It's been probably a year since I heard anything from Crazy Monkey Studios, so I feel pretty comfortable saying that development on it is definitely over. I might write a larger article about this later but for now I just wanted to write a little mini forum post and get some thoughts on it. I consider Empire basically a failure. Not financially - I mean, it is that, too, but I don't really care about that as much. I mean that despite some innovative concepts, it's a really bad game design failure, and I think it'd be interesting to talk about that and why that is. Anyway, obviously there is a thing where the development of the game went pretty quick - from start to finish in less than 7 or 8 months IIRC. We did have some decently big patches afterwards, but I feel like it still needed another whole year at least to cook. Also they're in Belgium and I'm in the US and we had a very distant, low-contact development, etc etc. Lots of "game development stuff" that anyone could observe and talk about. Not interesting. What's interesting is the fundamentally bad calls I made for the game. Despite anything CMS did for or against the design-success of the game, I definitely take full responsibility for its failure. They were pretty hands-off for most of the development and there are only a couple of things I can remember where they pushed back on some stuff I wanted to do. In other words: it's mostly the game I designed, it's mostly what I wrote down in a Google doc. Big Fuckups The biggest fuckup is that there is no core mechanism. Despite what I said in my Practice talk "Managing" "Diminishing Resources" is not a core mechanism. All the remaining fuckups are really a result of this original fuckup. For instance, the game has two "gameplay screens" - the combat, and the overmap. This is a direct result of not having anything to build stuff around. Same deal with the quite stupid "asymmetric characters". What the hell is that? Well, I'll tell you what it is. A desperate attempt to use the very "sauces" I talked about in my Practice talk to obfuscate the fact that the game has no core. The game was never balanced, and I don't think it really ever could be balanced, because of the "Two Games In One" factor. You are always gonna have this problem where players can kinda just master one of the two games and have that override or at least massively step on the toes of the other. The good news is, from the failures of Empire, I was able to really learn about how important a core mechanism is, and it's really what fueled the writing of Clockwork Game Design. So ultimately, it's good. There are really only two things I actually like about Empire: the combat system is kind of cool, and the idea of draining the resources from the area is... well, I hesitate to say it's "cool". It seems to me more like just something of a requirement if you're gonna try to use that Civ style thing in an actual strategy game. Offtopic, but: CMS never used my music for the game, but I actually wrote like half a soundtrack for it. Here's one gameplay song - there's a bridge around 1:45. VERY sparse writing for me, reminds me of DooM's soundtrack a bit. Here's another, just a simple piano piece, which I like the first half of a lot. Anyway, these weren't finished, they decided to go with whoever wrote the music that's in Empire now, which made me sad. If you like them let me know and I'll upload more. Anyway, thanks for reading. What do you think?