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Interview with Evony

Sara Lau
Dec 29,2011  02:12 by
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DotMMO’s editor has interviewed with Darold Higa, one of Evony‘s producers and he talked about something about Evony’s AD campaign, New year ambition and its inside development. Some questions remain unanswered since Darold prefers not to disclose the information.

DotMMO: Could you please talk about the key to success of Evony as it has been around since 2009 and till now it still enjoys a growing number of players?

Darold Higa: Creating games is a really difficult art. I don’t think there is one really good answer to what makes Evony a great game. One important thing that we do here is something I take a lot of pride in, we don’t constrain our thinking based on the game platform. I think one of the primary reasons Evony has been, and continues to be so successful is the really simple fact that we don’t think “browser game” means that the game should be any less of a game. Symmetrical, real-time massive multiplayer gameplay? No problem. Complex, evolving community-driven strategies? No problem. If anything, our team thinks of it as a technical challenge to get as much gameplay experience as we can out of the browser experience.

DotMMO: Evony’s Ads have sparked controversy, in part because they are involved in adult stuff and also because they were never strictly faithful to the real gameplay. In recent months, I noticed that your ads, however, are closely related to the real gameplay, I mean the building part. How do you plan Evony’s advertisement campaign?

Darold Higa: Our current campaign, which has been running for almost two years, has shifted the emphasis to how the game plays, and the social aspect of the game experience. When we first started, there really was no surefire way to market what was a very new type of game and get the word out to as many potential players as possible. We decided to hire an affiliate network for our advertising, which resulted in the ad campaign you’re referencing. The campaign was indeed very successful, bringing in many players who still play today, and many competitors have been following the path of the old campaign. Though players themselves didn’t respond critically, the campaign definitely received negative attention. Our campaigns today are gameplay-focused, showing new players what keeps the millions of current fans continuing to come back every day! =)

DotMMO: There are tons of similar games out there, and how do you keep your game unique?

Darold Higa: I think that our gameplay and our user community are the reason why Evony is still the best massive multiplayer strategy game out there. In regards to the gameplay, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Evony paved the way in proving that games like it could flourish in the marketplace. Since our debut there have been a lot of other games that have emerged that resemble Evony. As our fans will tell you, despite the clones out there, we think that we have hit upon the right mixture of complexity, challenging tactics, city building and socializing that makes Evony: Age I and Evony: Age II big hits. As I said earlier, just because the game plays in the browser does not mean that the game has to be simplistic. We wanted a challenging real-time strategy game driven by the interactions of thousands of players at the same time.

The second, and in my mind most important reason why Evony remains unique despite a horde of clones is our user community. They are an amazingly smart bunch of Lords and Ladies that continue to keep our game designers on their toes. The way that combat and tactics have evolved on our virtual battlefield is quite amazing. The constantly evolving battleground means that battles are always evolving, and alliances are always testing out new tactics and new strategies to win battles. We have players that have been playing since our early days, and I think that is a strong testament to how the game stays fresh as the strategies evolve over time.

DotMMO: Can we expect some massive expansion or a revised version in the future? Besides Evony Age 1 and Age 2, is there any new one in preparation in 2012?

Darold Higa: We have periodically released new items and updates to Evony: Age I and to Evony: Age II. We even released a toolbar so that you can keep playing the game even when you are not actually at Evony.com. We always have a team of folks churning out new ideas and new plans in our forges and workshops…as for specific plans…unfortunately I can’t say more about that!

DotMMO: Evony has been online for nearly 3 years. And people are always talking about the life span of a browser game, but few of them could conclude how long a game could definitely go. So how much longer will players enjoy the game?

Darold Higa: As one of the first games in the space, we’ve watched as some of our competitors have come and gone. For Evony, our very creative community of Ladies and Lords, which has grown to over 27 million registered accounts, continues to be our biggest, most dynamic part of the gaming experience. With such a large community, and new players joining all the time, there are always new allies to join, new players to teach, new mentors to learn from and new foes to defeat. I think the most exciting part of the game is the way people bond with their alliances and form common goals and enemies. The feeling of knowing someone always has your back in protecting your city, even when you’re away, creates a special friendship that will continue to keep people battling side-by-side. That feeling of being “in the trenches” means that people’s friendships often evolve beyond the game into the real world. These things mean that gameplay keeps going. It isn’t a game where you reach level 99 then quit since there is always another alliance looking to be top dog, or long-standing truces that fall apart, or some other political intrigue that creates an almost constant state of warfare. In that sense, I don’t really know if there really is a predictable lifespan.

DotMMO: You know many browser game companies try to operate a game under multiple platforms, by all means like co-publishing the game. But so far, I have never seen such thing happening in Evony. Will Evony be open to those publishers?

Darold Higa: Our current platform allows us to make the game available for the vast majority of the world’s online gamers. While we do keep our eyes on other platforms, we haven’t announced any plans to move away from our current setup. Ultimately we feel that the browser is the future of gaming, opening up gaming beyond the limitations of physical hardware, giving access to the widest circle of players possible. Of course, as technologies change, we intend to keep evolving with those technologies.

Questions unanswered and we are curious about:

DotMMO: I have some friends working with your team and I was once told one of your technical guys has stolen some codes and re-launched the similar games. I noticed Call of Roma, Senatry, and Crown Quest are very similar to Evony. Can you comment on this?

DotMMO: One of a friend of mine told us your Boss has now opened a new office in QingDao, China. I knew your headquarter is located in GuangZhou. So are you going to start a new project or just for the convenience of hiring?

DotMMO: Thanks for taking the time online meeting with us.

From PR specialist Stephanie Palermo:

Evony has chosen to omit two of the questions originally asked. The comparison question (though Evony existed before the games mentioned, if that helps clear up any confusion) and the home base question, as the team is located and operates from all over the world (as you can see with Darold in Japan) but prefers not to disclose this information.

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