Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Road of Kings

Let me take you back to 1982 for just a minute. I'm 12, and I've spent my meager money on, I think, the second issue of Dragon magazine which I would personally own (Dragon #68, December 1982), partly attracted by the weather-themed issue and the "Weather in the World of Greyhawk" feature (which has always been an addictive system interest of mine). Well, there's this article included by Glenn Rahman (designer of Divine Right) which features expansions to a certain boardgame. Rahman starts his article with the line, "The best solo game in this writer’s experience is Dwarfstar’s Barbarian Prince." Even though I never had this game or saw the actual rules, the author's excitement is so palpable that it made me really wish I had it to try it out. It's a very tough solo quest for a young Conan-type figure to claim his father's throne by fighting, stealing, and looting. I never got the game but I never forgot the image that Glenn painted of it.

Fast-forward about 30 years. My very good friend Paul of Paul's Blog (who I've worked with, played games with, discuss game philosophy with, and am hosted by every year for an intimate game convention) did in fact get a copy of this very old-school game and started playing it rather heavily on his own. Paul's younger than me by a bit, and I flatter myself by thinking that some of the things I've said have pulled him in a more old-school direction. (But frankly it's really more due to him having a refined level of taste.) I played it at his house at least once or twice, and really got beaten up both times.

One issue with the game, like a lot of older stuff, is that lots of mechanics were added in kind of willy-nilly so that in combination, they made it fairly burdensome for the player to keep track of everything that was supposed to be happening (in terms of the strategic quest, supplies, combat, arbitrarily large numbers of companions, etc.). So like a lot of us will do, Paul started writing a small computer program to at least adjudicate the combat part of the game. And then added some more and changed some stuff. And then more. And then decided to make his own game from that inspiration, and put together a small team of experienced and passionate developers to make it happen.


So I think after about 2 years of serious development in their spare time and weekends, Paul, Michael, James, and Max have just released their own, old-school inspired game for mobile devices: Road of Kings. Yes: a tough, one-player, Conan-like quest for gold and/or glory. The game is all theirs, with an expansive new world and mechanics, which you can try your hand out while navigating your way through modern public transit and the like. It has loads of different individually-crafted encounters, and I know they're still waiting for some players to discover as-yet unearthed clues and treasures.

I've been beta-testing it in the last few months, and I can tell that it's really a blast, and a great way to scratch an itch for some carousing D&D-like adventure on a lunch break or some down time during the day. Currently available on the iTunes App Store, as well as Google Play. The one thing I'm shocked at is that it's only $3, so you should try it out before I convince Paul to raise the price, granted how much work I know he and the guys put into it. Check it out at their website below!


4 comments:

  1. Someday, I'll join the 2010s and get a mobile device that can play these sorts of things. Until then, I'll just keep playing King of Dragon Pass and Darklands.

    Anyway. For me, the best article in Dragon 68 was the ice age adventuring one. I love the idea, even if I never could convince anyone else that it would be fun. Maybe someday.

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    1. Frankly, I'm in the same boat -- I was lucky I could run the beta-test on my desktop. It's a cool game.

      Separately, as much as I always loved weather-themed stuff, I was worried that the Ice Age thing would be very, very narrow (basically no technology or options for equipment at all). If someone did make that happen I'd be interested to hear about it.

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    2. I know this may seem technical, but you can run androidOS on a mac or windows machine by using the free Oracle VirtualBox and then downloading the x86 port of androidOS http://code.google.com/p/android-x86/downloads/list

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