Great Game, but What About the User Experience?
If you’ve read this blog before, you know that DDO is about the only game for me that gets any amount of regular play. This game resides deep seated within my heart, and for good reason. Of all the D&D video games out, DDO is the only one that comes close to the tabletop experience.
Why, then, is it that there’s so many people that can only point out the game’s glaring problems? The game has its issues, true, but if you think about the overall user experience of the game, there’s not much about which to complain.
DDO does many things well that other games seem to lack. Let’s go over some of them in more detail. My hope is that some players (which includes myself) will treat the game and its Devs with more respect.
The very first thing I’ve noticed with DDO is that the majority of the community (out of game contact with other players via Twitter) is open, friendly, and very helpful; even when I’ve forgotten some fact that should be known by the most basic beginner. A majority of the time when I have a question, I get it answered in a manner that is both simple and concise.
Keyboard shortcuts and customizable keymaps make DDO easy to set up to your own preference. This means that regardless of how/ what you use to play the game, your setup will suffice.
For people whose sight may not be in the best shape, you can adjust the size and color of of the chatbox text, which reduces eye strain.
Customization is DDO’s greatest asset, and the reason why many players remain. Though class combination has a three class restriction, enhancement trees give players’ builds much more freedom. Far and away the greatest number of choices I’ve seen given in any video game has been given to options for appearance.
DM assistance is available for when things go wrong. Let’s face it, every video game has its bugs and glitches. Make a ticket and get the issue solved, or at least investigated.
The amount of choices players have in quests and difficulty with which to run their preferred character through can leave one overwhelmed.
Play your way, whether that be alone “solo”, or with a group. They’re even given choices with their groups, be they dynamic or static. Players can take their time and “smell every flower”, or they can rush to the end for the most XP per minute zerg.
The Devs listen to the community and try to give the majority what they ask for; tempered of course by balance and reason.
There is very little server downtime in DDO. Whether for maintenance, updates, or hot fixes, the game has been- for the most part- reliable.
The ability for players to change the user interface by loading UI’s made by others, or just have the UI elements swapped is enormous. The fact that once you set things up, your new setup can be saved and loaded again later also doesn’t hurt.
There’s so many things that Standing Stone Games does right, but I feel it necessary to look at some of the things that aren’t. I would like to what follows to be a nit-picked wish list of fixes that could make the quality of this MMO unbelievable.
One of the strangest things that DDO suffers from is the inability to change servers without a game restart. I’m sure there’s a reason for this, but since almost every other MMO can do this, I’m left baffled. I play on many servers (three at present), and this is an utter inconvenience.
Slow/ stalled load times. Transitions between areas as well as logins continue to suffer from load times that take longer than they should. I’m aware that some of this is due to the machine on which the player runs the game, but I’ve seen load times above two minutes on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s just me, but that doesn’t seem right, even for machines built within the past decade. I don’t group often, but when others are waiting on you, two minutes can seem like an eternity.
Save for as a Sentient Jewel’s snack, there’s no use for gear given as end reward from old quests because they’re so outdated. Again, I know it’s a nit-pick, but I’m sure a simple pass of updated properties would be all that was required.
Certain older crafting areas could also use an update. Things like the Stone of Change not only have little use, but when you do need to use them the speed with which they carry out their task and the speed the old Item Deconstructer is matched. The Devs fixed the latter by removing the animation it used as it ate your gear. I’m sure the same thing would work for the stone, or at least simultaneous multiple stacks. I’d prefer both, if I’m honest.
In a swathe of multiple hotbars filled with multiple icons, the size can leave some players unable to see the forest from the trees, and lost in complete confusion. I’m sure there are many players whose eyesight could benefit from the option to make the bars bigger- of which I am unaware of any current existence. The size of the hotbars and their icons during gameplay can sometimes be a detriment.
As you can see, there’s very little that I can point out that could be improved as opposed to how much the Devs and game already give us. I’m sure there’s points I’ve missed on both sides. However, from what I’ve noticed in my own groups, on the forums, and in general chat, players don’t give the Devs as much appreciation as they deserve, and have replaced cheers of joy with complaints.
Please remember that there are actual people that have put a great amount of time and effort into making DDO as great an experience as they can, and their attempts to do so are continual.
Devs, for all you do each and every day, I’d like to present my thanks, most humble and heartfelt. Thank you so much for the continued support of my favorite game. Know that, despite the problems I have found apparent, for me no game is better. Your efforts have not gone entirely unnoticed!
As always, please post any and all comments or questions in the area provided below. I always appreciate your input!
I’d also like to thank you, my readers, for your continued patronage and support. It’s safe to say that without you, the chance I’d still write this blog is slim. Have a great day, and I look forward to the next post.