Friday, March 24, 2006

Earen: The town dork in Stormreach

So Earen (my favored name in fantasy MMORPGs) has been born again in D&D Online Stormreach (Khyber server). I haven't been able to really spend a lot of time playing but here's a summary of my activities so far:

I arrive at Stormreach. Some trickster makes me run errands for him, I'm such a fool. In time, I get through into the city proper and since I'm thirsty, I tentatively walk into a tavern. Everyone inside is either running somewhere or minding their own business. I notice that some guy's sword is on fire and think to myself, "He should really get that taken care of." I make my way to the bar and decide to talk to a tall Elf.

"Greetings, my name is Earen." I say cheerfully. I even smile nicely.

Silence. Then he runs away. Well, that isn't the first time that's happened in a bar. I try again with a Dwarven lady.

"Hello, my name is Earen." I say; though this time not as cheerfully. Maybe the Elf thought I wanted to sell something.

Silence. She runs away. Hmm, perhaps they don't speak my language.

To another patron, I try, "Hello, have your travels been kind to you?" He turns towards me... Yes! Success! ...and proceeds to run right into me and out the door.

I decide perhaps that the tavern is not the best place to meet people. I venture into the square. For a half hour, I sit in the square and attempt to talk to passerbys. Not a soul responded to me. One person asked me for directions, which I did not know and so I was of no help to this person, she too runs away.

While I was contemplating returning home and leaving this adventuring business altogether, out of the blue, someone invited me to their group. There was no one in front of me so it was most likely through mystical means that this person found me. I said to my group, "Hi, I'm Earen." To which the leader responded, "We're already here, look for us on the map." I am, if nothing else, resourceful, so I found my party just as they were entering a sewer. I rather have followed them into a tavern but if I have to go into a sewer to find someone to befriend, so be it.

I made my way down and when I got to the bottom, I was alone. My group had scattered and I could hear sounds of battle several rooms away. I readjusted my shield in front of me and headed off to find them. Unfortunately, they were always one step ahead of me. "Wait for me!" I said, as I leap over dead kobolds and broken barrels.

I ran into a room and caught up with someone... only to watch him sprint right out behind me. I look around. It was such a lovely room, full of mysterious things. I wanted to stay and look around but it also didn't feel safe so I tried to catch up again.

Panting and gasping for breath, I finally did catch up with my group. I waved to them and in mid-wave in front of my very eyes, all but one person disappeared! Did I do that?! Before I could actually say anything, a Dwarf with a very big axe said, "Recalling" and disappeared as well. I look around the dark cavernous dungeon and let out a sigh, "Oh bother."

Ok, so that was a very long winded way to say two things:

  • No one talked to anyone else in the game.
  • When people did work together, it was entirely focused on grinding exp rather than actually enjoying the content.
Now this is not unique to DDO by any means. I was also in a Newb area too, so I don't expect any real roleplaying. In fact, I don't expect much of anything at all. I was surprised though, by the sheer determination of people to ignore me and get their own stuff done. Even when I got a party invite, it was out of the blue and I was expected to show up and hack away. This happened in 4 different groups that I joined. I felt like the dork at the party not getting it and all the cool kids got it and didn't want to talk to me.

Maybe I'm old-school but I thought the game was pretty cool. There's a DM voice over in every quest and there are actually things and places to explore. I'm not naive enough to think that people are going to consume it the same as the tabletop version but I really didn't expect players to bolt through it quite like what I saw. This game would be incredible if you're lucky enough to find some people that will stop and smell the roses. So far, I haven't found that. I'll keep looking.

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