Global Warfare is the latest strategy game from Kingdoms of Camelot developer Kabam. The game is just entering its open beta phase as the studio considers an additional round of funding following a $30 million round closed in January.
The game is built on an upgraded version of the engine that maintains Kingdoms of Camelot with some significant changes to combat, multiplayer features and core gameplay mechanics. The goal, explains General Manager Bryan Bennett, is to integrate more features that hobbyist gamers are used to seeing massively multiplayer online games — like player versus player combat, strategic resources, and a crafting system.
In Global Warfare, players take the role of a general in a post-apocalyptic war zone setting. Like Kabam’s Dragons of Atlantis, players start the game with six days to build up their base and learn the basics of the strategy gameplay. After that point, other players are able to locate and attack new players. The game then takes on a new strategic element as players form alliances to fend off attacks. The main gameplay loop involves conquering new territory to claim resources that then are used in the city-building gameplay back at the base. Additional resources also go into research and training combat forces, and eventually expanding the base into new territory by founding new cities.
“We really want PvP to be a feature,” Bennett tells us. He says that in Kingdoms of Camelot and Dragons of Atlantis, players have a habit of building up their headquarters and just staying in place instead of going out to engage other players in battle. “We call it turtle-ing,” he says.
To get players out of their shells, Global Warfare introduces a light crafting system around scarce mineral deposits out in the world. This creates “flash points” for users to fight over as they find new points, conqueror them and then try to fend off other players that try to take the mineral deposits. Holding the mineral deposits allows users to build special items that provide a combat edge — like a stealth bomber that can be deployed in battle.
Another method to encourage PvP is changing the way users perceive their overall status within the game. In Kingdoms of Camelot, users apparently didn’t like that their Might statistic dropped after going into battles because the player had to spend resources on the fight (thus decreasing the overall Might stat). Global Warfare introduces player levels based on experience points, which can be earned in and out of combat on a variety of tasks like city-building and research. The player level is a separate stat that only goes up while the Might stat, here called Power, fluctuates based on how many units of what type the player has at one time.
Another major gameplay tweak Kabam made to the original engine is combat balancing. Kingdoms of Camelot launched with over-powered archers, which players became so used to building strategies around that Kabam was unable to re-balance the combat through updates without upsetting the player base. With Global Warfare, the developer balanced combat to create a true rock-paper-scissors dynamic where every combat type had a clear weakness. Aircraft like the stealth bomber, for example, would be vulnerable to ground-to-air attack vehicles like the hellfire tank. Additionally, Bennett says, there is now no such thing as loss-less combat, so players will have to think strategically even before going into battles that look easy enough to win.
The biggest challenge in getting players into the groove of Global Warfare is introducing the complex gameplay systems without overwhelming the player. Even if a new player is a “hardcore” gamer weaned on the Command & Conquer real time strategy game series, Kabam wants to avoid spamming newcomers with wordy tutorial text and battle prompts. The user interface is key to this experience; today the developer is launching tweaks that reduce the amount of scrolling players need to do on menu screens, plus tabbed and color-coded menu items that communicate visually whether or not a user can complete an upgrade or what type of unit they might find in a battle encounter.
What Bennett hopes new players will do is immediately join an alliance. “We don’t really do a lot of handholding in the tutorials,” he says. “Users were getting confused [about joining alliances for the first time], so we actually waived the embassy pass requirement. We want them to join alliances fast.”
As far as monetization goes, Kabam doesn’t seem to be in any great hurry to integrate Facebook Credits into its economy. Currently, Credits are one of several payment options that players can use to purchase batches of Global Warfare’s premium currency, Cash. Other payment options include credit card and mobile payments, and offer wall promotions.
According to our traffic tracking service, AppData, Global Warfare currently has 164,000 monthly active users and 13,000 daily active users. Though it might seem a bit small compared to other newly-launched games, Kabam is known for enjoying success with smaller, highly dedicated audiences (and, of course, it’s just now going into open beta). The developer’s largest game, Dragons of Atlantis, built a steady audience over a period of six months to its present-day levels of 3.8 million MAU and 440,000 DAU.