Lead a clan to rule the world as Codemasters confirms groundbreaking persistent world game - Dragon Empires.

September 20 2001: Codemasters today reveals one of its most tightly guarded development projects - the creation an online fantasy world that will raise the bar in persistent-world gaming. Its key progression is that the world will be filled with embattled clans, each striving to prove their superiority in head-to-head group combat, as they aim to rule magnificent cities and, ultimately, empires.

It is the world of Dragon Empires, Codemasters' groundbreaking Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). Dragon Empires is due for colonisation Q2 2002 by PC gamers seeking advancement over the MMORPGs currently available.

Dragon Empires will create a world set when magic is plentiful and the lives of humans and dragons intertwined. Its world is one of 100 lands spread over five empires, a world that can be ruled by player clans, one where, uniquely, player-to-player combat is always possible and a world whose strongholds are guarded and policed by fiercely protective dragons.

Dragon Empires breaks the mould with the importance of player to player combat to the game - it's open season on all the other players all the time - and introduces the concept of player clans ruling sprawling cities within the game's world.

The game is being developed at Codemasters' online development facility in Oakhurst, California. Developers at the facility have much experience in the field as creators of The Realm, one of the earliest MMORPGs and one that still retains a loyal fan base.

For Dragon Empires, Codemasters is promising real progression in the world of MMORPGs and the game will be visually striking with the world brought to life in a 3D real time rendered environment. Dragon Empires makes for a perfectly honed fantasy adventure and innovates with its player-to-player combat. Combat is real time and engaging an attack is as easy as walking up to a target and using spells or weapons on them.

There are mechanisms to stop the world turning into anarchy; the basic rule is that, while a player can attack anyone, they risk becoming an outlaw. Outlaws become an instant target and can be hunted down by other players or face the wrath of the city's protectors - the dragons.

As players become experienced they'll be able to form their own clans to take control of entire cities or rule the seas between the lands and make profit and taxes from the land they rule. Cities can be owned by a clan or taken by force against other clans in real time wars and sieges.

Says Ted Carron, producer of Dragon Empires: "Dragon Empires is a massive and important project as Codemasters continues to embrace new delivery platforms for gaming. The always-on combative element is something we're very excited about; the majority of existing MMORPG s are 99% co-operative and relatively slow paced. Dragon Empires is more intense and competitive, driving people into groups where the real benefit of online gaming lies. "We're confident no other MMORPG will provide the fiercely competitive balanced battles that Dragon Empires will create an arena for."

The English language version of Dragon Empires is scheduled to go online in Q2 2002 for PC gamers. The software will be launched as a boxed product with players subscribing on a monthly basis to play.