GStar 2012 Extras: Dragon’s Prophet Early Access
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
One of the most interesting booths I stumbled upon during my B2B rampage described in our Day 2 GStar coverage was none other than Runewaker, devs behind Runes of Magic and upcoming dragon training MMORPG, Dragon’s Prophet. Although the Tang Brothers were a little iffy at first of exposing some of their info to the western media, I finally got a chance to sit in for the GStar demo which expanded greatly on the frontier system and dragon taming system. Let’s discuss!
Some random tidbits of interest included that there will actually be massive airships used for transportation in the game beyond just flying dragons. Because flying dragons are only one type of dragon, you might not always have one available to use so this is good news for increasing diversity in the game without limiting player’s options. But what caught me off guard is that there will be dragons that can actually swim into the water, and combat designed around this feature. Nowhere will be safe in Dragon’s Prophet as land, air, and water will fill with battling dragons! Though this may or may not be available at launch so don’t get too excited just yet.
The next piece they covered was the identification of dragons and dragon levels. Turns out with over 300 dragons in-game you are going to have some that are just plain more powerful than others. This will be reflected in appearance, with more basic dragons taking on the form of beasts and birds (their exact word was chickens) rather than more traditional western or Asian styled dragons. I got a laugh when I saw a picture of an early level tank dragon that appeared to be a buffalo.
The Dragon’s Lair and Taming
It makes sense that a game about taming and raising dragons would have a type of advanced tamagotchi system for managing them. The Dragon’s Lair is the primary way Runewaker plans to award players for activity and constant logging in. You can set your dragon to assignment even when you’re offline for up to 5 hours. This includes setting them out question for treasures or crafting materials for you. There also seems to be a system in place for breeding or merging dragons in order to transfer rare skills from one type of dragon onto another type that is unable to learn that skill naturally.
So a question that was only briefly answered in my SOE Live interview was where you initially get these dragons from. At the time the Tang Brothers told me you just kind of lasso them. I’m sure I wasn’t alone to think of a cowboy in a 10 gallon hat riding on the back of a dragon with rope in hand. Well now I can say with certainty… we really weren’t far off with that assumption. You actually jump on the back of the dragon you wish to catch and begin a minigame revolving around rapidly pressing arrow keys in accordance with a guide icon. This will cause your icon to try to stay in the center of a circle while the dragon fights against you to push the icon out of the circle. As the icon falls closer to the edge of the circle, you will lose hp on a bar to the left of the icon. If you stay close to the center, the dragon’s hp will decrease over time. If you can maintain to the end, the dragon becomes yours to command!
Once a dragon is yours you’ll be able to assign it missions at your lair, feed it various foods to increase loyalty, or take it out with you as a combatant or mount. It costs energy to both summon your dragon to battle for you as well as use some of its more advanced skills so use your dragon sparingly. When summoned but not riding your dragon, it will engage in fighting to you aid, though at different levels of attentiveness depending on how well the two of you get along. Like Ash with Charizard, you may not get the results you seek instantly with the more powerful dragons.
As your dragon levels up and gains power, you can allocate skill points to them. While the majority of the stats are straight forward things like defense, attack power, and so on, the explosive stat seemed new. When I questioned them on it they replied that the explosive stat is a proc change that will effect how often your dragon goes into beast mode or does something amazing to wipe out multiple foes. Therefore an explosive dragon may lack the base strength of its counterparts, but can catch an overconfident foe off-guard for a final burst of damage at any time. Knowing your enemy’s dragon and yours is key to victory in PvP.
Crafting and Upgrading
Armor upgrading was explained in slightly better detail as well. I’ll be blunt, this isn’t the most revolutionary part of the game and follows the typical crafting patterns of other MMORPGs albeit with the inclusion of your dragons assisting you. However a bit more strategic decision making is offered with your choice to gem and stat alter your gear. Each piece of gear will have an energy limit and a number of slots that impact how many gems you can place in it. You’ll have to balance your upgrading between the choice of filling every slot with gems as well as ensuring you don’t consume all the gear’s energy on the first slot to an overly powerful gem, losing the potential of the additional slots.
Ever found a rare piece of gear in an MMORPG only to realize its stats aren’t ideal for you? Dragon’s Prophet allows you to reroll this gear to change the bonus stats to something more preferential to your class, ensuring every good drop is protected from the wrath of RNG.
The final piece of the GStar tour Runewaker offered was a look into the frontier system where I learned a bit more about how this sandbox style PvP heavy realm functions. And to sum it up in a two words, Feudalistic Society. See neither land nor protection comes free in the world of Dragon's Prophet so you can expect to pay a heavy down payment on the land you intend to build on, as well as regular maintenance costs to keep your land from being sold back to the bank. Of course the more real estate you own, the higher the price, but that's where the feudalistic community comes into play.
Guilds can actually create the centerpieces of this world by purchasing extremely large tracks of land large enough to not only build a guild castle, but for multiple members to build houses outside of it on the same track of land. This will all be managed via the guild leader who made the purchase so players will have to pay in to him as a group to keep their society going. Once established it's up to this guild what they will do with the independent neighbors near their land. Do you go mafia style and charge nearby houses protection costs to keep rival armies from raiding their land? Or perhaps simply request enlistment to protect your zone as a member of the king's army? This will all be up to the players so who really knows how the society will play out once it unfolds.
Though one thing we can all look forward to is just how customizable your house is. You can literally stack furniture on top of furniture to make bizarre Picasso style pieces. Or grow a garden out front and harvest herbs for crafting. I could really see players making a living as home decorators because there is just so many pieces of furniture you can acquire, various ways you can organize it, and even awesome items that provide functionality within the privacy of your own plot of land. Though you can't build a house on top of a chair... some realism is in play I guess. I myself have plans to turn my plot of land into a jump quest amusement park!
It's still likely going to be many months before we see anything close to a beta test for Dragon's Prophet but from what I saw at GStar and SOE Live I'm sure this game will be worth the wait. If you consider yourself a pet enthusiast or just enjoy a strong community driven political system than stay tuned as this game may turn out to be exactly what you've been waiting for.