal of making a new MOM:

    If you have made such freedoms in the game that makes it possible for the player to make the flying dutchman (warship+fly+black channels in MOM terms) then you are still on track.

    To me the great thing about MOM was never really that it was a balanced strategy game, but that you actually felt like you could make new interesting spell-combos, with the World as your sandbox.

    On the opposite scale: If most of your spells are like +1,5% damage +0,5% resistance – like most abilities in MMORPGs these days – with no real idea behind each spell, you are definetly on the wrong track.

  10. Wiliam says:

    Playability and fun. Flexibility and being able to individualize your troops and strategies. Most folk keep mentioning MOM, but my favorite from Way back was a little known game called “Sword of Aragon: by SSi. Pikemen and heavy infantry mixed with crossbows and archers. Large companies where you could see your losses add up, and rejoice in the fallen of your foes. You really felt like you were fielding an army in this game. Mixed in that was good city development, and magic. While relatively unknown and lost in time, it was to me and others, a better overall game than any in its time, including MOM. A mix of the two would be very interesting indeed.

  11. zigzag says:

    What feature did you have the most difficulty deciding to cut?

    How has the availability of sophisticated, third-party game engines, i.e., Unity, affected development?

  12. UncaJoe says:

    The thing I most appreciate about MOM and MOO(I & II), is their simplicity. Buildings, troops, spells, etc. have a simple, direct path to get to them. Most developers now seek to “improve” older game by adding layers, and layers, and layers of stuff to add and research. Somehow, for me, gameplay and fun get lost in the shuffle. So question 1 is, how complex is research and development?

    If MOO (and MOM) had a fault, it was micro-management late in the game, especially if you were successful in capturing enemy cities. It was rough in 2 worlds, but if I understood correctly, this game will have seven? So question 2, what will you offer to help players deal with that many conquered cities/provinces/etc.?

    So now, one suggestion: Keep it simple! It’s not the graphics, it’s not the music, it’s not squares vs. hexes. It’s the GAME that matters.

    • JD says:

      Hear, hear! Indeed UncaJoe, abstraction and simple mechanics lead to excellent games, all the bloat seen in some of these newer 4x games is terrible. More is not better. A design is good when there is nothing more to take away.

      • csebal says:

        “A design is good when there is nothing more to take away.”

        Words etched into my heart. (and forehead so I do not forget whats etched into my heart)


      • Wodzu says:

        “A design is good when there is nothing more to take away.”

        Where did I hear that?

        • csebal says:

          Most probable: the civilization series.

          “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

          tech quote from Engineering.

          The quote itself is coined to Antoine de Saint-Exupry, an early 20th century french aristocrat.

    • Lens Flares Suck says:


      Game has 8 spells. It’s fun. New game has 32 spells – 4 times the fun, yes?

      NO. There is something I call the ‘golden balance’ and game companies have no clue anymore what it is.

      • AstralWanderer says:

        “Game has 8 spells. It’s fun. New game has 32 spells – 4 times the fun, yes?”

        Dominions 3 has several hundred spells and it’s orgasmic. :)

  13. Klaus says:

    +1 to brothers Tubifix and Lens Flares Suck. I also say this since 20y that transparent and simple is good while intransparent and complex is shit.

  14. PowerSoul says:

    Being AoW3 probably the main competitor, I hope game will be polished at launch, because bored people will try to shred WoM as seen in some comments above. I’m really awaiting for both titles…I’m not looking for a winner, just for a game (or better, both of them) that makes me not to miss old loved Mom -once again…

    So my main question is: will WoM be mod-friendly? Is there a modding community already developing mods for WoM? (Try to get more than a simple yes/no, please ;))

    Because modders can give a pure-MOM conversion for the purist fans, and at the same time add new features for the innovative fans who want an evolution… I think that’s the only way for both kind of fans to be able to co-exist with a “spiritual succesor” of any game…

  15. dweller_below says:

    Question 1: Will the different races be balanced?
    Hint: This isn’t Starcraft. We want races that are actually different. If we want a challenge, we want to start as a weak race. If we want a romp, we want to start with a powerhouse. If we acquire a flying race or a regenerating race, we want game-changing dynamics.

    • AstralWanderer says:

      “We want races that are actually different. If we want a challenge, we want to start as a weak race. If we want a romp, we want to start with a powerhouse. If we acquire a flying race or a regenerating race, we want game-changing dynamics.”

      Having the choice of different power levels would be an interesting variation (though for balance purposes, downsides like reduced experience gain or lower population growth would be needed). This could also be taken further to allow players to create their own race (possible in many spacefaring games, but almost unheard of with fantasy TBS).

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