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GCC E3 '05 Hands On: Dungeons & Dragons Online
Dungeons & Dragons Online
Based on the 3.5 Advanced D&D rule set this is an eagerly awaited MMO title for a lot of game fans and RPG fans alike. With the aid of Wizards of the Coast, Turbine has worked to create a good MMO in the Eberron campaign from the AD&D universe. The rule set if based largely on the AD&D 3.5 rules, with some adjustments to accommodate online gameplay (spell point system, casting times, etc). Most of the features of the paper based RPG will be present in game (including detection skills, thievery, and racial abilities).
DDO will Feature a largely instance based quest, Turbine is hoping to overcome some of the inherent problems in camping and farming in an MMO by keeping players together in a social environment, and instancing out quest runs. Also they have adjusted the typical questing completion (courier, kill quest, etc) to be objective based rather than target based, keeping players from having to hunt down the last few monsters on a kill quest, or waiting their turn for item pickup should also aid in the battle against camping and farming. Finally, most quest runs to an instanced zone will be an instantaneous transfer of the player(s) to the start of the quest area with minimal travel time.
The Dungeon Master or "DM" is an element of D&D that players probably assumed lost in the translation to an online game. Turbine assures us this will not be the case. “DM Text” will help players through the missions and tells the story of the quest they are on. In the version we saw, this was simply non-obtrusive white text that flashed on the screen at key moments during the adventure. This aspect of the demo brought a unique feeling to the game, almost like I was back in College playing with the DM hovering over my shoulder.
The game revolves around the central Oberon campaign city of StormReach, and does feature a series of newbie quests to get players started off. Aside from the typical how to move/fight/interact, the newbie quests also introduce players to the interactive environment, both scripted and non scripted events can play as trigger roles in questing, as well as trigger-able environmental effects. Areas can be zoned on/off for both beneficial and detrimental effects on players and monsters alike, giving a good feel to the world physics and effects in game. The game world is lush with floating towers, elemental airships and other breathtaking wonders. Travel for the sake of travel has also been eliminated from the game, as the developers tell us that they want the players to really spend the bulk of their time in the main areas of play......Dungeons!
D&D Online has chosen to go for a small, community-focused approach to game design. Their servers will only support up to one-thousand players concurrently. This decision is not a technical constraint, but rather a game design choice that the developers hope will foster an increased sense of community and belonging, especially for those players who are new to the game. To facilitate this emphasis on community, Turbine has chosen to have the city of Stormreach be the central hub not just for new players, but all players. Quest, ability, detection, and commentary information is passed on to players either on a party or individual basis allowing for a 'DM' to give information on events, trap detection, saving rolls, among other things. Party members will be responsible for passing along private information to the party (or withholding it depending on the situation).
Based on the demo Turbine walked us through, this should be an excellent entry to the MMO world, and should provide D&D RPG players a new outlet for their D&D addiction.
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