Shadow Kings

How Meria, Gorok & Co. reach your phone – Developing Shadow Kings

Just over one month ago, our new game Shadow Kings let a hoard of elves, dwarves, and orcs loose on smartphones, tablets, and browsers.

After just one week we could already boast of over one million players diligently building up their cities in the Shadow Kings fantasy world. Now is a good time to take a look back on how this new title came to life. Salvatore, Product Manager of Shadow Kings, worked closely on its development and has granted us an exciting glimpse into its creation.

Almost everyone who likes computer games or videogames also has a soft spot for elves and orcs. “We wanted to use a scenario that would appeal to the widest target audience possible and that could also work well worldwide. In this regard, fantasy just can’t be beaten right now,” said Salvatore, whom we all know better as Salva. “Knights and a medieval setting, like we have in our game Empire, are especially popular with men. A humorous fantasy setting appeals to women better.”

We implemented some of our key learnings from our first mobile game Empire: Four Kingdoms during the development of Shadow Kings. “At that time we had to take a game which was actually intended for browsers and PCs and subsequently adapt it to mobile devices,” recalled Salva. Users generally behave differently with mobile games than with a desktop computer. Since Shadow Kings was developed with mobile devices in mind, we no longer had to stick so closely to the preset framework of a browser game. “This time we had considerably more freedom, and the speed and rhythm of the game, as well as the complexity of the details, could be designed for mobile devices from the start,” said Salva.

Small devices don’t mean that game development gets any easier. This is also shown by the fact that over the course of its development, roughly 150 people collaborated on this project. It merely shifts the focus onto other requirements. This direction meant that we needed to pay special attention to aspects such as user friendliness and how to manage technological limitations. In terms of usability, it was important to ensure that the game is clear and easy to operate on small devices with touchscreens. “If it works well on smartphones, we know it won’t have any problems on tablets,” noted Product Manager Salva.

Even with so much experience, every game project has its own roadblocks that need to be overcome. The biggest challenge with Shadow Kings was in the technology. It was important that the graphic files weren’t so big that the game couldn’t run smoothly and that loading times weren’t too long. “Since devices these days have quite a wide range of capabilities and comparatively weak smartphones are still very common, we had to find a good balance between graphic quality and performance,” explained Salva. “Naturally we want to reach a wide target audience, so the game needs to run on as many devices as possible. We don’t want to exclude anyone, of course.”