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F: In the Meantime

Updated Fri, Feb 13, 2009 by Ralsu

In the Meantime

What DDO Players do between Sessions of Their Favorite Game


By Ralsu

No matter how much you love a game, you're going to need a break every now and again. Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) is not exempt from this axiom. Whether you've reached the boiling point after your third straight raid wipe against the Warforged Titan or you don't have enough time to get into another long quest, you'll want to give DDO a rest occasionally. The question becomes what else to play. I did some poking around on the official DDO forums, in-game, and via PMs to ask DDO gamers how they entertained themselves when DDO is in "timeout." I'll share some of those responses with you, discuss the virtues and vices of the games mentioned, and add a little commentary on that game's impact on DDO.

World of Warcraft (WoW)WoW

You can't not mention WoW. You just can't. Blizzard's MMOG behemoth has changed the shape of the gaming industry with its massive popularity. Many DDO players are WoW veterans. Some came to DDO looking for a change--something different. Others came to DDO just to see the new game and find out what's it's all about.

Just about everyone and his mother has at least tried WoW. Among it's crowd-pleasing features are the ability to solo any class to the level cap, an overwhelming (in a good way) loot system that makes rares feel special, and the full array of time sinks. WoW has questing, crafting, player-vs.player combat (PvP), raids, and huge world to explore. WoW didn't suck me in when I tried, though I could recognize it had all the right pieces. I just didn't care for the graphics, and a large portion of the player base seemed immature to me.

Let's take a look at the features of WoW:
Pros Cons
Solo all the way to level 60 Then 40-man raids and PvP until your eyes bleed
Several crafting professions to keep you busy Only a few are profitable at this time
Millions of players worldwide Server and raid instance queues
Solid selection of classes Some classes get pigeon-holed in the end game
Fun character development
End game favors certain builds

Impact on DDO: WoW has a large impact on almost every game. People compare newer games such as DDO to WoW all the time--even if the new game isn't trying to be like WoW at all.Some people will leave DDO to return to WoW because they can't escape the pull of WoW's addictive elements or the friends they left behind. A few will go back to WoW because they were never really looking for something new in the first place. Because both WoW and DDO have a monthly fee and can take up a lot of time, I don't see many people spending money on both for a long time.

Neverwinter Nights (NWN)

NWNSince DDO draws in fans of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), DDO is filled with people who have played Bioware's D&D-based role-playing game. NWN lacks the massively-multiplayer aspect of DDO, but it uses a strong foundation of D&D rules and lets players enjoy what amounts to online D&D campaigns. When they've played through the content that comes in the box, players can play modules created by other players or make on of their own and act as Dungeon Master (DM) for their friends.

I must confess that I have never played NWN. I watched it closely during its development and saw that it launched to rave reviews. Sadly, I was a poor college student unable to shell out the cash to upgrade my pc at the time. By the time I was fiscally able to craft a machine that would run NWN, there were too many other hot games on the market that I just "had" to try.

Those who are true D&D fans swear by NWN, though. They say it is very faithful to tabletop rules and that the module-building tools are fun and easy to use. The combat in NWN is a little slow, but this is intentional. The idea is to bring that tabletop experience to your pc and let you play D&D with people on the other side of the country.

Let's take a look at the features of NWN:
Pros Cons
Faithful to D&D rules
Resting to prep spells can be tedious
Players can create their own modules
Quality of player modules varies wildly
All D&D races and classes playable
Gnomes get no love from the player base
Great quests
Tons of reading in-game
Play solo
NPC companions have lousy AI

Impact on DDO: NWN will not pull players away from DDO. The game is 4 years old and a sequel is on the way. Fans of DDO's fast-paced combat may be a little bored with the slower pace of NWN. Overall, NWN merely offers an escape on the occasions when players need a break from DDO. And with no monthly fee, NWN is always there waiting like an old friend you visit when you're in your hometown.

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D)D&D

D&D is the primordial Eve of all role-playing goodness. D&D allows players to use their wits and imagination in a creative arena that's filled with adventure. D&D lets people gather around a table and craft a story that centers entirely around their characters. The sky's the limit.

My experience with D&D began in my college days. A $20 investment into a Player's Handbook brought me immeasurable fun. My longest D&D campaign spanned 4 years and was responsible for the birth of the bard named Ralsu. Oh what fun I had letting Ralsu talk his way into and out of trouble! The only reason I stopped playing D&D was because I moved to the other side of the country.

I haven't found a new D&D group in the last 3 years. Honestly, I haven't looked very hard. I love D&D and would play it in an instant, but it's very time consuming. It usually requires me to pack a lot of gear (books, dice, character sheets, scrap paper) and go somewhere. In my busy life as a father and husband, I find I get unpredictable spurts of free time. I might get 1 hour here and two hours there.

It's hard to commit a set day and time to a gaming session. Considering that other people have lives as busy as my own, D&D has become less of an option. I'll never stop loving it, though. I'll just have to revel in my nostalgia.

Let's take a look at the features of D&D:
Pros Cons
$20 gets you started
Spend hundred of dollars on extras
A great social game
Getting everyone together can be hard
Fun for hours on end
You need hours on end
A great way to meet people
You probably can't be in your underwear
Frees the imagination
Some DMs have sick imaginations

Impact on DDO: D&D brings people into DDO and vice versa. Finish playing a session of D&D with your friends before going home to play DDO with some people in another part of the country. Some negativity will come from comparing D&D to DDO to see how DDO deviates from the core rules. Still, this is a beautiful relationship that most game publishers could only hope for.

Upcoming Titles

A ton of games are on the way, and each of them will compete with DDO in some small way. Blizzard will release the first full expansion for WoW, Burning Crusade before the year's end. Sigil is scheduled to  launch Vanguard: Saga of Heroes at the beginning of 2007. Some people will return to WoW to play with the expanded level cap and new content. Others will dart off to try the shiny newness of Vanguard. The rumor I hear most often is that a good number of players will say goodbye to DDO once Neverwinter Nights 2 hits the stores in October 2006.

Parting Thoughts

Whatever you play to unwind between sessions of DDO, we'll be right here waiting for you. DDO @ Ten Ton Hammer is dedicated to bringing you the best content (and the most content) about DDO on the World Wide Web. So enjoy a break every now and then, but don't forget where your home is!

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