PGLawson from the Dragons Design Team Here - Ask Us Anything!


#1

Greetings, Dragon Lords!

Welcome to the next installment of the War Dragons AMA! This AMA will be focused on the Design Team here at War Dragons and their work with the many Dragons, Riders, Abilities, and Towers that exist in the game.

@PGLawson will be joining us today. Feel free to tag them in your questions!


A few things to note for this Atlas AMA:

  • You are welcome to ask Lawson anything you may like. Please note that questions that are not specific to design (power balance, abilities, Dragon spell kits, etc.) may be outside of their wheelhouse, and they may not have an exact answer.
  • This is an AMA, but we will continue moderating this thread based on the Forums’ Code of Conduct. No inappropriate questions, please.
  • Non War Dragons questions are also encouraged! Previous work experience, other questions about game development, or even “what’s your favourite colour?” are welcome.

About @PGLawson: I joined War Dragons a year and a half ago as a game designer (during the Fall 2017 Season). This amazing opportunity has been my first job out of Grad School, where I studied Technical Design (half programming, half game design). As a game designer, I’m largely responsible for all of the awesome dragons that make their way into the game. We just finished up launching the first wave of Springblossom (Ronin is my favorite!) and we’ve actually just started brainstorming for Summer. Outside of dragon design, I’ve worked on revamping the game’s loading screen tips, a large swath of QOL improvements, and I’ve dropped by on stream a good number of times.


We’re here until 5pm PT, so we’ve got two hours to answer your burning questions. Ask away!


#2

@PGLawson any sneak peaks on new spells? :smiley:


#3

@PGLawson how do you feel about the idea of overhauling tower and dragon balance such that the relative power difference between tiers is closer to something like 30% rather than 90-110%? Or do you think power difference between tiers is in a good spot right now?

Edit: the reason I ask is because dragons have a very short shelf life and quickly become outclassed and useless whenever new towers and tiers are released.


#4

@PGLawson

  1. What do you think about balance in WD.
  2. What is your opinion about the limit of good, great, and overpowered?
  3. Any favorite spells?
    -edit-
  4. What do you think about healing time for dragons?
    (Since Orange (perhaps high leveled Red too) has high enough heal time, still one heal potion cost for either lv 15 Kinnara and Expert Tuktu. Also Dragons have food as 2nd limiter too)

#5

Now that the flak series is done, what can you say about the direction being taken for new towers?

Any thoughts on how addressing the elemental ember shortage created by the whole flak series? Will new towers use a different construction component?


#6

One benefit of having a larger gap between tiers is that it mitigates the chance of a particularly powerful (or overpowered) dragon from dominating high level play. If there’s one dragon that is overperforming, or even is just seeing a disproportionate amount of play, that dragon won’t be as useful in the upcoming tiers of there is a large gap between tiers. An example of this is with Surt. If there was a smaller power gap between tiers, Surt would have been reaching even higher than the dragon already was (and it was reaching up over 100 levels in some cases).

  1. I think game balance is in an ok state at the moment. I think that dragon tiers releasing ahead of their tower counterparts is problematic, as it feels good for your new dragons to be powerful, but it’s unfair to defenders that they cannot power up their bases to match these new dragons. I’m also not pleased with the imbalance between undefended and defended attack runs. Generally season and high tier lineage dragons will overpower undefended bases and all but the best fliers/most powerful dragons will struggle to win against defenders. This makes attacking gameplay quite binary, which is never good. Whether this can be fixed by improving undefended base AI or by reconsidering the role of defender consumables and stacking super-shots is uncertain.

  2. Could you please elaborate?

  3. I like Alter Fate on UVS and Spectral Form on Pathox. Both of those spells cause the dragons to play quite differently from other warriors and hunters. They require pre-planning and actual decision making, rather than trying to brute-force one’s way through an island. I find that finesse very appealing.


#7

Hi Lawson my questions are.

  • Will we be seeing more complicated/unique spells like “way of the blade” ?

  • When you introduce a spell like “way of the blade” is one of your intentions behind the spell to make it a high skill capped spell?

  • are you guys generally open to forum suggested spells if looking for new ideas?


#8

Like a dragon is considered as overpowered if (s)he can solo max bases with 3 defenders while being in 3 tiers below :eyes:


#9

Do you miss programming?


#10

We have been brainstorming a lot about which direction to take new towers. We’re leaning away from releasing a tier of towers more powerful than flaks. What we’d like to do is create different towers that expand base-building horizontally, rather than vertically. Example: creating a tower with special armor that reflects damage back at the attacker, or a tower that always dies in 5 hits, regardless of how powerful those hits. These are simple concepts but we’re experimenting with these lines of thought to try and discover something new and different for War Dragons base-building.

As far as base-building resources, I wouldn’t expect a new tower type to require a new currency. Regarding Ember shortages, I don’t have much influence on how those resources are distributed.

  1. The cool thing about Way of the Blade is that the tech is very open ended. We created a spell that can have a series of individual spells cycle through a loop. The design space for this is very open-ended. A new spell could cycle back and forth between two (like Seething Spark) or it could be even more complicated than Way of the Blade. Short answer: yes.

  2. Not every new spell is inherently complicated, but creating spells that require careful decision-making is something that I enjoy. I’m at my happiest when playing a game that offers something that I can master. More specifically, playing a new dragon that I’ve made realizing that I can’t even fly it to it’s full potential is a satisfying feeling.

  3. Of course! It’s hard to take 100% of a spell from the forums and bring it into the game but we definitely take inspiration from all of your ideas. UVS’ Alter Fate was a direct result of speaking with Summit Attendees during the 2018 War Dragons Summit, for example.


New tower in the future?
#11

And which games/genres do you enjoy the most/why?


#12
  1. What plans are there to address the massive mechanical instability between the classes?

  2. Many spells seem to have base core functionalities that are just retooled from dragon to dragon. Do you have intentions to bring a wider array of baseline spells for an increase in functional unility and therin increase the diversity of overall dragon identity?

  3. Is there an intention for a new dragon class?

  4. Do you have an opinion on the approaching power creep limit based on current limits of the player base?

  5. Do you think we could have runes that effect some more interesting ability statistics such as cd, or aoe manipulation?

  6. Not sure who has the task of the research trees :man_shrugging: but please we need more

  7. Are we able to get some kind of a judge or lawyer dragon :thinking:


#13

I’d say that dragon is super disgusting, and probably has no business being that powerful. I would define a dragon to be overpowered if it exceeds certain criteria that most dragons adhere to. For example, a dragon would be overpowered if defenders have no significant impact on the dragon’s performance. In a world where dragons get deleted by barrages of Flak Super-shots, a balanced dragon shouldn’t be able to ignore that. It may be able to avoid the flak barrages, but then it should have other weakness in its spell kit to compensate for that strength.

I enjoyed my programming time in school very much! I made a few games/mechanics that I was quite proud of (I tried to recreate the block-generation and building system from Minecraft, for example). That said, I studied Technical Design to learn some “hard skills” which would help me land my first job in the Games Industry. I haven’t had to do any coding at PG, and I’m ok with that. At the end of the day, I enjoy making games (or building things for games that already exist). Programming is one way to do that.


#14

Are we gonna get any creative stuff like teams drawing their own portraits :sweat_smile: it is massively liked


#15

One thing you could implement to close the gap between defended and undefended is to add in the ability to assign our super shots to towers for the ai to apply as dictated


#16

From a programming side, how much are you restricted in your spell and dragon designs by legacy code? Have things like spell scaling helped to refactor and clean up, increasing possibilities?


#17

Most of the time, I enjoy playing skill-intensive games that require lots of practice to play well. I’ve played a lot of League of Legends and Counter-Strike. I also enjoy Magic: the Gathering more than I should :slight_smile:

On the other hand, I LOVE story-based games. Anything with lovable characters that draws me into the world. In recent memory, Life is Strange has been my favorite story-driven game, with the Mass Effect trilogy being my favorite growing up.


#18

Goodness that makes me feel old :joy:


#19

@PGLawson
4. (rewording) What do you think about “healing time” as one kind of run limiter?
5. Will you consider implementing Autofire (especially for hunter), given that we have one(?) spell which is “not good for health” (With Solar Volley, we need to tap extra fast, constantly for several seconds)
6. What do you think about strength difference between old spells (lineage) and new spells (divine), which is at the same tier at one time (e.g. Crystalline Shield v.s. Frost Shield, Rejuvinate v.s. Regenerate)


#20
  1. A question Im sure everyone is wondering, what are the chances of us seeing a more powerful and higher tier versions of Chunk? I think we can all agree that we need much more chunk

  2. Will we ever start seeing seasonal legendary warriors sporting better resist options like elemental, adaptive flak or adaptive immunity resist? It seems like most are getting pretty weak resists or none at all which has made most of them all but useless against stronger bases