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Exploring Eberron: You can go home again

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

It's less common these days, but it used to be that many of the Massively staff's friends, family, and readers thought we had a great gig because we got paid to sit around and play games all day. Thankfully, that assumption comes around less and less nowadays -- most of the Massively staff finds very quickly that the job reduces our gaming time rather than allowing us free rein.

So wait, what on earth does this have to do with Dungeons and Dragons Online? Well, my schedule has cramped my DDO time so severely lately that it could very well be called a hiatus. Recently, my husband had the day off work, so I assigned him full parenting duty, locked myself away, and logged into DDO for some uninterrupted playtime.

OnedAwesome officers Aunwiira and Tebraen joined me, and Brian "Psychochild" Green jumped in partway through to join the fun too. I enjoyed some great playtime with some great company, and it started me thinking about the Massively DDO guild as well as the implications of rejoining an MMO after time away.

Follow along after the jump for more!

Is OnedAwesome still around?

It sure is! It's a new year, so it seems like a good time to take a look at OnedAwesome and catch everyone up on what the guild is up to these days. Maintaining a guild in a game like DDO is a bit of an interesting endeavor. There's no linear storyline to follow, and there is a dizzying number of choices when trying to decide what to do during a gameplay session. The setup doesn't really lend itself to a static group for lower-level players unless everyone involved agrees to create and earmark a character for that only. Frankly, that's not much fun -- once you've developed a character that you love, why would you want to only play it once or twice a week?

The importance of character roles during gameplay and the varying time zones combine to make it even more difficult. Massively isn't only a North American site -- we've got readers all over the world, and we don't want anyone left out. OnedAwesome's regular meeting time used to be Wednesday nights at 9:00 p.m EST, which effectively eliminated anyone outside the U.S. (and a lot of Americans who get up early for work). For example, if an EU reader who plays a great healer wants to join up, everyone's out of luck: He can't play without staying up all night, and we're down a potential healer.

So what did we decide to do about this? OnedAwesome's Wednesday night sessions are no more. The guild moved to a forum-scheduling format that's worked out fairly well for us and allows players from all over to join in. The OnedAwesome forums include a "meeting place" for members to post what they'd like to do and when they'd like to do it. This also gives people a little direction when they want to join a gameplay session but aren't sure what they want to do. Checking out the meeting place offers a full list of suggestions.

I'd be remiss at this point if I didn't extend a huge thanks to OnedAwesome guild officers Tebraen and Aunwiira -- they stepped in with great enthusiasm and kept things active while everything outside the monitor was keeping me busy. They're the kind of players that make any game community -- large or small -- better.

Thanks to DDO's huge roster cap, OnedAwesome still has plenty of room for more. Want to come play with us? Send a tell or in-game mail to Rubialina, Aunwiira, or Tebraen for a guild invitation, and join our forums to see what we're up to!

Feel like you've been away too long to fall back into the game? Read on!

Welcome back

I've heard people say that they don't like the "lobby with instances" style of DDO, and while I'll admit it's not for everyone, it's got one stellar advantage. If you find that real life has eaten your time and your gameplay has suffered for a while, this game is ready to welcome you back with open arms at any time.

Too many MMOs inadvertently punish you for staying away for more than a week or so. You might come back and find that friends and guildies have kept playing during that time and have progressed to a point that you can't possibly reach without some serious work to catch up. It's physically impossible because they've actually moved on to a different geographical location in the game.

DDO doesn't work this way, which makes it a dream for busy gamers. No matter what level you are, you can access every single public area of the game. The game's feature allowing you to choose your quest difficulty opens the doors to a huge array of adventures, and the hireling system ensures that you've always got someone to play with, even if nobody is on at the moment.

If you're like I am and much prefer to play with people, the XP reduction for playing with other characters too far outside your own level range can be a bit of a downer, but even then the sheer number of alts many players have allows everyone to come up with a suitably leveled character in most cases.

The hardest thing I find about returning to DDO after an absence is the controls. Usually after I've been out of game for more than a few days, you'll find me wildly swinging my swords in public areas while I sit in my chair sighing and mumbling "right click." If that's my biggest problem getting back into the rhythm of DDO, I'm pretty happy.

Have you been away from DDO for a bit? Feel like it's too hard to pick up an MMO that you've abandoned for a while? My personal experience this week has shown me that DDO is ready and willing to prove you wrong, so come play with us!

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.

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