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Interview with Jay Adan at Cyberlore: 11-22-1999

This Interview is broken down into three distinct sections.
[About Cyberlore][About Development][About the Game]

About Cyberlore
Who at Cyberlore have had direct involvement on the Majesty project?
That's actually a tough one. Everybody has had a hand in it at one point or another. Here's the current credits list. It's probably the safest way to make sure that nobody gets left out*

Production Team
Jim DuBois
Jim DuBois
Chris Tohline
Thomas Gale
Peter J. Lawson
Rob Caswell
Lester Humphreys
Joe Minton
Ken Grey
Tom Henderson
Matt Kimmel
Dean Lawson
Michael Pohoreski
Adam Saunders
John Scully
Nathan Sitkoff
Michael White
Scott Lahteine
Julie Airoldi
Michael Baker
Michael Clarke
Scott E. LeBlanc
Bryant Johnson 
Matt Skutnik
Seth Spaulding
David Stokes
Sean Wang
David White
Bart Simon
David Fifield
Jack Cameron
Kevin Manthei (KMM Productions)
Matt Skutnik
Pat Callinan
Keith Field
Judith Fine
K.D. Halprin
George LeDoux
Ann Maggs 
Alana Martineau 
Alan Maynard 
Becca Morrow
Joe O'Rourke
Linda Steele
Rob Caswell
Jack Cameron
T.J. Andrzejczyk
David Fifield
Matt Price
Tao Rodriguez-Seeger
Jesse King
Clarinda Merripen
Tom Rabideau
Jay Adan
Jay Adan
Thomas Gale
Bryant Johnson
Joe Minton
David Stokes
David White

We would expect the folks at Cyberlore to be avid game players.  Is there any game in particular that seems to draw more attention from the Cyberlore employees than others?
Well, interest in different games waxes and wanes like the tides. Pretty much every game of note that is released gets played by SOMEBODY here. The one game that is holding the most attention among the largest number of people here is Soul Caliber for the Dreamcast. We've spent many lunches trying to beat each other up since we got it. It is, hands down, the best fighting game ever made by human hands.

About Development
How long have you been working on Majesty, and can you give us some idea of the stages of development it went through to get where it is today?  How much has changed from the original specification?
Actual production of the game started, I believe, around mid-1998. The original design doc that I have by my desk is dated 1996 - which tells you how long it can take for an idea to actually become a game. The great time involved has almost as much to do with getting a publisher interested in that idea as it does getting the thing completed once you have a publisher.

The changes from that original design-doc are actually very minor. The core ideas are all still intact and even the details about things such as units, buildings, and their different abilities all resemble their original designs pretty closely.

What was the original motivation for creating the game?
Actually, Jim Dubois attributes the original inspiration to a minor event that occurred while playing Settlers 2.  While watching one of the units in that game go about his regular task without input from him he conceived of a game where ALL of the units would act on their own with the player only providing guidance instead of direct control.

Once the demo is released, what work remains for an official release?
Well, it's all of that little detail that doesn't sound like much until you start adding all up. Add a button here, make this function work a little better, update this art and so on. All of the quests are still being played and balanced and played again. Multiplayer quests are getting the same treatment of course. There's also a new cinematic that we've had in the works for a while now that's getting its final once-over.

About The Game
Even though I believe that the design for Majesty is unique, people still compare Majesty to a number of different titles.  This may be a stretch, but the closest game in similarity to Majesty that I can think of is Dungeon Keeper.  What would you say are the differences between Majesty and Dungeon Keeper as far as game play is concerned?
Well, the most drastic difference (aside from setting of course) is the fact that in Dungeon Keeper you can still take your units, pick them up, then drop them into a combat. There's none of that in Majesty. Another thing is that units in DK tend to act more like Majesty's henchmen. That is, that they have a small range of things that they do without question. Heroes in Majesty have a pretty large array of possibilities to choose from depending on what's going on in the world around them. I agree, comparing Majesty to DK is a stretch but I also agree that it may be the closest thing to Majesty out there.

Will there be a scenario editor as those found in games such as Age of Empires II and War Craft II?  A scenario editor can sometimes make or break a game. Games like Warcraft II and Total Annihilation met additional success because of it.  If yes, what types of options can we expect?
In Majesty we have what we call Freestyle Games. That is, you choose from a set list of options like starting forces, enemy forces, wandering monsters, map type, and so on. Then the computer takes your choices, tosses them together, does some randomization, and gives you a new quest. With all of the options available to you this gives you a lot of replayability. 

Will there be difficulty levels?
Each of the quests is rated one of three fairly broad difficulties. With a game like this where some things are randomized every time you play there can be a range of how easy an easy quest might be. This is also true because the responses of your heroes can vary from game to game as well. They have so many factors that affect their reactions that you can't really guess with any certainty whether a hero is going to respond a given way at any given moment. In fact, learning hero behavior becomes a very important part of the strategy of the game. 

Will there be a tutorial system and if so, how will it work?
In the easy levels there will be "help scrolls" that will appear at different locations that give you advice on what to do next. Majesty does not have a steep learning curve but you also want to make sure that those of us who like to start playing before we ever crack the manual can jump in with both feet and not be overwhelmed.

How does the combat system work?  What attributes are used to define the different character classes (i.e. defense, attack, armor, luck, personality)?
Here's the list of stats for heroes*
    Strength (STR):  A character's physical capacity.
Intelligence (INT):  A measure of a character's smarts.
    Artifice (ART):  A character's stealth and craftiness.
    Vitality (VIT):  A character's general constitution.
  Willpower (WILL):  A character's piety.
Combat Statistics
Hand to Hand (HTH):  How proficient a character is at
                     melee combat.
            Ranged:  How proficient a character is at
                     missile combat.
             Parry:  How proficient a character is at
                     deflecting melee attacks.
             Dodge:  How proficient a character is at
                     evading missiles.
            Resist:  How proficient a character is at
                     avoiding harmful magical spells.

Will certain classes be more capable against certain types of monsters?  If so, can you give us an idea of who will be better against what?
Rangers do poorly against skeletons because their arrows do little damage against them, Rogues don't do well against them either. Most of the other examples have to do with ranged opponents against heroes with melee weapons or magic against monsters with high magic resistance (or counterspells!). I wouldn't want to ruin the surprises for you though. 

In game if you have not yet built a guild hall, is it possible for you to take in any money?
Sure! The Palace generates a little income all by itself. Many of the buildings do. I've had situations where I got nearly to the end of a particular quest but my Kingdom had been so devastated by the main wave of attackers that I had to carefully hoard the money that my palace and one other guild were generating. I could only hope that my surviving heroes could protect the kingdom without reinforcements!

Will you be able to build walls around your city? What types of fortifications are available?
Majesty has no walls. What we do have are Wizard's Towers (that shoot a magical bolt of energy at enemies when enchanted), Guardhouses, and Ballista towers.

What determines the "fog of war" in the game?  This is of special issue in a multi-player game where different players will own the home towns to different
heroes, but any hero can technically be bribed into working for either player (did that make sense?).
I think that I understand your question. There is no "fog of war" in the game. At the start of any game the majority of the map is unrevealed. As your heroes explore the area the map is revealed permanently. There is also a Wizard spell that you can cast that will reveal parts of the map as well.

Is it possible to have heroes attack other heroes? For instance if an opponent has placed a reward on an object and heroes are going for it, could you put a
price on that heroes head to keep them from getting the prize?

Can any monsters be coerced into joining your side via spells or cash for example?
Spells, yes. Cash, no. Two examples of this ability are the Cultists and Priestesses. Cultists get a spell that will charm monsters. Priestesses have the ability to summon skeletons to defend them. There is also a spell that the Temple to Krypta can let you cast to give skeletal aid to other heroes as well.

Is Majesty it, or will you be exploring the concept further? Are there going to be expansion packs?  Has there been any thought of a massive-multiplayer
version or a persistent world version (i.e. Majesty-Online, Majesty Quest, Majesty 51, etc.)?
There are plans in the works for follow-on products like an expansion and sequel. If there were other plans than that I wouldn't be able to talk about them yet.

What is the final music format going to be? (i.e. MP3, proprietary, stored on CD so you can pop it in your stereo, etc.)?
You'll be able to pop that puppy into the stereo and play it.

We here at Majesty-Dragon would like to express our thanks to the folks over at Cyberlore and especially to Jay Adan for taking the time to do this interview.  We understand that with the imminent demo release, their time is a commodity.  The extra effort is greatly appreciated!
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