To listen to the complete Loading... Live #13 - DDO Module 9 podcast, click here!
- David Arneson tribute
- What's new in Mod 9 for new DDO players?
- Hireling system improvements
- Level cap increase - permanent plateau for classes?
- Development status and Mod 9 release date?
- Is DDO poised to take advantage of DirectX 11?
- The marketing direction for DDO?
- Is level 20 the ultimate cap for classes?
- Are capstone enhancements for pure classes only?
- Status on character respec'ing?
- More Eberron-only classes and races?
- Turbine's vision for DDO beyond Module 9?
- Other revenue models for DDO?
- User generated content in DDO?
- Is Turbine hiring?
- More content faster?
- Consolidating to a one page inventory screen
- "Vast and mysterious?"
- Greensteel deconstruction and more robust crafting
- The Future of the Mournlands test server
[0h 7m 22s] Ten Ton Hammer (Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle): We were sad to see that David Arneson, Co-Creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away recently. Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) featured voiceovers from both David Arneson and Gary Gygax and we remember that DDO had a very nice tribute to Gary Gygax. Do you have anything planned to celebrate the contribution of Mr. Arneson to the game?
[0h 7m 44s] Kate Paiz: Absolutely. We were all deeply touched by Mr. Arneson’s passing and some of the things we’re going to do are we are going to create an item in his honor and it’s going to be one of the story quest rewards for the Ruins of Threnal series that voiceovered for us. We’re also putting in a memorial into the ruins area; players will know that there’s a whole little city area we’re excavating and there’s a tavern. There’ll be a spot there similar to the one in Dalaras Graveyard where they can go and be communing with his spirit there.
[0h 8m 26s] Ten Ton Hammer: Very cool, that’s an awesome tribute. Before we talk about the more hardcore aspects of Module 9, which is the upcoming... I don’t know if expansion’s the right word, but it certainly has a bunch of awesome new stuff in it, we want to talk a little bit about what Module 9 will mean for new players. And we know DDO has a brand new free trial initiative going on at present. Could you talk a little bit about what Module 9 will mean for new players and newer players?
[0h 8m 52s] Kate Paiz: Absolutely. We’ve really focused a lot of time in this development mod to figure out how to reach out to players and really maximize their enjoyment of DDO. We’ve been working on the new player experience improvements and some of the additions we’ve made in Mod 9 - we’ve actually redone the default key mapping, so players who already have a version of the game will have their existing key map unaltered. For anyone that needs a new install, there would be three preset buttons that will adjust the main interaction keys of the game. We wanted to reach out to an audience that’s a little more familiar with a revised keymap for them to really reinfoce the action combat, the super intensity and viscerality of the game. Maybe giving them a little opportunity to know that these keys are consistent with other MMOs that they’ve played. When new players come in, there will be DDO classic, which you can hit for what it is today in live, then the revised, and then we’re actually doing an FPS version because we think that there are some things about walking around in the world and the activity of it that lends itself to that.
So to go back to the New Player Experience for a moment, we’ve added a voiceover layer to that initial party that you experience with Salinas and Jeetz. It really fills up that experience nicely and it’s a really nice polish element to that and the dragon dungeon at the end of the Korthos Island experience. One other thing that we’ve done is adjust the way the targeting system works so players who are comfortable with the way the system works now will be able to turn it off in the options panel but for new players it also helps to target monsters that are right in front of you so that you’re able to always connect with ranged attacks, spellcasting, or melee. You’ll always be attacking and targetting the monsters that are closest to you, and that will also display the hitpoint bar for the monster above their head, so you can see at a glance without having to look over at the focus orb but stay at the center of your screen and see who you’re attacking, who’s coming at you, what’s going on, and the progress that you’re making.
[0h 11m 36s] Ten Ton Hammer: Outstanding. Again, we’re just asking general questions now because we have about 48 people in the channel that I’m sure have a ton of really detailed questions that we’ll get to very shortly. But, for me, the hireling system is a game-saver, in terms of if you’re a busy gamer or maybe you don’t play when a lot of people in your region do. Could you talk about, just for people who may not be super immersed in the DDO experience, what are hirelings and how will the hirelings system improve with Module 9?
[0h 12m 11s] Kate Paiz: Mod 9 brings generally some AI improvements to the hirelings. The hirelings are meant to be the NPC combatants you can hire at your level (or if you choose, below your level, but certainly not above your level) to party up with you. Each player character can hire one hireling so a party of three players can turn into a party of 6 combatants. They range from being damage dealers to meatshields to the clerics, which are really beneficial to folks who have trouble finding healers or don’t have one in sort of their natural party environment. We make a joke actually that, you know, “BYOC” - bring your own cleric. For people that play in small parties it’s kind of become a truism because it’s really beneficial.
Hirelings come loaded with about 4 or 5 actions or abilities that are specific to them, you can tell them to stay or to come, to use that lever or go trigger that thing, stuff like that. Some of the stuff we’re going to get in Mod 9 is just general improvements to the system, we’ve been very happy with the way they’ve been received and we’re responding to things we see on the forums so we make sure they have fewer problems - the times where they do flaky stuff and you’re just like “Oh my God, why did you do that?!” My personal pet peeve is that they always stand right at the edge of the blade barrier, so we’re trying to build some code so they’re a little more aware that they’re getting whacked by those blades every time - they’ll move towards you if you’re sort of in the center or they’ll move back out of the way.
Those are the kinds of improvements that we have. We’re still looking down the road to introduce more classes, but we have the five classes right now - sorceror, cleric, paladin, wizard, and barbarian. We want to make sure those are as good as possible and that players are really experiencing the best that that system can offer before we start expanding out into rangers, rogues, or something that’s a little more sophisticated.
[0h 14m 27s] Ten Ton Hammer: One of the most exciting things about Module 9 is the level cap increase from 16 to 20. 20 is the obviously the natural level cap for DnD, do you view it as that in DDO? Will this be a kind of plateau for classes or characters?
[0h 14m 45s] Kate Paiz: Certainly there are a lot of questions about that for us. For sure, what we know is we’re going to take a break from continuing level cap increases for a while, we’re going to focus on classes and races, making sure that classes are as robust and enjoyable as possible. We expect to be doing a ton of more epic content and new stuff for people to play with. We’re not going to be, you know, immediately to 30, immediately to 40. We’re going to take a little bit of time to see how reaching 20 impacts the community and impacts other choices for the game so that it continues to grow and feel relevant and feel impactful.
[0h 15m 35s] Ten Ton Hammer: I see that people are already asking, “When will it be out?” I know you’re not willing to commit to a date at this point but maybe if you could talk a little about where you’re at in the production of Module 9?
[0h 15m 46s] Kate Paiz: Absolutely, yes, as you said, we’re not announcing a launch date for Module 9 right now. Our biggest focus is to get the preview on Lamannia as good as possible and we’ve found a tremendous amount of benefit already on Lamannia. We’re going to continue to run that preview experience until we feel like Module 9 is at that level of polish and readiness where we’re happy with it.
The level cap increase is tremendously large and it’s important to balance it to make sure that it feels right. Some of these cap improvements and refinements are things that we need to make sure are really solid before we release them so again, we don’t have a date but players can expect to see additional releases of bug fixes and some additional content is going to be coming out on Lamannia in the coming weeks. Those are the things we’re going to be focusing on - getting everything all ready for Mod 9 before we target a specific release date.
[0h 16m 45s] Ten Ton Hammer (Ethec): Alright, at this point I’m going to turn it over to Cody “Micajah” Bye who’s one of our editors here at Ten Ton Hammer.com, so Cody do you have our first question?
[0h 16m 56s] Ten Ton Hammer (Cody): I do indeed. The first question comes from Saximo, who asks: “Will Dungeons and Dragons Online quickly take advantage of DirectX 11, like what you did with DirectX 10 when Vista came out, when Windows 7 eventually hits store shelves?
[0h 17m 15s] Kate Paiz: DirectX 10 is a big thing for us in Mod 9, we just came out with it in the beta in Mod 8 and have done some additional improvements so I think that’s been our focus - to get DirectX 10 in good shape and working for everybody. And honestly I don’t have DirectX 11 much in my viewport right now. We’re always eager and happily working with our core technology group to make sure DDO and LotRO and our other games are cutting edge and relevant and pushing that envelope of what we can deliver in a premium graphics experience to our players as much as possible.
[0h 17m 53s] Ten Ton Hammer (Cody): The next question I have is from Clevon, he asks if Turbine has taken over the marketing of DDO, and if so, what direction are you going to take it in to gather up new players and maybe some players who stopped playing the game?
[0h 18m 12s] Kate Paiz: Again, with Mod 9 and the level cap increase, we feel like that’s going to be a great opportunity to bring a lot of people back. We’ve more than doubled the amount of content in the game since launch. There were a lot of people that were going to be hearing from us and seeing the presence of DDO. We’ve redone DDO.com and that’ll be coming out live in the next couple of weeks. We’ve redone the free trial format and additional improvements are going to be coming out. We remain very committed to DDO and marketing this game is very important to us. We’re going to continue to really make sure that everyone understands how awesome Mod 9 is, how awesome the game is, and how far it’s come, and how it’s a great enjoyable experience not only for the people that really know the DnD ruleset but also for folks that enjoy amazing, intense action in an MMO experience so that you can party with your friends and totally get down and have fun.
[0h 19m 12s] Ten Ton Hammer (Ethec): Towern was asking about capstone enhancements and I see a few people asking will the cap limit go above 20, and I don’t believe you’ve committed that level 20 will be the ultimate cap for classes, will it?
[0h 19m 25s] Kate Paiz: MMOs grow and they change and things that are true today aren’t necessarily true in the future. Right now we’re very happy to have reached 20, and I encourage everyone to go to DDO.com and get the full list on the release notes because I don’t want to go into a whole bunch of detail on those today. We are definitely very interested in making sure that the game is interesting and exciting and there’s always new stuff for folks to chew on. If that means that level 22 and 24 and 26 are the next logical steps then - absolutely, we’ll take that. If it means more classes, more races, more stuff to do so that you can experience the game with more content, I think that those are all viable options and we certainly are looking at some of that now. But we’re really focused on getting this level cap sorted, polished, really good, and out to our userbase.
[0h 20m 38s] Kate Paiz: Yea, the capstone enhancements are for pure classes, pure characters, but there are a bunch of prestige enhancements and other benefits that you can get. Those are the kinds of things that, again, I really encourage people to take specific questions to the forums. Our design team is really eager to respond to that. Especially on the Lamannia forums, they’re going on there and checking them out, but also on the main forums. I know players have built their characters over many years with trying to experience a vast amount of the game and we’re certainly not looking to have them miss out on any of the great fun with the capstones and prestige enhancements. This is just one of those things that we’re going to figure out and work with our community to make sure that everyone’s enjoying the game and the richness and fullness of what’s there.
[0h 21m 30s] Ten Ton Hammer (Ethec): DaveyfmCrockett asks: A lot of users are dying to hear a definite answer on the arrival of character respeccing in the future for DDO. Can you say one way or the other?
[0h 21m 40s] Kate Paiz: Oh, it’s super high on my list. I made some mistakes on one of my alts that’s still killing me. The dev team hears about it from me every day. Respeccing something as complicated as the DnD ruleset is really a challenge, I won’t pretend that it’s not. There’s a lot of factors that come into play, we’ve made progress - there’s a lot of complexity. We really want to do it, it’s not in Mod 9, and I don’t have a target for it. So definitive answers are always a challenge when it’s not right on the horizon, but it’s important to me, I know it’s important to others. I think people can count on it coming, I just don’t know when.
[0h 22m 24s] Ten Ton Hammer (Cody): The next question deals with the Eberron-only classes and races. Are there any more plans to introduce some of these Eberron-only type things into the game? Artificer was the example that was given, and I believe that the Shifter is an Eberron-only race and they still haven’t made it into the game. Any word on these?
[0h 22m 53s] Kate Paiz: The Eberron-only stuff is definitely of interest to us and of interest to the design team. We’ve certainly talked in the past about the druid and the half-orc and the half-elf as well. I’ll be perfectly honest: given the 4.0 rules release and given that the druid and the half-orc moved to the supplemental players handbook, we’re reevaluating a lot of these choices right now. We’re also looking the favored soul, the warlock, the warlord, things like that to make sure that we’re making the best choice. These choices are very popular; I can understand why people would be very excited about that. There’s also a lot of challenge in making sure that that sense of change of a character is brought to life in a sort of way that’s very compelling. So if people are very excited about that I really encourage them to gab about it on the forums to say exactly what it is that they’re looking forward to about this stuff. We definitely take that feedback very much to heart.
[0h 23m 46s] Ten Ton Hammer (Cody): The user Gronn wanted a very general vision of the Modules beyond 9 - if you could hint for players where you would like to take things. Whether it’s progressing the classes past 20 or anything that’s general and up in the air like that?
[0h 24m 13s] Kate Paiz: There’s so much movement in the community and in the dev team’s perception of what’s best for them, so I’m not ready to set too much in stone today. Classes and races, adding more to the general experience... players who have been with us for some time - giving them a fresh way to experience the game, this is very important to us and I expect that to be something that we look at very deeply in the time to come. Additional content - we want to look at the other planes, we’ve had a wonderful time in Mod 9 going to Shavarath and, again, Lamannia, is sort of always in our hearts (that’s why we have our preview server with that name). So I think players can look at more content, more richness of that Eberron world, and we’ll find new ways of making sure that feels fresh and very new and very fun for everyone.
[0h 25m 11s] Ten Ton Hammer (Ethec): We saw a number of questions earlier about different subscription or business models for the game - making the game free-to-play with microtransactions or expansion purchases. I’m guessing you don’t have any plans along those lines at present?
[0h 25m 29s] Kate Paiz: Turbine is one of the premier MMO developers and I would say that we’re always looking at new business models just like we’re always looking at new ways of making the games feel relevant and interesting to players as well. I certainly don’t have anything to announce today but I can just say that in general we all look at the changing nature in these things both in the US and certainly in Asia with a tremendously interested eye and we keep our minds open to what could be best for DDO and players to make sure that we’re all working together to make this game great for many years to come.
[0h 26m 8s] Ten Ton Hammer (Cody): Paragon Studios just recently released their mission architect for City of Heroes. Do you ever anticipate that you will have a user created content module for players to create their own dungeons in game? That seems like something that’s very much something that’s very DnD, and if there’s any place to do it, DDO would be it.
[0h 26m 33s] Kate Paiz: That was certainly a question we got a ton prior to launch because everyone’s like “I’ve got the player’s handbook, I’ve got the monster manual, I’ve got the DM things, so when’s it going to be here! I want it!” Obviously there’s a tremendous marriage of that with the IP, but it’s not something that we have an announcement to make about today, it’s not something that we have plans to roll out in the near future, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that it’s something that we talk about in wishful thinking because customizing the experience of a DnD is so much a part of everybody’s experience in the playerbase and our design team. We hear that and we see that and we really believe in it. But at the same time, you know how hard UGC is and how difficult it is to get User Generated Content right and I respect so much the games that are tackling that. I think some of them have done really well. We look, we learn, we admire, and we hope to have something in the years to come.
[0h 27m 44s] Kate Paiz: Yea, absolutely, Turbine has a jobs site; I encourage everyone to take a look at it at turbine.com. We’re always looking for great talent to add to our teams. We have an awesome team and it’s wonderful when we bring people in who know the games, who love the games, who have a clear understanding of not only what it is that works but what we can improve on and what we can continue to shape and change our stuff to be more fun. I really encourage everyone to take a gander and see if something fits their desires.
[0h 28m 33s] Kate Paiz: We’re definitely focusing with Mod 9 as I said before on making it as balanced and strong and self-consistent - that it makes the most sense as possible. I know folks are anxious and eager and ready for it, but I think that the waiting will pay off. We encourage absolutely everyone to jump onto the Lamannia preview to see what we’ve made, see the changes that we’ve made, and give us as much feedback as possible. That’s the single best way for us to get it out as fast as possible. We want to make sure we feel like we understand where the pros are, if there are any cons left - where they are and what we can do to address them. Because ultimately Turbine’s dedicated to quality and there’s just no replacing the right feature set at the right time.
[0h 29m 23s] Ten Ton Hammer (Cody): I’ve got another question, this one’s pretty game specific. Is there any way that players will be able to have a one page inventory screen rather than the five pages they have now?
[0h 29m 38s] Kate Paiz: Sometime, sure I think it’s entirely possible, that’s been on the top of my mind. Thanks for the question, I’ll certainly take that back and see what we can do. I think that one of the things we’re trying to do with Mod 9 with specific responses to the feedback is make sure that the options of the game allow people to customize their experience so that they can have the most fun with frankly the least fun parts of the game, which is the UI, because all games have that layer of interface that’s just required. But it’s all about the moment to moment gameplay and making sure that we’re customizing that wrapper so that you can get in there and have that intense connection with your party and with the game itself - that is our goal. But again, thanks for that suggestion and I’ll take it back and see what we can do.
[0h 30m 30s] Ten Ton Hammer (Cody): There’s been a bunch of questions that have been cycling through - but they want to know what is “vast and mysterious”? That’s kind of vast and mysterious in itself - can you give us a hint?
[0h 30m 48s] Kate Paiz: Nope. (laughter) It is indeed vast and deeply mysterious and when we have something to announce, you all will be the first to hear it.
[0h 30m 59s] Ten Ton Hammer (Ethec): We have time for about one more question. I’ll leave it up to you guys, what should we ask?
[0h 31m 26s] Kate Paiz: Well, it is not coming in Mod 9. A larger crafting system is certainly something I’ve talked about I think with you guys in the past. It’s certainly something that is important to us, it makes sense, and we understand why players want it. It didn’t fit into all the things we had queued up for Module 9, but so glad to hear you guys are deeply interested in it and it’s near and dear to your hearts. I’ll take that back to my designers tonight, because I’m sure they’re still around, and we’ll have a good chat about it. Hopefully we’ll have something again on the forums or in another session like this soon so we can talk a little more about when and how and all the details of that. Because we understand why it’s relevant, we just haven’t quite gotten a clear and decisive answer as to when.
[0h 32m 33s] Kate Paiz: Mournlands is a wonderful part of our polish and experience improvement process. It’s completely near and dear to our hearts - the people who play on that server and help us get feedback early are critical to our process and I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who puts in the time to do that. I know that sometimes the experience is rough and everything we get from there is tremendously valuable and very important to our process. So yes, thank you, it’s really great to be a part of that relationship with you guys and if you guys see me online, I’m Lucretia on Mournlands, and I hope to see you all and feel free to ping me if you do, and thanks again.
[0h 33m 21s] Ten Ton Hammer: Kate, we can’t thank you enough for stopping by, taking time out of your evening here on the east coast. We want to thank the audience as well, you guys came up with some great questions, and we’ll have to do this again soon.
[0h 33m 32s] Kate Paiz: Absolutely, I would love it.
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