D&D online, or how I learned to hate the download.

4.82 gig.

That’s how much I have to download for the full install of D&D online. They have something called a “tiered download” where you download the character creator, the starting zone, a second zone, and then the rest of the game, but whats left seems to be the full game after that, and my pokey DSL does not reach the 2mpbs flowthrough needed to get anywhere near a reasonable download time. I started playing, had to take a break because while I finished the tutorial zone, the zone after didn’t download fully.

Now it looks like I have to download the rest of the game, and I’m going to have to do so in chunks, estimated time is hitting into a day, because my DSL sucks, and also because I share it with others in the house who also use their pcs to download content as well.

As for the part I have played so far, it’s not bad. Create a character, either using templates or custom builds according to D&D rules, run through a brief tutorial scene involving a shipwreck on the beach and a quick jaunt through a sahaugin cave to the village beyond. This was my first taste of a “real” MMO, with decent graphics made by a name company not on console, or F2P, and it was cool to see things like AI fighting companions, graphics beyond PS2 level, and text which didn’t sound like it had been run through babelfish. I haven’t logged much time into it yet.

However, I’m really regretting it just for the download, the manager fires up on power-on, and it constantly downloads. It can be paused with a timer, but I really think that graphics and content-heavy games shouldn’t rely on direct downloads. I’d much rather pay three bucks or so for Turbine to make a trial CD and distribute it in retail chains. I know they have the boxed copy, but given the sorry status of PC games in most stores  it can be hard to find. Plus, if the goal is F2P, paying $40 or so defeats the purpose.

It would make good business sense, not just for Turbine, but for other F2P companies. Most places that sell game cards could easily fit a row of demo game CDs on the base of the planogram, and that would also cut down the time spent to get into the game. It would also help more people from not being able to connect at all due to download errors, and you could easily bundle all the games from one publisher into a single F2P DVD to tempt people into cross-game sales. Turbine could have even just put the tutorial experience on the disc, updated it, then had the full download start as soon as you played.

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