Saturday, September 4, 2010

Future Directions In DDO

Turbine produced a surprize announcement for DDO players at this year's Penny Arcade Expo.  They had previously confirmed a new playable race - the half orc - for the forthcoming Update 7 patch (now confirmed for October).  The big, unexpected reveal was that the same patch will ALSO add half-elves to the game.

This is the kind of clever move that Turbine has to be making with DDO's business model.  Those of us who have gone the "Premium Free To Play" route literally only have to pay when Turbine adds something new that interests us.  Half-Elves presumably did not take a ton of effort to implement - they're Elves with slightly less pointy ears and stats based at least somewhat on the pen and paper stats for the race.  Even so, they're something new to add to the game, and people who don't care don't need to pay for them. 

Camping Out At Low Levels
As is increasingly traditional, Turbine has welcomed the US holiday weekend with significant sales on both Turbine Points and store purchases.  I've taken the opportunity to top off my balance and pick up the newest adventure packs. 

In principle, I could use my newly refreshed point balance to buy up all of the remaining adventure packs in the game and still probably have enough points left to buy the two new races (pretty remarkable for a total of $100 spent on the game).  In practice, there's no point in saving a dollar on some higher level quest pack that I might not need for months (if ever) and then not being able to pick up something that I actually want and would use right away.

In the mean time, I've been happily using my purchased Veteran Status to re-roll, experiment with new builds, and generally explore the low level content.  The way character power scaling works under the DND rules literally breaks large numbers of character builds that are perfectly fun to play at lower levels.  I've decided to embrace this rather than stress out about it, and have bought up basically all of the low level content in the game to give my army of alts the widest possible variety of options to visit. 

I will probably get to the upper levels eventually - perhaps my latest character will be the one I stick with, and I do want to see the new Red Fens questline - but there's no real hurry.  The value of the DDO free to play/freemium model is that I can take as long as I want (and even earn small amounts of Turbine Points while I'm doing it). 


Anonymous said...

do you have any characters past level 6 or 7 yet? Once I got that far it was basically impossible for me to solo and it seemed like there was a lesser variety of quests (especially compared to the harbour, levels 2-5)

Green Armadillo said...

Level 6 absolutely is a barrier - if you look on the quest list, the lower level quests are "solo/party" and the ones above that are all "party".

To try and work around this, my most recent character went with a more cookie cutter ranger build and has been using Cleric hirelings for heals. I'm only at level 5 on this character, but I've already beaten content that I was struggling to solo at level 6 on my last character.

But yes, the jump in difficulty is another reason why I'm not pushing ahead until if/when I find a build that fits my playstyle well enough to have fun with the content, and not be left feeling that it's kicking my rear. As I alluded to in the OP, many of the game mechanics, such as armor class, have a very steep scaling curve, and I really noticed this on my bard - moderate AC is great at level 2 and useless at level 6.

Yeebo said...

I have made it up to nine on two characters now. The paladin is solid enough at solo content that I could keep going. My rogue is now basically useless outside of a party.

My biggest peeve with the mid level solo game is that I have no idea what I can do. On my pally, I can solo at least half of all the content flagged for parties. Unfortunately, the only way of knowing whether I can solo something or not is to stick my head in and try it. That can lead to a lot of wasted time.

On a build that doesn't solo as well, such as my rogue, the game becomes very thin.

Jules said...

"The value of the DDO free to play/freemium model is that I can take as long as I want (and even earn small amounts of Turbine Points while I'm doing it)."

Absolutely. I'm an infrequent player -- I probably get around to playing an MMO something like 5 or 6 times per month -- which basically rules out subscription models as too expensive for the amount I get to enjoy them. But the F2P + pay-to-unlock-content model works very well for me.