Tablet Games 101: We speak with Game Insight Chief Producer Leonid Sirotin about The Tribez & Castlez, a spin-off of the popular mobile game The Tribez.
With The Tribez being a mobile hit, you’d think the good people at Game Insight would naturally make a sequel. But instead they’re doing a spin-off titled The Tribez & Castlez. Chief Producer Leonid Sirotin explains why they went this route and how Castlez isn’t just "The Tribez 2: Electric Boogaloo."
For those unfamiliar with the original game, The Tribez, what kind of game is The Tribez & Castlez and how do you play it?
The Tribez & Castlez is a city-building game to which we added some elements of combat, some collecting of rare items, some adventures, and also a few dragons and a bit of magic. Players can continue to rule their own tribe, which they first met in the ancient era the of original Tribez, but it’s been transported to the Middle Ages after a new time-traveling experiment.
What other games do you think it’s similar to and why?
We tried to create several original game mechanics, so The Tribez & Castlez differs from other games in this genre. For instance, there are some settings like a level of “shelter” or “security,” as well as a concept of “influence” that players can improve to directly influence the development of their castle and to widen their domains.
The game is a spin-off to The Tribez. What makes it a spin-off as opposed to a sequel?
The difference is that the protagonist has been changed. In the spin-off, we tell players about the adventures of The Professor, who was one of the player’s mentors in the original game. As a consequence of an unsuccessful experiment, The Professor is thrown into the Middle Ages. The situation worsens because during the crash landing, his flying vehicle crushes and destroys a “Stone of Universe,” which imbues the Professor with some magical capabilities.
Compared to the first one, what are the big things you changed, added, or improved in this version and why did you feel they needed to be changed, added to, or improved?
We’ve changed many things, from the game graphics, which are even brighter and more eye-catching, to the balance, to which we’ve added new features. We have increased the quantity of enemies and, correspondingly, have also increased the number of ways players can defeat them, such as with battle towers. In the new game, there are no islands. Islands have been replaced by dungeons, separate locations that players must explore to recover unique resources. Decorations are more important and have real game value. You can’t develop your kingdom without them. And, of course, we turned Dino into a real battle dragon—but we kept the character’s amusing identity.
Since this is a spin-off, are there any bonuses for people who played the original?
Yes, we planned for that. If you play in the original game, a surprise awaits you in The Tribez & Castlez.
In the game, you have to deal with such creatures as dragons and werewolves. When it came to designing them, what movies, books, TV shows, or other games did you use for reference?
We started with classic creatures from fantasy worlds, but tried to add unique qualities to them to help them become part of the original world of The Tribez. For example, instead of looking horrendous, they have a rather amusing, sometimes even comic appearance. Also we changed the names some creatures by playing on words and sounds. For example, goblins in the game are called Gobools.
The Tribez & Castlez is available for both iOS and Android tablets. Are there any differences between them?
The iOS and Android versions are absolutely identical, so players can be sure that regardless of whichever platform they prefer, they will get the same game experience.
The game is free, but has microtransactions. The Tribez was complimented for not being pushy about its microtransactions. Will the same be said about The Tribez & Castlez?
In terms of monetization, The Tribez & Castlez is similar to the original game, and will be as mild as it was in The Tribez. We consider this to be an important feature to attract all categories of users. Of course, players who don’t pay are still the majority of the audience. However, the framework of our loyal audience is formed from this majority, and paying players pay for the pleasure of gaming in other ways. For example, players can organize fan communities or invite their friends to play. Some players may also eventually decide to switch from being free players to paid players. This happens very often.
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Aside from the Tribez games, Game Insight has made a number of other games, including Tank Domination, Starborn Wanderers, and Dragon Eternity. Of all your other games, which do you think would appeal to fans of the two Tribez games?
All our games offer interesting plotlines and exciting gameplay. In terms of a target audience, Airport City and Paradise Island are the Game Insight games that are closest to The Tribez & Castlez, since they have similarly relaxing and pleasant game mechanics and ambiance.
The Tribez & Castles is available now on iOS and Android.