A Few Changes
I’ve been playing EQ2 since release, and EQ1 before that though admittedly not for long. Both games for the past six years and of course like everyone out there I have my thoughts and opinions when it comes to game play, content, and mechanics. Here are a few of the very basics.
- Players need something to do that feels like progression
What I mean by this is that once you’re 80/80/140 (adventuring, crafting, aa) you’re out of things to do except work on gear (which can tap out depending on your play style) and make an alt. So many players I know have more then one level 80, in fact I’d almost say a majority have at least two, and quite a few range between 3-4 now depending on their commitment to the game. There are some (what I see as) very simple and easy solutions to give players the illusion of progress even if it is meaningless. Well take it.
Number one would be extend the achievement lines. All of those racial abilities that people are offered such as extended drink and food, 4% melee or spell crit chances, the ability to breath under water, a 15% bonus to run speed while invis – off those as achievements instead. Make each one or each rank of one cost a number of points rather then just one. Give everyone the same opportunity to personalize their characters. Is it really going to hurt if a high elf has extended food or can breath under water? It gives players something to aim for, a goal, that makes it feel as though they are making progress. All mmo’s need this. You should not be able to say you feel as though you’ve completed an mmo. The achievement line in EQ1 is a very fine example of this – and I realize there are flaws such as guilds requiring you to have a certain number of aa before you can join. However, I am not talking about game-play changing aa here, I’m talking about very basic ones that will not alter or change the way the game works in any drastic measure.
Another example of the illusion of progression would be to implement a Lost Dungeons of Norrath era in EQ2, or at least monster missions, or some other sort of mission that rewards the player with coins, points, tokens, or shards that can be saved up and traded in eventually for gear, spells, adornments maybe – something, anything. Even having a tracking board to see who has beaten the most missions, have them scale by level and have different difficulties exactly like the LDoN in EQ1. Promote group play! With RoK solo quests rewarding things on par with grouping (the cloth gloves in Kunzar Jungle as just one example, the waste hunter line items as another) what is the point. Bring the game back to promoting group play. This does NOT mean neglect solo play since players need something to do in between grouping, but there should be a higher risk vs. reward if you’re grouping.
Even if a player KNOWS it is simply ‘busy work’ they will take it. At least it is progress of some sort.
- Stop trivializing your own zones
This one is more difficult. What I mean by this is that in EQ1/VG/WoW none of the zones ‘grey out’ per say. Sure, the lower level encounters no longer give experience as a reward, but they do all still drop loot. Yes, this means that lower level mobs and zones can be farmed – but as your player base levels up, this is almost needed in order to keep zones active and busy. If you allow zones to grey (such as they do in EQ2) you allow them to become empty of players – unless you are expecting players to level alts or always have a high flow of new players to the game (which is almost impossible these days with so many new games on the market).
I have ventured into so many ‘old world’ zones where there is not another soul in them. Not even that old per say – Steamfont mountains is only one expansion away and it’s quiet. Crushbone Keep, another example. If higher level players could still obtain anything at all from these zones (aside from shinies) we might actually see the population spread out a little, and see PEOPLE in zones. Wouldn’t that be great?
It’s not without its flaws. Yes, this means that lower level characters may have a difficult time obtaining what it is they need, but how would it be any different then any other game out there whose zones do not trivialize. They will find a way to make it work. Players are not stupid they can be resourceful. They don’t need to be hand fed as much as they are.
- Promote grouping
This is another trickey one. There’s a balance between solo content and group content that’s slightly out of whack these days in higher end zones. Aside from instance runs there’s no reason to group. What happened to the good ‘ol days of EQ1 where you’d sit in BoT or some other zone and camp for hours with a group. There needs to be more heroic content (separated from the solo content) with a significant bonus to being in a group. Something that won’t take away from the solo players. Perhaps an increase to the experience you obtain from a group encounter. Right now the difference in experience from killing a mob solo vs. group (in RoK at least) is so insignificant, it’s barely noticeable.
I realize this is not the case for all expansions and that from 1-60 running through dungeons in a group is probably the fastest way to level up. It is not the case certainly with RoK.
- Rare gear should be just that, rare
This one is a little difficult to explain. Does everyone remember Prismatic 1.0? It was quite possibly the MOST difficult quest chain I have ever done. It required numerous raids, and a long ‘speak as a dragon’ quest that at the time of the level cap (50) was really hard. The quest required at least 6 different raids, and fabled gear was almost unheard of – in fact I don’t believe it was even implemented in game back then.
The reward from all that hard work? Was legendary.
That’s right, we all worked for those prismatic 1.0’s and they were legendary.We were SO proud of those weapons.
Granted, they were some of the best darn legendary out there, but still. Now a days, everyone wants fabled. People can even obtain mythical if they complete raids. What happened to keeping those things rare and out of the reach of the average player. Legendary has become the new treasured. Fabled has become the new legendary. Mythical has become the new fabled. There’s only so many ranks of gear that can be introduced, and the easier they are to obtain, the more players want the next rank up.
There are solo quests now that reward fabled. There are group quests that reward fabled. This rank of gear should have never been allowed to become so common. The more common it is, the more it loses it value. Now, I realize that there is probably an outcry from people who do not raid, who also want to be able to obtain these levels of gear and perhaps that’s why they were made more common. As both a raider, and a none raider – I personally feel that there is no reason why fabled should drop anywhere aside from raids. There IS a difference between players. It’s not a bad one. It does not mean that one is any better or worse then the other. Personally, I don’t think the casual player should be wearing gear equal to or close to a raider. It is not a matter of deserving it or not, but simply the fact that raiding is heavily involved, it requires things that grouping and solo play does not. It’s not harder per say – but it is more involved. I’m a firm believer in rewarding people who take those steps, and I understand that not all players can do so. It’s complicated I suppose in the end.
Anyhow, those are just a few basic thoughts and ideas I had about gameplay and EQ2. No doubt more will follow, I didn’t want to ramble on for too long today.
I like the way the aa system now rewards people for quest / disco etc and through exp once you’ve achieved max level. I still wish there were more though. 140 comes by too quickly and then you’re basically ‘done’ the game and there’s not a sure sign of ‘progress’ for players to achieve.
I agree that the achievement system is a huge part of what makes EQ so infinitely replayable, but after some initial confusion I like the system they implemented for EQ2. It rewards people for doing what alot of raiders I knew in EQ ignored, and that’s quests and discovery. In EQ2 if you have close to 100 achievement points then you’re a character who knows your game, because you’ve been to the zones, you’ve slain the bosses, you’ve done the quests and enjoyed the content. Maybe if they added in a system to spread the racial traits around more (especially for the tradeskill bonuses… why can’t my sarnak be as good a jeweler as a gnome is) it could have its experience gain come from another source.
The population in EQ2 really is heavily distributed away from low level zones and that’s a shame. Especially when the latest expansion is locked for low level characters… don’t really see any reason for that. Deciding to open up looting from low level zones is a tough one but in the end I think the benefits would outweigh the negatives. The economy on Najena is pretty mature, and all loot is level restricted so you wouldn’t have the rampant twinking that plagued the old game. You also probably wouldn’t impact the low level experience in a negative way, because there already aren’t long camps like there were in the old game. If a high level character wanted something specific, it wouldn’t take them long to get it and maybe (knowing the people who play EQ2) they might help out the low level person they meet along the way.
I miss grouping the way it was in EQ, when you could actually talk to people you were in a group with. I know it will get better when voice chat goes live but with as much as groups move in this game I know I haven’t gotten to know some people I group with as well as I’d like to. I can see how the way it is really benefits the casual player though.