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Thread: A Heroic Philosophy

  1. #1

    A Heroic Philosophy

    We've had a lot of discussion about heroes and how they're going to work. A lot of ideas have been thrown into the hat and so I decided I better compile the information we have so far and highlight the questions that, for the moment, remain unanswered. I'm going to start with hero “creation” from a white board point of view. Where do heroes get their stats? Now, as far as I can see, there are three viable approaches to creating heroes.

    Procedural Generation: We generate pseudorandom heroes just as we do terrain. They get stats, a class, a gender, a portrait/model, starting equipments, etc. all from a generation engine.

    Custom Heroes: A player is given a blank character. (I'm taking this to extremes to underline each approach. Obviously we could procedurally create the basic stats and then give the player an almost blank character.) The player then creates a character almost as they would in D20.

    Set Heroes: We, the development team, create heroes that we feel fit within Worlds of Magic. We do our best to give them the perfect mix of balance and flavor.

    Now each of these have strengths and weaknesses. I'll touch the highlights, you guys can feel free to weigh in with more details/examples/explanations/etc.

    Procedural Generation Pros: You never know what you're going to get. Every once in a while you'll get a hero that you want to take screen shots of because of what the engine spit out. You'll save the game and stick it somewhere so you can show people that hero twenty years from now. (I have save games stored on a server that are OLD, lol).
    Procedural Generation Cons: You never know what you're going to get. The generator will only generate “viable” characters (at least if I do my job right), but at the end of the day it's a generator. There will be times when the game creates heroes you just don't want. Again and again and again. (I mean anything is better than nothing, but you know what I'm saying.) Pseudorandom isn't always best.

    Custom Heroes Pros: You can take a hero that's just alright and turn them into your perfect weapon as they level up. You can create parties of heroes that are real parties who depend on one another's skills to increase the power of the group exponentially.
    Custom Heroes Cons: You can make mistakes. WoM is not a D20 role playing game. Your sorcerer is not a D20 character. As such you shouldn't need to understand D20 in order to get the most out of the game. When a player is looking at a level up GUI and has no idea what Cleave does there's a problem. We don't want players to have to understand D20 to fully experience the game.

    Set Heroes Pros: A player will get to know the heroes. They will come to love and/or hate them. There will be a good mix so players can always be sure there's going to be something they want.
    Set Heroes Cons: There are only so many heroes in the game. Once you know them all, you know them all. There'll be no more surprises, pleasant or otherwise.

    All this also runs into another topic which is whether we should put a limit on the number of heroes you have or not. If we just followed the MoM example we would have hand crafted heroes and you could only get six at a time. Now, obviously this worked in MoM, but personally I would like to see more done with heroes in WoM.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    All three honestly.

    Although, if I had to rate them in order of most wanted to least:

    1. Custom Heroes - I love to customize stuff!
    2. Set Heroes - It's a cool lore type thing where you want certain ones
    3. Random Heroes - Adds some good spice!




    But really, I'd like all three. Maybe static champions, random heroes, and custom heroes from basic units that are promoted?

    ---------- Post added at 09:27 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:25 AM ----------

    Also, I like the limit on heroes in MoM, makes them a valuable commodity. Perhaps up the limit to 8 or so, but even then I'd be ok with 6.

  3. #3
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    To me custom heroes would be like the map editor. It would be a nice thing to bundle in "mod tools" after launch but not something you need in game. Even as a mod tool though it shouldn't be game breaking so you'd have set points for attributes etc. that the tool enforced. Designing a hero from scratch to me isn't something I'd want to do in the middle of my game though seeing one I created outside the game crop up during play could be neat.

    Set heroes to me would be great and I could even see Champions ALL being these. At launch you'd have the set that the developers created which could be added to by DLC and also you could create your own once the "mod tool" above was provided (not necessarily at launch.) Created ones would just be added to the pool and treated just like the provided ones.

    Procedural Generation I think would be great as well because no matter how many set ones you have you're going to eventually start seeing the same ones again and again. (I hope to play this game for many years) Also even if you make your own sometimes random combinations of things work out better than you would have ever thought. The generation needs to be smart though so you don't get a Wizard with and 8 intelligence or have a Half-Celestial hero offer to join the Undead faction. I'd also like to see the heroes appear out of capped out base units and in that case the race, class, and maybe even starting gear would be based off of the unit that spawned it. So your level 5 human spearman unit spawns a Human Fighter with random names/sex/stats (within reason for a fighter) and your level 5 wood elf archers spawn an Elven Ranger instead of either spawning an undead sorcerer.

  4. #4
    Abecedarian Mage Trudd's Avatar
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    I think, set heroes is the better option.
    Custom heroes would make them too powerful, random is always disapointing.
    Maybe, you can choose orientation of your hero when you summon him (warior, mage or rogue) to get what you prefer.

    And the advantage of preset heroes is that you can identify with him.
    When you say "torin the chosen" you immediatly think of MoM...

  5. #5
    Of the three, I definitely think that set heroes is the most important. You can give set heroes a definite flavoring and backstory, and as Trudd said, you can identify with him or her. Additionally, you'll be able to interweave heroes within different game systems with more nuance when they're set. As one small example, let's say loyalty makes it in. Well, the player will face an interesting choice when he runs across Simon the Vengeful, a powerful hero who hates slavery (which the player is using to strengthen his empire). There are lots of other examples, such as quests. Random heroes could use loyalty (and etc.), but I think some nuance might be lost.

    But how do we deal with the set heroes' con, "they'll be no more surprises?" By adding in random heroes here and there to spice things up! So let's say that the main heroes will be set heroes. You get them from an inn or tavern or whatever. But what happens when one of your spearmen does an exemplary job on the field, and a new hero is born? This hero should be exciting because it's unexpected, and all the more so because he's a random hero! Hopefully, your strategy isn't relying upon lucking out with a hero you weren't even expecting to get, so it isn't as important if the generator doesn't perfectly optimize the unit. There may be other ways to get heroes, but the basic idea is that most heroes are set, with the occasional random hero as supplemental additions.

    If by custom heroes, we mean creating a character from scratch in the middle of a game, I don't quite see the benefit of that. I think Trudd is right, in that it would be very powerful. But more importantly, I think custom heroes would take away from the "real parties who depend on one another's skills to increase the power of the group exponentially." I -love- the idea forming RPG parties that have to rely on each-others' skills to survive. Part of the fun of developing those parties is actually putting together that party and working with what you've got. If it were as simple as clicking the hero button six times, and churning out "Warrior," "Archer," "Mage," etc., then it wouldn't be as fun. Maybe in-game, a custom hero could be a rare opportunity.

    However, if by custom heroes you mean characters you can create before the game starts, I am 100% behind that! Being able to fight alongside or against characters of my own design is a huge plus, and would do even more to spice up the world in the player's eyes. And if by custom heroes you mean hero development paths that you can guide as they level up, I'm in favor of that for all heroes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    All this also runs into another topic which is whether we should put a limit on the number of heroes you have or not. If we just followed the MoM example we would have hand crafted heroes and you could only get six at a time. Now, obviously this worked in MoM, but personally I would like to see more done with heroes in WoM. Thoughts?
    Without knowing more about the overall game system, I'm not sure whether a limit is needed or wanted, and if so what that limit should be. My only suggestion is that, if there is a limit, it might make things interesting if the limit was not always a uniform 6 (or 8, or whatever), but modified based upon your character and faction. So if 6 were the normal limit, maybe Undead only get 4, while a human player with the "Gregarious" discipline gets an extra 2 hero slots. Just an idea.

  6. #6
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    Off the top of my head I can't think of a reason to limit the number of heroes/Champions. If too many are showing up instead of placing some artificial limit I would think you'd just reduce the chance that they occur (even during the course of a game possibly). Also I like the idea that they can become dissatisfied with you if your actions go contrary to their beliefs and perhaps some don't even like each other so hiring one makes another leave or refuse to join you for example. If however there is some limit imposed then having positive and negative disciplines as Iron Kaiser suggests that add or subtract from that cap is a good idea.

  7. #7
    Excellent discussion! I want to thank you guys for jumping in with in-depth ideas. You're helping shape the game!

    Now, when I said “custom heroes” I wasn't thinking anything like creating heroes in an editor that would then be added to the hero pool. That having been said I REALLY like the idea! Also, I think it will be very easy to add. The system I'm developing for supporting D20 actually uses a form in the editor that allows you to customize the unit. It would be very little effort to wire it's guts to an in-game GUI and let you guys make your own heroes. (Keep in mind, this would just be from a stats point of view. We will only have so many portraits/models. Although we can add more via DLC.)

    What I really meant was that heroes would show up blank or almost blank and you would be able to “fill them out” as they leveled up. Basically choosing all their level up options. I honestly think this is too much, especially if we include an editor where you can create heroes for the pool. I consider myself a hard core gamer (with these type games anyway), but even I don't want to go through the “level up” process with every hero, every level.

    Looking at all three directions we could go I honestly feel we're moving toward “all three ways”. Set Heroes really are almost a “have to have” because they help flesh out the back story of the game and add flavor that just won't be there without them. If we're going to created heroes from units (rarely, very rarely) we should probably use a procedural generation system to make them. Add in the ability to create heroes in a editor and we have a real winner.

    I do want to say that I don't think the editor will be completely open. Well, let me say there will be limits on heroes that can be used in a game where you can get achievements. If you want to play a game where you've made a hero with 100 strength, that's up to you. You just can't get achievements in a game he's in. (In theory guys, keep in mind, this is in theory. Concepts first.) Anyway, “official” heroes will use a character creation process like D20. You will have x many stat points to spend and you will be able to set the feats, stat gains, etc. for the hero all the way up to top level.

    As far as limiting the number of heroes is concerned we really are going to have to wait until things are fleshed out a bit to decide. Well, that and we need to do a load of play testing.

    Good ideas guys. Keep it up!

  8. #8
    Acolyte
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    A bunch of heroes roaming around the world. You, the great magician can hire them up by sending out a message: "We, the Great Magnificier Zoldatus hereby looking for a great hero to join and lead our minions. For this we offer 100 gold pieces and a sum of 1 gold per season".
    The player decide how much she wants to give and a few heroes appear at the capital from one can be choosed. Cheap offer - low level heroes, great offer - great heroes, but you don't know the exact stats just some hints, like short tales and legends. The system randomize these heroes with exceptions like no opposing alignments should there be, etc. and the rumors are changing according this - it's a kind of bullshit generator .
    After choosing your hero you can check and modify her inventory, see her stats, etc. and level her up. If you don't want to level manually there should be a button for automate that.

    Winning a heroic battle should also give the possibility of a random hero appearance. All normal unit should have a stat in the game what hero can be made from them as Asmodai suggested before. For example you the leaders of the human race fought and won, you're army almost diminished but three units are left: a cavalry, a cleric and an archer. The game throws a d3 (of course not using random generator ) and see what comes out. It is a 1 so a a lvl1 fighter (or cavalier) appears.

    For me it is not necessary but for those who love this player created champions also could be made via a modding tool and these heroes should be put in a pool from the game can choose them in a random manner.

  9. #9
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what you mean by showing up blank. A hero should show up with a name, race, class, stats, etc. that the player doesn't pick. I don't think the player should be able to change the classes except possibly to choose of they want to take a prestige class at say D20 level 11 (for most) or D20 level 16 (for those that qualify for the 5 level prestige classes). So when your 15th level Wizard Champion levels up to 16 maybe you can decide (as a one time decision) if you want to continue to level 20 as a Wizard or if you want to become an Archmage for 16-20. Or there could be a dual classed Elf Fighter/Wizard (automatically alternates classes for leveling) that when you level to 11 you can decide (again as a one time decision) if you want to continue alternating fighter/wizard or switch to Arcane Archer or Eldritch Knight for level 11-20. Choosing skills, rolling hit points, etc. when leveling seems too down in the weeds. The only other things I can think of that might be fun to do is feat selection (not sure if you plan for this is every 3 levels like 3.5 D20 or 2 like Pathfinder) and the bonus attribute point you get every 4 levels. Some class features may be fun to pick also, for example if you have a low level ranger it might be nice to be allowed to pick if they specialize in two weapons or archery (combat style). Though if they come to you at a higher level then you should have to stick with whatever they already have... the choice has been made (if the hero spawns from a level 5 archer unit though I hope it's smart enough to make them archery combat style so it fits)

  10. #10
    Acolyte
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    Just imagine that you're the great wizard and some hero come to you offering her sword. You won't know what's the real possibilities of the hero - except with some scrying magic. You'll see how do they look and can read a few sentences about them. Like "Epherus the Mighty known about killing a cave bear with one bash of his great hammer. His endurance is legendary."
    It's out of a standard strategy game I admit but maybe it could add a bit taste to the game.
    For leveling it would be the best if you can choose how deep you want to get yourself involved in it. If there'll be tons of heroes then it can be annoying -> turn the option to full auto. If you've got a few hero or you especially like to micromanage your realm then turn it on.
    Probably you have right that class should be not changed during level ups, maybe that's too much variable for game engineering.

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