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Q&A #2

David Souza Posted:
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David Eckelberry Answers Five Questions

In the second bi-weekly Q&A, David Eckelberry, the Lead Game Systems Designer, answers five questions from Staff Writer David Souza. Within he discusses death, raiding, and much more. Check back in two weeks for another Q&A.

MMORPG.com: How will the death system be implemented so as to stay true to Dungeons and Dragons without being too harsh for online play?
David Eckelberry:

When a character dies in D&D Online, a few things happen. First, their body falls to the ground and soon vanishes. In its place the character drops a stone on the ground, what we call a soulstone, onto the ground below. Meanwhile, the character himself becomes a ghost that is invisible to living characters. The ghost can’t affect things in its state, and it can’t wander very far from the soulstone that is its anchor in the world. Moving too far away automatically leashes the ghost back to his soulstone. Another character, however, can pick up the soulstone, in which case the ghost is now leashed to the player, and can stay with his living companions, though not interact with them. Finally, an XP penalty is assessed.

As a ghost, a character has three ways to return to life and resume their play. Their first choice is to leave the dungeon or outdoor area they died in, and return to life within the confines of the city. The ghost can also be resurrected by a sufficiently powerful cleric. Finally, if the ghost reaches a resurrection shrine—a magical shrine found in most, though not all dungeons—he can be resurrected there.

As far as the XP loss goes, our goal is to encourage player skill and problem-solving, without making the occasionally loss of life actually debilitating. The amount of XP lost is far less than a total level as it is in the pen-and-paper game. XP loss can also be mitigated through a variety of spells and certain resurrection shrines.

MMORPG.com: With the real time combat system you are implementing, how do you plan to include feats like Cleave and Power Attack?
David Eckelberry:

Tackling some feats is easy, especially when the pen-and-paper implementation is directly transferable to our medium. Power Attack, for example, doesn’t need any real change. It’s a mode the player goes into; while in this mode, the character hits less often, but does more damage when he hits. No problem. A lot of feats meet this sort of direct application.

But some don’t. DD Online’s combat system doesn’t make use of some pen-and-paper elements, largely thanks to being an online role-playing game. We aren’t turn-based, we don’t have “rounds” of combat, and thus Cleave can’t give you an extra attack in a round that you down a foe. When examining feats such as these, my goal is to produce the intent of the original feat (or skill or effect), while making the necessary adaptation for good videogame play. In the specific example of Cleave, use of this feat allows the character to make an area effect melee attack in a small arc in front of the character.

MMORPG.com: It has been stated that DDO will be using a Spell Point system instead of the traditional memorization used by most classes in PnP. How do you plan to keep the Sorcerer a viable class when compared to a Wizard with the Spell Point system?
David Eckelberry:

In order to best represent the difference between the sorcerer and the wizard, the sorcerer simply receives more spell points. Significantly more. So just like in pen-and-paper D&D, the sorcerer can cast more spells—not more in variety, but more in sheer number. Exactly how many more depends on his Charisma score, feats, and equipment, of course. On the downside, the sorcerer can’t swap out any of his spell choices that he makes during character generation and during advancement (as per D&D rules). He has fewer spells to choose from on a moment to moment basis. He also doesn’t receive bonus metamagic feats as the wizard does.

MMORPG.com: The claim is that DDO will focus on group adventure and questing. Are there any plans for large scale player content (i.e. raiding) as seen in many other MMOs?
David Eckelberry:


MMORPG.com: How does DDO plan to implement racial abilities such as dwarven darkvision and inherent resistance to knockdown effects?
David Eckelberry:

I’d refer you back to the answer I gave for feats. Some racial abilities are relatively easy and direct transitions. A lot of them are simple passive bonuses to certain actions, skills, or saves. The dwarven resistance to knockdown effects becomes… dwarven resistance to knockdown effects. A bonus to a very specific sort of saving throw. Other racial abilities we may have to adjust for balance, or to make the game fun.

Thank you to David and Turbine for their continued commitment to this series.

Please, let us know what you think of David's words in this comment thread.


David Souza