Wizard101
Producer's Letter

 

December 2016

 
 
 
 
My Dear Wizards,

I feel like it was just a few moments ago when I was writing you, telling you about the hot summer sun. Oh wait, it’s almost 70 degrees here right now (at time of penning this letter), maybe *that’s* why. But still! That was many months ago! It’s now the holiday season, a time when you should be curled up by the fire with some hot cocoa, snuggled in a blanket, and dreaming about warmer days.

Since my last letter, we have been full speed ahead creating the world of Mirage.

Mirage is one of our BIGGER worlds. After Polaris, we wanted to swing the pendulum little bit towards the “more-is-better” direction. I won’t lie – this was a TOUGH one for the team to handle. Dealing with 4732 different versions of cats can be a little bit unwieldy at times, but we are SO thrilled with the result that the new grey hairs don’t even matter!

It’s our most CINEMATIC world yet. Librarian Fitzhume and team spent many, many overtime hours painstakingly setting the cameras for each dialogue pane and scene. You may remember that last year, with Polaris, we added facial expressions to our new characters, and added a few “walkaways” - where the character you’re talking to doesn’t just disappear, they actually walk away. These are little things, but they really enhance the story. This time, we added talk animations to quests, and WOW, they really bring the characters to life. Between this and the cool moments in the story like the Thieves’ Den homage to a certain “cantina scene”, the magic carpet chase, and the plot twist at the end… I hope you’ll be as captivated with Mirage as we are.

Mirage is not easy. We always strive to keep things balanced, and after our observations, and playtests, we think it’s at the sweet spot, keeping you on your toes, but still totally achievable. You’ll need to pay attention – your foes are smarter than ever – but the odds are always in your favor. We think you’ll enjoy the challenge, and if you find it difficult, team up with some friends and you should more easily prevail.

And it doesn’t end there. The story may resolve, but you can still forge ahead and build your standing with the different factions of Mirage. By defeating specific foes, you can prove your allegiance and unlock special rewards… even a new abode in the city if you’re dedicated enough!


We also broke some new ground with level 118 divide-and-conquer spells (or as we were calling them in development, pips per target). We wanted to do something new here. These are not meant to replace your normal AOEs, but they have a lot of versatility and tactical advantages. Does the boss have a feint and you want to clear out his minions with an AOE while leaving him alone? Now you can! I’ve been experimenting with them in combat practice, and they seem like a solid addition to have in your strategic arsenal.

First of all, we wanted to minimize defeat-and-collect type quests. These are what I lovingly refer to as “go get the ingredients to make me a sandwich” quests (remember that one?). We certainly don’t want the baddies to be walking around in circles with nothing to do, but we want to make sure it’s for a good reason. We think Polaris felt amazing because of it. On my first playthrough, I spent the whole time laughing. Or saying “ooooh, look at that cool thing!” Or telling the artists, writers, and designers “great job” because of the amazing moments I experienced. The shift in quest design means it doesn’t take quite as much “grinding” to get through Polaris as it might have in other worlds, and I hope you guys enjoyed that as much as I did.

This update has many more great features, including...
  1. Once you become an Understudy at the Arcanum, you’ll be granted your own “visiting scholar’s office.”.
  2. There’s a new stat – pip conversion! Ever wonder what happened to those extra pips that make up the remainder of 3 power pips being used for a 5 pip spell? Ever feel like it’s a crying shame that your pips are full but that ugly white pip won’t become a shiny gold power pip no matter HOW long you wait? Well, fret no longer!
  3. To loosely quote Babbage Basset, don’t you want your house to accurately reflect your magical stature? Want to make your Darkmoor Mansion into a haunted house? Bring life to your carefully constructed hedge maze in the Botanical Gardens? If so, seek him out to learn about Castle Magic.
  4. Feeling crafty? Seek out the forge at the Arcanum, and start on your quest to make your legendary crafted weapon.


Beyond Mirage, let’s talk about that holiday season, yeah?
  1. There are new limited-time holiday skeleton key bosses, one for each key type. We’re super excited to release some winter holiday content, and if you haven’t seen the entry zone yet… go. It’s really unique!
  2. There’s a new Winter Wonder CCG pack to rip open! This one is seriously bursting with cool stuff. There’s a skating rink, a sparkly snow globe, and some fluffy bunnies to escort you around in style, not to mention all the many other goodies!
  3. Snowboards! Whether you’re feeling festive or just want to sport your Ravenwood spirit, you can find them in the Crown Shop this winter!
  4. All the holiday Spiral traditions you know and love will be returning for the duration of the season.

We’ve already been talking about what’s coming to the Spiral in 2017 and we’re super excited to get started on it. You may get by with a little help from some new friends. You may be inspired to travel the worlds of the Spiral again with renewed purpose. You will certainly have new foes to battle, new allies to collaborate with, and new powerful items to seek out. We’ve been scouring the forums for feedback, and are already working on the initial stages of our devious plan to create lots of fun content and improve the game next year, so stay tuned.

I hope you have a warm, happy, and fun holiday season. You can find me in Mirage, enjoying a desert vacation while the year winds down. I’ll see you there!

With fire,
Leah "Professor Falmea" Ruben
Senior Producer of MMO Content