An Interview with Chris Fernholz of Argonwood About ‘Rising Lords’ for Nintendo Switch

While I relish the chance to speak with any game developers, it’s always interesting to get a chance to talk to up and coming indie developers. Rising Lords is a strategy game that has been in Early Access over on Steam for a little while, and it’s going to be making its Nintendo Switch debut on January 18th of 2024. The development team behind it, Argonwood, was founded by a pair of German brothers who wanted to make something inspired by their old favorites. One of the two, Chris Fernholz, took time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions we had about the game. Also, pizza toppings. Because I am incorrigible. Let’s get to it!

TouchArcade (TA): Hi, thanks for giving us your time today. Can you let our readers know a little bit about yourself? And, per TouchArcade tradition, tell us your favorite pizza toppings?

Chris Fernholz (CF): Hi, and thank you for the chance to talk to you! Argonwood is based in Cologne, Germany, and was founded by my brother Manu and me (Chris) 5 years ago and we have been working on Rising Lords full-time since then. We have been supported by a few freelancers but Argonwood is a very small team nevertheless. We originally studied electrical engineering and sociology, but we have been programming and drawing all our lives. Creating games can be very time-consuming, the rest of the time we often spend with our families or playing games ourselves. Manu likes his pizza very basic, with cheese, tomatoes, and mozzarella. I recently found a new favorite with Hollandaise sauce and Kebab, but you can’t really eat this more than once a week.

TA: Can you give us the quick pitch for Rising Lords? What should our readers be excited for?

CF: Rising Lords is a medieval turn-based strategy game with elements from board and card games. The story campaign for Rising Lords is certainly the thing we are most excited about. It brings our core game elements together perfectly along with a deep story and great artwork reminiscent of the medieval ages. It’s the perfect single-player experience, but you can also play sandbox matches with other players or against AI. With simultaneous region management and building as well as tactical battles with a well-balanced unit counter system, terrain, skill cards, morale, and more, this is especially exciting to play with friends.

TA: I’ve seen the classic Lords of the Realm 2 cited as your main inspiration for this game, but can you tell us about any other inspirations?

CF: We have certainly taken some inspiration from many different genres and games that we have played for more than 30 years, even pen-and-paper games and board games like Heroquest and Chess. HOMM, the Total War series and Civilisation certainly had an influence when talking about PC games. As you already mentioned, the spiritual prequel is Lords of the Realm 2, although we completely changed many aspects — battles used to be real time for example.

TA: What were some of the challenges involved in bringing this game to the Nintendo Switch?

CF: Making the game ready for Nintendo Switch was certainly a challenge. There is the limited hardware of course, and we had to reshape and rewrite a lot of core functions to match that. Also, strategy games are usually played with a mouse. Nintendo Switch has the advantage of touch controls, but even without those we were able to work with snapping points so that you don’t have to play with a joystick as a mouse; instead can select the relevant items and figures with the D-Pad.

TA: Are there any new or exclusive elements in the Switch version of the game?

CF: No. we wanted to make sure that the experience is the same across all platforms. On the other hand, this also means that the Switch version has everything included that the other versions have as well.

TA: What are some of your current favorite games in the turn-based strategy genre?

CF: Although technically only half of it is turn-based, our long-time favorite for strategy games is the Total War series. Rome, Medieval, Shogun, Warhammer — you name it. A must-have for us is a working multiplayer though.

TA: What do you think is the coolest thing about Rising Lords?

CF: We think Rising Lords takes the best aspects from different strategy games and merges them on an accessible level. Region management, story campaign, tactical battles, multiplayer, and so on. Much larger games feature some of these aspects in greater detail, but others are often not very approachable or pretty basic. Another thing that most people adore a lot is our unique art style.

TA: What was the thinking behind that distinctive art style? Any particular inspirations there?

CF: The original idea was to make Rising Lords feel like a medieval board game. That is where Lewis Chessmen came into play and served as an inspiration for our units. Other elements are based on medieval tapestry artwork from this time period. The medieval and even the ancient world were a lot more colourful than people think! Colours fade over time, but Rising Lords brings them back to life.

TA: Can you tell us about something you wanted to include in the game that just couldn’t be done?

CF: One of the problems we had with the game and the long development time was that we included a lot more things than we originally planned. If there was one thing missing that we had considered at one point, it would be dedicated sea battles with ships.

TA: Thanks again for speaking with us! Do you have any other message you want to give to our readers? This is your free space to do so!

CF: In our opinion, there are not many strategy games available on Nintendo Switch. There are even fewer medieval turn-based games. Time to shake up some stagnant mechanics and try something different! Especially for those looking for a relaxing gaming experience, alone or with friends. We have created a whole new medieval world for everyone to explore, filled with heroic adventures and lovable characters.

Thanks again to Chris for answering our questions, and for Derek at Hound PR for facilitating. Rising Lords will be coming to Nintendo Switch on January 18th, 2024. We’ll likely be doing a review of the game, so do look forward to that when the time comes.

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