Hi everyone! With the recent announcement of Turbine Inc. taking their popular MMORPG Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) from a subscription base to a free to play, RMT model, I’ve taken on a rare opportunity. Instead of playing the game for a short time and giving you my feedback, I decided to reach out to the DDO community to hear what some actual DDO veterans feel about this recent change.
I was received with some positive and not-so-positive feedback; however everyone was wonderful and very cooperative. I also had the rare chance to interview Jerry Snook who runs the longstanding and popular DDOCast, a weekly podcast exclusively for about the world of DDO. I want to personally thank everyone who responded and cooperated, this was a great display of community effort.
Due to the in-depth answers I received, I am going to be breaking up this article in two parts, but not to worry, nothing was changed. Only some names were changed to protect the innocent, lol! Joining me today is Jerry Snook from DDOCast, MMORPG member’s Mike, Taiara, Aaron, and the infamous “Agent Smith” from the MMORPG forums.
Inktomi: I want to thank you all for collaborating on my blog, mMO’ MONEY. Let’s start out with some chest puffing here, what server do you play on, what race, class and level are you? Are you a long term member, returning or just starting out?
Aaron: Argonessien, long term, recently returning after several month hiatus.
Taiara: In three years, I’ve played all races to cap (16) and all classes excepting monk to cap.
Jerry Snook: I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons Online since June of 2006! I have characters on all five DDO servers, but my main server is Sarlona; my main is a currently level-capped Drow Cleric named Mockduck.
Mike: I am a returning player playing the Trial, I currently play a level 3 Fighter from the Thelanis Server.
Agent Smith: I played DDO the first month and a half and left because there was just so little content. My latest stint with the game was late last year, I played a few months from late 2008 through early 2009. I had a level 16 melee hybrid that was my main for some time and a couple casters that I was working on as well.
Inktomi: Awesome! That’s some roll call; can you tell me what you liked most about the game?
Jerry: Without question it’s the combat. There is simply no other MMO, even three-plus years after this game has launched, that comes close to DDO’s real-time combat. The graphics. Personally, I’ve not been a big fan of the so-called “cartoony” graphics seen in some other popular MMO’s. DDO looks like I always imagined D&D to look like.
Agent Smith: DDO has a great real time combat game that is, I think, more interesting than the typical MMO's hotbar + auto attack model.
Taiara: The active combat system and the player community.
Inktomi: I’ve heard good things about the combat system, sounds very interesting. Can you tell me more about the community?
Jerry: The community! DDO has a mature, fun and open player base. Intelligent folks, RP veterans, skilled twitch gamers, casual fun types and everyone in between. DDO also encourages grouping in a way that many other games do not. Soloing is very possible in DDO, and Mod 9-Eberron Unlimited will make it even easier with dungeon scaling that lowers monster hit points based on the size of the group, but this game is all about hanging out with friends and other players.
Agent Smith: Additionally, I think DDO really shines at letting you build a unique character that suits your preference and playstyle even if the 'leveling' is not necessarily up to spec for an MMO.
Inktomi: Have you played any other free to play games with a cash shop? Which ones and how did you like it?
Aaron: War Rock was the most recent game with a cash shop which I found it entertaining to play.
Mike: I have played many Free to play games. I liked Runes of Magic, seeing as some of the things in the cash shop could be purchased with in-game items. Atlantica was also good, but it seems to slow down around the mid-30s.
Jerry: I’ve played Shaiya, Chronicles of Spellborn (which is really a “freemium” game, but I played the free part of it), Shin Megami Tensei Online and 9Dragons. I enjoyed all of them in their own way, but none of them hooked me enough to keep me playing more than a few months.
Inktomi: Considering you all played DDO as a subscriber, how do you feel about it going to the free to play microtransaction model? They are offering Turbine Points as currency for their cash shop, unlocking certain content and making items available to all users. Will you use the cash shop?
Taiara: No, I won’t continue my subscription with the change. I am going to be purchasing Aion, and monitoring the Upcoming Star Wars Knights of the Republic MMO.
Agent Smith: I think it is a ruse, DDO as F2P is a desperate act and not likely to be anymore successful than it was a sub based game because it is now very dated, as an MMO it is still flawed in terms of being 100% instanced, having no real PvP or RvR, no housing, no crafting, and a static world where you never adventure with more than 6 people at a time. I have no interest in cash shop free games. Even if I were to ever play a RMT game, something I would not do, I would not use a cash shop.
Inktomi: Whoa! RMT is not for everyone, what does everyone else feel about the RMT element in DDO?
Jerry: I think it was very smart for Turbine to give
Mike: From what i read, you can also purchase stuff from investing time into playing the game. Also, from what they are telling people, i can purchase Adventure packs like i would purchase a D&D adventure book at my closest Hobby shop.
Inktomi: Mike, I’m very glad you brought up the costs of pen and paper D & D, being an ex-hobby shop owner myself, I can tell you that for $15 you are barely scratching the surface. If you compile the prices of books, dice, modules, figurines, pencils and visual aids (like maps) a player can’t get by on $15 a month. Just the cost of Doritos and mountain dew is over $15 bucks combined! Anyway, Turbine is offering members subscription benefits as a DDO
Mike: Depending on how much the payment plans are going to be, i might go into VIP, but for now i'll stay Free to Play and purchase what i want.
Aaron: I am planning to be a VIP.
Jerry: I will absolutely be a
Agent Smith: Not considering, in fact when I heard this announcement I uninstalled the game and threw away the discs knowing I would never bother with it again. Turbine hired a new VP of Operations not long ago specifically to aid their console move and working projects and because as they had said RMT is the future. They most certainly didn't do that to revive a 3+ year old failed game - this is about using the remaining DDO community or whoever comes along because it is free, to develop and test an RMT system that will be used in other projects.
Inktomi: That’s some theory Mr. Smith, are you upset due to the fact that they are closing down The Matrix Online, and now that you threw away DDO, you don’t have a place to go?
Agent Smith: I seriously doubt it.
At this point I decided to give the crew a rest, tune in tomorrow when we go more in depth about how a cash shop is going to affect DDO player’s long term and some changes that these vets would like to see. Also, Taiara gives us great first hand commentary on the economics of DDO, and on that note, I also try to sell some tinfoil.