Our successful browser game, Goodgame Empire, is turning FIVE this year! Even after so much time, the team behind the title is still miles away from losing their creativity and passion for the game. This hard-working team has decided to give the 80 million+ castle lords of the online empire a truly grand update: alliance cities and royal capitals. We’re talking about nothing less than the biggest update of the year for Goodgame Empire! What better reason to give you an exclusive insight into the development of this mega update in today’s blog post?
Seamlessly integrate a completely new type of gameplay into the game? Let’s get started!
The basic idea for the alliance cities was proposed by the players themselves – many wanted something that they could work on together with their alliance. And so the idea of alliance cities was born. Over several months, the idea was elaborated upon, almost thrown out, then picked up again, and has now finally been implemented by our 50 artists, game designers, programmers, and project managers in the Strategy Games Studio.
For the first time ever, players can team up with their alliance members to build a magnificent city: the alliance city. The feature introduces mechanics that are completely new to the game, and integrating them was truly no small feat. Coming up with the overall idea of alliance cities was a major challenge for the game designers. Goodgame Empire is already packed full of complex systems and cycles that could easily be thrown off balance by a big update.
For one thing, the feature should be fundamentally innovative and provide players with more variety and benefits, especially the more advanced players. The alliance city must be powerful and highly sought after. However, it was also especially important to the game designers that not only players with an alliance city would profit from the feature, but also the lower level players. They changed the battle system so that attacks are anonymous and only possible during the battle periods. During the battle period, every player can collect royal coins regardless of their level in the game. Players can use this new currency to buy decorative items, equipment, and more in an exclusive shop.
Owners of alliance cities earn royal tokens from attacks. They can use these tokens to upgrade the buildings in their alliance cities and rise in the event rankings. If an alliance reaches the top of these rankings, their alliance city is awarded the prestigious title of royal capital and identified as such on the map of the kingdoms.
Develop a new visual style? Of course!
Developing this feature was especially exciting for our artists because they were given the freedom to develop a completely new design for the alliance cities. Since the new construction system is nothing at all like what was previously used in the game (the buildings are fixed to set plots), the artists could really let their creativity run wild while designing the background and landscape. This resulted in vivid graphics depicting royal architecture blended perfectly with ambient scenes of waterfalls, boulders, and lush countryside.
Furthermore, the artists created a new architectural style for the building that applied a variety of distinctive elements. One distinguishing feature is the hexagonal pattern that can be found in the design of several of the buildings – sometimes in the shape of the windows, sometimes in the towers. Another eye-catching element is the keys – golden keys to be exact, which reappear throughout the designs of various buildings. The idea behind this was that a castle lord who claims a mighty city as their own should also possess a valuable key to this city.
These visuals give the alliance cities an especially breathtaking appearance. And if a city is crowned royal capital, magnificent golden elements add to its lavish adornments. Truly fit for a king!
Redo all the programming code? Absolutely!
Everything you see here is only the golden tip of the iceberg, however. In the end, the software behind the game interface also has to run like clockwork. Since the new cities are so fundamentally different from the rest of the features and cities in Goodgame Empire, the programmers faced the challenge of revising and restructuring the code behind the game (and this has amounted to quite some code over the years!). For example, they had to make space for the alliance cities on the world map. These changes may not be very noticeable to the average player, but without them, the new alliance cities would never have even been possible.
The implementation of all these steps was coordinated by our project and product managers. Thanks to the team’s hard work, the update was ready to go live this week, after approximately only three months of production and testing. Furthermore, the design of the alliance cities allows them to incorporate even more game mechanics and content, which means that new and exciting expansions for the feature are already in the works. With the arrival of the alliance cities, a glorious new dawn is rising for the castle lords of Goodgame Empire. The next step, however, must be to crown the Great Empire’s first royal capital. The battle for the royal capital starts today – and we’re watching with bated breath!