CastleVille, the newest game in Zynga’s “Ville” franchise, has gone live on Facebook in 17 languages for global appeal. Similar to its siblings FarmVille, FrontierVille, and CityVille, CastleVille allows players to build the kingdoms of their dreams and explore in a social environment. There are some differences, however, reflecting the fact that the developers have experience in massively multiplayer games.

This is the first game to launch out of Zynga Dallas, which was called Bonfire Studios when Zynga bought it. Bonfire Studios was founded by a team previously with Ensemble Studios, best known for Age of Empires, and their background shows in small ways. For one thing, CastleVille features original music recorded with a 75-piece orchestra and full choir. The art and animation are improved too, although they’re still very far from console or PC game quality.

What could prove more interesting in the long run, however, is the gameplay itself. There are choices to be made that affect which quests are available, and gaining more territory involves more than just racking up points.

“With CastleVille, we set out to develop a fun and social experience that delivers and improves upon all the innovative social and emotional elements our players love,” said Bill Jackson, creative director of Zynga Dallas. “We also wanted to bring a higher level of production quality to the ‘Ville’ franchise – from the stunning scenery and magnificent castles, to the playful characters, beautiful music and deep narrative. We poured our passion for ‘play’ and ‘social’ into every detail.”

CastleVille also has a partnership with, the company’s philanthropic initiative. The non-profit has nominated three charities: Direct Relief, Save the Children and Once CastleVille’s Facebook fan page reaches 5 million “likes,” Zynga will donate $40,000, $30,000 and $20,000, with players voting for which charity gets which of the three amounts. Zynga will also donate $10,000 to Direct Relief’s Community Health Clinic in Dallas in honor of Zynga Dallas’s first game.

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