Looking around the ChangYou office, I have to wonder whether I'm dreaming. Everywhere you look there are ninjas, Kung Fu masters, girls in pretty cheongsam dresses. What makes this day even more surreal is that all of these characters are going about their day as usual - faxing things, typing memos, testing bugs. I myself am in a silky blue kimono robe with my hair in ox-horn buns. Occasionally a guy with a video camera will walk by, and I hide behind my fan until he goes away.
This is our first work day in costume. But it's definitely been crazy around here lately, and that isn't likely to change any time soon. The video we're shooting is for E3, which would keep us busy enough - there's less than a month left to prepare. But we're also gearing up for our new PVE Server, Nirvana, as well as our Path to Nirvana expansion. Not to mention the Double Experience weekend that is expected to double our CCU.
The amount of work involved with developing and implementing an expansion is incredible. But the rule of MMORPGs is "expand or die" and we owe it to our players to keep up. We also are confident that this new expansion is tailored to what our fans want from us, not just the same "new race, new class, new area" formula used by so many games.
Of these three things, we do have a new area, Salt Mine, for higher-level players. The first batch of dedicated players have reached our Level Cap of 90, so we're bumping it up to 100, as well as adding new equipment for these levels. We're adding new items to the Token Shop - three new outfits and a lot of plans, which players have specifically been asking for. They wanted a cool-looking mount that added significantly to movement speed, so we have a new mount, the Black Beast, that adds 80% to your speed. It is also definitely cool-looking.
Every week, I hold a feedback session on Ventrilo to answer questions, take suggestions, and try to determine what players really want. One of the new expansion additions to the Token Shop, the Gem Removal Spell, was suggested in Ventrilo, developed by our tech guys, and has now become a reality. This saves a lot of trouble, because rather than Marketing trying to guess what our players want, we can just ask them.
So the video game expansion philosophy of "bigger, better, more" is not necessarily a problem. You just need to be sure that the content you're delivering is not only new, but desired. We hope that the Path to Nirvana delivers everything our players have asked for, and if it does, that will be the true measure of its success.