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Exploring Eberron

Exploring Eberron: Weapon materials 101

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

Crafting is coming to Dungeons and Dragons Online! There's a lot of player excitement about the looming Update 9, but the introduction of a true crafting system easily eclipses a lot of it.

One of the most significant aspects of crafting in DDO is that players will be able to craft the perfect weapon rather than relying on lucky drops while playing or on the auction hall. This system will be open to even new players, and while that's great, it might get a little confusing for those who haven't had time to learn what all of the gear details mean.

For that reason, I want to take a look at some of the basics today: weapon material composition. Weapons are made of silver, adamantine, some varieties of wood, and much more. It can seem a little overwhelming to try to figure out what type of weapon you should choose and why -- and the temptation to say "oh, forget it" and just use whatever is strong.

Don't throw out that cool adamantine sword quite yet, though. Join me after the jump and let's look at what these materials mean and why you care!

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Exploring Eberron: DDO 101 and why it's still needed

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

Dungeons and Dragons Online is an old game. I'm not saying that in a negative context -- if a game has been around for a long time, that means it's had time to work through the bumps in the road that come with launch and the first six months or so, as well as to build a strong community of players. DDO recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, so it's one of those MMOs that's had time to settle, grow, and become established as a reliable game.

This is a great thing with one downside: A long-running game has a tendency to run short on content for new players, both in and out of game. This isn't due to any deliberate oversight or desire to exclude on behalf of the development team or the community; it's just that over time, the majority of the community naturally shifts to high-level and endgame content. It makes sense to focus largely on content and news directed at the largest part of the community in order to keep them interested -- and spending.

However, that new community still exists. Due in large part to the organic nature of MMOs, the new community continues to exist even as new players advance, learn, and become veteran players. New players (hopefully) are constantly arriving, and game mechanics and content are constantly shifting and updating. Ideally, there is always a part of the paying customer base that is new and confused. Follow along after the jump to see why this is on my mind this week and what Turbine is doing about it.

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Exploring Eberron: Of crafting, guild runs, and Crystal Cove

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

We've had several exciting pieces of news in Dungeons and Dragons Online this week! New details on Update 9 came from PAX East, and an encore of our most recent game event is here. I've got the details on those and my thoughts on what they'll bring to the player community, but before we get to that, I want to take a quick look at what OnedAwesome has been up to.

The guild has moved to a more casual schedule over the past few months, still maintaining informal Wednesday night adventures but generally playing at any day and time that works for members in various time zones. Wednesday night, six members of OnedAwesome revisited Stormcleave Outpost, a House Deneith fortress that's been overrun by enemy giants (and other ill-tempered creatures).

The adventure was such fun, and not just for the great company -- although that was definitely the highlight! It's a great illustration of the replayability of DDO content. It's a level 8 adventure that we've all been through before, and all of our characters last night were in the 10-11 level range. We simply pushed it up to elite difficulty and still found a challenge.

We've still got room in Massively's official DDO guild, so if you've got questions about joining us on the Cannith server, feel free to send a tell or in-game mail to my character Rubialina, or simply shoot me an email at rubi@massively.com.

Now, on to the updates!

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Exploring Eberron: Introducing D&D to the DDO player

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

I have a confession to make: I've never played Dungeons and Dragons. Dungeons and Dragons Online caught my attention when the business model changed and held my attention completely on its own merit.

I'd always assumed that I was in the vast minority, but over time -- and in talking to players over the past year or so -- I discovered that a lot of players have started (and continued) playing DDO not knowing the first thing about D&D. While that says great things about the MMO, there's a bit of a missed opportunity in the situation as well.

D&D has been around for over 35 years, and while it's not everyone's cup of tea, there's something to be said for a game with that kind of staying power. So while the majority of players were introduced to DDO via D&D, why not turn that around and introduce this segment of the DDO community to D&D?

Follow along after the jump to see how I'm doing just that!

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Exploring Eberron: One isn't the loneliest number

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

Two weeks ago on Exploring Eberron, I talked about my preview of the Crystal Cove event in Dungeons and Dragons Online. Design director Ian Currie and producer Eric Boyer joined me on the Lamannia server to show me around the upcoming event. It was a great time, but I was still very curious about how the event would go once it arrived on the live servers.

The thing about a developer tour is that you get to see the best of everything -- and that is both a blessing and a curse. It's great on one hand, because I can see the event and have the details explained to me without my having to navigate the hectic and busy aspect of a crowd of players all participating at once.

On the other hand, there was an important question that I really couldn't find the answer to until the event was live and I tried it on my own. One of the things I love about DDO is that it acknowledges and provides for the solo player. Right from character creation, the game tells you which classes are and are not good for soloing, and the addition of casual mode offered even more options. It seemed that a server-wide event like this might have a harder time keeping up that tradition, and I wanted to find out for myself.

So how did it go? Follow along after the jump and see!

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Exploring Eberron: Our interview with DDO community members

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

In this week's Exploring Eberron, we resume our player interviews at the other end of the vet scale: those newer players. I had the pleasure of talking to a few people who joined up when they heard about the Dungeons and Dragons Online free-to-play switch and loved it enough to jump in with both feet. This is another long read, and these three have some great tales and thoughts, so without further ado, let me introduce our community members!

Dulcimerist is a 36-year-old musician who plays an electric mountain dulcimer and who is a three-time cancer survivor.

Bryanmeerkat is a new player since October 2010 and a self-proclaimed "occasional troll," often spotted "pretending I know what I am talking about on the forums."

Cam Neely lives in the greater Boston area and works at one of the colleges in Boston. Cam is an officer in the Forgotten League on Orien with two main characters: a TRing Barb and a capped Bard Warchanter. Cam is a casual but committed player, typically playing a few hours in the evening when there's time.

Follow along after the break to see what they had to say!

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Exploring Eberron: Turbine is having a birthday party, Kobold-style

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

Dungeons and Dragons Online is celebrating its fifth birthday at the end of this month, and while we've assumed some sort of event was in the works, it wasn't until Wednesday that we all got to experience the details.

I spent some time with design director Ian Currie and producer Eric Boyer in a trip through an area that will be very familiar to veteran DDO players. It's a fun, fast-paced event that introduces some new features and guarantees that player groups will need to think fast, so without further ado, follow along after the jump and let's look at this new event!

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Exploring Eberron: Back in the day

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

Welcome to February and Dungeons and Dragons Online's birthday month! Today's Exploring Eberron is on the long side, but I think you're going to find it well worth the extra time. To kick off our celebration of DDO's fifth anniversary, I chatted with some community members who have been around since the very beginning. We talked about what they loved way back then, what they love now, and how the game has changed over the years. You'll see some familiar names in this interview!

Michael Diamond is a salesman, father and Dungeon Master going back the better part of 15 years. Michael is the mind behind Tales of Greatness, a D&D 3.5 blog that follows a group of heroes from level one to 20.

Tihocan is the author of the Revisiting Paths and Shroud Loot Builder guides in the DDO forums -- if you don't have these bookmarked, remedy that!

Jaggie is a Warforged Bard on the Thelanis server. She's a roleplayer and guild leader for The Fellowship of the Golden Night. Since her talents for all things DDO extend well beyond the monitor, her posts on the DDO forums often feature cookies, drawings, costumes and other such crafts that she enjoys making of this game.

You know Sig and Anne Trent from DDOCast, but that's not the end of their community involvement at all. Sig is a committed fan of DDO and of all things D&D whatever the edition or publisher. A self-confessed rules junkie and fan of multi-classing and feats, he also writes for Open Design. Anne loves playing DDO and has been doing so for five years now. Over the years, she's been active in the community writing articles, advocating for new features, producing DDOCast and running its web site.

So without further ado, skip past the jump to see what this group had to say about five years of DDO!

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Exploring Eberron: The calm before the storm

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

Dungeons and Dragons Online will be celebrating its fifth birthday in exactly one month. There's no doubt that the game has come a very long way in the past five years, bringing wonderful or horrible changes, depending on whom you ask.

Turbine is hinting at big things coming during the month of February as part of the events commemorating the fifth anniversary, but since all is quiet for now, I thought it might be a good time to look at how Turbine has done things up to this point and at what's planned for Exploring Eberron in February.

Before we continue, I want to mention a great sale in the DDO store. The store is always marking down some item or another, but this one is broader than the standard "20% off this or that" sale. (Not that those aren't great -- we all love to save our Turbine Points!) This weekend's sale knocks half the point cost off all XP, SP, and HP potions, so it's a great time to stock up.

Follow along after the jump and let's start gearing up for February!

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Exploring Eberron: DDO for the solo player

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

One of my favorite things about MMO gaming is that there is literally something out there to suit every MMO player. It's one of the upsides of a fairly crowded market -- if what you're playing doesn't hold your attention, there are a hundred more games lined up behind it.

One effect of this is that the "multiplayer" part of "massively multiplayer" is more of a suggestion than a defined gameplay style these days. There's a significant portion of the gaming community that lacks either the time or inclination to do everything in-game with a group.

Most MMOs have varying levels of soloability. Some make a point of extending a welcoming hand to solo players, some stack the benefits and perks on the side of groups, and some don't even seem to realize there's a difference. So where does Turbine land in all of this? Well, the company has made some nice strides in the past year or so in opening the doors for solo players.

If you tried DDO way back when but didn't find it very solo-friendly, it might be time for a second look. Follow along after the jump as I touch on the various solo-friendly points of Dungeons and Dragons Online.

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Exploring Eberron: You can go home again

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Guilds, Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

It's less common these days, but it used to be that many of the Massively staff's friends, family, and readers thought we had a great gig because we got paid to sit around and play games all day. Thankfully, that assumption comes around less and less nowadays -- most of the Massively staff finds very quickly that the job reduces our gaming time rather than allowing us free rein.

So wait, what on earth does this have to do with Dungeons and Dragons Online? Well, my schedule has cramped my DDO time so severely lately that it could very well be called a hiatus. Recently, my husband had the day off work, so I assigned him full parenting duty, locked myself away, and logged into DDO for some uninterrupted playtime.

OnedAwesome officers Aunwiira and Tebraen joined me, and Brian "Psychochild" Green jumped in partway through to join the fun too. I enjoyed some great playtime with some great company, and it started me thinking about the Massively DDO guild as well as the implications of rejoining an MMO after time away.

Follow along after the jump for more!

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Exploring Eberron: Welcome to a monstrous 2011

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

Welcome to the first Exploring Eberron of 2011! I'm pretty excited about what this year will bring to Dungeons and Dragons Online, particularly since Turbine has been hinting at something special for the game's fifth birthday next month. I'm going to be looking into that pretty enthusiastically during the rest of January, hoping to dig up some hints as to what's coming.

For now, though, Turbine is kicking off 2011 in DDO with the focus on foes -- January seems to be all about monsters. The DDO crew will be giving us information on old monsters that's both useful for those just encountering them and entertaining to those who are used to them, and the designers seem to be on the hunt for new creatures as well.

Follow along after the jump to see what it's all about!

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Exploring Eberron: A look back at the six updates of 2010

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

Well, they kept their word and made their goal. The developers at Turbine planned six major updates to Dungeons and Dragons Online for 2010, and while a lot of fans speculated that it'd never happen, Turbine made sure it did.

It's been an interesting year with lots of changes to DDO. We can expect even more in 2011 -- particularly around DDO's fifth birthday at the end of February. For now, let's take a peek at where we've been in 2010. Follow along after the jump as we look at the DDO updates of the past year.

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Exploring Eberron: Playtime over the holidays

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

It's Christmas Eve, and most everyone is on some sort of holiday break. The interesting thing about holiday "break" is that it's often not so much a break as it is a different kind of hustle and bustle than the usual one.

Still, it's supposed to involve at least a little bit of downtime, and we MMO fans look forward to indulging with some extra time in our favorite games. While it's hard to find time to spend hours raiding, the design of Dungeons and Dragons Online allows players to take a half-hour here and there to relax and play. The downside of this is that there's a lot of content, and it's easy to wind up staring at the game thinking "I have no idea what I want to do." A few suggestions can usually get the ball rolllng, so follow along after the jump for some ideas on how to make the most of your DDO downtime!

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Exploring Eberron: Getting the most from the DDO Character Planner

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Free-to-Play, Exploring Eberron

Many MMOs share a common factor that can either be a fun challenge or a complete frustration: the inability to respec your character. From a lore or storytelling perspective, it makes perfect sense. You wouldn't train as an archer for years and become highly skilled then expect to change your mind one day and immediately be an expert swordsman.

Dungeons and Dragons Online is an MMO that has this characteristic. You can respec through reincarnation, of course, but it will cost you. Reincarnation gives you more points to spend, so it definitely has that advantage, but usually it's better to know what you're doing from the outset. I mentioned quite a while back that I recommend you cycle through a few low-level classes as a new player in order to get a feel for point distribution and the strengths and weaknesses of each race and class, but there's another tool that's well worth knowing.

Follow along after the jump and let's look at the DDO Character Planner.

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