Unknown Pleasures 2009: Majesty 2

By Kieron Gillen on January 31st, 2009 at 12:00 pm.

You won't be playing this zoomed in.

Majesty 2 is the only sequel on our Unknown Pleasures list. It’s because the first Majesty was something of an unknown, unique pleasure upon its first release and the nine years since then will have done nothing to change that. It explored an area – indirect control of forces – which few RTS have dreamed of touching, and that topography of tactics is as fresh now as it was then. Also, in terms of a classic PC licence being passed eastwards, we’ve got hopes that it’ll end up being this year’s King’s Bounty. Some initial swift takes on the Alpha Code plus some swift words with 1C:Ino-Co’s Producer and CEO Alexey Kozyrev follow…

And I do mean swift on the takes. Since my gaming PC’s died, I was only able to play a couple of levels of the early code which Paradox provided before writing this. In other words, we’re in an area of over-view of initial impressions. And initially, it really does seem like Majesty, with a modern veneer, grasping the core mechanic and running with it. And it’s still a revolutionary little approach. Rather than actively controlling your soldiers, you merely manage your kingdom (so attracting and training your soldiers) and place bounties on things you want investigated. The fog-of-war blackness getting you down? Set a flag with an amount of money, and people will head over there to claim it. Want a castle destroyed? Same process. The attention which is freed up from the micromanagement of conflict can be places upon the running of the Kingdom – the original was described as a fantasy kingdom management game, remember – which rises in complexity. While not as detailed as the Settlers, making sure the engine of taxation – to power your foreign wars – is ticking over is paramount.

It’s fun. It has its sense of humour. It’s Majesty. It’s back. Hurrah!

And… Alexey!

You probably won't be playing this zoomed in.

RPS: What’s the key of Majesty for you?

Alexey Kozyrev: Without a doubt, the Indirect Control. However, humor is another element that I have to mention.

RPS: Why is the time to return to it?

Alexey Kozyrev: A long time has passed since the first Majesty was released. Now we can take Majesty2 to a whole new level of quality with 3d graphics, a friendlier interface, and strong multiplayer.

RPS: Were you fans of the original?

Alexey Kozyrev: Yes, the members of the team are fans of the original.. We played the original game when it was released, and we’ve also revisited it with expansions lately. We really enjoy Majesty and are very happy to be making the sequel.

RPS: What’s the main areas you’re choosing to push the game? Majesty’s indirect form of play is still really unusual and barely explored, though its roots stretch all the way back to Populous.

Alexey Kozyrev: We would really like to leave all the key features that made Majesty so beloved untouched, but add several new features that will help take it to the next level. We are really interested in the multiplayer and creating a good balance for multiplayer battles. We are also using GameSpy technology.

RPS: Fantasy Wars was your first project – how pleased were you with it? What lessons have you taken from it onwards into Majesty?

Alexey Kozyrev: It was the first Ino-Co company project, but it wasn’t the first project for the majority of the team. We were pleased with Fantasy Wars, as we think we made a good game that people liked. We also made Elven Legacy as a sequel to it. We have a lot of experience making fantasy games, and it has greatly helped our work on Majesty2. Paradox found our team for Majesty2 mostly due to the Fantasy Wars project.

RPS: It’s an interesting mini-trend right now – classic PC licences being developed by East-European and Russian developers (Er… the splendid King’s Bounty and You). What’s your feelings on it? It’s almost as if the flame of classic PC gaming is being passed eastwards.

Alexey Kozyrev: We are very inspired by it. PC is still the main gaming platform in Russia and there are so many fans of classical strategy gameplay. We played these games when we were younger and dreamed abot making the sequels, and here are are. We coudln’t be happier.

RPS: What do you think about 2009? What trends excite you?

Alexey Kozyrev: Despite the economical situation, we are feeling very fortunate. We’re working on a great project and are hoping for a very successful year for our team, company, and all of our projects.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

Majesty 2 will be released in 2009.

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51 Comments »

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  1. Jubaal says:

    Ah good to see a sequel to this. Seems I was one of the few who bought the original when it came out and it was alot of fun. It made a nice change from the “cookie-cutter” RTS games out at the time.

  2. Flint says:

    Yeah, Majesty was brilliant. I never finished the campaign mode because games like these always make me just play single scenarios without boundaries over and over again. And that was damn fun.

    Waiting for this.

  3. Scott Kevill says:

    … and strong multiplayer.

    We are also using GameSpy technology.

    Ouch.

  4. LEEDER KRENON says:

    Hopefully this will be the game that Hinterlands wasn’t.

  5. suibhne says:

    Why do people keep using GameSpy server stuff? It’s roundly godawful.

  6. A-Scale says:

    GameSpy is the way of the future.

  7. Pags says:

    GameSpy is the way of the future.

    Is this one of those post-apoc futures where technology is mostly primitive or useless?

  8. Gotem says:

    good to hear this, i really loved the first game,I liked the fact that when lots of heroes died, you started having graveyards, which were a spawn place for zombies right in the middle of the city, so rushing with units without improving other building wasn’t a good idea in the end

  9. Scott Kevill says:

    Why do people keep using GameSpy server stuff? It’s roundly godawful.

    Unfortunately, they probably don’t know any better, so they believe the GS marketing droids.

    Is this one of those post-apoc futures where technology is mostly primitive or useless?

    That sounds pretty much like the wasteland that is the Rise of Legends online community as a result of the GS stuff. Fortunately, GameRanger is starting to bring some life back into it as people are finally able to play.

    Off the top of my head, some other games seriously affected by GameSpy were Dawn of War 1, Civilization IV, Dragonshard, and of course, the original Majesty.

  10. Nick says:

    Hah, I was all ready to quote that gamespy line as well.. still, this looks like it could be a fun game.

  11. Tomlin says:

    Wow, did he deliberately kept silent about the most controversial thing ? It will also be launched on consoles ! And you know what that means – simplifying interface for console controllers, simplifying gameplay for the masses, simplifying, simplifying, simplifying, and some more simplifying. And Majesty wasnt a very complex game to start with.

  12. Bah says:

    Actually, this is one of the few PC Strategy games i see working well on consoles.
    Quick reaction times aren’t needed, spell selection can be done with a radial menu, buildings only had an average of 3 options per, which is easily manageable with a controller.

  13. Tomlin says:

    Okay then, he should at least stop waving his “I LOVE PC” banner, since its not based on his real actions, it wont be a PC game, just another multisystem. I wont be surprised if PC version will be just a console port.

  14. Okami says:

    *sigh*

    Why do people feel the need to keep repeating the same couple of clichès about console game development over and over again. Look, you don’t lose your street cred as a pc gamer, if you don’t hate consoles.

    A simple interface doesn’t make a simple game. A simple interface isn’t the sign of a developer who’s sided with satan, so that the unwashed console masses can play a dumbed down game. A simple interface is the sign of a game designer who’s done his homework.

    I’ve worked on two pc games, both had a rather vocal fan base. Now this is generally a good thing, since it means that you’ve got people out there, who care passionately about your work. But every single time the point of console development was raised or whenever we announced, that we would be cutting unneeded and overcomplicated stuff, that in no way served to make the game any more fun, from our game, our fans went mad. I wouldn’t have been surprised, if an angry mob, carrying torches and pitchforks would have turned up in front of the studio.

    Sorry for ranting, but there are too many people who mistake complicated for complex and simple for stupid. A simple interface doesn’t mean, that a game can’t be complex and neither does a simple design, that’s been freed of unnecessary clutter. On the contrary, real depth and complexity is always made up of simple systems that interact with each other.

    And game development is not the War on Terror. You can love the pc, be a pc developer and still make a game, that’s also released for consoles. There’s no “you’re with us or against us”. You don’t need to hate one system to love another.

  15. Erlam says:

    “But every single time the point of console development was raised or whenever we announced, that we would be cutting unneeded and overcomplicated stuff, that in no way served to make the game any more fun, from our game, our fans went mad”

    I work on SOCOM: Confrontation. Look up those forums some time. If you want to see people who go ballistic for no reason, that’d be a good one. (My favourite – due to the game being third person, ‘wall looking’ is used, and we should [seriously] ‘remove corners, because they’re cheap!’ No I’m not joking in any way.)

  16. theleif says:

    Why do everyone hate Gamespy?
    Well, i’ve only played one game that used it, Rome:TW. But if i compare my experience from that to non-gamespy strategy or RTS titles i’ve played (i.e peer 2 peer based games like Company of Heroes and Sins of a Solar Empire) online i can’t see why.

  17. Okami says:

    we should [seriously] ‘remove corners, because they’re cheap!’

    I don’t usually use internet acronyms, but this is a classic case of *ROFLMAO*.

    I think I can even see their point, but still..

    By the way, there’s a great article on, why you shouldn’t give your players what they ask for here.

  18. Heliocentric says:

    360 is a pc, with a different default interface device. And people are generally further from the display.

    Thats it, it shocks me that its taken so long for developers to get strategy working there. Brothers in arms was a great template. By the end i’d stopped shooting except for spray and pray suppression.

    I played it on a pc, on a console i’d have given up shooting much earlier.

    Its time games stopped being whack a mole. Rts’s suffer from this as much as shooters (need to target a sniper who will restealth in 1 second).

    Coh did allow for for planning to do some work, but tanks need some serious baby sitting to not display their rears. Reversing should be more natural.

    Any game that lets you pause minimalises the whack a mole, but multiplayer is struggling to avoid it.

    Sirs, i want your game for a no micro strategy experience. But if you fail i’ll be playing settlers 2 anniversary, so no pressure.

  19. Tomlin says:

    “A simple interface doesn’t make a simple game.”

    You just have to take a look at Bethesda to prove the opposite. Hello, Oblivion ? Huge-ass font, screwed inventory and dialogue, primitive combat, hello ? Fallout 3 ? Same thing, it was not developed with PC in mind and it shows.

  20. Tei says:

    @Heliocentric: I am sure your microwave have one, of varius CPU. That a PC don’t make.

  21. ohnoabear says:

    @Tei: Yeah, the original XBOX was basically a fairly decent gaming PC (circa 2001) with a stripped-down OS and controller support (even the controllers ports were basically USB ports with a different connector, if memory serves), but the 360 is a very different beast. Its CPU and GPU are both specialty hardware, and its memory architecture is completely different (the GPU has direct access to system memory, for one thing). It’s got about as much in common with the average PC as a F1 racer has the average sedan: one is a general purpose machine, and the other is highly specialized hardware designed specifically to do one thing and only one thing.

    Also, while I’m just as eager to sigh and mumble something about the good old days whenever I hear of yet another traditionally PC developer going for multiplatform design, the results aren’t always uniformly awful. To use two examples from the recent past: Fallout3’s Pipboy was a pretty decent attempt at making the menu seem like an actual device, and seemed to work well on both consoles and PCs. And I would bet that Far Cry 2’s simultaneous PC and console development led to its seamless and mostly menuless interactions. In both cases, the limitations of console inputs led to systems that were more novel than the traditional PC menus. If they had been able to develop for PC only, we might not have seen those novel ideas.

    In addition, both of the above games were pretty decent PC games (although I wish Far Cry 2’s enemies would have taken less hits to bring down). As developers get more used to developing for both consoles and PCs, hopefully they’ll get better about playing to the strengths of each (as long as publishers can be convinced that PC games are worth publishing and not bleak piracy-laden money pits).

  22. ACardboardRobot says:

    Majesty is just awesome, if this sequel turns out to be a fifth of the game, it’ll be awesome.

  23. Mo says:

    Okami, thanks for saying better and earlier than I was going to.

    As for GameSpy, I suspect they’re using it because GameSpy provides a tonne of the online framework grunt work. It’s saves a studio tonnes of time to use middleware for that sort of thing. Although, in an age where Steamworks exists, I’m not sure why you’d go for GameSpy. Maybe GameSpy is cross-platform?

  24. Rich_P says:

    Maybe the PCGA should specify that all PC games have incredibly burdensome menus, in order to meet the PC game standard :D

    TF2 has a brilliantly simple interface and never once have I been upset about it, or accused Valve of selling out to the Xbox.

    Dumbing down = auto health regen and shit like that.

  25. Mo says:

    Dumbing down = auto health regen and shit like that.

    Because hunting for health packs and reloading set pieces is totally hardcore?

  26. Rich_P says:

    Did I say it was?

  27. Hümmelgümpf says:

    @Tomlin:
    Normally, I would nerdrage about the port as well, but if there is a sim game that would work well on consoles, it’s Majesty, mostly because it’s very passive. Placing flags, erecting buildings, researching upgrades and casting an occasional spell is all the player does. There is absolutely no microing, controls are simple, and I fail to see how gamepad support would require a major redesign.

  28. Blaxploitation Man says:

    But consoles! EVIL! DUMBED DOWN! WORSE THEN HOLACUAST!!!

    I love PC Gamers but I hate PC Gamers. No offensive but the majority of you act like bratty (man)children. Please stop making me embarrassed to own a computer.

  29. Tei says:

    Consoles remove the freedom from the player. Will Counter-Strike, TeamFortress, Tremulous, Nexuiz, Battle for Westnoth, BZFlag, and millions of indie games exist in a world where only consoles exist?

    NO!.

    First, will not exist, because you are not free to run any game you create on that hardware. You own the hardware, but the right to run any software on that hardware is removed from you.
    Ask you a question, why you can’t play Tremulous on the XBox 360? what stop you from doing that? why no?

    Second, games on the console are different. There are different controls, and a different display. Because games need to use the pad, this is like limiting the mouse to only 8 directions. And because the video has to use a TV, if you have to show text, this is like limiting the screen to 160×40 resolution, you can’t show more text than that, or will not be readable with the horrible poor resolution a TV. More than 40 lines of text, and will not be readable. Try to make a decent RPG game where you are limited on the text you can show… Try to make a decent FPS for a console with a pad as a controler…. It will be so ridiculous that the players will need autoaim (the game to aim for then) and will need a cover system (because cant aim AND move at the same time).
    Why Oblivium has this strange menus, and big font, with several levels of menus to change simple options?

    What with the no hard disk on some consoles? most console games seems designed for a nintendo 8 bits console. There are lame very old gameplay artifacts like quicksave points.
    ONCE the game devs on the PC where able to skip that gameplay artifact, where removed, and quicksave and saveanywhere options where added to all PC games. Is not a good thing, is a hardware limitation, that artifically break the game in chunks. Is a bad thing, and is pretty standard on tons of consoley games.

    Because of all these problems. Consoley games need to be dumbed down to the horrible video display (TV), the the horrible control (joy pad), to the horrible storage system (no storage, or limited one) and finally and maybe more important: to the console culture itself.
    The console culture stinks, I can’t say why, but I really dislike it, even wen really adds something to a game. Take DOW2 and the matchmarking thingie. In theory is a good thing. You press a button, and wait patienly while a animated image rotate, and you are magically joined to a game. Cool. But… look at L4D, this very system exist, but the normal method was removed!… this result on the ability to join a particular server, maybe jour our server, our the server that have special modified maps, etc.. are removed. So If a mod add a Santa Claus texture for the tank, people that want to see that fun stuff, will not, and people that don’t want will get it. It simplified a community, removing features… you CAN’T simply the “server culture / server community” to a quickmach join matchmaking button. It may work on the console, because often the servers are named server#1 …till server #99. Are nameless, but on the PC, there are human people behind, and feel different.

    And finnaly my main problem with the consoles:
    I have no problem with the consoles and consoley sutff. My hatred for the consoles and the consoley stuff is TOTAL. But I have no problem if some people like it, and own consoles, and play these games. More power to then!. My problem is wen games that sould be more about the PC culture are remodeled into console limitations, and code from the consoles is recompiled for the PC withouth more changes, withouth a culture change. This result on games that stink. Take Oblivium as a example… the menus sould have much easy to use removing all these deep options, and making then easier and use the right click option. Menus designed to use a mouse. That was fixed by the community, with a mod that fix the menus, but sould have made by Bethesda.

    And we have a problem…. there have more money to be made on consoles, than on PC. So naturally, any game studio will rotate to become a console game factory. ALL…. all will die in the console. Is like seeing your more loved friend bleeding. You see (in real time) how studios evolve and consolidify. There are people like EPIC, that has made the full conversion to console, even have employees that insult the PC, but at the same time are on some “PC protection group” (WTF?). People like Ubisoft, that used to make artisty games, than now release soo bad crap, have to buy good reviews.

    There will be always new blood on the PC, because is a open platform. You don’t need to pay Microsoft or Nintendo to get a SDK to make games for the PC. So I know there will be always studios on the PC. But Is sad to see good studios corrupt and become consoley studios. And make generic crap, like Ubisoft and EPIC.

    So yes. consoles are EVIL, I really think that. And are a “gameholocaust” for studios. Nothing will stop studios to follow the money, go there, become consoldified, generic, crap and die there.

  30. Subject 706 says:

    Ahem, before the torches and pitchforks are brought out, console versions of this game aren’t really confirmed as far as I know. It’s definitely a case of PC first.

  31. Carra says:

    Majesty is the only game I get out and finish each year.

    One of my all time favorite games, nothing quite like it.

  32. Ergates says:

    @Tei
    You are so very very wrong, on almost every point.
    I started writing a long post, with detailed break downs of each bit of wrongness, but realised this isn’t the place for that.

    Instead I’ll put this:

    There are plenty of decent RPGs on consoles (Final Fantasy games for example), and they have plenty of text in them (they just don’t display it all on screen at once)

    There are plenty of decent FPS games on consoles (Halo for instance), in which you can quite easily aim and move (as the controlers have 2 thumb sticks). Also, try aiming and moving in Operation Flashpoint (and it’s descendants).

    Whilst I’d agree that the HUGE font size of the Oblivion menus was a mistake on Bethseda’s part, consoles aren’t to blame for bad menu design. Simplicity is one of the most important factors of good UI design – compare the speach menus of L4D (press a button, select with mouse) with those of CS/TF2 (press a button, move and away from movements keys, press another button, get shot) – a vast improvement.

    There are plenty of PC games with auto-save points in them. Also many people would say that quick-load/quick-save buttons aren’t a good thing (as they move almost all the challenge from a game).

  33. Korgan says:

    We all know that consoles, not “casuals” started the dumbing-down trend. The Sims was *the* casual game for PC. Everybody loved it – it was perfect, in a way. Halo, while seemingly more hardcore, created the modern Plastic Crap FPS. It was console-only for a LONG time. Coincidence? I think not.

  34. Mo says:

    @Rich_P: just a friendly jab … should have stuck a :) at the end of that … actually, probably a ;) … oh these emoticons are so complicated!

    But the point still kinda stands, I genuinely don’t think auto-regen is dumbing down games. Even stuff like the 2 weapon limit for Halo … while clearly done to make Halo playable on a console, it isn’t necessarily dumbing down, if anything, it adds a bit more depth to the game.

    @Tei: lol, just lol. I don’t even know where to begin.

  35. Heliocentric says:

    I agree with 90% of what tei said.

    I saw maj on gamers gate for $10, is it worth getting? Or should i wait for maj 2.

  36. Dave says:

    So true. Majesty was one of the best games around. Does anyone remember the banned tactic online? The one where you get a dozen barbarians send it to the enemy’s kingdom and then unleash the Rage of Khan?

  37. Dave says:

    @Heliocentric: Majesty is definatly worth the buy. Its still extremly popular today.

  38. Rich_P says:

    @Mo: Fair enough :D

  39. Sassy says:

    you PC gamers need to get off your high horse for a moment. Consoles are evil? are you actually sane? have you ever been near a console? heck do you even know the history of games?

    I would go on and on for ages if this were the place (but it isn’t, this should be a discussion about the fantastic game that is majesty (I could never find a copy of the game but I have had the demo installed for years)). I will however just say this, PC and consoles both have strengths and weaknesses which if you don’t know them then you have no right to an opinion (which tei, you clearly are clueless).

  40. Catastrophe says:

    @ Heliocentric

    Slightly off topic, but how is Settlers 2: Anniversary? I loved the original Settlers 1, 2, 3 and 4.

  41. Heliocentric says:

    Its settlers 2 with horribly high system requirements (relatively speaking) and a fast forward button.

    There also seems to be some differences in how goods and stock manipulated with stores houses, but its mostly under the hood stuff. Probably as a result of greater available processing power for the path finding.

    Multi player is a chore to get working as there are only about 2 people in the lobby at any given time. Add me on xfire(heliocentric) and we can hook up for a game ^_^, but yes, worth it if just to see settlers 2 pretty, you can get it cheap.

    It makes me realise how terrible a game it must be for multiplayer, when large games can take 9 hours without fast forwards.

  42. Heliocentric says:

    Sassy, i believe that a closed platform is unhealthy for the creative freedom of the form. History does not excuse future actions. The strengths of the consoles are built around control, I believe they are not worth the cost as the only option, but as long as pc’s exist I’m happy consoles do too.

  43. Catastrophe says:

    Most of the original Settlers multiplayer didn’t work. My wife and I were wishing to play Settlers 3 or 4 multiplayer only for them both to crash out or de-sync :(

    I may give this a try, it sounds fun.

  44. Heliocentric says:

    Settlers 5 (rise of an empire) is quite interesting too, much better than 4 ion my mind. But its odd, you need to get used to its oddness. For example, your worst shortage is clothes, unless you have a wool trading partner, then your shortage is water (for feeding the sheep).

    Oddly the expansion adds buildable wells which i feel ruins the origional dynamic of building an economy around limited water. But the inherent centralisation of the town building allows for interesting scenes.

    All your miners going on a journey back to the town centre to buy clothes, except the married ones who’s wives go for them.

    Marrage is an upgrade which effects the game, But you can only get people married by hosting a party, but who gets married is totally out of your control. you are actively encouraged to host parties. Genius.

  45. Heliocentric says:

    Freaky, almost no-one reviewed Settlers 10th anniversary
    http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages4/934321.asp
    Thats kinda sad.

  46. Catastrophe says:

    I bought Settlers 5 but took it back the day after due to being nothing like the originals and trying too hard to be a normal RTS.

    In hindsight I probably didn’t give it enough time to grow on me.

    Oh and back on topic: Never played Majesty but M2 looks interesting.

  47. Tei says:

    Why I haver never read about this game before? WTF?, this game seems awesome!

  48. Heliocentric says:

    Settlers 5 has 2 millitary units and a few siege weapons. The best way to play is free for all 4 or more.

    No one wants to over extend but the resources are valuable. So extend you do, you can’t wall everything off so conflicts light and heavy happen.

  49. Winterborn says:

    @Ergates

    The Console RPG is really a different (but related) genre to the PC RPG. Final Fantasy to me is not a good rpg.

    And on topic, I do look forward to this.

  50. shiggz says:

    Remember in ancient days when not every game that came out was a 95% re-skinned clone of other games in the same genre?

    Regarding not liking final fantasy, if your writing this in English it probably doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. You know how a overly macho game like gears of war is designed to appeal to he cultural lowest common denominator? Well Asians aren’t any different then the west in that regard their lowest common denominators are their own flavor of part animal/human and androgynous men and women who squeek instead of talk. I’m certain their are plenty of Asians who get as tired of theirs as we westerner get tired of ours. Unfortunately like TV if you grow weary of least common denominators there is no home for you.