Just the title Dungeons & Dragons Online is enough to make most MMORPG fans drool. Many have heard tell of this upcoming title being secretly brewed in the bowels of Turbine's development studio, but have seen or heard precious little beyond that. Well, for those of you eagerly awaiting news of this game, there's a treat for you over at GameSpy - a preview of the game and a batch of 18 screenshots! Here's a sample of the write-up:
D&D Online is all about smaller communities, and this is what is most likely to grant it distinction over other MMORPGs. On a very basic level, it's a numbers game. Most MMORPG servers house somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 players; D&D is shooting for a fraction of that -- no more than a few hundred. But won't that make for some sparse-assed worlds? Not if you consider how they're building the environments. Think of the multitude of zones that comprise these worlds as skyscrapers rather than strip malls, and you'll have an idea as to how they're approaching this.
Jeff Anderson, Turbine's CEO, puts it in no unclear terms: "We came to the conclusion that these games were being built incorrectly, in a fundamental, topographical way." Given the way player populations disperse throughout a sprawling game-world, he argues, it makes it quite hard to hard to actually see anyone, let alone interact with them consistently. Therefore, D&D Online was built with a remedy for this from the get-go. Stormreach, the game's home city -- which every player will share -- will be the springboard for will all adventures players embark on. The key to this are instanced dungeons. For the uninitiated, these are zones that are created and populated for a specific group of players. They can take various forms: actual dungeons to hack through and loot, secluded alleyways in the city itself, or stretches of wilderness through which players will arrive at new sites. While this means that groups of players will never encounter other parties while "on the field," it guarantees that every monster in a given area has been mindfully placed there, for an express purpose. In other words, you won't have to hunt (or compete) for random monster spawns; rather, you'll encounter them naturally, as you explore an area, with a specific goal in mind.
After reading the piece (which will likely be the only article this year to use the term, "sparse-assed"), take a peek at the upcoming screens. You may click on the images below for full-sized images. The entire set is available here.
Kudos to the GameSpy team for giving the rest of us a look at this upcoming title! Click here to read the preview in its entirety.