After reading everyone reminisce about the glory days of Master of Magic (1995), I decided to pony up the $5.99 at GOG.com and give it a try. Until this week, I had never played MoM. Heresy! I know. Back then I was playing the crap out of Final Fantasy I and II (US) and loving them. Computers weren't on my list of fun until '97 or '98 (Diablo/Civ 2) and certainly not in 1995.
Therefore, I find myself today playing a game in DOS markedly similar, in ways. to every other 4x or TBS game I've played in the last 10 years. In many ways FE seems, in beta 1, close to MoM with all the faults everyone cries about. Hero stack of doom? I had one before the first 200 turns:
(I got that Dragon as the first Hero to recruit and never looked back; I made that ring for ~1500 MP)
This unstoppable stack trounced every AI Wizard's (and neutral) city when I felt like it; which was often. The AI is also pretty ineffective on normal and hard, remind anyone of anything? The only thing this stack couldn't destroy was 2 Sky Drakes and 8 Phantom Warriors guarding a Sorcery Pool on Myrror. Regular units only really feel particularly useful to guard cities and in the early game. Once this stack is leveled and fully enchanted it can pretty much do anything. (They all have awesome items/artifacts I made and have flight/eldritch weapon/holy armor cast.)
Furthermore, there is just as much "city spam" in this game as there is in any other game:
(Most of my cities are on Myrror, which I didn't feel like taking a pic of because it is a pain to get in and out of DOSbox everytime.)
What I do like about this game is Heroes coming to you because of your fame or not coming because of your lack of it. Said fame influencing the quality of said Heroes. The all inclusive cities. The monster lair/magic nodes exploration. The item/artifact creation mechanic, which is arguably the best thing about the game. It is a satisfying payoff when you have to wait 10-20 turns just to get a custom designed ring you made for your Hero and even more so when you see your enemies driven before you.
Overall, yes, this game is worth the $5 I paid for it but not much more. I've played and won several games already and they don't feel all that unique on subsequent playthroughs. I make a custom Wizard and take the best traits, why play with an inferior one? The magic system is pretty unique but it also feels similar to FE, in ways. In fact, a lot of this game does.
Just as I do with many video games from my "early days," I let nostalgia and novelty cloud reality. I think this is also happening when, often, people draw parallels to MoM and FE. Ultimately, to each their own.
Going back through the posts today I saw some very good points that I agree with...
1) It doesn't matter what abilities you choose for your sovereign are.. after you gain a few levels you can get all of the ones you missed. The *abilities* you pay for in the beginning ought to also contain selections that you CAN NOT get anywhere else. Sure--choosing spell trees wouldn't apply here, but maybe the sovereign has, I don't know, some inherant magical nature where every military unit he/she produces has a 10% chance of gaining magic immunity, or a sovereign who was born on the elemental plane enabling them to command multiple elementals of the same tpye (perhaps a group of three fire elementals), and so-on. Or make it simple... they get a 20% bonus to construction. But make them buffs that you cannot gain just by leveling. Wait--spell trees COULD apply here. Let's say the maximum spell level for ALL heroes is level 3, but you can choose "expert" or "wizard" for any of the 5 trees, allowing you to gain access to spells of that level.
2) GOT to have a larger selection of races, and allow some to train fantastic creatures. Think HOMM on this one. Let there be a death race that can train skeletons and wraiths, etc., etc.
3) Magic. Please, oh PLEASE let's make "War of Magic" actually mean something. I made a few posts about this... I still think that we need a slider for mana... let it be for technology research, spell research and mana generation. You can STILL have materials for weaponry, construction, etc. Set it up so that researching spells takes a LONG time. On the game map, have locations/quests where you can discover a scroll for a certain spell. The more advanced the spell, the tougher the monsters. You will WANT to take those risks because the spells are hard to research. Once you have the spell, they are availabe to ALL of your champions but... the champions have to learn them. IF stationed in a city, they learn them 4x as quick as if they're exploring, etc. Maybe this will be one of the buffs... perhaps a "Fire Scholar" buff enables that hero to learn fire-based spells 10x faster, etc. Also, if you want to learn fireball, your hero must first have mastered sparks and flame dart, etc.
As for the spells, they need to level, too. Presently--the more fire shards you have the more damage a fire spell does. BUT... they overall nodes you control should have some effect. As I mentioned in another post, let's use fireball for instance. You cast fireball and have no shards. It hits only one enemy for the base damage. If you control 3 fire shards and 6 other shards, the damage is increased due to the fire shards, but the area of effect is larger due to the other shards you have (maybe one square in front and behind the caster for 3 other shards, a 9x9 area for 6 other shards, and so-on). Also, maybe have a knock-down/knock-back effect for some spells as a buff. Flame dart... if you control 3 shards other than fire, there sia 50% chance the target will be knocked down for a turn, or knocked back 1 square, etc.
I love the quote you see every now-and-then on the loading screen. "Need an army? Summon one". You're kidding--right? The summoning is pretty bad. Let the caster put SEVERAL units on the field like in MoM. From weak ones (wolves, goblins, etc) all the way to perhaps a dragon. Let the mana cost scale accordingly, and also let the caster choose an amount of mana to "buff " a spell with like in MoM. On summoning, choosing more mana allows the goblins to be a higher level with more HP, damage and defense. That becomes strategic. Do I summon 3 weaker units of goblins, or one unit of uber goblins? Same with dragons... a level one dragon (youngling) is petty doggone tough, but buff it with mana to get all the way to an ancient dragon that can do a massive AOE fire attack. Let some summonings be for combat ONLY.
Doing this with spells, and especially letting you buff them for greater effect/larger AOE will make the battles extremely more strategic. You can have fun with it, too. Let there be recommended minimum intelligence for a certain spell. Like fireball... the recommended intelligence may be 35. If you're below that, there's a chance it will fizzle, backfire, hit a party member, or just cause a big cloud of smoke on the battlefield. If your intelligence is way higher, say double the amount, let there be a 3% chance of some random effect like charring the enemy where they are immobilized for a few turns, or 20% of the enemy armies are turned into guinea pigs, etc.
I also feel weapons and armor for heroes should be buffed by the shards you control. Not just to add damage, but also effects. Like the "Bow of Wind". If you control 3 air shards there's a 50% chance an enemy will be knocked down/back and so-on. That will make things good for those who like melee heroes, but it's still magic-based (here again, War of MAGIC).
Make the tree you choose more selective. Make big-time spells need an 80 intelligence, so you need to focus all of your levels on gaining intelligence. Same with melee--the Sword of Meteors can only be wielded by a champion with a strength of 80.
Lastly, we NEED spells for immobilization. Like old school D&D. Paralysis, sleep, freeze, etc. Again--effects are based on shards, type, etc., as well as monster level and resistance. And, of course, any frozen, immobilized, etc., enemy is muce more prone to a critical hit.
I would LOVE to see this game get to the point where you'd sell your own Mom to get that *one more* fire shard so you can enable some effect on a weapon, gain a new effect on a spell, summon a certain creature, etc.
More great ideas. Derek, please take notice of them!
Summon an Earth Elemental on the overland map... you can summon a second one on the tactical map. If you have an extra caster, even a third one. Then you can summon a different elemental....
But I'd love to be able to summon more elementals from the land-based map. After all, why be able to summon only one?
Also gave for JonathanEngr. Particularly like your shard ideas. They deserve their own thread imo.
Thanks for the Karma!
Barrynor--what you said is exactly correct. You can cast one out of tactical combat and he'll stay with you, level up--the works. And cast another one in combat to double the fun. And, of course, other casters can do the same , as well. Thus, you can *sort-of* make an army out of them, but you use a couple of turns in combat to create the second one when, if you have them, would be much better spent casting fireball or blizzard.
Since the number of units you can control is limited, you'd be limited with size of the army, anyway, but I would love for there to be so many more options. Maybe summon a ranged attacker, strong melee, a tank (guy who can take a lot of hits) and so-on. I'd like to have the option to toss some dragon fodder onto the playing field to keep aggro off of my weaker spellcasters and/or units.
I *love* the ghosts (not sure the exact name) in HOMM. You swing to hit them and there's a chance you'll completely do them no harm. Units that can fly over obstacles and many that can't. In my opinion, in this genre of game, HOMM has about the best strategy in combat. Almost every unit has unique traits, you can arrange them to your liking on the battlefield (or have it done automatically), and so-on. It still kills me how it will put my pioneers on the front line!?!!?!? Anyway, if you coupled this with lots of great spells, a good mana economy and use of shards, i feel this game would be an unstoppable force.
Since we are evolving into an FE Improvement Suggestions thread, I'd like to add one (or more - as thoughts evolve) on magic:
- another research branch for spells. I like that the game already makes you make choices between the research branches. Spell research made you do the same thing in MoM and really affected how you would play the game. In FE, my sovereign and one designated spell casting hero plus one designated healer hero cast the very occasional spell in combat. That is because spells aren't generally critical to winning a battle and I don't have very many interesting ones anyway. So this is like a triple suggestion: more spells, better spells, researchable spells. Plus spells as rewards for appropriate lair conquest.
- add a system, as per MoM, where the sovereign in his capital can cast combat spells. Of course in MoM, the wizard was always in his tower so this would make FE better than MoM. As it is, my sovereign is my best fighter and spends all his time (slowly) wandering the world killing things. I don't see that FE gives one any other viable choices - and TBS games should always be about giving players viable options.
- my initial spell choices in MoM were always Healing and Web and won me innumerable early battles against apparently insurmountable odds. Healing seems really rare in FE and web or other paralysis spell non-existant (except for some monsters - and it is as far as I can see useless for them)
- summoned monsters - both permanent (mana upkeep) and for the duration of combat
- link allowed spell research to the capabilities of the soverein, i.e. can only research spells in areas that he has as a capability and only to the level that he has. But give access to other magic schools as promotion options
- if the sovereign stays home is to ba a viable play option, then you will need more ways for him to gain XP. The Adventurers' Guild (I think) does this, would suggest adding things like Mages' Guild, Magic College, Alchemists' Guild, etc to do the same. These can also double (or triple) as research or mana generators.
Admittedly, FE doesn't proclaim the importance of magic in its title like WoM but post apocalyptic medieval world just doesn't cut it - even though WoM and FE do this very well.
The quest system is an aspect that MoM did not have - but in my current game I had only a couple of low level, NO mid level and a bazillion high level quests. This could be a bit better balanced. Toss in more ruins, abondoned keeps, fallen temples, etc with spells and magic schools/spell book equivalents as potential rewards with a magic system that is both fun and critical and then you have the true spiritual successor to MoM. And as this thread suggests, many people would consider that to be a great achievement. Oh yes, plus pathfinding as a spell and/or promotion trait. It is soooo slooow going through those endless woods.
I forgot to add that I really like JonathanEngr's suggestions, particularly mana nodes and shards. Consider them to be implicitly in my suggestions as well.
FYI, for the record, Stardock failed to acquire the license for MoM
this is why instead of MoM2 the game is called E:WOM/E:FE and is labeled a "spritual succesor" instead of sequel
Thought I would post this old 2006 interview from Brad on the MOM license negotiations with Atari. Clarified things pretty well I think. Ridiculous demands to make on an old license...
Darklands! Great game, I would be hard pressed to compare it to FE/MoM/Civ though.
If any of you could name a spiritual successor to Darklands, what game would it be and why? I miss the old DOS AD&D games I played when I was young...
Funny the amount of bashing against MOM which is what Elemental aspires to.
In many ways the debate here is between 2 types of players, the OP is all about competition/winning (I wonder how many games he played?). While most MoM fans are about *experience*, exploring different fun options etc.
Microprose games, MoM, Moo, BotF, Civ etc were about the later.
Honestly, StarDock is a very different kind of company from Microprose, just compare Galciv series vs Moo. The former had way superior AI (no surprise since the CEO is the guy who writes the AI) but the Moo series generally had more fun mechanics/favor. While SD games are more focused on AI giving players a competition.
Because of the focus on the later, Elemental will never be a game like MOM with such a wide variety of spells, abilities, race abilities, items etc as the AI will never be able to cope. Others before me have given very detailed explanations on why MoM seems more fun, including unbalanced crazy spells/abilities like Timestop where the effect was not simply +X to some stat.
The fact that initial choice made a difference because barring ultra rare situations if you didn't choose say Warlord or 8 Nature spellbooks you would never get it while in FE initial choices generally just gave you a bonus that's it.
The curious thing is in some ways FE gives players more choices including in creating units and customizing champions. In the later case it kinda works or could work (interesting choices) though it works in MOM too because Champions are unique and memorable as you couldnt change them e,g Torin/Roland/MysticX/Fangs.... but I don't think it works for customizing units because they make things too similar.
Why did E:WOM fall flat, it wasn't as fun as MOM , that wasn't a shocker. What was a shock was the AI sucked. So SD failed to please either camp...
What about FE? It's a way better attempt. Why? One word , Derek. From FFH, you can see he is more of a Microprose type player, but I think he has reined in some of his imagination at least for FE (factions are not even close to as diverse as in FFH though way better than in WOM), there is attempt to add more favour tech as opposed to Galciv Tech X type names etc.
But it will never be a MOM type game, though I suspect the next expansion will bring it closer or some mod will make it so.
Yes and no.
Yes, Derek's experience with FFH, and perhaps more importantly his experience with being a DM, certainly helped from the imagination department. I believe Derek has shown through FFH his game design philosophy of assymetical balance, and I think that has great potential in FE (in the abstract).
However, one man does not by himself improve a game, and I think that the whole team working together (from the mistakes of the past + new ideas coming in) has made FE what it is today.
Good points Tasunke.
Honestly, the credit can go to whoever, I don't really care (I don't live to be buddies with SD peeps and I know they don't care about me either beyond the fact I preordered).
But it has being stated several times that FE is Derek's vision and while it is foolish of course to say it's all him and everyone else is not lifting a finger, but given the differences between EWOM and the typical SD game, I would be shocked if the major difference isn't him. And for sure I am not saying FE is a MOM type experience game, it's just closer than I would have expected from a typical SD offering. It's still no MOM obviously (modders might get it eventually)
But all that is besides the point as I doubt anyone disputes my analysis of the type of games SD produces versus those by Microprose..
So I have had always had low expectations of this so called spiritual successor of MOM knowing that SD type games would never produce games like that, but I preordered just to show support for this genre of games.
Well, for instance, research from population likely came from Jon Schafer
There are several factors to this game's success. Don't forget about money. This is capitalism, money makes a huge difference. I think one of Derek's hardest jobs is deciding which areas to spend money (time) on. There are lots of areas of the game that could be expanded. I'd hate to be the one to have to deal with the budget of implementation. Fortunately I can watch from afar in my ivory Tower without having to make any hard decisions.
An Ivory tower eh? I always wanted one of those ....
As CEO (and self described accountant) it is likely Brad Wardell's decision of where the money goes (on the big picture)
but yes, perhaps Derek gets to decide how much money goes into Art Assets vs Internal balance testing vs Stablility testing (although the latter two might be very similar: But maybe they go out and buy a bunch of different types of computers? for stability testing on different OSs, while Internal Balance testing is just using the computers they already have? just a guess)
anyways, if I had to guess, I think Brad makes most of the monetary decisions, while Kael makes most of the unit design decisions, while Jon makes most of the City design decisions. By unit design I mean tactical battle balance, quest balance (and loot balance), spell balance, etc.
It is probably Jon and Derek that do the primary planning for game-pacing (together)-> aka making a distinct Phase I, phase II, and Phase III
The idea to tie one resource to each Tech tree, as well as tie one victory to each Tech tree, was likely a colaborative effort.
And then we have Wardell in his king field, the AI
Jon Schafer is working on another (as yet unannounced) project. He isn't working on FE, even if he was working on it before.
Hmm. Well I still think he helped out in early FE. And Brad says they sometimes bounce ideas of each other.
Well said. Producing a computer game these days is most definitely a team effort BUT I too feel that Derek has had a huge influence in bringing us to this point where FE looks like it will match a decent portion of MoM's glorious variety. It's pretty rough comparing WoM to FE because FE has had the advantage of starting with an existing engine and being able to focus much more on the game, but I think the difference between the games is more substantial than just the technology and Derek is my explanation for that.
I dusted off MOM recently just to see how it stood up to my expectations and I find I do still enjoy it despite all its flaws as many have pointed out.
If I had to sum up the difference between MOM and FE in the simplest terms I would focus on how the games view their worlds. MOM has a vast and populated world that you are truly trying to explore and conquer in a more realistic philosophical sense. FE is riddled with some philosophical design baggage that I feel turns the game away from the living world concept.
I appreciate that FE is meant to be a reclaim the fallen world game but really it still just feels like a Sandbox to me, I am always acutely aware of the fact.
In most fantasy stories the different races function as conceptual and philosophical stand ins for human cultures we recognize either consciously or unconsciously. Most fantasy races have parallels within real world historical empires with very different cultures and viewpoints from our own. The core of the great fantasy is that you get to exist during these times and enjoy an interplay that only really happens in the minds of historians otherwise. A game like MOM or Fall from Heaven, feels so tangible because it provides these meetings of titans such as the Roman's vs the Shogunate that we all dream of, with the added frame of the Roman's having angels in their army and the Shogunate using Oni in battle. It creates a wonderful interplay of the fantastic. For me this is where half of the joy of fantasy is, the meeting of things that normally never meet and simply put how cool is an Oni vs and Angel, or whatever example works for you.
FE is comparatively incredibly bland. Every race functions in almost the exact same way, even if they make the AIs react racially that will not change the principle flaw that I feel is preventing it from being a true successor to such fantasy world games. The difference needs to be apparent from Square 1 of the game and nothing about AI will change that. It is the feel of the game that is missing the mark currently.
A changes that stands out to me that would help:
-Remove the current system of recruiting monster allies entirely, in its current design it diminishes the special quality of having those races. Here is why I think so: The concept that is intended to be represented by hiring monsters is some kind of diplomatic relationship with the other races, great in concept but currently bland in implementation. The monster races are only meaningful if they are already a meaningful part of the world. In MOM I love finding cities that don't belong to empires precisely because I get to make a choice, conquer and raze removing their people from the site of where I want my city, or leaving the city and making them a part of my empire mixing their units into my army. This is so crucial and a huge part of the quality MOM has over FE. It represents a real world leader scenario "do I want to make these people serve me or should I crush them like bugs?", that is something I feel is utterly missing from FE in its current implementation of the monster races, they just exist for you to use if you want to, instead of being something cool you find that presents a choice you didn't have before you found it. Its the joy of choice and discovery combined.
I know you can conquer enemy empire cities and take them over, but that too never feels like it means anything to me in this game because functionally all of the races are identical, so there is no real appeal to it. It just becomes another of my homogeneous cities in my homogeneous empire.
-Now of course some may say "well ok so what should they do?" darn good question I'll try to take a swing at. I would have monster cities replace the idea of minor empires as they had them in early implementation. So instead of "oh yeah 50 turns and I can recruit ogres" it becomes "Your empire has stumbled across a village of ogres struggling against the crumbled world, will you destroy them or turn them to your cause?". Far more interesting, far more exciting, and provides some randomness outside of the tech tree. It fits very well with the games setting, in a fallen world sometimes the remaining bands of monsters or bandits would do more than just make a camp somewhere and randomly walk around damaging your improvements, it makes more sense for them to try to build their own towns and cut their own chunk of the world out. By encountering monsters like this they become a real tangible quality to the game, the world isn't just an empty space waiting for empires to conquer it but rather populated by diverse people attempting to scratch out their own chunk of land and you as the empire builder must deal with them in some way in order to progress.
A nice added level to this is that you could make it harder or easier for certain races to interact with certain empires much as the tech tree used to function. You could have diplomatic quests that may allow you to get one of these towns to join your empire instead of having to conquer it, say the ogres want you to free some of their children stolen by a group of slavers and by saving them you get their service as part of your empire. Or conversely make the ogre city opposed to a slaver city and you have to choose which city you want to help and which you want to destroy.
I appreciate that FE is supposed to take place in a dead world but no world is ever truly a dead world, what happens outside of the boundaries of empires happens, and the world after a disaster should be more diverse, more alive, and more amazing because it means the people in it finally don't know whats going on everywhere again and its time to see how the world has grow without them ruling it.
You could parallel this by including camps that function similarly to towns. For example you find a lair of dragons that have joined together and if you can convince them to serve you they can provide you with dragon troops. Instead of "wait 150 turns to recruit dragons", which is boring to me.
Anyways that is my two cents, hope you enjoyed reading it.
@ Drahokan. I think you bring up some excellent points.
In Space ... there isn't a whole lot of variation between one nations space travel and another nations space travel. You can do a little differentiation (different ways of folding space-time, Organic Ships, etc), but ultimately its just "how different is my jet-fighter from your jet-fighter"
While in pre-industrialized cultures there is an opportunity for cultural differences to be seen in a very powerful and visceral way.
The absolute obedience to the Pharaoh in Egypt, the Competition and Arete in Greece, the focus on Wisdom over law in China, etc.
In Ancient China there was no complex code of laws, but instead the emphasis was wisdom, and wise rulers choosing the appropriate course of action.
Meanwhile in Babylon you have a very strict code-of-laws from Hammurabi, mainly focused on property inheritance.
In medieval times, the Near East focused more on sciences and the mathematics, while the West was a crude assortment of Vassal-states and Nepotism. Meanwhile China had a series of tests for people to pass before they could become an administrator in the government.
Hmm...I'd have to think about that.
As far as semi historical based RPGs, there isn't much. Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader could have been great but it looks like they ran out of money after the first act. Oh what could have been.
There are a few trading games that deal with medieval Germany and the Hanseatic league but not much to do with RPGing and adventuring.
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