Q. Ben Warwick
A. Max Stolberg (Producer – GPotato Europe)
Background & Relationship
1. What is Dragonica and why should hardcore gamers along with casual gamers take note? (In relation to the increasing negativity associated to MMORPG’s)
It’s much better than most MMOs you’ve seen AND it’s free. Dragonica is a 3D action-orientated side-scrolling game. It targets a really broad audience addressing older and younger players alike combining a retro style of gameplay with up to date graphics. Due to the many fun quests and humorous skills like the fart attack, airstrike or Bruce Lee jump, we believe parents can enjoy Dragonica as much as kids can, and gamers who have been playing games since the 1980’s or 1990’s will instantly know how to play.
Dragonica does not only offer achievers like hardcore gamers the satisfaction of conquering and holding the Emporia with their guilds in big 25vs25 battles but also gives casual players the chance to just try out some PvP and PvE at the very early stages. It’s an intuitive fun and really humorous game and its console style gameplay will give players fun for either 10 minutes or a couple of hours as they choose.
Negativity towards MMORPGs comes from the ever new ways, companies try to acquire customers and while this is the same for all products on all markets really, Dragonica deviates substantially from standard MMOs in the sense that it’s very kids friendly with cute graphics, no real people killing or any nudity is involved. It’s a fun way to spend some time with friends, increase your reaction speed, interact with other players across Europe and certainly more interesting than watching the next Soap Opera on TV.
2. The gPotato portal is mentioned as the European publisher of dragonica, what is the relationship between gPotato and the developer Barunson Interactive? (I.e. does gPotato partake in development)
As publisher of Dragonica for the European market, currently starting with an English, German and French version of the game, we try to have very close and good relations with Barunson. I’ve already visited our developer in Korea and we’re planning to have them over for the one or the other game convention as well. Our job as publisher and our philosophy hosting the gPotato.eu gaming portal is to offer high-quality free to play games to a broad and interested audience.
Community feedback is crucial and essential for us and Barunson also believes in a locally adapted games. We therefore can change a lot of the game balance to adjust to our market needs. I’ve also already given Barunson several suggestions on features and future development. This however does not mean we sit down with them and do the programming. That’s the developers job really. Ours is to listen, evaluate suggestions and support.
3. Reading through various publisher sources, it appears that each regions version is at various stages, some maybe concerned that this inherently limits them to one version and one region. Is this the case or is each version compatible with that of another region? (I.e. is the online community region restricted)
All the different publishers of Dragonica will basically use the same version provided to them by Barunson. There will however be differences in the design and balance being applied to the different regions. This will mainly be a development set into motion by each publisher listening to its community. As publishers follow business needs however and as each publisher has been provided a license for a specific territory, e.g. gPotato.eu having the license for the European market, THQ for the North American market and IAH for South East Asia, there is a good chance that one or the other or all publishers will not like their players to go to a different market.
Besides that, the launch dates in Europe and South East Asia for example are almost the same anyway, maybe a couple of weeks difference only. There really is no point to suffer from all the lag you’ll have by playing a game on the other side of the world for maybe a week difference. I wouldn’t.
Story & Gameplay
4. Please describe the dragonica back-story and the ethos behind the player’s forth coming journey.
Dragotaka, a vast world created specifically for Dragonica, is a world within which the Dragon world, the Human world and the God’s world all co-exist.
A long time ago, in the world of the Dragons the Dragon Lord was the ruler of all dragons and his ultimate symbol of power and supremacy were five artefacts granting him everlasting live. There however came a time in which greed and lust for power overwhelmed the now evil Dragon Elga who ruthlessly trapped and murdered the Dragon Lord to take the throne for himself. Even though Elga did succeed in killing the Dragon Lord, he could not acquire the 5 artefacts granting him the Dragon throne.
With his last breath, the Dragon Lord released the 5 artefacts to the human world which, bestowed with a live of their own, chose five among the humans who subsequently helped to defeat and imprison Elga. After a thousand or so years, Paris as seen in the Cinematic Trailer, strives for ultimate power by freeing Elga from his eternal imprisonment.
Now it’s upon the heroes of this age to join in fighting and defeating Elga. They will receive many quests by the Dragon Lord Jr., the rightful successor to the original Dragon Lord and will have to master many challenges on their way to finally stand up against Elga himself. This is the world of Dragonica.
5. The description ‘fantasy MMORPG’ often leads many casual gamers to conclude a game is some sort of LOTR, final fantasy or WoW clone. A game that requires a lot of investment in time and follows an over used theme that doesn’t appeal to everyone. How does dragonica differ to hold its own against the established franchises and will it appeal to the casual gamer?
Dragonica truly isn’t another me-too fantasy MMORPG but takes a unique approach in itself. Its graphic style isn’t overly Asian but rather sets its own unique style by featuring SD characters in a vibrant 3D world. Its quality will stand out, and it will not age for years to come. Also, all the controls are keyboard based so if you choose to use a different interface, e.g. any console pad with a USB adapter, this will also work. Just imagine a console-style free to play MMO on a PC.
Dragonica will have all the features in place that a player expects from a modern MMORPG, e.g. PvP & PvE battles, couples, achievements, housing, pets, an open market, guilds and guild wars, class progression and a really well developed chat system to support the community aspect of the game. But it’s not the normal MMO! You do not “tab” your way to the next and next monster or player, you’ll not just stand somewhere to execute a standard combination of spells for massive burst damage or healing efficiency. In Dragonica you have to really hit the enemies, you’ve to move to them or put them in the direct line of fire like the good old “Golden Axe” or “Super Smash Brothers”. It combines console gameplay style with the most up to date MMO features and everything is high quality. You’ll actually be surprised.
6. How would you describe the concept and influences of dragonica? Is it very much eastern influenced, one of western influence or a combination of both?
I really like the word “unique” about Dragonica. It’s not just a phrase but as much as World of Warcraft is unique, Dragonica is as well. The graphics are simple but detail-rich, they are cute but not necessarily of eastern influence. They are of mixed influence but basically have an ageless touch. This style will be cute in years to come, the graphic will be up to date in times to come and the gameplay will only improve and get more interesting. We’re looking at a game where one developer solely focuses on making one already brilliant game a worldwide success.
7. Dragonica is described as an arcade MMORPG, could you explain what this means and how it affects the overall gameplay? (In relation to the traditional views on arcade mechanics and that of most established MMORPG’s)
The concept of a 3D side-scrolling action-orientated arcade MMOPRG is that of applying and improving the concept of 2D jump and run, action games of the time we used to play with and love Joysticks. We’ll be able to relive that notion by using modern controllers or the SNES pad as well and applying skill to a genre which as I mentioned above relieves heavily on macro based spell combination optimization. You won’t miss anything but you’ll wonder why major developers have not revived side-scrolling before Dragonica came out.
8. Could you describe the concept of free to play games on gPotato and alleviate any apprehensions a new comer may have?
Free to play already is the way to go in more mature gaming markets like in South Korea. More and more high quality games like Dragonica are being developed every day and gPotato.eu is one of the leading European publisher in this sector having realised this trend.
The main difference to the well known subscription based model is that free to play games do not charge a monthly fee or require you to pay an initial fee for the game. You’ll be able to download the game for free and play it for free for live. Our business model is based on micro transactions meaning we’ll have an item shop in the game which players can chose to use but are not in any way obliged to. Also, we’ll not sell any items interfering with the game balance like weapons or armour making is necessary for players to use the item shop. This shop is about character customization mainly and about some functional items like e.g. a HP Eternity Potion which basically is an upgrade to in-game potions. The main concept though is: if you choose to pay, you’ll get exactly what you pay for.
9. Many will be aware of the pro, cons and controversy surrounding virtual currencies along with expansions within MMORPG’s. How will this work with dragonica and how will you ensure the gameplay and integrity remains?
There won’t be any issues at all. Expansions of course also will be free as they always have been with the gPotato.eu gaming portal. We’ve very successfully operated free to play games on the German and French market now for the last 2 years with over 1.5 million registered users.
Dragonica will only improve over the years as it’s common with all modern MMOs. Players who choose to play our games will in turn benefit from never ending upgrades and game improvements. And our philosophy of taking the community’s feedback very seriously will guarantee their involvement in a better and even more appealing free game.
10. What is the perceived lifespan of dragonica and are there any plans in place to increase the longevity of the game? (I.e. easter eggs, unlockable character classes, quests etc.)
There are already updates available that Barunson developed which we’ll not feature for the launch of Dragonica in Europe. Those are about more high level quests and content that we’ll unlock as soon as players get to that point basically.
New expansions are already being designed and I already know about some unlockable character classes which I unfortunately cannot share with you at this point. Dragonica already has over 1500 quests in the game with its launch in Europe and more are developed every week. We already have daily quests, achievements and built-in events in Dragonica, not to mention the many GM moderated events that the gPotato.eu gaming portal hosts every month. And … up to level 60, which will be the level cap for OBT, you’ll only be able to fight on 2 out of 5 continents on the Human World… I do not worry about Dragonica’s lifespan.