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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Group Game

Tipa writes about taking a break from the normal progression dungeon crawl her group does (in EQ, not EQ2) and doing an old-school camp in City of Mist.

On Nostalgia nights, we tend to crawl through dungeons. This was not the typical way of playing EverQuest. Usually you fought your way to someplace you liked, and you STAYED there. The puller would pull, the tank would grab the aggro, and everyone would pile on. But that sort of play has fallen out of fashion, and I believe EverQuest is still the only MMO that offers this sort of casual, extremely social, style of play.

I have long thought that all the things people count as bad points in EQ, are actually good points — if you are with the right sort of people. MMO devs were far too quick to blithely toss out what was good about EQ. And now people will never know, unless they play.

This sort of camp was necessary since mages and healers needed to be able to sit down to regain mana fast enough. You would push in to a spot you'd like, and you'd clear that area in such a way that the respawns would come at you one at a time, making them easier to manage. Then the puller would bring in a mob, the tank taunt it off, and you'd kill. If your power regen was good enough, the puller would drop off and bring up another mob, so there was no down time. Good times. This never happens in EQ2.

One of the main reasons is that no one needs to sit down or stand still to regen power. Another is that the pace was much faster in EQ2 than EQ1 at the time, though I think they've worked to make EQ a little quicker. Mobs die faster in EQ2 and we die faster when we mess up. And we get back in the game faster too.

Another reason is that there's no narrative there. "We went to the spot marked X and stayed there for 2 hours" isn't exactly a compelling story line. And it creates problems if someone else wants to hang out in spot X.

If you are with a group of people that you like, though, it could be great fun, a social event. Tea, sympathy, humor, and slaughter. Everything I like. The slower pace allows for more social interaction, which in this instance is a good thing.

Tipa goes on to tell of a great pickup group experience:

Sunday I was putting stuff in the guild bank with Brita, my 75 cleric, when I got a tell from a monk asking to help him on his final fight for his epic 2.0. Naturally, I said I’d be right there. The fight was on the aviak island in the Ocean of Tears. The fight is meant for two groups, but can be done with one. The group was made of people from between 70 and 80. One person didn’t get to the fight in time, so we did it with five — monk, cleric (me!), shaman, warrior, warrior.

He’s the fun bit, and why EQ is EQ.

Nobody was exactly sure what happened on the fight or what the mob would do, though they didn’t think there would be adds. And so we just started it off.

Turns out he had a short-range AE rampage and a single target fear+stun. But not a word was spoken about those. Everyone seamlessly adapted to a fight they were learning as they went on, and after awhile, we won without a single death (and mana was okay too).

High level EQ players are professionals. They have played in groups nearly their entire time, they know their jobs, they are adaptable and expert at their jobs.

I have had experiences like that, and I love it. It's why I'm an enchanter, so I can perform my brand of magic. In EQ, you can have a bad pull that looks like you're all going to die and then, 20 seconds later, all the mobs are sitting there staring blankly into space and you're happily slaughtering them. This works because

  • Everyone dies slower in EQ, so there's more time to do stuff

  • Enchanters in EQ1 can mez more, everyone understands it, and it's more important to the game. Nobody breaks mez any more.

I have had very good PUGs in EQ2, as well. These days, they have all been for instances. In fact, both my best PUG and worst PUG experience in EQ2 have been in Ruins of Kunark.

Instances in ROK offer some very unique challenges to groups, especially my favorite instance, Maiden's Chamber. There are four nameds in there that require group members to do something that is quite different than the usual "tank and spank". Bliithu teleports you and makes you deal with the threat of a group-wiping AE. Sandstorm has nasty adds, and a stoneskin that is also a serious damage shield. So you have to stop fighting him. The sisters are an encounter that requires everything to work, crowd control, dps, tanking, healing, for success. And Drusella requires that you turn dps off and on, on command, while the tank keeps aggro, even as the healers have to keep healing. Unusual challenges. I've met them with the best, and that is fun stuff.

One thing you don't see much of in EQ2 is something unexpected happening, though. The first time I went through MC, I was with a PUG that had called me in for mezzing. They knew how the encounters worked, and knew what they wanted me to do. I did it, we won. Very cool, but not the same as what Tipa was talking about.

My worst pickup group was in Chelsith. I don't remember how I got into it. But the tank couldn't hold aggro, and would pull right after the healer said "afk a sec". The group leader couldn't speak english. The scout would lead with his biggest hit and then die when he pulled aggro. Everyone broke mez, even the healer. Anyway, I stayed in the group for about an hour, just so I could remember what a really bad group was.

What was your best/worst pickup group?

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Anonymous Milia said...

Too bad we hadn't gone to Chardok to get the red key before you wrote this.

10:45 AM  

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