"There's a lot of fatigue involved with putting out the exact same game over and over again," Ravenshire Castle product lead Brady Flynn admits. "So, what we're trying to do is push it forward--people are always going to be wanting more. Yes, FarmVille was a simple game, but Facebook has evolved since then and it's going to continue to evolve."
Flynn, leading the charge on Silverlake and 6waves' Ravenshire Castle, hopes that his game will prove just that. Born of a commitment to see the game--in development since May 2011--through and beyond, Silverlake has made great strides to set Ravenshire Castle apart from the existing stable of simulator games on Facebook.
That said, it's easy to look at Silverlake, comprised of former Lolapps team members since its falling out with 6waves, as a last hurrah of sorts for Lolapps. The small team within 6waves has been all about production values as a main differentiator, but it's as if Ravenshire Castle is Silverlake's testament that simulator-style social games can still stand out in other, more inventive ways.
And in order to find out just how to make that happen, Silverlake turned to none other than its players. The team knew that it wanted to bring PvP (player vs. player) to its audience, but wanted to know how. "Our player base, being mostly female, said that when they thought of [attacking] a castle, they thought of sneaking in, seducing the guards and looting things--being sneaky, not bashing at it with cannonballs," Flynn tells us. "We took that idea and went ahead with this idea of stealth."
While the sneaking hook is skill-based, it's light when compared to such games on consoles or PC. But that's exactly how Flynn wanted it in order to cast as wide a net as possible. "A lot of the PvP games out there try to target a niche audience wherein they can only get so many people to play the game," Flynn says. "We wanted this to be something where everybody can come in, have a good time, play it and they're not going to be stressed out by PvP."
Silverlake's (or Lolapps) modus operandi has always been high production values, and when you play that game, the only way to go is up. Flynn sees a future when social gamers simply expect the level of visual fidelity, sound effects, music and voice over work found in Ravenshire Castle. Not to mention such play hooks as stealth. And if you ask him, this type of upward scaling is the only way simulator-style social games will survive amidst the onslaught of puzzle games on Facebook.
"The problem that you get with simulation games is that you get the content treadmill, where you're constantly pumping in new content for the person to play with," Flynn concedes to us. "After a while they realize they've built their land, and that's it." That said, the name of the game moving forward for Ravenshire Castle isn't flashiness, but features that change the way in which the game is played.
"The idea is to keep expanding this PvE storyline, as well as expanding out into the fog on your own map and getting a larger variety of sneaking powers," Flynn teases. "What will be going in sometime in the near future is this whole idea of traps that people will set off and guards will come or get stuck in sticky floor-type traps." Fittingly enough, that's Silverlake's greatest challenge: Making sure players stick around for the sticky stuff.
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