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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.
DDO (D&D Online) has come a long way since I started playing it in the early beta. They've polished it quite a bit and it's a visually appealing game, although nowhere near as pretty or colorful as WoW (World of Warcraft). Depending on your preference, this may be good or bad.

From a solo-player perspective, this game is hard... too damn hard, in fact. If you have a bunch of buddies who play, or you're fairly good at hooking up with folks you might not have a problem. But as someone who likes to adventure alone a lot... this game is damn near impossible to progress in.

Dying sucks in DDO and happens OFTEN, but fortunately you don't get penalized with XP Debt (like in CoH) and you don't have to walk all over the countryside looking for your body (like in WoW) but you will die a lot. You show back up in the inn, automagically. You'll need to hang out for a bit while you heal and recover mana (if any). Incidentally, the inn is the only place you auto-heal. You can't just hang out in a dungeon room and expect to get hit points back. (Technically this is just like "real" D&D... where it takes 8 hours to get a single hit point back without magic.)

The NPCs (non-player characters) I have encountered so far are interesting, but the world is way too scripted. All good MMORPGs need quests and "forced events" but it seems like DDO has a few too many. The beginning of the game is way too linear. Once you have gone through it with a couple of characters, you'll understand.

As a long term D&D player (25+ years) I've been waiting for this game for a long time. For now at least, I'm going to keep waiting. Maybe after the first major expansion, I'll reconsider. WoW just does too many things right for me to switch (or pay for two MMO accounts.) The D&D license, and the Eberron setting in particular, are rich with opportunities and I think there is a ton of potential with this game. It's just not there yet. Posted on Thursday, January 26, 2006 3:24 PM General Interest , Reviews | Back to top



Comments on this post: My thoughts on DDO

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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Good call on DDO, the phrase "shows alot of promise" is a common one I hear when the upcoming title is discussed, but the communal mindset seems to agree that waiting a while to let the game grow into itself is the way to go. Of course, this might result in the game dying an early death but if so.... oh well. I've done the whole "paying to betatest a MMO for over a year before it could legitimately be called Gold material" and am in no rush to do it again.

And is it just me, or does DDO (which is supposedly set in Eberron) not feel much like an Eberron game at all? Sure, you can play the Warforged race but other than that? I played a Draconian in Faerun, didn't turn the setting into Dragonlance! I don't mind the generic fantasy world flavor but I was expecting something a little more... unique out of this title.

[a preview button for Feedback posts would be nice about now.]
Left by stevenc on Jan 27, 2006 8:50 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I'm right there with ya. The city you start in is about as Vanilla as you can get. Warforged are the ONLY Eberron race you can play so far, and they aren't a particularly good choice for a first character (in DDO), IMO.

It's worth keeping an eye on, but WoW is the clear victor in this case. How are you liking CoV? Better than CoH, or as good?
Left by Chris Williams on Jan 27, 2006 9:35 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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CoV is really a (massive) expansion pack for CoH, its worth taking a look into as the villains side is in many ways superior to the offerings on the heroes side. Villain ATs are more balanced, missions are more interesting, graphics are much improved. Playing in a boxy zone like Steel Canyon then going to new highly-detailed zones like Nerva Archipelago is almost a shock to the system. The devs have obviously learned alot in the past 18 months and are really starting to max out the CoH engine.
Left by stevenc on Jan 31, 2006 7:58 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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"Warforged are the ONLY Eberron race you can play so far" - Wow is that ever a bunch of lies. Just 'couse Elves / gnomes / dwarves show up in more settings then eberron does not mean these are not eberron races. That was a pretty silly comment.

WoW in comparison to DDO is like a childs crayon drawing, graphically.

Personally i quit WoW after playing DDO beta for 2 days ( that was a while back ) and I still think It was a great choice.

Half-orcs and one more ( forgot what it was ) race has allready been announced to be released shortly for DDO. First two major ontent patches were announced allreday as well.

I really do think this is an excellent game, how it turns out all depends on the community that it attracts. If after all this won't work out there always is 1. Vanguard 2. Conan 3. Lord of the rings games coming up.
Left by Cryptor on Feb 12, 2006 10:24 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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Oh well... please forgive my grammatical oversight then.... Warforged (at the time of writing) are the only Eberron specific race available for play. Of course you knew exactly what I meant anyway and just felt like splitting hairs because I insulted the beta of your favorite game. Whatever...

I'm not going to argue with you over graphics. DDO has come a long way since I started playing with it, no doubt there, but WoW is more visually appealing to me.

As I said (and will continue saying) the game has a lot of potential, but right now I just don't think it's at the top of my list.

Trust me, as a collector of all things D&D, an avid gamer and author of several published D&D adventures, articles and a book on CRPGs (in progress) nobody has been waiting for this game longer than I have. When it's ready, I'll be it's biggest cheerleader. Until then I'm going to hold back and wait.

Citing the games perfection prematurely only serves to ensure it will never be reached. The devs need honest feedback, not hollow praise, if they are going to make this the game it ultimately could be.
Left by Chris Williams on Feb 13, 2006 5:35 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I Beta tested DDO too and pre ordered it and I am now playing the retail version and I love this game! Yes there is still work to be done to make it better but you have to agree to this date no other MMO has come close to making a rogue correct until now! As for Solo play in this game from an advid PnP I would expect you to see what the Devs were trying to do here. When have you ever play the PnP by yourself? WoW was fun but to much grind and I for one am glade to do something Different, and I know someone will say that you grind in DDO but only see it that way if you aren't having fun and are trying to solo.
Left by ogeee13 on Mar 02, 2006 11:59 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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Actually I didn't find the grind in WoW all that bad. Nowhere near as bad as CoH. As for playing PnP alone, of course not. But... this isn't PnP, it's a computer game. The multiplayer aspect is nice of course, but most other MMORPGs are much more accomodating to the solo player.
Left by Chris Williams on Mar 02, 2006 3:14 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I quit WoW when i saw the demo of this game. I pre-ordered it from ebgames.com and am now playing it. I think this is a fantastic game

1. They allready fixed at least 90% of bug in the first 10 days of release ( I played WoW since start and let me tell you, it took them months to fix the simplest problems ).

2. Great new content is allready announced for next month release ! The famous red dragon module has allready been announced, check out the official page. Not only has it been announced, it wil be released within 2 months of release. And i mean a huge content addition here, no less then 15 new dungeons/areas with the huge red dragon in the biggest one. In comparison this would be comparable to Blizz releasing ZG, BW and 10 other instances within the first 2 months of release of WoW.

I am at lvl 7.1 right now and I love this. I will propably be around lvl 8 when the new nigh lvl red dragon stuff is released. Turbine has a superb track record when it comes to new content additions so I am sure they will keep the new content coming.
Left by Cryptor on Mar 15, 2006 7:01 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I am playing DDO, and see it as a good casual game for those who like interacting with other people. Not geared towards power gamers who get enjoyment out of being seen as the most L33T player on the planet.

It has its faults (the linear questing being the biggest pain, when not linked to the group management function), but I find it enjoyable.

I dont see the first content release as being like all the current state of play for WoW (ZG etc) but more like Onyxia, and in a similar time frame. I think the only thing that will keep a constant player base is regular upgrade of level caps, which should be achieveable due to the inherent balance of the AD&D system.
Left by Still Letto on Mar 19, 2006 6:01 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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DDO is too "Guild Wars" for me. The interface is cumbersome, the plot is hookless, and the graphics (while technically nice) don't have any style and are unpleasant to look at.

Release problems are just a fact of life for online games. They all have them. Sounds like they did a good job getting them cleaned up. Bravo.

I much prefer the shared world environment of games like WoW though, for the social aspect -- meet people doing the same quest as you, group up, get to know people... sounds dumb, but this has actually brought me some great friends. No one in GW or DDO seemed to be interested in any of that. You could say it's the community's fault, but I also blame the game for making all of the "shared" environments the kind of areas where nothing of note actually happens. The shared world of WoW is so much more enjoyable.
Left by Pete on May 05, 2006 2:50 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I played the Beta and the 10 day trial and guess what... I got bored with it. In my opinion, this game is not worth the $50 up front fee, let alone the monthly fees. I will stick with other MMO's. The game was too linear and poked full of bugs for my taste.
Left by Bud on Jul 21, 2006 6:54 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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DDO sucks. It isn't the game so much as it is the people. For the ultimate DDO experience, play a cleric -- you get to hear a crack whore screaming at you because you couldn't cast 50 heals on her lame-ass fighter per second, and it's just like being scolded in person because you have your speakers cranked. Then you'll get the lecture about how you'll never, ever get to be in a guild because you have the bad taste to use a crossbow instead of healing their weak toons every few seconds. (Cracks whores are at their angriest when you just saved the party, btw!)
Left by Kyle Joslin on Jun 22, 2009 2:26 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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DDO kept my attention and interest at first, but past level 10, soloing becomes impossible, and the game forces you to group up with a growing number of discourteous and immature punks to get a little XP. Even realizing this is not meant to be a solo game at higher levels, the majority of the groups I have been forced to enter, generally suck all of the fun out of the game when most other players are either arrogant as hell or do not have a clue and run ahead and ruin it for everyone. Also, as of Dec. 09, the servers are overcrowded and laggy, so expect to be d/ced often and have to wait for an open slot to enter the game, even with a pay to play account.
Left by Ben on Dec 08, 2009 9:16 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I played this for a week or two, and after reaching level 6 with a sorcerer I realized. What's the point? It's just basically free hacking and slashing, only with more rules, lag, glitches, annoying people (not everywhere but some people are more than enough to make up for the good people), and it's single minded. Kill the monsters, take the loot, level up, repeat. I could do that with less lag and glitches on Runescape. I expect more from a game that was originally pay to play, and that is supposed to be D&D. I may just run back to RS now after playing this game.

I expected roleplaying, and I expected being able to SEARCH bodies instead of just getting stuff automatically, althought the really big issue was not having even slightly dynamic dungeons. You DO grind on this game, but not for loot, usually. Exp farming, and it gets harder and more boring. There are less and less quests to solo as you go higher and you have to group with people, most of which are incompetent when paired with other people (I amongst them), and it just generally sucks. If a party member doesn't know how to play their role, such as a cleric, boom, instant death for the party unless someone brought a hireling (no, I'm not one of the people who screams at clerics, I've NEVER mentioned it, although it is annoying when you die right next to a cleric full of spellpoints). A fighter that can't take the heat, after casting fireball 5 times to help out and killing most of them yourself? Unless you have another tank or a great DPS guy you're doomed to die.


Basically the game is too focused on killing, too focused on boring stuff, and too focused on groups (that don't usually work). IF it was turn based I'd play that game 'til the cows came home. That was another disappointment, because if the game stayed the same except for that, you could easily pull off turn based strategy; you just make it so anyone who sees the battle starts in, with initiative, and so on, since the dungeon instances are party specific it would actually work. And you could distract the enemies indeffinantly while the guy not in the battle grabbed the loot, which would just be priceless.
Left by blah on Dec 23, 2009 5:30 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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Ok,, played wow for a very long time, and its still a good game, but burn out is burn out. Tried ddo, thought it was great for an hour or so,, then gruoped with ppl who zerged through everything and ok Very Boring, so quit, knowing better. Then I found out about persistent death. I am HOOKED! For someone looking for a challenge,, the ddo setup definitely works under PD rules (don't think it would work in wow). So give it a run,, and join us at MortalVoyage.com Definitely worth your time.
Left by dave on Feb 27, 2010 12:33 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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DDO, as of march 6th 2010 still is a horrible game.
It was released with too little content years ago and it hasn't come very far in solving that problem.
I have had a subscription for years and recently cut my losses on an account with a few capped toons.
What they did for their latest 'expansion' is recycle old content with a new difficulty ('epic') in which they make old character builds obsolete so people are forced to either buy potions from the online store or rebuild their AC builds in order to even scratch the overpowered mobs in the new dungeons.

Granted, my wizard was destroying raids on elite solo until elite came out, but it isn't the kind of 'challenge' that is intelligent or well executed. It's just another grind in a world that refuses to invest the time and energy into making the game good.

Don't hold your breath. DDO promises and falls short time and time again.
Left by Guy on Mar 06, 2010 12:30 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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Ok, I read all your comments, and have a couple things to say

So you want to complain about not being able to solo?, how many d&d games have you soloed?, I really like that they made the group aspect a necessary thing as you advance levels.

Max level is now 20, I can get a toon to level 20 without having to repeat a quest twice.. and you complain about lack of content?

The graphics are realistic, not wild or weird colored like WOW

Also if you are careful with your toons build, you dont have to buy anything from the ddo store to survive and have fun.

I like the fact that you can start this game with a badly built character and go nowhere fast.

I had to scratch my first couple of toons at about level 5, less than a weeks play on each, as I learned how this game ran. I considered it all part of the learning process.

As for the players, sure you get your zergers, etc.. That is why you either start, or join a guild. As you get higher level you will run across people who are fun to group with, aka, good party players. I have found the game quite fun and visually rich, completely unlike WOW.

Grind is not an issue with this game, I am sure as a get more and more characters to level caps I might start thinking that.

But in the time it took me to get a runescape toon up a few levels I am maxed in this game and still having a blast.
Left by Degritz on Apr 19, 2010 1:11 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I am a little biased, but honestly this game lacks so much of the feeling of Structure that i got from WoW.

People complain about grinding on wow? guess what, this game is grinding even worse, except instead of mobs its the exact same quest over and over, with penalties to xp after certain repeats to boot! At least on WoW i never get the feeling i might run into a block where i won't be able to get anymore xp...and at least the "Kill x things for their y" quests have different stories backing them.

Graphics? give me a break, i love the old school games like mario and zelda, what the **** does graphics have to do with quality of game?

Solo-ability is actually a GOOD thing in an online game-you won't always be able to get a group for everything, being able to function by yourself helps keep people interested when they can't group, which is a lot for me on DDO when nobody i know plays it, unlike WoW.

You think WoW became so popular because of its ads? Partially true, but even crap can only go so far with good advertising, the reason wow is so popular is because it is FUN. Challenging is one thing, but soloing DDO is hard to the point of not even being amusing.

You say grouping is beter in ddo? I say nay, its not really BETTER its just FORCED. Most groups i played were just a bunch of damagers with a cleric or two spamming the same healing spell over and over, at least in WoW there is more distinguished group roles.

You think its cool being able to completely customize your character? Ok, have fun playing with your totally gimped bow wielding Barbarian when you decide to go against pre existing builds created by other players.

So you guys have fun with your 4 man groups killing a bunch of kobolds and the occasional pit fiend, ill be on WoW killing Norse Gods and the king of the Undead.
Left by Wow fan on Jul 10, 2010 9:51 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I've been playing DDO for a few months after years of WoW and I love it. I really feel like most of the above "negative" posts are from people who completely missed the best aspects of the game.

Solo play: You can solo all the way to level 20. Sure there will be quests that you will want/need to group for, but finding or building a group for any quest is extremely easy! People tend to ignore the fact that when they rolled their first character they didnt know anything about the game, then wonder why everything is so hard. It isn't hard, your character sucks. Roll a new, better one.

The combat system in this game is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately a lot of players never find this out. You need a well built character to be capable of running "elite" quests. Once you are running elites you start to learn the combat basics. By level 12 (a couple weeks for new-ish players with a well built toon) elite content is rich and challenging with better tactics paying dividends.

Start by rolling up any old crappy character, level up for a week or two and get a feel for the game. Then delete that character and start over with your better understanding. In my opinion, here is the best character for anyone to level up first:

The Human Battlebard
Str 14+ Dex 14 Con 12 Cha 16 do whatever you want with any other points

Feats: Toughness, Two Handed Fighting

When you reach level 2 take a level of Fighter! Level 3 Bard, Level 4 Fighter, and every level after that Bard. At level 20 you will be Bard 18/Ftr 2.

First level spells Cure Light Wounds and Hypnotize.
Other feats to get in the first few levels: Power Attack, Force of Personality, Extend Spell.


Do this and your entire game experience will change. This is a fantasic MMO, but the ability to make a useless weakling character gives a lot of new players a poor first impression of the game.
Left by Marius on Nov 21, 2010 10:57 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I haven't played DDO, but I have played bad MMOs and good MMOs.

"Start by rolling up any old crappy character, level up for a week or two and get a feel for the game. Then delete that character and start over with your better understanding"

While this may allow you to enjoy a bad MMO, this is a sign of a poorly designed game. It never ceases to amaze me how people defend bad games with this kind of logic.

DEMAND MORE OF YOUR GAMES people! Otherwise companies will continue to give you crap while you smile and try to fool yourself into thinking you are having fun.

Left by Anti-Marius on Dec 20, 2010 10:29 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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Marius was right "Anti-Marius". Most people are not going to be able to play DDO and understand how to create a good toon without either looking up some tips online or paying close attention to all the parameters in this game. It's complex. The best way is indeed to take one of their preset toons and just enjoy the experience for a few days while you become accustomed to the layout of this game. When you get things figured out create a new and better toon that sounds better to you (and customize it completely if you think you have a handle on things) then mail all the cool stuff and money you've earned with your tester over to your new toon.
Left by Anti "Anti-Marius" on Jan 12, 2011 7:26 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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Actually, Anti-Marius was right "Anti Anti-Marius". Having to play a game for 2 weeks to understand how to build the "proper" toon is nonsense. A good (even decent) game will allow ANY toon, no matter how customized to succeed at the end game with the proper skill or gear. If a game allows for customization, but then makes certain character builds useless at later levels...that's the games' fault, not the players'.
And in DDO certain character builds are gimped, unusable junk. Want some proof? Just take a look at the DDO forums, which are full of arrogant nerds arguing about character builds and screaming that anything other then the several predefined class setups are worthless.
Left by Anti "Anti-Anti-Marius" on Mar 22, 2011 2:29 PM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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I guess I can't complain about not being able to solo DDO as it's an MMO and based on D&D but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Even playing a powerful class like the battle cleric was tricky and I don't mean a good challenging kind of tricky. I mean the kind of tricky where you break your weapons against an ooze when you're a half hour through a dungeon and know you have to start over.

If you don't know about D&D you will be confused. If you have some knowledge of D&D but have never played in a game of it like me, you will struggle as I did. If you're going to play DDO I hope you like sewer levels because as far as I could tell in about 5 days of play, sewer levels are most of the game. Some may think 5 days isn't enough time to judge a game. I say it's more than enough and I have zero interest in playing any more. I thought D&D was supposed to be heroic adventure... you know, traveling the lands and having daring encounters with some good role play. No adventures for you! You're stuck in one (albeit large) city and quest as an exterminator of vermin. *yawns*

It's boring and tedious always having to look for the levers or whatever to get through the absurdly spacious sewers. Really that's DDO in a nutshell: boring and tedious.

Also, everything in the game is ridiculously expensive. Prices are commonly in platinums - even for tavern food! Apparently Eberron is suffering from massive inflation.

At least DDO is mostly free - "mostly" because you have to pay for certain races or classes and additional content. I had a hell of lot more fun playing the nine hour free trial of Guild Wars.
Left by midnight on Mar 28, 2011 12:49 AM

# re: My thoughts on DDO
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Congratulations for an excellent article, I enjoyed it very much! The ideas are clear and I think I recognize the style, do you also write for other major e-zines? I'll tweet it, my followers must read it! George Jones.
Left by G Jones on May 02, 2011 1:47 AM

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