Welcome to the latest State of Dauntless. The Thunderdeep Drask has been unleashed into the Shattered Isles, and we thought it would be a good time to talk about its development. What’s its legacy? Where did it go? Why bring it back? Let’s get into it!
We launched the original Thunderdeep Drask in 2017 during a closed beta. This was our first foray into the world of Dire Behemoths, and we were learning what we wanted from encounters in the game. With every enemy released, we learned more and raised the quality bar. As a result it became apparent with each release that the Thunderdeep Drask didn’t meet that quality bar, nor did it have the depth we wanted to create. Players had also noted that this Behemoth was difficult and frustrating to fight. In the end, we removed it from the game.
And so weeks passed. Then months. Then years. Soon, the Thunderdeep Drask had become an urban legend in the eyes of veteran players. Its name carried weight. And like all urban legends, the Thunderdeep Drask eventually became a meme.
All of us at Phoenix Labs watched as players continued to ask, “Where’s the Thunderdeep Drask?”
We knew we wanted to return to the dire version of this Behemoth and show it some love, but over time, a lot of the original pieces had become a mystery. Some key bits of information were missing, so a quick polish pass wasn’t an option. As such, we opted to forge ahead with other new Behemoths and features … But the call of the Thunderdeep Drask was always there in the back of our minds.
The Thunderdeep Drask was unfinished business for us at Phoenix Labs. Its absence from the game was loud, deafening even. We decided to revisit this Behemoth and elevate some of its past features. So we rolled up our sleeves and dug into the old files and code.
Even though we knew that the Thunderdeep Drask needed love, we underestimated how much it needed. In hindsight, it probably would have been easier to throw everything out and start from scratch, but hindsight is 20/20.
When we started the rework, we realized that adding new animations made the old ones stick out like a sore thumb by comparison. We also found some long-lost moves that weren’t properly hooked up, like a bite attack. So, we polished up these moves and attacks, and added them to the game.
When all was said and done, we’d reworked roughly 80% of the animations, which was much more than we’d set out to do, but we are so happy that we did it. The animation pass provided an opportunity to polish other shared Drask animations, like staggers. We ended up tightening up all the Drasks in the Shattered Isles during this process. Heck, we even improved the Shadowtouched Drask’s intro, because why not? There’s still work to be done here, but we’re happy the other Drasks also benefited from this work.
We realized early on in this process that this upgraded Thunderdeep Drask deserved a fresh look that lived up to its legend. We wanted this beast to have its own character, one that stood out from the other Drasks. Our concept artist worked to design a unique aesthetic to increase its ferocity by making it stand out from the pack. They worked in tandem with our animators on new animations and moves to create something that was far beyond what we had originally planned. Then it hit us: We had created the ultimate Drask. When the Thunderdeep Drask rears up on its hind legs, it strikes a fearsome silhouette — one we haven’t seen from any other Drask before. At that moment, we knew we’d found our Thunderdeep.
We also have a bonus goal with this rework, and it involves your feedback. Is it worth taking a breather from new Behemoths every now and then to go back and polish up old encounters? We want to know what you think! By returning to a relic of the past, we aim to open up the conversation about reworking past content. We want to know if Slayers appreciate this kind of rework, and if this is something you want to see more of.
As always, we’ll continue to listen to your feedback on this Behemoth and beyond. We still have more work and balancing to do around this encounter, so be sure to let us know what you think.
Initially, the Thunderdeep Drask will only be found on the island event “The Slumbering Thunder” on Cape Fury in 1.7.1. With the launch of patch 1.7.2, this legend will be unleashed into other parts of the Shattered Isles — so listen closely for the telltale crackle of lightning lizards breathing down your neck!