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March 10, 2008
GDC 2008 - Dreamlords: The ReAwakening
 

By Paul Philleo

Dreamlords, created by the Swedish developer Lockpick Entertainment, is a massively multiplayer real-time strategy online game with RPG constituents in a combination web/client-based interface. It has seen a reinvention from when I last looked at the game. At the Game Developers Conference this year, I took stock of the game and what massive changes have been made since it’s been reinvented – or shall I say “reawakened”. The reawakening is underway a year after Dreamlord’s original launch and months after the cataclysm that ended the last Era had essentially put the game to sleep.

My guide for this concise update was also my previous escort through the features of the game, David Rosen, CEO of Lockpick Entertainment. Dreamlords was, by many estimations including my own, an exercise in flawed and complicated brilliance. One of the most crucial parts of the game, the crafting system, was incredibly complicated and required a PhD in alchemy to master. In fact, Rosen conceded the crafting system was one of the reasons behind re-tooling Dreamlords, which at this stage is in alpha testing. “We’re removing steps of complexity from an otherwise rewarding crafting engine in Dreamlords,” he stated. “It’ll be much more straight-forward now.”

However, that’s not the only fundamental changes being re-worked into Dreamlords. The 3D tactical view of the patria, the islands where players can observe and strategize over their PvP options, is a particularly clean and attractive upgrade to the graphics engine over the previous iteration.

The client and server interfaces have been simplified and streamlined for ease of use and accessibility. More of the managerial aspects, such as allocating and developing resources for buildings to expand the cities, people / armies, civilian and military production, are run from the software client to minimize the need to switch from a browser to the client. The web client still allows a player to focus on the essential skills of strategy, trading and crafting, but these aspects of Dreamlord’s expansive game play are more removed from the immersive, real-time exercise of resources that fit better in a game client.

As is increasingly the case these days with many MMO games, especially independently developed productions, the subscription model in Dreamlords has been shelved in favor of a premium subscription model and an item-based economy. So, the basic game play experience is free, unless you should happen to want to get a leg up on the competition with a cache of premium items. While additional items can also be paid for in-game, players will have the ability to craft similar items using their own talent and time, so no player has any special access to items that no one else can acquire.

As alpha testing progresses with their 1500 and growing player base, Rosen asserts that he’s “…very pleased with the response from our players to the changes we’ve made so far.” As many updates as has been incorporated into Dreamlords to date, more changes can be expected as the game progresses from alpha to beta. MPOGD will be watching to see whether players can expect to reawaken to an armchair strategist’s dream version of an MMORTS.

 
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