When Electronic Arts effectively ruined the Dungeon Keeper formula with its mobile effort – and really when it did very little with the license – the race seemed to be on for who could make a better experience. Realmforge Studios’ Dungeons series immediately came to mind and it was a suitable enough underdog. However, Dungeons 3 looks to up the ante in a big way by allowing players to go out into the world and take it over.
GamingBolt spoke to Dungeons 3 producer Christian Schlüetter about the series’ Dungeon Keeper inspirations, what’s changed when it comes to creating dungeons and a whole lot more.
"Defending your dungeon will be a lot more difficult than in Dungeons 2. Good heroes will not only walk in a straight line to your dungeon heart and try to destroy it."
The Dungeons franchise seems to take inspiration from Dungeon Keeper. How does Dungeons 3 move away from that and become its own entity?
Yes, we of course draw inspiration from the big dungeon management games and we love Dungeon Keeper in particular. But the Dungeons franchise very much stands out by itself. For one, of course, we implement what was promised for a never-released Dungeon Keeper 3: A fully-fledged do-gooder overworld to conquer and evilfy with your forces of dark dwellers. And of course Dungeons 3 brings a complete co-op experience and randomly generated skirmish and multiplayer maps for virtually endless evil fun. On top of that, the trademark fairy-tale narrator who delivers the typical Dungeons humour is of course pretty unique.
Tone-wise, what’s changed about Dungeons 3 especially since the focus has shifted from the Dungeon Lord to Thayla?
The narrator (Kevan Brigthing of Stanley Parable fame) will reprise his role as the narrator. But now he has to fight for the players attention with Thalya, the Dungeon Lords’ new favourite pet commander of all things evil. Thalya is a dark elf and as such, evil from birth. But she has been brought up by Tanos, a paladin of the light. Thus, she is always torn between good and evil and as such, the perfect target of the ultimate evil. Thalya will fight with herself throughout the game, torn between burning and pillaging and obeying her boring old upbringing. We won’t tell you which spilt personality part wins, but we can guarentee it will be hilarious!
When it comes to creating your own dungeon, what has changed this time around? What tools will players have at their disposal?
SPOILER ALERT: In the end of the addon Dungeons 2: Game of Winter, the Ultimate Evil managed to unite the forces of evil again and bring the horde, demons and undead together. So in Dungeons 3, the player has access to all three factions at once. This also means that dungeon creation and maintenance becomes much more intricate though. The player needs to decide which rooms, spells and units to research in which order, if they want access to the undead first or would rather like to harvest the power of the demon spells earlier.
Also, a lot of the production chains in the dungeon rely on the factions working together. Magical tool boxes for example, used for the production of high-level doors and traps, can only be produced by combining tool boxes made by horde creatures and mana harvested by demons. In addition, defending your dungeon will be a lot more difficult than in Dungeons 2. Good heroes will not only walk in a straight line to your dungeon heart and try to destroy it. They will have different quests ranging from destruction to gold plundering and they will take different routes through your dungeon making efficient trap laying and dungeon building prime directive.
"We opted to only employ the randomly generated maps in skirmish and multiplayer modes of Dungeons 3. The campaign is still hand-crafted with a lot of evil love."
Luckily, you also have new ways to pester the heroes. You can throw them in jail and let them starve to death, creating nice skeletons to fight for you. Or you can let them rot on the graveyard where they will transform into zombies for your army. Or better yet, you can use the torture chamber to turn them into dark versions of themselves fighting for the ultimate evil!
How has the interface changed in the sequel and how will it make dungeon creation easier?
We have made a lot of small changes to the UI to make it more intuitive and to give a better overview for the player. For example, we have unified the way that research is done. In Dungeons 2, research options were mostly bound to each specific room and the player needed to first select the room and then the different research available. In Dungeons 3, there is a central research screen that lets player unlock new rooms, units, spells, traps and doors. This and many other tweaks will make dungeon creation much more intuitive and fun.
What new units can we look forward to this time around and how can they be customized?
Some of the most beloved units will see a comeback like the snots, the orcs, goblins and succubae. But a few new additions will join the ranks as horde, demon and undead work together. Also, every sub-faction now gets its own titan unit, a superweapon of a monster that packs quite a punch and is unique. The horde employs a giant Ogre, the demons bring a fiery Pitfiend to the party and the undead invoke fear in their enemies with the Grave Golem.
Randomly generated levels are a first for the franchise with Dungeons 3. How do they change the overall flow of levels?
We opted to only employ the randomly generated maps in skirmish and multiplayer modes of Dungeons 3. The campaign is still hand-crafted with a lot of evil love. That way, we can ensure that the skirmish and multiplayer matches are always unique and that the campaign delivers engaging and fun missions with a deep storyline and surprising twists and turns.
The randomly generated maps actually use a seed feature similar to Minecraft. This means that if you get a particularly tricky or fun map out of the random generation, you can give the seed number to a friend and he can enter it in his game to get the exact same map.
"A game like Dungeons 3, in which the player can alter every tile of the dungeon in each minute, in which he can pick up and drop lots of units everywhere all the time poses a high load on the CPU of each platform."
What can you tell us about co-op and how it plays out? How will players divide responsibilities?
Coop is actually possible in every game mode of Dungeons 3, even in the campaign. Players take care of one dungeon together and share units and resources. That means that one player for example can take care of all the economy in the dungeon and build it up whilst the other is already taking some units to the overworld, wreaking havoc.
What are some of the challenges of bringing a dungeon manager to consoles?
A game like Dungeons 3, in which the player can alter every tile of the dungeon in each minute, in which he can pick up and drop lots of units everywhere all the time poses a high load on the CPU of each platform. This means a lot of optimisation for consoles but we have grown confident having already brought Dungeons 2 to PlayStation 4. The controls are also a bit tricky as generally, strategy games are pretty keyboard/mouse-heavy but we have leveraged the experience from Kalypso’s Tropico, Port Royale and Grand Ages series as well as Dungeons 2 to create an accessible and fluid control scheme for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
How are you addressing some of the criticism levelled at the first two games?
We have had a very close look at the feedback from Dungeons 2 players and while a lot of it was really positive, we saw room for improvements. One thing that people often expressed was that Dungeons 2 was fun but did not deliver enough content. So with Dungeons 3, we are giving players more than double the campaign length and add randomly generated maps for skirmish and multiplayer on top of that which result in tons of replayability. A coop mode was also something that a lot of players asked for and we are bringing it in Dungeons 3. We also broaden the dungeon management experience, giving it more depth and also streamline the overworld RTS part to make both areas more engaging.
Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Gandalf should have just flown Frodo to Mount Doom with the eagles but what do we know!