Community Preview 2022
Just like last year, we wanted to take a moment to talk about our plans for 2022. We're a little later this year than last, but just as excited to reveal some of what we’re working on this year. The Community Preview will start with a retrospective of some of the things we discussed in last year's preview, as we have a couple of things to say. Lets start with that, and then we'll talk about 2022!
2021 Retrospective Topics
Shortening of Events
Last year, we tried something out with shortening events. We were hoping by doing so we would be able to switch up the rhythm of world starts and events, giving you more to do in the quieter periods. But you told us this creates a more stressful play environment for you as players and makes the game less fun overall. With this in mind we've mostly reverted back to 14-day events, with a couple of exceptions.
Related to this topic, we've also made the strategical and technical decision to shift world starts for all markets to the same day. Historically, they were spread out to reduce stress on our hardware, but this is no longer an issue, due to improved hardware at our side. This change allows us to have a buffer of around 2 weeks between world starts and events too, which means we will be running events on these worlds, but there will be a gap for the world to get established. It should hopefully have the impact we were looking for with shortening events, without making the game feel less balanced overall.
Last year, we talked about rebalancing for both Olympus and World Wonders. As you'll know, the initial development for both of these has concluded, and we're now in the beta and live testing phase for both. We have just released our first Olympus world on Beta, and we have released our first batch of live World Wonders rebalanced worlds on February 15th. In March, we'll launch our first live test of Olympus worlds on our Italian market, with a view to release a full set again in May 2022, providing things are looking good on Beta and IT.
It goes without saying that Grepolis' future relies on Community Feedback, and working alongside the community to achieve goals which benefit us all. For example, last year, we tried to make a focus on addressing some issues with push notifications ingame, allowing you as players to more easily customize your attack notifications. We know this doesn't wholly address the practice of spam attacks being sent, but we hope it goes a way to improving game/life balance. More on Community Requests later in this post!
So... let's take a look at 2022...
2022 Coming Soon
What is the Hybrid App, you might rightfully ask? This is the internal name for a project we started work on in 2021. It is intended to be a wholesale replacement of the current app, with all of the features of the browser version of Grepolis that you know and love. There are a few reasons for this:
We want to offer a full blown experience of Grepolis on all devices. Why? Because a good amount of our players play exclusively on mobile devices via various workarounds.
For all players across all platforms, we want to be able to give you everything we've developed, not just a reduced feature set. This means things like events, new features, or feature improvements will all be available everywhere!
We have a technical need to move away from the current platform we use for developing the app, which gives us the perfect opportunity to rebuild the app using the existing game's codebase.
The development of the Hybrid App (which will eventually just be the Grepolis app) is in a good place, and we'll shortly be releasing it to a couple of markets to really increase the feedback and bug reporting. The idea will be to release it alongside the existing app, meaning players don't lose their fully functional app for now, but can try things out on the new one! You'll be able to install both on the same device, and eventually, we will phase out the old app in favor of the new one.
The main things we need to overcome is some big UI elements which work really well on browser, and don't translate to a phone screen with it being much smaller, but these issues are already on our radar. Below you can see a couple of screenshots taken on a phone of our progress so far, but there is much work to be done. Watch out for more news on this soon!
A topic we've been looking to tackle for a few years, market merge, is the internal name for a process of taking our smallest markets, and merging them into a larger, more populous one. To begin with, we will be targeting our smallest markets in 2022, which are the Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. These 4 markets (starting with Denmark) will be merged into the International market (EN).
What does merging entail? Merging simply means that we will copy your player over to the EN market, along with any rewards and gold (as well as things like purchased vacation). Once this copy is done, we will then stop releasing worlds on those markets, and eventually, we will close any left over worlds which aren't closed due to endgame conditions being met. Below is a mockup of some of the process facilitated by Hermes himself:
Why are we doing this? Quite simply, we want to actually offer players on those markets a better and more competitive playing experience. The worlds of these servers often have very few players, and some have insufficient numbers to ever reach endgame phase We will continue to offer the game in their language, and will introduce functionality on EN to select from English, or any of the other 4 languages. We'll keep offering support in those languages, too, but we will stop translating a lot of our communications such as changelogs.
For clarity, we feel it is important to say that we don't currently plan to merge any more markets, and certainly not our larger markets (for example, DE and FR). Never say never, but definitely not in the short term.
Whilst we won't go into too much detail yet, we wanted to let you know we're already working on the design concept for a brand new event. This event will be focused on alliance collaboration to win, and we're hoping should be quite unique when compared with our other events. We're expecting to have this event released in the second half of 2022. The hardest part of designing an event like this is making sure it fits for all communities, as many of our communities are very different in size to one another. We'll share some updates about this concept in the upcoming weeks on our Devblog!
Return of Christmas Themed event
In recent years, we moved away from having a themed Christmas event. The reasons for this are predominately not an issue of having a Christmas themed event, as much as they are of having an event running over Christmas. In short, we wanted to make it so players don’t have to choose between spending time with their families over the holidays, and playing Grepolis. We opted to move away from this, and the most logical way to achieve this was to detach them from Christmas as a theme.
However, a lot of you were really unhappy with this, and miss the festivities. With this in mind, we're planning to reskin one of our events to be specifically Christmas themed, so that those who want to play, can, and those who prefer to take a break for the holidays can too. This gives us the best of both worlds! More information to come, so watch out on the Devblog for updates on this.
As with last year, this is a big focus. We had a lot of success last year working very closely with our Community Managers and their teams take your feedback around Ares, and build his rebalance based on those feedback rounds. This is entirely what Grepolis needs, a closer collaboration between players, Community Managers, and the development team. We have a couple of concepts incoming this year for overhauling this feedback loop, so keep your eyes out for news on this. It's not a return of the Players Council, but something we hope will bring some of the value we miss from such a program.
Just like last year, we want to make sure it’s understood that we can’t guarantee everything revealed today will be implemented this year. As you know, things can change as the year goes on. But, looking back on 2021, we did well on making good on our plans, so here’s to another successful year! And, as always, this is intended as a summary of topics we know we want to tackle, but certainly isn’t everything! We’ll surely fit more in in 2022, so watch this space!
We hope this preview of the next few months is exciting, and we're looking forward to hearing your feedback in the dedicated thread here.
Your Grepolis Team