It’s been out on Steam for a couple months now, but you may not yet have heard of the all-dragon, some-titan free-to-play MOBA that’s challenging the genre with new ideas – Dragons and Titans! I had the privilege of picking the brains behind this beastly brawler – check out the interview below in whichever format is tastier.
Rocketstomp: Hey everybody, thanks for tuning in tonight. Now, when you think about MOBAs, the first things that come to mind are League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients. But because these two giants have really set the bar, they’ve left a lot of room open for experimentation and a lot of these little independent studios have really jumped on this opportunity to stretch out and explore the unexplored realm within the genre. Tonight I have with me Scott Brown, the founder of Wyrmbyte Studios.
They have produced a free-to-play MOBA called Dragons and Titans, which originated on Facebook with the Unity engine, and released on Steam in the past week. Thanks for coming out here tonight, Scott.
Wyrmbyte: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Rocketstomp: Because the MOBA genre is still pretty infantile, and there has been a lot of room for you to explore new concepts, what are the core concepts that Dragons and Titans brings to challenge the competition?
Wyrmbyte: One of the things we had when we were playing these [MOBAs] – what we were running into was that the match time was just a little bit too long for us. And also, you know, they’re pretty complicated games with the item shops. They’re very competitive, which is what they’re built to be. And we thought a more lightweight version of something that could still be sort of competitive, but with much shorter matches would be the right thing to make. And also we love dragons, and we thought, “hey, no one’s really done this” so there’s unlimited types of dragons and skills and abilities you could [equip them with] so that seemed like a really good fit and that’s how we started.
Rocketstomp: Yeah, I’ve really noticed. Some matches – I’ve been trained as a heavy MOBA player to go into a match just bracing myself for possibly 40 minutes to an hour of a long, grueling battler. Then [Dragons and Titans] is over in ten minutes because you level quickly, structures go down quickly, and if your team is working together you progress so fast through the flow of the game. And then there is that other thing that makes Dragons and Titans unique – all of the characters are dragons. All of the heroes are various kinds of wyrms. Now where did that idea come from? Was it because you had never seen anything like it, and because of the whole love of dragons to begin with?
Wyrmbyte: Well certainly we liked the idea of dragons – we’d been wanting to make some kind of dragon game for a long time, a bunch of those who are working on this. The cool thing is it gave us a kind of interesting way where we could allow the player to exist in the world. Like in League of Legends you have your summoner, and then in DotA I don’t think they call it anything. It’s just your account. We thought, “hey, here’s a cool thing – you can have your rider which you can view, and so it’s kind of separate from the “champion” which is the dragon. So that kind of came together really well. And then there’s the other idea we had, which was to take out the item shops. We just found [in other MOBAs] that we were just making the recommended purchases from the item shop and we just weren’t advanced enough. We weren’t doing any specific item builds and so we thought “why don’t we put the item shop outside the game instead of inside?” And we came up with this – instead of putting all the skills on the dragon, we put two on the dragon and two on the weapon and that gives you a really interesting way to combine when you start a match, that’s where it all came from. You’ve got you, you’ve got your dragon, you’ve got your weapon, and you’ve got this combination of things that sort of determines what combination you bring to the battle.
Rocketstomp: So, bit of groundbreaking – you equip one weapon that decides half your skills. Anybody who just takes a glance at that will realize “holy crap, the options are limitless.” But you didn’t stop there with the loadout customization. You also have a system that’s inspired by League of Legends’ “summoner spells” where players pick from a shared pool of abilities and then you have the passive stat increases in the form of runes. Do you think that might be a little overwhelming to some players?
Wyrmbyte: Yeah , there was that challenge of balancing between “not enough complexity” and not having enough meat to get into as you go so one of the things we tried to do was reveal these things slowly to you as you play. Like the runes don’t even unlock until you’ve reached rank 3 or 4 now. So we want to introduce these things to you slowly, and it’s pretty simple once you get used to it.
Rocketstomp: So you really try to ease the players along the learning curve – I really like that idea. Now – probably the biggest weakness I’ve seen in the game so far, there are bonuses that you can acquire over time for using the same dragon and the same weapon called “mastery.” And as you achieve better and greater ranks of mastery – I believe it goes bronze, silver, gold, platinum – your base stats increase and your ability cooldowns decrease. Now, because there is so much customization, a lot of players are going to be generalists and want to explore a lot more possibilities, but right now, they’re being punished by this system. Do you see a way to reward those players that want to explore the customization more thoroughly in the future?
Wyrmbyte: That’s a great point. There’s certainly something – I wouldn’t say we’re far enough along to describe it yet, but I think what you’re getting at is exactly right. What we’ve been working on is a sort of generic mastery system where it’s not only about getting better at a dragon or weapon the more you use it, but about being a better dragon rider or weapon master the more weapons [you use] or dragons you ride. Using more of them will give you some benefits and specializing will give you some benefits.
Rocketstomp: I’m sure that’s going to be very encouraging news to those generalist players that are listening in on this. So – one weapon really caught my eye. You added the symbol for the Unity engine, which you used to build the game, into the game as a usable weapon called the “Unity Mark.” *holds back laughter* How did that come about?
Wyrmbyte: So we were talking to Unity about what we were doing with the game and one of the coolest things about Unity is that it runs on so many different platforms and we were like, “hey, we’ve got this game idea. It’s going on Facebook first, then it’s going on – at the time, we were trying to get Greenlight on Steam so we’re trying to go to Steam next” and we’re like “hey, what if we put something cool in the game and you guys give us PR and talk about it and show off what we’re doing?” And so they thought that was really cool. And they’ve got this thing where instead of having to say “made with Unity” – that little splash screen you see with all the other engines – they’re like “hey, if you do something fun, we’ll really support it and you won’t have to be so bland.” So we brainstormed about what Unity is all about, and it’s about empowering people so that’s where the whole backstory came from- it’s pretty fun.
Rocketstomp: I did notice that its second ability “empowers your allies” which I believe increases their damage. That is such a fantastic way to strike a little deal and eliminate a step from the launch process. Now, with all of the dragon / weapon combinations available, which one is your favorite?
Wyrmbyte: So the Hellfire with Phoenix is just a fun little “mash-in of doing lots of fire damage” combination. It’s got really strong – the Hellfire Breath has a really good DoT on it, the phoenix has a really good DoT on it so it’s a really powerful combination.
Rocketstomp: I’ve really taken a liking to Magmascale and – it’s the axe, where one of its abilities fires the axe in a straight line –
Wyrmbyte: Yup, the axe can give you all your health back if you get a killing blow with it.
Rocketstomp: Right, when you use the chop ability – the number 5.
Wyrmbyte: Yup, and it is our only weapon that attacks in front and behind you – if you get someone right behind you you can hit them with it and that was a really fun one to make.
GameCheetah: Right, great baiting tool. Brief PSA to the players – if you’re using Magmascale for anything that is not primarily structure destruction you are doing it wrong, use the meteor shower to take out those turrets – just a free little tip for you.
Wyrmbyte: Yeah, it’s a pretty powerful dragon, I really like it. It’s also the only one that has that sort of shotgun-style breath.
Rocketstomp: Yeah, that’s also pretty interesting. Now, obviously you’re definitely still in development even though you’ve moved on to PC and Mac. So what are the features that you’re coming up on and we can expect to see soon?
Wyrmbyte: You know, a lot of it has just been getting out on Steam – it’s interesting to see how Steam players play, had a few balance issues so we’ve been tweaking and working on those. Some of the bigger features in the pipe, we’re working on a clan or a tournament system so you can have organized tournaments between groups of players – that’s something that’s hopefully coming pretty soon. We’re doing some stuff with the avatars. We’re not really happy with how those are right now, so we’re working on a way to show those off and include those in the game a little bit better. That’s all I can really talk about right now – of course, we are continuing to build more acts and dragons and weapons. And then we’re doing a – we do a new season every quarter so we’re going to be starting our first season with all the Steam players on April first. That’s fun so we’re gearing up for that, too.
Rocketstomp: So [the players] are going to have clan wars and better player customization soon, keep an eye out for that. Give our players a bit of a hand – what is the most valuable advice you can give to a fledgling dragon rider?
Wyrmbyte: Typical MOBA thinking works well here too, right? So stick together, don’t overextend, don’t get greedy going for that tower kill and then you’re injured when another dragon comes along… return gold often. Protect your chaos titan… *both laugh.*
Rocketstomp: Okay, so you heard it – lots of teamwork, make sure you’re paying attention to the gold in your stash, and don’t believe that just because you have a chaos titan on the field that you can let it roam and think it’s going to do a lot of good. Thank you so much for your time, Scott, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Again, Dragons and Titans is available on Facebook and Steam for both PC and Mac, and it is only supported by purchases of ingame items and avatars. Thanks again, Scott.
Wyrmbyte: Yep, and thank you!
You can check Dragons and Titans out for free on Steam here.