本周是英雄无敌3发行15周年（1999年2月28），UBI在官网放出了一段对英雄无敌3的开发总监David Mullich和副总监Chris Vanover的采访，这两人分别是游戏里姆拉克爵士和克里斯丁的原型，本周随后UBI还会有其它关于15周年的活动。
The Tale of Heroes of Might & Magic III
——By David Mullich
The video game industry is a relatively small and tight-knit community, and most of the opportunities for the games I’ve developed came to me through someone I had previously known. Heroes of Might and Magic III was no exception.
I first met Jon Van Caneghem, the founder of New World Computing and chief designer of most of its games, in 1994. We were both speakers on a panel about “The Art and Craft of Game Design” at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Jon was familiar with some of the games I had worked on in the past, such as Disney’s “DuckTales” and Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream”, and suggested that we should work together sometime.
我第一次遇见JVC，NWC的创始人和其旗下大部分游戏的首席设计师，是在1994年。我们都是一场在旧金山举办的年度游戏设计师峰会里一个名为“游戏设计的艺术与工艺”的讲座的演讲者。JVC对我之前做过的一些游戏，像是迪斯尼的DuckTales和Harlan Ellison的I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream等有所了解，因此提议我们什么时候合作一次。
That opportunity came three years later when New World Computing contacted me about becoming director for a new sequel in the Heroes of Might & Magic franchise. It was an exciting proposition but also a somewhat daunting one – Heroes of Might & Magic II, which was released the previous year, had just been named the sixth-best PC game of all time by PC Gamer magazine. What could I possibly do for an encore?
That is precisely the question I was asked by Trip Hawkins, president of The 3DO Company, which had recently purchased New World Computing. Trip made it the habit of personally interviewing every key employee joining the 3DO family (in my case, it was a phone interview, since I lived in the Los Angeles area, where New World was located, whereas The 3DO Company was based in the San Francisco area), and he wanted to know what I brought to the party.
Fortunately, I had an answer ready. I had spent about a week playing Heroes II and found it to be a remarkably addicting and well-designed game. However, my one qualm was with the art style. I thought the artwork looked about five years behind the times, and so my focus would be on bringing the graphics up to current standards. Trip seemed satisfied with my answer, and I could only hope that my bosses at New World agreed with me.
It turns out, they did. On my first day on the job, my manager told me that the company was unhappy with its current art direction and wanted me to “secretly” find a new art director among the art staff. So, on the pretense of introducing myself to everyone, I held one-to-one conversations with each artist. They were all capable artists, but one, Phelan Sykes, used our discussion to talk about how unhappy she was with the status quo. “I have found my art director”, I told myself, and as I later discovered, she was also the most talented artist in the company.
Another person I was happy to meet was Greg Fulton, a new employee New World had hired to be the lead designer the Heroes of Might & Magic III team I was putting together. Greg was hired on the same day I was, and we had never met each other previously, but we quickly became fast friends. I told Greg about my plan for upgrading the franchise’s art style from its past cartoony look to one that I called “extreme fantasy.” Greg showed me some artwork from the Warhammer tabletop miniatures game, proving to me that he knew exactly what I meant.
Together we went through galleries of fantasy artwork created by such great artists as Boris Vallejo, Larry Elmore and Rowina Morill, picking out images of heroes, creatures and environments that captured the look we were going after. We then arranged our collection into eight themed factions, up from the six that were featured in Heroes II.
我们一起翻阅了一些像是Boris Vallejo、Larry Elmore和Rowina Morill等伟大艺术家的奇幻插画，从中选取正适合我们想要的英雄、生物、环境等等。之后我们把这些汇聚成八个主题阵营，在英雄无敌2代的六个阵营的基础上。
My attention then turned to programming. My team started with only one programmer, George Ruof, who had worked on Heroes II. For the rest, I had to go outside the company, because the other staff programmers were dedicated to the studio’s other franchise, the Might & Magic role-playing game series. Luckily, my search didn’t take long as I was able to bring on two talented engineers who had programmed “I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream” for me at another company – John Bolton, who I assigned to be lead programmer, and David Richey, who I hired as level editor programmer.
我的注意力之后转移到了程序上。我的小组开始时只有一个程序员，George Ruof，他之前做过英雄无敌2。我必须到公司外去寻找其他的程序员，因为公司里的程序员都去开发公司旗下另一系列的魔法门角色扮演游戏去了。幸运的是，我的搜索没有花费多长时间，便带回了两个有天赋的工程师，他们曾经参与过我在另一个公司所设计的游戏I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream。其中一个是John Bolton，我任命他为主程序员，另一个是David Richey，我雇他来当关卡设计师。
Since we were on a very tight development timeframe – fourteen months altogether – we decided to re-use the game engine that had been created for Heroes of Might & Magic II but added the new game features such as upgradeable fighting units, an underground level, a revamped magic system, and many more map objects to visit. However, David Richey completely revised the level editor so that the level designers had a very robust quest creation system they could use to create a wide variety of levels to explore and conduct warfare upon.
I soon found that each of my leads were so talented and got along with each other so well that I realized I was working with a dream team the likes of which I have never again experienced in my thirty-five years in game industry.
Greg Fulton worked very closely with Jon Van Caneghem on creating the stats for all the combat units and other game elements, modeling them first on Excel spreadsheets to test out whether verifying that everything was balanced before being programmed into the game. Greg also managed our assistant designer, Chris Vanover, who under the name “Sir Christian”, was our community manager and did a terrific job keeping the fans updated on progress with the game. In addition, Greg supervised our six-person level design team lead by Jennifer Bullard (Jennifer would later become assistant designer on Heroes of Might & Magic IV and took over community management under the name “Maranthea”).
Greg Fulton和JVC一起设计每个兵种的属性和其他游戏要素，他们首先现在excel表格里测试是否所有项目达到平衡，之后再放入游戏中。Greg同样管理着我们的助理设计师Chris Vanover，Chris同时也是我们的社区经理，在网上用着Sir Christian的id，负责在社区更新关于游戏的最新进度等一堆琐事。此外，Greg也监督着由Jennifer Bullard领导的六人关卡设计小组（Jennifer之后成为了英雄无敌4的助理设计师和社区经理，id是Maranthea）。
Systems programmer John Krause, whom I worked with at my previous company; multiplayer programmer Jeff Leggett; and artificial intelligence programmer Gus Smedstad soon supplemented our three-person engineering team lead by John Bolton. (Gus would later become both lead programmer and lead designer on Heroes of Might & Magic IV). As the deadline fast approached and we got into “crunch time”, even General Manager Mark Caldwell came in to join the programming action.
系统设计师John Krause，是我之前公司里合作过的；多人游戏设计师Jeff Leggett；AI设计师Gus Smedstad之后很快加入进John Bolton带领的三人引擎小组。（Gus之后成了英雄无敌4的主程序员和主设计师）。由于截止日期很快就要来了，于是我们进入了倒计时，甚至连主管Mark Caldwell也加入进了编程工作。
I spent most of my time with lead artist Phelan Sykes and assistant lead artist Rebecca Riel, helping them adapt the twenty-person art team to the new art style as they created over 10,000 pieces of artwork for the game. Thankfully, the art team was more than up to the challenge, including illustrator George Almond, lead animator Adam McCarthy, user interface designer Scott White, and too many other talented artists to mention here. Phelan also oversaw the creation of the terrific cinematics created by our third-party vendors.
我大多数时间都在和主美术设计Phelan Sykes和助理美术设计Rebecca Riel在一起，帮助他们协调20人的美工团队去适应性的美术风格，他们画了超过一万张各类图片。谢天谢地，美工团队能够胜任这些挑战，他们当中有画家George Almond，主动画师Adam McCarthy，UI设计师Scott White，和其他许许多多有天赋的美术师们。Phelan同时也在管理我们第三方合作伙伴们所做的那些超棒的动画。
I would be remiss if I did not mention audio lead Rob King, who with the assistance of Paul Romero and Steve Baca, created the game’s dramatic music, sound effects and voice over.
此外，我一定不能忘了提及主音乐人Rob King，在Paul Romero和Steve Baca的协助下，他们创造了游戏中的背景音乐、音效和语音。
I was lucky enough to be overseeing a very well oiled machine that actually required very little supervision on my part. I had few concerns when I left the project for a few days when my wife gave birth to our second son. When I returned to the office, my team surprised me by creating a new hero for the game, Sir Mullich, whose in-game description was, “Generally stoic, Sir Mullich is prone to spasmodic fits of uncoordinated excitement believed to intimidate his troops into working faster.” I was both touched and amused by this in-joke, and allowed them to keep it in the game.
Heroes of Might & Magic III launched on February 28, 1999, in precisely the fourteen months we estimated it would take to complete, a rarity in game development. Even more amazingly, many fans and critics heralded the game as being better than its predecessor. But most of all, I’m proudest of the wonderful team with whom I was privileged to work, many of whom I still remain in contact with fifteen years later. These incredible game developers are the real heroes of Might & Magic.
创造力 - "Creativity"
——By Chris "Sir Christian" Vanover
I had already done many maps for Heroes III, as I had done for Heroes I and II, including all the writing and flavor text that players would encounter as they played. The tales of Xanthor that were posted on our community forums were also my creation, and it was a lot of fun to be able to craft each new chapter and see the immediate responses that it would generate.
So when the Design Lead, Greg Fulton, told me he wanted to hand off another design task, I jumped at the chance without question. It turned out to be two requests, actually:
- Come up with names for the eight leaders of Erathia.
- Write a short bio / backstory for each hero. Each of the one hundred and twenty eight heroes.
Deep breaths, Christian, you can do this. But I wasn`t panicked for the reason you might think. See, when it comes to writing, I can go on and on. But when it comes to names, I`m hopeless. They are my collective Achilles Heel. My own pen-and-paper character names are terrible, and it carried over to the video games that I play: a Diablo Barbarian named Smaash, who was later reborn as my Rock Band drummer. A SWTOR Bounty Hunter named Guido. I used the name Widowmaker because I was a fan of Glen Cook`s excellent Black Company series. At one point I even started naming personal characters after Might & Magic characters, including Xanthor, Korbac, and yes, the hated Spaz Maticus (my Bothan Teras Kasi in Star Wars Galaxies).
深呼吸，Christian，你能做到的。我害怕的并不是你想的那个。你看，在写作部分，我可以一直写啊写啊。但是到了起名字的部分，我就绝望了。它就是我的阿基琉斯之踵。我唯一的一个TRPG角色的名字实在是糟透了，它后来成了我玩的电视游戏里的角色的名字：一个名叫Smaash的恶魔野蛮人，之后又成了我在滚石乐队游戏里玩的鼓手的名字。我在SWTOR里的赏金猎人的名字是Guido。我还用过Widowmaker这个名字，因为我是Glen Cook的Black Company系列的粉丝。一度我甚至开始使用魔法门里的角色给我的个人角色命名，包括Xanthor，Korbac以及可恶的Spaz Maticus（我在星战世界里玩的Bothan Teras Kasi的名字）
What I`m getting at is that, when presented with the two tasks by Greg, I very calmly said to him, "You need to know that I`ll come up with 128 character bios before I come up with 8 good names." He laughed, but not as much as he did when I had finished the bios, but still needed two more leader names. I think he took pity on me by allowing me to change the names of one of the Knight characters to Sir Christian - my most unoriginal name ever, but I wouldn`t have it any other way!