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Loading... February 27, 2006

Posted Mon, Feb 27, 2006 by Boomjack

February 27, 2006 - By: John HoskinLoading...
TenTonHammer has its own Dungeons and Dragons guild. If you would like to hang out with the folks here at Ten Ton Hammer, just make your way over to DDO.TenTonHammer.com and get signed up!
Regular readers of this column know that both RF Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online spilled onto my desktop Thursday afternoon. The release of MMOGs is a big deal around here. It's all we cover and we don't get to tear the shrinkwrap (or that little platic security tab thingee if you buy from EB Games) off a box very often.
In a genre that has been taken out behind the shed and kicked into submission by World of Warcraft I get excited when something new hits my desk. I enjoy World of Warcraft, but I yearn for something different. As wonderfully designed as WoW is, I would like to see something better. WoW changed the genre. Gamers expect more hand-holding and a more intuitive gameplay experience. Sony has "dumbed down" both Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest 2 to better compete, with less than glorious results. I suppose that it is fair to say that WoW lowered the barrier to entry enough that casual and first time players could hop right in, both feet kicking wildly, turning the shallow end of the pool into a newbie feeding frenzy, secure in the knowledge that Blizzard had them firmly by the hand, leading them through the game.
RF Online doesn't hold your hand at all. In fact, it slaps your hand away at every turn. You often feel like you're being told, "Move along. There's nothing to see here". You'd get more help running through Islamabad with a "Mohammed bombed my pre-school" T-shirt on than you will starting out in RF Online. You certainly can't jump in with both feet and just play, which is a large reason for World of Warcraft's success. In fact, the classes available aren't even truly explained. One choice is to be a Specialist. What the heck is a specialist? It is never explained. On the plus side, gameplay isn't too far stretched from the gameplay found in just about every other MMOG. You grind it out killing baddies until you level and then you do it all again, only for a little longer. Lather, rinse and repeat for many levels. Developed originally for the Asian market, the grinding is long and tedious, which apparently, appeals to many gamers. I'm not one of them. Please don't get me wrong. I'm all for investment through gaining levels, but standing in a 20 foot square box, whacking the same monster for hours isn't my kind of fun. I remember those days. I call them EverQuest.
Dungeons and Dragons Online attempts to explain the intricacies of the interface via tool-tips that pop-up when you encounter something new. The problem is that the game mechanics might possibly be the most complex system that a developer has ever attempted to cram into a MMOG engine. It's great that they explain the interface to me, but it wouldn't have been necessary if things were more intuitive. For instance, the right mouse button is mouse-look in nearly every game I've played. In DDO, the left mouse button, the one you intuitively would use to attack is defaulted to mouse-look. Sure, you can change things around, but why go against the grain in the first place? Hovering your mouse over an item doesn't pop-up a detailed statistics window on that item. Instead you must target an item, then go to another interface object and click a tiny magnifying glass symbol to see the stats. Why force me to make a second click?
Graphics don't make a game, but they don't hurt it either. Graphically, both games are impressive in their own way. DDO uses a gritty style that puts you in damp and dusty dungeons that resemble what you would think a damp and dusty dungeon would look like. RF Online is graphically stunning, with the anime style mixing science fiction with fantasy together using a palette that is remarkably close to World of Warcarft. I have yet to stop and call one of my comrades over to look at something in DDO, but I've done it a few times with RF Online.
One aspect of gameplay that most gamers never think about is pace. RF Online pushes you along an almost breakneck grinding pace. You feel that you need to just keep killing mob after mob, and the truth is that you do, if you plan to progress. DDO delivers a much slower pace. The journey is often more fun than the destination when it comes to DDO missions. The only seemingly strange deviation from this pleasant pace is combat, where you are put into a twitch mode trying to block, attack and cast spells by mashing buttons. On one hand I can understand this design decision. It makes the combat "feel" more urgent. You are sneaking through a dungeon and then a skeleton is beating on your party. You feel the need to act quickly to dispatch it. On the other hand, Dungeons and Dragons the pen and paper game was never designed to be rushed through. There was time to hear what other party members were doing and to act accordingly. Make no mistake, you need some twitch skills to be a top combatant in DDO.
Sometimes you just want to be alone. RF Online offers soloability, at least in the early levels. DDO doesn't offer soloability much past the tutorial stage. In fact, I was disappointed to find that I really couldn't do anything by myself. I'm all for grouping and social contact, but there are times when I can't join a group because I may have to log out at any time.
Both games seem to have thriving, helpful communities. The DDO community appears to be a much older crowd with a greater grasp on social conventions like saying "please" or "thank you". The forced grouping model in DDO will likely foster a sense of community among the many guilds and groups of friends who rely on each other. RF Online pits the faction of your choice versus two other factions. You will learn to love the comrades that watch your back.
If you are like me and are forced to use dial-up connectivity from home you can forget about DDO. The DDO website claims that the game is playable on a 56K modem, but I'm here to tell you that this isn't the case. Other Turbine products have played wonderfully on modem connections, which makes it all the more disappointing that DDO does not. With games like EQ2, WoW and Final Fantasy XI playing smoothly on a dial-up connection there is really no excuse for DDO not doing so as well. RF Online plays well over dial-up with the exception of large PvP battles. I can't really fault them for that as to date no game has been able to overcome that hurdle.
In a nutshell, if you want to try a new game and use a dial-up connection then RF Online is your only option. If you have broadband then the better bet is DDO unless you just must have your PvP and/or Anime fix.
New MMOGs! Are you excited? Tell me about it.




Vin Diesel Fact of the Day: Vin Diesel once created a bomb solely from body parts he yanked off MacGyver.




Make your way to our Dungeons and Dragons community and read all about the lastest big name MMOG to hit the market.
On top of that, we have an interview with the Lord of the Rings Online community manager, high profile blogger "Aggro Me", a look at Blizzard's inability to give North Americans a place to play WoW and more, more, more!
Let us entertain you.
Here's what's new on the network!
02.27.2006

  • Guild Wars: Interview - Te For Two

    "In this month's interview, Lulu and Aria took a break from a busy night of PvP to chat with me. Both belong to the highly ranked guild Treacherous Empire, and recently traveled to Taiwan to compete in the Guild Wars World Championship. We discuss meeting guild mates for the first time, eating Taiwanese food, and the friendship they forged with the Korean champions of the tournament. "
  • Auto Assault: Interview - Humphrey

    "Vocal beta tester, community member, and all around awesome guy; Humphrey joins us this week in our monthly community interview.

    Various topics are discussed, from the beta in its current state all the way to Auto Assault's current balance. So why not join us for the insights from a seasoned Auto Assault beta tester?"
  • World of Warcraft: Civil War in Azeroth

    "Don't forget to bring your Raid! With the new content release of Ahn'Qiraj (bugs, bugs and more bugs, for all those who haven't been following the large scale war efforts!), players, both Casual and Raiders have been both anticipating and fearing it's release. Along with as well, a lot of the new patches, and eventually, the implementation of the Burning Crusade Expansion.

    High tensions on forums and in-game play is very noticeable inside the World of Kalimdor and Azeroth, boiling down to the players in the game who; live to raid instances and conquer all new content and items, those who are there to enjoy themselves and have fun, those in small guilds who love smaller instances, and those average players who have great ambitions, but little time to play. In this new Ten Ton Hammer interview, we will take a look at the thoughts and concerns on Raiders and Casuals, the new Tier 0.5 armour quests and the new content of Ahn'Qiraj!"
  • World of Warcraft: The Blizzard Dine 'N Dash?

    "Pay for the box, subscribe to the game… but unless hardcore PvP is your style, no North American servers for new players? It's a silent problem that affected as many as 15,000 new players since the new server lockdown late last week; 'silent' because new players tend to lack the old timers' ... shall we say, forwardness?
    Will Blizzard make timely improvements as locked servers continue to burst under the strain of concurrency, or simply continue its tradition of lip service and haphazardly adding less-than-popular PvP realms that to fix old problems?"
  • Vanguard: Saga of Heroes - Tour of Vanguard Fighters

    "Each Monday, the writers across the network tacke a common topic. This week is a wonderful spotlight on the communities of each of the games covered by Ten Ton Hammer.  Today, Lady Sirse talks to The Drunken Dwarf who runs Vanguard Fighters. Find out why he has started up the only fighter specific site in the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Community and much more."
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online: The Saviour of Pen And Paper Roleplaying?

    "Will Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach (DDO) spark new interest in Dungeons & Dragons, the pen and paper roleplaying game that started it all? Zed interviews a UK hobby games store owner to get his take. Will DDO bring MMOG players over to tabletop gaming, or is it the other way around?"
  • EverQuest 2: Opinions that Count - Interview with Aggro Me

    "While being closely monitored by the "Aggro Me Elite Ninja Death Squad", Slide sits down with Aggro Me for an interview and asks the questions that everyone wants answers to!  Ok, I lied.  I only asked the questions that the ninjas would allow.  Man those swords and throwing stars are sharp.  Oh and... if you're reading this, your drycleaning will be done by Tuesday like you asked.  Please don't hurt me. :: whimper ::"
  • Lord of the Rings Online: Interview With LotRO's Community Manager

    "Visitors and members of the official forums know her as Patience, the aptly named community manager for Turbine’s The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™ (LOTRO). I managed to snag Meghan Rodberg for an interview to discuss her personal history, and her work with Turbine. She shares her thoughts on the game and the community, as well as a few small crumbs about her experiences in the closed LOTRO beta."
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online: Gamepad Configuration Guide

    "Is Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach (DDO) your first massively-multiplayer online game (MMOG)? Having trouble with the user interface (UI)? Ralsu draws on his extensive experience with console MMOGs to bring us this guide on Gamepad Configuration."

Now on to the real world. You can't make this stuff up.

As always, thanks for visiting TenTonHammer.com,
-- John "Boomjack" Hoskin

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