Wizard101
Producer's Letter

 

August 2018

 
 
 
 
My Dear Wizards,

TEN. Ten is a lot of just about anything. Ten Firecats can be a handful to keep track of and ten Fire Dragons will most certainly cause chaos! It’s also a wonderful and amazing amount of time to spend being a Professor in the Spiral, and we’re incredibly thrilled to be celebrating our TENTH ANNIVERSARY, well, all year, but officially next month on September 2nd. We would not be here without our fabulous and dedicated community, and we’re overjoyed to have you along for the ride, whether you’ve been around for ten days or all ten years!


We’ve been doing a whole lot of reminiscing at KingsIsle lately, and it’s crazy to think how much our little corner of the Spiral has evolved.
  • Worlds and Levels: The original game launched in 2008 with four worlds and a level cap of 50. We’re currently at thirteen main worlds, four side worlds (five if you count Wintertusk as its own area), and the level cap is 125 (and 130 is not too far away...).
  • Wizards Best Friends: The original game launched with purely cosmetic Pets. Now, they’re an integral part of life in the Spiral, they have their own pet park to train them, the Hatchery to hatch the perfect pet, and most recently what we call the “Amazon prime” of hatching, the Hatchmaking Kiosk!
  • Side System O’ Rama: Launched it in early 2009, PVP was the first side system we introduced. Since then, we’ve added crafting, housing, mounts, pets, gardening, housing games, castle magic, team up, fishing, socketing, daily assignments, Monstrology, and more.
  • Life in the Spiral: It’s much more convenient to be a Wizard now. Do you know that from September 2008 until April 2009 there was no Quest Helper? Can you imagine? Since then we’ve added a bunch of Quality of Life updates including Quest Finder, Photomancy, the Magic Mirror shop, the level 50 elixir, menu chat improvements/revamps, friends chat, equipment sets, deck sorting options, and so much more.
  • Talk To Me: The Spiral was much quieter back then. We added full voiceover starting in 2009. We experimented with a lot of different options before that, but we ultimately decided that the effort was important. I think it was worth it for the immersive experience!
  • Shop ‘Til You Drop: Shopping and storing your loot used to be much more difficult. We added both the bazaar and Crown Shop in 2009, as well as the shared bank. Since then we’ve increased the backpack, bank, and treasure card storage sizes, and offered various storage solutions like the Gear Vault, Seed Vault, and Mannequins. We also gave you decluttering options (which have become increasingly necessary as the Spiral adds more cool loot) with quick sell, and feed pet. To fuel those shopping habits, now you can earn Crowns with trivia, daily assignments, and by watching videos.
  • Wave Your Magic Wand: Your spell options used to be limited to your school and what you could train in Ravenwood. Now you can learn Celestial magic (sun, moon, and star school, originating in Celestia), and Shadow Magic (originating in Khrysalis). You can find spells on trainers all over the Spiral, as well as in various Lore CCG packs and on the Loremaster in Dragonspyre.
  • Member Benefits: Being a member now really has its perks. Since launch we’ve added extra backpack space and friends lists, faster crafting and hatching timers, faster energy regen, and all the temporary member benefits like double gardening, double pet xp, and more!

Taking a look outside of the Spiral, I’m truly proud at how much of our team has been with us since launch, or even years before. As we were discussing the good old days, I was looking at the previous lead designers (who are now working on exciting new projects in our mobile group), our lead programmer, artist, and sound director who have been with us just as long as I have. All of us celebrated our 11th (or 12th or 13th) KingsIsle-a-versaries this year. We are a group of people who really like doing what we do, and we plan to stick around and keep doing just that for a long time.

We’re already discussing what we plan on doing in our NEXT ten years. But first, we celebrate!


I wanted to make sure you’ve seen all the ways we’ve been celebrating our 10th this year, because most of them mean new and shiny things for YOU!
  • Watch each month’s KI Live, and each month, we’ve been giving away a new and unique item from each department. Last month, Marketing gave out Crowns! Check it out! We’ll continue this through September. For past months giveaways, you can see a list of codes HERE.
  • We wanted to share a little more about our 10th anniversary, so here’s a little tale about planning the party.
  • Remember those old “making of Wizard101” videos? We thought it was high time to provide another glimpse into our behind the scenes. Part 1 and Part 2 are up now with more to come in the future.
  • Obviously, we’ve revamped some of Wizard City! More about that in a moment.
Let me touch on some of the things that have happened since we spoke last...

Hatchmaking and the Pet Tome. We’ve wanted to add something like this to the Spiral for a while! If you’re a less gregarious Wizard and hesitant to ask people to hatch with you or perhaps just looking for something specific, you can now peruse pages and pages of potentially perfect pets. You can also put your pets up to hatch with and if they’re chosen, you’ll get hatch peppers that get you pet-related rewards!

Once a week, we celebrate Hatchmaking Day with a featured pet to hatch with that rotates every hour! And, with the ease of hatching, you can quickly fill out your Pet Tome and earn new badges!


New Skeleton Key bosses appear! There’s a new tutorial quest that allows you to assist Diego in vanquishing his nemesis, Roberto. For Wizards closer to maximum level, you can take a gold key to go challenge Corporal Tenni’syn. To the victor goes the spoils.

Bad Juju Changes. Elaborating on my explanation on KI Live last month, we met to discuss the current state of PVP and our goals for what we think a fun and fair experience is. After reflecting on it, the Bad Juju tactic fell SO FAR OUTSIDE our goals that we knew we had to change it as quickly as we could.

While we love that our community will take the tools we give them and create ways to use things in manners we would never expect, this is just something we needed to bring back to our original vision. We encourage creativity, but we can’t condone the method of annoying someone into quitting a match because of boredom or frustration. The intention of PVP is for someone to win a duel, not to see who can stay awake the longest.

That being said, if the Juju penalty proves to be too harsh after looking at feedback and our own metrics, we’ll look into potential changes in the future.


Magic Mirror Makeover. This could possibly be the most requested feature in the history of Wizard101. We get it. You created your character many years ago, and maybe you weren’t so sure about this wizard-y game, so you just chose the spiky blue hair for fun. Now, you’re level 125 and spend your days in the Spiral regularly but you JUST CANNOT stand that hair! Now, you can change the style, the color, even your face, eye color, and skin color.

We’ve also added new styles, new colors, and new options like rainbow hair, new face options with glasses, and also face paint.

Photomancy. We were super excited to have some new organizational options for screenshots. Being able to view them in an album, sorted by time and zone, and the ability to open the folder with the click of a button made my Producer-self giddy.

The new ctrl+Z command to bring up the camera is great and the options for a timer, selfie mode, and hiding your Wizard make taking photos a joy. It’s a lot of fun to use the editing mode to add text and doodles, ala Snap Chat.

We had NO IDEA what level you all would take the artistic aspects of an improved camera feature to, and while I’ve seen a lot of great examples, I think THIS BLOG shows it better than I can explain.

Everyone on the team is very impressed by the artistic shots we keep seeing! We love seeing your screenshots, so please share them on our social media pages! It’s one of the highlights of our day to see everyone having fun.


Azteca Fishing. New fish, new quests, new spells! Go fish!

More Monstrology. Manders, Imps, and Eephants, oh my!

Awesome New CCGs and Cards. I think we may have outdone ourselves with the CCG and bundles this year! Personally, I had to have EVERYTHING in the Unicorn’s Hoard pack (that Majestic set... wheeee!). The Accursed Play Gauntlet has so much attention to detail, especially in the sound department. So dramatic! And the Battlemage GameStop card and the Decade Hoard pack come with some classic but truly epic Wizard feels... it’s really, really difficult to decide what to wear, what mount to ride, and which pet to display. At least the option of where to hang my hat for a while is pretty easy (the Battlemage Keep, obviously!).

Everything Old is New Again! Our biggest update of the year is definitely the initiative to revamp the beginning of the game! There are new loading screens, a new patcher, updated character creation, an updated tutorial, and Renee Wooften and her crew renovating the first areas, through Unicorn Way. Once of our most common questions since we revealed our plans is “when are you going to do the rest of Wizard City?”. We’ve been talking about this one for many, many years. Our art team broke ground on Wizard City THIRTEEN years ago, and they have been ITCHING to update it for a long time. However, we had to take some considerations.


First of all, we wanted to make sure it remained the same Wizard City you all knew and loved. We wanted it to feel like home, just… better. And we knew that even if we took care to make sure it was just so, you may want to experience the nostalgia sometimes. That’s why we left a mode for you to do that (classic mode) – which took quite a lot of iteration and discussion and just plain time for our programming wizards to create the code and framework to switch back and forth seamlessly.

Changing thirteen year old art can cause some really weird stuff to happen! Doing the art updates through the end of Unicorn Way didn’t take QUITE as long as creating Empyrea Part 1, but it was pretty close. That is to say, the revamp was a fairly heavy art investment. Sometimes to make something new again, even if it looks similar, it needed to be completely redone. and that was the case for quite a few areas of the world and characters! We paused at Unicorn Way because we thought it was a good stopping point for now.

We will definitely consider doing more in the future, but we want to make sure that we also focus on some NEW places and spaces to explore... but we’ll talk more about that next time!

Dworgyn Makes Way For Sparck! Tom will be stepping into a designer role with Animal Cove, but never fear! Sparck is here! Mathew Anderson is our new Community Manager. You can read his introduction HERE and we interviewed him on KI Live last month. We’re happy to have him here at KI, and look forward to y’all getting to know him better!


Full STEAM Ahead. And if all of these things aren’t exciting enough, we recently announced that we’ll be celebrating our tenth birthday by launching on Steam! I’ll direct you to our FAQ for all the details. I will mention that only newly created accounts can log in through Steam, but you can purchase gift cards with Steam funds that can be used by any account, Steam or non-Steam. We’re excited to bring Wizard101 to a new venue and let more people experience the Spiral!

Of course, we have some other amazing plans for the rest of the year. Obviously, we need YOU to keep the Spiral from falling into chaos and peril. However, I must leave you to consider the implications of all that for a bit longer while we search for new areas for you to explore! I hope you’re enjoying your summer and we can’t wait to keep celebrating our 10th with our awesome community. Even though I’m not looking forward to the WEATHER the fall will bring, I’m immensely excited for all the fun things the second part of this year will bring!

With Fire,

Leah "Professor Falmea" Ruben
Senior Producer of MMO Content