New Reveal: The DD2 Tavern!

Blog - September 19, 2014 - By Philip Asher, Marketing Director

Tavern-Blog

Welcome back, Defenders!

You may have caught a sneak peek at the Tavern in our one-year of development anniversary post. Well, we’re finally ready to reveal the whole thing! There’s still work to be done, but we’re off to a good start:

WarTable

Matchmaking

One of our major goals while creating the DD2 Tavern was to provide a robust matchmaking experience that allows players to enjoy the game how they want, whether it’s playing with your friends, by yourself or with new people you haven’t become friends with quite yet!

When you first load into the Tavern, you’ll see the War Table. From here you can launch a private game that you can control or use the group finder to find new players in your level range to play with. As you progress, you’ll unlock new group finder tiers that include fresh missions and difficulties you can play. If you like, you can stick with your group as you play mission-to-mission, and for public games, the matchmaking system will bring in fresh players to fill open spots as they leave to do other activities. Public games also have a leader that is selected each round who can decide what map the group plays. The leader rotates, so as the group continues, everyone gets a chance to select what is played.

We know it’s going to be quite a task to make public games fun in DD2, and we’re just starting down this path. We’ve prototyped a few other features to help encourage positive public play, like upvoting, downvoting and MVP voting other players at the end of a match. Our goal is to experiment with different ideas, refine our implementations and add new features to create the most positive, fair and engaging experience we can. We look forward to working with all of you to create the best matchmaking and map progression system for a Dungeon Defenders game.

Hero & Item Management

Yes, hero and item management is back and better than ever! You can create new heroes, edit your Hero Deck and swap heroes in the Tavern. You can also access the Forge for all your loot management needs. Right now you can only edit your Hero Deck at the hero management table, but we may introduce this functionality to the Forge in the future.

Upgrading

And DD2 wouldn’t be a Dungeon Defenders game without some serious item upgrading. Just like the original, every item spawns with a set of upgrade levels. This time around, we wanted to put a new spin on things. Instead of just dumping mana into your items, you can fuse other items with them, too! We really wanted to make every item have a purpose in DD2, even the “trash loot.” So depending on the class (weapon, relic) and type (swords to swords, medallions to medallions), you get different XP bonuses. Now that low-stat sword can do you some good!

Right now we only have the most base functionality of the upgrading wheel in place. We have a lot of other cool ideas we are going to add in the future, and we’re currently getting feedback from the Defense Council to polish and improve what we currently have to be as fun and easy to use as possible.


Yes, you can skip it if you want. *click*

Shops

A bunch of interesting characters have moved into the DD2 Tavern. So far only two have set up shop, but as we continue development you may notice some NPCs leave their cozy barstools and set up shops of their own.

Right now, there’s both a weapon and a relic vendor to purchase loot from. Their shops refresh on a timer, so you can always see when to come back for new options. Each shop will also have an extra rare bonus item that’s often great AND expensive.

What’s Left?

As you can see, there’s still a ton of work left to do on the Tavern. After we’ve set up all the shops and spent significant time improving the matchmaking flow and map selection process, we hope to move on to some of the fun (and more memorable) aspects of the Tavern… like super-awesome-dope-fantastic Tavern customization. We’d love to hear all your thoughts about the Tavern in its initial state, and more importantly, we have a very specific question for you:

Do you think public Taverns (or a different, visual hub area) have a place in Dungeon Defenders II? We are very split in the office but would love to introduce some way for more than four defenders to interact. Right now some of us think it would be cool to start everyone in a social tavern type area and then give players the option to enter their own private tavern or join a group. What do you think?

The DD2 pre-alpha code winners from our previous blogs are:

  • DD2 Status Update Blog: FlamingTomato
  • DD2 Status Update Blog: Dawnchaser
  • NVIDIA Winners Blog: ToxicCaterpillar
  • NVIDIA Winners Blog: Tdarnok
  • The winners of the Spec Nodes blog will be selected next week!

Answer the question above about public Taverns in the comments, 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!


New Reveal: Spec Nodes!

Blog - September 12, 2014 - By Daniel Haddad, Lead Designer/Creative Director

Spec-Nodes-Blog

Greetings Defenders,

In last week’s blog, we teased a new feature in the game called Spec Nodes. You may have asked yourself, “What are these mythical nodes? What do they do?”

A New Way to Upgrade Your Hero

The Spec Node system is our new hero upgrading system in Dungeon Defenders II. Spec Nodes allow you to pick and choose which aspects of your hero you want to empower and build around. You can change how a defense operates (a Flameburst Tower that shoots double fireballs!), how an attack works (stun enemies with the Monk’s ranged attack!) and much, much more.

UI

Improving Player Choice

Putting points into individual stats was nice in DD1, but the system didn’t provide any choice beyond, “Which stats do I want to increase?” For DD2, we wanted to make a leveling system that provides meaningful, interesting choices for players from the first hour to the thousandth hour of play. We hope this system will provide a diverse set of options that will encourage alternate playstyles. Most importantly, we wanted to put the meta of the game in your hands so you can discover how Specs combine with different stats and special stats (see, future blog) to achieve a unique build for a hero.

How It Works

Starting at level five, you’ll earn at least one point to invest in these Specs. Every point you spend makes the Spec stronger based on a diminishing returns formula. You can perpetually put all your points into one Spec or spread them around. Going back to a previous example, imagine a Spec that has a chance to make the Flameburst Tower shoot two fireballs. Every point you invest increases that chance.

We will be introducing the system to the Defense Council with six unique Spec Nodes per hero. For example, the Apprentice has a Spec to improve his Earthshatter Tower. This is a long-range, area-of-effect tower, but if you invest points into the Earthshatter Spec, you’ll gain a percentage chance to knock enemies into the air. By knocking up enemies, you can slow their progress to the core and combo it with a frost + geyser freezing combo to shatter frozen enemies, dealing tons of damage. Or you could place Skyguard towers to destroy enemies flying in the air.

Or say you’re building a more tanky, damage-focused Squire (which is my go-to build at the moment). You can invest in the Riposte Spec, which grants a chance to hurt enemies when they strike you. Or you can invest in the Fight Me Not Spec, which gives defenses an extra bonus damage to enemies who are currently fighting you. This is great to use in concert with your Provoke ability, which taunts nearby enemies, to kite enemies around while your defenses wail on them. Or, why not both? The choice is up to you! (The names of these Specs are temporary. Our creative director/lead designer pulled them out of his butt on a dark and stormy night.)

Squire_knockback

The Rest is Up to You (and Us)

This is only the beginning for Spec Nodes. We still have a ways to go to achieve our goals. We are constantly adding new specs and removing unpopular ones. We still haven’t decided the final number of Specs for each hero. There are also many other systems that will tie into Specs (item upgrading, rare loot drops!) that we will be working on in the future, along with some other neat ideas that we’re still mulling about. One such idea is to give players a large pool of Specs to choose from and let them choose which ones to give to their heroes.

So, leave a comment here with some Spec Nodes ideas you would like to see in DD2! Danny and I will review all your posts and pick out our top 3 favorite suggestions. Not only will we give the top suggestors Defense Council codes, but we’ll also explore the potential of adding the suggestions into the game! No promises, though.


NVIDIA SHIELD Winners Revealed!

Blog - September 12, 2014 - By Josh Isom, Community Manager

nvidia-revealed-Blog

Drumroll, please!

The Grand Prize winner of our NVIDIA® SHIELD™ Giveaway is April C.! April will receive not only the NVIDIA® SHIELD™ portable, GeForce GTX 760 graphics card, a DD2 T-shirt and a DDE mousepad, but as the Grand Prize Winner, she has also scored the the NVIDIA® SHIELD™ tablet, NVIDIA® SHIELD™ controller and gets her mousepad signed by the Dungeon Defenders Eternity dev team, Nom Nom Games! Congratulations, April!

The four runners-up who won the other NVIDIA® SHIELD™ prize packs have been contacted by email. Check your inbox to see if you won!

A big thank you goes out to the thousands of people who entered the contest and to our generous friends at NVIDIA® for helping us do something awesome for our fans!

What did you think of the giveaway? Do you have any ideas to help grow the Dungeon Defenders community? Do you have a cool idea for a contest? Is there something you’d like for us to giveaway? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. We’ll pick TWO random posters and reveal the winners next week!


One Year In: DD2 Status Update

Blog - September 5, 2014 - By Brad Logston, Senior Producer of the Dungeon Defenders Franchise

oneyear-blog

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.

MenuUI_gifFINAL3

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.

Action_Pillar_ScreenLEVELS

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!


Share Your Feedback on a New DD2 Idea

Blog - August 6, 2014 - By Daniel Haddad, Lead Designer/Creative Director

idea-Blog

Hey Defenders,

It’s finally back to your weekly Dungeon Defenders II programming! First up, we have a new DD2 teaser for you. We created this for a partner last week and wanted to share it with all of you:

But more importantly, we have a question for you. When developing a game, there are often many different ideas that get pooled together. Sometimes the ideas are awesomely obvious, like the new combo system we’ve developed in DD2. Other times, ideas take a good amount of iteration to get right or are pretty clear to stay away from. For us, being a sequel to a beloved game, we’re always careful about big changes to something core to the game, and we have an idea that we’re really excited about and want to see if you will be, too!

In Dungeon Defenders II, we’ve been talking about changing it so that, instead of having individual heroes you level up, you level up your hero deck instead. This means as you level up your deck, all the heroes are the same level. This idea came around because, internally, we’ve been playing the game this way since the beginning of development, and we often find it a lot of fun to switch between heroes seamlessly.

We want to add a lot of fun aspects to leveling up your hero deck to give you more options for how you manage your heroes. For example, you’d receive a pool of stat points that you could place amongst all of your heroes, allowing you to focus your stat points in heroes you like the most. Also, when your deck reaches max level, you’ll have an option to reset your progress, like a prestige system. Each time through will give you exciting rewards, like additional stat points, magic find bonuses, special visual customization options, or maybe even a new gear slot! This gives almost limitless replayability and helps with solo play a ton, too.

Why we want to do this:

1. More Even Progression Curve: If you level up multiple heroes at a time in your hero deck with the old system, you’ll constantly be bouncing back to lower matchmaking brackets to get hero experience. With the new system, you get to choose how you spread your stat points amongst your heroes (making them powerful), but you can also use any of the heroes whenever you want without XP sharing concerns. If you’re a hardcore player, aiming to max stats for all heroes, you still have to play multiple times just like you would before. However, now you can use all the heroes as you go!

2. More Replayable: Quite simply, this system allows us to make Dungeon Defenders more replayable. If you prestige your hero deck, you can replay the experience for better rewards, or sync up with a new friend who just started the game. It works kind of like a New Game+ feature, and many members of our team talk about liking these types of systems in other games.

3. Awesome Matchmaking: Though we have some cool ideas on how to make matchmaking work well with hero levels (i.e. no more lvl 2 Squire mooching off the 30s doing all the work), the new hero deck leveling system keeps matchmaking very simple. Instead of having to manage your hero deck to guarantee you have the right hero levels for the content you want to play, you can just pick a level range and go. We think this is faster, easier, and gets people playing together in positive ways.

4. Encourages Play with New Heroes: When new heroes come out, you can play them instantly, having a good time experiencing the content without having to grind up hero levels to make them viable. We really like this idea, that when we release new heroes players aren’t forced to grind from the beginning to enjoy the new experience. Maybe you choose to respec to give points to the new hero, or maybe you just prestige to play from the beginning anyway, but now the choice for how to play is yours.

5. More Flexible Solo Play: Each hero has their own unique role in Dungeon Defenders II as we’ve worked to expand the cooperative elements of the game even further. This means having access to multiple heroes in solo play, and leveraging interesting strategies without having to excessively grind is a big positive. You’ll still need to prestige to unlock enough stat points to fully empower multiple heroes, not to mention finding good loot for them too, but all heroes will be at the same level regardless, and can be used effectively with or without stat point bonuses.

These are only the choice aspects of this new feature we love, and we have a lot of details to get sorted. At its core, we feel this can make Dungeon Defenders II a deeper, more approachable game, which meets up with many of our pillars we talked about when we started this journey together. However, we know this is a big change, and we want your feedback before we commit and start figuring out the specific bits. As we get closer to Early Access, we’re excited to build this game together, feature by feature, and your input is absolutely critical to us making the game you want to play.

So what do you think? We’re eager to read your feedback and help make the choice on where we go from here. Love it, hate it, we’re all ears, so head to the comments section and let us know!

The random winners from our Ambient Sounds of Etheria blog are The Osamodas and IGN_ejfaro!

Share your honest feedback 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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Recent News

New Reveal: The DD2 Tavern! September 19, 2014 New Reveal: Spec Nodes! September 12, 2014 NVIDIA SHIELD Winners Revealed! September 12, 2014 One Year In: DD2 Status Update September 5, 2014 Share Your Feedback on a New DD2 Idea August 6, 2014

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