Majesty Legends Q&A
We speak with Cyberlore's Jay Adan to get the first details on the sequel to Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim.
Three years ago, Cyberlore Studios made a splash with the release of its real-time strategy game Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim. At the time of its release, the genre was flooded with games that cloned the gameplay style of Warcraft and Command & Conquer. Majesty stood apart from the crowd with its unique approach to the control scheme. Rather than allow the player to directly control troops, Majesty took a more hands-off approach. Instead of issuing direct orders, players placed rewards and bounties on targets in order to motivate computer-controlled heroes into actions such as attacking monsters and bandits or raiding enemy strongholds. This scheme gave the game a distinctly different style from its competitors.
After releasing an expansion pack for Majesty in 2001 called The Northern Expansion, Cyberlore has finally announced a true sequel, tentatively titled Majesty Legends. We recently spoke with Jay Adan, Cyberlore's marketing manager, to get the first details about Majesty Legends.
GameSpot: It's been more than three years since the original Majesty was released, and two since the expansion pack. How long has the team been working on Legends? How far along is the project?
Jay Adan: As you probably know, after we completed the expansion, Cyberlore got involved in the MechWarrior series along with the development of Risk for the PS2. This shifted our focus away from Majesty development for a bit. Not completely though. We were still putting together our thoughts about what it was that we wanted to do with a sequel and listening to the fans on our forum to incorporate their desires as well. We did manage to come up with a pretty solid document that described the direction that we wanted to take with the sequel.
Since that time we've put together a prototype that shows the new 3D view, some examples of gameplay, and an overall feel for the direction we're headed with Legends. It is this prototype that we've drawn the recent screenshots from.
GS: Next to nothing is known about the new game. Give us an overview of what we can expect from Majesty Legends.
JA: Early on we decided that we didn't want Majesty 2 to be a small step forward. We wanted to completely reevaluate all of Majesty's strengths and weaknesses to see what we could learn from them, then design the sequel from that perspective.
One thing that has been very clear to us is that while we had been building a "Fantasy Kingdom Sim," what we ended up creating was really a hybrid RTS where your units could rise in strength like an RPG, and they didn't have to do as they were told as with a sim. Majesty Legends is placing a lot more emphasis on the sim side of things. This will change a number of things but most importantly the relationship you have with your heroes and the pace of the game.
In Majesty there was, at least early in the game, a sense that you had to protect your kingdom quickly or else the forces of evil were going to overwhelm you and destroy the kingdom. While it was sometimes exhilarating, it was also frustrating. Just when your kingdom had a feeling of stability and you had a chance to really play with it, the scenario would end. You could continue on from there if you chose to, but there wasn't much for you to do. It became a little like watching an ant farm (of course ants don't periodically launch a meteor storm at an offending rat man). In Majesty Legends we want to give players a chance to really get to know their kingdom and play it at their own pace. The addition of walls in your kingdom means that you can feel relatively secure from external threats while you build your kingdom, recruit heroes, and prepare them for forays into the wilds.
GS: Majesty had a uniquely indirect approach to controlling units, having players offer rewards to entice the computer-controlled warriors into fighting evil. Can we expect to see the same style of gameplay in Legends? Are you planning any new twists?
JA: The reward flags were one of the key innovations of Majesty, and we are planning to expand that concept quite a bit. More specifically, we want to make it apply to more actions than those that involve combat or exploration. Let me give you a hypothetical. Let's say that a giant spider has taken up residence in a nearby forest. It periodically waylays travelers to your kingdom but isn't assaulting the walls of your kingdom. You could place a reward for its destruction, and your warriors would go out and attempt to destroy it, or you could place a reward for its capture, and your rangers will attempt to bring it back for display in your menagerie or to study it for other uses. We see a large variety to the number of rewards that you could place that would depend both on the target of the reward as well as what heroes that you have to encourage. This provides you, the sovereign, lots of options when it comes to dealing with your kingdom at large.
GS: What sorts of new heroes and monsters do you have planned for Legends? Will holdover characters from the original Majesty have any new tricks?
JA: Absolutely. Heroes will have a lot more depth and variety of actions that they can take. They'll also be able to recruit their own followers who can assist them in a variety of ways.
GS: Tell us about the engine and the technology that will be included in Legends. What sort of PC hardware will the game run best on?
JA: It's a little early to talk about specific system specs, but we've always wanted Majesty to be accessible to the wider audience of game players. You can't do that if you're on the bleeding edge of graphics technology. Luckily we discovered NetImmerse (now Gamebryo) before we started building our prototype. It allowed us to incorporate beautiful 3D graphics and functionality into our own Prometheus engine. The results--and these are still early concepts, not final--are what you see in the screenshots.
GS: Thanks, Jay.