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Revolution in their minds, the children start to march  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tuesday, June 29, 2004 --   evermore image

The Game

Some of my guildmates have expressed feelings and ideas that I feel are very pertainant to EverQuest as a whole. These thoughts and feelings have been developed from years of playing Everquest. After reading them, I felt compelled to put them out so everyone can read them. While this is a bit long, It is well worth the read. These are probably the most lucid and well thought out overviews of what is wrong with the game as a whole. I am not just saying this because they are my guildmates. Just a note; These come from a thread we used to help Tikker prepare for the summit. Some of the concerns have already been addressed. The ones that have not are the reason I am posting this.



  Blatantly tacked-on, artificial timesinks have got to go. Back in the day, keyed areas like VP and Sleepers were once-an-expansion endgame zones. Today keys, flags, and trials are not the exception, but the rule. The newest and most uncreative of these methods is the lockout. I could understand a lockout on success, to simulate respawn period. But now the lockouts come on failure, too. Uqua gets to be attempted less than twice per week. No jolly gnomes sending us on key quests, or having us fight 500 trash mobs in a trial to "prove our worth." SoE has cut out the pseudo-role-playing middleman and gotten straight to the point: Click, you're locked out. Come back in 3 to 5 days. This content WILL last until the next release. Things weren't always this way.

  Scars of Velious is generally considered the best raid expansion to date. Most of the endgame content could be instantly accessed, or cleared to, within an hour. The notable exceptions to this would be Sleeper's Tomb, Tunare, and (circumstantially) Yelinak.Sontalek, Klandicar, Zlandicar, Dozekar, King Tormax, Dain Frostreaver, Velketor, Wuoshi, Telkorenor, Gozzrem, Lendenaira and Vindicator all fit into the category of easy accessibility. Statue of Rallos could be fought a half hour after Vindi died, and the Avatar of War a half hour after that. The North ToV gaggle o' dragons would average out to less than an hour per boss.SoV had all this content without keys, trials, hours of trash, or lockouts. OMG, danger. Yet, amazingly, the expansion was not cleared the week it was released. It had no problem entertaining most high-end guilds for a year, and is still a favorite of many.The difference was (mostly) good design, and inherent timesinks rather than clunky, barely-integrated corporate turnstiles that are slapped in front of the content before it goes out the door. Most SoV mobs had one perfect timesink; their innate difficulty. It is still the best. You could hit Sontalek or AoW or Yelinak a couple months after release. Then you'd die. Guilds realized that in order to beat Ubermob X, they'd need to "power up". Queue the Rocky training music. A month or two later, guilds could come back with thurgadin quest armor, or primal weapons, or the entire population of taiwan, and try again. Players recognizing work that needs to be done, and choosing to pursue same, is the most palatable and 'natural' timesink.

  Once the baseline is re-established, occasional key zone or quest zone exceptions can be interesting. Trials, Rings, Quests, and Mobbed Dropped Keys are all interesting concepts. Just don't overdo them. Everyone loved the innovative "Ring 10 War" from Velious. Players voiced their appreciation, and SoE responded with with RING EVENT MANIA for the next 2 years. Too much of a good thing. The new drug is Trials. Since PoP, served 3 meals a day. Spiced with lockouts to suit.

Don't re-balance, but uncap previous balancing

  A few years ago, class balancing was done to make several classes more group and raid friendly. One key element was to give group buffs to those classes. Paladins could raise HP, rangers boosted our ATK, and SK/necros were given tap-buffs. Beastlords later came along and were given Spiritual Dominion. All casting classes have received new buffs since then. Many new items are being introduced which have right-click buff effects.That previous balancing is capped by the buff limit, and not evenly across all classes. After basic HP buffs, mana regen/haste, and resists, the remaining buff slots are at a premium. AEing bosses are common, and that means we are rarely working with even 15 spots (leave room or the AE will make room). There is no careful picking and choosing, because all buffs are not created equal. The result is something similar to the 'Holy Trinity' that used to make some potential group members more equal than others. Some buffs are more equal than others. In a raid situation, 99% of the time I must immediately click off any fewl Nec/SK buff icon. I like the extra AC that rangers can give me with CoR, but often don't have room. SHM charisma might help those Divine Interventions, but I get few requests. No room. Ditto for mage DS, various tap-recourse buffs, potions, non-shortbox songs, and the list goes on.I'm not proposing *new* stuff for anyone. Buffs were a part of class balancing. Uncap the 15 buff limit so that balancing can be fully realized.

Depth and Context

  Our current raids feel so disconnected from classic Everquest. They are computer-generated maps re-using the same 25 room, hall, and corner art files. Loaded with golems in neon Tron suits, alien ghosts, and one or two other leftovers from Sony's SWG cantina. The story of Norrath is lost in these. It needs to be brought back. Alot of the fun of the game is feeling like your the "Hero" out to save the world. I believe the Ikkinz trials all use identical maps and creatures. It is often difficult for members of our guild to identify which trial we are raiding. I shit you not! If someone said, "the one that ends with the golems", they'd never be lying.

  But this is about more than mob selection.When I crept through the mino area of LGuk, I knew that place had a story. A war of attrition between liveside and deadside, each with its own heirarchy of rulers and celebrities. The cast also included free agents, like an Evil Eye who'd become a squatter in the frogs' DMZ. Several different environments. Caverns. Mazes. Stone parapets. Underground rivers. Hand-drawn textures. The place had its own story and depth, and kept more or less within the context of the world around it. These elements made that "collection of graphics that hit my character" more interesting than the space alienz we fight daily in soulless Gates of Discord. Lore does help, and I'm no role-player. Not by a longshot. Yet, simply reading that Trakanon had ambushed Irontail's navy, hundreds of year before, and killed Rile Sathir, somehow made fighting the green lizard more interesting. When they take it further and make the lore visible and in-game, it truly fleshes out the character's depth and influence. I can look behind King Tormax and see the skull of Hsagra, his enemy's wife, or visit the lair of his banished sorcerer Velketor. This is simply a bad guy that someone created for a game. But they cared enough to give his existence a palpable impact on the world around him. The entire SoV expansion is like that. It felt like they wrote the story and plot outline *first*, and made sure it was a good one. The LDON and GoD storyline reads like an afterthought that they used to patch together a bunch of random trials. That generic Wayfarer device could be force-fit onto any of the expansions. The PoP storyline was interesting until PoTime, when it gave up on itself. Did the original designer quit? The deus ex machina with Druzzil was beyond cheap.Context. Lore. Depth. Give a damn, and maybe we will too.

The Velious Smoochfest Continues.....

  Scale # of drops to match raidflation.Back to my pal, King Tormax. Three years ago, thirty-ish would kill ole' Tormy. The entire raid, including trash clearing, could be done in under an hour. Tormax would load 3 to 4 drops. Those thirty-odd people would typically get three high quality rewards from KT's loot pool (crown, head, caster ring or sash, melee piercer, boots or gloves). He had one booby prize, the 2H slash. Most of the other Velious bosses loaded three drops. Low to mid-thirty was a typical raid size for that expansion. In SoL, guild sizes and corresponding headaches went up to support a mid-fifties raid size. In PoP, raid sizes went up yet again. When the corporate content block was finally lifted from Rathe, you came with a full raid (72 people) or stayed home. LDON abruptly and briefly cut the raid limit to 36. Now GoD has it back at 54.The number that doesn't change is three. If we are lucky, that's the amount of rewards a boss will load. Often it is only two rewards. This is okay for a mid-thirties raid. It is not okay for double that many. A 72 person raid needs to drop 6-8 quality rewards. Scale for raid sizes that fall between those two. Add another drop to the load for each (hour > 1) of raw trash clearing. Those brain-numbing extra hours COUNT. Rather than see the extra loot, I'd prefer this guideline serve as incentive for designers to cut the boring scenes from their movie before showing it to the public. All mobs become easier in time. Smaller numbers and less effort will become possible. This should never be a consideration when balancing the initial mob and its loot. Single groups now kill Tormax. They receive 3-4 pieces of his 3 year old loot. Big deal. If the original content designers let that scare them, maybe now we'd be talking about wholesale under-itemization that began in Velious, rather than Luclin.


  Pushing untested and uncompleted content live before it's time. That has to be the biggest problem I have at the moment. They just don't test stuff very well and send it live anyway, the date is more important than the game.The designers have some really good ideas on making interesting encounters, except for one. They normally take too damn long to do. Interesting does not equal 4 hours long. I think there are some great elements in Uqua that make it both challenging and exciting. The problem is they are overused, and the raid is about twice as long as it has to be. Once you beat the traps and make the pool room, what's the point in more traps? Kill the door golems and then more traps? Kill rage and fury and more traps? They are put there to add time, not difficulty.

I wish there was a list of things players want to see in a raid. Personally I would like:

  • Encounters to be less than 2 hours, so you can do more than one per night.
  • There were more drops per event, or more drops on the boss mobs. 4-5 hours in Uqua for ...5 bits of loot. Barxt should drop 4-5 items himself. The bosses of the KT raids should drop 4-5 bits of loot. That doesn't include geomancy stones.
  • I'd like to see the raid limit or expedition limit stay at 54, but I’d like the ability to add people at any time during a raid, even for flagging/keying stuff.
  • I wish dx9 stuff would work, I ran from Natimbi zone to Yxxta zone in KT on the wrong side of the zone wall, because I bumped through it. Looked cool, but c'mon....
  • I wish quests had meaning in EQ again. The only question about quests these days is "what's the reward?" Usually it's not worth doing, even for a twink.
  • I miss the story of the world, I miss seeing Al'Kabor in GM events and making fun of him. What happened to Mayong Mistmoore? Exactly what are the vampires in Tenebrous up to? They have anything to do with Mayong?
  • I miss the exploration, landing in FV for the very first time, landing in Iceclad and immediately getting killed by the snow dervs thinking "welcome to Skyfire v2.0". Even exploring Luclin wasn't bad. The world was big, getting lost had repercussions.


  I have a hard time with the storyline that began with LDON. It worked well for LDON, as you were exploring the ruins of lots of new stuff and helping to discover stuff which would need to be archived and catalogued, etc. LDON cast the players as explorers, the "Indiana Jones" type role. GoD is where it gets messed up. Suddenly Norrath is being invaded by this race/tribe/type (I’m not quite sure anyone knows for sure) of creature(s) that want nothing but to take over, enslave everyone, and kill. However we are still the lap-dog of the wayfarer's brotherhood. We can go out and kill stuff, collect stuff, and find new stuff, but the brotherhood already knew about it, pieced stuff together and they are clearly leading this expansion. I can just imagine the final event in GoD to have Morden and his merry band show up at the end and KS the raid, it would all make sense to me then.  In a nutshell, I’m disillusioned with the storyline in GoD because I’m not a hero anymore. I'm not siding with a faction in Luclin, exploring Kunark's nooks and crannies, never really had the option of siding with either Seru or Katta, I’m just a soldier for hire, led around by shiny baubles and trinkets by better people than I am who are a part of the wayfarer's brotherhood. I want my character to mean something again, I don't want to play second fiddle to an NPC.


  Raid limit at 54 I could see getting rid of, but have mobs operate like Bristlebane, so that engaging more than 54 (or thereabouts) will give the mob special abilities. I like the idea of reinforcements to the fight, without having to turn people away from encounters due to too many people.Luclin was at least fun in the sense that you could bounce around raid targets...start in Ssrae, go hit up burrower in the deep, come back to Ssrae. Now you are locked into 1 event per night.


There is sooooo much that could be done with Antonica rather than keep chugging out random retarded lore like this wayfarer crap. Especially now with the transportation system installed with LDON, plenty of content could be added to the original continents. Have the Heretics take over Kerra Ridge in Odus with some hotshot negrodite leader and make it a raid zone. Open up the bottom of The Hole to the Plane of Underfoot or wtf-ever with undead dwarves. Put Mistmoore catacombs actually IN Mistmoore and make the tower a portal to an even larger vampiric castle, like PoMischief.

  Basically stop using resources to try to create 100% new stuff and re-use some older zones to spawn new content. EQ became what it did today because the old game/zones were fun. Each brand new thing drives people away. Swords and sorcery baby, not mutants and outer space.