Dutch studio Triumph (Overlord) is bringing the Age of Wonders strategy RPG series back to life with Age of Wonders 3.
Triumph co-created the series with Epic Games in 1999. The last instalment in the series was Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic in 2002.
Triumph is targeting an autumn 2013 release for Age of Wonders 3 on PC, but won't force it if it's not ready. There are plans for a Mac version - maybe even to launch simultaneously - but these aren't set in stone. Later on, a tablet version may appear.
It's not a Kickstarter project - work began in 2010 before the Kickstarter boom - and it doesn't have a new-age business model. Age of Wonders 3 has high production values and will be sold on Steam and Good old Games and in boxes in regions where that's appropriate.
Who's funding it? That's a good question. I spoke to lead designer Lennart Sas and he told me the game's "big partner" is an announcement for a later date. Note the way he said "big partner" and not "publisher". I asked him to clarify this and he said "that would sort of spoil it [the announcement]".
Then I asked him if the "big partner" was Epic Games, given the studio's history with Age of Wonders and its presumably large amounts of money. I think I caught him off guard.
He laughed and replied: "You've been reading up! That's something for a later moment."
Epic Games has partnered with studios in a kind of publisher role before. Perhaps this also means Epic Games has acquired a stake in Triumph too, although that's just speculation.
In Age of Wonders 3 you'll attempt to lead your empire to glory. The leaders of each empire are varying types of stereotypical fantasy heroes: rogue, druid, priest, warrior and engineer.
As in the Total War games or the Heroes of Might & Magic games or the King's Bounty games, there's an explorable world map with oversized heroes/pieces that you move around. There's also a separate battle screen where fights play out.
In Age of Wonders 3, battles are turn-based. There's a simultaneous turn-based mechanic which means you don't wait to make moves and the battle is sped up as a result. You can auto-resolve - have the AI play out the battle for you - too.
Because battles aren't real-time, Triumph has been able to establish a play-by-email multiplayer mode - as well as a raft of fight-there-and-then multiplayer options. The play-by-email mode lets you take your turn and mail your move to your friend, inviting them to take their turn when they're ready. Video replays show you what happened turn by turn. You can have multiple battles with different people on the go at one time.
A scenario generator will be able to churn out limitless content, and there will be a toolset available to the community to build your own content with.
Post-release you can expect a more classes, races, city upgrades, units, heroes, magical items, spells, map locations, scenarios and story campaigns added as DLC.