Off in the tent-like setup of Codemasters' E3 booth were some demonstration units of their upcoming MMORPG, Dragon Empires.
The game name comes from the backstory, which has been written by fantasy author Piers Anthony. The world is divided up into five grand empires, each headed by a single great dragon. The dragons are not simply static parts of the world, however; they will roam the lands of their own accord, overseeing their territory, and occasionally coming to watch larger-scale battles. It was also revealed that it would be possible to kill the dragons, though it was implied that such a feat would be extremely difficult. It will be possible to join any of the five empires, though it will also be possible to become an outlaw and attempt to survive without the assistance of any of them.
Also on display was the graphics engine. Codemasters is making sure that virtually all aspects of the scenery in Dragon Empires are interactive. One such example was a character moving through a field of tall grass and plants, which were brushed aside and sprang back into place as the character moved past. Special emphasis was also placed on some of the weather effects, including highly realistic looking clouds.
Dragon Empires will feature an entirely skill-based character system, with absolutely no leveling. To prevent characters from maxing out too many skills, there will be skill degradation in skills that are conflicting in nature with those being raised.
The economy will be player-based, and different cities will have different taxation rates for different goods. Clans (the guilds of Dragon Empires) will also be able to create their own cities, and clan leaders with the appropriate skill sets will be able to shape the development and growth of their holdings.
Dragon Empires is set to begin beta testing in September, and Codemasters is determined not to push the game out before it is adequately tested and ready for launch.