1. Game Design - School Of Dragons Matt Ekins
What is it?
School of Dragons is a multi-platform massively multiplayer educational online
world based on the popular DreamWorks franchise How to Train Your Dragon. It
is an original property using both franchise and in-house assets.
• Aimed at all ages from Kindergarten up.
• RPG-based quest style game play.
• F2P with subscriptions and IAP.
• Nurturing and growing your own stable of dragons.
• Educational features – Science Lab, elements match game, questing and
field guide content tied to current school standards from kinder to 6
• Social interaction – chat, clans, tournaments.
• Fun mini-games – fishing, farming, racing, target shooting.
• Community support – forums, events.
2. What did I do?
I was the senior-most designer on the project, starting around 6 months before
launch and spending two years helping to build the game. I did everything from
game design to systems to UI design. I worked closely with the producer, the
education manager, the creative director, the monetization manager,
programmers, artists and other designers to create and implement much of the
content and systems in the game.
The following is a rundown of some of my work in SoD.
3. The tutorial for the science lab
The purpose of this game was to teach the players the Scientific Method whilst
exploring curriculum such as chemistry and life sciences. This was a completely
original design and has not been done in any game in such a way previously.
• Fully interactive lab objects.
• Perform experiments by completing actions on objects collected in quests.
• Learn the Scientific Method.
• Bond with your dragon.
• Experiments use content based on current school standards.
• Original design from concept to implementation, including mechanics, UI,
tutorial, quest and experiment content.
Fishing for trout
Fishing is a fundamental part of life in School of Dragons. It is a core element
of a feedback loop and an important aspect of the game’s economy. The fishing
game had to be both fun and challenging just enough for us to be able to keep
players coming back and helping monetize the game.
• Interactive skill-based 3D fishing game.
• Ramped for difficulty with different fish, rod and bait types.
• Major feedback loop. Fish provide energy for your dragon, fueling multiple
• ‘Fish facts’ education points.
• Designed the system, mechanics, UI, tutorial and implemented and
balanced fishing zones in game using Unity.
Flying is a primary game mechanic in SoD and critical to several areas of the
game. I took an existing system and developed it to be more realistic and fun
utilizing experience gained designing flying games on previous projects. I was
responsible for the design and implementation of every dragon in the game,
including their abilities and individual character. I worked with programmers to
create the sophisticated flight system allowing me to tune each dragon
7. individually, and per game mode. Dragons had to be both controllable navigating
the worlds and exciting when racing against other players.
• Major navigation mechanic in the game worlds.
• Flight based on physics of birds rather than ‘magic’.
• Thunder Run Racing mode with multiple tracks.
• Hero dragon levels with unique levels and abilities.
• Bulls Eye Lagoon mode with target shooting.
• Monetization aspects.
• Multi-player racing system and lobby.
• Managed the balance and tuning of all dragons.
• Design lead for the level designers.
• Monetization aspects.
• Web and mobile control modes.
Thornado underwater hero level
8. A Skrill displaying electric ‘happiness particles.’ I came up with this to encourage players to keep
their dragons at high happiness levels. It also deepened dragon differentiation
9. UDT leaderboard filtered for monthly leaders
UDT, or Ultimate Dragon Trainer Points, tracks the player’s progress as a
dragon trainer. It is a system designed to bring together all the various points
systems in the game (Player XP, Dragon XP, trophies, game mode scores, etc.)
into a simple readout that can easily be viewed and understood by the player. It
was designed to provide bragging rights, status and a way for players to compare
progress in the game with other players.
• Tracks progress in game at a single point.
• Uses formulae which can be adjusted according to player metrics.
• Player feedback and motivational mechanic.
• Regular tournaments promote social game play and monetization.
• Designed and managed system, UI, UDT stars display.
10. Mockup of final HuD design for player UDT stars
Mockup for UDT Achievements UI screen
11. Dragon Stables
A member with Toothless in a stable pen
The stables allow players to collect and train multiple dragons. This design
allowed a massive bump in monetization and player involvement with the game.
Each dragon can be leveled up and various items and abilities become unlocked
• Players collect and manage multiple dragons and stable rooms
• Themed stable rooms, items and additional game play.
• Player can swap dragons in and out of play at will in the game worlds.
• Designed system, UI and lead role in design of the stable environments.
Mockup for shield customization UI
• Avatar customization
• Clan functionality
• Designed system, UI and monetization.
• Players can create custom player groups
• Clan and team play in game modules
• Documentation of all designs. Management of design documentation for
• Mentored junior designers.
15. • Reviewed and provided design input for other designers’ work, including
Element Match and Eel Roast games modules.
• Led the team for the early game quest design.
• UI work across entire game, such as end screen unification and
• Design presentations to exec team.
• Liaison with Community department.
• Several completed designs for expanding existing aspects of the game not
• Design consultation on other company products.