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Design Discussion: Dragon Changes

January 9th, 2017

Design Discussion: Dragon Changes

So last time we talked about the design changes for our giant arachnids, the Raknar. It is only fitting that we give our fire-breathing, flying lizards a turn too!

Our initial design for dragons had players starting out as a weak and defenseless baby dragon, struggling to survive. They would be strongly directed down a path of solo play, with in-game communications limited to emotes. They were to be our greatest survival challenge and meaty fare for any hardcore player.

However, forcing a player into a solo play-style in a game that we are actively designing to be a multiplayer game didn’t make much sense. So we made a few changes to make it easier for dragons to communicate, as well as focusing our design and pulling back on feature creep so we can release in a timely manner.

Arguably the biggest design change is to allow dragons to speak with other dragons using in-game text chat. This will help dragons who are unfamiliar with one another to communicate, which will be very important to the feel on Non-PvP and Racial PvP servers. It may even help out on the PvP servers as well, only time and testing will tell.

One of the defining features of a dragon is the ability to use their very breath as a weapon. Originally we were going to make dragons wait until adulthood to gain this signature attack, however it was decided that it was too important to make them wait that long. So we’ve moved it up to the third stage, Juvenile. The dragon breath ability was also put under review to find a way to streamline it for early access. It was decided that, for now, dragons will only have one type of breath attack; a direct frontal cone of fire. Nuggets will fill the dragon’s breath sacs based on their rarity, with gold replenishing significantly more than silver, and copper only providing a small amount of fuel.

With nuggets being so vital to dragon gameplay (fuel for breath attacks, necessary for healing, and required for molting), we’ve changed how dragons can harvest nuggets. Instead of requiring them to compete with humans for mining nodes in the hopes of a chance for a nugget, we’ve buried the nuggets underground and given dragons the ability to detect them using their sense of smell. We’ve touched on this change previously, but I want to go a little deeper on the explanation. When an island is created, nuggets are placed randomly across the island, with copper being the most common, silver the second, and gold as the rarest. When a nugget is dug up, the server will spawn a new nugget somewhere else on the island. When close enough, dragon characters will see a particle effect at the location of a nugget, and will then need to dig to find the nugget.

If you are concerned that this change takes away from some of the player conflict, let me assure you that it will still be there. As dragons, and the occasional lucky human, dig up nuggets, the ones that spawn in areas that humans happen to be frequenting will not get harvested as much, so that given enough time, a dragon might decide to risk a visit in hopes of cleaning up several nugget spawns. We are also exploring the possibility of allowing dragons to detect when a human in carrying a nugget on them, making them a target for the more daring dragons.

We’ve also changed how dragons molt from one stage to the next. In earlier designs dragons had to create a nest, stock pile nuggets, and then carefully keep their dragon alive and full so it could grow enough to be ready to molt. It would then need to return to the nest, choose to molt, then watch a timer count down.

For us this overly restricted the dragon’s ability to roam and explore, as they were having to constantly return to a particular nest even though they could build multiples. We decided it was just more punishing than challenging, so we’ve tweaked it. Dragons will still need to stock pile their nuggets, and avoid death, but they no longer have the constant food requirement and they do not have to return to their nest to molt!

Other than their removal as a requirement for the molting process, nests remain unchanged in their design. They need to be destroyed for anyone but the owner to access the treasure inside, dragons can create multiple nests, they function as respawn points for their owner, and they can be placed nearly anywhere the dragon can fit them.

Instead, the largest requirements for molting are now nugget consumption and making improvements to their abilities. Dragons will need to improve their abilities a certain number of times before they are ready to molt. These improvements can be made to one single ability or across all the abilities, whatever the player chooses. Abilities are improved by using them, just as human skills are increased.

The abilities dragons receive remains pretty much the same. They have a bite attack, which deals a moderate amount of damage to its victim. As they grow they gain a claw attack, which is faster but does less damage. They also have the ability to fly after they reach the young growth stage. They will also receive a tail attack, their breath attack, and the ability to sense nuggets. The nugget sensing ability will improve as the dragon unearths nuggets from the ground.

These changes don’t take anything away from the challenge of dragons. They are still by far our most difficult race to succeed with, which is exactly what they want for them.

That covers all the design changes we have for dragons, but this is always subject to change in the future. Share your thoughts with us over at http://trialsofascension.com/forum/threads/design-discussion-dragon-changes.6030/.