Slitherine Software today announced they have cast spells of money and law that brought the rights to Master Of Magic, Simtex's classic fantasy 4X strategy game, under their ownership. They also made it clear that they have plans for it.
I am more than a little excited about this.
There's no explicit word yet on what form the new game will take, but if you translate horrible marketing words into human ones, the enthusiasm expressed by Slitherine's development director Iain McNeil is obvious: "We are looking forward to working on this immensely popular franchise," he said in the announcement. "It will be a challenge, but we are happy to accept it and try our best to make a game that does justice to the brand”.
Master Of Magic isn't "classic" in the sense that it was good 20 years ago. It's a bona fide high point of its genre that has aged better than just about any strategy game from the ancient mists of 1994. It's inspired multiple descendants, including Age of Wonders: Planetfall, which Nate reviewed this very afternoon, but none ever matched it for me. Even with its bugs and bad AI, the sheer disdain it had for constraining the player led to a wonderfully unbalanced strategy playground that I still boot up for a go every other year.
Slitherine should be a safe pair of hands for a remake or sequel or whatever the gruesome business speak is for a new game this year. Their extensive back catalogue of strategy and wargames runs a wide gamut, and they don't hesitate to mention they're releasing new Close Combat and Fantasy General games later this year. Master Of Magic was in the legal wilderness for most of its history until it got a GOG revival, and it strikes me that they know how potent the name is.
The full announcement can be read here. It's far too early to say whether there'll even be something for us to review, but I'm certainly keen to see where this leads.