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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

EQII Community Summit: Part II

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Welcome back. Let's jump right into it with some tradeskill info. As you know, I am not a big tradeskiller, but I was very interested in the plans for the tradeskill system because I think it can be best described as tedious in its current form and is one of the weakest aspects of the game. For those of you who are Frizznik conspiracy theorists, I discovered that he was actually a holographic projection from the future who was sucked back into the space-time continuum. Okay, I'm just kidding. All I can tell you is that, yes he still works at SOE. He’s just working on different aspect of the game right now. I know that’s still a little mysterious, but you’ll just have to live with it.

Beghn is the new tradeskill guy in town, and he is excited about what he is working on. As you can see by
this post, he is trying to correct any bugs in the current tradeskill system. Beyond fixing bugs, one of the things he is working on is having different crafted items for caster and melee classes. For example, a bracelet might have intelligence and wisdom for casters but strength and stamina for melee types. This is in line with some of the 50-60 jewelry which is in the game. I’m not personally familiar with these items but one of the high-end players said they were great.

Beghn is also working on making the art assets look better. There was a discussion of adding int/wis to drinks. I’m not sure if this is the way to go but I would have to hear from provisioners. Also on the table is the possibility of quivers, which would be kind of like multiple slot bags you keep in your ammo slot. I find it hard to see any negative in that. It’s just a reduction in the annoyance factor and a good idea.

I have to say that although I was impressed with what Beghn had to say, the tradeskill portion of the round table was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that major changes are coming. Well, the main reason we were there is for feedback and so we gave it to them. I raised the point at the round table that people want to make things like a sword or a spell when they tradeskill and not 500 individual bottles of chloro wash (or whatever it's called) which in turn require subcombines and so on over and over. A few of the other attendees also raised the same issue in various forms to members of the SOE team over the course of the summit and I think we really got through to them. How this will play out, I don’t know.

Besides tradeskills, one of the main things I’ve harped on when writing this blog is armor diversity. I hate looking like every other wizard and I hate looking at a Swashbuckler and not being able to tell visually what type of scout he or she is, or even if they are a scout. Well, Lotus, the new Lead Character Designer (I think that's his new title) feels the same way. Working on armor diversity is a major goal of his so I think we can look forward to that in the future. He feels that class differentiation is important from an art standpoint. To give you a little background on Lotus, he has done some amazing things with the zone art prior to his new position and he is definitely very knowledgeable about game lore.

He also mentioned the possibility of adding a visual representation of armor damage. Someone raised the issue of dyes and the answer was that there will be no EQ style dying, though it may appear in some limited fashion. Another thing mentioned by Lotus was the possibility of racially restricted armor, i.e. armor limited to Dark Elves. I love this idea because I feel the more differentiation in the game the better. I probably couldn't tell you some of the races of people I play with all the time and that's just weak.

Lotus is also currently working on reducing the number of polygons for certain mob models which will drastically reduce lag in some of the older zones while still keeping the visual look pretty much the same. While we are on the topic of art, the team as a whole is moving into a more fantastical, high-fantasy art style as seen in DoF. From what I have seen so far, this is the way to go. Also, you can expect zones to be more non-linear and interesting in terms of vertical movement.

I've said before that I am a big fan of faction in DoF, but I don't feel like faction was well done at all in the pre-DoF game. Well, SOE seems to be aware of this from some comments made at the round table and they gave us some hope that the faction system may actually mean something in the pre-expansion zones.

One major way to give meaning to the faction system would be to change Freeport and Qeynos to cities with attackable NPC's much like Maj'Dul. Obviously, your standing with that city would reflect how the guards treat you. So, going into Freeport as a Qeynos resident would garner the aggro of the guards and they would actually attack you rather than just magically throw you out of the city. I have to agree with this idea because it feels more fun and realistic. The only issue I see, which was discussed, is that you don't want to have people unable to find things like their class trainer because someone just killed it. And Nathan Ironforge will probably be camped like he has the best loot in the game just so people can have the pleasure of silencing him. But there are plans to deal with these issues if they go in this direction.


Scott Hartsman even raised the possibility that the betrayal quest may become a faction based quest. For example, if your home city is Qeynos, but you have committed faction-changing acts which make the Qeynosians want you out of their city, you could take solace in Freeport by gaining faction with them. To me, this is the way the game should be, a more flowing, dynamic and realistic world. I agree with Scott's statement that the very first humanoid mob you kill in the game should introduce you to the faction system.

Which brings us to the newbie isle. It sounded like a major focus for the EQII team is revamping the newbie isle and tutorial. Now, I know this is not going to be super-exciting to high level players but it is important if we want the population to keep building. Personally, I think they were actually being a bit hard on themselves, because the IoR was the best introduction in any MMO I've played. But even something that's good can be better, and if it helps hook new players, I'm all for it.

So how can SOE revamp the newbie experience? Well, one way is a thematic one. Scott mentioned the possibility of reworking the storyline so that you are a hero when you come to the Isle of Refuge and not a weak refugee. I don't mean you will start off at level 60, I just mean the dialogue and storyline will make you feel more heroic. This is something City of Heroes does very well. From the first minute you play, you feel like a hero. I think this is an admirable goal to strive for in EQII.

On the technical side, the team wants to teach new players about the things that have changed in EQII since the newbie island was first created and to do a better job of teaching the things which are already there. The possibility was also raised of having NPC's on the Isle which would (in a completely optional fashion) teach you about various in-game things, such as Guilds or lore. The team would also like to remove some of the annoyances of the early game like having to zone into your apartment several times to place paintings and chandeliers and find a better way to give the citizenship quest than that confusing sign. The collection quest spawns on the IoR may also be ramped up.

That's it for today, but I have plenty more info for tomorrow. Oh, a final note for today. You can expect a lot of fun holiday events in the future, which I'm assuming may even start with Halloween. From the tone of the announcement, I'm guessing these events will be a level above any you have seen previously and they seemed very excited about them.

7 Comments:

Blogger warm_machine said...

That is some exciting news for the game. I really looking forward to seeing all of it put live. Hopefully sooner rather than later. I know that all of it won't make it in, but I dare to dream. The Holiday events are the BEST and I'm SO looking forward to seeing what they have cooked up for us... especially Halloween! Yay!

12:51 AM  
Blogger jaipehg said...

"but you have committed faction-changing acts which make the Qeynosians want you out of their city, you could take solace in Freeport by gaining faction with them."

YES YES YES!
Hehe. :P

1:03 AM  
Blogger cyan said...

Here, here. I agree completely with no revamp on IOR. I think it probably the best tutorial so far for a MMORPG. There are TONS of intricacies to the game but I think that should be left of the eq2 player community and it's many boards. The Isle of Refuge does a great job a t facilitating a new player (a new player to a MMORPG) and even helps along those that are not new to MMORPGs.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Quylein said...

Nathan Ironforge will probably be camped like he has the best loot in the game just so people can have the pleasure of silencing him.


Ahhh what sweet revenge that will be

10:48 AM  
Blogger Steve Kramer (a.k.a. Saavedra) said...

It was a pleasure meeting you Aggro. I hope you had a good time.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Twodragons said...

I volunteer to camp that fisherman in Qeynos Harbor that spouts, "Please, try your luck. I've been fishing here..."

7:33 PM  
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