Why is there no PC game for Ars Magica?

There were some attempts at this in the past, but I have never actually seen anything in the market. With modern game engines making it a lot easier to create games, I am wondering why no-one has built a marketable Ars Magica game. Something where you manage your covenant, deal with events that happen there, send vis gathering expeditions, grow the skills and powers of your magi, trade and politic with other covenants (and Tribunal), etc. Would even be fun to multi-player!

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Here is the attempt by BlackChickenStudios: Ars Magica Video Game by Black Chicken Studios — Kickstarter .

It failed.

Yeah, I was very disappointed that it never happened.

This worked very well: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/holocubierta/finis-terrae-tribunal-de-iberia-para-ars-magica-5a-edicion/description

The important issue: 24.265 € contributed to the Finis Terrae book, and 256.200 € requested for the Video Game.

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I was about to dismiss the idea of doing spontaneous modular magic, which I regard as cornerstone for the Order, but with modern gaming it might be possible, for certain values of possible.

I think there are a ton of possibilities with ArM and Mythic Europe.

My instant reaction was, why would there be?
What works on a tabletop needn't work on a computer, and vice versa.
The brand is not sufficiently well known to attract a significant number of buyers for the video game.
It seems that you can just as well make some other magic game, or some other Mythic Europe game, or some other video game altogether.

And then as @TimOB points out, spontaneous modular magic is tricky. We should probably not rule it out, but I think we can rule it out on a budget, and then we would need a bigger brand than Ars Magica to make it fly, so we are back at, of all the things you could do, why do this?

The spontaneous magic would be tricky, but that is why I mentioned that a covenant management game would likely be more practical instead of an open-world style RPG type. The depth of looking after your covenant and to have it rise in power over time is something I cannot think of to exist in another game system. The game mechanics to allow for 'playing a mage' would be highly complex, but if you abstract and rather create events that the player has to make choices on that could branch off into different outcomes, casting votes at tribunal, etc. The stories alone from Mythic Europe are amazing and could create a lot of opportunity for a player to be drawn in. Ars Magica is not a mainstream game, but a successful game could do a lot to promote the game. And give us players something to do while waiting on the next tabletop session :grin:

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This sounds almost like an Ars magica reskin of the WH40K classic Chapter master.

To be honest, I would totally play that game. But I am not sure how solid the business case is. Chapter master was made by fans and has been somewhat popular ever since, yet there is no professionally developed version of that game yet.

I dont think that there is reason to believe that such a game would sell well enough to be worth developing. Sadly.

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It's not the same thing at all, but there's an Ars Magica mod for Minecraft that's sorta neat.

Honestly I think it's that Ars Magica is all about the process of invention and pushing limits, and a computer game can't do that very well. For a computer game you pretty much have to implement everything you want to be possible up front, given the lack of a GM who can make even the smallest on-the-fly judgment calls about edge cases, modulate things, or make something up based on existing rules. And then all the carry-on effects of how certain components interact with the rest of the world, and with each other. And that's just within the scope of standard Hermetic magic, never mind that two Houses are explicitly oriented around bringing elements of other types of magic into the Order either through integration of their magic or directly inviting them into the Order, which itself heavily expands the necessary scope of a game if you care to capture those elements.

So realistically you either need to do something like the Minecraft mod, where you have a relatively limited series of potential effects and it's the way you combine them and modify RDT that give you the a degree of complexity to experiment with in a practical use perspective, OR do a tech tree style game with the TeFos and various non-Hermetic things as the trees, with focus around pre-defined projects and how they affect the covenant situation and surroundings but without getting into the nitty gritty of adventures and stuff. It's pretty impossible to have it both ways, never mind achieving the degree of flexibility and integration that the tabletop game has.

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What computers can and cannot do is an interesting question, but somewhat off-topic. We can be pretty confident that they can do more than we yet seen ... and the challenge is hardly on edge cases and making something up; computers do that already. The Atlas Forums provide a data set of past PbP sagas that could be used to train machine learning algorithms.

However, OP was not, I think, calling for an RPG, but rather for mechanical game, tactical and/or strategic. That can be done, but I fail to see how covenant building would be different from any other kind of world building. It has been done before and it can be done again. My sad experience, as someone who really did enjoy video games 25+ years ago, is that there is nothing new. Every game boils down to comprehending the mechanics and playing the rules. The wrapping does not matter, because we learn to see the abstract mechanics underneath. It is not materially different from playing solitaire.

Roleplaying is, as we know, different because it is not about playing the rules. Roles are acted, rather than played. Stories are imitations of some reality, and not solutions to a puzzle within an abstract ruleset, and this is exactly where computers fall short. They have no conception about what it means to be human, and therefore cannot tell meaningful stories about human beings.

To answer OP's question, we are back to commercial viability. It could be done, but it is not clear who would buy the game and why, except for the commercially insignificant fringe group of existing ArM players.

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For what it's worth, I've recently heard about a game called Crusader Kings III coming out soon (on PCs and next gen consoles), which seems to me to be close to what some posters here want, magic, sadly, excluded.

Although I'm still pissed about the Black Chicken Studio game not seeing the light of the day, I wish I could play this :frowning:

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Ck3 has been out for like a year?

Ck2 is free on steam, if you want a taste of it befoee buying the whole game.

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I would download a CK3 mod with ars magicka covenant holdings if someone made one.

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There was a hermetic order of some sort in one of the Crusader Kings 2 DLC (don't remember which one though). It was like a very small and simplified Order of Hermes, and it offered a few unique hermetic choices in dialogues and decisions if I remember correctly.

Here it is on the wiki of the game : Hermetic society Societies - Crusader Kings II Wiki

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Oh, thanks! I saw that quickly, and, clearly, I either misunderstood or misremembered.
Doesn't change my changes to play either, but that was not the point, anyway :slight_smile:

(Although, after Visandus comment, I must say I am a little disgusted not to be able to play this :sweat_smile: )

It is locked behind a DLC which lead to very broken and/or things... You could form/join societies, and while some were indeed of the hermetic bend, you could become an infernalist and many more

The Hermetics are scientists, not wizards. They are also incredibly useful, as you research will benefit future generations as well.

Probably the easiest approach for a literal ars magica game is making a front end GUI for the solo ars magica rules.

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That works, but those rules do not offer a mechanics for the opposition that the covenant faces.

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Agreed, that is one of the problems.