My Dear Wizards,
The cold winter winds are whooshing around us, and while Lydia Greyrose is in her element, I’m finding solace in the roaring fire and hot cocoa. And before you know it, summer will be just around the corner. However, as we’re settling down for our long winter’s nap, it’s nice to reflect on the second half of 2013 and all the amazing things that have happened in the Spiral.
5 Years and Counting:
Wizards, I have fond, fond memories of our team and company, during alpha and beta, when we had a tiny little office (where we fit comfortably). In production, your job really is to do, or facilitate, anything that needs doing. As a smaller, start-up type company, we embodied that in spades. I did everything from making the first version of this website, to hand addressing and packing alpha test discs, to helping build our sound department from the ground up and much, much more. I remember all of us being very tired by the end. But more importantly, we were wide-eyed, hopeful, and excited to watch what would happen when we let everyone in to take their first steps in the proverbial “new fallen snow” of the Spiral.
More than five years later, Wizard101 has hit its 5th birthday and Pirate101 has had its 1st, and we've amassed a vibrant, amazing, community of loyal and awesome fans. We’ve moved offices and we constantly need more space, because we’re just bursting at the seams to make the cool ideas we have come to life! We’ve gone from “Wizard-what?” and “Kings-who?” to being an established company– in fact, in my travels out and about in the world, I’ll often end up talking to fans. It's been my pleasure to take pictures with folks who have to show their family they met someone that makes the game they love to play with their families. It’s been a fantastic journey beyond my wildest dreams, and I’m really thrilled to be a part of each day I come to work.
In the last 5 years, here are some of the highlights:
- Nine new full worlds have been added to the Spiral.
- Additionally, we’ve uncovered a lot more – gauntlets like Aquila and Waterworks, plus side areas like Crab Alley.
- In the old days, we didn’t have these things we take for granted now: quest helper, mounts, crafting, the bazaar, and a shared bank.
- New ways to advance your Wizard – we added Gardening, Crafting, Advanced Pets, PVP, and Tournaments.
- Added new schools – Sun, Moon, Stars, and now Shadow Magic.
- We added Castles, and gave you more to do in them with Housing Games, and Castle Tours, and Instruments.
- Added way more than 101 new spells.
- Increased the level cap from 50 to 95, as of the last update.
- We’ve had two celebrity guests: Nick Jonas and Selena Gomez.
- Expanded to 7 different languages and 13 different countries.
Whether you’ve been with us for 5 days or 5 years, I hope you enjoyed the Fifth Birthday offerings and we look forward to celebrating many more with all you Wizards out there!
It’s been a while since we did a new Halloween offering, and this year seemed to be a good time to do so! We wanted to do something fun and accessible to just about everyone, and vampiric veggies made us giggle, though we did discover that Dworgyn can’t keep a secret (perhaps that’s why he’s still an assistant, not a professor… hmmm?)! We hope you had fun delving into the depths and defeating the evil Nosferabbit!
We also brought back, due to popular demand, the Nightmare pack and added a few new things to spice it up – I hope you were able to take advantage of that this year!
Khrysalis Part 1:
We’ve been talking about the end of the Morganthe story arc for quite a while. We knew it had to be epic, and we wanted it to rock your worlds. We had so many awesome ideas that we wanted to put into the finale that we had to split this last chapter into two parts!
In planning it out, we wanted to make sure that each half had almost as much to do as a full update. Thus you might notice that there are just a few less quests than normal in a full world, and about the same amount of pets, mounts, gear, and all the good stuff you have come to know and love with each big world update. The slightly smaller amount of land mass allowed us to focus more on some really cool moments in the story and bring them up to a new level. If you’ve seen the scene with Dyvim and the Brood Mother, or Dorian's bombing run on the Honeycomb Gate, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Also, we are so very excited to finally get to reveal Shadow Magic to the world. Shadow Magic originates from an ancient and dark place, though it is not in and of itself evil or malicious. It is simply very powerful, and with this power, comes risk. The ability to wield Shadow magic is limited to only the most advanced Wizards, and even then, they find that they are changed with its use. Manipulating the essence of reality does that to a person!
We believe that the introduction of Shadow Magic, along with some other balance changes, will find the combat pendulum swinging back the other way. We found that battles seemed to be getting longer and longer, and we wanted to take steps to return to more fast-paced, thrilling combat, rather than a competition of who has the most resistance and can last the longest.
Wizards, if you’ve already made it through the end of Part 1, do not despair. Part two will be coming sooner rather than later. In fact, we’re all hard at work on it right now. And it’s shaping up to be the epic conclusion that this amazing story arc deserves.
Bric a brac:
While the majority of the team was focused on KR Part 1 and Shadow Magic, we had quite a few other fun things make it around to the Spiral in the latter half of the year!
- New Tournament modes introduced a few new ways to play: Classic Mode (no pets, amulets, or treasure cards), Lightning Round (shorter rounds, with escalating damage and extra armor piercing), and School Perks (certain schools get bonuses to their spells).
- Did you lose your way? Are you a completionist and want to make sure you’ve completed EVERY QUEST IN THE GAME? Well, help is on the way with Quest Finder – it will send you to the nearest quest that you have not yet completed!
- If you have a green thumb, you’ll be glad to know we updated Gardening with our latest update – you can level up your gardening, obtain new spells, and discover new plants out there to grow and harvest!
- With our combat initiative discussed above, we reduced the hit points of a lot of monsters in Avalon and Azteca. We’ve still got some plans in this area – but our research showed that these fights were taking way too long, and we’ve adjusted this down.
- Last, but certainly not least – we’ve added Castle Tours and the Item Identifier. I have had way too much fun touring dozens of Wizards' houses. Some are decorated more lavishly than others, but it’s just exciting to see all the creativity and care taken with interior design in the Spiral! And, if you strive to have your house look like the very best ones, the identifier can certainly help you on your way.
To the Future!
We have an incredibly exciting 2014 planned for you, and we’re hard at work on the initial stages right now! I have to keep my lips sealed as to what is to come. However, I can tell you we’re planning on some really nifty things that I can’t wait to share as the year marches on. We’re excited to get you a little help from your friends, tap into more ancient powers, help you unleash your creativity, and hook you into the Spiral like nothing you’ve seen yet!
Looking forward to sharing another year with you, and have a safe, warm, and fantastic Holiday Season!
See you in the Spiral,
Leah "Professor Falmea" Ruben