Dragon Empires Newsletter - 2 May 2003

April was a busy month with a lot of news including the addition of races to the world of Fortitude, more lore released and some images of buildings and scenery in game. I hope you will agree the game is progressing quickly now! But news doesn't stop there and May is certain to be just as busy with the E3 Games Expo in Los Angeles, movie and lore releases and who knows what else! But first, read on for an important announcement.

Back to class!
We never tire of announcing big pieces of news so here is some more. In addition to adding races to the game we have added a loose class system where there are five classes for each race, a total of 15 classes altogether. I know this will be a surprise to many of you but we believe our reasons for this change are sound, so let me explain them to you.

Firstly, in considering a classless system we decided it would be too easy with our skills system (a total of 30 skills split between primary and secondary categories) to have players produce ineffective 'gimped' characters. Looking at the problem we saw we could stop that by heavily limiting player choice or through slowing progression so most character choices were made late when the player was more experienced. Neither of those options particularly appealed to us as they clearly have drawbacks.

The second problem was we felt players would tend towards a best-fit skills template, so called 'min-maxing' that would see maybe 3 or 4 different types of characters dominate with many skills and character templates left ignored. The only way of avoiding this would be through the finest balancing of skills to ensure all skills were totally equal and as we know this is almost impossible!

So instead we have devised a system whereby your character chooses a class which provides you with a selection of skills you can chose to level to varying degrees. Which skills (of three) you chose as a primary (you get the others as back-ups as your character develops) and to what rank you take each of the secondary skills is up to you, providing you with your own unique character while still having a character of a certain style.

Whilst we are happy with the higher level aspects of our class system, there is still room for feedback and alteration which we will gather from the forums and our beta testers.

You can discuss the classes here

We will release a full skills list soon.

Class descriptions

An attack magician who also can use magical bows, the scholar is able to lead from the front and can use conjuring or necromantic curses. The scholar mixes a wide range of magical styles into one potent package.

Skilled with one handed and thrown weapons as well as enhancement magic, the healer is a specialist in healing, curing and reanimating the dead. The healer is a perfect addition to any team needing backup!

Use of magical bows comes naturally to this class as do powerful magical enhancements and curses. The enchanter is an excellent support caster!

Night Mage
The night mage specialises in deception and is capable with throwing weapons and illusionary magics. The Night Mage can also use simple healing spells when required and makes an excellent support or stand alone class.

The Skirmisher's skill with both normal and magical bows makes them strong at range against single targets or groups. At the same time their vision enhancement, leadership and shield skills make them important to any battle group.

A good fighter capable of using a variety of melee weapons while also having enhancement and some healing skill. The disciple can fight as ably as most and has magical abilities useful to the whole group.

Capable of fighting in close or using thrown weapons, the Raider can inspire their team with their leadership skill and calls to battle. The Raider's group enhancements make them a powerful addition to any team.

The duellist can fight both up close and at range and is also excellent with a shield. The duellist provides a strong first-strike ability with the great melee survivability to Dragonbloods.

The Hunter prefers to keep their foe safely at range preferring the use of thrown weapons and bows. Should the Hunter need to get close their rouse skill and ability to curse always keeps their enemies on the defensive.

All close combat weapons are favoured by this class with additional leadership and shield skills providing them with a further close combat edge. The Gladiator is a powerful front line fighter of the Dragonbloods.

Able to deal damage, summon, conjure, curse and cast enhancements, the Conjurer is an excellent support caster with well rounded abilities, an asset to any group.

Shadow Warrior
Adept with one handed weapons and bows, the Shadow Warrior can also use illusion and enchantments to deceive their foe while using leadership to inspire their team. The Shadow Warrior is the strongest fighter of the Shadow classes.

Shadow Mage
Skilled with direct damage magic and throwing weapons the Shadow Mage can also turn their hand to skills such as illusion to make their getaway. The shadow mage makes an excellent assassin of both animals and people.

Bows, enchanted bows and small one handed weapons are the Scout's weapons of choice with concealment and vision enhancement making it an excellent hit and run fighter. Should they need to close in for the kill the Scout's shield skill provides it with some survivability.

Bows, throwing weapons and small one-handed weapons are the tools of choice for this class. The Miscreant can also use curses, illusion and conjuration to trick and fool their opponent, truly a class for the most malevolent of players.

Beta news!
Plans for beta starting are just about on schedule. However, due to contract negotiations taking longer than expected Beta 0 will now not start till June. Beta 0 will be very small, probably around 100 people. We intend to start very simple with just basic movement and combat systems in place - no progression or high level game play. This will be rolled out as the whole beta system proves itself. After we have established stability and we have all the systems to handle bug reports and feedback we will start to add more testers and features. We estimate Beta 0 will last at least one month.

Screenshot of the week
view a larger version
Even wasteland can be beautiful!

read more Letter from Gadsolme
I understand that many of you may be interested in the politics of Fortitude (as indeed many of you may not). To satiate the desires of those political animals among your ranks I present a speech made by Reed, a leading member of a Bird Empire clan (and opponent of a close personal friend of mine at the time) who gave this speech some twenty years ago when looking to be elected into its upper chambers...

Important dates
Friday 9 - Dev diary
12th to 19th May - E3 attendance for Codemasters staff.
14th to 16th - E3 Expo
Friday 16th - 2nd Newsletter of the month (may be delayed by E3)
Friday 23rd - Dev diary
Monday 26 - Dev Chat

Hot News
- The two Stratics House of Commons DE chats were well attended on Monday, you can read the logs of them here and here.
- Heltak interviews Calistas on lore and skills.
- Moonshade fan site has had a face lift and has had significantly added to the clan database and management options. Create business cards, manage inter-clan relationships and run a message board.
- Toby Eglesfield, our Principle Artist, has left for New Zeeland with his wife. Here is his good-bye dev diary.
- Moonshade interviews Calistas on the new races.
- PC Gameworld interviews Calistas.
- IGN RPG Vault has a Q&A on races posted.
- Mark Zechiel took part in IGN RPG Vault's developer round table.

- RPG Dot tell me they have compiled a great articles database Dragon Empires and have collected more than 160 news bits going back to November 2001!

Fan site of the week
Last time the link for the Dragon Empires 3D Fansite was incorrect, the correct link is http://www.iguanagodesign.com/DragonEmpire/
Sorry for any confusion caused. The 3D Fansite is about to run a new event, check out the site for more information!

Forum post of the week
I have started a thread on game characters where we're looking for people to post images that show off a look or style they particularly enjoyed from other games. Go post if you have an opinion on game characters!


Peter Tyson
Community Liaison Manager - Dragon Empires


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