by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
An Unexpected Appearance
One game I wasn’t expecting to see at Gamescom this year was The Guild 3. Promotional activities ‘on cooldown’ while new developers Purple Lamp Studios are plugging away at putting what makes a “The Guild” game into The Guild 3. The turnaround from its troubled Early Access launch is not yet complete, but it’s starting to look good.
With no PR being done, I was excited to bump into Heinrich Meyer for a private demo and a chance to speak about things we’d normally not get around to in a regular Gamescom demonstration.
One thing was very clear throughout our meeting. The collaboration between Heinrich and Purple Lamp games has not only been very productive, it’s been supportive and invigorating for both sides. Purple Lamp has really embraced the franchise and have transcended the role of being “just the fixers” to become true partners that help shape the game in a creative and positive way. To illustrate, Heinrich told me how he stopped playing the game for a while – working on it, but not playing, because he trusted the team and needed to have some distance (and perhaps a bit of a break). When he started playing again, he rediscovered the fun that is The Guild and played for a weekend straight.
Recently, the devs have been focusing on popularity and influence, both of which will have a significant impact on how your dynasty interacts with the town and other dynasties. Your standing in the community will greatly affect your fortunes. You are popularity will make townsfolk more likely to buy your products and services and ignore those of your enemies, even when you raise your prices a bit – just make sure to keep out the rats, they will not be good for business. Workers will work harder for you if you are loved, slower when you are disliked, and may even steal from you when they see you as a tyrant.
As it does in the real world, influence works very much like currency. It can be spent, bought and bartered for. Donating to the church or hiring a town crier to boast about your achievements at the local market will increase your influence a bit but that’s not nearly as much fun as what happens at the higher levels. There, bribery and blackmail are great ways to gain influence – both of which may or may not be legal under current law. Yet even those are… a little mundane. Things get interesting when you go a little bit deeper. Having an affair with the spouse of an opposing dynasty for instance, will greatly reduce their influence. Tricking a dynasty into attacking you will have similar effects. It’s not just about gaining though, you will need to spend influence too. Expect maneuvering a dynasty member into a public office to be a costly affair.
The simulation for the AI dynasties is also still being improved. One area where we will see changes is how AI dynasties are setting goals for themselves, and then fulfill their needs to achieve that. The way I interpreted the explanation (but I may not be doing it justice) was that dynasties have ‘modes’. They may go into expansion mode and start spending money on acquiring businesses and hiring workers. In war mode, individual dynasty members will visit markets to buy weapons and armor to protect themselves. Oh, and whatever they (and other NPCs) buy goes into their inventory and can be taken from them by thievery. I think I know what one of my new favourite professions will be…
There have been numerous graphical improvements too. Just recently the Church scene was completely reworked, becoming warmer, more alive and aware of the day and night cycle. There are new loading screens and a more logically laid out skill tree. Early Access players will remember how selecting buildings and objects in the game world was a bit awkward, and that’s been fixed too.
I could not leave without asking about building interiors – it’s the one element of The Guild that is still absent from this third installment. I always looked at these as doable, but Heinrich explained just how much extra work it would be. Animations for all occupations and jobs and the logic behind it alone would delay the game for another year, and there’s much more to it – think about the implications to tie all of these in properly with the rest of the simulation. When asked about the possibility of potentially releasing interiors as DLC he smiled - obviously having been asked that question before – but said their priority right now is to give the game a successful release. Talk of DLCs and sequels is for later.
Between THQ’s commitment, Heinrich’s passion, and Purple Lamp’s embracement of this unique franchise, The Guild 3 is now steadily heading towards release. Its steam rating has improved from deeply negative to mixed, inching upwards along with a steady stream of impactful patches. We’re still a while away from release, but it’s getting close.