For a long time, I’ve told people that I avoid online multiplayer games (except chess) not because they’re uninteresting but precisely because they are interesting and I didn’t want to get addicted the way so many others have. Well, I guess I’ll have to find another addiction-avoidance strategy, because I’ve started playing Dofus recently. Apparently it’s pronounced doe-fus, not dew-fus, but I’m sure the latter pronunciation is common among players of more “serious” MMORPGs (as though running around killing imaginary dragons with imaginary swords isn’t pretty silly in its own right). In fact it’s the un-seriousness of Dofus that I find attractive. Most of the names are palindromes, anagrams, puns, or funny references, though many are French and so less obvious. There’s good entertainment to be had just by reading the descriptions of items being advertised on the trading channel of the in-game chat system. The cartoony drawing style might not appeal to some, but it serves well enough, and I actually like the turn-based tile-based combat system. It’s less frantic than most games, more like a board game than a brawl. These factors are also intimately tied to the fact that the whole thing is Flash-based, which makes it playable on just about any platform; since I use Linux day to day and don’t care about pretty pictures all that much, it’s a tradeoff I thoroughly applaud. (Wakfu, from the same company, seems to be essentially the same game with better graphics at the expense of becoming platform-dependent.)

One thing that’s a bit sub-optimal about Dofus is a relative dearth of information for noobs – by which I mean particularly people who are not only low-level but entirely new to the game and perhaps the genre. Even the most basic guides seem to assume that you recognize the significance of certain game-play elements, though there’s no real reason to suppose a true noob would know that. As one noob to another, then, there are some tips.

Do your homework
There doesn’t seem to be an official player encyclopedia, but Dofus Wiki serves the role rather well. Having been unable to find one, I’m putting together a map of Astrub – showing gates, wells, and markets as well as workshops – that I’ll put up soon.
Keep channels open
For reasons described below, it’s generally good to keep the trade and recruitment chat channels open. It’s tempting to turn off trade chat because of all the “buy kama at this website” spam, but I found that to be a mistake. I don’t know why Ankama allows this, since the spam is annoying (it often blocks the main screen as well as chat) and being able to buy stuff off-site unbalances the game, but they don’t seem inclined to do anything about that. Your best bet is not to turn off trade chat but to ignore the trade-bots individually as you encounter them.
Learn to trade
Trade is not optional. It won’t take long at all before you find yourself needing to accumulate cash to buy better equipment. At the same time, you’ll probably have some accumulated junk from combat and quests, and not know what to do with it. The first and best way to trade is to listen on the trade channel; often you’ll find someone willing to pay surprisingly good money for common-as-dirt items, and trading via the “Exchange” option on the player menu is the best way. You can also sell items the appropriate kind of vendor, though there’s a fee involved. Lastly, if you learn a profession you can sell the items you make by finding a good spot and going into “Merchant Mode” instead of just quitting. The players you see everywhere with little backpacks next to them are doing this. For example, I sell healing potions one square west of the Sram statue, at approximately 80% of the single-item price at the alchemists’ market, and it works rather well. BTW, if you don’t have anything to sell you might as well sleep in an inn to regenerate energy instead of just disconnecting wherever.
Learn to form groups
Hunting alone gets you the most experience, but sometimes it’s hard to find just one of the monster you want. Your class might also be poor at battling one-on-many, or against certain kinds of monsters. It’s worth it to learn about using /m in chat to form groups, or asking for help before starting a battle. I’ve found that Dofus players are a pretty helpful lot. If you get a lot of help from higher-level players, obviously, you should “pay it forward” by offering help to lower-level players once you’re on your feet.
Learn about equipment sets
I didn’t immediately realize how important equipment sets are, but even the weakest sets are worth many levels in terms of stat points. I’m level 10 now and, having just now figured this out, I’m working on my Boon set (there’s another of those palindromes). After that I plan to earn my Young Adventurer set instead of buying it, just for fun. Don’t wait as long as I did.

I haven’t even gotten into guilds or PvP. I’ll probably join a guild some day, if I can find one that’s casual enough. I’d almost rather not get into PvP, except that some useful items only seem to come in alignment-specific flavors. Oh well, it’s all fun. I try to keep the “grinding” to a minimum and enjoy just exploring or doing quests for the fun of it. I already have the equivalent of two full-time jobs and find myself envying people who have non-trivial amounts of free time, so if I let this become work instead of play then what’s the point? Dofus offers a pretty good amount of entertainment even for free (though I did choose to subscribe) and fun is the thing players should never forget.