Demise of Nations Interview
We recently talked to Chris, a founder of Noble Master Games about their released Free To Play stradegy game, Demise of Nations. Here's what they had to say.
Skye Matrix: Can you talk about the studio you work for and who you are in the studio?
Chris: Noble Master Games is a company I founded in 2009. We are focused on strategy games for desktop and mobile devices. Tony Hager, our artist, does the artwork for the games. Travis Bowling does the scenario modding. Myself, I am doing the programming, design and all the rest that comes with it. We also have a couple of moderators that help out greatly with administrating the multiplayer part of our games.
Skye Matrix: How did you get into the industry?
Chris: It started out as a hobby. I liked to create games from child up, back then on my Atari ST.
Skye Matrix: Can you give the elevator pitch for Demise of Nations?
Chris: I am not very good with elevator pitches, let alone writing, so here is
the best I can come up with: "Demise of Nations is a turn-based grand
strategy wargame that covers the rise of Rome till the fall of modern
Skye Matrix: Where did the idea for this game come from?
Chris: Demise of Nations was originally inspired by Unity of Command. However, we decided to make it We-Go rather than I-Go-You-Go, the same as Age of Conquest IV one of our other games. That way, it allows multiplayer matches with a lot of players due to the fact that turns are simultaneously executed. Players don't have to wait for everyone else to finish their turn.
Skye Matrix: This game inevitably gets compared to Civilization, how do you feel about this comparison? What get's you set apart?
Chris: It can be worrisome if players expect Civilization but then encounter a game with rather limited city building and research functionality. It's still possible to add more functionality, but the advantage of having a streamlined system is, that it makes game duration a lot shorter. Fast multiplayer matches become feasible. On a smaller map, a game will last about 40-100 turns, so with a turn duration of about 3 minutes per turn, it's possible to finish a multiplayer match with friends within a few hours.
Skye Matrix: What is your favorite county to play as?
Chris: I would chose the Roman Empire for the ancient scenarios.
Skye Matrix: This game is Free To Play, can you describe the revenue model behind this game?
Chris: It's free to play in the sense that you get the full range of functionality of game but only two the maps, i.e. the maps of Ancient and Modern Europe. If you desire other maps, you can purchase them for all as a bundle for $19.99 or $2.99+ if you'd rather acquire them one by one. That's all you need for single player.
In regards to multiplayer, games are generally free to join. However, to create a custom game setup for others to join, it costs 5 in-game coins to setup your own games. You get 5 coins per day per login. Given games last a few hours at minimum, and you will most likely join other player's games as well. I believe in the end it really doesn't matter and you should be able to play for free. Otherwise, there is no Pay-2-Win functionality.
Skye Matrix: As a whole, has this been successful for the game?
Chris: It's difficult to tell. As soon as you add micro-transactions, a lot of players assume the game is Pay-2-Win and there is a lot of explaining we have to do. In-App purchases are simply abused by too many games, so setting yourself apart is increasingly difficult.
Skye Matrix: Has the idea even been there to package the whole game as a premium product and charge for it?
Chris: Yes, that was always an option and still is. However, it's not easy to entice players to play the game, especially on mobile, where in-game purchases are pretty much standard. At this point it is very difficult to sell a game upfront unless it's a well known brand in my opinion.
The advantage of the current model is that players can use their purchases cross-platform. Other games might do it differently, but when it comes to Demise of Nations, you can use the purchases on Steam and with the same account, also access them on Android or iOS (or vice-versa). You only need to purchase the game's maps once, rather than separately for each platform. When we did sell our products with an upfront payment in the past, it was a common request from players to be able to also access their purchases on other platforms.
Skye Matrix: Are you happy with the game?
Chris: Yes, I am generally happy given the player feedback has been quite positive so far. But honestly, after spending several years balancing & re-playing the same scenarios over-and-over again, I simply can't tell anymore.
Skye Matrix: What's next for the game?
Chris: There is still some more balancing required. The research system needs a rework. We also need to enhance the tutorial with additional explanations. Some additional features are planned. Occasional bugfixes will be implemented as well. There is still quite a lot of work left to be done.
Skye Matrix: Anything else you wish people knew?
Chris: We care about the future of the game, so development is still ongoing. Don't hesitate to contact us for technical problems. Please post feature requests on the forums. :)
Demise of Nations is available now on Steam for free.
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