It is often said that nothing is truly finished and it's a saying the games industry has taken to heart in recent times.
Long gone are the days of developing and publishing a game without the need to tweak, adjust and patch it after launch, with new titles requiring constant operation and updates to keep them at the forefront of consumer thought.
Here at PocketGamer.biz, we want to take the opportunity to highlight games that have bucked the trend and found an audience that has kept them thriving long after launch.
In this entry of our Live and Kicking series, we spoke with Dragalia Lost game director Yuji Okada regarding the two-year anniversary of the Nintendo published mobile action RPG.
PocketGamer.biz: With Dragalia Lost now more than two-years-old, how do you reflect on its performance as a series - from launch to the title it is now?
Yuji Okada: While there were trials and tribulations, it’s been an amazing two years thanks to both the development team and the players supporting us. We’ve had a great time releasing a whole variety of content and fleshing out the world of Dragalia Lost.
Between the development, promotion, customer support, and quality assurance teams of both companies, we have over 100 people working on the project.Yuji Okada
How big is the team currently handling live ops?
Between the development, promotion, customer support, and quality assurance teams of both companies, we have over 100 people working on the project.
How important do you consider customer support and updates to be? What has been your approach to this?
The importance of customer support and continued updates can’t be understated for us. We take every inquiry seriously in order to address any issues or concerns a player has. As for updates, we make sure to lay out long-term plans to iron out current issues, as well as continue a steady stream of new content.
What steps have you taken to ensure that Dragalia Lost maintains a sizable and active player base all this time after its launch?
Though it isn’t possible to keep every single player engaged, we do our best to design characters and dragons that players will hopefully like and release them at structured intervals. This means that in addition to their carefully thought-out storylines, we produce an array of artwork and implement new functions and systems to enhance the playing experience.
Gameplay-wise, we do our best to design new bosses of varying difficulties in order to, challenge players to use the characters and dragons they’ve put time into and overcome their enemies through trial and error. We also add more gameplay modes, including the recently launched Alberian Battle Royale and are always finding new ways to improve various in-game elements such as weapon crafting and Wyrmprints.
This year we’ve also placed an increasing importance on sound design and produced new songs for each event that seem to have been received well. Finally, we provide periodic updates for the main story of Dragalia Lost in the hopes of further developing the lore and world for players to dive into.
To what do you attribute Dragalia Lost's consistently impressive grossing performance, and how do you sustain it?
As mentioned earlier, Dragalia Lost is the result of cooperation between all the teams working behind it: game design, artwork, scenario writing, and sound design teams focus on producing and improving the quality of their work, while promotion, customer service, and quality assurance teams make up the backbone of the game. Together we are able to sustain the regular flow of content that the game demands.
This year we’ve also placed an increasing importance on sound design and produced new songs for each event...Yuji Okada
Can you tell us how you have approached the game under the current pandemic? Any changes you have put in place?
After carefully considering the situation, the Dragalia Lost development team is currently working from home. The switch to remote work was a smooth process due to the support that Cygames and Nintendo provided and we’ve since worked out the kinks in communication since we first made the conversion.
Our workflow is just as efficient as when we were in the office, with the main difference being that most of our communication is now through text and calls.
What would you consider Dragalia Lost biggest achievement in since launch?
The main story for Dragalia Lost has garnered the interest of our players and we are proud of the writing, artwork, game design, sound design, and technology that has gone into making it what it is today.
We’ve done our best to push - and even break - the boundaries of the perception that Dragalia Lost is simply a fantasy game, and have created a story with many meaningful messages to convey.
Is there anything about the game that, in hindsight, you'd now handle differently?
Of course, with any game that is constantly in production, there are aspects of the process that could have been done differently or better, but the most we can do is to make the best decision possible at the moment and move forward without regret. To that end, we do make revisions and learn from mistakes.
The growth we’ve made is evident to us as we adjust various functions for our two-year anniversary. Too many changes, however, can negatively impact our players, so we do keep in mind to carefully consider the necessity of what we’re about to do and properly compensate for any inconveniences.
Finally, how has your experience with Dragalia Lost informed where you are/what you're working on now?
It’s been an honour to direct a large-scale action RPG with such a huge following. While the work comes with a lot of pressure, it has also been a great way to challenge the team to grow outside of our comfort zones. Whatever comes next, we’ll be sure to put the experiences we’ve learned here to good use.