Dungeons & Dragons Online
||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (April 2013)|
|Dungeons & Dragons Online|
|Release date(s)||February 28, 2006|
|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.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Characters
- 4 Development
- 5 Release
- 6 Post-release modules
- 7 Reception
- 8 Lawsuits
- 9 References
- 10 External links
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 Deneith 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 28. 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.
Added with Update 19, sagas provide extra experience or item bonuses just for completing the required quests. There are currently 2 sagas, and different bonuses are given based on what difficulty setting you completed the quests on. Sagas provide a way of rewarding characters further for completing quests, and as incentive for completing entire questlines.
Added with Update 15, the Monster Manual provides bonuses for killing a certain number of monsters as well as new types of those monsters. There are character and account deeds that can be completed. The character bonuses give experience the more monsters you kill of a certain type. Account bonuses provide Astral Shards for use in the Shard Exchange, or Jewels of Fortune that increase the level of loot you get from quest chests. The deeds also can reveal the stats and lore for that creature type as well as special artwork. Once all account deeds have been accomplished for a certain type of creature, players are allowed to see the total amount of Hit Points that type of creature has, and sometimes a creature companion of that creature type is rewarded as well. The Monster Manual is exclusive to VIP members, or can be bought from the DDO store.
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.
At the character creation screen, the player is allowed to choose a path or to customize their stats. Choosing a path will automatically give the character feats when they gain a level. Players may also purchase special Veteran Statuses from the DDO store that allow a character to start at either level 4 or level 7 instead of level 1.
Added with Update 19, characters may also select one of 4 Iconic Heroes. Iconic Heroes are special characters that automatically begin at level 15. They are a special race that is unique to them, and require the player to start one level as a certain class. If you decide to stick with the path the Iconic Hero is designed for, all 15 levels will be taken in this class. After level 1, however, players are free to take any class they wish.
Feat, Skill, and Enhancement system
Progressive systems are in place in DDO providing 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 customizes characters. Levels have five tiers, and each tier reached grants one action point, for a total of four action points per level. These can be used in enhancement trees to provide bonuses to skills or special class- and race-specific abilities. Each class has a certain number of enhancement trees to further enhance your character, and every character gets one race tree providing racial bonuses if you so choose. A player is given a total of 80 enhancement points up until level 20.
Epic Levels and Destinies were added with Update 14. They allow a player to further specialize their character after level 20.
Epic Levels are earned the same way as the previous levels, although no more action points are alloted. Instead, once a player has earned enough experience, they are allowed to level, choosing an extra feat at certain levels with the new choice of epic feats, and getting the Hit Points and Saves bonuses that a character would normally get for leveling. A character can currently level up to level 28.
Epic Destinies earn equivalent but separate experience from Epic Levels, and these are more similar to the previous 20 levels in that upon completing a tier in the Destiny, an action point is given that can only be spent in the Epic Destiny the player has chosen. A player can earn a total of 24 action points in a tree, and can only have one destiny active at one time. A player may choose to switch to adjacent Epic Destinies on the Epic Destiny map once a certain number of levels in that destiny have been achieved, or by purchasing a special item from the DDO store to skip this process. A player is given 3 total Twists of Fate that let the player choose 3 skills from the first 3 tiers of Epic Destiny trees to use even if that Epic Destiny is no longer active, providing bonuses from other trees that players would otherwise no longer get.
Players are currently able to undergo three types of reincarnation: Lesser, Greater, and True.
Lesser Reincarnation allows players to change the appearance of their character, re-spend their ability points, change their feats, reallocate skill points, redo their spell selection, or are free to select a path. They do not lose any experience and re-level their character immediately from level 1 up to the current level they had before Lesser Reincarnating. After re-leveling, the player can re-allocate earned enhancement points.
Greater Reincarnation allows all of the same benefits as Lesser Reincarnating, but the process also increases their starting build points from 28-32, if the player is not a Drow.
True Reincarnation is only available to Level 20 characters, and completely erases the character as it was. A special reincarnation bank cache is made where anything inside the player's backpack or equipped to the character is placed, to be retrieved whenever the player wishes. This reincarnation process upgrades the character's build from the previous build point the character was at (from 28 to 32, 32 to 34, and 34 to 36) allowing higher starting ability points. The player is free to select a new race and new appearance for the character, as well as a new class. Ultimately, this allows the player to make an entirely new, stronger character. True Reincarnated characters also are given a free past-life feat at character creation based on the class they were in their previous life, and may take an additional past-life feat also based on the class from their previous life for further bonuses.
Currently, Iconic Characters are not able to perform True Reincarnation, and players cannot choose to reincarnate into an Iconic Character.
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.
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.
Turbine originally released 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 did 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 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.
- Module 1: Dragon's Vault (April 5, 2006)
- Module 1.1: The Harbor (May 10, 2006)
- Module 1.2: Solo Enhancements (June 14, 2006)
- Module 2: Twilight Forge (July 12, 2006)
- Module 2.1: Litany of the Dead Part 1: The Necropolis (August 16, 2006)
- Module 2.2: Stormreach Under Siege (September 20, 2006)
- Module 3: Demon Sands (October 25, 2006)
- Module 3.1: Evil Resurgent (December 13, 2006)
- Module 3.2: Litany of the Dead Part 2 (January 24, 2007)
- Module 3.3: Academy Training (March 12, 2007)
- Module 4: Reaver's Bane (April 12, 2007)
- Module 4.1: Mark of the Dragon (May 22, 2007)
- Module 4.2: Searing Heights (July 18, 2007)
- Module 5: The Accursed Ascension (September 27, 2007)
- Module 6: The Thirteenth Eclipse (January 30, 2008)
- Module 6.1: Second Anniversary (February 28, 2008)
- Module 7: The Way of the Monk (June 3, 2008)
- Module 8: Prisoners of Prophecy (October 29, 2008)
- Module 9: The Plane of Battle (September 1, 2009)
- Update 1: The Path of Inspiration (October 28, 2009)
- Update 2: The Dreaming Dark (December 16, 2009)
- Update 3: The Vault of Night (February 3, 2010)
- Update 4: Sentinels of Stormreach (April 5, 2010)
- Update 5: Rise of the Guilds (June 28, 2010)
- Update 6: Into the Deep (August 17, 2010)
- Update 7: Half-Bloods (October 20, 2010)
- Update 8: Attack on Stormreach (December 13, 2010)
- Update 9: Harbinger of Madness (April 27, 2011)
- Update 10: Reign of Madness (June 20, 2011)
- Update 11: Secrets of the Artificers (September 12, 2011)
- Update 12: Vaults of the Artificers (November 9, 2011)
- Update 13: Web of Chaos (February 27, 2012)
- Update 14: Menace of the Underdark (June 25, 2012)
- Update 15: Song of Druid's Deep (August 20, 2012)
- Update 16: The Netherese Legacy (November 12, 2012)
- Update 17: Return to Gianthold (February 19, 2013)
- Update 18: Disciples of Shadow (May 22, 2013)
- Update 19: The Shadowfell Conspiracy (August 19, 2013)
- 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.
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- 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)
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- "Dungeons and Dragons Online". EuroGamer.(Accessed 08/22/2013)
- "Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach - PC". GameSpot.(Accessed 08/22/2013)
- "Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach - PC". IGN.(Accessed 08/22/2013)
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- "Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach for PC". GamesRadar.(Accessed 08/22/2013)
- "Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach – PC". Metacritic.(Accessed 08/22/2013)
- "Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach". Game Rankings.(Accessed 08/22/2013)
- "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
- 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