Archive for the ‘EQ’ Category

Holy Cow…

Last night I spent several hours running around in EQ. For a while I was having fun and really enjoying myself, but the more time I ended up spending in game, the more frustrated I eventually became. The further I progressed, the more I began to understand just how “hardcore” this game really was. Since I never really gave it a shot back in its hay day, I don’t know how much more “hardcore” it was then since apparently there have been many improvements since then, but even now it seems pretty silly. I should say this, though: having the help of the Nostalgia guild to give me some pointers was really very beneficial and I would never have gotten as far as I am now without their help.

So there I was in Crescent Reach having just hit level 10 (woot!) A message popped up on my screen with the names of some people to go and see, which I for some dumb reason closed without giving much consideration. Having realized my folly, I asked around to see what it said. While I didn’t get any of the names, I did realize that I was supposed to go to the Planes of Knowledge. I searched for a few minutes in Crescent Reach before I gave up and decided to head back to the tutorial and be sent there by Arias, the revolt leader. After being told what to say to Arias, I said “I’m ready to leave” and he promptly teleported me to the Planes of Knowledge. Wow. I opened up my map and realized that it was a massive hub for most if not all of the zones in EQ. Unsure what to do next really, I went over to the armor quest giver and received a quest to go to Butcherblock Mountains and kill some mobs at the chessboard. At that point, I started looking at all of the portals and couldn’t seem to find one for Butcherblock Mountains, so I found out that I needed to go through the Kaladim portal. Once through, I opened up my map to try to figure out where the chessboard was. A completely empty map. I guess I just need to look around the zone and find some landmarks to fill in the map, I thought to myself. After about 10 minutes of running around, I realized that the map wasn’t changing at all. Huh? At that point I started asking around and found that originally in the game there were no maps at all. WHAT? I couldn’t believe it. I was then given a website to go to for zone maps, so I went and pulled up Butcherblock Mountains. Ok, here we go. I found the chessboard and headed that way. It was pretty tough as I had no map in game to help give me an idea where I was going so I stuck to the edge of the map and made my way around.

I’d been checking most of the mobs I’d run by, finding that nearly all of them were grey, and weren’t attacking me. That is until I ran into two goblins, who was red. I didn’t even realize it until I stopped to try to find my bearings and see how close I was to the chessboard. I was promptly whacked twice for over half of my health before I took off running again like a madman. I realized that the two swords by my name indicated combat mode (I had the sound turned off so the combat music didn’t help me) so I kept running and running trying to get them to break while also not running into more aggressive mobs in the process. I was also trying to find some way to rotate the camera behind me to see how close they were, but this failed miserably. I also didn’t know what the autorun key was, so I couldn’t ask whether they would break or not. After about five or six minutes of running around, I realized that they weren’t ever going to break, so I gave up and they killed me. “So mobs never lose aggro?” I asked. “Never,” I got as a response. They added that you could leave the zone, but if you don’t know the zones at all, what good does this do you? I went back and tried to find my corpse for about 15 minutes before giving up and using the corpse summoner in the tutorial to retrieve it for me.

The last time I played I learned that death meant dropping every single thing that you were carrying, and that was shocking enough, but now that I know that most maps don’t even have maps and mobs never lose aggro are added to the list, making me wonder what other fun surprises are awaiting me further in. I understand that community is incredibly important in this game and that they are really willing to help (at least the Nostalgia group is,) but I really don’t feel like I should have to ask questions about every little problem I run into. I hate that I feel so lost and clueless all of the time, and I hate to bother other people with all of these issues. Not only that, but all of these major inconveniences keep making themselves apparent, so I can’t help but wonder whether it’s even worth it to keep going. Many of the players in the Nostalgia group leveled up together and had previous experience playing EQ, so they were at a huge advantage over me, who is alone and has no prior experience with what I feel is one of the most unguided games I’ve ever played. I’m not trying to play the pity card or ask for someone to come play with me. I’m simply saying that I should be able to figure these things out on my own and learn as I go, but I feel like if I don’t ask for help with everything, I’m going to really screw something up or miss out on important aspects of the game.

I’m not sure exactly what all of this means, but right now I really don’t know what to do, or whether I will continue to play or not. I mostly just wanted to vent some of my frustrations and see what you all had to say about it.

~Kanthalos

Can We Get It Back?

If you read this blog, it’s pretty safe to assume that you have played an MMO before, and if you have, chances are you have very fond memories of your first. It will always hold a special place in your gaming heart, and you will never truly forget the places and the people you encountered in your time there. For me, this is Asheron’s Call, though for many others it’s EQ, Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, WoW, AC2, or pretty much any MMO to date. For me, I’ve always been looking for something to replace the euphoria and obsessive behavior that accompanied my time spent running around Dereth, but I’ve never quite gotten there. I’ve played over a dozen MMO’s since Asheron’s Call, but nothing has really drawn me in the way it did. I suppose this is to be expected as the first time is usually the most memorable with many things, MMO’s included. That said, is it fair to say that we shouldn’t or couldn’t try to get as close to that feeling again as possible? I don’t think so. If this were the case, we should have stopped playing MMO’s after we tired of the first one we played. We don’t, however, because we understand that improvements are being made every day to MMO’s currently out and those being developed for the future.

So why is it that our positive experiences don’t really seem to carry from our first MMO experience to all the others we’ve played since? The obvious response is that no two games are the same and expectations change as these games evolve. The reasons we loved our first might have been an afterthought or purposely minimized or not included at all in another game. No one with any common sense would ever implement Asheron’s Call melee combat system into a game now, and this is true for many of the systems that these games used. The problem is that by the time you change all of these systems to modernize them, the game that you loved so much is nothing more than a shadow. This is typically why sequels struggle so much. Just look at AC2 for evidence. Not only was it plagued by bugs on all levels, but they altered the game so drastically from the first that most of the AC1 players hated it. It’s reasonable to speculate that if the bugs hadn’t been there it would have had a much different result, but I think regardless, they would have been shooting for different market because the game was so incredibly different. The combat system was changed, the skill tree was added to replace the skill system that was used in AC1 (one that I truly miss and would love to see again in the future.) These two changes alone were enough to make it feel as though this wasn’t a sequel at all, so it made it very difficult for AC1 players to jump straight over, and instead many went on to other games completely.

Not only do we have to consider the game itself, but the way our lives have changed since then. Back in 1999, I was just entering high school with far less responsibilities than I have now. Granted, I am currently unemployed, but between looking for a job and taking care of other things, the time I have to play is much more limited than it was back then. I would literally spend 3-5 hours every night after school playing, and this is simply not feasible, or really desired, now. So since I have less time to play and less desire to spend that much time playing, does this mean that I can’t get as invested in a game, and therefore, won’t get as much out of it? I don’t think so. At least, I don’t think that should be the case. If I’m forced to spend 30-40 hours a week playing an MMO to fully enjoy it, then it’s not something that I’m going to be willing to do. If I WANT to play that much, it’s a completely different story (not that I actually would play that much) and I think it’s serving it’s purpose.

Taking into account that these games are constantly being upgraded and changed, can we really get back that experience that we long for? I really don’t think so personally, but I do think that when we find the game that suits us best that is a really good product, we will create a new set of memories and consider them to be equally valuable. Whether that means a fantasy-based game or not, I don’t know, but I do know that as long as I enjoy MMO’s, I will be looking for this type of experience again.

~Kanthalos

Slightly Bummed…

Well, apparently I misunderstood how the Living Legacy program worked. Since I didn’t have a subscription to the original EverQuest, I don’t qualify for the two free months. This bums me out quite a bit because I was looking forward to playing this game basically for the first time, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I actually bought EverQuest long, long ago, but there is no way that I could ever remember my username and password to re-activate it. Guess it’s EQ2 for me.

~Kanthalos

*Great news! I actually did manage to recover my old account information! That said, I’m patching EQ currently and I should be up and running soon.

Heading Back Into Norrath

Well, I was pleased to read about this offer to re-up all former EQ and EQ2 players accounts through July 31st, as well as include EVERY expansion. This is excellent news, and an amazing marketing strategy for SOE by my thinking. For me, this means a $70 value for free if I only play EQ2 since I’ll be getting the RoK expansion for free as well as two months of free play. If I do decide to give EQ a shot (which I’m considering) then the value is probably in the $100+ range.

The only thing I am concerned about is that players who have already bought the most recent expansion might feel upset that they paid for the expansion when all of these returnees might not have. I personally don’t think I would care because they have been playing it since November (I believe) and have experienced all of this content already, and they will also potentially have an incredible amount of new players to meet and join up with.

I really can’t tell you how excited I am about this. Yes, I have played EQ2 twice and given up both times because something didn’t feel quite right, but the fact that I have two months to play without feeling pressured by a subscription fee to do so is wonderful. My goal is to get a character to 35 (or 50 or so if I start with one of my characters at 24 and 25.) I’m not sure that I’ll get there, but who knows, I could end up much further along than that even. The only online game that I’m seriously playing right now is Mythos, so this gives me another game to add to the mix, which is always nice.

Regardless of what I get out of this personally, I am really impressed that SOE went ahead with this. It must be incredibly hard “throwing away” all the money you would get from customers for the expansion(s) as well as two months of play, but on the other hand, if players were never going to come back in the first place, what have you really lost? Nothing. Hats off to you, SOE. I really hope this works out well for you for using such a bold strategy. Now if only I could patch in less than 16 hours… 😉

~Kanthalos

Why Penalize Players For Grouping?

Asheron’s Call (I’m assuming like EQ from what I’ve heard) was filled with grinding. LOTS of grinding. Back then, we didn’t care so much. We didn’t know any better and we grew to accept it. You went from one tusker dungeon to the next killing a black tusker instead of a red and black tusker (for those of you who don’t know, they are basically gorillas with big, well… tusks.) You got to know the people as you spent more and more time in the same dungeons with them. You’d join a fellowship with them (a group basically, with up to (nine?) people) and chat away with them as you mindlessly hacked away at whatever you were grinding on. If a fellowship was full when you got there, you waited in line for someone to leave and take their place.

In most games today, grouping up while grinding is pretty much unheard of. Why? Because if you are a proficient “grinder” (mmm, tasty) and you group with someone who isn’t as skilled as your or their class isn’t well suited for it, you will get less xp than by yourself because most games have you split xp evenly. Asheron’s Call was different, though. If you were grouped with one other person, you each got 75% of the total xp, and with each additional person in the group, this dropped a little bit, so with a full fellowship (either eight or nine) every person got 33% of the xp. Think about that for a second… nine people each getting a third of the xp. I think more games could use a system like this. It encourages people to play together, and for those people who enjoy a good grind from time to time (myself included) this would be a great way to do that without feeling like you are actually earning less xp than questing. Obviously, the situation in AC was different. Questing was the exception, rather than grinding, so increasing xp in groups was a must, no doubt about it. Why, though, does this mean that games that have a quest-centric system don’t have to give bonus xp to groups? It doesn’t. It’s like the developers say “well, they are getting extra xp for doing the quest, so why give them even more xp for doing it with another person?” This just seems flawed in my opinion. An MMO’s greatest attribute is the fact that you are playing WITH OTHER PEOPLE. I know that sometimes you want to have some time to yourself, but if you do want to do a spend some time with a friend without a real goal in mind (or just for questing) you shouldn’t be penalized for it.

~Kanthalos

Legends of Norrath — Collectible Card Game

Well, it looks like my prediction was incorrect, which is alright I suppose 🙂  It turns out it’s going to be an online collectible card game called Legends of Norrath.  At least I wasn’t the only one predicting an MMO, but this could be cool.  I don’t have a lot of money to drop on cards, but one cool feature is that you can find cards in both EQ and EQ2 so maybe I’ll still end up with a couple playable decks 🙂   Well, that’s all the news I’ll have for the weekend (even though I was beat out by several other bloggers, hehe) so I’ll be back next week.

~Kanthalos