D&D Online

(Above) Felwin of Cyre, standing high above House Deneith ward.

Well there are 4 scant weeks left until DDO goes live and the NDA was lifted some time ago. I figure I should at least post some info.The game opens with 2 different n00b areas. The first is designed to familiarize you with controls and features (i.e. tutorials) while the second familiarizes you with questing and socializing. I’ve run through these sections so many times I could do them with my eyes closed now and I’m not going to talk about them too long.
What both of these sections introduce is the multitiered nature of Stormreach. “Newbie” Harbor requires you to complete one of four quests to get to the next area (regular old Harbor) and the next area requires you to complete another set of quests to make it to the next area. As of now there 6 wards in Stormreach, one with a closed off area (supposed to open as part of first live update, I believe) and a seventh ward completely blocked off. These differing areas are where you pick up quests, meet other players, and grab items.
That last statment brings me to one of my problems with the game in that the city itself often feels like a giant Tavern. There is little, if any trouble one can get into putzing around town (save for some rather long falls) and most of the gameplay content is in the quests. Which I suppose is how it should be, but it would be nice have some options for downtime in between quests or while searching for a group.
Stormreach can be pretty impressive visually, such as the above photo and in some of pics below:

Same as first pic, except different perspective. Notice that the draw distance for buildings is pretty good, but not so much for PCs (I also promptly fell after taking this pic, doubling that negative number you see on the purple bar at the bottom of the pic). I should note that I am running the game on a CPU with P4 3.2 ghz processor, 1 gig of PC3200 SDRAM, and a 256 MB Radeon x800 in a PCI-E slot. My game runs pretty good most of the time at 1024×768 w/ 2x AA on, though some the interiors of the game with lighting effects (and sometime with water) drops the framerate to the teens or twenties. Lighting, as you’ll note here, is one the best features of the game so far. I’ll try to grab some dungeon pics to illustrate this point some more.This cool little statue/waterfall is one the Phiarlan enclave. Each of the House wards has an enclave that you can enter, they are all empty at the moment and I’m curious as to what they will be putting there in the future. This next pic is one of my personal favorites:
So, as you can see visually the game is pretty impressive. Ok, that is all I’m going to post on right now, I’ll try to gather some screenshots of some questing and dungeon related material for my next post. Post in comments if you have a particular question or request and I’ll try to help out. Later…..

*Cough* Dusty in here….

Well, no PS3 at CES. I’d say I was surprised but….I think Sony is dropping the ball on prelaunch hype. While the news I saw is predicting a June/July release date for Japan and a September launch for N.A. there has been absolutely no playable content demoed for consumers. Maybe there are some videos out there of gameplay but, if there are I haven’t seen them. PS3 is, at the moment, standing only a single notch below the Phantom and maybe two beneath Duke Nukem Forever. (Shacknews)

On another note the prestigious Hugo Awards have added a gaming category (Gamespot). The Hugos are an award given out for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. Previous winners inlcude authors like Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, and Neil Stephenson.