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Master of Magic - Implode's Multiplayer Edition • View topic - Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Anything else to do with the original Master of Magic

Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby kyrub » Sun Aug 02, 2009 7:41 pm

After reading through several threads over concrete game balance issues here on forums, I thought I'd put up a thread focusing on the the game concepts more generally.

The MoM tries to create an icredibly vast and rich universe and introduces several strategic levels, which could sometimes make a separate game of its own: wizard selection, physicall combat on a special map, spell combat side with several tactical level of its own, city management, race relations, spell research, mana distribution, diplomacy and wizard relation system, gold income and tax rates, terrain related city development, army food management, overland map spellcasting, global spellcasting, unit experience system, fame-related hiring of heroes, artifact creating. Inside these bigger levels there is a plethora of small game concepts, sometimes spaning over those different strategic levels (such as unit health - healing - regeneration).

Now, while the programmers did an exceptionnally good effort to bring in ALL THIS and inter-connect such a vast number and level of those concepts, it seems that it inevitably ended as a story of "too many oranges in one basket". Some of those concepts were left half-way (a simple comparison of city management with a Civ1 game shows it), some of those remained in an embryonic stage and are more or less complicating the game (or interface) without contributing anything special to the game itself (endless city popups as a somewhat simplish example).

A lot of these concepts (and here I finally come to the core theme of the thread), although they represent excellent and enriching ideas, have been left in a broken, unfonctional, or marginal state. Sometimes it si down to their inner malfunction, sometimes (many times?) down to their interconnection with other areas of the game. I'd like to discuss them and see what is the general meaning and how / whether they could be repaired, simplified, deepened in a future of the game.

Feel free to add your suggestions and ideas.

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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby Tino Didriksen » Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:12 pm

I actually can't think of any game concept that is fundamentally broken. All the limitations and annoyances are due to the AI not being good enough. If it was a game between humans, everything seems to tie in together...
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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby kyrub » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:27 am

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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby RDarkfire » Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:16 pm

First-time poster, long-time MoM lover.

I agree with all your points, kyrub.

I wonder if that guy Aureus is still around, the one who made the really cool "version 2.0" patch. I recently d'l/ed the game again and tried it out and it's very very cool (and thank gawd I can play Klackons!). Surely whatever tools were used to fandangle with the game rules could be used to make these kinds of changes you're talking about here.
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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby Beryl » Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:31 am

I feel I don't play the same game.
1 - IMHO special attack work both on offensive and defensive. There are attack roll and defense roll for both units on each fighting. First strike gives you the first attack roll even in the role of the defender (ie : a cavalery unit closing to and attacked by a swordmen will roll first attack). True that Homm tactival battle system with initiative/speed system is better but there was several Homm version when there is still no MoM2.
2 - there is also a spell giving +1 mvt. The limited mvt rate gives much more importance to cavalry units in mid game and that is good for me. Any forrester combined with Brax gives him a much more important role.
You can also generate a map with less landmass. I enjoy much more the first part of the game than the finish (and forget save/reload in a MP game, you must live with the consequences of your decisions)
3 - ships : floating island and windwalking could be dispelled in a MP game, a ship must be attacked and can spot ennemy comming or spy cities. With less land mass you need a lot of ships, specially if you don't use the books for floating island or windwalking and can't find an alternative path with towers on Mirror. Did you try to play without them ?
4 - true but still usefull to produce cheap units and settlers faster, important if you have one near your capital, and you can transform coal/iron by spell if I remember. If needed, you can buy the miners guild.

I would not call MoM a 4X game, as the game was designed before 4X was first marketed, but it still introduced original features. MoM has a roll play feeling I never found in any 4x game.

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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby Lucern » Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:23 am

Aureus is around, but I think these critiques go much, much deeper than can be done with file editing. In any case, I like this kind of criticism - very meta.

1. Offensive-only abilities. In your example, I'm having trouble wrapping my head around why the cavalry can't use its first-strike ability to good effect. Swordsmen move at 1 unless they're enchanted. Cavalry move 2. There is no attack-of-opportunity for adjacent moves in MoM. When it moves adjacent to the swordsmen, it gets to move again. Aside from that, there would be great value in experimenting with defensive abilities aside from those that negate offensive-only abilities. Keeps us humans honest. That said, with human players, this setup won't be so bad.

2. Pacing. I'm with you part of the way here, though I like the beginning of the game a lot. Sure, you hang on the end-turn button plenty with most setups, but I find that this always ends a bit too quickly. There's exploration and that nervous first expansion to do in this stage. On Myrror, incidentally, I never considered trying to bust nodes in the early part of the game. Sheer insanity - though magic production is made up for by a few Myrran races.

Regarding movement, yeah it's a bit slow. This is probably a good and bad thing. It's good because the AI essentially spares you only by its movement limitations. Its production is so advanced that the few times I've been on the receiving end of endless movement (Myrror), I needed equally endless magic reserves or troops that could win fights without taking a loss in figures, because the assaults were constant. An easy solution, because I doubt everyone agrees here, is to have an option to start the game with x2 movement for all units. A more sophisticated solution might lie in a 3rd road type, either restricted to a few races or one that's actually built on top of other roads, would only take .25 movement to bypass. Kinda like Roman era roads vs the little dirt roads we see in game. That way you could control where the good movement is without being a nature wizard. Another tweak might be that ships all move twice as fast so that the seas are actually quick to traverse compared to land.

3. Terrain/Ships. I do wish ships were more useful. Like if you could blockade a city and halve its gold production - that would hurt. They're also fairly weak. Lizardmen will tear you apart on the high seas in most cases. In my MoM Expanded thread (I've got graphics for eight new races...), I've actually got two new ships, hoping that stronger ships would change something. Then again, I'm not sure quite what it would change. I also had the idea of a certain kind of ship being able to traverse rivers quickly, which would at least add another dimension to ships. Then again, it would look silly in combat with the way things are handled now.

4. Production. I don't really have a problem with coal being of limited use until you have a miner's guild, for mainly logical reasons, but I do feel that the production model is one that could use some love in a remake. This ties in to the tedium of the late game, when city upgrades graduate to 'chore' status from the time when they used to be happy little messages earlier in the game. Aside from having different buildings to build (which would take a mod - I've made 5 buildings just to see if I could), a queue would do wonders for MoM building in a couple of ways. Compare the building in Master of Orion 2 with that of MoM. It's got two features that really shake things up. The first is that it allows you to queue multiple structures/ships. This is huge - you don't keep having to go to your 11th city that got a late start to build the farmer's market when you're more concerned with eliminating Rjak. You don't have this interruption slowing down the pace of the game in the late game - as you say - it allows you do spend that time meaningfully. With a good queue, I don't think I mind any movement limitations because the speed of the game would be much quicker. The second advantage of the queue in MOO 2 is that it allows for more than one thing to be finished in a single turn if there's enough production in the queue for the next item. This makes it so that weak ships with okay technology can be effective. For MoM's units, we may smugly dismiss swordsmen and spearmen in our single-player AI abusing and save/loading, but who hasn't been saved by that elite spearmen unit we left at our fortress when wandering monsters come? Frankly, with developments such as the fighter's guild (makes veterans, right?) and with magic upgrades to weaponry, a city with high production values might actually save your empire if it could crank out 3 veteran mithril halberders per turn in an emergency. I have less of a problem with uber units at the end of most races' tech trees when weaker units can be mustered quickly and en masse. This little addition could reshape the way MoM is played. Naturally, this feature of the queue would have to be optional though, because it changes balance, and for AI players, who get absurd production boosts, they might flood the world too quickly. Life casters would be even more powerful with their city boosts. Life-casting wizards with dwarves could be a nightmare. The queue itself, though, is a mere - if hugely significant - interface upgrade. I'll be happy to provide the graphics for anyone who's putting a queue into a MoM game.
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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby kyrub » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:58 am

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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby Lucern » Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:36 am

Thanks for your patience Kyrub. According to the strategy guide, First Strike allows the unit to resolve an attack before a counterattack is possible. Normally, all combat is simultaneous (barring a number of specials, like gaze attacks, thrown weapons, etc). So your example, I take it, is the standard AI botched movement, where it doesn't leave any movement to attack. If they had, two figures would likely be removed from the swordsmen before the slug-fest occurred, which might have made the difference. Sadly, I just described what the humans will do, and, if I read you correctly, you describe what the AI blunders into. This is an unfair advantage that wouldn't be so common with defensive abilities.

While we're on the subject, it's worth taking a look at the order of melee combat to see its quirks as laid out in the strategy guide (and probably in the manual...but I don't have that in front of me).

Phase 1: Breath (attacker only), Gaze (attacker only), Thrown attacks (attacker only)
Phase 2: Gaze (defender)
Phase 3: First strike (attacker only)*
Phase 4: Normal melee combat, Life Stealing, Poison, Other Touch Attacks

*Cloak of fear must be resisted during this phase. Barring that, it happens during phase 4.

So gaze weapons among the defenders actually strike before first strike, interestingly. Also, barbarians with thrown weapons can whittle down enemies before the simultaneous fighting begins when they initiate attacks. Barbarian cavalry can do so in two instances. Anyone considering expanding defensive weapon types can use this as their basis. Phase two might be a good place for it, say, for an ability that represents the initiative of units with polearms.
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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby kyrub » Sat Aug 08, 2009 10:07 pm

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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby Lucern » Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:20 am

Two spaces! That wasn't how I was imagining it, and the AI never moves so intelligently. I read you now Kyrub. Thanks again for your patience :)

It is interesting how deliberately they made gaze work in offense and defense and not the others. I'm sure they thought of the cavalry quite literally standing there getting attacked, which would mean annihilation. In reality, they could, at a moment's notice, charge into their attackers unless they were only feet from each other. I could see the same thought being applied to whether or not a unit is throwing weapons - is there enough time to switch back to swords/spears from the knives, hand-axes, etc? Perhaps it was for balance's sake. In any case, the byproduct is pretty funny - cavalry can't catch infantry in a charge when the infantry doesn't want to be caught. Wha? That's especially bad for cavalry because they aren't left with much else without the first strike. They're just 4 guys with average stats.
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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby RDarkfire » Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:50 pm

Possible solution : Since movement points are coded as units of 1/2 movement-points (according to one of Implode's other posts about WIZARDS.EXE I think), why not just give cavalry-type units 2.5 movement (or, 5 1/2 MP's), so that they can move their 2, and then still have movement points left to attack??

Or if that doesn't work... just give all cavalry units 3 movement-value instead. After all... when you're horseback, you're moving a helluva lot faster than on foot anyway.
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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby Tomalak » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:39 pm

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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby kyrub » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:30 am

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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby Virm » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:30 pm

brief comment on Magic immunity:

While I agree that no magic should be castable on a unit with magic immunity, I see no reason why existing spells active on the unit should be dispelled upon acquiring immunity. If we're thinking in terms of layered enchantments, than anything already cast upon a unit would still be present "underneath" the immunity. If we're instead thinking of all magic just floating about a unit, than magic immunity should only be effective as a natural ability, as casting a spell to grant it should be self-dispelling immediately (as is makes very little sense to have to use magic to sustain immunity to all magic, why doesn't the magic needed for maintaining the spell get dissipated by the spell?)
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Re: Which game concepts in MoM are broken?

Postby LordLydon » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:02 pm

Your argument makes sense Virm but as stricktly a game mechanic, Magic Immunity IS too powerfull. Dispelling all other enchantments on a unit would be a nice rule change I could agree on. And again, it still would be THE spell.
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