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Dungeons and Dragons Online

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

WoW
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

DDO
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.

Massively Exclusive: Turbine on the future of Asheron's Call and the studio

Fantasy, Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play

When has putting an MMO into maintenance mode ever signaled a bright future for a game? Even so, that's what seems to have happened for Asheron's Call, which is preparing to not only transition into a maintenance mode phase but drop subscription fees and allow for player-run servers by the end of the year.

The announcement was so unusual in the industry that we had to reach out to Turbine to get more perspective on this move. Asheron's Call Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini took the time to answer a few questions about the change for the game, Turbine's recent layoffs, and how the studio is adjusting going forward.

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Perfect Ten: Game franchises that became MMOs

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wizardry Online, Elite: Dangerous

Arena
Popular franchises have been known to jump between various entertainment media, from games to television to movies to comic books and even to pogs. We should not gasp in utter amazement that this is also the case with many of our beloved MMOs; we should nod sagely and accept the terrible truth.

There are several video game franchises that have culminated in -- or at least have taken a detour through -- the land of MMOs. For gamers who wanted more and especially did not want to see their journey end, an MMO continuation is a welcome answer that's usually hiding its own problems. But nevermind that; let's march down the halls of history and see the yearbook photos of these franchises when they were young!

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New Dungeons & Dragons Online video interviews Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood

Fantasy, Video, Dungeons and Dragons Online, News Items, Free-to-Play

Screencap -- Ed Greenwood DDO interview video
Earlier this month, Turbine announced that it would be partnering with Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for the Dungeons and Dragons pen-and-paper game, to bring his classic module Haunted Halls of the Eveningstar into the world of Dungeons and Dragons Online. Today, Turbine released a new video wherein Community Specialist Jerry Snook sits down with Greenwood himself to discuss the process of bringing his beloved tabletop adventure into the digital realm of DDO.

During the interview, Greenwood details the obvious challenges of translating an adventure written for the pen-and-paper game, wherein players have nearly limitless ways of interacting with the world, to its MMORPG incarnation, which is decidedly more limited in its possibilities. Greenwood also speaks a bit about the content that was cut from the original pen-and-paper module, originally written as an entire campaign before being whittled down to a single dungeon, and how the digital remake gave him the opportunity to work in some of that lost material. It's certainly worth a watch, if only to hear a Dungeons and Dragons legend's thoughts on his time in the business and the future of D&D in the digital space.

Turbine outlines the path ahead for LotRO and DDO

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

LotRO
Coming hot on the heels of yesterday's revelation about the future of Asheron's Call, Turbine posted a pair of producer's letters this morning to talk about where Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online are heading.

Aaron Campbell has moved back to the LotRO team to be its executive producer and said that Update 13 will be coming soon. In Update 13, there will be a revamp of North Downs, additional quests in Fangorn Forest, support for multiple attachments in mail, and a new epic book that allows you to play as an Ent. "We're pressing forward to Gondor," Campbell promised. "We're digging in deep (but not too deep) to continue the journey through Middle-earth."

As for DDO, Franchise Director Athena Peters said the team is getting ready to push out Update 21 on March 10th but is also looking beyond that to the second update of 2014. Update 22 will expand Three Barrel Cove into epic levels and add new guild airship amenities.

The Daily Grind: Do layoff announcements affect your MMO gameplay?

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

LotRO's Wildermore
Yesterday's Turbine layoff announcement wasn't particularly surprising, given the fact that the firm has tied its MMO fortunes to a couple of third-party IPs and has been giving away access to its games for the past few years.

Regardless of whether or not we believe Warner Bros. "normal strategic alignment" statement, layoffs are layoffs and they reflect negatively on an ongoing game service to some extent. What that extent is varies from player to player, of course, and that's where today's Daily Grind comes in. Do MMO studio layoff announcements cause you to rethink the amount of time or money you spend on a given game, or is it just business as usual?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Turbine suffers another round of layoffs

Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous, Infinite Crisis

Turbine
Gamasutra and Twitter are reporting that an unspecified number of Turbine employees have been fired today in a new round of layoffs.

A Warner Bros. representative responded with an official statement: "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."

Massively has reached out to Turbine for additional comments.

Dungeons and Dragons Online allies with Ed Greenwood to revive Haunted Halls of Eveningstar

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

DDO
Along with the names Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, Ed Greenwood is a keystone figure in the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. It was from his mind that the Forgotten Realms and Elminster sprang, and it's to his mind that Turbine has turned to make DDO's next update something truly memorable. So to celebrate D&D's 40th anniversary, Turbine and Greenwood have collaborated to bring the players an online version of the classic Haunted Halls of Eveningstar module.

Even if you've played Haunted Halls as a pen-and-paper adventurer, you'll be in for a new treat this time around. Turbine's created two versions of the dungeon, one that mimics the original module and an extended version that uses Greenwood's unpublished notes. Plus, for the first time in DDO, Greenwood himself will provide the narration and optional commentary as the module's DM.

We sat down with Turbine to take a look at how Update 21: The Legendary Halls is shaping up and what players will be in for when the past of pen-and-paper meets the present of online gaming.

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Dungeons and Dragons Online announces 2014 player council

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

DDO
Dungeons and Dragons Online now shares one more thing in common with LotRO: its very own player council. Today, Turbine announced that the 2014 player council has been established with 30 hand-picked members.

The player council members are listed by forum handles and will serve the studio and the community by providing feedback and testing for DDO throughout the year. According to Turbine, the council is representative of "a wide diversity of players and playstyles" and is under an NDA while serving.

DDO also posted a FAQ about the player council and its NDA for those with more questions.

Turbine announces DDO Player Council

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

Dungeons and Dragons Online
Want to make your mark on Dungeons and Dragons Online? Then you'd best apply for the newly announced DDO Players Council. Like its counterpart in Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online, and like EVE Online's Council of Stellar Management precursor, the Council "is a group of players selected to provide targeted feedback and valuable suggestions to the DDO Team."

Applications are due by January 20th, and Tubine hopes to launch the Council during the week of January 27th.

[Thanks Ehra!]

MMO Mechanics: Lowering the barriers to entry

Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, Opinion, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Subscription, MMORPG, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
In the increasingly competitive MMO genre, games have to do all they can to keep you as a customer. MMOs have traditionally been quite difficult games to really get into since they typically require a considerable time and money investment and we tend to play them for stretches of several months to years at a time. The gameplay in MMOs is inherently social by nature, forcing you to relate to others, and there are some even more fundamental barriers that get in the way of new players signing up. I'm sure we've all enthused and rambled to our friends in the hope that they might check out our most recent gaming crush, only to see a repulsed look on their faces when they realise it's an MMO.

The classic subscription model is a substantial paywall for the average gamer, and this is what has traditionally kept MMOs niche. The early game can be daunting to those who aren't familiar with the genre, and developers pour a lot of effort into easing newcomers into that gameplay. In this week's MMO Mechanics, I'm going to look at how some MMOs manage to break down these barriers through the use of clever mechanics in order to open up MMO gaming to more people than ever before.

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Dungeons & Dragons Online looks back at 2013 and forward to 2014

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

This dragon could not be happier about the situation.
December isn't just a month for frenzied consumerism; it's almost the end of the year and time to start reflecting on what went well, what went badly, and what needs to change. So it's appropriate that the latest producer's letter for Dungeons & Dragons Online focuses on precisely that, looking back at 2013 and counting up the game's big hits and misses. The team feels that Epic Reincarnation and the Storm Horn Mountains were big wins, while the bug-plagued Mabar Festival was definitely a nadir.

But there's no point in looking back if you don't look forward, and the letter does that as well. Four major content updates are planned for next year, featuring a boost of the level cap to 30, two new raids in the dwarven ruins of Thunderholme, a new set of guild airship models, and more beyond that. Take a look at the letter for an exact schedule and more discussion about the year's highs and lows.

Dungeons & Dragons Online launches Game Update 20

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

Dungeons & Dragons Online launches Game Update 20
The latest update for Dungeons & Dragons Online is out now, and it features a whole lot of new options for reincarnation. More than you might expect. If you feel you haven't incarnated nearly enough, this update promises to fix that. Sure, there's True Reincarnation, but now you have both Heroic True Reincarnation and Iconic True Reincarnation along with Epic Reincarnation and... you get the idea. There's a lot of new ways to go back to the beginning and start a life over, that's the point.

These changes coincide with alterations to the amount of experience needed to level characters on their second lives, making it easier to hit 20 after reincarnation. There are also new quests and alterations to the quest experience rewards, changed so that longer quests are no longer less proportionally rewarding than shorter ones. Plus there are plenty of changes to Enhancements, a new Enhancement tree for Sorcerers and Wizards... you'd probably better just read through the patch notes. There's a lot going on. Too much? You can take a look at our preview of the update to help guide you.

One Shots: A flock of Beholders

Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Culture, One Shots, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous

One Shots A flock of Beholders
Did anyone else watch that absolutely horrid Dungeons & Dragons movie from 2000 starring one of the more annoying Wayans? Just about the only redeeming part of that film was seeing a brief glimpse of a Beholder. I mean, there are few things more D&Dish than Beholders, unless you're going to pull a gelatinous cube out on me.

Reader Don sent in today's featured screenshot that has not just one Beholder but a flock of them. "Here is a shot of me in the Delirium drinking contest on my new DDO Shadar-kai," he writes, "featuring the one and only Pumpkin Beholder from Xoriat."

Pumpkin Beholder: Next Halloween, he comes for you! We've got this and plenty of other great eyecandy for you as you gorge on the leftovers from Halloween, so check 'em out in this week's One Shots.

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