Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO), 3D Visions

August 19, 2009

Well I’m almost ashamed that it took so long to do another review and it isn’t even the promised LotRO review. Well for the last months I have been playing DDO, in stereoscopic mode mostly and so I finally won over my laziness, so here is a new entry to my blog.

Character/ Environmental Detail

CharacterScreenHaving passed its 3 year anniversary, Dungeons and Dragons Online is one of the older MMO’s out there. As far as I know it uses a rendering engine of Turbines own design and basically has the same core rendering engine as LoTRO. I have to say that I did’t find the graphics so spectacular in regular 3D but in s3D they are very nice. Being a bit spoiled by more modern games I always found that DDO had to view options to customize the looks of your character at the start but now and then I see higher level characters spotting pretty nifty armor.

MarketCharacters and environment don’t have the highest polygon count there is but once you turn on s3D mode the visuals are very crisp and for me its like looking at my painted tin miniatures I had as a child when I played pen&paper D&D some odd 25 years ago. The environment looks pretty well, especially the insides of the many dungeons. A small negative point I have with the game is that the dungeons often look the same and the whole game lacks a bit in graphical variety for my personal taste. Well maybe thats just me being a n00b  (only lvl 6 atm) and I would see more exiting places later on.

Depth/ Ghosting

DungeonI may have said that about other games as well but the feeling of depth in DDO is one of the best I have seen for a 3rd person game. There are some light sources in the game here and there that can give you some ghosting but since most of the gameplay takes places in moody lit dungeons the overall ghosting is next to not noticeable. As I said the depth effect for the characters is very good and also, mostly due to the dungeon type of gameplay where you don’t have very high distances, the whole scenery looks very “solid”. In some rare occasion tough the camera would rotate an object (i.e. part of a tree or wall) to close to the eye and it breaks the overall good effect but that rarely ever happens, so in all the camera works pretty good in s3D.

The Interface/ Combat

uglyMonsterFor my personal taste the front of my screen, which I like to call windshield, is pretty cluttered with the many parts of the user interface. Especially if you are a caster, or otherwise have many skills a good part of the screen will consist of hotbars, compass, chat, options menue, adventure tracker and so on wich partly can be minimized but still take to much space for my liking. on the other hand the onscreen text is very much readable and clear.  The targeting cursor isn’t really 3d but its usable. NPC’s names are pretty much where they should be, on top of the model. Spells and other effects are true 3d so they work very nicely in s3d mode. If you like to, you can turn most of that off in the game options.

The gameplay itself demands a bit of manual aiming and movement in fights but this works very well in stereo 3D.

Final Toughs

Overall DDO is another game where my preferred method of playing is the s3D mode.
If I were developer for a day for DDO (and could work really really fast) i would probably iron out these minor flaws:

  • Redesign the interface to give more space to the 3D environment.
  • Do voiceovers (yeah yeah i hate to read quest text)
  • Bring in more variety in the environment and character customization.
  • Bring in some visual, 3D information about my health and mana so I dont have to constantly shift my focus from 3D scene to interface when playing.

Anyways I’m pretty happy to continue playing DDO in s3D, as a matter of fact I think I’ll do that right now…

Next to come: maybe finally my re-evaluation of Lord of the Rings online, stay tuned


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