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This weeks update was delayed by a significant problem found with the start-up experience in Shadowlands on TestLive that made it impossible to start a new Keeper or Shade. The oversight on the faction required for the Neutral side change forms was unfortunate but not the primary reason for the delay. Thank you to the players who brought these issues to our attention and helped us fix these before they sneaked onto Live.
The upcoming weeks should also bring the "Sponsorship system" to the Live servers where the kind act of mentoring new players and ecouraging them to become full members of the AO world will result in a reward of free game-time. I had hoped to get this out earlier in conjunction with the evaluation of the german server but the deployment of the new billing system has resulted in delays. No serious decision will be made concerning the future of the DNW until this system has had a fair chance at helping the recruitment of new players...as the ability to be a full subscriber for free is likely to have an effect on customer numbers. I know this is likely not what some of the DNW community wants to hear but it is the next significant step in the process of deciding on the future of the DNW server. Cost of an AO subscription has been a long term concern voiced by the DNW community...the sponsorship system is a direct action based on DNW concerns. The large percentage of players who wish to remain on a german-only server are entitled to try out the new system designed for them before any other drastic and permanent action is taken.
I apologize for not getting back to as many people this week in PM's as I had hoped. The feedback I asked for concerning old issues and annoyances has been answered with great enthusiasm...I expect we will be busy for quite awhile with these issues...but this has gone a long way to isolating which areas are "least popular" of AO's "features". The death of "preferences not saved before first log-out" included in next week's update is a good start...we are all looking forward to making more of these go away for good.
Let me answer several PM's at once here by saying "We have not forgotten Halloween!". Halloween is my favourite AO time of year and we have planned a raft of non-traditional goodies for this year including a new hoverbike, hoverboard, new t-shirts, placards, masks, batwings, the long awaited "Bat with Scope" for the innaccurate melee character, a new festive seasonal hoverchair, the much requested "Egina" t-shirt for our female hardcore players, Costumes (OMG Catgurlz?) and more. With absolutely no explanation or reason except that "we can" there will also be new ducks. Halloween has not been forgotten...after next week's update goes live we can't wait to start testing these new toys on Test.