Castle Danger is (so far) the most popular game I’ve published. It was originally drawn on a whiteboard one evening before leaving work, and by the time I made it home after the long, slow commute, I had the main concepts worked out in my head.
I was much more into programming computer games at the time, so the first version of the computer game was started that night and completed within a week. There were some gameplay walk-throughs with friends at work that week to finalize things … but the core parts of the game (board shape, piece types, portal use, etc.) have remained the same since. (You can still download the PC game at the bottom of the Free Computer Games page.)
There were a few main ideas behind this design:
- Different types of pieces that could do different things
- Adding a single new piece to the board each turn
- Space on the board being a precious resource
I wanted there to be a conflict between needing more pieces on the board, but not having much room to put them anywhere … and to have something of a puzzle to solve in just being able to move pieces around to where they are needed. And I am aware that this very aspect of the game will be a turn-off for some people … it does give you something of a claustrophobic feeling.
The other more-obvious conflict is that it’s a head-to-head battle with your opponent, having to balance building your own defense with being able to attack the other side. It’s much easier and cheaper to build up defense … but the objective is to take out the other guy’s King — so you will need to go on the offensive at some point.
The game has been added to 2 play-by-web sites: SuperDuperGames.org and YourTurnMyTurn.com. SuperDuperGames has a smaller and more personable group of players with a couple of extremely tough opponents. YourTurnMyTurn has a much larger set of players and a point-and-click interface, and a good portion of the player base has become excellent. In fact, I find it difficult to make it out of the first round of tournaments. (Yeah, I play actively at both sites — and I play more than just Castle Danger too.)
Currently, the board game is available through TheGameCrafter.com, which is an on-demand board game publisher. That site has made it quite nice for someone like me to be able to design a game and have it available for order without having to pre-produce and store hundreds of the game … or to have to hand-make each set, like I had done originally. I do have a few gripes about a couple of things (primarily around their packaging of games — no real game box, and their shipping box is just barely bigger than the size of the card-stock board, so that you may get some corner/edge damage on the boards), but their print quality and game bits are very good. So, that’s the route I’m taking for the foreseeable future.
For those who would like to try out the game without having to buy anything, I have made a print-and-play version available on the game’s page at BoardGameGeek. At the expense of some printer ink and a bit of time to cut and assemble the pieces, you can have a free new board game to punish your family and friends with!
As for any future development of the game … I would like to make an updated version of the PC game, but have 2 challenges to get over: A competent computer opponent (still now sure how to approach this yet), and a true online player-matching service. It will be a while before I take this on as a project, though, as I have a number of other things queued-up in front of it.
If you’ve played Castle Danger, I would appreciate if you dropped me a note, or left a comment here, or gave it a rating on BoardGameGeek … I like all forms of feedback.
(I will on occassion spotlight some of my own games with a “Spotlight On…” post. Also watch for “Others’ Works” posts, which will look at games and other creative works by other people, and “Fellow Designer” posts, which will look at other board game designers and computer game developers.)