Kickstarter Interview: Take to the skies for dog fighting action in Dragons of Elanthia
The whole “dog fighting” genre has been done over and over again with everything from biplanes to futuristic jetfighters. Children of the 80s go through their Top Gun phase and feel the need for speed. There are few feelings better than maneuvering behind your opponent, getting your target in your sights, and then pulling the trigger. Have you ever wondered where else the dog fighting genre could take off to (see what I did there)?
Have you considered dragons? I like dragons, why not? I grew up reading Dragonlance but I’m sure that has nothing to do with my bias. Regardless, let me introduce you to Dragons of Elanthia. This free-to-play, online, multiplayer shooter takes you into a world of dragon riding. After all, dragons are the fantasy genre's airplanes and it’s about time you pick up the reigns, fly around with some friends, and burn your foes out of the sky.
In Dragons of Elanthia, you’ll be given a selection of dragons and dragon riders; each with their own unique abilities and passives. Find your favorite combination of rider and dragon and battle against your enemies. This game will cost you nothing at launch, and will include every rider and every dragon. Through the in-game store, you’ll be able to purchase cosmetic additions like skins and taunts for your characters as well as artifacts. While artifacts will help your stats, they aren’t anything you can’t get in game – Simutronics, the game’s developer, are very conscious of avoiding the dreaded pay to win scenario.
I received the opportunity to interview Dragons of Elanthia’s producer, Chris Moore, as well as the game designer, Stephen Hmiel. If you’re interested in some hot dragon on dragon dog fighting action, I strongly suggest taking a look at their Kickstarter page, the video below, and our interview. Dragons aren’t going to fight themselves and you still have time to back this project. It’s time to take your skills to the DANGER ZONE.
What exactly is Dragons of Elanthia?
Dragons of Elanthia is a free-to-play, online multiplayer shooter. It’s all about aerial combat, like if you had a bunch of old-school biplanes dog fighting, but the biplanes were dragons. You pick a rider, pick a dragon, and then fly into battle with access to both characters’ abilities, so it’s all about picking the right combination for the right time. And then blowing people up.
Where did the idea for Dragons of Elanthia stem from? How long have you had a project like this in mind?
There are countless examples of dragons and dragon riding heroics in all kinds of fantasy fiction, so it wasn't hard to draw inspiration from multiple sources there. Works from authors like George R. R. Martin and Anne McCaffrey really get the imagination flowing. When you are reading those types of books, questions start to form in your head. Why can't I ride a dragon into battle in a game? What if I could fight other people online from the back for a dragon? Why doesn't that game exist now? When you find yourself asking those questions, you know you have a game idea on your hands.
What games inspired you for this project?
We've played games like Lair and Panzer Dragoon. Lair had a notoriously bad control scheme, which tainted and otherwise great single player game. Panzer Dragoon was a rail shooter, and not really what we were aiming for. We can go all the way back to 1990 with SSI's DragonStrike game, which some of us old-timers here remember playing. All of these games inspired us in certain ways to create Dragons of Elanthia.
What will your free-to-play business model be like?
Well, we don’t want to charge for access to any dragons or riders, since the game is all about being able to mix and match. We’ll be offering various cosmetic options for your dragons and riders, like skins and taunts, as well as experience boosters so you can level up faster.
However, the main things we’ll be selling are artifacts, which are pieces of equipment that boost your dragons’ and riders’ stats. You can get them just by playing the game, or you can buy packs of them for more sweet loot.
We want to obviously avoid any pay-to-win situations. This is a hardcore shooter, and you can't just sell power. We don't like it and fans don't like it. Therefore, we don't do it.
Are you doing all the writing, coding, and art yourself for the project?
Absolutely! Everything is being done in-house, we’re not outsourcing anything.
How has the beta been progressing? Is it too late to sign up?
We’ve been taking beta signups for a few weeks now, and you can totally still sign up over at http://dragonsofelanthia.com/beta.asp! Once we get everything squared away on our end, we’ll be able to start letting folks in to play the game for real!
How much strategy goes into picking your rider and dragon even before the match begins?
A ton of it, because we’ve made sure that every dragon and every rider has its role. And don’t forget: You can change your rider and dragon every time you die! So you might want a fast dragon at the start of the match so your team can stake out some territory. Later on, if you need to blast the other team away from a key objective, you can bring in a dragon with more firepower or a rider with some AoE power. And of course, sometimes you just get really good with a given combination, and want to stick with it regardless.
Will there be a campaign mode? Are there bots?
When we first thought up Dragons of Elanthia, it was going to be a purely-multiplayer experience. So right now we haven’t budgeted for a single-player campaign or bots for an offline mode, but hey, depending on how the Kickstarter does, who knows? We just don’t have the resources right now, so we’re focusing on making the multiplayer as satisfying as possible.
Sure sounds like a great stretch goal!
How long does a typical match take? Are there different game modes?
We’ve got a few game modes up and running, and the match length varies a bit between them. Most matches seem to take about 15-20 minutes, though that might change as we fine-tune the modes. Currently we have a classic Team Deathmatch, a Capture Point mode where players capture areas of the map by flying through guarded beacons, and an Assault mode where one team is trying to move through a map and drive out the defense team. And of course, we’ve got a lot more cool stuff in the works.
How is the Steam Greenlight process going? How can fans help?
We’ve been encouraged by what Steam users have shown us so far, but we’ve got a long ways to go. The best way to help us out is to upvote us on Greenlight, and tell your friends!
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ