It is a particularly hot day in this humid, smelly jungle. Your party has been on their feet for 2 whole days now but you just know that you are getting closer. You can feel the excitement rushing to your head as you find another relic. It is overgrown with moss and half buried in the dense mass of leaves and rotting twigs that cover the ground of this tropical forest. It is old, very old and you have no doubt that it is a piece of the ancient civilization you are looking for. As you start removing the moss from the relic, your expedition leader becomes tense. He raises his hand and signals the whole party to be quiet and take cover. They are coming.
Within a moment, bullets are whizzing past your head and you are fighting for your life. You knew they were here, you knew they were after the same ancient knowledge you are looking for and you also knew that they would stop at nothing to get what they came for. You fight to save your own skin and to preserve this knowledge, to share it with the world and to save it from the greedy, unscrupulous hands of these vultures.
You are outnumbered but they did not account for your expedition leader’s experience and instincts. After a fierce battle the attackers retreat, to regroup and prepare their next attack, no question. For now you are victorious. The relic is yours. As you start examining your prize, the leaves rustle again and out of the underbrush appears a group of strange animals – no, not animals. People resembling animals, blending in to their surroundings. As strange as they seem to you, they are friendly, smiling, greeting you with raised hands. They are willing to share their ancient knowledge with you and you know – knowledge is power!
Welcome to the Jungle – Welcome to Guild Expeditions!
Everybody is talking about Forge of Empires’ latest feature that’s currently available on Beta and we’ve sat down with Kai, game designer at InnoGames and the brains behind the Expeditions, to talk about the new feature and get some insight into the development process.
But first, what are Guild Expeditions? Guild Expeditions is a cross-platform cooperative feature where you and your guild-mates fight your way through a number of battlefields to get ahold of rewards and guild power. It’s set in a new jungle setting and it allows you to fight an NPC controlled group of invaders for the prize of the ancient knowledge of a lost civilization. Every week, you and your guild-mates will get the chance to embark on a new and exciting Expedition, during which you cannot only earn rewards for yourself but you can also gather power for your guild. Will you be able to fight off the intruders, befriend the native tribes and unlock the ancient secrets that are hidden in the jungle?
When you start talking to Kai about the Guild Expeditions, you first notice that he is excited to talk about it. This is one of his biggest projects yet since he joined the Forge of Empires team and he has put his whole heart into it. He explains to us that the team was looking for a new feature for Forge of Empires that would allow players to work together cooperatively in their guilds to reach a common goal, that’s cross-platform and that allows every member of a guild to contribute to the overall success. The existing Guild versus Guild system already allowed for a similar gameplay to some extent but it did not truly fit the bill and unfortunately, it is not available to players that enjoy Forge of Empires on their mobile devices. When Guild versus Guild was first developed, it was designed to be played in a browser window. Back then, there was no app-version of Forge of Empires and the gameplay was specifically created to deliver the best experience when played on a large screen, with a keyboard and a mouse. While it would theoretically be possible to bring Guild versus Guild to mobile devices, it would have to be limited to devices with large screens and even then, the experience would not be as good as in a browser. These restrictions were not acceptable and so the team decided to develop a new feature, that allows guild-mates to work together and that’s optimized for all platforms from the beginning.
Now, to come up with ideas for this new feature, Kai went digging like Indiana Jones on one of his adventures and went back to the initial concept that was the first draft of Forge of Empires and there he found something that sparked an idea: Expeditions!
It was quickly decided that the new feature would be Guild Expeditions and the whole team was excited by the concept and went to work. Now they had to make sure that the Expeditions would become a feature that excites players as much as it does themselves. Early ideas included having an Expedition for every era, which would have meant that players that are more advanced in the game would have been able to play an Iron Age Expedition for example, but would have been limited to Iron Age units. Basically this meant limiting a guild to the era of their member with the least progress in the game, if they were interested in playing cooperatively. This idea was quickly abandoned since the team didn’t want to hold players back but rather allow them to fight in their own era.
Every member of the guild should be able to make a contribution.
The whole guild should play together.
Independent from your current age or progress.
Low complexity but lots of depth.
Easy to learn but hard to master.
“These were some of the requirements we set out to meet when we first started developing the Expeditions and I think we did a good job meeting them.” says Kai.
Besides the gameplay aspects of the new feature, a lot of thought went into developing the new setting in which the Expeditions take place. The team was looking for an exciting background story that would fit all ages. That’s how they came up with an expedition into the jungle. They were playing around with other ideas as well but this was the one they felt would appeal to most people and it also offers a lot of possibilities to expand on. You enter the jungle with your guild-mates as an Expedition team and there you encounter a rival force that is planning to exploit the native tribes, rob them of their ancient knowledge and if necessary take it by force. “First we thought about having the players fight the natives but we quickly realized that this was not the way to go.” says Kai. It would have been difficult to balance the new units to make them a viable threat to players of all eras and without a good visual distinction, it could have been confusing that a unit suddenly became stronger because it was fighting player units from a newer era. So it was decided to introduce a rival force into the mix, the intruders. While you are on a mission of peaceful exploration, this other party relies heavily on violence and is threatening the natives. During your journey you will encounter these troops and you will have to face and defeat them to ensure the safety of the tribes and gain their gratitude. Only then, they will offer you their ancient knowledge, which you can use to lead your guild to more power.
This approach of a more peaceful backstory also led to another decision: it was important to include a way to solve the encounters without fighting. This should be done in a more challenging way than the purchase of new territories in the Continent Map and so the team came up with a brand new mini-game that will offer all the traders and pacifists in Forge of Empires a new challenge and a way to be part of the success of their guild in a more active way than donating goods to the treasury. The mini-game is not yet implemented in the version you can check out on Beta but will soon be added to the Guild Expeditions.
Everyone here in the Forge of Empires team is excited about the new feature but no one has as good a reason as Kai. At the end of our talk, he tells us a little secret: He’s had an Indiana Jones outfit in his closet for years now and finally, he can wear it without people giving him weird looks. You don’t know what he’s talking about? Check out this clip from InnoGames TV:
We hope you enjoyed our feature article about the new upcoming Guild Expeditions. We plan on having similar articles published on the Blog in regular intervals and would welcome your feedback.
PS: One last message from Kai: “If you’re usually a player that has the game sound turned off, turn it on for the Expeditions. Our sound guys have done amazing work and the new sounds harmonize perfectly with the theme and setting of the Guild Expeditions.”