Mount & Blade is definitely not the prettiest game out there. But if we were to judge titles on aesthetics alone, Avatar: The Game would have been the best thing since sliced bread.
The aptly named action RPG game centres on horseback combat and was a sleeper hit when it was released in 2008. It garnered a loyal fanbase with its intricate battle system, storyline freedom and commitment to an authentic medieval atmosphere (you won’t see anybody conjuring up storms and fireballs in Mount & Blade).
The game has also been modded to death by dedicated players, who range from university professors to medieval period actors.
Mount & Blade: Warband, the franchise's second instalment, allows players to amass their own little army to perform noble deeds for lords or plunder defenceless villages.
A notable addition to Warband is an online multiplayer component so players can jump on the game and start hacking away at each other in real-time.
GamePro caught up with Mount & Blade creator and TaleWorlds founder, Armağan Yavuz, as well as the studio’s in-house developer, Mikail Yazbeck. We quizzed them about the series, its fans, Warband and what we can expect to see in Mount & Blade 3.
GamePro (GP): How did the Mount & Blade series start out?
Armağan (AY): The game's originated in a garage studio in 2001. It was just me and my wife at our home office developing the first prototype of the game.
In the beginning, it was more like an amateurish attempt at making the game. Our plan was to make a prototype with a demo and send it to publishers to get their attention and develop the game professionally. But that plan didn't work and we were out of money at the time so we decided to move to Plan B.
We tried to sell the game through the Internet in 2005 while in the beta phase. We targeted players with a “this is what we have and if you like it, buy it at a very low price” attitude. The game cost US$10 at the time. We used the money raised for financing and developing the game professionally and were able to make the first M&B. After a while, Paradox wanted to publish it and we were able to release the final version of the first game.
GP: So without the strong player support, M&B mightn't have even happened.
AY: Exactly. With the first game, we were very cautious whether it worked or not. The online beta had really crude graphics and wasn't even polished at all.
None of the publishers we contacted saw any potential in it but the players did.
If it wasn't for the players, the game wouldn’t have been finished in the first place and throughout the development of the game players supported us through lots of ways, such as suggestions and feedback.
In our community, there are a lot of players who are university professors that know a lot about medieval times and stories, period actors, people interested in historical fantasies. We learnt a lot of the things we used in the game from the players.
We also have a very big modding community.
TaleWorlds founder, Armağan Yavuz
GP: The Mount & Blade community seems to be concentrated in the official online forum. Do you interact much with the players on the Mount & Blade forum?
AY: Not as much as we would like to.
I used to interact more but now I have a little baby so I have less time on the forums. That and I don’t type very fast in English so I can’t give feedback as much as I’d like to but I read a lot.