DnD is back. Rezlus and his Zhentarim are hell-bent on invading and conquering the Dalelands and someone's got to stop them. We caught up with Zendro Chan, Creative Director at developer Bedlam Studios, to have a chat about Daggerdale.
Matt Gardner (Dealspwn): How did the game come about?
Zandro Chan: We had been talking to our publishing partner, Atari, for a while about projects. Then the opportunity came around to work with Wizards of the Coast and the Dungeons and Dragons franchise, and as long time fans, we just had to jump on it.
MG: The action-RPG nature of the game might seem a bit incongruous to some, particularly D&D traditionalists, but where did the inspiration come from for this particular choice?
ZC: Our team has had a lot of experience developing action titles, and to be able to introduce white knuckle intensity to the combat, and layer that great moment-to-moment gameplay on a robust network of RPG systems was an awesome challenge for us. With an action RPG, we can place you right into the frontlines of battle, but still deliver the diversity of role playing elements for prolonged play.
MG: How deep does character development and customization run in Daggerdale?
ZC: As players level their character, they will gain new feats and unlock new powers. The powers can be upgraded through 3 tiers. At specific level milestones, players can add additional attribute points to their many ability scores, changing the performance of the character. As players reach higher levels, the number of weapons, armors and items that he/she can use will also increase. The impact of weapons and armors is not solely functional, changing and adding to the gameplay, but it also individualizes players visually.
MG: How closely does the game follow 4th Edition rules, and what were the challenges in incorporating them into a game of this type?
ZC: We wanted to stay true to the D&D 4th Edition rules that we all know and love but at the same time we needed to adapt its complex systems to an action based moment-to-moment experience, balancing it across the character’s growth path. We think the end result is an experience that combines deep character experimentation with high intensity combat. We worked very closely with WotC and Atari on tuning all the systems so that the 4th Edition rules are not only represented, but are working seamlessly for an action based RPG.
MG: Quite often, plot is arguably a forgotten concern in games of this type...will the story in Daggerdale be anything more than a framing device for the action?
ZC: For sure. Dungeons and Dragons is a storytelling game and Daggerdale shares that goal. The main quest is broken down in a series of sub quests, allowing the players to move forward at their own pace. The story in Daggerdale presents the return of one of the most feared factions in Daggerdale’s turbulent, warring past, the Zhentarim.
MG: How do you hope Daggerdale to set itself apart from what has become an arguably saturated genre – particularly with the XBLA release of Torchlight, Hunted, Dungeon Siege III and Diablo III on their way too?
ZC: Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale focuses on delivering white knuckle combat as well as deep character development and customization. All of our core systems are rooted in the D&D 4th Edition rule set. Working closely with Wizards of the Coast, we tune and tweak the game and narrative, polishing it into a perfect action RPG experience.
MG: With the game touted as a co-op dungeon crawler, how exactly will the multiplayer aspects of the game operate? Will it be possible to play locally too? Can my character cross over?
ZC: The player-created character can be used in both single and multiplayer campaigns . In addition to playing online with friends, Daggerdale will also allow players to play in local co-op. With more players in the adventuring party, more combat strategies become available. Players can support each other, formulating offensive and defensive tactics, and maintain better control over the game space. Players can also trade rare items, weapons and equipment with each other, making it easier for each of them to get the items they want quickly.
MG: Any surprises or Easter Eggs in there for longtime D&D fans?
ZC: ... Ohh yeah. There’s a number of cool surprises in there and it’s difficult to talk about them without ruining the surprise. Here’s a hint for one of them - make sure you watch the credits all the way through...
MG: Is there a long-term plan for Daggerdale? There’ve been allusions to it being part of a trilogy, can you tell us any more about that?
ZC: Trilogy? That’s not official. We think that buzz got started because the game focuses on the Heroic Tier of the character growth system outlined in the 4th Edition rules, which is the first third. We think the different websites out there just took that to mean that Daggerdale was the first of three parts. Ultimately, the fan base of Daggerdale will dictate its future releases.
MG: We like to ask this one to get a bit of personal feedback...What, in your personal opinion, is the most kickass, awesome part of the game?
ZC: It’s multiplayer. Being able to utilize the arsenal you’ve built up and laying waste to an army of monsters, while seeing all your friends doing the same thing is awesome. The ensuing blood bath is quite rewarding.
Big thanks to Zendro for answering our questions. Daggerdale is due for release Q2 2011 on PC, PS3, Xbox 360.