Dragon Tavern: First Impressions

Dragon Tavern Gameplay Screenshot

Dragon Tavern is a new browsergame that’s been created by a company called Trident Games. For all intents and purposes, it’s your standard browser-based RPG; you make a character, choose a class, and kill monsters in order to get money with which to buy yourself equipment. I was recently e-mailed by Thomas Rice, the Overseer of Trident Games, and given a heads-up that I should take a look at Dragon Tavern. Here’s what I thought of it:

The Good

Every game gets some things right, and some things wrong. The Good categorizes all of the things that I liked about the game, and the things that I got right. The bad, well…you get the idea.

  • Auto-banking

    When you visit the tavern, your gold is auto-banked – although I haven’t died yet, I assume that this means I won’t lose any of my gold when I do. Which is always a plus.

  • Auto-healing

    Healing your character has been something that bothers me in a lot of RPGs, whether it’s browsergames or otherwise. Why would a game developer make it cost money to get healed? Your character is going to do it thousands of times – and what about those rare situations where you’re too injured to earn enough gold to heal yourself, and yet you don’t have enough gold to heal yourself? Dragon Tavern solves this problem by simply healing you whenever you return to the Tavern – and from what I can tell, it’s Free*.

  • Rankings

    I’m a bit of a statistics junkie; that’s why when I created the code to build a login system, it also kept track of the last date that the user logged in. So I like the ranking system that Dragon Tavern has built into it – it uses your total experience for the character you’re playing to show you where you stack up both overall, and against other players of the same class as you are.

  • Purchasables are cheap

    Dragon Tavern has something called ‘Credits’ built into it, which players can buy and then spend on things called ‘Advantages’. Credits cost real-world money – but they’re wicked cheap. The cheapest option available is 20 credits, which will cost you $1.99 – working out to roughly $0.10/credit. When you start buying more credits, the prices go down – the biggest package currently is 620 credits, for $29.99 – or 4.8 cents/credit.

  • Purchasables don’t ruin the game

    One thing that’s always bothered me about browsergames that decide to go the route of having purchasable ‘credits’ is that things tend to be way overpowered for users who are willing to fork over some cash. With Dragon Tavern, I find that most(if not all) of the purchasables, while definitely able to make your game play a little bit smoother, don’t overpower a character with credits behind them – for example, you could get a Bag of Holding and increase your inventory size, or a Banner of Exploration(which increases your chance to find sub-locations by 20%), but you don’t have to – the game is easily playable without spending a dime.

The Bad

  • Auto-selling

    Dragon Tavern follows a tried-and-true game playing procedure: go kill monsters to get loot to sell to get gold to buy gear so you can kill harder monsters. Rinse, lather, and repeat. The problem with this is, Dragon Tavern goes one step further, and completely removes the importance of loot; all it’s good for is selling! As far as I can tell, there’s no way to find a cool piece of armor or weapon, because every item is just a name, a weight, and a sell value. Items are classified into three categories, which are Common, Rare, and Exotic. However, this doesn’t make them particularly ‘cool’ in any way – it just makes them sell for more.

The Maybes

  • The Feed

    When you visit the tavern, you’ll see a pseudo-feed of your most recent exploits. There’s also a public feed on the homepage, which shows you the activities of all players within the game(the Tavern version only shows you what you did). While I think this is a cool feature with a lot of potential, while I was playing I didn’t really use it much – most of what it was showing me was ‘you killed <foo>’, which, while interesting, doesn’t really add any value to the game for me. I think it’d be neat to see something like each level-up, and how long it took me in played time to get to that level from the one before it. That’s just me though – I’m sure for some people, the feed is really cool just how it is.

All in all, Dragon Tavern’s a pretty neat game – and fairly well-executed to boot. I didn’t notice any glaring problems at all, and I have to confess that I just about pulled out my credit card to buy some credits when I first ran out of Action Points – a sure sign that I’m hooked.

* ‘Free’, in this case, means that it doesn’t cost any gold. It will still cost you an action point.

Want to get your new browsergame reviewed? Send an e-mail to buildingbrowsergames@gmail.com with the name and URL of your game along with a quick summary of what it’s about, and we’ll be sure to take a look at it – along with sending you an e-mail when we put up the review of your game!

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Luke is the primary editor of Building Browsergames, and has written a large portion of the articles that you read here. He generally has no idea what to say when asked to write about himself in the third person.

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 review
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Building Browsergames is a blog about browsergames(also known as PBBG's). It's geared towards the beginner to intermediate developer who has an interest in building their own browsergame.

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