Matt Plays Might & Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven

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Matt Barton's picture

Hail, fellow adventurers! I'm back this week with one of my favorite 90s CRPGs, Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven. It's held up might well over the centuries (well, in game time!), and is still extremely fun to play today. Heck, I was so engrossed in it I had a hard time pulling away to do the video!

As always, you can download the video here, but don't forget to toss a few coins into the bard's hat. You can also buy the "Might & Magic 6-pack" from GOG for only $10, but please use my affiliate link. Thanks!

Comments

quantum (not verified)
Rob, I guess they are giant

Rob, I guess they are giant rats or sewer rats or monster rats or - insert ratty adjective -...
I somehow never got into the Might & Magic series back in the day, it just looked too ... colourful to me, I like my crpgs bleak and dark, like the Gothic series.
But this offering really looks swell. I'd love to give it a try, but I have yet to find a payment method for GOG that I'm comfortable with. Us continentals don't like them credit cards.

Jonas (not verified)
MM6

Another video I'd really like to watch... when I get my damn internet connection back. (Two more weeks to go!) Might & Magic VI is a wonderful game. I still have the original CD, and I played it to bits when I first got it. Might & Magic VII is also quite good - it has some lovely design ideas in it - though I find Enroth a much better setting than Erathia.

Might & Magic VI is the game I often use as an example of what I wish I could do as a programmer. I know that with modern technology, a game like this wouldn't be too hard to make (with more stylized graphics to make them more homogenous) for someone who doesn't suck as a programmer. I often moan that if someone would just give me the technical ability to make something on this level, I could write and design a game around it that would blow your socks off. Ah, dreams... anyway, I think MM6 shows that the potential of the first-person cRPG has barely been explored, and makes a lot of more recent games look really bad.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Something on this level
Jonas wrote:

Another video I'd really like to watch... when I get my damn internet connection back. (Two more weeks to go!) Might & Magic VI is a wonderful game. I still have the original CD, and I played it to bits when I first got it. Might & Magic VII is also quite good - it has some lovely design ideas in it - though I find Enroth a much better setting than Erathia.

Might & Magic VI is the game I often use as an example of what I wish I could do as a programmer. I know that with modern technology, a game like this wouldn't be too hard to make (with more stylized graphics to make them more homogenous) for someone who doesn't suck as a programmer. I often moan that if someone would just give me the technical ability to make something on this level, I could write and design a game around it that would blow your socks off. Ah, dreams... anyway, I think MM6 shows that the potential of the first-person cRPG has barely been explored, and makes a lot of more recent games look really bad.

I've had the same desire...I will eventually make my CRPG. Just want to get some simpler games under my belt first. I know the CRPG will be a Monster thing, probably take years to get it done. Baby steps for me.

I have given it some thought. Probably the most direct way would be a level editor for something like NWN or one of the Elder Scrolls editors. Of course you'd still be stuck creating the assets for it, and people would need to own the original game. I suppose if you were okay with M&M 6 level graphics, you might get away with one of the many FPS game makers out there, assuming whatever script language it had wasn't too cumbersome. Some big advantages to M&M 6 in terms of easy coding - you don't ever see the characters or their hands or anything for one. The monsters are 2D--just need to look good from one side, growing and shrinking. Pretty much Quake-era stuff we're talking about here; wonder if you could do it with one of those engines... In any case, a game like M&M 6 seems like a doable project for one dude but definitely for a small team. It's only when you start getting into full 3D models and such that it starts to be a Big Project (in my mostly uninformed opinion). Everybody wants to make FPS these days, so that stuff is cheap, plentiful, and probably easy to work with. Only big deal would be adapting the RPG stuff. Probably have to know the relevant scripting language pretty well to be able to do it. I think many of them use C++ for that, but hopefully there's something easier.

But I'm guessing you want to make something to sell...I doubt (could be wrong) there's money to be made with level editors and such. Probably need to license an engine for that. Jay used the Torque engine for Frayed Knights, though he doesn't seem to care for it now.

Eventually I plan to get around to making something with Unity. That's looking pretty far in the future though, since even dealing with 2D collisions and such has been insanely difficult for me. A lot of people are raving about Unity.

I think before trying to make a 3D RPG I'm going to try to do an isometric turn-based thing. I'd love to be able to make a Gold Box style game, though perhaps with a Hillsfar like interface (having the map on screen with the directional arrow really helps with navigation.) The joy for me would be crafting a really good combat engine that'd be fast and smooth. I don't so much care about the audiovisuals as long as the mechanics feel good. Know I'm preaching to the choir here, but man, imagine a modern Gold Box game with an updated interface (favorites, repeat last turn, programmable tactics, etc.) and plenty of shortcuts. I'd like to get those big turn-based battles flying, so an expert player could really rip through them like he was playing speed chess on steroids.

That for me is the key...TURN-based, but with such a smooth interface you can RIP. Only need to slow down when you have to think something through, never because the interface is bad and making you click through repetitive crap and watch dull animations over and over.

n/a
quantum (not verified)
Sold!

Matt, if you ever get around to making your CRPG, I'd like to preorder one :) Or maybe two.

Jonas (not verified)
Indeed
Matt Barton wrote:

I've had the same desire...I will eventually make my CRPG.

Me too. It's something we didn't talk about in the interview, but I've basically got one big game in my mind, one game that I'd like to do above all others, and it's the kind of RPG I've always wanted to play. That's something I've been thinking about for years, in terms of design as well as story, trying to come up with something that is practical and yet, well, awesome. It's very clear in my mind, but until I can find someone more talented than I at programming, or better game making tools are released, it will have to wait.

Quote:

Just want to get some simpler games under my belt first. I know the CRPG will be a Monster thing, probably take years to get it done. Baby steps for me.

That is definitely the way to go. Making games isn't the easiest thing in the world, and RPGs are probably the most challenging kind of them all. (Though I do think that what a lot of RPGs are missing is a clearer design - I've often seen things that are quite lovely on a purely technical level, but fail because the design isn't properly thought through.)

Quote:

I have given it some thought. Probably the most direct way would be a level editor for something like NWN or one of the Elder Scrolls editors. Of course you'd still be stuck creating the assets for it, and people would need to own the original game.

It's always tempting to play with any kind of editor of this kind - to me, anyway - because they allow one to focus on creating content instead of bothering with engines and such, but I think that's simply a tad too limiting. Unless you go and do a ton of modding, but then that requires such programming skills that you might as well just write the damn thing yourself.

Quote:

I suppose if you were okay with M&M 6 level graphics, you might get away with one of the many FPS game makers out there, assuming whatever script language it had wasn't too cumbersome.

I've never really experimented with those, since most of them seemed either too simplistic or too cumbersome, but it's worth checking out.

Quote:

Some big advantages to M&M 6 in terms of easy coding - you don't ever see the characters or their hands or anything for one. The monsters are 2D--just need to look good from one side, growing and shrinking. Pretty much Quake-era stuff we're talking about here; wonder if you could do it with one of those engines...

It's certainly possible to do something highly stylized in its graphical style. I've seen a couple of small indie dungeon-crawling games here and there that seemed rather neat (can't provide any links at the moment, my connection is still too slow) and which made me think it was feasible to make something bigger in a similar style.

Quote:

In any case, a game like M&M 6 seems like a doable project for one dude but definitely for a small team. It's only when you start getting into full 3D models and such that it starts to be a Big Project (in my mostly uninformed opinion).

Depends on the people involved, really. But going for full-on realistic 3D models would certainly add a lot of work.

Quote:

Everybody wants to make FPS these days, so that stuff is cheap, plentiful, and probably easy to work with. Only big deal would be adapting the RPG stuff. Probably have to know the relevant scripting language pretty well to be able to do it. I think many of them use C++ for that, but hopefully there's something easier.

Perhaps. A lot of the people who want to make shooters tend to be hardcore programmers, though, so I don't know. But I'll try to have a look at what there is, free as well as commercial, when I have the time and money and bandwidth.

Quote:

But I'm guessing you want to make something to sell...I doubt (could be wrong) there's money to be made with level editors and such.

Definitely not. Mods based on the Source engine, those might have commercial appeal. But I know next to nothing about those.

Quote:

Eventually I plan to get around to making something with Unity. That's looking pretty far in the future though, since even dealing with 2D collisions and such has been insanely difficult for me. A lot of people are raving about Unity.

Unity seems to have most programmers I know terribly impressed, though my limited experiments with it tell me that it's still much more of an engine than a design environment. If there was a 3D game making tool with the kind of design system that Stencyl uses (creating game logic with building blocks), that would be amazing.

Quote:

I think before trying to make a 3D RPG I'm going to try to do an isometric turn-based thing. I'd love to be able to make a Gold Box style game, though perhaps with a Hillsfar like interface (having the map on screen with the directional arrow really helps with navigation.) The joy for me would be crafting a really good combat engine that'd be fast and smooth. I don't so much care about the audiovisuals as long as the mechanics feel good.

That's crossed my mind, too, especially after playing the Eschalon games. I'm almost certainly still too sucky a programmer (after a decade of making games... sigh...), but the various tools available are getting better, so it's not inconceivable. (Neither is finding a programmer to work with, I suppose, though online collaboration can be tricky.)

Quote:

Know I'm preaching to the choir here, but man, imagine a modern Gold Box game with an updated interface (favorites, repeat last turn, programmable tactics, etc.) and plenty of shortcuts. I'd like to get those big turn-based battles flying, so an expert player could really rip through them like he was playing speed chess on steroids.

That's the dream, yeah.

Quote:

That for me is the key...TURN-based, but with such a smooth interface you can RIP. Only need to slow down when you have to think something through, never because the interface is bad and making you click through repetitive crap and watch dull animations over and over.

I love both turn-based and real-time games, and find both to have tremendous potential - what drives me mad is all these modern RPGs that are somewhere inbetween, having neither genuine action nor any real strategy.

Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Might and Magic 6 made me a hermit. Some thoughts.

I sunk most of my free holiday weekend playing M&M6.... wow, what a time sink that game is! I bet I put in at least 20 hours (probably 30 or more????) playing it. And I think I'm not even a 10th of the way towards the finale!

Fundamental Flaw of CRPGs?

I've been critical of other CRPGs for seeming to artificially extend the gameplay time by having you waste time walking back and forth to various points of interest. Recently I gave up on "The Witcher," an otherwise very enjoyable game, because of all the walking involved.

Well, M&M 6 is MUCH WORSE than the Witcher in this regard! I must have wasted HOURS going back and forth between the town and the inner reaches of the "abandoned temple." I go down in there, get poisoned, and have to crawl back to town to get healed, maybe buy a cure poison potion (or some empty flasks for making my own potions), then go all the way back, get poisoned again, go back to town..... lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam.

I can't think of too many CRPGs where backtracking isn't a problem. I'm not talking about exploration, where you're getting something out of the travels. I'm talking about going back and forth between routes you've already taken, with little or no danger or intrigue along the way; plenty ventured, nothing gained, and time lost. I find this aggravating, boring, and usually game-killing for me. It feels like you're in a "shell" of a game, playtesting the graphics engine at this point, rather than adventuring.

What's the Solution

So what's the solution? Some CRPGs get around this by having teleport pads in key areas of the game (dungeons, towns, etc.) which minimizes the travel time necessary. This seems like a very good idea, but too many teleport spots might break the ambiance of the game. "Town Portal" spells in many of these games is also a great compromise, but in the case of M&M 6, you have to play the game for apparently much longer than I have to gain this ability. "Diablo II" made good use of easy teleportation using both "teleport pads" and cheap "town portal" spells early in the game, making for a much quicker (and straightforward) experience.

Some CRPGs have quick travel between towns via horseback, M&M6 being one of them. This is a great timesaver, but in the case of MM6, you still have to walk walk walk to the dungeon outside of town, then you have to walk walk walk back to the point in the dungeon you last left off at.

Anyhow, I'm still enjoying Might and Magic 6, which has compelled me to keep playing even with this critical travelling flaw. I'm not sure how long I can sustain interest in this game, because it looks like it's going to take at least 200+ hours for me to come close to finishing it.

But otherwise, it's a very fun game that I recommend, if the walking part doesn't bother you. Right now, I'm addicted. The turn-based battles are a very welcome change from the usual first-person real-time games! As for me, the most important spell ability I'm after in the game is "town portal," which better be coming quick!

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Rob, stick with it just a wee

Rob, stick with it just a wee bit longer. What you need to prioritizing are two spells - Town Portal, Lloyd's Beacon, and Flight. Once you get those you'll be whizzing around like a dream.

n/a
clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Yep it gets much better as

Yep it gets much better as matt said.. but I do wonder why the most painfull part of the game is first.. I know when i played it when it was new i even was annoyed by that.. but it wasnt any worse then most at that time.. Nowdays its just plain no fun.. but as you can carry more food, get more skills the game fleshs out alot more.. and llyods is CRUCIAL as matt said.. Just the differences in how games have evolved (good or bad). Personally i think there needs to be a middle ground.. I think games today are to easy and the older games are hard.. sadly most of the time its hard becuase its repatative.. not the combat or dungone crawling.. the downtime.. traveling and such. SO much Backtracking for no reason.. town one has all those trainers.. but you dont have hte money to train .. so later in game you come back to starter twon to get those skills... waste of time.. M&M did one great thing.. the exstensive notes system so you can remeber that crap :)

30 hours? you do have a ways to go :) i think i was almost 140+ hours in when i finished it. Wierd to think the guy who did it is now the main guy behind C&C (online).. if that ever happens...

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