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 19, 2010

Innovation in EQ2: Revisited

Someone recently put a spam comment on a post I made in 2005 called The Two-Hour Fix. How that choice gets made is mysterious to me. However, in deleting the spam, I realized it was relevant to my recent discussion of innovation in EQ2.

There's some overlap, I mention combat mode, no meditation, reduced camping, and the quest system. But there were some things I had forgotten about.

  • Travel Time Reduction One of the things I wrote then is that the travel time changes, in particular the call to home city makes the customized player housing work better. It doesn't seem like home if you are never there, after all.

  • Everyone gets spells, at every level I had forgotten about this. It's such a standard now in MMORPGs. But fighters didn't really get any buttons to mash in Everquest. Other than taunt. Furthermore, you get a new spell, or an upgrade every single level. This also seems pretty standard now.

  • Storyline/Lore/Drama Everquest had lore and storyline. But they weren't dramatized very effectively. One had to dig for it. Now we have dungeons like Shard of Love, with it's touching, if a shade creepy, story. We have quest lines like the gnome brothers attempt to build a catapult in Zek. The devs will create an instance like the one where you ran into Fippy Darkpaw. Just to portray a story well. Book quests have fallen out of favor, but they also were a way to inject more lore into the game. This kind of thing is pretty standard now in a lot of games, but it didn't used to be. I think LOTRO has taken this a step further, their instances have more movement, more story, more interest, and they use them more.

  • Class and Subclass Quests This is kind of a sad one. I wrote:

    One of the things I like the most about EQ2 is the class and subclass quests. They really do a good job of dramatizing what the class/subclass is all about, and make the player feel like he is really filling the role of that class. Rogues have to sneak around and discover information. Enchanters need to solve puzzles and discover influences. Guardians need to, well, guard someone. Brawlers, at least in Freeport, get to take on a thinly disguised WWF. This is really fun, and dramatizes what's special/unique about a class.

    Of course, these quests and instances are all gone now, in order to enhance the replay value of the game, the archetype/class/subclass branching at launch was eliminated. But I miss those class quests/instances. My ambition was to eventually do them all, I think I managed them for 4 subclasses (each in different archetypes).

  • Crafting This one is out of date, too. I wrote:

    The crafting system is the most elaborate I've seen. Multiple levels of quality are possible on the same combine, so your skill actually seems to matter. And there is opportunity for interaction with other players here, too, since rare components can drop in chests as well as be harvested, so even a strict fighting-only character might get one and have something made.

    This was written before the great tradeskill consolidation, which got rid of subcombines almost completely. And the subsequent consolidation which got rid of levels of quality. I think that ended up being necessary, since the amount of time and skill it took to make a spell upgrade was becoming prohibitive. What we've got instead is a system where certain crafted goods have a solid ecological niche. There are spells and gear. The void-shard gear can be made for fewer shards (now marks at level 90) by tradeskillers, but can be bought from NPCs. So there's no monopoly, but still a value proposition. EQ2 has tradeskill quests (so does LOTRO) and tradeskill instances and the ability to build faction with tradeskills. It's at a pretty good place now, but I'm not sure the recent changes, other than the tradeskill instances, are innovations.

That's the view from 2005. It's changed a bit, but what can you do? Time marches on, even in Norrath.

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Blogger Magson said...

Something I like about eq2 also is that you can get a complete set of gear at level 1. Well, sneeze on a couple of mobs on the way to the broker (or bank if you dropped twink stuff in it for an alt) and you're level 4, but you get the point. All these games that don't let you wear a helm until level 10 and no gloves until 15, etc just bug the crap out of me.

11:34 PM  

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