Phew! What a busy summer! I hope it has been a great one for you. The Dungeons & Dragons Online team here at Turbine has been working so hard and fast since the beginning of the year, that I am only just now getting a moment to pause and reflect on where we are and catch you up on where we are headed next.
There is so much new stuff that we’ve added to DDO in the last few months since the release of Menace of the Underdark and it’s great to see lots of players walking around Eveningstar enjoying the new Forgotten Realms adventures. We’ve received a ton of positive feedback on the expansion from our fans, especially on the look and feel of the Realms in DDO. It was no small task to bring the world of Faerûn to life in a way that lives up to how fans have pictured it but our art and content teams rose to the challenge and set a great standard for how we will realize this world going forward.
On the features side, the expansion also delivered some great additions to the game including the powerful Druid class, Epic Destinies and some nice updates to the game’s user interface. The biggest problem I’ve had is that now each time I play I need to decide between advancing my Druid and running around in bear form, advancing my second Destiny on my fighter / Legendary Dreadnought or helping my sorcerer get going as a Draconic Incarnation. It’s nice to have lots of new choices! These changes have had a big impact through the whole game and I’d like to thank all the players who have helped provide feedback and bug reports during beta and beyond to help us iron them out. We know the work of a live service is never done, and we truly appreciate how passionate our players are about helping DDO to be the best it can be.
To cap off the summer, just eight short weeks after the release of Menace of the Underdark, we released Update 15: Songs of Druid’s Deep. This major update includes a new adventure pack that begins the first of several new DDO stories set in the land of Cormyr. Fans of the lore may note references to the Harpers – we’ll see more of them later! These adventures are intended to provide new challenges for our top level players in Epic mode, while supporting characters in Heroic mode between level 16 and 19 who are looking for something to do in Eveningstar before they are ready to enter the Kings Forest. Although I mentioned in the last letter that U15 would feature a raid, as we got closer to the release we decided to keep the final boss fight as a regular quest to keep it accessible to as many players as possible. (We love providing “looks into the future” for our players, but as they say: you can’t always predict how the d20 will land.)
The other exciting new feature in Update 15 is the introduction of the Monster Manual! This new achievement system will be great for all DDO players but it is especially aimed at new characters in the early levels of the game. Essentially the more monsters you defeat of each type, the more you will populate the page corresponding to that monster in your Monster Manual and the more achievements you will complete. If you have been waiting to start playing that Druid, this is a great opportunity to start so you can make your way through some of the Prologue volume while you are in Korthos. Two other volumes (with 10 monsters each) are also available and we are planning more for future updates.
While we’ve been moving quickly and adding tons of content for players, we are also aware of feedback from some players expressing concern over the size of our known issues list. We agree, and so the team is now adjusting plans to shift our focus to bring more quality-of-life patches to help address important bugs in our upcoming releases. To that end, we are working to deploy two bug fix and polish patches before the release of Update 16 as well as one more before the end of the year. The team has already been working hard on many fixes, but I know we don’t always prioritize the things that are most important to each of you. In order to be sure we get the top issues, I encourage you to keep using our bug reporting tools, and to participate in surveys and activities that you will see hosted by our Community Team in the coming weeks as we continue to gather up hot-topics to concentrate on during the next patches and releases.
Before you know it, it will be November and we will be ready for Update 16 which brings one more generous helping of Forgotten Realms adventures in 2012. This content will feature an all new landscape as we start expanding the game world to the west of Eveningstar along the High Road. There will be new monsters to fight, a new story to explore, and castles to plunder (because every good D&D campaign needs castles)! High level players can look forward to a brand new Epic Destiny for the Primal sphere called the “Primal Avatar”. Then to close out the year, we are aiming for one more release in December. Though we will primarily focus on quality of life in this release, we are also planning a few updates to our winter festivals. The natives of Forgotten Realms do not share in Eberron’s traditions, so expect the town of Eveningstar to show us how they celebrate the cold weather season! Look for more details on these releases soon.
Yes, 2012 will go down as a huge year for DDO! Although I am a big fan of Maya culture, I don’t buy into that “end of the world 2012” stuff, so we have begun to nail down our plans for DDO in 2013. I can hint a bit at what is in store, though as you know, things are subject to change. We have big plans for new stories in Cormyr that should see us expanding the game world with new zones, new factions and new monsters. Back in Eberron, we’ll be revisiting some classic DDO story threads, including the long-anticipated return to Gianthold… Epic Gianthold that is! I know some of you have been waiting a long time for this and there are claims that this has been done for years, but we are planning substantial changes and some nice surprises for when this is finally available to players. There is a lot more in store, of course, but I will leave more details and announcements for a future date.
Again, I want to express a big thank you to all of our players for making this one of the biggest years ever for DDO! We are excited to have begun a new chapter for DDO in the Forgotten Realms campaign, and we are eager to grow the world and bring new stories and adventures to you for years to come.
I’ll see you in Faerûn!