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Page 1 of 2Turbine took a lot of people by surprise last week when they announced plans to migrate Dungeons & Dragons Online over to a subscription/free-to-play hybrid business model later this summer. Subtitled "Eberron Unlimited", this new iteration of the game will introduce Turbine Points for the in-game purchase of adventure packs, classes, bank storage, utility items, and many other useful - though entirely optional - perks. To learn more about what this means to both current and new players, we turned to executive producer Kate Paiz:
GB: Based on the interview we did with you back in November and recent announcements that you've made about Module 9, most people would never have suspected that you planned to make Dungeons & Dragons Online a free-to-play MMO. Is this a relatively new decision? Or, at the very least, something you've only recently decided to roll out this year?
Kate: This is something we've been planning for at least a year, but didn't want to talk about until we could show the whole offering to players. Change can be disruptive within an MMO community, and we wanted to roll this out in a way that our players could really see and feel the changes, and give us great feedback on what still needs tuning.
GB: What sort of "convenience items" will we be able to purchase from the in-game store? The newly revealed experience bonus potions? Portable shrines? How about any meaningful magic weapons or armor?
Kate: The DDO Store sells three basic types of items account services, conveniences, and cosmetic items. Account Services, like Premium Adventure Packs, Premium Classes & Races, and Character Slots, are geared toward the free players, as they are mostly free for VIPs. Conveniences allow players to enhance their gameplay experience by slightly increasing the XP or loot they get for the night, or help players get out of a bind with heal potions, a place-able rest shrine, or replacement gear (like a basic +2 bastard sword), should the player find themselves deep in an adventure without functioning equipment. Cosmetic items allow players to change the look of the character, and we plan on adding a lot more to this category in the near future.
We do not intend to ever sell magical gear in the store questing for great gear is one of the main reward mechanics in the game, and we'd hate to spoil the fun of it!
GB: You've stated that "Stormreach and vicinity" will be available to free-to-play users. Does this mean that all adventures in the harbor, marketplace, and Houses (including the Vault of Night raid in House Kundarak) will be made free? How about Korthos Island and some of the other lower level adventure zones?
Kate: Currently in the beta, nearly all the adventures within the Houses of Stormreach and the Marketplace, and all the adventures in the Harbor and Korthos will be available to free players. Additionally, Ataraxia's Haven (and its two dungeon adventures), Searing Heights, and Cerulean Hills (with two new adventures) will also be available. The Vault of Night quest series and Raid is a Premium Adventure Pack, as is the Catacombs, Shan-to-Kor, and Delera's Graveyard. The Tempest Spine Raid is the only free Raid in the game. Naturally, feedback we get over the course of the beta may cause us to make changes to this distribution.
GB: Will you be adding new adventures in addition to those you already planned to roll out in Module 9? How many total quests and raids are you shooting for at the time of Eberron Unlimited's launch?
Kate: Yes, in addition to the Plane of Battle content that players saw during an early Mod9 preview, we will be rolling out a low level adventure pack that takes place with all new content in the Marketplace, two free adventures attached to Cerulean hills and a few more high level adventures for Shavarath.
With the release of DDO Unlimited, there will be over 200 hand-crafted adventures, 20 wilderness areas of various sizes with a combined total of over 600 wilderness quests, and 11 raids.
GB: An "all-new never announced class" will also make its debut in Eberron Unlimited. Does that mean that it isn't the Druid class you had planned to roll out in mid-2009? When will you be revealing the new class?
Kate: The new class is indeed not the Druid we'll be announcing it in a few weeks, but anyone playing in the beta now can probably figure out what it is :).
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