Monday, December 03, 2012

But you can do shoulder rolls.

Winter has begun, I am not quite as busy, and my youngest daughter has decided that sleeping at night is rather overrated. Thus, I continue my search for an amusing computer game that we could play over a network and relive our table-top RPG adventures. Browsing on Steam I discovered that Dungeons & Dragons Online went free to play in 2009 and was recently added to the Valve platform for distribution.

After a rather large download, but easy installation process (one just needs to make sure to be logged into an administrator account in Windows); I started mucking around in the game. I have to chuckle every time I open it from the grand sales pitch of the combat system beta software in 2004 at Gen-Con when we pointedly asked about role-playing structures and crafting systems and the Hasbro marketing agent got a bit confused and irritated and responded with the quote that is the title of this post.

The game has been completely overhauled a half dozen times since then from what I have read, and I am so far pleasantly surprised with the potential of this ellaborate distraction. The interface is clean, the game runs smooth, the adventuring is highly oriented towards complete well rounded groups, the rule set is the familiar D&D third edition, the world is built as a series of town and dungeon adventure modules, all dungeons work as individual instances upon entering, and you need a little bit of tactic and skill to hit your targets. So it is largely a group hack and slash game, but not simply button mashing or watching animation scripts over and over again. Character progression is incremental and slow up to a standard 20th level, and there appears to be no grinding or resource farming built into advancing in the game. Quests are story driven and dramatically (campy) narrated by a Dungeon Master (on some big quests apparently by Gygax and Arneson); there are no "Thank you for slaying the 10 wolves, now will you please go hunt the 10 sort of moderately difficult bigger wolves?" that is the standard of the fantasy MMORPG.

It is possible to get the client working through WINE to run native Linux, but as is typically the case the process looks a bit wonky and cumbersome, it does have a good WINE AppDB rating and supposedly runs smooth though.

I still have not figured out how to do those highly anticipated shoulder rolls. I guess I have to go work on my barbarian's tumble skill. Join me, and together we can rule . . . err . . . cough . . . Eberron?