Searching for up-and-coming developers brought another game to my attention last week; a real-time strategy game entitled Feudums. Feudums takes inspiration from classic games in the genre, and its mythos has been compared to that of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire saga; the basis for the HBO series Game of Thrones. Intrigued by the prospect of a game mixing these elements and influences together, I contacted the development team, and they agreed to a Q&A for the blog. Answering what questions I had was head of marketing Mark Eliot, chief of development Imre Darics, and lead designer of the game Matyas Suranyi. These were the answers they provided concerning both the game and its development cycle:
What were the influences behind Feudums?
Matyas: the main influences were the C64 and Amiga strategy games of the early ‘90s. As Lords of the Realm, Defender of the Crown, Betrayal or Genesia (from Microids), or, if we leave the medieval setting, there were great games like Syndicate or Populous – many of those were ported to or had sequels on PC too. They were limited by many aspects, but they had one thing in common: they had an excellent atmosphere and were genuinely trying to transfer you to their realm while you were playing. Current influences are grand strategy games, like Crusader Kings 2 (from Paradox), intuitive strategy games like Amplitude’s Endless Legend, or blended genre games like Mount & Blade: Warband. For one part, the game options and systems they offer are great, and on the other part, because they are also games with a strong atmosphere.
What has the developmental process been like?
Imre: Feudums is an outstanding game because it’s a cross-genre with a heavy social strategy side but also by its architecture as well. The game has a strong server-side that contains the world servers and thin clients on various platforms, like desktops and mobile devices. We have to work parallel on these two sides which makes development even more challenging than most games. Other than that, we’re facing the same developmental problems most Indies face – mainly we never seem to have enough time or money so we’re constantly making hard decisions. On the flip side, those hard decisions are helping us stay focused on the core game concepts.
How close are we to seeing the finished product?
Mark: We’re two builds into a six-build game. We have our Map Creator and Single Feudum Management Builds complete which also allows players to play in an early access demo. We still have the Multiple Feudums Management, Diplomacy, Warfare, and the Coat of Arms Generator and House Avatar Builds left to complete. Once our current funding is secure, we’re estimating 6-7 months to finish the MMO and another month or two for testing. For sure, we should be ready to go by the end of the year.
What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
Mark: As the marketing arm of the operation, the most exciting part of our project so far is watching players’ reactions filter in after one of our build releases. I’ve seen it twice now, once with the release of our Map Creator back in December and again a few weeks ago when we released our Single Feudum Management Build. Players begin to test the build and post their comments online. Instant feedback on what we’ve built is very important from a marketing and development angle but also very rewarding from a human side as it validates what we’ve been doing for so long.
What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
Imre: Definitely, the most challenging aspect has been making the game work across platforms, devices, and operating systems. Sometimes I think … a moddable MMO for multiple platforms … are we crazy?
How well has the game been received so far?
Mark: It’s been well received by those who have seen it. We have great conversion numbers on Greenlight and IndieDb. Where we’re having issues is actually getting the eyeballs to look us over, to begin with. I think our game ideas are a little more complex than the usual fare and that’s helping keep some folks from discovering us. But those that have downloaded and played the demo or read through our material on our website, indie DB, or Steam Greenlight all have good things to say about the direction we’re headed and the follower/favorited conversions are far better than the average of the respective platforms.
What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
Mark: Feudums was designed specifically for use with tablets but you’ll be able to play it on your with your PCs too. It’ll run on Win, Mac, Linux PCs, or on Android or iOS tablets. Eventually, we’d love to make it available on phone devices too. But that’s way down the road.
Was there any series’ concerning medieval fantasy that inspired the creation of the game?
Matyas: It wasn’t fantasy titles that inspired the game the most. In fact, I really didn’t want to create yet another fantasy setting. I wanted something that is much closer to the real historical background that I’ve chosen for the game, so as to provide some guidance to players and even myself by setting clear boundaries. Still, it’s easy to find common ground with any (typically low-fantasy) novel with an emphasis on diplomacy and intrigue, like the Song of Ice and Fire. But it’s easy to find other, historical drama inspirations, like Pillars of the Earth or the various historical books describing the period.
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Mark: We’re learning as we go but we do have some basic truths other developers can learn from us. Secure the money to start (and finish if you can) before you begin. Start to build your fanbase while the idea is still percolating around in your brain. It’s hard to get people excited about something that doesn’t exist yet but start the process as early as you can. Internally, don’t argue too much. Dissension on the development team when you are working is counter-productive. Argue the details and map out your development plan before you start. Be realistic on your timetable. Trust me, everything takes longer when you are actually doing it than when you are thinking about doing it. Don’t believe in miracles like Kickstarter or Steam GreenLight – neither will work without a marketing budget and existing fanbase. Lastly, Never give up. If you’re passionate about your game and think it’s great, chances are there are others who will think the same. It’s a big world.
Where about on the Internet can people find you?
Mark: The best site to discover more information about the game is our website: www.feudums.com. These potential players can find other players to hang out within our forums, download the latest version, read about the game and strategies, as well as find a way to support us directly. Of course, we have the normal social channels as well: Facebook/Feudums; Twitter/@Feudums; YouTube/FeudumsMMO.
Do you have anything else to add?
Mark: Thanks for taking the time to assemble this Q&A. We hope your readers will find our game interesting. We need more visibility and would encourage everyone who wants to help to please spread the word about us. Even if Feudums isn’t a game you might like to play, please pass along our name to other gamers who might like to check us out. We aim to change the FTP genre for the better. Please help us out!
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Mark, Imre, and Matyas for agreeing to answer my questions and to wish them the best of luck with the game. After playing this game myself, and speaking as a fan of real-time strategies such as Empire Earth and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, I would recommend this title to any fan of the genre, and it is well deserved the backing that it needs.