Sep 7, 2016 IN Our Games
Emporea: First Steps
The game dates its official birthday to April 27, 2010, the day when Rhea launched as the very first "named" server after long months of intensive testing on vast anonymous worlds. It was an era when Emporea was available to German players only. There were just three people in the development team and several hundreds of players kept logging in, slowly inhabiting Emporea lands and ragging bloody wars among the alliances. The main goal was to take hold of one of 12 (!) Tears of Gods available on each realm. Game's long-time producer, Dexter, recalls: “It was very exciting back then. Conquering something as scarce as a God's Tear, a thing everyone on the world tried to put their hands on, was a goal which kept you going.“
Even people in the dev team were setting their clocks to wake them up during nights to issue attacks, competing fiercely to score higher than the other players.
When it was this exciting, why did it change? “Well, we were not making any money. People also complained we were quite dark and pessimistic, and almost impossible to understand. Playing it was time-and-strategy demanding and I must confess not every mechanism was understandable from the game. It was buggy. After all, it was the first step and although we had several great, enthusiastic players, we were not moving any forward,” Dex explains.
To imagine what it was like to play the game in the first phase, let us mention just a few from its features: It was normal to travel one day from your hometown to the target of the attack, different regions gave you different bonuses for specific resources in your city, you had several towns with buildings other players could easily destroy, battles took at least one hour, and you were in a constant state of need and rebuilding (no friendly speed ups possible at the time). Upkeep was not limited, but your soldiers required food and started dying the moment you had not enough supplies for them. Even the way you organized the buildings in your town did make a difference. As Viktor, one of Emporea game designers, recalls: “You had to think a lot, players were drawing their own maps, collaborating to note down some helpful rules and instructions. I do not think there was anyone at all who understood everything there was to understand. You had to spend all your time in the game or you could forget about getting anywhere.”
Even while being redesigned, Emporea kept being a project of a very few hands only. Throughout almost entire year 2012, it was a job of two people. First of them was, obviously, Dexter: producer, programmer and a game designer in one person. The second team member is known to Emporea community even today, especially for those of you who are regular visitors to our forum - our beloved and sometimes brutally honest admin Tear, who was in charge of the Game Support and forum activities back then. (By the way, did you know these two are siblings?)
It was not until the late 2012, when the first full-time programmers and a game designer joined the team, which kept expanding until the start of 2015, finishing at number 23 (including graphic artists, community managers, and a data analyst).
But what was the crucial point for Emporea? Dexter recalls: “Definitely year 2013, launching Emporea III, and publishing the game on Facebook. Our daily active users increased immensely and we finally started to earn some money to keep the project alive and going. It was great.” To compare - Emporea I and II never had more than 2000 daily active users. Emporea III? Almost 20 000. Emporea III also brought special 6-days-long events, starting with Wrath of the Lizard Warchief, and regular game updates. And it kept going - Emporea IV was on the way, until finally released in its Beta version in December, 2013. Why? Dexter: “The vision was to conquer the world of tablets, which was a new challenge and almost a must for browser games. We took the opportunity to clean what was messy in the game design before, and to implement players' feedback. Although this last point got quite challenging - we used to get very contradictory reactions from the very beginning on almost everything we did.”
Do you wanna know more about the beginnings of Emporea? Check the interview with its previous long-time producer Dex.