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Dungeons and Dragons MMORPGs
A Brief Intro
The world of Dungeons and Dragons is a big one, and with all the back story and lore it would seem to be a perfect fit for a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game(MMORPG). Over the years there have been three major MMORPG released that have been based in the worlds of Dungeons and Dragons(D&D). Some of them have had rocky starts and others have done rather well for themselves. There have also been Facebook and mobile MMORPG releases based in the world of D&D. Dungeons and Dragons has been a pioneer over the years in the realm of fantasy entertainment and the world of PC gaming has been no exception. From the original Neverwinter Nights release in 1991 to the 2013 release of Neverwinter from Cryptic, Dungeons and Dragons has been a big part of the MMORPG scene.
Neverwinter Nights (1991)
Neverwinter Nights ran from 1991-1997 on the AOL network. The game was created in partnership with AOL. Neverwinter Nights was the first MMORPG to have a graphical interface. Neverwinter was developed by TSR and SSI, who also did the Gold Box series of Dungeons and Dragons games. Neverwinter Nights played a lot like the Gold Box series that SSI had released before it. Once the player logged in they created a character and then navigated the world through a series of text prompts and static images. Neverwinter Nights was in fact developed on the Gold Box engine. When the game began life in 1991 it had around 50 players. This number shot to 500 by 1995. With a cost of $6 per hour when it debuted Neverwinter Nights was expensive to play. This price tag makes the $14.99 per month charged by most modern MMORPGs seem almost free. When a player entered combat in Neverwinter Nights they where treated to a turned based tactical combat interface. What set Neverwinter Nights apart from other games at the time was the community that sprung up around it. Players formed guilds and would reguarly host their own in game events for other players. Neverwinter Nights included a ladder ranking system, the most prestiges of which was the World Council PVP ladder. This was the ladder that players who sought to be the best of the best in the world of Neverwinter wanted to be on top of. In 1997 AOL decided to close down their game servers and start a new portal called World Play and charge only $2 an hour for the whole thing. All the AOL games aside from Neverwinter Nights where ported to this new system and Neverwinter Nights was closed. In 2012 a port of the world of Neverwinter Nights was released for the rpg creation system Unlimited Adventures was released. This community release can be found here.
Dungeons and Dragons Online
Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) was released in 2006. DDO was created by Turbine and was released under a standard subscription model. The game did not preform well as a subscription based game and was closed down. In 2009 DDO was reopened as a free-to-play game and since has seen much better success. DDO is based on the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rules. While it is based on the rules of the table top RPG it is not a direct translation as some changes had to be made due to the differences in a pen and paper RPG and a video game. One of the biggest changes is the fact that DDOs combat is action based instead of turn based. DDO is set in the city of Stormreach which has recently been settled by humans and is surrounded by vast tracks of unexplored land. Players create a character and adventure throughout Stormreach and its surrounding areas. Unlike most MMORPGs DDO is almost completely instanced. This means that every player or party enters their own copy of a quest area instead of sharing it with all the other players. This has lead to criticism against DDO for being less community oriented then other MMORPGs on the market. Turbine has created community areas where players can gather and chat as well as form parties to adventure with. There are some other major changes that stray from the standard MMORPG formula as well. These include the fact that players do not receive experience points for killing monsters, but yet are only rewarded when the complete a quest. Quests are narrated by a Dungeon Master, which does serve to give the game a more "Dungeons and Dragons" feel to it. With eight races and 13 classes to choose from at character creation players have a lot of freedom in the way they mold their online persona. Players are able to change classes as well as duel class later in the game. Dungeons and Dragons Online still has a very active community today. Turbine continues to support the game with content and patches. Recently the world of DDO has expanded beyond the world of Eberron and now includes quests based in the Forgotten Realms setting. If you are interested in giving DDO a try you can check out the Dungeons and Dragons Online website, www.ddo.com.
Released in 2013 by Cryptic and Perfect World, Neverwinter is the newest Dungeons and Dragons MMORPG on the market. Neverwinter is focused around the city of Neverwinter based in the Forgotten Realms setting. While it shares the name the new Neverwinter is not connected with any of the prior Neverwinter Nights games. The game allows players to choose from five different classes from Dungeons and Dragons. Neverwinter is based on the 4th Edition rules of the Dungeons and Dragons game. The combat in Neverwinter, much like DDO is action based. There are many instances in the game which serve to move the story along. Neverwinter unlike DDO however does include community outdoor areas where players can work together without being in a party. Neverwinter also includes a system called the Foundry where players can create their own adventures within the game and share them with other players. Neverwinter was released as a free-to-play game with the option to purchase in game items for real money. Neverwinter is rather new on the market but has already received much positive press for its combat, story telling and the Foundry system. If you want to give Neverwinter a try please head over to the Neverwinter website at http://nw.perfectworld.com/.
Neverwinter Nights Persistent Worlds
Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 where both release by BioWare in 2002 and 2006 respectably. The Neverwinter Nights games where designed around single player as well as multiplayer game play. Both games where based in the city of Neverwinter and the surrounding areas. Both Neverwinter Nights games included extensive editors that allowed players to create their own content. With these editors players created what are called persistent worlds. While these are not true MMORPGs in the traditional sense they where servers that allowed multiply players to log on and adventure together 24/7. The player base of these servers was significantly smaller than those of a full feature MMORPG. There are still persistent worlds that are run for Neverwinter Nights 2 today. If you are interested in a smaller tight knit community but still want the experience of playing Dungeons and Dragons online with other people I recommend you pick up Neverwinter Nights 2 and find a persistent world. Neverwinter Nights 2 with all the expansions packs can be bought here.
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