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 Why there will be no wait button in Ironfist

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Darmani
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PostSubject: Why there will be no wait button in Ironfist   2018-05-14, 16:20

There's been a discussion running on this forum for a while: should Ironfist support the Wait button?

Today, I would like to announce the final resolution: Ironfist will not support the Wait Button.

The first reason is simple: doing so would require rebalancing all the creatures, and probably also all the existing maps.

But the second reason is: I've become convinced that the Wait button as seen in HoMM III is actually a bad idea, gameplay-wise.

This is something I've changed my mind on recently. I used to think it was a no-brainer that the Wait Button was a good idea. It's something that gives the player more choices. More choices means more tactics and more feelings of control, which means more fun.

What happened? I played a bunch of HoMM III. Specifically, I replayed the Armageddon's Blade campaign last month. And this time, I had a very different perspective: it was my first time playing HoMM III since I studied game design in college.

It was quite amusing to see how there were so many things (spells, buildings, creatures) that had the exact same stats in HoMM III as they did in HoMM II, even as everything around them had changed. I saw a lot of indications that the developers had prioritized adding more stuff over making sure said stuff was well-designed.

I've become pretty convinced that most of the game mechanics changes between HoMM II and HoMM III were mistakes. I have a couple pages of notes on this. I know there are many who disagree with this, and I would love to discuss it more over a metaphorical tea on a sunny afternoon, but am not really interested in getting into a heated Internet discussion over it, especially since this is a HoMM II forum and adding schools of magic is not on the table.

So, why is the Wait button a mistake?

I'll get the small reason out of the way: it slows down the game. People ask "is there ever a reason to not Wait?" Having the first round of a battle consist of trying to do nothing for as long as possible is not ideal for making a game fast and fun, to say the least.

But the bigger reason is: It reduces the variety of creatures seen in the game. For me, one of the best things about HoMM II is how every creature feels different, even though most of them have no special abilities,

But how does the Wait button restrict creature design?

Let's look at some numbers:

The strongest creatures in HoMM II are the Tier 6 creatures. Their speeds range from Average (Giant, Bone Dragon, Green Dragon) to Fast to Ultra Fast (Phoenix). There is 1 faction where the fastest unit is Tier 6, 3 factions where the (upgraded) Tier 6 unit is tied for fastest, and 2 where the Tier 6 unit is not the fastest.

After them, the strongest creature is the Hydra (Very Slow). It serves as a powerful tank unit, a reason to be afraid to cross the battlefield, and the best use of the Teleport spell.

In HoMM III, the strongest creatures are the Tier 7 units. Their speeds range from 5 (Hydra, Fortress) to 21 (Phoenix, Conflux). Pretty good variety.

But, comparing within a faction, a different picture emerges.

In 6 of the 9 factions, the upgraded Tier 7 unit is the fastest creature.

In 1 of the 9 (Tower), the upgraded Tier 7 unit is tied for the fastest creature.

And only in 2 of the 9 (Fortress, Stronghold) is the upgraded Tier 7 unit slower than the fastest creature. In Stronghold, this is only because of the decision to make flying creatures not cross the screen, meaning they needed to bump up the speed of the Thunderbird.

Going down a level: The slowest upgraded Tier 6 creature in HoMM III is 7, which corresponds to Fast in HoMM II.

So, it sees that, in HoMM III, creatures become faster the higher-level they are. As a result, there's less variety in how creatures feel.

What happened to the slow tank units? What happened to the fast raiders? So why didn't the developers just add more strong and slow creatures, or weak and fast creatures?

Because of the Wait button.

The core reason is simple.

In HoMM II, you could have units that were good for attacking early, such as to disrupt enemy shooters, as well as good for attacking late, defending against units that crossed to your side. The former could be given higher speed, and the latter lower speed. Hence, units such as Gargoyles and Hydras.

In HoMM III, the units that move first are also the units that move last. Hence, the units that are good for attacking first....must also be the units that are good for attacking last.

No design decision exists in a vacuum. There are a number of related design decisions, such as the larger battlefields, that make this more of a problem in HoMM III than in HoMM II, but the core reason is the above problem of role confusion.

So really, the core problem is not the Wait Button itself, but the combination of the Wait Button with how creatures use a single stat to determine both how far they move and when they take their turn.

So, it is possible to create a game that has a Wait button, but doesn't have this problem. King's Bounty: The Legend is a good example: it has both a wait button, and strong/slow units. But it makes them viable through a host of other game design changes, such as having separate speed/initiative stats, a smaller battlefield, and the Running ability (a once-per-battle speed boost).

HoMM III has none of these, and hence the Wait Button comes with a host of problems that make the game worse. We will not be bringing these problems into Ironfist.


Yours,
Jimmy "Darmani" Koppel
Executive Producer, Project Ironfist
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Orzie
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PostSubject: Re: Why there will be no wait button in Ironfist   2018-05-15, 02:35

Very nice point and arguments. I say this as a hater of "Wait" button in Heroes 3 myself.

As a personal note, while being somehow obliged to save this feature in Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Succession Wars (simply because the majority of Heroes 3 players love it and you can have an idea just looking at the poll results: this is a Heroes 2 forum, but people tend to choose Yes anyhow), I will at least fight for a feature where people like me can use a custom gameplay option and turn the button off, still saving some features brought by Heroes 3 (wider battlefield, range penalty) and at the same time fixing some of its mentioned problems (creature roles, magic system).

Having Ironfist sticking to core Heroes 2 gameplay warms my heart and raises chances I'll be playing it myself. I still play Heroes 2 much more often than Heroes 3, although, I must say, it's not as common in the community as the reverse case.

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PostSubject: Re: Why there will be no wait button in Ironfist   2018-05-15, 03:34

As I said at Celestial Heavens forum, for me the problem has been cheesy battletactics that waiting allows. Simplest is the "wait, steal retaliation and then get two consecutive hits with your fastest/strongest stack". Many of the more complex tactics are beyond AI and greatly decrease its competitiveness. H5 managed waiting better than H3.
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Unknown_Hero
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PostSubject: Re: Why there will be no wait button in Ironfist   2018-05-15, 04:57

It's a good decision.  Very Happy
Heroes 2 does not need the "wait" button. I find the combats in Heroes 2 are much more dynamic and fun than those of Heroes 3.

The size of the combat area is almost perfect and the way creatures interact during combats in Heroes 2, based on the speed of the creatures and their movements relative to the combat area, is really well done.
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Darmani
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PostSubject: Re: Why there will be no wait button in Ironfist   2018-05-15, 11:37

Pitsu wrote:
As I said at Celestial Heavens forum, for me the problem has been cheesy battletactics that waiting allows. Simplest is the "wait, steal retaliation and then get two consecutive hits with your fastest/strongest stack".  Many of the more complex  tactics are beyond AI and greatly decrease its competitiveness. H5 managed waiting better than H3.

This also shows how the problem is intertwined with more things.

In HoMM II, you didn't need the Wait button to steal a retaliation; you could just keep around a small stack of Wolves/Gargoyles for that purpose. In HoMM III, the larger battlefield size + restrictions on flying means there's more granularity in speed, and having a fast Tier 7 unit means that it will move before your Wolf Raiders and Gargoyles and other weak/fast creatures.
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Rubinia
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PostSubject: Re: Why there will be no wait button in Ironfist   2018-05-16, 23:48

Hah! I've knew it! Maybe not so thoughtfully and with less actuall logical support, but I'm glad I was right with my feeling that lack of Wait is a very good thing in Heroes II Smile
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DarkAtom
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PostSubject: Good decision   2018-05-20, 04:26

Yeah, it is not H2 style. Also, in H3 there are some extremely boring fights where you have to beat the AI by exploiting the way it is programmed, and 99% of the time it involves the wait button.  It just gets cheesy and there is no more fun. Thumbs up for the decision! Very Happy
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