Our chat with Jon Selin, the Lead Designer of Dreamlords, brought a few questions about the MMORPG-RTS title answered
14 February 2007 | By Import
Strategy Informer: Hello! Please introduce yourself and your role behind Dreamlords to our readers.
Jon Selin: My name is Jon Selin and I'm the Lead Designer of Dreamlords. My job is to maintain the overall vision of the game and to communicate it to the rest of the team. I also work a lot with the game balance, write the back-story and guidelines for the story arc, and bug the producers and programmers with requests for new features all day long.
Jon Selin, the Lead Designer of Dreamlords
When did the production of Dreamlords start?
Jon Selin: We went into development during the fall of 2004, so we've been at it for two and a half years by now. When we started out we were only about 10 people involved in the project, but it has grown to twice that over the years.
Where did the idea of creating an MMORPG-RTS game come from?
Jon Selin: Well, basically I had an idea regarding merging the RTS-genre with the strategic web games where you control some sort of kingdom. As we continued down that road we took a lot of inspiration from the MMORPGs, and the result is what you see today. We have a client in which you fight battles against monsters and other players RTS-style, but you can also go on spirit quests with your avatar and have some of the character progression of the MMORPGs. Then there’s a really advanced web-based interface which you use to manage your land. Since the web interface doesn’t require any plug-ins you can access that part of the game from pretty much any computer with an internet connection and a browser.
What can you tell us about the city management?
Jon Selin: Managing your cities is central to playing Dreamlords. What we have decided to do is to rather than having different types of colonies such as resource outposts, garrisons, etc, we made the basic city flexible enough to cover for all these different tasks. Want a mine? Build a city in a mountain and construct a quarry or a similar building. Want a guardpost? Build War Effort and Exploration buildings instead. Or you could build a metropolis, housing a little bit of everything.
What does the game feature on the empire management level?
Jon Selin: The most important macro decisions you make as a player is what technologies to research. This will determine things like what units you gain access to, what abilities they have, what buildings you can construct in your cities and what leaders you can train. There are plenty of other things to do though, like crafting and let’s not forget about the diplomacy. It is vital to cooperate with the other members of your Convergence (that’s what we call the guilds here in Dreamlords). There is also a pretty interesting stock-market type trading system where you can place buy- and sell-orders for various items in the game.
What kind of resources will there be in Dreamlords?
Jon Selin: The most important resource is Gnosis, it is the power of your Dreamlord. Beyond affecting the Dreamlord’s stats it also determines how well everything is in your land. You gain Gnosis by dissolving items and absorbing their power. One of the items that you will be dissolving most is the Soul Shards. Soul Shards is the currency of the game, and it is rewarded from more or less everything that you do. You can spend them on many different things; hire leaders, buy items on the market, launch founders to build new cities, or dissolve them for Gnosis. Beyond Gnosis and Soul Shards there are more traditional resources; wood, metal and stone, as well as many rare versions of said resources which are used to construct higher level buildings and crafting. There are also ingredients which can only be gained as loot from monsters or when battling it out in PvP. Finally there are Actions which are accumulated as time goes by. They are tangible little pieces of time used to move your pawns around on your patria among other things.
What can you tell us about players’ main characters, Dreamlords, and their role in the game?
Jon Selin: A Dreamlord is the spirit of a piece of floating land called a Patria. While the Dreamlord is the player’s avatar, there is also a race living on the patria which the Dreamlord can control to do his biddings. While you often field your armies you can also go on spirit quests with the Dreamlord, playing in third person mode. The spirit quests are all part of the story arc which explains how the world came to be like it is, as well as unfolding what lies ahead. As our game is cyclic, meaning that it restarts every once in a while, the Dreamlord stand out from the progression of your Patria as he is truly persistent. The trait points you receive for your Dreamlord carry over between the Eras, and so does all the extremely rare Dreamlord gear that you are lucky or skilled enough to get your hands on.
How many races are there in Dreamlords?
Jon Selin: There are three races: the Thul, the Nihilim and the Covenant. The Thul are bloodthirsty beastlike wolf-men. Rather then researching technologies through intellect or faith as the other races they need to collect blood for their rituals in order to progress. The Nihilim are cold, logical scientists. They are masters of the arcane and completely devoid of emotions. The Covenant is the race that reassembles humans the most. They are heavily armored warriors devoted on defending their faith against the infidels.
What kind of units will the game feature? How many different units will there be?
Jon Selin: At the moment we have something like 40 units in the game, split between the different races. There is a wide spectrum of units, the Covenant for example have basic Footmen, Ballistae, Preachers and lets not forget the mounted and heavily armored Cataphracts. On the Nihilim side you have Wraiths which are tortured souls that are forced to do their masters bidding, Mindblades which can harness their arcane power into shimmering swords of gnosis, and the Consul who levitates over the battlefield astride his pulpit. The Thul have Riptalons, young Thul warriors that run on all four and are extremely agile and deadly, the Blackhide which is powerful and self-reliant warrior that fights alone. They can also bring their tribe leaders onto the battlefield, all up to the deadly Patriarch that measures twelve meters tall.
How will we train units and how big armies will the game be able to feature per player?
Jon Selin: Units are trained in the management part of the game. In order to train units you have to prepare a city, this is done by building War Effort buildings. After you have an adequate score in a city you can train the population in the city into different units, given that you have the corresponding buildings for the units. In the RTS client you can bring out units that you have trained previously, in PvP this is done by gathering reinforcement points which you use to “purchase” a unit. As you can see your effectiveness when fighting in the RTS is strongly connected with your overall progress.
What can you tell us about the world of Dreamlords?
Jon Selin: The world began when The Dreamer fell asleep, everything in Dreamlords are figments of his imagination. Everything that the Dreamer focus on in his dreams grows stronger as it is allowed to take more place and become more real, his attention is raw power to the inhabitants of his dream. This attention has been dubbed Gnosis by those who understand what it is and how to wield it. The story arc in Dreamlords take place after some rather cataclysmic events, and the player’s avatars, the Dreamlords, struggle to gain this Gnosis to regain their power. To become more familiar with the back-story in Dreamlords I recommend watching our intro, I think it is available here on your site.
To the gamers that are new to the MMORPG-RTS hybrid genre, how would you explain as to what they can expect from such a title?
Jon Selin: I expect everyone to be new to this genre since I’ve never heard of a game that has done this before. We do bring something new to the table however. In Dreamlords you can fight in RTS matches, and they actually mean something. Rather than everything being reset after each fight, here you gain loot and other resources and you can change your strategies around on a larger scale than just inside each match. We have a strong influence from the MMORPGs, with a lot of progression and development available to the players.
What can you tell us about the price of the game and its monthly subscription?
Jon Selin: Purchasing the game just costs you a measly 19.95 euro if you’re a European citizen, and $19.95 for the rest of the world and that includes one free month of playing. The monthly subscription is what is rapidly becoming industry standard: 12.95 euro for European citizens and $14.95 for everyone else. Then of course we have some discounts if you subscribe for three or six months at a time.
Thank you for your time! Is there anything else that you would you like to add?
Jon Selin: Well, we are a bit of the underdogs in this business. I have to say that the big games out there, like WoW for example, are doing a great job at being good at their thing. We are not trying to make a carbon copy of their game however, as we are not aiming at bringing over the people who actually like those games. If you don’t like those big games however, it might be interesting to try us out as we are very different from most things out there. Dreamlords launch the 15th of February and we will be there waiting, hoping that you decide to check us out.