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A brief history of Ironbound

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    A brief history of Ironbound

    Part I

    The idea for Ironbound came in December 2012, when Stefan (Gerula) and I were playing a game called Demons vs Wizards. The game could be played by two people on an iPad, and it was fun until you realized that the two available decks had the same spells with different names, and that the tactics were pretty shallow, so the winner was mostly decided by luck. After about a dozen matches, either because we had been looking for an excuse to get back to making games for a while, or, more likely, because the bottle of Scotch on the table had almost become a bottle of air, one of us (I honestly can't remember who) said: let's make a game like this, but with a little more depth. I can, however, recall quite clearly that it was I who said that it won't take us more than a couple of months.

    After about two weeks of working on and off on a prototype, we had this:

    Not very pleasant looking, but enough to allow us to explore the basic mechanics and figure out how to make (at least) two decks with different personalities. We wanted a game that's very easy to get into, so as little pre-match setup as possible, and short, 5 to 10 minute matches. We also wanted it to feel like an RPG where two characters do battle, so no creature summoning.

    We didn't have action points; instead, we used the same model Demons vs Wizards had, which was that some cards allowed you to continue the turn (those with the [C] suffix in the screenshot), and some ended the turn. This seemed like a good idea back then, since it meant the game was in full swing from turn 1, without any "autopilot" play during the first few rounds due to low AP.

    It then took half a day to write a fairly competent AI opponent, which was a clear sign that the game was still too shallow. We spent another week or so brainstorming for ways to make it more tactical, and then we did nothing for about 9 months.

    Toward the end of 2013, I began working on an iPad version of the game. I started from a small 2D engine I already wrote for a different project and almost implemented the game from the prototype, before another project came along and took priority. The good thing was that the new project used the same engine, so most of the code I wrote during that time also benefited Ironbound (which wasn't called Ironbound yet).

    Finally, in the summer of 2014, we started working consistently on the game. It took about a month to get the game running on iPad and looking like this:

    I know it's hard to tell, but we didn't have an artist on board yet.

    Gameplay-wise, this version gained some things:
    • weapon and armor slots, represented by the "At" and "Def" buttons, where you could equip different items. We only had one weapon and one armor in the game at this point, but this was an important step towards the equipment system we have today. The weapon did 1 damage and ended the turn. The armor gave you 10 armor points, which the opponent had to destroy before being able to touch your HP; it also had an active ability, which ended the turn, but put you in a defensive stance where the next damage would be fully absorbed.
    • class special abilities, represented by the "Cls" buttons, which could be used once per game. Spoiler: eventually, these turned into today's class special states. The Barbarian had War Cry, which reshuffled and filled his hand, and the Paladin had - wait for it - Last Stand, which made you able to continue the turn after playing a defensive card, even if that card normally ended the turn.

    By this time, I couldn't help but notice that my initial estimate was a bit optimistic, even after accounting for a generous array of excuses I made for myself ("we've only been working part time", "time spent on the engine doesn't count" etc.). More importantly, we weren't happy with the game. We decided to give it another 6 months.

    To be continued.

    Very nice!
    p.s. images gone
    I'm so sorry for my english..


      The plan was to post several installments describing how the game got to where it is today, but we have too much to do on the game itself so we didn't have time to continu. We'll resume once we get the critical things done.

      I'll check what happened to the images.


        I hope so, I was enjoying the story. There is only one other game that I've dedicated this much time to, through the app store; and that was, "Last Day on Earth", and they royally screwed me over.
        I've never done much app gaming, as they have always seemed like scams.
        But, this game takes me back to tabletop strategy like Hero Quest and Arcadia. Majorly different, but theoretically aligned. Being the lone wolf that life has led me to be, this game has filled a massive 'tactics' void in my life. It will be a sad day when the development ceases.
        thanks for creating Ironbound.
        What is peace, without war?


          Mihnea, or Gerula (Developer), any chance you might finish the story? It still shows up here in the forums and a lot of newer players would be interested to read the rest.