Let’s do the “Tile warp” again!
“It’s just one jump to the left, and then a step to the right…”
Since we started this OpenDev Blog, one of the recurring questions has been “Why are you doing a tile-based game?”
In this post I’ll explain why we made the choice to go back to a gameplay closer to Might & Magic III, IV and V than later entries in the series.
But first, let’s do a mind flip and get back into the time slip…
When we started to have serious discussions about finally making a new Might & Magic RPG, we had to ask ourselves what kind of game we were going to make. The last real Might & Magic RPG had been released almost a decade earlier, and in the meantime computer role-playing games had evolved quite a bit. The highly tactical, turn-based gameplays of yore had been replaced by direct, real-time action. Instead of playing a party, in most modern RPGs you only create and control your main character. I cannot help but think that something was lost. Anyway…
Part of the tile-based world of Clouds of Xeen. Ah, those were the days... :)
As we were thinking about this we wrote several pitch documents detailing two different concepts for a new Might & Magic RPG: an MM5-like concept (the one that was ultimately selected) and an MM6-like concept.
As we were showing our concepts around, we realized two things: first, players today are not used to control a party and have freedom of movement in first person anymore. Their first reaction is “who’s my character?” or “why can’t I see my sword and swing it around?” In other words, it seems that for most players nowadays (even players who grew up playing Mandate of Heaven) a first-person game with freedom of movement means FPS-like gameplay or a Skyrim-like single character action-RPG.
However, when facing a grid-based, turn-based game like World of Xeen, those same players immediately say “oh I see, it’s old-school, it’s turn-based, I control a party, I’m moving on a grid.” Even young’uns players not used to this kind of RPGs could see that it was “kinda like a board game.” People were getting it immediately.
That’s something we couldn’t ignore. Our conclusion was that getting back to free movement could make sense for future installments, but didn’t seem to be the best move for the first Might & Magic RPG in ten years. We had to go back to the roots first: tile-based, turn-based, old-school all the way!
Now we also happen to really love tile-based games. Just talking about me, games like Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, Anvil of Dawn, Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land, Legend of Grimrock, and of course World of Xeen, to name a few, are among my favorite games ever.
Going for a tile-based gameplay also means it’s easier to provide tools and editors for players to create their own adventures, which is one of the things we really wanted for this project. But we’ll talk more about this particular aspect in a future blog post…
A sneak peek at the Dungeon editor...
And of course, there's no denying it also makes the development of the game easier for us as well, since we don't have to spend too much time on topics like pathfinding, hit detection, or collision detection, allowing us to focus on other aspects of the gameplay.
Might & Magic X – Legacy is a niche game, for a specific audience. Of course, we could have chosen to make a “AAA” game, but then we would have had to make it for the general public. And that would have meant, ultimately, not really making Might & Magic 10, but some new, spin-off series with a new form of gameplay. It would probably have been an amazing game, but not the game we wanted to make (yet…) and in our opinion not the game Might & Magic fans have been hoping for.
It is our belief that the unique gameplay offered by tile-based RPGs, while certainly old-school, can be as fun, enthralling and addictive as it used to be, and with Might & Magic X – Legacy, we intend to prove it so. We hope you’ll be along for the ride!
-Julien (a.k.a. Marzhin93)