Excluding Duke Nukem Forever (which counts only in concept), we only found one five+ year-old game on the show floor at PAX East 2011. That game was Dungeons and Dragons Online, and Producer Erik Boyer and Design Director Iain Currie were on-hand to show us how Turbine continues to keep this hybrid free-to-play success story fresh.
One feature that DDO historically lacked is a full-fledged crafting system - but no more! Iain describes how crafting works, why you'll need to play the game to be a successful crafter, and how Turbine plans to phase in the changes to minimize player economy upheaval. Next, Erik takes us deep into the fourth and final part of Update 9. It's a mad journey through the sensibilities of a fleshcrafting mindflayer "artist", complete with a catwalk and "Spring Fashions" plus what might be DDO's most intense boss fight yet, so have a look at this DDO Update 9 / Crafting Improvements video from PAX East 2011!
Video: New DDO Crafting System and Update 9 Preview[video]http://video.tentonhammer.com/ddo/DDO_Update9-Crafting_High.flv[/video]
Video summary: In addition to the 5th Anniversary Celebration which saw a return to the old starting area of SmugglerÂs Rest, Producer Erik Boyer explained that Turbine is celebrating DDOÂs fifth anniversary by returning to French and German language markets. ItÂs not only big news for the European markets, it shows how entirely full-circle DDO Unlimited has come with the advent of the hybrid free-to-play model.
Next, Iain Currie described the new, full-fledged crafting system which will roll out in several phases over the next few months. ItÂs a new way to turn old, accumulated inventory clutter into useful, sellable items, he explained, and crafting will be divided into three schools: elemental, divine, and arcane. Players earn experience in each school separately. Each school makes different items, and crafting devices will be required to both deconstruct old items and create new items (both bound and unbound). Depending on your skill, each recipe has a success chance, and should you fail, youÂll lose the recipe components.
Skilled crafters can also create shards, which act as sellable blueprints so that lesser crafters can make more advanced items . An offshoot of the barter system will be used to suggest recipes for items in your possession. Iain noted that the first stage will allow players to create items through level 150, and Turbine will roll out crafting changes slowly and carefully to fine tune the impact on the player economy.
Coming in April, Update 9 is a four-part storyline involving Xoriat, the plane of madness. Erik noted that Turbine was given free rein by Wizards of the Coast and Atari to realize the Âgrotesquely insaneÂ elements of the Xoriat-based creatures, and the result was a mad Mindflayer ÂartistÂ and his meticulously flashcrafted menagerie of Frankensteined creatures. The Mindflayer, in fact, acts as DM for the dungeon, and wants you to succeed and see all of his creations.
These creations have something to do with the missing persons reports circulating in the Stormeach Chronicle, in fact, but theyÂre not the only creatures youÂll find. Some classic Xoriat monsters Â more mindflayers and beholders (a new variant Â chaos beholders) Â will join the Turbine-created ÂTakenÂ creatures in obstructing your path to the MindflayerÂs Âfashion showÂ (complete with catwalk Â Erik jokingly explained that this must be his Spring Fashions show).
With the fashion show in ruins, the Mindflayer will begin to take you a little more seriously, pulling your group into his mind for a final showdown. Erik demonstrated one tactic used to take down the massively enhanced MindflayerÂs shield, which cannot be attacked directly. For the complete spoiler on this interesting boss battle, youÂll have to watch the video.
Erik concluded the demo by explaining the SmugglerÂs Rest and Crystal Caverns event and how Turbine plans to carry forward the ability to set the instance level (from level 1 to 25, and naturally with greater challenge comes better rewards) to other dungeons in the future. He also described the 3-minute Crystal Caverns team tournament that was held at PAX East 2011, with DDO lifetime subscriptions given out to the winners.
It seems like DDO always has something exciting rolling out in the near future, and the new crafting system (coming soon) and Update 9 (coming in April) is no exception. Thanks to Erik Boyer, Iain Currie, and the Turbine crew for their time at PAX East 2011.