Friday, 16 April 2010

Welcome to Eberron

Right well, here we are at my second instalment of my progress with DDO. Downloading and installing the game, in both standard and high quality graphics, is actually relatively painless, indeed it took far less time and was more informative to the progress made than other titles and indeed the obligatory patching and data updating following install went on without a hitch on both platforms I tried.

The only glitch came with I starved the connected of bandwidth, throttling it down to below 100kpbs, I found the updates repeatedly stalled while downloading. But I can forgive their servers that, after all I caused the problem by watching too many Videos of Elmo on YouTube.

Once I logged in, I could select the world [I assume this is the same as realm] to visit, and previously visited realms are highlighted in bold. However, if like me you are on different machines between visits the different machines are not aware of what realms you've been on. As such I missed getting the same character twice for my time on the laptop and desktop PC's.

Creation of the characters went on without a hitch, however, when creating your character you get a few of the action animations being played. Immediately I was struck with how awkward some of these animations look. Characters will spin and swing clubs, dodge, parry and cast... but some of the moments are physical impossibilities. I don't like this much, it's a real turn off to me, I like to see natural looking [albeit cartoon-esp] movements. Not these strange efforts in DDO. Indeed I'd have to go so far to say they look amateurish.

However, after selecting my class, race, sub abilities and look I was ready to go, and after giving my character both a fore and surname, I was on a beach somewhere with a short bloke shouting at me.

Please Note - I added the speech bubble.

Now, this guy grates with me, his speech is voice acted by someone I want to punch, this whiny, adenoid dominated rat faced character is matched only by the most whiny adenoid dominated rat arsed voice acting. [Did I mention that the speech text is not bubbled and comes up in the most basic courier font?]

This is your welcome to DDO, this guy SHOUTING at you, showing how bad the 3D sound system is, because though you see the guy a head and slightly left of you the sound of his voice comes from way left and is VERY loud for someone stood so far away.

He proceeds to cajole you into moving about controls, however, there is a lot going on within the UI, if this is your first view of it then it can be quite daunting. You have an action bar at the bottom, which on default settings is hard to comprehend. You have a text/chat area with more of the bad font being used. You also have a mini-map but also a lot of crowding going on, the interface is not clean looking. It just looks to me like it has a lot of things to explain to me, or rather a lot of buttons I don't yet know about. And I'm not sure what clicking them is going to do. All of which leads to feeling that I'm in a rather cluttered user experience. And, with bars above others, and the position of things I have to just hope that I can change things around because to my untrained, but WoW Conditioned eye the interface in DDO does not appear to take ergonomics into account.

Now I suppose I have to draw on a point raised by Darren Love in the latest edition of SUWT. That is that with Blizzard's domination of the MMO Market with Warcraft, there are certain demands and requirements from a player of an MMO today, which are wants and needs influenced by Blizzard. One of these is a simple accessible learning curve and interface. And I'm afraid to say that though DDO's interface is visible, I don't feel like it is accessible.

Even simple things like popping up hints & tips, or tooltips seem sluggish. On the machines I'm running DDO on, I don't think it should feel sluggish... And these feelings about the UI don't even take into account actually achieving control of my character. I am solely commenting about the UI here. Actually taking control of your avatar feels even more alien.

For example, in World of Warcraft to attack you have to select the target and choose to attack [or you can auto attack with a different control]. In DDO you can stand and suddenly make your character punch air. I have been told that later this all makes sense, but right now to the total beginner it does not, I'm basically looking at an avatar whom is punching thin air and I can't seem to stop them doing it [again because in WOW you have to click something else to stop the auto-attack going on, not so in DDO].

I find this shift in my expectations hard to reconcile. I'm afraid to admit that Blizzard have me well trained, conditioned to jump to their tune... I am Pavlov's Dog for MMO control expectations. *Sobs*

However, I did play a little more of the game, I played through the introduction instance, more about that in my next DDO post.

Now, in other news, I have to blush somewhat. As you may gather from post number 1, Darren Love over at CommonSenseGamer was the inspiration for this blog, and today he has made mention of this my corner of the interwebs as his blog of the week.... I thank you Sir.

For now though, I'm about to take a weeks break from work, I'm going on Holiday! While I'm away I'm going to play some Total War Games... Those of you whom know me as “Lord Xelous” formerly of "The Lords Modding Collective" and “The Lordz Games Studio” will know how, and why, I love the Total War series.

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