Like many MMORGPs, Dungeons & Dragons Online relies upon resources from two different machines: your computer and a remote server. Let's start with your computer. Currently, Dungeons & Dragons Online is only available for computers running the Windows operating system. The minimum system requirements state that you need a 1.6 gigahertz processor or better. You'll also need 512 megabytes of RAM and 3 gigabytes of hard drive space (or 5 gigabytes if you plan to download the high resolution version of the game). That's just the minimum -- the game will run better on a system with more power. You'll also need a high-speed Internet connection.
To play the game, you must first download what's called a client. The client acts as a decoder and liaison between the information stored on your computer's hard drive and the information it receives from the remote server. When you download the client, you also download the information about the game world to your hard drive. As you play the game, the client sends information to the appropriate server. This tells the game everything it needs to know about your character in relation to the game world. In return, the server sends information back to the client.
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In the United States, Turbine has five game servers. Each server has a copy of the game world on it. If you were to visit each of the different servers, you would notice that the geography and all computer-controlled characters and monsters remain the same. But player behavior can vary from one server to another. For instance, players on some servers may value role playing more than others.
When you log in to the game, the client pulls information from your hard drive to determine your location and surroundings. Your graphics card and processor work to render the graphics and present you with an image of where you are. As you move and interact with your environment, the client sends information to the server. Let's consider a common situation: Your character is attacking a monster.
As you use your mouse to click on a monster, the client sends information to the server alerting it of your actions. The server determines the results of your action and sends it back to the client. If other players are also attacking the same monster, the server must keep track of the results of each individual action. While your computer is doing some of the work, the server does most of the heavy lifting.
The online version of Dungeons & Dragons captures much of the spirit of the original game. If you explore every nook and cranny, you'll come across areas with special narration. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the two developers of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, lend their voices to guide you through the adventures. Both of these visionary game designers have passed away, but their work lives on in every tabletop game of D&D and in the online version of Eberron, too.
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