While ngmoco's We Rule and Godfinger have been receiving most of the attention when it comes persistent online iPad and iPhone gaming, Freeverse and Infinite Lives' CastleCraft has also been testing the waters.

It's an online kingdom-building game - currently iPad-only - which has a traditional fantasy strategy theme, matching resource collection with levelling up various technology trees to advance your status.

Resource hog

As with all these games, it's very much a work-in-progress, especially considering its small number of developers - 2 coders, one artist - and the fact that one of them doesn't have an office and is travelling around the world, working from wi-fi hotspots.

To that extent, there's been a couple of updates already, and 1.0.3 has just been released.

The most obvious addition is a feature where your main resource buildings - gold mines, farms and lumber mills - now have a harvesting icon above them, just like in We Rule, when your resources are ready.

Previously, they built up your reserves slowly over time to the limit that your kingdom can hold of each, without you having to do anything. Now, the idea seems to be to encourage players to check back into the game more frequently; rewarding you with a small resource boost.

It's not a significant change, but one of the reasons I've been playing CastleCraft longer than I managed with We Rule is that it doesn't demand constant attention; an issue Mike covered in his 'Why doesn't ngmoco want me to have a life?' piece.

In that context, it will be interesting to see if this signals a wider change in direction for CastleCraft.

Other additions to the game are more prosaic.

You can now turn a captured forest or mountain into an expansion city, while the game's performance has been enhanced, and various bugs such as the annoying quest log not remembering what you've done have been fixed.

CastleCraft is free to play on iPad, with an iPhone release expected soon.

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