Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Majesty and Majesty II

More than ten years ago, I worked at Cyberlore Studios and was the lead designer on a game called Majesty. I had come up with the original idea, and worked with a team to make the game come out well. And the game was well received, and is still selling copies through an online service today. You should at least play the demo of it.

But one thing that always bugged me about the industry is the overall lack of respect for game designers. For some reason, it was one of those things that they thought anybody could do. Also, when a project went well, it was a team effort, and when it went badly, it was the fault of the designer. The pay scale at Cyberlore Studios, where I worked at the time, in order from highest to lowest paid, went: owners, managers, programmers, artists, game designers, play-testers. Kind of funny when the goal is to make a good game that the people have the most specialized knowledge about that aren't paid more.

Anyway, a few years ago, Cyberlore - which is now defunct except in name and idea ownership - decided to outsource the intellectual property for Majesty to a company to make a revamped version to be released as Majesty II. They wondered if I was available to do design work, and I said only if I got a direct royalty, because I felt that was one lesson I had learned about letting good ideas out into the world. They said no, and went on with the project. The end of the story is that Majesty II came out and was very pretty and well programmed, but the players had lots of complaints about the design.

I guess they got the design they were willing to pay for.

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