Interview With Konoro Games

A while back I reviewed Konoro Kingdom, and one of the developers was kind enough to do an interview with me. This has been a great opportunity to get a look at the makings of an OSG. Be sure to check out their game!

OSG1: First, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Could you tell us who you are and what’s your
involvement with Konoro Games?

DW: Thanks for interviewing me, I’m Dominic Watson and I’m the developer amongst other things for
Konoro Games.

What inspired you to make the game? Were you a fan of similar games beforehand?

Originally one of my friends introduced me to Travian in college. I would update my village every morning, all day through class and just before bed every day for a whole year. For my college project I had chosen to create a standard website and after seeing how much more interesting my friend’s projects were, I decided that for university I was going to create my own browser game. When I got to university the task was to learn PHP and create a browser game. Lep was one of the top players from Travian who helped me out from time to time and had once noted that he plans to create his own game. My university project would have been to create a standard browser game and it wasn’t until getting Lep involved that it became so much more interesting.

Can you tell us a little about the development process? Who is “Konoro Games”? How many people have been working on this game, and for how long?

From the start the development process was as simple as me mashing out code to get it done as quickly as possible. After Lep got involved it was more about him explaining his ideas, prioritising what needed to be done, fixed and me getting them done. From a graphical point of view, we had a look for some of the best Travian community skinners and got in contact with who we thought was the best: ‘panbubo’. I had to search him down and use Google Translate to translate from English to Czech. There are quite a few people working on it. I pretty much do the coding, Lep pretty much does game design and balancing, Pavel Beskyd (panbubo) does map, building, village graphics, Andy created the unit mini icons. Work started in January 2009 and I’ve been working about 60 hours a week on top of a full-time job for most of that time!

That’s quite impressive. It seems like most people on your team had played Travian. What’s unique about your game? What sets it apart from Travian and other OSG’s?

I kind of think Lep should be answering this one but in my mind I think the level of depth present in Konoro Kingdom is what sets it apart from the other OSG’s. In Travain you have only a few variants of resource views whereas in Konoro you have a multitude of terrain types, which provide a multitude of resource nodes of different production levels. When you settle a village you’re given control over 5 map nodes, which means the player has to actually think about where hes going to settle. Exploration and Fog of War is also something in strategy games that you don’t see often in Browser games. This has been present from the very beginning as I thought it was something all strategy games needed (being a fan of the Age of Empires series).

Your game also has some pretty interesting characters: where did they come from?

The characters started off as being blobs because they were really quick to make. I was really eager to getting the game coded and didn’t want to spend too much time creating graphics. It wasn’t until other people complimented on how cool they were that we decided to keep them. John Davey turned the simple characters that I had originally created into badass looking characters to make them a little more interesting.

Since the game was made public, what’s been the most frustrating part as a developer? What’s been the most rewarding? Is there anything in the initial game concept that didn’t make it into the Alpha, or perhaps that has changed as a response to the players?

Frustrating is uploading a new piece of code that works fine on the test server, looks fine online, going to bed / making food / watching a movie and getting shouted at by angry players that they’re missing stuff! This is a lot less frequent as things are getting more controlled in terms of error tracking and code uploading.

The most rewarding feeling is when I introduce the game to people I don’t expect to play at all and finding that they’re totally addicted! Once I asked my girlfriend to test the registration. She went quiet for a while, said the characters were cute and wouldn’t go to bed until she had explored her entire view!

I always thought it would be cool to have ‘King of the Hill’ fort type locations randomly placed on the map that clans control and can attack from… but since Lep hasn’t mentioned them since, I don’t think he’s too fond of the idea! We’ve never really had an unexpected reaction from players as we’re talking with them all day through the forum and a public Skype chat anyways.

I’ve mentioned before that a ‘King of the Hill’ type location would be a great addition to Ikariam. Hopefully it will make its way to Konoro. Anything else you’d like to add?

Yeah, I guess I would have to say thanks to all of the people that have taken an interest, helped out with graphics, information, bug tracking and anything else. You know who you are! I’m also working on an interface revamp so you should change it out soon! Perhaps you might also want to interview Lep… he probably has much more to say than I do.

Hah, I just might do that. Thanks again!

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Konoro Kingdom Review

Game Site: www.konoro.org
Game Developer: Konoro Games
Rating: Worth Checking Out

Konoro Kingdom is a refreshing “garage style” OSG that introduces some new concepts to the genre.

The first things players will notice is the Konoros. The game is set in an interesting stylized world that seems to blend sci-fi and fantasy. As with most OSG’s, players start with a village and will have to upgrade fields to produce resources, construct buildings, train an army, etc.

One of the new concepts the game adds is exploration. Unlike other OSG’s where players can see the entire world right off the bat, in Konoro Kingdom you have to send out an explorer to discover other players and resource fields. To compliment that, each village uses 5 map spaces of resources fields, and each type of terrain grants different bonuses. For example, a city build on a mountain gets an automatic defense bonus, and lakes grant better resource production. Further, there are some buildings that can only be built in villages on certain terrain. This makes it very important where you settle, and can be pretty fun surveying the land for a prime location. On the down side, you can only explore one space at a time, which can make it a little tedious at times, but I’m confident this will be addressed in the future.

The village-building is another strong point. There are dozens of buildings, several of which are unique to the race you choose to play as. It’s impossible to fit all buildings in a single village, which makes your building choice very important. To make things even more interesting, there are small, medium, and large building slots, and some buildings can only be upgraded fully on a medium or large. Perhaps the most unique building I’ve encountered so far: “Folly: This building does nothing. It would be a folly to build one! Maybe it does something – there’s only one way to find out.”

The UI could use a little polish, but it’s definitely clean and presents the necessary information. Considering how little they probably spent, it is rather impressive. In fact, one of the high points of the game is that you can really feel the creator’s involvement. Since the game is still in Alpha, the developers are constantly seeking player-feedback and improving the game. This can be a definite advantage over games such as Ikariam, which is notorious for draconian bannings and not paying much heed to its players.

While it may lack some of the shine of other recent OSG’s, Konoro Kingdom is an overall fun game and it will be interesting to see where it goes.

More Games

Here’s a preview of a couple games I’m dabbling in. I hope to get a new review out this weekend:

World War 2 Warfare

Konoro Kingdom