East vs. West in a battle of Wizards and Cannons
Article by: Eric Coleman
Of course, this game is programmed in Visual Basic. But what really sets this game apart from others is that it doesn't use DirectX or OpenGL. Castle Danger by Matt Worden Games is 100% GDI, so you don't need any fancy 3D card to play this game, which is good because anything else would be overkill. Caslte Danger is a turn based strategy game. It only has 4 different playing pieces, and a very small board; however, the simplicity in design can be misleading. Castle Danger leads to many different strategic scenarios. It is one of those games that is easy to learn, yet difficult to master.
Technically this is a review of version 1.3, with a mention of the new features in 1.4 and 1.5. Version 1.5 will be the last version of Castle Danger, except for any miscellaneous bug fixes. Castle Danger 1.3 has net play, and if you played any previous versions, you'll love this new feature.
Castle Danger originally had only 2 playing modes, hot swapping and play-by-email. In a "hot swap" game, you and your opponent are physically at the same computer, and you simply take turns using the keyboard moving your units. In the play-by-mail mode, you take a turn, save the game and then email the saved game file to your opponent. After receiving your email, your opponent opens the file in Castle Danger, takes his/her move, then saves the game and sends the file back to you. This method can be tedious, but it does have 1 strong advantage. It allows you to contemplate and think about your move. You can use the save file and play the game in a "hot swap with yourself" type of game. This allows you to anticipate what your opponent will do by allowing you to move your opponent's pieces in hypothetical scenarios. After you've played out different scenarios, you go back and take your 1 turn, send the save game file, and hope that your opponent will move like you predicted.
The hot swap and play-by-email modes are still present in the game. Version 1.3 brings network play to Castle Danger, which is wonderfull if you can't stand the tedium of taking an entire day or two for a single turn in a play-by-email match. Net play requires TCP/IP, and if you're reading this article, then you already have an Internet connection, so I don't really need to discuss that part. You can play over a LAN if you have one, you simply type in the name of the computer you want to connect, assuming of course that computer is hosting a game.
Once you connect to a player, you have your main game window and a secondary chat window. The chat window is simple, and it displays ceratian moves of your opponent, so if you are away from your computer when you opponent takes his/her turn, you can look in the chat window to see if anything interesting happend.
Castle Danger is turn based, and each turn you get to add a unit to the game. There are Wizards which give you moves, Builders which build walls, and Cannons which destroy walls and your opponents units. Each wall you build and each cannon you fire requires moves, which are a resource in this game because they are limited and depened on the number of wizards you have. That gives you defense, offense, and resource units. The King unit is like a King in chess, not much use, and when the King gets blown up with a cannon, you lose the game.
The graphics are simple and clean, and for the resolution of the game, it makes it easier to identify the different pieces. As for sounds, there are only 3. One is when the game starts, the other is when you fire a cannon, the third is when you win the game. There is room for improvement in this department, but sound isn't really a necessary interface to a turn based game, its more of a luxury, but it is a luxury people demand.
New features in the upcoming Castle Danger 1.4 will have a player matching system, and Castle Danger 1.5 will have single player support. At the time of this writing, its not known how the player matching system will work. The original plan was to use an indie Game Spy clone called Game Assassin, but nothing is set in stone at the moment. The current method of matching up with people is to leave an email address, or instant messaging contact info on the software developer's message board
With this new network play, this game is a must have for any Windows user. Castle Danger is a relatively small download, so you can play at the office with your friends when the boss isn't looking.
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