Search for “Durango” in your phone’s app store, and one of the first results you’ll find, surprisingly, is a dinosaur-centric mobile game called “Durango: Wild Lands.”
The game, developed by South Korea’s What! Studio and published by Nexon, is an online multiplayer game in which players from around the world come together in a world full of dinosaurs to found a new civilization. The game launched in Korea in January 2018 and was made available globally on iOS and Android in May of this year.
In an email to The Durango Herald, What! Studio said the game revolves around pioneers exploring a prehistoric land, fighting and taming its fauna and building a new society from its raw resources.
In what the developers say is purely a coincidence, players begin the game on a train that is quickly beset by portals that warp it into the primordial landscape where it is then attacked by dinosaurs.
The game is the brainchild of Eunseok Yi, the head of What! Studio and producer of “Durango.” He previously led the team that developed another massively-multiplayer online role-playing game called “Vindictus.” Eunseok wanted to refocus the team’s skills to innovate a game with more freedom, however, in a setting that differed from the common sword-and-magic fantasy worlds many mobile games occupy.
Within the game, “Durango” is the name of the world players occupy, navigate and tame. The studio said that it knew the name “Durango” belonged to several real-world cities and locations and that its Basque root word, “Urango,” referred to a settlement close to water. This is appropriate, they said, because much of their game involves crossing oceans to find new islands to settle.
“‘Durango’ is a word that evokes wonder,” the studio said in the email.
As for the train that players ride in the game’s introduction, What! Studio said it’s a metaphor.
“We’d like to think trains represent moving from one place to another,” the studio said. “The process of watching the scenery change and a new land come into view is not only a physical movement but also an emotional one. The train at the beginning of ‘Durango: Wild Lands’ signifies exactly that; the beginning of a fresh start in an unknown prehistoric land, filled with weird and wonderful dinosaurs, hope, action and excitement.
“Whichever train you take, whether it be the one in Durango, Colorado, or ‘Durango: Wild Lands,’ the next destination becomes a chance place for an adventure into something new.”
Since its debut, the game has passed 12 million downloads. It is very popular in Thailand, Brazil and Russia, What! Studio said.
“We’re still scratching our heads over this: Do dinosaurs appeal more in these regions?” the studio said.
At the end of August, Nexon launched a “Volcanic Islands” update to the game, featuring a new area in which players can set sail for islands covered in ash and smoke, molten lava and active volcanoes while encountering more ferocious creatures and getting their hands on better loot.