Mar 062013
 

State of the Game comments
This has to be Fernando. It has to be.

Fernando Paiz has long been the face of Turbine for all things DDO. Recently, Erik Boyer has been carrying the water for DDO, as evidenced by his taking on the annual State of the Game Address last week.

Even so, Fernando could not resist offering his own input, and I cannot resist disassembling what he said, looking for nuggets of information regarding our game’s future. It’s not like Fernando is going to slip up and accidentally reveal anything. He’s famously kept DDO mysterious for seven years. Yet one has to try.

Fernando is also famous for being the real-life implementation of Aaseamah Screven, esteemed member of The Twelve and Meridia quest-giver extraordinaire. But that is an entirely different story.

And so, on with Fernando’s statement:

Congratulations to Glin on his first big producer letter

Glin is wearing his big boy producer pants now. I was able to get some time with Glin at GenCon last year, and in spite of a self-inflicted Epic BeerStorm I remembered enough to write some of it down. He is bright and funny and seems genuinely excited about DDO. The game is in good hands.

For more information about Glin’s text, check out the detailed analysis posted yesterday.

we recognize that there have been some lingering issues from both the U17 deployment and our recent billing system migration

There are several more sentences specifying the issues but we all know there were some bugs with the update and with the birthday celebration award. The bugs are being fixed, pronto. In fact I believe the fixing is already complete. There is no point in wasting more words on it.

We know also that there are significant bugs that have been in the game a lot longer – particularly some remaining issues in Epic Destinies

Ah hah, now this is a juicy topic. I am a bit disappointed about the focus on bugs coming out of Epic Destinies, which is fairly new content itself. While those bugs exist and need squashing, there are dozens or maybe hundreds of other issues too, some of which go back years and years.

For instance, it pains me in ways that are hard to describe that handwraps have never worked correctly. In all of the years since Monks were introduced, handwraps have always been broken in one way or another. As one handwrap bug is fixed, another emerges; it is always something.

The last few releases have been higher quality in that they have introduced fewer new bugs. Or at least it feels that way, partly because the new bugs tend to be of the requiring-immediate-attention-and-hotfixes variety. And then they are gone.

But regardless of the hotfixes, it just feels like they have been better quality. And a couple of the releases were primariy bugfix releases, reducing the overall backlog of bugs significantly.

Yet we still have a game where when something goes odd, one does not first wonder what they are doing wrong or what clue they missed, rather instead, one assumes it is just another bug. And often it is.

I hope that the focus on quality remains and strengthens. Another mainly bugfix release like update 16 would be most welcome.

… prioritize the fixing of these issues alongside our bug fix time for the enhancements and other systems changes planned for the expansion

So probably not another bugfix release. At least until after the expack.

… ensure that we leave both Destinies and Enhancements in better shape by the time Shadowfell Conspiracy ships

Interesting, a commitment to have the new enhancement system out and also patched before the expack. Although the Shadowfell Conspiracy does not yet have an announced release date, we know the intent is to release in the summer.

Thus, the new enhancements have to be out in the spring or very early summer if one assumes Turbine is scheduling one or more patches in support of the enhancements.

great value to our VIPs and we think of this as more than just getting access to new content

The idea that we will be facing an annual fee to get expansion packs plus a monthly fee to remain a VIP has been getting some negative forum comments.

While the total cost remains quite low ((9.99/mo*12) + 79.99/yr = $200 or about $17/mo) it does call into question why one is paying a monthly fee at all.

Now that it seems paid expacks are a regular thing, it seems fair to re-examine the value of the monthly VIP plan.

our VIPs will continue to receive regular new content and features outside of expansions

Breaking this down, in 2012 there were four content releases:

  • Update 13: Web of Chaos
  • Update 14: Menace of the Underdark expansion
  • Update 15: Song of the Druid’s Deep
  • Update 16: The Netherese Legacy

Three of them required purchase of the expansion pack. And (I believe? Someone will correct me in the comments if I am wrong?) would not have been available to a purely VIP player. One of them was entirely free to play and was available to everyone.

Essentially, the VIP monthly sub, by itself without the expack, gained access to no content at all.*

* [Edit] According to Tocawe’s comments below, the Eveningstar Challenges are also available to VIPs even without buying the expack.

There was one item, and as far as I can tell, one item only, that was freely available to VIPs due to their monthly subscription: Druids.

Admittedly, the VIP package includes more than just content. It includes early access to some updates (but not all) and also includes 500 monthly turbine points. But this is in addition to the promise of content.

One has to ask themselves whether Druids are holding up the content portion of the VIP package all by themselves.

… change coming for the next patch (as a belated birthday present maybe) which will add 10% boost to all earned XP for VIP accounts

Ah hah, now we are talking! This adds a whole new “leg” to the strength of the VIP value argument. Now the package can be described as:

  • Access to all content. May require expack purchase to use all of it
  • Access to all classes and races. May require special unlocking to use them (artificer, FvS, Drow) but so far there have not been any additional purchase barriers
  • Ten character slots per server: this is a lot more than is available to free or premium players. A lot
  • Early access to new releases: Sometimes
  • 500 TP per month: It’s like a $5 rebate. Sort of
  • Other non-content bonuses: now including a 10% boost to all XP

The value of the XP bonus increases when one speculates about the direction of the end game hinted at in Glin’s letter. TRs for everyone!

The value of the package is looking better than it had. Still, I continue to threaten to go premium. But my Gamer Girl just scoffs, I threaten to do it all the time but never do. Fifteen characters on one server make it prohibitively difficult.

And truth be told, even $17/mo is less than a night at the movies.

We will share more details on these changes as they are solidified

This implies that there may be even more VIP value to come. Nothing for it but to wait and see.

Thank you Fernando, and thank you Glin, you’ve given us a lot to talk about. And a lot to anticipate.

Anticipation!

Or in the words of Dr. Frank N. Furter, “Antici-”

Wait for it

Not yet

Almost

Here we go

“pation”!

Yummy!

🙂 😀 🙂

  5 Responses to “Detailed Analysis: Fernando’s State of the Game Addendum”

Comments (5)
  1. I would give extra stars for the Rocky Horror quote if I could 😛

  2. A few corrections:

    “Three of them required purchase of the expansion pack. And (I believe? Someone will correct me in the comments if I am wrong?) would not have been available to a purely VIP player. One of them was entirely free to play and was available to everyone.”

    You are indeed wrong. All the quests required to access the Forgotten Realms (including the quest “Beyond the Rift”) are f2p, you do NOT need to own the expansion pack to access update 15 and 16 content. Even f2p players can get to eveningstar through normal questing, though they won’t have much to do there.

    “There was one item, and as far as I can tell, one item only, that was freely available to VIPs due to their monthly subscription: Druids.”

    The Eveningstar Challenge Pack is also free to VIPs.

    “While the total cost remains quite low ((9.99/mo*12) + 79.99/yr = $200 or about $17/mo) it does call into question why one is paying a monthly fee at all.”

    As a VIP i paid $19.99 for the Expansion Pack and got full access to every content it had to offer. The extra $60 was for cosmetic pets, XP tomes/potions, panther hireling, cosmetic mask, etc.

    Otherwise a great article, keep up the good work.

  3. Geoff, i think you can still access Eveningstar without the MotU expack, just not any of the quests. I could be wrong though since there is a quest throug the demon web to get there. But inthink if you were teleported tere via a bracelet of friends you coul move around the public areas just fine.

  4. Others have already mentioned that the adventure packs don’t require the expansion. What does require the expansion or a separate purchase is the Epic Destiny system. Given how much of the total power of an epic level character is gained through this system, I think we can agree that this is a “strongly encouraged” purchase. I get the feeling that the only reason this system even exists parallel to five new levels that don’t do a whole lot is so that they could claim that the level cap increase technically does not require a purchase (which raises a question of whether the new expansion will feature an “even more uber destiny” upgrade alongside its free level cap increase).

    VIP’s don’t necessarily need to pay additional cash out of pocket if they use their point stipend instead, but those points aren’t “free” – they’re a benefit that is part of the money you pay for the subscription. LOTRO has seen that benefit eroded over the years with repeated addition of features that would be free in any other MMO but that VIP’s much purchase out of their stipends – things like barter wallets for all the currencies you like to note that Turbine is addicted to (creating an inventory management problem so they can then charge to fix it?) and extra legendary item slots for the new type of legendary items added in the Rohan expansion (otherwise you must free up some of your existing slots).

What do you think?

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