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October 12, 2011

Zynga Dallas announces Castleville

Things have been quiet for the Zynga Dallas crew who used to be known as Bonfire Studios. Infact, we haven’t heard anything from them since they were acquired by Zynga this time last year. It was a pleasant surprise to see Zynga announce the studio had been working on an exciting massively multiplayer social game called “Castleville”. The press release reads as follows:

Created by Zynga Dallas, CastleVille is the next game in Zynga’s “Ville” franchise which includes FarmVille, FrontierVille, and CityVille. CastleVille is set in a medieval world, with an engaging story, a touch of fantasy and memorable, playful characters. A true manifestation of Zynga’s social magic, the game improves upon the best social and emotional elements from each of the “Ville” games that came before it.In CastleVille players will be able build and manage the kingdom of their dreams, explore the rich world and setting, and share it with their friends. Friends can help each other craft rare items, trade in the markets, and fight back the beasties that lurk just outside the castle walls. CastleVille raises the bar on the production value of the “Ville” brand, with epic storytelling, highly detailed art and animation, and a completely original musical score that was recorded with a 75-piece orchestra and full choir. CastleVille is coming soon to Facebook.

The team at Zynga Dallas have experience in this sector – taking their knowledge of the strategy genre from their roots at Ensemble from games like Age and Halo Wars and also using knowledge from previous Bonfire releases like the social game “We Farm” for iPhone. CastleVille is a good coming together of talent at the studio. The game itself will launch on Facebook and will allow players to create their very own kingdom to share with friends. In short, its going to be alot like Farmville, but instead of farms, its going to be castles and kingdoms. There is a whole lot more to it of course, luckily Creative Director of Zynga Dallas took some time out to talk to Gamasutra about the game in an interview. When asked about the game Bill Jackson responded:

FarmVille is about self-expression, building the farm of your dreams and sharing it. In CastleVille, I’m building the kingdom of my dreams, which is awesome. Then you look at something like FrontierVille, which is about strong narrative storytelling, and it brought that to the franchise.

We have strong narrative storytelling, and we also allow you to unlock that story in new ways that allow you to have more control over how the story unfolds. When you look at CityVille, it really brought a level of simulation, and certainly upped the amount of social interaction with franchises, and crewing, and these types of mechanics.

Now, with CastleVille, we incorporate all of those things, but ours is more personal. It’s about the characters. For instance, is this character happy? Can you make them happier? How do you progress in your relationship with this character, and with your friends.

And then we look at CastleVille itself, and this game is about exploration. The world is not just space that you’re going to expand out to – it has mysteries in it. There are things to uncover, and when you uncover them, that helps inform everything else I just talked about: how you can be social, what the story will be, and ultimately, how you can express yourself.

Its great to see the studio pushing the boundaries, taking forward a tried and tested formula and making positive improvements to the experience and depth. It will be interesting to see screenshots and video footage of the game in due course. For now I would recommend checking out the below interview at Gamasutra which contains alot of information on the direction Zynga Dallas are looking to take the game:


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