Tiny Kingdoms, by Big Viking Games
– The Review –
Tiny Kingdoms is a free game you can find on Facebook that is coming soon to iOS, where you play as a team of characters that engage in turn-based battles. You start off as the Rogue character, and gain tokens to unlock 2 additional characters as you progress through the starter lessons. You can choose from the Knight, Viking, Priestess, Wizard, Ranger, and the brand new Dark Elf. The new Dark Elf class is fantastic if you want a melee magical striker that has good resistance to physical damage with spells primarily centered around ensuring your enemy can’t use
any of their magic. Definitely buy it to get a closer look at all the details! As you progress through the levels, you will be met with new challenges and different types of levels to keep you on your toes, all the while gaining coins and gems that allow you to upgrade your characters equipment.
As you upgrade your equipment, the gear will visibly evolve, taking only certain types of gems, some coin, and time. By choosing to upgrade your gear you set your fairy to the job of magically improving it over a set amount of time. You begin with just one fairy, but can purchase up to three more. They’re useful for upgrading your gear, as well as using the new crafting system to combine 5 of a given gem into 1 of the next higher quality of said gem. You begin play with a bag that has a set number of gem slots, requiring purchases to unlock more slots.
Aside from the challenge of beating all the levels (or farming them for treasure) you can also attempt to climb the PVP ranks. Picking your team, you fight against the existing teams of other actual players for points to improve your ranking on the leaderboards. To make this easier, and not require you to always fight people in your time zone or worse yet, waiting for someone else to be around at odd hours, the system will automate others teams so you can fight them even when they’re not around. The catch here is that it does so for you as well, so make sure you improve your team so they win for you while you are away!
That, in a nutshell, is Tiny Kingdoms. The game however is so much more than that when you actually get into it: The staff is incredibly responsive and engaging, fixing any problems that might arise as quickly as they are able and always willing to listen to player input on the game to take into consideration for future updates. In the time I’ve played Tiny Kingdoms, I’ve already seen direct responses to player requests shape the game, from additional content to steps taken in adding a daily reward log-in, chests of random loot you can purchase (or win).
More interesting than most Facebook games is the actual Facebook page for Tiny Kingdoms, where you can regularly interact with the staff and read articles showcasing some of the talented workers that make the game itself. Check out their page at Facebook.com/tinykingdoms for articles on the teams behind Tiny Kingdoms as well as interesting articles on the history of the game and how it has taken shape to the game you can enjoy now. For more information on Tiny Kingdoms, we’ve lined up an interview with Chris Brousseau, the Producer behind Tiny Kingdoms.
– The Interview –
Myke: Now that Tiny Kingdoms has moved out of the Beta, the game has a pretty clear shape and appeal, and the team clearly knows where they’re going. So moving ahead, what’s the grand vision for TK in an ideal world (both in terms of content and market)?
Chris: The player feedback that we have been receiving has been fantastic. The community has been letting us know what they want, and what we need to improve on. We have been taking this feedback, and also taking a close look at the data we collect from player playing habits, and have been using the gathered information to come up with some pretty cool stuff. In the near future, we will be adding in new levels (they may even be in the gamy by the time you are reading this, as well as the first big TK boss battle. We have also been hard at work creating a number of new enemies and monsters for you to battle against in future levels, also coming soon are some PvP AI improvements. Once we are finished the AI should be much smarter when it comes to the use of spells, and it will also be able to make use of pets that players have purchased.
Myke: So what sort of teasers can you let slip for the near future of TK?
Chris: We have some pretty big plans for pets and character customization lined up. Its going to take quite a bit of work to get these features finished, but they are on the way. And there is this one other thing… its pretty awesome. Super awesome actually. And its going to add so much to the game… but i’m not going to tell you about it 🙂
Myke: The game has come a long way from the early game concepts and designs that have been seen and revealed through your Facebook page like the early versions of the Knight’s Wall spell. Obviously as the game has evolved potential content has been dropped; what were you sad to find nonviable and get left behind, and what might we see return some day in new forms?
Chris: The one thing that I was really sad to see cut was the overworld map. It was the screen that players would use to select the missions that they wanted to play. It had branching paths, some nice artwork, and it added some story elements to the game as well. The problem with it was that it slowed down content production. The map wasn’t very expandable, so in order to add more levels to the game we would have had to add more maps. And then design a way for you to select what map you wanted to play on. We also had to design a way for you to be able to see what levels were on the maps before you selected them so that you would know what challenges you were about to face, and you would be able to set up your party accordingly… it was just a big headache that had to go.
As we continue development of TK we may use the map asset in another way, who knows? One thing you never ever do in game development is throw work away. We still have concept art and designs from the very first iteration of the game, just in case we ever decide to look back on it and include some of it in the current version of the game.
Myke: As for game content, the “dark elf” class has recently been revealed. Can you give us some of the details on the dark elf class? I can feel the itch to procure another class token, motivate me!
Chris: The Dark Elf is pretty awesome for three reasons. First, he is the first new character we have released since the game launched this past November. He has had a lot of love put into him, and he looks really awesome as you upgrade his gear. Second, he is a magical character with a physical attack. That means that when he swings his blades of death around, they are doing magical damage, not physical. He is currently the only character in the game who is set up like this, and it makes him an asset to have on your team if you are facing a horde of physical damage resistant enemies. Third, PvP. The Dark Elf is a beast in the PvP arena. Im not going to say how, you will have to find that out for yourself. But he is definitely worth grabbing.
Myke: Most importantly, a game of this quality wouldn’t be possible without a talented team behind it. Can you talk us through the teams behind TK, and their respective roles?
Chris: There are four teams involved in TK at the moment. Design, Art, Programming, and QA. Essentially, design comes up with ideas on how a feature should run and then has a meeting with the art team. The art team will create mockups for the feature, and then pass those mockups off to the programmers. The programmers will put everything together using the art that the artists created for the mockups, and then send the feature to QA. QA will test the feature, destroy it, hack it, poke holes in it, and then send it back to design or back to the programmers for more work. The feature will go back and forth between QA and Programming until it is ready to go. While the feature is moving back and forth, the art team will be hard at work creating final art assets that will be used when the feature is pushed live. When the art assets are completed, the programming team will add them in, and QA will check them out to ensure that they work across all of the devices that the game runs on. After that, we release it to you guys!
There are about twelve of in total working on the game at this time. We have been posting individual interviews with the whole team on the Facebook page, so keep an eye out there to find out more about the people behind the kingdom!
– In Summation –
I’d like to thank Chris for taking the time to talk to us about the game, and to the entire team behind Tiny Kingdoms for their hard work. They remain one of the most accessible and responsive teams I’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with in my gaming experiences and nowadays I feel that alone deserves as much applause and acclaim as I can offer. Playing the game you can easily get a feel for the potential it has in the long run and in the short term the game has amazing play value. As a personal note, it is the first Facebook game I’ve legitimately considered worth spending extra money on – The extra characters, extra bag slots, and extra faeries add volumes to your TK quality-of-life. You’d spend 20 bucks downloading a game to play for 5 hours and then forget you owned in Steam, why not spend that 20 on something with some lasting play value, right? Just my two cents.
So, play Tiny Kingdoms: Available on Facebook and iOS!