Posted tagged ‘Everquest’

What is an MMO?

January 29, 2011

RiftMageFront1

Back in 1997, when Ultima Online released, MMOs were a fledgling genre. No one was sure if they would succeed. Hell, no one even knew exactly what constituted an MMO. Of course there would be a persistent world for the players to interact in (in the case of Guild Wars that persistent world would just be the city and the player hubs), and character progression would be included as that is the basis for all computer role playing games.

So, in 2011 has the genre become a more solid entity? Do we understand exactly what makes an MMORPG, let alone what makes a GOOD MMORPG? The answer, I feel, is no. Right now there seem to be two categories of MMO gamer. The first is the old school MMO player, the guys and girls who cut their teeth on AOL Muds, Ultima Online, Everquest and the like. These people will take every opportunity to let you know that they’ve played UO or EQ (much like I’ve done above, and right here, and probably below this too). The second is the player who got drawn into MMOs because of World of Warcraft. These are not necessarily still playing WoW, and it’s these people who are often the most likely to rant and scream about how terrible WoW is.

To that first category, which from here on will be referred to as Old People, todays MMOs are missing that spark that made UO and EQ great. No one is exactly sure what it was that made them so great, but everyone has a theory and they won’t hesitate to share it with you. From the more sandbox nature of UO, to the neverending grind/socialization of EQ, players will talk about how much more ‘alive’ the old MMOs were.

The second category, which I have dubbed Noobs, doesn’t have those old school games to warp their perception. Often these people have only ever played WoW, or if they have branched out most of them haven’t been able to enjoy the other MMOs out there. Why? Because for them WoW IS MMOs. They may have stopped playing it because 3 years of any single game is enough to drive someone insane, but WoW is still their basis for comparison. To these people the more social aspects of MMOs take a backseat to their personal progression.

So which of these people are right? Neither really. The Noobs (forgive me for the name Noobs, it just fits when compared to us Old People) believe that an MMO that forces them to group up is a failure, while the Old People will scream about how the old games, like EQ, were far superior to the new games because they forced you to group up and interact with people. Coincidently they will be playing one of the new games and NOT one of the old school MMOs.

Now that I’ve grossly over generalized an entire group of people, let’s get to what I think an MMO is, and what I want to see in an MMO. The first thing is that we need the basics: persistent world, character progression. That’s the basis for an MMORPG. Sadly most companies making MMOs, ever since the early days of EverQuest, decided that the most important thing about making an MMO was keeping their players playing for as long as possible. This has resulted in the dreaded EQ year long grind to the level cap, the 40 or more man raids, and the horror that is rep grinding.

When do we put up with shit like that in our single player games? If I picked up the new Dragon Age II and it told me I needed to grind the same quests/mobs for a few months before I could fight the final boss it’d be the first game I brought back to a store and demanded a refund for. So why do we accept it as part of an MMO? For the same reason millions of people play FarmVille. Is it tedious and ultimately pointless? Yes. Does it take hours out of your day just to do something you get no enjoyment out of? Yes. Does it also allow you to space out, like vegging out in front of the Television, while at the same time interacting with friends and feeling like you are accomplishing something? DING DING.

So MMOs, since the beginning, feed on our basic want to improve ourself, while at the same time allowing us to sit around and space out, grinding away on mobs for rep or xp. Was it fun in Final Fantasy XI to get a good group of Linkshell mates and just grind mobs for hours? It could be a total blast if you had the right combination of people to chat with, but you know what? I could get that in a damn AOL chat room too. A video game should not have a caveat like: Sure the gameplay and story are boring as shit, but I get to chat with people and compare myself to others as I play! A video game, of ANY genre, should above all be fun to play.

I’ve recently been reminded, thanks to several blog posts and friends playing DCUO, exactly what I always wanted in an MMO.  Ever since I first started playing Ultima Online I realised that I wanted a video game with a persistent world. That has yet to happen. Instead we’ve gotten repetitive grinds, whether quests that are meaningless kill quests or straight grinding for rep or XP. There is very little ‘game’ in current MMOs. I want the basic concept behind games like Demon Souls multiplayer aspects taken to the extreme.

I want a single player experience wrapped in an MMORPG. Give me an 80 hour single player RPG like Dragon Age, then make it the same persistent world that everyone else playing the game is occupying. Let me hit the city and see thousands of players walking around, doing quests, shopping or just chatting. Don’t give me bullshit quests just because you’ve decided it should take me a month to get to the level cap and you need more quests to fill up the time. Treat it like Dragon Age, where most quests are either directly involved with the main questline, or if not they are epic on their own.

Then what happens when you’re level 20, at the level cap, and you’ve finished with the 80 hour storyline? That’s end game baby, time to do some end game dungeon runs and start raiding just like everyone else. Don’t let it end there either. I don’t need massive expansions every year, but instead I should have DLC constantly. Perhaps a five or six hour story once a month, and perhaps a new raid or so every two months. Then the expansion hits and the level cap is raised to 30 and everyone levels up and gets ready for end game again.

So what’s the difference between that and current MMOs? Removal of the boring stuff. Should you have to go spend a while gathering herbs for potion making? Yes. Should you have to spend three weeks grinding daily quests to get your rep up with someone so you can get one piece of enchantment that you need for raiding? No, that’s done ONLY so that you spend more time playing and thus more time spending money on the game.

Does an MMO need to keep me playing nothing but it for three years? No. But it should be fun while I am playing it. When did we start accepting bad design and purposefully gimping our playing experience just so the company making it could (theoretically) make more money. It seems stupid to me, but I write this while waiting on the PVP que for WoW to pop, so it’s not like I’m voting with my wallet here. Still, it means The Old Republic could be exactly what I’m looking for.

EverQuest III?

May 12, 2010

My EverQuest II character is a level 29 Coercer. I got him up to level 20 just doing the Neriak starting area quests and it flew by. There were some new things to get used to, and the Coercer was pretty hectic what with the charmed mobs turning on me, Mezes being resisted and my clothie but having nothing resembling a heal. There were some confusing things during the first twenty levels, and some really cool things that I learned.

Sadly it seems to have gone downhill from there. I am worried that perhaps it might just be better for me to wait for EverQuest III. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of things about EQII still and I would love to figure it all out. Sadly it seems like I might have come in too late. It was easier to figure out EVE and Fallen Earth, for me at least, than it is to figure out all the facets of EverQuest II.

It doesn’t help that I got two dungeon runs from guildies. They came down, mentored me so we were the same level, got a group together, took me to the dungeon and we ran through two separate dungeons multiple times each. I have no idea what the mobs looked like, or if it was cool or not. It was all just a jumble of movement and non-stop action. Imagine if your first experience with WoW dungeons was 4 level 80s, and you at level 60, and then running you through Blackrock Depths. Mobs are AOE’d quicker than I can see them, and the bosses are dropped so quickly I hardly understand WHAT TYPE of mob I am fighting.

So maybe judging the early dungeons isn’t a good idea. The problem is that those two runs, on the same day, got me nine levels. Now I’m stuck at level 29. I know I need to go to Enchanted Lands at level 30, but I am scared of that place. Why? Because I am currently in The Forest of…Nukerot? (Apparently it is Nektulos Forest) The Forest is filled with level 20-26ish mobs. I generally die once every four or five pulls to the level 20 mobs, and once every other pull to the 26-ish mobs. I’m 29! It’s not the class either, it’s my nubness. I have no idea what I’m doing. Are there attacks that don’t break CC? I don’t know. Do I need more AA? No idea. How do I go about getting AA? Got me, should I set my AA bar to 90% and grind mobs? The problem with that is that I’m dying left and right.

Did I do myself a disservice by going to those dungeons? My guess is yes, but how much of a disservice? Everytime I use an ability it says my skill in the corresponding skill has increased. I’m 60-something out of 100-something on most of my abilities. Does that effect my spells? Do I need to get the next rank/tier of my abilities? I have no idea! My charmed mobs can’t tank and die if they try, meanwhile my charms, mezes, roots etc break or are resisted all the time.

Today has been a terrible gaming day for me, so that’s not helping. Am I giving up on EverQuest II? Not just yet. I think I might try a class that isn’t quite so involved. A Berserker maybe? Or I might just go back to a Necromancer. I think I need to learn a lot more about the game before I can start having fun again, which is sad, especially since everyone else playing already knows this stuff and they don’t think so mention it when I ask for help.

Doesn’t help that my guild doesn’t talk much, or respond much, either. Ah well, I’ll keep trying. Just in a really foul mood today and it’s not being helped by my sucking it up.

EverQuest II: The Sun is Shining!

May 5, 2010

I got into a really great guild on the Antonea Bael server yesterday and it’s really changed the game for me. First of all I got a lot of questions answered. Then one of my guildies, a level 40-ish Inquisitor, asked if anyone wanted to go to a dungeon with him. I laughed and said I would, but it’s going to take a couple of days to get from 20 to 40-ish. He laughed and said he’d do a level 20 dungeon with me.

This isn’t the usual high level running you through something dungeon run either. He ‘mentored’ me, which means you lower your level to the level of a person in your party. This basically means he was level 2o again. He got together a group, and I showed by nubness by having no idea what he was talking about when he told me to go to Call the guild hall. He personally came and directed me through a confusing number of teleporter’s and bell/boat things in order to reach the guild hall. The important thing here is that I got to see a bunch of different zones, including:

CarpetSun1

THE SUN!

That carpet is more an automated ride, not a mount I possess. In fact I possess no mount at the moment and I’m not likely to for a while. I do however possess three FORTY SLOT bags! I went from all 8 slots to having three separate FORTY SLOT bags! That’s more bag space than I think I have in WOW at level 80 at the moment.

Anyway, after he showed me around the guild hall for a little bit, me being suitably impressed, he decided it was time to go to the dungeon. I basically followed him there, having only a vague recollection of where I was going, or why I was standing in Stonehenge harvesting shrubbery (apparently I can teleport there from the guild house now!). Speaking of guild houses one last time I feel the need to say that they are NOT like LOTRO’s guild houses. EQII’s guild house thing is like a GIANT castle with all kinds of randomness everywhere! It’s insanity. I’ll post some pictures later.

The dungeon itself was fun, though I’m really not sure if there was a story involved, or even what the hell it was supposed to be. Some kind of mage prison maybe? Or just a hole in the ground? No idea. There were some quests inside but we didn’t bother with them, and I learned that if you stop to look at anything along the way it is almost impossible to find your group again. You have no minimap in the dungeon, so you’re forced to wonder through the halls of elite mobs looking for some sign that your group went that way.

LibrarySoup1

What is going on here? No one knows!

I did get three levels and 2 AA levels in about 2 hours, so that was pretty awesome. The only downside is that other than keeping the tank targeted and spamming all of my abilities (if you target someone friendly and attack you automatically cast on the mob they are targeting) I really had no idea what was happening. Still, it’s awesome that higher levels can lower their level and help. What’s also awesome is that he still got XP, because he got another level while we were there! That’s a great incentive to lower your level and help lowbies.

I’ll talk more about EQII as the story develops. Meanwhile I have other games I have to get to as well.

Let’s Play Everquest II: Skulls and Cadavers 4

March 7, 2010

Donning his new robes, and finally getting a good meal, Amuntoth was all set to continue on his way.

Calnozz J’Melvirr: “Woah there friend!”

I don’t remember you at all…”

TwinAfter

Calnozz: “That’s not important. What is important is that I have a business proposition for you.”

“Not interested peasant…”

Calnozz: “Not even for several silver?”

“Well, I guess I can’t just walk away without hearing your proposition, that would be rude.”

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Let’s Play Everquest II: Skulls and Cadavers 3

March 6, 2010

When we last left our hero…

When we last left Amuntoth the Evil Necromancer he had just left the starting town, bound for the wide world. Also he plans to own it all.

FirstCamp

“Ahh, some of my subjects. It looks like they’ve made camp out in my wilderness. I’ll just have to see if they have any food, as I seem to have not bought any when I got to the surface.”

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Sandbox vs. ?

March 5, 2010

Warning. Today’s post contains cursing, foul language and anger.

A lot of the people I follow have been chiming in on the whole Sandbox vs. Theme Park discussion such as Keen, SynCaine and Alex to name just a few. Let’s get a few things straight before we start. I started playing MMO’s back in Ultima Online, before they supposedly “destroyed” that game. I have played most major MMO’s and many free such as Atlantica Online, Asian such as Lineage, or just “kiddy” MMO’s such as Wizards101.

I game a lot too. Most of my free time is spent gaming, and a lot of that is playing MMO’s with my friends. I also fall squarely on the “Theme Park” side of the discussion, though I think that term is derogatory. You see I’ve played so called Sandbox MMO’s before. It was amazing in Ultima Online, and from what I hear Everquest 1. Have you ever noticed how it has sucked in every other MMO that has come out since? Ever noticed how most of them have tanked?

I believe there are two main reasons for this. The first is that 80% of the people who say they want a hardcore PVP free for all Sandbox game reminiscent of Ultima Online actually don’t. The second is that PVP of any kind, whether it is in an FPS style game like Call of Duty or Halo, or it is a game like World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online or Aion, is flooded with douches.

I’ll try to explain both of these, starting with the second. Let me be clear here that I do NOT think that everyone who likes PVP is a douche or an asshole, and I don’t think that PVP makes people into this. I simply think that the massive amount of asshats out there (many of whom starting playing MMO’s with WoW) are drawn to PVP. Not really though. They are drawn to the misery of others, and PVP is a means to an end.

These are the type of people who will roll onto a role-playing server JUST to harass the role-players. These people are the teabaggers, the Halo jocks, the people who don’t really enjoy the game, only the interaction with others that makes them feel good. You will hear these people, from here on referred to as asshats, berating the game in general chat and wishing it didn’t suck SO much. Most often you will find them playing some kind of rogue class where they can stealth and gank lowbies. These are the same people who will cry the loudest when a new MMO talks about putting in protections for lowbies.

More after the jump

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Let’s Play Everquest II: Skulls and Cadavers 2

March 1, 2010

When we last left out hero he was just informed that killing off dozens and small elementals has lead to several of the larger elementals getting angry. These larger elementals are conveniently twenty feet away in a cave. As luck would have it though there are several things that need to be done in the cave including: kill elementals, pick up rocks and kill some more elementals. I also found a wanted poster for Ithari K’Xyrae, some Dark Elf that apparently did something wrong. Who cares? It’s time for pustules and pain!

FirstElemental

This is a rock elemental.

FirstElementalArm

This is the same rock elemental. Here he has taken off his own arm and is beating me to death with it. Luckily the sound of my screaming is drown out by the horrible, wet crunchy sounds my face is making every time he hits me. At least no one can hear. I scrape through the fight and thankfully I feel like I have learned a lot from the encounter.

More after the jump.

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