Desktop Tower Defense Creator Launches New Game Site

casual-collectiveIf you obsessively played Desktop Tower Defense last year (and really, who didn’t?), you’ll love this news: Paul Preece, creator of that insanely viral real-time strategy classic, has a new game site: Casual Collective launches today, backed by $1 million in seed funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners. It’s the brainchild of Preece (who’s CEO) and co-founder David Scott, a fellow UK game developer. (Scott’s Flash Element TD is even more popular than DTD.)

minionsThe site comes with social network elements, an upgraded version of Desktop that now boasts a seductive multiplayer mode, and several new titles, perhaps the most promising of which is Minions, a team-based tank warfare game with charming graphics and gameplay reminiscent of Command and Conquer.

Speaking to me from Casual Collective’s offices in Redding, Preece told me the startup plans to add updates and new games every two weeks, in a bid to convert visitors into members. Like most casual game sites, revenue will primarily come from advertising, but it will also experiment with microtransactions, game upgrades and enhancements users can buy for cheap.

The Lightspeed funding was put together by Jeremy Liew, who first learned about Preece the way most of us did — a Desktop Tower Defense addiction. “I spent so many fricking hours on that game,” Liew told me. He believes the Casual Collective fits some of the major trends in Web 2.0 gaming — shorter development cycles with cheaper budgets, web distribution, and widgetization, so games can live outside their portal on other sites — which should carry it through today’s shaky financial straits. “We’re taking the long-term view here,” he said.

The seed funding should last them through 2010, Scott estimates, but says he thinks money should start rolling in a lot sooner. Given the Casual Collective founders’ track record, that’s a pretty safe bet. I certainly hope so, because there’s an indirect personal connection here: When I wrote about Desktop Tower Defense last year, Preece was still a Visual Basic programmer making games in his spare time — and pulling down monthly ad revenues in the high four-figure range. So when his boss read my GigaOM post, Preece told me then, “he was not a happy chappy,” and Preece was soon out of a programming job. But then again, now he’s a CEO, so he’s got that going for him.

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