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Acid Cave's 10th Anniversary Might&Magic Q&A

On the occassion of Acid Cave's 10th anniversary we asked the Ubisoft Might & Magic Team for an interview about the future M&M games. The questions were directly handled by Irina Kassina, the team's senior community developer, however she was so kind as to pass some of them to Erwan Le Breton, the M&M creative director and Julien Pirou, the creative designer on MMX. Enjoy :).
Dla wersji polskiej przejdź tutaj: Wywiad z twórcami Might&Magic na 10 rocznicę Groty

Erwan le Breton, Irina Kassina and Julien Pirou - a photo made especially for Acid Cave :).

1. Tell us a bit about your history before joining Ubisoft as a Might & Magic developer. What did you like and didn't like about the M&M games? Which ones were the best and which ones you didn't like at all?

[Ubi_Irina, M&M Community developer]: Hello, I am Irina (or Ubi_Irina on social boards). I started working as a Community Developer on Might & Magic 2,5 years ago which seems quite long when I say it (although it went unbelievably fast). Before joining the Might & Magic team I have been working as a Community Manager on online games. When I had the opportunity to work on Might & Magic, I did not hesitate at all as I knew the brand and played the games before and it was so fortunate to join the team. I played a lot Heroes 5 and I loved it: so many evenings spent trying to figure out the right strategy, so much fun! I also played quite a lot Clash of Heroes (first on DS and then on PC). This game is very fun to play with friends in multiplayer or "hot seat". Little by little, I also started getting to know more about M&M RPG series, Might & Magic X is going to be great!


Corak from Might & Magic VII

2.In Acid Cave, as well as with many long-time fans from other M&M sites, one of the most liked and mentioned elements from the M&M storylines is the Ancients and Kreegans war that added sci-fi elements to otherwise fantasy games. The Ashan universe however doesn't contain such elements and probably never will. However: are there any chances for some Ancients' technology in some episodes, maps or maybe whole games based in the old universe? (You did return to the old universe in the VARN and XEEN maps for Heroes 6 DLCs)

[Ubi_Irina, M&M Community developer]: Yeah, I have read many comments on fan sites and forums showing that some M&M fans miss sci-fi elements in M&M. However, in Ashan it does not fit so much. So I would say that we should not expect its return in M&M games. But maybe ("maybe" because there is no certainty in it at all as it is not my call to decide on this :) it could appear in one way or another (like Varn or Xeen in Heroes 6 DLCs).


One of M&M Raiders' early screenshots.

3.Currently you are promoting two upcomming games - Heroes Online and Might and Magic X. There was supposed to be a third game as well - Might and Magic Raiders, an attempt at an action RPG game. What happened? What were the reasons for it being cancelled? Will its storyline be told in some other M&M game?

[Erwan Le Breton, Creative Director]: It was not an easy decision to close Might & Magic Raiders.
We could find great qualities in the game, but we also realized that the Action RPG market had evolved a lot over the course of the project's development. At the time we decided to cancel Raiders, there were great offers out there, including boxed, digital retail and free to play games. Eventually, we felt Raiders would not make a difference significant enough to guarantee its success.
That said, most of the contents created for Raiders were pretty exciting and they will definitely get a "second life" in another Might & Magic project.
Some have already found their way in Might & Magic X Legacy. After all, the player's party members are "Raiders" exploring various Dungeons around a Free City, some of them semi-forgotten Shantiri ruins...


An encounter with one of Yog's siblings ;)
from Might & Magic V

4.Might and Magic X is targeting old-school fans, as it takes many elements from The World of Xeen games (M&M IV and V). However in fan circles the Might and Magic VI and VII games seem to be the most popular and beloved. Could you tell us why did you choose the older M&M titles as a model for MM X, instead of the most popular ones?

[Julien Pirou, Creative designer on MMX]: It's actually a bit more complicated than that. Most "Might & Magic" fansites out there are primarily Heroes fansites, and Heroes fans often started playing the RPGs with Might & Magic VI, with little to no knowledge of the first five games. But many Might & Magic RPG fans are actually found on other communities not dedicated solely to Might & Magic, like RPGCodex or RPGWatch. They should not be ignored.
In any case, making a sequel to the Might & Magic series is one of these cases where it's actually impossible to please everybody. The series started 27 years ago, and that's at least three generations of players with different expectations about what a "true" Might & Magic game is.
Lastly, we are not a AAA title, but a niche game. Our scope and budget meant we would have to make choices, and going for the tile-based, fully turn-based game system of World of Xeen was our best option to create a full-fledged Might & Magic game. A game with free movement would simply not have been possible with our constraints.


One of Heroes Online impressive screenshots

5.Heroes Online seems to be a mix of classic Heroes elements we all know (like the creatures from Heroes V and VI or hexes on the battlefield) and new ones (like real-time movement and cooperative battles). Why were they chosen and will those new elements be a trend towards other Heroes games or are they made exclusively for this title?

[Erwan Le Breton, Creative Director]: There are countless small differences between the "classic" Heroes series and Heroes Online but the most obvious are:
-Real-Time adventure map: This is obviously needed for an online multiplayer game. But this is specific to MMHO and will not impact any other future "classic" Heroes game.
-Focus on a single Hero: Another MMHO-specific feature. Again, this is to needed for a persistent online game and also to encourage cooperation between various players.
-Co-Operative Battles: That could be a good test / learning for the multiplayer modes in a classic Heroes.
-Multi-Stage Battles: Make the BOSS encounters even more unique / challenging. Would be a great addition to the classic Heroes series.
-Tactical Positioning: Adds even more strategic depth to the battles. Was already discussed / considered for Heroes 6 so could definitely reappear in a future classic Heroes game.
-Hexes: Hexes or Squares have both their pros and cons and do not determine if a Heroes game is good or bad, classic or avant-garde :) In the end, it's decided by the production constraints or the personal preference of the development team.


Rakshasa Scout - a new Duel of Champions card

6.It was lately revealed that Academy will be joining Duel of Champions as a new faction. Could you tell us a bit more about it - its strengths and weaknesses - as well as the reasons behind adding it before others (like Dungeon or Sylvan)?

[Erwan Le Breton, Creative Director]: There's an epic story that connects all Duel of Champions extensions. All the cards belong to this storyline. Players have been teased about it with some flavor texts or character bios, but they will soon get a chance to discover the big picture!
Academy plays a very important role in this storyline, and that is one of the reasons why they are the new faction. Another reason is that the DoC team, like many of the M&M fans, love Academy and they wanted it in their game :). A third reason is that the DoC designers had a very strong gameplay vision for Academy, which is as follows:
"Academy is the ideal faction for those who like high risk / high reward gameplay. Most of the creatures in Academy have high requirements or drawbacks you have to play around. If you succeed though, the game is yours. Most of the Faction's forces are based on Wizards and their creations: Golems, Gargoyles, Titans, Beastmen. They can also bind Djinns to their will. The Wizards are also pretty strong at supporting spell-based decks."
Primary school of magic: Prime
Abilities:
- Unique defense (Evade, Phase, Spell Resist)
- Magic support (Magic Channel)
- Fetching spells
- "Milling" (attempting to win a duel through causing your opponent to be unable to draw cards)


Might & Magic X dungeon artwork

7.With a few community managers - each for a different game, it's sometimes hard to ask a general question concerning the whole M&M franchise - like ones concerning future games or the entire storyline. Who can we go to with such a question?

[Ubi_Irina, M&M Community developer]: If you have questions about the future of Might & Magic or storyline, Erwan le Breton, Might & Magic Creative Director is the key contact. As I am working on the Might & Magic level, I can help you to find the answer to your question. However if you have some specific questions about Heroes online or Duel of Champions, you will want to contact Community developers of these games. I can give you the right contact in this case.


Haven town from Heroes VI

8.Finally, Acid Cave is celebrating its 10th birthday :). As a site and a community we are interested in Might & Magic games as a whole - be it turn-based strategies, RPGs or card-games. Nonetheless worldwide as well as in Acid Cave there are also many players that concentrate on a single game - Duel of Champions and Heroes III being good examples. What is Ubisoft's take on this? Is it better to create stand-alone games that just happen to share some graphics and the same fantasy setting or are your priorities connected with developing the brand as a whole?

[Erwan Le Breton, Creative Director]: Well, let me first start by wishing Acid Cave a happy birthday! Coincidentally, 2013 is also Might & Magic's tenth anniversary at Ubisoft as the illustrious brand was acquired from 3DO in 2003.

Our team's mandate is really to develop Might & Magic as a brand rather than a series of games. What's obvious is that they share the same setting (the world of Ashan), the same audio atmosphere, artistic design, and even high level gameplay guidelines. For instance, if you compare knights of the Holy Empire from Might & Magic X, Heroes VI, Heroes V, Duel of Champions, or Clash of heroes, they all have the same emblematic colors, symbols, and global design. Another good example is the way Magic is organized, into elemental and primordial schools based on the Dragon Gods (although it was not the case for the early Ubisoft M&M games, Heroes V for instance).
But we're also unifying the communication guidelines (founts or logos for instance), organizing cross-promotions, and displaying our games together as an organic entity rather than separately. This was the case at this year's PAX East, Gencon and Gamescom, and also on our portal website:
http://might-and-magic.ubi.com/universe/en-GB/home/
We're also expanding the brand into non-video games territories. We currently have a sourcebook (the Ashan Compedium) published by Osprey, a comic book (only available in French for now), a boardgame (in Polish, published by Axel), various figurines, etc.
Finally, we also encompass the non-Ashan / pre-Ubisoft games into the brand, so we don't forget where Might & Magic comes from. Whenever we can, we pay them homage by various references and Easter eggs into our Ashan titles.

[Ubi_Irina, M&M Community developer]: My day-to-day work is to create a consistent Might & Magic content for the community by uniting fans of all different Might & Magic games in order to enrich their M&M community experience. Might & Magic offers various gameplay experiences (for RPG, strategy, card-games fans) but all these games are linked to each other by storyline, universe. We are creating community ecosystem where everyone can find what fits most their interests and expectations. To give an example, the M&M portal www.mightandmagic.com is focused on relaying information about all M&M games

M&M Day - Warsaw, June 2012
(as well as Might & Magic Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MightandMagic page or Twitter account https://twitter.com/MightMagicGame). We are also organizing M&M community events where we invite M&M fans of all games (like at Gamescom 2013 or during the M&M days in Poland in June 2012).


Any final thoughts or words toward Might and Magic fans in Poland?

[Ubi_Irina, M&M Community developer]: Last year we had a chance to organize a fan day in Poland. Some community members from Acid Cave community could join us as well as other Polish fans. It was very nice to meet all of them, to talk to them. Polish community is one of the biggest and the most active M&M communities. I wish you to keep this passion for many years from now on and I hope that we will have a chance to organize together many amazing Might & Magic events in the future!


We thank Irina, Erwan and Julien for their answers!
Long live Might & Magic!


Interview developed, conducted and edited byi: Acid Dragon, Lord Pawello and Alamar
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