We've had several exciting pieces of news in Dungeons and Dragons Online this week! New details on Update 9 came from PAX East, and an encore of our most recent game event is here. I've got the details on those and my thoughts on what they'll bring to the player community, but before we get to that, I want to take a quick look at what OnedAwesome has been up to.

The guild has moved to a more casual schedule over the past few months, still maintaining informal Wednesday night adventures but generally playing at any day and time that works for members in various time zones. Wednesday night, six members of OnedAwesome revisited Stormcleave Outpost, a House Deneith fortress that's been overrun by enemy giants (and other ill-tempered creatures).

The adventure was such fun, and not just for the great company -- although that was definitely the highlight! It's a great illustration of the replayability of DDO content. It's a level 8 adventure that we've all been through before, and all of our characters last night were in the 10-11 level range. We simply pushed it up to elite difficulty and still found a challenge.

We've still got room in Massively's official DDO guild, so if you've got questions about joining us on the Cannith server, feel free to send a tell or in-game mail to my character Rubialina, or simply shoot me an email at rubi@massively.com.

Now, on to the updates!

Crafting ahoy!

DDO has been hinting at a true crafting system for nearly a year now, and we've even gotten a little taste of it during special events, but Update 9 will finally make it a reality. We don't have all the details just yet, but two bits of information stood out. Fernando Paiz had a chat with Lore Hound and had some interesting things to say.

"We currently have crafting in DDO, but most players get into it in the higher levels of the game. [...] What we wanted to do was get players into the idea of crafting and give them a system where they can learn to do it and have useful things to do even if you're a level 4 character instead of a level 16 character."

Fernando Paiz was pretty clear in his desire to open this part of the game to everyone. While DDO maintains a decent amount of content for all level ranges, the adventure packs that come with each update are limited by their very nature. It's impossible to release an adventure pack with a full level range, and that's not a bad thing, but it means that the addition of content designed for every single character in the game is pretty exciting.

"In the crafting system, you can deconstruct [an item] down to its components. So you'll take the essence of paralyzing [for example] and you'll get a paralyzing shard that then you can re-forge into a new weapon depending on your character. Maybe you're a fighter, you put it on your +5 Bastard Sword and now it's a Paralyzer Bastard sword, and that's sounding pretty good for your character."

This has been a huge point of interest with the DDO community and is going to be the core of crafting in my eyes. In many cases -- particularly at lower levels, players have to rely on the luck of the loot drop or the auction house to get good gear. When this system is introduced, we'll finally be able to take matters into our own hands and create the perfect item like we can in so many other MMOs. We're expecting full patch notes on Update 9 sometime next week -- I'll be watching for those very closely!

Euphonia's Challenge is back!

Did you not get enough Crystal Cove last time? Neither did I -- in fact, the event ended while I was GDC-bound, so I didn't get time to turn in any of my items or check out the rewards beyond my cool new pirate hat. I resigned myself to waiting until next year until our PAX guys offered up a little souvenir for me: a code for a DDO pirate hat. That ray of hope was followed quickly by confirmation: Crystal Cove is back! We've got 10 more days to indulge in this event; it's going on now and will last until the 27th. There's one tiny change, though: "Items acquired from Euphonia's Barter Box can no longer be sold." This doesn't sound like a huge change on the surface until you consider the effect that Dowsing Rods had on the economy last time. (If you missed out on the incident, the short version is that players obtained these highly coveted reward items from Euphonia's reward chest and made a mint selling them, turning the game economy upside-down.) "Debacle" and "disaster" were a few words I saw thrown about, and Turbine has avoided a repeat of that issue by preventing all sales of the items, period.

I like this solution -- it's clean and simple. Slicing the Gordian Knot isn't always the best response, particularly in game development, but in some cases it is -- like in this one. These items are intended as rewards for a player's participation in the event, not as a way to bring new items into the player market and auction house.

Now that the only choices for the items are to use them or junk them, I foresee players thinking very carefully about what their characters need in the way of new gear, rather than what is worth the most on the open market. I see that as a great thing, even though I can understand some player frustration that you can't even vendor the items.

Finally, I've been told that Euphonia's challenge is coming back "later this year," and I have to express my hope that Turbine won't overdo it. In-game events and festivals are fun in part because they're a special treat and aren't available very often. The Risia Ice Games were such fun last year, but I have to confess that I completely ignored the last few rounds because the event had come so often it wasn't really a treat any more. The encore of this event is great, but I honestly hope not to see it again until maybe next fall -- I want a chance to look forward to it!

As always, I'm anxious to hear your thoughts on the new details from Turbine, so this is the part where I tell you to hit the comment button and tell me what you think. I'll see you in game!

Exploring Eberron is a novice's guide to the world of Dungeons and Dragons Online, found here on Massively every Friday. It's also a series of short summaries of lower-level DDO content, cleverly disguised as a diary of the adventures of OnedAwesome, Massively's DDO guild.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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