Playfish has set a new tone for 2010 with the launch of its twelfth title, Gangster City. We sat down with the game’s producer Li Maomao, who is based in Playfish’s China office in Beijing, to find out what it’s all about. Enjoy!
What do you do at Playfish?
Hello, everyone! My name is Li Maomao. I’m the producer of Gangster City. I’m based in the Playfish China office in Beijing. My job is to oversee the game from concept to release. I supervise the artwork, the gameplay development, plot and overall design and make sure everything is working well together. Essentially, I make the day to day decisions that drive the project.
So what did you want to achieve with Gangster City?
We were looking to create a really new and fresh game that gave our players something new and interesting to do. We wanted to show people what could be done with the genre. Gangster City is a totally different game than anything we’ve created at Playfish. It’s a role playing game (RPG) with a mafia theme. We hope players will enjoy it, play it with their friends, and experience the honor of growing a family.
What does Gangster City do that is different to other social games out there?
Gangster City is different because it is designed to be a high quality social gaming experience using Flash technology, unlike other games of the same genre. It has many different kinds of story based missions, personalized characters and snappy animations. You can get real benefits from your gangster family and share the honor with your friends. For example, if you hire your friends to protect your properties, you can earn more money in the game. Of course, there are many other things you can do which are revealed in later levels.
So what’s the premise of the game?
In the game, you’re told that your father got involved with the mob and was killed. To avenge him, you take a job as a gangster. You meet some old friends and make new friends and your ultimate mission is to find your father’s murderer and survive in the dark criminal underworld.
What was the visual inspiration for Gangster City?
We decided to give Gangster City a really different look and feel – it has the feeling of a comic book or that of an edgy film noir movie, with lots of heavy shadows and strong, bold lines. Because it’s a mafia game, we used a more realistic and mature style. It has vivid color and uses some of the most impressive graphic art we’ve produced to date. I think it will attract a different kind of player to some of our other games.
How do you progress in the game?
You can do missions from non-playable characters (NPC’s) to get experience and level up, and you can invite friends to be your family members and join you in-game for certain jobs. These same friends can help increase your income. You can rob from other players to get extra experience and money as well. There really are a lot of ways to progress!
How can your friends and family help in Gangster City?
Your friends and family can give you extra power and leverage when doing missions. The more members you have, the better. Each member of your gang ‘family’ has a different role as well. You can invite your real friends and family to become a member, then arrange for them to do jobs for you, like protecting your properties.
How can players give you their feedback?
By visiting our forum. Any feedback and suggestions are always welcome! Also, if you become a fan on Facebook, you can get great updates there and find out who else is playing. 🙂
What was the biggest challenge in creating this game?
I think our biggest challenge was how to make a “hard core” RPG style game suitable for the more casual player on a social network. We decided to create a simple user interface without too many links so that the player wasn’t overwhelmed. We also decided to feature a deep, immersive storyline through different missions using vivid animations and voice-overs to help our players get into the game as quickly as possible.
So what’s your Gangster name?
“King^^”. My English name is “King Lee”. It’s the first word I’ve learnt in English when I was a kid. I put the smile face “^^” after it because I want to be a polite gangster 😛
What do you hope to see happen in the future with Gangster City?
I hope all players can enjoy this game and make more interesting things happened. I hope this game will attract players who hadn’t considered playing one of our games before – Gangster City is really different to what we’ve done previously and I think it’ll really surprise and please new and old players alike.
What do you like the most about Gangster City?
I like the theme of Gangster City; it gives you freedom to be something completely different and something you wouldn’t do in real life. I also like the casual gameplay. You have a lot of choices in the game. I like that you can experience the story or compete with others – it’s flexible.
What do you like most about Playfish and their games?
I think Playfish games are full of creativity and give a really fun experience to all our players – whether they are playing regularly or just pop in every now and then. I like the beautiful graphics our talented artists are always creating. But most of all, I really like the casual gameplay we’re providing our players. It’s something different and it means we can always have a little bit of time to play a game!
What’s your favourite Playfish game?
Gangster City! No doubt. That’s my soul 🙂
What is it like working for Playfish at the Beijing office?
I’m very happy to work here with a lot of interesting people. We are from different countries and different cultures, but we have a same goal: to make everyone happy 🙂
Any final words?
Yes! To our players: Thanks very much for your passion and love to this game. We are preparing a secret gift for every Gangster City fan and it will be coming out soon! 😉