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Page 3 of 3GB: When the game launched back in 2006, Armor Class seemed to be pretty important and anything in the high 20s or low 30s was significant. Now, however, an Armor Class of 70+ seems to be the goal in order to have significant protection when facing high level mobs and players are being forced to use exotic character builds and carry around Wands of Shield and other items just to get there. Are you content with the way Armor Class is handled in the DDO endgame? Have you ever considered retuning it?
Ian: At the present time we don't think the endgame demands high AC (e.g. 70+). Some of us are running high level characters with 50 AC and are not finding it to be an issue and certainly partial damage mitigation can make the job of your party's healers significantly easier. One of the most important changes to epic difficulty that has already been made is that minions have -1d20 to hit on every roll. This was intended to widen the range of viable AC, and we think it worked very well. That said, we're always analyzing the mechanics of the game with an eye to improving balance and need to remain open to further changes when necessary.
GB: Players still fondly talk about the marketplace blowing up to this day, so that particular event obviously had a big impact on people. I know you're planning a new live event for the launch of Update 7, but do you have any plans to host more regular events?
Ian: We are also fond of the marketplace event which is why we revisited it in our latest raid for Update 7. So many of our new players didn't get a chance to see it (back in 2008) and we're really glad we now have a vehicle to share some of that history with them. We'd certainly like to do more regular events, but the more memorable ones take a fair bit of effort and we have to be careful to balance out our efforts between that and new content. Update 7 finds us experimenting with a new live event model that involves combat, teamwork and a raid-like battle that supports 24 players. We think this has a lot of potential, but we'll see how players react and take it from there.
GB: As someone who has played the game off-and-on since beta, one concern I've had is that nearly every unique dungeon drop implemented over the past couple of years is flagged as "Bind to Character". Aside from ingredients, the best tradeable item you can bid on at the auction is maybe a Royal Guard Mask or a Ring of Spell Storing - the same items we were buying and selling years ago. Do you have any plans to add more tradeable (and desirable) named loot to the game?
Ian: We recognize that well equipped players that don't grind for rare drops likely got their gear from an 'alt' or bought it from the auction house. The current casual-game compels players to gear up level appropriate items via the auctions and the changes to the Auction House UI in Update 7 should actually help the user experience a great deal, as well as stimulate the variety of items up for auction. As a design team, we probably have more than a few reasons to have some amount high-end or rare items bound; as the game has evolved the most motivating reasons have likely evolved as well. We will continue to evaluate the rewards as we continue to modify systems and content that was previously '˜level cap content' and this should have a positive effect on lowering the grind aspect of acquiring 'named' gear.
GB: Now that The Lord of the Rings Online has gone free-to-play too, do you intend on doing any cross-promotions between the two titles? For example, would you ever consider bundling or linking items on the DDO store to similar items on the LOTRO store (additional bank storage for both games at one low price)?
Ian: Our new business models have transformed both DDO and LOTRO. Now that the barrier to entry has been removed players are definitely checking out both of our games. The items in the store catalog as well as the Turbine Point wallets for each game are stored separately so bundling items from both games is not something we offer right now.
GB: With both free-to-play implementations behind you, where do we stand on the possibility that either game might be brought over to consoles?
Ian: I think many of us think that DDO would play very well on a console, especially with its instancing and active combat system. It's by no means a direct port though and in any case a lot of the technology, UI and gameplay would likely be at least a little different. As game designers it's certainly attractive to imagine the possibilities. :-)
Thanks for your time, Ian! Don't forget to stop by our Dungeons & Dragons Online subsite to check out other articles, fully searchable equipment, spell, and effects databases, and more.
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