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Dungeons and Dragons Online

Perfect Ten: MMO industry moves I didn't see coming

Asheron's Call, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Defiance, The Elder Scrolls Online

Perfect Ten MMO industry moves I didn't see coming
Despite -- or more accurately, because of -- my love for video games, I would never want to work in the games industry as a developer or what have you. I think it's an industry that doesn't have a good track record of job security, sane hours, or products that you could feasibly spend years working on that might not make it to ship. But I love writing about the industry. I love the news. That's why I adore being at Massively.

I also love the news because MMOs and studios constantly surprise me. Hey, maybe you're an amazing clairvoyant person who can not only predict but accurately foresee all of the jukes and twists that the industry makes. I am not. When mental superpowers were being handed out, I got "setting people on fire with a mere thought" instead of what appears to be the widespread "know it all" ability. I don't regret it. I mean, you probably already knew that I was going to post a picture of Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi being attacked by bees on the front page of Massively.

But I think that the surprises are part of the fun. No matter what we've seen in the past and no matter how knowledgeable any of us is about MMOs, the strange developments keep on coming. So this week I want to list 10 stories that I really didn't see coming at all.

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LotRO and DDO offline [Update]

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

Lord of the Rings Online launcher - Installing pre-reqs
If you've been frustrated by attempts to log into Lord of the Rings Online or Dungeons and Dragons Online this morning, you're not alone. Turbine is experiencing some sort of technical issue that began on Sunday and continues to prevent customers from connecting to the live service for both free-to-play fantasy MMOs.

The LotRO Twitter account mentions that Turbine is working with "our vendors to resolve the issue," but it gives no indication as to the nature of the problem nor an ETA for any resumption of services. We've contacted Turbine seeking comment and will update this post if any is forthcoming.

[Update: All Turbine servers are now back online!]

[Thanks to everyone who tipped us!]

The Game Archaeologist: Classic MMOs in August

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, The Matrix Online, News Items, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Classic MMOs in August
How few players do you need to have before operating an MMO becomes ridiculously unprofitable and in need of closing? In the case of The Matrix Online, we found out that the magic number was 500. I wouldn't have even guessed that so few people were in that game when its shutdown was announced, especially considering the vocal anguish that arose when SOE lowered the boom.

I guess it goes to show that we're often quite clueless what goes on behind the curtain. There's always this balance between the number-crunchers (who need players and money to justify continued operations) and the passionate creators (who are often developers putting in the effort because they simply love the game and its community). If nothing else, it reinforced my belief that SOE does bend over backwards to keep these games running as long as possible, much longer than some other studios would in a similar situation.

So what other news regarding classic MMOs happened this past month? It's time for another one of my patented roundups, complete with archaeological commentary!

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Shadowfell Conspiracy now live in Dungeons and Dragons Online

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Expansions, Launches, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, MMORPG

Dungeons and Dragons Online: Shadowfell Conspiracy
The next major content expansion for Turbine's Dungeons and Dragons Online, known around these parts as Shadowfell Conspiracy, is officially live. Dragon-slayers across the globe can now cruise the prison city of Wheloon and venture into the mountainous passes of Stormhorms, killing new monsters, collecting new loot, and earning new levels along the way.

Shadowfell Conspiracy brings a host of features to Dungeons and Dragons Online including new iconic heroes, the now-standard geographical expansion, and a level cap raise to 28. Two versions of the expansion are available: one collector's edition ($49.99) that includes three character slots and three iconic heroes and a standard edition ($29.99) including one character slot and one iconic hero. Both include varying quantities of Turbine Points and skill tomes.

If you're curious to see Shadowfell Conspiracy in action, be sure to check out our in-depth look from July.

[Source: Turbine press release]

Mountain hiking in DDO: Shadowfell Conspiracy's Stormhorns

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Expansions, Lore, Previews, Free-to-Play

Mountain hiking in DDO Shadowfell Conspiracy's Stormhorns
Dungeons and Dragons Online: Shadowfell Conspiracy, the game's second expansion, isn't just mucking about in a trashed prison city with your new premium classes. Turbine is taking us beyond Forgotten Realm's civilization to the Stormhorns, a mountain region that comprises DDO's first mountain wilderness area.

For our third tour through Shadowfell Conspiracy's new content, we put on our hiking boots and headed out for some fresh mountain air. Will this region bring out the beauty of Faerûn or show the creaky underpinnings of this aging title? And why are we going out there to begin with?

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Creating the DDO: Shadowfell Conspiracy character of your dreams

Betas, Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Classes, Expansions, Previews, Free-to-Play

Creating the DDO Shadowfell Conspiracy character of your dreams
Last week, we sat down with Turbine to look at Dungeons and Dragons Online: Shadowfell Conspiracy's new adventure hub of Wheloon. But running through these special missions and dungeons are only part of the expansion, as your character's growth and build are always at the core of DDO. So for our second sit-down session covering the upcoming expansion, Turbine chose to focus on the three new iconic classes coming to the game and the overhaul to the enhancement system that should make building the character of your dreams a lot easier.

Prior to adding new enhancements, reincarnations, or epic destinies, DDO had only a meager 250,000,000,000,000 possible builds to choose from. No, we didn't fall asleep pressing the "0" key. But now the choices are even greater, which is why it's of increasing importance that players understand what their characters are capable of doing and how to best build a functional toon. After all, even Turbine admits that many of the 250 trillion builds "are not really great to play with."

So what will be fun to play? And why should players be interested in rolling one of the new iconic classes instead of sticking with their tried-and-true Bards?

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Touring DDO: Shadowfell Conspiracy's prison city

Betas, Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Expansions, Previews, Free-to-Play

DDO Shadowfell Conspiracy takes to the streets of Wheloon
Take a formerly prosperous town, wall it up, and turn it into the region's largest prison. Then add a handful of adventurers who are sent in to rescue a kidnapped official while kicking all kinds of butt. If Dungeons and Dragon Online's Wheloon sounds a little like the 1981 movie Escape from New York, well, that's intentional.

Turbine's team wasn't afraid to put in a sly reference to John Carpenter's seminal prison film when the devs were constructing this new adventure area for DDO's Shadowfell Conspiracy expansion. The devs also weren't afraid to push the boundaries of what's been done and seen in the game up until now.

We took a tour of Wheloon's highlights and managed to escape that wretched place with a first-hand look at the sinister goings-on of this unusual penitentiary. It's all the purple you can stand and then some when you head over the wall into this town!

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DDO: Shadowfell Conspiracy screenshots highlight new dungeon

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Expansions, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

DDO: Shadowfell Conspiracy  screenshots highlight new dungeon
What's more iconic to Dungeons & Dragons Online than dragons? Why, dungeons of course! And this latest batch of screenshots introduces players to the a new dungeon joining the game when the Shadowfell Conspiracies expansion launches in August. Dungeon-divers will have to plumb the depths of Friends in Low Places (yes, that is the name) to find ways to protect the citizens of Wheldon from the criminals who are planning to attack Harvest Hall, all while food supplies dwindle. Check out the 10 new images showcasing Friends in Low Places in the gallery below.

[Source: Turbine press release]

Dungeons & Dragons Online shows off A Lesson in Deception

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

Someone deceived this woman into thinking a chest window was a good idea.
If you can't trust the mastermind behind a gathering of criminals, whom can you trust? Dungeons & Dragons Online seems to imply you can't trust the mysterious benefactor uniting the criminals of Wheloon in the upcoming Shadowfell Conspiracy expansion. Calling the dungeon A Lesson in Deception doesn't imply that you'll reach the end and find out that everything is perfectly awesome... even if you'll be doing most of the deceiving early on by posing as a new recruit and infiltrating this den of thieves.

If you're reading this and immediately want to get down and dirty with the infiltration of said thief-den, you're still going to have to wait. But you can examine several new screenshots showing off the dungeon, which looks to be ranging across quite a bit of territory in the city. So get ready to play cutpurse on August 19th and enjoy the preview until then.

[Source: Turbine Entertainment press release]

Dungeons & Dragons Online screenshots show off new monsters

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Expansions, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play

Hey, guys, want to get a pizza?  Or you could try and kill me, that's super cool too.
Just like its source material, Dungeons & Dragons Online is largely a game about killing new and interesting monsters across new and interesting landscapes. So the upcoming expansion Shadowfell Conspiracy really needs to have both. We've seen the landscapes, but now we're also getting a look at the monsters, some of which seem downright personable if you can get past the fact that they'll be trying to kill you. And if you look past the gore-soaked weapons. Maybe they're not all that personable after all.

The shots in the gallery below include some general gaming staples (griffons), some specific Dungeons & Dragons staples (beholders), and some things that look like nothing even vaguely familiar. And rest assured, you'll be finding ways to kill every single one of them. So take a look at the gallery if you can't wait until August 19th to see the new face of your enemy.

[Source: Turbine Entertainment press release]

DDO: Shadowfell Conspiracy shows the beauty of Stormhorn mountains

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Expansions, Free-to-Play

DDO Shadowfell Conspiracy shows the beauty of Stormhorn mountains
Dungeons and Dragons Online: Shadowfell Conspiracy is exactly two months away today, so there's still some time to work up excitement over this Forgotten Realms-centric expansion to the game world. We've expanded our screenshot gallery to include 10 new vistas of the Stormhorn mountains, a wilderness area that will feature large in players' adventures. You can check out all of the beauty below:

One Shots: Do you always dress like that?

Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa, One Shots, Humor, Miscellaneous

One Shots Do you always dress like that
Here's a tip from your friendly One Shots coordinator: If you send in a screenshot from a game that hardly ever gets featured in this column, there's a better-than-average chance that I'm going to bump it right up to the top of the pack. Case in point: this groovy shot from Lineage II.

Reader Johnny said he played this game back in 2007: "Behind me we can see the endgame, the Baium Raid Boss. Baium resides on the 13th floor of a the Tower of Insolence, a massive, non-instanced hunting ground with 13 fully accessible and monster-packed floors. The weapon I am holding is a Flaming Dragon Skull, an A-grade blunt weapon."

Be prepared for A-grade awesome screenshots and B-grade commentary as you forge on in this week's repository of player-submitted pictures!

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DDO screens bring us into a city prison

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Expansions, Free-to-Play

DDO expansion screenies  see team email
We recently learned of the dark prison city of Wheloon that Dungeons and Dragons Online players will be entering when Shadowfell Conspiracy releases this August. Turbine sent us several new screenshots of the interior of Wheloon, showing us that the slammer isn't always the jovial, cheery place that the movies make it out to be.

Wheloon used to be a normal town, but when it became infested with Shar cultists, the King of Cormyr walled it off and turned it into a massive prison. As if it weren't already a place to actively avoid, the Shadowfell plane has opened up into Wheloon, inviting a bunch of nasty monsters to mix it up with hardened criminals. And yes, you'll be sent into the mix because that's what heroes do. Well, that and start up internet petitions.

A tale of Forgotten Realms: DDO's Update 18 and the Shadowfell Conspiracy

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

A tale of Forgotten Realms DDO's Update 18 and the Shadowfell Conspiracy
Dungeons and Dragons Online's second expansion will not be like the first. In fact, Shadowfell Conspiracy might even be seen as a pseudo-sequel to DDO, a game-within-a-game that's offering players a fresh start in a favorite land. When the expansion hits on August 19th, players will be able to ignore all of DDO's Eberron content to start a new character at level 15 in the Forgotten Realms. Between the Forgotten Realms content that Turbine's added to the game in the past year and the new missions coming with Shadowfell Conspiracy, players could conceivably level solely in this setting.

It's obvious that Turbine's a little Forgotten-Realms-mad right now, although that's not a bad thing. The setting is a favorite among D&D fans, and while Eberron has its supporters, the studio obviously sees the Forgotten Realms as the future of this long-running MMO. While the expansion is still a couple of months away, today's Update 18: Disciples of Shadow update will serve as a prologue so that players can get started on their journey through this fresh land.

We sat down with DDO's team to talk about Update 18, the new races coming with Shadowfell Conspiracy, and the pre-purchase program that promises to give you head start. Read on, or else the wrath of the owl bear will be upon thee!

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The Turbine billing system has attained sentience (not really)

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

Turbine
We hope you've got a little extra money squirreled away in your bank account because the Turbine billing system is hungry. It seems that some players were charged a bit more than usual for their Dungeons and Dragons Online accounts this week, some of them as many as 100 times their normal VIP fee.

TurbineTolero took to the forums to clarify the issue:
This impacted a limited number of players after the maintenance work, and we have a list of the affected users. We're working with our partners to make sure that over charges are reversed. You do not need to contact us to receive help, but if you have any questions you are welcome to call or send a ticket (phone is 1-855-WBGAMES and tickets contact can be done via http://support.turbine.com).
Our sympathies extend to those affected more than passingly by the bug.

[Thanks to Marc for the tip!]

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