Disciples III: Renaissance Developer Walkthrough

By Jim Rossignol on September 3rd, 2009 at 10:49 am.


Turn-based strategy RPG (think King’s Bounty without the Warcraftian cartoonishness) Disciples III: Renaissance has the a splendid website. You even “turn” the pages of an ancient book to read about the game features. In fact, the entire game’s art-direction is exquisite, apart from the hex-based battle maps, which seem peculiarly deserted. Impossibly gothic cathedral cities, endlessly knotted and gnarled forests, warped supernatural creatures aplenty: it’s got the dark fantasy thing down. And the game looks suitably epic from a player’s point of view too, demanding a RPGTBS mentality for long-term fantasy adventuring. A developer walkthrough from GamesCom explains some of the game mechanics below, but I’d go take a look at their site (English switch top right) to leaf through some more of the game assets, it really does go overboard.

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23 Comments »

  1. RiptoR says:

    If this plays a bit like King’s Bounty, then I’ll definitely get this when it’s released.

  2. Ian says:

    Hmmm. Looks worth keeping an eye on.

  3. David says:

    Disciples 2 was one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. It was so bold, rich and textured; it had a kind of primacy in visual design that you’d usually find in big budget Japanese RPGs rather than European strategy games. I can see the pedigree in D3, but it seems… lesser somehow.

    Still, the Disciples series is one of the most inspired fantasy strategy series since Warlords (King’s Bounty being another), so I’m glad to see it’s continuation.

  4. Barts says:

    I loved the first and the second installment in the series, so I will surely give this one a try as well. Other than beautiful artwork, Disciples had GREAT voice acting. Remember the voice of Empire’s Angels in the first part? I would go to bed with that voice.

  5. Barts says:

    Help, I think my comment went to spam limbo. :(

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    There’s nothing in the spam.

    KG

  7. Count Zero says:

    David’s right about Disciples II, it had incredible atmosphere and some of the best unit design I have ever seen in a game. All units had very detailed portraits, the sort you see in Magic the Gathering for example, and many of them were very inspired variations on fantasy archetypes. The art had a dark, mysterious quality to it, and it fit the tone of the world perfectly. The developers were aware of this and so they designed a card game that used the game’s art and was bundled with the collector’s edition, and also an art gallery with the game’s assets that you could access from the disc.
    I finished the game -and its add-ons, because I loved the atmosphere so much, but I would say that this formula was done better in the Heroes series. Disciples is a very slow game, and the strategic options were severely limited since each battle could feature a maximum of 6 units on each side and there was no movement in battle, just attack orders and spells. It looks like the current developer is trying to add some strategic depth with a larger grid, so we’ll have to see. The art, while great in itself doesn’t seem to be the same caliber as the original, but that might be just nostalgia talking. I’m definitely keeping an eye on this.

  8. Karry says:

    There was never anything strategic about Disciples. It had tactical combat – thats it. In that regard all Disciples franchise, indeed, can be correctly compared to King’s Bounty. A munchkin paradise.

  9. Nelson says:

    Unbelievable, I’ve been checking that site for months lamenting the fact that it was Russian only. I didn’t realize you had to F11 to go full screen in order to see the language option! Poor design on their part.

    Count me in as a major DII fan as well!

  10. David says:

    @Karry It depends on how you cut those definitions. The combat was certainly ‘tactical’, but it was wrapped up in a slick, if not terribly innovative, ‘strategic’ layer of tech research, base building, extra-combat spellcasting, and resource procurement/management. In that sense, it’s more strategic than KB.

  11. Finn says:

    Another fan of DI and DII; though, let’s be honest, you could pretty much create a “stack of doom” and then proceed to wipe out the entire map. In that sense I loved it because it favoured turtleing instead of rushing.
    I had hoped DIII would feature more races, more environments and expansion/development but it seems unfortunately it is a case of “more of the same with better graphics”. I’ll buy it anyway.

  12. Ashbery76 says:

    I love the art direction in the game.

  13. Severian says:

    I agree with several of the comments above. DII had a lovely art design and aesthetic. There was something immensely satisfying about leveling up your units until they “evolved” into uber-powerful icons of doom (the dwarves were visually very fun; the undead slightly OP). You had choices along the way of what you wanted your units to become. Keeping these experienced units alive, esp in the early game, was vital for success. What this meant, unfortunately, was that if you did succeed in leveling up a number of powerful units, you could create a “stack of doom” (as Finn said) and just wipe out everything the AI threw at you.

    I have to say I also liked the limited combat (no movement, only 6 units). I’ve played the “move around in hex battlefield” system more times than I care to think about and it can be boring as hell. King’s Bounty probably did this better than any other game I can remember (including HOMM and AOW). But I kind of wish they’d kept the simple combat for DIII.

    The biggest problem with DII was the poor AI. If it had been designed better, than an overarching strategy would have been rewarded (when to leave troops behind to defend important locations, when to split armies, what items to buy, etc.). But as it was, you really didn’t need to think too much. The computer couldn’t formulate a grand strategy against you, so you could break the map down into small-scale tactical decisions. Ultimately, this became very boring.

    The map aesthetic and design, also, was disappointing. Unfortunately, DIII looks to continue this trend. But I remain hopeful. I love me turn-based strategy but I worry that people won’t have time for both Elemental and DIII, and the former looks like it’s trying to push boundaries better than this one. We shall see.

  14. Karry says:

    @David
    Oh, come one, Disciples has more in common with Diablo, than HeroesofM&Ms. The whole “strategic” gameplay consisted of having one squad and systematically eradicating every living thing off the map. There was no incentive to use many squads, or to leave some enemies alone, no, just kill them all, because if you dont – you wont be experienced enough to beat the bosses. And that kind of gameplay disguised as a TBS gets reeeally old reeeally quick. I couldnt finish the third level in campaign, i was so bored by the previous two.

  15. kuddles says:

    Yeah, I would also argue that while the combat itself wasn’t overly strategic, there was definitely a strategic layer to getting to that point. Most other fantasy TBS like HOMM or Age of Wonders was completely open-ended in it’s tech tree or the type of units you could make. Disciples II, on the other hand, would force you to go for one aspect (for example, brute force vs. more wide-ranging damage), which would immediately cut you off from the other options. You also had to determine what stacks were best against what enemies.

    The biggest downfall was that the story campaigns were a little overly-scripted, making things like diplomacy invalid most of the time, and the higher difficulty came from cheating rather then better A.I. (even with few assets and being pummeled at every turn, they still could churn out new stacks much quicker then you.)

    While this new one may not be as impressive visually, one needs to remember that this type of game probably needs to operate on an extremely limited budget and it is an East European dev team after all. If it’s actually decently polished (and with how long it’s been in development, that’s likely) and still looks and plays decent, especially coming from a sketchy publisher like Strategy First, I would count my blessings right there.

  16. Subject 706 says:

    For my part, I think the art direction in DIII is just as good as in the earlier two. Liked the first ones, so I’m getting this. I’m just happy someone is actually making TBS games these days.

  17. WCG says:

    I didn’t realize you had to F11 to go full screen in order to see the language option!

    Thanks for this comment, Nelson! I would never have figured it out.

  18. Namos says:

    Yeah, the graphical polish of Disciples II really drew me in. I just hope they get rid of the stupid battle limitation (every battle cuts your movement by half – each here could battle only twice per turn, unless you used movement restoring items/spells).
    Looking forward to this one.

  19. Seth says:

    I have some hope for this now that the (new) dev owns the ip and not .

  20. Vinraith says:

    “RPGRTS mentality?”

    I’m confused, is some portion of Disciples real time now? That would be unfortunate.

  21. Jim Rossignol says:

    That should be RPGTBS

  22. Vinraith says:

    Ah, good, you had me weirded out there for a second. :)

    Like others here, I enjoyed Disciples 2 (though I agree that it’s somewhat light on the strategy, somewhere between HOMM and King’s Bounty I’d argue). The art style has always been one of its strongest points, and I’m pleased to see that with the series going 3D a real attempt is being made to preserve that. I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile (I believe it was originally slated for release last Christmas) so I’m also just glad to see some information about it making the rounds. One can never have too many fantasy TBS games. Actually, come to think of it, one can never have too many TBS games period.

  23. Max says:

    Ugh, that site is horrid. It’s not even a site, it’s just Flash.
    If you like beautiful sites you should visit: http://www.wolfire.com/overgrowth
    That is a nice site, and it’s even HTML.