King of Dragon Pass

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King of Dragon Pass
Kodp cover.png
Developer(s) A Sharp
Publisher(s) A Sharp
Producer(s) David Dunham
Designer(s) David Dunham
Greg Stafford
Robin D. Laws
Platform(s) Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Release October 1999 (PC, Mac)
September 2011 (iOS)
August 2012 (GOG.com)
August 2014 (Android)
September 2014 (Windows Phone)
Genre(s) Turn-based strategy, role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

King of Dragon Pass is a 1999 strategy simulation fantasy video game published by A Sharp. Set in the fictional world of Glorantha, the player controls the fate of a barbarian clan settling in the dangerous frontier region of Dragon Pass.

Originally released for PC, the game was a commercial failure[1] but became a cult classic.[2][3] It was ported for iOS in 2011, and was later released for Android and re-released for PCs. The iOS versions were much more commercially successful than the original PC release, leading to a sequel, Six Ages, being developed and planned for release in 2018.[4]

Plot[edit]

The player controls a clan of Orlanthi (worshipers of the Storm God Orlanth) across several generations. Orlanthi clans bear strong similarities to the Iron Age Nordic peoples, such as lawspeakers, fyrds, the worship of a thunder god and a reliance on raiding.

At the beginning of the game the clan has fled its home of Heortland after a foreign magician known as Belintar or 'the Pharaoh' usurps the throne. Along with dozens of other Orlanthi clans, the clan seeks to build a new home in Dragon Pass, a previously populated area left deserted after the Dragonkill War hundreds of years ago. With the Orlanthi clans variously feuding, allying, trading with and raiding each other, and a host of inhuman presences such as elves, dwarves and trolls, Dragon Pass is a free but dangerous frontier society compared to the tyrannical rule of the Pharaoh in Heortland. To the west, a persistent danger is the 'Horse-Spawn,' a society of nomadic mounted warriors.

As time passes by the clans form into 'tribes,' loose confederations of half a dozen clans. A prophet visits the player's clan to inform them of a great destiny. The player must guide the clan through seven heroquests (ritual re-enactments of feats of the gods) and successfully manage a number of events, including co-operating with other clans to build a town and making peace with the Horse-Spawn by marrying their queen (or, if the player's chieftan is female, their king). If the player is successful, the clan's chieftan unites the Orlanthi tribes and the Horse-Spawn into a kingdom, becoming King of Dragon Pass.

Gameplay[edit]

The player controls the seven-member clan ring leading the clan, providing leadership to the clan in all aspects of its life, such as trading, warfare, agriculture and diplomacy. The player can make two macro-level decisions per each of the five seasons in the Gloranthan year. Random events are drawn from a pool of hundreds[5], ranging from mundane law disputes to spiritual or demonic incursions. They are often influenced by previous decisions and outcomes. In battle, the player determines the goals and preparations, and possibly chooses the actions of his nobles at pivotal moments.

To succeed, a player must balance the various needs of survival and prospering, as well as manage the problems presented by the setting or the clan individuals - a lack of food might be solvable by clearing more farmland, but when the forest responds by sending a talking fox to urge leaving the trees alone, a wrong choice could bring the clan hunters to war with their environment. Likewise, should a member of the clan act in a selfish and foolish manner, action needs to be taken to stabilize and defuse the situation, if necessary.

King of Dragon Pass contains no animation, instead depicting people and events with hand-drawn artwork. The game has elements of strategy, construction and management simulation, and role-playing video games.

Production and release[edit]

King of Dragon Pass was conceived and developed by David Dunham, using his friend Greg Stafford's setting of Glorantha. At peak development, the A Sharp production team consisted of only 12 people. The game cost $500,000 to make but only sold 8,000 boxed copies, rendering it a commercial failure.[1] It sold disproportionately well in Finland thanks to a glowing review in Pelit.[6]

King of Dragon Pass had initially been conceived for the Apple Newton. Following Apple's announcement of the iPhone in 2007, Dunham was drawn back to the potential of the game for a handheld platform[7], and an updated version of the game was released for iOS on September 8, 2011.[8] This version was updated to be a universal iOS app for compatibility with the iPad on September 6, 2012.[9] The original Windows version was re-released by GOG.com on August 28, 2012.[10]

David Dunham announced in March 2013 that the iOS version had sold 30,000 copies.[11]

HeroCraft ported the iOS version to Android and released it on August 12, 2014.[12] A Windows Phone version, also by HeroCraft, was released a month later on September 23.[13] A new PC version based on the Android version was released July 29, 2015; it runs on Windows or Mac OS X.[14]

Sequel[edit]

A spiritual successor, Six Ages, has been announced in 2014, and is expected to be released for iOS on June 28 2018 and PC/Mac in 2019.[15][16]

Reception[edit]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun described the game in retrospective in 2017 as "a management game, yes, but at its heart is an ongoing RPG chronicle."[17] In 2016, the game placed 5th on Rock Paper Shotgun's The 50 best strategy games on PC list.[18] Reviewing the iPhone version at Touch Arcade, Eli Hodapp described it as "one of the most in-depth and strategic gameplay experiences I’ve had so far on my iPhone," describing the game as a conglomeration of Civilization and Choose Your Own Adventure.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Purchese, Robert (12 April 2013). "The story of King of Dragon Pass: Do you remember Demolition Man?". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Turnbull, Zach (August 12, 2015). "A prince or pauper? King of Dragon pass review". Gone With The Win. Retrieved June 22, 2018. 
  3. ^ "King of Dragon Pass Comes to iOS". No High Scores. September 9, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2018. 
  4. ^ "Six Ages". sixages.com. Retrieved 2018-06-09. 
  5. ^ Dunham, David (2012-09-02). "King of Dragon Pass: How Many Scenes?". King of Dragon Pass. Retrieved 2018-06-09. 
  6. ^ Dunham, David (2011-11-04). "Finland". King of Dragon Pass. Retrieved 2018-06-26. 
  7. ^ Purchese, Robert (12 April 2013). "The story of King of Dragon Pass: Do you remember Demolition Man?". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "King of Dragon Pass for iOS". a-sharp.com. Retrieved 2018-06-09. 
  9. ^ Dunham, David (2012-09-04). "King of Dragon Pass: King of Dragon Pass Grows Up". King of Dragon Pass. Retrieved 2018-06-09. 
  10. ^ Dunham, David (2012-08-28). "King of Dragon Pass: Download King of Dragon Pass". King of Dragon Pass. Retrieved 2018-06-09. 
  11. ^ Dunham, David (18 March 2013). "30K Sale(s)". Blogspot. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  12. ^ King of Dragon Pass [@KingDragonPass] (11 August 2014). "The unique storytelling game King of Dragon Pass is now available for Android!" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  13. ^ HeroCraft Games [@HeroCraft] (23 September 2014). "King of Dragon Pass now on Windows Phone 8! WP8 Amazon Google Play" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  14. ^ HeroCraft Games [@HeroCraft] (29 July 2015). "Legendary King of Dragon Pass is now available on @steam_games! And it is awesome! Steam: #HeroCraft #KoDP" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  15. ^ "Six Ages". sixages.com. Retrieved 2018-06-09. 
  16. ^ A Sharp, LLC (2018-06-08), Six Ages Release Trailer, retrieved 2018-06-09 
  17. ^ Have You Played… King of Dragon Pass? by Brendan Caldwell on RPS (February 21st, 2017)
  18. ^ "The 50 best strategy games on PC". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  19. ^ "King of Dragon Pass Review". Touch Arcade. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 

External links[edit]