When Hempire launched in April of last year it was billed as a “love letter to the weed community”. Since then, the unconventional plant growing game has enjoyed various improvements, tweaks and updates. We recently sat down with LBC Studios' Lead Game Designer Joseph Kim to learn more about how they made the game, as well as what lies ahead in future.
It’s no secret that, in order to be successful, most games need a good hook – this isn’t lost on the folks at LBC Studios. “[It’s about] creating a good rhythm and fulfilling the correct aspirations for the player,” says Joe.
Providing Hempire fans with the means to build up their own weed-laden empire, using the in-game lab to breed and discover new strains, LBC Studios suggests that there needs to be a good reward for this hook to pay off. “In our case we provide short milestones, like start a grow-op. Now build a dispensary, now try to make products… etc.”
These milestones, as Joe explains, were kept in mind right from the start of Hempire’s development “You really get to let your mind go wild and come up with cool ideas.” Speaking as to why pre-production and planning are the coolest stages of making a game, he went on to say: “You spend a lot of time problem solving, trying to figure out how to make your ideas fit with each other.”
Despite the promising concept that LBC Studios knew would appeal to a certain subset of gamers, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Hempire was originally outsourced out of town. This eventually led to development challenges, however, inspiring the team to bring it in-house and treat it with the love and care it deserved.
To the benefit of the game, Joe describes how they’ve been going from strength to strength ever since. “In the past year we have built a local team and now have a local office. The transition was very difficult, and we were forced to dial back on our development to clean up all the skeletons in our programming closet. We’re finally done with most of our spring cleaning and we’re hitting our full-stride again.”
As with most games, LBC Studios’ ambition outweighed its viability. “With every game there are always things that don’t end up fitting into the scope of the final product” - Hempire was originally set to feature more customizability - “but unfortunately, we had to make tough decisions and weren’t able to put it into the game.”
That doesn’t mean those ambitions can’t be integrated into future updates, however, as Joe went on to reveal that the game will finally receive its long-awaited multiplayer mode in an upcoming update. “We are super excited to get this out and feel it will make the game even more fun as a result. We have a fantastic community in our game and we want to help players connect and play with each other in teams in a meaningful way.”