Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach developers journal

Andy “Denour” Gillis has sat down to bring us another round of the Dungeons & Dragons Online developers journal. Andy gives a quick rundown of the many, many parts of the game that he has worked on. Read the full article at the link below.

 

Hello there; my name is Andy Gillis, though you may know me better as “Denour”. I am a Game Systems Engineer here on DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE™: Stormreach™ and part of the effort of bringing Eberron to life.

 

Since joining the team I have worked on several different tasks; some very much under the hood such as customer support tools and fault tolerance for our communication system, while other tasks have been a bit more obvious such as the friends list, incorporating voice chat into the user interface, and your most important concern: dice!

Andy “Denour” Gillis has sat down to bring us another round of the Dungeons & Dragons Online developers journal. Andy gives a quick rundown of the many, many parts of the game that he has worked on.

 

Hello there; my name is Andy Gillis, though you may know me better as “Denour”. I am a Game Systems Engineer here on DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach and part of the effort of bringing Eberron to life.

 

Since joining the team I have worked on several different tasks; some very much under the hood such as customer support tools and fault tolerance for our communication system, while other tasks have been a bit more obvious such as the friends list, incorporating voice chat into the user interface, and your most important concern: dice!

 

We all know that dice are a very important part of Dungeons & Dragons. Perhaps one of the things we had underestimated was how personal these dice could be to the player. We listened to the feedback of the Beta players and we have added options to let you personalize how your dice are displayed. As a result there are now twenty-seven different styles of dice for you to choose from in the user interface options. Styles include Brigand Green, Onyx and Ruby. In addition, we have updated the dice display to show 2d10 for percentage rolls: no more magical one hundred sided d20 display here!

 

Voice chat fell into my lap as a result of some very ambitious work on behalf of our Core Engineering team. Voice chat had always been a feature everyone wanted to see implemented into DDO since the party-based nature of the game pointed in that direction. After much hard work, a proof of concept, which is the initial implementation to show voice could be implemented into our engine, was successfully integrated into the game. With the first proof of concept ready, it was time to hook voice into the user interface.

 

The voice chat feature is available on a per party basis. If a member of your party has voice chat enabled, a small icon will be displayed next to their health bar in the party display. Only party members who have voice chat enabled and have the proper hardware will be able to hear voice chat. When one of your fellow party members is speaking, their name in the party display will change color.

 

There was work to be done beyond the Party UI. In order to make configuring voice as painless as possible I had to incorporate a microphone test into the audio options. Performing a microphone test will display a sound meter that will assist in setting your sound levels so you are not clipping when talking (clipping is what happens when an audio wave is truncated, causing distortion and unpleasant sounds). Another feature included into the options is the ability to switch between press to talk and hands free mode.

 

I had a very funny thing happen to me when I attempted to test out voice chat on our Beta world. I took myself to the Wavecrest Inn and asked if anyone was interested in trying out the newly added voice feature. A few folks responded, eager to help. However, one person began asking me strange questions. “What is a Microphone?” “PC? What is this you speak of?” His strange questions quickly turned into accusing me of witchcraft! Needless to say, I obtained my help elsewhere.

 

I hope that the work being done helps further the effort to make DDO feel as much like pen and paper D&D as possible. If we could, we would throw in some soda and chips but I think that would be very hard to serialize and send in a binary stream. So for now, weÂ’ll have to settle with talking to your fellow adventurers.

 

Take care, and happy adventuring!
-Andy “Denour” Gillis.

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