Development History

The Shattered Kingdom - Main

 

 

Below you will find an in-depth story regarding things that were going on behind the scenes during and some months after the development of The Shattered Kingdom.

 

Special thanks to StarGazer and The Knight for providing additional development information.

 

 


 

 

Development on the game was started in early 1997, very soon after Joymania Entertainment had been formed. It's believed that the game had no real title at this point, just an internal name that was used at Joymania. During the early days, Joymania Entertainment had no contract with any publisher, which meant that all funding for the development had to be taken from the developers own pockets. This naturally meant that great sacrifices had to be made in the personal lives of Peter Ohlmann and Adam Sprys to have enough money to go on despite not receiving a regular pay when working on the game.


Peter Ohlmann and Adam Sprys were both formerly working at Blue Byte Software, and they both took great influence from the previous title they had worked on over there, The Settlers II. In particular, many of the file formats they used for their coming game were based on the file formats used in The Settlers II. In some ways, the graphical style, particularly that of the interface, of the game under development was also influenced by that of The Settlers II.

 

When the game started getting closer to completion, Joymania Entertainment felt confident enough to start showing the game in order to find a publisher. After talks with some different publishers, TopWare Interactive offered the best deal. So a contract was made, TopWare Interactive was set to publish a game titled “Knights and Merchants” during fall 1998 and they would provide the necessary funding for the game development. The contract included the normal fact that the publisher would own the intellectual property rights to the title. Now that this was set Joymania Entertainment could continue focusing on the development of their game, and now they no longer had to be living sparingly.

 

About one and a half years after development had been started on the game a big day for the development team arrived, namely the release of the first public demo version. The decision had been made to let the public get a first taste on the game mechanics on June 2, 1998. When this day finally arrived, an announcement was made and the first version of the game demo was released in English only. This version was called 0.73 which indicated that the demo was still quite far from what the final product would end up being. Some feedback was received regarding features in the demo version and this also gave Joymania Entertainment the opportunity to find out what people liked/disliked about the game and then, if possible, tried to make minor alterations to the game so that more people would like it. Making major changes was no longer possible at this stage of development.

 

knight3.gifHardly a week had passed and a new demo version was released (on June 11, 1998), this time both in German and English. Curiously the German version of the game demo carried a version number of 0.91 and the English demo the version number of 0.92. Despite the different version numbers, the differences in the game itself between these versions were so minor that they are almost unnoticeable. These versions had received changes to fix some of the flaws that people noticed in the game. Things like scrolling when mouse met the edge and moving soldiers by using only the mouse made the game a lot easier to play.

 

Negotiations were under way with other publishers to secure international releases of the game. TopWare Interactive themselves could only release the game in German speaking companies, though they had some sister companies which allowed releases in e.g. Poland and Spain, but many huge markets were still not covered by these, in particular the United Kingdom and the United States. After negotiations, TopWare Interactive made a deal with Interactive Magic to get the game published in English in these countries.

 

In early August the German version of the game went gold, and somewhat later the game made its debut in Germany. Quite some changes had been implemented from the previous demo version, including a brighter game palette which made the game more pleasing to one's eyes and a new schoolhouse system which allowed one to queue up to five units making it easier to train e.g. more serfs for your kingdom. The initial release of the game carried the version number 1.20. Initial reaction to the game was very positive and the game got a score of 9 out of ten from numerous different reviews. This could also be seen from the number of sales. In Germany alone the game sold over 100 000 copies which of course means it was a very successful game. But the game still had not seen its release in most major markets in the world.

 

About simultaneously with the debut of the retail version in Germany, a new version of the demo version was released in English on August 14th. It carried the same version number as the first retail release. Only three days later, a slight update was released to this demo version bumping the version number up to 1.21. And again, three days later the same demo version was re-released by Interactive Magic with some minor textual changes and new references added indicating the fact that Interactive Magic was the English publisher of the title.

 

While a lot of work on the English translation had been done by TopWare Interactive themselves, the translation was far from complete. The people over at Interactive Magic were not entirely pleased with the quality of the translation either, and some parts were re-translated. However, a lot the translation work previously done by TopWare Interactive was still used in the retail release, which resulted in a little mess with both American and British spelling being combined in the final version of the game. This also caused some mixing with some messages using ordinary Modern English (those translated by the people at TopWare Interactive) and others using Early Modern English (those translated by Interactive Magic).

 

During this time the game was also being translated into numerous different languages to make it more attractive to people who did not speak English or German. This was easily possible thanks to the game storing it's text in a simple format. Other languages the game was being translated to included Italian, Spanish, French, Czech, Hungarian, Dutch and Polish.

 

On September 6th, a patch was released for the German retail version bumping up the game version to 1.30 and fixing some critical bugs. And on September 18th, the game was finally released in the United Kingdom by Interactive Magic. Interactive Magic had taken some liberties in the localization, including doing some changes to the cover art (adding a gate entrance through which the original town artwork is visible). The reception was not nearly as uniform as in Germany. Some people thought the game was far too slow paced and that there was too little micromanagement in the game. On the other hand, some people saw it as a very different type of RTS game, which made it sell decently in the United Kingdom as well.

 

The game saw its release in the United States on October 1st. The publisher for the game in the USA was Interactive Magic's sister company located over there carrying the same name. Like in the United Kingdom, the game was received with mixed opinions with people liking or disliking largely the same things as the people on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean did. Popular gaming magazines and websites were once again criticizing the fact that you have too little control over what your citizens were doing.

 

Around this time, the game was also released in the Netherlands by Denda Multimedia. The Dutch people seemed to have a similar reaction to the game as the German people, and it received uniform acclaim from reviewers and gamers alike. Soon thereafter, on October 15th, the game was released in Poland by the Polish sister company of TopWare Interactive once again with a very positive reception.

 

During mid October the game was also released in the Czech Republic by JRC Interactive. A new version of the game had been compiled for this release, namely version 1.31. And following during the last weeks of October, the game was released in Spain by a sister company of TopWare Interactive. A French localization was also finally released on October 30th by Ubi Soft Entertainment with the game title itself also being translated as “Chevaliers et Camelots : Un Royaume en péril”. Curiously a patch to update previous releases to version 1.31 was never released.

 

On November 4th, the first release of version 1.32 was made, namely a patch for the English version. A day later this patch was also released for the Polish version. Now a Hungarian and a Russian version of the game was also released. The Hungarian version, released as “Knights and Merchants: Az elveszett királyság” by TRAVELBOX-Hungária, was only at version 1.31 for some reason. The Russian version of the game released on November 19th by Snowball Interactive Entertainment had gone a bit further with the localization and had changed the game title to “Война и Мир” (War and Peace) and they also had done some graphical changes to the game graphics to add a new logo to the game. Curiously the Russian version was only at version 1.30. Also on November 24th, the 1.32 patch was finally released for the German version of the game.

 

Now Christmas started getting closer and the game was finally released in December in Finland! =) Of course that wasn't the real major event in December, now was it? Of course not ;) On December 21st, an expansion pack for Knights and Merchants was announced. The expansion was being called “Mission CD” and it's release date was set to March 1999. What the Mission CD was and what happened to it can be read from The Peasants Rebellion development history section.

 

The development on The Shattered Kingdom didn't end here, even though it may seem like it. During February 1999 there were talks of an additional patch getting released for the game. What exactly this patch was supposed to fix is something that is not known to me as no further details were ever mentioned of it.

 

The Italian localization of the game had to wait until March 1999 to see its release. Localized as “Cavalieri e Mercanti” the game was released by Ubi Soft Entertainment.

 

Years later, in September 19, 2001 a port of the game was completed for Mac OS by e.p.i.c. Interactive. On October 12, 2001 a patch was released for this port fixing some problems and offering a few improvements. Just a year later, another patch was made available which made the port run natively on Mac OS X (PowerPC). e.p.i.c. Interactive had no intentions of stopping yet, and on February 21, 2003 a port of the game was completed for the MorphOS.

 

A Linux port of the game was also developed years later by Linux Game Publishing. The preview demo was released on February 26, 2007 and the full game was eventually released on March 13, 2007. A patch was released for the demo version on December 2, 2008 and two patches were released for the full version on January 6, 2009 and February 9, 2009 respectively.

 

Curiously all the porting didn't end here, as RuneSoft (formerly known as e.p.i.c. Interactive) decided to port the game to modern Mac OS X machines running under Intel architecture. This port was eventually released on February 13, 2013.

 

With all the porting still being done on the game, it seems likely that we might see some more ports in the future as well. Who could have guessed in 1998 that even 15 years later, the game would still get ported onto more modern platforms?