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Exploring Eberron: A first glance at Update 8

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

The Dungeons and Dragons Online development team has been hard at work lately. The Endless Night event and aftermath kept the developers hopping in between updates, but now we've got the next update to look forward to!

Update 8 is coming in December, and it's exciting to see all of the tweaks and refinements -- especially to one of the new races -- as well as little treats like the cookie jar, cosmetic fixes all over the game, and brand-new content! Join me behind the cut for what I'm excited to see in Update 8!

Who doesn't love a cookie jar?

There always seems to be one relatively small and/or whimsical feature in any game update or news that catches the eye of the Massively staff. In this case, it is the cookie jar. The very idea of a cookie jar in an MMO is kind of a fun one, but it's even better in the context of DDO. If you've played DDO for more than an hour or two, you know that stuff accumulates really quickly and storage is a giant problem for many people. I'm really happy to see Turbine continually improving our storage options and organization. Things such as hireling contract folders, the new organizational tabs, and now a place to store all those various delicious (and powerful) treats are great additions in my eyes. Like many players, I find that my time in game is very limited by real-life obligations. When I find time to log in and relax, I want to play -- not spend 15 minutes digging around my bank vault trying to remember where I left those Black Abbott Cookies.

It might seem like a small or petty addition, but the attention paid to these "behind the scenes" details is an important part of an overall good game experience.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

I love DDO. I'm a huge fan, and I spend way too much time going about my day trying to come up with a rationalization that will allow me to blow off my responsibilities and allow me to log in. (No luck so far, darn it.) But man, I really dislike 90% of the armor that I've come across in-game. It's purely cosmetic and can easily be seen as something silly and unnecessary, but we are here for entertainment. Finding an armor or costume skin that I'm happy with is a big part of the fun for me -- and I'm not alone. Players have been begging for some sort of dye system or cosmetic system that will allow them to do something about the not-so-pretty armor in the game.

Update 8 will take a huge step in that direction with the addition of the cosmetic armors in the DDO store. I love this for two reasons. First, my characters are going to look so much better. It might not be a big deal to many players, but appearance is part of the fun for me. I can't wait to get my hands on some of these.

Second, strictly cosmetic items -- to my way of thinking -- are the best items you can get from an item shop in a game. I'm always happy to see something like this added, because it's a win-win. The developers get a new source of income, the players get something fun, and you completely bypass the whole "this is not fair because it gives 'x' gameplay advantage" debate.

It's the little things

I always enjoy the small jokes and fixes throughout each round of DDO patch notes. I like that the developers still pay attention to things like fences that are trying to break their bonds and fly away (the patch notes declared they'd "grounded some fences that were trying to fly away in the landscape"), because it tells me that they're not ignoring the small details in favor of big flashy rollouts. The silliness in the patch notes tells me that someone is having fun with the fixes. It's good to know that they are enjoying their jobs rather than punching a clock and waiting for 5:00 p.m., because in the long run that means good things for a game.

New racial enhancements

I'm always happy to see continual refining to things that were added in a recent update. I know a lot of players have been frustrated here and there in the past because they feel that existing content was allowed to stagnate sometimes, but the continual (and extensive) refinement to the Half-Elf race and Dilettante feats are nice to see. I'm happy to see the current content being refined as time goes by.

Rogue hirelings

My main is a Rogue, so I think this was a silly addition. (In all seriousness, the reaction to this seems to be mixed. I'll be watching with interest to see if the AI improves.)

Onward and upward!

As always, the update brings more content. I love more content, and it's great to see the level increasing as Turbine continues to turn its attention back toward higher-level players. Attack on Stormreach is level 13 and contains four new adventures. I'm not going to go into this too much at this point, because next week I'll be hanging out with some of the DDO developers for a firsthand advance peek at Update 8 and Attack on Stormreach.

The update is much more extensive than these high points, of course, so I can't wait to look into it more deeply. Keep your eye out for my tour of Update 8 next week -- I'll see you then!

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 sometimes series of short summaries of lower-level DDO content, cleverly disguised as a diary of the adventures of OnedAwesome, Massively's DDO guild.

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