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One Year In: DD2 Status Update

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TrendyBrad

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Just over a year ago, we left the MOBA behind and restarted development on Dungeon Defenders II.

We’ve had a blast, with over 750 Councillors enjoying our in-development game and guiding us on decisions big and small. We missed putting up our anniversary post last month, but we’d still like to take this opportunity to revisit the pillars we’ve built our game around and discuss a few updates on how we think we’re doing on each.

But before we dive into that, thanks for your detailed feedback on account leveling! We’ve been reading through the posts and are really excited by the positive reception. We also gained valuable insights on issues we need to carefully consider when creating this type of system. With all of this in-mind, we’ve decided to move forward with the concept.

To that end, we’re taking a few steps to ensure we get the best feedback on what we build. This fall, we’ll unveil new opportunities for players to become part of the Defense Council. Then, we’ll introduce the account leveling feature in a Test Realm of sorts, allowing us to get feedback at an early stage before committing to the feature. We want to ensure that changes of this scope are what you want, and we will provide many avenues for you to influence our development process in the near future.

Now, on to our pillars! If you all remember, we defined five core pillars at the onset of development last year. We’ll walk through each one and grant some insight into where we are right now.

The Pillars: One Year Later

Accessibility


This is a major, active focus for our team. Over the past few months we’ve been evaluating our features and overhauling our UI to make them more intuitive. We’re still in the first phase of our UI revamps and are fixing bugs and improving functionality.

We’ve also started adding the first tutorials to the game, including enemy introduction and tutorial videos. These give brief explanations of enemy behaviors and game features as players are exposed to them. We also have a very exciting (non-video) tutorial experience we’re planning to do in the future, once we’re happy with our core features and interfaces!

To help you see some of what we’re doing, here’s an evolution of one of our UIs. You can see how far we’ve come till today, and trust me, we’re not done yet.

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Replayability

We’re always talking about replayability at Trendy. It keys into one of the core tenants of game design: small, medium and large rewards. We finally have some of these reward systems in-place, and we’re iterating on them as we speak. These systems define and create the game’s replayability (awesome loot!).

We also have some new ideas that will encourage replayability, like the prestige and account leveling systems we mentioned in the last blog post. These are currently in the design phase.

Here are some other things we are currently working on to encourage replayability:

  • Creating an engaging balance for our maps
  • Adding more depth into character leveling with the new Spec Nodes system (which we’ll talk about in more detail later!)
  • Evolving our item enhancement system
  • Creating special stats for loot (also, more info coming soon!)

We’ll be talking with you often on how we improve the replayability of DD2 as we go. We’re not there yet, but we have created good building blocks for us to expand on, and we can’t wait to get your input on where our efforts will be best focused.

Well-Paced Rewards

This too has finally started to come together in the last few weeks. We’re constantly working to refine our reward loops so they create a sense of progression and excitement. We’re also constantly working to empower players with meaningful choices they can make throughout the game experience.

Right now, we’re iterating on how and when specific tiers of loot drop in our maps so players are always engaged, excited and getting good upgrades. We’re also iterating on our Spec Nodes feature for character growth (I think we’re on version 3 right now!) so that you have engaging decisions to make throughout the progression curve.

Our current goal is to get all of the reward systems we’ve implemented working in concert together. After that, we will look into adding in new layers on top, like daily missions and better in-match goals. Once we expand the Defense Council, we look forward to gathering feedback on which reward systems we can improve and introducing the reward systems that you want first… first.

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Gameplay Depth

When we first started working on DD2 over a year ago, we were exploring how we wanted heroes to work in the sequel. We created a set of defenses and abilities, iterated on them, and, more importantly, played with them a ton. We’ve learned quite a bit since then about what works and what does not. With that knowledge, we will be doing major passes on each of the heroes to better focus all aspects of their gameplay, including regular attacks, abilities and towers.

Our goals here are to increase the gameplay depth of each hero individually and to expand the interactions among heroes. We’re calling these passes Hero Revamps. We’ve already completed the first revamp, for the Apprentice, and over the coming months will be working through the rest of our heroes, leveraging your feedback.

We have many other irons in the fire too, like adding a renewed focus on magic and physical resist enemies, iterating on our hero spec nodes for better choices, and much more.

Action, Tower Defense and Role Playing Work Together

One of our biggest challenges as developers is creating fun new ways for these three elements to synergize while maintaining an equal emphasis on each of these elements.

When we started developing DD2 we identified action as one of our weakest components and put a lot of effort towards making combat feel more visceral and making abilities more exciting to use. This is also why we enabled player movement while executing defense interactions like repair, upgrade and build.

However, as we continued forward we continuously received feedback from the Council that the tower defense component of DD2 seemed to take a second stage. So recently, we’ve put a lot of effort into bringing the tower defense aspect of gameplay back into focus. The game feels much more satisfying when both you and your defenses are devastating the Old One’s hordes.

Finally, this is also a big inspiration for the Hero Revamps. We’ll be fixing defenses that are broken, throwing out bad ones while replacing them with new options with better strategic choice, and creating new interactions between the tower defense, action and role-playing elements of the game.

Final Thoughts

It’s been quite humbling to look back over the past year as a team and see how far we’ve come. The great experiment of the Defense Council has been extraordinary, from the live streams to the forum posts, and even though it might not always seem obvious to our Councillors, we talk about the notes often and use them every day to influence the decisions we make. As we get ready to expand the Defense Council, we can’t wait to see what new perspectives these players will bring to the table.

So as we continue to work hard at creating the best Dungeon Defenders experience we can, jump into the forums and give us a few of your favorite moments from the past year for inspiration! We’d also love to hear what you’re looking forward to the most, and here’s to another great year of Dungeon Defenders II!

Since the delay between blogs, we're selecting 10 winners from our Share Your Feedback blog! The winners are Senacherub, Tammy, Wylbhr, rawrsair, SnakeChips, Sirpennywise, mattster365, tosado, Low Ceiling and Warmonger! Winners, keep an eye on your forum PMs for more information.

Share your honest feedback about this blog in the comments below, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! We’ll pick TWO random posters and reveal the winners next week. You have a full week to leave a comment. Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join the community!
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