Mar 132013

This is the third of four posts covering a lengthy Q&A that recently occurred between myself and Turbine’s own Deep Owlbear, a.k.a Tolero, a.k.a. Amanda Grow, Senior Community Specialist.

Today’s questions focus on Epics. That phrase is a little misleading, I did not ask them today, I sent Tolero the list of questions in mid-February. But they are being posted today so that will have to be close enough.

As before, I will italicize my editorial comments to ensure they do not somehow get confused as coming from Turbine.

On with the show!

Epic this and that

DDOGamer: Most of the time, it seems that the way to “Epicize” a quest is to amp up the hit points on the bad guys. But not always, sometimes there are differences in the opponent list or other changes. What is the design process for “epicizing” an existing quest?

Turbine: Re-statting monsters into the new epic CR range is definitely something that must be done for every “epification pass.” Making them higher CR not only increases hitpoints, it changes all other stats such as DCs, and updates their spell lists.

I love the word “Epify”. I’m not sure it is better than “Epicize” but it certainly is shorter.

DDOGamer: Any specific design goals?

Turbine: We usually start with a list of top “issues” to address. This is primarily a compiled from player complaints, but also includes developer goals such as “make X dungeon soloable by more players.” We usually don’t have enough time to hit everything on the list, but we prioritize it and do what we can.

There’s also another standard list of updated techniques & features that we want to retrofit in, such as random encounters or the questgiver arc system. We consider these features to be superior to what we used to do, so we always want to make these updates during an epification pass.

We also try to be cognizant that there needs to be differences between the heroic and epic versions of the content. For VON, we made certain encounters in each dungeon behave differently. For Gianthold, we decided to go with a new raid. The choice is made on a case-by-case basis. In Gianthold’s case, we knew we wanted to wrap up the Truthful One storyline, and that obviously meant a raid.

We do intentionally avoid making general dungeons feel “completely revamped” on Epic. There are many reasons, but the most concrete one is that it’s an inefficient use of time – dungeons are so complex that it takes much more time to open up an old one for major changes, than it does just to make a completely new one. It’s like trying to change the configuration of a minefield after it’s already been laid.

So we usually say, “if we want it to be so different, why don’t we just do it in a brand new dungeon?”

A lengthy and insightful answer, and it makes sense: I am persuaded. I went into this discussion believing that simply amping up the existing monsters was not ideal.

On the other hand, I wish there were examples of times when they said “Let’s just do it in a brand new dungeon” and then went ahead and did so during the epification pass. Imagine an additional, epic-only quest in the Vault of Night series – VON 7? Von 3.5? Or something Epic-only in the desert or in Gianthold.

I am such a sucker for new content.

The only instances that I can think of as I write this where Turbine made substantive changes to an existing quest other than CR adjustments was when they revamped the Goodblade quests in the original starting area of the Harbor to become Korthos Island: the direct opposite of epification. Newbification?

One more interesting note (to me at least) is the confirmation that making everything soloable is in fact a guiding development principle.

DDOGamer: Which is more likely: new Eberron content or newly epicized existing Eberron content?

Turbine: As of right now, it is more likely that we’ll epify Eberron content rather than make new Eberron dungeons. That’s mostly because we’re trying to put the brand new content in FR so we can hit a critical mass of content there. But that’s only the thought right now during expansion pack development. Once that’s done, who knows?

No new Eberron content, for awhile at least.  Oh well, we are getting new content, and we can’t have everything we want. At least not all at once.

DDOGamer: Will all content in Faerun be released in Heroic and Epic versions?

Turbine: So as we make brand new dungeons, we usually make it available for both Heroic and Epic just because we’ve figured out how to do it quickly. But sometimes there’s an overriding reason for us not to. The top reasons why we refrain are world lore logic and monster CR. If we make an epic raid with a dracolich, we won’t make a CR 5 version because you shouldn’t be fighting a dracolich at level 5. And when we made the Underdark, FR lore states that the Underdark is much too dangerous for a bunch of low-level characters to go trouncing around in.

This is an interesting response as well, in that it makes sense that encountering a Dracolich at level 5 is bad. But by contrast, we already encounter a Prince of Devils at level 5. I found that somewhat odd when the Chronoscope first came out, why are lowbies fighting Orthons and running into supervillains? It’s like Peter Parker running into Doctor Doom while still in high school. It felt strange even though we don’t actually fight Suulomades until much later.

Does Tolero’s response above represent a change in philosophy? Or was the Chronoscope originally intended to be something other than what was eventually released? We’ll have to find out next time, I’ve used up all my Epic questions for this episode.

Tomorrow, an even dozen Turbine developers chime in, including some that you have never heard of. I know you have never heard of them because some of them had to invent their “dev names” just so they could participate.

Fresh meat!

See you tomorrow.

🙂 😀 🙂

  4 Responses to “Breakfast with Turbine: Epify Me”

Comments (4)
  1. I’m really enjoying this series, and feel like I’m learning at least a little about the way Turbine does things.

    Also, I’ve always felt the word was “epickify.” 😉

  2. I think this is one of the best series I’ve read! You should put on your reporter hat more often!

  3. I agree with your thoughts on the Chronoscope. While it would take much more effort it would have been extremely cool to have done four versions of that quest in the same door. If it mirrored Devil’s Assault’s level ramp with the difficulty selected, but with the twist of completely different sets of devil/fiendish mobs spawning depending on the difficulty. Orthon’s at 5 is weird, but seeing them at level 16+ is pretty common.

    That being said, maybe a more creative mixing in epic vs. inflated HP/stats/etc. I realize it is tons of work and will just waive my “realistic filter”. We are playing a game where virtual characters fight virtual fantasy creatures, right?

  4. I mostly suspend my disbelief when it comes to character level and type of monster. Mostly. I’d much rather have lowbies taking on what seems like too strong a foe than high level characters facing mundane critters that for some reason back an enormous punch. (the 50th level deer in EQ are a good example)

    DDO does a good job mostly avoiding that second kind of silliness. Most of the monsters in DDO are actually monsters so its easy to imagine them being more or less powerful due to magic or equipment or just the age of the critter.

What do you think?

%d bloggers like this: