Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Run, Don't Walk

The most obvious changes in the latest live update were the increase in run speed and the elimination of shards. Both of the changes caught me by surprise, since they didn't seem like parts of the game that were broken. The addition of the griffon towers in Thundering Steppes and Nektulos Forest seem related as well, though they came a bit earlier.

SOE made it fairly easy to get to the zone of your choice even before these changes. You can buy a ticket from the docks to Thundering Steppes and Nektulos Forest, and one more click will get you to Enchanted Lands, Zek, Everfrost, and Lavastorm.

Within these zones, you might well be in for a trek, and the design team did a marvelous job of making the world seem expansive and large. A journey to the Thexian Camp always seemed like a very long trek, even though it took perhaps 8 minutes.

And I don't know that I've heard a lot of complaining about the death penalty as it stood two weeks ago. For those rare occasions that I've left a shard that's hard to recover, I have played other characters for the three days it takes for the shard to reabsorb and the debt to disappear. And we had just received wands of debt cancellation as the birthday thank-you gift, so that makes this change seem a bit spur-of-the-moment.

I've come up with two possibilities. First, perhaps they want to speed up the rate at which people level. Maybe they feel that people are falling behind, and want to get them to a level where they will be interested in purchasing expansions. Less time traveling and recovering shards means more time adventuring, after all. That's a fairly cynical view, but Everquest, after all, is a business.

Second, it may be that they feel that the remote areas and zones are being played too little. There are very few people to be found in Runnyeye, Ruins of Varsoon, or Nektropos Castle these days. Maybe they would like to spread the population around more, since that means fewer servers will support more players.

I guess it's possible that they are simply trying to make the game more appealing to those with a low tolerance for frustration. Was this really a problem for people?


Blogger Toldain said...

Here's a comment mailed to me from my guildie Milia, who writes, (I've changed some odd characters into more reasonable punctionation, but I don't think I've changed any meanings)

I think making the game more fun to play is, well, great. I want enough challenge to feel like my accomplishments have meaning but I don't think that running 10 minutes to get to Bone Lake or try to get an Amazon Sharpshooter is necessary to make that a challenge. Have you tried to get the updates from killing Sharpshooters? And just getting to Bone Lake! I get lost every time. There are plenty of quests hanging around in my journal I haven't completed simply because the time to get where I need to go is too great given all the other things I want to do.

Considering SOE wants to appeal to the casual gamer, making it faster to get where you want to go is brilliant, or at least common sense. If you have 45 minutes to play, do you really want to spend almost 20% of your time getting where you're going? And if it takes you 4 minutes to zone, that just adds to the pain.

I think your surmises regarding increased play in the outlying areas and faster leveling are on target. And, yes, I think the slow running is frustrating when you just want to get there. Some zones I don't really know because it takes soooo long to get around in them and I've never had the time to explore them and get to know them. I think I love Feerrott because it doesn't take very long to get anywhere and I can find my way around fairly easily. Combine that with plenty of mobs I can solo and lots of fun quests and you have a great zone.

I'm much more likely to head over and help friends if I know I can get there without blowing my whole evening on travel.

SOE should be doing what it can to make the game more fun. I'm not going to log in if I'm not going to have fun. And I'm certainly not going to buy expansions or adventure packs if playing is a grind.

Thanks for another great post.

Thanks, Milia

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I havent played in some time but my feeling overall is that EQ2 is much easier than the original EQ. The Devs added a lot of changes to make the game more approachable for average, casual players including children. I think this influence only got stronger with the success of WoW - which i hated - but is hugely successful.

There is a real conflict between a fantasy "game" and a fantasy role-playing game. EQ always had a lot more of the hard-core roleplayers but WoW showed that catering to this segment limits the financial success possible. I hate the idea of making it more of a "game" but Sony seems to be following WoW's lead.

Having said that, the issue of empy zones is not new. If people want to grind their levels up, there is no need to adventure or explore. When people dont want to role play, when there is no compelling story reason to go somewhere, it will be empty especially if it is remote.

When the world is small, the zones are bustling and interesting. As the world gets larger, many zones will be unused, empty and depressing.


10:45 AM  

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