DDO Dev Chat

[Dungeons & Dragons Online] DDO Stratics held a House of Commons chat with some of the people over at DDO. The full chat transcript is here.

I have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting and editing some of the questions I felt were interesting below:

SporkfireDDO – Victor Wachter, Community Relations Manager – DDO
JustinQuimby – Justin Quimby, lead engineer – DDO
KenTroop – Ken Troop, Lead Designer – DDO
EckelberryDDO – David Eckelberry – DDO

What type of character customization will be available?

EckelberryDDO – Character customization options in DDO emerge primarily during gameplay through the variety of items, armors, and weapons you can acquire. At character generation, your character will be able to customize your appearance largely centered on the face–skin, hair, facial options like scars, eye colors, tattoos, etc.

Will there be Food & Drink requirements and benefits/penalties in DDO, or will it automatically be assumed that our players are doing that on their own?

KenTroop – Sorry — long answer (we just finished implementing this today, actually) So — in dungeon and landscape adventures, characters do *not* regenerate on their own — they either have to get healed, use potions, scrolls, etc. or use Rest Shrines (objects you can find in a dungeon that simulate some rest time). However, once you go back to Stormreach, you do have an opportunity to regenerate hit points and spell points — taverns. Basically, you very slowly regen while in a tavern. If you want to speed up that process you can purchase food and drink and consume it, speeding up your regen rates. However, there will be no *need* to purchase food, it’s solely if you want to get out of the taverns faster.

The demo at Gencon had items degrade when you die. When they degrade all the way, are they broken until fixed or destroyed?

EckelberryDDO – They stop working after they lose all of their durability (hit points) but they can be repaired many times. Eventually, over a long period, items will degrade entirely and need to be replaced. By that time…weeks or months I’d expect, you’ll be moving on to new treasures you’ve found.

How long will the average dungeon take to complete? Will the time span increase as your level gets higher?

KenTroop – Dungeon times cover a wide variety — some are 5-10 minute timed experiences, others are epic multi-hour adventures. On average, I would say an hour, but that really disguises the very wide variety that exists in terms of time, not to mention optional objectives or quests which can further extend the time in many of the dungeons.

What are the largest battles we will see in DDO?

JustinQuimby – Upper end for battles will be 20ish players. We are focusing on the small-group dynamics which make pen and paper D&D great.

How will you deal with repeating the same quest over and over to advance? Both from a “grinding” point of view to advance faster, and from a “boredom” point of view if there’s not enough quests?

EckelberryDDO – A few ways. Of course no development team can really make dungeons or any sort of content as fast as it consumed, but our goal is create fun, high quality content the likes of which you have not seen before. So it’s fun to do, not a grind. More directly on your questions point, you can repeat quests, but if you do them frequently in a short period, you will receive diminished returns. That experience penalty regnerates over time. Also, you will be able to choose to do a quest on higher difficully settinsg — Hard or Elite, where monsters get tougher and more difficult. And XP is better, treasure is better, etc.

How is Alpha going and/or when we can expect more invites?

SporkfireDDO – Alpha is going well. By the end of next week, we will have over a thousand players in the game. So, that is a ton of feedback to go through and act on. We’re currently developing our ongoing communication programs for both Alpha participants and ddo.com forum regulars. In the near future, we will be posting Alpha Journals, that contain summaries of the week’s activity on the Dev side, player quotes and other interesting community things that come out of this phase.

Will there be an XP cap for grouping with higher lvl players? Say lvl 5 with a lvl 10? what will happen to the lower lvl players xp?

EckelberryDDO – A few things deal with this. First, there may be a minimum level to go into some dungeons or do some quests… mostly for your own survival. In addition, when a character of higher level than the dungeon’s CR enters, the potential XP is reduced for all parties… since they are at less risk. You can party mostly with whomever you want, but 5 and 10 is pretty big level spread in DDO.

Can you expound upon the features planned for stealthing in ddo?

EckelberryDDO – Stealth is little more complicated than the “you are detected or not” sort of things. Of course we represent D&D in comparing your Hide Skill and Move Silently and the monster’s Listen and Spot score. It also combines how long you dare to stay near the monster trying to detect you, and the level of lighting around your character, which can either give you a bonus or penalty to your skill check, and it can determine how often the monster “looks” for you.

Why was Eberron chosen as the world setting for DDO, out of all the established D&D worlds?

KenTroop – We first read the Eberron source book a couple of years ago, and we were immediately struck with how cool it was…pulp noir adventure but with all the high magic/fantasy that you want from D&D… It leapt off the page as both a wonderful place to go on adventures and tell stories…just a really fresh take on fantasy. Frankly, I love it :) Our in-house gaming sessions have all been in Eberron for the last year…and they’ve been lots of fun…I think that spirit translates into DDO.
JustinQuimby – Plus, it has airships.

Sounds like Taverns will have a lot of people in them at one time, how many will there be in Stormreach?

KenTroop – Taverns are intentionally designed to be “mini-hubs” within the existing hubs of the city wards and towns…each ward generally has 2 or so taverns, with a small town or outpost having 1.

I read that different quests take the players to the same dungeon. how will you make each quest interesting even if it takes place in a dungeon i’ve already been to?

KenTroop – Some dungeon experiences have random elements even within the same quest — sometimes different creatures, different locations, etc. Other times, if you have a totally different quest in the area, the gameplay can be very different — sometimes entire sections of the dungeon are opened or closed off depending on what quest you’re on…so many of the dungeons can have a very different look and feel.

Will Higher Dex make you move and swing faster? And will Extremly high jump make you able to jump rooftop to rooftop or over large things such as giants?

EckelberryDDO – Dexterity doesnt’ govern your running speed, just as it doesn’t in D&D. However, Jump and Swim do have the affects you’d expect. Your skill level (ranks + bonuses) in Jump govern how high and how far you jump. Over humanoid creatures? Yes definitely. Over giants? Not likely. Swim similarly governs your breath meter to a degree, and how fast you swim.

What does DDO offer that separates it from all the other MMORPG’s of our day?

EckelberryDDO – Many things. First of all, it has the unique features of being the first Dungeons and Dragons MMORPG. Beyond that incredible features of recognizable classes, races, etc., we have a really unique game system that offers action combat… and does away with some of the worst elements of MMO gameplay. No grinding — ie, no experience points for bashing monsters over and over again, no running over miles of landscape and no standing in place for minutes waiting for regeneration or respawning.

How will items be distributed in group play and how will item trading/selling be handled?

EckelberryDDO – In order to present fair opportunities for each player, each character in DDO can open a chest and get their own loot out of it. In other words, the treasure system generates items and coins for each player that opens the chest. You probably–almost unquestionably–wont get the same loot, but you all had a fair chance to get good stuff. Of course after you get the goods, players are free to trade with one another…

With instantaneous travel to the dungeons, will not the exploration element that is such a big part of MMORPGs, be completely lost?

KenTroop – There are places to explore, but only when it’s part of the adventure…so we have landscape adventures that require some exploration, but even then there is a quest driving the exploration…also many dungeons and landscapes have optional objectives and treasure that rewards the explorer. Generally, we want exploration to be a part of the fun that we’ve designed for the adventure, not a random experience that too frequently ends up with people getting lost

How does death and xp loss work?

EckelberryDDO – Well, it’s bad to die. I don’t recommend it at all. When you die, a few thing happen: first, you fall to the ground and become a ghost. The only thing you can do is to chat. When youre dead you have a choice of returning to life at the city, finding special magic shrines in the dungeon where you can be returned to life or of course having a cleric raise you with a spell. Just how you get resurrected will govern how much XP penalty you suffer from… though that will never be even close to the full level loss you suffer in D&D.

– Ethic

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2 thoughts on “DDO Dev Chat”

  1. The allure of this game is nearly overwhelming…

    As I am now what I would consider a semi-hardcore FFXI player, I hope that this does not cut into my playing time.

  2. This is sounding fairly good – my only (b*lls*h*t) was the answer to the following question:

    Why was Eberron chosen as the world setting for DDO, out of all the established D&D worlds?

    The answer given was good – but the *real* answer was that Hasbro and WOC probably told them to use it. Eberron is nice – but it’s no Faerun.

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