Interview: First Dwarf Developers Plan To Add Skill Trees For Every Character

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First Dwarf - via Star Drifters

First Dwarf is an upcoming unique base-building Action RPG, that gives players complete freedom to explore the vibrant open world. From in-depth exploration to highly engaging crafting mechanics, First Dwarf is everything that a tower defense player wishes for. 

At the same time, the game boasts a prominent challenge for not only watching out for enemies and combat but also for upgrading the right tools and using strategies to bend the gameplay to your favor. To shed more light on the inspiration and development process, we interviewed Anastasia Stetsenko, Level and Quest Designer of First Dwarf, over an email Q&A session.

First Dwarf - via Star Drifters
First Dwarf – via Star Drifters

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on First Dwarf.

Anastasia: Hi, I’m Anastasia Stetsenko, I am a Level and Quest Designer for First Dwarf. Usually, I start my job with a combination of level and environment design for floating islands that are scattered across the world of our game. I take into consideration the main story on the specific island, and what challenges, quests, and other content should be there.

When quest lines, documentation, and dialogues are ready, that’s when I start coding my parts in the Unreal Engine script language “blueprint”. I need to give the player clear information about their current task in the quest, where they need to go, and what they need to do. I also write some scripts for the mechanics and optimize the game using Unreal Engine technologies and tools.

What was the inspiration behind the fantasy open-world of First Dwarf?

Anastasia: First Dwarf takes place in the world from our previous game, Driftland: The Magic Revival. It is a mix of classic fantasy elements but with a twist. Our world has been torn apart by a great mysterious explosion called the Great Rapture and is held together only by ancient magic.

In this setting, different races fight over the remaining fragments of land to provide resources for their people and find a place to live. We also grew up reading the masterpieces of J.R.R. Tolkien and took a lot of inspiration from them.

First Dwarf – via Star Drifters

First Dwarf does seem to bring something fresh to the community, with the challenge of survival, crafting, and especially base building. Can you share insights on how the game fits into the Action RPG genre?

Anastasia: For fans of action RPGs, the game offers dynamic real-time combat, separate development trees for the Dwarf, the Dragon, and the Mech, various weapons and skills, and an immersive fantasy world to explore. In addition, we want other elements such as colony building and defense mechanics to enhance the RPG aspect of the game.

It seems like there are several floating islands, each with its resources and challenges. Do players have the freedom to explore and settle their base on any of these islands or just limited ones?

Anastasia: After the first two islands which teach the rules of the First Dwarf world, the game opens up more. We want to give players the freedom to choose the next island to explore. To reach some islands, we will need to acquire and craft a specific technology. 

Dragon Character
First Dwarf – via Star Drifters

The announcement mentions gathering resources for survival. How do these resources contribute to the overall narrative of helping Dwarven people?

Anastasia: At the beginning of the game our ship crashes and in the process, we lose most of our resources. Finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory we must survive but also provide the necessary materials for our colonies. By collecting resources for our settlements, we can raise their technological level and unlock new useful recipes and blueprints.

Each colony has its specializations and can unlock different things. For example, our first settlement is home to the Mech Builders Guild. If the guild thrives, we can get blueprints for better parts and upgrades for our Mech. 

Ragna, the scholar dragon, seems like a valuable companion. How will players work together to overcome challenges?

Anastasia: Ragna has a connection with nature and mana that gives her unique skills that will help her and Tru along the journey. She can talk with animals, read Eskoim texts, swim, and fly to places where Tru and Mech can’t. She feels dark magic, knows alchemy, can explore islands from above, and breathes fire.

First Dwarf - via Star Drifters
First Dwarf – via Star Drifters

How will players juggle exploration and base building? Will there be moments where focusing on defense and securing the colony takes priority?

Anastasia: Our colony’s defense system is always developing and progressing. We want to give the players the ability to build colonies, defend walls and towers, and explore the island.

Sometimes monster attacks will be intense and the player will have to go back to their colony and help with defending it, but most times, if the colony infrastructure is good, they can feel free to explore islands and not think about the settlement. Of course, we added an alarm system using the Raven that informs us about the danger in the colony.

The announcement also mentions using both Mech and Dragon for exploration. Will each offer distinct advantages for exploration and resource gathering?

Anastasia: Every character has its advantages in exploration. Ragna can fly and swim to go places unreachable for the Mech and Tru the Dwarf. Mech can gather resources and do heavy lifting for the team. 

Expansive Open World
First Dwarf – via Star Drifters

Apart from the harsh enemy monsters, does the game also feature friendly animals, and will they be tameable to keep around your colony?

Anastasia: Our world is inhabited by unique fantastic animals. The dark magic endangers some of these animals and can get sick. If we find a way to heal them we can interact with them and get useful resources.

Some of the healed and befriended animals can be petted. In the feature, we want to add an option to tame animals for the settlements.

Just recently, the game released a playtest for players to get the first look at First Dwarf. How was the initial feedback, and what more improvements are coming in the full release?

Anastasia: The reception of the playtest pleasantly surprised us, the vast majority of players liked it. We are happy that much of the feedback from players coincides with our production pipelines and what we would like to add and improve in the game.

We want to improve combat, building systems, tutorials, optimization, and lots of minor things that players pointed out. 

In addition to the improvements, we also want to add skill trees for every character, tech trees for the guilds, new buildings, new islands, economy, and for sure more things.

Tower Building
First Dwarf – via Star Drifters

For how long has the game been under development, and how many developers have actively worked on the First Dwarf?

Anastasia: We exclusively announced the game in 2022 on the IGN channel, where First Dwarf was met with a warm reception. Of course, we had been working on prototypes and the concept beforehand.

As for our team, we are a small independent studio that is also supported by very talented freelancers and subcontractors. However, when it comes to the main core team, which has been working on the project since the beginning, it consists of 7 people.

Would you like to share anything else with the readers?

Anastasia: If you are interested in our game, I highly recommend joining our community on Discord. We post concept art, talk about features, and share information about the development progress and together we pass the time until the game premiere.

First Dwarf is an upcoming Tower Defense Action RPG, under development by Star Drifters, and is planned to be released on PC soon. 

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