Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard Interview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Atari
Developer:Liquid Entertainment
Release Date:2005-09-21
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Strategy
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
To help kick off our brand new Dragonshard subsite, producer Charley Price reveals new information about the game's classes, factions, dungeons, creatures, and much more.  Our questions and his answers to follow:

GB: First of all, will the final game be entitled "Dragonshard" or "The Dragonshard Wars"? I only ask because it's been mentioned as "The Dragonshard Wars" in the past and is listed that way on the newly downloadable character viewer. Either way, can you tell us how you arrived at that name and what significance the word "Dragonshard" has to the game?

Charley: The final title of the game is going to simply be (Dragonshard). This was chosen due to the fact that the term is closely tied to our game in a variety of ways.

For one, since this is to be the first game to be released set within the world of Eberron, we wanted to select a name that was immediately evocative of that setting. In Eberron, Dragonshards are rare and powerful crystals that serve as conduits of power, enhancing player characters and allowing for the construction of many of the fantastic structures that are found in that world.

In our game, Dragonshards manifest as one of the main resources (along with Gold and Experience), and are constantly replenished on the map due to intermittent shardfalls that come from the sky. This is a resource dynamic which is unique to our game; hence we wanted to highlight it in the game's title.

Finally, the single-player campaigns in Dragonshard revolve around various factions attempting to acquire (or protect) a massive Dragonshard that fell in the lost land of Xen'drik, called the (Heart of Siberys). It is this massive artifact that provides the main point of contention throughout each of the campaigns.



GB: We haven't seen a Dungeons & Dragons strategy title since Interplay's Blood & Magic in 1996. With the success of many fantasy RTS titles over the past several years, why do you feel it took so long for another D&D strategy game to emerge?

Charley: This is merely my own speculation, but with a normal license, a developer usually only has to think of maintaining the feel, visual look, and characters of the given property, thus leaving them relatively free to make whatever kind of game around that license that they see fit. However, with the Dungeons & Dragons license, there are a variety of gameplay expectations given the nature of the pen and paper game. Naturally, this is much easier to re-create in smaller-scale, character centric RPGs and Adventure games, but much more difficult in larger scale games such as Strategy and RTS titles. As such, a successful D&D strategy game needs to integrate core D&D concepts in order to remain true to the feel of the pen and paper game, while still presenting a fresh, compelling strategy experience to the player.

With Dragonshard, we already felt that the RTS genre needed a (kick in the pants), and the D&D game system felt like the perfect setting in which to implement our ideas (dual-layer play, various methods of unit advancement, etc), which helped lead to the expansive, innovative system currently found in our game today.



GB: Tell us about resource management. What resources will players need to acquire in Dragonshard and will there be a finite supply of them?

Charley: In Dragonshard, there are three resources: Dragonshards, Gold, and Experience.

As mentioned earlier, Dragonshards can be gathered by exploring the above ground layer and finding various impact sites where shardfalls have occurred. This can be aided by a unit found on each side which can detect when and where Dragonshards may fall, sending out a sonar-like ping. Gold is acquired by exploring the depths of the underground layer, and is found in chests, on the bodies of monsters, and in massive (and often well protected) hoards of treasure. Some chests found in the underworld will be locked, and thus require a Rogue captain of the appropriate level to open them. Both Gold and Dragonshards act as primary resources and are used for building construction, unit generation, etc.

Experience is acquired by killing monsters (above or below ground), killing the units of other players (in multi-player), or by completing quests (in single-player). Experience is gathered globally, and can then be spent to level up all units of a given type, providing them increased health, damage, and new or more powerful abilities.

It is worth noting that, unlike other RTS games, there are no (resource gathering) units per se. Any unit can acquire any of the resources in the game. As such, the player no longer has an inherently vulnerable group of vital resource gathers that must be defended at all times in Dragonshard, the resource gatherers can take care of themselves.



GB: All four factions are now revealed - the Order of the Flame, Umbragen, Lizardfolk, and Monsters. Can you give us a brief summary of each one's strengths & weaknesses, as well as what types of Champions they'll be able to recruit?

Charley: In Dragonshard, the playable factions are the Order of the Flame, the Lizardfolk, and the Umbragen, with the Monsters serving as global opposition (although at times they can be controlled via various spells and Places of Power).

Each of the three playable races has units that represent the various roles that are considered vital in an RTS (melee/ranged damage dealers, siege units, healers, etc), but they do each have their own specialties.

The Order of the Flame are the hale and hearty forces that will be the most familiar to D&D players. With raging Barbarians, spell-slinging Sorcerers, and stealthy, backstabbing Rogues, the Order of the Flame present a full spectrum of the D&D classes, and thus offer a good balance for various styles and strategies.

The Lizardfolk are made up of deadly hunters and druidic spellcasters, and are generally the most mobile of the three races. They have an affinity for poison damage and damage-over-time abilities, and suffer no movement penalties when running through water.

The Umbragen are a more magic-centric race who have devoted themselves to a symbiotic relationship between flesh and shadow. As such, they have a variety of powerful draining, and debuffing abilities, and are at their best when being micro-managed to the utmost efficiency.

Each of the races can directly call upon 10 captains - the base-unit of Dragonshard (roughly equivalent to a level 5 D&D character upon creation, but who can be leveled up using Experience) - and one of four champions (roughly equivalent to epic level characters). The Champions for each side will consist of one Fighter-type (Fighter, Paladin, Barbarian, or Monk), one Rogue (no Bards!), one divine spellcaster (Cleric or Druid), and one arcane spellcaster (Wizard or Sorcerer).