The Heavenly Forge is a scrapped playable faction which was originally planned to appear in Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade as the ninth available town in Heroes III. Carrying on the tradition of implementing aspects of both science-fiction and high fantasy in the games (which had been a factor in the Might and Magic series since its 1986 origin), the town was to be predominantly technology-oriented. Its alignment was Evil.
Concept and scrappageEdit
Following the completion of Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia, Gregory Fulton and Jon Van Caneghem began design work on an expansion pack, discussing plot points to pursue in the campaign storyline. They chose to pick up from the Evil ending of Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor, in which Kastore revives the Heavenly Forge and launches a conquest of Antagarich. To strengthen continuity between the two series, the Forge town was introduced to act as a representation of Kastore's armies.
The Forge was first showcased at E3 in May 1999, months prior to the release of the retail Armageddon's Blade, with concept art by George Almond released to GameSpot and fansites, while a low-quality but discernable shot of the first draft of the town screen (designed by Phelan Sykes) had also been publicised. A unit lineup was released, with a comprehensive collection of renders of the Forge's structures and some promotional art later surfacing in Phelan Sykes' online portfolio.
The Forge's introduction received a mixed reaction from fans, with some arguing against the inclusion of science fiction in what had formerly been presented as a high fantasy series - no sci-fi had appeared in Heroes I, II or III. Additionally, because Almond's sketch for the Naga Tank depicted partial nudity, some felt that the town would be a fundamentally distasteful inclusion. Several e-mails were sent to New World Computing, requesting that the Forge town be replaced (including a death threat), while a minority of posters threatened to boycott the title if the faction was introduced.
Roughly a week after the concept art was unveiled, GameSpot's Micheal Mullen interviewed Gregory Fulton, Heroes III's designer, who revealed that the Forge had, in response to fan demand, been removed from Armageddon's Blade and was to be replaced with the Elemental Conflux faction, which had been on the drawing board for a second expansion pack. Fulton, though still confident that science fiction had a central place in the Might and Magic storyline, agreed that the sudden introduction of the Forge had shocked a percentage of the fanbase, and had chosen to take the expansion in a different direction. He later posted an FAQ in the form of an open letter to fans, allaying their concerns.
The majority of information regarding the Forge town's dwellings and unique structures originates an earlier version of Phelan Sykes' online portfolio, where a full collection of renders were originally posted. It also utilised Heroes III's standard structures, including the Blacksmith and Mage Guild, though its favoured resources, spells and war machine were not confirmed.
- Goblin Generator
- Pyromaniac Generator
- Ogre Generator
- Minotaur Generator
- Tank Generator
No full information has been released regarding the statistics of the Forge troops, but their ranks are publicly known. According to a New World Computing representative, Forge units were to be, individually, the strongest in the game - though highly overpowered (with units stronger than Archangels), would be produced in low numbers and cost far more materials (even some non-7th tiers apparently costing precious resources). In-game graphics of only the first three tiers were showcased.
- Grunt (Foot Soldier)
- Cyber-Dead (Cyber-Zombie)
- Pyro (Pyromaniac)
- Stinger (Bruiser)
- Jump Soldier (Jump Trooper)
- Tank (Heavy Tank)
- Juggernaut (Dreadnought)
New World Computing revealed that the Forge's Might-based hero class was the Cyborg, while its Magic-based class was the Technician. However, the identities for the individual heroes for each class were not detailed publicly, and no relevant official graphics are known to have been released. As a continuation of Might and Magic VII's Evil storyline, it is assumed at least that Kastore, Maximus and/or Dark Shade were to make appearances in the campaign storyline, playable or otherwise.
The storyline entailed the Erathians under Catherine Ironfist, Roland Ironfist and Gelu leading armies against Deyja (rather than Kreegan Eeofol) and destroying the Forge towns using Armageddon's Blade - a relic of the early plot is evident in the retail game's opening cinematic, which shows the heroes seeking the Blade, hidden within a subterranean cave. All but one of the campaign's maps had been ready at the time of the expansion's revision.
The Forge Town ProjectEdit
A well-publicised fan project was commenced at Heroes Community by modders Bigjocker and Zielevitz to recreate the Forge as faithfully as possible and implement it into Heroes of Might and Magic III: In the Wake of Gods as an additional faction. Despite showing early evidence of progress, it has not been released as of yet.
Also there are currently two active efforts to deliver the Forge town (that I know of).
- One project, which began around 2010, is headed by a primarily-Russian team, led by don-komandorr. This effort seeks to create the Forge from scratch, with a new town screen and original concept artwork. Numerous animated creature models have been released.
- The other project, started in 2011, appears to have originated in the Polish community and is led by Manigoldo. This project utilises New World Computing's original town screen from artist Phelan Sykes. Very interestingly, the team claims they have received five original music tracks from HoMM composer Paul Anthony Romero to consummate their vision.
A significant step for these projects occurred exclusively at Heroes Community. In June 2010, a mysterious HC member named benhur posted, for the first time ever, a full .RAR file containing the original animated graphic files from the Forge's town screen as it appeared at the town's original announcement at E3, apparently created by New World Computing's Phelan Sykes some ten years earlier. These assets are still available for anyone seeking to continue the project(s).
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Adrenaline Vault's interview with Greg Fulton
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Tea Leaves interview with David Mullich
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Nether Gods' article on the Forge, archived at Age of Heroes
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Greg Fulton's open letter to the community
- ↑ GameSpot confirms the removal of the Forge
- ↑ GameSpot Armageddon's Blade preview
- ↑ Phelan Sykes' portfolio
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 GamesDomain E3 preview
- ↑ GamesSpot E3 preview
- ↑ The Forge Town Project at Heroes Community
- ↑ Restarted Forge Town discussion at Heroes Community
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