- For new players, can you describe what Age of Wonders is about?
- What’s new about this third game?
- It’s 10 years since the previous game. What about the new eye-candy?
- What’s the story of Age of Wonders III?
- Do I need to be familiar with the previous Age of Wonders games?
- Does the story mode have multiple possible endings?
- It’s been so long since the previous game was released. Are any of the old developers still on the team?
- What’s new about the combat system?
- What kind of races will be playable in the game?
- How has the game interface changed?
- To what extent are you planning to include modding support?
- Why didn’t you use Kickstarter to fund this game?
- Now that Notch is co-funding the game, what is his involvement?
- Do you have any plans for an upcoming alpha/beta?
- What game modes will be present?
What took you guys so long to announce Age of Wonders III?
Age of Wonders has always been important to us. While we worked on the Overlord games we came up with a lot of new ideas for the series. But making a new Age of Wonders needed to make business sense as well. Once we managed to get back the publishing rights to the franchise we did a successful re-release of the series on sites like Steam and GoG. The PC games market is clearly booming again, so we could finally realize our vision for a next-gen Age of Wonders game.
In Age of Wonders you’re the leader of a fantasy realm. You can be a character similar to a Sauron, a Galadriel, a Lord Stark. You explore a mysterious world, build up an empire, recruit mighty heroes to go on quests and wage epic wars to conquer the spoils of a paradise-like world. The game is epic and we invite anybody who hasn’t played the game yet, to check out Age of Wonders 3 as it’s basically a relaunch; a perfect point to join in!
In Age of Wonders 3 we introduce unique RPG-inspired classes and specializations to the strategy genre. Classes like the Warlord, Theocrat, Rogue and Sorcerer allow players to craft empires of their own design. As a Warlord you create Spartan civilizations as a Goblin Theocrat you can build your own holy empire, recruit little goblin crusaders or cute winged goblin angels equipped with flaming weapons, and wage war on your heathen enemies. We want players to develop unique strategies and play styles.
Age of Wonders is now fully 3D and runs on a third generation of our Creator Engine (an evolution of what we used in the Overlord games). A big benefit of 3D is that we can now reflect the choices of players more directly into the game environment. Examples of this are the hero customizations and the ability to terraform the land. There are also the combinations of races and classes. For example a Goblin Theocrat can produce little goblin-angels. It’s easier to present information on different zoom levels. Battles are visually more cinematic because of the increased amount of CPU power.
The Story Campaign is playable from two sides. On one end we have the Human Commonwealth Empire, which aims to absorb and subjugate all the ancient races (good and evil) to increase their imperial reach sort of like the Romans did. Their power is based on technology and commerce.
The other side is made up of the ancient mysterious races, lead by the High Elves. Seeing their old ways disappear, the Wood Elves and the Dark Elves decided to set aside centuries of conflict and reunite, creating the High Elf race. The reformed Elven Court is greatly opposed to the Commonwealth’s policies of assimilation and destruction of the old ways. They want to lure all the ancient races to their side and destroy the Commonwealth before the humans take over.
The storyline in Age of Wonders III has references to the old lore, but it’s not a requirement to have played previous games in order to enjoy this game.
In the single player campaign has branches with two endings per campaign.
Actually a lot of the original developers are working on Age of Wonders III, which is remarkable considering that the first game was released in 1999.
For starters we have our two founders Lennart Sas and Arno van Wingerden who are leading the development team and the development of our in-house game engine.
Djurre van Dijk (aka SikBok) is back as technical producer and Arnout Sas is doing game design again. Next to that we are very excited to work again with Ray Bingham, who is writing the story and Michiel van den Bos, who composed the music for Age of Wonders 1 and both our Overlord games.
We’ve got an all-new battle system; armies clash, monsters raid and cities are besieged, all rendered in a full 3D. Battles are streamlined to be shorter and more intense. Units operate in formations consisting of multiple figures with the number of units being an indication of hit points. This makes battles feel more as a clash of armies than of adventuring parties. We’ve also added new core rules like flanking and automatic combat resolution now uses the same AI routines as the full manual combat system to determine the outcome. Not only does this make battle results more consistent, it also means that automatic battles can be stored and replayed later, allowing players to see the carnage rendered in the full tactical engine with every unit step and shot being tracked.
The game will ship with the new race of High Elves, Draconians, Dwarves, Humans, Orcs and Goblins. Races provide the base units for your realm and include core military functions such as skirmishers, infantry, pikemen, archers, cavalry and support units. Of course all these base units vary per race. Like Draconions ranged units spew fires and have flying calvary. Then the class updates add additional units, like an assassin or bard for a rogue. These class units take the base attributes of the race and combine this with the abilities from the class. So a Dwarf Assassin is different from a High Elf Assassin.
Alignment is now a determined by actions and no longer fixed per race. When you choose to absorb an evil race into your empire, your alignment will average out to this new alignment. Larger alignment differences will take longer to absorb and create unrest in towns. This makes for larger trade-offs and gets around the micromanagement of alignment at party level for regular units.
Since Age of Wonders Shadow Magic got released, PCgame interfaces have advanced a lot of course. Our goal is that strategy fans shouldn’t need any form of manual to play the game and feel right at home. We mostly stick to the genre’s interface conventions a have carefully layered information and options so screens aren’t obtrusive. Information is available via abundant mouse-over popup screens, to view descriptions but also see which modifiers affect resources or units for example.
The modding community is very dear to us. People are still making levels and mods 10 years after the release of the last game. So we plan to release map making tools and add a lot of new modding features in the game and its expansions to the community at some point. The editor will feature lots of content for players to build maps with. Players are now able to customize the appearance of heroes and leaders. Details on modding will come later, I think there is potential there to bring it a lot further than was possible with Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic.
Kickstarter has proven to be very a successful tool for resurrecting classic PC games series, so I think Age of Wonders would have had a decent chance of succeeding. However, we started the project before Kickstarter took off for games and found a great investment partner in Markus Persson.
Notch is very busy with his own company and projects, he’s pretty much hands off on the project. It’s great to have him attached to the project as both an investor and a fan though and an inspiration on how he looks at games and interacts with his community. We are working our asses off so we don’t disappoint him and our other fans.
For the current Closed Beta, we are are involve the community in testing as we’ve always done.
You can play the unfolding story campaign (playable from two sides), stand alone Scenarios and Random Maps. The last two can be played online in simultaneous modes, or via Hot Seat.