Dawngate is a multiplayer battle online arena with a strong focus on player-driven storytelling. A thrice-weekly webcomic called Dawngate Chronicles ran alongside the game starring the playable heroes and detailing their backgrounds and stories. Players could interact with the story with a feature called Living Lore and “vote” for a branching path decision by completing games with their desired choice selected. The winning choice would then affect further story in the comic in addition to future in-game content like hero skins and avatars.

I was a Web Engineer for the team and owned the development of the content of the game client’s out-of-game UI as well as the development and management of the webcomic’s website.

The client’s “home page” had a Twitch widget, a Comic widget, a News feed, and the Living Lore story voting widget. The Twitch widget would check to see if any of the approved community streamers were streaming the game on Twitch and display their banner in the sidebar to drive traffic. The comic widget would always link to the most recent comic page and would feature a hand-picked thumbnail from the new page, managed by the comic’s producer through tools I built. The News widget pulled the latest news articles written by the community team from the game’s website. The Living Lore widget allowed players to choose which story branch they wanted and also showed how the vote was currently trending. All of this was inside an embedded WebKit browser in the client, so they were actually websites in HTML/CSS/JS. A few C++ “linker” functions were exposed in JavaScript for me to execute player-related things (like voting). The files were hosted on Akamai’s CDN and only accessible from the client.

The Chronicles website was a WordPress installation with a handful of plugins that I heavily modified to fit the self-service needs of the comic team. The comic producer would log into the admin dashboard and upload finalized comic pages scheduled as far into the future as needed. The pages would automatically go live when scheduled and allowed the comic team to comfortably focus on the creation of the comic. The website’s backend was PHP/MySQL and was hosted on Amazon AWS with load-balancing.

Here’s a trailer for the game, although nothing I did is actually in it:

Electronic Arts ultimately shut down Dawngate before we ever left beta and the Chronicles website was taken down as well.