A castle defense game based in the Dungeons & Dragons universe is in development for mobile devices from DragonVale creator Backflip Studios.
The team is unveiling the heretofore untitled project today during a panel at PAX Prime, titled "Videogames in the Forgotten Realms: A Sneak Peek at D&D's Line-up for 2015."
Speaking to Polygon before the panel, Backflip CEO Julian Farrior and creative director Ryan Drag explained that the inspiration for the title first came about after the team released the 2011 mobile title Army of Darkness Defense. That game, which was licensed from the classic Evil Dead series film, tasked players with protecting a castle from waves of undead enemies by building traps and armaments, while fighting on the ground as franchise protagonist Ash Williams.
The team enjoyed the core gameplay of the title, and started looking for ways to expand its central ideas. A little over a year ago, Farrior explained, Backflip began discussing the potential to create a licensed D&D product with Wizards of the Coast, giving the developer the perfect opportunity to continue exploring the genre.
"I would say it's based on the castle defense genre, but it's much, much more than that," Farrior explained. "There's a heavy customization component. There's a heavy player-vs-player component. It wouldn't do it justice to tie it to any one game — it's inspired by the castle defense or raiding genres, but it doesn't adhere tightly to that, either."
The title will allow players to create heroes based on different D&D 5th Edition classes, complete with their appropriate spells and abilities. It will also feature asynchronous multiplayer, allowing players to send their heroes a-plundering in their friend's bases.
"You'll be attacking them, they'll be attacking you, and there will be some single-player along with it, as well," Drag said. "We wanted to basically include both sides of the D&D game, so you could play both as the Dungeon Master and as the heroes."
you play both as the Dungeon Master and as the heroes
It's unclear how this untitled mobile project factors into Wizards of the Coast's overarching strategy for 5th Edition, which is based on the franchise's various incarnations across books, pen-and-paper and digital games sharing a single storyline. However, Backflip and Wizards of the Coast both see the title as an opportunity to bring the D&D experience to a potentially new, gargantuan audience.
"D&D was so exciting and so influential to me," Farrior said. "I'm 42 now, but it helped inform what I read, what games I played — it led me to Paranoia, and Traveller, and I consumed all of that voraciously. Later in life it led to playing Ultima, Wizardry, and even later, it influenced the games I created. I think D&D addresses a pretty broad audience, but frankly, the mobile audience is enormous. The opportunity to bring D&D to that new audience is a truly exciting opportunity."
For more details on Backflip's ambitions for the game, as well as a few glimpses at some early gameplay footage, check out the developer diary below.