Savage Frontier (series)
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|Genres||Tactical role-playing game|
|Publisher(s)||Strategic Simulations, Inc.|
|Platforms||Commodore 64, Amiga, MS-DOS|
The Savage Frontier is a region in the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting the Forgotten Realms. The Savage Frontier video game series, developed by Stormfront Studios and published by Strategic Simulations, Inc., is the series that precedes the Neverwinter Nights series, with the introduction of the city of Neverwinter in its games. The first game in the series was Gateway to the Savage Frontier. It was followed by two sequels after this, Treasures of the Savage Frontier and Neverwinter Nights
Gateway to the Savage Frontier
Gateway to the Savage Frontier is the first in the Savage Frontier series. It is a single player tactical role-playing video game available for MS-DOS, Amiga and Commodore 64. The game is based upon the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rule set. The player begins the game by generating a party of up to six characters, each with enough experience to be about level 2 or 3. The story begins by the characters being robbed after a night of debauchery in an inn located in the frontier town of Yartar. In looking for work and attempting to find their stolen gear, the characters discover a plot by an evil organization to invade the savage frontier lands with a large army.
Treasures of the Savage Frontier
Taking place after Gateway to the Savage Frontier, Treasures of the Savage Frontier is a direct sequel to Gateway and has no direct connection with Neverwinter Nights.
When SSI began work on the Dark Sun game engine in 1989 after the completion of The Secret of the Silver Blades, they passed responsibility for continuing the Forgotten Realms Gold Box games to Stormfront. SSI had planned to do only one more Gold Box game (Gateway to the Savage Frontier) before retiring the series in favor of the Dark Sun engine, but when Dark Sun was delayed and Gateway went to No. 1 on the charts they asked Stormfront for a sequel.
Designers Don Daglow, Mark Buchignani, Mark Manyen and David Bunnett recognized that the Gold Box engine was past its prime and needed some kind of story or character enhancements to feel like a new game and not a tired sequel.
Although they added many small enhancements to the second game in addition to its all-new story, the largest feature was the first-ever option for either of two NPCs to fall in love with a player character. The sophisticated AI (for its time) tracked the player's actions in the game, much as the modern game Fable charts the player's actions as good or evil. If the player's actions matched the values of the NPC there was a chance they could fall in love. The game was made as a sequel to the original Savage Frontier due to the original's critical reception.
Despite being the second game published in the Savage Frontier series, it was not directly related to either of the other two games, the only connection being set in the town (Neverwinter Nights) that can be visited during both other games. Neverwinter Nights has spawned several other games with the same name, most published by Atari. Atari has released two other games with the same name, but which are not direct sequels.
Don Daglow and the Stormfront game design team began working with AOL on original online games in 1987, in both text-based and graphical formats. At the time AOL was a Commodore 64 only online service, known as Quantum Computer Services, with just a few thousand subscribers, and was called Quantum Link. Online graphics in the late 1980s were severely restricted by the need to support modem data transfer rates as slow as 300 bits per second (bit/s).
In 1989 the Stormfront team started working with SSI on Dungeons & Dragons games using the Gold Box engine that had debuted with Pool of Radiance in 1988. Within months they realized that it was technically feasible to combine the Dungeons & Dragons Gold Box engine with the community-focused gameplay of online titles to create an online RPG with graphics. Although the multiplayer graphical flight combat game Air Warrior (also from Kesmai) had been online since 1987, all prior online RPGs had been based on text.
In a series of meetings in San Francisco and Las Vegas with AOL's Steve Case and Kathi McHugh, TSR's Jim Ward and SSI's Chuck Kroegel, Daglow and programmer Cathryn Mataga convinced the other three partners that the project was indeed possible. Case approved funding for NWN and work began, with the game going live 18 months later in March 1991.
Daglow chose Neverwinter as the game's location because of its magical features (a river of warm water that flowed from a snowy forest into a northern sea), and its location near a wide variety of terrain types. The area also was close enough to the settings of the other Gold Box games to allow subplots to intertwine between the online and the disk-based titles.