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  1. #1
    Lead Developer PurpleFooz's Avatar
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    Default Haunted Halls Alpha Preview

    Hi everyone!

    As promised, here’s more information on the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar straight from the lead designer. (That’s me, PurpleFooz.)
    - I built most of the Haunted Halls dungeon, the gameplay encounters, the play flow, and most of the writing. I also had the pleasure of working with Ed Greenwood to interpret his original paper version into the DDO version.
    - DrOctothope did additional writing, and worked with Ed Greenwood to corral his voice recordings (yes, Ed narrates the DM!)
    - No_dice and Piloto worked on our monsters and put together many of the behaviors that the Haunted Halls bosses use.
    - Enosity hand-placed every little rug, dirt pile, furnishing, banner you see in the whole dungeon. If you see it, he placed it there!
    - Thanks to our Lead Artist and the whole DDO art team for making all those things to place.
    - There were some critical pieces of new technology needed to make the unique things you’ll see in the Haunted Halls. Props go to Lead Programmer Arakiel and the engineering team.
    - MajMalphunktion and the QA/Qual teams for helping to keep the dungeon stable (Reminder, the dungeon is in an early state and there is still stuff that’s broken.)

    And of course, Ed Greenwood is really the original designer. Our DDO version of the Haunted Halls is an homage to his original work.
    So without further ado, here’s the skinny on the Haunted Halls!

    New vs Old
    • We kept the layout the same as the original as much as possible. If you look at the old map and the new side-by-side, you’ll see the similarities. But many of the rooms and hallways have changed. We tried not to be willy-nilly about changes; here are the main reasons for the changes:
      • Some of the original layout couldn’t be built using our hallway assets, particularly some of the connections between rooms. We adjusted distances to fit within our building block rules.
      • As a 3D game, we also have sight-line rules to control the number of polys drawn on screen. We had to add in turns in some corridors so that your computer wouldn’t need to process an excessive number of polys.
      • The original map was flat. As a 3D game, we added a bit of verticality.
      • The original module didn’t really have an end-point – a place for a boss and for the dungeon to complete. You just explored, and finished when you decided to leave the dungeon. After consulting with Ed, we decided to add an end-boss, and slightly adjusted the layout to guarantee that you couldn’t just walk into the end-boss room right at the start of the dungeon. We moved around just a couple of monster encounters to work better with this flow as well.
    • As a live real-time game, DDO has a different pacing than D&D. There are many more monsters per square foot to fight! And so our version of the Haunted Halls has more monsters, and yes, more traps!
    • Ed’s original sets up many interesting encounters, but rather than telling DMs explicitly how the encounter resolves, they’re left open for DMs to adjust to their specific play session. So you’ll find that most of our encounters go beyond what’s described in the original. We did our best to keep the original flavor, and we’re hopeful that you’ll enjoy what we did with their gameplay and story.
    • There are a few encounters that really didn’t translate to DDO gameplay, that we had to cut out. We apologize for this. Our rationale is that it’s better to focus our time on encounters that translated to fun DDO gameplay rather than spend a ton of time on stuff that would be difficult to translate.
    • In addition to be an homage to the original, our version of Haunted Halls technically takes place decades or centuries after the original (the exact chronology is a bit fuzzy). Time has passed, and some of the story setting in the original has progressed to a later state.


    Play Flow
    • If you know exactly where to go, the path to get to dungeon completion isn’t that long. However, you’ll barely scratch the XP and treasure that way. (Remember, XP and treasure aren’t done in the version you’re seeing.)
      • In addition to the standard optionals that everyone is familiar with from numerous DDO dungeons, there’s also a key “optional” system. Side-content gives you keys which you can use to unlock extra chests at the end, or to unlock doors to extra extreme challenge bosses past the “end-boss.” Effectively, these extra bosses are the “real” bosses of the dungeon, and you can choose which one(s) to fight. The keys are interchangeable, so whichever and how much you want to tackle is up to your particular party.
    • We know from our internal playtests that a 1st time playthrough can take a long time. MajMal already gave our worst-case estimate of 5 hours. Our internal developers are doing their 1st playthrough in about 2-2.5 hours. We suspect that based on relative dungeon comparisons, cap-level players can do it in less than 1.5 hours. But ultimately, these are just estimates. We’d love to get your real play-times.
      • Whatever the real playtimes are, after the 1st time, we expect repeated playthroughs to be significantly shorter.
      • If you find all the secrets, complete all the optionals, and fight every boss, yes, you might be in there for 5 hours. Enjoy! ?
      • In case your Lamannia feedback concludes that the 1st time play is just too long, we have a plan to shorten it. It adds a dying Zhentarim (yes, I said Zhentarim) NPC that left a bloody trail that you can use to figure out where a couple of crests are. That’ll help players navigate through some of the complex layout, condensing the 1st time play to ~45 minutes. We’re not sure this feature is necessary – once you get a chance to play yourself, please tell us.


    Play Modes
    In addition to the regular difficulty settings, you can play the Haunted Halls in 3 different modes! We’re really proud of this, and we hope you like it too!
    • Standard
      • This is the only mode that starts out unlocked. You play on this mode by default. This includes the encounters that were based on the original published module.
    • Extended
      • Before the published version of the Haunted Halls, there was the version that Ed Greenwood played with his home campaign group. But Ed had to cut out segments to fit within the page limits of the published module.
      • With great thanks and appreciation to Ed, we re-added encounters into an extended mode for DDO. These encounters appear AFTER defeating the end-boss of the Standard mode. Without giving away what they are, I’ll note that these extended encounters are extra-hard, intended for capped players.
      • The Extended play mode is unlocked by completing the Standard mode once. You can choose which mode to play from the dungeon entry window – use the scroll-bar at the top of the window.
    • Commentary
      • In addition to working closely with us to develop DDO’s Haunted Halls, Ed had a lot to say about his original module, the Forgotten Realms, and a range of other topics.
      • The gameplay of this mode is identical to the Extended mode. But instead of the regular DM audio, you’ll listen to Ed Greenwood’s commentary while you play.
      • Like Extended mode, the Commentary mode is unlocked by completing Standard mode once.


    Work in Progress
    To re-iterate what MajMal already posted, you’ll be seeing in Lamannia work that is much earlier in development than what we’ve put up in the past. This is intended to allow everyone to give us feedback earlier in development, so that the development team can address more of that feedback. But the converse is that you’ll be seeing things that aren’t necessarily close to being finished, or may be outright broken.
    Here are some specific things, but this is not an all-inclusive list:
    • XP isn’t statted. That said, if you have suggestions for what the XP should be, that would definitely help us when we stat it. Suggestions for the optional XP settings in particular would be helpful – there are a lot of optionals!
    • Treasure isn’t finished. Tentatively, we intend to give out 6 different upgradable named items, with each optional or end-boss having a chance of awarding an item. Most of these items are based on the loot from the original published module. We’re trying to match the original flavor, though they’ll have different or updated stats.
    • Monsters aren’t finished with statting! Our monster stubbing tool gave them placeholder stats, and our designers have done additional passes through much of them, but not all. So we know that some things are too hard or too easy right now. But tell us anyway, and we’ll make sure to include it in our statting passes.
      • I’m going to note that there’s a specific brand new thing (no spoilers) you’ll see once you reach the kobold area (ok, I spoiled that, but it had to be done, ‘cause, KOBOLDS!) We think that new thing may be too hard right now. We’d love your feedback on it. You’ll know what it is once you get killed… (cough), I mean once you see it.
      • Disclaimer: We know that there’s concern that puny creatures like kobolds shouldn’t be tough for epic characters. We agree, kobolds are puny and crunchy. The brand new thing that might be too hard is not the kobolds.
    • Not all monster AI have all the behaviors that they may end up releasing with. Our AI guys haven’t gotten to everything yet. This is very fluid, and what they do next may depend on your feedback on the bosses & monsters (hint, hint, give us feedback.)
    • We haven’t finished with the visuals or the music. There are some very subtle tricks with lighting, visuals, and music that can drastically make the gameplay more fun. That stuff is in progress.


    There are so many goodies in this dungeon, I could talk about it forever. But I would rather hear what you have to say once you play it.
    Have fun!
    - PurpleFooz

  2. #2
    The Hatchery danotmano1998's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleFooz View Post
    Hi everyone!

    As promised, here’s more information on the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar straight from the lead designer.
    *Standing ovation for the most excellent communication*

    I am very excited to play this. Thanks for all the hard work the team has done on it so far.
    Thanks as well for the open communication as well as the clearly stated intentions and goals.
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    Dude, did you see they way that guy just pressed button 1? It was amazing! A display of skill unseen since the 1984 World Games where in the men's room, between events, a man washed his hands with such unbridled majesty that people were claiming the faucet he used was OP.

  3. #3
    Community Manager
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    Just a quick note that Lamannia is not yet open, but we expect that to happen later today. We'll keep you updated.
    Have fun, and don't forget to gather for buffs!
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  4. #4
    Community Member Myrddinman's Avatar
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    Wow, what awesome communication Fooze!

    I can't wait to check this out!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by 404error View Post
    there will always be bugs in DDO it will never be bug free at any point in its lifetime.

  5. #5
    Community Member Loromir's Avatar
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    Dang....I want to play it NOW!!!!
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  6. #6
    Founder noneill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleFooz View Post
    Play Modes
    In addition to the regular difficulty settings, you can play the Haunted Halls in 3 different modes! We’re really proud of this, and we hope you like it too!
    • Standard
      • This is the only mode that starts out unlocked. You play on this mode by default. This includes the encounters that were based on the original published module.
    • Extended
      • Before the published version of the Haunted Halls, there was the version that Ed Greenwood played with his home campaign group. But Ed had to cut out segments to fit within the page limits of the published module.
      • With great thanks and appreciation to Ed, we re-added encounters into an extended mode for DDO. These encounters appear AFTER defeating the end-boss of the Standard mode. Without giving away what they are, I’ll note that these extended encounters are extra-hard, intended for capped players.
      • The Extended play mode is unlocked by completing the Standard mode once. You can choose which mode to play from the dungeon entry window – use the scroll-bar at the top of the window.
    • Commentary
      • In addition to working closely with us to develop DDO’s Haunted Halls, Ed had a lot to say about his original module, the Forgotten Realms, and a range of other topics.
      • The gameplay of this mode is identical to the Extended mode. But instead of the regular DM audio, you’ll listen to Ed Greenwood’s commentary while you play.
      • Like Extended mode, the Commentary mode is unlocked by completing Standard mode once.


    - PurpleFooz
    Wow, this is very cool.
    Hats off to you guys for bringing a new way to doing things to an eight year old game. Can't wait to play this.
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  7. #7
    Community Member TPICKRELL's Avatar
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    Sounds very very promising.

    Thanks very much for clearing up the run time which is a major concern for repeatability. Sounds like this won't be an issue.

    One plea. Please make the loot worth using!!!!! Please get your loot ideas on lammania before they are locked in so that you can still react if necessary to feedback.

    Long term success of this module will depend on the XP and the LOOT. And I would hate to see something that sounds this promising not become a staple for most DDO players.
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  8. #8
    Community Member Grizzt14's Avatar
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    Sounds very interesting and a significant departure from regular content design. Props for the expanded communication efforts, looking forward to seeing it up on Lama!
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  9. #9
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    Oh, this sounds excellent! Loving the idea of a huge dungeon, and the different modes. Especially the commentary track!
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  10. #10
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    Thumbs up

    Well done! I have never been this excited about an upcoming quest! The communication is outstanding so far and if we can keep it at this level... well wow. I am not a huge fan of very long quests but I cannot wait to run this multiple times. The three different levels of play and the versatility invested into this should make just about every one happy. The extended commentary run is a great idea! I will spend hours in there! Nothing like an extended bonus section. Well done! If this pans out, I would love to see one of these types a year. Nothing would be better to make us old PNP players reminisce and have some fun.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cordovan View Post
    Just a quick note that Lamannia is not yet open, but we expect that to happen later today. We'll keep you updated.
    Will character copy be working by then as well? I've not had characters on Lamannia since the last wipe and I am very interested in this new content.
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  12. #12
    Community Member BlueBloody's Avatar
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    Standing ovation!
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  13. #13
    Community Member maddmatt70's Avatar
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    Sounds like a lot of fun. I am guessing there will be cool traps which is fun. Great concept with the unlocking of the dungeon for later versions. Make the last fight/boss after multiple unlockings really difficult.
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  14. #14
    Community Member DogMania's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleFooz View Post
    [*]I’m going to note that there’s a specific brand new thing (no spoilers) you’ll see once you reach the kobold area (ok, I spoiled that, but it had to be done, ‘cause, KOBOLDS!) We think that new thing may be too hard right now. We’d love your feedback on it. You’ll know what it is once you get killed… (cough), I mean once you see it. [*]Disclaimer: We know that there’s concern that puny creatures like kobolds shouldn’t be tough for epic characters. We agree, kobolds are puny and crunchy. The brand new thing that might be too hard is not the kobolds.

    There are so many goodies in this dungeon, I could talk about it forever. But I would rather hear what you have to say once you play it.
    Have fun!
    - PurpleFooz
    Hum would it be this by any chance

    "The kobolds with the poisoned, mounted gatling crossbow are a bit ridiculous"

  15. #15
    Community Member Myrddinman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogMania View Post
    Hum would it be this by any chance

    "The kobolds with the poisoned, mounted gatling crossbow are a bit ridiculous"
    My thoughts, exactly One can only hope...
    Quote Originally Posted by 404error View Post
    there will always be bugs in DDO it will never be bug free at any point in its lifetime.

  16. #16
    Community Member die's Avatar
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    Thank you. I believe I have not been this excited for a ddo update..Well the uderdark . Good luck to you and the Team.
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  17. #17
    Scholar of Treasure Dragon.Star's Avatar
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    Excellent Communications and this looks like it will be tons of fun. Can't wait to see what devious traps you have come up with . I love watching traps kill peeps .

    As others have stated, please get loot up soon so that we can comment on them before changes cant' be made.

    Now to the grind of checking lamannia server every 1/2 hour or so .
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleFooz View Post
    Hi everyone!

    <snip>


    - PurpleFooz
    Pretty amazing degree of communication on both your intent and the upcoming content. +1

    Looking forward the commentary version of the play mode.


  19. #19
    Hero LOOON375's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Ive got lamma ready go. Looking forward to checking it out.
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  20. #20
    Community Member Qhualor's Avatar
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    Sounds very exciting. I like how this quest isn't catered to one play style or the other. Its up to the player or group how long they want to be in the dungeon. Once players know the route to get to the end and what needs to be done to get there, they can decide to do that or increase their options for adventure, loot, xp and challenge. I'll be checking it out this weekend.
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