Dungeons & Dragons Online: Menace of the Underdark Interview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Warner Bros.
Release Date:2012-06-25
  • Massively Multiplayer,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
GB: How much different will the Forgotten Realms locations look from what we've seen in Eberron? For example, how will the Eerie Forest compare to King's Forest and how will Stormreach compare to Eveningstar in terms of art design and the overall feel of each location?

Fernando: This is a very important topic for us and if my art director was here in the room with us he could go on and on about the very many details he's putting into that. But needless to say it's important for us to establish a new look for the game to make it feel like you've arrived in a different world and we're taking a lot of steps to make that happen. So everything from new technology upgrades that are going to let us do better trees and terrain to creating the world of the land of Faerun in Eveningstar and the surrounding areas. There's a country called Cormyr and, of course, how we go into the Underdark and how we're going to realize the look of the Underdark and some special features that are going to come into play there. There's quite a bit going into it. Obviously, there's a lot of history and features in DDO which we're building on top of, so it all will feel like one game but you'll also very distinctly believe you've stepped into a new world and it'll be like no experience you've had in DDO before.

Eric: Yeah, we definitely want you to know if you're in Forgotten Realms or if you're in Eberron simply by looking at the scenery around you.

GB: If the expansion proves to be very successful, are you in a position with Wizards of the Coast that will allow you to add other Forgotten Realms locations? Eveningstar is conveniently located near Shadowdale, Hillsfar, and even Myth Drannor.

Fernando: Yeah, absolutely. And that's one of the exciting things for us is thinking about all those great future locations that we want to go. I'm not going to lie to you, it's not completely open and we have to work closely with them to make sure that our plans line up with any plans that Wizards might have or even plans that other licensors might have to develop in games where certain folks have areas of the world carved out. But it's such a big setting, so rich with lore and iconic locations and characters that there will be no trouble finding many exciting places to go and really, for us, it's about lining up the next several places we go to expand our world initially starting from Eveningstar and some of the areas we're going to venture into in the Underdark. But, eventually, we're going to go as far as we can in Forgotten Realms or other parts of the D&D universes.

GB: As someone with multiple level 20 charactrs, I'm likely going to be doing a True Reincarnation prior to the expansion's release. As such, I'm curious how True Reincarnation will be affected by the five new epic levels. Once the expansion is released, will characters have to reach level 25 before they can True Reincarnate?

Eric: We'll definitely be releasing the real system details later but ultimately the 1-20 True Reincarnation will not be affected by the epic levels. You'll have that same experience. What we'll be getting into the details on later is: what will you do with epic levels if you're at level 25 and you True Reincarnate? You've changed your first 20 levels that you're playing again, but we have another system to sort of incorporate with the epic levels that follows that. So, those people that have True Reincarnated three or four times won't be impacted by the epic levels.

Fernando: Well, there shouldn't be any negative impact from the epic levels, anyway. But in summary, leveling will work a little bit different past level 20. True Reincarnation will remain based on the first 20 levels, but we haven't really spelled out details of both how advancement changes beyond 20 and how that'll also factor in with True Reincarnations beyond level 20.

I think one of the core questions in the heart of what you're saying is: am I at some great disadvantage if I TR today or if I don't TR today? And I think the short answer is no. Right? That'll remain more or less consistent with the current system and past level 20 you'll be able to TR even going forward.

GB: At the moment, you've announced one wilderness area, the King's Forest. Will the King's Forest follow the same setup as the other wilderness areas we've become accustomed to? Is it going to be filled with explorers, slayers, and quest entrances? Also, I don't know if you can say anything just yet, but will there be a wilderness area or two in the Underdark?

Fernando: Yes, it is based on our current wilderness tech, but you'll also see some improvements and evolutions in both how our content team is using that stuff and maybe some small system upgrades there too. So, look for a few changes, but very much feeling consistent with the rest of the game. And without going into too much detail on our other content plans, I will at least confirm that there will be a wilderness area in the Underdark as well.

GB: I've chatted with you guys a few times over the years about the druid class and I know it's something that you've wanted to add for a very long time. I suspect it's probably been a very challenging class to add considering the shapeshifting abilities and new spell repertoire you have to consider. What more can you tell us about the druid and the challenges you've encountered adding it to the game? Additionally, what should we expect from their spell selection beyond what we've seen in the ranger's arsenal?

Fernando: As far as what was the hardest thing about it - sometimes it's not the sexy stuff that's the hardest or it's not the part that you'd think that would be hardest about the sexy stuff that ends up being hard. The thing that's gotten us for a very long time is shapeshifting. And it came down to an inherent limitation in our engine with players changing physical size in the middle of gameplay. Believe it or not, that's not a super easy concept to change in the engine. That's taken us a very long time and that's been a core feature that had sort of blocked us on what we wanted the druid to be because their really cool new trick is that they get to assume different animal forms and that's something no other class can do.

Apart from that, like you were sort of alluding to, there's just a lot of work that goes with realizing the druid and making them good. So that's one of the reasons that last year we ended up doing the artificer class, because we didn't get our shapeshifting tech in time so that we could do the druid last year but we also knew that we would be very busy this year with the expansion in the first half of the year and we just needed to get ahead on things. So we built the artificer as our first pet class so that we could build some of those mechanics and some reusable bits of technology and some learnings from how players liked the artificer and what we can do better so that the druid could be really great as far as having an animal companion. Like the artificer has their homunculus pet that can be leveled up and customized as you go. Beyond that, on spells, I guess I'll hold off on talking about specific spells other than to say that, as you expect, there'll be a mix of some ranger abilities or other magic that might be useful by other casters in the game, and a few unique spells for the druid as well.