With the recent updates to DragonVale v1.8, the app has seen some impressive evolution since its inception. The app now has a thriving community, and despite its ridiculous freemium business model, the updates keep coming…so money is being made off of it.

As we get closer to the 2.0 release (not suggesting it’s imminent), I thought I’d share some ideas about what should be done to really take this game to the next level. With dot releases, you don’t expect a revolution…nice touches here, a new feature there, but nothing off the chain. With the release of a whole version, though, it’s a chance to reinvent and make a play for a whole new set of players. So without further introduction, here are some things I’d like to see in the 2.0 release.

More Robust Management Tools

Currently, the app only really allows you to manage your world on an item-by-item basis. There is literally no way to get a “high” view of what’s going on. Version 2.0 needs to fix this. So what does this look like? One idea is global interfaces for managing common “types”–dragons, buildings, farms, etc. It’s tremendously annoying to have to go to each habitat in order to see which dragons are where. A nice, unified interface for seeing what’s going on at each of your habitats is a must.

Stats, Stats, Stats

This is a big bug-a-boo for me. How many seaweed dragons have I bred since I started? No idea. How much money has my Plant dragons earned me? No clue. The current version of DragonVale is seriously deficient in the way of statistical analysis. Obviously, not everyone wants that. But dorks like me who like to know what’s actually going on behind the scenes…well, it’s becoming a deal breaker. 2.0 NEEDS THIS!

So what stats? Just some thoughts:

  • Dragon history (duh) – how many dragons, what kinds of dragons, what breeding combinations, etc.
  • Money earned – broken down by individual dragons, groups, habitats, and so on
  • Food production and consumption – how many food stuffs have I grown, what kinds have been most performant, etc.
  • Visitors – what are the freaking visitor trends? Yes, it’s nice to see how many visitors are there when I log in…but what about the 23 1/2 hours of the day I’m not in the app? It doesn’t have to be Google Analytics level of tracking, but some simply trends would be nice.
  • Money and Gem Spending – Where, exactly, have all my gems gone?!? :)

Social Features

Yes, I know…some of you will point out there is, in fact, currently some “social” aspects to the game. However, they are lame. At the moment, the ONLY thing you can do is share a few paltry gems with your GameCenter friends, and visit their crappy islands. You can’t, of course, really interact with your friends (or their dragons), so there is nothing particularly “social” about any of it.

And there’s also the issue of the current “Friends” interface. If you have 5 friends, it works great. But if you have, oh, 500 friends, the interface renders every freaking one of them. Try scrolling through that list on an iPhone…you’ll stop giving gems to your “friends” because of the pain it causes.

So what’s the remedy? The whole current “social” aspect should be scrapped, IMO, or majorly overhauled. Here are my thoughts on what should be done:

  • Fix friend list rendering. Allow sorting/filtering. Anything. Please just make it work.
  • This is something EVERYONE has been complaining about since about day 1: no one cares about trading gems. Friends want to trade dragons, duh. So let them trade dragons. Let friends gift dragons to their friends. If you really want to monetize this game, I guarantee that you’ll get farther with a model like that than with the nonsense that’s currently driving the game.
  • When I visit a friend’s island, I’d like to be able to interact with their dragons. Like maybe it would be fun to feed their dragons (it could be level-agnostic). Or even better, maybe allow me to set up games that my dragons can play with my friends dragons. Winners can get experience, gems, whatever. Simple stuff, but would majorly enhance the “social” aspect of the game.
  • This is another obvious one: friends need to be able to breed their dragons with other people’s dragons. Sweet dragon love should not be limited to one world–it should be shared! There could even be special dragons that can only be procured by cross-world breeding. Again, simple stuff, but would push the social side of the game into overdrive.

Automation

There are several aspects of DragonVale that are extremely tedious and repetitively annoying. For example, growing food. There is little I dislike more than having to click on the 11 separate farms, select the same food for the millionth time, and then repeat the next day. I mean, I’m paying those lazy wizards to grow this food, right? Why, then, do I have to tell them to do it every day? Stupid.

What would be awesome is if you could set the farms up on an automated schedule. For each farm (individually, or bulk), you should be able to pay a bit more to automate the harvest/planting/harvest cycle. This would help maximize the amount of food generated, while freeing you up for the parts of the game that are actually enjoyable.

In a similar vein, I think it would be great if the devs would release a new dragon whose sole purpose in life is to travel around the various habitats and collect the money that you earn from them. Obviously, you’d have to have some mechanism to “pay” for this (maybe you have to feed this dragon at regular intervals), but automating this also tedious task would be great and would help maximize revenue from your habitats (which could then be analyzed via the stats… :)).

A Real Colosseum

This probably belongs under “Social Features”, but the current colosseum is so lame that it deserves its own section. Currently, putting your dragon in the “colosseum” is tantamount to waiting 24 hours for a reward of experience. There’s no point to it other than that, and there’s certainly nothing interactive about it whatsoever. So this needs to be majorly overhauled. Here are some things I’d like to see:

  • Make it Interactive: Instead of just sending your dragon in for a day, why not allow the player to themselves use their dragon in a series of mini-games? They don’t have to be full-on games, but some stupid silly mini-games that you can actually play are worlds better than the current “colosseum”
  • Battles!: Even if there are mini-games, the colosseum still needs to be a place for battle. How awesome would it be to be able to use your dragon and battle either the computer or even other players? As above, it doesn’t have to be a full-on Pokemon battle system. However, simple things like judging battles on experience/type/etc. would be cool, and would infuse a huge amount of social interactivity into the game.

The Tour de Force: An API

With 2.0, DragonVale NEEDS an API. Currently, there are a lot of home-grown apps out there that are “add-ons” to DragonVale…heck, I’ve even working on my own right now. While these apps are helpful, they don’t really “do” anything related to the app itself, as there is no API that would allow developers to tap into the game.

I would love to see a public API released for this game. The sky’s the limit for what could be done, and for ideas like statistical analysis, BackFlip could almost completely let the development community build it for them via 3rd-part apps. All they need to do is expose the data.

Seriously, this is such a big one that I think I would trade the rest of the wish list for it. But we’ll see what happens…

Wrapping Up

That’s it (for now). Obviously, there’s a lot that can be done with the game, and here’s hoping that some great new features will be added whenever  2.0 is finally released.

Do you have ideas? Leave a comment!