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Dungeons & Dragons Online Interviews: Q&A #8

By Jon Wood on February 02, 2006

Steve Moy of Turbine addresses issues raised in our preview

Steve Moy is the Beta Manager at Turbine Entertainment. Today, he helps us resume our Q&A series with the team as we ask five more questions. Today, Steve addresses the use of instancing, character customization and more. Most of these issues were brought up in yesterday's preview of the game.

MMORPG.com:Obviously, in converting D&D 3.5 rules over to an MMO, some serious changes will be required. Have you created any new skills or feats that are specific to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach (DDO)?
Steve Moy:

Absolutely. Over the course of development, our design team saw many opportunities to add feats, spells, and skills that are appropriate to an online roleplaying game. Here are a few examples:

  • Hamstring – an attack feat that, if successful, reduces your target’s movement rate for a short time.
  • Mental Toughness – a passive feat that gives spellcasting characters more spell points per level.
  • Otto’s Resistible Dance – this arcane spell causes your target to stop whatever they’re doing and burst into dance if they fail their saving throw. It’s available to bards at 1st level and wizards and sorcerers at 2nd level (as opposed to the famous—or infamous—Otto’s Irresistible Dance, which is an 8th level spell). And yes, this means that we have dance animations for monsters in the game.
  • Repair – a skill that lets you perform repairs on warforged characters with the use of a repair kit.

MMORPG.com:How will magic items be treated in the game? Will they be rare, or will they be easier to come by?
Steve Moy:

Eberron is a world infused with magic and the lost continent of Xen’drik contains numerous ancient artifacts.

Our treasure system builds upon and extends the D&D treasure system presented in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The number of different traits and enhancements that can appear on magical equipment means that there are quite literally millions of different items that you can find. This variety, when combined with the number of equipment slots available – right hand, left hand, armor, helmet, bracers, gloves, belt, boots, cloak, eyes, right finger, left finger, amulet, trinket and ammunition – assures that no two characters will be alike.

We’ve carefully balanced the distribution of magic items against character level, so it may be a little while before you see that first +1 Short Sword. But you can rest assured that in the course of your adventures you will see your fair share of magic items.

MMORPG.com:A number of our readers are expressing concerns that this game, like Guild Wars will be primarily instanced. If this is so, how do you justify charging a monthly fee?
Steve Moy:

This is a great question and I’ll address it in two steps – our use of instancing and our monthly fee.

To be honest, our heavy use of instancing is a design choice more than anything else and it was one of the earliest and easiest decisions we made. Simply put, Dungeons & Dragons is about tackling dangerous environments with a small party of friends, not camping a spawn in a spot crowded with 50 other characters.

Our focus on instancing, along with our unique quest-based XP system, allows us to do things that you don’t typically expect to see in an online roleplaying game – collapsing floors, intricate puzzles, carefully-scripted encounters, deadly traps (that you can use to your advantage if you can lure monsters back into them) and of course, an ever-present sense of impending doom. What could be more D&D than that?

As far as monthly fees go, every online roleplaying game has its own business model, and ours relies on subscription revenue to offset the significant ongoing costs of maintaining a first-class game. Once the game ships, our development team will transition into a dedicated live team whose sole focus is to ensure that DDO is a living, breathing, constantly-evolving game. A portion of your fees also support our excellent customer service and technical support teams, and all of the hardware and bandwidth costs associated with running a game like this.

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MMORPG.com:How will death be handled in DDO? According to D&D 3.5 rules, a character is not dead until they reach -10 Hit Points. Will this buffer between life and death exist in DDO?
Steve Moy:

Yes, this is one of many cases where we applied the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” method to the D&D rules. Just like in the pen-and-paper game, at 0 hit points you’re incapacitated, at -1 to -9 you’re bleeding and slowly dying (unless you’re a warforged, in which case you’re merely incapacitated), and at -10 or below you’re dead.

If you’re in the -1 to -9 hit point range, a few things can happen: every few seconds, you have an automatic 10% chance to stop bleeding and stabilize. The flip side to this is that the other 90% of the time you’ll lose an additional hit point and get that much closer to death. If you have a friend around, they can use a healing skill or spell on you in an attempt to revive you. If your situation is hopeless, you can always give up and terminate instead of waiting things out. In many cases, there won’t be a decision to make – most monsters will apply the death blow themselves if they have nothing better to do.

MMORPG.com:I don’t want my male elf to look like everyone else’s male elf. How much customization are we going to have in creating the look of our characters?
Steve Moy:

You’ll be able to choose your character’s hair style, eyebrows, eyes, nose, lips, facial hair (for the men), and facial detail (scars, earrings, piercings, glasses, etc.), as well as their hair color, eye color, skin color, and (for the ladies) lip color. The people of Eberron have appearances as diverse as their cultures, so you can expect to see plenty of options and variations.

The choices for warforged characters are slightly different but no less varied: you’ll be able to choose your base head color (light or dark), cranium, eyes, eye color, nose, mouth, and overall color. Warforged facial details are in the form of an optional maker’s mark – a reminder that this race has only recently won its freedom.

You can comment on this Q&A here.

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