Development History

The Peasants Rebellion - Main



Over here you will find more in-depth details regarding the development of The Peasants Rebellion. Despite not offering that many changes to the game itself, it was actually the entry in the series that spent the longest time in development though the majority of that time was most likely not very active development.





The development history behind The Peasants Rebellion is a lot wider than people ought to think because of it's few additions. It all started way back on December 21, 1998 when Achim Heidelauf spilled the first information on the planned add-on for the original game. The add-on was to be called the Mission CD and it was slated for release during March 1999. At this point, promised features were e.g. more than 15 new missions, two new buildings, two new soldiers, one new citizen, one new food type, improved landscape design and more...


So during February news about the progress of the Mission CD were released. It was now announced that instead of the previously promised two additional soldiers, four would be included. Also it was now officially revealed that one of the two new buildings was to be the fisherman's hut, and the new citizen would be the fisherman. Finally it was also said that the main menu was to be changed and new intro and outro videos would be created. A saddening news for many was that the Mission CD would get delayed until April.


Somewhat later, even more information was released. It was now told that all the four soldiers that were to be added into the game would be mercenaries. This meant that you could hire these soldiers for your army by paying some gold. The second building was naturally supposed to be the place from where one could hire these mercenaries (so the last building was meant to be the town hall).


Then April finally came and the eager Knights and Merchants fans thought that their wait for additional content would finally be over. They just didn't know what was up with TopWare Interactive at that point. TopWare Interactive made an announcement that they were facing financial problems and it meant that they had to remove certain products from their upcoming product line in order to save money. Unfortunately, one product that did not make the cut was the Mission CD.


Adam Sprys later revealed in PC Joker (a former German gaming magazine) that there were plans to include fantasy elements like dragons and oriental assassins into the Mission CD. It sounds like quite a bold move considering the theme of the base game, so it isn't really all that surprising that these didn't get past the planning stages.


So finally after about one and a half years without anyone knowing anything about the status of the Mission CD, The Knight managed to contact Peter Ohlmann, one of the guys responsible for the add-on, in September 2000. The Knight asked him some questions and managed to receive an answer for the question many fans were wondering about, what was up with the Mission CD? Ohlmann revealed that it had been put on hold because of problems at TopWare Interactive, but that there were plans to release the Mission CD as a freely downloadable add-on for The Shattered Kingdom in early 2001.


Quite unsurprisingly, the promised freely downloadable add-on never appeared. In February news were posted saying that the add-on had unfortunately been delayed again, and that it was not known if the add-on would still be free or if it would be commercial after all. Joymania Entertainment had further problems with the release as TopWare Interactive had gone bankrupt meaning that they had no contacts with any publisher. For the doubters it was told that the Mission CD would be released, but when and how was unknown.



Finally in May a bigger announcement was made regarding the long overdue Mission CD. The add-on, previously referred to as the Mission CD, was now renamed to “Knights and Merchants - The Peasants Rebellion” and was slated for release in September 2001. Promised features were pretty much the same as before, expect that it was now told that a new campaign about the peasants rebellion was to be included. Also now instead of being an add-on, the game was changed into a gold edition, so it now also included the original The Shattered Kingdom game (campaign). Another new thing was that The Peasants Rebellion was supposed to use the newest version of the Knights and Merchants engine, and unlike previously, the producer was now ZuXXeZ Entertainment instead of the bankrupt TopWare Interactive.


One month later, in June, a bunch of new features were announced. Like previously the game was still supposed to have only four new soldiers, but now the public was told that the new campaign would consist of 14 new missions, and the single mission mode was also announced which was supposed to have about six different maps. Other new features that were possible thanks to the new engine were also announced, these included features such as support for resolutions like 1280x960 (and could now be changed in-game), super fast mode (sped up the game to 5x speed) and a multiplayer lobby for easier finding of multiplayer matches.


During July there was speculation of the game going gold. This seemingly did not happen as Joymania Entertainment wanted to add yet some more features and do some other tweaking. Some very late additions to the game were the siege workshop, the ballista and the catapult. During the very same month, a bunch of screenshots were also released and for the first time the public got to see what this add-on that had been in development since the end of 1998 looked alike. The screenshots showed things like the town hall, several of the new units and the new higher resolutions.


In late August news were sent out that “Knights and Merchants - The Peasants Rebellion” would suffer from yet another delay. Instead of being released in September like promised, the release date was pushed back into October. The reason for the delay was not revealed, but some people speculated this was because of a high number of bugs being encountered during the beta testing phase.


Unlike stated, the game again failed to meet it's supposed release date. October came and The Peasants Rebellion remained unreleased. This time the fault was not that of either Joymania Entertainment or ZuXXeZ Entertainment; it was because BlackStar Interactive, (the German publisher) were experiencing problems with their production lines. To make the angry fans feel a bit better, a demo version of the game was released during the last weeks in October. The demo's version number was 1.471. This demo version allowed you to try out three of the new units and build a fisherman's hut. It also allowed you to use all of the new features available thanks to the new engine (expect the multiplayer lobby, multiplayer was completely absent from the demo for whatever reason).


The delay caused by BlackStar Interactive eventually led to the fact that the game actually saw its release in Poland for starters, on November 26, 2001. The game had already managed to receive a new version number, 1.52. Reception of the game was moderately good in Poland and the game also did okay in numbers, even though the total amount of sales ended up being quite far from those achieved by The Shattered Kingdom.


barrel.gifOnly a day later, on November 27, 2001, after being more than two and a half years overdue, the retail version of the game finally saw it's release in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Like the German demo this version was also 1.471. This is probably explained by the fact that the gold master of the game was sent to BlackStar Interactive earlier than when TopWare Interactive Poland received it, but the trouble with the production lines led to the German release eventually happening later.


Unfortunately the reception was all but good... Most reviews gave it something like 5 or 6 out of 10, whilst the best reviews gave it a 7. People just thought that there was too little new things in the game to make it worth the price, and the gameplay mechanics were very outdated. Moreso than just the gameplay mechanics, despite the long beta testing phase a lot of bugs survived into the retail release of the game further distracting you from the gameplay experience. Still somehow the game managed to sell better than Earth 2150, another strategy game also produced by ZuXXeZ Entertainment.


Only some days after the German release, on December 4, 2001, the first patch for the game was released. The patch updated the game into 1.52, but offered only one improvement making it worth the download. This was making the Net-Games lobby active. Using the Net-Games lobby one was supposed to easily find someone to play a multiplayer game with. Another bug that was fixed by the fact that the music volume would jump to maximum when the track changed.


Very soon yet another version of the game was finished, this time 1.53. This version was however only released as a patch for the Polish version of the game. The changes in the patch were pretty much useless expect for a crash bug that could occur when pausing the game and certain text errors were fixed in the Polish version of the game. For whatever reason this patch removed the screenshot function from the game making it more difficult to take screenshots of it.


Early next year, there were rumors spreading around that no additional patches for the game were being planned. After numerous attempts, a statement was received from Dirk P. Hassinger, head of sales at ZuXXeZ, stating that The Peasants Rebellion project was at a pause and that the company was currently focusing on finishing the English version of the game. No release date for the English version was announced and neither was a publisher revealed...


Furthermore there were also hopes of making Czech, Korean and Italian versions of the game. Some initial progress was made on the Czech and Korean versions with the publishers CenegaI Czech s.r.o and JoyOn showing interest in the title, but both eventually decided that the title wasn't worth the time and money investment required.


And it wasn't the last of the setbacks to occur within a short period of time. The company Net-Games that hosted the gaming lobby for the game was facing legal troubles with Blizzard Interactive in February and as a result of this, the lobby service used by the game was disabled a mere three months after the game had been released.


Luckily there were still some publishers interested in the game. Russia was the next country in line to receive the game. It was released in April. For whatever unknown reasons, there was no The Shattered Kingdom campaign included in the Russian release of the game. Maybe the original game was still selling so well that it was thought the gold edition would kill the original sales? Some quite sad news for many were that an English publisher had not been found, so the English version of the game was put on hold for an unknown amount of time.


Eventually, Summer came and the game was released in the Netherlands and also, despite rumors, saw a new version numbered 1.54. For whatever reason the German version did not receive a patch now either, but there was a patch for the Russian release. In the Netherlands the game also did quite okay, but it was still a bit on the short sales-side.


Behind the scenes Joymania and Zuxxez were working on getting a lobby service back into the game. They ended up having to reverse engineer the protocol that was used by the Net-Games lobby and host a similar lobby themselves. And so after months of waiting, a patch was released to address the issue for the German version. Many fans were disappointed as the statistic functions in the lobby did not work anymore. This patch updated the game into version 1.56, but did nothing else impressive than activating the internet lobby. Instead it was very soon discovered that a critical bug was included with this patch. All saved games would now crash when loaded. How this bug managed to slip past the patch testing process is unknown.



So came 2003, and news spread out that a new patch was being planned. This patch was to be called 1.58 and was this time supposed to be more of a real patch. The statistic functions in the lobby were planned to get activated, the game would now be capable of running under Windows XP without crashes and the bug preventing one from loading saved games would get fixed.


When spring 2003 came, decoding of the map files used in Knights and Merchants was being done, and as a result of this a bug in mission 10 TPR was fixed by an unofficial file released by the community. This was what started the process which was soon to follow...


After a very long wait, the final official patch for Knights and Merchants - The Peasants Rebellion was released. The patch included all of the promised features and it was actually pretty much the only patch that was released that was somehow useful. Finally one could play the game under Windows XP without fearing that the game might crash at any random moment.


By November 2003 the decoding processes had already gone quite far, and the first unofficial patch was released. The patch was called Patch Pack 1.0 which also was the name for numerous unofficial patches which where to follow. This patch fixed some mission bugs that occurred in The Shattered Kingdom campaign. What it basically did was to replace the mission files with the ones from the original The Shattered Kingdom game, but it worked well so there was none complaining.


It was not until June 2004 when the next unofficial patch was released. This patch was called Patch Pack 1.1 and it fixed many more map bugs than the original patch pack could. This was mostly possible due to the progress in decoding the game files. It seems like ZuXXeZ did not like these unofficial patches at first, and they even tried to prevent The Knight from releasing the later Patch Pack. Luckily ZuXXeZ later changed the way they look at things.


Thanks to Joymania Entertainment, The Knight and The Barbarian could finally release the long awaited patch that they eagerly had been developing. This patch, called just Patch Pack, was released in July 2004 and fixed a lot of different bugs that appeared in the game, and also included all the changes from the old Patch Packs and the old official patches. Thanks to this patch Polish and Dutch players could also finally update their game to make the game Windows XP compatible.


knight4.gifWhen 2005 came, The Knight and The Barbarian were very busy with finishing Service Release 2, the planned new patch for The Peasants Rebellion. Initial estimates for the release date did not hold, and the release date was pushed back into late March (but it was for the better, I can tell you as I tested the service release 2 patch) due to some bugs that took time fixing. But when the patch finally got released the change log couldn't have been more impressive, a lot of new missions were fixed or improved, a lot of graphical errors in the game were fixed, the fishing was altered in the game so that fish would last longer and there were also improvements done to the tutorial.


Think about it, it was several years ago when ZuXXeZ said that the English version would be put on hold for an unknown amount of time. It seems like finally the English version also saw it's release. On November 5, 2005, the English version of The Peasants Rebellion finally saw it's light of the day. The game was published by TopWare Interactive, a newly formed publisher in the United States. Interesting (but expected) was that the game was very outdated, at only version 1.52. Pretty soon after the English version of the game was released, The Knight and The Barbarian finished a version of Service Release 2 for the English version of the game in co-operation with ZuXXeZ this time. Now ZuXXeZ even posted news about the patch on their homepage and they provide it as the most recent patch! Not after this happened, an English version of the demo version was also released, and this demo used 1.471 as base.


More recently Knights and Merchants - The Peasants Rebellion has been released as downloadable from multiple online stores in both German and English. All these versions are pre-patched to 1.58 SR2. Additionally, ZuXXeZ also made the game a part of a games package they released called “Best of Games Arcade”. This package has only been released to the United States to my knowledge.


On January 27, 2012 it was announced that TopWare Interactive would start producing a new series of value titles under the name “ReplayNow”. Knights and Merchants - The Peasants Rebellion also received this treatment and it was released under the title “2012 Edition”. It had a completely new soundtrack composed by Sebastian Dierkes and it curiously also included all language versions of the game, which also included a previously unreleased Spanish translation and the unofficial Czech translation had been made official.


An interesting fact that many people might not realize is that The Peasants Rebellion has still never been seen on the store shelves in many European countries. However with the advent of digital purchasing securing a copy for oneself should no longer be a problem.


One more unofficial patch for the game was released on October 4, 2013. This patch bumped the version number up to 1.60 and included a bunch of different improvements and fixes that had been made as a result of the game files having been mostly decoded by now.