While all the MMORPG world is abuzz with talk about games that are due for a near term release, there are several other promising titles that are a bit farther off, but no less exciting. One of these is Dungeons and Dragons Online (slated for release in the second half of 2005).
Turbine Entertainment (of Asheron's Call and Middle-Earth Online fame) is developing the title in conjunction with Atari (publishers of Horizons: Empires of Istaria) and Wizards of the Coast. Ken Troop, lead designer for the project recently sat down with Computer and Video Games to discuss D&D Online:
Click here to read the interview. (Note: This link may require site registration)
What valuable lessons have you learned from developing and launching Asheron's Call's one and two, and how will/do these influence your work on Dungeons & Dragons Online?
Troop: Too many to list, but I'll pick a couple of the big ones. One lesson that has shaped our dev philosophy extensively is that we need to provide fun that isn't strictly tied to achievement.
Achievement is fun on its own. But if the means of achievement isn't fun, you've only made half a game. A lot of massively multiplayer games have fallen into that trap.
With D&D Online we're trying to make a game that will be fun to play, even if at the end of the night you didn't score a huge pile of loot or a new level. Just playing needs to be worth it.
The second has more to do with our process of making games. We really pushed ourselves to get a playable version of the game much earlier than we have done in the past, and to iterate on it.
The result is that we've been able to see and assess the changes we make, rather than debating about abstractions on sheets of paper. We've got a long way to go, but the game today is already feeling like a game, and we think it's a fun one.