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Exploring Eberron: The calm before the storm

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

Dungeons and Dragons Online will be celebrating its fifth birthday in exactly one month. There's no doubt that the game has come a very long way in the past five years, bringing wonderful or horrible changes, depending on whom you ask.

Turbine is hinting at big things coming during the month of February as part of the events commemorating the fifth anniversary, but since all is quiet for now, I thought it might be a good time to look at how Turbine has done things up to this point and at what's planned for Exploring Eberron in February.

Before we continue, I want to mention a great sale in the DDO store. The store is always marking down some item or another, but this one is broader than the standard "20% off this or that" sale. (Not that those aren't great -- we all love to save our Turbine Points!) This weekend's sale knocks half the point cost off all XP, SP, and HP potions, so it's a great time to stock up.

Follow along after the jump and let's start gearing up for February!

How's that working out for you?

When DDO went free-to-play, one change that the company made was to refer to game patches and additions as updates and settle into a release schedule of roughly every two months. This might seem like a pretty fast-paced schedule, but It can be seen as a relatively smart business move because gamers can have short attention spans.

At the core, you've got an extensive and well-established game, but Turbine can't afford for it to stagnate. Sure, there are new players coming in droves to check it out now that it's free, but there are also players who have been around for several years, and you've got to keep them entertained. I know veteran players felt left out in the cold for a while, and hopefully this trend is changing, but the new content and updates seem like a good compromise in the balancing act that I've talked about before. Turbine has two very different customer groups to keep satisfied.

Scaling the new content and gradually adding epic difficulty to older content packs made for a good compromise -- you have new content every few months to give the veteran players something that they haven't seen before, and you're also breathing new life into old content. Veteran players are still anxious for new true high-level content and raids, though, so hopefully we'll see more of that in 2011.

There have been ups and downs and things that undoubtedly could have been done better, but I view that as part of the learning curve. Turbine has made some enormous changes in a well-established game, and a shakeup on that scale is bound to have a few bumps here and there. In the end, revenue is up, which is good for Turbine. Every game community has a loud contingent of naysayers, and sometimes it has felt like Turbine had more than its share as players weathered the changes, but players voted with their wallets and hopefully things are beginning to settle down.

What's to come?

That's what we'd like to know too! Beginning next week, Exploring Eberron will be reaching out to both Turbine and the DDO community. We'll spend February talking about where the game has been over the past years, and we'll chat with players who have been around since the beginning to hear what the highlights and lowpoints have been.

We'll talk to newer players about what they expected vs. what they found. What attracted you to DDO? Was it what you expected? Was it able to hold your attention? What would you like to see in the game as you progress? Novice or veteran players, if you'd like to throw your two cents in for the February series, just shoot me an email at and I'll be happy to interrogate... er, chat with you!

And finally, Turbine. The company has hinted that some exciting updates are coming for the fifth anniversary, and we're going to do our level best to find out the full scoop on any events, content, plans, and other surprises that the developers have in store.

February is sure to be an exciting month for DDO fans, so fasten your seatbelts. See you next week!

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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