Manor Lords came about partly because of a classic 1994 medieval strategy game and “raising sheep”

Steam’s newest smash success is a medieval city builder called Manor Lords, a game primarily stemming from the talents of a single developer, but it was only able to attract a publishing partner thanks to a shared love of a 1994 classic. 

Tim Bender, CEO of strategy-focused publisher Hooded Horse, told Gamesradar+ in an interview that he and solo developer Greg Styczeń appreciated “the same things, the potential of the game, how it was going to play.” Bender even name-dropped Lords of the Realm, “that ancient series of games that Sierra published way back in, like, 1990,” as a sort of predecessor for Manor Lords’ vision.

“The feeling of being a medieval lord and having a mix of battles, raising sheep, and stuff like this, I think that experience is something that drew us a lot into [Manor Lords], this idea of really being a medieval Lord who raised sheep,” Bender explains, with an extra emphasis on the huggable wool balls. “It’s actually really important to me – Lords of the Realm 1 had sheep raising, and 2 got rid of the sheep and just had cattle, and that was a problem for me!”

Sure, Manor Lords also has sheep and grand battles and whatnot, but it’s connected to Lords of the Realm on a deeper level too. “There’s something deeply immersive about Manor Lords,” Bender continues. “It’s got a lot of settings, so you can go and you can set it to a very peaceful mode and just raise sheep, build up the town, and watch your people engage in things.”

Bender continues to say that most strategy games are actually undercover RPGs, “even if they’re not designed as an RPG,” because there’s normally some form of immersive roleplaying going on as players slide into the shoes of “this role in history or some space, sci-fi universe.” Despite having only just begun its early access tenure, Bender reckons that Manor Lords is already delivering on the roleplay fantasy that Lords of the Realm offered three decades ago. 

“It showed that promise and it was wrapping one up in this atmosphere and feeling. I think that was what was really, really, really exciting about it,” he said.

Although the game is certainly immersive, Manor Lords’ developer wouldn’t call the city builder “historically accurate” since it’s trying to find the middle ground between “gameplay and realism.” Regardless, the game’s conquering Steam’s best-sellers chart

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