Dungeons & Dragons Online
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|Dungeons & Dragons Online|
|Release date(s)||February 28, 2006|
|Media/distribution||Optical disc, download|
Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Turbine, Inc. for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh personal computers and originally was marketed as Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach, followed by Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited with the start of Free to Play, changing to Dungeons & Dragons Online with the introduction of Forgotten Realms related content. Turbine developed DDO as an online adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) based loosely on the D&D 3.5 rule set. The game is set in the unexplored continent of Xen'drik within the Eberron campaign setting and in the Kingdom of Cormyr within the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
Centered in the city of Stormreach, DDO is set on the fictional continent of Xen'drik, in the world of Eberron, a Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting. Xen'drik is a vastly unexplored and wild locale, once the center of the Advanced Giant Civilization, which was destroyed thousands of years before. Players can create their characters following the revised edition of D&D 3.5 rule-set fashion, and play them in both indoor and outdoor environments, including dungeons.
Although the game is based in large part on the tabletop D&D 3.5 rule set, it contains changes, some which were introduced due to differences in the dynamics of video game combat and tabletop gaming. For example, Turbine wanted DDO to use a real-time combat engine, whereas tabletop D&D uses a turn-based system. This meant considerable changes in the handling of combat, character skills, and feats—areas where Turbine felt the turn-based combat system and real-time combat did not mesh. Differences include increased hit possibilities in a round (as much as twelve times more), increased spell casting resources over rest periods, and the use of a spell point system instead of spell slots. Magical items are low cost (they average 1/8 of the tabletop D&D prices), characters have higher stats, and offensive effects created by characters do not harm their allies.
The game is set in the city of Stormreach, a giant-scaled city built ages ago, and recently settled by humans. Areas in Stormreach are the Harbor, the Marketplace, and five Dragonmarked Houses (House Cannith, Deneith, Jorasco, Kundarak and Phiarlan). Adventures and quests are available beyond the city walls into other areas across the continent.
After creating a player character, the player starts the game shipwrecked on the shores of Korthos Island. The character is helped by a band of citizens (Jeets, Cellimas, and Talbron) who want to end the rule of the Sahuagin on Korthos Island and send them back to the sea. The Dragon Aussircaex is plaguing the island; a Mindflayer Creature is controlling it with a Mindsunder Artifact. Once the player character destroys the Mindsunder Artifact, Aussircaex destroys the Mindflayer and returns Korthos Island back to its old ways, ending Sahuagin rule. After achieving fame in Korthos Island, the player is sent to Stormreach to gain fame and clear all threats to the city.
From that point on, events in the game revolve around Stormreach. The player has to save the city from many threats, including:
- Giants attempts to regain mastery over the city of Stormreach and the continent of Xen'drik.
- The reopening of the gate to Xoriat.
- The Black Abbot and his minions of Khyber (Eberron) and other undead attempt to gain power over Xen'drik.
- Devils from Shavarath attempt to invade and conquer Eberron.
- Pirates and undead pirates attempt to make a foothold in House Denith before conquering Stormreach.
- Droaam, an army of Medusas, orcs, kobolds, and gnolls attempt to play war games with the lords of Stormreach. They mine under the Lordsmarch Plaza and attack.
- Quori from the Plane of Nightmares invades peoples' minds and uses them as hosts on the material plane.
- The Lord of Blades takes over a Quori creation forge under Stormreach and tries to use it to wipe out all living races.
- The Master Artificer Toven tries to destroy the souls of all warforged in Xen'drik.
DDO is an Action role-playing game presented in Real-time tactics combat. The camera follows behind the player and can be adjusted to view surroundings. The camera view can be changed to a first-person perspective. The game is controlled either by keyboard or gamepad. Every action in game can be remapped to suit the player, even controller buttons. Within a toolbar on screen, items and action abilities may be placed and activated at will. Exploration and battles are real-time; characters move in 3D with directional keys and may dodge long range attacks.
A party system places emphasis on multiple players joining together in groups. Joining a party or creating one is accessed by the Grouping panel. Players interact with screen chat windows, or by voice chat among party members.
Progress is defined by completing quests and leveling up. After creating an avatar on the character selection screen, players are required to go through a tutorial, which may then be skipped. Players receive quests from non-player characters. After accumulating enough experience points through quests, the character is entitled to gain a level, which grants access to feats, spells, and skills. The game initially limited characters to a maximum level of 10, but has since increased the limit to 20. Each module has added quests and areas. Unlike most other RPGs, experience points are not gained by killing monsters, but rather by completing quests. Another difference from other games is that characters do not automatically heal from any damage taken, but instead must visit special locations to do so.
Quests in DDO are organized by character level, difficulty, length, and patron. Each quest has a base level, and the XP reward decreases if any of the party members are above that level. Characters more than two levels below the "base level" are not allowed to initiate a quest, but they are able to join a quest started by another party member. Characters more than three levels below the highest level character are penalized for being "powerleveled", and get significantly less XP.
Most quests have an item or monetary reward when finished, and the character must talk to the quest giver to receive the reward. Some dungeons require several visits to the quest giver to complete the entire quest chain. Speaking to the quest giver allows players to repeat the quest. Completing a quest multiple times reduces the amount of XP awarded, and if in a short amount of time, the loot, as well. Once enough quests are completed, the character will attract the attention of patrons, who will give special rewards such as long-lasting spells or exclusive items. In some cases, it will unlock special races or classes (which can also be purchased through the DDO Store).
Quests are narrated by a "Dungeon Master", with voiceover work on some quests split between D&D co-creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. For the "Delera's Tomb" quest chain, the dungeon master duties are performed by Gygax. A special shrine area of the graveyard was added in his memory. A higher-level quest chain features Arneson.
The six difficulty levels for quests are Solo, Casual, Normal, Hard, Elite, and Epic. Epic quests are divided into Epic Normal, Epic Hard and Epic Elite. Solo and Epic are only available on a small number of quests. Solo quests must be completed alone, and are rare outside tutorials, while Epic difficulty is offered for select quests as an endgame challenge, once level 20 is reached. All difficulty levels give an XP bonus the first time the quest is run at the given level, but Elite gives a much higher bonus. Higher difficulty levels provide a much more challenging experience to the players, with monsters making use of more powerful spells and traps doing lethal damage. The quality of the loot (items, equipment, etc.) increases depending on difficulty level. Generally speaking, the highest level quests on the Elite setting offer the best treasure, although that is not always the case.
Casual level offers decreased XP and loot. Some especially powerful items don't appear in Casual at all. Casual is frequently used by newer players to learn the game and by higher-level characters to quickly achieve prerequisites for raids or farm materials used in crafting. Unlike Solo difficulty, Casual can be played with a full party.
DDO is an instanced game, where each party receives a private "copy" of a dungeon for their own use. Marketing, socializing, and quest selection are done in community areas. There are localized versions for the European market. Languages available are English, French, and German.
As of September 9, 2009, DDO is free to play, with a micro-transaction store; players can gain VIP status by paying a subscription fee, which garners them additional rewards every month. A free-player's first micro-transaction converts them to a "Premium player" with additional perks (though less than those of a "VIP").
There are seven (originally 14) DDO servers for the North American market, named after geographic aspects of Eberron. In North America, Turbine deploys the game and maintains daily operations. In Europe the game was maintained by Codemasters with the help of Alchemic Dream and remained subscription-based until 19 August 2010, when the European servers went offline. Players were able to transfer their characters to the American servers. There were initially five servers, named after Eberron deities. After a server merge in early 2007, two remained until the closure. In China, the game was operated by Shanda. In Japan, the game was operated by Sakura Internet.
There are no servers for the Southern Hemisphere market. The game distributed in Australia by Atari is the US version.
Races and classes 
All races are initially available in the game, except for Drow, which must be purchased or unlocked. Premium races are Warforged, Half-elf, and Half-orc, which require an active subscription or a purchase from the online store. Current player character races are Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Warforged, Drow, Half-Elf, and Half-orc. Prestige classes are available as enhancements to base classes. There are no experience penalties for multiclass characters. Apart from alignment restrictions, there are no restrictions on multi-class combinations.
There are 13 playable classes with no race restrictions. Following the 3.5 edition rules and the rules of the Eberron campaign, players choose a class to begin with, but do not have to remain in that class. Favored Souls and Artificers are not immediately available and must either be unlocked or purchased. Monks and Druids are premium classes and require either an active subscription or purchase in the online store. They cannot be unlocked by free-to-play players, but can be bought with freely-earned in-game turbine points.
Feat, Skill, and Enhancement system 
Progressive systems are in place in DDO additional variety between characters. Feats are special abilities that grant a character additional actions or abilities. Skills can be increased to give higher bonuses or satisfy prerequisites. Enhancements can be chosen, which augment feats and class-based abilities.
Feats are divided into regular feats and class feats. Most feats are available to any class (so long as any requirement is met), but class feats can be chosen only by specific classes. Every class is granted at least one feat during character creation, as well as one every third level.
Skills, such as one's ability to jump or find secret doors, are increased whenever a new level is gained. Each skill has a governing attribute, which may apply a bonus or penalty. Some skills are limited to success or failure, while others give incremental bonuses with each skill point. A character's skills are based on class, with cross-class skills costing twice as much to increase. The number of skill points one can distribute is limited by class and the Intelligence attribute.
Enhancements, a mechanic unique to DDO, further customize characters. Levels have five tiers, and each tier reached, by accumulating XP, grants one action point, for a total of four action points per level. These can be spent at any time at a trainer non-player character to buy an enhancement. These are similar to feats, but do not provide as significant an alteration to a character's abilities.
Prestige enhancements are similar to prestige classes. Instead of prestige classes, characters can purchase enhancement lines that grant similar abilities. All prestige enhancements require either other prerequisite enhancements or feats.
Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach was developed by Turbine over two years. The initial prototype and concept were done by Jason Booth, Dan Ogles, Cardell Kerr, Ken Troop, and Michael Sheidow, in coordination with Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) pen and paper game. Later, members of the initial team moved on to work on Turbine's The Lord of the Rings Online, or left the company. Development was then led by James Jones.
On August 1, 2005, Turbine sent invitations to people interested in participating in the Public Alpha Test. On November 1, 2005, Turbine announced that the public Beta test was open. On November 22, 2005, Turbine announced that each copy of the January 2006 issue of PC Gamer magazine would contain a key to gain access to the beta. Turbine, in association with Fileplanet and IGN, completed three public stress tests of the game, with the last ending on February 12, 2006.
Testing for DDO ended on February 19, 2006, with a special head start event that started February 24 for those who pre-ordered. The game opened to the public on February 28. As of April 2008, there were less than 100,000 subscribers for the game. In June 2009, DDO reopened beta testing, in preparation for their new free-to-play subscription structure.
Post-release modules 
Turbine releases major content updates as modules, named after the module concept in the pen-and-paper version of D&D. Additional content was released between modules as "updates. " Responding to the player feedback that the interim updates do not provide enough new content, the development team stopped releasing interim updates starting with Module 5. The developers instead focused on creating larger modules. Prior to the launch of DDO: Eberron Unlimited, there was a 10-month content gap.
On June 9, 2009, the official D&D Online website announced that Dungeons & Dragons Online would convert to a subscriptionless "free to play" game for players in North America, under the new name Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited. The level cap would be increased to level 20 (also the standard level cap in the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons) and Free users would have access to the majority of game content; some features would have to be purchased with Turbine points or unlocked through play. There would be VIP access with additional features available, as well as free Turbine points. Closed beta registration opened on June 9, 2009. The game and contents were free to download on September 1 for VIP members and September 9 for the general North American public.
Turbine presented its new "Menace of the Underdark" expansion module at the PAX East convention in April 2012, before releasing it in June. The expansion increased the maximum character level and added the druid class.
- Freebie Award: Best Free-to-play-MMORPG (2009) – RPGLand.com RPGs of the Year 2009
- Best Free to Play MMO (2009) – MMORPG.com 2009 Awards
- Best Free to Play Game (2009) – Tentonhammer.com Best of 2009 Awards
- Best Multiplayer Game – 2006 British Academy Video Games Awards
- Most Anticipated Game – 2005 MMORPG.COM Reader's Choice Awards
- Best Persistent World Game – IGN.com Best of 2006 Awards
- Nominee – Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year – 10th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards
- Third Prize, Best Graphics (Les JOL d'Or 2006)
- Third Prize – Public's Award (Les JOL d'Or 2006)
Turbine vs Atari lawsuit 
On August 24, 2009, Turbine, Inc. filed lawsuit against Atari claiming a breach of a licensing agreement for Dungeons & Dragons, which alleged six counts against Atari in their business dealings for the past six years, such as consistent breaches of contract to take advantage of Turbine's properties, a lack of promotion and distribution of Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach and attempting to gain additional money from Turbine's licensing of the D&D properties. Furthermore, Turbine claimed that many of the maneuvers by Atari were designed to either undercut the upcoming launch of Dungeons & Dragons: Eberron Unlimited or help Atari launch its own competing MMO. Atari filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and also filed a separate complaint to recover monies owed to Atari resulting from an independent third party audit of Turbine.
Treehouse patent lawsuit 
Ontario-based web services company Treehouse Avatar Technologies Inc. filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Turbine, Inc., which claimed Dungeons & Dragons Online game had violated United States Patent No. 8,180,858 (Method And System For Presenting Data Over A Network Based On Network User Choices And Collecting Real-Time Data Related To Said Choices), which was awarded on May 15, 2012.
- Grayson, Laurence (June 1, 2006). "DDO: Stormreach". Australian PC World. Retrieved October 23, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- Bray, Hiawatha (June 8, 2005). "Race to Build Stormreach Westwood Firm Poised to Begin a Push to Lead Its Online Gaming Niche". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 23, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- "Medieval Fantasy in Cyberspace". Washington Post. January 26, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2012 – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- "Dungeons & Dragons Creators to Lend Voice to Stormreach". Wireless News. January 20, 2006. Retrieved October 23, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- [dead link]
- "Home | Dungeons & Dragons Online". DDO.com. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- Holt, Robert; Block, Melissa (February 28, 2006). "Dungeons and Dragons Makes Online Debut". All Things Considered (NPR). Retrieved October 23, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- Svensson, Peter (April 13, 2008). "A Game's New Role". Telegraph Herald (Dubuque). Retrieved October 26, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- Sposito, Sean (June 10, 2009). "Turbine offers new lure: free D&D play". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 30, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- DDO-Eberron-Unlimited-Gets-New-Release-Date "Warcry.com Article". Massively.com. 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
- Bray, Hiawatha (April 6, 2012). "PAX East lets city show it can play the game". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 30, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- VanOrd, Kevin (June 28, 2012). "Demons and Drow: Menace of the Underdark Arrives". GameSpot. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- Kohan, Topher (January 20, 2012). "Master User Week". St. Joseph News-Press. Retrieved October 26, 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- "RPGLand.com RPGs of the Year 2009". RPGLand.com. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "MMORPG Best F2P MMO of 2009". MMORPG.com. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Ten Ton Hammer Best of 2009 Awards". Tentonhammer.com. Retrieved 2009-12-25.
- "British Academy Video Games Awards (Latest Winners and Nominees)". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 2006-10-05. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
- "2005 Reader's Choice Award Winners". MMORPG.com. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
- "Best of 2006: PC (Best Persistent World Game". IGN. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
- "10th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards". The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2007–02–08. Retrieved 2007-03-01.
- "Les JOL d'Or 2006". JeuxOnline. Retrieved 2007-03-05.
- Atari's Dungeons and Dragon's Lawsuit
- Atari Dismisses Turbine Lawsuit as "Frivolous"
- Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012
- Dungeons & Dragons Online – Official website
- DDO Compendium – Official wiki (Users can add to, but not edit, official entries.)
- DDOwiki – Community-based wiki
Media coverage 
- DDO Reviews at Game Rankings (meta-review site, Average Ratio: 76%)
- Interview with Alex Rodberg & David Eckelberry from GenCon 2005 at GamerGod.com
- PC Gamer Video Podcast No. 3 Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach