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Post Status Case Study: Shadow Gambit

Mimimi Games came to their friends at Luehrsen // Heinrich with a challenge. They were about to launch a new Triple A game, but while the game would be high-profile, it wouldn’t necessarily have a large budget to build. Not only that, but the gaming company wanted a site full of detailed custom Blocks that they could edit in the future on their own when necessary.

Hendrik Luehrsen believed his team was up to the challenge of building the “Shadow Gambit” website. He knew WordPress would allow them to build a website as detailed, customizable, and editable as Mimimi wanted.

About Luehrsen // Heinrich

Volker Heinrich and Hendrik Luehrsen founded the media communications agency Luehrsen // Heinrich in 2011 in Munich, Germany. They serve a variety of clients, including those in video gaming, startups, fashion, journalism, and insurance. They don’t consider themselves experts in any specific industry. Instead, they consider their team’s expertise to be a digital-first approach to marketing, communication, and technology.

About Mimimi Games

Mimimi Games is an independent game studio that Dominik Abé and Johannes Roth started in 2008 in Munich, Germany. They create strategy and tactical games. The team is known for developing “The Last Tinker: City of Colors” (2014), “Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun” (2016), and “Desperados III” (2020), among others. Their newest game, “Shadow Gambit,” releases this year. 

The Shadow Gambit Partnership

Luehrsen // Heinrich and Mimimi Games had worked together in the past. Members of the teams had known each other for years, but their previous work wasn’t to the scale of the “Shadow Gambit” build.

“Usually, the games websites are done by publishers who have their own agencies, but ‘Shadow Gambit’ is self-published, which meant Mimimi Games could choose the agency they wanted to work with,” Luehrsen said. “We share a lot of values. They by far outgrew us, but they have loyalty toward us and us toward them. It’s an honor to work with them because we admire their work.”

Luehrsen // Heinrich’s team was excited to work with Mimimi Games again as the gaming company is reviving the real-time stealth strategy game genre. They also appreciate that Mimimi Games has high standards that push them.

“They do not compromise,” Luehrsen said. “They fulfill their vision completely or don’t do it at all. They demand pixel-level perfection, and we respect that level of quality.”

Along with a high level of work came some unique challenges when working on the “Shadow Gambit” site:

  1. The site includes a massive number of elements on each page that need to work together visually, be well organized for the viewer, and have creative appeal, igniting interest in the game.
  2. All the elements had to be built so that Mimimi Games could easily alter them on their own in the future if they needed to, for example, update links or temporarily change the hero image on the homepage for a holiday or special promotion. 
  3. The overall budget for the project was quite small for a Triple A game title, so Mimimi Games had to be smart about managing resources, internally and externally. The budget is another reason they needed to be able to manipulate the site themselves in the future. They couldn’t afford to return to developers or designers each time they needed to make a change.

Creating Gaming Magic

The Luehrsen // Heinrich team used WordPress to deliver a high-fidelity website that the Mimimi Games team can independently manipulate in the future when necessary, all while staying within the budget.

“We always have the approach that we’re happy when our clients don’t call us. That means we did our job and provided them with the tools they need to do their job,” Luehrsen said. “With the help of WordPress Block Editor, we were able to deliver a website that is high fidelity and still manageable for them.”

To meet the gaming company’s needs, Luehrsen // Heinrich built a custom WordPress theme using handcrafted Blocks. The site includes an opening page built for massive impact. 

“We knew this first screen had to be killer,” said Marius Kauer, graphic designer and web developer at Luehrsen // Heinrich. “The users had to go on here and be excited for this game with just one screen.”

Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew home screen

And a lot is happening on the home screen. The hero image alone is layers of Blockwork and includes the all-important wishlist button that helps track demand in the gaming industry. The page also includes the menu, email subscription and social buttons, and links to gaming consoles where the game will be sold.

While the names of the consoles the game is sold on are “unsexy on the backend,” as Kauer said, making those links easy to find and change was critical for the client because they often need to be updated quickly. The designers were able to build a link box that makes it easy for the Mimimi team to locate and change them.

Scroll down on the homepage, and you begin to learn how the game works. The preview includes video and layered visual Blocks for a ripped background look, ornamental frames with an optional glowing skull background underlay, and other ornamental design details. These design elements organize the page, set the tone of the game, and make the site visually appealing to the viewer while uniting all design aspects with the game itself.

“Often you see entertainment media where some agency from some publisher very far away creates a website that in the end has nothing to do with the product. You see that in games websites, some far-away entity made something completely detached from the product,” Leuhrsen said. “We did not want to do that. I hate it when that happens. So, we wanted to pick apart the game for assets we could reuse on the website to make the website feel part of the game’s overarching narrative. We spent quite a bit of time on that, and it was fun figuring everything out.” 

Ahoy, Cursed Pirate! Shadow Gambit game info
Your ship, your home, more features about Shadow Gambit

You also get the opportunity to see the game’s features on the homepage. They’re creatively organized with customizable borders that can be added to any visual on the site through a built-out Block menu. The borders and backgrounds also add depth and texture to the page. 

More Features: Outsmart your enemy, Explore the lost Caribbean, Play it yourself with Shadow Gambit

And you can select and view the game’s visuals through animated graphics to see how it works.

Finally, you can chat with others in the gaming community — all on the homepage.

Each of the site’s pages offers the same features, although the other pages don’t do nearly as much work as the homepage. 

Every element of the site scales up or down, making the site uniquely viewable on huge screens and mobile devices. It also follows all other Triple A gaming standards for accessibility.

“I’m pretty certain you can get to like 95% or 90% of that design by purely using Gutenberg built-in Blocks,” Luehrsen said. “But it’s the last 5% that sets it apart and delivers on the promise we made. That’s why we build a lot of stuff ourselves, and that is why we can achieve the results we get. And that’s why we’re so proud of our work on this site.”

While it certainly would be possible for a developer to build this site on any platform, Luehrsen said it would be almost impossible with the client’s budget and need to be able to do future edits independently.

“An exciting time begins now because very often, after we hand over the systems, the clients start to find little tricks and ways around the stuff we built for them that we have never thought about,” Luehrsen said. “So after like half a year, when we revisit the project, we suddenly see stuff that blows our minds because we had never intended like Blocks or combinations that the client suddenly uses. It’s always fascinating to see how the client interacts with something you build for a specific purpose and uses it for something completely different.” 

What’s Next?

The “Shadow Gambit” site launched Jan. 24, and Luehrsen and Kauer said the response so far has been phenomenal, partially because of Mimimi’s reputation in the gaming industry.

“It sounds arrogant, but the response was somewhat expected,” Luehrsen said. “It’s tremendous. I want to play that game right now.” 

For Luehrsen // Heinrich, they’re likely to get visibility from building the site, which will result in a few new clients, but building it was really about the joy involved in the work.

“This was not a website built for money,” Kauer said. “This is because we believe in the things they do, and we love to support them.” 

The Luehrsen // Heinrich team will gladly work with Mimimi Games on another site in the future. 

“No question about it. Working with them is an absolute joy,” Luehrsen said. “They are absolute experts in their field, but they trust our judgment, and the work we do for them makes us a better agency.”

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