I probably should have tried this a long time ago, but I just installed an MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game on my netbook. Thanks to GottaBeMobile, I read the Ars report about Dungeons & Dragons Online going free. There’s still a paid, premium version, but for intents and purposes, DDO is mostly free. I figured that’s the best kind of test to do — a free one. So even though I’ve shied away from these types of games, mainly worried about the time suck, I downloaded the 2.8GB installation to the Windows XP partition of my Toshiba NB205. Aside from the Atom N280 and my 2GB RAM upgrade, this is your common netbook in terms of hardware. So how’d it do?
I really can’t complain, even with the lowly Intel integrated graphics. Of course, I’m limited to lower quality visuals, but it’s still pretty decent to look at and play with. The minimum res for the game is 800 x 600 and I’m using it at 1024 x 600, which is the native resolution of my display. I’ve only played the introductory quest that gets me some XP and basic items — it’s no fun running around in your skivvies with nary a weapon, after all — but I didn’t have any major lags or other noticeable issues.
If you’re looking for a 30fps or better experience, this isn’t going to be it. However, it’s not unplayable by any means for a short time. The small screen and low resolution can be limitations as so many things can be on the screen — see the shot with my Inventory above. Real gamers would likely pass, but I’d probably play this on a netbook as a secondary experience; my primary one would be on something with more graphical power. Or I could run this Windows game on my Mac using Parallels. For now, it’s good enough in a pinch or for casual use on the netbook. With a basic, but versatile portable computer and connectivity, I have a whole new way to waste hours of my time now. ;)