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Worlds of Magic Community Interview – Part 2

By on March 14th, 2014 11:02 am

Worlds of Magic Community Interview - Part 2

Welcome to part two of our two-part community interview with the team behind the upcoming fantasy 4X strategy game, Worlds of Magic. We hope you’ve enjoyed the interview thus far, but we aren’t done yet. You’ve gotten answers regarding quite a few of your questions in part one, but there were still some left unanswered… until now. Here are the remainder of your questions, as well as a few of our own. Answers once again were kindly provided by Worlds of Magic team members Aaron Ethridge and Leszek Lisowski.

SQW: 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?

Aaron: In the main we’ve discussed these situations with our community. You’re right is saying that about half the fan base (which is, in reality, mainly a MoM fan base at the moment) wants what amounts to MoM in a new engine, while the other half wants something more akin to what MoM 2 might be if it were made today. What we’ve attempted to do (with a great deal of success) is pull the two groups together and work toward a middle ground by ensuring that new features are very MoMesk. Obviously we want to go beyond MoM. If that wasn’t the case there wouldn’t be any reason to make a new game. MoM wasn’t about graphics. It was and is a great game. However, we want to build on the conceptual foundation it laid and go beyond it. To do that we’ve introduced new features that fit the theme and we’ve kept the community in the loop to make sure we stay on the right track.

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

Aaron: It has certainly speed development along. Unity is like a toolbox for making games. I’m not sure the project would have been feasible before Unity simply because of the development cost of coding an engine from scratch (or purchasing a much more expensive one). Unity allowed us to put together some proof-of-concept game play and reach out to the community using that. Unity is amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone who is toying with the idea of making their own games.

Leszek: I just need to say that there are some cons of using Unity. We need to adapt our design to Unity from time to time. Most probably creating custom engine would allow us to make some of the things in a more efficient way. But in the long run it is certainly a great advantage to use it.

Keith: Why was a grid map chosen as opposed to a hex based map?

Aaron: One of the reasons is that I personally reject the idea that a hex based map is “better” than a grid. Each have their strengths and weaknesses. I was unmoved by the fact that many modern games have decided to go with a hex based system. WoM is meant to be a spiritual successor to MoM. Whenever possible we stick to features that will give MoM players nostalgic feelings. A grid based battle map is very MoMesk and doesn’t hurt the game play at all. So, we made the decision to keep it “the way MoM did it” simply because we didn’t see any need to use hexes.

Worlds of Magic Community Interview - Part 2

dweller_below: Will some races be weaker or stronger than others? Will some races have significant advantages or disadvantages, like flying or regenerating units?

Aaron: Some race may be slightly weaker or stronger than average. However, our goal is to have the initial races be as balanced as possible. Military balance isn’t as great a concern for WoM as it is for some games (Warcraft for instance) because you can rule over a number of races at the same time. So, you can literally build armies out of the best each race has to offer. Some races do have significant advantages (all Draconians can fly, for instance) and in time we plan to add more races with even more special advantages. Still, at the end of the day we’re aiming at balance. We’re just focusing on fun more than balance. As a result certain races may have a slight edge. Of course, that really depends on your point of view.

Leszek: Of course you have to remember that units in different races are not only reskinned Spearmans and Swordsmans. There will be a wide diversity of those units, their attributes and abilities. Some of the races might be better for specific playstyle than the others.

UncaJoe: 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. How complex are research and development in Worlds of Magic?

Aaron: This is one area where we certainly tried to maintain the MoM-like simplicity. To train units you have a number of building prerequisites and most buildings also have prerequisites in a very MoMesk fashion. At character creation you choose how many tiers you have in the different spell circles. Those selections define your potential spell list from which you pick the spell you are currently researching. In my opinion we’ve been able to keep it very simple, while at the same time offering an interesting level of depth. Again, there is a lot of information about it already in our wiki.

Tubifix, Keith Turner: How much freedom will players have when it comes to creating interesting unit and spell combinations? Will many of the spell effects and abilities offer unique mechanics, or will we see a lot of incremental increases with things like minor damage tweaks?

Aaron: A lot. There are simple things like giving units the ability to fly or regenerate all the way up to turning your units into undead in order to give them resistance and immunities. You will certainly be able to add damage and armor tweaks, but you can do a great deal more than that. Both the units and spells have a great deal of variety. You’ll be able to combine them in some truly fantastic ways. This is one of the areas where we’re still getting community feedback. More is being added each day. This information is slowly making it’s way to the wiki, but our backers’ forum is the best place to see what’s current.

Worlds of Magic Community Interview - Part 2

Csebal: Why should old-school MoM fans feel your game can’t be missed?

Aaron: Well, somewhere in 1994/1995 I got my hands on MoM for the first time. I played it I don’t know how many hours day after day, week after week, and eventually month after month. For close to twenty years I waited for a true successor to MoM’s throne. Finally, I decided to try to make one. Worlds of Magic is a true spiritual successor of Master of Magic created for and by its fans. There is a MoMesk feel about almost every element of the game. It is going to feel familiar, yet new. It’s going offer classic features fans would expect and new ones they should find exciting. If you’re willing to take the word of another MoM fan then trust me, you don’t want to miss Worlds of Magic.

UncaJoe, JD, csebal, others: This isn’t a question, but more of a recommendation. Keep the design simple and elegant. More is not always better. It’s also important to remember that it is the mechanics and gameplay, rather than the graphics, music, and artwork, that are going to win over the fans of the genre.

Aaron: Thank you for the recommendation. We have striven to keep things simple while still adding depth. And, as much effort as we’ve put into making the game look good, our primary focus has always been on mechanics. Just browsing through our wiki should give you some idea of the direction we’re heading. If that convinces you to pre-order the game you can get access to the backers’ forums and see even more of what we’re doing (as well as help us make do it).

Aaron: In closing I want to thank you guys for putting together this interview. It’s given me a chance to talk about Worlds of Magic which is a subject I really like. So, thanks!

SpaceSector: Thanks once again for presenting some great questions. I feel like we’ve learned a fair bit about the game, and we certainly appreciate the time you spent submitting them. Worlds of Magic is currently set to release later this year, but exactly when will depend on feedback provided during the beta phase. Leszek informed me that they hope to start the beta this summer.

If you’d like to get involved in the backer only discussions, or if you’d like to be involved in the beta, you can still help back the game if you’d like. Visit the official Worlds of Magic site to see more details about the available options.

We want to thank Aaron Ethridge, Leszek Lisowski, and the entire Worlds of Magic team for answering our questions and for taking on the challenge of a true MoM successor. We certainly wish them the best of luck.

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  1. DevildogFF says:

    I’m eager to see how this turns out, since I’m a backer, but good god does Age of Wonders 3 look to fill this slot so well.

    I’m guessing AOW3 will release before it, too, which is shame and also FANTASTIC as I’ve preordered it and will receive this when it become available, but I can imagine that AOW3 will steal some of WOM’s thunder…

    • SQW says:

      Why would you pre-order it? You aren’t helping the dev like Kickstarter; in fact, you get no benefit at all and all of the risk should the game turn out to be a dud.

      There will be reviews and let’s plays on the day the game comes out and for the price of waiting 24 hrs, you can avoid the likes of aliens: colonial marines, sim city and X-rebirth.

  2. doomtrader says:

    Age of Wonders 3 is a great game and will be released 31st March. I’ve already pre-ordered it on Steam.

    However I’m wondering how proffesional are the reviews as most of those I have read so far, compare AoW 3 to the Heroes of M&M series.

  3. stormcloud says:

    I think he sort of contradicted himself on the simplicity question from UncaJoe. WoM spell mechanics was expanded 2X to include a somewhat less than intuitive or obscure aspects e.g. like Biomancy, Mentalism.

    If you really think about it, all of the 6 magic schools in the original MoM don’t evoke head scratching. They utilized commonly used terms. The extra 6 bits that they introduced in WoM aren’t as common. This is possibly overcomplicating stuffs, where one doesn’t really need it. There are a number of other ways to create depth via quality, rather than quantity.

    Anyhow, looking forward to how WoM will be turning out. It looks decent atm.

    • UncaJoe says:

      Stormcloud, I have to agree with you. I was not impressed with his answer.
      I haved looked at their wiki and it seems to me they’ve made magic ‘way
      too complicated. Reminds me a lot of Dominions 3 and that was the one thing I
      did NOT like about that game. But also like you, I want to see how the
      finished product turns out.

      • stormcloud says:

        Now that you mention it, it looks like they followed the Dominions model for magic. Dominions 3 (and 4) player here, kept the game on my HDD, but I haven’t played a campaign for since the new year.

        Well, Dominions is a different game (which is very niche), with different aspects that makes it desirable (to players) and also caters to a different (player) audience. Won’t go into details on this :P

        If they really did use Dominion as a model, imo, then that’s basically transplanting what worked for Dominions into a totally different game. Depending on how they plan to implement this, in conjunction with the other game mechanics … it could yet fail spectacularly.

        Not sure if they had considered (or dismissed?) adapting parts of Games Worshop’s Warhammer Fantasy magic model, which imo, is more suited for MoM type games than the above. To top it all, it’s widely proven system.

        • Aaron says:

          Just to identify myself, I’m Aaron the lead designer on Worlds of Magic.

          Stormcloud, any similarity between the magic system we’re using and the Dominion series is completely coincidental. Our design was initially inspired by the Master of Magic system(which sorted spells into five schools, very similar to those in Magic the Gathering). First, we broke things into six elements rather than five making room for both Air and Water. After that we added six more effect circles. The effect circles make it much easier to make characters that focus solely on Summoing or Destruction. I admit that the system has a certain level of complexity, but the end result merits the additional circles. Also, it’s a complexity new players can easily ignore. If you make a Fire Master you’ll get all the Fire spells. A Master of Destruction gets all the spells of Destruction. You can wait until you’re comfortable to try builds like a Life Summoner or one that uses four or five elemental circles. Still my main point is that our magic system is not the Dominions system.

          Also, honestly, if you tinker with our magic system for 20 minutes it’s very easy to come to grips with. The explanation just looks complex on paper :)

          Fireball is a tier 3 Fire/Destruction spell. You can get it if you have three tiers of Fire, two tiers of Fire and one of Destruction, one tier of Fire and two of Destruction, or three tiers of Destruction. I think you’ll agree that the concept is simple even if the sentence explaining it isn’t.

        • stormcloud says:

          Nested replies will make the formatting look ugly, so I’ll just reply to myself to comment on the above :)

          What you described is how the Dominions magic system works (which itself was probably spawned/modified some obscure RPG roleplay source). Basic recap, Dominions categorize magic into major “Paths” (Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Astral, Nature, Blood) and then split each of them into “Schools” (Conjuration, Alteration, Evocation, Construction, Enchantment, Thaumaturgy, Blood Magic). There are 3 seperate areas on how magic is applied – Battle Magic, Rituals and Global Enchantment.

          Therefore, tinkering with WoM magic is child’s play after the above ;)

          While I (personally) welcome details and depth in a game, it may not be the right decision. The game context matters. For argument’s sake, if you’re developing a sequel to Dominions 4 and adopted the current WoM magic system, then I’d say you’re dumbing down the game without a reasonable explanation. The original MoM endeared to many players as it was easy to get into, imo. Simple concepts, hard to master ring a bell? The acid test that you’d want to consider (if you haven’t already), is to put WoM infront of several players that have no idea what it’s all about. Check their responses. Developers, fans, testers who assumes the obvious and is in touch with the game development 24/7 are sometimes blind to this other perspective.

          That’s pretty much the gist of the original discussion, which merely reflected a concern … which is likely moot anyway at this point in time.

        • UncaJoe says:

          Wait…there is a Dominions 4? I didn’t know that.
          Regarding WoM, I’ll say it again. What I like about it (I’m playing a game now) is its simplicity. If I have a Life book, I may not start with all the life spells, but I can cast any Life spell I find during the game. Unlike Dom.3, where other conditions have to be met. I do not see the addition of “circles” as a simplification; to me it’s a complication.
          This is not to say I don’t enjoy Dom.3, but it is – from the very start – a different game from MoM.
          Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

  4. Martok says:

    Good questions/answers! The more I see of WoM, the more I like it.

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