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Dungeons and Dragons Online Impressions 292

Posted by Zonk
from the i-cast-magic-missle dept.
Tabletop roleplaying has been a fixture in my life since I was ten. You can probably imagine my enthusiasm when I heard of the joint venture between Asheron's Call developer Turbine and D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast. The goal: A Massively Multiplayer game set in a D&D campaign. Keith Baker's Eberron was tapped for the gameworld's flavour, with the d20 ruleset providing the skeleton on which to create the title's mechanics. The result is Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO), which has been in the works for about two years now. DDO is faithful in ways I wouldn't have thought possible, but still manages to raise conflicting opinions for me. DDO has real-time traps and combat, beautiful graphics, and still fails to interest me on any level of my gamer soul. Read on for my impressions of a most perplexing MMOG.
  • Title: Dungeons and Dragons Online
  • Developer: Turbine Entertainment
  • Publisher: Atari
  • System:PC
When I say impressions, I feel that I should emphasize my level of interaction with the game. I've only been playing the game for about a month total time now, which is hardly enough to take in the length and breadth of a game the size of DDO. When I reviewed World of Warcraft in 2004, I'd been playing the game for over six months. Here I just have my ten days of beta try-out and the time since the retail headstart began. As an MMOG, DDO will be changing and adapting as players play and devs develop. We'll do our best to keep you up to date on the game as it changes, and keep you informed if the state of the game becomes drastically different. That said, I do feel I have a good enough grasp of the game to offer a considered opinion on the game as it exists at launch.

One aspect of the title I know I have a firm grasp on is the setting. Eberron was developed by Keith Baker for a contest held by Wizards of the Coast a few years ago. Since then the pulp action setting for the D&D system has become the company's premier IP. Novels, sourcebooks, comics, and miniatures are all being created with the Eberron world in mind, and Dungeons and Dragons Online is the second work of electronic entertainment to use the setting. You may recall Dragonshard, the D&D RTS title. That too is based in Eberron, but with an (understandably) less immersive look at the setting. DDO delves deep into the backstory of the gameworld. Set in the settlement of Stormreach on the continent of Xen'drik, the game allows you to explore some of the elements that make Eberron unique. The powerful merchant and political factions known as Dragonmarked Houses make an appearance in the game, as benefactors and opponents. Dragons are rare, powerful, and mysterious. While I would have liked to get more of the backstory from the setting's main continent of Khorvaire, there is a definite sense of place in DDO. It's thin, but it's there.

Creating a character is the first of many DDO aspects that reinforce a D&D feel. Attributes are created using the 'point buy' system, allowing a player to build a character to fit a class without relying on random die rolls. If you're uninterested in tweaking a character's skills and attributes, you can simply select a class/race combo and accept the pre-built character the game will provide you. Prebuilt characters all have fairly sane choices made as regards attributes and skills, and if you're not interested in learning the particulars of D&D character creation it's a safe choice to make. All of the D&D iconic classes are available (even poncy bards), along with the typical player races. The Warforged are the stand-out race for the game, living constructs that resemble animated statues. In the game's lore, Warforged were construct troops created for a titanic century-long war. With the war at an end Warforged are emancipated creatures and can fill any role the fleshy races do. While I find them intriguing plot elements, I've heard a lot of player commentary about their inhumanity. It's a fact that the race most often played in a MMOG is 'human', and the unliving nature of the Warforged may make them an unpopular race. Just the same, their inclusion is a powerful reminder of the setting's background. The classes available are typical to what you'd find in most MMOGs; With good reason, as most MMOGs stole their class concepts from D&D in the first place. One class element that might surprise some folks who haven't done table-top gaming before is the role of the cleric. D&D clerics are almost as powerful front-line fighters as your fighter or paladin. They wear heavy armor, kick ass, and take names in the pursuit of their god's goals. Rogues are also fundamentally more useful than in many typical MMOGs. There are plenty of traps in D&D dungeons, and rogues are the only ones who can disable them. Making your character 'feels' very D&D, and sets the stage for your integration into the Eberron setting.

Once you're in the game, you'll find that the D&D setting is the least of the elements setting DDO apart from other MMOGs. Combat is a very different animal than almost any other title in the genre. In a word, DDO combat is realtime. Instead of hitting fight and using abilities as they become available, or simply watching as your avatar filets a bunny, DDO is a click-fest worthy of either Diablo game. Each click is a swing of the sword, and whether you 'hit' or not is determined by your stats. In the corner of the screen you're shown your to-hit roll, which is a random number between 1 and 20 modified by your Strength score. To score a hit, you have to get higher than your opponent's AC, and on a natural 20 you do more damage (a critical hit). In other words, you're going to do a lot of missing. This gets frustrating very very quickly. In fact, it's gets just boring after a while. Tabletop D&D combat is fun because it's abstract, with the blows landing on the screen in your mind. Actually having to sit there and watch the swords swing over and over is more than a little tedious. D&D monsters aren't like the villains of Diablo; They jump around, move out of range, and generally do their best not to get killed. That means that in addition to repeatedly clicking on your opponent you're going to be trying to follow their movements. It's all too dang chaotic to be truly fun.

Besides just poking the baddies, there is actually a good deal of depth to DDO combat. All characters have the option of using some tactics in their fighting. Skills actually play a large part in combat if used correctly. Diplomacy attempts to throw off aggro, making a monster attack someone else. Intimidate is the opposite, encouraging foes to attack your character. Rogues can use the Hide and Move Silently skills to avoid notice, and bypass monsters if need be. If they don't, they can strike from hiding and possible score a sneak attack for massive damage. Rogues can even do sneak attacks in combat by using the Bluff skill to throw an opponent off balance. Magic is more your typical MMOG fare. Wizards, Clerics, etc, have mana points which are used up by spellcasting. Even with that as the base mechanic, the system is very D&D. Spellcasting classes have only a few spell slots, and can only swap out what they have online when resting. Further, arcane spellcasters only know a subset of their available spells and must find or purchase additional spells before they can use them. These elements are all laudable additions to the game, but in reality many combats feel more like a group of individuals doing their own thing than a party effort. Because of the frenetic nature of real-time clicky combat fights are fast and hard to manage. A group comfortable with each other, with voice chat in use, will have a good deal of success. Pick-up groups, though, are at even more of a disadvantage than in most games simply because things happen so fast.

That's what you do in combat. What you're actually *doing* when you play DDO is almost entirely dungeon-crawling. You receive quests from the people of Stormreach, all of whom need help with this or that. Like City of Heroes/Villains, your missions are instanced, meaning that you and your party get to play around with your own copy of the dank basement/decaying sewer/giant ruin that you have to explore. With the missions instanced, DDO dungeons are allowed to do some really interesting stuff. Traps, for example, are deadly challenges that affect the world in real-time. More than just kicking open a chest and being set on fire, razor-sharp blades swing from the ceiling. Splashes of acid fly from spigots in the walls. If you don't have a rogue with you, some traps can be avoided by using your platforming skills to time the gap in a trap's movement. If you do have a rogue handy, the trap mechanisms can be searched out and disabled. The traps are a very cool addition to the genre, but the quests are unfortunately laughable. The thin layer of Eberron that I mentioned above is mostly related through quest text, and what is offered through NPC interaction is cookie cutter and boring. Quests usually have a voice-over, from an intangible Dungeon Master, to spice up your understanding of the situation and evoke the table-top setting. In my opinion, the voice-over doesn't add much. In truth, the storytelling that Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft manage through questing makes the story attempts of DDO look like a student project MOO in comparison.

Besides traps, dungeons are populated with all manner of gross and icky critters. While you start off fighting skeletons, slimes, and kobolds, you eventually graduate to some of the archetypal monsters of the Dungeons and Dragons product line. They're smart, too, with even the dim-witted kobolds doing their best to dance outside the range of your swordarm. You get real satisfaction from slaying enemies in DDO, both because they're a real challenge and because you can stop clicking for a little while. What you don't get is XP. Experience points are only handed out at the end of the mission, when quest objectives are completed. While some missions may have a subquest asking you to slay x number of monsters in the dungeon, each individual kill nets you nothing more than a clear hallway. I'm pretty ambivalent about this design decision. On the one hand, I like that they're emphasizing the quest instead of bashing in a kobold's brains. On the other, I don't feel quite the surge of success for whacking the baddie I might get in another game. Additionally, since the quests are so blah the XP I receive for completing them seems ill-gotten somehow. It's a toss-up, but it mostly feels like they made this decision just to be different.

That XP is put towards your next level, as with all MMOGs. There is a difference here, though, in that each level is a very long time coming. You do gain in power on a semi-regular basis, but instead of gaining a level you gain a rank. Each level is broken down into four ranks, waypoints along the road to your next level. Each rank nets you an action point, which can be spent on a character enhancement. Every race/class combo has different enhancements available to it, and all of them increase specific aspects of your character abilities. (+3 to Search, for example.) With every level being a major milestone, it won't come as a surprise that there aren't that many to gain. At the moment DDO only allows you to achieve level 10, rank 4. You can go no higher than that, but there are plans in the works to add level 11-20 content at a future date. For most normal players this will take a while; the much loved experience penalty is enacted if and when you wipe. If you die and other folks are still alive, they can take you to a resurrection shrine in the dungeon to revive you. Rest shrines are usually nearby these areas, allowing characters to regain hit points and mana mid-dungeon. Besides these rest shrines, the only way to heal HP in-dungeon is with a potion or clerical spell. I hate hate hate almost everything about these design decisions. In reverse order: Long downtimes suck. HP and MP not regenning sucks. It is not fun to sit in an inn after a mission is over watching my hp bar creep upwards. You can buy food and drink to improve this rate of regen, but it's nothing like the regeneration you'd see in other modern MMOGs. Experience penalties are evil. Taking away accomplishment from a player is the worst thing you can possibly do. It's not as harsh an experience as you'll get in FFXI, but it's still frustrating to have XP taken away because of something you may not have even had control over. Finally, their decision to ship with only ten levels is a very bad one. I'll expand on why that is below.

You'll note I've usually said 'you' when talking about gameplay, but that's misleading. I should be saying 'you and your party', because in order to play DDO you'll have to be grouped. I'll say that again so you can be clear on this: It is not possible to play Dungeons and Dragons Online solo. The intention, of course, is to evoke the flavour of a table-top session. The publisher has even included voice chat as a built-in feature to the game client to facilitate team communication. The result is a title that you cannot play alone. Some classes, like spellcasters and rogues, will have trouble soloing even the introductory quest when you first get off the boat. Clerics are probably the best soloing class, as they can heal themselves most effectively, but after the first few 'figure out the game' dungeons they're outmatched by the strength of most monsters. I can't really fault them for deciding to go this route, but it's a very harsh line. Even Vanguard, the upcoming hardcore MMO being designed very specifically with grouping in mind, is said to have something like 15% of its content geared for solo players. There isn't even that much for the individual in DDO.

The one thing I can say without prevarication is that Dungeons and Dragons Online looks good. The streets of Stormreach are beautifully laid out, with a style of architecture that really gets across the character of Eberron. A floating inn out over the water is just the tip of the iceberg; DDO has a truly unique look. Character and monster animations are well done, and the soft lighting that pervades the game gives an otherworldly charm to the title. The visual look does more than anything else to establish the character of the dungeons and city streets you'll be exploring. The sound situation has likewise gotten a good deal of attention, but the results there seem merely adequate. Sound effects are competently accomplished, and the musical track highlights game moments without being offensive. There is 'combat music', though, which I'm already tired of. Combat music is fine in a single-player RPG, but FFXI is the only MMOG in which I find that acceptable.

Another website is quoted in a DDO television commercial as offering "A Genuine Online D&D Experience". Whoever it was that came up with that piece of pabulum has never actually played Dungeons and Dragons. Table-top D&D is about storytelling, camaraderie, and having fun with your friends. Somehow in the brave new electronic frontier, these qualities are translated into meaningless grind quests, chaotic click-fest combat, and swearing over voicechat. I'm enormously frustrated by DDO because there is just so much new and interesting going on here. The skill use and traps are real firsts for the genre, providing meaningful player choice in how to navigate a dungeon and how to do combat. These awesome mechanics are sandwiched side by side with other elements that seem more appropriate for launch-day Ultima Online. There are so many contradictions within this game that it's hard to know which is most confusing, but I have a top pick. For those who will like this game, they're going to just eat this thing up. And when I mean eat it up I mean "grind through the game in about a month or two". There were already characters at max level before the game's headstart event had finished out. Whoever did that payed about fifty bucks for ten days or so worth of play. They undoubtedly started a new character, but because of the simple questing structure there's almost no replay value currently in the game. Thankfully not all is doom and gloom. Turbine just announced that they're already planning to add 15 new dungeons and a raid on a dragon's lair in April. That commitment to new content is the going to be the only thing keeping the hardcore around because there is nothing at all available for you once you hit level 10. There is nothing to the endgame yet; It's all still in production.

So, let's review: The game isn't for the hardcore because they'll eat the content too quickly. It's not for the casual gamer because it's impossible to play on your own. Dungeons and Dragons Online is very specifically crafted for folks playing with other people at a non-hardcore pace. And in a way I think that's a good thing. It's good they have a target audience in mind, and if I were planning on adopting DDO as my game of choice that would probably be a good description of me. Just the same, it's a very bold decision to make. Only time will tell for sure, but I have a feeling it's a decision that will come back to haunt them. In the meantime: If you've got a group of regular online gamers you play with, you and your crew should consider giving DDO a try. It's got some interesting new elements that make it stand quite apart from most other Massive games. Don't be surprised if you get bored of it sooner rather than later, but if you and your group are tired of raiding Molten Core for the hundredth time this should keep you out out of Azeroth for a month or two. Hardcore gamers should stick to whatever they're playing now. They'll eat this title for lunch and find themselves frustrated with the lack of endgame content. Casual players should just keep on moving. If you're not willing to commit the time and energy to the constant search for a group, you won't find anything to do here. At the end of the day, DDO is a game with a great deal of promise squandered by some very confusing design decisions. Now go find your DM and give him a hug.
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Dungeons and Dragons Online Impressions

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  • From the FAQ (Score:4, Informative)

    by Golias (176380) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:46PM (#14926675)
    "Currently Dungeons and Dragons Online only supports certain Windows operating systems. There are no plans at this time to make a Macintosh compatible version."

    Guess that means I'll stick with WoW. kthxbye.
    • Also to the point. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gentimjs (930934)
      Until they have a solaris/sparc version, I'll be sticking with text MUDs. kthxbye. Sadly, the majority of games developers dont seem to give half a shiznit about platforms other than WindowsXP (and vista soon) .. im not saying they SHOULD care about porting thier game to a serious minority platform (such as mine), im just pointing out that they DONT.
      • by Andrzej Sawicki (921100) <ansaw@poczta.onet.pl> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:26PM (#14927027)
        Sadly, the majority of games developers dont seem to give half a shiznit about platforms other than WindowsXP (and vista soon)
        I believe you misspelled "managers".
      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:44PM (#14927206)

        Sadly, the majority of games developers dont seem to give half a shiznit about platforms other than WindowsXP (and vista soon) .. im not saying they SHOULD care about porting thier game to a serious minority platform (such as mine), im just pointing out that they DONT.

        True, but one of their major competitors and the game this will doubtless be measured against does. Hence, it is perfectly appropriate to point out that they will lose market because of this design decision. Maybe that will be insignificant, but it is one concrete way in which this game is inferior. Personally, I don't enjoy grinding games designed to take up as much time as possible. I'd rather go with a design that gives you as much fun in the smallest amount of time. This is why it is unlikely I would ever buy either WoW or DDO. When games sales methods provide a financial incentive to the developers for wasting your time and those companies have not built an extraordinary level of trust I'll always pass.

    • "Currently Dungeons and Dragons Online only supports certain Windows operating systems. There are no plans at this time to make a Macintosh compatible version."

      Guess that means I'll stick with WoW.

      Right there with you (and confused about why you were modded redundant).

      By this review, the game sounds pretty awful. But I find all of the shortcomings described here to be secondary to the fact that it'll run only on so atrocious an operating system.

    • "There are no plans at this time to make a Macintosh compatible version."

      Guess that means I'll stick with WoW. kthxbye.


      What if you could run it in Darwine or dual boot your intel mac into Winxp?

      Well then it would be a moot point, but as of now you can't... So we won't...

      But maybe we will...

      That or hope Virtual PC 8 runs at full speed.
    • Re:From the FAQ (Score:4, Insightful)

      by petsounds (593538) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @05:43PM (#14927817)
      While some may think that Mac OS X is still a fringe OS compared to Windows, I have noticed more and more WoW players that I know choosing iBooks and PowerBooks for their "portable" WoW experience. The main reason for this is the price-performance ratio of having a good video card coming standard in the Mac portables. As we have seen as a general trend on slashdot, a lot of techies have migrated to Macs. A lot of these techies also play MMOs and other games.

      I think that MMO developers (and other genres) are being very short-sighted by discounting Mac development. While the overall market share of Macs probably hasn't increased much in the past couple years, I wouldn't be surprised if the market share of hardcore gamers using Macs has gone up quite a bit.

      The one "excuse" I am seeing from PC game developers over and over when dismissing the possibility of a Mac version is that they coded their game using DirectX. So it would seem that there is a wide-open opportunity for a middleware developer to create a DirectX wrapper for use under OS X. Unless game developers start embracing OpenGL more, this is probably the only way we'll see an increase in Mac development from smaller game studios.
    • Guess that means I'll stick with WoW. kthxbye.

      You're not missing anything, DDO blows. It has to be the dullest game I've played in years. All there is to do is go to instanced quests and grind through them. You're better off buying NWN and not paying $15 a month. You'll be able to play with more people at a time, NWN servers 64 character max, DDO instance 50 characters max, and have access to 1,000 times as much content.

      DDO continues Turbines sad legacy started with AC2.

  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:46PM (#14926680) Homepage Journal
    I played D&D when I was young -- it was part of the reason I entered the BBS world. Later, my BBS grew beyond single node and many of my regulars played Tele-Arena, a MUD that could handle dozens of users. When the Internet destroyed most BBSes, I played a few MUDs but it wasn't the same. With the BBS gaming, people all lived fairly close to one another, and many users got together on a regular basis. With the Internet, this "get together" is nearly impossible.

    MMOGs don't interest me -- the graphics pretty much ruin in. I've thought about getting together with some other "over the hill" D&D geeks on occasion to try table top gaming again, but there isn't enough time for most people to make it a regular scheduled item.

    What are the options? I was thinking of an MMOG with reduced graphics (leading to increased imagination) that maybe segregated players into communities where they'd play against others close to one another. Communities might be tied to one another allowing crossover, but requiring the player to want to take the time to travel to these truly distant lands but requiring them to return home before retiring for the day.

    I don't know if this is really an answer, but I'm sure there are others out there that don't get into the graphics, don't have time to find others nearby, but still want the chance to have some virtual face-to-face time.

    From what I can tell, there aren't any "locally restricted" options for any MMOG, but I wonder if this is the next step in gaming: offering people the chance to play within their true community, whatever that may be. Beyond that, I'd like to see how more imagination can be part of gaming, like it used to be.

    Side note: are there any MMOGs that have a graphic interface that is built around a user's imagination? Maybe in between games (or even during games) the user can go elect to redesign a given monster or land or whatever to more of what they see in their heads? I'd think this would add a uniqueness factor that would make the game more playable -- rather than being stuck with the typical same interface, the player has a lot more control. For example: you're fighting Monster X but the monster isn't really what you see in your head. Hit the + key or something and you can scroll through the various monster designs out there (even third party designed maybe) until you see what you like. Same thing could be true for the various land designs and overall world feel.
    • by sheath (4100) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:06PM (#14926858) Homepage
      MMOGs don't interest me -- the graphics pretty much ruin in. I've thought about getting together with some other "over the hill" D&D geeks on occasion to try table top gaming again, but there isn't enough time for most people to make it a regular scheduled item.

      So, writing as an "over the hill geek" - my first roleplaying experience was in late 1983, I have a suggestion: put in the effort to find people who want to play!

      I started playing D&D 3rd edition again a few years ago with a few friends. At that point, we were all in grad school. Now, I'm a consultant, and most of the rest are lawyers. The game improves as you age. We haven't been in a dungeon in a year, but we've had fantastic debates over deposing the current ruler of an autocratic city-state ("Who will rule when we leave?" "Do we really have the right?"), the morality of killing the few to save the many (or killing the many to save the even more), and the banter between characters and between characters and NPCs is better than that in most fantasy novels. ('Cause, you know, we're older and more mature than we were when we were in high school.)

      So: go check out your local gaming store. Or the local grad school. Or ask around among friends and say you're running a D&D game. Get people to come for just one day of gaming. Some of them will turn out to be hardcore and play every week. Our current group of 4-6 people meets every Sunday for about 5 hours. (I haven't missed a week since January, in spite of working 60+ hour weeks).

      Some people will drop out, other will try to join, but it's worth the effort to making it work.

      Disclaimer: Children will probably kill the whole thing. But until then... swords high!

      • I didn't start playing till college and you're right: it's not that hard to find other interested people. A number of the people with whom I play now had never played before when my group first met them. It's really a lot of fun, except the couple of time I've played with kids who are obsessed with being chaotic evil.

        We had one kid, the younger brother of the DM's fiance, who was forced to be chaotic neutral. He kept saying that even though it wasn't his alignment, he was going to "pretend" he was chaotic e

      • Hehe. I played RPGs in the 80's, but haven't really done so since graduating HS. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I dragged my wife to the local RPG group that meets on Saturdays in the library. It was embarrassing. I was the oldest person there by far. There was one kid who wasn't even born the last time I'd played D&D. Granted, they were kids who were serious into gaming. The one guy had written his own game, based on the d20 system, and the group played that quite a bit, but I was unable to figure out

      • "and the banter between characters and between characters and NPCs is better than that in most fantasy novels."

        pure curiosity as i have never played dnd but wouldnt an "NPC" be text off a piece of paper? Do they use audio cassets with pre recorded medievil voices? Im kind of picturing the board game nightmare right now.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:19PM (#14926972)
      was immersion. When I used to play table-top DnD, what really captured me was the fact that my character was an interactive part of the world around them physically, and more important, socially. If I was the captain of an army and deserted them right before a pivotal battle, the GM made damn sure my character became notorious and was remembered by their former comrades. Sure, MMOs have some really stunning graphics now, but eye candy only goes so far in creating an immersive feeling.

      I think a system that would help would be to hire online GMs. These GMs should be given the power to change all kinds of aspects of the game, like geography and NPC status to reflect the actions of the players. If a bunch of players band together and raid a goblin village, any GM online at the time that witnesses the raid could change the village by either adding ogre mercs that the goblins hired or making the village deserted representing a decision by the goblins to relocate to somewhere safer. These companies pay for people to keep up their network systems, maybe they could pay people to keep up the virtual systems, too.
    • I don't know if this is exactly in line with your ideas, but I think it's close... http://www.paranoia-live.net/news.php [paranoia-live.net] Some gamers who play paranoia developed a java-based application that allows people to meet virtually for table top games. The app allows for chatting and has all kinds of built in features geared towards the game. It's not table top, and it's not a MUD/MMOG. I think it fills a nice place in the middle... It still requires all the imagination of table top, just not the space (and you
    • From what I can tell, there aren't any "locally restricted" options for any MMOG

      The first word in MMOG is "massive", which isn't what you are looking for. If you want to get a small group together for a dungeon hack, why not fire up Neverwinter Nights and grab the latest top-quality mod?
    • Everquest has supported home brewed / modded UI's for at least 2-3 years now. There's some stunning interfaces available, too.
    • by maillemaker (924053) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:45PM (#14927225)
      http://www.sca.org/ [sca.org]

      There are local chapters damn near everywhere. A whole lot of us, at least "older" folks, got into this THROUGH D&D.

      A lot of my SCA buds do games like D&D on a regular basis.

      Steve
    • MMOGs don't interest me -- the graphics pretty much ruin in.

      I play a fun little RPG strategy game called carnageblender [carnageblender.com] that doesn't have any graphics. It's built around the idea that most people playing these sorts of games want to chat, and to see their character's stats go up (with work). So it's a text-based combat game where you equip weapons, and spend earned xp on spells/physical attributes/skills. You fight your fellow players, trying to find a character setup that can defeat other people that

    • I think it would be a neat feature to be able to locate other characters in such games that are played by people local to yourself - in-game as it were.

      That would encourage get togethers and add a new element to the play.
    • by achacha (139424) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:45PM (#14928894) Homepage
      I too have played and loved AD&D during the 80s and early 90s. It was a great way to hang out with freinds, run some encounters, drink beer, watch some porn, kill a few more things, eat, drink some more beer, watch some more porn, drink some more beer, argue over rolls, threaten DM for fixing combat and encounters, getting pissed off for rolling on treasures and getting yet another useless potion, and so on.

      Those were great times that will be with me throughout my life, something my kids may never experience (but I am sure they will have their version of it).

      Now I was really excited when I got into D&DO beta, I was hoping I would get into some groups, encounter monsters and puzzles and such. Got some free weekend time, installed it, got a 2 6-packs of beer (Dinkelaker just like in the old days), some chips and started playing.

      Beer 1:
      Update started... 40 minutes to go...

      Beer 2, 3, 4: Watched episode of ST:TNG, "A fistful of datas", 45 minutes...

      Beer 5:
      Finally I am in, create an elf fighter and enter the world.

      Beer 6:
      Done with tutorials and took the boat, seems like a reasonable game. So far, trying to get a group but no luck. Lots of people in the inn standing around many AFK. Video card feeling a bit of strain, but nothing serious. Talked to the few NPCs in the inn and got my initial quest and finish it quickly.

      Beer 7:
      Get a followup quest. Opening doors all is well, found some mushrooms. Ooh enemy I see, I shoot some arrows only get 1 shot before the enemy gets too close so I switch to short sword and the fight begins, it requires active fighting and blocking and dodging. Well I am at half health and enemy is dead... health bar not moving, maybe I should stand for a bit and gain health back.

      Beer 8:
      Health is not back after 10 minutes.. maybe there is no HP regen. Another fight later I am at 20% health, use up a potion to heal some back. Continue exploring and enter a room with ladder down and ladder up with few more enemies. One on top is stuck and unable to come down so after killing one near me I navigate the ladder slowly and eventually get up there and kill it. Health at maybe 5%.

      Beer 9:
      I run back to the rest shrine (almost didn't find it), rest to 100%. Climb down the stairs and get attacked by another enemy. Using blocks and swinging in-between attacks I kill it and lose 30% health. Next room has yet another enemy and after killing it barely I am at 20% health. I find some room, finish objective and have to kill some crazy guy as the whole place is falling apart. I run into him on the way back, get one-hit and killed...

      Beer 10:
      Roll a bard and get frustrated during tutorial. I hate not having any HP/MP regen. I can't tell the DM, "lets have a shot and make beleive we just rested"...
      Roll a cleric (so I can heal myself). Well healing self is great but now I run out of mana.

      Beer 11:
      Exit AD&DO. Start City Of Heroes, use my tanker, run into a group of 8 enemies and defeat them all. Energy and Health returns in 10 seconds and I am ready for more... wow what a difference, no real downtime.

      Beer 12:
      Uninstall AD&DO... watch some ST:V on DVR... get a sad feeling that the good old AD&D days are really gone forever.

      Who's bright idea was it to put all these downtimes and annoyances into D&DO? AD&D was a social dice game and it does not translate well into the MMORPG world.

      My advice, save your money, D&DO sucks, buy more beer with that money :)

  • Combat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Although I didnt play this that long myself in the beta... I did enjoy the combat as it added almost like an FPS feel to it, which can separate the men from the boys of just click once and watch WoW, EQ etc. So that was refreshing, and keeping on your toes especially as a melee character where you needed to be close for effective combat. I can see how over time this can get boring but so does clicking your attack bind once and waiting around like a ditz.

    The graphics were very good and detailed, and not too
    • Re:Combat (Score:2, Informative)

      by confu2000 (245635)
      Another aspect of combat in DDO is that players and monsters are solid. That is to say monsters can't walk through players and players can't walk through monsters. Players can walk through other players.

      This raises the possibility of using choke points and positional tactics which the majority of other MMOs I've seen are lacking. Instead of relying on threat mechanics to keep a mob glued to your tank, you can instead wall off your casters (or try at least) to keep them safe. This strikes me as a much mo
      • Re:Combat (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Phrogman (80473)
        Collision Detection is what you are describing, and its precisely this that is one of the major elements keeping me playing City of Heroes/City of Villains. The combat in COx is enhanced tremendously by collision detection, and I am now spoiled. Any future MMO I play will need to include this feature or I will not want to play it. Lack of CD is one of the many things that turned me off of World of Warcraft - one of the most disappointing game titles I have ever tried to be honest (after all the hype I expec
  • by Ranger (1783) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:51PM (#14926722) Homepage
    I guess being modded Troll for a comment in this story would be a good thing.
  • Table Based (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:51PM (#14926723)
    I still play every second week, with the same bunch of people (including a female) that I've been gaming with for about 20 years. Not that it might not be a good game on its own, but I think I'd miss seeing the mischievous look on the DM's face just before he pulls something nasty.

    It's also nice having your own mental picture of what's going on, be it accurate or not.
    • by CrackedButter (646746) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:01PM (#14926806) Homepage Journal
      I'm having a hard time with my own mental picture of what's going on. Did you say a female and for 20 years?
    • Re:Table Based (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TekGoNos (748138) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:46PM (#14927245) Journal
      Heck yeah, I've seen nothing on the computer (yet) that comes even close to a table top setting.

      The main difference is that everything is possible in a table-top setting. While in a computer game everything is limited by what the designer though of in advance.

      Just from my last game session :
      1) We had a brawl between players (i.e. we were not trying to do lethal damage, but only show off to see who's stronger)
      2) During which someone catched my shirt and shot through it (without harming me) just to get my attention
      3) we broke through the bottom of an elevator, because we hadn't the key for the floor
      4) we (magically) convinced a Guard that he was really thirsty and wanted to walk south till he got to a Bar.

      As for computer games :
      1) I dont know of any comp game that allows such brawls, but I might be mistaken. In general, fights in comp games have the only goal to do lethal damage, to kill. While in a table top, I might also fight in order to disable someone, to show off that I'm stronger, to catch someone, hit someone to let out frustrations, etc ...
      Related to that : I've yet to see a game where opponents surrender (side note : depending on the GM, they dont do that in a table top setting neither)
      2) I also dont know if any game allows to use guns for attention getting. It works well in real life (shoot into air, everyone turn your way and pays attention to you), but in the comp games I played, interaction seams to be limited to either fight or (exclusiv) speak. I've never seen implemented something like : fight a bit to show that you could kill the other, than speak and use the result of the fight as an intimidation ("I could have killed you").
      3) This might be possible once PPU's are standard. Currently, we have such stupid things as chests that cannot be opened without a key, even if I swing a maze that can break skulls (and surely chests).
      4) In a computer game a NPC can only do what the designer though off. The only way to break this is by either : developing strong AI, or making a game without NPC, i.e. humans play everything with some intelligence, even weak goblins. (Perhaps pay humans with XP for their main character, or free extentions to their account for such deeds.)

      Bottom line : while I like computer "R"PGs as a genre of their own, comparing them (in their current form) to table top RPGs is ridiculous. Maybe with PPU's and much better AI, but I doubt that this will be soon.

      And some things will never be translated to a computer game :
      Players : "we open the door"
      GM : "Ahh, I've waited for hours to finally get you to this point ... " (evil smirk)
      "and behind the door is ... nothing."
      • Re:Table Based (Score:2, Insightful)

        by filterban (916724)
        1) I dont know of any comp game that allows such brawls, but I might be mistaken.

        World of Warcraft allows dueling between friendly players. The loser "kneels" and the fight results are broadcast to nearby players.

        Though, all of your points are excellent. Tabletop gaming is fun for reasons that just can't be duplicated on computers (yet).

        An example: one of my friends was a mage that pretended to be a warrior. He carried around a sword at all times. (He never hit anything with it, and sometimes wou

      • I also dont know if any game allows to use guns for attention getting

        Nothing gets their attention quite like two to the chest.
  • RFIDice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:51PM (#14926729) Homepage Journal
    I don't want to give up my funny (polyhedral) dice. I started playing D&D with the "Basic Set", which included cutout "chits" bound into the rulebooks. We had to pick numbers from cups until the game was popular enough that a hobby store within 50 miles could mailorder some dice. I never went back. Throwing dice is the perfect physical connection between verbal roleplaying and throwing spells/punches/ropes. "Saving throw" is so much more real with a real throw. Lots of chance should be automated to smooth flow of the game and keep DM decisions secret. But I want the option of throwing some dice in the game, even if just to burn some entropy to show it who's playing.

    Maybe a "Real Funny Interface Dice" controller, where a couple of RFID sensors detect the 3D position of a couple of RFID chips in each die? Or maybe a "dicepad" that images the bottoms of the dice after they roll. Just as long as I can throw some nuggets to pick a number, I'll be able to keep the moves I learned as a kid.
  • LOADING... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wind_Walker (83965) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:54PM (#14926741) Homepage Journal
    I played DDO during the Stress Test event and my biggest

    LOADING...

    problem was that everything was instanced. After games like

    LOADING...

    World of Warcraft where (on a single continent at least) the game is

    LOADING...

    virtually seamless, the long load times and lack of immersion it created really

    LOADING...

    got to me.

    • I had more or less the same experience with Everquest II, and it really made me pine for WoW. Load screens every couple of feet really don't encourage me to go around and explore the world, but at least in DDO you're not missing all that much.
  • DDO is hardly D&D (Score:5, Insightful)

    by luvirini (753157) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:54PM (#14926752)
    One of the basics of D&D is indeed the abstract nature of combat and skill uses. The fact that DDO forces the horrible clicking, making it a reflex clicking game makes me stay very far from it.

    So, as I want to feel the RPG feeling, I am sticking to NWN and soon going over to NWN2.

  • by cflorio (604840) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:57PM (#14926768) Homepage
    I say they should bring back the D&D Cartoon.

    AD&D [zaksrealm.net]

  • by bahwi (43111) <incoming@josephguhli[ ]om ['n.c' in gap]> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:59PM (#14926788) Homepage
    I think DDO is more of a mainstream game for the casual gamer, not for the die hard gamers. Sorry, WoW never interested me, if you didn't play daily you lost out on way too much and it was hard to either catch up with friends or find a new group. FFXI was too much crafting pointlessness and it felt like they were leading you on your path all the time.

    DDO is just fine to pick up once a week, easy to use, quick to group, and the dungeons are a good hour or two and you can be done for the night.

    People either love it or hate it, and most of the people who hate it are on other MMORPG's while the ones who love it have a nice mix of other MMO's and people who weren't playing anything before(like me).

    "It's not for the casual gamer because it's impossible to play on your own. "

    Huh? Click LFG in the social menu and in about 10 minutes normally(normally much less) you're grouped. What are you talking about?

    Sorry, but tell me when WoW gets to this level of gameplay(not quality, not features, not content, just the quality of actually playing the game, I know WoW beats it on features and content, and quality is up for debate since it's still in it's rocky start, like WoW was).
    • "It's not for the casual gamer because it's impossible to play on your own. "

      Huh? Click LFG in the social menu and in about 10 minutes normally(normally much less) you're grouped. What are you talking about?


      You forgot to add that in pickup groups you get some idiots who are completely incompetent. You got people going AFK to let the dog out. You got people lost and you wait. All this adds up. If you are a casual gamer, avoid this game like the black plague.

      I've given up on it when I had to group constantly,
    • DDO is just fine to pick up once a week, easy to use, quick to group, and the dungeons are a good hour or two and you can be done for the night.

      So you'll be playing the game 1-2 hours a week? I'm sure there are online games that'll let you do that without monthly fees. I heard Guildwars was pretty good.
  • by pl1ght (836951) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:01PM (#14926803)
    This is the main point IMO that causes this game to fail. Hundreds of people brought it up during beta, and bring it up now, about instanced gaming. The game is fun. But to have to pay monthly for a game with similarities to how Guild Wars is run(with no monthly fee mind you), it is hard to convince myself to get this game. If it was stand alone and didnt have a charge i would probably jump all over it. But this instanced gaming and lack of traveling that is supposed to be "convenient" for gamers ends up making it less of an mmorpg that it already is. If you read the DDO forums you will see this issue brought up time and time again. And the responses are the same flames. But i think its obvious that this is one of the root problems of this title and why it will ultimately be a huge loss for Turbine.
  • No single-player? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:03PM (#14926826) Homepage Journal
    It is not possible to play Dungeons and Dragons Online solo.

    Anyone else out there really disappointed by this?
    • by temojen (678985)
      In D&D and even NWN a rogue can do quite well on their own. It's fun to take the sneaky-thinky way rather than the hacky-slashy way. Unfortunately in NWN you only get XP for killing, so you won't have the levels to overcome higher-level opponents if you do it this way. Tabletop RPGs are much better in that regard.
    • by The Rizz (1319)
      > It is not possible to play Dungeons and Dragons Online solo.
      Anyone else out there really disappointed by this?


      I am. If I've only got 20-30 minutes free to play at some point (which is very common), it would be nice to be able to sit down and play the game, and not just pop in and sit there for 10+ minutes trying to find a party to work with. In contrast, if you play Neverwinter Nights you generally can just pop in and play, even if you don't have a party. It's more difficult, but generally do-able.

      If ~
    • I certainly am. I won't buy the game for this reason. I had really been looking forward to a game with rogue-oriented content, too! But if I can't solo, to Hell with it.
  • "In other words, you're going to do a lot of missing. This gets frustrating very very quickly. In fact, it's gets just boring after a while."

    What's interesting to me is the philosophy behind this statement.

    Perhaps it's a little more realistic to believe one will miss alot during a battle? Maybe it's boring because we've all been spoiled by automatic action gaming that doesn't require much in the way of character dexterity while fighting? I'd like to think that if one maneuvers their character well during
    • Realism and fun in games rarely prove compatible.
    • Perhaps this game will filter out the less diehard players and leave only the more serious gamers?

      It's hard for me to imagine the mindset that sees this as a good thing. "Less people will like the game! Yippee! We'll make less money!"

      Realism is not the goal of a game (especially a fantasy game!). The goal is fun. Anyway, the entire point of an RPG is that the fighting skills belong to the character, not the player. What you're looking for is an MMOFPS, like Planetside. Those are cool in their own wa
    • Sounds more realistic to me. Perhaps this game will filter out the less diehard players and leave only the more serious gamers? I wonder if the MMO player-base has grown enough to sustain a game like this where it requires more skill and dedication (as in you'd have to be pretty dedicated to play this game if it's as boring as you've said it is)? Actually, I'd like to think it has, and additionally, I'd like to think that this game wouldn't change much to accomodate the people who want a fantasy MMO where y
    • The problem with missing isn't that it won't happen, but that it happens in a twitch game for reasons out of your control. My problem with D&D has always been that it is too abstract for a role-playing game (and a lot of its rules don't make sense either as rules or in terms of what they represent in the world).

      If you're playing a twitch game then you should miss because you aimed badly or mistimed your attack (this is why you miss in Quake).

      The idea of interpreting "intimidate" and "diplomacy" as being
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:05PM (#14926840)
    Experience points are only handed out at the end of the mission, when quest objectives are completed.

    Good, I say. This is keeping in line with pen-and-paper D&D, the idea that there is offscreen training and what-not involved in actually "levelling up"

    But really, anything to get away from the standard MMPORG grind would be great. Why do most games hand out experience as if everyone is playing a fighter? How about doling out XP for using class skills successfully?

    Instead of levelling up solely by killing one identical monster after another, a healer should get experience for successfully using healing and protection spells to aid the party-- and the riskier the situation the better. A rogue should get XP for disarming traps, successfully stealing and backstabbing, etc.
  • by urikkiru (801560) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:05PM (#14926844) Journal
    Something that seems to be missing from all MMORPGS, is stories. Tabletop role play was about epic stories, and interaction with people on your adventures. MMORPGS seem to be about killing things and collecting loot. I didn't play DnD with friends for getting cool magical swords. After all, all it took was writing in a cool item on your character sheet to 'have it' anyway. Also, DM's are famous for scaling their adventures to the players stats/skills/items anyway, so leveling up was simply a way to keep score, not the goal in mind.

    I played such games for *stories*. Things to tantalize my mind, to experience in a more direct role. I look at a role playing session as like experiencing an epic tale that I can have a direct hand in. All attempts to recreate that in a digital form for MMORPGS have failed dismally in my opinion. Even WoW.

    Is it so hard to create some gameplay that is more like playing the Baldur's Gate style games? Or Planescape Torment? Most of the single player RPG's manage this pretty well. What about NWN? That game has managed a multiplayer component that has virtually no rivals in the digital age, purely from it's lack of centralized multiplayer, and by allowing players to create their own content. These are all food for thought I think, although I'll stop rambling now about this, as I could go on for a while.
    • I think implementing stories in this kind of environment would be rather difficult. I think this particular sub-genre of roleplaying is probably always going to amount to dungeon crawling for this precise reason, and while I still enjoy the odd hack-and-slash session, in the quarter century I've table top roleplayed I've matured beyond that to the point where story telling is the very crux of the reason I play, and because of the nature of online playing, I don't see how group playing in this environment c
      • For dice rolling- how about a 3rd party server, which runs email lists. You add everyone to the list, and when you need a roll you send a mail to the list saying >. The server would read the email message, and roll the dice, sticking in the result. You could even add more intelligence, allowing it to figure out damage, crits, etc.
        • I still use dice rolling to run combat and do skill checks, but not to the extent that the base system (Palladium) requires. I encourage my players to use an If-Then-Else system of posting their combat moves, and then I do the rolls and stitch it all together in a narrative fashion. It's extremely time-consuming, but I think the result works very well. Because we work on a 4-7 day turnaround for turns, dice rolling could seriously bog things down if I let it, but I keep it to some extent because players
    • ... is that a good story is ultimately about the meeting between a character and a world that leaves both character and world changed. You cannot really do this in an MMO, at least at this point, because the world is ultimately static.

      Yes, you can have the illusion of story, if you ignore the fact that the "story" isn't so much progressing as resetting for the next person to come along. But in the end, an MMO is more like one of those rides you see at Disneyland, where you sit in a little car and move t

    • I don't think it's possible to create story for thousands of players in the same world at the same times. You can either have hundreds of story writers (I wouldn't call them GM...), but then you have to make sure those stories don't accidentally intersect or players hop randomly from story to story (The NWN way, but not Massive Multiplayer in the typical sense), or you can have few writers that can only create a shallow story, since, let's face it, not everyone is a world saving hero, so having every player
    • The biggest problem is coming up with great stories for each individual player. Then somehow managing all that into the current game involving all the players. You can't have a great story without some kind of changes to your character and the environment in general. That's what I would expect. like a story where your group disposes of a dragon or wipes out a troll army or stops a pirate fleet. Now that dragon or troll army or fleet is gone forever and those implications should affect the game world for ev
  • I beta'd this game, and it's not very different from other major MMORPGS (EQ2, WoW). The realtime fighting is the same as it is in EQ2, except you have the choice to manually swing your axe or have it done automatically; there are no advantages to swinging it manually. The game itself is the same as any other with just minor differences setting it out from the rest.

    The D&D ruleset doesn't cater for the old tabletop players. It will give you some familiarity, but there's no depth like you would find in M
  • No Monks (Score:3, Informative)

    by umrgregg (192838) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:09PM (#14926874) Homepage
    "All of the D&D iconic classes are available (even poncy bards), along with the typical player races."

    But where are the monks? ;)

    Apparently they'll be released at a later date...
  • "Combat Clickfest" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Veldcath (591080) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:12PM (#14926910) Homepage
    The author only has it half right. There is, indeed, an auto-attack mode, which can be turned on by the press of a hotkey (by default, "1") or by double-clicking on the creature you wish to attack.

    What I did not see mentioned in my quick glance through the article is that the NPCs you fight are actually somewhat intelligent. They will move around, try to get behind you. It's very interactive in that manner. You have to keep the creature in front of you, and it's going to try to keep NOT in front of you.
  • Two problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arandir (19206) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:14PM (#14926923) Homepage Journal
    You are facing two problems. The first is that it's very hard to translate a paper-and-dice RPG to computer, regardless if it's a MUD, MMORPG, CRPG, etc. The reasons for this are myriad.

    The second problem, however, is that you might be confused as to what "D&D" actually is. It's a rules set for apaper-and-dice RPG. It has nothing to do with milieu, setting, or environment. A D&D game could be set in Greyhawk, Forgettable Realms, Middle Earth, or your own setting. It could have every monster in the Monster Manual I and II, or it might have none of them. It might have trolls, but not the typical regenerating trolls. It could have twenty different races, or it might have just humans. The point is, D&D is a set of rules, nothing more.

    Now that I've thought about it a bit more, my unhumble opinion is that wanting a "D&D" MMORPG is silly. There's so much a MMORPG can offer, that wanting it limited by a set of tabletop rules is dumb. It's like wanting a word processor to be limited to the concept of a pencil. An MMORPG can use *REAL* statistic probabilities instead of rolling a silly s20. Why use hitpoints when you can now calculate damage based precise hit location, armor covering and layering, weapon aspect, wound types, etc? Even with the grossly simplified and abstracted combat necessary for performance, a computer is still going to give you a combat experience that would otherwise take you pages and pages charts and tables in a tabletop game. And that's just combat! Imagine would it could do for skills such as lockpicking, trap detection, spell research, weaponcrafting, ale brewing and literacy!
    • Re:Two problems (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TekGoNos (748138) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @05:52PM (#14927913) Journal
      Eaxctly, DDO is combining
      the limited complexity rules from a table top game with
      the limited interactivity and freedom of action of a computer game
  • Review, short form (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:15PM (#14926930) Homepage
    This follows the general pattern of most reviews I have seen of DDO, or any other new game released since early 2004 for that matter. Let me see if I can sum it up a bit:

    "It's pretty, but it's not World of Warcraft. I like World of Warcraft, and am accustomed to how World of Warcraft plays. The parts of this which are like World of Warcraft are good, but the parts which are different (from World of Warcraft) are obviously bad decisions. I'm going to go back to playing World of Warcraft, and if you like World of Warcraft like I like World of Warcraft, you should just keep on playing World of Warcraft instead of this game, which is not World of Warcraft."

    • by Qbertino (265505) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @05:09PM (#14927457)
      So you got modded insightfull? Fine. May I add some insight? ...

      I got WoW and installed it. I've never ever played an MMORPG before. It took me aprox. 30 seconds to get going with the game. The people I know that play MMORPGs have been buying GuildWars just to get away from WoW and give other games a chance and yet they come back to WoW.
      It's hardware specs aren't insane, a n00b can play it and if I log on after 4 weeks I don't feel like I need another 2 days to get into it again.
      Remember StarCraft? It had a max resolution that was allready considered pointless back then. Yet it literally crushed the market and it is still considered one of the best RTS games ever.
      Why is that?
      Blizzards playtests.
      It's that simple.
      Playtesting is a core component of development with blizzard. SC was playtested for two years!. How else do you think they could balance 3 factions so well? Something NOBODY has achieved again since then. And the same goes for WoW. A year and more is allways part of their developement. That's the reason WoW rules todays MMORPG scene. They get the medium to higher specs of todays PCs, and develop for those for a few years, allways counting that extra year of playtesting and balancing and tweaking. Thus Blizzard gives you games that A) Are finished. B) Don't suck. C) Run on normal PCs. D) Run stable. (Updates on Blizzard games allmost exclusively cover balacing, rules and game mechanic issues) E) Stay very fun for an allmost indefinite time. Ergo: Blizzard rules.

      I recently checked out EQ2 (sucked royally) and talked to a MMORPG fan that has his share of GuildWars and other accounts. His comment went like this: >>WoW is the ticket. It currently doesn't get any better so don't waste your time if your not a fulltime gamer.
      Given Blizzards track record I'm inclined to believe that.
      • "Blizzard playtests."

        I have already said this in another comment, but the reason that they can do that is this:

        Blizzard Has A Lot Of Money To Throw Around

        It's nice to say "We'll release this when it's ready" or "We want a few more months to test this out", but when you've just borrowed somewhere between five and ten million dollars (and don't run Infinium Labs), then people expect you to pay it back in cash, not promises.

        "Thus Blizzard gives you games that A) Are finished. B) Don't suck. C) Run on n

    • Yes, well there are a lot of people out there who like World of Warcraft. For many its their first MMORPG and so they have little to compare it to, for others who have played multiple MMORPGs its simply the latest, but they are attracted to it because its easy to play and has almost no negative penalties associated with failure. WoW is very successful IMHO because its MMORPGs on Easy Mode, like having a God cheat in Doom used to be. There are almost no negative penalties associated with dying, its relativel
  • Shift to dodge (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jzuska (65827)
    How exactly is pressing shift to dodge an attack REAL d&d. Shouldnt it be calculated hrmmmmmmmmmmm. This was an okay game till my first fight, then I was pissed. oh and loading..........
  • Addons? (Score:2, Funny)

    by alexgieg (948359)
    Just a question: does DDO provide support for addons as much as WoW (or at all)?

    I ask that because, for me, trying new addons is almost 50% of the fun I see on playing WoW. So far I have around 100 to 200 addons installed that I use (and update) regularly, plus 50 or so in testing at each time, most of which get deleted very fast, but some of which end up in my "permanent" list. And the list only grows.

    A non-fully customizable & scriptable UI is nowadays something I feel unaceptable for a complex MMORPG
  • by garylian (870843) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:22PM (#14926998)
    Yes, the game has only been live for a short period of time, but the article is pretty accurate.

    I actually enjoyed the combat that came along with DDO as opposed to EQ or WoW. And the mob AI is probably the best I have seen in any of the MMOs I have played in. Those kobolds jumping around mean that you have to chase them, and that's a -4 to hit unless you used a Feat to offset it. They don't make themselves easy to kill. That's refreshing.

    While some of the powergamers will hit lvl 10 fairly quick, this game isn't designed around the power gamer, imo. And there is nothing wrong with that. Power gamers will enjoy V:SoH in all likelyhood. If the author only played for a month, I am not sure how many levels they got with a single character. My highest in beta with over a month of time put in on that toon, playing most nights for 4 or more hours, was lvl 6.4, a cleric. Lack of content and the moving of game worlds for the last few weeks hurt grouping, but lvl 7.x would have been my best attempt.

    The real problem is the lack of other quests to do, and the diminishing returns you get on repeating quests. There is no way to get to level 10 without repeating many quests. That is just poor planning. I am sure most players that had extended beta time like I did, knew every nook and cranny of the WaterWorks dungeons. We knew all the trap locations. We knew all the secret doors. We knew if we needed a certain stat at a certain score to open a certain door. That's a problem. Just having random traps would have made a world of difference for some of it. The game is too static for its quests and layouts.

    I don't mind the lack of solo content. Really, you are playing a MMO game. Why do people have this overwhelming need to go online and play a game where thousands of other people are playing, and not work with any of them? What's the point of it? And who played D&D in whatever form (D&D, AD&D, 2e, 3, 3.5, whatever) with just one DM and one person playing one toon? I wouldn't have wasted my time as a DM creating content for a single person and a single toon. And I hate to see MMO developers waste time creating solo content for a game designed to have thousands of toons online simultaneously. Also, solo content tends to get abused by multiple player groups doing the content because it's easy. I say, no thanks.

    Having said that, being with a regular group of people to group with will make the gameplay outstanding. The game is designed with a 4 person group as the standard, but takes up to 6. Get yourself a cleric, rogue, front line fighter, and a caster, throw in 2 of any class as a regular group, and you will quickly become a cohesive fighting group. I found having a 2nd cleric made the game go really fast, especially when you started hitting a lot of undead.

    This is no different from WoW or EQ, as well as most other games. Those people that form regular groups with people they know and have learned to trust, get a better gameplay experience. It's the same reason military units train in squads with the same people. In order to be a team, you have to work as one. So, criticizing DDO for not having solo content seems a little odd, when it's the way it *should* be.

    One thing the article didn't mention was the different way that loot is handled in DDO. Semi-similar to the COH/V model, you don't get a choice of what loot you get, and you don't roll on it. Unlike COH/V, you can see what others got in a chest if you look fast enough, but you can't say "I want that, I'm gonna roll on it" and have a chance to win it. You have to ask for something, the other person has to loot it, and then you have to trade. Lack of loot hassles made the game a lot more enjoyable. Add in no "bind on pickup/bind on equip" for items (that I ever saw) and you have a lot less arguing. Pickup groups were less hostile due to this feature alone.

    It shall be interesting to see how the time goes. I was in the beta for more than 2 months, and purchased the game. I haven't played much due to the stork being close to showing up, but I have enjoyed my time in it. No game is perfect, but DDO got a lot more right than it got wrong, imo.
    • Why do people have this overwhelming need to go online and play a game where thousands of other people are playing, and not work with any of them? What's the point of it? And who played D&D in whatever form (D&D, AD&D, 2e, 3, 3.5, whatever) with just one DM and one person playing one toon?

      The idea of playing solo, for me, is the fact that I don't have to meet with a group, I don't have to go with the flow and it doesn't take me 15 minutes of dice throwing and squabling over rules to kill what
  • only 10? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Main Gauche (881147) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:25PM (#14927024)
    "At the moment DDO only allows you to achieve level 10, rank 4."

    Well you can turn my MMOG up all the way up to level 11!
  • by e_slarti (731724)
    In all honesty, it sounds like he's just running through a list of comparisons between WoW and EQ vs. DDO. (Obviously favoring the EQ-type model).

    I do applaud the makers of DDO for not going the easy route by making a clone of EQ with a D&D label slapped on it. He does have some valid points, but DDO is not EQ or WoW. Stick with those games if that's what you like to play and let this one be decided on its own merits.

  • Few things (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gorkamecha (948294)
    On the subject of humans.....I believe it's less a social statement and more of a power gaming statement. Humans have the best "long term" build. While the other races have interesting bonuses, few outweight the almighty bonus feat/bonus skill points. And as was said, you need a team, unfortunately, you can always guarantee yourself a team...so you need to build a power timmy if you want to get your play in. As for graphics and sprites, having played WoW were just about every piece of gear has an effect on
  • Does anyone remember the Pool of Radiance DnD series of games for the Commodore 64 and Apple II? This, in my estimation, was one of the greatest DnD games to date. Sure there is no online play, but the group combat was marvelous, the stories were compelling, and I could get right into the action of DnD style group combat without much hassle. Is there any modern DnD game that similuates group combat like these old titles? I hate these new first person dnd games where the essence of group combat is gone!
  • I think this summarizes it all [google.com].... Oh wait you meant the game not the players?

  • by Frazbin (919306) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:47PM (#14927252)
    Let's talk about how sissified these new MMOs are compared to the first worthwhile 3d MMO, i.e. EQ. Specifically, let's talk about how these sissified MMOs are less immersive, less social, and less interesting than the grandfathers of the genre (UO,EQ). I'll be addressing EQ in the context of "classic" EQ, i.e. Kunark, Velious, and maybe Luclin.

    We'll start with the death penalty. In EQ, when you die, you've just sacrificed somewhere between 10 minutes and 8 hours of your life. You have run back to your corpse to get back your things, and you have to do it *naked*. Sometimes this can take hours-- especially since the place you pop back up is determined by your "bind point", something that can only be set by casting classes and used in specific places. This, according to modern MMO players, sucks. I beg to differ. This kind of pain creates a real attachment to your character-- and to the people around you. To your character because his losses are yours. Your character loses his life, you lose a non negligible amount of time. To other people, because when you get *really* fucked, you need help from others to get your corpse back. Maybe it's not enjoyable by itself, but wheeling and dealing with a shady Necromancer, trying to get him to summon your corpse to a reasonable location at 3:00 AM is undoubtedly immersive experience.

    Transportation as well, is a big thing that I loved in EQ and hated in most other MMOs. The goal of transportation isn't *really* to get you from point A to point B-- it's to give you an idea of how big the in game world really is. To that end. In EQ, a ship ride from one continent to another could take the better part of an hour (much of the travel space was populated by crazy content, too). In WoW, the trips are woefully abbreviated. Step on a ship and... Whoop! You're there.

    For many people, the hardships of EQ may seem slightly insane-- but consider that in an easy game like WoW, you're getting something for nothing. Accomplishment without a challenge behind it is meaningless, and the feeling of accomplishment in a world populated by your peers is one of the big draws of MMOs. Hardship was *rampant* in EQ-- and you know what? It did kind of suck. It wasn't always enjoyable. But it made feats of daring all the more impressive and thrilling. The lows were lower, yes-- but the highs were much higher. In the end, WoW got my attention for maybe 5 months, as opposed to the 2 years and countless memories EQ gave me. I *know* WoW is more accessable. That's why so many damn people are playing it. But in my opinion, it isn't more *enjoyable*. The illusion of meaningful accomplishment is to central to the way I play MMOs, and WoW has never been able to make my accomplishments feel non-trivial (and please don't tell me about the PvP. I know it's the biggest draw WoW has, and there's some real potential there, but it's a completely different game when viewed from that angle, and I'm talking about PvE content).

    To ward off the Off-Topic police, please note the D&D Online appears to be another of these easy, quick-to-beat, unsatisfying games. Most likely it won't be successful for these reasons.
    • "Most likely it won't be successful for these reasons."

      just the way WoW isn't a success.

      I feel the same thing when I die in WoW as I did in EQ. After I am dead, in WoW I am bummed I ahve to run for 10 minute, with EQ I would just log off for a while, or play a different character, if I was someplace where I would have to spend an incredible amount of time to get back into the game.

      And transportation is about getting you from point A to Point B. Not a lot of people want to be side tracked into other adventur
    • You know the ships in EQ were replaced by transport gnomes years ago right?

      And that most zones are accessible through the plane of knowledge and adventure camp Magi? Or the guild hall? And a wizard can transport a group to his bind point?

      No more waiting for the Nexus. No more waiting for the boat. No more dying trying to bind at the firepots...
  • by Foochee (896249)
    The classes available are typical to what you'd find in most MMOGs; With good reason, as most MMOGs stole their class concepts from D&D in the first place.
    And D&D stole them from Tolkien's LotR.
  • As far as the clicking for each swingm I've found it's not the best way to play. All you need to do is go into the keymapping screen. Look for the "select nearest foe" and map it something thing sane like tab. Now set yourself to auto-attack. Now all you need to do is make sure you are facing the nearest foe, and are in range. People who master tend to out kill the rest of the party by double the margin.

    Personally the thing I don't like is that you often need a rogue for many dungeons.
  • by Rhys (96510) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @05:16PM (#14927522) Homepage
    You might not know the disaster turbine will make of this. They've had good people -- and good streches -- in their games, but it has been rare.

    If you think some of their DDO decisions are laughable, you should have seen some of the AC ones. Spells researched by dumping components into a bar and hitting a button. Eventually it turned out that your spell components were just the result of a formula applied to a hash of your account name (not character name even). Programs popped up to bot it for you (thank god it was awfully boring). Thus was the start of the great Macro-on's Call. A problem they never really banned anyone for but that caused serious problems in the game, especially for PvP as the "level cap" without macroing was effectivly unreachable (and almost unreachable with macroing).

    Then there was the "spell economy." You see, magic is "depleted" by being cast. Both in a school (critter, life, item, and war) and per-spell/per-spell-level. So a spell that should have given you +35 to a stat (for example, focus self 6) would actually only give you +30 to a stat, because so many people were casing it (namely everyone in existance who had critter magic and could eek out a 6th level spell -- highest there was in AC at the time). Meanwhile, other spells like crossbow mastery self 6 were providing a +40 bonus since next to nobody used xbow. Kinda cute, but when you combine it with the Flavor Of The Month problems MMOs face it started sucking. Especially with reguard to mages -- you spent a lot of points buying all those magic schools, and someone else without them but with arcane lore could use jewlery that would always provide that +35 bonus (item cast buffs were not part of the spell economy). There was in theory some indicator bar for the spell economy but it never actually indicated anything as far as I could tell. Needless to say the system was nixed after (too long) a time.

    And let's not forget the most brilliant decision ever: allow monsters to gain XP off killing players. Also, provide monsters with a flat 10xp/pt curve to improve their stats, as opposed to the exponential curve players faced. Have the Virindi Executor resist your first 2 war spells? May as well run away, he just gained ~500-1000 xp, and dumped all 50-100 points that provides into his magic resistance skill. Needless to say your war magic skill of 250 to 300 won't be landing anymore.

    Last but not least, no discussion of turbine is complete without mentioning the "Wi Flag". See, the way they calculated monster aggro (initial (and often final target) not based on damage or healing or anything -- purely random amoung targets in range! Fight till one of you dead or target out of range. Run back to spawn. Acquire new target.) was ... flawed. Depending on how your character name hashed, you would either be mostly-as-intended (in the middle), or Wi (you get 10x of the aggro you should), or myself (you get 1/10th of the aggro you should).

    Now, this Wi or anti-Wi flag was kinda interesting tactically. You could send my toons with it into situations nobody could normally go, because most mobs would ignore me. It could be annoying though; my friend (who had a Wi) zones in to the dungon I'm fighting in and suddenly the 15 bugs surrounding me (Olthoi -- the one cool thing about the game) are off in another corner. Even the one I was fighting turns around and tries (and fails due to the "I run at your location" pathing AC has) to run at him, dragging me behind it across the dungon.

    But overall it was just irratating. People who were wi-flagged often couldn't do quests; they'd just die due to concentrated fire at the start of a spawn. It lasted, what, 2 years before one of their good (last good? I think she moved on) programmers found it. Despite them telling us "we've tested it there is no wi flag" the whole time.

    So yeah, go Turbine. Not a company I plan to play a game from again.

    Probably get karma-dinged by a D&D fanboi for bashing the developer of The Best Game Ever or something, but that's okay I've done my time (in AC and playing D&D -- gestalt at the moment thanks for asking) and said my peace.
  • I'm going to put on my nerd hat, just like everyone else here.

    Kobolds are by no definition stupid. They possess an intelligence rating (from the archetype in the Monster Manual) of 10, which is decidedly average.

    This is just supposition now, the puny thing with 4 hit points isn't going to just stand there and let you hit it even if it only has two brain cells to rub together. /nerd
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I recently purchased DDO and share some of the authors opinion on the final product. I do have a fews problems with some of what is written though.

    "It's a fact that the race most often played in a MMOG is 'human', and the unliving nature of the Warforged may make them an unpopular race."

    Or it might have something to do with the fact that warforged are considered constructs and thus only healed for half the amount by clerical spells (unless they have a specific feat) and must be healed with a different
  • ...pretty much sucks. I think it has to do with trying to conform to rules built to simplify and decentralize battles and DM Maintenance when those goals are not at all interesting or useful on a PC based platform.

    I've never played a good game from TSR, but I played them--pool of radiance, etc... the combat was always yucky and the depth of the character, compared to those of other RPGs (Say M&M or Bards Tale), was pretty minimal.

    The feel was generally pretty poor too, but I assume that has to do with
  • by Arkhan (240130) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @06:23PM (#14928246)
    It feels like most of the negative reviews of DDO I have seen thus far on the net are from people in two groups:

    1. Those who dislike MMOs, but love PnP D&D, and are upset that DDO does not have a human gamemaster who can generate infinite variety and choice of path.

    2. Those who are in love with a current MMO, and are upset that DDO is not "EQ with D&D terms" or "WoW with D&D setting".

    What has the g/f and I (and several of our friends) sucked into DDO is that it addresses so many of the things we did _not_ like about other MMOs. Boring combat? Gone. Lack of strategy? Gone. Easy mode? Gone. Time sinks? Gone. Downtime? Gone. Rogues as uber-warriors instead of thieves? Gone. Static play environment where nothing changes? Gone. Dungeon as "scenery" that is 99.9% noninteractive? Gone. Dungeon as "place to stick 1000 monsters to slog through"? Gone.

    This review, in particular, seems to come from someone who not only has not played the game much, but also has not read the manual or explored the interface. Truthfully, it sounds like someone who has read all of the complaints on various discussion forums, and is summarizing them, without ever having played the game itself.

    The review complains of the "inhumanity" of the Warforged. I think that was the point. They are very inhuman and little distinction is drawn between male and female. This was enough to turn my g/f off of playing one, in fact -- but that's okay! The Warforged are different! Here we have a character who can come built-in with his own armor and other benefits from day one, but suffers the inability to actually wear "real" armor that others wear. It is interesting and different. That's a good thing.

    The review complains (repeatedly) about the click-fest that is combat. (Tell that to the millions of people happily and madly clicking on Diablo for the past 10 years.) The click-fest is _optional_. The very first icon on your default toolbar is auto-attack. Don't want to click? Click once.

    Single-click combat is actually useful in DDO, because the game allows (forces?) you, the player, to take an active role in combat. Your character does not block. You do. Your character does not tumble or evade. You do. If you don't, neither does he. Single-click combat allows you to more precisely time your swings between your opponent's swings and spend more time blocking or evading his attacks.

    If you're playing the game by running straight up to an enemy and right-clicking on him til he dies, you're going about it all wrong and will enjoy less combat success than someone who advances carefully, choses a defensible position, blocks, tumbles, tries to set ambushes, etc.

    The article states incorrectly that a natural 20 is a critical hit. It is not. A natural 20 is an automatic hit and nothing more. Each weapon has a critical hit range, which can be 20 only, 19-20, 18-20, etc. If you roll in that range on the die, the computer makes a *second* die roll. If the second roll hits, you score a critical. If the second roll misses, you score a normal hit.

    "It is all too dang chaotic to be truly fun." The chaos is the *reason* it is fun. DDO captures the feel of real combat in a way no other MMO has. Monsters can not walk through each other. They can't stand on each other to attack you. They can't walk through you, either. Want to have the fighter block a doorway with his body while the mage stands behind him (in safety) and fires spells over his shoulder? It actually _works_.

    The monsters are intelligent. Rogue-ish monsters will hide, sneak around the back of the battle, and try to sneak attack vulnerable characters... but you CAN see or hear them coming, if you're paying attention, and intercept them (or light them on fire, my favorite).

    The game rewards planning and coordination.

    The environment is truly dynamic! Because everything is instanced, the game can really respond to events. Traps are common, varied, and devilish. Monsters
  • by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @07:33PM (#14928786) Homepage
    Okay, so my major problem with MMORPGs isn't with the clickity-click of combat. Heck, it's not even with the thin verneer of "role playing" that floods the chat channels.

    It's that there's almost nothing else.

    All the wacky skills that don't have to do with combat, healing, or trap discovery? Pretty much gone.

    What about the weird ones like Jump and Climb that let you really motor around the terrain in bizarre ways? How about Forgery or Disguise, for getting past those pesky guards? What about a Balance check for stealing across a tightrope held precariously across the chasm by the sharp steel of my grappling hook as part of the intricate plan I worked on for three months to steal the royalty's jewels right out from under their noses?

    D&D, the archetypal tabletop role playing game, has its roots in being *imaginative*, and one expression of that lays in finding creative ways through situations. When playing with humans, this is not a problem; humans can improvise, so the DM can make a judgement call on whether some creative action is plausable or not.

    Computers, however, excel at running scripts and never deviating from them. I can't be creative in a MMORPG unless I can change the script. The only one I've heard of that really encourages that sort of on-the-fly redefinition is Second Life, but here's the other thing: I can't change the script intuitively, like, on a whim. Instead, I have to learn the freaking scripting language.

    Not being Neo, I'm stuck in the role playing world as programmed. And that blows. I fight, or I select from a few pre-programmed conversation trees, or I get nowhere.

    Like WOPR, I've decided the only way to win is to not play the game.
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:04AM (#14931283) Journal
    A week or two ago I was watching the Colbert Report (a spin-off of the Daily Show), and was highly amused by a little fireside chat by Colbert about the release of Dungeons & Dragons Online. Here's a transcript [livejournal.com] (and video [critical-hits.net]):

    Earlier this week marked the introduction of Dungeons and Dragons: Storm Reach a new on-line version of the popular swords and sorcery game. I myself played a lot of the D and D way back when. Actually I once met Len Lakofka at Gen Con Ten.
    [pause] Anybody?
    [applause]

    I'll never forget when I lost *Faraneeth, my level 21 Lawful Good Paladin. Heh. I know, that's redundant. He was on a campaign searching for Tenser, wizard of the Circle of Light, on rout from the *Shel-du-mar valley to the *Filronian Peninsula. He got cornered by a Displacer Beast and a Mind Flayer and he failed to save against Psionic attack. See, he'd already lost a lot of hit points battling a Beholder and the cleric in the party couldn't regenerate enough hit points with his Heal Light Wounds spell. All in all a sad day in *Badabascore.

    But I gave up D&D in 1984. My parents were concerned I was being possessed by demons. So one summer they sent me to an exorcism day camp. Eight weeks of sailing, casting out the devils within me and making lanyards did the trick. Oh, and I got a girlfriend.

    Anyway, it is the end of an era. And as the cyber-elves and the e-wizards log onto the digital dungeon, I sadly place on my shelf these now obsolete polyhedral dice. The good news is with D&D now on the inter net, the social outcasts of today's junior high schools are relieved of the agony of any human contact.

    Enjoy your magnificent isolation.

    Don't forget to bathe.


    There's definitely a good bit of that which had to have been written by somebody pretty familiar with D&D. I was pleased to find that Colbert himself actually played for a few years back in high school, as mentioned in this Onion AV Club interview [avclub.com]:

    AVC: You were into Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, were you not?

    SC: Yeah, I really was. I started playing in seventh grade, 1977. And I played incessantly, 'til probably 1981--four years.

    AVC: What's the appeal?

    SC: It's a fantasy role-playing game. If you're familiar with the works of Tolkien or Stephen R. Donaldson or Poul Anderson or any of the guys who wrote really good fantasy stuff, those worlds stood up. It's an opportunity to assume a persona. Who really wants to be themselves when they're teenagers? And you get to be heroic and have adventures. And it's an incredibly fun game. They have arcane rules and complex societies and they're open-ended and limitless, kind of like life. For somebody who eventually became an actor, it was interesting to have done that for so many years, because acting is role-playing. You assume a character, and you have to stay in them over years, and you create histories, and you apply your powers. It's good improvisation with agreed rules before you go in.


    On a tangential note, Colbert is the only person/source I can think of that successfully managed to predict 5/5 Oscar winners [livejournal.com]. Heck, he even got Crash.

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