The D&D Online Community Manager answers our questions
Victor Watcher, the Community Manager for Dungeons and Dragons Online, returns to answer Jon Wood and our community. To go with it, we also have a single exclusive screenshot.
With a new look for your website, you are obviously starting to promote this game more seriously. With a release date targeted for Spring of 2006, are you afraid that the game will be “hyped out” before it is released?
Not a chance. We are delivering information on a steady basis, and can continue to do so because there’s a lot of ground to cover. If anything, we hope we have enough time between now and launch to release all of the information we have in store – there is still a ton of stuff to talk about in terms of characters, monsters and adventuring in the world of Eberron. Our marketing program is just kicking off with more ads, videos, and pre-order promotions coming soon.
Recently, you released “Alpha Journals” taken from players who are currently participating in your Alpha program. A number of our readers have expressed concern that these journals simply tell stories and do not give fans any real idea of what the game experience is like. How do you respond to this?
In a community effort like the Alpha Journals, we are lucky to be able to gain feedback from the fans and act on it quickly. Our first run of Alpha Journals were well-written accounts of adventures in the game. But players quickly told us what they really want and with that information, we have been soliciting Alpha Journals focused on specific topics.
We recently did a walking tour of the Stormreach Harbor that described that part of the city in detail, including merchants, vendors and quest NPC’s. Right now, we are doing a series of character strategy guides, which are rich in information about the feats and skills available to the different classes and races. So, I think we’ll do well in delivering the information through Alpha Journals, as well as other sources, because players are always telling us what they want to know next.
We’re publishing these to the web site on a weekly basis, and we invite everyone to check them out on DDO.com. By registering on our forums, you can discuss the journals and let us know what you’d like us to focus on next.
At the end of September, you announced some pretty stunning numbers concerning players signing up for your Alpha program. Was this the kind of response that you were expecting, or was Turbine as surprised by this as many players were?
We were very pleased by the response. We know that we have a great foundation to work with and the feedback has been that we are doing great things with it. We have worked hard for the past several months trying to spread the word and get feedback on the game. Given the popularity of D&D and the loyalty of Turbine’s fans, it’s not surprising that there has been such an overwhelming response. We have a revolutionary game that really pushes the boundaries so it appeals to a wide variety of gamers, whether they currently play another MMO, action game, RPG’s or pen and paper.
In the past, games based on the Dungeons and Dragons franchise have neglected the Bard as a class. How will DDO be different?
Our game is built toward a preference for grouping, and the Bard fits right into that design.
A group of adventurers may be capable in their own right, but with the addition of a Bard, they become a powerful force that can shred a dungeon to pieces. Not only does the Bard add versatile manpower capable of fighting, casting spells and picking locks, he can also add to the power of a group by buffing their abilities and increasing their chance of success on skill checks and saving throws.
Of course, it takes a special kind of player to be a Bard and that is built into the balance of both D&D Core Rules and our game. So, with our focus on tight community, we expect those players who play Bards to be in demand once they have had the opportunity to show their teammates what they are capable of adding to the endeavor.
Many thanks to Turbine and Victor for taking part in this on-going series.