Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons Online's Pay Wall: 32 Point Builds

Update: Here are the new-player builds, which are attainable with 28 base stat points.

A character planner tool is available here.
Read below for my bitching:

I have been playing the Free-to-Play (F2P) version of Dungeons and Dragons online for an hour this morning and I've come across a potential deal breaker: 32 point builds. As with any game I venture into, I look for guides and general information on the forums.

For DDO, I came across a great Character Builds forum, but could not figure out HOW to make any of the builds actually listed. All of them included four extra stat points that I did not seem to have access to in the character creator.

Long story short, players have to play with a throw away character, grind to 1750 Favor, and then re-roll a character that then gets 32 (instead of 28) base stat points to allocate. At first, I thought this was a limitation of the F2P model, but I quickly found out its a "feature". Yes, there is a "feature" in DDO that makes a player's first character something they will have to stop playing in order to re-roll a character with sufficient end-game stat points.

To add insult to this injury, Turbine's potential solution is to add the 32 points as a purchasable item in their cash shop.
At this time you still have to earn enough favor to unlock a 32 point build, however we are definitely discussing adding them in the store in the future.
Looking at the forums, this would be a huge hit with players. However, this absolutely disgusts me. Buying races and classes is fine, but paying for what SHOULD BE basic class building features is a game-killer.

However, the wound wasn't deep enough as Turbine pours salt in by forcing players to buy adventure packs to unlock enough quests which will allow a player to achieve enough favor to get the 32 base stat points. Guess what, DDO has a pay wall.

This may be a day one deal breaker for me. I don't want to waste my time on a character that is instantly perceived as weaker than the other players around him. I don't care what the counter-argument is. Bob gets 32. I get 28. That's four points I'm not getting for a character I am going to have to stop using once I've unlocked the next four points.

With all of this said, maybe I am over-reacting, as I've not invested enough time into figuring out the system and what is involved. There is still a bad taste in my mouth and I'm wasting time researching instead of playing.

Here's a tip for Turbine: F2P games fail because they become too fucking confusing.


  1. If you subscribe to DDO (a valid payment option - it's not just microtransaction-based) then you still need to do the ridiculous 28-to-32 point character swap anyways.

    This really has nothing to do with F2P vs subscription - it has everything to do with a ridiculously bad design decision (i.e. let's make the players throw away their first toon by gimping it by default!!!)

    The entire problem could be eliminated if Turbine allowed toons to be upgraded from a 28pt build to a 32pt build once they unlocked that option.... but they've resisted calls to do that for years. Braindead. :(

  2. I don't see any over-reaction here.

    Personally, I think they've shot themselves in the foot. It's like playing that Adventure Quest flash game online, only the pay wall is right at the beginning and you can't even play it decently.

  3. Well I d/led it yesterday and am running around hitting things without being too worried about the future.

    Possibly the attitude will bite me later but it's certainly fun for now.

    Surely for some classes it doesn't matter though. 18 Str 18 Con Fighter in Plate. Dex wouldnt help that much really.

  4. For most classes it probably won't make a big difference; stat caps are still in place, after all, almost nobody needs high scores in more than 2 or at most 3 stats, and a single point anywhere in particular doesn't neccessarily rsult in a higher bonus. In a worst-case scenario you'd be missing out on +2 in bonuses.

    Agreed that it's pretty dub design choice, but I wouldn't feel all that gimped by it.

  5. All the veterans keep telling me the 28 point builds are just fine but I'm the type who won't believe it until I'm there to see it for myself. To me (and I'd hazard to guess most non-veterans) if I'm denied 4 points then I'm gimped 4 points.

    Then again, your first character will probably be a throwaway anyway because DDO is very -- VERY -- metagame-heavy. If you don't pre-plan the character and stick with that plan while leveling, you'll probably end up with a gimped character. I'm just about positive all 3 of mine are badly gimped. Especially my level 5 fighter, who is a warforged with low charisma. I didn't know at the time that the "taunt" skill is based off charisma (actually I'm not sure it ever says that in the tooltip but I could be mistaken) and I kinda wanted him to be a tank-style fighter.

    My main is a wizard and... he *might* not be too bad-off, or at least he might be salvageable but I doubt he'll be optimum.

  6. Anonymous3:51 PM

    I was a subscriber to DDO when it came out and it was fun for a while, but the rate at which content was coming out for the gmae pretty much killed it for me. Now that it is free to play I decided to delve back into it and from perspective the 28- vs 32-point build thing isn't a deal-breaker. What I need to see is how easy/difficult it is to collect the sigils that unlock your ability to advance in levels. If it turns out that there is some unofficial paywall in that regard then I will certainly forgo putting too much time into the game. For me, the entire experiment / experience is in seeing how truly fun and free-to-play the game remains.

    I just have this awful feeling of deja vu regarding Holocrons as far as these sigils go.

  7. If they turn out to be Holocron-level of idiocy-in-game-design, Turbine will be receiving one hell of a feedback form when I hit cancel.


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