Questions by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
Answers by Kate Paiz, Senior Producer of DDO, and Stephen Muray, Lead Designer of DDO
Without Dungeons and
Dragons, the monolithic industry of massively
multiplayer online roleplaying games would not exist. That conclusion
can be drawn rather simply; without the influence of D&D, many
online game developers would never have attempted to create their games
in the first place. A vast number of early developers credit their
first games to being “simple D&D clones,”
yet now they’re taking that knowledge and creating vast new
worlds of sword and sorcery.
In an ironic twist of fate, Dungeons
and Dragons has found a new place
in the online marketplace, this time in the form of Turbine’s
Dungeons and Dragons
Online: Stormreach, a game that has influenced
many a tabletop gamer to join the online masses in hunting down enemies
and completing quests. Coming up on their second year in existence, the
folks at Turbine took a few minutes to talk with Ten Ton
Hammer’s managing editor, Cody “Micajah”
Bye, about the future of their game and where the title is heading. In
the 30 minute conversation, Cody and the developers discussed Module 6
(slated for January), the Monk, Half-Orcs, other new classes, an
invading devil army, high-level spells, and a whole gaggle of other
D&D items of interest!
(Editor's Note: The question concerning Half-Orcs, Half-Elves, and Monks has been edited for clarification purposes. During our conversations it was clear that the Monks were to be released before the Half-Orcs and Half-Elves, but it was not absolutely clear in the transcript. Changes have been made to the question to reduce confusion.)
Ten Ton Hammer: Your two
year anniversary is coming up very soon (late February). Should players
expect anything big to be released around that time?
DDO is closing in on
its second anniversary.
We’ve got a few things that we’re very excited
about in the works, but we’re not really ready to talk about
them just yet. There are a number of items that we’re very
enthusiastic about; we’re hoping to release a new system
along with new content for the players. The anniversary period should
be pretty fun.
Ten Ton Hammer: From what
I can gather, you are planning to release a large new update in the
very near future. Can you tell us about this?
Absolutely. Our next release is going to be Module Six, which will be
our fifteenth live update. The module is called the Thirteenth Eclipse,
and it’s scheduled to release sometime in January. In this
update we’re going to be introducing a completely new
storyline centered around the invasion of an army of devils into
Eberron. The players are going to have to combat the devils on an all
new landscape called the Veil of Twilight as the Plane Shavarath is
being interwoven into the very fabric of the player landscape.
We’ve got a bit of an advantage in the Eberron campaign
setting in that planar travel is very easy for the players. The players
will be able to take the fight directly to the army of Aritreckos
(excuse the spelling). You’ll be able to face off against the
Barbazu (the bearded devils), and the armies heavily armored shock
Kate: One of
the things we’re really excited about in Module Six is the
raid that is going to be introduced into the game. We’ve
determined through player feedback that our gamers are really looking
for an activity that is open to all levels and player types. Therefore
the raid is going to be much more of a total experience rather than one
singular fight that the characters take part in. There will be a
variety of areas that you’ll fight through with a whole
collection of mini-bosses that you will have to fight through.
As Steve mentioned, the Barbazu is going to be one of the lieutenants
in the army and players will also encounter an Orthon as well, which is
an incredibly brutish demon killer (the devils hate demons) and very
tough to beat. Both of these lieutenants will be stepping stones on the
way to the overall raid boss, which we’re trying to keep
under wraps for the time being.
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The raid, according to the developers, will be more of an experience
than an encounter.
hat said, the whole raid is going to be a much bigger experience and
will hopefully be open to a larger variety of players.
I’m very excited about our new raid. It’s really an
encounter for everyone and it’s the easiest raid to get into
since Tempest Spine. On top of that, the raid is significantly
lengthier and more complex than many of the previous raids.
I’d describe it more as a raid zone than a simple raid
We’ve also gone into a lot of effort to allow players to
customize the loot that they’re going to be getting from this
raid using eldritch sites as a prototype for our upcoming crafting
system. It’s very flexible; there are hundreds of thousands
of permutations of raid loot. This allows everyone to acquire exactly
what they’re looking for out of this raid.
Ten Ton Hammer: As a
general Dungeons and Dragons question, have devils been explored in the
Eberron campaign setting previously?
hasn’t been very much so far. The Plane of Shavarath,
however, is sort of like Eberron’s take on the Blood War
– the general conflict between the devils, demons, archons,
and eladrins where they’re fighting their eternal war on the
Plane of Battle. We found that the Plane of Shavarath would be an
appropriate place for this encounter. After that’s been
established, we can expand the player experiences from there.
Ten Ton Hammer: Staying
on the general D&D question line, are you planning on exposing
the player base to anything different for 4th Edition? Are you changing
We’re definitely interested in exploring the new game once we
get all the details from the new game and what that is going to entail.
However, we don’t have any specific changes in mind, and
that’s going to be a decision that we’re going to
evaluate a bit closer to when the 4.0 rule set is going to be released.
Ten Ton Hammer: So
you’re not looking for a general change of the game on the
same date of the 4.0 release?
we’re not looking to make a simultaneous release.
The developers aren't
looking to adopt 4th Edition rules right away.
Ten Ton Hammer: You
don’t want to make changes when you don’t even know
if the new rule set is going to appeal to gamers or not.
Exactly. It’s extremely important to us to get feedback from
our player base and then making changes to our game that the player
base is interested in seeing. A lot of what we are focusing on this
year is continuing that core Dungeons and Dragons experience where
we’re going to be looking at the Monk and the Half-Orc
throughout the year.
We want to continue that tradition of great D&D experiences,
but we also want to get feedback from players and make sure that the
game we’re building is the game that they really want to
play. Like many of the changes that we’ve made in the past
two years, we really want make changes that the players think are good
Ten Ton Hammer: The
Half-Orc and the Half-Elf races are what you’re looking to
introduce after the Monk, correct? (Editor's Note: Changes have been made for clarifcation, see top of article.)
They haven’t been released yet, but we’re planning
on releasing them in the late summer or early fall of 2008. Our top
priority is obviously the Monk, but the two races [will be introduced right after the Monk]. Players really want to get that strength increase from
the Half-Orc racial type.
Ten Ton Hammer: Now that
you have finished with the Litany of the Dead series, what will you be
releasing between your full modules?
December we’re really focusing on our holiday events. There
are certain drops that can be traded in for special holiday-type items.
We have jelly cakes that drop in different planes, along with other
festive items like candy canes. I think that the event schedule begins
on December 3rd, and it’s going to run for the entire month.
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The beginings of a
crafting system are being implemented in Module 6.
The anniversary content will hit around the time between Module 6 and
Module 7, so hopefully players will have plenty of content to play with
between the big releases.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are
crafting and housing coming into the game any time soon?
We’re definitely going to have the beginning elements of a
crafting system in place for Module 6….
Ten Ton Hammer: In the
Exactly. We call it a prototype, because we want to insure that
we’re creating a crafting system in a way that feels true to
D&D and also true to DDO, which are two understandably
different venues. We want to get this prototype out there, get people
familiar with the basic benefits of the system, then grow the crafting
process with a bigger release after we’ve taken a lot of
player feedback into account.
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