Frank Elliott, perhaps better known as TaleWorlds community manager Captain Lust, recently took to the studio's forum to answer questions about its long-in-progress project Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord. After some exciting siege gameplay footage last year, information about the game has been a bit slow in coming, so it's good to hear that development is proceeding according to plan. Unfortunately, even though Bannerlord was announced in 2012, the general theme of his responses is that it's still too early to offer much in the way of detail.
Regarding the studio's efforts on improving combat systems, for instance, he said TaleWorlds is working on "everything really, just making combat look and feel great in every sense!" He provided a more detailed response to questions about character aging and mortality, a feature that's been mentioned but not detailed, but ended up in roughly the same place.
"Unfortunately it's not the right time (or really the right platform) to talk about unrevealed aspects of these features. Nothing is a guarantee and although we try to avoid it, everything has the potential to be changed entirely or dropped altogether; such is the nature of game development," he wrote. "However, we have made every effort to ensure that features we mention are either fully/partially implemented or planned with a very high degree of certainty (which isn't a response to the actions of or reactions to actions of any other company—it has always been our approach!). We don't just mention things without consideration and permanent character death is still something you can expect to see in the game. That hasn't changed. It's simply the case that discussing finer details of the feature wouldn't be appropriate right now, to avoid giving information that could end up misleading, in relation to Bannerlord as a final product."
Elliott did emphasize that no external testing has yet taken place, saying, "Anyone who tells you otherwise is either misinformed or lying!" He also addressed rumors that development had run into trouble because of the departure of a key person. "Our previous lead engine programmer did move to another company some time ago. About a year... I think? But that's not the kind of thing that would stop a game from getting finished," he wrote. "While he is a brilliant computer engineer and a lovely bloke, we have a fantastic team of engine programmers and I think they're working very well."
Other noteworthy points to emerge: Character animations are not currently final ("If you have some thoughts, feel free to share them!"), multiplayer uses the same equipment slots and single player, it's not currently possible to turn off permadeath, there's no stamina-style feature for either players or AI, and the possibility of a co-op campaign remains slim.
"[Co-op in Mount & Blade] is very difficult to do, not just because of the technical difficulty, but also to make things practically playable when we have two people doing wildly different things in real-time. One player might be trying to have a very exciting battle that is the climax of a very important experience, and one player just beforehand decides to go to town and look at the marketplace. These people have to be in the same gameworld and it’s very difficult to make sure that they’re both enjoying themselves and all having a great campaign experience simultaneously. It’s almost impossible without cutting down on what the game offers," TaleWorlds CEO Armagan Yavuz told RPS in 2016.
"There may be another way to manage all of those things, by limiting the co-op to one kind of campaign. Let people play together as a party and have them always be together. That might be possible and that may be the the only kind of co-op that we can deliver. It’s something we’re experimenting with and that we have worked on. We’ll only officially announce something if we can make it 100% efficient and fun to play though."
And finally, an estimated playable date—or, more precisely, a lack thereof. In response to a post asking if Mount & Blade fans could expect to have something in their hands within the next two months, Elliott wrote, "Really can't talk about dates at all. I want to say that's looking at least a little early though, to be honest."