This is the last 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 many ways, this one is my favorite. I asked Tolero to forward a question to as many DDO devs as possible. She seems to have really embraced the idea, going so far as to query Turbine people who have never had any sort of public appearance before.
Some of them had to invent their “dev name” just so they could participate. Talk about a DDOGamer exclusive! Hah! Top that Massively!
Seriously though, how cool is that?
What is your favorite thing that you worked on for DDO, and why is it your favorite?
Arakiel – Lead Engineer
Cannith Crafting System. Being able to deconstruct your stuff and turn it into something useful as opposed to just selling to a vendor holds tremendous value to me. I have characters who are almost entirely equipped with crafted gear (almost entirely…the trinkets from Crystal Cove are the greatest trinkets ever) because it is so versatile.
Cordovan – Community Team
My favorite thing to work on is the Harbinger of Madness adventure pack. I really love this quest arc, and I got the chance to do the writing for the Stormreach Chronicles seen in-game!
Flimsyfirewood - Content Designer
Brawnpits. Because soup dance and story time.
Knockback – Content Designer
Melange – Content Designer
It’s hard to pin-point one specific favorite thing, but if I were to try, I suppose it would be the Campaign System. It was my first task that I feel I had complete “ownership” on – it was a new feature that I was building up from scratch with the engineers. Personally, I think it turned out really well. I remember getting excited when people started talking positively about it in Korthos. I hope it is still a positive feature in your eyes.
No Dice – Engineer
When I get to fix those deeply entrenched bugs that have been around forever… Satisfying!
Purplefooz – Lead Content Designer
My favorite thing that I worked on for DDO: making the Delirium dungeons!
Why? Writing humor story and dialogue is definitely fun!
And all the little encounters I made (drinking game, misbehaving key, hambies, flying floor tiles, puzzle beholder, dancing furniture, mattress airship, beholder stomach, secret insanity chests, I could go on and on and on) were each wondrous creative exercises to imagine, design and implement.
Even though we’re not making new Eberron dungeons right now, I’ve started plotting Delirium 3 – “Terminal Delirium.”
The Rocking Dead – Content Designer
This is a three-way tie for me:
I am still very proud of the Rainbow in the Dark dungeon. To me, it encapsulates the feeling of a classic dungeon crawl. It’s dark, expansive, tricky, and very deadly. There’s a good mix of monsters, traps, and puzzles. On top of that, it encourages good teamwork. This is a dungeon that I’ve had fun converting to a pen and paper D&D experience, and you’d be surprised how well it holds up.
“In the Flesh” also stands out in my mind, because I created a memorable boss character. Yaulthoon was ultra-creepy, yet oddly endearing. The combination of writing and voice work really brought him to life. I like the overall vibe of the level: skulking around someone’s home who is most definitely not from around Stormreach – someone who is simultaneously preparing their finest tribute to their lord and master. Macabre displays come to life with little warning. I enjoy the feeling of tension throughout it, and the fact that you’ve got this boss that knows the player is there and is so confident in his abilities that he slings passive-aggressive taunts at them the entire time. Couple that with what I feel is one of my favorite boss fights in the game. The whole quest is such a delicious mix of malevolence, lightheartedness, and creep-factor.
Lastly, I am really proud of the Random Encounter system we shipped with Menace of the Underdark. To my knowledge, there are not any other MMOs before us that had the sort of randomized dynamic content that we have now. Sure, there have been random roving monsters in MMOs, but many of our Random Encounters are like mini-quests. With this system, I was able to make some really unique sets of encounters. Whether it’s finding out that a lost villager isn’t what she seems, or saving a Purple Dragon Knight from a grisly undead fate, players are always kept on their toes.
While I worked on the majority of Random Encounters in the King’s Forest, one of my favorites is still Veraxiena, the Green Dragon from the “Deal with a Dragon” encounter. Being that Green Dragons are notorious wheelers and dealers and naturally curious, I had a lot of fun with her dialogue. I figured that particularly savvy players would enjoy being able to outwit a Dragon or otherwise encouraging it to help them.
Tolero – Community Team
It’s funny how over the years I’ve gotten to contribute little things directly to game, like emotes, voice overs, or helping with little design tweaks. I didn’t imagine that happening as a community team person when I started here. But I think my favorite even is writing the Lolth and Aaron d’Cannith journals for the adventure areas in Cannith and MOTU. Writing for Aaron was cool because he’s so little referenced in the Eberron lore that it was a mystery researching him to determine how he “ticks”. Lolth was very fun because she can be exceptionally cruel, deliciously chaotic, and poke at the 4th wall a bit. Plus I had to work closely with the quest and raid designers to make sure our quotes didn’t conflict with each other and had the same feel. It was super fun to hear how the voice actors interpreted my notes and made it sound exactly like I heard it in my head… because you know… I’m always hearing D&D voices in my head.
Vargouille – Systems Designer
I loved making Shiradi Champion. Abilities such as Double Rainbow and Tea with the Queen were great fun to work on, and it’s clear that some players really love the moments and memories spawned from those strange abilities. We know these particular abilities don’t appeal to everyone, but we’d rather every player have something they can love even if there’s other stuff they choose to ignore.
Plus, I personally love reading various forum stories about those abilities, such as frogs appearing in the Lord of Blades, and one player wondering if there were frogs in their house in real life!
Vesuvium – Systems Designer
The Monster Manual. Dungeons and Dragons, as a brand and an experience, has a wealth of history and nostalgia backing it up, and part of that is the fun of sitting down with the rulebooks and burying yourself in awesome art and lore, and the dense possibility space created by the interplay of all the mechanics and options. The Monster Manuals were always some of my favorites: they didn’t have as much mechanical meat as, say, the Player’s Handbooks, but they were filled with so many interesting hooks and art and lore and… possibilities. I really wanted the DDO Monster Manual to be an in-game expression of that experience, and working towards that goal was immensely satisfying as a designer.
Vyvyanne – DDO Producer
The repair button. I like that I don’t have to remember to go to a vendor before questing anymore.
This is the final episode in the “Breakfast with Turbine” series, at least for the time being. It has been a blast to work on, and judging by the response, you all seem to enjoy it too.
Tolero as “Deep Owlbear”
A great big kudo to Tolero for making this possible. I sent her 30 questions – two full pages, some of which were pretty densely written. Meanwhile she is hip-deep in Update 17 and State of the Game and everything else she has to do.
It would have been very easy to send me a quick explanation of why this is a bad time and move on. But she didn’t.
It would have been the easiest of all to cherry pick a couple of simple questions from my list of 30 (yes some of them were simple), and knock out a quick and standard response in minimum time without any thought. I would have been perfectly happy. Not “week-long-special-series happy”, but happy nonetheless.
Tolero didn’t do that either.
She invested time and thought into each answer, providing us all with some new insights that I don’t think exist anywhere except here. All for a rather silly blog with a couple hundred regular readers that is primarily composed of insipid haiku and cartoons.
Proof that Turbine is, no matter what they say, not only powered by their fans.
Thank you Tolero!