How the Dragon Mania Legends team keeps things fresh after eight years

by Ana Lopez

With all the mobile titles available today, it’s rare for something to last a few years, let alone eight. But that’s exactly what the team at Gameloft Budapest has managed to do, with their primo dragon training simulator Dragon Mania Legends celebrating its eighth anniversary in January, with the title continuing to grow and attract new players thanks to a number of cute creatures and a continuous stream of exciting events .

So to celebrate the milestone, we caught up with Botond Szalacsi, Game Producer and Gabor Megellai (Megsz), Lead Designer at Gameloft about the fire-breathing title, discussing everything from how to balance a game after years on the market to have been, to the team’s personal favorite winged horrors (we say horrors, some of these dragons are super cute), and everything in between.

With that out of the way, it’s time to fly into our Dragon Mania Legends interview.

business updates: Eight years on a live service game means a lot of updates. Can you share with us what are the most memorable changes to the game? And what are you most proud of?

bone tip: This is a tough question because we’ve had so many great moments and features over the years. I might highlight the introduction of our clan system – which didn’t exist when the game launched – or our first mega-event with divine dragons inspired by Greek mythology. The whole team enthusiastically worked on this one as we dived deep into the Greek cultural elements. It was great to see the community feedback on this update!

Megsz: I would also like to mention an update that releases a Divine mega-event, but my all-time favorite is the Egyptian one. Originally the game used Scandinavian elements inspired by Viking culture, so it was interesting to mix these with ancient Egyptian symbols. The story was excellent and it was thrilling to get deeper and deeper into an Egyptian tomb as you progressed through the event.

In addition, I generally enjoy working on modernizing outdated elements of the game.

Can you share the process of introducing new dragons to the game? (in terms of visual design/balancing/whatever really!)

bone tip: Naturally. Since we are approaching the 1000th dragon soon
are introduced in Dragolandia, you can imagine that the team can draw inspiration from almost anything. We’ve introduced dragons inspired by constellations or animals so far, to name a few, but even a burger for lunch can spark some fun ideas.

Dragon Mania Legends interview - a dragon with a huge hamburger on his back

In addition to our artists, our community often submits great fan art that usually ends up as a concept for our 2D guys as well.

Megsz: As we create dragons for important real life occasions that dictate their visual direction – think Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or Christmas – we like to flesh out ideas about the story that gives us the chance to create something new.

Our limited-time mega events introduce unique storylines that circulate around a specific element, which predetermines the visual identity of the upcoming dragons. (Remember the Divine events we mentioned earlier, inspired by ancient cultures.)

Fortunately, we had the opportunity to work with a wide selection of brands and influencers as well – transforming their visual identities into dragons in Dragon Mania Legends.

Dragons are one of the most common mythical monsters in entertainment. How did you go about making a dragon-based game that stands out from the crowd?

bone tip: Our goal was to create a game where players can not only collect and level up dragons, but also take them into battles, interact with them in their habitats, and take part in adventures with them on the campaign map. From a visual point of view, we wanted to create a direction that would stand the test of time.

Megsz: In most RPG games, the dragons are strange, evil, alien creatures. When we thought about Dragon Mania, I wanted to create intelligent, sweet, unique creatures that could become companions to our players.

How do you think Dragon Mania Legends has continued to thrive over the past eight years?

bone tip: Building a highly dedicated, engaged community is one of the main reasons why Dragon Mania Legends has stood the test of time. Their enthusiasm helps keep our energy levels high as the team regularly produces new content. When it comes to new players, we think the game is still visually appealing, setting it apart from the crowd of competitors who have also been on the market for nearly a decade.

What were Dragon Mania Legends’ intentions to begin with? And how much do they differ eight years later?

bone tip: In the beginning, we wanted to create a game where – in addition to the generic collecting aspect – players can battle with and strategize for their dragon teams. This has not fundamentally changed since then.

Megsz: The aspects I want to put more emphasis on these days are: the social experience, the features that are available and a leaner UX. We are currently working on this one at the moment.

Dragon Mania Legends interview - a dragon with a block hole on its back, a dragon with a panda on its back and a dragon with holly on its back stand against a blurred background

Which of all the available dragons are your personal favorites and why?

Megsz: Black Hole, it is one of the most beautiful.

bone tip: Bamboo, he has a baby panda on his back! I don’t need to say more, Holly Dragon too, it’s so ugly, it’s mesmerizing.

How much has the community helped shape the future of Dragon Mania Legends over the past eight years?

bone tip: Before DML, we didn’t have the opportunity to work with such an engaged community. While some of our players’ ideas may seem crazy at first, we are able to collect useful insights that can lead to inspiring changes.

We have a group of dedicated players who understand the economics and strategic approaches of the game, as well as our designers, who provide constant feedback that helps us to continuously improve.

Megsz: I would say that the insights of our players help shape the structures of the events the most, even if we do get some less than friendly feedback from time to time. This helps us make adjustments that may shape overall sentiment. To give you an example, our recently introduced Tyrant event has received several comments that we will turn into action items in the upcoming updates.

Where do you see Dragon Mania Legends in another eight years?

bone tip: As a game that can stay true to its origins, but fits the market standard in both appearance and functions at the time.

Megsz: I imagine a game with more opportunities for social interactions.

A black and white dragon that resembles a seahorse

How has the changing landscape of mobile gaming over the past eight years influenced your approach to the continued development of Dragon Mania Legends?

bone tip: This is a constant challenge for us as there are areas of the game, both in content and features, that we need to radically revamp to reflect recent trends in the mobile gaming market.

Megsz: We constantly see trends come and go in the mobile games market. The fact that DML, after being live for 8 years, is able to keep its core functions as they were in the beginning is a great achievement.

What I would like to emphasize is that the ability to interact with other players, the feeling of being part of a community, is much more prominent now and we want to build on that within the game’s ecosystem.

Here at business updates, we look forward to seeing what the future holds for Dragon Mania Legends. If you still need to download the game, go to the official website to find a link for your device. In the meantime, check out our lists of the best mobile games and the best mobile RPGs.

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