Dragnethar interview with Febndy
We have a chat with Febndy, the developer behind Dragnethar Online.
Who is Febndy?
Hi! My name is Febndy and I’m an entrepreneur / programmer / lecturer / game designer. I graduated from Binus International University in Indonesia majoring in Computer Science, Games Technology stream. I’ve been making games since I was in elementary school (yes unbelievable). Back then together with my best friend we created pen and paper games to play with our classmates during lunch break. We used atlas as maps and erasers as the unit (plus toothpick for the little flag).
But semi-professionally, I’ve been making games since 2012. I’ve released a couple of board game titles locally, and Dragnethar Online is one of my first digital games that I consider large scale. My favourite games are RTS and RPG. I've been a big fan of Blizzard games in the past (who wasn’t?). I’ve spent most of my gaming time playing Perfect World, World of Warcraft, Warcraft RTS, League of Legends. But the one game I’ve been playing for 13 years non stop is Mousehunt. A browser based game I have played on facebook since it was released.
I read some other interviews in newRPG and saw that they include their photo, so I’m gonna shamelessly put my photo as well.
So who do you work with?
The Dragnethar IP itself has been around since 2007 and I collaborated with my best friend Matheus Randy Prabowo to start. But Dragnethar Online (the game) is mostly done solo by myself from 2017 until 2021. I worked on code, I learned to draw a bit, creating contents and balancing, learned how to launch a game, manage a community and take bad reviews. But since late 2021, I have hired some people to work with me on the project contents and programming and got help from interns as well. Then in 2022, Matheus returned to help me (again); he worked on the content creation and balancing, while I kept doing a little bit of everything else.
Pretty much almost everything of the operations I did myself. I bootstrapped the capital from my main job to hire a team and fund the whole operation, but no outsourcing except for buying some asset packs online and tools to create maps and illustration aid.
So you've build games before! How many? Which ones?
Unpublished? A lot. I’ve made text based games with C, I’ve made point and click games with powerpoint presentation, lots of Flash games, mini games with Construct 2 and Unity. My first published game perhaps is Telebeanies, it was a mini puzzle game about teleporting beans that I made with Construct 2 in 2012 as an entry for Windows 8 hackathon. Then, my second published game is a board game (physical printed board game). We printed a thousand copies and sold them locally in Indonesia around 2015. The game is titled Throne of Elements. Then around 2016 I published another board game, titled Flipeek: Medieval and in 2017 Stockastic: Stock Trading Game. All of those board games are self published and I worked with a team of friends to develop them. So Dragnethar Online can be said to be my first serious digital game debut.
How did Dragnethar Online start for you?
I made the game out of frustration to be honest. It’s been years since I released any digital games and I feel like my credibility as a game designer is waning. So my wife (then still girlfriend) encouraged me to start coding a game. Any game. And since I’ve been working on Dragnethar IP for years, I decided to start a simple text based game, but this time web browser game for Dragnethar. And ever since that I’ve spent my night coding the game while working on client projects (non game programming) during the day. The process is painfully slow, cause I might aim too big and get moody sometimes and refuse to continue working on the project. But thanks to my wife's constant support, now the game is here!
We launched an open alpha October last year, and open beta this July. These numbers are from our backend management apps; on average, we got 30 - 50 daily active players. Some days it could hit 60 - 70. Monthly active users around 200 - 300 players. Total registered players around 1.100 players. So it’s still very early.
Discord is very active. Especially after a patch. We also have a range of social media and reddit, but it doesn't seem to take off. But we will make a live chat feature in the game soon, so all players can interact with other players in their location (in game region) at the tavern.
What makes Dragnethar unique?
Hm.. Perhaps the economy. I always had a problem with inflation in MMORPG, so I tried to make a game with a closed economy system, where no new gold is “printed” when you kill an enemy, and a reserve gold is set at the beginning of the server. From there I tried to simulate the market by making artificial demand and supply and make a system where the price will adjust themselves as more players trade them.
Next up perhaps is the crafting system. In Dragnethar Online, you don’t just put in what’s needed into the crafting recipe. You can add anything, literally any available material in the game into it and hope a hidden stats is unlocked. So crafting is not just a side activity, I envision some player focusing truly on the crafting part and becoming a legendary crafter for knowing what material to add when you craft something to unlock its potential.
There’s some other praise from the player base, but not sure if that’s really something special or just them saying nice things to me. But there are lots of other features in the game that I personally haven’t seen in other browser games I’ve played.
How would you describe Dragnethar Online to people with no previous experience in PBBGs?
“Play this game, and you can play while you are working. ^^.” “You only need to login once in a while and still be relevant in the game.” “This is a long term game, as long as you come back daily and spend your AP, perhaps chatting a little bit with the community in discord, you’ll be fine. You’ll stay ‘in the game’.”
Any issues when developing?
The biggest issue is to come up with the will to actually finish the game. Working solo is a blessing and a curse at the same time. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, but if you lose the motivation, no one will be there to help you keep moving with the project. Yes my wife keeps nagging me to finish the game, but sometimes when the code hits a dead end, I can’t muster up any will to work on ‘that hard part’.
Once the game was released (alpha) things changed. With lots of players playing the game, getting feedback, bad or good, it fires up the engine. But sometimes bad unconstructive reviews or simply rude people just made me down. Fortunately there are much more nice supportive players that give great feedback, ideas and constructive comments for the game.
Any plans you can share?
Of course, In the last few months there are lots of things that have been added into the game such as retirement and fate points feature, live chat and storyteller program. We have also done lots of updates on the game features since we first released, and we still plan to add new stuff into the game as we go. One of the things is the infinite Node system allowing the player to push through a node as far as possible where the enemy gets more difficult and the rewards more valuable.
Event wise, we have done our first event (The Wolf Slayer), Halloween events, christmas mini events, and new year event just ended on 31st of January 2023. Next up there will be the Nenshu Invasion event, calling the players to take on the Nenshu attacks with the aid of the ocean dragon; Yinreki. The Nenshu is a lion-like creature with a fearsome reputation, it is known to feast on the local wildlife, disrupting the delicate balance of the ecosystem and causing widespread destruction. In this event, players will work together with Yinreki to defeat them in an infinite node system we mentioned before. More details on the current event can be found here.
Short term update after that, there will be an avatar update, allowing players to choose their avatar as we shift forward from text based games to more illustrations (thanks to midjourney). There will also be new unlockable races that can be accessed by players who had accrued some fate points from retiring their characters in the past. Other than that, we will try to keep up with in-game events at least every 2 months to keep players entertained with new contents.
In the long term plan, there will be conquest; a faction vs faction PvP that will allow your faction to gain control of opposing faction territory. But conquest is still far off, we will wait for more players to make sure the balance between factions is nice and even. Somewhere in between those we will polish up the politics and scholar features; things that are already in the game, but not really live up to their expectation yet.