Once again, Turbine has challenged the preconceived notions of MMO gaming with the growing success of DDO. But what's the future look like for the game? We sat down with Fernando Paiz to find out!
Last year, Dungeons and Dragons Online turned the MMO world on its head by not only announcing that they were going to a hybrid free-to-play business model, but also by demonstrating that a free-to-play game, even one that started as a subscription title, can be extremely successful. At this year’s LOGIN conference, the ZAM staff caught up with the game’s Executive Producer, Fernando Paiz, to talk about the future of DDO both in the short term with Update 5 and in the much longer term, going over subjects like additional races, classes, and – in a surprising move – a new type of content that’s going to be added to the game.
Many things are hinted at in this conversation, and obviously plans at Turbine can change, but if you’re interested in the future of Dungeons and Dragons Online and where the team is headed, make sure you give this article a read!
ZAM: Obviously you’ve talked at length about the features coming in Update 5, but could you reiterate some of those features for our readers that aren’t actively following DDO?
Fernando Paiz: Probably the biggest features coming in Update 5 are the enhancements to guilds that we’ve developed. There’s a system called “guild renown” which is basically like favor for your guild, and you earn that through the accomplishments you complete with your guild – basically by completing more difficult and challenging experiences. We’re imploring the users to challenge themselves if they really want to be competitive with other guilds.
The renown score is something that’s a little bit interesting, because it’s not just a number like favor or experience that allways goes up. The value can go down; it fluctuates and will decay. There’s a hundred levels of renown that you can earn; and I think we’re calling them “guild levels.”
From levels one to twenty-five, you won’t experience any decay. The progress is just steady and continues to increase. At some point before level twenty-five, you’ll unlock your first airship, which is a big feature of the guild system and basically functions like guild halls you’ve seen in other games.
It’s pretty neat, because besides being a “house” for your guild and a private meeting space that you can decorate and customize, it serves a travel function as well. All the major city wards will have airship towers, and all you have to do is find those towers to hop onto your airship. Additionally, if someone from another guild wants to invite you onto their airship, they can do that. You have to be near an airship tower, but it’s entirely possible.
In addition to the travel options, there’s also various crew members and amenities that can become a part of your airship as well. Everything has a very functional focus on the airship at this point… it all does *something* in the ship, for the most part. We could probably use more decoration, but we’ll work on that later after the core features are out there.
ZAM: Can you give us an example of a crew member?
Paiz: Sure. There’s the navigator, and when you have him on your ship, you can reach other destinations in the world besides just the basic city wards. A navigator might be able to send you to Zawabis Refuge without you having to go through the Marketplace first. Saves you a little bit of travel time.
So the more you advance your renown and guild levels, the more amenities and crew members you’ll have access to, in addition to the ability to unlock bigger and better looking ships.
ZAM: Will you be able to see your actual ship flying above the city?
Paiz: You will be able to see real player ships flying above the city, but you won’t see yours. We’ll just be pulling different ships that players are using and making them fly across the sky. It was a practical choice in many respects; we didn’t want players having to wait for their ship to return from a trip to Zawabis Refuge when all they want to do is go to the Harbor.
ZAM: Do you think this is a community building feature?
Paiz: Absolutely! We think it will strengthen that community bond formed by guilds. Right now, if you’re in a guild, you might see guild chat going by, but you don’t really run into the people that much in the actual game. With the airships, people are encouraged to be on them all the time.