Wizard101
Producer's Letter

 

May 2019

 
 
 
 
My Dear Wizards,

The snow gives way to sun, the cold gives way to Spring; and as an enthusiast of all things warm, hot, and blazing, I couldn’t be more excited. I also couldn’t be more thrilled about the new and shiny changes to come in Spring and Summer, so let’s chat about them, as well as some adjustments to the construction process of these updates. Let’s recap what has happened thus far, what will happen soon, what’s to come in the near future, and what you, the community, can expect from us along the way.

First of all, I’d like to welcome Ratbeard (aka Ben Durbin) back to the Spiral as our new Lead Designer. You’ve met him on the forums (where he’s been known to prowl from time to time), you’ll get a chance to hear us discuss the Deckathalon in an upcoming Dev Diary, and we’re working together with the rest of the team to make 2019 the best year for Wizard101 yet.


In the Spring Update, the first thing you’ll notice is that we’ve continued Wizard City's revamp. We’ve polished every corner of Triton Avenue, Cyclops Lane, and my home - Firecat Alley, as well as many other zones. The only exception is Crab Alley, and we’ll get there soon, firecat’s honor!

On a recent KI Live the community asked: “how long does it take to revamp a world?” The answer, after doing it twice, is about 2.5 months of the entire art team for half of a world, which means that it’s a significant investment at the cost of other new art we could create (for example, a sizable portion of a NEW world). However, when we checked the numbers after the Summer update last year, we realized that under 5% of you are playing on classic mode. Since then more Wizards are playing regularly, so we knew it was worth it and we wanted to keep going, at the very least through the end of Wizard City.

We’ve considered continuing with Krokotopia and beyond. Specifically, we feel the dialogue and story could be adjusted, the worlds could be made more lively with ambient creatures, more cinematic touches, and the cast of characters could be punched up with more dynamic personalities. But right now we’ve got a lot of new ground that we’re really excited to break, so we’re not planning as thorough a makeover for the rest of the game as we did for Wizard City.


Some of the other amazing things that have since gone live:
  • 7th Character Slot - For a long time, we’ve heard your requests that you’ve wanted additional character slots. (link to announcement landing page) We wanted to offer you the ability to add a seventh Wizard to your roster, and, should this be a popular thing, perhaps also an eighth, ninth or more.
  • New skeleton key bosses - the Spirit of Ignorance lurks in Crab Alley (for Wizards of 20th level and above), and the Aethyr Elemental in Aero Plains in Empyrea is waiting to test the most veteran Wizards.
  • Treasure Card Display - Want to display your rare and beautiful treasure cards? Craft or purchase your treasure card display to hang in your house.
  • More Monstrology - Capture the animus of spiders and colossi all around the Spiral.
  • New UI options - We love our streamers and recognize that some of you have very large high-resolution monitors, so we added UI size options as well as Borderless Windowed mode.
And there’s much, much more to come very soon. One thing we’re trying now is bundling a bunch of changes on Test Realm at once, but releasing them on Live servers slowly over the coming months. As always, we really appreciate your feedback and reports on both what we’ve done well and what could be better - you help us make this game amazing.



But now, without further ado, here’s what’s coming soon to a Live Realm near you!
  • Expand Bank and Friends Elixirs - This one debuted in Pirate101, and it was so popular we wanted to bring this to Wizard’s corner of the Spiral. Coming soon, we’ll offer the ability for you to expand these slots via elixirs if you so choose.
  • Express Yourself - Want to leave the room with a poof of chicken feathers? A fan of 90s TV dances? We’ll be offering some new ways to customize your Wizard with new teleport particles and dances.
  • So You Think You Khan Dance - We always want to provide new and interesting things for our dedicated crafters to create, and the Khan Dance Game is this update’s offering! Should your crafting fingers not be so nimble, you can purchase this in the Crown Shop as well.
  • Deckathalon - While y’all are still eagerly anticipating your first live Deckathalon next week, we’re working behind the scenes to make sure it’s the best Treasure Card battle that can possibly happen. So far, it has culminated in a really fun, well balanced, super-strategic and fast-paced combat puzzle that yields some really awesome loot - those craftable decks, Hands of Fate, and Class Hamster pets are pretty sweet. You can learn more about the Deckathalon here.



Treasure Cards, the Deckathalon, and Beyond:

Let’s take a moment and discuss the design thoughts that led the Deckathalon to be a Treasure Card-only combat challenge and our decision to remove Enchant Treasure Cards from vendors (which we have temporarily reversed). We plan to eventually alter the way you obtain these particular treasure cards, making them available through Deckathalon loot drops, crafting recipes, or by using arena tickets - but not yet. At the end of the day, we want treasure cards – as well as other resources in the game – to be valuable and interesting.

There was a pervasive thought through the community that we made this change because of the Deckathalon. This is not entirely correct, it’s a very “chicken-and-the-egg” conundrum. When we started reviewing the framework for the Deckathalon, we looked to another line item on the Spring update – the Treasure Card Vault. Why was there a need for so many treasure cards? Are we giving out too many, are they not important enough to use, or both? Instead of simply solving the problem, we wanted to ask why the problem existed in the first place. We looked at our own usage (I know I have almost the maximum on my live character, and I rarely use them), and scoured our data and read up on the community sentiment and decided that we wanted to make treasure cards something integral to both this event and our game ecosystem as a whole.

However, we plan to hold off on removing Enchant Treasure Cards from vendors until after we address a few key concerns brought up by the community.


First of all, we recognize that for a variety of reasons, treasure cards created by the Enchants are very valuable in PvP. In coming updates, we’ll be taking a very in-depth look at the PvP system as a whole, stem-to-stern, with a focus on reworking it from the ground-up. We want PvP to be enjoyable, fair, and engaging - for both our veteran crowd and new folks alike. We want to address the underlying concerns about randomness, some core combat mechanics that may not translate well to PvP, and much more. While this is a PvE game first, we’ve decided that our efforts thus far to balance both systems together have fallen short. What if PVP was entirely different? We have some great ideas and concepts that we’re excited to share with you in the future, and we want our dedicated PvP community with us every step of the way as we revamp your system.

Second, there are concerns about removing these treasure cards in PvE, both at the beginning and the end of the game. Medulla, Medulla, Medulla. We keep hearing feedback about the game that Medulla is a blocking point in our mainline story. We’ve attempted to turn down his big brain once, but it sounds like he’s still too smart. While we want our endgame (see what I did there?) to be epic and challenging, we don’t want it to be a hard stop that you can only get through with these treasure cards and a bit of luck. We want EVERYONE to be able to see the story through to the end of arc 3, so we will fix that. These cards are also a shortcut through early game content. While we’re working to improve the initial experience, we do realize that doing anything multiple times, perhaps even SEVEN (or more) times now that another character slot is available, you’re looking for the most efficient way to get through it. We get it. We want to find other ways to make this happen for you. What if sun spells, or something similarly helpful, were available earlier?



A Spiral's View:

Looking at the bigger picture, as we forge our way into our eleventh year of Wizard101 and beyond, we’ll be scrutinizing the entire game experience. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the community to consider what will help Wizard succeed and be thriving at our fifteenth anniversary, our twentieth, and beyond. We want to have a wonderful game for new players embarking on the quest to save Wizard City for the first time, as well as our enthusiastic community that’s been with us for a decade or more. While we will consider any changes to long-standing conventions carefully going forward, we will absolutely consider them if they make the Spiral better for everyone, overall.

This is definitely just the tip of the iceberg regarding our future plans. We’ve seen the immense popularity of the Deckathalon event and want to expand upon it. And we’re planning yet another event, with more gameplay the likes which hasn’t yet been seen in the Spiral. We are looking to make like the Beatles, that is have players come together, and reward you for it. We’re looking high and low for ways for new and veteran Wizards to enjoy their time in the Spiral more and more. And… there’s that crack in the wall in Olde Town to explore. Once the red tape clears, perhaps it will be time to FINALLY see what’s beneath Wizard City.

We’ll be traversing unexplored territory in our eleventh year, in very exciting ways. We want you there for every step of the journey, so as always, we want you to keep an eye on what we’re doing and give us feedback on what we’re thinking and our Test Realm content. We’re always looking for more ways to involve the community. It’s a great time to be a Wizard, and we’re glad you’re along for the ride with us.

See you in the Spiral,

Leah "Professor Falmea" Ruben
Senior Producer of MMO Content