Unknown Pleasures 2009: Majesty 2
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!
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.