While Standing Stone has been communicative over the past month, we wanted to dig deeper into the decision to form the new studio, its relationship with Daybreak, and plans for both DDO and LOTRO going forward. To wit, we sat down with Standing Stone Executive Producer Rob “Severlin” Ciccolini, Lead Designer Ben “DrOctothorpe” Schneider, and Community Manager Jerry “Cordovan” Snook to discuss this major transition and its possible impact for these two MMO game worlds.
“We are currently hard at work on Update 19, titled the March of the King,” Executive Producer Rob “Severlin” Ciccolini reveals. “Our plan is to release the update in October. Update 19 will feature The Last Debate, along with the Host of the West and its March through North Ithilien, the debut of new premium housing on the Cape of Belfalas, a return to landscape questing, and a new rotation of featured instances. North Ithilien was once known for its gardens, and some called it the prettiest area of Gondor. That beauty remains even in the presence of the enemy. The overgrown and wild area still has many plants and flowers that are not found elsewhere in Middle Earth, and players can gather the flora found there to barter for rewards that will remain useful into 2017. We look forward to telling you more about Update 19 in the coming weeks!”
Yes, premium housing is happening. Expect “vastly more hook points, the ability to own multiple houses, a fully revised housing UI” and support for classic housing too.
“Right now we have a two-and-a-half-year plan,” Executive Producer Severlin said, “and the only reason it is not further is because we want to see where the player’s heads are at after that much time. We are currently focused on not only telling the epic story leading up to the Gate, but also what happens beyond. We have already kind of hinted to the players that an expansion is on its way.”
So if there are long-term plans, does that mean that the game’s IP license has been renewed? Turbine wasn’t saying outright, although the studio did mention that these closed-room deals were “a routine piece of business and we have no reason to think this won’t be a continuation of that.”
Responding to players’ concern over DDO’s uncertain future, Executive Producer Robert “Severlin” Ciccolini posted on the forums that the team is actively working on the game. “We are planning out the future of DDO in years, and discussing the possibility of an expansion near the end of 2017. Cool things are coming,” he said.
Severlin elaborated on some projects that are closer to fruition: “We have some exciting plans for DDO both in the near term and the longer term. With some expanded art capabilities and resources returning from helping out with the launch of [Batman Arkham Underworld], we should have some cool things coming up. Assault on the Slave Lords is looking good, and we are also furiously working on the update to Cannith Crafting.”
The centerpiece of the anniversary events will be the debut of a free dungeon that will reference the game’s history and popular characters. “It’ll also give you the opportunity to defeat some ‘devs’ in battle,” Executive Producer Severlin wrote. “Yes, I plan to try to kill you in-game.”
DDO is also preparing a brand-new race for Update 30: the Gnomes. The race will include a Deep Gnome iconic version and will be about the same height as a halfling (albeit with a little more heft and facial hair).