Casting a Spell of Cryptomancy – Lordmancer II with Active Games Interview

Nov 15, 2017
Role Play

Lordmancer is a series that stretches back beyond the age of iPhones, offering one of the earliest large scale multiplayer landscapes. Now after nearly a decade, its successor comes to modern handheld devices with all the bells and whistles you’d expect – and something extra, cryptocurrency. We reached out the developer Active Games about their upcoming sequel to their hit game.

Appolicious: To start, how did the Lordmancer series come to be? It’s got a very King’s Bounty style to it. 

Active Games: The first game of the series, just called Lordmancer, was incepted back in 2006. The pre-iPhone era of Java phones. Our company was selling mobile games, and one day we thought: why don’t we make our own game, cool, sophisticated, long-lasting, interesting, [and] multiplayer of course. But the challenge was tremendous from the technical standpoint. We had to squeeze pixel art, networking, and a lot of code into a sub-100 kilobyte Java applet. There was no 3G at the time, let alone 4G. Even EDGE was scarce, so the game had to run on very slow GPRS data protocol. In short, we were quite unsure that the goal was at all reachable. But we did it. Lordmancer debuted in 2008, quickly gained popularity, and after 9 years it’s still up and running.

Lordmancer II – Launch Trailer

Lordmancer II is a mid-core mobile online RPG in a fantasy setting. Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ru.mobak.lordmancer2

And yes, it has a King’s Bounty style, because that was our inspiration. We played a lot of King’s Bounty, Warlords, and the like, back when we were students.

Appolicious: A lot of games will let you -spend- money, but Lordmancer II aims to offer players a chance to earn cryptocurrency by playing the game. Walk us through the process – how exactly does this work?

Active Games: It’s pretty straightforward. Imagine, you play for an elf, and suddenly you loot a rare and precious sword which only orcs can use. What do you do, dump it? Nah. You offer it for sale, and the buyer has to pay with LordCoins for it. For the buyer, it’s just another game currency along with Gold and Crystals, but this one, LordCoins, is used for player-to-player trade. So you receive your LordCoins for that sword, and then you can either spend them on some other stuff you need, or move them out of the game, into your Ethereum wallet. From there, you can send LordCoins to a cryptocurrency exchange and sell them for dollars of Bitcoins. See, you got that sword and now you got Bitcoins. Easy.

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For those players who’d like to buy some LordCoins in the first place, we will provide a convenient purchase mechanism, so that they don’t have to know anything about cryptocurrency, exchanges and wallets. They will be able to pay with a credit card or Paypal and receive their LordCoins to their game account immediately. We’ll do the rest.

Appolicious: What benefits does cryptocurrency offer a game such as Lordmancer II?

Active Games: You see, there’s always a gray market of in-game items and characters next to each successful MMORPG, but people routinely get scammed on such third-party markets and websites. You agree with someone to buy that sword, you pay them, but they never deliver. And you have nowhere to complain. In Lordmancer II, the market is built into the game, so it’s simply impossible to cheat. We make player-to-player trade safe. But then again, it’s only an icing on a cake. First of all, Lordmancer II is a great game, trade or no trade.

Appolicious: How do you handle balancing the game for the Russian F2P market and then adapting that to other western markets?

Active Games: Balancing is not actually a problem. A game just needs to be balanced regardless of the market. But many things need localization, indeed. Language is the obvious, but it’s only beginning. For Japan you need re-doing graphics and story line. Same for China, plus some time (a lot of time) to get approved by local authorities. Middle-East prefers a bit more violence. Latin America needs storyline to unfold much faster. North America wants to see the depth of the game, a lot of content from get-go. We know a lot, although perhaps not all there is to it. We will adapt the game for each particular market.

Appolicious: Lordmancer II also offers a unique blend of cooperative and competitive play within its turn-based gameplay. How did you convert these elements, typically used in single-player, for an MMO player’s sensibilities?

Active Games: There is a real time mode when players are on the game map. Turn-based gameplay appears only in battles. By using turn-based battles we can decrease influence of any possible problems with internet connection. Also it allows to realize true tactical battles and make gameplay more exciting.

Appolicious: Why do you think turn-based strategy games are becoming so popular on mobile, even as they’re kind of dwindling on traditional gaming platforms? Is it convenience? Different audiences?

Active Games: For purely technical reasons, I think. When you’re on mobile, your connection is always less stable comparing to a computer. Be it WiFi or 4G, you still can have lag and freezes, and nothing is more annoying than getting killed because your connection just lagged. So, we can’t do real-time battles; we just have to allow for some momentary freezes. Even then it’s a challenge; imagine that you got into a battle and then your train just went out of cell coverage for ten minutes. In this case, an “auto battle” mode kicks in, and AI will do its best to save your day, playing for you.

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It’s the only viable solution, too. If we cancelled every battle when one of opponents loses connection, then players would just shut their phones if a battle was going in a wrong direction for them.

Appolicious: What changes are coming in Lordmancer II that fans should be excited for?

Active Games: [Right] now we are working on the crafting system. Lordmancer II will have a rich crafting system which will allow players to create and upgrade items. As we consider trading as one of the most significant features, we need to provide wide diversity of equipment. Also it will make game classes even more important.

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Elijah Beahm

Elijah is a man who can't stop talking about games, geeky things, and to the chagrin of his colleagues, horrible puns. He's been working as a game journalist for several years now, and in addition to Appolicious, His other work can be found at GameCritics.com, I Need Diverse Games, and The Unabridged Gamer on YouTube. When not reviewing games, you'll probably find him ranting on Twitter, writing, or replaying Dead Space 2 for the zillionth time.

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