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Catacombs Q&A

By Garrett Fuller on December 15, 2009 | Interviews | Comments

Catacombs Q&A's Garrett Fuller recently spoke with Dungeons and Dragons Online Executive Producer Fernando J. Paiz about the new Catacombs adventure pack.

It's been some time since the decision to switch to a free to play system, would you say that it has generally improved DDO?

Fernando J. Paiz:

Absolutely! The great thing about the new F2P model is that it has opened up the game to a wider audience. Players who maybe would normally may feel like they can't commit to an MMO or players who don't want to sign up for a recurring subscription are now able to play the game and enjoy it at their own pace.

Another great thing is that the DDO Store provides the players with new options on how to deal with some occasional game situations where you find yourself in a bind. Say you are in a quest and almost done and then you get cursed. And you have no Cure Curse potions left. In the past you could live with it, or leave the quest to buy some. Now players have one more option which is too look for the potion in the store and spend a few Turbine Points. It's just a choice, but a lot of players have told us they really appreciate it as it helps them spend more of the time playing the parts of the game that they like best.

And maybe best of all, the launch of DDO Unlimited helped us get a ton of new attention for DDO and attract a huge number of players to the game community.


Is there a concern that a free to play player will be completely outmatched by those who pay?

Fernando J. Paiz:

Not really. How well you do at the game really has a lot more to do with how you like to play than how you choose to play the game. We've seen plenty of non-subscribers playing at the top levels of the game. Really by the time you get to level 15, no matter who you are, you've put in the time to learn the game pretty well.

How well do you think the causal player can proceed in the updated version of DDO?

Fernando J. Paiz:

We made a huge stride forward with the release of DDO Unlimited. The increased solo-ability, the flexibility of the business model, the streamlining of several parts of the game and our improved new player experience have all added up to making DDO way more friendly to casual players.

But we don't think we are done yet! We remain committed to making DDO even more accessible. The important thing for us though, is to do this in a way that does not take away from the things that make DDO great and are already loved by our players.

As with any game expansion, do you feel a risk of alienating new players to DDO?

Fernando J. Paiz:

That really doesn't apply to DDO Unlimited. We always envisioned that release as catering to new players and the veterans alike. The two first updates since DDO Unlimited have focused on high end content, but future updates will offer something for players at all levels of the game.

Catacombs is geared towards 3-4, what is the benefit to adding this adventure pack rather than just leveling for free?

Fernando J. Paiz:

There are lots of great reasons players will still play The Catacombs. Certainly one is just for the experience of the adventure. It has a fun, unraveling story with a unique structure and it is a classic adventure in DDO that has become one of our best selling adventure packs.

We know many players are focused on leveling, but many others enjoy playing a variety of quests in the game or returning to adventures that may be under their level to let them solo.

Will there be enhanced rewards for levels 3-4 in Catacombs vs. free to play?

Fernando J. Paiz:

As with most of our Adventure Packs there is a hidden named item or two which some players will be lucky enough to find. I know I wore my Dryden's Mace until it broke through the early levels of the game.


Is there a concern that the Veteran Status will cause folks to just bypass this content?

Fernando J. Paiz:

Not really. Players can't buy Veteran Status until they reach level 4 at least once or they can earn it by getting 1000 total favor. So players will certainly go through this level range at some point.

Also for some players, The Catacombs is actually a great adventure pack to play right off the boat with a veteran status. Level 4 players will still receive full experience for all of the quests as there is no penalty for playing a quest that is just 1 level below you.

Storylines aside, is there additional benefit to purchasing the Catacomb adventure pack, rather than just bypassing it?

Fernando J. Paiz:

OK. I'll think of one more benefit we have not talked about: Favor!

And beyond that nothing comes to mind. It's quite possible that there are no other benefits beyond these for purchasing the Catacombs.

Will a purchased adventure pack ever be a mandated perquisite to any additional areas in DDO?

Fernando J. Paiz:

We have no plans to do that. There are a few cases where in order to advance a special item to its maximum potential, you need to play a series of adventure packs, but we are trying to make each adventure pack also stand on its own.

How do you foresee the balance of free play and paid members for the future of DDO?

Fernando J. Paiz:

As with any F2P game, a majority of our players in any month are free players. But the VIP subscribers and paying customers play a lot more, so you will find that they are a significant portion of who is online at any time.

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