Turbine on the future of Dungeons & Dragons Online

    
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Turbine on the future of Dungeons & Dragons Online
Dungeons & Dragons Online is not one of the biggest titles on the market, but it was one of the first major subscription games in the west to make the switch to free-to-play. It’s also one of two games based on the original tabletop roleplaying franchise, which makes it a bit of an oddity in that few IPs have more than one licensed title active in the MMO space.

We had the opportunity to ask the design team behind the scenes at Turbine a few brief questions about where the game is and what it’s doing in the future, and we got answers from senior systems designer John Cataldo. Jump on down below for more information on the setting, the further development of the game, and what players can expect to see next.

Massively Overpowered: What sort of pressures does the design team face being the older of two games based on the same IP on the market?

Cataldo: Being older and closer to the pen and paper version of D&D presents both challenges and opportunities. The graphics aren’t as shiny, but most of a decade of development means there’s an enormous number of quests and an outrageously large number of character builds available. To my knowledge there’s no MMO out there that offers as much character customization and variety as DDO, which is partially based on following traditional tabletop D&D and also just from so many years of adding new build options over the years, both up to higher Epic levels and broadly across character classes, races, feats, and prestige options. These are some of the greatest strengths of DDO while also presenting large challenges. Consequently we do invest a lot of development time working to make these different builds fun and balanced for different kinds of players.

The game has increasingly stepped away from its original setting of Eberron; is this part of the license with Wizards of the Coast or is it just about expanding focus?

I think everyone on the DDO teams enjoys and respects the roots of the game in Eberron, and that setting provides some things we maybe wouldn’t have done in other places, such as Warforged and possibly Artificers, and storylines around many, many cool Eberron characters, like the Lord of Blades, Lady Vol, the various Houses, and even Xen’drik’s unique type of kobolds. At the same time, there’s so many wonderful D&D settings that we’d love to visit more of them. We’ve had a lot of discussions about where we’d like to go, and every setting and plane of existence has its fans here at Turbine.

What’s the next big update that players can look forward to in the future?

Be afraid. Be horrified. Be fiendish and eldritch. Warlocks are coming!

Thanks for speaking with us!

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JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

TiaNadiezja I’m not familiar with that setting.. just looked up his name – now I remember, he was the guy who won that contest that resulted in the setting being created. 
Crossroads – is that Planescape?

TiaNadiezja
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TiaNadiezja

Eberron is not Keith Baker’s best setting. Someone brings back Crossroads, I am all of there.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

mjfife85 JakeDunnegan I do recall there being a contest or something or other.

I know my opinion is both hindsight and conjecture, since it would take a “The Flash” like ability to go back in time and start a new alternative universe where Forgotten Realms won the day.

It’s also entirely possible that FR would have fallen on its face, but, the fact is, with an established IP, you get the shot at bringing in all those fans and without one, you may get creative license to help develop a new world. The problem is, without that tie-in, you lose the established fan base that wanted to see Drizzt, and Elminster and Khelban and Waterdeep and the King of Cormyr. I’m able to pull those names out of my head after not having played or read about them for a decade (with the exception of Drizzt, who I read about before Neverwinter launched).

I know my experience is purely anecdotal, and I have no idea what the numbers playing DDO are today. I just know in my case, I know hundreds of people from MMOs, and perhaps one or two has ever played DDO. :(

Having said that, I’m glad some folks get to enjoy the game and explore that world, and warforged are indeed neat characters. Thing is, those could have been made in any setting. 

Ahh well. ;)

Wakkander
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Wakkander

Midgetsnowman Wakkander mjfife85 JakeDunnegan But modrons have style and personality!

blackcatcrosses
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blackcatcrosses

It’s kind of a stretch to say that Neverwinter is based on D&D in anything other than lore, whereas DDO is pretty hardcore.

Muspel
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Muspel

solipsis Muspel DDO is far from the only game that requires more than the trinity, and even if it were, that’s not what I was talking about.
The point isn’t that there’s more than three roles, it’s that you don’t dedicate yourself to one role to the exclusion of all else. If you are a caster and you don’t have any defensive items, you are going to die constantly– contrast this with most MMOs where the assumption is that a DPS-focused character will wear gear that gives nothing but DPS-focused stats, and then mobs are tuned so that the healers can still keep them alive.
Unfortunately, though, a lot of the problems that I have with DDO are so deeply entrenched in its systems that they can’t really be fixed without turning it into something unrecognizable. I’d love to see some of the ideas and concepts from DDO be used in a new MMO, most notably the lack of OOC regen.

Sadly, I doubt that will happen. While DDO isn’t a flop, it’s also probably not financially successful enough that investors are going to be willing to make a game that borrows heavily from it.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

Wakkander mjfife85 JakeDunnegan

Me, for one, I love the warforged.

solipsis
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solipsis

I wish ESO would borrow dungeon design from DDO. Any game that doesn’t let me climb a ladder and hang on ledges is SHIT!

solipsis
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solipsis

Muspel I disagree. DDO is the perfect example of a good Freemium business model. So much is unlocked when you spend money on the game even without subscribing. You can also unlock adventure packs just by saving Tubrine Points you earn just for playing the game. I spent $50 on DDO and got so much content it lasted me 3 years and I still haven’t exhausted it when I stopped playing.

SWTOR can suck my toe.

spoilofthelamb
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spoilofthelamb

My first MMO, and still installed after all this time. Can’t wait for warlocks! :)