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.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Filling the Master Gap

Via Kendricke at Clockwork Gamer, SOE appears to be considering bringing spell research to Everquest 2:

These hardworking researchers will help you acquire upgrades to your spells and combat arts while you’re off adventuring in the deepest darkest dungeon or asleep in your own warm cozy bed. Even though they’re hardworking, they’re not a speedy service and they are limited in how much they’ll help you. Because this kind of research is complicated, they’ll only be able to work on one spell or combat art for one character per server.

All research requires a base amount of information to work with. In the case of the Research Assistants, this manifests in that they require you to have the previous tier of the spell being upgraded before they can begin work for you. So, in order to research that Master I, you’ll need to first know the Adept III version, though it doesn’t matter whether that Adept III version came from researching or from your friendly neighborhood sage, jeweler or alchemist. The time required to research a spell increase will vary based on the level and tier of the spell. A level 20 Adept I may only take an hour, while a level 80 master will likely take a month or longer.

Kendricke goes on to discuss how what the "standard" is for spells has risen over the years:

When Echoes of Faydwer launched, the standard for spell quality for the average player was only Adept I. [...]

When the beta buffer was introduced in Rise of Kunark, I was surprised to see that Adept III’s were the spell quality we were being asked to test with right from the word go. Right away, I could see a significant difference in difficulty between the hardest solo content in Echoes of Faydwer and the easiest solo content Rise of Kunark. [...]

Even today, when players first complain about the difficulty of those first Kunark encounters, the advice they are almost always given invariably includes “make sure you have all of your Adept III’s”.

First a quibble. By the time EoF came out, many people that I knew had mostly adept III's already. And maybe a master or two. I'm talking about non-raiders here, but very good players, who play a lot. By the end of EoF masters were pretty widespread. However, Kendricke's point that RoK was much more difficult than EoF is well taken. And it wasn't just spells, it was gear, too. There are plenty of treasured drops in RoK that are better than a Legendary of a similar level.

And, as so many of us experienced, you couldn't just go straight into a dungeon in the new zone, you'd become dog food. In Karnor's Castle, that was quite literal. All those masters didn't help us much, we still got our butts handed to us when we went in at about level 75.

But it's just a quibble, since it's evident that adept 3's are far more plentiful today than they used to be, back in the dim misty reaches of ancient history. And the proposal to do spell research does have me scratching my head. What's broken that prompts them to do this fix?

Many games do not have "levels of spell" mechanic at all. You either have a spell or you don't in Everquest, Wow, LOTRO, and I think Vanguard. The question is, what does this spell system add, and in particular, is it fun? Now those rare occasions where an Exquisite chest drops out of the blue, and it has a Master that you can actually use, that's priceless. I think since launch that's happened to me once for sure, and maybe one other time. One can get a Master for someone else's class and sell it. That's fun for those of a mercantile bent, but maybe not so much fun for others.

Is that what this is aimed at? Consolidating to a system where there is only one de facto level of spell, Master? I doubt that, since the research service will only work for one character per account. That didn't say "one spell or combat art per character per server" it said "one spell or combat art for one character per server."

Most people I know have multiple toons at level 80, and are playing up alts. There is always the exception (I'm looking at you, Chuman). Spread this ability across two toons and you've got 6 masters each. Nice, but it's no longer an expectation.

Actually, I think this mechanic is aimed at something else. Every class has a few spells that are vital to them, and are not upgraded in the top tier. Until RoK, spells were on a strict 14-level upgrade schedule. Which meant that four levels of spell from the previous tier would still be the best version. The problem with these spells is that once you hit the level cap, the mobs that drop these lower tier best-in-class spells are gray to you, and you can't get the drops. Almost nobody does, and the masters are never for sale on the broker. They can't be had for any price. For Illusionists, it's Rapidity, our haste buff, which didn't upgrade in tier 8.

And yes, you could level lock some toon, and armtwist your friends into farming lower tier nameds for them every single day for three months and you might, MIGHT, get it to drop. Or not. Good luck with that. I don't call that fun.

So, I wouldn't mind seeing some mechanic that allowed people to get such spells. Spell research is one way to address that. It ends up being a freebie, which bothers some folks. I tend to ignore that. There's lots of stuff that people get that they didn't earn. They might be slacking in a group with friends, or they might buy plat. I've been outright given a Master spell. (Ahh, for the days when Illusionists weren't popular!)

As the games stands, Masters are unnecessary for success, unless you are raiding. I'd like it to stay that way. One month for T8 masters does seem a bit short, until you consider alts. But something like that for tier 7 would plausibly fill the gap. One day for a tier 2 master seems fast, but you will probably outlevel that spell in a week or less.

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Anonymous Tipa said...

EverQuest has had spell levels since The Serpent's Spine expansion. Kendricke's spot on. When EQ2 started, you could get by with App 2, but usually you had App 3s made for you. Then they added App 4s. Adepts were the primo stuff.

Now, few people even bother with anything below Adept III, and App 4 is the absolute minimum.

That said, I will take Power Ballad, my most powerful mana song, any way I can get it. It is not for sale at any price on Najena, and I have never even seen it for sale.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Toldain said...

I didn't mean to imply that I thought there had been no inflation in average spell level. There clearly has been since launch.

4:08 PM  

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