Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Empires & Allies

I started my internship at Zynga Los Angeles last week. We are working on a cool game called Empires & Allies. I think it's the best Zynga game yet.

While most Zynga games have you building some kind of farm or city, in Empires & Allies you are building an army. Make buildings, produce units, and take them battle. There's a pretty lengthy single-player campaign, and you can also invade your neighbors and take their resources.

The most interesting part of this game is the incredible sophistication of it's economy. I have never seen a game with a remotely comparable amount of interlocked systems. Let's list out every resource there is:

  • Coins
  • Empire Points
  • XP
  • Energy
  • Wood
  • Oil
  • Liberty Bonds
  • Ore Types
    • Aluminum
    • Uranium
    • Iron
    • Gold
    • Copper 
  • Population
  • Neighbors
  • Units
  • Time - (a component to everything)

We've seen a lot of these resources in previous Zynga games. Let's talk about the new ones.
  • Wood: A resource limiter on how quickly you can make buildings. Simple enough, and quite clever.
  • Oil: A resource limiter on how quickly you can make military Units.
  • Ore types: The player is randomly given one kind of Ore type that can be produced within his or her empire. Players must trade with their neighbors to get other types of Ore. Ore is mostly required to produce certain kinds of units and buildings.
  • Units: The most significant new resource. Units you make can be taken to battle. When units die, they are permanently gone, and new ones must be produced.

The problem I have with many Zynga games is that after playing them for a few days, I amass so many buildings and resources, that I stop caring about my resources altogether. This is why I find Units in Empires & Allies so fascinating. A Unit is a resource that I can lose. The more I play the game, the more I burn Units in combat. In response, I deposit my hard-earned Coins, Oil, and Ore to replace them. It's a great cycle that will keep me running a tight economy for the lifetime of my gameplay sessions. Plus, units exist in several tiers. As I unlock new ones, I always have something to build.

Empires & Allies looks to be a fantastic addition to the Zynga portfolio. I am thrilled to be working on it.

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