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Thursday, 26 November 2015

History of New World Computing (1984-2003)

Time to take a look into the history of computer gaming, and one of the finest game developing companies of all time: New World Computing. Many of us who were into gaming from early to late 90s surely remember the name 3DO - which may ring the bell more than New World Computing. But, what do they have to do with New World Computing? A lot, just have a little patience and read on. Wasn't 3DO the gaming console that failed on sales in the early 90s, and was abandoned by it's developer rather quickly afterwards? Yes, it was that, but there is much more behind the name of 3DO than just the failed up gaming console: a piece of PC gaming history tied tightly with New World Computing - the.creators of Might And Magic, King's Bounty, and Heroes Of Might And Magic franchises. You see, 3DO wasn't just a gaming console but the name of the company itself, as well. 3DO as a company was created by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, who then decided to go on with the plans to create a gaming console under the same name as the company, itself. After the company abandoned the flopped 3DO console, it moved on and began publishing games. Now, this is when we come upon the link to New World Computing. In the process of moving into the PC game publishing, 3DO bought the rights and became the publisher of following game developing companies: Cyclone Studios, Archetype Interactive, and - surprise, surprise:  New World Computing.

At the time, when 3DO had bought rights to the New World Computing's game franchises, and hired them to develop new titles of those game series, New World Computing (formed originally by Jon Van Caneghem) had already solid grounds under them, having developed their self-published Might And Magic cRPG game series up to chapter V (Darkside Of Xeen), and having released the first Might And Magic spin-off series strategy game: Heroes Of Might And Magic in 1995 (which was built upon their past King's Bounty PC game). And so, New World Computing continued to develop both of the franchises under their new publisher's, 3DO's wings; the collaboration which would plunge out several classic games such as: Heroes Of Might And Magic II: Succession Wars, Heroes of Might And Magic III: Restoration Of Erathia, Might And Magic VI: Mandate Of Heaven, and Might And Magic VII: For Blood And Honor (the best bits of both of the game series in our opinion; so one could say that it was 3DOs and New World Computing's publishing deal which really raised the talented team of New World Computing into the fame in the last half of the 90s).

New World Computing will always be remembered of creating up massive yet quite easily approach-able fantasy themed games featuring wide range of epic monsters and creatures. They were a wet dream of any high-fantasy fans in the gaming; be it strategy, adventure or pure RPG genre. I mean, after all, who wouldn't want to be able to fight Hydras, Black Dragons, Titans, Behemoths and Devils in same game? New World Computing were also masters of combining strategy and RPG elements smoothly in their Heroes Of Might & Magic series since 1995. But in order to take a bit deeper look into New World Computing's history, and what really happened for them, and what was 3DOs role at the end of the events, we should first go back in time a bit...

Buy and download Heroes Of Might And Magic 3 and other Homm and M&M games from GOG
(also work with newer computers!)

The Early Years

The tale of New World Computing begun in early 1984, as the company was formed by Jon Van Caneghem, his wife, Michaela Van Caneghemn and Mark Caldwell. Jon started immediately programming his first up coming game title Might And Magic I: The Secret Of The Inner Sanctum, which took three years to be created, until coming out in 1986. The game was developed for Apple II originally, and ported for C64, Mac OS and MS-DOS a year later. The game featured classic first person view in rough early form of 3D, with step-engine movement (square by square), and classic fantasy setting with epic monsters to be fought. While featuring high-fantasy setting, Might And Magic series would often feature a sci-fi elements combined to it, which many fans of the series found intriguing.

The first Might And Magic game was successful enough to warrant a sequel, Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World, released in 1988 for Apple II and MS-DOS. It continued along the lines of the previous title.

(Might and Magic: The Secret of Inner Sanctum)

At this period between 1989 and 1991 New World Computing released a few games, of which might be unknown for the most of the players today: firstly, Nuclear War (1989): a strategic game where you step in the shoes of one of the worlds leaders in the middle of nuclear war, and your goal is basically to nuke out hell out of every other nation. Quite plain and simple game which didn't raise much hype at the day. Secondly, they released something a bit more memorable titled King's Bounty (1990), which is actually predecessor of Heroes Of Might and Magic game series. Something, which not many people know. The combat system and exploration system in this game are very similar to what we know from Homm-series, but castle management is missing, really. Also the mythological and epic monsters are there to be found. Quite notable game for it's time.

(King's Bounty was pre-Heroes of Might and Magic title)

Thirdly, they released Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders Of Khazan (1990), which is quite typical RPG for its time. In the game you create a party of four with classic RPG character classes and start exploring the surroundings. It differs from Might and Magic franchise due it's the games is pictured from a top-down view, where you move your character square by square (like in early Ultima games). Decently notable release. They also released science-fiction role-playing game called Planet's Edge in 1991, which combined real-time and turn-based exploration, and combat within surface of hundreds of planets and in-space. Quite large scale game, although it lacked any real character stats or experience system, thus making it more of an adventure game, than a RPG title.

Same year in 1991, came out their next big title, Might and Magic III: Isles Of Terra. The game had now updated graphics engine and fresh interface. The first person 3D view remained similar to the first two games, with the step-engine movement. Graphics were optimized for VGA, making the game much more colorful and detailed than ever before. Sound quality was also updated hugely to support newest sound cards. Mouse interface and interaction was now supported for the first time in the franchise. Gaming magazine Dragon (#177) rated the game 5/5. Many cRPG fans still rate Isles Of Terra very high in their books!

(Might And Magic III: Isles Of Terra)

The Might and Magic franchise boasted up two more games using the almost identical game and graphics engine without much updates on it's part: Might and Magic IV: Clouds of Xeen (1992) and Might and Magic V: Darkside of Xeen (1993), which were later on combined under the same title called Might And Magic: World Of Xeen. These games were all quite well received. M&M II: Gates to Another World and M&M III: Isles of Terra were also released for SNES (Super Nintendo)!

The Middle Era

New World Computing then took a little break from their cRPG franchise, starting a spin-off series based on the very same game world setting. But, instead making it classic Role-playing game like before, implemented Might And Magic game world into a new series called Heroes and Might And Magic; the game which combined strategy, adventure and role-playing elements together. Heroes Of Might And Magic (1) was released in 1995 for MS-DOS, Windows and Mac-OS,. The game was filled with epic roster of mythological monsters, and allowed player to build up castles producing units, which you could then lead outside to the open fields to adventure with your hero's lead. Each hero was unique with it's own stats, and there was leveling-up system for the heroes based on experience points, which one would gain by fighting the battles; against the other heroes and their armies in turn-based mode on hexagon-grid based board (reminding a chess-board a bit). Heroes Of Might And Magic featured four different alignments for you to choose from: Knight, Barbarian, Sorceress and Warlock: each with their own city type, unique troops, and heroes. Good and evil campaigns were included separately in the game, along with single scenarios, of which both were very tempting. You could play in Network, as well as taking turns with your friends at one computer in "Hotseat" mode; a quite marvelous invention!

(Heroes of Might and Magic I - combat screen)

The original Heroes Of Might And Magic was quite memorable, up to par with original Might And Magic RPG series quality, although not directly comparable. It was influenced hugely by their previous title: King's Bounty. The game received mixed reviews, with a few good and a few bad ratings. Gameplay was praised, though. Success of the game was obviously large enough to eventually lead into making a sequel: Heroes Of Might and Magic II: Succession Wars, which was released two years later in 1997. It expanded the original alignments with two new ones to choose from: Wizard and Necromancer. Graphics were updated slightly with larger resolution, and the game's graphical style, theme, and interface is still one of my favorites up until today, beating graphics of the sequel (Homm 3) just slightly. Some new gameplay changes featured upgrade-able units (each with one upgrade level) and minor changes in spell system; just pretty much more of everything in the roots of the same. Music was now also to be heard in better quality instead of MIDI only, and was quite memorable too! The new sound format was *.wav (corret me if I'm wrong here!), which allowed much more realistic instruments compared to the ancient MIDI-sound. In 1997 an expansion was released for the game, called Price Of Loyalty (which was not developed by New World Computing). It had a legendary balance issue with the neutral new unit type, ghost, which would multiply itself wildly when striking an enemy successfully.

(Heroes of Might and Magic II - town screen, Warlock)

In 1996, 3DO bought New World Computing, integrating it as one of their divisions. The developers then started working for next Might and Magic cRPG title: Might and Magic VI: Mandate of Heaven, which was released at 1998. It used updated engine compared to the previous M&M title, called Horizon Engine/Labyrinth Engine. The game world was this time presented in real 3D with real-time seamless movement instead of the previous step-engine, while monsters were still 2D sprites animated in 3D environment. The engine was already showings signs of being slightly dated (even after the upgrade), although it managed to hang in there at 1998. Most notable gameplay change was, that you could now fight either in turn-based or real-time interface. The game still stuck to it's roots with epic fantasy setting featuring slight sci-fi elements, featuring a very large game world and much beyond hundred hours of content to explore. The huge scale of the game could well be compared to earliest Elder Scrolls titles (pre-Morrowind). Mandate Of Heaven was praised for it's detailed interactive game world and non-linear plot, as well as user-friendly interface; but criticized for simplifying some of cRPG elements and streamlining them slightly. Yet, it was one of the fewer games allowing you to actually create a whole party of characters in the late 90s, when this type of games were already becoming rarer than before. The game was a fabulous and massive adventure to remember; a true classic, indeed. With so many things to discover, it was a adventuring treasure hunter's wet dream. Also, stat based character system was still there to exist, and I personally liked it as it was. There were countless places to visit to upgrade your character's stats, which made discovering new and hidden areas extremely rewarding. Musical score of Mandate Of Heaven was, and still is quite awesome in it's own right, and was pretty much composed by the same team who composed Heroes of Might And Magic II's musical score.

(Might And Magic VI: Mandate of Heaven)

The sequel called Might and Magic VII: For Blood And Honor came out year later in 1999. It contained the very same elements than it's predecessor, being almost identical game by the mechanics, with very little upgrades to those elements, but featuring a whole new story and areas to explore. Even the same a bit dated game engine was used yet again, which caused some debate at the time, since the engine was getting a bit out of date. That didn't make the game any worse though, it was up to par with it's very good predecessor; presenting once again a huge fantasy-themed game world with countless of epic hours of exploration. The musical, score once again, managed to elevate the game's overall atmosphere to another level. What was lacking visually, was compensated musically. There were few very cool new features in the game such as: being able to upgrade your character class to whole new level after doing the grand character-class-quest (depending of your character class). One of the coolest moments ever for me, was being able to upgrade my sorcerer to an undead lich, granting huge bonus to the stats, and turning my character's face-icon into a skeletal nightmare. Many games allow you to fight liches, but only a few allows you to play as one!

The very same year (1999) also Heroes-franchise got a new sequel, and third part on the series, called Heroes Of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia (read out the review of our associated blog at The game continued along the same lines than the part II, bringing mostly an graphically updated interface (it's really a matter of taste if you prefer this or the previous) and few new towns and cities (always warmly welcomed). Basically just more of everything, once again. The game's quality once again was up-to-par, if not better, than it's prequel's: fabulous classic! Heroes Of Might And Magic III brought countless hours of epic battles to remember with all those armies of mythical creatures fighting each other, with your heroes casting spells on the background. The town alignments were created again from the scratch re-balancing the old and adding some new. The new allocation of alignments now included the following: Castle, Rampart, Tower, Inferno, Necropolis, Dungeon, Stronghold, Fortress. and Conflux: an elemental town, was added by an expansion pack titled Armageddon's Blade, also released at the same year. Musical score was once, again very good.

(Heroes of Might and Magic III - exploration screen)

1999 was also sadly the last year before things started going downhill for New World Computing with their parent company 3DO, who brought the game developing company down with them. In 2000 New World Computing released five piece of retail episodes based on HOMM III called Heroes Chronicles. Later on same year they released new Might and Magic game, Might and Magic VIII: Day of The Destroyer. It received a mixed reactions, for it still used the same old game engine from Mandate of Heaven, that was getting really dated at the time. Other than that it didn't bring that much new, and the end of the game was very unbalanced and suffered of story quality drowning towards the end (rushed out?). Character classes were renewed, with only Cleric and Knight classes remaining from the prequel. Party system had a new feature so, that you now could hire characters around the game world to join your fighting party (good upgrade), having only to keep but one character of the original created party. New recruit-able character races included minotaurs, dragons, vampires, dark elves, and trolls. The game might've been less memorable than previous titles, but it still was quite decently good, despite it's dated game engine, uneven story quality, and unbalanced ending part; certainly better than the initial reception in the media. Epic scale of the large game world was still present in the game.

The Last Years

New World Computing released another spin-off from Might and Magic franchise in 2001, called Legends of Might And Magic. Perhaps to appease wider audience, they made it as a fantasy themed FPS, reminiscent of Quake. The game was never quite well received by players or the media. New World Computing then tried one last time reviving Heroes-franchise with Heroes Of Might And Magic IV, which was released in 2002. It received mixed, even bad reviews, mostly because of some major gameplay changes to the franchise; something which a few old fans weren't too fond of. The role of the heroes was changed: they would now take part and actually fight as a single unit in the battle, instead of their role as a spellcaster in the background, previously. Armies could now roam freely without a leading hero, although with limited functions (no town conquering for example). Gone was the hexagon-based battle-grid, changed to an isometric 3D view. Skill system was totally overhauled, and single creature upgrades were removed. The amount of town alignments was lessened down to six (6), featuring now: Haven, Academy, Necropolis, Asylum, Preserve, and Stronghold. Also the whole graphical look was gone through a huge overhaul, not reminding the classic first three games that much anymore. I personally don't think that Homm 4 is that bad, but Homm 3 and 2 just feel better balanced, executed, and presented games than Homm 4. The game was not, despite some of it's bad gameplay changes and overhauls, as bad as it was claimed to be by the press and many old fans of the series. Heroes Of Might And Magic IV is actually very decent game, and if you can overlook some of it's flaws, I can see how you can even love the game. Many players who ditched the game initially should probably give it a second try nowadays!

(Heroes of Might and Magic IV - hero stats screen)

In 2002 new Might and Magic release saw the light of day, called Might and Magic IX. Sadly, this game was a total letdown after still good part VII: Day of The Destroyer. Graphics engine was now overhauled to be fully 3D supporting the newest 3D craphics cards and technology (creatures weren't 2D sprites anymore, which looked decent previously, but blocky and butt-ugly 3D creations of the earliest form). The "new" full 3D engine, however, was already very dated looking at the time; accompanied with the fact that anything created for it was lacking inspiration. The character models were bland and ugly; one would even prefer nice 2D prites over the earliest, the worst full 3D monster models. There was very little interaction with environment in the game world, and the game generally felt unpolished. There was more major bugs and glitches in the game than ever before. The beginning of the end for company was marked with the release.

Sadly, this wrote the last chapter in New World Computing's existence. Their parent company 3DO fell into bankruptcy in 2003 and New World Computing sunk with the ship along them. The reasons are bit unknown. Maybe Might And Magic franchise's decently good success was not enough to save big company like 3DO, who had several more game developing companies working for the at the time. Still, New World Computing managed to release several awesome games, played and loved by several players even today. I truly recommend trying out Might And Magic and Heroes Of Might And Magic series if you haven't already. They have some of the most memorable fantasy themed epic moments in gaming history.

The franchise's composing team between years 1995 and 2003 did fabulous job composing memorable musical score after another for several Might And Magic titles. Many of you might not know, but might have though while playing that: "boy, does this Heroes Of Might And Magic II music really reminds me a lot of Might and Magic VI". Well there's a reason behind this. The composers were mostly the same faces behind many of Homm and M&M series games. These included Paul Romero, Rob King, Steve Baca and Jennifer Wang; they composed several atmosphere-boosting tunes for the games during the years; whether it was a battle tune for Heroes-title or an exploration theme for icy plains presented in Might And Magic game. Listen some of the tunes below!

(ex-New World Computing composers, Paul Romero (L) and Rob King (R))

New World Computing developed following games:

  • 1986- Might and Magic: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum 
  • 1988 - Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World
  • 1989 - Nuclear War 
  • 1990 - King's Bounty 
  • 1990 - Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan
  • 1991 - Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra 
  • 1991 - Planet's Edge 
  • 1992 - Might and Magic IV: Clouds of Xeen
  • 1993 - Might and Magic V: Darkside of Xeen 
  • 1994 - Might and Magic: World of Xeen (enhanced CD)
  • 1995 - Heroes of Might and Magic
  • 1996 - Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars 
  • 1998 - Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven 
  • 1999 - Heroes of Might and Magic III
  • 1999 - Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade
  • 1999 - Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor
  • 2000 - Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Shadow of Death
  • 2000 - Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer
  • 2000 - Heroes Chronicles: Clash of the Dragons
  • 2000 - Heroes Chronicles: Conquest of the Underworld
  • 2000 - Heroes Chronicles: Masters of the Elements 
  • 2000 - Heroes Chronicles: Warlords of the Wastelands
  • 2000 - Heroes Chronicles: The World Tree (download only)
  • 2000 - Heroes Chronicles: The Fiery Moon (download only)
  • 2001 - Legends of Might and Magic 
  • 2002 - Heroes of Might and Magic IV
  • 2002 - Heroes of Might and Magic IV: The Gathering Storm
  • 2002 - Might and Magic IX
  • 2003 - Heroes of Might and Magic IV: Winds of War

This article was originally posted by me at, but I moved it here, and linked the old article to point here, as well, as I felt it fits better on this blog. I'm an owner of the both blogs and wrote this article initially at, as well. (originally published by us at

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