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CastleVille is a social network game made by Zynga's Dallas studio and was released on November 2011. It combines a number of elements from the company's other "Ville" range of games. On launch it had received a million "likes" on Facebook. By the end of its first month, it had become the fifth most popular game on Facebook with 26.5 million players. The game is a freemium game, meaning there is no cost to play but players have the option of purchasing premium content.
Set in a medieval world, the game allows players to build their land up with castle elements, and craft armor, art and trade items. The objective is to explore the unknown land around the starting territory and expand the player's empire into it. The character's avatar can be customized, and the world features peasants, pirates, princesses and Vikings. A new reputation system was developed to encourage players to be social within the game in order to unlock new items and actions such as trading.
Protagonists and secondary characters
Yvette, the Lovely Maiden (Giselle, the Lovely Princess in pre-production)
Rafael, the Rugged Woodsman (Antonio in pre-production)
George, the Friendly Miner
Alastair, the Wise Wizard
Baz, the Little Warrior/the Future Dragon Slayer
Izadora, the Diva
Sonja, the Foxy Pirate
Tom, the Dragon Slayer
Mia, the Renowned Chef
Quinn, the Lyrical Traveling Bard
Kathleen, the Fleeing Shepherdess (Temporary)
Sylphie, the Flighty Fairy (Temporary)
Ulrich, Master Blacksmith
Giovanni, A Renaissance Man
Kris Kringle (Temporary, only seen in Christmas Season)
Sullivan,the Leary Leprechaun (Temporary, only seen in St. Patrick's Day Season)
Eva, the Elven Trader
Ben, the Gentle Giant
Jacques, Sonya's First Mate
Genevieve, Maiden of Amouria
Melody, Jacques' Bride of the Sea mermaid
Richard, the Lucky Jester
Ember, the Mother Dragon
Faugrimm, the Gloom Lord and main antagonist
Hazel, the Ice Witch
Lamont, Overlord of the Gloom Swamp
Cyril, the Gloom Dragon
Glumwort, Faugrimm's Apprentice
Gloom Rat (appears when attending crops)
Gloom Wolf (appears when attending animals)
Gloom Thief (appears when taxing houses or royal buildings)
Gloom Goblin (appears while dealing with anything of nature, like rocks, grass, etc.)
Gloom Yeti (appears when you deal with icy material of the North)
Gloom Orc (appears when you deal with swampy roots of the Gloom Swamp)
Energy = is vital to play the game because it helps you do actions in your Kingdom such as cutting grass or trees, mining rocks or taxing houses. The maximum limit is 25 energy, but you can increase it by crafting an Energy Totem with the Workshop. Consumable bottles of energy that increase the current amount of energy can be bought in the Market or gifted to friends. Energy also regenerates one every five minutes, or 50 minutes for the entire energy bar to fill up.
Coins = is the principal currency used on CastleVille. It helps you buy most items from the Market
Crowns = is the special currency that helps you finish quests faster or use to buy items, clothes, or buildings that are only available with Crowns, or are locked due to your level. You gain one every time you level up. You could also get Crowns by USD payment.
Reputation Hearts = are points that you obtain by helping your neighbors. It's another way to obtain items or clothes that coins can't buy.
Experience Points = are the blue stars that increases your level after reaching the required points. You always receive at least one XP point by doing anything in your Kingdom, but you could increase that number to receive two XP points every time you do something by completing the Stonehenge Limited Time Quest.
Alliance Points = are the points that you gain every time you do any action on your neighbors' kingdoms to create alliances. This helps unlock new buildings and items.
Castle Points = are the points that you obtain by constructing Royal Buildings. Increasing its number helps you open new land for your kingdom.
The game was produced by Zynga Dallas, (formerly known as Bonfire Studios), which was purchased by Zynga in October 2010 for an undisclosed sum. It is the Dallas studio's first release under Zynga management, and the first social game to feature its own orchestral and choir soundtrack. Originally announced in October 2011, it was launched in seventeen languages. It was released a couple of weeks prior to Zynga's stock market launch.
The production team's aim was to take the best elements of the other Zynga "Ville" games and combine them into one package. Storytelling features were brought from The Pioneer Trail (formerly known as FrontierVille), while CityVille and FarmVille provided the inspiration for city building and self-expression, respectively. The game's Creative Director, Bill Jackson, said that it was aimed to be a deep online game like World of Warcraft.
At launch in November 2011, an official page on Facebook for CastleVille had already received a million "likes". It had gained five million players by 21 November, compared to the top rated game, CityVille, which had only reached 3.2 million players after five days. Within a month, CastleVille was ranked #5 on the most popular Facebook games, having accumulated 26.5 million players. Its entry into the top twenty games came at a cost to its own creators: CastleVille forced an older Zynga game, The Pioneer Trail, out of the list.
Jon Swartz previewed the game for USA Today, thought the game had similarities in design to the Shrek franchise, but described it as Zynga's crown jewel. Andrew Webster, reviewing CastleVille for Gamezebo, said that the release wouldn't "revolutionize social gaming", but because of "arguably the best visual and audio experience on Facebook", it was still one of the best games on Facebook. He gave the game four and a half stars of five.