1920s Chicago is an era that invokes a lot of immediate images and has inspired even more movies, books and games. It’s got so much imagery attached to it, too–the suits, the dresses, the speakeasies and tommy guns, gangsters and gang wars. It’s no wonder so many games have tread this territory before, with the secrecy and explosive combat being big draws. So you might be tempted to think you know what a game set in Prohibition-era Chicago would be like.
Local devs SomaSim, lovers of sim games and creators of the excellent skyscraper sim Project Highrise, challenge that notion and look at Prohibition-era Chicago in a different way. Instead of focusing on action and combat, their recently announced new game, City of Gangsters, puts the sim spin on the drinkin’ and sin, turning player focus to managing a complex criminal organization, asking the more interesting question of how to build a suddenly illegal business from the ground (or the basement, in this case) up, how to build a network of trust with vendors and potential customers and how to really people manage those hotheaded gangsters. It’s a new take on an incredibly evocative era, and we’re extremely lucky to have been able to sit down with devs Matt Viglione and Rob Zubek to talk more about sim games, SomaSim itself, and upcoming City of Gangsters, which we think you’ll be as excited to get your hands on as we are, once it’s unleashed on the world.
Recently, we caught up with the two of them and discussed everything from how SomaSim came to be, to their success with Project Highrise and most excitingly, all the details we could uncover about City of Gangsters.
Thanks for doing this! So first, let’s get everyone familiar with who you are and what you both do at SomaSim.
Matt Viglione: Sure–we are both cofounders of the company. I’m on the design side. I do most of the content design of the games, and a lot of the art management and outsourcing management.
Robert Zubek: I’m on the programming side, so I do all the programming or help manage outsourcers if we have programming help, and I share system design responsibilities with Matt.
So, we first met you at the Logan Playtest Party when you were developing Project Highrise, which was a game we loved. But let’s get a little more background–how did SomaSim come to be?
MATT: We started SomaSim in 2013. Rob had been in the games industry for a long time before that. I was the communications director of a big non profit in San Francisco where we were living at the time and we had been planning to do this for a while. We really wanted to make our own games and work together, and start a studio making the kind of simulation games that we really wanted to play but weren’t seeing made that much anymore. So we decided we were going to start, and we looked at our savings and what we had to fund the studio and said “We’ve got about a year to make this work, so what game can we make in a year?”
Our first idea was the game that became Project Highrise, but we looked at it and said “That’s going to take more than a year” and so we put that aside and looked at our second idea.
The second idea was a game called 1849 which was inspired by our drive back from Thanksgiving, going through California’s gold country. We were looking at all the old gold rush cities and thinking “Those were all built real fast…so how did that work?” How did the Gold Rush look from the perspective of building cities and managing the systems that went on behind the Gold Rush. So we made 1849, that came out in 2014, in about the year we had to develop it. Then after that, we started looking at Project Highrise, and Rob can talk a little bit about what led him there.
ROB: What did I do? *laughs*
So, Project Highrise was the game we wanted to make first, as Matt mentioned, but it was definitely a large scale kind of game. We’d done design and planning ahead of time, rough and high-level, to see what it was gonna look like and we worked up to a year or two and a half years ago, so we couldn’t do it as a first game, because we wanted to make something that was within a reasonable scope–something we could do and see if this whole ‘going indie and making a game’ thing could even work, right? Fortunately it did work with our first game, so we were selling the first game and porting it while working on the second game.
Project Highrise was very much inspired on one hand by games we remembered from the ‘90s, so Sim Tower comes to mind of course. But also other building simulation games, like Theme Hospital and Theme Park, and others like Dungeon Keeper, games where you build an ecosystem of characters that walk around and do stuff, and you have to keep everybody happy, so that’s the inspiration we had for this.
Of course, with a high rise building, visually, and in terms of the setting, our inspiration was Chicago. We really dug into the mid century modern look and feel of things. On one hand, sort of minimalism and international style, different schools of architecture–which our wonderful city has so many great examples of. There’s little coincidence that the first code for Project Highrise started a month after I moved back to Chicago.
So you guys were originally from Chicago and you were in San Francisco for a while?
ROB: Yeah, we met in Chicago and then we moved to San Francisco for a while, and when we went indie we were like “Why are we doing this in a really expensive city, especially since we’d rather be back in Chicago?”
But back to Highrise–In terms of the visual styles, yes, Mies van der Rohe, and sort of a very clean minimalistic thing was very much an inspiration, and also we were watching a lot of Mad Men at the time, so that sort of mid-century visual aesthetic. Our vision of the game in terms of the visuals was ‘what would the world look like if the 60s lasted a bit longer?’ In terms of gameplay like I’d mentioned before, it was the kind of management games we knew from the 90s that had fallen by the wayside in the 2000s. I think the 2000s saw a great growth in console games and a great growth in action games, and there was some simulation and strategy stuff. But at that point in 2013, 14, 15–there weren’t that many out there. I think they’re making a resurgence now.
I think so. It did feel like it fell off for a while but it seems like it is coming back.
ROB: Yeah and as a player of those kinds of games, I’m really happy about that.
So obviously SomaSim is all about sim games–and it seems like you guys really love them. You were telling me about some of the games that inspired you. Have you always loved sim games?
MATT: Yes, very much so. One of my first video game, PC experiences was playing Caesar 2. It was the first game where I remember fully being absorbed by the game and losing all track of time. It was my first “Oh crap, it’s 3am” game. So, recreating that “Oh crap it’s 3am” feeling for modern players is something we wanted to do.
I love that moment you can have with a game where you’re like “Oh man I was supposed to be in bed six hours ago” and you have no idea how much time has passed.
MATT: Yeah and then you have the realization “It’s 2:30am!” but you’re like “Hell, it’s already 2:30, might as well keep going!”
ROB: Yep. One more run, one more turn…
MATT: I think for me it was Sim City and Civilization that got me…I put about 2500 hours into it. It’s like ten years old at this point but I’ll still come back every once in a while and lose 5 or 6 hours in Civ 5. It’s still got me.
So, safe to say that’s definitely an influence then! When you’re designing a game, specifically a sim game, you know you’re going to have people who’ll be sinking some serious time in and it’s going to be complex–you have to build pretty deep for that, don’t you?
MATT: Yeah, it’s…personally it’s part of the scary part about making these types of games. You have to build so many things in advance and take a leap of faith that eventually your design will be fun. When you first look at one of our games, there’s little hand drawn sprites moving around the screen not doing very much, and then building that first thing, like in Highrise it was being able to place things to build the building–but there’s no other feedback. It wasn’t costing you money, you were just doing it.
Then you put in more. This is gonna cost you money, and it’ll cost money to run. Then you start building in tenants, and it still wasn’t fun. Then we started building different types of tenants and then at some point, and it’s hard to say when it happened, but all the sudden it turned over, and I was like “Now it’s fun.”
You sort of have to take that leap of faith that eventually all these systems you’re designing and building are gonna click over and become fun.
ROB: And with Project Highrise that fun moment didn’t happen until at least a year into development.
MATT: Yeah, it was pretty tedious for the first year.
ROB: –Which is the scary part of the genre. I like to think of it as sort of–you’re building a machine, and until the gears are all produced and placed and you start cranking it, until that moment you won’t know.
It’s such a different approach from something like an action game, right? When you’re making an action game, you can feel it out in a matter of days or at most weeks, whether the activity is fun–and then you start building on that. In a game like ours though, it’s not going to be fun for a very long time, and then suddenly it is.
I think that’s a special challenge you must run into with sim games. It’s also a challenge as a player walking into it, because you don’t know what you’re doing, and you don’t get an instant gratification feeling, necessarily, like you do with different genres of games.
MATT: Also, the fun of a Civilization game or a game of Stellaris isn’t at the beginning. They all start the same. You do all the same things for the first ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, or even half hour of the game. It’s only when you yourself as a player have begun to build your own sort of internal systems and narrative of the game that it starts to become its own interesting session.
ROB: So the approach we take to these games is looking at them in terms of overlapping user activity cycles. In Civ, for example, you can move your units around and that’s on an interaction loop, on maybe a 10 second timer. Then every minute maybe you get to pick the next building to build in your city. Maybe every ten minutes you get to pick what to research. If we layer enough of this together, the player is always doing something on a macro and micro level. These decision points are always overlapping, so they’re thinking about the short term and the long term and the conflicts between them because the money you spend on building a new unit is the money you don’t have to build a library ten minutes from now, so you’re always stressing the player with conflicting goals and conflicting ways to spend resources.
The challenge of building these games, going back to what we were saying earlier, then, is very early in development you start by building the “micros”– the tiniest things, moving units around, and that’s the thing. The micros in these games aren’t fun. It’s only when you get to the macro loops and the conflicts between macro and micro that it’s fun, but you have to do all the annoying micro work to get there.
Yes, and even for players–many people complain about fetch quests and crafting or gathering resources–but sometimes you get it right. Games like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley are full of tedious tasks. It seems like you guys are saying it’s a lot about pacing and the vibe that you’re putting down.
MATT: Yeah, it’s really important that you know, these things fit into a narrative. Like, yes I know I need to harvest all these tomatoes but I’m building my farm and it’s part of a larger effort, you know?
ROB: And you have to meet the player where they are. Different players are going to have different expectations about what the game should be about. Some players hate busy work, others like it. Sometimes it depends on context. In a farming game it makes more sense to wait for things to grow, but in a game like World of Warcraft, you’re like “I’m a heroic creature, why should I be waiting for anything?” For something like Highrise we have this sort of pacing payoff. During the day it’s a hustle and everyone’s moving around and doing stuff, but nighttime comes and we slow it down and you can look around and plan for the upcoming day.
So it’s kind of a stress relief for the player, basically…
MATT: Yeah, if you’re gonna throw a lot of intense activity at them, in terms of pacing, you’ve gotta give them a breather. Even better if you can have them feel like they’ve earned that breather. Like, ‘now you’ve done these things correctly’ so you’re ahead of things. You’ve worked yourself ahead of the stresses of the game and now you’ve earned that breather.
In City of Gangsters we’re trying to design these points, so that you’re busy and overwhelmed and doing all these things and then you’re like “Oh, I’ve got it in control now” for a while.
ROB: For a while…
MATT: And then someone will make some decisions or something will happen and it’s like “I’ve got so much to do!” again. If you give a player that agency it’s even better.
ROB: It’s kind of tricky, because it has to come from the systems working correctly. It’s a tightrope walk for a sim game, I think.
I want to get a lot deeper into City of Gangsters in a minute but while we’re on the subject of sim games–do you feel like there’s a higher bar of entry for players to pick up the game–and how do you mitigate that, if so?
MATT: Yeah…at the beginning. In the way that Civ or Sim City starts, there’s a point where a player is staring at the blank map and there’s just all these things–all these buttons, and all of this UI, and all these things you can do, and yeah, there’s tutorials that can tell you what to do, but there’s a lot of the tyranny of the empty canvas in sim games.
For players that are into it, there’s discussion forums and threads and things like that, like “the best way of starting” and what’s the right way of building things, and that’s further overwhelming to new players because you look and see this information out there, so on top of all the UI being overwhelming, there’s this whole player environment that can be equally overwhelming.
I don’t know if there’s a good way around this or not, but what we try to do is give the player a setting they can approach, like “You’re building a skyscraper” so it’s always going to go vertical, sno now you start building the floors and we just begin to layer in the intensity a little more slowly.
ROB: A lot of it was scaffolding. You start out with only a few obvious things you can do–you have to build the foundations. So the first step is easy, then the second step opens up a little more, and the future steps open up even more so by the time you’ve gotten much further into it, you can do whatever you want, but it never starts out overwhelming.
With City of Gangsters, the first thing you do–it starts out with the Prohibition in the 20s, just as the Prohibition starts. So you start out by having a stash of liquor from before Prohibition sitting in your uncle or aunt’s basement, and this is your nest egg. This is something you’re gonna learn to use in order to finance your operation that you’re gonna build.
The first steps are chosen for you. You have this stuff, you have to sell it, that’s your first job. And in order to sell it, you have to figure out who to sell it to, what kind of context do I have? You have to make context. So your initial stuff is already constrained, but then as you go through it and you sell it, you make money and you make friends. And with money and friends, now your action space opens up, and that’s one way in which we scaffold the early user experience. We also scaffold early user experiences by giving them specific missions to complete. And that’s a classic game dev trope, right? Quests and stuff, but we try to do it in a very open way. If you’re really interested in making friends, we’re going to give you more quests about meeting more people, for example.
I think that makes it interesting, because it also means you can play through multiple times and get different results.
Speaking of City of Gangsters, I’d really like to get into that with you guys some more. Obviously you were taking inspiration from Chicago for Highrise, but how did you get from Project Highrise to City of Gangsters?
MATT: Chicago was again an inspiration. We sort of work through making our games by asking “What are settings and points that lend themselves to fresh starts?”
Building a skyscraper, part of the allure is that you’re starting from bare ground to end up with a skyscraper. So we were looking around, and especially in Chicago, being a city that grew so dramatically in the first couple of decades of the 20th century. Then Prohibition came along and sort of wiped out an entire industry and hit reset on it.
So now there’s a point in history where the city was sort of emerging and becoming the city that we know today and then at the same time what was the fifth largest economy in the world just got wiped out. But people still drank, so a fifth of the economy is gone and now people are figuring out–how do we make booze? How do we buy booze? How do we sell it? So it was a fascinating reset point in history, where everything went back to square one again and everyone had to figure it out from scratch. Now when you’re building something, there’s a compelling setting for why you’re starting from nothing again.
ROB: And then in terms of the system design–with a setting like that there’s many ways you can go. There are games out there that concentrate on the combat aspect of what it’s like to be in the underworld, but the thing that fascinated us was a different question: What is it like to run the mafia as a business?
So, the organization part of it. The Organization.
ROB: Exactly. Because it’s a really big financial production. You have to be a great manager. You have to worry about cash flow, you have to worry about the human resources…
It’s a corporation, basically, just not legally
MATT: And at Prohibition, it was kind of arbitrarily illegal.
ROB: Right? Because just a year earlier you could’ve been doing the same stuff legally, and then bam! It turned illegal overnight. And people still wanted to drink. It’s not like that went away. So, how do you deal with the fact that you’re running a business but the stuff that you buy and sell you can’t sell on the open market. As we started digging into the consequences of this and how you now have to worry about your social network and connections and trustworthiness, it became really interesting and full of opportunities for turning these things into game systems.
That’s a really intriguing way to look at it that I don’t think people consider as often–how are you managing all these people? How are you managing the cash and production?
ROB: Yep, and then you have competition, too, because you’re not the only person who had that idea. So, who’s the competition. You’re also in a situation where the cops will not be there to protect you. If they see you they’ll take the booze and dispose of it and arrest you.
So it seems like you both are definitely interested in the history of it, too, and it’s pretty important to you both at SomaSim. I’m getting a history buff vibe…
MATT: Yeah, for us–it does a lot of the homework for us. Which I kind of like, like in terms of setting the game in the 1920s in Chicago, or in City of Gangsters it’s mostly in Chicago, but you can be in Pittsburgh or Detroit. But when you ask the question, what does it look like, since Chicago was mostly built in the 1920s, it’s like, “Just walk down any street. It looks like that.”
It anchors the game in a place and it anchors the game in a time. Then when players come in and we say it’s set in Chicago in the 1920s, it anchors it in their minds as well. Plus, we are both history buffs, at least I am, and a lot of the stories that we take and try to tell through our games are in that kind of historical setting.
I feel like that fits with what you see with a lot of people who enjoy sim games. You’re usually dealing with a lot of historical periods and things like that, and it’s a good way to ground a story.
ROB: I may be a little bit less of a history buff but I’m personally interested in trying to see the systems behind the real world, and doing a game about the real world.
Do you feel like there’s a lot of pressure to make Chicago look “right?” Are you striving for that accuracy when creating City of Gangsters?
MATT: Yeah, we are. For City of Gangsters, when it came to building all of the models for all the buildings, we were having this conversation with our publisher and they were like “Well, where’s your concept art?”
And we were like “We don’t have concept art. Our concept art was Chicago.”
Like, we just had a mood board that had a whole bunch of pictures of the city’s buildings in the 1920s–commercial buildings and industrial buildings, residential buildings. We focused on getting the distributions right, so that when you look at it, it feels like you’re somewhere in the city.
ROB: And for the UI, we took a lot of inspiration from the commercial things–very stylized stuff that you’d see in the era–color palettes and composition, even the product labels. It’s such a specific feel, the 1920s, and even the early 30s, and in terms of the visuals we used that.
Well, you really nailed the aesthetic in Project Highrise with the mid-century modern 60s feel, and it seems like when you get into City of Gangsters, you’re going to definitely feel like it’s Chicago–that’s exciting.
ROB: I hope so. Even the city has this procedural generation, so every time you play, it’s gonna be different. We do have some hidden variants in there. So, the lake is always gonna be there, the river is always gonna be there, Wolf Point is alway gonna be Wolf Point and the major arteries are alway going to be there. But within these constraints, then the procgen system sets up new additional grids. In Chicago and in City of Gangsters’ other cities, we didn’t stick to a single grid.
Instead, just to make the game a little bit more visually interesting we gave it a few different grids that are slightly offset from each other just so it looks a little bit more fascinating and then of course the rivers and the train tracks kinda come in and interrupt what you’re doing and will interrupt the flow of the streets, and that’s important strategically because the bridges and the railway transit then become choke points for when you’re trying to get stuff across the city and when you’re trying to deal with an angry gang or something like that. It limits you. They’re both visually interesting and strategically important.
That makes a lot of sense.
MATT: Yeah, but we’re definitely into “let’s make it Chicago” though, because it is Chicago.
So, take me through a little bit more of the gameplay for City of Gangsters. Since it was just announced in August, I know we all want to know more about how it works.
MATT: Sure! So, like we said, City of Gangsters is a game where you’re imagining that you’re running the mafia as a business. But when the game starts you don’t really have a mafia.
The fiction of the game is that you’ve newly arrived in the city, and you’ve recently immigrated or have come in from the country, outside of town, or somewhere outside the United States. You just arrived in Chicago and you have an aunt or uncle who’s offered to show you the ropes.
You get their initial social connections and a little bit of booze that they have left over to sell and that’s what gets you going. So you sell that and then you have to figure out ‘What in my neighborhood is in demand? What can I build and sell and what can I get the people to make?
At its core, it’s a tycoon game where you have to find the resources, but you need to make the alcohol that you’re going to be selling in order to build your criminal empire.Then you begin to expand your territory as you begin to do business in various areas of the city nearby, and you start to gain respect and control over territory. New territory may expose more resources that you can acquire to convert and then sell, or may expose new demand.
You may take over an area, or have one of your connections, who you sold hard cider to say “Hey, why don’t you start making some more fancy sparkling cider, because i think that would sell with some of my friends.” Then there’s a second layer, which is the social connections that you build. So you start to acquire an economy of favors with people you do business with, and you can use those favors to expand your business, to find opportunities and you may also need these connections in order to get the materials that you need or to maintain your connection.
Also because these connections are all intertwined, if you do something nice for somebody, their cousin may say, “Hey, you’re the guy that helped my uncle out! What can I do for you? At the same time, if there’s a hooligan that’s in your way and you beat them up, you can also discover that his brother and sister and cousin were people who were supplying all of your apple juice to make hard cider and now they won’t talk to you anymore. So there’s managing your physical production, the buying and selling and producing of materials for the illegal alcohol–but that gives rise to a whole economy of favors and social connections that you have to manage and work your way through and develop–and they grow side by side. As you grow production you’re gonna make more friends or enemies and if you make more friends or enemies that’s where your kind of empire, your criminal empire that you build.
So you’ve got social on top of a physical thing going on. What made you guys want to go more towards social than with Highrise?
MATT: It fits the fiction, like Rob was saying before, you know? In Prohibition alcohol was illegal and you couldn’t just walk into to a place and say “I’d like to buy some bourbon” or “You wanna buy some of my moonshine?”
That was all illegal, so it was all based on an economy of trust. They had to trust that you’re going to bring them the moonshine and that you’re not a cop and they had to trust that you’re going to bring them good wine that you made or that you found and not cheap stuff that was terrible. And you had to trust that they were actually going to sell it and they weren’t going to turn you over to the cops. Also, cities in the 1920s being so segregated by ethnicity and by origin, there was a whole network of trust that built up within those social groups. When we were designing the game, we were like, this is so much based on trust–it drives you into social simulation almost by default because you need to have that kind of trust. It just doesn’t work otherwise.
‘You wanna buy booze?’
‘Sure I’ll buy booze.’
But it’s illegal and just the fact that it’s underground means there’s a whole economy of trust that had to come along for the ride.
So the setting informs how the game is built, in this case.
So, when you’re dealing with 1920s politics and segregation and everything–how do you handle that? The 1920s era is full of stereotypes and tropes and things like that, and obviously there can be some problematic themes. How do you address that? How do you represent what it was actually like in a way that is accurate and doable?
MATT: For us, I think we’re trying to focus on the mechanic of trust and focus on trust building and relationship building. Games are automatically a little bit fantasy. That gives us the freedom to reject the things we don’t want to talk about or address.
ROB: A lot of the movie tropes and stuff like that–it’s automatically Sicilians, right? I mean, it’s like, “Ok, that’s one of the forms it could take, but we could use a new memory system.”
MATT: Like, a lot of people think all the mobsters were men, but again, when you start reading a little bit, there were plenty of badass women gangsters in the 20s. So if you want to build a gang that is just you and your girlfriends going and knockin’ heads, go for it.
So basically you give the players the choice to play as they like.
ROB: Yes, and there’s gonna be a mixture of options. On one hand if you’re the kind of player who likes historical settings, we do offer the historical distribution that was accurate at the time in Chicago, but why not give the player a different model, too, which is just completely random? What if the Babylonians stuck around and took over the world? It’s an interesting concept.
Yeah, it’s fun to play out different scenarios. It can be fun to play historically accurate scenarios, but then it’s nice to have a choice to do something else, too.
ROB: I agree. I think history is interesting and we can’t escape history but at the same time, these are games and we can do whatever we want.
I really like the vibe of City of Gangsters, from everything I’ve heard. I love the attention to detail, the art and aesthetic. I can really appreciate everything you’re putting into it. I feel like if you can set a mood, it helps take down some barriers, at least for people like me who might have some trepidation going into a sim game.
MATT: Thank you, that’s awesome to hear. One of the things we’ve done in City of Gangsters is–almost all the interactions that you have with the world is done in conversation with people. It’s not a game where you go around and just expand territory here. You go talk to somebody, and say “I need a place where people can drop off envelopes and pick things up, can you be my rep in this neighborhood? We’ve been friends and we’ve done some business together.”
So almost all the interaction is done via talking to NPCs or talking to other gangs or corner hooligans. It’s all conversation. So on one hand it’s very UI light but the UI is there in the conversation and contextual conversations.
Does this feel like an evolution from Project Highrise, or is it something totally separate in your head?
MATT: I think it’s pretty different in my head. Highrise was about building from scratch–both of them are, but they’re about building from scratch in different ways. Highrise was about that physical construction. This is a lot more abstract in what you’re building, because you’re building a gang and social connections. You’re building production, but because it’s Prohibition, everything is sort of necessarily hidden, and that’s something else that we wanted to convey.
You don’t see a lot of what you’re building on the game board, but you know it’s there, and you know how to interact with it.
You wouldn’t walk around in the 1920s going “There’s a still and here’s a speakeasy. They’re bootlegging over there, and they’re making alcohol in the back at that dry cleaner’s.”
ROB: That was an interesting challenge for us as we were trying to figure out how to make this world, because the Tycoon games–the standard assumption is that you see the resources. But we wanted a game where this happens except you don’t know about it until you do.
Right, because you can’t just walk down the street in Prohibition era Chicago and go “Where’s the beer?” You’ve gotta figure it out yourself.
ROB: Right. You’ve gotta know a guy. That’s the first thing. And then–can you trust them?
MATT: Yeah, I think we’re pushing tycoon games in several different interesting directions at the same time. Highrise was more of a straightforward builder and this is a tycoon game.
I think that’s a really good distinction. This feels like unique territory to be in.
ROB: That’s what we hope our players will feel as well. We’ve definitely pushed it in interesting directions, and I hope players respond to it and have the same reaction to it as we do.
So I know you guys just announced City of Gangsters on August 27th but is there any more information on when it might release?
MATT: Some time late spring, early summer of 2021. We’re slowly getting through the things that would slow us down. Right now we’re working on the AI systems, which is the last major unknown for us, and then we can really just start focusing on content and polishing and playing and testing.
We can’t wait to see what happens with City of Gangsters, and if you’re as excited as we are for this new game from SomaSim, keep an eye out here for all the latest updates and informations. Again, thanks to Rob and Matt for giving us the chance to talk with them about the new game, and we hope you enjoyed learning about it, too. Keep on top of SomaSim news by following them on social media or signing up for their newsletter here.