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Socialpoint's Akshay Bharadwaj on the making of Top Troops

Hybrid genres FTW! The team at Socialpoint shares how they built a fantasy RPG game with a blend of strategy, kingdom building and merge mechanics
Socialpoint's Akshay Bharadwaj on the making of Top Troops

The gaming industry truly has a game for each and every player, from fans of strategy, to horror, narrative storytelling to action RPGs. However, developers risk alienating a wider audience by zooming in too closely on one genre.

Enter Zynga's Socialpoint, who developed the 'strategy merge' game Top Troops. This title could have opted to be one genre alone but instead combined the two, creating a new category that's perfect for a broader audience.

In this post, the Head of Socialpoint, Akshay Bharadwaj, shares the story of the creation and original ideas behind the making of Top Troops.

Endorsed by a promising beta phase and a passionate community, Top Troops is shaping up to bring a fresh spin to building and managing a kingdom. But how did Top Troops come to be?

It all started with a square grid notebook and a bunch of people drawing a map with hundreds of levels on it. “We wanted to understand the experience and the possible ways the battle would work before pitching the game,” remembers Sergi Soler, Product Manager for Top Troops at Socialpoint. But between that moment and the discovery of Top Troops’ secret sauce, there have been a lot of prototypes, bold experiments, market tests, and art references to retro games.

“We are constantly thinking of new ways to satisfy an increasingly demanding audience, both by looking for existing market references and trying completely different things," says Javier Goyanes, Product Manager for Top Troops. "Top Troops is the result of that combination. Socialpoint already had a prototype that ventured to mix merge with battle in a very casual way and another prototype with the idea of a massive battle. Top Troops blends the best of both to offer a unique experience in a category with great potential, such as RPG"

Top Troops Battle
Top Troops Battle

This is what Top Troops’ secret sauce looks like:

Come for the colourful world-building and charismatic troops, get slightly hooked to the merge mechanics, and stay for the epic battles and ever-changing strategy.

A unique blend

Top Troops offers a type of experience that previously could only be enjoyed in PC strategy games. The “massive battle” the product managers refer to features two armies of 12 units, each with their own skill set, defined role, special moves, and custom animations. Players must choose which units to deploy and place them carefully to succeed. Then, they’ll watch their army do its magic. The result is magnetic. After a bunch of battles, players will go back to the colourful kingdom of King’s Bay to train and upgrade their Squads of units.

But who are Top Troops players? RPG fans? Casual puzzle and simulation gamers? Is “all” a valid answer?

Top Troops Kingdom
Top Troops Kingdom

“Merging adds novelty to the classic RPG experience, making the game more attractive to all users. And city building is also a nice addition to the game, which creates a new layer of strategy,” says Soler.

“There is a gradual transition. The merge experience and city building allow us to attract a broader audience, but the game is an RPG with massive battles, so slowly, different progression vectors are being introduced. Nevertheless, we maintain some game modes, such as the ‘Magic Island,’ where that merge component is kept for those players who really enjoy it as ongoing gameplay,” adds Goyanes.

The ever-growing population of King’s Bay, a collection of very unserious characters with very unserious stories, will encourage players to stick around, but the team working on Top Troops is confident about the even brighter future of the game: “We have an ambitious roadmap ahead that emphasises new events, more units, and many more surprises. The current experience of Top Troops offers the first glimpse of what’s to come.”

Edited by Paige Cook