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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Keen on Everquest 3

Keen, of Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog has offered his take on what EQ3 should be. He says it should stay pure, true to what makes Everquest Everquest, but still be radically evolutionary. This gives a better sense of what he means.

I’ll oppose the idea of stepping too far out of the boundaries of traditional MMO design. I think tying all the EQ games together, or adding mini-games, or streamlining it for console/multi-platforming, and other alterations are wrong. Going sci-fi, action oriented, or in another new direction aren’t right either. I guess I’m a MMORPG purist when it comes to certain things.

And here's some of the stuff he likes:

Obviously EQ3 should not be a PvP oriented game, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring back the pvp ruleset servers of old. Boats, vast cities, open world (not necessarily sandbox), group oriented, a rethought out death penalty, player cities, biiiiig monsters and raids, lots of gear (but not a treadmill), alternate forms of character progression instead of or on top of a level system, prestige classes and features of this ilk could be looked at.

I don't have a lot to quibble with, though I think regular readers know that I think any major increase in death penalty is doomed. And mini-games have always been a part of Everquest, remember gems?

But here's the thing:

Tipa isn’t alone in thinking that what hurt EQ2 so badly was that it had too much EQ. I believe quite the opposite though. I believe it was a combination of diverging too far from the original EQ, making changes that were not thought out or feasible at the time for the sake of change, as well as making a game that could not compete with its competitors at the time who were striking out to steer the industry in a new direction.

Every single change in EQ2 from EQ had a very solid justification, that they weren't popular and didn't compete well with WoW is hindsight. Let's look at some of the major changes from EQ to EQ2, and why they were made. Bear in mind that I'm guessing a little here, but only a little.

  • Moded combat/non-combat.This got rid of mages and priests having to sit to med, and in consequence groups having to stick to one spot and camp. This change was huge and mostly welcome. It made combats faster paced, and it made for lots less down time, LOTS less. It's had the unintended consequence of making groups adventures less social, since with less downtime, there's less chat. Could you have predicted that. In any case, this change has been successful and imitated widely.

  • No buffs out of group. There was a clear reason for this and it was a reaction to, if not outright hostility to Enchanters and C3 as well as the mass buffs of Aegolism and whatever else a cleric could throw out there on PoK. It got so that my enchanter couldn't get a group because everyone already had their C3. Buffs out of group encouraged soloing, and they wanted EQ2 to encourage more group play. By the way, lots of folks posting are saying they want EQ3 to focus more on group play. I think it's going to take some powerful designer kung fu to accomplish this. This rule still holds in EQ2.

  • No interference in combat, no trains. This cuts way down on the amount of griefing that can be dealt out. Which was seen as a good thing, am I right. But again, it had unforseen consequences, and is now pretty much dead.

  • Progression from archetype to class to subclass. This was an idea that I think people thought would be fun. You had these cool solo instances at levels 10 and 20 to be allowed to advance. I thought this was pretty cool, but it's been ditched as not providing enough replay value. Nobody is copying it either.

  • Highly predictable combats. Fewer adds, easier to tell what would pull. In the early days, encounters would run on rails. I think this was done to expand the customer base, to make things easy for the brand new players. And to break the stranglehold of the "Holy Trinity" Tank,Healer,Enchanter. In the first few years of EQ, there was no good use of mezzing in a group. Folks would AE and break mez constantly, and typically, there was no need for it.

  • Gear that leveled with you. This seemed like it would be fun, and avoid twinkage, but it ended up just confusing people, so it was dropped. This kind of gear was tried first in EQ, though.

  • Highly interdependent crafting. It's supposed to be an MMO, right? So you should be interacting with other players. Why not with crafting too? This was extremely unpopular with the players, and for some reason, the markets never worked right. I think perhaps if the batch size had been made bigger, it might have worked better.

  • Many (difficult) subcombines per product. This sort of drama is about making you feel you've really accomplished something when you complete the final product at the best level of quality. Which it did. Making just one spell for someone could take maybe half an hour. And you might blow the last combine. I remember the first time I made a rare combine for someone, I was pretty scared that I'd blow it. I didn't, and I felt great. But the risk and time meant the price was high. And you wouldn't just "oh sure, I'll make all your spells for you", it might take a week. So this has been dropped, too.

  • Guild leveling. We had several guild leveling rules that have been ditched. Guild XP decayed over time, but the decay rate was way too big, leveling felt like a huge millstone around certain peoples neck. Only designated guild members could level the guild, though everyone could do writs for personal status. And the amount contributed depended on the number of mentors, or guild size. None of that stuff worked, though there was a solid theory behind it, a theory around making things more fair. Give the newer guilds a leg up, or give the smaller guilds a boost, etc. But like the anti-griefing, it didn't really work. And what's "fair" is actually pretty subjective.

  • Online selling I don't know if this was a design or a technical constraint, but you would have to stay logged in if you wanted to sell things. It's pretty much exactly the same as Everquest, except you could be in your own room while selling, which avoided all that horrible Bazaar lag. But the community wanted to move on. So it's a case of something that wasn't changed that should have been. I prefer EQ2's marketplace to the timed auctions in WoW and LOTRO. By a lot.

That's all I can think of for now. This business of "keep the stuff I love but bring it up to date" is a lot trickier than you might think. There's a lot of folks out there who were mad that they couldn't do X (driveby buff, port people, play a beastmaster, mez meaningfully) from Everquest. That's why I think it's important that it not be called EQ3...too many expectations to meet. But we can keep a lot of what we liked about EQ: Lore, focus on group play, sparklies, housing, and of course, Fippy Darkpaw.

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Anonymous Karaya said...

You know what I would HONESTLY like to see? And this even has the potential to be added to EQ2, I would think:

- The ability for melee classes to auto-follow a mob.

Here's my gripe, and I welcome any counter-arguments. I love my assassin alt (Vironet Renzik). I love soloing with her, but I HATE grouping with her. While the mob sticks to the tank (provided he/she keeps aggro) and the ranged people stand back and fire away, the assassin has to constantly chase the mobs and reposition herself for each mob. This has to be done just to make sure I'm adjacent to the mob, to say nothing of beside or behind the mob.

And I get that "That's part of the assassin experience!" Yes, it's extraordinarily fun while soloing to sneak up on a mob while stealthed, or to stun a mob and jump behind it to deliver a massive backstab.

But in a group, it just gets old SO FAST. In Chamber of Destiny, where it takes 5 minutes to kill 1 mob, it would be fine. But for regular adventuring, the mobs drop quickly, and most of my effort goes into positioning and re-positioning myself. That's interesting like the first 3 times, and then it's horribly annoying.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Trains were fun in eq 1. You had to know how to WORK you way down to a camp spot. They only people who complained about trais in general were noobs. If you were in a good group you could almost derail any train anyway. I'd also like to point out that it add more importance to the puller roles. Sometimes you needed a SK or Monk with FD to do the pulling to avoid adds, when you didn't have a chanter or shaman. Sadly this is one of many things missing in eq 2.
2) One of the biggest reasons I feel eq 2 is not as social as eq 1 isn't becuase you have to sit to med, however that is a factor but becuase the spell cast times in eq 2 are so short duration, it becomes a pointless click fest. In eq 1, your spells took longer to cast and in general had a MUCH longer effect.. minutes not seconds. This allowed you to wtach and take in / enjoy the combat more as well as have those friendly side chats going on.

I could go on and on about how much better the combat system was in eq 1...

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man I loved the train Ideas aswell in EQ1. I personally think what has ruined MMO's is how easy they are now. WoW will whipe your ass for you if you ask it too... I want a MMO with no map, only maps drawn by people and posted on the net. No maps makes it a much better expirence, sure it harder but remembering the way to something and exploring something totally new is great its not the common "theres a big skeleton on my map, I wonder what that is..?"
I also miss the group combat, I want to see people in groups hunting and grinding and making friends for hours a night just to get a level, it really makes your levels an accomplishment...
Stay away from everything that is WoW and give us hardcore MMO gamers a chance for some fun, we dont want you to put a dot on our minimap where the quest guy is..dammit we want to find it....
Make the game hard and make only the high levels ahve glowing weapons after doing a serious epic quest, we're sick of this bullsh*t and we really are ready for that hardcore expirence once again...

"You: Where did you get that sweet firey axe?"
"Level3: Thrall in org gives it to you after you get the achievement (Reach level2)."

1:01 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

Good summary for Everquest 3.

12:34 AM  

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