I Get So Emotional, Baby!
With all apologies to Whitney Houston, I get very emotional about my
favorite massively-multiplayer online game (MMOG).
That is to say, I am
very passionate about Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach (DDO).
A successful romp through a dungeon can leave me in high spirits at the
end of the night. Likewise, a bad pick-up group (PUG) can be a real
downer to an otherwise pleasant Saturday. I'm going to share a few of
my most memorable experiences with you, and then I hope you'll take the
time to share your emotional incidents involving DDO in our forums
The best I have ever felt about DDO had to be in beta. It was wonderful
to see a living, breathing world of Eberron. I got a kick out of
watching the d20 roll when I attacked a monster. From the Feats to
Skills to Spells, DDO exuded the essence of the tabletop experience. As
my partner in crime, Shayalyn, and I duo-ed our way through quests to
write up our Quest Journals
, I was overcome with a sense of great satisfaction. Here was a game that allowed me to relive my fond memories of Dungeons & Dragons
As Shay and I progressed through quests, we took our time. We searched
corners and looked for secret doors. We walked carefully, lest we get
caught in traps. I found it a very immersive experience—something I'd
never gotten from the other MMOGs I've tried (EverQuest, Dark Age of
Camelot, World of Warcraft, EverQuest Online Adventures). We didn't
necessarily role play (RP), but I still had the feeling that my bard
was a person confronting a world rife with danger rather than my avatar
was a façade in a system of number crunching. The fact that
death could come so swiftly lent immediacy to every encounter.
As beta closed, I found myself more eager than ever for the release of
DDO. I just knew this was going to be the MMOG that created a new
standard for the industry. No more thinking there is only one way to
build a rogue. No more grinding at a certain camp because that is where
the best items drop. DDO seemed set up to discourage farmers and power
gamers; I was on cloud nine.
you've played DDO, you must be laughing at me by now. Quite frankly, my
blissful nights in DDO's beta left me delusional: I misjudged the state
of the MMOG mainstream these days. My lowest feeling regarding DDO
easily comes from the player base (no, not you, dear reader!). In
truth, my biggest problem with DDO is my unrealistic expectations.
I'll confess that my ignorance stems from lack of experience with World
of Warcraft (WoW). I only played WoW for a week before I knew it wasn't
the game for me. While I saw that it has a ton of great features, it
was not significantly different from my beloved EverQuest (EQ). I
wasn't looking for EQ with soloing, and I didn't enjoy the cartoonish
look of WoW.
Clearly, my impressions of WoW put me in the minority. With so many
millions of players, WoW is shaping the face of the MMOG market—which
is why I mention the game as being so important to my disappointments
in DDO. Many WoW players are MMOG veterans who like one or more
features of Blizzard's behemoth. Another large portion of WoW players
are gamers who have cut their MMOG teeth on the game. Having their
first experience in WoW has influenced their expectations for other
MMOGs and their behavior in games.
As I look at DDO's community now, I see that it contains many of what I
call the mainstream MMOG gamers. I had expected a predominance of
D&D aficionados. Instead, I find a pretty even mix of D&D geeks
(like myself) and mainstreamers. The mainstreamers want to hunt for the
best loot. They want to know the optimum way to build a ranger. They
want to know the one spell that every caster should have.
Before you write your hate
, mainstreamers, let me say I concede that I am the problem
. I recognize that
it is the natural tendency of gamers to want to be the best of whatever
class they pick. They want to have the best gear and the best spells.
So, it is a natural evolution of the game that PUGs only want to run
the same main quests over and over.
Had I been less foolish, I would have expected the rotten fruit to fly
my direction when I introduced my Crowd
Custom Build. An RP build? A bard that doesn't heal
or melee a lot? What was I thinking?
Early on, I found the DDO official forums a hostile environment and I
mistakenly blamed the people. With some time to step back and think
about it, I've come to understand that the problem lies with me. I need
to be more flexible and open-minded, and I can't blame Turbine or
mainstream gamers for that.
The most exhilarating aspects of DDO for me are the ways it deviates
from the standard. Sadly, that puts me in the unenviable position of
being frequently disappointed by other gamers who do not share my
philosophy on gaming. As I have learned to be more open-minded, I have
found DDO to be the only MMOG on the market for me. As Turbine sets to
on July 12, 2006, I suspect I'll be doing a lot of quests
solo so that I can give myself that immersive experience that I crave.
Then when I group, I will shift gears and be ready to go with the flow.