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Why Triumph returned to Age of Wonders (and PC-only development)

Age of Wonders 3 is a fantastic turn-based tactics game with a fantastic turn-based metagame. No weak links.

We like Age of Wonders, yes we do. Our Fraser fancied the pants off it at length in his Age of Wonders 3 review. But Triumph seemed to go off the series for a clean decade there, preferring instead the cheeky, console-friendly RTS charms of Overlord and its sequel.

So, er, what was that about guys?

“We were very busy with Overlord for a while, and we’re a small studio so we can really only focus on one project at a time,” Age of Wonders 3 lead designer Lennert Sas explained in conversation with Gamasutra.

But why Overlord? Why not straight onto Age of Wonders 3 in 2003? Sas tells a familiar story of mid-noughties PC market woe.

“In 2004-2005 the console market was really booming and the PC market – you know, when digital distribution wasn’t as developed as it is now – was really declining,” he said. “Every publisher we talked to said, ‘Give us a console game!’, so that’s when we started looking into making a strategy game on consoles.”

Once Triumph looked up from Overlord a few years later, however, they saw that the console market had “drastically changed”.

“It was late in the lifecycles of both consoles, it seemed very hard to launch new IP, and there was a financial crisis going on,” said Sas.

“At the same time, we saw that digital distribution on PC was really booming, with lots of smaller studios and indies moving towards digital distribution and self-publishing.”

The Triumph team realised it was time to return to Age of Wonders – a series they and their forum community were still “very fond of”.

“Creatively speaking we were loaded up with new ideas after all these years off,” said Sas – and despite internal concerns that 2003’s Shadow Magic had been their “zenith”, began tentatively laying out a potential sequel. And, uh, here we are. Welcome back Triumph, eh?