Gameloft Launches March of Empires on Mobile [Interview]

The kingdom-building title allows players to support one of three factions as they collect resources, recruit an army and complete battles.

Gameloft has released March of Empires, a kingdom-building combat title, on mobile devices. The free-to-play game for iOS, Android and Windows Phone allows players to support one of three factions and build a kingdom by collecting and spending multiple resources.

To begin March of Empires, players choose their title and faction, with each faction having different strengths and weaknesses (as well as a visual theme). If players choose to be a King, for instance, they’ll unlock a 10 percent construction speed bonus and a 15 percent boost to iron income (among other advantages), while becoming Sultan unlocks a 15 percent boost to stone income and a 10 percent increase to research speed, and so on.

Players build their base by collecting and spending multiple resources, including food, stone, silver, wood and iron. Buildings can be upgraded to increase their productivity, and players will quickly unlock the academy which be used to strengthen the kingdom even more.

The academy allows players to spend resources on economic or military boosts, like increases to the kingdom’s overall building construction speed or upgrades to their army’s attack power, as examples. Eventually, the academy can be used to unlock new kinds of units for training in the barracks.

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As players grow their kingdom, and their military Champion levels up, they’ll earn skill points for this Champion, which can be assigned to talents. These talents are similar to academy boosts, and can increase things like an army’s attack power, training speed and more. The game’s weather system is also worth noting, as weather changes on the world map can trigger additional economic or military bonuses for players.

Players can send their troops into battle against computer controlled bases, or other players. Before battle, players choose their battle formation and assign their units to specific positions on the field, and must keep in mind each unit’s relation to the others. Units relate in a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ style, with calvary units being stronger than swordsmen, swordsmen being stronger than pikemen and pikemen having an advantage over calvary units. Range units, meanwhile, are weak to melee attacks.

In addition to recruiting offensive units, players can build defenses for their kingdom in the workshop. These defenses include items like wall battlements and catapult towers, are are built in bulk in the same way players recruit units in bulk. Players will begin with only one available defensive option, but can unlock more in the academy.

In addition to competitive battles between players, March of Empires allows players to join alliances with others, or chat with other players in real time.

While free-to-play, March of Empires is supported via gold, its premium currency. This gold can be used to speed up the game’s many timers, from building and upgrading buildings to researching advancements, as examples. Players can also spend gold on bulk resource bundles, among other items.

In addition to the resources accumulated by structures automatically over time, players can spend a separate energy currency on adventures which reward them with resources and experience points when the adventures are completed (they complete automatically once manually started).

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In an exclusive interview with SocialTimes, Kamen Kanchev, product manager at Gameloft, explained more about March of Empires, and what players can expect from the game.

SocialTimes: March of Empires is joining a crowded field of multiplayer, base-building strategy games. What has the team done to ensure the game stands out from the rest?

Kamen Kanchev: The empire builder genre has a long history and is indeed very busy on mobile. Yet, when we started our project, we wanted to understand better what players are really looking for. As a result, we believe we brought numerous new features and ideas to the genre to make a really addictive game.

When you start March of Empires for the first time, you will immediately see there are three different civilizations. March of Empires draws inspiration from medieval Europe and Western Asia, when legendary civilizations clashed for supremacy. Players can claim their title as Highland King, Northern Tsar or Desert Sultan. Each civilization has its own strategic advantages, special unit and unique style, to fit your personal play style.

When exploring the world map, you will soon notice the weather changes. This is an element we brought to the genre not only to allow great visual appeal, but to bring great variety to the gameplay. As seasons change every week, players will need to fit their economic and military strategy in order to develop faster and bring down their enemies.

Here is where you’ll stumble upon our next novel feature: the Battle Formations. Battle Formations are a way to position your troops to give them the tactical advantage. There are five formations which take advantage of each unit’s natural strengths and weaknesses. Talking Battle Formations was simply not enough for us. Therefore, we decided to make sure you really understand what happened on the battle field. Thus we created the Battle Replay, where you can see immediate visual feedback on your actions on the battle field! Yet, all this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Undoubtedly, two of our key innovations are the Territorial Conquest and Regional Development. Immediately after you join an alliance, you will notice this is what makes the game so fun and addictive. The world map is divided into hundreds of regions for you to conquer. Claiming them and defending them requires group effort from your whole alliance. Controlling regions comes with a great prize for each alliance. Each region brings Influence Points to your alliance. These points unlock various perks all members can enjoy. It all sounds great, but you first need to conquer the Regional Capital and then protect it for 24 hours.

Regional Development is our next key innovation. Each region has special regional structures, which players gain special bonuses from. Economic structures help you amass and protect a fortune of resources, while military structures make your forces all the more threatening. Some regions have regional walls which prevent enemies from teleporting inside the region and striking you suddenly. All regional structures can be upgraded for a price. And it is a steep price indeed, but members of an alliance can share by each donating silver. All the more reason to work together and protect what you have built!

But coordinating such huge endeavors demands an easy way to organize and mobilize your alliance. Alliance officers can set objectives for the alliance. For example, [upgrading] structures, sending reinforcements, looting resources, attacking enemies, etc. We believe we brought a better and effective way to coordinate with your fellows. As a result, we brought the voting system.

Alliance officers can nominate a new alliance leader with a simple vote. Members, meanwhile, can initiate a simple yes/no poll on any question they think of. Finally and probably most importantly, alliance officers have an easy tool to initiate inter-alliance diplomacy and influence world politics. It’s a simple matter to declare war, ally or call for a truce with other alliances. And the effects of your diplomacy can be easily seen both on the world map and the strategic map, with the regional borders color coded.

ST: How much freedom do players have in joining or leaving alliances? For instance, if a player joins an alliance, but doesn’t agree with its strategic choices, is there a penalty for leaving and choosing another alliance?

KK: We see the alliance as a solid living entity, dedicated to achieving common goals. In the conquest mode, alliance members can win various economic and military perks only [by] collaborating together. They invest in and develop their territory and can easily coordinate their actions with the alliance tasks feature. Therefore, while leaving an alliance is easy and doesn’t have any direct penalty for any single player, players loose the perks and the defense, which is very beneficial for their future gameplay. Thus, if alliance members are not happy with their leadership, officers can easily initiate voting for a new leader.

ST: Will players be able to change their civilization after they’ve made the initial choice?

KK: Players are free to change their civilization at any time using the Change Faction item.

ST: How has the team worked to ensure players don’t become stuck, without enough resources to advance their kingdom in a timely fashion? In other words, how has the team worked to prevent March of Empires from becoming ‘pay-to-win?’

KK: In the genre, we often see that only money-rich users can exist and other players are just there to entertain them. In comparison with our major competitors, we tried by all means to make March of Empires non-punitive for new players.

For example, regional structures provide bonuses for free to all alliance members (march speed, free military bonuses, resources protection, etc.). Therefore, being an active player in a strong alliance is more important and beneficial than simply paying for power. Also, we offer a free lottery once per day for all players, while in competitor games it is not [free]. Also we believe our lottery is more rewarding.

ST:  What sorts of updates can players expect in March of Empires going forward?

KK: When starting the [game’s] development, we came full of ideas on the table. We managed to implement a great deal of them, but a lot are still waiting in our backlog, and we are really keen on adding them into March of Empires. Yet, there are some hints:

  • Check out the 256×256 coordinate on the world map and check also the surrounding regions.
  • See what’s behind your Stronghold in your city.

ST: Anything else you’d like to add?

KK: Join us on Facebook, and find out more exciting things about March of Empires! Download March of Empires during the first couple of days and you will get a free Welcome Pack!