Driftwood Tavern Stream Summary - Introducing Brett Norton the new Executive Producer of Neverwinter
Updated: Mar 15, 2022
The latest Driftwood Tavern Stream, on Tuesday 8th March 2022, introduced the community to the new. recently appointed Executive Producer, Brett Norton.
Brett has been a part of Cryptic Studios for over 3 years, his most recent role being the Executive Producer of Champions Online. He has now taken over the EP role for Neverwinter whilst still also working on Champions, after being approached by the Neverwinter team due to his experience and knowledge of the game.
He has played Neverwinter for over three years and mains a Barbarian Sentinel, whilst occasionally playing the Blademaster (DPS) paragon of the class. His favourite queued content is Infernal Citadel, Illusionists Gambit, the Tiamat and Tower of the Mad Mage trials. He plays mainly on PC, but also does play on consoles.
Brett took many questions from the community during the stream and gave us all so much information that we have broken it down into the summary below.
Q1: What is your vision for professions and when should the community expect the new, highly anticipated, Sharandar Masterworks recipes?
Brett: Professions will be having small updates to recipes sometime in the near future though there is no date for release as yet. Sharandar recipes are not on the forefront of these additions however and it is unlikely that the community will see these updates before Mod 23.
Q2: Current issues - Is there a fix due soon to the bug with changing loadouts, causing Companion Powers to unslot?
Brett: The issue occurred when fixing the previous bug that was unslotting enchants when changing loadouts. We expect all platforms to have the fix for this companion issue by next week at the latest (Week commencing Monday 14th March).
Q3: Is there a new roadmap available or in planning for release?
Brett: YES!! The current plan is to have a roadmap for the next years' worth of content. It is still in planning though for the 6 months beyond August 2022.
Q4: Bug Fixes - What is the backlog of current issues and the priorities for fixing these?
Brett: We have a list of bugs already but report them to us as you discover them. Try and give us as much detail in your reports as you can. As a whole, initiatives are planned this year for more issues to be fixed that annoy the developers and also a look at Quality of Life (QoL) issues too such as Bag Sorting, Companion Sorting issues etc.
We are also currently working on fixing many issues with the BARD class, starting firstly with Minstrel (Heals) then moving onto the Songblade (DPS).
Q5: Are class metrics tracked to determine the popularity of certain classes and identify those with issues that players now tend to avoid?
Brett: Yes, certain metrics are tracked by the developers but not in the way you may think. The metrics don't necessarily track specific issues (such as bugs with powers etc). They do however show comparisons between performance of the various classes across different content and the use of different powers in that content.
Q6: What are we to expect with the future of the Strongholds system?
Brett: We currently have a two part plan. We would like to have a full rework down the line but due to the intense coding of the content it wont be the first on the list. Nearer term is a look at the various vendors in the SH, ones that players can spend Guild Marks at and refresh that content potentially providing newer gears, refinement items etc. We haven't a time scale for that as yet and it is not expected in the next 6 months.
Q7: Random Advanced Queues - Is the Queue system going to be made relevant again and why has the Demogorgon Trial been removed from the Random Queue System?
Brett: Demogorgon has been removed from the Random Queue due to consistently low success rates and it hasn't been a great situation for many players. It failed to hit the Developers internal criteria. We are looking at making success rates more consistent for the remainder of the Random Queues and assessing what works better in a public queue versus a private one. Going forward, we are looking at trials having both a public and private facing option.
Q8: Are there any plans make rewards more enticing? Any changes to the RNG and current Lockboxes?
Brett: I think most RNG rewards are quite reasonable, however, we have seen a trend in more recent modules that drop rates are very low on some rarer items. One example is the Enchanted Bristles (and other Enchanted Broom reagents) from the Masquerade Event. These are much harder to obtain for a casual player with less time to play than others. I don't want the drop rates to be so low that players have to run content 100+ times just to drop one item so we are looking into the drop rates in some content.
Lockboxes - Expect to see more from Knox Boxes in the future and a change to how other Lockboxes are done too!
Q9: Are there any more plans currently for more 'huge' changes/reworks to existing content?
Brett: We are trying to avoid any 'whiplash' effects on players in future changes and improvements. We have less focus now in trying to solve issues with major changes and much more focus on solving issues within current formats.
Q10: Future Development - Are there any plans to release more Hunt systems similar to those in Barovia?
Brett: In an upcoming mod, there is likely to be a hunt format inspired by Barovia, but a larger system than that seen in Ravenloft.
Q11: Endgame Content - Is there more endgame content expected similar to the Reapers Queue?
Brett: We are looking at more content in this area with a level of challenge involved.
Q12: How would you reassure the player-base with our current concerns over issues?
Brett: I regularly play the game and note issues and my own concerns whilst playing my Barbarian. We are looking to improve Quality of Life, Class Balancing and finding a good balance of 'pain points' whilst ensuring we can still grow the player-base.
Q13: What are your 3 main priorities moving forward in the foreseeable future and what plans do Gearbox/Embracer Group have for the game going forward?
Brett: Gearbox Publishing are separated from Gearbox Games.There aren't planned changes ahead for day to day operations and the current game set, but there may be a potential of publishing and marketing changes ahead.
My top 3 priorities as Executive Producer right now are:
Improving the Quality of Life for the Developer Team, to enable them to focus more on solving issues etc.
Improving the Quality of life for our player base - improvements to current systems alongside releasing new quality content
Having the resources to release larger size modules and content in one release. We have lots of ideas for our 10th Anniversary, but nothing official as yet.
Q14: Will the new Enchants be added to the Tarmalune Trade Bar Store?
Brett: There is a possibility of us adding some in there but maybe only the lower ranks 1 & 2 and not max ranks as before. We are also still investigating the issue of Insignias not stacking.
Q15: Feedback from the community Forums - Greater Shard costs are too high...!
Brett: The collars are intended to be a long grind but I agree that the grind time for them is very high and that many leave them and move onto other things. I will be looking into that further...
Q16: Will you be syncing future content releases alongside other content licensed by Wizards of the Coast (such as the new Dungeons & Dragons movie next year)?
Brett: The team often look at this and try to collaborate with WotC as much as we can but it does take much more long term planning. We are trying to tie up some content with them in the next few mods.
Q17: Are there any updates on the Mythic Gears currently on the PC Preview Server?
Brett: We are trying to look at publishing rewards like this to the Preview Server sooner than we have previously so we can get as much feedback from players as we can, before they release to Live Servers. The Systems team may still hold things back and as always things on the Preview server are always subject to change before being fully released.
Q18: Are there any new events to come and any plans for old events to return such as CTA; Day of the Dungeon Master?
Brett: We have been looking at the older events recently. CTA does have some issues that require more work, changes to things etc; so is currently being audited to see what can be done to them, This doesn't mean it is returning!!
Day of the Dungeon Master IS COMING BACK in the next few months!! Likely with rewards attached to the new Appointment Vendor!!
Q19: What are your plans for future release cadence? Any plans to release content more often?
Brett: The current cadence is two mods a year with additional content in between the main two module releases. At the moment it is likely it stay that way, but I would prefer to see three 'big' releases every year as well as more season passes and other content.
Q20: Do you plan to continue on with the Episodic content after a Mod release?
Brett: Episodic content is an option but create 'headaches' for the Developers. This sort of content is challenging to create so we aren't likely to release Episodes in close succession. With Dragonbone Vale (& Scaleblight Summit), we worked better as development was done in parallel. It's possible we could do Epilogues/Prologues also in the future...
Q21: The Grapping mechanic in Dragonbone Vale, any plans to use it elsewhere in game?
Brett: The Grapple mechanic is zone specific right now but we have looked at it being expanded out into future zones.
Julia: It was looked at having it in Protector's Enclave, but it's a lot of work...
Q22: Are there any considerations of reworks to older Quality of Life Systems such as Collections, Achievements?
Brett: I hope we can find the time to look into some of those, but I can't promise we will have a lot of time to devote to those systems.
Q23: Classes - Is it possible to ever fully balance the classes?
Brett: Thats a tough one! We want to keep individuality between the classes. They should have avenues to succeed in the content we make. We are trying to figure out a way to provide that balance through more meaningful choices in powers etc. Wizard & Paladin are also on our list for improvements alongside the Bard mentioned earlier.
Q24: Can we have more Dragon Mounts?
Brett: I want some more dragon mounts... though flying ones are probably out.
Q25: Old Enchants are still be given as rewards and now some chests are coming up empty because of the removal of these. Are there any plans to fix this and any new enchants due that are similar to the old Tymora's ones?
Brett: The bugs with the chests are due to be fixed and more cleaning up needs to be done of the other old enchant and Marks of Potency sources.
Q26: Will the Champions of the Hall Companions return to the Zen Market and are any other new items planned to be added to the Market?
Brett: the Champions of the Hall Companions are likely to return at some point. I don't want one off of items to be added to the market and then they never return. As for new items, we are looking at new storage expansion options (Bags, Bank slots). We are taking the time to explore other options. I want to improve the Profession storage too, again better sorting and more QoL improvements.
Q27: Any plans for Player Housing?
Brett: No plans at all for player housing, though the Stronghold would be a good place to incorporate it.
Q28: Any future plans for PvP?
Brett: Again no plans for PvP right now but we are considering a future event or changes to help players spend their Glory Currency.
Q29: Any changes to Companions?
Brett: We are looking at Companions' powers for future releases and how they work so we don't have to 'nerf' them later down the line. I want to make sure they are useful in specific situations.
Q30: Will the Foundry System ever return to PC?
Brett: There are no initiatives on it returning. The Foundry is dead! It was hard to maintain and took the developers time away from other issues in the game.
Q31: I asked Brett about the possibility of having test (preview) servers on Consoles (#NWXbox & #NeverwinterPS)...