Dragonica Online Introductory Interview from Comic-Con '09

Posted Fri, Jul 31, 2009 by Cody Bye

Free-to-play games are nothing new to most MMO fans. We've been hearing about and playing these games since Nexon introduced maple story back near the turn of the century. Still, the concept is still new to some MMO players, and those are the folks that THQ*ICE is hoping to bring to their stable with Dragonica Online. Although Ten Ton Hammer had seen screenshots of the game, we'd never seen it in action until we caught a glimpse of it - and asked some questions - from the show floor of Comic-Con '09!

Ten Ton Hammer: We're all pretty new to Dragonica; what can you tell us about the game?

Evan Berman: Dragonica Online is best described as a free-to-play MMORPG, but with a lot of the elements that you'd expect to see in a pay-to-play game. It's a very polished experience; it's been in development for five years.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will this be a dual release, or is the game in Korea already out?

Evan: I believe the game in Korea is in a "release state," but we're still working on a couple things here in North America. We're hoping to hit an open beta window in late summer, and by that point we'll have made some more improvements to the title.

Our biggest concern right now is progressing through the localization process, fixing up some of the quests, and minor things like that. The game - as you can see - is very polished and very accessible to gamers who are both seasoned or new to the MMO realm.

Ten Ton Hammer: And what kind of free-to-play style are you using?

Evan: We're offering a microtransaction system with a cash shop. Basically all that we have in the item mall is cosmetic items. We also have health potions and insurance on your items when you're enchanting them, but for the most part it's purely cosmetic. We don't want players to be able to buy their way to the top of lists or buy their way to the top of the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: What about classes?

Evan: We have four basic classes: the Warrior, the Archer, the Thief, and the Magician. What happens at level twenty is that you can then split off into separate sub classes, and this happens again at forty and again at level 60, so we're looking at a grand total of 28 separate classes at release.

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of customization options do you have available?

Evan: The character options are a little limited to begin with, but the in-game costume options are pretty much endless. Basically, you can have the equipment that your character is wearing be visible, or you can wear something on top of that armor/robes. Those are typically our cash shop items: we've got a track suit, a ninja outfit, a maid wardrobe, and headpieces that look like sushi rolls. Very, very outlandish stuff, and the best part is you still get the benefit of whatever gear you're wearing underneath all of that.

The weapons can be just as over-the-top. For example, Warriors might choose to fight with a hockey stick or with a "brightsaber" or things like that. Archers might have a "Cupid's Bow" and Magicians might have staves that look like odd items.

Ten Ton Hammer: How does the art style compare with the combat system?

Evan: Well, the game is completely made up of this candy-coated, light-hearted, chibi-style of art. Very bright color palettes and a variety of textures.

That said, the combat system itself is very sophisticated and pushes players to know their skills, combos, and how to chain their attacks together to perform as efficiently as possible. It's really how players maximize their DPS and their role in the party.

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of combat scenarios do you have in the game?

Evan: There's a whole variety of them. For example, we have what we call mission maps that have a variety of stages where you clear out little monsters and then you fight a big boss monster at the end. Players are given grades at the end of each stage based on how long it took them to complete the encounter, the number of times they were hit, combos you were able to pull off, etc. The items you receive at the end of your encounter are based off of that grade.

Ten Ton Hammer: The social / massive aspects of the game take place where?

Evan: Those take place in the cities. There's no combat and no monsters, but you can find your commerce centers there. Players can set up their own mini-shops and sell the items that they find in the game for any price that they wish, so hopefully we'll be seeing some pretty interesting feedback based on players prices fairly soon.

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of attitude should gamers have when they come play this game? Is it all just tongue-in-cheek action? Or does it have some serious qualities?

Evan: While the game itself doesn’t take itself too seriously, the players have the ability to take the game very seriously. It has very broad appeal, it should draw in the casuals and the hardcore. The community’s already looking to be very supportive of the game and supportive of the new arrivals.

Ten Ton Hammer: Why would a pay-to-play gamer switch over to Dragonica?

Evan: I think there are a lot of folks that have just quit World of Warcraft or any other pay-to-play MMO for whatever reason, and they’re looking to try something new and not necessarily pay for it. Luckily players can try it here for free. They can get in and see the art style and the play-style, which is 2D side-scrolling with a 3D twist – or in our terms 3D side scrolling. There are some very interesting platforming sort of challenges along with the combat in the game.

We have a marriage system, and a pet system is coming. There are just a lot of the elements players have come to expect from larger games. It’s everything a player wants with a cash shop that is purely optional.

We think the game has tons of potential and lots of life; we’ve got one continent already in the game and we’re also hoping to add another continent to the game very shortly.

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