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Dungeons and Dragons Online

DDO trumpets the start of its Winter Games

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play

Just because we're in the heart of winter in the northern hemisphere doesn't mean that we can't enjoy snow-themed festivities! That's the attitude of Dungeons and Dragons Online, which has started a slew of activities under its Winter Games umbrella.

For starters, there's the Midwinter Festival in the Forgotten Realms which includes speed skating, snowflake collecting, and vole smashing. Meanwhile in Eberron, the ever-popular Risia Ice Games are back with more ice sliding action. Then there's an ice skating rink in the harbor, an ice jump off a cliff, and a frozen half-pipe in the Bogwater Tavern. Participation in all of these activities will not only result in embarassing fun, but rewards from the various tokens won.

DDO looking at Warlock class, level cap bump in 2015

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Dev Diaries

'Tis the season for Turbine producer letters and since we've already seen LotRO's, how about one for Dungeons and Dragons Online?

Executive producer Robert "Severlin" Ciccolini does the honors, and he mentions the game's "next big update" which will include a large dungeon called the Temple of Elemental Evil. There's also a bit about an upcoming new class, which Ciccolini says could be a Warlock. New storylines and new festivals are coming in 2015, too, as is a level cap bump to 30.

DDO Update 24: Heart of Madness goes live tomorrow

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Patches, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

Tomorrow, Dungeons and Dragons Online will be getting its last big patch of the year, Update 24: Heart of Madness. Considering the cheery title, one might expect scarring challenges and experiences that will drive your average player insane (including using yourself as a puzzle piece to get through a fiendish game).

The crux of the patch centers around an invasion from the plane of madness to Eberron, with popular D&D figures like the Lord of Eyes, the Lord of Stone, and Yalthoon the Mindflayer. Players will tackle a trio of high-level madness-themed dungeons in this paid adventure pack, although there will also be a fourth free dungeon that's part of the ongoing Wizards of the Coast Tyranny of Dragons event.

Update 24 will also come with cosmetic armor effects, smarter AI monster champions, and a revamp of Barbarian enhancements.

Warner Bros. plans more layoffs through early 2015

Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, Legal, Miscellaneous, Infinite Crisis

warner bros
The rocky situation for Warner Bros. is far from over. Game Informer is reporting that the conglomerate is planning more layoffs through "most business groups" starting this week and going through early 2015. Variety says that up to 1,000 employees from TV, film, and other divisions will be let go from the cuts.

This report stems from a staff memo that discusses this internal, company-wide restructuring. While Turbine was not specifically mentioned, there is concern following the recent bout of layoffs that hit the Lord of the Rings Online developer.

Warner Bros. confirms Turbine layoffs [Updated]

Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, Rumors, Miscellaneous

Turbine appears to be going through another round of layoffs that are possibly affecting the Lord of the Rings Online team, according to Twitter messages.

Former Community Manager Rick Heaton seemed to confirm this in a tweet sent earlier today: "Thinking of my friends at #Turbine and #LOTRO and elsewhere today. I'm easy to find if you need me."

Massively has reached out to the studio for an official comment.

[Update: Warner Bros. has confirmed unspecified layoffs by issuing the following statement to Massively: "As part of our normal business process, we're routinely looking at the strategic alignment of our company. Unfortunately, in order for us to invest in growth areas at Turbine, we have to eliminate some positions. These are always tough decisions, which we don't approach lightly, but it's crucial that Turbine is structured in a way that reflects the current and coming marketplace."]

DDO beefs up melee characters in Update 23

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Patches, Free-to-Play

All hail patch day for Dungeons and Dragons Online! Hear the mighty dragons roar and witness the ancient vaults break open and spill their content goodness! For Update 23 hath arrived to change the game forevermore.

Update 23 may not be the largest DDO patch to date, but it does contain several significant improvements. The biggest of these is a large buff to melee characters to balance that playstyle with those of other roles. Melee characters have new stats to help them with their efforts, including melee power, ranged power, and magical resist rating.

Turbine has also unlocked the epic version of the Orchard of the Macabre instances, added in a new raid, included guild storage, and offered players the ability to create cosmetic variants of armor pieces with the new Mirror of Glamering.

Perfect Ten: MMOs that deserve another chance

Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Opinion, Star Trek Online, RuneScape, Marvel Heroes, The Secret World, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter

First impressions matter. First impressions count. First impressions are lasting. These commonly cited maxims are true, but I would like to add one more: "First impressions can be deceiving." Due to our nature of making snap judgments, experiencing something at the wrong time or being impatient, we can rush to a conclusion that could rob us of something we could truly love.

There are few things that frustrate me more than seeing MMO gamers adopt the gospel of the first impressions and refuse to ever return to a game afterward. We keep treating MMOs as disposable, one-shot entertainment that must be plundered quickly right out of the gate instead of seeing them as reusable fun that gets better with time.

So the next time you feel bored waiting for the next MMO to launch so that you can make a two-month first impression and then leave forever, why not give an older title a second try? In this week's countdown, I'm going to make a case for 10 MMOs that deserve another chance even if you wrote them off long ago.

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DDO's Update 23 to buff melee characters and add guild storage

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play

Preview patch notes are on Dungeons and Dragons Online's forums for the upcoming Update 23. These notes paint a picture of a considerable patch that includes a significant buff for melee fighters.

"Update 23 brings a series of changes aimed at improving the ability of melee-focused characters to face some of DDO's toughest challenges, and bring increased balance between melee, ranged, and spell-casting characters," the team posted.

Also slated for Update 23 are epic versions of the Orchard of the Macabre, guild storage on airships, a special mirror that allows the user to make a cosmetic variant of an armor piece, and a new feat called Epic Power that gives +3 melee power to characters level 21 and up.

The Game Archaeologist: Ironman modes and elective permadeath

Asheron's Call, Dofus, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous, Wizardry Online, Star Citizen, H1Z1

wizardry online
One facet of video games that's been around almost since the very beginning is the difficulty level. This has allowed the player to choose how hard or easy a game would be from the onset, influencing factors such as the number of enemies, hardiness of bad guys, fragility of the player character, and available loot (or lack of it). I used to love how some of those '90s shareware titles would mock me for picking easy, sometimes portraying my character wearing a baby bonnet and sucking its thumb. Real gamers, the devs implied, go tough or go home.

With a few exceptions, MMOs operate on a fixed level of difficulty for all of their players. Instead of assigning blanket difficulty client-side, the game world portions difficulty into areas, usually according to level or activity. Some games have instances with adjustable difficulty levels, but past that what you get is also what I get.

This might be changing. A very fringe but dedicated group of players have championed such ideas as elective ironman and permadeath modes for their MMOs, and at least one studio is responding positively to that desire. Would you choose to make your MMO experience harder than everyone else in exchange for nothing more than a bigger challenge and a more "realistic" experience?

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DDO changes direction, focuses on player feedback

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Dungeons

July's Dungeons & Dragons Online Producer's Letter is the second one from DDO Franchise Director Athena, and in it, she describes the changes coming to the fantasy MMO. While the original road map set in place last December by Rowan has been followed thus far, Turbine is looking to redirect further changes based on player feedback.

Update 23 will bring the Epic Orchard of the Macabre, a new Epic raid, new enemies (including werewolves in Eberron), heavy armor improvements, and more. Update 24 will then bring new quests and a new event to round out the end of the year and the holiday festivities. Be sure to read the entire letter in the forums for more details on what's to come.

Jukebox Heroes: Dungeons & Dragons Online's soundtrack

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Jukebox Heroes

I've never liked the Dungeons & Dragons Online soundtrack very much.

Now that I've given you no reason to keep reading, please keep reading. It's an unsettling score that's heavy on discordant tracks and murky atmosphere but lacks a lot of memorable, earworm-worthy tunes. Plenty of it is done with a heavy-handed synthesizer in the mode of scoring a Saturday night B-movie. The Dungeons & Dragons moniker deserves better than this, I've always believed.

But I'm not one to throw out an entire score when there are a few redemptive pieces within. And amid the minefield of moody music, there are a few tracks that rise to being quite listenable indeed. In fact, much of the recent work done for the game's two expansions have clearly done away with slam-dancing on the keys in exchange for an honest attempt at a good score.

Listen for yourself; the studio's made 16 tracks available for free downloads. So let's see what makes it to the top of the DDO pile, shall we?

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Dungeons & Dragons Online launches Update 22

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Classes, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play

Can't I even glance at the explosion?  I'll still be a cool guy!
Are you ready to buckle your swash? Has your swash been buckled in anticipation? Do you own a variety of buckles and swashes? Because Dungeons & Dragons Online has just released Update 22 onto the live servers, and that means that Bards will have plenty of buckleswashing to do with the addition of the Swashbuckler enhancement line! Dance, parry, crack horrible puns, and stab at people while still retaining all of the usual song-based mechanics of Bards. It's free for everyone!

Update 22 also includes an epic-level upgrade to Three Barrel Cove, perfectly complementing the newly swacklebushing methods of Bards. There are also major improvements to guild levels and guild airships, allowing guilds to hit level 200 while sporting new and improved facilities on new and improved airships. And there's new stuff in the cash shop, too, giving DDO players plenty to do if they ever tire of the interactions of swashes and buckles.

Perfect Ten: The MMOs that influenced me greatly

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Fallen Earth, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Every one of us has an "MMO resume": a list of titles that we've played, whether briefly or extensively. Some of those are just games, casual flings that meant nothing. But others can take a more meaningful role in our lives, influencing how we experience and view MMOs.

I would scarcely say that my resume is one of the most robust you'll ever see; I'm sure plenty of you have played more than I. However, I like to think that I've had a journey over the course of a decade or so that's shaped who I am as a gamer. Since it's my birthday today, I'm going to share 10 of those influential MMOs with you and what they've done for me. You're going to get me cake.

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Perfect Ten: My favorite MMO April Fools' pranks of all time

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter

There are two types of people on April 1st: those who are annoyed and indifferent to the tomfoolery going on all around them, and those who gleefully embrace the zany antics and baldfaced lies. For the record, I am of the latter crowd. I love April Fools' Day and the humor and creativity that it inspires. While this day is by no means contained to our neck of the woods, MMOs have a long-running streak of trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

I think a good goof has to have several qualities to make it truly memorable. It needs to be original. It needs to be actually amusing, whether or not you "fell for it." And it needs to tweak our expectations and understanding of how MMOs work. Sometimes there are even important ideas that emerge from these jokes that could, indeed, make these titles better.

So let's go through my favorite MMO April Fools pranks of all time, as catalogued by yours truly!

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DDO player council members offer testimonies

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Culture, Interviews, Free-to-Play

Turbine carted out Dungeons and Dragons Online's player council for a bit of sun today and made an attempt at more transparency by allowing the representatives to give testimonies as to what the experience is like.

"We have been asked feedback on things that are at a very early stage of creation (if not only on paper) and there's a real interaction between us and the designers/developers," council member Flavilandile wrote. "Yes, it doesn't means that in the end what we suggest will be implemented, but there's is a real interaction and I feel that they are listening to us when we voice our concern on a topic."

"I'm enjoying it, having fun. Though I'm hard pressed to say we're having the impact we might. The dialog I expected (perhaps unrealistically) is there, but it is more limited than I would have liked," council member IronClan added.

For the full range of testimonies, check out the post on the official site.

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