Might and Magic Retrospective Interview

RPGCodex continues their series of retrospective interviews talking with Jon van Caneghem, known for his work on Might and Magic, Heroes of Might and Magic, King's Bounty and Planet's Edge.
RPG Codex: In what ways did you intend Might and Magic to be different from Wizardry and Ultima, design-wise? What did Wizardry and Ultima lack that you wanted to do in your games?

JVC: Wizardry and Ultima were great inspirations for me. But I wanted to make my own vision for a CRPG. I wanted more of an open world feel with quests, puzzles and an emphasis on exploration and discovery. I wanted party based tactical combat, tons of magic items to find and an ever increasing feeling of power as you leveled your characters. Most of all I wanted players to feel free to experiment with all the "tools" I put in the game so they could enjoy playing any way they wanted to.

RPG Codex: What do you feel are the major strengths (and weaknesses, if any) of the Might and Magic games from today's standpoint? Why, in your view, do people still play and enjoy the series after all these years?

JVC: I have always felt the game systems I created were very robust, probably the biggest strength of the games and still hold up today. Plus the free form nature of the game worlds are very appealing. The biggest weakness came when we had to switch to true 3d engine; we were behind the technology curve at that point, it made it difficult to develop and stay visually competitive.

RPG Codex: Which is your favorite Might and Magic cRPG, and why?

JVC: Although I have a special fondness to MM1 since I did the entire game myself, I would still have to say World of Xeen was my favorite and the pinnacle of the game systems, universe and conclusion to the original story.