Some of you already know this, but for those who don't, I wanted to get the word out.
Lamannia used to be known as a 'preview' server - a chance for players see what changes were going to occur on the live servers, for the devs to gauge initial reactions and to find out if there were any show stopping bugs (crashes, etc). It was also used to gather info for the first patch.
Over the past few updates we have been releasing to Lamannia earlier in hopes that we can get more feedback and effect changes before the update goes live. Overall it has helped and we're going farther in that direction this year. Update 13 is on Lamannia very early (so early in fact that I don't think we're even announcing the release date until this upcoming week).
For this to happen, us developers have had to change the way we work. We need to get more 'core' work done earlier. This means you will see less 'polish' and many more bugs, mishaps, mistakes, etc. This is both good and bad.
The immediate reaction to any sort of change that affects character builds is typically very emotional. This is totally understandable, especially given past history on Lamannia has been 'what you see is what you get'. What I want to point out here is that while a change on Lamannia that you find undesirable should definitely be highlighted and discussed, you shouldn't jump to conclusions that it is going to go live.
There's no doubt in my mind that in order for us to make DDO the best it can be, we need your feedback. The days of a few clever designers making decisions in a vacuum are in the past. We now have tripled the size of the team in the hopes of not only delivering bigger and greater new stuff, but fixing more existing issues, whether it be class balance, broken AC, or items not working as described. It also means we have more devs reading feedback and participaing in design decisions - a good thing imo.
The scary thing about all of this (as far as us devs are concerned) is that you will see more work-in-progress and broken things. The latter both because versions are going to Lamannia before QA gets to bang on it and because we have new devs that are undoubtedly going to make mistakes.
Please keep all of this in mind.
We've also opened up a bug forum on Lamannia. This is because we continuously see posts to the effect "this was reported on Lam and it STILL went live". Having a bug mentioned somewhere in a thread is dicey. Hopefully the separate forum will help.
And about nerfs: We've done this too casually in the past, I know. It would be my preference to avoid these like the plague, but sometimes it is truly warranted. In those cases, it is my intention to use these 'Let's Talk' threads to discuss these changes in advance - or at least as they hit Lamannia - so that we can ensure we have time to discuss and make the right decision. Obviously the paramount goal is to make our player base happy with the game (without this there's not much reason for DDO to exist), but ultimately that means fair and balanced. If you see a nerf that wasn't accompanied by a discussion thread, please point it out.
Again, we're going to make mistakes. Do call us out on them, but please don't jump to conclusions that everything is intentional or done with malice.
Thanks for reading.