Executive Producer Fernando Paiz told me at PAX that Turbine will start turning its collective eye back to the veteran players, and it looks like Update 7 is the first step in that direction. My Update 7 tour set me thinking, as did Wednesday night's outing with OnedAwesome, Massively's DDO guild. Follow along after the jump as I take a look at what these factors have told me about the community in Dungeons and Dragons Online.
Let's start with the latest adventures of OnedAwesome. We had an exciting night Wednesday, as I finally purchased the guild's first airship. We had a little celebration on board, opened imaginary champagne, and high-fived our lone purchased crew member, a Silver Flame Priest. He rewarded our appreciation with a protective spell, and off we went to start adventuring.
OdA has been working through Ruins of Threnal lately, and we tackled the east excavation last night. The guild is a nice combination of newer and veteran players, and it works well thanks to the patient vets bringing the newbies along and teaching as we go. Every week is a crash course in some game element or another, and anyone new comes away knowing a bit more. Last night's crash course centered around the properties and advantages of adamantine and metalline weapons (they bypass damage reduction on many enemies that you'd otherwise barely touch), as well as why it's a terrible idea to beat on granite gargoyles with most melee weapons.
While I don't know that OnedAwesome will ever be a hardcore nightly raid guild, I've been happy with how the members have adapted. The veteran DDO players and those who have been in the guild since its creation really extend themselves to make everyone feel welcome under any circumstances. While DDO's instancing system forces us to run on Wednesday nights in separate groups, it's always been fun marking each group's progress through the quests in guild chat.
Since I'm not able to be online nearly as much as I like to field guild invitations and questions these days, I added a few new officers to the roster to help share that responsibility. If you'd like to join a weekly event or have questions about OdA, you can send a tell or mail in game to any of three characters: Rubialina, Aunwiira, or Tebraen.
Next week we'll be doing The Abandoned Excavation, the third part of the Ruins of Threnal. This part of the quest arc requires that the Western and Eastern Excavations be completed first, so if you'd like to join us, make sure you've got those two wrapped up. If you get in touch with any of the above characters, we may even be able to set up a time to make sure you've got some company to quest with! Otherwise, we'll be starting on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. EDT as usual. Finally, I'll be making things a bit more interesting as we quest next week, with some prizes at the end of the evening in several different categories.
As I mentioned earlier, the sense of community in the guild is something that I've been very happy about, and it's set me thinking quite a bit about the DDO community overall. I've been an active member of more than one gaming community, and this one has one of the strongest and clearest divisions I've ever seen.
This isn't entirely a bad or unnecessary thing, and I completely understand why it exists. High-end DDO is something very different from the first half of the game, and last year's huge influx of newbies sharpened that contrast quite a bit. It's completely understandable, because in most cases it's simply impossible for these people to share the same understanding and experience of the game. Things get more complicated as you progress, and a true knowledge of how it all works simply comes with time.
The part of this that has always disappointed me is that there is a very significant and outspoken portion of the playerbase that has been around since the beginning, and this group has a strongly negative outlook on how things are in DDO today. They hate what Turbine has done to "their" game; they hate all these new players running around getting in the way; and they hate the proliferation of low-level quests created to introduce these people to DDO. They don't hate it enough to find a game that they actually enjoy playing, but they do hate it enough to insert their frustration and negativity into every aspect of the game that they can.
As is common in any community, the most negative are often the loudest, and it creates the impression of a very closed-off and unwelcoming -- sometimes hostile -- community to the casual eye. There is a fantastic community here in DDO, but you have to work to ignore the wall of sound that can hide it.
What's interesting is that the good parts of the community echo the style of the game itself: they strike me as instanced. The public areas can be loud, overwhelming, and rife with anger, but once you find a group you're comfortable with, it's a fantastic experience. I've always firmly believed that finding a good guild is the key to success in most MMOs, and this holds even more true in my eyes for DDO.
I'm very interested to see how things progress for the DDO community in the next year. I doubt that the truly hardcore longtime vets will ever embrace this larger community, but the newbies have had a year to settle in, Turbine is ready to return to higher-level content, and I really think the community at large is about to close that gap.
Exploring Eberron is a novice's guide to the world of Dungeons and Dragons Online, found here on Massively every Friday. It's also a series of short summaries of lower-level DDO content, cleverly disguised as a diary of the adventures of OnedAwesome, Massively's DDO guild.