The senior producer at SOE in charge of Dragon's Prophet talked to me about the coolest part the upcoming MMO.
There was a point late last year where more than a few videogame pundits claimed the MMO genre was dead, but it appears the rumor of its demise was quite an exaggeration. The free to play model has done more than stave off death, it looks like several companies are taking the revenue opportunities that model offers to release new MMOs. John Smedley's Sony Online Entertainment made its bones with the subscription-based EverQuest, but he realized early on that free to play was the way of the future. To that end, his company is busy working with a Taiwanese development house to bring Dragon's Prophet to the world. I got a chance to chat with the Senior Producer of the project at SOE, Todd Carson, and I asked him exactly what is going to set his new game apart from the crowd. You know, other than the fact that you can ride big freaking dragons.
"The first thing that comes to my mind is the Oracle class. One, it's just a cool name that I have never seen in any other MMOs but the way that class functions is breaking tradition," said Carson. "The Oracle class is a hand to hand combat class that wears light armor only and wields giant scythes. They also can use magic, so they can do some stuff from a distance but primarily they do really good area of effect damage up close. It's an interesting class because you're doing a lot of damage up close but you're wearing cloth armor. You can't take a lot of damage so you can either get in there and get out quickly or, again because it's Dragon's Prophet a lot of the roles of the characters depend on the dragons that they have. As an Oracle you want to get a dragon that's a little bit beefier and can stand up there and help you absorb some of the damage while you're dishing it out."
Oh man, we just can't get away from the dragons when we're talking about Dragon's Prophet, can we? The synergy between riding your own dragon mount, and collecting a bevy of dragons that complement your play style, your class, or the situation at hand is a big selling point for SOE's new MMO. And Carson knows it! "As a player you're going to run into several hundred different types of dragons in the world from traditional looking dragons, with four legs and wings, to dragons that look more like beasts, like alligators or dinosaurs, dragons that can glide some that are really good at swimming underwater and some that can just run. So there's all different species of dragons in the world."
This action fantasy title has you, as a human hero, fighting alongside dragons. The most recent battle against evil ended in victory, but evil's a sneaky so-and-so, and the world's in peril again. Have you got what it takes to become the next Dragon Prophet?
This is a free-to-play, with microtransactions. Though there isn't a subscription system per se, during closed beta the developer is selling what's called a Dragon Pack. There are three different kinds of Packs, each with its own dragon, title and gear; it's basically a VIP system in all but name. Cost of these packs ranges from $19,99 to $89.99, depending on how fancy you care to get. Purchase of a Pack gets you into the beta.
The background story of the world of Auratia is fairly unique. "Auratia was discovered by the elder dragons," explained Carson. "When the Elder Dragons came, a war ensued and they started to supplant their army with more troops. They started breeding with the creatures of the world to create all these different species of dragons." That's why there's so many varieties in Auratia, and as a player it will be tons of fun to explore and find all different kinds of dragons.