Liquid Entertainment president Ed Del Castillo explains how the studio is bridging the gap between role-playing games and real-time strategy in this upcoming game set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe.
Real-time strategy games now mean more than simply collecting resources, building up a base, churning out an army of military units, and rushing your opponent. Recent games have gone beyond this formula, and Dragonshard, from developer Liquid Entertainment and publisher Atari, will try to add even more unique features, like the traditional dungeon-hacking you might expect from a role-playing game and many unique strategic features, like different types of companies for your armies. Warning: as you might expect from a game based on the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy license, there will also be at least one elf in the game. In this designer diary, creative director Ed Del Castillo shares non-elf-related details on how the new game will incorporate elements of role-playing and strategy.
Dungeons & Dragons Meets Real-Time Strategy
By Ed Del Castillo
President/Creative Director, Liquid Entertainment
Hi there. Welcome to episode two of our ongoing series of designer diaries for Dragonshard, a real-time strategy game set in the new Dungeons & Dragons campaign world of Eberron. In the previous diary, I went over our dual-layer play feature. This time around, we'll discuss how D&D works with real-time strategy. This is going to be a more philosophical discussion than last time, but hopefully we'll make it interesting.
Dungeons and Dragons was originally a role-playing game that was played with paper and dice. When it came time to translate that into a computer game experience, the most salient points of the game experience were replicated, meaning that players spent most of their time running around fighting monsters, collecting loot, and gaining experience in order to "level up" their characters and improve their abilities. Although that experience has been refined over the years, the core experience remains the same.
On the other hand, real-time strategy games have been around for quite a while too, and they have their own set of conventions. In real-time strategy games, you typically gather resources, build an economic center, build up an army, and go out conquering your enemy. They're typically fast paced with a good deal of "on-the-fly" strategy born of the many different types of soldiers you could build. This has also undergone years of refinement and even some reinvention.
With Dragonshard, we're trying to make a bold effort to combine the exploration and character growth of the D&D universe with the fast-paced multisoldier manipulation of a real-time strategy experience. When Atari first approached us about doing this game, we knew it was going be a challenge. But we also knew that if we rose to that challenge, the reward would be a gameplay experience that no one had ever had before.
So, we sat down and made two lists. The first list was the D&D list. It had all the features that we love and/or expect from a D&D experience. Because D&D has, up until now, been considered an RPG experience, sometimes the list read more like a list of what we liked or expected from an RPG, but that was OK. It differed in other areas, like "classic D&D monsters such as gelatinous cubes, bugbears, and so on." That was something that not every RPG had. Only D&D games had that. The list also included gaining experience, improving your characters, "dungeons" and other treasure-rich areas to explore, exploration of the world, the telling of a story, and so on. When we finished that list, yep, you guessed it--the real-time strategy list began.
Created the same way as the D&D list, the real-time strategy list produced very different results: fast pace of play, an economic aspect and a military aspect, larger numbers or soldiers fighting at once, specific roles for soldiers that would create strategy through soldier combinations and win/lose matchups, and the ability to change or improve your combination of forces over time. Several other great real-time strategy points also came out of there, and that's when the magic really began.
- Player Reviews: 53
- Game Universe:
- Dungeons & Dragons Heroes (XBOX, GC, PS2),
- Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone (PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale (PC, PS3, X360),
- Dungeons & Dragons Online: Forsaken Lands (PC),
- Dungeons & Dragons Tactics (PSP),
- Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach (PC, MAC),
- Dragonshard (PC),
- Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder (GBA),
- Dungeons & Dragons Collection (SAT),
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Iron & Blood (PC)
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
8 Players Online