Jan 182016

DDO's annual State of the Game letter could have been a tweet

There are very few things you can count on here at DDOGamer.

Hard-hitting journalism? Hah.

Cutting edge commentary? Umm … no.

Any sort of quality whatsoever? As if.

But there has been one constant: when we get a new DDO Producer Letter, we are all over it. Detailed, line-by-line analysis, every word weighed against every other, a desperate attempt to glean what will be happening in the upcoming year from reams of text issued by people who generally, do not really want us to know what is happening in the upcoming year.

It becomes a game; a sort of dance. The producer gives out hinty little bits hidden by obfuscation; there is only enough information to let the same producer look back on the year later and say he (or she, although Vyvyanne was only our producer for a handful of months) delivered what he/she “promised”, all without really letting us know anything of consequence.

But not this time. The new Annual State of the Game Producer Letter is out, and there is nothing to analyze. No obfuscation. No hinty bits hidden amongst billows of prose. Apparently our latest producer values his words so highly that he has chosen to keep them all to himself. Calling it “terse” would be a severe understatement. There is, essentially, almost no letter at all. It is the opposite of a letter; a non-letter.

Severlin's letter broken down visually

Severlin’s letter broken down visually

But don’t take my word for it. Look for yourself. I’ve included the entire thing in that image you see along the left side of this article. You’ll need to click the image to see the expanded, readable version, but no amount of clicking will apply content. Because there isn’t any. It is the most content-less State of the Game letter in the history of State of the Game letters.

“Ah but perhaps you are being unfair, disappointed that you don’t have enough grist for your bloggy mill”, I hear you saying that, or something similar, although I suspect you omit the flour mill metaphor.

And there is some truth to that. After all, we are not entitled to hints and clues about what is coming. There is no DDO bill of rights promising any of this, for that matter, we are not really entitled to any sort of State of the Game address.

Which is good since apparently we aren’t getting one.

Severlin is not playing coy. No hinty bits. No veiled clues. He is telling what is what in plain English. And apparently he is just not willing to do that any further down the road than the next update.

It is refreshing to see simple statements of what is coming. But it is very disappointing to see so little about the rest of the year. Update 31? 32? 33? Will these even exist?

The forums are discontented, but that is always the case, nothing useful to be gleaned from forum angst. There is speculation about the lack of information, including, perhaps inevitably, doomsayers suggesting that we are getting no information about the future because there isn’t going to be one.

That is just silly. Turbine is recruiting a new Player Council. Why go through all the trouble to recruit, filter, and seat a focus group if there won’t be any game development to vet?

I am sure there is nothing to the doomsayers, I am sure that Severlin is releasing such an abbreviated letter for the exact reasons he states; he wants to communicate more frequently. He wants to be able to change his plans based on feedback from us. Or at least I imagine those are genuinely some of the reasons behind the change; even someone as frank as Severlin has been is not going to show us his whole hand.

But still. So little new information. So little.

I broke it down mathematically because I do that kind of thing. There is less new information than there is anything else in the letter:

Producer letter word count

The gnome art is fun, but was shown to the Player Council last October. Not new. None of that is new. Gnomes themselves are not new, Severlin hinted about them all last year, and made it official four months ago.

There are exactly 71 words of new information in the whole letter. 71 words. He might as well have released the State of the Game address as a tweet.

The entire producer letter re-written as a tweet

See? I am not kidding. There’s even room left for an image and a link

I like knowing that there is an over-arching strategy laid out for the upcoming year. I like knowing something about what might be coming. I like Severlin’s forthrightness, but I think this is a forthright step too far. We need the rest. We need a full State of the Game letter.

Severlin, releasing a full letter does not prevent you from updating it every quarter, or communicating more often, or responding to player feedback. The letter is not for you. It is for us.

Come on Severlin, where’s the rest of the letter?

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

p.s. In case you are counting, this article is more than twice as long as the producer letter. And every bit as informative.

p.p.s. Have you voted for your favorite 2015 parts of DDO yet? Why ever not? Vote! If you already have, vote again!
Vote for the 2015 GAMET Award winners!

  15 Responses to “This Year’s State of the Game Address Could Have Been a Tweet”

Comments (15)
  1. I was quite a bit underwhelmed myself. I thought it was just a re-post.

  2. There better be a future – I haven’t hit triple completionist yet >.<

  3. “a tongue in cheek story…popular & enduring characters & NPCs”… that “characters” part kinda suggests to me that if it’s not just redundant phrasing, it’s non-NPCs, so maybe.. Kargon’s quest for the legendary ham!

  4. I’ll forgive the brevity of the Producer’s Letter, and the awkward bearliness of gnomes if they are our first +2 race. Obviously I’d like aaesimar for my FvS, but I’ll take any +2 WIS race at this point.

  5. It doesn’t actually say it’s an annual letter, just a letter. And he does say he’s talking about what’s happening in the “coming months”. The way I read it, gnomes and anniversary are the only big things happening in the coming months (aka Q1?).

    • And the Cannith Crafting revision.

      • Both of you are correct, that is precisely what it says.

        My beef is not with the information itself; Severlin has a short history with DDO but within that history has always done what he said he would. So … not the information. I am disappointed that there isn’t more information. Nothing about anything past mid-March.

        And there should be.

  6. I can definitely see your disappointment, but let me play the devils advocate here. Lets say back in October they didn’t leak gnomes and Cannith crafting info….Now lets take another look at the letter keeping in mind that its a QUARTERLY letter now. So what do we have?

    1. Gnomes! A new race and a new iconic race too! (can you imagine the torrent of posts if they had just sprung it on us now?)
    2. Cannith Crafting …could be very very nice with the new loot system. If they apply the same rules (allowing more than 2 abilities, etc.).
    3. Bugs cleaned up…I’ve seen a ton of posts previously saying that an entire update cleaning up bugs without any new content would be welcome.
    4. An Anniversary party with prizes and games etc.
    5. A new multi level dungeon where we can fight Devs!

    That’s not too bad for three months…multiply that out by 4 and you’ve got quite a year coming up.

    While I realize that we all want more, sometimes leaking things out means we get less new stuff later on.

    I know your curiously mathematical mind would love to count how many words of new content last years letter contained. Then multiply this years letter x 4 and compare….??? Would that be a fair way to look at things? (and that’s not even counting content already leaked. it would be interesting to see a graph of that comparison….*cough* *cough* *hint* *wink* *nod*

    Two things I didn’t hear mentioned though – one more serious than the other.

    1. The server move. If I remember correctly last years producer letter mentioned new servers and equipment, which brought up posts about potential merging of servers, etc.


    2. Crankee’s returning throwing dwarven ale mugs of drunkeness….these have to come soon! πŸ™‚

  7. Hmmmm, doom mongers on the main forums? Lemme speculate on 3 of their arguments from nearly 10 years of reading doom monger posts: (1) reduced number of devs (2) reduced population (3) D&D licence renewal date. How did I do? πŸ™‚

  8. Who cares, it’s the Year of the Gnome, and they’re coming sooner, rather than later!!!

    Happy Gnome Year everyone!

  9. They’re looking for a new players council? πŸ˜€

  10. I suspect a lot of the scope limiting was to keep them from dealing with what we had when Turbine abandoned going to Anauroch. Personally I dislike seeing that “It Came From the Dessert” mention in the /raid completions list. I also somewhat resent how the new Legendary Raids don’t make it on the list either. I know they give no 20th rewards but some of us keep track of run totals.

    Everything I see out of Turbine shows me they are limiting the scope since I suspect they are trying to not spend a huge amount of money maintaining the game we are likely to not get vast amounts of new content ever again. Just 1-3 quests an update if that much for the foreseeable future.

What do you think?

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