Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Better, Worse, or Just Different?

WARNING:  Lengthy post ahead...

{In my best "ring announcer" voice:} LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!  TONIGHT'S MATCH-UP:




*Cough* Excuse me.

As I've said before, DDO is the first MMORPG I played.  And while I have since branched out into three* others, it is still my favorite.

Some say that comparing DDO to NWO is like comparing "apples-to-oranges".  Not that they are wrong, but contrary to popular belief, one CAN compare "apples-to-oranges" - or anything to anything else, for that matter.  It all depends on "what" you are comparing.  For example, if I have three apples and you three oranges, and we compare the number of items each has, they are equivalent**.  But I digress (somewhat)...

Anyway, being newer, you would expect that there are some things NWO does "better", but there are also things that it does worse.  And some things are just...different.  So let's look at a few of the differences (it should go without saying that the following classifications of "better", "worse", and "just different" are from my perspective - your mileage [and opinion] may vary):

Better:  Cryptic uses one "Mega-Server" to run NWO.

During beta testing, NWO actually had three servers (aka "shards") that were merged shortly after going live.  But to be fair, you need to remember that it is a much newer game, utilizing much newer technology.  It simply may not have been possible to do this 9 years ago (9 years is, like, 'forever' in computer terms).  I know that some forumites are clamoring for Turbine to do this as well, but it just may not be possible without a major overhaul or complete redesign.  Maybe for DDO2***...

Better:  Cryptic does not require players to have unique character names from all other players ("per server"); you need only have a unique name per user account.

Each character is defined by "CharacterName@UserName".  I love this feature, for a couple of reasons.  First, even though some, like Geoff Hanna, can roll-up a brand-new toon in DDO in 5 minutes, I nearly always get hung-up on a name.  It can literally take me hours to roll-up a new toon in DDO, because many of the names I want to use are already taken.  When "My DDO" was around, you could at least do a cursory search on whichever server you were looking at rolling up a new toon on to see if it was already taken.  Of course, now that it's no longer around, I suggest you have at least 7 different names to choose from (and frankly, even that may not be enough).

Second, the "CharacterName@UserName" is pretty much used "everywhere" in the game (including chat), so you know "who belongs to whom".  I find this especially incredibly handy for guild-mates; no more "Who is 'so-and-so'?" or trying to put together and keep an updated guild roster (trust me - it is not easy, especially when you get no responses to queries).

Third, when you add someone to your "ignore" list, they are added by the "@UserName", so ALL of their toons are added to your ignore list.

Forth, as a side-benefit (meh - probably done on purpose; either way), you can in-game mail to a specific character OR send a "blanket" mail to all the toons associated with the "@UserName" handle.  If it has attachments, the toon that detaches them, gets them.  So you can also send stuff to all your other 'selves' just by using "@MyUserName".

But again, this is probably not possible with DDO's older technology.  I know several people who wish they could in-game mail stuff to their toons on other servers.  Another "wish list" item for DDO2***...

Better:  Cryptic allows you to see and chat with your friends EVEN WHEN THEY ARE ON A DIFFERENT GAME!  (Provided that game is on Cryptic's network, of course.)

Yes, I can be (and have been) playing "Star Trek Online" (STO) and I will see anyone on my friend's list (assuming they are not set to "anonymous") when they sign into NWO (or STO, or any other Cryptic game), AND send them tells.

Better:  The auction house (AH) identifies "who listed what".

It's also interesting to note that the AH in LotRO also identifies "who listed what".  So I'm not sure why DDO doesn't.

Different:  The AH indicates if there is at least one bid on an item, by providing the text "Starting Bid" under the "High Bid" column when no bids have been made.  The text is removed after one bid is placed.

I actually like this feature, but I'm not going to classify it as "better".  Again, interesting to note that LotRO's AH provides an actual counter so you can see exactly how many bids have been placed.

Different:  The AH only takes a 10% "cut".

Typical, real-world auction houses take around a 30% cut (probably why DDO decided to implement a 30% 'house fee' [pure speculation, there]).  Why is the 10% not "better"?  Read on for the rest of the story...

Different:  There are (6) different "dance" emotes.  But all races and classes have the same ones.

I like having a bunch of emotes; even if I rarely use them.

Different:  "Mouse look" is always enabled - you cannot disable it (as far as I know).

You can hit the "alt" key to 'suspend' mouse look in order to interact with elements in the user interface (UI).  I prefer mouse look for moving/combat, so I don't mind it, but I know there are some people who hate it.  I have no idea how it works with a game pad...

Different:  There is an in-game tool, called "The Foundry", that allows players to create content, using pre-built "building blocks".

Some love this idea; I can take it or leave it.  As you would expect, some of the user-created content is good, others...not so much.  And still others that are down-right stupid.  Part of the reason for a plethora of stupid ones is this:  there are in-game achievements - one of which is publishing a foundry quest.  On the one-hand, it does provide new content without waiting for official updates.  On the other hand, crappy new content is still crappy.

Different:  There are more guild hierarchy tiers, providing additional access rights to various guild 'things'.  However, even though there is more information about guild activity, they do not have a "last on" indicator.

Just an observation.

Different:  There is a "Zen exchange" which allows you to buy/sell Zen (equivalent to "Turbine Points" ["TP"]) with/for astral diamonds**** (AD).

Since there are in-game mechanisms to generate astral diamonds, one could, in theory, obtain a lot of Zen without actually spending any real-world money.  "In theory".

Similar:  There are a myriad of various in-game "currencies":  gold (silver and copper; no platinum, at least at this point), AD, tarmalune trade bars (only available by opening "lock-boxes", which drop frequently; however, you can only buy keys to open them with Zen), various 'bounty' items, etc.

I have not counted, but I would bet NWO has at least as many - if not more - different currencies as DDO...  If not, they probably soon will have, for it seems with each new event and content release, more 'currencies' are added.  {Hmmm...that sounds familiar...}

{And yes, this is the only anomalous comparison category of "similar".}

Worse:  In-game gold is "worthless".

There is no 'gold' AH.  All items in the AH use astral diamonds.  While there are ways to obtain AD in-game, too many players are greedy, asking insane amounts of AD for mundane items.  In fact, the ONLY way you can buy/sell items to players for gold is through trade (typically through the trade chat channel).  Yes, you can buy some equipment with gold, but chances are you'll find random loot that's better than anything you can buy with gold before you can earn enough gold to buy it.  About the only thing gold is good for is stocking up on supplies.  Which is stupid.

Worse:  Little to no 'customization' of characters during character creation.

Oh, I suppose there's enough variations in the visual department (faces, hairstyles, etc.), but that's about it.  You get to choose from about 4***** different sets of ability stats.  Want an INT-based fighter?  Tough.  Best you can get is 12 (seeing as how "INT" is a tertiary stat for fighters).

Worse:  Little customization of class development.

If you want to be able to range something, don't take either of the fighter classes.  The only bows in the game are for the Hunter-Ranger (HR) class.  Trickster-Rogues (TRs) can throw daggers...*IF* you slot that 'at will power'.  And the number of times they can throw them is quite limited (a maximum of 8, which regenerates over time).  There is no "multi-classing" - whatever class you take at creation is the class you are stuck with.

Worse:  You cannot interact with other things (traps, doors, chests, etc.) while you are in combat or are in proximity to a party member who is in combat.

There is at least one exception, but it is for one of the 'special events' and I've not seen/experienced any others that I can recall.  And this can be very annoying, especially when there are a lot of traps in the combat area.

Worse:  Combat is only "semi-active".

There is no way to "hard target"  (There is what I call a 'semi-hard' targeting mechanism, where you can hold your Ctrl key down, once you've placed your reticle on your target that will cause your camera and ranged attacks [if you have any] to follow that target.)  You cannot "move" and "attack" simultaneously.  If you are attacking, you cannot move...much.  If you are moving and try to attack, you will (essentially) stop moving.

Worse:  There is no way to repeat low-level quests.  Only certain quests are re-playable, most of them are at cap level.

OK, not exactly true.  You *can* repeat some of the low-level quests, but ONLY if you party up with someone who hasn't run them.  Some of the other re-playable quests are what they call "dungeon delves".  Kinda-sorta like raids, but not really.

Worse:  Nearly all gear is "bound".

About the only non-bound items are the white-colored "common" items.  Fortunately, most of items (except quest rewards) are BtAoE.  But then, most of the items are also class-specific.  Meaning there is separate armor (weapons, 'hats', etc. though not all clothing or jewelry) for TRs, HRs, GWFs (Great Weapon-Fighters), GFs (Guardian-Fighters), etc.  So unless you have at least one other of the same class on your account...

Worse:  Bank space is very limited.

You think DDO has a bank space problem?  HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!  The only way to expand your bank space is with Zen.  And you don't get that much to start with, nor do you get that much more with each upgrade.  Shard bank space is even less than character bank space.  And if the guild bank is any indication, each subsequent expansion of your bank space costs more than the previous.

Well, that's probably enough, for now at least.  I mean, I could tell you about the so-called "zerg" line (dubbed by our group of players because it leads you down the main path only and if you only follow it, you'll miss stuff - that and it's toggled [by default] with the z-key), which is a sparkly line leading you to your next objective.  Or that I've called it a "console-style" game because all of the movement makes it feel like your playing it on a console (there is no 'strafing').  Or that to me it feels like a stripped-down/dumbed-down version with little to no strategy involved in running the quests (no, you cannot sneak around to bypass mobs - sorry, you must fight).  But maybe I'll save that for another post (or two).

However, this is not to say the NWO is not fun.  It is, in its own way.  It's a different play style altogether.  I do prefer the general game mechanics and flexibility/character customization of DDO, but I still have fun in NWO.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be playing it.

TL/DR:  What?  I take the time to highlight the headlines and that's not good enough for you?  You want me to summarize on top of that?  Forget it!  If you're too lazy to even read the easy to spot, color-coded headlines, then too bad.

* Four, if you count the beta for The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO or TESO).  But with them deciding to adhere to the outdated "monthly subscription only" model (w/o a "lifetime" option), and my refusal to pay a recurring monthly fee for ANY game, it was only the beta.  When (not "if", for I believe it has been pretty much proven that a pure monthly subscription model is unsustainable) they go "F2P" (or offer a lifetime option) I might add it to the list.

** "Equivalent", not "equal".  Only 'identical' items can be "equal".  An orange is not 'equal' to an apple, but if all I care about is quantity, they can be 'equivalent'.

*** No, I have no information on any past, present, or future plans by anybody to develop DDO2; it is merely wishful thinking (as far as I know).  But wouldn't it be cool to have an updated game, with modern technology, graphics, and game engine?

**** So...are "astral diamonds" (and/or "astral shards") an actual D&D currency?  Or is it a generalized 'thing' that other MMOs (especially fantasy MMOs) use?

***** {Just how many asterisks can I go?} While there are only 4 different sets of numbers (based on the value of your primary stat, which will be 18, 17, 16, or 15), each set has 3 to 6 combinations within those sets.  If your primary stat is 18, your next highest stat value will be 13.  And while the character creation screen indicates you "roll" the stats, it is not a random roll as you would be led to believe.  Re-roll long enough (and, yes, I did) and you will see all the possible combinations appear.  So go to the Neverwinter Wiki, find that ability stat combos, pick the one you want, and keep "re-rolling" until you get it.


  1. MIZZY MIZZY MIZZAROOOO!!!!17 September, 2014 21:49

    The only way I'd play ESO is if there were quests that finally take us to Akavir(I think that's how it's spelled) and a quest that would solve the mystery of what exactly happened to the Dwemer once and for all. Also, lifetime would be pretty cool for any MMO. It's just too bad that it costs so much. STOs costs around $300(if I remember right) and with that I could get an Xbox One!

    Other than all that, spot on with the comparisons. Good blog ol chum! Righty oh then chap! I'm off to the races!

  2. Yes, STO (and NWO, for that matter) lifetime subs regularly cost $300 (OK, OK - $299). BUT they do go on sale for $200 ($199) - that's when I bought STO's lifetime. Still a bit on the expensive side, perhaps, but at $15/month, if you play for more than 13 months, you come out ahead. I do wish DDO offered one. If they had, I would have bought it.

  3. Good read :) I do keep thinking about going back to try NWO again - especially with the new expansion with the Dragonborn race. But it just doesn't really grab my interest like DDO does, because of the lack of customization.

  4. Yeah. I'd get the STO lifetime because I could really use the monthly supply of Zen for bigger badder ships and character slots and such. But mostly for the Liberated Borg race. Because that'd be so awesome! :)

  5. Nice write up. And nicely thought-out comparison points. :)

  6. Well, it is a different play style. Ir's what my buddies and I would call a "hack and slash" ("dungeon crawl" is another term I've seen used) game. Most 'hack and slash' games don't really require any thought, so you can 'turn your brain off' and just play. Which can also be fun.

    As far as the new "Tyranny of Dragons" expansion, it is their first expansion to allow you to start working on it a levels LOWER than cap. That and there are now a lot more dragons you can kill.

  7. Nice comparison indeed!! I think I'll just stick to playing Neverwinter Nights II when I want a small break in DDO.