Dawn of Fantasy Interview: The Future at Hand
Questions by Jake “Kibeth” Winters
Answers from Alex Walz, Assistant Producer for Reverie World Studios.
The war-drums are beating, the arrows are raining, and the clash of steel on steel is unmistakable; Dawn of Fantasy is here. A relatively new game in the MMORTS market, this rising star has been making waves at OnRPG, and we took the time to interview Alex Walz – Assistant Producer for Reverie World Studios – about what’s in store in the future.
OnRPG: Thanks for giving OnRPG the opportunity to ask some questions. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your role in Dawn of Fantasy?
Hello! I’m Alex Walz, an assistant producer for Reverie World Studios. Working for a small company like Reverie, I’ve had the privilege to wear many hats over the years: design, scheduling, recruiting, accounting, community management, and marketing. So my actual job is very loosely defined. I’m more on the business side than the development side, so I won’t bore you with the details; but in general, I just try to keep the Executive Producer a bit less overworked and a bit more sane.
OnRPG: Where did the idea for Dawn of Fantasy come from? How long has the game been in production?
We’ve had a few bumps in the road and turns in direction, but the concept for Dawn of Fantasy was first conceived back in 2003. The idea came to members of a prominent modding community who, upon completing the Age of Kings campaign for the nth time, posed the question: “Now what?” They designed some very well-received mods for AoK and other games, but were inspired to try the next step – to create not just a new Real Time Strategy game, but the evolution of the RTS genre. The modders then turned to the RTS community to understand what the players wanted to see in a game, and the most prevalent responses were that they wanted to experience a thriving, persistent, online world. So in a sense, Dawn of Fantasy truly is the game created for the players, by the players. Those modders then compiled those ideas with a rough concept of the first MMORTS and took them to experienced design veterans and narrative writers, and soon enough, that fabled persistent world became Dawn of Fantasy’s Mythador.
OnRPG: Tell us a little bit about how the Online Kingdom works. What parts of this game mode turns Dawn of Fantasy from RTS to MMORTS?
The Online Kingdom mode is Dawn of Fantasy's main game mode, featuring a vast, explorable world; three unique quest-driven campaigns; and epic PvP and PvE battles with other player and NPC strongholds, randomized army camps, and travelling armies. All of this takes place in a massively multiplayer, persistent online environment, hence the MMORTS. Players start off with a single building, a hero, and a few worker units, and through the course of the game, develop it into a striving kingdom with multiple layers of walls and keeps, a complex economy, and a number of massive armies and trade caravans wandering the game world.
Although the mode relies on instanced maps due to its scale, all players will contend for supremacy of the same world, and their actions will greatly affect those around them – whether it be through stopping trade routes by patrolling a border, controlling one of the large NPC capital towns to redirect the course of war with the upcoming guilds feature, or establishing army camps all across the world map to reign supreme.
OnRPG: The current Online mode allows players to siege NPCs and other players, but no land ever changes hands. Are there plans to have player-capturable locations?
Once fully implemented, guilds will be able to control NPC capital towns and capture all other NPC towns. Obviously with thousands of players in the world, we can’t have the towns fully controllable as they are essential to the campaign, but guilds will be able to control them indirectly by exerting their diplomatic stance onto that town. For example, if a player is a member of a guild that is at war with the guild controlling the town of Dagbor, Dagbor will appear hostile to that player, and any hopes for trade or alliances will depend on reclaiming the town. For the average player, this will have a minimal impact – the main differences being that if they offer tribute to the town to improve relations, that money will go to the guild. Likewise, if the player attacks the town, he will be at war with the guild.
At the moment, there are no plans to have defeated player towns change hands as individual players can only currently control their homeland, but this may change in the future – possibly with the introduction of a hardcore mode.
OnRPG: What new chat and community features might we expect in the near future? The game mentions guilds and alliances, are they on the immediate 'to do' list?
Alliances will be incorporated into the game very shortly, allowing players to form temporary alliances to team up against a rival stronghold. Guilds are a little farther down the list and are stronger and more permanent than alliances. Players in a guild will be able to rely on any online guild members for reinforcement support in a battle, and joining a guild will unlock some new opportunities, as discussed above.
Other upcoming features include new channels for chat as well as private chat and offline messages, friends, PvP rankings, and Player-to-Player trade and gifting. PvP battles will also be expanded to support up to six players on a map.
OnRPG: You mentioned in a recent press release an updated economy and new resources. Can you give us more details on this?
Right now we’re just playing around with this idea. We’ll need to run it by our community to see how well it will go over, but in essence, we want to increase the role of economic micromanagement and city-building in the late-game period. It’s currently set up so that players can tend to their economy early in the game, allowing for a more or less automated economy later on. We are considering adding some other resources, such as iron and raw materials that will need to be refined, to make everything a little more hands-on. All these new resources wouldn’t have much of an effect on regular unit costs, but if you wanted to research an advanced technology at the Blacksmith, for example, you would first need to find Iron. In addition, most of these added resources would be found away from the Homeland, so players would need to branch out more. We may also add the ability to construct outlying outposts and resource gathering camps rather than just army camps using a similar system to Dawn of Fantasy’s other mode, Kingdom Wars.
OnRPG: The in-game market place allows players to purchase various units and resources using Influence points. What future additions to the market might we expect?
I’m proud to say that adding to the in-game Market is at the very bottom of a very long schedule. True to our origins, all of our designers are more concerned with delivering the fans the game they want than milking the game for all it’s worth. We’re listening close to all of our fans’ feedback and bug reports, and slowly but surely, we are working to make the game as optimized, and add much customer value, as possible. So far, we’ve released nearly subscription-free 40 patches and introduced a number of new features.
But yes, one day, we will expand the world of Mythador with some DLC content. The first two packs will introduce naval combat and a sophisticated magic/spell-casting system to the game. While we’re waiting to release further details, these packs will feature new units, quests, explorable regions, and homelands.
OnRPG: At the moment each race has one default Hero. What plans do you have to build on the game's RPG element?
The RPG elements are mixed into how you interact with the RTS world: the story-driven quests, visiting NPC diplomats, exploring a vast world, leveling and training units. DOF does have the Hero unit you mentioned, but his role is to serve as a liaison between the player and NPC units, so to speak. In terms of military and tactics, however, he’s little more than one guy in an army a thousand strong. Heroes have some unique abilities, but they’re not designed to be used as one would use an RPG hero.
With that said, we will be adding a basic Hero Customization aspect to the game, allowing players to purchase or win various weapons, armor, mounts, and additional skills for their hero. We also hope to offer players a second hero, a Mage that can learn up to eight unique spells. Unlike your original hero, the Mage will be an important factor in your strategy.
OnRPG: Are there any new races on the horizon to fight alongside or against the Elves, Humans and Orcs? Perhaps a race of tiny penguins hell-bent on world domination?
Hell-bent on world domination?! Surely you’re mistaken, our penguins are only rising up for liberation and reparations after their land was unjustly seized in the War Without Kings…
Penguins aside, I’d say it’s possible that you may see a larger role for the dragons of Sssilistra and the dwarves of Dunn Ergast one day. ;)
OnRPG: It's clear that Reverie is incredibly proud of Dawn of Fantasy, and it's not difficult to see why. What, personally, is your favorite part of the game?
I know most of our devs would go with the PvP battles, but I’ve always been a big fan of the game’s scenario design editor. It’s a hidden gem, but it’s an incredibly powerful utility, as you can see in the diversity and scale of the game’s levels. It’s an absolute blast to mess around in, as evidenced by the half-completed designs of Minas Tirith and King’s Landing on my screen whenever the boss is out. Our fans have made some truly inspiring creations with it, and I hope to see more and more as the game grows.
OnRPG: Thank you for taking the time to answer all of our questions. We hope to see Dawn of Fantasy continue to grow and become something truly great.
Us too! Thanks for giving us this opportunity to discuss Dawn of Fantasy. The folks at Reverie really enjoyed OnRPG’s Video Impression of Dawn of Fantasy, and are always grateful for coverage!