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Author Topic: 1st Writeup  (Read 3246 times)
schild
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on: September 15, 2004, 10:10:49 PM

Quote from: schild
There are things that Everquest 2 does very well. Immersion. It wins the big MMORPG contest. It has succeeded in being more immersive in it's present state than any MUD, MMORPG, or Pen and Paper RPG could hope to be. The only game that comes close at the moment is Fable, partly because it too has incredible voice acting. The attitudes in both Freeport and Qeynos are perfect - completely bipolar ends of the spectrum as expected. Though, unfortunately, the perfection stops there. Though, being able to build up from a stellar world is heads above the competition.

Speaking of the competition, there are only 3 real competitors, Guild Wars, Tabula Rasa, and WoW. With Tabula Rasa nowhere in sight and Guild Wars not arriving until 2005 (most likely Feb - Apr)in addition to it being dubbed the 'supplemental MMORPG,' it would seem that World of Warcraft is the only real thorn in the side of SOE. How does one deal with this? Well, the current status of EQ2 would lead towards the answer, "Pretend they don't exist and they'll go away." That's not going to work. WoW is going to hemmorhage users from SOE in a way unimaginable despite the fact Blizzard is not known for innovation. This is where I would think EQ2 should win the race. Unfortunately, after playing, this does not seem the case.

There are five HUGE problems as I see it with the current state of the game:
1. Caters to Uberguilds
2. Caters to the treadmilling catass
3. Farmquest/Campquest would be sufficient pseudonyms for EQ2.
4. Character Customization (which CoH and SW:G has shown can go a huge way towards player retentioin in the casual sector) is lacking. Heavily.
5. The current beta testers don't quite grasp how much can change in a beta test and are too easily settling for mediocre ideas and implementation that would fall under the 'gee, that's nice' category.

Of course, there are a number of nitpicky things I could go into, but it would be better for me to address the big problems that I feel are blocking this game from achieving a level of greatness unseen since Everquest 1 was released.

1. The guild system isn't the problem. That would be the obvious assumption, but it's actually the structure of the metagame that will allow uberguilds to dominate the game, the economy - which includes the crafted marketplace and resource acquisition.

Let's start with 'the game.' I'm only using this term because I can't think of an adequate alternative. The zones at this moment, do not use instancing in any sort of positive fashion. Guild Wars is doing something right when a group can go into a zone alone or a player can do a solo area and not have other people around. Some people may say that this removes the 'multiplayer' from MMORPG but I believe it to be the oppisite. Once I have a group made the other people in the game just become an annoyance. Their existance is bothersome. Which leads into #3, camping. So I'll move on to my problem with the economy.

Horrible. Rare materials? Comeon. Mobs that drop the skill books? This was stupid in Horizons and it's stupid here. I don't want to have to kill countless mobs to find a book which in turn gives me the ability to make stuff. I mean this isn't even campable in terms of knowing what drops the book. It's random. Random != good. It only worked in Diablo and it may work in Guild Wars because crafting is non-existant. Almost all the time, the best crafter in a game isn't the best combatant. Let's use Draagun from Bloodin/SW:G as an example. The guy made some of the best Composite Armor in the land. But he had a guild backing him. Let me say, real fast, if you were to research Draagun, you would find out that I was the guild leader of said guild. I ran one of the most far-reaching and economically stable guilds on Bloodfin. Not a big guild, but efficient, and well known due to my ability to craft lies and weave tales as a smuggler, giving myself a huge market. The demand for well sliced armor was high. We were able to drop a good hundred harvesters when necessary and slice all the armor and dispose of the crap slices due to excess. Uberguilds can do that.

Individual players have to rely on themselves and a couple friends to gather resources and camp Krayts and Rancors for the much loved rare materials. This was impossible though. The uberguilds, such as mine just had the man power to eliminate any rebel threat and continue camping the needed monsters.

EQ2 falls flat just as SW:G did. Only they upped the ante by making the random drops completely random instead of just on one monster. I may find the required book on a skeleton or sewer ratonga. I may find the random resource on one out of every hundred windswept rock in the commonlands. THIS ISN'T FUN. THAT'S NOT A GAME. It's work. The huge guilds have the numbers to farm hundreds of these windswept rocks in a day while the average player may be lucky to come across five, maybe ten of them during a play period. This results in uberguilds having the ability to outfit their entire guild with the best armor, weapons, items and have enough to sell at an inflated cost due to the demand of the players.

It seems to me that the devs at the EQ2 headquarters believe that this is a lottery. It's not. A huge guild can stuff the box in terms of finding these items, which in turn lowers the chance of a regular player finding them. It's not fair. Online games can be fair, it's up to them to figure out how to make it so. Of course, these legions of players searching for named mobs can and will get more of the wanted items and resources than the casual player. Despite what developers seem to believe, UBERGUILDS AREN'T GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY. Much like Ma'Bell was bad for the communications, uberguilds are nothing but a stain on games. Setting ludicrous prices and precedent which games can never seem to shake.

There are a number of obvious ways to fix this:
1. Limit the number of people in a guild to something like 24. That will split the uberguilds into a good 8 small guilds. Now the pessimist would that they'll just work together. But the veteran jaded gamer will say 'the possiblities for in-fighting are fantastic.' They will fight. And it will be glorious.

2. Get rid of rare drops. Give scouts abilities to specifically farm rare items. Give crafters the abilities to refine stones and extract rare metals from them. Make it all ability based. Farming is archaic and approaching stupid.

3. Make recipes level based like SW:G. The idea of randomly finding a book on a barbarian that teaches me how to make a sword is......insulting.

4. Seperate Loot and crafting. Get rid of the ability to craft accessories, potions, etc. It may not be realistic, but crafting should be specific. Perhaps Armorsmiths, Weaponsmiths, and Tailors are the only 3 crafting types that should be necessary.

5. Like number 4, but just seperating the magical and non-magical items. Don't let mobs drop magical items. Players have to craft them. Mobs only drop the regular variant of a copper stiletto.

I realize that some of my ideas, particularly 4 and 5 also cater to the uberguild, but it would be a better mechanic than what is currently in place.

All of the above leads me to numbers 2 and 3. The catass and camping. Despite the vast number of quests, a player can not level on quests alone. Particularly the solo player. This makes players resort to the treadmill, at which the catass will always excel. Also, the players who can camp for 8 hours on a named mob will be able to yield a large number of magical items until they go 'grey' on them (when the game stops giving experience and items for the kill) at which point there's always a better monster to camp.

Use Instancing. This is your friend. It also makes players feel as though they are more important in the game. I'd rather have to kill the Etherneal Guardian (in the Graveyard) with a couple friends, having to battle my way through the legions of the undead - rather than training them onto other players and then having a freeshot at the named mob because I have the most powerful group in the area.

There is nothing that ticks off a veteran gamer more than needing to treadmill and camp to keep up with the Joneses.

Liberal use of instancing may eliminate the need to camp. Well, people will still camp but it won't have an adverse effect on other people which is the current problem. The best example is the supply leader on newbie island. Completely campable and *almost* always drops a bag, which is a necessary evil on newbie island due to the amount of junk you accumulate. Sure, there are redundant creatures like the Overlord, but being surrounded by other goblins and much stronger, it's just easier to camp the supply leader.

4. Character Customization. I'll make this one really easy. I'd rather have more types of casual clothing, tatoos and piercings than things like eye color. Too much stupid, not enough cool off-the-wall stuff.

5.Ahhh, the biggest evil of all. Friends, Family, and people who ALREADY LIKE EVERQUEST. Of course they'll like damn near everything you handfeed them. Feedback like this is impossible to give in a beta test when you're surrounded by yes-men. Hell, read the thread I posted in the EQ2 forums. I got railed against for requesting major changes in a beta test. It kept me from posting editions to that journal because I wasn't being paid for my time and the friends etc of developers were telling me that huge changes were impossible and that I'm requesting things that wouldn't appeal to Everquest players. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't EQ1 supposed to be a different game than EQ2? Right now, EQ2 is heading in that direction. The new players it will acquire are the ones that hate WoW/Blizzard and want shinier (very shiny) graphics. With the production costs EQ2 had (I'm guessing 25M-30M), it's very upsetting that right now I'm literally playing an update version of Everquest and not a NEW game. As a business this makes sense, but as a gamer I feel as though SOE just doesn't care to innovate even though EQLive set the bar for innovation in the online industry.
Ardent
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Reply #1 on: October 17, 2004, 11:46:21 PM

Very astute observations. Nice work. I agree with pretty much everything, especially the disappointing necessity of camping. My only quibble:

Quote
It has succeeded in being more immersive in it's present state than any MUD, MMORPG, or Pen and Paper RPG could hope to be.


Boy, you must have had some shitty DMs in your day. No video game has ever come CLOSE to the immersive feel of a pen and paper RPG, and certainly not EQ2 by a long shot. I mean, it's not even debatable in my eyes, I have never had a conneciton to a character or a world in a video game like I have in D&D.

Um, never mind.
Alkiera
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The best part of SWG was the easy account cancellation process.


Reply #2 on: October 17, 2004, 11:56:01 PM

The good GM I played under ran Earthdawn, and he really did make the world come alive, even without pictures.  He never needed maps or to lay out figures for us to understand, his descriptions were very graphic, in the since that you saw what he was describing, in your mind's eye.

It's one of the issues of realism vs. impressionism...  realism generally doesn't leave any room for imagination or interpretation, what there is is what there is.

--
Alkiera

"[I could] become the world's preeminent MMO class action attorney.  I could be the lawyer EVEN AMBULANCE CHASERS LAUGH AT. " --Triforcer

Welcome to the internet. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used as evidence against you in a character assassination on Slashdot.
Evil Elvis
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Reply #3 on: October 18, 2004, 03:13:41 AM

I'm going to channel Sir Bruce for a moment:

Quote
Some people may say that this removes the 'multiplayer' from MMORPG but I believe it to be the oppisite.

Change "some" to "most", and I think you'd be more accurate.  Lets put aside the pitfalls/merits of instancing zones for the moment.  Do you really think they're just all of a sudden going to make a radical paradigm shift like this at this stage of the game?  I'm sure it would have a ripple effect on the direction of the game as a whole.

Quote
Limit the number of people in a guild to something like 24

Communities keep retention rates up.  Doing something to hinder them is a no-no of the biggest order. This would be a stupid thing to do.

Quote
Get rid of rare drops

It's EQ2 :)  Rares are the backbone of its predecessor.  They aren't going anywhere, even if we wanted them to.  Honestly, I haven't played the game, but rare drops are good, when/if done right.  It's the exact rarity and farmability that are the issue in mmorpgs.  I don't know what it's like, but I don't think getting rid of rare drops completely is the answer.  Removing static spawns, making rares only marginally better then normal loot,  allow a small chance for any mob to drop a rare, and keeping most rares as attuned/bonded so they aren't farmed are all reasonable ways to keep farming/camping down, while still maintaining the cool aspects of rares.

Quote
Make recipes level based like SW:G

Meh.  I agree that just having formulas drop randomly off mobs is lame.  But just giving em to the player, while being less lame, isn't the ideal solution imo either.  Put them as [non-combat] quest rewards the player has to do to attain them.

Quote
Character Customization. I'll make this one really easy. I'd rather have more types of casual clothing, tatoos and piercings than things like eye color. Too much stupid, not enough cool off-the-wall stuff.

Yes.  To elaborate, a good mmorpg char gen only needs a few things: eye color, skin color, height adjustors, bulk adjustors, face choices, hair choices, and then a few different armor/clothing options.  Aside from that, a good mmorpg should have a plethora of armor/clothing/etc types available to them at all levels to allow them to distinguish themselves as they wish.
Resvrgam
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Reply #4 on: October 18, 2004, 03:31:55 AM

I'm with Ardent:  A computer game is limited by how much programming, hardware and budgets a dev team/player has access to while a PnP game is only limited by the imaginations of the participants: far more effective than any Geforce 6800, Prescott w/HT, or "Pixel Shader" ever made.

I created my own system and ran a game that spanned about 15 years and the people who played still reminisce as if looking back on real events.

Videogames are more succeptable to becoming obsolete...hopefully most of our minds aren't.

"In olden times, people studied to improve themselves. Today, they only study to impress others." - Confucius
Kageru
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Reply #5 on: October 18, 2004, 03:40:02 AM

Good GM's do not scale to a global solution. Anyone who's done "pickup" RPG groups knows how rare skilled and dedicated GM's, and how it becomes harder to find the time for everyone to synchronize their RL times. MMORPG's are a lesser, but more convenient, replacement.

Is a man not entitled to the hurf of his durf?
- Simond
schild
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Reply #6 on: October 18, 2004, 06:36:51 AM

I've had fantastic DMs. But I'm comparing the world of EQ2 (in a vacuum) to a DM (in a vacuum). In other words removing all the bad stuff  - like all the other players, bugs, stupid mechanics I disagree with. In that case, EQ2 has an incredibly immersive world. One that only a fantastic DM could have created.

As for what you said Evil Elvis - I'm under the impression that they didn't want EQ2 to be EQ1 in which case, my complaints are spot on. There shouldn't be camping. There should be instancing. And yes, instancing eliminates camping. Plz instance everything now kthx. I don't want to play with Joe N00bler. Ever again. I'm not in college I don't have time for pickup groups with morons.

Communities keep retention rates up? I'm not going to get into this as I hate uberguilds with a passion that few people will ever experience or understand. Basically - uberguilds are loud. They are easy bank because they think as a hive mind. It's free advertising by people who won't turn their back on you until they have given you their money. I'm pretty confident that the majority of the people in EQ are not in a guild/active in a guild and I'd also wager that City of Heroes blows holes all through your argument. They're doing pretty well. Their guild system is a chat screen.

As for rare drops - if the system can't be as fun as Diablo (fast paced combat - which EQ2 really isn't - and fast paced lootage) than they should just get rid of rare drops. There is no blurry line here. It's either good or bad. Rare drops are bad in this case.

I still support making recipes level based. Boring systems > tedious, stupid, AND boring systems.
Merusk
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Reply #7 on: October 18, 2004, 08:22:07 AM

Quote from: schild
Communities keep retention rates up? I'm not going to get into this as I hate uberguilds with a passion that few people will ever experience or understand. Basically - uberguilds are loud. They are easy bank because they think as a hive mind. It's free advertising by people who won't turn their back on you until they have given you their money. I'm pretty confident that the majority of the people in EQ are not in a guild/active in a guild and I'd also wager that City of Heroes blows holes all through your argument. They're doing pretty well. Their guild system is a chat screen.


I don't disagree with your evaluation of Uberguilds. I don't think you'd find many people on this or any other board of reasonably sane people with love and kisses for them.  

However, you'd be wrong in saying that most people in EQ are not in a guild of some sort.  Even as far back as Nick Yee's Study the majority of EQ players were in guilds.  As the game has progressed, being in a guild has become more and more a requirement.  It's a way to get raids done, regular group mates and network for quests & drops.  In EQ NOT having a guild tag meant you'd either left your guild to join a larger one and were a 'probie' or you were such a fucktard nobody would guild you.  It carried a stigma because you weren't accountable to anyone if you were a fucktard.

The past cannot be changed. The future is yet within your power.
schild
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Reply #8 on: October 18, 2004, 08:30:20 AM

Oh I'm not saying being in a guild isn't a requirement. It very much is, partly because companies are under the impression that guilds are necessary for retention and to keep the game fun. They aren't. Blizzard and SOE don't need to support their guilds. In fact they don't even have to recognize them. They'd still be there playing what they want to play because that's what they do - they play the games.

I think by lending them an air of credibility they are hurting themselves in the long run.

"Hey, SOE what are you going to do for us? WoW has 'x' type of loot. You better give us it."

and their response is "oh, sorry mr. guildie it will be in and exploitable for you tomorrow."

when it should be, "Heyyyyy, fuck you and your guild you snot nosed brat." I know it's extreme but guilds deserve no more recognition than a protest of hippies on capital hill trying to save a rare tree that only exists on one island in a lake in Cambodia.
Big Gulp
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Reply #9 on: October 18, 2004, 09:16:36 AM

Quote from: schild
Oh I'm not saying being in a guild isn't a requirement. It very much is, partly because companies are under the impression that guilds are necessary for retention and to keep the game fun.


I run a guild in CoH, but it's pretty much just treated like a chat channel/mutual support society.  I don't require people do anything, play a certain amount of time, or any of that other BS.  That suits me just fine, but when you get into guilds in other games they start expecting you to fulfill certain responsibilities.  Fuck that, I have enough responsibilities in real life, I don't need to be following orders from some 15 year old virgin on a power trip.

This really didn't bother me too much in the original EQ because I just frankly didn't give a damn about the raids, but it is sad that there's an entire class of people like me who couldn't see the end content because I refused to deal with the bullshit of other people.
Ardent
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Reply #10 on: October 18, 2004, 10:40:41 AM

Oh, one more comment about immersiveness.

EQ2 has some beautiful art on their loading screens. Which is nice, because you'll be staring at them A LOT. The amount of loading screens you have to deal with while loading EACH and EVERY zone in this game actually makes EQ2 one of the worst immersion-breaking MMORPGs I've played.

I have zero sense of where I am in the world at any time. Sometimes I ring a bell and POOF I'm on the other side of a doorway in the next neighborhood over, and sometimes I ring a bell and POOF I'm hundreds of miles away. But the mechanic is the same, and I have no sense of geographical relationship to where I am and where I've been. Yes, this kind of insta-travel is convenient, but fractured and disorienting. City of Heroes has the same kind of system, but for some reason it didn't bother me as much as it does in EQ2 ... maybe because the world of CoH is supposed to be far smaller, a city as compared to an entire world. And I'm not tossed into a loading screen every time I zone, like in EQ2.

I suppose, for immersiveness' sake, I prefer the WoW system of travel by griffins and zeppelins. Yes, it takes a little longer, but I actually see my character travelling across the landscape, and a get a far better sense of the world itself and my character's relationship to it. And the only loading screen I ever see is when I enter the game.

Um, never mind.
Polysorbate80
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Reply #11 on: October 18, 2004, 11:19:51 AM

Quote from: Merusk
In EQ NOT having a guild tag meant you'd either left your guild to join a larger one and were a 'probie' or you were such a fucktard nobody would guild you.  It carried a stigma because you weren't accountable to anyone if you were a fucktard.


Or, if you're me, it means you've got a wife and child and _maybe_ an hour or two here and there to play, and you don't have the time to put up with guild stuff.  I haven't guilded in any game in, oh, at least two years (if you don't count the one-woman supergroup I created in CoH just so I could tag "Pink Panty Posse" under my character's name.)

Which doesn't stop my ranger, shaman or cleric from being pestered with guild invitations on a regular basis.  My favorites are the ones that beg me to join while telling me I'd be on probation and, should I pass whatever stupid requirements they have, eventually be a *real* member.  Uh, dude, YOU asked ME.../boggle

IMO most regular stuff should be doable with no more than two or three people.  Hard stuff should take a full group, not an entire damn shriner's convention.
Resvrgam
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Reply #12 on: October 18, 2004, 01:40:16 PM

Quote from: Ardent
Oh, one more comment about immersiveness.

EQ2 has some beautiful art on their loading screens. Which is nice, because you'll be staring at them A LOT. The amount of loading screens you have to deal with while loading EACH and EVERY zone in this game actually makes EQ2 one of the worst immersion-breaking MMORPGs I've played.


I thought that game was supposed to be a "next gen" title?  How come they can't seem to implement features from old/current gen games and yet still profess it to be "next gen?" WTF's so "next gen" about it?  Their CC system is laughable at best and the ungodly hardware requirements suggests that only the aesthetics have been pushed beyond the Quake 3 era.

Yay, over-paid Hollywood talent and pixel-shaders in LevelQuest Live. No thanks.

WTF?  "We're next-gen but we're making a re-hash of our same old shit and slapping a #2 onto it"....#2 seems fitting. :(

"In olden times, people studied to improve themselves. Today, they only study to impress others." - Confucius
AOFanboi
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Reply #13 on: October 18, 2004, 02:05:52 PM

Quote from: Big Gulp
I run a guild in CoH, but it's pretty much just treated like a chat channel/mutual support society.  I don't require people do anything, play a certain amount of time, or any of that other BS.

See, this is the main difference between CoH and those item-oriented games: There is no "gear war", so there is no need for the "guild slavery".

CoH really cannot be compared to other games (until MXO is out at least, if rumors are true).

Current: Mario Kart DS, Nintendogs
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