If You Can’t Go Back, Go Back Even Further

Wilhelm has a good piece up right now detailing the ins and outs of doing a progression server for EQ2, and how that probably would not, generally speaking, really be all that fun for anyone. The salient points, for me, were primarily that EQ2 was a very different animal back then, and the changes to the landscape and to the way characters are built have changed significantly since launch. This poses problems with progression mechanics and just what, exactly, you would be enacting.

However, if going back creates problems and lacks interest, maybe you’re just not going far enough back. Don’t turn back the dial to 2004. Turn it back by one thousand years, to Norrath as it was before even the original. Norrath as it was in Everquest Online Adventures.

EverQuest-Online-Adventures-Map

EQOA was in some ways the little brother of EQ2. Launching nearly two full years before, some of the flavor of EQOA resides in EQ2, though whether by accident or design I couldn’t tell you, I assume its by design. Both games at one time featured progression through classes as well as levels. Much as EQ2 simplified some of the controls and difficulties of EQ, EQOA was also catered to a more casual crowd, perhaps because of console limitations at the time. Many of the skills also overlap, or perhaps were tested in EQOA and later used fully in EQ2.

But two hurdles are fairly obvious from the outset: would anyone play, and how much work would it really be?

The first is easier to answer, using polls and other metrics, but I think the answer would be “yes” provided the opportunity was branded correctly. Billed as an opportunity to play your ancestor, perhaps with appropriate tie ins to the main game via account unlocks, it would provide some interest from role players and achievers alike. Not to mention explorers get a whole new world to roam, and raiders have a whole new set of boss mobs and locations to trash. And while EQOA’s fanbase was admittedly small, they were loyal enough to keep a dead PS2 game going for 9 years – including years well after anyone even continued to sell PS2, much less make new games for them.

eqoa

The second question (“how difficult would this be?”) I can’t really answer. SOE was game for the unusual and down to take risks at times. But now that they are not calling the shots, this is probably a pipe dream. Still, if you wanted to do it in an efficient manner, you could. Classes did not really have all that many abilities – taking the same simplification approach that EQ2 has – not giving each level’s identical spell new names, then most classes really had few spells (the toolbar in EQOA was 4 or 5 slots if I remember correctly – a very modern approach). If I remember correctly, my magician had light and heavy versions of cold and fire direct damage spells, a pet, and a couple of utilities available at any given time.

Quests were streamlined and small in nature. After starter quests each level to get you to 5, quests were spread out after that, with several levels passing at a time before a new one would open up. And quests (with few exceptions) were not class or race specific. The world itself had quite a bit of open space, but textures and animations could be reused from EQ2, and some of the locations would probably just need minor editing as opposed to full blown overhauls.

Fayspire

Its a pipe dream, and I know it. But I still think it would be a lot of fun to do. Who among the EQ2 crowd even knows what Fayspire is, much less having ever visited it? To open up even a few zones of recreated, thousand year old Norrath, for current characters would make for great nostalgia of a different sort in the game, and provide opportunities for some interesting quest lines and stories to be told. Its not the first time that an MMO has turned to time travel to explain zone changes, new zones, or expand storylines, am I right?

Well, in any case, I guy can dream. And if Smed drops by, maybe he can look into making it a reality.

#mmos, #everquest, #2015

Friday Humor: SOW sue me

My wife works in the corporate world. I think its nuts in there, but she seems to enjoy it. But every now and then I can’t contain myself. All week she’s been muttering about a signed order for work that has been delayed over and over again. But of course, that’s a mouthful, and so, like everywhere else in this world, it gets abbreviated. So she was venting a little last night about how she couldn’t get a signed order for work and nobody was helping her, and so on.

I was a very good understanding husband. After all, I know exactly what a pain in the ass it is when nobody will give you a SOW and you have to stand around shouting and begging for one.

Day Three: My First Day in an MMO

 

If that’s not retro, I don’t know what is.  That is my first character ever in an MMO.  Sort of.

 

I had wanted to get into MMO’s but was nervous about how “hardcore” everyone kept telling me Everquest was.  With my first child and a move to graduate school both coming within six months time, I knew those days were probably behind me.   Enter Playstation’s version of Everquest, which was supposed to be more accessible to the common gamer.   And it just so happened a friend of mine was beta testing it – in those days a rare thing.   There was about a week left, so he let me borrow his whole system (keyboard too) and take it to my place to try it out and see if it was something I wanted to get into.   (By the way…what’s the statute of limitations for NDA breakage?  Because we totally did that).

 

I was hooked in the first hour, but I didn’t play beyond the tutorials and a bit of wandering.   I bought the game, ethernet adapter, and a new keyboard on my next payday.   So technically, that’s a picture of my second ever MMO character.

 

I still remember how I got butterflies in my stomach, exploring this virtual world, marveling at all the other people standing around with me in Fayspire and then Telethin.  I had started a Magician, but before long I saw a Ranger wander through dual wielding, and wondered how long it would take me to get one to level 20 so I could dual wield as well.    Thus the first symptoms of alt-itis developed early.  As did my first desired equipment – it didn’t take too long to see a Magician with a shield.  I went nuts.  A shield?  That was awesome.   Later I found out there was a dagger that had somehow been assigned the visual graphic of a short sword.  And I spent my later days in early Norrath looking like an Elven Fighter-Mage from early DnD, especially since I was the only mage I knew that took the time (and money) to keep a stack of throwing knives with me to supplement my DPS when my mana was low or I was waiting on a cooldown.

 

The very first vanity item for me:  The "invisible" mage-only shield.
The very first vanity item for me: The “invisible” mage-only shield.

 

That first day was incredibly memorable to me.  It actually hurts to think that I will never again roam the towers of Fayspire, accidentally aggro that giant elite/group encounter fish while swimming in the lake, or fight my way through the tunnel of orcs to the lands of the dwarves.  And if you play the theme song for me, I will stand mesmerized by PTSD-like flashbacks.

 

 

And I will do you one better – I also remember my very first loot drop.  Well, outside of vendor trash.  It was a magic staff called the Beanpole.   Adds to Intellect and Power and so on.  But the description said that it was enchanted to slowly cause the bearer to take interest in the world of agriculture, and it was said that the mage who created it lived out his later days blissfully farming.  Apparently the curse worked on me too.  I’ve had a strange attraction to farming and cooking in every MMO since that has offered it.

 

Mostly, after that first day, I am still impressed with how huge early Norrath was.   One of the early grinds was always opening up the caravan (fast travel) route from Freeport on the east coast to Qeynos on the west coast.    That run took at least an hour, maybe as much as an hour and a half.   I’m sure more recent MMO’s can boast of greater size in total across their zones, but I don’t think any, except perhaps Everquest 2, has overwhelmed me with how big it is in quite the same way.  And these days, with the removal of Qeynos and Freeport as starting areas, I’m not sure it has the same vibe either.

Quote of the Week

This time of the year really heats up for me, vocationally, so I apologize for the lack of posts.  I still have another post on Project Gorgon to pop out, and some other things floating around, but they will just have to wait.  For now though, I got  a chuckle from bhagpuss‘ comment on TAGN’s latest EQ2 nostalgia offering:

 

One thing you could never accuse SoE of is consistency, which is almost top of the list of why they’re my favorite MMO developers.

 

I thoroughly agree with SOE’s inability to handle any sort of consistency, but I’m not sure that is quite what endures me to them.  I suppose its the almost puppy-like sense of enthusiasm and the way in which the entire group seems to consist of “FIRE, AIM, READY” people, which is very much part and parcel to my personality as well.

Nefarious Payment Schemes

There has been much angst recently over what we might can call “Lockbox Syndrome” among F2P titles lately.   Everquest II has jumped on the bandwagon.  There are clearly moral, if not legal, evils at work in the Syndrome.  And unless the sample size for the stats wasn’t big enough, the investment cost for the end game prize in such a scheme is fairly daunting.  I don’t disagree with any of that.  I’m not a fan of lockboxes or prize wheels or anything else that takes me back to that horrific childhood moment at Showbiz Pizza or the local arcade where I came flush from victory at the SkeeBall lanes to the prize counter…only to realize that my cash and hard work had combined to buy me a few plastic army men.

https://i1.wp.com/nebsfunworld.com/images/uploads/arcade04.jpg
7000 tickets? Yeah, you can get any thing from those first 3 boxes on the top left.

But there is a scheme that is even more nefarious than that.  Even worse, its used not just by Free To Play games, but full bore Subscription games too.

It requires deep investment by the players.  So deep that it can often lead to those life problems that have been tied time and again to gambling, including throwing around that “A” word – addiction.

It is random, and sometimes you get nothing out of it.  You can save up your investment and go all in if you want to, but even volume investments may not net you any results.  That end game prize will continue to elude you.

Likewise, it is in the best interest of an MMO to have this scheme in place, because it nets them money and subscriptions.  Yep, that’s right, when the game is working off a subscription model, players have no way to say no to this scheme.  It is built into the game, and they are being charged for it whether they intend to participate or not. It takes chunks of developer time and energy in updates, and is a money generating hamster wheel.

Even worse, players that do not want to participate will be at a disadvantage in their stats and ability to engage in some of the games activities!  Its the most disgusting form of “Pay to Win” around, but nobody to date has had the guts to blow the whistle on it.

Well I do.  So lets just get it out in the open:  where is the angst and rage and protest around hardcore endgame raiding?  You know, the kind that requires hours of investment so that you can get a chance at winning a piece of gear that will make your character measurably better.  The kind that many players will never see and may or may not have interest in participating in.   The kind that provides the best of the best in the game, with no other possible way to get those same prizes or ones that are comparable to them for their game time?   The kind that brings out the worst in people – causing fights, racial and ethnic slurs, discrimination, and generally turns the part of the population involved into either a cesspool of brats or a flock of arrogant twits?

Where’s the angst over that?  Because compared to that, if Perfect World or Sony or whoever the hell else wants to sell lockboxes at a $1 a pop for items that aren’t any better than similar items already in the game that you can attain for free, and that I can choose not to pay for, I’m not sure what the problem is.

State of My Game: November

I’ve been thin on content lately my friends – I had a large family wedding this weekend and this week a dear friend passed away, so I have been neck deep in friends and memorial arrangements.  Here’s where I’m at:

EVE Online 

I should be back in the fold as of tonight.  I have plans and alot of future posts planned about those plans, so stay tuned.  Mostly I’m excited to strap into that badass Command Cruiser and put it to good use in the coming PVE events in Incursions (when it finally drops I suppose).  Also on the docket – T2 missiles and projectile weapons.  Its time to diversify into the world of Minmatar.  Kudos to EVE Online’s re-sub discount, its one of the reasons I’m back.

Fallen Earth

I am back in here as well, working my way through some content to catch up with my brother.  Mostly I have my eyeballs on crafting though, as usual.  I have a severe case of motorcycle envy, and and even worse case of submachinegun/shotgun envy.  I’m trying hard not to blow all my points on Pistol to have one  *now*.  Kudos to Fallen Earth for their re-sub discounts.  Its one of the main reasons I’m back.  Seeing a  trend here?

Star Trek Online

I am around 700 skill points shy of my Nebula and Akira.  After that, I have no idea what, if anything, I will be doing in the game.  I continue to be intrigued by Diplomacy though.   Part of my slow progress in the game has been spending time (without spending Credits, because I know I will need them for the non-free Tier 3 ship) stringing together enough Diplo XP to open up more missions.  I’d really love to see them spend more time in that category.  I enjoy the space battles and land battles, but I need the exploration and conversational stuff thrown in to break up the monotony that can come from having an MMO where your skill bar has less than ten buttons on it instead of the normal thirty or so.  One other request Cryptic – and a small thing I never thought I would miss – color code the quests by level.  As it currently stands you have no way of seeing, until the quest is in your log, its difficulty relative to you.  Gimme that old “grey to red” colorscale to help me sort them all out, m’kay?

Rifts: Planes of Telara

There may or may not be an Alpha.  It may or may not have an NDA.  I may or may not be in it.

Everquest II

I haven’t been playing but I’m excited.  My wife and I’s ten year anniversary is upcoming.  She asked me last week what I wanted.  And I jokingly said “play some games with me.”  She pursed her lips and replied “one night?”  I said, “one for each year of marriage.”  She frowned.  “Okay,” I admitted, “I’m open to some negotiation here.”  If it happens, and it looks like it might, this would probably be where we would play.  No extra money, its pretty vanilla in terms of system, not alot of grieving going on, etc.

Pirates of the Burning Sea

Goes F2P this month, and it will be on like Donkey Kong.

The Reincarnation

I continue to urge you to this free warhorse of a game.  Its been going on for over a decade now, and is fantastic.  We are currently neck deep in a two front war, and about to open a third.  Its my third or fourth set leading our guild, and we have truly grown into a veteran war guild.  Despite the two front war, we have lost only one mage to each of those opponents, while slaying multiple foes on each front in response.  And another two will probably be dead before the day is out.  If you like strategic PvP, this is the place for you.  I imagined that would apply to alot of you EVE pilots out there…

So that’s it.  Add in my long reading list and my neglected novel for NaNoWriMo, and you’ve peeked inside my world this month.  Was it good for you?

Turns out, its not so F2P after all.

Yeah, I guess I didn’t understand that whole quest pack unlocking mechanic.  My brother tells me that without shelling out, everything in our level range becomes a grind alone.  Basically at this point, to continue playing Lord of the Rings Online, I would have to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-$20 dollars.  For the next half dozen levels – and then I’d have to shell out more.  Rinse and repeat. And if I were to start from scratch, I could play to level 20 or so, and then I would have to start paying just as I would if I kept my current characters.

Maybe I’m a bit jaded by EQ2X’s system and the way it parses things.  If I wanted to keep my character there – it would be a $35 flat fee.  If I elected to start from scratch, as I have, it will cost me nothing.  I know this is in some way apples to oranges.  But I don’t think quests are an optional component of the game these days, as much as I wish they were, or were at least reduced in quantity and magnified largely in quality.   Bag size, number of character or storage slots – thats helpful but not necessary.

I Missed It!

I missed the blasted festival in Neriak.  I hate that.  I got out the other night and was going to do some collecting to get my city tokens, because some of those furniture items were out of this world.  It made me miss my main account, where I know I have some city tokens stashed in the shared bank.  However, because of my powerleveling the other night, I hadn’t gotten my harvesting skills up to Tier 2 for the quest to get me some city tokens, and by the time I had done that, I had to log for the night.

It's art. I sweat it is.

And yes, I’ve been in Neriak.  The truth is, outside of Qeynos and Freeport, its my favorite city.  While I love the housing in New Halas, the city itself is rather droll.  Gorowyn has the opposite problem – lots of personality, but housing that bugs me (I can’t ever get the angles on my furniture to line up right).  Fairyland is nice, but having to navigate the bridges and landings loses its charm pretty quickly.

Oh well, I’ll have to grab a few city tokens this month to stash away for wherever next months Festival lands at.  And avoid that @#$% fortune teller.  You can lost five GOLD in a hurry if you hit the wrong button…….

I wish I had some great gameplay or design updates for you today, because I’m really in the moot to mash one out on the keyboard here.  Unfortunately, inspiration is lacking.  Anything you all out there want to discuss?

I spent the weekend on my wife’s uncle’s farm, which is nice for relaxing to an extent.  On the one hand, kids can be set loose to run free and not get into too much trouble , and there are a plethora of adults on hand to watch over them, so I got to nap a bit and read a bit.  On the other hand, cramming 30+ people under one roof, even if it is a big farmhouse, can get hectic and stressful at times, and game playing time is all but nonexistant.

So I basically logged in each night to take some turns in The Reincarnation, and  contribute what I could to the war effort, and last night I spent a few minutes playing with my Champions Online characters since the free week was almost over.  I also ducked into APB to find that reports of its demise were greatly exaggerated, but that they were also not doing anything to help themselves in that regard – some of the patch notes are head scratching to say the least.  It was an ugly throwback to the early days of Vanguard patch notes, where one could find patch after patch going by with no solution to game killing issues, while changes to the game that were not warranted were implemented to further fuzzify the mudification.

Tonight I’ll probably be back to Fallen Earth (its time to raid Oilville after a rather disappointing roam through the Junk Fortress) or EQ2X to push my Warlock higher up the chain and hopefully make a decision on what character number 2 will be.  And tomorrow we will start the grand journey of free LotRO – though I’m not sure how that will work since I have banks stuffed full of crap that I probably won’t have access to unless I pay up…

Even with all that, I still wanna buy a Station Pass.  How sad is that?  I’d like to play my main characters in EQ2 rather than starting over again, and I’d really like to roam the Star Wars universe a little more in Galaxies.

Mainly though I just want that weekly group going.  How about it?  Anyone want a regular, once a week group activity night in EQ2X or LotRO?

State of My Game: September ’10

Well looks like I have shingles for another week – this according to my latest doctors visit on Monday.  I’ve also been told that I was lucky that we caught it early.  Normally shingles on the torso manifests around one nerver branch – with the rash covering perhaps a rib or two.   Mine is vertical from the top of my shoulderblade to midway down my back, wrapping around all the way to the front.   This week the fun has been numbness and itching, which don’t go well together.  Because it itches, and you try to scratch it, but you can’t feel anything.  Oi.

Anyway, onward to the games  (its more fun this way – if you see a game you dont play/dont like, just skip to the next one!):

EVE Online

I’ve decided to rest this one for awhile.  While there is alot still on my training list and I’d like to do planetary interaction, I just can’t seem to get motivated to do much more than change skills and sign in once a week to run a mission or two.  That’s still plenty of entertainment for $15, but I have other areas that would be probably more fun and productive.  My one big regret here is that this means the corp will probably sell that big beautiful Damnation they were building for me…

Star Trek Online

I swear I’m going to get that Akira before my sub lapses in February.  Consider it my other yearly goal or something.  Plus I want to see these new diplomacy missions.  Sadly enough though – I watched the AMC Star Trek Movie marathon last week (two weeks?) ago, and even that didn’t movitate me to play…

Champions Online

Free game time, for anyone (not just past account holders – new players will have access to the whole game) from today to September 7th.  That will be just enough time for me to check in on my favorite superhero and teleport around a bit.  And probably just enough time to get bored with the game again.

Fallen Earth

 Last night I went to cancel my subscription because my free time was out and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of my brother since he bought The Guild 2 (for the unfamiliar – its like a medieval version of The Sims).  I could have played some solo and been fine, but after 3 solid weeks of adventuring in the game, I was ready for a little break.  That turned into a big break when…well more on that later.  Anyway, as it turns out, they had billed my card for the month’s sub one hour and forty five minutes before I logged in to cancel.  I was *that close.*  Last night I was pissed about it, grumbling, and considered asking for the money back.  This morning though, I was of a more philosophical frame of mind.  The studio could probably use my money, I like what they’ve done, I’m not sure I’m really done with the game yet, etc.   Let it never be said that I’m not a generous person!

The Reincarnation

 And this is the reason I haven’t logged in to much in the MMORPG world lately.  My favorite free game heated up again when we got into a major war.  A three way alliance of guilds, totaling 77 players, taking on the servers favorite guild of villainous backstabbing players, totaling 30 in number.  Not fair yes, but the enemy brought it on their own head – running their mouth, trying to sneak spies into other guilds, leftover hostility from betrayals last set, etc.   I give them credit,  they were losing tactically just by shear numbers, but they made up for it strategically and diplomatically.  At first they war dec’d everyone, which caused us all to waste turns and trip over each other.  You can’t share battle reports and spell logs if you are not allied, and most of the other guilds weren’t going to ally for any number of reasons.  Then yesterday they simply disbanded their guild, leaving us to rebuild our enemylistings and battle morale issues from some of our guys who were ready to be done and thought that should be the end of it.   Thus far we’ve gotten 7 of them and only lost 1 of ours, and we have perhaps another 6 of theirs on the ropes that will go down in the next couple of days.   It will still make for a tough Armageddon though because we haven’t been able to drag down many of their top mages.  I’ve enjoyed being the guild leader again this set, particularly with all the diplomatic hurdles and hoops I’ve had to jump through.  Makes me want to play more Vanguard!

EQ2X

Yes, yes, yes.  I’ve really enjoyed it so far.  The limited races and classes has actually *helped* my game.  I know I can’t create mulitple crafting alts.  I know I can’t hoard my gold, I need to spend it on gear.  I’ve discovered two new classes that I passed over before that I really really enjoy (Warlock and Inquisitor).  I really like the new twists they put on the starter areas (yay no more annoying little girls in Feydark!)  though I still really do miss the trial islands.  And I’ve come to accept the fact that I like the Neriak and Gorowyn starting areas best, despite my earlier Gorowyn gripes.  The change up in skills was not as bad as I thought, and the new appearance flexibility goes way beyond what I imagined (you can be using a sword and board for group play and yet look like you are dual wielding axes, etc).  Some of the RP skills I liked (Summon Food and Water for example) are actually still available, but are considered “fun” spells now and can be purchased rather than given automatically.   Plus, I ran into someone who had transferred their level 90 over (a Shadowknight, what else?) and we had a good time talking as he ran me through Darklight Woods to the tune of 6 levels and 7 AA points.  While dumping a mound of gold on me (would have been platinum, but there’s that pesky cap on money).   I don’t know if this is representative of the whole game or not – but our group consisted of him with an active account, me with an inactive account – and two brand new players.   That’s a great sign for the game I think.

All that – and more than anything, all I want to do is shell out for a Station Pass.  How said is that?  All these good games, many of them for free, and I still want to spend money.  I guess the F2P systems works somehow then.  Perhaps alot like it worked for Wizards of the Coast when 3rd edition DnD dropped.  The Core Rules were free – but everything else cost ya.  And it made them truckloads of cash.

The downside is that it also made them greedy – hence no free stuff in 4th edition (I wish someone would take them to court over this, because I think they would win considering their public pledge that Dungeons and Dragons would henceforth, always and forever, be free).  But that would never happen to our friends in the MMO industry would it?