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f13.net  |  f13.net General Forums  |  The Gaming Graveyard  |  Everquest 2  |  Topic: EQ2 Announces Expansion, Surprises No One 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
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HRose
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Reply #35 on: May 11, 2005, 10:32:59 PM

That's a really interesting point.  In EQ2's current state, I'm not sure that it's really a subtraction of content, though.

I'm basing that opinion on the way the population of the world is laid out right now in terms of the split between group-required vs group-not-required content -- Feel free to tell me if I'm completely insane. :)
To begin with, what I wrote comes from previous considerations I made more extensively here and here.

What you say makes sense, of course. There isn't an objective erosion of content if the content is soloable. The fact that you can solo means that there isn't a barrier between the content you want to see and the actual possibility to do so. The world is open and will remain open forever.

But that's just one aspect of the problem because way more important is the *function* of the content, not only its accessibility. It may be true that the solo content is always accessible, but will it preserve an actual role in the gameplay? The "carrots" you have as goals in the game are in a finished quantity and type. This means that a quest offering a +5 sword will mudflate a quest that will offer a +3 sword. This second quest will vanish from the world even if you didn't remove it directly.

From my point of view even the PvE should be balanced in a similar way to what happens to the PvP. The content, the zones, the various Points of Interest, the quests, the rewards etc... Everything should have a precise *role* in the gameplay without having content continuously developed to "replace" what was there before. If the plan is to actually replace obsolete content, you'd obtain better results by replanning and restructuring the zones and the quests *already* in the game, keeping the game world fresh and cohesive (and healthy) instead of expanding its borders while the core is aging and decaying.

Before adding more content at will there should be a consideration of the actual needs of the game. "More content" is good for demagogy but it won't make the game better if that content doesn't have a specific purpose that isn't just a replacement of something else.

Quote
The split used to be around 90/10, where 90% required a group, and now it's about 40/60.  (We've added quite a few instances for soloists and small groups, and changed the entire overland population to more accurately reflect people's desired playstyles.  New quest paths, and all of that as well.)


In the old 90/10 world - Absolutely.  Each addition distributes the potential LFG pool farther and farther. 
Yet you are a few months after release. What will happen in a few years? How long this model will hold? And, especially, there could be a better, more efficient, model?

I read you plan for 200 levels. This is obviously an excuse to develop the game in this direction. Stealing a post from another forum (from the same 'El Gallo' we have here):
Quote
Content is king. They need to keep pumping out new content that renders the old content obsolete. That's the challenge of making a diku-EQ style game, and why EQ devolved into such a shitty cockblock-fest despite SoE's willingness to crap out unfinished expansions like a lactose intolerant in the Baskin Robbins' restroom. 90% of the stuff Blizzard spent 2+ years producing is now utterly irrelevant to the real game. That trend will continue. It's the nature of the beast. If Blizzard can keep up with a sizeable portion of their player base without resorting to any more timesinks than those players will tolerate, everything is kosher. If they can't, it isn't.
That's the most direct definition of the development. Producing content that will become completely irrelevant after the novelty wears off. Disposable. It's work finishing in a black hole.

Now, in EQ2, this will be excused by a constant rise of the level cap. Instead of adding more content uniformly along the whole level range, the content is progressively added to build a new margin. But we also know that this is an illusion, after some months there will be a serious need to design "shortcuts" in order to keep constant the gap between new and old players (like Rob Humble explains in this post), so that the treadmill will remain tolerable.

The fact that this level cap will keep shifing up, becomes just an illusion. The "career" of a new players will have to remain constant, so a new player will have to "jump" a large quantity of content that was needed for a previous generation of players and now became completely *useless*.

Now, where is all that content gone?

The fact that the game has "lots of content" is again just illusion because the content is *reduced*. What is happening is just a rehash of the most common of the tricks:



Right now, maybe, the content is well balanced, easily accessible and also with a specific role within the gameplay. But what will happen in some time with two retail expansions and four adventures packs each year? Where is this game heading (along with all the resources to develop all that)?

The increasing level cap is just a trick to push the dirt under the carpet. The fact is that this type of development is unexcused, isn't leading anywhere if not trying to keep the players hooked in an infinite, repetitive race. An illusory production of content because what happens concretely is just the stretch of the same stuff, till it breaks up or till EverQuest 3.

The possibility to solo and better LFG tools can be useful workarounds to address the issues (consequences of a bigger problem) but all this doesn't hint that, maybe, there's something wrong in the model?

There are two basic points that are way more important to consider:
1- The *role* of the content in the gameplay. Both as its function in the formal system, and as functional considerations (variety of zones and places to hunt, replay value, ease of travel, popular meeting points and so on).
2- The possibility to add depth and breadth to the game instead of eroding itself. To simulate other aspects of the game world instead of just the combat, integrate more systems together and add more possibilities of interaction that make the world something more than just a background.

Maybe a less superficial approach in the creation and planning of the content will bring to the production of a game that is able to remain healthy, cohesive and strong in the long run, instead of being exploited and squeezed till its limit and instead of heaping content just for the sake of it.

You see, I can reduce all these considerations even more to find what's the real point:
The development of "more content" should be the *consequence* of a need. What is happening at SOE is that, firstly there's the absolute, unquestioned principle to "produce more". THEN you create the needs in order to excuse that production. The logical sense is reverted.

Anyway, it's good to see that at least this problem seems at least acknowledged.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2005, 10:41:25 PM by HRose »

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Reply #36 on: May 12, 2005, 12:18:07 AM

That's a great post.  I sincerely wish I had more than five minutes to hang around right now.  I don't want to reply to one or two specifics parts of it, since that'll just look like I'm dodging the rest, which I don't want to do.

For now, I'll apologize in advance for potentially resurrecting this thread from the dead this weekend.  :)

- Scott

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Reply #37 on: May 12, 2005, 08:24:56 AM

Heh, that was possibly the most non-Viklas! post I've seen Hrose pull off yet.

*Sniff*  He's all grown up.

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Reply #38 on: May 12, 2005, 10:10:00 AM

Heh, that was possibly the most non-Viklas! post I've seen Hrose pull off yet.

*Sniff*  He's all grown up.

Give him a minute.  evil

But on this, I must answer:

Quote
The development of "more content" should be the *consequence* of a need.

It is. The need just happens to be the need to keep EQ2 profitable and regenerating lost accounts with new accounts, which is hopefully achieved by keeping the box on the shelf, or putting a newer, shinier box on the shelf. The concept of an expansion box to an MMOG is a silly one. You don't NEED a box to expand an MMOG, just patch in a new zone/zones, whatever. The game is designed to be expandable without ever needing to hit the retail market.

The expansions are merely an excuse to bundle up an assload of content and refresh the SKU at the retail outlets. If you've been popular enough, the monthly fee should take care of maintaining the game, with profit and company expansion to boot. But to keep new players coming into the game to replace players that you've lost, you need that box on the shelf.

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Reply #39 on: May 12, 2005, 05:30:42 PM

For now, I'll apologize in advance for potentially resurrecting this thread from the dead this weekend.  :)
Oh, I won't complain. It will be nice to hear another point of view after I passed months convincing myself of things I was already convinced.

Heh, that was possibly the most non-Viklas! post I've seen Hrose pull off yet.

*Sniff*  He's all grown up.
I don't think there isn't anything new in what I wrote. Possibly just one of the rules written by Raph about the community.

It is. The need just happens to be the need to keep EQ2 profitable and regenerating lost accounts with new accounts, which is hopefully achieved by keeping the box on the shelf, or putting a newer, shinier box on the shelf. The concept of an expansion box to an MMOG is a silly one. You don't NEED a box to expand an MMOG, just patch in a new zone/zones, whatever. The game is designed to be expandable without ever needing to hit the retail market.

The expansions are merely an excuse to bundle up an assload of content and refresh the SKU at the retail outlets. If you've been popular enough, the monthly fee should take care of maintaining the game, with profit and company expansion to boot. But to keep new players coming into the game to replace players that you've lost, you need that box on the shelf.
That's part of an old discussion that brings toward something else than EQ2. In fact I'd actually rise the monthly fee and completely erase the expansion packs. This allows the dev team to fully focus on the game and keeping developing it in a cohesive way instead of just heaping content to place on the margins and create gaps between "have and have-not". The accessibility to the game should be as flat as possible in order to keep the "body" of the game up to date and healthy. Where all the features are stictly tied together instead of being forced as "optional".

Of course this is also possibly the case where what's good for the game could not coincide with what's good for the market. How many players will accept to pay an higher monthly fee even if with the promise of a dedicated full dev team throughout the existence of the game?

If it cannot be done the Guild Wars model could work better. So you deliver content when it's ready and let the players pay for that directly. If you are slow the players will just take a vacation, play something else and come back when something new is added. It's exactly what already happens, today noone sticks with one game anymore and with the years this trend will consolidate. The subscription numbers will start to climb and fall more sharply. Guild Wars anticipated all that and is offering a model that seconds this trend. It's not an "exclusive" game monopolizing your attention, but it's just one of the games you'll buy and play. They don't want you in the game, as much as possible. They just want you to have enough fun to make you come back when a new chapter is out.

You want to keep the boxes on the shelves? Okay, but do this *directly*. Instead of putting the expansion on the shelves you just transform it in a digital download for a reduced price. Instead on the shelves you don't put the expansion but just a new, complete bundle: the original game plus all the expansions of the game till that point.

That's how you get new players. In the shops you offer directly the *complete* product, so that your new players will experience the game at its best and complete of all the features, while your current subscribers just pay directly and download the add-on.

Why this doesn't make sense? In the shops you want to attract the attention of potential new players. You DO NOT want to draw the attention to a long list of pre-requirements that would require that possible new customer to buy other boxes in order to have the whole product. Instead the current subscribers don't need to walk till a shop to get what they need. They know ALREADY that the expansion is out and they do not need it to be publicized and on display.

Finally there's the problem of the design of the game itself. Building expansion packs force you into a type of development that can just heap marginal stuff. Marginal because it must be optional. So you have this limits that prevents the design to actually matter within the game.

Again we are back to the two models and goals. If a mmorpg is just an adventure to share with a few friends, the best plan to deliver this is "Guild Wars". The perfect shape to deliver exactly that type of experience, where all is under control and within strict rules. If, instead, a mmorpg becomes a simulation of a world, trying to reach a depth and breadth that is way different from just a shared PvE adventure, then the model you should use for the development is completely different. You cannot develop this game because you cannot divide the world into optional segments. You cannot develop the margins of an "enlarging stain". All the game, throughout all its body requires a constant, homogeneous attention and development.

How much attractive is today the classic EverQuest to the eye of a new player? I believe not much.

All the work that was done along the years is, for the most part, vanished. Mudflated and directly removed from the actual experience. I just wonder if all these years of work couldn't have been better spent to keep all the parts of the game together, without just simply replacing the same type of content and without denying an EFFECTIVE growth in depth and breadth.

The current mmorpg development resembles closely to the "conquest of the West" at the origin of the American culture. The goal is to translate a vertical horizon of conquest toward the West. Incessantly searching new spaces, without never stopping and looking back. Just moving forth.

Instead, in Europe, there was no new space to conquer, the land was already packed up. This generated conflict because while in America when you had problems you could simply move somewhere else (following an ideal of continue movement and ineluctable "progress" - the same idea that now drives both the politics and the religion with the shared idea of predestination), In Europe we couldn't, there's no space. So there is conflict, from the conflict we have politics and from the politics we have the compromises.

Look what you like as "sport". The football is just the symbolic representation of that run to the west. The same horizontal, unavoidable advancement of an uniform, vertical horizon. The game of football symbolize the American history and its conception of the space and the progress.

Now the space is finished, peoples cannot just move somewhere else (even if the USA are still big and there's still space). There's the need to not just conquer new space, but also to administrate it. you cannot burn anymore the ground because that's where you have to live. so the conflict cannot be avoided as before. It must be faced.

This is why, maybe, it could be useful to give some "respect" to these games and keep them healthy as cohesive units. offering them more depth than just fantasy combat simulations and endless conquests. Maybe simulating a different depth will be more fun instead of keeping the players always running toward the "edges of the world".

Without eating them. Without developing them from the start as disposable commodities. But as fun places where you could enjoy your stay without the urge to run somewhere else.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2005, 05:36:03 PM by HRose »

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Reply #40 on: May 12, 2005, 06:35:38 PM

*Sniff*  He's all grown up.
I don't think there isn't anything new in what I wrote. Possibly just one of the rules written by Raph about the community.

The ones who love us never want us to change.

Thus the ones who love us are our worst enemy.  Contemplate this upon the Tree of Woe.
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Reply #41 on: May 13, 2005, 05:03:44 AM

HRose that was a great post.

In particular I like your comments about adding new zones instead of updating "old" ones, as well as adding more content to the lower levels rather than simply increasing the "margin".



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Reply #42 on: May 13, 2005, 09:22:46 AM

I'm done finals.

The prospect of reading that much in one post hurt my brain.

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Reply #43 on: May 13, 2005, 01:27:55 PM

 

. If the plan is to actually replace obsolete content, you'd obtain better results by replanning and restructuring the zones and the quests *already* in the game, keeping the game world fresh and cohesive (and healthy) instead of expanding its borders while the core is aging and decaying.

Brad McQuaid (I think it was him, it may have been another Vanguard developer) was talking about this the other day.  Supposedly, Vanguard's instanced quests in public dungeons design is a nod to the fact that they cannot keep up with player demands for content, and it is easier to add new quests to extant dungeons than it is to create whole new dungeons.  I'm a bit skeptical about the system myself, but that's another matter.




 
Quote
Stealing a post from another forum (from the same 'El Gallo' we have here):

That could have been any El Gallo.

This post makes me want to squeeze into my badass red jeans.
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Reply #44 on: May 13, 2005, 02:30:20 PM

That could have been any El Gallo.

I think it was this one:


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HRose
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Reply #45 on: May 13, 2005, 06:02:02 PM

Brad McQuaid (I think it was him, it may have been another Vanguard developer) was talking about this the other day.  Supposedly, Vanguard's instanced quests in public dungeons design is a nod to the fact that they cannot keep up with player demands for content, and it is easier to add new quests to extant dungeons than it is to create whole new dungeons.  I'm a bit skeptical about the system myself, but that's another matter.
I've covered that too ;)

The idea of multiple narrative and gameplay paths in the same dungeon is good. But it already happens in WoW in every instance. The actual implementation of the whole system in Vanguard is really weak from my point of view. It adds nothing to what other games already accomplish and introduces brand new problems.

Anway, there are various reasons to add or redo the content of the lower levels:
- Fix/update it in order to improve the quality
- Add more variety in order to increase the replay value (for alts)
- Hook in the new content with new systems that may have been introduced in the game

But the point is still to find out the function and the actual need. More and more content could have the negative effect of spreading around too much the players or simply replace what was there before. The old world becomes then just a "museum" for the past memories. This is why the "new content" should represent an increased DEPTH instead of an increased width. Quests to open new possibilities instead of equip improvements, gold and experience.

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