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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Quylein vs. Aggro: Vanguard Debate

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Fellow blogger Quylein the Mage and I got into a little discussion on the Aggro Forums about the upcoming MMO Vanguard from Sigil Games. We decided to continue that debate via e-mail and post it for you on both our sites. I’m taking the anti-Vanguard position while Quylein is taking the pro-Vanguard stance. Quylein's comments are in italics so you can tell us apart.

Introduction

I do not think Vanguard will be a commercial failure. The amount of fansites and forum threads about this upcoming MMO dwarf those of any other game. What I do question is whether this hype is merited. It's yet another fantasy MMO and the E3 reports from unbiased sources left me quite unimpressed as did the videos. I know that is not a fair measure of what the game will be, but I like to base my opinions on facts rather than some vague devotion to a person who left SOE at the perfect moment in time. And from what I can see, the classes are a snoozefest, the mobs are unimaginative, and the graphics are not at the level I expected. Basically, it looks like an updated first-generation MMO rather than the third-generation MMO Sigil claims it is.

I would have a hard time to disagree with you on the fansites and forums, most in general are very well put together. I believe that says a lot about Sigil in general, it's like they are here to provide a product from the little man to the little man (us). To me it makes a difference and it's been showing in everything, I also believe that it leads people to speculate and start to put expectations on the game. The game’s pictures to me more or less are unrefined as in most cases with alpha pictures. They are now hitting beta 0 but I like to call it alpha because it's not really open to a small general public that has no ties to the people making the game. I will try to be unbiased as I possibly can about Vanguard as a whole and as you may have read I don’t dig the graphics all too much either. Thought they will be tweaking graphics on into launch, much as they did with Everquest Live. This hype is attributed from Ex-EQlive people like me because we know what Brad and his team is capable of. EQ was tough and I like things to be tough, not a gimmy like EQ2 and others has become.

Groups vs. Solo

Solo play is a must in all these games but I believe people deep down really feel they love a great group better, though granted sometimes we would much rather solo then be in a bad group. The point here is that Sigil is gearing Vanguard to be a group centric game much like the Everquest line was. There will be possibilities to solo, though from what I understand it will not be easy or in abundance as you may see in today’s FAST FOOD MMO’s. As I've mentioned I don’t like easy and I think easy becomes a grind, which becomes boring, which leads me to quit. Which is the reason I believe WoW and EQ2 days are numbered, that is if they don’t get there act together when Vanguard hits the shelves.

I am not going to argue against a group-centric game because I personally would like to see a company try to focus solely on group play rather than trying to be everything to everybody. People who like to solo when they only have a few hours or can't find a group may feel differently. And they are a big portion of the market.

Sigil & Microsoft

As for Sigil being "the little man" let's not forget that they are in league with the complete opposite of the little man, Microsoft. I wonder how this relationship will affect the game. I'm sure Microsoft would like to have Vanguard out for the XBox 360 as soon as possible and I think that might have a negative effect on the game.

I believe that Brad has held his part of the bargain and is not gonna let Microsoft walk over the project. He is straight forward, and that there is no stone unturned and no cloud torn apart before it's in the game. Vanguard for the XBox 360 might be a winner for Microsoft but, official word is No-Go so the effect would only occur after the game is already released. In that case Vanguard is already a game designed for the computers so it's the question: how will it affect Xbox 360 owners? Though I don't think many care much because the followers for this are avid EQ1 Fanatics and most probably are computer owners. To answer the question plainly I think it's a blessing more then a curse Microsoft is helping foot the bill. The positive aspect is they know what beta is and how it works versus Sony when they took over EQ franchise what did they know? How to sell Boom-Boxes and CD's.

Character Classes & Combat

Character Classes are a snoozefest? I know it's hard to understand what people can come up with nowadays but they did it between EQ1 and EQ2 and did it well. I believe Vanguard will do it better. Bloodmage to me seems like it's gonna keep you on your toe's at least to what's been hinted at. Suck the enemy health for you power so you can heal your tank. In combat with every action there is a counteraction. To me it seems as if they have well thought out combat. There will be no more Click auto attack hit CA... look at pretties Oooo mob dead, rinse repeat. There will be consequences as to what you kill too, which is really missing from EQ2 (factions). As far as the Mobs being unimaginative, it would be dependant on what context. If you are to say vs. other MMO's of today then I have one word. HOBGOBLIN (or is that two?). Not sure why but I just love the way it looks and can’t wait to nuke a few down. There are a few other Mobs I've seen pictures of that I enjoy such as the Gator type mob and a cave troll creature. These seem a bit different in the looks of the average "yard trash" I've been use to experiencing on.

I understand Vanguard is pushing the idea of reaction and counter-reaction in combat. As for a class which transfers health from the mob to another player, is that so different than the Dark Pillaging spell for the EQII Warlock which converts a mob's power into power replenishment over time for the caster's group? And I know Vanguard has these counter moves, where you turn the enemy's spells against them. But EQII has stifles which, when timely cast, can shut down an enemy's spells. It's not a huge difference.

The combat system for Vanguard is going to have similarities to the otherwise inflated MMO stream this is true. However relating the stifle to a counter fire to me is like relating a fighter’s block to a riposte, plus I’m guessing here; it would look cooler. As far as power replenishment goes, there will always be a way to get it back. How many ways can you make the water boil ? (Coal, wood, gas, electricity) What I'm trying to say here is you can make up ideas but the ones that are already tried and true why not use em? They did make EQlive and now they are on Vanguard. If you ask me it's EQ2 that has done nothing but cut and paste ideas from other people.

***************************************************************************

This debate covers many more Vanguard issues (travel, diplomacy, the Advanced Encounter System, tradeskill, harversting, and Sigil's stance on RMT) but since it is too long for a blog post I am posting the rest on the Aggro Forums. Please follow this link to check it out and feel free to join in the discussion yourself.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Play EQII!

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Yep, after trashing SOE's ad yesterday (they fixed that double "and" by the way), I feel it's my duty to spread the word and convince any readers who aren't currently playing EQII to do so. So, here's some reasons:

1. The Splitpaw Saga: If you're like me and you love exciting, event-filled quests, this is the place for you. SOE added some really high quality content with this adventure pack. You can read my review
here. Yeah, I know it costs a few dollars but it's a pretty reasonable price. I just think it took the zone design, npc dialogue, voiceover work and fun level up a notch. I love chilling with the gnolls in SP - they trust me.

2. Update Cycle: SOE has been very solid with pushing new updates out every few weeks. There is always something to look forward to and I have not seen any other company come close to the effort SOE puts in with the updates. You occasionally get some new content and even a live event in the mix.

3. Let Freedom Ring: Level 2 and want to go to Lavastorm? Go for it. There are no more level restrictions on zones. Felt constrained by the locked encounters system? That is being removed. You will soon be able to drop a heal on that poor lowbie who is about to get killed. Yes, I am not personally in favor of the locked encounter changes but I mention them here to appeal to those who like more freedom. You will also soon be able to rez out of group which I wholeheartedly support. Want to group with some lower level friends? You can go ahead and mentor down to their level.

4. Bye-bye to the Patron System: Now every member will be able to contribute and there will be less work in running a guild. There are also new and handy features in the guild window and I find web-based guild chat very useful.

5. Desert of Flames: The feature-packed expansion (including PvP) is on the way and even if you don't buy it you still get the added benefit of guild vaults.

6. Best Community Reps: If you don't think so, trying reading the dev posts on other games' forums (and that goes for other SOE games as well). We have the best.

7. Better Endgame than WoW: Yeah, I know, attacking WoW isn't that smart. They have 3 million reasons why they're the king. And I'm not even going to say that EQII is a better game than WoW. I think that's a matter of taste. What I will say is that the raid content is clearly superior in EQII. Believe it.

8. Choose your Playstyle: This is an issue where it's impossible to please everyone. But I think most rational people can agree that you can definitely enjoy EQII with either solo or group play.

9. Ease of Play: Things like out of zone invites, the mail system and clear item descriptions make gameplay more enjoyable. I'd also like to add here that I have only twice in all my time playing been unable to log onto the server. They had one bad weekend a long while back but honestly, the server record has been exceptional in my opinion. You may not think so, but I'm comparing it to other games with which I've "enjoyed" extended server downtimes and queues.

10. It's a Great Game: I've focused mainly on the additions since launch up until now but let me say in general that EQII is a great game. The zones are dramatic and well-crafted and the world is a detailed one that is steeped in lore. The combat is fun and HO's add a little spice to it. Some of the quests are just amazing. There is a lot of depth and complexity to EQII and it's the truest RPG-style game of any of the current MMORPG's I've played. I find the community to be terrific. The fact that I find EQII stuff to write about most days should be evidence of how rich and engrossing this game can be.

So play it! You don't want to miss out on an Aggro Me Friday Humor EQII in-joke do you? And feel free to jump in with any selling points I've missed in the comments section.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Adventures in Advertising

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No, I'm not talking about the Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo ad in Planetside.

My topic today is this recent SOE promotion. Before I start my rant, I'd like to say that it is a great promotion in concept. I'm happy to see SOE trying to increase the subscriber base. In fact, tomorrow, in the spirit of fairness, I will give a list of reasons why I think people should play EQII. My issue today is with the execution of this promotion.

Let's play a little game. Which of these imaginary ads do you think is better:

Ad #1: Read Aggro Me - It's awesome!

Ad #2: Read Aggro Me - It doesn't suck anymore!

Ad #3: Read Aggro Me - Tell your friends who stopped reading Aggro Me because it sucked to come back because now it doesn't suck anymore, I swear, plus here's a bag of gummi bears.

Okay, that was just an example. We all know Aggro Me never sucked, right kids?

But here's my point. Ad #1 is more effective than Ad #2 and Ad #2 is more effective than Ad #3.

I quote from the EQIIPlayers main page, "EverQuest II is growing, and we're listening to what our players want from their gaming experience. Now players who have left EverQuest II can come back and and experience all the improvements in a special free 7-day trial subscription."


Way to accentuate the negative. There are two negatives implied in this ad. First, that the game had issues to begin with. And, perhaps more importantly, that players have been leaving in enough numbers to warrant this promotion. That second point has a negative hit on current players as well as potential ones. Overall, I just think it comes off as a little desperate, which we all know is a turn-off.

Simply by changing the "improvements" to "fantastic additions" and just not referring to players who have left in the main copy would be a better ad in my opinion. Also, and I know this is minor, there are two and's in the line "come back and and experience all the improvements." I know that's nitpicky but seriously, spellcheck catches double and's like that.

My second issue is with the factual accuracy of the ad copy. They
come out with this winner: "With new features such as vitality, your character can double the experience earned." It is my understanding that vitality was always in the game and it is hardly a new feature. Sure, a vitality indicator was added but according to this list of changes that was back in February 17, 2005. And, again, that was just an indicator, not the actual mechanic of vitality, which existed previously (as far as I know from day one). So what is this ad talking about?

And then we have this gibberish: "Now there are more rewards for solving quests and defeating enemies in EverQuest II. From ancient tomes that unlock secret quests to rare equipment that will make your gear the talk of any guild, this is the kind of loot you've been asking for!"

Am I missing something? I play Everquest II at least every other night and I swear I honestly have no idea what they are talking about here. I have not noted any major changes to loot except that the vendor trash has been changed to "ingots" from whatever it was before (which I find more dull by the way).

Here's a tip: let the devs at least read the ad copy instead of having someone who apparently never plays the game try to churn it out. There have been many fantastic changes in EQII so let's focus on the positive and get things right.

If you think this was a great ad or I'm wrong in my analysis please let me know. As I said, I'll be trying to sell you on EQII myself tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday Humor: Rejected Expansion Features

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Sure, there are a lot of great features headed our way with the Desert of Flames expansion. But what about those features that didn't make it in? Through intrepid reporting and the use of a highly skilled team of brigands and assassins, Aggro Me has gotten ahold of a top-secret rejected feature list from a high-security SOE vault. I've listed the ideas here along with the comments by the SOE brass.

Heritage Quest for Antonia: Players must complete an extremely difficult series of quests. Upon completion, they are granted an actual date with new Antonia model, Anna Wainscoat. Note: Anna's agent says she is NOT doing this. Nice try guys.

Mogloks: Let's tell players there is a new race in the Expansion called the Mogloks, waiting to be unlocked and that all they need to do is finish some quest. Eventually we'll finish the art, character design and animation for this race and then announce it. Note: Umm, this didn't work so well last time. Pass.

Make Nerf Positive: So many people complain about nerfing. Let's put a positive spin on it by creating uber nerf weapons, like a Nerf Sword and a Nerf Dagger. Note: Talked to Hasbro and they won't pay us enough money to use the Nerf brand in-game. Good idea though.

Smed Giants: People always like Sand Giants so let's build on that. How about a race of Sand Giants with Smed's face called Smed Giants? Note: No. Also, you're fired.

Cybersex Voice Emotes: We already have voice emotes in the expansion so let's take it a step further with some cybersex voice emotes. Hey, even better, we can hide them and have them unlocked by a "mod" which we can have people discover. It worked for Rockstar! Note: Brilliant. Too good to use for this expansion - saving it for the next one. Also, you're promoted.

Magical Giant Whale Dragon of Doom Mount: We've seen that people will pay darn near anything for the status of a mount. How about a really really expensive mount that looks like a whale but also like a dragon and it's gigantic. Er, and it's magical. And, um, DOOM. It actually lowers movement speed but it causes massive lag and will crash any zone in minutes. Players will do anything to get it. Note: Genius, but forget the players, I want it for myself.

Potion of Uber: Why not let low level characters feel uber for a bit? By drinking the Potion of Uber they suddenly appear to be level 60 with all fabled gear to any character that inspects them. Of course, this is only an illusion. Note: Nah, no one would bother to play any more - they would just buy the Potions of Uber and stand around Qeynos Harbour.

Hmm...wish some of those made it in game. Maybe next time. Here's two links for you as a parting gift:

Okay, this one has been around for quite a while, but in case you haven't seen it: What happens when Everquest meets Denny's? Find out
here.

Want a more recent link? Well then what happens when an EQII character encounters that most dangerous of zones, the Blog? Ferrik finds out
here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Raid Brigade

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There's always a lot of talk in MMORPG's about the infamous "endgame" or, basically, what you do when you hit the level cap.

For Everquest players, that has long been raiding and more raiding.

I have been raiding with my EQII guild quite a bit for around three months now. We are not some uber raiding guild that knows how to trivialize raid encounters. We fight, die, build a better strat and fight some more. So let's look at the results. I'm going to go through my items:

Prismatic Wand: Obtained as quest reward
Idol of Chaos: Won on Raid (mild upgrade over Stein of Moggok)
Thexian Ring of Necroism: Drop in Nek 2 (great ring)
Ring of Scales or Ancient Slayer Ring: Both quest rewards
Treedin's Symbol or Arena Champion Wristguard: Quest rewards
Rallosian Gown: Won on Raid
Necklace of Flowing Orbs: Collection Item
Eyepatch, Efreeti Boots, Sash: Heritage Quests

The rest was purchased on the broker. So how did those two and a half months work out for me? I got a slight upgrade to the Stein. I got a nice robe. But, I must say the robe I had before (Robe of the Beguiler - dropped from Shift Boss in RE) was a fantastic robe that got me through ten levels and beyond and in some respects is still better. So really, not a big deal in terms of improving my character. And I'm luckier than some. To be fair, I've been slacking a bit lately and we weren't always large enough to take on the most difficult zones.

I did also get a few rubies and even an ebon if I recall, but I'm almost positive I would have made more money if I had spent that time harvesting or killing green mobs. And raids cost money in terms of armor repair and various potions.

The point of this is not to whine about raid loot so I apologize if that's what it sounds like. My point is: if you are looking to upgrade your equipment, raids are not the only answer. You can find some great stuff in Nek 2 and some of the high level single-group Splitpaw zones. Or you can try the Bastion of Flames (a single group zone) or the Icy Dig (if you don't fear death). Any other suggestions?

I'm also not saying I don't enjoy raiding, because I do. Let's face it - it's like a big party and a chance for everyone to do something together. Also, the raids in EQII are quite interesting and imaginative and require different strategies. I've seen WoW raids and like EQII's better. Do I wish there were a few more? Sure. But SOE has done a good job.

Still, I encourage those Guilds that raid non-stop to try exploring other things to do for a change of a pace, even if you're all about making your character as uber as can be. There is other high-level content. Not as much as I would like, but it's there. I like raiding (just had a great raid last evening) but I like standard six-person dungeon crawls a little more so I wanted to throw this post out there to challenge the all raids all the time mentality.


My favorite moments in EQII have been in six-person groups and not on raids. I'm willing to bet some of you feel the same way.

I suppose my dream MMO would not have an "endgame" but would continue to add content centered around the core gameplay.


Foton touched on raiding in WoW in this post yesterday.

Oh, and if you get the pun I intended by posting that picture, well, you're nerd. Wait a minute, I thought of it...what does that make me?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Beta Roundup

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Well the N.D.A. for the DoF Beta has been lifted.

Okay, yes, I am playing the Beta and have been for a few weeks. But, you are not going to get my impressions here yet. I've had some serious time constraints lately and I really want to play more before I give my opinion. Also, I've been unable to log into the Beta forum even though I am in the Beta. Seems like some others have also had this problem as you can see in
this thread or this one.

So, I will hold off my first hand impressions and review until I play some more.

But, don't fear, I am going to round up some Beta info for you:


Gamespy has a preview of the arena you can read here.

GameDaily put up a recent preview of the expansion. It's pretty positive in tone but there's not much new information.

Maj'Dul is a big city - check out
this map.

I know you all want to see some screenshots, so try
this thread or this one.

Curious about the creatures you can battle with in the arena? Check out
this thread for a list (though the pictures seem to be down).

Here are
some screenshots of level 50 spells.

If you are looking for more spell info, there is an attempt to consolidate it in
this thread.

Wondering about the new voice emotes feature? Check out the comments in
this thread.

You can check
here for a bunch of information on guild banks and here for the number of guild bank slots available per guild level.

If you want a preview of what I bet will be a somewhat controversial issue, check out
this thread for information on the quested carpet. Actually, the controversy has already started in this mounts thread.

A bit of faction info is available in
this thread.

Well, that's all for now. You can expect some more substantive comments on the expansion from me in the near future. If you happen to play the beta feel free to give your opinions or thoughts on it in the comments section or on the
forums.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Death

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I remember going to coin-op arcades after school. You put your quarter in and, in most games, you got a certain number of "lives." Three seemed to be a common number. Well, let me tell you, those lives were precious. You might feel a little wild and carefree when you had all three lives but when you were down to your last life you were fighting the inevitable freight train of death with all the skill at your command.

Things have changed and the concept of death in gaming has changed as well. Take a game like Nintendogs. There is no death in Nintedogs (until someone unlocks the super-secret Hot Cappucino mod which unleashes vicious dog fights) and the game is still popular. To take an example from the other extreme, we have the roguelike games such as Nethack. In these dungeon crawls a single death means game over, and believe me death is hard to avoid. Yet these games have a rabid fan base.

But onto the MMORPG arena. At the heart of most MMORPG's is combat and with combat comes death. So how do you handle the concept of death? Well, there is a wide spectrum you can choose from. At one end, you could let a player who dies immediately recover with the only penalty being a one second pause. At the other, you could have any death be the permanent death of that character. I believe there was an Everquest server called "The Fallen" that used the permanent death ruleset at one time. Maybe someone can set me straight on that.

Most MMORPG's fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes, creating a death penalty that hurts the player but not to the point of frustration. It really comes down to an individual preference and MMORPG's have to be accessible to a large portion of people. In most new MMORPG's the death penalty seems a bit tamer. You rarely see a new game come out in which you can lose your items due to death.

Let's take Everquest II. There are actually three separate parts of the death penalty. One is monetary: gear repair. Two is progress related: xp debt. Three is time/annoyance: recovering your shard.

I've never found the death penalty in EQII to be too severe. Sure I've felt the sting at times. At times I've wanted to go to sleep but we had to fight back through a long dungeon to recover our shards. When I don't have my shard I feel weak. Also, after some rough times, I've logged on and looked at the xp debt with dread.

But, I want death to mean something or the game would be a much different one. And there are methods for softening the penalty. If you take a break for a day or two, your xp debt will not only go down, your vitality will go up, making it easier to work that debt down. And many shards can be retrieved now by right-clicking on a zone door. Quick side note: there are places in the game where shards are inaccessible (i.e. falling into a chasm in PF) - this seems to me like a waste of GM and player time which should be addressed.

Okay, back on topic. I've played WoW and found the death penalty to be pretty weak, weaker than EQII. If I had my way, the death penalty in EQII would even be a little stronger. I suppose I personally prefer penalties which are more on the money/xp side than the annoyance side. I'd rather pay a penalty in gold than go on an extended corpse run.

Let me address the group xp debt issue for a minute. I thought this idea was absolutely brilliant. It just feels right. When you're fighting as a group everyone's actions are key to victory and survival. The reward is shared in the form of loot and the risk should be shared as well. Sure, at times you're going to pay for the mistakes of a poor player but that's part of what makes the game fun, in my opinion. It encourages good groups and good play.

But all this is only my opinion, which is truly meaningless in this respect because I have no idea what the majority of the player base actually feels. I don't expect SOE to make a game for my personal benefit. They should make a game that the majority of people enjoy playing.

And now SOE is
softening and changing the death penalty.

There are two parts to this change. One, xp debt is capped at fifty percent of a level. I find it hard to get that worked up about this. Are there really that many players walking around with more than fifty percent of xp debt? Sure, it happens on occasion, but it's not a common thing. I'd rather not see this change be made but I also don't think it is a major one.

Second is an end to group xp debt. As I just said, I love the concept of group xp debt. There is one time and one time only when group xp debt annoys me and that is when a player you invited to group gets killed on the way there. But that could easily be addressed by utilizing a smaller radius for group xp debt so that it only counts when you are in the general vicinity.

There are some who say this change will punish tanks the most, because they are the ones at the forefront of the fight and taking the damage. I'm not sold on this argument until I see some statistics on who dies the most in a normal six person group.

So, yeah, I think changing group xp debt is a bad idea because I felt it was a great concept that worked very well and even helped build the sense of community that Scott was referring to in the post I linked to yesterday. So why is SOE making this change? I read on the forums once (I think) that the number one reason people give when they cancel their accounts is group xp debt. Unfortunately, I couldn't find this post so if anyone can verify it I would greatly appreciate it.

I find it shocking and almost absurd that people would cancel EQII over the issue of group xp debt. But I can only give my point of view. I don't know how other players feel.

So, we'll see how things go. Maybe the majority of people will enjoy the game more, but I think I will enjoy it a little less. Of course, I insert my usual disclaimer here that these changes are only on test and may never go live.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Change

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"Change is one thing, progress is another," Bertrand Russell once wrote. EQII has numerous changes in the works, the combat revamp being the most pivotal. But there are some other changes being considered that will have an impact on gameplay. Are they changes for the sake of change, or are they progress towards a better game? I would like to take a look at two of those proposed changes: the modification of the locked encounter system and the modification of the group death penalty.

The first is the locked encounter system. The beta patch notes dealing with changes to the locked encounter system have been reproduced in
this thread.

I discussed the possibility of changes to the locked encounter system in
this post on July 27th. I argued that the locked encounter system should be left as is and it garnered quite a few comments. You can check out some of my previous arguments there if you want.

We now have a better idea of the direction SOE wants to go with this. There will still be a locked encounter system in the sense that only the group or person who engages the mob will get the loot or xp. However, this does not address the issue I had with power leveling techniques, which I am against. A high level character could assist a low level player with a mob the low level player could never defeat otherwise.

Now, SOE does have a restriction in place to prevent this to some degree. If a non-group member does more than fifty percent of the damage to the mob, the original group will receive reduced xp. This is fine but I think it is incomplete. What if your group does one hundred percent of the damage to the mob, but you are being constantly healed by a high level character? I fail to see the distinction between using high level dps to power level and using high level heals to power level. If I am missing something, please let me know. In any case, I'm sure using a high level character to knock off forty-nine percent of a mob's hit points will also encourage power leveling.

You will also now have the ability to swap group members in and out during combat. I am not clever enough to think through all the possibilities for exploits using this mechanism but I'm sure others will.

It's worth noting that raids will remain the way they are, which I am quite thankful for.

Many on the forums support the change, but from those who don't there are two main concerns being voiced. One is the aforementioned powerleveling, and the other is griefing (kill-stealing).

As to the griefing aspect, I am not really concerned about it, although I am concerned about the rise in kill steal complaints in chat. I can live with that if I have to. Also, Blackguard states in
this thread that you will have the ability to turn locked encounters on and off. So, if you are worried about kill-stealing, leave them on. It seems to me that this option already existed to some degree in the capacity to yell for help.

So I, and it seems a number of people on the forums, are satisfied about the changes with respect to kill-stealing due to the optional nature of the locked encounter system. But, I think people are missing the fact that the option will have no effect on the other issue, that of power leveling. As I stated in my previous post, I prefer no power leveling (or at least very minimal power leveling, i.e. the mentor system).

Gallenite (Scott Hartsman) makes his case for the modifications in
this thread and he argues persuasively. It's obviously something he and other people at SOE have spent a lot of time thinking about. I advise you to read it yourself, but if I understand his main points, the benefit to the locked encounter modifications are three-fold: fostering community by allowing helpful actions, allowing people to feel like heroes and increasing immersion.

There's not much I can say about the community aspect. I agree that in-game social ties are a tremendous draw in any MMO. I do find it strange that SOE goes to such lengths to allow for soloing, which would seem to be a reverse of that philosophy. But I understand that people enjoy soloing, and I used to myself. It is a nice option to have. I do doubt that removing locked encounters will have that big an impact on building a sense of community.

As for allowing players to feel more heroic, I fully agree and can not argue with this point. It is a great feeling to save a bunch of low level players who are about to wipe. I just question whether the limited amount of times that such an event will occur justify the modification of a system I feel has such a positive effect on gameplay.

Third is the immersion argument. Of course, not being able to attack a mob because of an artificial lock certainly breaks immersion. And I do think immersion is crucial to an MMO. But I believe that certain gameplay elements (I gave some examples in my previous post) are simply important enough to outweigh the immersion factor. I will also take a cheap shot here and ask whether putting "Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo" ads in Planetside shows that SOE really cares about immersion.

But let me make another argument. To me, one of the biggest breaks to immersion is exploiting gameplay mechanics to power level characters. I don't want to be in a group where we have no danger of dying because we have a level 50 healer following us around. And I don't want to feel like I need to use similar techniques to compete. To me that has a detrimental impact on the "fun in the long term" Scott mentions. Power leveling makes me feel like I am playing a video game rather than living and fighting in a fantasy world which also happens to be a video game. For example, when I hear a game has buff-bots, I immediately lose a large portion of interest in ever playing said game. I'm not saying EQII will have buff-bots, it's just an example of how things that seemingly increase immersion may actually have the reverse effect.

You might say I can ignore powerleveling and just play as I normally do, but I feel it may be so widespread that it will be unavoidable.

That said, I will try to give the changes a fair chance. I should note that these changes may never go live (although I highly doubt that) and that they may go live with additional modifications. But I will say that for me, this is a change that is not progress towards making EQII a better game.

Since this post is already far too long, I will tackle the group xp debt issue tomorrow. I also know many of you are curious about the beta now that the NDA has been lifted so I am compiling some links for you on that subject which I will probably post Wednesday.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Humor: EQII Definitions Returns!

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Yep, it's the return of my EQII definitions feature. This time, you'll find some reader contributions along with some more of my own. Without further ado:

Barbie: Someone who carries around two bags full of outfits so they can change clothes at will. i.e. "She's such a barbie...her outfit always matches the decor of the zone." (by Constance)

Mobstacles: Those non-aggro mobs that surround you when you are fighting to prevent you from using any of you AOE abilities. (by Tancread)

Puppydoggin': When someone in your group repeatedly informs you he's setting himself to follow another group mate for whatever reason they make up. Usually applied to someone you feel is just being too lazy to actually run, or to someone that repeatedly seems to go AFK while en-route to different areas. i.e. "That puppydoggin' guy almost got us killed, their follow stopped working and a mob popped next to him! Argh!" (by Karnatos)

Questshun: The act of finding a clickable item which opens a new quest, but declining it due to a full quest log. Then wondering if it was something you needed. (by Twodragons)

Invisiboob: Someone who constantly screws up a group stealth spell by falling too far behind or, even worse, by deciding to pick up a collection item or cast a buff.

The Fall Guy: A group member who is always falling into chasms or holes. i.e. "There's no way I'm ever going into Sol Eye with the Fall Guy again."

Buffparty: A painfully long buffing session before raids which goes on forever. i.e. "I have time to run to the store and back before this buffparty is over."

Spammy: A player who clutters raid chatter with paragraph long macros. Spammy is a close relation of:

Cronkite: A player who reports in group chat on every spell he or she casts, their damage numbers, and their mitigation and avoidance. Also breaks in with a special news bulletin every time their weapon procs.

Lagolas: Someone who blames "lag" every time they screw up.

Parsley: A player who only wakes up and casts spells after someone runs a damage parser.

Cramp: Camping with a twist - cramping occurs when the camp order is given on a raid that is going badly. With 2 or 3 seconds left on your camp countdown, the raid mob kills you and the camp countdown annoyingly continues to log you out.

Win-doh!: When your automatic spyware scanner starts running during the middle of combat throwing you into windowed mode.

Illusive: Used to describe a player who is always using illusion items or spells every time you see them, so you have no idea what they actually look like.

Biodiva: A player who lists every master spell they have in their bio. A list of completed heritage quests or highest damage scores also works.

Virtua-torch: Turning your gamma and brightness settings way up instead of using a torch.

You can find some more great reader-submitted definitions in
this thread on the Aggro Forums. Thanks to all who contributed.

And because I usually like to mix a humorous link in for you, here's one to an
Iron Chef/Everquest parody.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

High Adventure That's Beyond Compare?

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I recently read two great posts about sci-fi MMO Eve Online but I wasn't going to write a reblogging post just to link to them. Then today, I saw a thread in the Eve Online forums which pushed me over the top. But first, let me get to the original links.

Mmodig scanned in
this fantastic story about the far-reaching infiltration of an Eve corporation in preparation for a contract assassination and mass looting. It is well worth reading and right up there in my top five MMO stories of all time. Interestingly, Nightfreeze's Great Scam, another in the top five, is also an Eve Online tale.

Moving from in-game events to the state of the game, the Cesspit has a great look at how subscription numbers for Eve have steadily grown since launch. And that's despite Eve's poor launch and the entry into the market of heavy-hitters like WoW. I was impressed (and surprised) when I read this. I recommend heading over and reading Abilieno's take on it.

Okay, but now back to the forum thread that inspired this post. I'm going to try to summarize the plot here, but remember I don't play Eve. A player named MangOo fought a player named Firstname Lastname in a spaceship duel. Firstname Lastname lost. Firstname Lastname paid MangO0 30 million isk to preserve his ship. MangOo destroyed the ship anyway.

Up until now, that is fairly typical Eve Online stuff. The crazy part comes when Firstname Lastname begins singing songs over voicechat such as "Like a Virgin " and "I'm a Little Teapot" to get a portion of his money back.

But check out the thread yourself, complete with a video (and more importantly audio) file of the events.

Some people in the thread feel this whole thing was uncalled for, but I have to say when he launches into the Gummi Bears Theme (from which I got the title for this post) I was laughing hard. And before you jump down my throat, Firstname Lastname (reportedly a big-time scammer himself) seems to have a sense of humor about it. He posts on the second page of that thread, "yes i will accept donations for my singing and my lost raven (that was full of puppies and children on the way to the puppy and children orphanage of love and caring located in beautiful Sobaseki)."

Beyond the humor aspect, the fact that this kind of wild and dramatic stuff is going on in an MMO really makes me want to check out Eve Online.

Just don't expect me to sing about it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Forum Treasure?

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Sure, it may sound crazy, but there are plenty of good posts on the official fourms. SOE recently rolled out a "treasure chest" feature, in which they link to some useful or informative forum posts. You can check it out here.

There's a link to a forum game, a mount guide (which I
linked to on March 15th) and a tip on using the mail system to make change.

When I first checked the "Treasure Chest" there was actually four links. In addition to the three listed above there was a reference to a Moorgard post about "tanking in the nude," but that link didn't work. Now it appears it has been removed altogether. You probably think I'm losing my mind, but I swear I saw it.

As for my personal favorite post on the official forums, you can find it here. Anskiere linked to it a while back in the comment section of my post on neat little features in EQII, but it's so cool I thought I would bring it up again.

The lore of EQII can be fun and that post does a fantastic job of showing the effort SOE put into parts of the game you might not usually notice. It has some cool translations of in-game languages and does a fabulous job of detailing the game's astronomy.

If that post sparked your lore interest, this thread has a link to an incredible 150 page .pdf file of Norrathian lore. Amazing work.

Speaking of good threads, there's some comedy in this thread from the official WoW forums (via Joystiq). In it, a mother who plays WoW catches her son posting on the forums at 3 A.M. and pwns him with a grounding via forum post.

Of course, my favorite forum, the Aggro Forums has some pretty cool threads as well.

Here are just a few:

A hilarious and inspiring tradeskill song can be found in this thread.

A nice first hand E3 wrap-up can be found here.

Our thread on the combat changes is here.

And feel free to join in on the recently started storytelling game.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hail to the Queen

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I know you've been on the edge of your seats waiting for the results of the Quest for Antonia contest. And the winner is-

Well, first, let's review:

My initial rant

My review of the contestants

My take on the Final Five

And now (drum roll please)...our winner is...Anna Wainscoat! Yawn.

Grats to Anna on the ultimate ding, she seems nice enough and I'm sure she will do a fine job. You can pay homage to your new overlord here.

Blackguard lists the runners-up in this thread. My pick, Holly Weber, apparently came in last, so that shows you what I know.

Well, some would stop there and go on with their lives, but I decided to track down an article on Anna's victory in the Sacramento Bee. Free registration is required (or try bugmenot).

Most of it is typical stuff, although I did find it funny that they state part of her duties will be "to be ogled by fans." They also mention the "Women of Santa Cruz Calendar" which I told you about in my previous post.

It turns out that Anna "recently ramped up her Everquest II playing time."

Her first directive as Queen? Okay, I'm not making this up - this is in the article, I swear:

"Wainscoat took a Marxist approach. 'I would eliminate
all the classes. I would make everyone equal
.'"


Sometimes, I think life is just too good to be true.

Sony came up with a real winner of a quote as well:
"Sony spokeswoman Courtney Simmons said that despite the bikini-time, the contest was intended to prompt more women and girls to play the game. 'It's all in the name of girl gaming," she said.'"
Was that honestly said with a straight face? Because you know how many women read Stuff magazine.
The emphasis was mine in both those quotes, by the way.

Anyway, I'll try to grab a copy of Stuff when it comes out to see if there are any more good quotes in there. I know this is a longshot, but if anyone has video or audio of the interview portion of the final competition I will pay you in comedy dollars for a copy.

Congratulations again to Anna! Long live the Queen!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tax Me

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Well, even though I am not a fan of Station Exchange, I have been poking around the Station Exchange forums lately to see how that little experiment is going. It's pretty hard to tell - some say the servers are dead and others disagree.

I did get a laugh out of this thread . In it, a bunch of posters rush to give advice, some of it completely absurd, regarding the complex tax issues surrounding the Station Exchange.

I'm not going to start giving tax advice on the thorny topic of virtual item sales but I will give you this free tidbit: You probably shouldn't make tax decisions based on the musings of an anonymous message board poster. I can see people explaining to an IRS agent now: "No, you see, sir, DarkMagi292 clearly states in this thread that since I made three dollars on Station Exchange, my entire computer system and house are tax deductible. Also, UberMeatShield81 says I can claim my alt as a dependent and take depreciation on my Parade Steppes Pony."


That thread is made even more humorous by the ominous postings of "SOELegal," presumably someone in the SOE Legal Department. Why that person would choose to post on a message board is beyond me, but it is entertaining.

Of course, I am not predicting a lot of income for the average Exchange user anyway, based on my vague impression that there will be a ton of wannabe sellers and very few buyers. I am willing to admit I may be wrong about this.

I thought it was really cool that SOE put out some numbers and facts from the Station Exchange beta. You can check them out here. Someone once told me that during the gold rush, it was the people that supplied the picks that really got rich, and, in this case, it seems to be the people who supplied the pristine teak boxes.

I found it interesting that the average price of a plat was $20.41 on the beta Exchange Server, while IGE prices for my server were going at $7.50 (based on buying 10 plat for $74.99) last week. Now there is no gold available for my server on their website. Someone in this thread mentions plat on a live Exchange server going for less than $3.00 per. But, that figure is probably due to the recent duping events. So it is hard to get a read on the Exchange economy.

With regards to the fees, a player in this thread sold a low level Froglok for $13.00. Only thing was, there is a $10.00 listing fee and an additional 10 percent service charge, making the profit a grand total of $1.70. As other posters pointed out, there may be a PayPal fee involved as well.

I'm curious to see how the numbers on the Station Exchange servers look after they are in full swing for a while, and I hope SOE continues to release official numbers so the rest of us can get an idea of how things are going.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Humor: Quiz Me

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So, you think you know everything about EQII? Sure, you might know the difference between an orc and a gnoll, but are you a true master? Take this quiz to find out:

1. You are having trouble waiting for the expansion. The best course of action is to:

A. Preorder it and wait patiently.
B. Create a Battlefield 2 mod called "Desert of Flames - The Fight for Normandy."
C. Drive to a desert and look for sand giants to fight. Or, heck, just tall people.
D. Buy a rare monkey as a pet so your home has that "expansion feel."

2. Which is shorter?
A. A Dwarf.
B. A Gnome.
C. A Halfling.
D. The amount of time between a patch being released and someone on the official forums claiming their class was "stealth nerfed."


3. The combat changes are being implemented because:
A. SOE wants to increase class diversity and make combat more exciting.
B. Smed likes things to be "hot and spicy."
C. The forum mods needed more practice on locking and moving forum threads.
D. Well, the combat changes worked so well in Star Wars Galaxies.

4. You are having trouble keeping aggro when playing your tank. To improve your gameplay you should:
A. Read the official forums and fan websites for tips.
B. The problem isn't with you, it's your groupmates! Boot them immediately!
C. Stop taunting because "taunting is for pansies."
D. Track down Ceciliantas and ask him for advice.

5. You feel you are not getting enough loot on Guild raids. Do you:
A. Attempt to get your guild to institute a DKP system.
B. Raid with a European Guild during the day and your regular Guild at night.
C. Volunteer to set up a Guild Vault on your alt for "safekeeping" of all valuable items, mail all items to your main character and then put entire Guild on ignore.
D. Participate in a lucrative cybering for plat scheme.

6. You are new to the game and would like to make some friends. The best way is to:
A. Activate your LFG tag and try to get into a group.
B. Assist other groups of players by grabbing the quest mobs they are about to kill and killing them yourself.
C. Stand on a Griffon Tower and request that people pay you 3 gold for tickets to a "Scenic Griffon Ride."
D. Go to a crowded zone and spam "SoW plz!" in the Shout channel.

7. You are grouping with some people who are roleplaying. The proper way to act is to:
A. Try to get into character and play along.
B. Say things like, "Aye, faire maiden, tis thou thee, yon keep!"
C. Say things like, "OMG, wut r u saying, lollerskates rofling!"
D. Say things like, "Okay, I'm going to roleplay the strict paladin and you roleplay the naughty rouge wood elf."

8.You are fighting a mob in Nek Castle and it gets stuck in the wall. The best response is to:
A. Report it with the /bug command.
B. Throw your monitor through the window.
C. Post a three page article on the official forums telling the world you are canceling your account and detailing why in a 30 point thesis.
D. Enter the Quest for Antonia, win, and in your acceptance speech discuss mobs getting stuck in the walls.


9. You get busted duping talking Antonia statues and selling them for a profit. Your best course of action is:
A. To plead mercy from the devs.
B. Say, "Hey, I was looking for bugs to improve the game! I was going to tell you as soon as I made sure it was repeatable. It worked the first 900 times but I needed to make sure."
C. Use the word "mudflation" repeatedly.
D. Blame a gnome.

10. You would like to prepare for Arena PvP. Do you:
A. Work on improving your gear.
B. Challenge the deer in Antonica to a "game of team deathmatch."
C. Practice your witty PvP sayings, like "Welcome to Pwnedville, population YOU! LOL ganked!"
D. Nothing, it is not possible that anyone is more uber than you.

If you want more quiz questions, there are a few in my post on the
guide service.

If anyone ever does make a serious (unlike my joke) quiz on MMORPG's, I know the answer to one of the questions will be "Rainz." The question: Who killed Lord British in the beta for Ultima Online? I mention this because I happened to run across this page with an account of the tale recently and it brought back the memories. Even though I wasn't playing Ultima Online at the time I clearly remember thinking what a cool story this was.

Hmm, I think I will do a serious MMO trivia quiz sometime, so start studying.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chatty

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Well, this post was originally supposed to be about the Third Party Chat Support feature that SOE announced. It would be a cool feature, but unfortunately I couldn't get it to work. I'd like to think I could have eventually but I wasn't going to spend more than a half hour messing with it. The instructions need some serious work. Still, if you would like to try, check out this thread and perhaps it will help. It does require that you have an account with the Advanced Guild Features extra.

If you do have that optional add-on, please note that the SOE guild chat you can access via your guild page does seem to work fine and is a feature I really like. I use it as a way to see who is logged on while I am surfing the web or working on a post like this.

Since that was not much of a post, I'll briefly cover a few more items. My guild managed to get some Wyrmsteel weapons made and I think that quest was an interesting combination of tradeskill and adventuring. On the negative side, these weapons do not appear to have the desired effect on all Drakotas (they didn't seem to work on the Maiden Gulch Drakota). I think they are supposed to work well on Darathar and the Drakotas leading up to him but it would be nice if they weren't so limited in scope.


Also, if you remember my Splitpaw review, I stated that I had not tried the raids yet. Since then I have tried them and I just wanted to add that they are, indeed, imaginative and exciting raids. I recommend you try to do them without any spoilers as it will be much more fun. I never mentioned the Alone in the Dark quest either but that is a blast too. Pretty much the entire Splitpaw Saga has set the bar very high for future content. Let's hope the expansion can live up to that standard. It's a shame the Splitpaw Saga is not being reviewed by the mainstream media, while the expansion probably will be. I would like the general gaming public to know just how fun this adventure pack is.

Oh, and if you are planning a trip to the scenic Icy Dig, you better make sure you are are on good terms with your neighborhood armor mender, because you are going to need their services.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Welcome to the Future! Enjoy the Commercials!

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I was browsing the forums Monday night (always a dangerous occupation) and I ran across this thread. It shows a screenshot of Planetside with, get this, an in-game billboard for the movie Deuce Bigalow, Euoropean Gigolo. Now, as much as I have ranted against SOE for trying to find revenue stream after revenue stream rather than focusing on gameplay, I have to admit I thought this thread was a clever joke. I figured it had to be fake.

But, I did a little research and found this thread on the Planetside forums with a SOE dev stating that the revenue from the in-game ads will be used to "help the entire Planetside community."

And if you don't believe that link, here's a link to a Massive Incorporated press release, proudly proclaiming their unholy allegiance with SOE.

I shouldn't have been shocked, but I was. After all, Planetside is not a free game, it has subscribers.

And sure, they make the argument that these heinous billboards will help them pay for more gameplay features. But that's a slippery slope. Once you let this type of advertising in the door, it just becomes a fact of life. It saddens me that SOE would choose to embark on this route. And if I was playing Planetside, my number one most requested gameplay feature would be to not see a picture of Rob Schneider. Ever. There's some real immersion for you. Wow, I am in an alien world, but they still have really bad movies here!

So can we expect this to come to EQ2? Well, let's be honest, in my estimation, EQ2 has not been a knockout for SOE economically. Based on the subscription numbers, I'm thinking the profits are not that great. So don't think it is out of the question until I hear a definitive statement from SOE otherwise.

I shudder in fear of the day I log on to EQII and see Jet Blue ads on the Griffon towers and Ace Hardware billboards in the Tradeskill area. "Thank you for casting Ice Comet - sponsored by Dairy Queen!"

Update: Between the time I first wrote this and posted it, Blackguard stated on the official forums: "There are no current plans to add in-game advertisements to any of our titles other than PlanetSide. That includes EverQuest II, of course."

I'm sorry, but that doesn't mean much. It's not Blackguard's fault, obviously, but saying "no current plans" is vague enough to leave the door open for anything down the road.

Even putting aside my personal dislike for in-game advertising, I wonder if the revenues these ads pull in will be enough to make up for the damage to SOE's already tarnished brand image.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Combat Changes

Well, the combat changes are on the test server now and this is all I have to say about that:

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Seriously, I don't mind that it has taken a while to get to this point with the combat changes as it is a very far-reaching revamp.

It does bother me that the combat changes and the expansion are going to be lumped together in players' minds. You know people are going to say, "This expansion sucks! My buffs are nerfed!" And that's really a combat change complaint rather than an expansion complaint. Also, figuring out how to play your character with the combat changes would have given people something to do in the current lull between Splitpaw and DoF.

That said, SOE may as well take the time to get it right.

You can find an overview of the changes here and some updates here. But understand that virtually every spell or combat art you have will be changed in some way.

Try to remember the changes on Test are just that, a test. I'm sure they will undergo some serious tweaking before they go live. So try to keep an open mind. As Moorgard stated here, these changes are a work in progress, especially for fighters or priests.

Now, there is an
entire forum devoted to the combat changes. But I've found that the best information can be located in the forums for each subclass. In every subclass forum someone has started a thread related to the combat changes and I appreciate all those who contributed valuable information. Some of these threads are more informative than others.

The official forums have been somewhat well behaved but that isn't saying much. Here's two tips on good forums posting:

1. If the forum says don't post in this forum unless you've actually tested the changes then don't start your post with "I've never actually tested these changes but..."

2. Don't threaten to leave. It's a tired maneuver and sounds childish. It is more likely that your complaints will be heard if you just state them clearly and without drama.

You can read a few more forum no-no's in
this thread on the Aggro Forums started by Anskiere. I'm not telling you not to rip gameplay changes you are unhappy with - I do it all the time. I'm just telling you to do it more effectively.

At this point in time I am not going to get into how these changes effect every individual subclass. I will say this: remember the big picture. Let me give you an example: I've heard members of every subclass say "OMG this buff takes 3 concentration slots now! SOE nerfed me to the max!" Now take a step back. If this change was made to every class in the game, it is not a swipe and your individual subclass.

And if you are testing the changes and find them harder to fight with, remember it may be because they are unfamiliar. It is going to take some getting used to. I can do my wizard's usual spell cycle without even looking at the screen. But with these changes it is, of course, going to take some relearning. There may be spell combinations and gameplay techniques you have not discovered yet which will make combat much easier. That's not to say combat will not be harder, because it probably will be.

And, hopefully, the changes will end up succeeding in making classes more diverse and combat more interesting. You can read the rationale behind the changes
here.

We'll have to wait and see if those goals are accomplished and if EQII is more fun to play. Feel free to post your comments or concerns either here or in
this thread started by Constance on the Aggro Forums. I am going to try to consolidate a class-by-class summary and post it for you as the changes get closer to going to live.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Interview Me

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Were you expecting a post on the combat changes today? Haha, sorry, all you get is a link to an interview with yours truly conducted by the gracious Tovin of EQII Stratics.

You can find the preamble on the
eq2stratics main page and the interview here.

So head on over and get a good laugh at my expense as I out myself as an MMORPG noob and compare tradeskilling to working the assembly line in a Nike sneaker factory.

I briefly discuss my Atari obsession in that interview so if that sparked any Atari nostalgia be sure to check out Moogard's latest Moorhunter entry. It's his best yet, in my opinion, and centers on his introduction to computers via Atari.

If you're curious, the Atari computer I got after falling in love with the 2600 console was an Atari 800. I was dead set on the Atari 400 but, luckily, my Dad took one look at the 400's bizarre membrane-keyboard and decided he would spring for the more expensive 800 model. When I was deciding on my next computer I went against all conventional wisdom and purchased the Atari 520 ST. It was a fantastic computer which lasted me well into the early 90's.

I hope you enjoyed reading the EQII Stratics interview as much as I doing it. Thanks to Tovin for being such a nice interviewer. Maybe I should get off my journalistic duff and interview someone myself. Hmm...Ceciliantas, perhaps? I smell Pulitzer.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Humor: EQII Definitions

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Before I get started on the main portion of this Friday Humor post, I'd like to give you two links. The first is to a great collection of WoW lightbulb jokes (via mmodig). This one is my favorite:

"Q. How many Paladins does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. Two. One to change it and one to uphold the light."

I also liked this one from the comments:

"Q: How many GM's does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. Its working as intended."

Haha, we've all gotten the working as intended response one time or another.

As for the second link, I thought Moorgard's response in
this thread was worthy of a mention. "Moongaurd u n3rfed ur raidz agin WAY 2 GO SOE!!11!!!!1!ONE." That's pretty funny. Nice one, Moongaurd!

Well, that's it for the links and I'm afraid you're stuck with my humor for the duration of this post. So, we all know about MMORPG slang right? Nerfed, DKP, min-maxing and, of course, aggro to name just a few. Well, the more the merrier! Here are some new EQII words with definitions I am humbly submitting to the next edition of the Merriam-Webster MMORPG slang dictionary:

Nodenvy: The feeling you get when someone steals your harvesting node and you just know that it was the one that contained an ebon cluster. Also applicable to nodes that are stuck in trees.

Componentitis: The realization which strikes you after setting up in your tradeskill area that you left a tradeskill ingredient you need in your bank vault.

Malt: The discovery that you like your alt better than your main character.

Coppering: Putting an item up for sale at a price of 5 coppers less then the lowest price on the broker.

Anti-coppering: The practice of sending angry tells to those who indulge in coppering and accusing them of "ruining the free market system."

Fauxmergency: Creating a fake emergency (i.e. "my wife's cousin is having an emotional breakdown over the state of reality television") to get out of a raid that is going badly. And, since you now have the option to revive in the raid zone or an outside zone:

Fauxviving: Purposely reviving in the wrong zone to get out of a botched raid.

Mismistell: Intentionally typing something in the wrong chat channel for nefarious reasons. i.e. "You know that mistell about how much plat he has was really a mismistell."

LFGB: A modification of the LFG (Looking for Group) acronym which stands for Looking for Group Badly. Examples would include typing in all caps (i.e. LEVEL 33 BRUZER LFG COME ON ACT NOW) or repeatedly spamming your request in the Shout channel.

Mr.Bell-vedere: A person who constantly buys tickets to Everfrost or Lavastorm because they are so wealthy they can't be bothered to zone one whole extra time let alone sully themselves by taking a griffin. They often brag about it. NOTE: This practice is now out of date due to the zone access shuffling. Please replace it with:

Airpaw: The use of a Splitpaw Shard and an escape spell to get you to the TS docks and then to any other zone with a few clicks.

Varmor: Using a certain piece of armor out of vanity because you like the way it looks on your character even though it has weaker stats than another piece.

Blonation: A blonation is a donation to a tradeskiller who works on a donation basis that is so shoddy and cheap it's an insult. i.e. "Gee, thanks for the blonation. It really makes all that crafting worthwhile.

I'll probably do some more of these in two to three weeks so if you have any contributions for the next round e-mail me or post them on the
Aggro Forums.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Secondary Stuff

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I recently came across this article on Tom's Hardware Guide about the MMO secondary market. It's a website that generally has decent reviews of, well, hardware. I'm actually quite sick of secondary market articles regurgitating the same old takes of "Wow, you can make money playing games! Also, Asian farmers!" So why am I linking to this article?

Well, for one it does a good job of rounding up various stories like the Ironforge Auction House buyout in WoW, the new character rental service from Gamepal, and this tale of a divorced couple arguing over the distribution of virtual items which I'd never read before. The couple apparently met online when one saved the other from being killed by another player. I wonder if he now wishes he would have just stood by idly and typed, "lol ganked" instead.

The article even does a little comparison of the places you can buy virtual cash. Strangely, there is no mention of Station Exchange. But what really interested me is that the article devotes a good amount of time to the great Nightfreeze scam, although the connection of that story to the secondary market is tenuous at best. I covered the Nightfreeze tale back in March and it's probably my favorite MMO story so it was good to see it get some play.

While we're on the topic of secondary market articles, here's another one (via Broken Toys). It's the same old rehash from the usual suspects but it features a quote from SOE spokesperson Chris Kramer regarding SOE's venture into the secondary market. He states, "If you can't beat it, own it." Way to turn my stomach. How about buying WoW since you can't beat that either? In an unrelated story, the government of China has adopted Chris Kramer's slogan.

In any case, I liked this comment from the Broken Toys post: "...if players are actively seeking to pay actual money to avoid parts of your game, you may have some design issues." I know it's a revolutionary idea to focus on actual gameplay rather than seeing how many revenue streams you can wring out of one property but, gee, I think it may have some merit.

Edit: Krones has a very interesting post up about someone who posted a thread bragging about duping items in EQII and selling them on the secondary market. I didn't see the thread he is referencing before it was taken down, but nice job Krones for preserving most of it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Five Alive: Quest for Antonia Part III

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SOE recently announced the final five contestants in the Quest for Antonia. This grand contest of wit, skill and beauty has been going on for quite some time now. I know in this post I referred to the contest as a desperate PR stunt and in this post I mocked the brilliant and provocative responses of the contestants. But that was a different time and I am a kinder, gentler Aggro now. I've come to embrace the genius marketing plan behind this contest and think of it as akin to the Olympic Games, only better.

Okay, maybe not. I still think it's pretty silly. How many actual subscriptions are going to come out of this marketing ploy? If I thought it would actually bring positive attention or subscribers to EQII, I could deal with it. But it seems like a waste of money that only accomplishes the goal of bringing ridicule to the SOE brand.

Anyway, let's take a look at our Final Five, shall we? I tried to research the contestants further so you can make an informed decision.

First up, Bridget Peters. In
this article, she states that she never played the game herself. Which is okay...it's not a requirement.

Second, Carin Ashley. All I could find on her was this
photo shoot.

Third, Holly Weber. In my opinion she is the one who most resembles the digital Antonia and her face in the main shot really captures the Antonia look. Her picture does seem a bit too soft-porn in style for a computer game contest. Holly does have an athletic background, having participated in something called a
Lingerie Bowl. You can read more about her if you like in this IGN interview. She is apparently studying Biology so that she can become an orthodontist.

Fourth, Anna Wainscoat. She has been featured in the
Women of Santa Cruz Wall Calendar. I'm not sure what month.

And finally, Teresa Noreen. Teresa has garnered the most support on forums and other sites as being the "real EQ gamer" of the bunch. I have to give her credit for taking the time to set up her
own web site specifically for this contest. She's even done an interview with Caster's Realm you can read here. It seems like people are really buying into the EQII gamer aspect here and I would too except I'm not entirely sold on it. I would expect an actual EQ player to be namedropping guild, zones, class, etc. in that interview or on her site, and she doesn't do it. In any case, she did do a photo shoot in an Antonia costume and she does seem to be something of a gamer so that has to be considered a plus.

Anyway, I have no problem with any of these beautiful women for entering this contest. It is a good opportunity and it's not their fault that it's a bizarre concept that, in my opinion, is a misuse of marketing resources. The final contest will be held in Las Vegas from August 12th to 13th.


I should note that Krones also covered this story and there is a post on it on Broken Toys as well.

Speaking of marketing, it looks like another edition of SOE Worlds magazine is available. If you're curious, I gave the first issue a positive review on May 16th. I'll let you know how this issue is when I receive it.