Ravenshire Castle launches, marks possible end for “Ravenworld”

6waves has launched the long-awaited Ravenshire Castle, the final title to come out of the defunct Lolapps side of the publisher. The company is hoping that the game’s competitive mechanics will make it stand out from other casual titles on Facebook.

Ravenshire Castle is developed by Silverlake, a team of former Lolapps designers spun-off during the layoffs in March. The team has a relationship similar to to 6waves like any other developer working with the company under its new publishing plan, except the studio is still working in 6waves’s offices and its investors include Lolapps founders Arjun Sethi, Kavin Steward and Brian Rue.

Ravenshire Castle is a role playing game and building management sim. Players take on the role of a noble lion revealed to be the long-lost heir to the Ravenshire Castle estate, which has fallen into disrepair over the generations. Players have to chop down trees and mine rocks to earn wood and stone, which are necessary components for most construction projects in the game; removing these items from the land clears it for castle expansions. Hard currency Tokens allow players to speed up construction, buy extra soft currency and recharge energy. Finally, players can staff their building with friends and visit other players’ castles.

When asked about the similarities to CastleVille — to which the game bears a striking resemblance —  Product Lead Brady Flynn acknowledges the games appear similar on the surface, but says Ravenshire Castle will distinguish itself with its stealth gameplay, which adds both player-versus-player and player-versus-environment elements into the title. Flynn says this “light PvP” breaks up the monotony of Ravenshire City and will help extend its life on Facebook. The mode has players sneaking into rival castles to loot soft currency and special resources. The PvP mechanic comes into play when the center piece of each room (which generates currency and special items) is deactivated once it’s looted. When burglarizing a castle, players have to avoid being spotted, lest they be captured by a roaming guard. In order to get the biggest haul, players need to time non-player character patrols and avoid traps. After a robbery takes place, the victims are alerted to the event and key items need to be reactivated and can watch a video replay of the burglary.

Players can make their castles harder to burgle by adding rooms. Spacing rooms out so they aren’t adjoining means there are more hallways for rival players to be caught in by roaming guards, but this takes longer to do because more land has to be cleared in order to acquire the necessary space. Guards, meanwhile, are recruited from among a player’s friends and need to be placed strategically so they can quickly capture a player once an NPC spots them.

Ravenshire Castle’s management gameplay isn’t much different from the previous Raven franchise games, though its tone and story seem more like Ravenskye Castle than Ravenwood Fair. Flynn tells us the earlier games’ weakness was that they became too repetitive too quickly, which drove a lot of players away after the initial popularity wore off.  Ravenskye City peaked in November 2011 with 1.5 million DAU but is now at 350,000. Ravenwood Fair peaked in March 2011 with 1.25 DAU has since dropped to 180,000.

Flynn refers to Ravenshire Castle as the final game from the Lolapps team and explains and says the future of the series is uncertain at the moment. He says 6waves still owns the IP, but no new titles for the series have been revealed. 6waves has been breathing new life into games like Ravenwood Fair by bringing them over to Chinese game network Tencent, too, but the publisher says Ravenshire Castle is a Facebook-only title for now.