Hello! DDO Community Manager Cordovan here with an update on the work of the 2015 DDO Players Council.
First off, we've been hoping to get this to you earlier, but work and real life has keep us busy, so we appreciate your patience in waiting for this update. We're hoping to get these out more frequently in the future.
The 2015 Players Council currently has a little over sixty active members who have been busy offering us suggestions and advice. You can find the current Players Council roster here.
Here's a list of most of the topics that we've covered in "official" discussions:
In addition, we've seen more than 170 threads created by members of the Players Council offering us suggestions, feedback, and questions about how/why we do things. It's been really cool to have these discussions in an environment that has been largely drama-free, even when we're getting into heated discussions (just like we do on the DDO team here!) The topics themselves are too many to list, but include ideas for our 10th anniversary, Warlocks, raid design, lag, champions, "end game", and a ton more. Of course, we also sometimes see threads along the lines of, "...fix this!!!!", which is welcome.
We asked the Players Council to write up some brief thoughts of their own. Here are their unedited responses:
Much of the early part of this year was spent bouncing around ideas for the Temple of Elemental Evil, the tree revamps and the class passes, and early discussion about the upcoming Warlock class. As well, people have been bringing up issues they've noticed in-game, or were brought to their attention by fellow players. There have been myriad other issues touched on by the Council, but those the big ones that stand out in my mind. - Maquist
It's been fun & interesting seeing the various ideas people have been knocking around & having an insight into the development process, seeing how it all evolves from concept to initial offering to finalised thing. The rogue enhancement pass, particularly the mechanic changes, are ones i really, really like & have barely been playing any of my various alts since u25 was released.
Something I've been enjoying recently is sitting cackling watching public speculation about warlocks - really takes the edge off being unable to share any details due to the binding blood pact NDA.
Oh, and we in the council were in the dark about Wil Wheaton's involvment just as much as everyone else :) - FuzzyDuck81
Council for me so far has been awesome! It has been pretty much everything I figured it would be, and why I applied each time.
We as a group have given as much feedback and deep insight for many things since we have formed, including and not limited to:
ToEE, Armor changes, Ranged power, Rogue revamp, Loot changes, general balancing, and maybe warlock?
Like others have said, we were stunned by the Wheaton (more squee than shock), nerd-raged over ToEE's loot (still do ) and are nitpicking everything we can to make sure whatever is made has been covered by a wide range of player types.
I am always happy to see responses in our threads concerning hard core elitists all the way to casual new players who have a day to kill.
Oh And bugs. We have talked a lot about bugs and fixes for them. - Seikojin
We spent most of the first month or two discussing the rogue revamp, trying to figure out where we wanted rogues as far as the power curve. You can believe we had some pretty intense discussions there. We have also touched on the ranged revamp, of which ranged power is probably only the first step. Mostly though, right now we are working on Warlock and I have to say that I am really excited to see them in action based upon what we've hashed out so far. They have splashes of inspiration drawn from each edition 3.x - 5e. Mwahahaha, theory-craft on that, people of the forums!
Being on the council has been a great outlet for my creative impulses. I, and other PC members, have put a slew of unofficial suggestions for things we want to see, from a Shadowdancer pass to a complete revamp of summoning. I've probably put too many suggestions in their inbox, but its great to know that they will be seen by the development team and that we can talk directly with them to tweak them. I like being able to pick their brains (I'm a zombie). - Artagon
As I suspect there'll be no shortage of mentions about what we've discussed, I'd like to take this moment to comment on how we've discussed them.
First, the Devs really did do a solid job of getting fair cross section of the forumites. We have End Gamers & Heroic Levelers, One Toon Wonders & Altoholics, Everyday Gamers & Weekend Warriors, Seasoned Verterens and New to DDOers. When the Devs broach a topic of conversation, the variety of responses I see are much of the same variety I'd expect (though in fewer number ofc ) to see were they posted directly in the General Forum - with one key difference: a total lack of ad homonyms, trolling, baiting, derailing and/or judging eachother.
It's the shared and common focus on productive discussion that really sets the Council Forums apart from the General ones. While disagreements happen quite frequently on what would be a best, appropriate, too or undesirable, positive or negative etc; ability, change, adjustment, result etc - those disagreements are always handled from the perspective of "Now how do we make this right for everybody, or at least as many as possible?" and not "That part of the game doesn't matter," or "that's not the sort of customer who matters" etc.
It's this common goal shared by the Devs and Members alike, and common courtesy that is displayed throughout that has made my time on the Council thus far a rewarding experience. We've done our best to give you our best, and in so doing to shape the game's developments to be their best - I (and I suspect that's actually We) hope you've enjoyed the fruits of both these passed focused discussions and those still to come :) - Permabanned
So far, we have covered the rogue pass, TOEE, and a few other not-yet-ready-for-the-forums things. It is nice to see the passion others have for the game and some of the ideas presented. There is SO MUCH information to take in, it can be overwhelming, and the communication with the devs is awesome. I would definitely urge others to apply next year. The experience is an eye-opener. - Lerl
The changing of the guard as we transitioned into a new PC put us too far behind to effect any real changes at first. Most ideas presented to us were too late in the development cycle for our ideas to be incorporated.
Now that the design cycle is a bit further ahead, and the Dev's have more time to react to our suggestions I am seeing the PC have more influence.
- Many improvements to Mechanic were shaped by PC suggestions including trap improvements and crossbow animation changes.
- The PC wanted many more changes to the TOEE loot but we still got some changes within the constraints that existed and in my view, the loot is better than its original incarnation. You can also thank the PC for helping to influence the decision to add +6 to +7 upgrade tomes.
The PC doesn't get everything it asks - sometimes there are technical limitations, sometimes there are time constraints, sometimes the Devs don't agree or the PC members don't reach consensus…but we are helping to make incremental changes that I believe make for a better game than if the PC were not involved at all.
UPDATE: It is now May and the Players Council has moved on to discussing Warlocks and Warlock enhancement trees along with U26 loot. I'm pleased to say many PC suggestions were incorporated into the U26 loot list including the addition and design of a specific weapon that was not on the list.
One of the most interesting aspects of being involved in the Players Council is gaining an appreciation for the many elements that must be weighed for each design decision: Will an idea be easily grasped by new players as well as excite veterans, will an additional feature to promote flavor undermine appeal because it may be perceived as weak rather than just an additional "extra" that would otherwise not be available, and most importantly, what is the trade off in terms of work i.e. could 10 X be made in the time it takes to make one Y. Resource management seems to be the key in many design considerations. - Claver
The Good: The ability to have candid, focused discussions with the devs has been fantastic. In my experience so far, they care deeply about the game and are open to feedback. They care about what the players want. They're not afraid to incorporate our ideas; case in point: like it or hate it, the ToEE loot is vastly superior to its original incarnation thanks to the input of the PC. The PC seems to provide a nice cross-section of the DDO community; everyone is respectful of each other and their opinions, for the most part; and there's actually very little disagreement on the overall direction of the game. We have all chosen DDO as our home for very similar reasons.
The Bad: Sometimes the devs either listen selectively, or just don't seem to listen at all. I get the sense that at least one dev resents the focus on EE difficulty and powergamers. He doesn't think the game design should cater to them, and has a very "DM vs. player" mentality. On the flipside, we see the devs frustration when the community at large has a hard time with the simplest concepts. The recent hoopla over Mysterious Fragment drop rates is a perfect example; the devs must all have face-shaped imprints in their desktops.
The Ugly: Say what you will about Severlin, but he's the best thing to happen to DDO since greensteel. I feel he truly wants to make DDO the best game it can be. He's also a realist and understands the limitations of the development team. Unfortunately, there are plenty of great ideas among the devs and PC alike that will never see the light of day simply because there isn't time or resources available. He's got to prioritize, and that means there sill always be somebody who isn't happy.
At the end of the day, the devs have an often thankless job, all work tirelessly to make the game better, and want it to succeed; and the game is better for having the PC to give the players a voice. No matter who you are, I guarantee one of us represents you and is fighting for your interests. If you like what you see in the ToEE or the upcoming Warlock class, it's due, in part at least, to our efforts; if you don't like what you see, keep in mind that it would definitely have been worse. - Sebastrd
Being able to discuss and feel that your voice is being heard. There are a lot of highly talented people (not me) taking part in this council, people with awesome ideas, with very good points and that take their position very seriously. You devs are also being very communicative and your proposals are more than accurate most of time (if not all). I enjoy being part of this council :) - KaVaYo
As a member of the PC, I have a new appreciation for the hard work and various issues the development team have to deal with in creating a compelling game that caters to a broad range of players and play styles. There are a lot of factors that I'd never even thought about that come in to play with every new quest and new pieces of loot. Having the team chime in often has really made me aware of the challenges they face when creating new content that must appeal to everyone in some way. It's clear that they've learned from past mistakes of being too generous (epic 3BC) and too austere (Shadowfell Conspiracy). That balancing act is a very fine line to walk.
I thoroughly enjoy the focused discussion, and being able to read every post in a thread largely free of trolling, hating and other unpleasantness. The PC is diverse, and heated debates arise, but it doesn't seem to digress into aggressive displays of statistical data and other common forum hostility. I'd say by and large, the PC is where I feel most comfortable voicing my opinions and helping to usher the game forward in a direction that I see as being positive and inclusive.
As a fan of skirmishy, nimble warriors, I've been having a ton of fun discussing rogue and potential ranger changes for the beginning of this year. It's a subject that affects the two classes nearest to my heart, so I hope that we've done right by the player base in bringing the rogue out of the assassin tree and presenting viable options for strong mechanics and acrobat builds, while hopefully making assassins even more fun to play.
I'm very much looking forward to procuring some of the new Shavarath loot we've been discussing and dialing in lately, and I hope everyone else is, too! - Manglord
And it hasn't been without excitement. There was that one thing, with that one guy, who apparently went pottymouth looloo, or forgot his meds or something...
Never a dull moment. - Taanus
The main discussions so far in 2015 have been -
1) Temple of Elemental Evil
2) Rogue Pass
3) Warlock enhancements
4) Loot - U25 and U26
I personally took part in #1 and #4 quite a bit, including player's council runs on the preview server for Temple. More often than I'd like lack of time or resources prevents good PC ideas from making it into game, which is frustrating, but overall it's been a fun process and I think the devs have gotten some good use out of us. - Axel15810
Thank you to everyone on the Players Council who volunteers their time for this effort. If you are reading this and wishing you could be there next year - you can! Each Players Council term is for the calendar year, so we will be taking applications for a new Council in 2016 (wait for an announcement before sending in your application, please.)