Reptile High Club: Dragon Commander Out Today

By Adam Smith on August 6th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

I shouldn’t be surprised that Dragon Commander is out today, after all, we seem to be have been writing about it forever. Somehow, because it had been spotted in the incubation chambers of press events so often, I’d started to believe this was one speckled egg that might never hatch. Alec’s most recent preview identified the game thusly – “Dragon Commander’s a bit like an over-friendly dog that jumps up at you, headbutts you in the crotch, licks you on the eye and then farts in helpless excitement when you come home.” Is that a seven out of ten? It’s an odd game but there’s an unexpectedly descriptive launch trailer below that summarises incredibly well.

Alles klar?

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83 Comments »

  1. Zorn says:

    Klar wie Klosbruhe!

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  2. Premium User Badge Anthile says:

    Sadly, the WIT will be inevitably biased seeing as to how RPS is being run by the reptilians since at least the late 80s.

    • Christo4 says:

      Actually that’s old news, since 2005 the reptilians have been defeated by the gray-skinned-skinny-big-headed aliens. Gssbh for short.

      • Premium User Badge RedViv says:

        Yes. Yes. They are no longer a problem. No Reptilians anywhere. Everything is okay now.

        • The Ultimate Clone of The Ultimate Warrior says:

          Lies and slander! The greys were defeated late 2010 by the replicants. Surely you’ve seen that look in Cara’s eyes that proves my point.

          • Premium User Badge Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            Actually the whole of RPS was taken over last week by Evil Smingleigh from the Evil Dimension. You can tell us apart by the goatee under his beard.

  3. Khrae says:

    Oh my, cards allow you to do fun stuff *camera pans past Genocide card*

    • quietone says:

      Oh, sorry, we inadvertently sent you the link to our trailer version for the old SS Kammeraden market.

    • onyhow says:

      …are we talking about Yggra Union? Because if we are…*shudders at the thought of needing to fight Gulcasa again*

      Anyway, strange, why don’t I get Steam code for Imperial Edition? (I got the game from Kickstarter)

  4. brotherthree says:

    “You can even change the game rules to your liking!”

    Holy fuck, changing game settings? Where has this game been all my life…

  5. Saii says:

    Choose your princess? Well hello there 1950s, how the devil are you?

    • bstard says:

      ‘A Dragon Commander needs to make really tough decisions. Feel the effects of your decisions on the battlefield’

      lol thats one way to call it. You own fault, you picked the whiny one didnt you?

    • Pich says:

      what?

      • dontnormally says:

        The female reptilian adviser is one of the strongest characters with probably the most screen time.

    • Premium User Badge RedViv says:

      It’s an accurate representation of Reptilian Overlording and we will have it no other way.

      • The Random One says:

        Clearly you’ve never played Choice of the Dragon on Android, which lets you kidnap a prince just to be contrarian.

    • Bladderfish says:

      Whut? Did the whole of history skip past you? Silly me thought that nations bartering with the hands of princesses was the done thing to form alliances.

      Yes, it would be nice to turn the tables and allow a female dragon commander, but given how much this would change the game and increase development costs, I’m not surprised that they didn’t allow it.

      • Saii says:

        Indeed I didn’t pay a great deal of attention in history class Bladderfish, I must have missed the bit where Man-Dragons roamed the earth and erroneously thought that this was in fact a fantasy world where such things have no need to apply. Also I didn’t realise that a simple reskin to make the game relevant to 52% of the population would be such a difficult task, my apologies.

        • Premium User Badge Bracknellexile says:

          Agreed. The apparently unbreakable link between fantasy games/literature and medieval history and all the sexist bullshit that goes with it never ceases to confuse me. If you can have wizards, undead, dragons and magic, why is it that the other misogynistic “rules” are unquestionable?

          The choose-your-princess-from-the-shop-window and calling the best* weapon Eye Of The Patriarch just adds that extra unnecessary frosting of *headdesk* to the trailer. Nothing like a bit more reinforcement of the “men are capable, brave, heroes; women are objects to be traded/collected” thinking to put me off a game completely**.

          Games writers in general: it’s fantasy FFS, do something fantastic for once!

          * It may not be the best in the game but it appears to be the best in the trailer at least.
          ** And in case you think I’m being unduly harsh on Dragon Commander, it’s not just this one. Most of the fantasy games seem to embrace the medieval patriarchy crap when they don’t need to. It’s just a case of straws, camels backs, etc.

          • NathanH says:

            Speaking generally, most fantasy settings feel better when they carry over everything from whatever period and location of history they’re drawn from, unless there’s a good reason not to carry something over. Well, even that’s not true. What you actually want to carry over is the audience’s perceptions of whatever period and location of history is in question. Unless you deliberately want to undermine the audience’s expectations, but that’s something you should be allowed to decide whether or not you want to do.

            What application this principle has to dragons with jetpacks is unclear, given that the game is obviously crazy and will naturally make the audience feel confused and disorientated.

          • Zepp says:

            “Agreed. The apparently unbreakable link between fantasy games/literature and medieval history and all the sexist bullshit that goes with it never ceases to confuse me. If you can have wizards, undead, dragons and magic, why is it that the other misogynistic “rules” are unquestionable?”

            Misogynistic? Sexist bullshit? Typical feminazi behaviour. See, I can use big worlds too without considering their meaning.

          • Nevard says:

            If you think “sexist” and especially “bullshit” are long and complicated words I think that’s already underlined how much time you spent on those things in your head you claim to call “thoughts”

          • SuicideKing says:

            @Zepp “feminazi”, eh? Typical MRA slogans?

            (Disclaimer: Not sure whether trolling but assuming serious).

          • Kotep says:

            There is actually a general in the game who comes from a matriarchal society and who brings you issues like equal pay for women, which increases the cost but also the skills of the female generals. (Also, I wanted to point out that Eye of the Patriarch is a reference to a particular dragon in Divinity lore. Maybe it doesn’t make it better, but they didn’t get the name ex nihilo.)

          • Zepp says:

            @Nevard So “big” is equal to “long” and “complicated” in your dictionary? By “big words” I meant “Everything nowadays is labeled as misogynism and people throwing this left and right don’t consider it’s heavy meaning.” Especially in cotext of this game so I used feminazi in the same not-so-serious manner.

            ” I think that’s already underlined how much time you spent on those things in your head you claim to call “thoughts”.”

            Same to you.

            @SuicideKing I didn’t know what MRA means. I had to google it and “Magnetic resonance angiography ” was more popular than “Men’s Right Activism”. Seems fake.

        • quietone says:

          It’s just the 48% being resentful as one of the most popular franchises apparently overlooked them.

          We can’t play as Lars Croft.

        • mrwout says:

          Larian has actually already replied to this criticism and said it couldn’t be done due to time and money constraints. What you call a simple re-skin is also a lot more work than that term seems to imply: the story needs to be altered and they need to record the dialogue again for each partner, which is a hell of allot of work. This of course isn’t an excuse (they could’ve for example split the pool of partners in between male and female and let the player have a pick, independent of the players gender) but it sure is understandable. Larian has also been very forthcoming to previous criticism of this sort and have changed some of their artwork which was perceived as too sexist.

          Btw one of the many political choices to be made in the game also touches on the matter of gender equality in quite an interesting way. So I think you can hardly blame the developer of neglecting the issue.

          While I think your criticism is valid, I also think that when giving criticism you need to give credit where credit is due.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Hmmm, wasn’t aware of this angle. I think the last i read about it (or saw the vid) i didn’t see anything wrong with it, so was a bit surprised with all of this.

            Anyway, you make valid points and supply valid info…i think this game can be excused ;)

          • Ringwraith says:

            They do throw in a lot of topical issues in there, so it’s not being ignored by any means.
            There’s probably some reference to the whole political marriage thing being a bit odd as well, knowing them.

        • dE says:

          This is rather funny to me. The whole point of the political side of the game was to grab real-life issues and paint them in a satirical and cynical fantasy coat. The game has elves argueing for homosexual marriage, it has dwarves cynically demanding prisoners and “freeloaders” be used as cannon fodder in the war, it has the concept of forced marriage and sexism, it has an over the top matriarch on board that fights for equality but goes way overboard. The game was made as a caricature on political and social issues. And here we are at RPS, blasting it for trying to make a point about these things… uh, friendly fire much?

          • Nevard says:

            Some political and social issues are bizarre things to “make fun of”.
            If they’re trying to make a point, don’t you think they’ve maybe missed it by allowing you to make “choices” in the game’s designated “choice area” but not bothering to include the message in their own game mechanics?

          • dE says:

            Satire doesn’t have to be funny. And no, I don’t think they missed the point but rather they might it reasonably well. The lack of a female dragon commander might have been due to budget restraints, but works perfectly into the political and social issues the game itself has as a topic.

        • Bladderfish says:

          A simple reskin? A simple reskin of what exactly? Are you implying that they could simply reskin the princesses to make them look like princes and thus make the game more relevant to female players? Maybe I’m missing something here, because no one could think that.

          To make the game applicable to female players, you’d have to reskin, remodel and reanimate all the princesses, change all of their dialogue and hire new voice actors. At considerable cost.

          Larian aren’t a big developer. They are a niche developer, tbh. They are making PC games targeted at a specific group of players. That sort of developer doesn’t have money to splash around.

          With that in mind, why not simply admit that they have done the right by limiting their games to male players, who are not 48% of the population when it comes to games, but probably more like 90%.

          I’m not trying to be sexist. I’m trying to use common sense.

          • Nevard says:

            *female players, or male players who don’t want to marry a woman
            The best thing to have done would have been, as someone else said, to have a mixed gender pool from the start. As they actually address issues like gay marriage in other parts of the game it seems very odd that this has slipped their notice.

          • Dominic White says:

            It still would have taken significant development resources. Even with the small cast of characters aboard your flagship, some of them suffer from budget constraints. Your generals in particular, who only have a handful of lines each and maybe a couple of single-scene mini-stories.

            They saved a lot of time and money by having characters be static figures on a vaguely animated background, and used a cheap facial mo-cap rig to avoid having to animate everything by hand, but they were still pushing the limits of what their budget would allow.

            While it would have been nice to be able to pick a male or female protagonist with straight or gay options, they didn’t have the time or the money to make this happen, so they went with the one based on the largest strategy/RPG demographic, straight men. It does look like they’ve have full gender options in the upcoming Divinity: Original Sin, though. They’re not discriminating, just limited by the realities of game development.

            There’s no Imp, Human or Dragon wives available either, also due to budget limitations. They had to leave a whole lot on the cutting room floor.

            It should be noted that your wife is just as much a political figure with her own motivations and agenda as any of the ambassadors aboard your ship. There’s no weak-willed ‘trophy wives’ here – they’re just as sharp and capable as anyone else there.

        • oceantorment says:

          Yeah, a simple reskin that require Larian to contract more voice actors , add more animations, write even more dialog, more programming code to add choices and consequences to those princes. Stupid things people say when they are ignorant.

          • gwathdring says:

            Serveral people made a suggestion that wouldn’t have increased costs. They could have made half the princesses male and half of them female.

            Personally, I’m not upset by it. There are female generals, so clearly women are allowed top-honor positions in this world despite what appears to be, overall, a patriarchal system. The fact that the main character is male and that the player can’t pick a gender isn’t a problem on it’s own. A lot of people forget that. I share the frustration many have mentioned, though, that yet another sword-and-sorcery features a male lead character and a patriarchal society.

            Very little of my favorite fantasy clings to historical elements for the sake of familiarity alone, so I don’t buy the argument about fitting audience expectations about the period. I’m not going to condemn the game out of context, though, as I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with portraying a patriarchal society in a fantasy game. I’d be more worried about *what* their satire satirizes, what it’s trying to say … and after playing it I’d be interested to know if it went out of it’s way to be patriarchal or if that’s just properly incidental to the world. Games that go out of their way to emulate sexism or racism for the sake of realism/immersion/conflict without making commentary are problematic. I haven’t the faintest idea if Dragon Commander is one of them.

          • Dominic White says:

            There are plenty of queens and empresses in the setting. You just happen to be playing as a male would-be emperor in this game, but that isn’t endorsing the concept of patriarchy any moreso than it is endorsing feudalism.

            As for having to marry a princess, it’s all set up by Maxos, the wizard, and you have no choice in the matter. Four races have put up candidates and you have to pick one straight away – no romance, just a political move to make you a more eligible emperor and increase the likelyhood of legitimate children once you do win.

      • Premium User Badge Harlander says:

        The bit of history where the alliance between the Dwarves and the Undead was a pivotal factor may have passed me by, yes

    • XhomeB says:

      Ooh boy, here we go again. Don’t bring your political views into this, OK?
      First world problems…

      • Premium User Badge RedViv says:

        No, bring your views into everything. Why would you have them otherwise? What use would they be? Anything else just shuts out discussion and stagnates the mind, over time rendering it incapable of change and improvement.

        • XhomeB says:

          Must we bring politics into EVERYTHING on RPS, though?

          • Premium User Badge RedViv says:

            If a title says something, it’s only appropriate. If we want a grown-up medium, we should be able to talk about it in a mature manner.
            A fitting response to the raised question being, so @Saii here I guess: Yes, the game builds on archetypical noble succession mechanics, where the male is the carrier of the bloodline, and in this case mystical dragon powers. That it isn’t meant as a should-be statement on politics is openly visible in the political part of the strategic campaign, as the points of gender roles and similar are brought up often enough to showcase that the developers are not ignorant of the ideas that developed in our world after hundreds of years of mostly undisputed patriarchal and divinely given rights of rule.

          • Nevard says:

            This game is (partially) about politics
            And yes, the thing about these issues is that they literally actually are relevant everywhere

            Having the privilege to say “but I don’t want to hear about this” is… just that, a privilege. This isn’t important to you because it doesn’t effect you, but as a larger social trend it is massively important to billions of people.

      • Saii says:

        XhomeB, you’re dead right, I mean who am I to have opinions on things, damn this open publishing lark and you having to occasionally put up with words and stuff in front of your eyeballs! First world problems as you say…

      • The Random One says:

        “We should not bring our political views into this” is, itself, a political view.

      • Mitthrawn says:

        I think what Xhomb is actually saying is that this isn’t a problem for him, and people making a big deal about other sexual viewpoints being portrayed is offputting (and it is, but only when it’s militant, i.e. John Walker). As a white male christian heterosexual American, its hard to really say anything authoritative or without sounding like a dick. Pretty much I am more privileged than anyone else in all of history ever. But here goes.

        People in games want to roleplay, a lot of times as themselves. This means that if they sleep with a guy or a girl in real life (as a guy or a girl), they want to be able to do that in the games they play. Of those four pairings, only one is supported by the game. That’s the argument, and I have no problem with those people clamoring for change, and to be able to play the game as they want. The problem I see more is the target.

        Larian is a small studio with a modest budget. I can see where people would hope for them to be progressive and include different partners, but they simply may not have the budget for that. It’s good to have passions and strong convictions, but I’d caution that as activists pick your battles. Larian probably can’t change the game with the budget they have- and there are many other fantasy games of similar size and budget where we don’t complain about the misogyny there. Maybe because these are more like trophy wives (which you pick from a window-*facepalm*)?

        I dunno, personally I am more likely to give comedy games a pass. They bring up situations they think are funny, and often are, but they may not be trying to change the world. The situations themselves are funny, and you can’t look past the premise at the crumbling structure on which its built. Because that collapses the whole structure and, more importantly, ruins the joke.

    • pakoito says:

      Someone in the game has your same distaste for the matter http://i.imgur.com/7QVVwC3.jpg And at least one of the princesses too.

      But let’s get all offended.

      • Boffin says:

        For bonus points, nobody’s mentioned that you’re being forced into marriage too. If you ask your advisor about that, he tells you to deal with it and pick a wife. Bit dis-empowering and nonsensical for a dragon emperor, eh?

        • Dominic White says:

          Yeah, the game covers just about every angle pretty well, despite being told from a singular perspective. Larian definitely seem to fall on the egalitarian liberal side of things, so those grumbling should remind themselves that portrayal is not necessarily endorsement. The dwarven ambassador stops just short of endorsing shooting gays on sight, and you have the option to side with him too – and the game will even reward you for it – but that’s not to imply that it’s a good thing by any means.

  6. NathanH says:

    This looks like one of those games that will be objectively no better than a decent game but at the same time a large bundle of fun.

  7. Infinitron says:

    About reviews: http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/larians-dragon-commander.82100/page-18#post-2798544

    “AI in review build could get bugged and default to easy…”

  8. mouton says:

    Still tits on lizards eh. Shouldn’t bother me, all things considered, but it does.

    • LionsPhil says:

      But lipsticks on skeletons, who then morph and deform their skulls to emote, doesn’t?

      • mouton says:

        Less problematic if said skeletons used to be human females. Echoes of personality and all that, I suppose.

        It’s just kinda silly that to mark some humanoid as female, we have to stick tits onto it. Nothing serious or surprising, it’s just there.

        • Kotep says:

          Does the same apply to sticking apples into your blouse? Because the skeleton bartender in the Raven’s tavern has that covered.

      • gwathdring says:

        That said … if you’re concerned with breasts on the lizard, you should probably also worry about it being both bipedal and fully upright, wearing clothing that implies warm-bloodedness, and so forth for consistency.

        I get what you mean about it being weird to stick mammary glands on something that isn’t a mammal? But it IS a mammal. It’s a humanoid (thus mammaloid) lizard. I do like my human hybrids to be interesting, taking on traits of their hybrid halves that aren’t typically seen in fantasy or just taking on particularly non-human traits whether or not they’re seen often. So I’m with you there. Just not about breasts on lizard-women in particular.

        For example, having Lizard-Men born from eggs is mildly interesting. Giving Bird-Men really weird (for humans) sexual practices and elaborate courtship rituals? That’s COOL. I’m put in mind of an episode of Futurama where Fry ends up … not having sex with a mermaid he fell for because the fish half of her half-woman-half-fish didn’t match up with human sexual organs very well. Fry freaks out rather than being a responsible adult about this, of course, but jokes aside it’s a nice piece of consistency. An unusual does of inhumanity. But at the same time … I’m much MORE interested in behavioral inhumanities than physical ones. After all if we’re going to make them humanoid to begin with we might as well allow humans to have sex with them in a mechanical sense.

  9. Bladderfish says:

    First impressions. Love the political side and the world map, but the battles seem to amount to constantly building units and throwing them at your enemy. Maybe this will change, but it does seem to be the basis the game is built on.

    Anyone remember Z? Similar problems to that game, although not quite as severe.

    • Aaax says:

      Yeah, Z was awesome, but I remmember it was usually huge challange to acquire those units to throw at the enemy. I would definitely not call that game tacticaly shallow.

      • Bladderfish says:

        My point was that in Z you had to claim units and bases quickly to automatically receive the advantage. If you didn’t do that you lost the game. There was no way around it.

        Same with Dragon Commander. You need to claim bases quickly or you’ll simply get swamped by enemy units. No good defensive strategy is going to counter balance that simple advantage in numbers.

        Shame, but, as I said, the problem isn’t as severe as Z. Once you’ve gained your initial glut of territory, there is still plenty to do.

        • razgon says:

          Well, that is exactly what I said the RTS amounted to, and was shouted down by people claiming it would have deep meaningful tactics.

          It really, really doesnt in the RTS part.

        • Aaax says:

          Yeah you are right, but I find that this early territory claiming can be highly tactical and fun, so why to treat it as bad thing? In fact, I might now get this game.

    • Thrippy says:

      A well designed RTS accomodates different play styles. Dragon Commander forces you into jumping through only two hoops of rushing to claim build pads followed by unit pumping to outmass the opponent. Each battle devolves into my massed clump versus your massed clump. Well, why don’t you flank or something? I’m sorry, you need every unit for the clump.

      That over half of the dragon’s abilities are defensive and healing buffs is necessitated after the fact by the clump. Likewise each battle’s duration is fixed by finite resourcing, to avoid clump stalemates. What appear to be features are in actuality avoiding design efforts to de-clumpify the RTS they wound up with.

      Maybe numerical superiority to the exclusion of all else becomes less oppressive in mid and late game but right now the inclusion of tech tree affording special abilities seems annoying.

      Command and Conquer and Supreme Commander are good examples of the “massed” RTS. This is a bad example.

  10. XhomeB says:

    Got my Dragon Commander key from Larian as a reward for pledging an insane amount of money to Divinity: Original Sin.
    So far, it’s an impressive and ambitious mishmash of various genres like we used to get in the 90s on PC – the game should be applauded for that, it takes some risks.
    The battles I’m trying to get used to, they’re really fast and more macro-oriented than about using tactics like in Total War, but I LOVE the turn based campaign map mode and all the political decisions I need to make – some of the comments from your advisors are simply hilarious.
    By the way, it’s a shockingly beautiful game. Fantastic art style.

  11. trjp says:

    I had a crack at the beta (so multiplayer only) and whilst I liked it, I got the distinct impression that it’s not going to be an amazing multiplayer title…

    It seems like a “just build a tonne of shit and hurl it at your enemy” game – there’s much scope in the shit you hurl but at the end of the day I didn’t really see much tactical depth – it was more “build build build – counterbuild – build build” whilst spamming fireballs…

    That said – it could be enormous fun -hell it may even be because they’ve put a lot of polish into the single player instead of the uniquitous rush towards supporting the 22 people who end-up playing most multiplayer titles – here’s hoping!

    • Leb says:

      soo…. total annihilation or supcom?

      if it does a good job at that, + a good campaign map I am sold

  12. LionsPhil says:

    Ah rats, probably means the closed beta’s going to be closing before I can get that game in with someone to see how it fares as a co-op compstomp.

    • trjp says:

      A couple of days ago they seemed to have forgotten that some people are in the Beta without having paid for the game (Alienware giveaway amongst other sources) – they were talking about leaving the Beta up for multiplayer testing – but then some bright spark reminded them so…

  13. Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

    My favourite part about Colonization as a kid was upgrading your soldiers to dragons.

  14. Nice Save says:

    It’s listed as £39.99 on GOG, but only £25.81 on GamersGate, but that might be because GG still has it listed as a preorder and you can’t actually download it yet. Both are DRM free. I’ve not checked Steam.

  15. Pich says:

    Man, they don’t make games like this anymore. I’m glad that Larian exist.

  16. The Random One says:

    That headline pun was so bad, it went off the scales. It’s really dragon our standards down.

    • Premium User Badge RedViv says:

      We need better standards, these puns were not even close to rhaegal.

  17. SuicideKing says:

    Boobies and bomber balloons.

  18. DanMan says:

    The strategy levels look kinda bland and empty. :x

  19. Crosmando says:

    The Elf princess is hot