DDO Interview: Another 30 Minutes on Module
3 with Turbine
The friendly folks at Turbine had been trying to get together with me
for the better part of 10 days since we first shared a conference call
and spent href="http://ddo.tentonhammer.com/index.php?module=ContentExpress&func=display&ceid=307">30
Minutes on Module 3 in September 2006. Our schedules finally
aligned, and I got the mother load of important names from Dungeons
& Dragons Online:
- Turbine Director of Communication style="font-weight: bold;">Adam Mersky
- DDO Lead Game Systems Designer David
- DDO Design Manager Derek Flippo
- DDO Game Systems Designer Heather
- Turbine Associate Producer Kate
This wasn't designed to be an interview. We were trying to get together
for something else--something big you'll want to look for on this site
sometime next week. Alas, the Turbine folks and I failed our Reflex
saves, and we were left on the conference line with no hope of
completing our mission. Looking to make the most of the opportunity,
Adam Mersky suggested we go ahead and conduct an interview. My
questions were on the fly, and answers came at me in flurries. First
David Eckelberry and Derek Flippo reviewed the features of Module 3:
known as the Demon Sands, and our semi-official launch date is October
25, 2006. Demon Sands will be our third free Module in addition to the
almost monthly content updates and continuous hot fixes. It will be the
biggest free content update I've ever seen by any company."
Derek: "Demon Sands is
big--really, really big! It will increase add 40% more content than we
had at launch, and it is our sixth content update since DDO launched
[in February 2006].Demon Sands is many times larger than anything we've
David: "Demon Sands will
raise the level cap from Level 10 to Level 12. It also introduces an
Auction House system for rapid trade between players that is more
efficient and persistent than the merchant vendors.
Players will also
be able to participate in PvP, or player-vs-player combat. This takes
place in dug out areas beneath taverns, which will server as our open
PvP area. Everyone is on separate teams and can fight without penalties
of any kind--XP, gear, items. We will also have team PvP scenarios,
such as catch the flag and others. Some will be inside and some will be
Next our conversation drifted
to the future development of DDO. Here, David and Derek discussed the
journey to Level 20 and beyond. I asked about epic levels, prestige
classes, and the challenge of implementing them:
at the end of 2007 or early 2008. It is my private goal for next year
to introduce two new classes [editor's
note: he confirmed they would be druid and monk], and then start
planning ahead for epic levels and prestige classes in the second half
of the year."
style="border: 2px solid ; width: 200px; height: 160px;" align="left">[ style="font-style: italic;">Editor's note: At this point, there was
some murmuring in the room, and Eckelberry conceded that his plans were
ambitious but reasonable and that everyone on the design team had
personal goals they worked on together.]
style="font-weight: bold;">David: "Adding the last few levels
to 20 will not be that hard from a design standpoint. A lot of the work
is designing the spells for the clerics, wizards, and sorcerers. By the
time we reach Level 17 and have all of the Level 9 spells in the game,
the last few levels will be about dungeons."
Derek: "Yeah, then the
question becomes how many dungeons it takes to get players to Level 20."
David: "But when we start
talking prestige classes, we have to decide how that's going to work.
We're already discussing it here internally. I mean, if we go by PnP
[pen-and-paper] rules, technically you'd want to be a ways
under-capped so that you can select a prestige class because prestige
classes effective count as levels. So we have to decide how that will
work--whether it's some sort of alternate advancement of just epic
Another thing we have to do is make sure we get enough of them ready to
go at once. Prestige classes are not very general, so we can't just
launch three or four. It'd be, 'Welcome to flame 9000 on our forums.'
Again, my private goal--that I guess I am making public now--is to have
8-10 prestige classes ready at the same time. That way no player feels
like he doesn't have one for his class or build."
Then David dropped the big news:
leak this to you today, so we may as well go ahead and tell you now.
We're getting ready to upload to our Risia test server some special
warforged changes for Module 3. All existing warforged characters and
all new warforged will be born with all of the Eberron resistances as
part of the racial traits. Players will not need to spend any Feats or
Enhancements to acquire these resistances."
personally concerned that warforged will be overpowered now?
style="font-weight: bold;">David: "Not in the upper levels, no.
I mean, for the easiest experience in the game, try a warforged through
the first three levels [after Module 3 releases]. But by the time
characters reach level 10, though, it won't be overpowered. And that
doesn't take too long. I'm not as worried about balance at the low
There were actually some on the design team who were even more reluctant
to change than I was. But in the tempest that arose from your last
interview with me, something came out that made us discuss it
internally. I can't remember who the poster was or which exact thread
it was, but I had told you that warforged use Enhancements to get their
resistances--leaving their items slots free for other bonuses."
Ralsu: I know one
champion of the warforged on our forums and on the official DDO forums
has been a person who calls himself :hu-flung-pu."
[Upon hearing this name, either
Heather Sinclair or Kate Paiz made a noise of recognition before David
David: "Well, the players
in this thread rightly pointed out that their is no item they can equip
to give a +5 boost to attack for 30 seconds [like Action Boost
Enhancements]. In essences these players were saying, 'See what I have
to sacrifice in order to have the warforged resistances?'"
At this point, Adam noted that Turbine is always willing to listen to
their subscribers. David echoed his thoughts by saying that he and his
team are not perfect but that they are willing to hear advice. He said
they may not act of every player suggestion but that the warforged was
the perfect example of player feedback leading to change.
With the conversation flowing about concerns DDO players have and the
way warforged rogues have previously had to give up the Rogue's Action
Boost Enhancement to get resistances, I asked the gang to comment on
whether or not traps in the Level 11 and Level 12 dungeons of Demons
Sands would require an optimized rogue build. David assured me that
would not be the case:
at Level 12 will have decent success on normal. I mean, he might still
fail on a roll of 3 or 4, but he can certainly be successful most of
the time. As players get into the Elite level dungeons, then they will
have a harder time. Elite is closer to requiring a min/max strategy.
You know I'm actually excited about a multi-class build a friend of
mine used. It combines a fighter with a paladin and rogue." alt="Turbine"
style="width: 100px; height: 100px;" align="right">
Heather: " Some people
are calling it the Batman build. We don't know who came up with it
David: "Yeah, it uses the
paladin levels to get those awesome saves and fighter for the utility
of the Feats. The levels in rogue provide Evasion nd some trap finding
ability. I think I'm going to try it out next."
We have a couple of DDO
Builds like that at Ten Ton Hammer. Our most recent one is the
Small but Feared Soldier, which takes advantage of some of those
halfling racial Enhancements with those three classes. People like to
tweak the amount of levels to take in each.
David: Exactly. It sounds
like a pretty indestructible build.
David next told me that future work--perhaps for Module 4--would look
at ways to soften the disadvantages of multi-classing by changing
existing Enhancements or possibly creating new ones that would apply to
We wrapped up our discussion by talking about the MMO industry as we
did in the last interview. Adam and David talked some more about
Turbines commitment to releasing frequent content updates. They
stressed that they would like these updates to happen once in each
month, but they were reluctant to commit to a time line because of the
disappointment it brings with they miss a deadline. Even so, they took
pride in the fact that Turbine has pushed out 6 content updates for DDO
in just barely over 6 months since it launched.
We also discussed the collapse of Seed, href="http://ddo.tentonhammer.com/index.php?module=ContentExpress&func=display&ceid=314">as
I did in my editorial earlier this week. David expressed the
opinion that there is a place on the market for a purely social game
like Seed. He also said that he felt that the market wouldn't hold more
than one successful model of its type--the biggest one. he believes
gamers will gravitate to the biggest social network that gives them the
most to do. Others will struggle to draw in customers.
There you have it folk: another 30 Minutes on Module 3. Keep your
browsers directed right here. Turbine has another huge surprise in
store for Ten Ton Hammer readers, and it's coming soon. With warforged
getting fixed in Module 3, could it get any better?
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