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Author Topic: EQ2 level progression & race: template vs. cookie cutter  (Read 14527 times)
jpark
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on: August 04, 2004, 09:49:29 AM

I am not sure of the etiquette here, so I will post anonymously a response from an editor that answer my question regarding EQ2 and WOW.  He wrote an article comparing the two games and we talked on these points - purportedly he has spent 20 hours playing both games.

About character customization as you level, where Shadowbane and City of Heroes and to a lesser extent Wow with their talent system, may be examples he said:

"...Additionally, since the writing of that editorial, EQ2 has decided to not allow any user skill point allocation.  I find that ridiculous, and should I update the editorial, I would switch character customization over to the WoW side because of the talent system and lack of user assignable skill points for EQ2.  The ďartĒ argument is a sound one, but in the world of gaming, graphics unfortunately are often the primary reason a player picks up a box in a retail store, and plays heavily into a retail decision.

 And as for your question, yes, there is a max stat cap.  It does not vary by race, so it makes it possible for a Ratonga fighter to be as effective in dealing out DPS as an Ogre tank."

So why play an excessively small or large avatar (ogre, troll, gnome)?  These are real problem in dungeons.  EQ taught me that given the impact of gear, it is racial maximums that matter, not starting racial stats.  It doesn't really sound like players "assign" much as they level, or that the differences between races are that meaningful.

I can go on about this further - but I am interested to hear what you think.

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"  HaemishM.
HaemishM
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Reply #1 on: August 04, 2004, 10:04:17 AM

I'm not sure exactly what editor you are talking about, but it sounds to me like EQ will have about as much character customization as a fucking adventure game. Even EQ1 allowed characters to customize their skillsets a little.

schild
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Reply #2 on: August 04, 2004, 10:17:23 AM

I'll wait til I play it. I never complained about the max stats in a final fantasy game, or the lack of customization. I want to see how crafting and guilds function before I make any judgement on how boring the characters are.
kaid
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Reply #3 on: August 04, 2004, 10:22:10 AM

Actually that is about the same as eqlive. Sure you had to work up your skills in eqlive but after a certain level if you chose to use an item at all your skill maxed soon enough.

Would I like a bit more diversity? Maybe it depends if the classes are diverse enough on their own.  I never had a problem with this in eqlive to much intarclass diversity was non existant but intre class diversity was very well done and I enjoyed it.  

I believe that eq2 stated in the past that you would get discretionary points to spend on things to tweak your character. It is probably like the talent system in wow where it is being put in and then yanked from time to time.

Edit

After rereading the response you got it seems more and more similar to their decisions in eqlive.

Races in eqlive at the far end level 65 and aaxp don't really mean much other than personal preferance. At the high end a gnome is just as tough and strong and fast as an ogre. Hell you could max an ogres int if you chose to as high as any erudite. The road to being maxed through is the big thing though. I played a human mage in eqlive and I struggled for 63 levels until I finally started getting the uber loots that I was able to cap min int. I wound up spending more cash and looking for rarer items than any erudite would have to as I was always playing catch up statwise. At the high end though you CAN catchup.

I don't really see this as a negative in a game that is any race any character class it will just add more diversity of races chosen. If somebody is willing to bust their nuts and work harder to get to the same point as you why is that a bad thing.

As for the talent/skill system meh I can take it or leave it eqlive was a class based system and eq2 is as well. I myself when doing pickup groups almost prefer this as you have a lot better feel over what somebody can/should be capable of doing. COH's skill system is a blast but grouping with people you don't know is very scary. Grouping with defender only to find out they chose nothing but the must grab powers then went after every power pool skill they could get their hands on is an eye opener.



kaid
daveNYC
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Reply #4 on: August 04, 2004, 10:26:26 AM

Maybe you have intra and inter switched around?
Trippy
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Reply #5 on: August 04, 2004, 10:28:31 AM

No class customization just means they are following the same basic class design as EQ (ignoring alternate advancement which only applies at high levels). No race differences means they've learned from EQ that items "wash out" any differences between races -- e.g. an EQ Wood Elf Warrior can tank an uber mob just as well as an Ogre Warrior as long as the Wood Elf has the proper equipment.
Furiously
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Reply #6 on: August 04, 2004, 10:36:25 AM

Quote from: Trippy
No class customization just means they are following the same basic class design as EQ (ignoring alternate advancement which only applies at high levels). No race differences means they've learned from EQ that items "wash out" any differences between races -- e.g. an EQ Wood Elf Warrior can tank an uber mob just as well as an Ogre Warrior as long as the Wood Elf has the proper equipment.


Just wanted to nit pick. I thought Ogre and Trolls as large races were immune to "stuns from the front" which lesser races don't get.

Murgos
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Reply #7 on: August 04, 2004, 10:45:43 AM

Quote from: Furiously
Just wanted to nit pick. I thought Ogre and Trolls as large races were immune to "stuns from the front" which lesser races don't get.

Ogre's, at least in my experience, are or were.  Don't know about trolls.  I was guild main tank up into the 50's before I quit and I wouldn't say being unstunable from the front was really all that noticible an improvement.  I had opportunity to watch many other races tank and they didn't seem to be hampered by it.

Not hampered as much as ogres and Trolls trying to get around some of the dungeons anyway.  Me, I had a pre-nerf DE mask so it wasn't a problem but there were almost always issues with getting someone past a bottle neck, waiting for a shaman or mage or shrink potion or whatever.

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Trippy
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Reply #8 on: August 04, 2004, 10:55:07 AM

Quote from: Furiously

Just wanted to nit pick. I thought Ogre and Trolls as large races were immune to "stuns from the front" which lesser races don't get.


It's only Ogres that get that ability. And it's only a temporary stoppage of aggro accumulation if your warrior gets stunned. If your warrior can't hold aggro because of stuns (I'm assuming a single uber mob here), then he/she doesn't have good enough weapons (or tell your dang thieves to stop backstabbing for a bit). I stopped playing EQ right before PoP was released so things may have changed but I watched plenty of tankage of uber mobs by non-Ogres to realize the "no stun from the front" wasn't really a factor.
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Reply #9 on: August 04, 2004, 10:58:29 AM

Quote from: Murgos

Not hampered as much as ogres and Trolls trying to get around some of the dungeons anyway.  Me, I had a pre-nerf DE mask so it wasn't a problem but there were almost always issues with getting someone past a bottle neck, waiting for a shaman or mage or shrink potion or whatever.


Or Cobalt bracer.

"Somebody shrink the damn fatty!"
Tige
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Reply #10 on: August 04, 2004, 11:00:13 AM

Quote
"...Additionally, since the writing of that editorial, EQ2 has decided to not allow any user skill point allocation. I find that ridiculous, and should I update the editorial, I would switch character customization over to the WoW side because of the talent system and lack of user assignable skill points for EQ2. The ďartĒ argument is a sound one, but in the world of gaming, graphics unfortunately are often the primary reason a player picks up a box in a retail store, and plays heavily into a retail decision.


The writer needs to stop writing in stream of consiousness and explain wtf the "art" argument has to do with skill point allocation.  

Aside from that, it would be good to know whether or not EQ2 uses items to let players modify their skill points rather than allocating points from the start.  It could very well be that you wind up with the same results with both games, just different ways of going about it.  Looks like it is just a pet peeve of the writer.

He is actually thinking about updating his editorial.  In the words of Count Floyd "Ooooooo Scary".

-Tige
jpark
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Reply #11 on: August 04, 2004, 11:07:58 AM

Quote from: schild
I'll wait til I play it. I never complained about the max stats in a final fantasy game, or the lack of customization. I want to see how crafting and guilds function before I make any judgement on how boring the characters are.


Point taken.  My current impression is that EQ2 is doing more for guild dynamics than other game.  That's good.  But I am looking for more.  Recent references to the Combat Wheel intrigue me - and that helps.

Trippy maybe its just me but I really love the idea of choosing skills as I level.  Hell in CoH I have started catassing recently - because"choosing" that next new skill means a lot to seeing how "my concept" of class X, is going to work or not.  That same dynamic was the core of Shadowbane.  

In EQ you can ID a fighter just buy looking at the weapons in his hands.  So often there is only one optimum, so there is really no diversity.  Shadowbane avoided that problem (but succumbed to others) and City of Heroes has largely avoided it too.  WoW.. maybe.  EQ2 seems very cookie cutter in this regard.

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kaid
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Reply #12 on: August 04, 2004, 11:08:19 AM

DOH yes I do damn my inters and intras bah humbug.
kaid
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Reply #13 on: August 04, 2004, 11:13:07 AM

On racial diversity in eqlive there were some bigger differances than will exist in eq2.

In eqlive you could have trolls with regen or ogres with frontal stun immunity, iksar regen and ac etc.  These were all paid for by a exp penalty. For trolls and iksar they needed 20% more xp than anybody else to level their classes.

In eq2 the differances between classes are planned to be innate resists and vision types. They are avoiding some of the more macro abilities like regen but they also are doing away with EXP penalties.

Kaid
Krakrok
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Reply #14 on: August 04, 2004, 11:13:38 AM

Yes, but WoW doesn't have secret super sleuth decoder rings on popcorn containers. That makes all the difference.


(If you didn't get the latest EQ2 "newsletter" you won't know wtf I'm talking about.)

Edit: http://www.fileradio.com/eq2/eq2nwl.jpg

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Reply #15 on: August 04, 2004, 11:16:46 AM

Quote from: Krakrok
Yes, but WoW doesn't have secret super sleuth decoder rings on popcorn containers. That makes all the difference.


(If you didn't get the latest EQ2 "newsletter" you won't know wtf I'm talking about.)


Post wtf you're talking about.
Trippy
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Reply #16 on: August 04, 2004, 11:24:05 AM

Quote from: jpark
Trippy maybe its just me but I really love the idea of choosing skills as I level.  Hell in CoH I have started catassing recently - because"choosing" that next new skill means a lot to seeing how "my concept" of class X, is going to work or not.  That same dynamic was the core of Shadowbane.


I understand the appeal. However allowing class/skill customization also leads to large amounts of angst as the inevitable nerf bat swings around and people start screaming for immediate "respecs" and other things. And the powergamers love these sorts of systems leading to the "template of the month" club which of course just encourages the nerf bat to swing harder and faster.

Which reminds me, AC2's system of skill "untraining" was one of the few things I liked about that game.
kaid
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Reply #17 on: August 04, 2004, 11:24:17 AM

Somebody mentioned the character options in Shadowbane and COH.

I really did enjoy the ammount of diversity you could have in shadowbane and also in coh but this diversity does have some downsides as well.

In shadowbane I loved my centaur huntress and I got her to max level looking forward to the ability to run super fast as a panther. Only to find out after I was maxed level and could get no more skill points at that time that I was 2 int points short of being able to purchase the highest spell power for this class.

It was painfully easy to completly screw yourself with skill or training choices in shadowbane that was only mitigated by the fact that leveling was so fast at the time I played you could start over without to much fuss.

COH has awsome skills but there are a handfull that just are not up to snuff or just do not work with somebodies play style. Eventually they will add the ability to respec as in games with choices like this it is something that is necessary. The problem with the necessity of respects is you will get a LOT of flavor of the month templates

People like diversity but if there is one clear path that is stronger than the others most folks will pick that. So in the end if you do not do a very good job balancing things in a system you can pick your skills you can get situations with very little realized diversity.

I think coh did a good enough job to avoid the worst of this but its still a danger.

Eqlive a game I played and still play from time to time for 5 years has very little in game code that makes one mage different from the next but I can't say I ever felt an issue with this in all my time playing. People chose me over other mages not cause I had the leet template but because I was very very good with the tools I had and I knew how to get the most out of them.

Kaid
Soukyan
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Reply #18 on: August 04, 2004, 11:25:14 AM

EQ had some racial diversity, but it is pretty much null at this point in time anyhow. As a character, your main stat (IIRC) can be maxed to 355 and every other stat can be brought up to 305. Some classes have more than one "prime" stat, but it's essentially all the same and with the way equipment works, possible for any race to max all their stats with equipment. EQ2 will end up being the same way and the caps will be raised over time. There really wasn't much customization as far as skills went in EQ either except that the ones you used went up. Of course you could use trains to train up some of the ones you wanted, but once they started costing money and skill points, most people just left them at that and spammed that skill to work it up. I know people look for a nice depth of development for characters in RPGs, so it'll be interesting to see what more players think, but EQ was always about the equipment end of the game anyhow, not so much actual character development (at least until AAs and even then, as was stated above, that's more personal preference or guild requirement). Skill-based systems seem to have a much wider range of options available to people. For an amazing implementation of racial diversity, see Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. Of course, that's single player, but what can you do?

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Trippy
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Reply #19 on: August 04, 2004, 11:36:09 AM

Quote from: schild
Quote from: Krakrok
Yes, but WoW doesn't have secret super sleuth decoder rings on popcorn containers. That makes all the difference.


(If you didn't get the latest EQ2 "newsletter" you won't know wtf I'm talking about.)


Post wtf you're talking about.


SOE is running an EQ II Sweepstakes. Here's a blurb about it from Frictionless Insight:

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has enacted a grand scheme to collect the e-mail addresses of everyone who might be even vaguely interested in playing EverQuest II, SOE's massively multiplayer online role-playing game for the PC due out later this year. SOE is hosting a contest called the "Discover the Riches of EverQuest II Sweepstakes" and features a variety of prizes including two Jeep Wranglers. While interested folks can register for the contest at the contest site, game pieces will be attached to large popcorn tubs and drink containers at Edwards Theaters, United Artists Theaters and Regal Cinemas until September 30. Pieces will also be available at GenCon and at certain comic book stores in September. Of course, to see if you've won, you'll have to use the game piece to register at the official site, at which point you can view videos highlighting the game's playable races.
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Reply #20 on: August 04, 2004, 11:55:13 AM

I find it interesting that a lot of the talk about EQ2's possible diversity or lack thereof is all focused around endgame, stat caps and items.

That sounds sooooooo goddamn familiar.

kaid
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Reply #21 on: August 04, 2004, 11:56:50 AM

I would imagine it sounds familiar because it is a mmrpg and eventually if you keep playing no matter which mmrpg you play there is an end game phase.

Kaid
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Reply #22 on: August 04, 2004, 11:59:05 AM

Quote from: kaid
I would imagine it sounds familiar because it is a mmrpg and eventually if you keep playing no matter which mmrpg you play there is an end game phase.

Kaid


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jpark
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Reply #23 on: August 04, 2004, 01:13:35 PM

Quote from: Soukyan
For an amazing implementation of racial diversity, see Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. Of course, that's single player, but what can you do?


I guess at this juncture I should bann myself for possible thread derailment - but man - you just cut the heart of the matter.  Fallout and Vampire - awesome character development.  I look for that as much as I can in any MMORPG.

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Reply #24 on: August 04, 2004, 01:22:50 PM

Hey, I've been jonesing for a new gaming experience....time to whip out Vampire: the Masquerade! Thanks for the reminder!

Actually, all the comparisons of Doom3 to SS2 are making me want to play SS2, but I lost my discs promptly after finishing the game once :(

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Reply #25 on: August 04, 2004, 01:27:02 PM

Quote from: jpark
Quote from: Soukyan
For an amazing implementation of racial diversity, see Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. Of course, that's single player, but what can you do?


I guess at this juncture I should bann myself for possible thread derailment - but man - you just cut the heart of the matter.  Fallout and Vampire - awesome character development.  I look for that as much as I can in any MMORPG.

I torrented that the other day, on a whim, I'd heard it was a good RPG.  Guess I'll have to play it inbetween jaunts thru the NWN expansions.

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Dark_MadMax
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Reply #26 on: August 04, 2004, 01:27:17 PM

Quote

I understand the appeal. However allowing class/skill customization also leads to large amounts of angst as the inevitable nerf bat swings around and people start screaming for immediate "respecs" and other things. And the powergamers love these sorts of systems leading to the "template of the month" club which of course just encourages the nerf bat to swing harder and faster.

Which reminds me, AC2's system of skill "untraining" was one of the few things I liked about that game.


 So why not allow player to do exactly that - respec ?  If you have rich and complex character class/skill customization allow  players to respec in case they make mistake , something got nerfed/loved.
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Reply #27 on: August 04, 2004, 01:29:44 PM

I've been wanting to play SS2 also recently.  Of course, I've never played it and my curiousity has peaked.  (interestingly enough, all of the exult talk on another site got me interested in U7 and despite the crappy graphics I'm really enjoying that game too)

Don't know where I'd find a copy of it either. It's not exactly a spring chicken so I don't imagine it'll be easy to find on the five finger discount scene.

Sorry for the further derail.

-Rasix
Bloodrage
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Reply #28 on: August 04, 2004, 02:27:03 PM

Part of what ruined EQ for me, back in the day, was that every character of your class was essentially the same. It got to the point where I would look at my troll warrior and see a transparent graphic over a tiny spreadsheet, and every other warrior my level had the exact same spreadsheet. It was at that point that I quite the game for good.

Of the games I've played, Shadowbane has had the best character development of them all. Seeing that EQ2 character development will be the same as EQ, I cannot imagine myself playing the game. I had been toying with the idea of picking it up when it came out, but no longer.
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Reply #29 on: August 04, 2004, 02:34:47 PM

I don't really see the problem myself.  It is a class system.  Like the diku muds it was based on and they in turn based on D&D.  level 12 fighter is level 12 fighter the difference is equipment and how effectively you play them.  In D&D it was often fast thinking and creativity that was rewarded by the GM.  In mmogs and muds it is understanding the core game elements and class group interactions and being the best of your class for the given situation/group layout.
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Reply #30 on: August 04, 2004, 02:42:01 PM

Weren't both the System Shock games available off the Under Dogs site? Or was that just the first one?

Edit: Yes, Yes they are: System Shock, System Shock 2.

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Alluvian
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Reply #31 on: August 04, 2004, 02:54:02 PM

Regarding system shock2, there is a site out there that has done a pretty big graphics overhaul to the game, replacing many of the old shitty models with much nicer ones.  The models were pretty behind the times at launch.

This is one of those games I just have to go back and play.  All I ever played of ss2 was the demo which did a poor job of showcasing the game IMO.
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Reply #32 on: August 04, 2004, 03:00:26 PM

Quote from: Trippy
an EQ Wood Elf Warrior can tank an uber mob just as well as an Ogre Warrior as long as the Wood Elf has the proper equipment.


Thank goodness for that, or 100% of fighters would be Ogres.  Bland.

The problem with customization is that you have gone from a game where you have to balance 15 classes to a game where you have to balance 15,000 different skill combinations.  The chance of character balance not being an utter abomination in such a game is about 0%, even if your dev team is Sid Meier, Albert Einstein, and Jesus Christ.  So everyone picks one template anyway.  Hell, back when I played AC, there were fewer viable builds in that game than there were classes in EQ.

Customization for a little flavor is good, customization that has a significant impact on combat skills is a 1-way ticket to blandsville.

This post makes me want to squeeze into my badass red jeans.
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Reply #33 on: August 04, 2004, 03:12:06 PM

I don't think its good use to make a new thread, but some may find the "editor's" subsequent email on this of interest.  He is the only guy I know who has played EQ2 - so for what it is worth:

(context: I state that I am concerned EQ2 will be a train wreck, and that SOE, for business reasons, cannot support both titles and must herd players to EQ2 eventually... my view.  I note his rumor about WOW, his optimism about EQ2 and why I am likely wrong on SOE business strategy.)

"Fortunately, SOE has thought this through.  While transition will inherently occur from EQ Live to EQ2, the goal of the EQ2 team is not to erode their current user base in either EQ Live, or SWG.  After all, if EQ Live can still be seen as a viable product for the next few years, there is no reason to market to those players.  Overall, SOE is concerned with getting a portion of the 1.4 million players who at one time had an EQ account, and have left for some reason or another.  They took feedback garnered from the players as they left, and tried to model a new game without the problems currently in EQ Live.  It is a strategy that is based on taking places from existing titles such as FFXI, as FFXI is thus far their only true competitor in the global market (outside of Lineage which it doesnít seem SOE is too concerned with).  Perhaps this is why EQ2 is very akin to FFXI in several game systems, I donít know.
 

As far as a train wreck, it simply isnít the case.  With LucasArts not calling the shots, and with the financial muscle that SOE has, the game can be delayed or released at the whim of corporate.  Only SOE will be involved in the decision making on this title, which allows it to avoid the SWG early release fiasco that was forced by Lucas.  But perhaps you meant to speak of your concerns about WoW being the train wreck because of Vivendi having 100% call on all decisions Blizzard makes, and with Vivendi Games on the market to be sold (because of its terrible losses over the last 2 fiscal years), it appears that Vivendi is beginning to muscle Blizzard into a release before Blizzard feels ready.  This is speculation and not something I can confirm, but as business analysts, surely you know that Roper and the Blizzard North team left because of Vivendi secretly negotiating a sale to Microsoft and Blizzard being kept out of the loop (the sale never happened, but the damage was done).  


I think jaded MMORPG gamers who were looking for something new in the genre will be pleasantly surprised when EQ2 hits retail.  It wonít bring back that first time MMORPG experience for anyone, but it will be different, and that is ultimately why it will remain popular in the long run (or at least until Vanguard hits shelves in 2006)."

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"  HaemishM.
Dark_MadMax
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Reply #34 on: August 04, 2004, 03:22:28 PM

Quote from: El Gallo

Thank goodness for that, or 100% of fighters would be Ogres.  Bland.


 So different skin on exactly same spreadsheet is all variety you want?


Quote


The problem with customization is that you have gone from a game where you have to balance 15 classes to a game where you have to balance 15,000 different skill combinations.  The chance of character balance not being an utter abomination in such a game is about 0%, even if your dev team is Sid Meier, Albert Einstein, and Jesus Christ.  So everyone picks one template anyway.



 Anyone picks a template-  if its balanced or not. Combination of race/class/skill/whatever is called a template . Some templates are gimps some are average some are uber. Balance is when you have hard time picking one "uber" template over another and make decison based on which "uber" template style is more appealing for you.

  Players in game balance the thing themselves - gimp templates die in a natural way (few ppl play them). Balancing is not about that every single stupid combination is viable- no. Its about providing neccesary variety. out of 15 000 templates only a few dozen could be viable -thats all what is needed.

 

Quote

  Hell, back when I played AC, there were fewer viable builds in that game than there were classes in EQ.



 AC had a lot less viable skills . It was basically either pure mage or  one of 2  mage hybrids (bow hybrid or weapon hybrid (dagger,sword,UA)) . EQ just had more static templates (10 or whatever classes it had).

 SB has for example tons of combination within the same class - same class could be completely different in gameplay and playstyle.  Even  same  skill/power combo  can feel completely different on a different race and/or different disciplens subset.

 even now when SB last year addition alsmot completely destroyed and turned upside down a lot of  subclasses and playstyles it still has a lot more variety in "uber" templates to choose from than EQ/Daoc/Lineage2 and AC all together.
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