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Three Moves Ahead Episode 31 – The Majesty Show

September 22nd, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 13 Comments · Design, Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Majesty 2 becomes the starting point for a talk about the pluses and minuses of surrendering control. Troy, Tom and Bruce talk about the origins of Majesty, other games with the detached czar motif and whether or not the game is repetitive. Listen as Bruce schools Tom on the subtleties of his new favorite game and find out which game Tom thinks is about sex and death.

Also, listen to the worst contest ever.

Listen here.
RSS here.
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Bruce Geryk’s original Majesty review
Erik Wolpaw’s rebuttal
Troy’s Majesty 2 review
Tom’s Majesty 2 review
Dwarf Fortress
Tom on Halo 3:ODST’s Campaign and on the firefight mode.


13 Comments so far ↓

  • Erez

    Wow, you actually dug out the Geryk analysis about Majesty. Taaaax collector!

    Speaking of the Geryk analysis, my fave of his was his “what Master of Orion III was supposed to be instead of the mess you see before you”. One of the things that piqued my interest in Hearts of Iron III was that the way Troy described it at the podcast sounded a lot like how Bruce described the MOOIII (MOOOOOO?) that should’ve, only without the whole focus points, or imperial points or however they were called.

  • Quarter to Three » Three Moves Ahead: What’s the deal with Majesty?

    […] Listen here and visit the Flash of Steel page here. […]

  • spelk

    A much more livelier podcast than last week, even without Julian. I’m knee deep in the Majesty 2 Campaign at the moment, so the timing of the ‘cast was really fortunate.

    I only really played the original Majesty after hearing about it on Three Moves Ahead, and even then I only did a couple of missions, so I’m coming at the M2 game from a standpoint of a person who has no history with the game. I’ve described Majesty 2 as “Dwarf Fortress Lite”, sort of a DF for beginners who like pretty graphics, but no doubt the original Majesty may have been one the the influences on the DF guys. I applaud the idea of having a Dwarf Fortress ‘cast, if the panel can get their feet wet in the game for a week beforehand, and report back on their experiences. Plus what about exploring the possibility of getting a DF dev involved in the show?

    I really enjoy the stand off approach of Majesty, the voyeurism and the spectacle of the conflicts. What I feel lets it down, is that I’m constantly wanting more connection with my named heroes, I want to follow them more closely, I want to take them from mission to mission, and nurture them more. Having the ability to only carry over a single hero, when you have spent an hour caring about them all, is a bit of a blow to me. Plus you have to step the levels of the ones you carry over, so they’re not too expensive to bring into the next mission as a Lord, but also so you have level range coverage to bring in some of the much more developed ones later on.

    I think I’d have preferred it if the missions in M2 were more scaled to the progression of the SAME band of heroes. But perhaps make a mechanic to implement injury, and wear and tear on the heroes, and ultimately make their death final. So you have some sort of lifetime to manage throughout the campaign. Games like Virtual Villagers implement this lifetime idea very well, and in a roleplaying game setting it would really enable you to invest your emotions and conjured stories into the characters.

    I’m about 8 or so missions into the campaign, I’ve just started the Dragon one, and up until now I’ve found the same strategy has worked for all missions. Namely, get initial tower defence up, to cope with randomly exposed non-destroyable lairs, build market to bring in money, build guilds to get some heroes out there, warriors and clerics first, rangers and rogues secondary, then wizards once you’re financially up to it. Start expanding with blacksmith, better armour and weapons, throw down small incentives to clean up the destroyable lairs you find. Keep building and laying down trading posts with tower protection. Develop enough heroes and upgrade Inn’s so they can form self contained parties, then set them with the highest reward possible on the main campaign objective (which is usually to take out a boss monster or a boss lair).

    The problem with this Dragon mission, is the dragon flys in from the beginning taking out defensive towers. And the nearby nasties that turn up early on seem to be flyers, which you need towers and rangers for (I’m assuming melee based heroes cannot attack flying serpents – is that true?). So its tricky to keep your town from becoming decimated really quickly, not giving you enough time to get infrastructure built and tough enough heroes trained. I’ve yet to come up with a winning strategy for this mission, but I’m enjoying the campaign so far.

    I think what I enjoy about the ‘lack of control’ at the unit level, is the sense of a more strategic level of control, you influence priorities, you upgrade technologies, but you then have the wonderment of watching this hero community execute your wishes, and you have to react in real time, to unforeseen circumstances. I think its more representative of a commanders role on the battlefield than actually having direct control of the minions, and the associated micro-management involved.

    I think the city building aspect of the game is more or less trivial, in fact the only key part of the city building is placing your defensive turrets. The rest doesn’t seem to make much of a difference either way, you’ll always be throwing down the guilds, blacksmiths and markets, the locations of the trading posts are fixed anyway. As Bruce says there isn’t any semblance of city planning here, its all just dumping down structures so you can milk the upgrades or units from them.

    Thinking about games that are like Majesty, apart from the impressive impenetrable monster that is Dwarf Fortress, there is a game on the Wii, downloadable as WiiWare called Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My life as a King [1](I’ve mentioned it before in regards to city builders), where you have a similar kingdom, and you plan out the castle components, and you recruit a collection of heroes (which you have no direct control of) to go outside and embark on various adventures. If they succeed they gain experience and bring back a portion of the loot for the king. The main difference being that once the heroes leave the castle grounds you only get an update upon their return, you don’t get to voyeuristically follow them into the dungeons. If I remember correctly you do get to choose which adventures they take on, and you equip them and nurture them. Mainly by building the most appropriate facilities in your castle for them to use, and to bring you more wealth.

    Bruce, I SO want to read “The Silver Mallion” :)

    Ooohh some Endwar love next week, looking forward to it folks.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/index.html?curid=13723211

  • Deadbuffalo

    Tax Collector Rankings
    1) Bruce, good emphasis, clear ennunciation. Bruce’s nasal and shrill voice seem to make him a good match.
    2) Tom, good, but too much accent, overcooked enthusiasm.
    3)Troy, too embarrassed. STRATERGERY GAMES ARE SERIOUS!!!1!

    I’m looking forward to the “incentive” podcast, as I’ve found it changes the way I play games as well.

  • Tom Chick

    Great post, as usual, spelk. There is a sort of uncomfortable Sophie’s Choice moment after every campaign mission where you have to decide which hero to carry over. And I concur with Mr. Buffalo’s Tax Collector judgment.

    Troy, I’m not sure why you’d tweet that I was “being an idiot” when we were talking about Majesty’s name. That’s a kind of puzzling thing for you to say. As I said, I feel it doesn’t do much to convey what’s unique and special about the gameplay. I have no idea what a better name might be, but it’s worth noting that Cyberlore thought fit to give it a subtitle of “kindgom simulator” to take up the slack for the generic title.

  • Troy

    I was being facetious to a listener who quit when the issue came up, thinking we were trolling or something. I think the name is a non-issue. Majesty works fine to convey what the game is about since we don’t have games about Constitutional Monarchs. It’s certainly less generic than Supreme Commander of the Elf Legions of Conquest. Subtitling it “The Fantasy Kingdom Sim” is a nice little trick, but no one calls it that. I’m all for game names being descriptive (Castles, Dungeon Keeper) but if you can grab a word that captures the conceit of your game (you are the Majesty, not the hero – the king, not the errand boy) then go for it.

    And spelk, we need to find a way for you to make these epic comments while we are recording or something.

  • spelk

    Thanks for your kind words Tom, they’re much appreciated. Obviously I’d love to help out, anyway I can.

    The name “Majesty” conjurs up a more royal connection for me, with more regal pursuits rather than managing a crew of gritty adventurers, I’d plumb for something like “Lord” or “Guardian”. In fact, if I could change the course of history to meddle with this Majesty games name, I’d swap it for “Lord of the Realms” and give the Lord of the Realms game the name Majesty. There, I’ve said it. :)

    Do we know if there are any plans to have a random map generator in Majesty 2 at all?

  • spelk

    Troy, thanks for your kind words.

    Perhaps a pre-edit copy of the show before it goes live? If I can help out anyway, let me know.

  • HomiSite

    It was a really funny and also interesting show after last week’s a bit “sputtering” episode (I still can’t believe you guys missed SpellForce there :-P, although it didn’t fascinate me much – maybe it’s more famous here in Germany because it’s a local game).

    I would had explain Majesty (2)’2 game mechanism a bit more at the start of the podcast. For some time I ask myself what’s so special about it and explanation came in parts (flags etc.) later then.

  • Quinten

    Lords of the Realm was a game that could have been called Majesty but wasn’t. Its name was fitting, since you were a Lord with a Realm that historically accurately happened with no Elves. The second game in the series was also a good example of the Total War model and was Total War before Total War. It plays nearly exactly the same as Rome, with little armies walking around with movement defined by the units in the army, and then it had real time battles with environments based on the strategic map.
    I bring this up now because of last weeks brief mention of Lords of Magic (a fantasy/rpg spin off) and because of the name thing. The point of Lord of the Realm was to be the Majesty/King of the land.

  • Ginger Yellow

    “Majesty works fine to convey what the game is about since we don’t have games about Constitutional Monarchs. ”


  • R Simmon

    Kinda late to the party with this discussion, but I think Ghost Master belongs in any discussion about Majesty-like games. It had gameplay issues, but I loved the style and think it deserves more love than it ever got.

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