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Q&A #4

Jon Wood Posted:
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Victor Watcher, the DDO Community Manager, Takes Questions

In the fourth installment of this bi-weekly quiz series, Jon Wood talks to Victor Watcher about Dungeons & Dragons Online. Remember to check back in two weeks for another Q&A.

MMORPG.com: Games with a popular franchise behind them sometimes have trouble appealing to people who are new to the franchise. How do you plan to make DDO appealing to people who are unfamiliar with the pen and paper version?
Victor Wachter:

When starting a new game, every gamer has to learn a new set of rules. The great thing about the D&D Core Rules is that they form the base from which most other computer RPG’s are modeled. So from the start, the rules are intuitive and easily understood.

But the ruleset is only a part of the equation. D&D is a success not only because of the mechanics behind your character, but also because of the experience that the game presents. D&D is adventure fantasy, and that’s something that most gamers understand. Quests in the game contain unique objectives, events that are triggered by a player’s actions and monsters that act in different manners, depending on your behavior. Our quests are all developed with consideration for making each one memorable in one way or another.

MMORPG.com: Many hardcore DnD players (such as myself) are wondering why Eberron was chosen as the setting for DnD online. Why not go with a more popular setting like "Forgotten Realms" or "Drangonlance"? What advantage does Eberron have over the others for this type of game?
Victor Wachter:

Forgotten Realms and DragonLance are both great classic settings, and as such there had been early investigations into using one of them. However, Wizards of the Coast presented Eberron to us, and it soon became apparent that this was a setting that could fit our game perfectly. Eberron is built largely around an action-adventure theme, which fits our content and combat models quite well.

We’re also really excited about having the opportunity to explore the new world we have, as also be a part of the creative process that will define it over its life. It allows us to add a lot of flavor to the world. In the Eberron setting, it is not uncommon to meet monsters, not only as enemies, but also as NPC’s that you can interact with, buy items from, or perhaps even form alliances with in certain quests.

MMORPG.com: Your website says that you plan to include multiclassing options. How do you plan to balance the classes so that, for example, a 5th level rogue/5th level Fighter is comparable in power to, say, a 10th level fighter?
Victor Wachter:

When we consider multiclassing, we are very faithful to the pen and paper system and so much of that balancing work is done for us. The 10th level is a superior fighter, largely because they will have had options from the full range of possible Fighter skills and feats. They also are able to allocate their ability scores to be optimal for a fighter, instead of having to account for dual roles and face the possible need to compromise in some areas. But taking levels in Rogue will offer special abilities that were not previously open this character. Multiclass levels can also compensate for weaknesses in the single class build. For example, a 10th level Fighter has only +3 to his Reflex Saving Throw, while the multicass ends up with +5, thanks to the higher bonuses for the Rogue class.

MMORPG.com: Will alignment play a factor in DDO? Can I, for example, choose to play a Chaotic Evil character, or is the game for good guys only?
Victor Wachter:

Alignment is not embedded within the game systems, but these circumstances are presented within the quests and dungeons. Eberron itself is a setting where alignment is fluid, and so players may need to make choices that stretch the boundaries of their alignments. While alignment choices won’t limit a player’s options within the game, they will have an impact on how some NPC’s react toward their character.

MMORPG.com: How will my character's abilities (Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, Intelligence, Charisma and Constitution) affect my gameplay experience?
Victor Wachter:

The same way they do in pen and paper D&D. Your abilities offer modifiers to other stats in the game, such as Hit Points, Armor Class, Saving Throws, Skills, etc. Since a lot of events are dependent upon these stats, players will be rewarded for allocating their stats appropriately to their character. Some of the Dungeon Master text, text which appears to characters and describes the setting and any important quest information, depends on a listen check, so good Wisdom would help a character get the most informative DM text. A good Dexterity would help a character survive the effects of a trap that required a reflex save.

Thanks to Alex and Victor at Turbine for making these happen!

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Jon Wood