May 312016
 

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I take my eyes off the forums for a moment and look what happens – a new Producers Letter! A thing as welcome as it is overdue!

Excitement builds as I click the link to see what is inside … shall we look together?

Greetings!

As we kick off summer, many things are going on behind the scenes in Dungeons and Dragons Online, and I wanted to talk about some of the fun things coming up for the game.

We have been doing a lot to combat lag in the game, and though we have improved the experience we have work to do. We are still looking into long lag spikes which we need to solve, and we are also working on some fixes for stacking effects that could be causing individual characters and the party they are traveling with to lag. Our investigations into server performance continue and this is our number one priority.

 

Well then right to it! This is the first Producer Letter I can recall without a congratulatory preamble explaining just how awesome things have been since the previous letter.

And lag should be priority number one. No, that’s not right, since it has been two or three months since the fateful server move, the lag should be conquered. But as long as it is not, it should definitely be the one thing that concerns everyone the most.

 

The next thing I wanted to talk about is some upcoming content; we are currently working on bringing you a new classic module experience! We are hard at work on our adaptation of Assault on the Slave Lords, originally presented in the A1 to A3 series of modules. We remember playing through the Slavers series fondly, and we want to bring these modules to life for our players with some of our own twists and turns. The dungeons will be offered at level 8 on Heroic, and will also have a CR 32 Legendary version as well.

 

I do not recall Assault on the Slave Lords, somehow missed that series back in the day. A quick bit of research indicates it could be a fun series of quests, where maybe we will get some new insectoid monsters?
 

https://36.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m2zmub9C6W1ro2bqto1_500.jpg

New insectoid monsters? Art from the Slave Pits of the Undercity, the first module in the Slave Lord series.


 
In a later response to questions, Severlin confirms that Assault on the Slave Lords was not the original choice to be the next classic D&D dungeon. It was supposed to be something more halloween-y. But “some resource shuffling and we had to push out our original plans a bit“.
 

As you probably know, we have already begun discussing the update to Cannith Crafting. Ever since we updated random loot players have been asking for an update to this crafting system, and the project is in full swing. It is a big system that will provide a good way to fill in gear holes as you level.

 
Nothing here but good news.
 

Players have asked about class passes, and the next two classes to be looked at will likely be Monk and Favored Soul. We are currently looking into the core code behind unarmed attacks and hand wraps to see if that needs to be revamped. We are also looking into giving Favored Soul its third tree. Both are big tasks, but we wanted players to know these are the next classes we are looking at once we are past Cannith Crafting.

We’d also like to offer the players another open enhancement tree (like Harper) at some point to open up more build options, and we are looking to see where that might fit in.

 
I don’t think these are really class passes. Fighter did not get a “class pass”, fighter got a modified Kensai tree. So I am assuming, by “Monk class pass” they only mean they are going to do something with handwraps, and by “Favored Soul class plass” they only mean the new tree.

Which is not bad. Handwraps have been borked forever. And Favored Souls are kind of dusty and hard to play right now.
 

We were fairly happy with the Night Revels festival in the fall last year, and this year we will be looking to add more haunted dungeons a maybe some other surprises. The festival was fairly popular so we’d like to expand on it a bit. We would also like to revamp the rewards for the mimic festival and bring that back; maybe with rewards, based on player feedback, that are less random.

 
Yay for festivals! I saw Cordovan talking about the difficulty that would be involved in bringing back the Mimic festival and it confused me. Frankly, it still does. This is a very recent festival, constructed entirely by the current dev team. No archaic code, no old hidden bugs, just sparkling new(ish) code, yet already confined to the “to difficult to reuse” dustbin? I am pleased to see it pulled out of said dustbin and placed in the queue for reappearance.

Yay for festivals!

 

Another system we want to tackle is the augment system. Players have been asking for new augments, but the current incarnation of augments are created by hand as crafting interactions. We will be looking into the feasibility of moving existing and future augments into a new system that will work like the slotting system that our Legendary Greensteel crafting system uses. The technical complexity comes with how we will allow players to convert existing items to use new augments. If we can tackle these problems, then we can do some interesting things with augment slots and more regularly include augments as part of our ongoing loot.

 
I am sure this is exciting to the programmers, but it isn’t doing anything for me. I mean, I like augments, and I like the idea of them appearing in chests and so forth, but … this is also a new(ish) system and it is annoying to me to see that they are already having to refactor it before they can use it.
 

The far future has a lot of promise, and looking past the end of the year we would definitely like to bring Tiefling and Aasimar to our players at some point. Tiefling in particular is a popular race for Dungeons and Dragons and we would like you to have those races as options for your characters. We will need to determine whether we plan on including tails on Tieflings, and how the horns of the race will interact with helmets. Both of these are interesting problems to tackle and we have already had some discussion about them even though these races would be fairly far into the future.

We just wanted to talk about the long term plans we will be looking into, and we wanted to say thanks for joining us in game.

~Sev

 

So … some good, some meh, some bad. Just like every other Producer Letter. Am I a little dismayed that they are once again talking about way more systems work than they are content? Hell yes I am. Very dismayed.

But – and this is an important but – but they are still talking. About work. In DDO. Stretching into at least next year.

And that is the best part of all.

🙂 😀 🙂

  15 Responses to “At Last! A New Producer Letter!”

Comments (15)
  1. Actually, I don’t care much about new content. I know there will be new quests down the line, and I don’t feel like they need to tell us what it will be. I believe there will be an Anauroch pack as they started working on it last year(or 2 years ago? not sure). Most players want to know about their classes/races/etc and what they’ll do to fix the lag. We already have plenty of content, though I would take some more in epic levels (legendary is cool, but I need more quests to get to 30, or close to, before doing legendary stuff)

    So, my take on this producer’s letter is that is one of the good ones we’ve had in the last years. Much more “yays” than “meh”

  2. Interesting. Wasn’t Slave Lords originally set in Greyhawk’s Wild Coast?

    Are we going to get some new monster rigs? Maybe a nice new explorer area?

    I like the honesty in the letter re: resources. DDO premium/VIP players are by no means frugal so I’m reading between the lines, “If Warner allocated more resources our way, we could do this, but instead, we’re relegated to doing this.”

    October should be smashing, methinks. The strategy is solid. As the weather turns colder in many player homelands, DDO should be ready with some exciting new stuff for us to immerse ourselves into.

    Nice letter. Looks like Sev wrote it on his day off.

    Dedicated and very cool.

    • Goblins are featured heavily in the A2 story that takes place in a fort, so I am supposing that we are at least going to see Goblins in DDO finally. There is also a Cloaker and Boggles that appear in A2 and are important to the plot.

      If DDO keeps adding Greyhawk content like the Slave Lords A series, we may eventually get a 3rd campaign world with its own public areas (I hope).

  3. Kalashtar… psionics… if we’re going to live in Eberron might as well go all the way…

  4. I think the heavy hints before suggested that it would be Tomb of Horrors. Not bothered at all about them swapping one Greyhawk module for another. So long as it’s not a tedious hack and slash and has some interesting quest mechanics then I’ll look forward to giving it a run.

    I’m not sure how much influence the Executive Producer actually has on priorities and direction for development, but it would makes that as a techie he’s decided to mention a bit of effort being put into some of their systems. If this is part of a cohesive grand plan for loot then that’s great. If it’s just a magpie moment to chase something shiny on a whim then not so good. Constantly tinkering with the loot system is just going to irritate the player base.

    As for lag, when will they come to the realisation that the game engine wasn’t designed to deal with multiple stacking temporary debuffs, on-hit effects and moving aoe aura effects the better. Who cares that a mob gets a stacking Shaken effect for 6 seconds – combat doesn’t last long enough for these things to make one jot of difference.

    And on the festivals, absolutely spot on. If the effort that was put into the 10th Anniversary festival was done without any thought to how that can be re-used then that’s a major face-palm moment. I’d like to see more temporary festivals – Eberron lore makes a lot out of the movement of the planes. Events of varying lengths tied to each of the planes being coterminous would fit right in.

    It’s nice to hear that they would like to do something with Tieflings and Aasimar at some point, but let’s get our existing class enhancements sorted and make the existing racial enhancement relevant before we start worrying about adding in more races that do absolutely nothing but provide a different cosmetic.

  5. I disagree with your monk pass assessment – I feel that in addition to the handwraps issue (itself pretty big) there will be a bunch of changes to the enhancement trees too:
    Shintao – some extra benefits for stances other than earth, eg. iron skin giving a flat PRR boost and then some extra in earth maybe, and amending violence begets violence to work in all stances or be a multi-selector of effects to benefit one specific stance.
    Ninja – a little work on existing enhancements & 1 or 2 more tier 5 ones. Considering how the murderous effect is easy to find on loot now, they might also allow things that give +assassinate DC to work on touch of death & quivering palm.
    Henshin – will get a pretty big pass to allow it’s abilities to scale better in epics, and hopefully utterly redo the elemental words line, probably something like how elemental arrows is done in arcane archer.
    All 3 trees will likely have enhancements adjusted to benefit from melee/ranged power too & to add some.

    Favoured soul pass, probably just the new enhancement tree, yeah, though it’s likely IMO they’ll put a few tweaks into AoV & maybe warpriest too which would either differentiate more from cleric, or also benefit clerics. I suspect it’ll end up giving nice benefits for either casting or combat, in much the same way deepwood stalker ties in nicely with either archery or melee. Probably a couple more deity-specific enhancements for abilities or SLAs, as groundwork for future implementation of full-blown domains for clerics.

    Mimic hunt difficulties are all about the loot, and that double random system – definitely want to see the event itself brought back though, and even have a permanant small chance of chests being a mimic ongoing, maybe a 0.01% chance, just to add some extra unpredictability. I’ve suggested before there could be rotating loot rewards in the mimic event (the “oh no, mimcs have gotten into X’s vault!) so in the meantime, instead of specific loot they could just replace those cards with mysterious remnants,as there’s a nice amount of useful things you can get from them & it’d make it easy to build up some for when the extra ones are available.

    Aasimars would be cool & I’m 110% behind tieflings because Annah. If they added iconics for them, it’d probably be for f2p classes in line with the existing ones, so the remaining options are barbarian, bard, ranger & sorcerer. Bard seems likely for Aasimars, since the current iconic lineup is basically the classic party composition of fighter, paladin, cleric, rogue & wizard, with bard as the classic 6th man on that, but then where that leaves tieflings would IMO be ranger, as a sneaky hunter type as that’s another archetype not really covered in the existing iconiccs. Ok, arguably the shadar-kai rogue could be a mechanic, but they’re obviously more visualised as being a sneaky melee assassin type.

    • Another thought 🙂

      If (or rather when) they do the “reuse some old area to make a new quest” thing again, I’m calling it now that it’ll be the Summerfield District – it’s been a while since that content came out & we’ve only ever seen the place in a semi-trashed state, so it’d make sense to base another “there’s a public event but X has gone wrong” quest there.. or maybe it’d be a venue for another seasonal event, even an addition to the mabar event which they mentioned wanting to spookify some more places – go into the various shops & offices around the place, being ghostbusters!

      • Mentioned this idea on in-game channels, the suggestion another guy came up with was a trick-or-treat style quest for the night revels in that area. which would also be good for a laugh 🙂

  6. I think people read more into my Mimic Hunt comment than was intended. I never said anything about it never coming back, nor it being relegated to the dustbin. I said what Sev has said – if we bring it back, we’ll need to re-do the loot table, since it was both unpopular and because we took all the loot out of it for Night Revels. So, we can’t bring it back until that work is done, unless folks want an event without any loot or rewards.

    • I wouldn’t exactly say it was unpopular. I think the better word is ‘frustrating’. I, for one, liked it – for the most part (one could venture over to my blog at chezcr.blogspot.com, if they so desired, and read my critique of the event).

      Probably the most frustrating part about it was the extremely low mote drop rate of “one and only one” mote per mimic. Then add on top of that the need to have (10) motes for one card, and (2) non-identical cards for (1) ‘unknown’ (unless you looked at the loot table in the Wiki) loot item, making you find and kill at least 20 mimics, didn’t help. I mean, it practically FORCED us to run “The Stormreaver Fresco” ad nausea to get a decent chance at some cards/loot.

      I hope the cards stay, because I want at least one of each card in my gallery (and I’m still missing a few). Maybe offer some cards as an option for rewards? I mean, don’t need to make the cards crunchable, just offer cards – maybe even the old red box cards – for those of us who want to complete our gallery. And nice UI barter system would be good.

      And I will add my voice to the ‘just turn it on and leave it on’ with a fixed, low rate of spawning a mimic (no “chance increases with each failure” mechanic and no “frenzy”) mechanic – might even help with those ‘chest opener zergers’ (hehehe).
      😉

    • The new Mimic Hunt should offer loot that is found nowhere else in the game and that is mainly cosmetic. The Secret World and Age of Conan both have consumables that turn players into monsters and bosses from these games – something like this would work well as loot given the deceptive nature of mimics and the event. There is a gem from the House C Challenges that turns players into a Kobold, so this system could be further developed for the Mimic Hunt.

    • New loot for a revamped Mimic Hunt is simple enough. Keep the Lost Mote and Card tun-in mechanic – the cosmetic for the cards is fun and should be retained. The cards you get can still be random to allow people to persevere and collect all images. Never underestimate the ability of collectible compulsion for people happily grinding away.

      But take a standard Barter Box mechanic for the card turn-in instead of the card cruncher. I would say that cards should be auctionable so obtaining them can be done outwith the event itself. I would also sell “booster packs” in the DDO Store where you get 5 randoms, including either a IX or X guaranteed.

      Some random suggestions for loot that people would want. Some rewards can mimic Saga rewards, others can mimic the minor potion rewards from House C challenges. Use the opportunity to allow Seals and Shards from the old epic S/S/S system to be converted. Use the opportunity for things like the Commendations of Heroism, Alchemical Crafting Ingredients, Thunderforged Crafting Ingredients and other things that only drop in some of the currently less popular raids,

      1x Flask of Mimic Slobber – a ML 1, DC40 Tangleroot effect throwable flask (any 1 cards)
      Minor Guild Renown Potion (any 1 card)
      Minor XP Potion (any 1 card)
      Guild Renown (any 2 cards)
      3x Flask of Mimic Slobber – a DC40 Tangleroot effect (any 2 cards)
      Tradeable XP Gem (any 4 cards)
      A random Epic Shard (
      Commendation of Heroism (any 5 cards)
      Card XI – The Dungeonmaster (Card IX – Lolth, Card X – Tiamat)
      +7 Tome (2 x Card XI – The Dungeonmaster)

      Vary some of the specific rewards list for each event, but retain many of the reward options so people have the choice of which event they want to run to earn these. Remember at the end of the day, events are supposed to be an interesting distraction but ultimately a pleasurable self-inflicted sort of grind where the rewards justify the effort so you don’t feel like a fool for all those hours spent (Crystal Cove I’m looking at you).

  7. I was thinking for sure they were planning on making kobolds playable (unless it’s intended to be a surprise). After all, why go through all the trouble of making some animations just for the Anniversary Party? I’m pretty sure I saw a swimming kobold!

What do you think?

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