February 28, 2006

Dungeons and Dragons ... level 10's before launch.

Turbine has allowed people who pre-ordered Dungeons and Dragons Online to have an early start. So, it was bound to happen that a player was going to flip on hardcore mode and hit the max level (10) relatively fast. The problem is that such a player has done so; five days before the game has landed on store shelves!

The post on the DDO forums has a lot of points between the casual players and this single hardcore level 10. The level 10 claims he was figuring out if there was a ton of level 10 content to be consumed and he was terribly wrong because there is ZERO level 10 content. The more casual crowd is chanting "Thats what you get for rushing." I don't know which side is more sad in this argument because they are both horribly mistaken about DDO being a viable MMORPG.

Community member Karos says it best on page 4 of the thread...
"Ok, from reading this thread I get the impression that a lot of people feel it is fine for a game like this to end, 'the journey is everything', so to speak. Comparing this game to a non-subscription based rpg is comparing apples to oranges, as this game lives and dies by how many people is can keep playing.

Many people when they play a console rpg play it through slowly and completely, never to look at it again except in nostolgia. Now ask yourself if you would be willing to pay a monthly fee while that game is sitting on the shelf doing nothing. If enough people can honoestly say yes to that question, then this game has a future, but if not it will lose subscribers and with no bottom line it will go the way of AC2, but much quicker.

Endgame content is something every online game must eventually have to keep that subscriber. The form that content takes though can be extremely differentiated but it will all boil down to the same principal. How do you keep people busy and continuing to play after they reach the max level allowed? This question may seem moot, but eventually every player can reach that level if they continue to progress. You may think that someone reaching the end now is a problem, but it is a symptom of a much bigger problem.

Right now things are looking good and we can hope for fast new content patches. Let me finish with a different question. If every time you got together with friends for a PnP D&D game and and your DM asked you to roll up new chars and placed you in exactly the same campaign to be played out exactly the same way every single game, how long before you found yourself a new DM?"
That is a very well stated point of view that I have to agree with. The casual gamers out there are going to be hitting 10 within a month or two months time and they are quickly going to come to the same conclusion as the hardcore. The argument that Turbine is going to continuously add content as a viable way to maintain the game is utter bull crap. They've had years to build this games content (remember they already had the engine built) and they can't make more than a few days worth of leveling content?

It is true that the number of levels doesn't matter. Level 10 as max does not have to be a short journey. Turbine proclaimed how their was going to be so many mini step ups as you level that you will have content for months on end before running out of content. Turbine vastly underestimated what amount of content they did have because its not even remotely close to being viable to support this game.

I truly feel sorry for the idiots in that thread posting that Turbine will have a patch out within a few weeks with tons of content. It just doesn't work like that. They will be able to add a couple top end quests at most and that's if they go for quality. They could squeeze out a few more, but they are going to be very unfinished experiences. The majority of early patching will be in fixing technical bugs and game bugs... not content delivery.

Here are the points I dug out of the thread:

1. The content doesn't change. It's the same the first time you play and then is just a repeat. Turbine didn't even bother to have the traps or secret doors change locations.

2. The speed of leveling is not proportionate to the amount of content available. It is being compared to leveling to 20 in WoW, which took casual people about a month to do and the hardcore hitting 20 after a day. Difference being, WoW has different 1-20 content for almost every race.

3. There is ZERO level 10 end game content available. Once you hit level 10 it is a reroll and restart, farm the dungeons you've already completed, or wait for the next content patch which is X number of weeks away.

Final Thoughts

DDO is in trouble and matter of fact so is Turbine.

Update: 1 Sept, 2009 - Edited post, applied label.