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Dragon Oath Official Developer Blog

Developers of ChangYou's Dragon Oath, the F2P True Martial Arts MMORPG, write about Dragon Oath and the gaming industry. We'll also bring you insights about MMORPGs made in China and published in the West. Share your thoughts with us!

Author: changyou

Seven Habits of Effective Communication (In Dragon Oath)

Posted by changyou Friday April 30 2010 at 9:03PM
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As with most MMORPGs, there are many ways to communicate in the world of Dragon Oath. Today we'll take a look at the various ways of expressing yourself, including some advanced tips that I've picked up along the way.

1. For chat, there are six basic channels: Say, Yell, Guild, Team, Class, and Whisper. Yell sends a message that the whole world can hear, Say sends a message to people in the same vicinity, and the other channels can be used to talk to specific people (Whisper to talk to an individual; Team, Class, and Guild to talk to anyone in that group.) Say creates a message that is only displayed for one minute, so for private conversations people often form a team and use Team Chat. Here is Lucy using the Say channel to speak.
2. Various animated emotes can be added to your conversation through the Expressions tab (click the smiley face icon to the left of your chat box.) There are quite a range of emotes suitable for any number of situations. Here, Lucy uses the Expression tab to send a kiss. Once you have a few favorites, you can reproduce them without the Expressions screen by typing the numeric shortcut. (Example: Typing #69 will produce a cheering smiley face.)
3. You can also create your own emoticons the old-fashioned way, with letters and other characters. This is a good way to show off your creativity, and to illustrate things not included in the Expressions tab. You can see Lucy adding a kitty emote to her statement.
4. Actions are a great way to spice up your conversation by adding gestures and other motions. They can be selected from the Action tab to the left of your chat box (the running man icon.) By selecting an action, your character will perform it; there will also be a text box over the character's head which says the action. You can also use *action in your chat box to recreate the action (e.g. *wave).
5. To add some color to your speech - literally - select the desired color from the Color tab to the left of your chat box (with the A icon) to create a color tag. Any speech after the numerical tag will become the color you selected. This can be a great way of showing your emotions! Like Expressions or Actions, you can also type theshortcut to get this effect, once you know it. 
6. There are also Moods and Titles that can be displayed over your character's name. (Only a Title or a Mood can be shown at any given time, not both.) These functions are accessed through the Friends menu. To display a Title, select Title from the Friend menu, click Modify Title, and choose any Title you have earned (through quests or Class ranking.) To remove the Title, open the Title tab and select Conceal. Mood is similar, except your mood can be anything (as long as it passes our automatic obscenity filters.) Go to the Friends menu and select Modify Mood. Once your Mood is to your liking, click the icon to the right of it to Show or Hide your Mood. This is a good way to share information about yourself without other players having to look for it specially (though you do also have a Data tab in your character menu that others can view by right-clicking you and selecting 'Info'.)
7.  Our final lesson is how to swear effectively. In Dragon Oath, using certain words can get you in trouble - being obscene can get you Muted or banned from the game for a period of time. Unfortunately, you can't just type !@#$% in place of the offensive word. Dragon Oath consolidates what it considers to be nonsense characters, so it's unpredictable whether your string of punctuation will show up as just !@ (which doesn't have nearly enough emotional impact.) The solution? Make censorship work for you. The string of letters "gm" is replaced in-game with ?? (an old automatic censor to make it harder for players to pretend to be Gamemasters, which no one has gotten around to removing.) Here Lucy demonstrates the proper use of gm. The text "What the gmgm are you talking about?!" shows up as:
The ability to express yourself well is at the heart of good roleplaying. I hope you have enjoyed this guide, but if not, #14 *angry and go gmgm yourself.

Tongue firmly in cheek,

Lucy Song

Community Manager for Dragon Oath

Dragon Or Guy In A Hat?: The Challenges of Localization

Posted by changyou Tuesday April 27 2010 at 5:17PM
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Leaping Dragon, one of the popular bosses from Dragon Oath, is not a dragon. He is, instead, a warrior with a burning red aura and a wide-brimmed hat. In Chinese, his honorary title of "dragon" shows his fierceness and courage. In English, it just confuses players who are expecting to fight a large fire-breathing lizard.

Leaping Dragon = A Guy in a Hat <---- "Leaping Dragon"

In our next major update, which will be released near the beginning of June, his name will be changed to Raging Demon. This localization change retains the original sense of ferocity and animalistic aggression, while being more relatable to English speakers. This is only one of many localization changes planned for the June update.

A lot of free-to-play MMORPGs have their roots in foreign countries such as China, and are then localized for a Western audience. Many of these MMORPGs have the same basic structure, so good localization - including fluent English text, well-written quests, and an effort to understand the Western cultural mindset - can make all the difference. If you have limited resources for revision, good localization is your best bet to stand out from the crowd.

Dragon Oath has not always been a model of good localization. In fact, some of our early fans were English speakers who were entertained by the very flawed, often silly "Chinglish" of the game's text. I collected the screenshots our production team has been hoarding, which they were thinking of sending to one of those humorous "Engrish" sites. Instead, I've included a couple here for your amusement.

System Message in Chinglish

This System Message has been translated into actual English, but this screenshot remains as a fond memory. Oh, Sohu Fox, you mean well... but your intentions are definitely better than your vocabulary.

Then there's this little gem. In case anyone is wondering, the Flower Fairy is a wedding attendant, not a pixie. It remains to be seen whether Flower Fairy will be part of the next wave of localization changes. I actually think her broken English is sort of charming, but maybe I'm just giving her a break because she's cute.


In the future, we will continue our efforts to improve the translation and localization of Dragon Oath. We have dozens of changes planned already to quest dialogue, pet names, and much more. But in tribute to the old days, feel free to post a link to your favorite bit of Dragon Oath Chinglish. As they stand, they may not be shining examples of how to Westernize a game - but damn, they're funny.


- Lucy Song,

Community Manager

Best Class To Play? All Of Them.

Posted by changyou Friday April 16 2010 at 7:47PM
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Players of Dragon Oath often argue over which of the nine classes is the "best" to play. There are frequent and passionate arguments about which class is the "most powerful," which has the "best stats," and which class "everyone should play." I guess Karl Marx was right when he said that class struggles are unavoidable.

As a Dragon Oath insider, however, I know that the most effective team is one with a combination of classes. Cooperation between characters with different skill sets carries immediate and obvious benefits. Nowhere is this more evident than when fighting difficult bosses, such as the formidable Ancient Chess Soul that appears at the end of Chess Challenge.

Ancient Chess Soul

The Shaolin are the "tanks" of Dragon Oath. They have the best possible chance of taking a blow from the Chess Soul and surviving, which means that while they're engaging the boss their party members can survive long enough to damage her. But even the Shaolin are not invincible, so it is essential to have a member of the Lotus Order class (the healers) to cure damage and, in a pinch, resurrect  the dead. While the Shaolin and Lotus Order are distracting the boss in this way, the Taoist (who has the best of the long-range attack spells) can blast away at her HP.

The Royalty are useful because they have skills that can cripple the Chess Soul's MP, preventing her from using her most effective attacks, and can also physically attack from a safe distance. The Minstrels are masters of traps, but their most useful skill is a magical mark which can double the damage taken by Chess Soul. This is especially powerful when you add a Pyromancer to the team; they have the highest Physical Attack of any class, and have a buff to increase this stat even more.

With the Assassins and the Voodoo class, you get into advanced strategy; Assassins can attack from hiding, allowing them to deal damage without risking themselves, and the Voodoo class can steadily poison the Chess Soul from afar while decreasing her Strength and Intelligence (and thus the damage she does.) The Assassins also have a great buff that increases their chance of a Critical Hit. As for the Beggars Alliance, they have the highest evasion; they have the best chance of surviving the Chess Soul's long-range attacks, which can otherwise devastate an entire team.

The maximum size of a group is six characters, so it's impossible to bring all of these specialties to the fight. But it should be evident by now that any group with only one class will be less effective in boss battles.

In real life, it is the differences between us that make us strong. Humans are capable of incredible things through specialization of labor, and when we cooperate it's amazing what we can accomplish. A well-designed game reflects this essential truth. So when people ask what class I think is the most powerful, I can say with confidence, "All of them."

- Lucy Song,

Community Manager

Roleplayers and Power Gamers Can Co-Exist

Posted by changyou Wednesday April 14 2010 at 5:54PM
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In Dragon Oath, there are a wide variety of pets that can be captured, tamed, and summoned to help in battle. There are different pets available as you reach certain levels, so a lot of gamers look forward to hitting those levels so they can get a new and more powerful pet.

Not me. I have the same parrot that I've had since I was Level 5. Her name is Ruby, and she is a pretty bird. I am fond of her despite her modest statistics and limited skills, because she is my pet and I love her. When she reaches breeding age I will find her a mate, and someday I will have her son at my side. I think I am going to name him Chico.

Players whose goal is to have the most powerful character in the game are baffled. Why don't I upgrade to a crocodile to maximize my potential damage in battle? For that matter, why don't I spend more time leveling up? I spend so much time talking to people, telling stories, and generally hanging out that my character is only at level 34. I don't get my special Mount until level 40, so at the moment, when I'm running an event I first have to walk to it.

This approach makes perfect sense if you're one of those gamers whose primary focus is roleplaying. Defining their character as a person is more important to them than anything else. Therefore, because Lucy (not  my real name) is a Minstrel entertainer, she must have a fun pet, pretty clothes, and lots of good stories. I fight with a fan because it's what she would love to carry - never mind if I find a longsword with amazing stats.

There's room for both in the gaming world. You just need a careful balance between fighting events (special bosses, kill quota quests, etc.) and more community oriented events (like festivals.) In fact, the Power Gamers and the roleplayers exist in a symbiotic relationship. When I get to level 50 and can learn to sew, I'm going to be very interested in making outfits - how Lucy dresses is very important to me - and will end up buying a lot of raw materials from the players that love to hunt.

Whatever the goals of the players and their purpose in playing, game developers need to address them. There are very different ideas out there about what constitutes paradise, and if your idea of a great game is limited to only one such aspect, you're missing out on pleasing a lot of your players. Yes, you should give players the option to travel around with a pretty bird... but you should also offer them a badass crocodile.

- Lucy Song,

Community Manager

Fireworks On $7 A Day: Community Building Done Cheap

Posted by changyou Monday April 12 2010 at 3:50PM
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As the Community Manager for Dragon Oath, I often get asked, "What exactly do you do?" I usually tell them, "I run contests, answer questions, and help whenever I can." Actually, that's what a Game Master does; I'm not a GM, I just act like one sometimes. The rest of the answer is, "I manage social media sites, the external presence of the company, and promote events." Where the job gets really interesting, however, is planning virtual events.

I recently had a puzzle on my hands. I wanted to get players together to announce the upcoming events for the month. The event had to be run immediately, to get the word out about the first of the events (a Ventrilo Chat with the Dragon Oath team on the 9th) in time to effectively promote it. I had no budget, no prize items, and no in-game resources; all of that would have taken time to approve, time I didn't have.

So I spent $10 on Tokens for our Token Shop (Dragon Oath's microtransaction system) and started buying virtual fireworks, and also a Loudspeaker (an item which allows you to make in-game announcements that sparkle and are easily noticed.) I announced via Loudspeaker that we were having a Fireworks Show, and told people the time and place (in 45 minutes; at the Class Headquarters for the Lotus Order, where there was room to gather and no wandering monsters.) Once people gathered for that, I told them about the events of the month and wowed them with fireworks. Because fireworks were a game mechanism that players didn't see often, being unavailable except through the Token Shop, it was a memorable way to get their attention.

I've submitted a request to be reimbursed for the $7 I spent on fireworks and the Loudspeaker, plus the $3 extra to spend the Token Shop minimum of $10. Just for fun, here's how the math breaks down:

1 Golden Rain Firework (Rains money over the area) - $1.00

1 Loudspeaker (Makes a sparkly announcement appear mid-screen) - $1.00

Several Gleaming Star Bundle, Eight-Fire Star, & Smiling Sky fireworks - $5.00

The coffee I was drinking while running the event - $3.50

Making a memory for the player community.... PRICELESS.

-  Lucy Song,

Community Manager

Young, Male, Looking For Marriage? (You're Probably In Dragon Oath)

Posted by changyou Tuesday April 6 2010 at 6:55PM
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Every day, there are announcements and ads from Dragon Oath players seeking marriage. So far, this is no different than the real world, where finding a marriage partner is an important life transition. But in Dragon Oath, the demographics are a little different - players as young as thirteen are contemplating in-game marriage, and boys are just as enthusiastic about the prospect of marriage as girls.

A lot of this has to do with the in-game benefits for being married, which are significant. Married couples can cast special "Buffs" (stat enhancement spells) on their partners, can instantly teleport to their spouse's side, and have access to special items through couples-only quests. There are also various options for the couple's wedding day, ranging from a modest ceremony with a few friends, to an elaborate event with expensive gifts for guests.

In Dragon Oath, relationships between players are seen as important, and there are ways in the game to honor these connections. Friendships can be cemented by declaring the other player to be kin. Mentor relationships can be formalized as the bond between Master and Apprentice, complete with an in-game title marking them as such. And of course interactions between members of a guild, and between guilds, remain an essential part of socialization.

As long as romantic love and marriage continue to carry such benefits in Dragon Oath, we can expect players to remain interested in this kind of union. There is a Matchmaking Event planned for next week (3-8 p.m. PST on Wednesday the 14th) to help introduce singles who are interested in marriage to like-minded players.

In a lot of games, the goal is to be the most powerful player, an individualistic goal that can get a bit lonely. In Dragon Oath, the most powerful player is one who has formed a caring, cooperative bond with someone else. That's a mentality that we would love to encourage - to show young people that true strength involves the support of other people.

Love may not conquer all... but in Dragon Oath, it sure helps beat those tough bosses.

-  Lucy Song

Community Manager

Mythology Meets Technology in New Storytelling Event

Posted by changyou Friday April 2 2010 at 9:07PM
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Storytelling has been around since the dawn of language. It is a way to entertain, to communicate, and to enlighten. Stories form the basis of culture, the heart of religion, the foundation of shared identity.
In our modern era, technology has also become an important aspect of communication. Each new technological advance has changed the way we socialize - from the telephone, to the instant message, to the webcam chatroom where you can now see who you are talking to regardless of distance. One of the new wave of communication platforms is Ventrilo, a chat client which supports voice chat.

The implications of this for online communication are tremendous. Not only can people talk to each other without worrying about their spelling or punctuation, they can also convey non-verbal messages. Recently, an internet company tried to popularize a "sarcasm" symbol so that people in chat rooms will easily know who's not being serious. With Ventrilo, tone of voice is enough.

Because of Ventrilo, MMORPG events related to speech or communication are much easier to run, and more accessible to those who attend. We have taken advantage of this for our new Storytelling Contest (being held for the first time Monday April 5th at 5:00 p.m. PST.) Instead of having to read as fast as people type, players can just sit back, relax, and enjoy listening to the performers. For those who do not have microphones on their computers, Ventrilo can simultaneously support text and voice chat.

It remains to be seen how popular voice chat will become, and whether it will completely replace the older text-based model. One thing's for sure: sarcasm just got a whole lot easier.

To join the Dragon Oath Storytelling Contest, click here.

- Lucy Song

Community Manager