End of the Road

A couple days ago I got the following message submitted to the blog:

Did you run into legal problems with barbarian prince?  If so that’s very unfortunate. Is there any future hope for road of kings?

For those who have not noticed, Road of Kings was indeed pulled from iTunes and Google Play at the end of last December.  Likewise the Dancing Sorcerer website has been taken down.  It was a tough choice for us, but we decided by the end of the year that it was time to pull the plug on the project and wrap things up.  The timing was chosen specifically to avoid any tax implications for the following year.

No, we did not encounter any legal issues.  I had a very nice e-mail exchange with Richard Hendrick, the original designer of the Barbarian Prince board game.  He was very supportive.  I never heard anything out of Reaper, the current holder of the Barbarian Prince license.  Barbarian Prince did have a strong inspirational influence on our game, but so did our D&D hex crawl adventures, which I expect was also the original inspiration for Barbarian Prince itself.  All 30,000+ words of content in Road of Kings were written by us, and the mechanics while inspired by Barbarian Prince, were modified and added to by us based on our play testing and to better fit the mobile video game platform.  I believe Road of Kings was quite sufficiently its own beast such that there never an issue of claims arising from any quarter.

So what happened?  Ultimately, the game was taken down entirely for financial reasons.  It had reached that tipping point where it was going to cost us money simply to keep it up there, so we made the difficult decision to take it down.  This problem was further compounded when one of our three members moved across the country making collaboration a bit more difficult.  The terms that bound Dancing Sorcerer together were an all or nothing deal, so if one of us was out, we were all out, and so the group dissolved.  There are no hard feelings on any side here, we all agreed that the best choice was to call it quits.  The game had a small but dedicated fan base, and I’m sorry to all who enjoyed the game that we couldn’t develop it more.

Road of Kings was a great learning experience for us all.  When I first started the project, I knew nothing about smart phone game development.  I’d been in the video game industry for ten years, and knew PC development pretty well, and even spent some time making games for the old dumb phones, but that has little bearing on the current technology.  Furthermore, the market shifted as we created the game.  Premium titles were making money when we started, and by the time we shipped it was already a dying model.

Of course, all those lessons would be wasted if there wasn’t another project on the horizon.  I have been talking with the remaining member of the group about starting something new.  It will still be table top gaming inspired, though we’re now inventing from whole cloth with the current mobile market firmly in view.  We’re still spare-time hobbyists here, so we’re trying to keep that in mind and keep the scale small enough such that we’ll hopefully get something out before the entire market changes under us.

There will be more info about the new project here in the future, but I thought for now I really should make some kind of public statement regarding Road of Kings to all our fans.  I really am sorry that Road of Kings didn’t have longer legs than it did, and I hope the next project does better, and that you all are willing to come along for the ride with me once more.

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