Most developers with a successful Facebook game settle into a comfortable routine of updates to keep the title's long-time players happy. But every once in a while, this pattern will be broken by a more important move that helps to define where the game is going long-term. Kabam is giving a first look at one of those today for Kingdoms of Camelot, its highly successful strategy title.
Kingdoms of Camelot is much like other games in its niche, including Evony, Ikariam and Travian. Players build up a cities and kingdoms to accumulate resources, which are turned toward building armies that conquer territory and attack other players. The game's mechanics are well-worn, and rather familiar to anyone who has played the genre.
But as we noted back in August, Kabam's goal is to test out deeper RPG and strategy concepts on Facebook. The update, called the 6th City, doesn't add innovative new mechanics. Instead, it tests out its players' tolerance for more narrative and lore around their familiar game.
Most of what's being added should be familiar to fans of Arthurian legend: artifacts of Morgana and Mordred, as well as hints about the existence of the Fey, a magical race that lives hidden from humanity.
"This is the natural evolution of games on Facebook right now, that the sophistication of the users we're seeing in the space is going higher and higher," says Matt Richetti, the executive producer for Kingdoms. "We do see our players asking for more story."
The 6th City also kicks up the quality of artwork in Kingdoms of Camelot. This has already happened before; earlier this year, the company overhauled the entire game's art assets. For the 6th City, all the art assets were hand-painted by Kabam's in-house team, a deeper investment than it has put into art in the past.
The concentration on art and style is notable, as we've seen few other long-running Facebook games attempt to revamp their art - leaving a visible quality gap between older and newer games. A recent Inside Social Games guest post delves more into whether art quality matters, but in general, the answer is increasingly "yes".
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