In February, (the late) IndieGaming Magazine was kind enough to have an interview with me. Mostly about Zandagort, of course. The interview can be read after downloading the magazine from Magcloud.com (or without registration from HERE). Unfortunately the most important question (and answer) was not included in the final version, so I publish it here on the blog.
Why do you think that Zandagort is better than other browser-based games?
Better is of course a question of taste. So I’d rather talk about the difference between Zandagort and other browser mmo games.
- Complexity: In the short run, it’s definitely a drawback. New players can be set off by the steep learning curve, by nuances that are not so easily understood at first. But in the long run, I think it’s a great advantage. Complex gameplay offers greater strategic depths, and players who “survive” the first few weeks are less vulnerable to boredom. The loyalty of fans prove that so far.
- Ecology: Zandagort is not a WWF-game about saving pandas, and yet issues like that are included in an unobtrusive way. You have to continuously increase your population, so you need an evergrowing food production, which puts a huge burden on the ecosystem of planets. Pandas are not cute little animals here, but a source of food, and the object of strategic decisions.
- Map system: It’s pretty usual in browser mmo games, that sending out troops only starts a countdown. When it reaches zero, a battle takes place, and the remains of your troops come back. In Zandagort you can fully control your fleets on the map during the flight, they can be intercepted on the way, you can be frightened by huge enemy units approaching, only to find that they are heading towards someone else behind you, etc.
- Expanding storyline, partly written by players: Instead of an infinite gametime, Zandagort is divided into five-months long rounds. Each of them have partly different stories, different allies, different power relations, so players don’t wear off so easily.
- Immersive universe: More than 30 fan fiction stories were written by players in the last one and a half years. Some of them were inspired by the themes and elements of the game, others by specific events.
- Close connection between players and the developer: I started blogging about the game exactly at the same time as I started developing it. This way I could collect a lot of valuable feedback from would-be players and later from actual players. Bug reports, feature requests, Excel sheets on how to balance some elements of the game, etc. And even though development has slowed down a bit (as it’s already a running game), this connection with players is still strong (e.g. the latest IRL Zandagort meetup was a few weeks ago with the attendance of about 40 players).