Stormbringer: Elric of Melniboné is a cancelled Action RPG videogame which was in development on Windows PC and Dreamcast by the Russian team Snowball Interactive, and it was going to be published by US-based Octagon Entertainment.
Stormbringer was the second attempt in creating a videogame based on the character of Elric of Melniboné, the protagonist of several fantasy stories created by the English writer Michael Moorcock. The first attempt (that was also cancelled) was made by Psygnosis for the Playstation and it was simply titled Elric.
We have many info about this project, from various interviews with Sergei Klimov, Managing Director of Snowball Interactive. Here are some quotes from the interview on IGN RPG Vault Network, you can read the full text on the archived version of IGN RPG Vault, part one and part two.
Jonric: Please describe Stormbringer overall. What kind of game will it be? Are there other games you can compare it to?
Sergei Klimov: It will be a strong single-player experience based around the storyline and the lead characters. In terms of the genres, there’s the adventure part that’s essentially the storyline and dialogues and all kinds of biographies and mini-stories within the game, and then there’s the RPG heart of it all where you have all characters defined in a set of clear parameters and the realistic inventory system, and then there’s the part where you actually fight as Elric (tactics) and command your legion (strategy), go around the world and see places (exploration), make choices (quest) and it’s all linked together by the Elric character and his story. A true mix of genres since we’re creating whatever experiences are necessary for a particular chapter. And it’s going to be real-time, but not like a fighting game such as Revenant or Diablo – rather like Outcast where you have the initiative to engage or stand by.
Jonric: In your opinion, what will the game’s most important and strongest features be?
Sergei Klimov: I would say that by far we are trying to break away from the traditional “list of features” that would have a lot of big numbers and tech words and summ up the quantative side of the game rather than the actual quality. :) We’re trying to build a game around the figure of Elric, his character, his philosophy, relationships, strengths and weaknesses, the choices he has to make, and get a player to live through the part of the Stormbringer saga as Elric himself, which means having feelings and emotions and being passionate about the choices you will make along the way.
The most important quality of our game for me would be the fact that it must be played as one total experience with no genre limitations. The things you do as a player would change as you progress, handling the Melnobonean Court or talking to Doctor Jest is way different from taking a ship to the Wild Kingdoms or making an abmush on barbarian fleet. But the major point is that at the essence of the game we have Elric and his personality, around which we create such experiences as necessary to show the diversity and complexity. At the heart of the game we have the empathy of you and Elric the Damned Emperor. Yeah, make it the “empathy” — this would be a good definition of the main feature of the game!
Jonric: Which leads right into the major RPG elements in the game. What can you reveal about them this time?
Sergei Klimov: Well, in the first place you can interact with every character in the game, which means that they are a part of the real ingame world, which means they have their stats, skills, special abilities, etc., a complex of which defines their behaviour and interaction, so we are talking about a character-based universe where all things are developing as time goes by.
Every RPG is also about being able to change the world around, to take or drop things, and it can be tracked down to a proper inventory system that would be both logical and interesting to participate in. So expect to see a good amount of balanced items, each with a story of its own. In part that’s something we developed working on the historically-accurate Warlord. We would create a sword and go to our consultant and he would put us to shame by explaining why it won’t work, so we’re at the point where we’re putting as much thought in the design of all material things in the game as we’re putting into Dyvim Tvar and Elric. And obviously there’s more than a simple connection between Dragon Princes and their black armour, or the whole Melnibonean atmosphere and the colours of their clothing and fashions of Emperor’s Court.
The game will be based on the RPG system we developed for our Chronicles of Time set and which we’re using in Warlord right now. It’s not enough to have a character like a unit from Warcraft or Starcraft. I want to see his strengths, I want to know what makes him his unique self, I want to know his background story, want to see him developing, changing, reacting to my actions and the experiences he lives through. At the end of the day, every RPG is about the characters interacting with their world and bearing the marks of such adventure, and Elric is such at the very heart of the game.
According to a press release by Snowball Interactive, the game was put on hold because it was impossible to find a global publishing partner willing to publish the game:
To cut a long story short, the original business plan between Snowball and Octagon called for us to develop a prototype and for Octagon to find us a publishing partner. Then, having secured such partnership, we were to continue the development towards release.
When it didn’t happen during the originally expected time, we’ve injected some internal funding, then some more and then some more again, but in the end there was still no global publishing partner willing to take on the project, and so we are putting the game on ice now until such time when our own resources will allow us to develop it without external funding or whenever we will be able to count on a publisher’s support from day one.
Sergei Klimov confirmed us that the game was canned in early stage of development, he also reported that Michael Moorcock didn’t like the outcome of the game. The Dreamcast version was going to be developed by a different team in Japan, but development never started.
Thanks to Sergei Klimov for the help!