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Neverwinter

Recap of the Q&A with EP Brett Norton - November 2022

By Percemer | Fri 09 Dec 2022 07:00:00 AM PST

Greetings Adventurers,

Our Executive Producer answered your questions during the last stream on Twitch.

 

Here are the slides shown during the stream, and a summary of the topics covered!

 

Do you plan to continue to release the expansions at the same time on all platforms?

Yes, that's the expected norm going forward. We will try very hard to ensure that we have all the work done and we will also try to make the technical upgrades to ensure that we are compliant with Xbox Live and PlayStation Network standards.

 

Will Demogorgon be back?

Yes, both versions will hopefully be back early December, before the Christmas holidays. The normal version will be in the RTQ and the master version will not.

 

Is it planned that master trials and master dungeons will be as difficult? Is the target “endgame player” supposed to be so minimal?

We try to hit a mix of audience with normal and master versions. We want something that incentivizes the very dedicated guild-focused groups to get together to complete master trials, but we also need content that can be completed by most players. If we feel that the normal versions are too easy, and master versions are too hard, we will see how we could make a better balance, because we understand that it’s still not perfect. We want content that is still challenging, but, not all content should require hours and hours of wipes to complete. Over time, we think that there will be some variations, especially in the master versions where some of them will be more challenging while other ones will be a little bit easier to get through – maybe something like the Infernal Citadel, which is still challenging but does not require to have an organized group wiping for hours to complete. We want to ensure that anything that goes in the random queues is something that is accessible to groups of random players with limited communication.

 

Thank you for making the in-game achievement for completing the Crown of Keldegonn now applied with either Normal or Master difficulty completions. Can you please do this for Zariel’s Challenge too, and possibly revert ToMM back to 30k so people can get their achievements?

I will check, I don’t know about reverting ToMM back to 30k, that’s a bit tough, but we will look at making the achievements for older trials and content as well sort of multi-accessible from whether it’s the normal or the master versions.

 

The new expansion is 10 weeks long (~2 months) and the coming battle pass would be three parts, so that’s five months. Is it the plan for future module releases, keeping players engaged with a cycle of modules and battle passes?

Yes, that’s roughly what it will look like, but it’s not going to be the exact same for every expansion, there will be different components. We are going to generally try to keep the battle passes going since they seem to be a good mechanic for helping middle-power characters. They give players more equipment and get them more towards the end game at a good rate, so we will keep the battle passes going and we are definitely going to keep the events going as well too. We will still have events coming out. A lot of those events will still feature some unique rewards and other things, so we are going to continue that. Northdark Reaches is a reasonable example, but as you can see, there is even a difference between Dragonslayer and Northdark Reaches, they are very different in terms of how they play. Dragonslayer was very focused on the dragon hunts, while Northdark Reaches is much more focused on the adventure zone. So, you will still see different focuses for the different modules. They are not all going to be adventure zones, and they are not all going to be hunts, etc. We will vary it up a bit, and we do have a rough target where when we put a new module, we want to ensure that it’s fun both in the first five minutes, but also 50 days after the release, and there are still some things that you want to do.

 

Do you have any updates regarding a Preview server for the console?

We are very much working on both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. We call them previews but they are basically shards that we are going to use to get people in and get them a chance to look at the game. It’s similar to the PC preview one, but since there is a lot less red tape involved with the PC because we can do whatever we want, there are not nearly as many platform restrictions. Microsoft and Sony put a lot more restrictions on who we can invite into these preview shards, so it’s not going to be as accessible as PC, unfortunately just due to factors beyond our control. But we are expecting to try to get up these beta shards where groups of players can come in, help us test things out, ensure that things are going smoothly, and get a chance to get a little bit of a sneak peek of the new upcoming modules. We have that advantage on PC, it’s been great for helping us to identify issues, work on balance, getting a chance to get great feedback from some of our most dedicated community members, and we hope to extend that to the consoles as well. As we get more information, we will share it.

 

Is there any possibility of reworking augment companions because they really give a lot of rating stats and most of the new items from M24 are focusing on giving rating, same for most of Masterwork items. What do you think about changing them to give a percentage?

The balance between augments and active companions will still vary, but we are working on companion balancing. There are some changes that will be upcoming in the near future. I’m not going to put a timetable on it, but we are looking closely at active companion balance, some of the issues that we’ve seen with that and we will take a look at augments as well too. Augment companions have a niche though and there are certain times when it is very valuable to have them around. For example, certain augments are great for tanks because they can pick very defensively focused augments that give them a ton of key stats such as Defense, Awareness, Critical Avoidance, etc. For DPS players, it varies depending on what augment and active companions you have. You may find more or less beneficial but we understand that as players get closer and closer to stats caps, it becomes harder and harder for them to slot an augment companion to use, so we will look at varying up sort of the ways that augment companions provide stats going into the future and see how we can do.

 

Any plans to add Zariel’s Challenge in the RTQ?

We have very much looked at Zariel’s Challenge, and it takes a decent bit of effort to balance something in a way that we feel is appropriately accessible. We very much would like to get the normal version of Zariel’s Challenge into the RTQ, but based on what we saw at the last rounds of data in terms of success rates and whatnot, it’s not in a spot where, unless we just radically nerf the mechanics into the ground, it would be appropriate. So we would want to go into it and look at the mechanics that cause problems for truly uncoordinated groups, and make sure that we address those before we put it into RTQ. We will plan on looking at that in the future but we have obviously been focused on Demogorgon as well as Northdark Reaches and M25 work, so it’s not something that we will do right now but we may have an opportunity to work on it in the near future.

 

Any plans to add the Vault of Stars in the RADQ?

Both Vault of Stars and the Infernal Citadel would unfortunately require a significant amount of work to be approachable for the RADQ. We had the Infernal Citadel in RADQ and some of the issues with it were just straight up bugs, which is unfortunate, but we also definitely saw that certain mechanics in the Infernal Citadel were very challenging and made it difficult. As an example, Castle Ravenloft was for a long time struggling for us to get it into a healthy spot, and Castle Ravenloft in RADQ is still very difficult even to this day. It took years for us to get it to the where I think it’s around 75% or more right now. And we don’t want to put the Infernal Citadel or the Vault of Stars into the RAQD until we are confident that we won’t have that same situation again where there is a 10% success rate and no one wants to do it. We have to get a version of it that plays well in RADQ and it’s a good chunk of work. We can’t constantly go back and update those while simultaneously developing new ones because updating these dungeons consume a bit of our time and we will hopefully get to them all here and keep expanding the RADQ and whatnot but it will take us a little bit of time to get through those.

 

Can we get boss hats as transmute items from each boss defeated?

We will look into some boss hats maybe. We might be able to come up with something.

 

Has the team looked into alternative ways to earn insignia powder in the upcoming expansion or battle pass?

We have looked at ways to sort of what to do with insignia powder because we know that this is a pinch point for some people when they are trying to upgrade mount collars and other things, so we are looking at ways where we can potentially award insignia powder in slightly higher points. It is still earnable obviously through insignia and we don’t want to completely dilute the economy, but the question does it cost too much insignia powder to upgrade things, like mount collars, to mythic has come up a number of times internally. I’m not going to speak for the systems team on what the final sort of balance thoughts are but it’s a question that we have raised ourselves when we look, and there are ways of handling it. We would, for example, just reduce the insignia powder costs or we could increase or add new ways of earning insignia powder. There are a lot of ways to tackle it and it’s something that we have looked at. As you can see, we have been doing a little bit of a mount focus, we have looked at the insignia bonuses, fixed some of them, and made them a lot more valuable to players, so we are taking a critical eye looking at elements like that and trying to make sure that they feed good and appropriately scaled. We are aware that insignia powder costs can be limiting for a number of things, especially things like Mount collar upgrades.

 

Do you have any plans to update other stores and vendors?

We are looking at that, for example I think we are going to be looking at the Appointment vendor, which is used for events like the Hell Pit, the Harvester of Nightmares, etc, to add more desirable items across its various categories. I think that we are also going to be looking at the Reaper’s Challenge vendor as well as the Tarmalune Trade Bar Merchant and a few other ones. We hope to hit a couple of those upcoming here in 2023 and just get some small updates to each of these vendors by adding more exciting and interesting ways to spend the currencies. We will also do a sort of cost balancing because some items are priced in ways where it’s very much encouraged you to get one specific thing sometimes at the expense of others. We may, for example, lower the costs of some things at the Appointment vendor rather than perhaps taking them out entirely.

 

Any thoughts about adding known and used mechanics like Hypothermia and spreads in the training room as a requirement to access the RDQ or RTQ for the sake of adding more dungeons and trials while keeping them finishable?

We have talked about that and we have a separate feature that is more about sort of educating players and getting them to a point to where they are more comfortable doing harder content like some of the more challenging dungeons and whatnot, but it would take a bit more than just having it for example in the training room. There is a bit more to do within that but it is a great idea and it was something that we very much have discussed internally as well. We have a longer-term feature plan that will hopefully help players to better understand some of the mechanics within Neverwinter in terms of boss mechanics as well as some of their class mechanics. Learning how to perform their roles, better understanding what is valuable about it and using the coming things like artifacts and mount calls etc, these sorts of player derived strikes strategies that have appeared but that are very important. We would like to get more ways for players to understand the value of those going forward but it’s a larger feature. We have components of that, but sadly, it’s something that’s going to take a bit more time to get into.

 

Is it possible to add dying dummies to test healing?

Good question, I believe that there were specifically damaged ones in the training room that you could heal. I will double-check but if there is not, then we will see what we can do and try to get those. I will also check with the content and systems teams about that so we can get some better practice dummies.

 

Is there something planned for other classes than the Wizard?

First, we are going to keep an eye on the balance and make sure that we didn’t overtune the Wizard changes. We will continue to make adjustments to live classes if we feel that there is something radically out of line, but the next class that we have talked about working is Paladins. We are going to continue to work on classes, but we do not have a timetable for that - so when I say that we are working on Paladins, that does not mean that Paladin updates will come out in the next three months. We may do some light updates now, we may do some updates next summer, but we have kind of softly internally committed to looking at Paladins which will force us to also look a little bit at healing balance. It’s very difficult for example for new Paladins to solo heal in some of the dungeons and difficult for example if you are trying to heal a bunch of DPS that are running around like chickens and it could be pretty challenging to get their health topped off.

 

And regarding the Barbarian?

No, the Barbarians are not currently up on the slate, however there are a few issues with the Sentinel path that we may look at sooner rather than later depending on how things go, but it’s more like some small bug fixes and quality of life changes and less so on the Blademaster path. I know that Blademasters is popular, but at the same time, it is not as problematic right now as some of the other classes that we wanted to look at, like Paladins.

 

Any changes planned regarding the enchantments?

We are looking at some of the enchantments and combat enchantments. We will actually be doing some reviews of those. We want to continue to make the enchantments of all slots and whatnot interesting and have good variety, so we have actually been discussing some additions and changes to exactly those. We will look at stuff like the Battle Tempered as I have seen in the Twitch chat, and we will look at both existing enchantments as well as some of the ones when we do that.

 

Instances haven’t always been capped at 25. Last I remember it was 10 to 15 from Dragonbone Vale. At 25, it makes the game feel much more alive. Will this trend continue into the future?

We are very much going to try to do that. We have been improving our attention to performance issues, which was some of the limitations that we saw with Dragonbone Vale and some of the prior ones. We are very much trying to ensure that we can hit a solid performance baseline, which is sort of the limiter when it comes to the player caps that we can have in each of the instances. So, we are doing what we can and we are taking it very seriously, you can see sort of the results in Northdark Reaches and we hope that in module 25 and beyond we have similar results. It still varies somewhat slightly because sometimes our aspirations for environments are bigger than others, some are just riskier and have higher costs to do, but we hope that we can find that good balance where we can get more people into the zone. We definitely like having the higher player numbers.

 

Are there any plans or talk of introducing either a new system or a complete overhaul of an existing system that is not directly combat related?

I assume that a comparable system would be something like professions or whatnot. We don’t have current plans for a massive new system in exactly that way. There are some ideas that we have thrown around but I can’t get into too much of the details. For example, we are not currently planning on doing something as adding another new profession system. It’s not saying making just a second profession system but a system like professions. We have some cool ideas but I cannot commit to doing those right now because they are very costly. It often takes months, if not multiple modules worth of development to get one of those things because it takes some time to develop, implement, test, balance etc.

 

Is Valindra ever going to die?

Maybe, I would love to see that happen to get rid of some of those pesky liches. Not Makos but some of the other pesky liches out there.

 

Any updates regarding Strongholds?

We still have small updates of Strongholds, but we are not planning a massive overhaul. You saw that we recently updated the Greed of the Dragonflight, and we will try to continue to look at some of the existing things. The Stronghold system is not something on our list for a substantial feature change or redo. If we are doing features, we would tie them generally into the various modules. There are some things that we would like to do, perhaps on a light cost balance update as well as refreshing some things.

 

Would it be possible to separate the appearance slots into presets that are not tied to loadouts that players have?

That would take a bit more work. It’s a cool idea and something that we could look at, but it’s not something that we could do simply.

 

Any thoughts about giving the player rewards for the collection points? For example, giving players a unique mount if they collected all mounts in each category or the same thing with companions.

We have talked about a collection store but I’m not going to commit to anything. It’s something on our wish list. We really would like to have some more value for the collections and earn the collection points. It will probably wind up being like a collection store where you can spend the points on things or like a specific achievement collection to complete and this achievement gets something.

 

The Tower of Nasad was fun to play. Keeping this theme, has the team considered a Tower with levels that get harder by each floor? Maybe something endless (repeating bosses) but worth grinding.

We have talked about exactly that feature numerous times. I’m not going to commit to anything once again but it’s something that when we propose features for a module that is one of the features that always come up at some point. It may eventually show up, we just need to find the right place to put it.

 

Some players miss having options with things like their feats, any chance that we can see more options to add flavor to unique builds and play styles?

We definitely want to ensure that their various play styles have more options, that’s why we have been trying to do some things like making more mount insignia bonuses relevant and we are going to be looking at a few other things where we think that there are options but players are not utilizing them. As I already mentioned we are going to be looking at some of the enchantments to try to open that space up a little bit more to interesting options. We also have been very much obviously focusing on doing that with some of the more recent rewards and trying to add more interesting item options, but specifically it’s tricky for us to commit something regarding specific class-based feats or class features. We have looked at boons very much as another system that we would like to be able to do things because we recognize that the boons are very polarizing. There are not as many interesting choices, especially the master boons, and we would like to perhaps revisit those and add more interesting options to it. It’s unlikely that we would do something class specific, unless we were doing a class update. We would likely look at meta things that affect all classes like boons, insignias, etc. when there is not as much meaningful choice there as we would like.

 

Do you have any updates regarding the rank 6 enchanting stones?

Nothing yet so I can’t comment on the enchanting stone rank 6, but we did fix a couple of other things like older versions of Marks of Potency which have hopefully been eliminated from things like refining bags and a few other areas. So, I know that there are still a few issues from the enchantment rework earlier this year, and we are trying to tackle them and make sure that there are appropriate replacement wards and they’re not showing up in other places.

 

Do you have any plans to update the hardcore epic dungeoneer achievement to include advanced dungeons that have been added after Ravenloft?

Actually, we generally don’t want to modify old achievements. There are certain limitations; in fact, we are not supposed to mess around with old achievements that some players have already earned. What we actually should do instead is add new achievements that include those new dungeons. We will look into that, that’s a great thing to add more meta-achievements that overlap some of the new content.

 

Do you have any plans to fix frame rate issues on console?

We are working on a mix of platform specific issues, but we do know of some performance related issues on both PlayStation and Xbox that we are looking at. We have a sort of central core technology team and they help address some of those, especially if it’s not related to a specific content. For example, we know that certain zones have better performance than others. Some parts of Sharandar don’t perform as well as we like but hopefully the Northdark Reaches performs pretty solidly. There are some game-wide performance issues and those don’t have to be solved in our technology. So we do have open issues, we do know of a couple of instances unique to the PlayStation and the Xbox, and we are working on it. Sadly, this is going to work to the point now where we are dealing with some very old PlayStation and Xbox hardware and we need to try to make sure that we test everything on original versions, for example the PlayStation 4 instead of the PlayStation 4 pro or the PlayStation 5. But even very old versions of the PlayStation 4 have different performance profiles that the more recent non-pro versions. We definitely see even different performance specs on those. If you talk to somebody that has a day one launch PlayStation 4, it will perform slightly differently than someone that had a PlayStation 4 that was at least two or three years old, so we are managing all that and I apologize for those of you who are experiencing any kind of performance issue. We are trying to do what we can to improve those.

A number of us have the retail version, we are bringing up in our place and checking the performance issues ourselves. It’s something that we all do take very seriously, it just requires investigation and time.

 

Are you working on a new class?

No, we are currently not working on a new class, either the druid or the monk. Those are sort of the two other last main classes of D&D that are not present on Neverwinter. That’s not to say that we would never do them but they are not in our short to near term release schedule. You will not see them in M25 and it would be very unlikely to see them in M26.

 

Were the binding statuses of the M24 campaign weapons changed to bind on pickup, and if so, why were they obtainable unbound on Preview?

Sometimes the bind statuses do change between Preview and Live because we are trying to facilitate a lot of quick testing. That’s why it’s important for us to say that when you see things on Preview they don’t always reflect how they will be earned or how they can be owned or transferred when they go to Live. I cannot comment on a specific item, but keep in mind that if you see something on Preview, it does not mean that it’s going to ship as it is. In some cases on Preview we cheat things, we reduce costs, we make things more approachable and easier to get, we expedite access through campaigns and things just to try to get people able to test things in a much shorter time frame than they normally would.

 

Can you add more no death achievements?

No death achievements are tricky because they are very challenging and they encourage players to do a lot of coordination and communication. The problem is that they are extremely intolerant of things like internet latency or technical problems and things like that, and that’s kind of unfortunate. This is something that we have in Reaper’s Challenge with “no revives” and that might be something that we may look at more because we have seen more success with that. No revives means that if somebody dies you might have to wipe and retry the boss battle, but it does not kick you out like in hardcore mode and make you start the whole instance over again. Vault of Stars hardcore was sort of a bit of an experiment. We want to find ways to challenge players to encourage that level of tight coordination and we hope that we may be able to accomplish that without using hardcore but with using rules like no revives and other things which stress staying alive but without that sort of punishing element.

 

Can you make the Fallen Wings account-wide unlocked?

Yes, we are working on a solution so that you could get the wings on your various characters.

 

Can you make more helmets available for Dragonborns?

It’s unlikely unfortunately that we would be able to go back and make the old helmets work. It unfortunately takes a lot of effort and assets work to do that. It’s better for us to add cool new ones, but if there are specific ones that people really want, let us know and we can potentially get a couple of the more valuable ones that players really miss. But it’s really hard for us to say that we can just blanket fix all of the old helmets to work with some of the races.

 

Would it be possible to add a way to duel other players like a dual request type thing?

Good question, we can potentially look at that. We would probably have to do something more like a duel arena the way PvP works in Neverwinter. We might be able to set up a small PvP arena or something along those lines, similar if you think of the open world PvP present in some of the Icewind Dale zones and such.

 

Thanks for reading, and see you in game!

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