Knights and Merchants 2

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KaM2_Logo.gifWhen the original Knights and Merchants game was released in 1998, eager fans of the game instantly started speculating about what the second part in the series would be like. This speculation died slightly down when it was announced that an expansion was to be made for the original game, but once The Peasants Rebellion started nearing its completion, the flood of speculation started flowing again.

 

Years later it was revealed that a true sequel had actually been in development, but it had been cancelled due to problems that occurred. Read on below to find out all about it!

 

Special thanks to The Knight, StarGazer and Clausomat for providing additional information!

 

 


 

 

The development of Knights and Merchants 2 actually started quite late. Despite the few additions that were made in The Peasants Rebellion indicating that the team was partly busy working on something else, the team was actually busy at Funatics Development working on the Cultures series games.

 

The first mention of the sequel was made on July 28, 2001 when Peter Ohlmann revealed the design philosophy he was going to use if or when a sequel of the game was to be developed.


“Most publishers/developers quickly plan and develop a sequel to their game if the first game was more or less successful. We have a problem with this practice, since we feel that every new game (therefore also a sequel) needs to include new ideas and gameplay innovations. Too many good games have had their sequel released too soon which didn't allow time to incorporate new ideas. Some companies, e.g. ‘Blizzard’ spend 4-5 years developing sequels (see Starcraft and Warcraft). During such a time span it is possible to create a completely new game based on the predecessor.”

— Peter Ohlmann

 

Actual development of the sequel started shortly after The Peasants Rebellion had been finished. Both Peter Ohlmann and Adam Sprys went to work for Similis Software as additional manpower would be necessary in order to develop a game that would meet the standards of that day.

 

Initially development of the game started using 2D graphics just like the predecessor. Unlike the predecessor however, the sequel would no longer have been limited to just 256 colors, so richer use of colors was allowed making the world feel more alive. As the intellectual property rights to the title “Knights and Merchants” were owned by Zuxxez Entertainment (now TopWare Interactive) and they had not been approached about the title yet, the game used “Princedom” as a working title. A prototype of this was finished during summer 2002.

 

This prototype unfortunately lead to some disputes as to whether a 2D game would have any chance to stand out in the toughening competition of viable 3D games out there. Similis Sotware also had some trouble working with the artistic style used in the game. As such the decision which eventually would lead to the downfall of the sequel was made; development of the game was to be restarted and this time it was going to use 3D graphics.

 

A 3D prototype of the game was also finished and it also packed some new features that many had hoped for in the original game. These included walls, female citizens and an advisor that would occasionally appear giving useful information. However, this new version just couldn't keep any of the original Knights and Merchants feeling and the world looked lifeless and dull. More to the point as well, the gameplay had become increasingly more reminiscent of that of any other real-time strategy game out there and the focus on building nice little settlements had been lost.

 

Due to these problems, the decision was made to cancel the project. Peter Ohlmann and Adam Sprys both soon returned to work at Joymania Entertainment and they also did some smaller attempts at doing the sequel themselves, but unfortunately nothing concrete ever came out of these plans.

 

There was an attempt in 2003 to contact Zuxxez Entertainment in order to find out if anything was going on regarding further development of the title and an answer was received on July 28, 2003. Unfortunately the answer was pretty discouraging.


“We at ZUXXEZ are not currently developing Knights and Merchants 2 and Joymania isn't either. I don't know if it will ever be released. Perhaps it would offer some use for the KnightShift engine. But whether Joymania could fund such a development personnel is questionable. They are just 3 men as far as I know. Peter and Adam are great people, but nowadays you need a large team to develop competitive titles. And it's very risky...”

— Dirk P. Hassinger

 

Years pass by and nothing further is reported regarding the status of the sequel, until Peter Ohlmann finally hit the nail in the coffin for the sequel in November 2006.


“Unfortunately, we don't own the intellectual property rights for ‘Knights and Merchants’. These rights rest within ZuxxeZ. Nowadays, as great strategy game titles such as Anno 1701, and soon The Settlers VI are available for purchase, I feel that there are already plenty of good strategy games on the market. We are not short on ideas for our games ;)”

— Peter Ohlmann

 

After the attempts that have already been made in getting a sequel out there, I wouldn't hold your breath that there is much interest in trying it out again. Especially considering the budgets at which games are made today, getting together a team to work on the sequel would be a very difficult task. But we can still remain hopeful.