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Dungeons and Dragons Online

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

ddo
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

ddo
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

DDO
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

DDO
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

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.

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