As a returning player gone for roughly two years, I have to say that the Turbine staff has really impressed me over the past month. Here are a handful of reasons why:
- The level of developer/representative communication I have seen on the forums is utterly staggering compared to the routine silence I remember from years ago (that memory admittedly may not be accurate, but accurate or not, it was the impression I had at the time.) Even something as simple as the "Read by QA" comments in bug threads was frankly really really nice to see.
Frequent, prompt, and accurate communication goes a LONG way in conveying care and concern, ESPECIALLY when interactions take place through the internet's veil of anonymity. When you can't look someone in the eye and judge their level of sincerity, it's very easy to start assuming unkind things about them and their intentions. But the amount and quality of communication compared to my memories from before are hard to argue with.
- The expansion launch went surprisingly smoothly. I was blown away when I checked the forums on my lunch break yesterday and saw that the servers were already up, and the General Forum was not filled with player reports of server crashing bugs. I know some people question whether or not the update was significant enough to qualify as an expansion. I also know that there are still some bugs around, and some of them are pretty big. But I also know that this was hands down one of the smoothest updates I have seen Turbine implement, and that gave me a lot of confidence.
- The removal of wand DC enhancements for rogues literally made me throw my hands up and whoop out loud. I didn't expect this to happen for MONTHS, if EVER. I could have included this in my next point, but for reasons I can't fully articulate, I felt like this deserved to be a point of it's own. A clear and timely response to player feedback such as shown here is something that seemingly NEVER would have happened a few years ago.
- I am really excited about the enhancement changes. I know there are several changes many players are unhappy about. I know that not all of the feedback offered by players on Lamannia has been acted upon. But even seeing a chunk of feedback taken into account - and in the mere timeframe of Lamannia to release as opposed to Lamannia to four or five updates later - is extremely heartening.
I'm impressed by the versatility afforded multiclass builds. I'm impressed with the variety of enhancements and the overall improved level of usefulness. Are there still enhancements I'd never touch with a 10ft pole? Sure. But I also (in most cases) no longer have to grit my teeth and embrace those enhancements (or even feats now in some cases) in order to access powerful prestige lines any more. Tempest rangers get three feats back. Rogue's don't have to drop AP on Hide and Move Silently enhancements to access Assassin.
Again, I realize that this point is not necessarily true for all classes and builds. But the degrees to which enhancements have improved; the degrees to which most things seem either fun, useful, or both; the degrees to which in a lot of cases things I don't want can now be avoided; in short, the degrees to which I can further customize my own character beyond simply selecting class levels; all of these make me really excited and confident about the direction the game is headed and about the likeliness of things players are unhappy with being addressed in a timely fashion.
In short, thanks, Turbine. (I didn't think I'd be saying that again....)