Hello! I’m writing today to tell you more about our plans for DDO in the coming months, and introduce you to a few folks you might not know. We’ve made some adjustments to our “road map” for 2014 that we think you’ll be excited about, and we’ve added a few folks to the team that we want to introduce you to.
For those of you who missed my letter written for DDO’s 8th anniversary, my name is Athena, and I’m DDO’s Franchise Director. I’m the person heading up the DDO team, working with our partners, producers, and teams leads, and making various business decisions that keep the engines running. We’re really pleased to have added Design Manager Severlin to our team in recent months, and I notice that you’ve already been seeing his design leadership in action in the Official Discussion Forums (and in the game!) Severlin comes to DDO from Asheron’s Call, where he served as Producer (and wore many hats) for quite some time. Additionally, we’ve added two other members of the Asheron’s Call team to our staff: NoWorries and Kintani, who are working on items, quests, systems, and more! Of course, it takes a huge amount of creativity to keep DDO going, so I also want to thank the many other developers, quality assurance, production, operations, art, and community people I work with every day for all of their hard work – thank you!
When Rowan spoke with you back in December, we outlined a plan for 2014 that we’ve delivered so far (like Epic Three Barrel Cove, Haunted Halls of Eveningstar, etc.) However, we’re making a few changes to our calendar for the rest of the year, and I want to make sure you are up-to-date on our plans. Initially, we were considering creating Anauroch for Update 23, and raising the level cap to 30 in Update 24. Rowan also talked about the concept of “Sentient Weapons” in his letter, although that wasn’t assigned to an update. You can expect all of these things to happen! But, our team has been looking at alternatives, reading your ideas on the forums (and Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Twitch, etc.), discussing our plans with the Players Council, and gathering their feedback on what they’d like us to work on. We’ve been talking amongst the team as well, assessing what it is we’d like to do, and when the right time to do it is. In that context, we’ve shifted our plans slightly.
Update 23 will bring Epic Orchard of the Macabre to DDO, along with a new Epic raid! While the raid will share some locations and similarities to the current Accursed Ascension raid (“Abbot raid”), our team will bring a whole new series of challenges to adventurers brave enough to enter. We’re not simply “adding hit points to the Abbot”, but are rather re-thinking the raid space for an entirely new battle, with a new story line, baddies, loot, and more! One of the things we’re looking to do in the coming year is to provide more high-level questing and raiding to DDO, and we think an Epic Orchard of the Macabre fits nicely with that goal.
Besides newly Epi-fied versions of the quests found in Orchard of the Macabre, we’re also planning to make sure the Orchard itself is ready for high-level adventure with exciting battles against rare enemies, werewolves (yes, in Eberron!), new loot, and more! We’ll be talking a lot more about the Epic Orchard of the Macabre in the coming months, and I can’t wait for you to see what our devious devs have planned.
Update 23 will also feature a series of improvements aimed at making sure heavy armor-wearing adventurers feel powerful and ready to go toe-to-toe with some of DDO’s toughest enemies, updates to improve the Paladin class, and other changes that will give our melee players a boost. We’re also creating new Augments for our Crystal Cove event that higher-level players can slot into their favorite weapons, armor, and items, and expect to bring those new Augments to you when Crystal Cove reopens after the release of Update 23.
Update 24 will round out the year with new quests, new Festivult cookies, and a new event that centers on something we can all agree on: looting chests! We’ll be continuing our work on the Anauroch Desert (in the Forgotten Realms), planning for Sentient Weapons, and developing another Classic Dungeon like the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar. We expect these to be something you’ll see in the first half of 2015. We’re pushing out the level cap for now to make sure we have plenty of questing to support your journey through the highest levels of DDO. Hitting level 30 will be a big milestone for DDO, and we want to put it out when the timing is right, and make sure its design keeps up with the way you, the players want to play DDO.
And these are just the tip of the iceberg that is our whiteboard. We are constantly reviewing our ideas and your suggestions, and making adjustments based on your changing needs and requests as well as our own excitement on new ideas for you to play with, so you may see a few more surprises pop in over the next year as we get closer to releasing our updates.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you about these plans, and anything else you’d like to see happen in DDO! Happy adventuring, and we’ll see you in Dungeons & Dragons Online!
Athena “Vyvyanne” Peters
Franchise Director – Dungeons & Dragons Online