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Dragon Tavern: Getting to Know the Game with the Lead Designer

Updated Fri, Jun 06, 2008 by Cody Bye

Questions by Garrett Fuller, Industry Relations
Answers by Glen Maydom, Lead Designer of Dragon Tavern

Back twenty years ago, no one would have imagined that photo realistic games like Age of Conan or EverQuest II would have ever been possible. Pen and paper RPGs were what people looked towards to unleash their creativity, and that was often the only option they had. Now twenty years later with Age of Conan just hitting the Internet, a game has hit the web that hearkens us back to those golden days of pen and paper gaming. Named Dragon Tavern, Ten Ton Hammer’s Garrett Fuller took a moment to chat with the game’s lead designer, Glen Maydom, to figure out just why gamers should be attracted to this newly released, old school style online RPG.


A look at the Character Page in Dragon Tavern.

Ten Ton Hammer: Tell us about Dragon Tavern and what players can look forward to in the game?

Glen Maydom: Dragon Tavern is a browser based social RPG. I guess you could say it's an MMO but the jury is still out on whether browser games get to use that title or not.  Players roam around various dungeons beating up monsters and getting loot in order to improve on their characters and watch them improve over time.  It's a bit tongue in cheek, and suits the gamer who likes to watch their character grow over time, but doesn't have 6 hours a day to play.  It's designed to be quick to play, easy to learn, and have many subtle gameplay elements for the enthusiasts to master, without alienating the people who just like to explore at a fast pace.

Ten Ton Hammer: Players get to start as a Champion and explore the world, tell us about what players can find?

Glen: From the Tavern, players set off into one of the many locations we have, each with a level range that defines the monsters strength which will be encountered there. In each location, there are many sub-locations which is there the best loot and hardest boss monsters are found.  We have two more main locations planned for the near future (one for early game, named the Daggerspine Mountains, and one for late game which is still under wraps for now). A key difference between the locations and sub locations is that you can control the difficulty in a location by selecting which level you with to explore in, but with sub locations they have a pre-set level range, meaning if you go somewhere you're not ready for, you'll be in for a few tough fights! Less certainty, for higher rewards basically.

Ten Ton Hammer: Dragon Tavern runs very well, tell us a little about the technology behind the game.

Glen: Nothing that fancy really. Just the latest stuff like Ajax, mixed with some javascript.  We have a fairly decent webhost that uses cloud based computing (I think that's the term), allowing us to ramp up and ramp down the amount of grunt under the hood in a very quick time.  We decided to go with this because we wern't sure exactly how much power we were going to need, and decided if we couldn't be certain, we should be flexible. So far it has met our needs well.

Ten Ton Hammer: You have some interesting titles for your players, what went into building this list or can players give themselves their own title?

Glen: Given we don’t have 3d graphics in our game, it's up to us to provide interesting ways for players to differentiate themselves from others. Having a wide range of titles available does wonders for this, and you can tell a bit about a person's play style by the title they pick to give themselves.  There are almost 100 titles for players to collect, some of which are limited to certain character classes, while others are there for anyone to obtain provided they satisfy the criteria for earning them.  It's just something else for players to strive towards collecting, and I have always been a big fan of giving players unexpected rewards from time to time such as titles they may not have known about.  For now players cannot make and pick their own titles, however there are a few things in the works that will change this soon.

Exploring the Underworld.

Ten Ton Hammer: Talk about your Hardcore player system. How does this work in the game?

Glen: Hardcore (and Limited) characters are designed with the more competitive players in mind.  Hardcore characters are unlocked once you have a normal character that reaches level 20.  The key differences are that when they die, they're gone for good, and that they gain Action Points at twice the speed of regular characters.  Players who like a little bit of extra risk, or like to show off to their friends how good (or lucky) they are, will enjoy this feature the most, but obviously it's not for everyone.  There's also limited AP characters as well which can be unlocked, who just get a big chunk of AP at the start, but never gain more.  The point of these characters is again to compete with your friends to see who can get the furthest in a given allocation of time.  To facilitate these things, we have separate high score lists designed around these game types, as well as competition groups which I'll elaborate on in a moment. It's probably also worth mentioning that to keep the playing field level, you're unable to purchase some of the perks that you normally could with regular characters. Nobody likes a stacked deck afterall.

Ten Ton Hammer: What type of character advancement system do you have in the game?

Glen: The usual level based system you'll be familiar with from most RPG's out there.  The items you purchase improve your chances of success, and each level you either gain an extra max wound, or a skill point to spend on one of the many skills you can use to further customize your character.  Skills are not limited to classes like a traditional RPG, and allow you to build characters which are more focused towards loot, avoiding traps, or dealing with certain types of monsters, among other things.

Ten Ton Hammer: Tell us about the rewards or loot characters can get?
Features, Interviews
Fri, Jun 06, 2008
Cody Bye

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