What’s going on with Dragon Commander ?

We’ve been very silent about Dragon Commander, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening, on the contrary. It’s more off a silence before the storm than a silence because we have nothing to tell you ;)

The quick and dirty of it is that ever since we decided we were going completely independent on this, we’ve had to build up our own publishing team, which admittedly, and tbh also typically, I underestimated a bit.

This impacted our magnificant buzz plans, because we decided early on that we weren’t going to let the publishing affect the development.

This also meant that as long as the publishing team wasn’t assembled, who needs to do the buzz work and create all the required assets,  we were a bit impaired in our ability to talk as much as we’d like to about the game.

But we’re getting there, really :)

What the hell have we been doing since we've announced Dragon Commander ?

Additionally, we’ve also been experimenting with the gameplay of Dragon Commander, a lot. At GDC, one of the best pieces of advice we received, came from Max and Erich Shaefer, who told us that with a game that blends so many things like this, there’s a high chance of success if we take our time, and only release it when it’s done, as in, really done.

Since that’s the very reason we went independent, it sounded like music in our ears, but it was also a good reminder that we may not screw up on this one. Which is why we continued experimenting with the gameplay, way beyond what would be allowed in a typical production.

So, where do we stand today ?

On the publishing side, our set-up is pretty much complete. If you’re interested what we think you need to publish, here’s an overview:

We’ve hired Thomas a.k.a. the movie guy, who’ll be creating plenty of videos that we’ll be releasing throughout the year, with several of them actually ready.

We’ve hired Thomas (we have a few Thomas’ over here), a.k.a. the website guy, who’ll take care of all of our websites (we used to do them between soup and potatoes), starting of with the Dragon Commander website.

If you read some my previous post, you also know we’ve got Sergei Klimov as a director of publishing, who brought with him years of experience and is ensuring that the game will be for sale pretty much anywhere in the world, on pretty much any channel you can think of.

We also engaged the services of Katya, our head of legal, who’s protecting us against all the wolves out there and ensuring that when we make a sale, we actually get paid for it.

We’ve got Tom & his team at Evolve PR, probably the indie PR guy, taking care of preparing all of the PR and ensuring that we get the coverage we deserve ;)

We’ve also hired Raze, who helped countless of Divinity players in our forums with solid advice over the last couple of years, to take care of moderating the forums as well as spreading the word to other players.

Together they form the team that will be running things from within Larian in close cooperation with distribution partners all over the world. Over the last months, we’ve been showing them the game, collecting their offers, and now it looks like we’re getting in the phase to decide who our partners will be.

Our major focus right now is closing these deals now so that we can ensure all PR & marketing efforts are coordinated. Once that is done, we’re basically ready to release an avalanche of news re: Dragon Commander.

On the development side, we’ve been experimenting, heavily.

As a quick recap, Dragon Commander is a game that is played in several turns. Each turn, you make decisions in a RPG fashion that affect the flow of the game. You research and invest in magic & tech, upgrade your dragon & fleet, and decide how to run your growing empire and what territories you want to attack. Then, you engage in combat, using your dragon & fleet side by side to defeat your enemy.

At this point, we’re pretty much done with how the RPG part will work, are in the middle of dealing with the strategy part & have changed the combat gameplay drastically so that it has much more depth.

The big problem we had with the combat was how to ensure that controlling both your dragon and your fleet at the same time was fun. It took a lot of iterations and try outs to get that balance right, but I think we finally cracked it.

I played the latest version of the combat phase last night, and as I was playing my phone rang. I glance at the number, realized I had to pick up the phone, but felt angry that I couldn’t pause nor save the game yet, meaning that I was going to be slaughtered by the AI. I took that to be a good sign.

Mind  you, its’s not finished yet and I needed to imagine several other things that needed to be in place to make it really fun experience, but I found that at this point it was easy to see what was missing, meaning that I think we’re well on our way to make something cool. But if it turns out it’s not, I guess we’ll probably backtrack again, and try something different. As I said, the best piece of advice we received was that we need to make sure it’s done well, and it’s our intention to live up to that.

We’ve also switched game engines. Were the previous build of DC that we’ve shown to you at Gamescom was still running on the DKS engine, we  were so happy about the engine tech used in project E, that we decided to switch Dragon Commander to project E’s engine. That took some time, but it’s now concluded, and I’m quite happy with the results of that move, considering it one of the best decisions taken on the dev side in the last year.

This obviously all sounds abstract without any video supporting it, but we want to make sure that when we release footage, it’s seen by as many people as possible, which is why we’re pushing on the brake until our publishing team is ready with their preparations i.e. all videos are in place, the website is done and our local distributors are lined up.

The big date for us will be E3. For the first time ever in Larian’s  history, we’ll have our own booth there (a small one ;) ) and in addition to showing off Dragon Commander, it’s the also the place where we’ll finally be announcing project E. Probably need to put one of those countdown timers online, they seem to be popular again ;)

  • Wotan Anubis

    “who’ll be creating plenty of videos that we’ll be releasing throughout the year, with several of them actually ready.”

    Oh, come on! You can’t just say that and then not release just one for Your Loyal Readers.

    You tease, you.

    Anyways, while I can respect the ‘it’ll be released when it’s done’ aprroach (I believe it was Miyamoto who once said “A delayed game can eventually become good, but a bad game is bad forever”), this post did make me wonder if Dragon Commander is still tentively planned for release in 2012.

  • melianos

    But, isn’t project E 2D ?
    (can’t wait can’t wait  can’t wait
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     can’t wait

    • http://twitter.com/razeatlarian Raze

      Project E has a top down camera view (no details on implementation have been mentioned), but is 3D.

      • Martin K.

        That top-down camera ha been mentioned numerous times, but I think that there is a confusion between top-down and isometric (like DD). I really hope so, because true top-down camera is just – no.
        I’d say that the project E will be very similar to Divine Divinity with it’s gameplay and mechanics. Hopefully, with those vampires mentioned earlier :)

      • Tuco Benedicto

        When are we going to see something about this Project E?
        As far as I wish you guys best luck with Dragon Commander, that’s the game I’m actually interested in.

        • Anonymous

          Project E will be officially announced at E3, so I wouldn’t expect a lot of information about it before then. My current duties are limited to forum moderation, though, and I do not know any details about Project E or Dragon Commander that are not public knowledge.

          Speaking of which, and re-reading a previous reply, I should mention that Project E being Divinity 3 is a long standing assumption in the official forum, but an assumption none the less (which I should probably stop repeating now that I work for Larian).
          Project E has been compared to Divine Divinity in a general sense, but no details about it have been announced except the camera view and the fact you would be able to defeat the main bad guy in the end (and the new years blog post implied the first word in the actual name is ‘Eyes’).

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

    Ah, the things I know, but can not post there as not to spoil the fun of it ;)

    E3 2012, here we come. With a brand new game, with a brand new build of Dragon Commander, and with our own little room, where we can play – talk – and drink Belgian beer. Though given all the good micro-breweries of California and Oregon, we should really stock the local stuff.

    Between today and end of month, we should roll out at least one video, to test the waters. Just on the FB page, and perhaps here. The other two, they are good right now – but can be better if we put just a bit more work there, so these two are for April.

    Yes, everything takes more time than we thought, but the result is good, and that’s the most important thing for us. We’ve got cash and we’ve got our goal, and as long as we don’t stretch our budget, we’re fine.

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  • Arne

    If DC’s engine is now running on Project E’s, E can’t just be a simple tablet app. It’s probably an adventure of the mighty monkeyslayer, or little dragon. Good luck in California!

    • http://twitter.com/razeatlarian Raze

      Project E is an RPG, sequel to Divinity 2. It will be released on PC, with console version(s) yet to be officially confirmed.

  • http://twitter.com/SeanRidgeley Sean Ridgeley

    It’s not very often you hear “we’re taking our time with it”. All very encouraging news. Can’t wait to see it, and play it especially.

  • http://twitter.com/DSiep D Siep

    Now I’m looking forward to e3 :) Really curious about dragon commander, and I had this maybe strange idea after reading it, will you be able to roar as a dragon? Or will it be like a skill for you? I just imagined my dragon to make a nosedive and then roar at the enemies below and it all made perfect sense to me :)
    Oh and why is the change of engine the best decision so far? Is it better optimized or something like that so that the a bit older pcs still can run it?
    And thanks for another blog, it’s really nice to read blogs like this, full of great, useful information

  • Paul

    I just love this blog. I love when people running companies whose products I enjoy are so open. Cannot wait for E3!

  • http://www.facebook.com/LightningFang Siriol Thomas

    I can’t wait for this game, I’ve been on the edge of my seat about it for ages, I know the guy’s & gal’s at larian won’t let me down. Thanks for the update & I’m happy for you all that you finaly get your own booth at E3 you all deserve it i’m so proud to be a fan of such a wonderfull company ;)

  • Arne

    I’d very much like someone from Larian to answer this:
    Did any of you once perform the voice casting of a divinity game? Or did we hear professional actors only? And whatever the case, will we be hearing one of you in DC?

    • Lar

      I don’t remember all instances, but yes ;)

  • VisualDeadlock

    I got to say, I discovered Larian studio’s through their game Divinity DKS.  I was looking at RPGs on Steam, and decided to take a chance with it.  Boy I am glad I did.  I posted this comment on the forums soon after I had finished DKS that basically said “DKS was the best RPG I played, hands-down, and IMO beat out the large, hyped-up acclaimed games such as Mass Effect”.

    DC is looking great!  And I am glad it is happening to a down-to-earth, fun, game-loving company like Larian.  I wish them all the best of success with this and future games.  From official posts and blogs, the road has been long and hard, but I believe you’ll get just rewards for your effort.

    As mentioned, don’t rush it.  Too many games nowadays release half-complete buggy messes.  Take your time, tweak, polish and release only when you think you have a product that true gamers will love.

    -VisualDeadlock

  • Deyous

    Thanks for sharing with us. I’m looking foward to hear whats said at E3. I just need to make sure my reminder is A3 sized.