29 October 2014

Happy Birthday!

Fifteen years ago, the first copies of King of Dragon Pass shipped from a warehouse in Seattle.

Since then, the game has been improved and adapted for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8, and the Windows version can now be downloaded.

We’ve sold over 100,000 copies of King of Dragon Pass. Not too bad for an indie game (even if it did take almost fifteen years). Thanks to all of you (especially the people who have bought it three or four times for different devices)!

To celebrate, King of Dragon Pass is now on sale for 50% off! Get it from the iOS App Store, Google Play, Amazon, or the Windows Phone store. The sale lasts five days.

One more thing.

For fifteen years, people have been asking about a sequel. We’re really excited to be working on a new game, tentatively called Six Ages. It’s an equally ambitious game, and won’t be out until 2016. You can read a little more on its development blog, or follow @SixAges on Twitter for updates.

29 August 2014

Watch It Play / Interview

Last night Brad Cummings of iOS Board Games played King of Dragon Pass for about an hour, while we talked about the game and answered player questions.

Brad was playing the iPad version, but the discussion covered the original desktop version, iPhone, and Android.

The video is archived here.

↵ Use original player
← Replay

11 August 2014


People have been asking about an Android version of the game since before it came out. There were technical challenges, but a major issue was that I have no particular expertise in Android development. And as a single developer, taking on such a major project would have meant that I couldn’t continue to enhance the game. And even if I did the port, selling via the various Android markets isn’t the same as going through the iOS App Store.

Fortunately, like a heroquester travelling on the Other Side, I could call for help. HeroCraft, a “top developer” on Google Play, took on the daunting task of making the game’s 50 screens work on arbitrary screen sizes. Plus all the other work needed to get a game that depends on UIKit, Apple’s Core Audio sound format, Game Center, etc. to run on different operating systems. And they own a lot more Android devices to test on than I do (just a Kindle Fire I bought to check out the port). Actually, with all that work, maybe they were the heroquesters, reenacting “The Making of KoDP…”

I’m extremely happy to say that the journey is now complete. King of Dragon Pass will be available via Google Play on 12 August for $9.99. If you’ve played the Windows or Mac version of the game, this is the updated version, with a host of new content, more advice, heroquest hints, and a somewhat simplified game. If you haven’t played before, you’re in for a treat!

As a veteran Android publisher, HeroCraft made a fun game trailer. (We probably should have made one ourselves, but wouldn’t have come up with their clever way of emphasizing the story aspects.)

Since I’m not an Android user, I was a little surprised that the game was a medium-sized download, but when you first launch, you need to download the bulk of the assets. I thought the size limit was a thing of the past, but I guess this is standard and you’re probably used to it as an Android user.

In a discussion with HeroCraft, the subject of piracy came up. I have no experience with Android publishing, but they certainly do. It’s a sad fact that people steal games for any platform, but it appears to be worse on Android. If my publisher is concerned, then I am concerned, since affects my livelihood, which in turn affects my ability to make more games. And actual sales will encourage HeroCraft to bring their port to more mobile platforms.

I hate to remind people, because I don’t think it’s you, but buy the game, don’t pirate it. (This may protect you and your friends from malware, too.)

If you haven’t played King of Dragon Pass yet, be aware that it’s a unique game that can be a bit hard at first. Check out the manual! We also have a tips page. And, welcome to Dragon Pass!

01 July 2014

Your Reviews (version 2.3)

We want to thank you for taking the time to review or rate King of Dragon Pass. That’s one of the most important ways we can convince new players to buy it, which lets us keep making games.

The App Store shows reviews only for the country you’re signed in from, so I thought it might be interesting to share the reviews you can’t normally see.

Here are all reviews for version 2.3 so far. (And yes, all of them are five stars! So are the ratings without reviews! We are so pleased that people appreciate the work we put into the update.) These are all unedited, so you can truly read what other players say.

Pure Genius ★★★★★ [Australia]
In an increasingly popular 'cyoa' genre, KoDP stands apart via it's depth, detail and replayability. A text-based Civilisation with more personality, if you will. I've lost countless hours to this game, and expect I'll lose many more; hats off to the devs, and I hope to see more like it.

Très bon jeu de rôle ★★★★★ [Canada]
Jeu avec une rejouabilité infinie. Je le recommande fortement!

Great game ★★★★★ [Croatia]
One of the kind!

Glorantha / Sartar comme si vous y étiez ★★★★★ [France]
L'ambiance de l'univers de Gloranha créé par Greg Stafford est parfaitement rendue dans ce jeu totalement différent de ce qu'on peut voir par ailleurs

As Challenging As Ever ★★★★★ [Japan]
Relatively simple to learn in terms of mechanics, King of Dragon Pass is difficult to master. It rewards the player's attention, both to details and the overall story. And it is almost never the same story twice, even from a similar starting point. I've been a fan and owner since the original MacOS version, and I like this one even better. The interface is improved, and the illustrations and music, which were already very good, are better still. And the gameplay and story remain as challenging as ever. Enjoy.

Epic win ★★★★★ [Russia]
Безумно крутая олдскульная стратегия/рпг, получившая второе рождение на ios. Порт идеален и под планшеты, и под телефоны. Даже если есть сомнения - берите. Такие игры больше не делают.

Интересная и оригинальная игра ★★★★★ [Russia]
Полноценная, интересная игра, без доната, коих мало в айсторе. Для тех, кто любит читать и думать.

I can't even tell you how many times I played this game ★★★★★ [Singapore]
Love it to bits.

Ett spel utan like... ★★★★★ [Sweden]
Inte bara på iphonen, utan alla plattformar. Tar ett tag innan man lär sig hur allt fungerar, men det är grymt underhållande -- även när man inte fattar allt.   Rekommenderas starkt.   Låt inte priset avskräcka heller, KoDP har minst lika många speltimmars värde som spel i stil med Skyrim, Dragon Age eller vilket annat stort spel till PC/Xbox/PS som helst.   5/5

Perfect ★★★★★ [Sweden]
My fav game on the iPad. A choose your own adventure combined with deep strategy and resource management all in a pretty package. A must have.

Fantastic ★★★★★ [United Kingdom]
As far as fantasy strategy/simulation games go on the App Store- you'd be hard pressed to find something better.  Gorgeous visual style and addictive gameplay complete with a fascinating game world and lore make this a truly exceptional game.  Offers a deep experience that no other game on my phone can come close to emulating.  The price could easily have been twice as high and I'd still buy it.

A Game Like No Other ★★★★★ [United States]
Not a role-playing game or a Civilization clone, but a storytelling game.

Best IOS Game Ever ★★★★★ [United States]
This is probably the most interactive,strategic,and lore rich game on the App Store right now!I loved it so much,I seriously went around searching for other ios game like this and couldn't find any.Its difficulty is unforgiving!Its immersion is fantastic!Its artwork and script are well put together!You will not regret the hours you'll put into this great game! PS-Reading instructions and tutorials will help any new person to this game a huge deal^ ^!

Enchanting ★★★★★ [United States]
KODP is the greatest ipad rpg experience to date. The events are clever, almost impossible to predict, and playing without totally understanding the inner workings really gives the game a flavor of exploration and discovery few have achieved.

Great game ★★★★★ [United States]
This is a tremendously fun game of you like intelligent strategy within a complex mythology/universe

Hidden Gem ★★★★★ [United States]
This game was a huge surprise for me I had no idea how in depth and enjoyable it would be. If you want a good I highly recommend this.

Hours of fun ★★★★★ [United States]
KoDP is a really great game. Loads of content keep you coming back to try and manage the ultimate clan. Very akin to a more interactive Choose Your Own Adventure with exploration and town building/management elements. The app itself is top notch and plays great on iPhone or iPad. Definitely give KoDP a try.

Original ★★★★★ [United States]
I've never played a game like this. The gameplay and style are unlike anything else. Thoroughly original, like a giant choose your own adventure mixed with the art of Magic the Gathering.

Perfect. ★★★★★ [United States]
Brilliant translation from PC to iOS. This version is actually improved greatly from the original. Interface is fantastic. Gameplay is timeless.

Positively Fantastic. ★★★★★ [United States]
Just complex enough. Great storyline. Interactions with other tribes and clans is superb. Your choices now will have consequences years later. Excellent replay-ability. I return to this app time and again, and am never disappointed.

Utterly brilliant! ★★★★★ [United States]
Also, thanks for the update I started playing it again just now. What a strange coincidence. Replay value, story depth, gameplay and sound can really get you into it. Worth the price I paid for it years ago.

Wondrous Indeed ★★★★★ [United States]
By Far the very best game on the apple store in my personal opinion. Have had this game over a year and still play it constantly an consistently. Love the ability to expand and branch out. As well as the tribal system. I wish there was more room for larger clans the optimum seems to be 1k-1.1k, there should be a little more leeway. Besides that its is my favorite game by far. A must buy, recommended to all players serious and casual!

Kodp ★★★★★ [Australia]
Great game! Great illustrations!

Outstanding ★★★★★ [Australia]
This is one of my favourite games out there by far. A game from 1999 yet it's reputation and pure awesomeness of it makes it seem like it's better than any game on the App Store. Flappy bird can get wrecked by king of dragon pass. A truley worthy game for my iPad.

Amazing ★★★★★ [Canada]
Deep gameplay and a rare gem in the AppStore.   If you are even remotely interested in this type of game then you will not be disappointed.

BEST GAME EVER! ★★★★★ [Canada]
Hands down, this is the best game i've ever played on a phone... Worth every cent!

Awazing Game ★★★★★ [United Arab Emirates]
This game is still amazing whether you are playing for the first or hundred time. Extremely creative and fun for all

Awesome ★★★★★ [United States]
This game. Just goddamn. Get this game. Kickin music and so much to discover! Lots of content and not too draining on the battery.

Perfect ★★★★★ [United States]
Best game ever

Practically perfect ★★★★★ [United States]
Cannot say enough good things about this game. To top it off it is well supported and new content just released. Wonderful RPG/CIV/Story game like no other. Very satisfying.

Storytelling at its finest! ★★★★★ [United States]
Classic fantasy storytelling. No flashy animations needed. Just superb art and words.

Storytelling done well ★★★★★ [United States]
KoDP is highly story focused, with randomly timed events which have consequences years down the line. It is far less a civilization-style management simulation and far more a politicking and plotting story game.

Amazing ★★★★★ [Australia]
Amazing game. Love it.

Just like the original! ★★★★★ [Denmark]
Fantastic game!

Fantastic port of a classic ★★★★★ [United Kingdom]
This is the type of game iOS games should aspire to, polished enhanced port of a classic clan sim/interactive story, chock full of lore, beautiful artwork, music and a great interface. No game is the same, and each is as engrossing as the next. The only thing I can fault is that I simply want more (and they're adding!).   No game exists like this on the iPad, and I have lost many a day in the pursuit if trying to understand the mechanics that underly this game. Two years later it still surprises and challenges my decision making and management skills. Top notch! More please! The only game to top my 150h+ played on FTL, well worth the £££! Do yourself a favour, buy it and enjoy your couch for the next few weeks!

Just astonishing ★★★★★ [United Kingdom]
The iOS management game I've been looking for for literally months.

Amazing Fun ★★★★★ [United States]
Absolutely enthralling game. And the UI is phenomenal. I've never seen an old computer game better ported to an iPhone. Hours and hours of fun, and so much replay value! A must have for fantasy RPG/strategy gamers.

Delightful and deep. ★★★★★ [United States]
This game is unique and fascinating. You may find it hard at first, but rest assured, you will get better. Don't expect to find the one best answer to any problem; leader skills, luck, and other factors matter greatly. Be brave and honest, hope for the best, and keep trying.  I've been playing KoDP for over ten years and I'm still finding new things.

great game ★★★★★ [United States]
best iphone game i have and the developer keeps updating with new content.

Amazing ★★★★★ [Australia]
There is literally no other game like this on the App Store. It's huge, detailed, in depth, and the characters are endearing. You feel loss when one of your best advisors dies, and not many games can do that. It's also HARD the first couple of times you play, but that makes it rewarding. Spoiler: don't agitate the dragon kin too early!

厳しい世界で生き抜く骨太シミュ ★★★★★ [Japan]
RuneQuest(Glorantha)の知識はそれなりにあるのですが、いやあそれでもこれは厳しい。牛を盗まれ、近隣氏族からは因縁をつけられ、獣人だ蛮族だと襲撃が続く。交易騒ぎがひと段落したかと思うと疫病が流行り……。万全の備えで挑んだヒーロークエストに失敗して有能な人材が倒れるとがっくりきます。逆境に次ぐ逆境、神々や精霊の力を得てもなお、Dragon Passで生き抜くのは大変です。Hardの難易度は相当きついでしょう。1999年のゲームの移植版でイベントは紙芝居状態ですが、いまでもアップデートが行われており開発陣のやる気と誠意を感じさせます。全く思った通りに氏族の歴史は進みませんが、自由な選択ができ、とても楽しめています。難は価格だけですね。

Ej juego de siempre muy mejorado ★★★★★ [Spain]
La edicion definitiva de King of the Dragon Pass, el juego basado en el universo creado por Greg Stafford. Infinitamente superior a la edicion de pc, consiste en gestionar la vida de un clan barbaro en todos los sentidos. Un gran juego de estrategia con gran complejidad que no te decepcionara si le das una oportunidad.

Amazing ★★★★★ [United States]
By far the best App on my iPhone right now. I just wish I hadn't bought it on vacation... I'm spending more time playing this than being in the pool.

Deep, well thought out game ★★★★★ [United States]
Simply put, slightly hard at first, but enjoyable deep without being silly in amount of details.

Rich text-based game ★★★★★ [United States]
This is a rich text-based interactive game. It has many role playing elements. Also it has a lot of replay value. The story can be a bit silly at times, but it is also very serious. The story has a very unique Norse-like lore.

GREAT GAME ★★★★★ [United States]
I'm a huge fan of this game since having it on PC so long ago. I recommend buying it for sure. If your playing games for a fun, yet thoughtful challenge, then this is the game for you. It's really great to see a game that isn't just mindless drivel and explosions or gun work. This game is a refreshing change nowadays. AND it's always fun to come back to after a hiatus. The only negative I can think of is that there aren't more of these games.. Playing as trolls or beast men or dragonnewts or any of the other fantastic species would be a blast! Edit: just started again. Can't believe I've been playing this for years and only beat it once :) Edit2: delighted to see new scenes coming to this game. The few negative reviews seem to be people that have trouble understanding written language, or not caring at all to get into the lore. (Everything you need for hero quests is readily available, part of the game is learning them, whether it's from sacrifices/blessings or other tribes).

I literally couldn't put it down for days absolutely awesome ★★★★★ [United Kingdom]
The most complex game I've ever played completely fantastic I'd recommend it to anybody especially because the voice-over support is so good

Episch ★★★★★ [Austria]
Gibt nichts vergleichbares. Clan-Simulation mit Rollenspiel. Viel Text, aber wenn man sich einliest ein episches Abenteuer.

Best app on the store ★★★★★ [United States]
Seriously, you're doing yourself wrong if you don't play this one through. Difficult, unique, quirky, and all around fun.

Favorite Game ★★★★★ [United States]
This is my favorite iOS game. Deeply engaging and continually challenging.

Flawless ★★★★★ [United States]
This can be brutally difficult, frustrating, and confusing. It is also a nearly flawless rpg masterpiece with real far-reaching consequences for actions. For the first week I didn't even know that you could restart days, and I STILL thought it was a great game. Buy it.

Another fact about the App Store: unless you really dig, you won’t see anything relating to an earlier version. And there are twelve earlier versions, each hiding previous reviews. Some of you have taken the time to review more than one version. Again, this really helps us. Thank you!

And one more sad fact: we have no way to reply to any review, positive or negative. If you want to make a suggestion, report a bug, or ask a question, please visit our Support page.

(See also some historical reviews.)

24 June 2014

Scene Contest (and 14 other scenes) now available!

Some time ago, we held a contest for players to create new scenes. The winning scene (and another popular one), along with 13 other new scenes, are now in the 2.3 update in the iOS App Store.

One issue we faced was that we wanted to make sure players who have already played the game get to see the new scenes. This is potentially a problem, given there are now 575 scenes in the game, so in any playthrough, you have less than 50% chance of getting any particular one. It didn’t seem fair to tell people there was new content, and then not show it to them.

So we added special code that checks to see if it’s the first time you’ve run version 2.3, and tries to give you several of the new scenes. “Tries to” because one of them does have preconditions. And others only show up in a long game.

The first time check is so that you don’t get a predictable game, where the contest favorites show up every time.

Besides new scenes, playing on iPad mini made us realize that text that works well on the larger iPads might be a bit small. So there’s an option to enlarge text in many places (not all because some of the layouts are pretty carefully tuned).

Playing the game again brought up situations where it would have been nice to get advice, so we added a bit more. (We always encourage checking with your advisors, as they may comment about recent events that are not otherwise obvious.)

And we fixed various minor bugs and typos.

So we hope it has enough to be worth checking out for even experienced players.

P.S. Since updates hide old reviews, we hope you will find time to give the game a rating or review in the App Store. This really helps. Thanks!

06 May 2014

Call for Testers

Version 2.3 is now feature-complete, and we’ve given it a reasonable amount of QA ourselves. But there is a bunch of new content (16 new scenes), and people will play it differently. So we’d like to have a few more outside (beta) testers.

You need to be running iOS 5.1 or later, and be willing to play the game and report things that bug you.

If you’re interested, send an e-mail to bugz |at| a-sharp.com. Please include the type of device you have and its device identifier (UDID).

Apple gives us only a limited number of test devices in a calendar year, so we are only looking for a small number of beta testers at the moment.

How to Find Your UDID

You need to use iTunes on a computer. If you are using a version of iOS earlier than 7, you may be able to use an app. 
In brief, connect your device to iTunes, click on the Serial Number so that it shows UDID, then right-click and choose Copy.

15 April 2014

King of Dragon Pass for Android Update

When I woke up this morning, I noticed that there was starting to be talk about a port of King of Dragon Pass. Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to post in depth for another 11 hours or so, I posted a quick note. Unfortunately, this ended up not clarifying things, but instead propagated some misinformation.

It’s impossible to call things back on the Internet, but in an attempt to correct what I wrote incorrectly:

Yes, we have authorized HeroCraft to port King of Dragon Pass to a number of platforms. And while information on their web site mentioned PS Vita and Windows Phone, they have not really announced anything. I should have waited for them.

They do have an Android version of King of Dragon Pass. I have run an early build on a Kindle Fire HD 7 inch. And I now know that they plan to launch first on Android, and then consider other platforms.

But other than that, there is not much I can say. The game will be published by HeroCraft  so pricing and availability is up to them. I’m sure they will let everyone know.

I can speak on a few questions:

What version will the Android port be?
Given that A Sharp has not finished the 2.3 update, I would expect it to be based on 2.2.x. (I’d have to track down exactly which version I sent them.)

Will 2.3 come to Android?
That would be great. It will be up to HeroCraft.

Didn’t you say Android was impossible?
Originally yes, it was. The Android Market eventually changed.

Will it run on…?
I have only seen it running on a Kindle Fire HD 7 inch. I know that HeroCraft is well aware that there are many other Android devices. We’ll have to wait for their release to know for sure.

Once again: an Android version of King of Dragon Pass 2.x is in the works. There may or may not be a Windows Phone or PS Vita version. My apologies to HeroCraft for posting this morning.

09 April 2014

How We Update

As you may know, we’re working on an update which will include the winner of the Scene Contest and a number of other new scenes. We actually added so much that we had to revise the file format (it wasn’t really designed for expansion back in 1997, and we didn’t rework it for the iOS version).

All screen shots are from actual App Store updates
But we always make sure you can continue a game you’ve started. King of Dragon Pass is a long game, and it would be unreasonable to have players not upgrade because they’re in the middle of a game. So KoDP reads the previous format, but writes the new format. In fact, we’ve done this before, so it can read several old formats. We also sometimes have to go through gyrations to make sure new variables appear only at the end of our data files. (During development, we’re less strict about this, and testers occasionally have to discard games in progress.) Just to make sure, I just loaded a game which was actually saved in 2011, before the 2.0 release.

We also do our best to test all the new content. There are 16 new full scenes, plus news and other followups. We run through every outcome of every choice, ideally in the context of a normal game. The last thing we want is an update that has serious bugs! All this play can uncover minor bugs in previous parts of the game, and we fix those too.

Finally, we want the update to be free to everyone who’s bought the game. That’s pretty much how the App Store works, but I suppose we could make new content an in-app purchase. While episodic content may sometimes work like this, King of Dragon Pass was not designed to be broken into chapters. There are other reasons for making the update free, but a big one is that don’t want to ruin the play experience.

Version 2.3 is not yet ready to go, but when it is, it will be quality software that’s compatible with ongoing games, and will be a free update.

09 March 2014

“Slights make war, but favors make peace.”

In one of the interactive scenes, a warrior from another clan tells us, “Slights make war, but favors make peace.”

This is a reasonable summary of how relationships between clans work. But things aren’t quite that simple.

Certain acts are considered slights — stains on a clan’s honor. (Raids are annoying, but unless the context decrees otherwise, aren’t considered slights.) If you slight another clan too many times, it will declare a feud, which is essentially a statement that they consider themselves at war with your clan.

The exact number is affected by certain treasures, but usually it takes three slights to push a clan over the edge into feud. Of course, you already have a history with the other clans that emigrated to Dragon Pass, so you might start on the cusp of a feud.

Exactly what offends another clan is not always obvious, so this isn’t shown in the user interface. But your ring often incorporates the number of slights into their advice. Sometimes you can erase a slight, but in general the offended clan will remember them forever.

Note that slighting a clan won’t always result in an immediate feud. Tensions have to simmer to a boil, and they may want to make sure that they’re strong enough to prosecute a feud.

Ending a feud will remove at least some of the slights, depending on just how you managed to resolve it.

As far as favors making peace, the connection is a little less direct. You can be owed any number of favors. No one feels so obligated that they offer a treaty. But a clan that owes you is more likely to go along with what you want — perhaps you subtly remind them that they owe you, or on their own they would rather back you than pay 30 cows. At the same time, a clan that you owe will be less likely to side with you. Who are you to ask for a political favor, when you are already in their debt? Tribal negotiations are just one area that works like this.

When an advisor says, “Her clan will be slighted if we aid her, and obligated to us if we return her to them,” hopefully the meaning is clear. And now you know what it means in game terms.

12 February 2014

Scene Contest Update

Some time ago, you picked the winner of our scene contest. We added consequences and advice to the entry, and commissioned Jan Pospíšil to paint the illustration. Here is his pencil sketch, and the scene as it will appear in the game.

We are still testing other new scenes — we’d like version 2.3 to be a significant update. This means it’s not ready yet. But all the scenes are written, so we hope to say more fairly soon.