Mar 122013

This is the second 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.

In today’s episode, I out-think myself and end up with a better answer than I deserve.

I had the bright idea of putting together a table listing types of changes and asking Turbine to rank their probability. My table looked like this:

Definitely someday Soon™ We’ll think about it Unlikely We don’t know
A second expansion pack
A race with a unique look like Gnomes
A race with unique new powers like Kalashtar
A race that doesn’t require new models or tech (like Shifters?)
Spear, whip, or other weapon that requires animation or tech coding
A different but easier to implement new weapon
A new class

It seems clever but it makes one assumption – it assumes that the likelihood of a change being implemented is based primarily on the difficulty of that change.

Oh so wrong. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s go to the source.

Managing Expectations

DDOGamer: We all know that some things are easier to do than others, or have a better business case, or both. Rate the following on a scale of definitely someday to probably not:


Turbine: But in all seriousness, we are constantly trying to think of ways to introduce new races, classes, abilities, monsters, etc since that is a heavy part of the D&D experience. This is particularly true if it’s something that appears in an existing D&D book. Nothing is ever *completely* off the table, so a “soon” or “never” is not a particularly valid census. It all comes down to timing, resources, and what works well with our story objectives. Plenty of features get put on the shelf, seeming impossible to ever get, that we then manage to pull back out later down the road when circumstances or player interest levels change.

So in other words, the difficulty of an item is not the primary driver. It matters, but if something is needed, they will find a way to give it to us regardless.

So simple. It sounds like marketing-speak, but then marketing probably is how they drive their product choices.

And here I thought I had it all figured out.

Note that the questions were submitted to Turbine several weeks ago, before the new expansion pack announcement.


DDOGamer: MyDDO is really in a bad way. I’ve heard that it is difficult to get time from the correct Warner Bros dev team to fix up DDO’s web presence including myDDO. How likely is it that this will change and myDDO and the related features – lotteries, PvP ladders, posting by character, etc. will come back and work correctly?

Turbine: This is something we have been investigating for a while now. Ultimately the method by which the programs were implemented makes them very unwieldy and prone to choking on themselves (which for a player manifests as character pages not loading, failed lotteries, and other weird behavior). The things that make DDO unique and fun – tons of choices and customization – are the very things that create a challenge: HUUUUUUUUUUUGE amounts of granular customization choices/actions being made by every player every second. It is a tremendous undertaking to try and revamp the underlying architecture to handle it.

MyDDO has several components: web services which provide raw data about characters and guilds, a WordPress content management system call WordPress MU that allows every DDO player to have their own blog, some custom work that ties customer and player data into Wordress MU-compatible widgets, and a few hand-coded features like the lotteries and the individual character pages which read and display the raw data from the web services.

Tolero’s response seems to focus mainly on the part of MyDDO that displays character pages and data. Maybe all of the components are more tightly bound than I am explaining; that would certainly make for a system that is “unwieldy and prone to choking on themselves”.

I love MyDDO but I suspect it’s days are numbered and I read nothing here that changes that impression.

This is probably a drier post than the others in this series. I am fascinated by systems; my late wife used to say that I really put the “anal” into the word “analyst”.

It is also a shorter post than intended. Not every question I asked was answered, whether due to time constraints or topic sensitivity cannot be known. But this space was intended to have half a dozen questions about the philosophy of loot and especially loot balancing and design goals, plus a discussion of the possibilities of after-market developer support via more or extended MyDDO web services.

But regardless. Tomorrow we return to topics more interesting to the general populace: Epics!

🙂 😀 🙂

  4 Responses to “Breakfast with Turbine: Game Direction and MyDDO”

Comments (4)
  1. From mucking around slightly with the Greasemonkey script I use to make the lottery a little more useful (it sorts character entries by the date they entered or won and then alphabetically), I can say that at the heart of all the widgets and other things is the ability of MyDDO to accurately access the character information. If this could get fixed MyDDO might still be slow, but it would work.

  2. It almost sounds as though Tolero went from talking about MyDDO in one sentence to DDO in the next, which doesn’t make me optimistic. A while ago I was toying with the idea of moving my blog to its own WordPress or other site and either stop using the MyDDO version, or use it as a “mirror” of sorts. I’d kinda shelved that, but reading this, I’m thinking maybe I should reconsider.

    Also, I want an owlbear companion.

  3. Turbine: any chance of incorporating a regular “purge” of cached MyDDO data to prevent it from “choking on itself?” I am pretty certain that this was performed at one point in the past. After it was perfromed, MyDDO performance improved tremendously.

  4. I just wish I knew the hooks to grab the character information (mine only) directly from their servers. Yes, I know that is fraught with peril as far as security goes for them, but maybe a proxy of some kind? Please?

What do you think?

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