Aggro Me: Zones of Evil
Zones of Evil
I first wrote this post a while back as a general comment on MMO design, but after playing on the PvP server as an evil character I added some EQII specific comments at the end.
This is one of those ideas I'm not really sold on myself, but I'm throwing it out there anyway. It's applicable to every MMO I have played.
What's the deal with the zones you start off in as an evil character? It is always some drab place with a dull color palette that looks like it has been beaten severely with the ugly stick. It almost always looks poverty-stricken.
To me the whole concept of evil is that you're going to do evil things (i.e. steal, betray alliances, ambush other countries, abuse your workers) for the point of amassing vast fortunes and power. Sure, the "worker areas" should look like cesspits, but there have to be some zones which display the vast wealth of the evil upper class. The whole draw of evil is: "Forget your morals and you will become rich and powerful!" It's not: "Forget your morals and you can live in a mud hut." And why can't evil people have a little architectural taste and artistic appreciation?
In my opinion, if any zone should look economically depressed, it's the good zones. They have to do things the right way by sticking to their morals. That means working harder to accomplish goals while still staying true to their principles. And the setting should reflect that. Stormwind in WoW looks like Disney World. Sure it's easy to be good if you have a place like that to live in.
The counter argument would be that good zones should look pretty and bad zones should ugly for purely thematic reasons. Any opinions?
Okay, on to my EQII specific comments. It's funny because I originally disliked the evil starter zones. But now I enjoy them. I think I was just lost and disoriented at first. And they are a bit tough to navigate for a newcomer.
There is no way the person who did the Qeynos zones is the same person who did the Freeport ones. They are just too fundamentally different. I'm not just talking about the color palette or the NPC's. They just feel like a totally different city, have markedly different layouts and create a completely different atmosphere.
Sure, Temple Street is a claustrophobic maze of alleys. But it accomplishes the goal of creating the feel of a real city very well. And it's so different from say, Castleview Hamlet, that it's like playing a different game. While the Qeynos zones draw on fantasy tropes (a hobbit shire, an elven city in the trees), the maze-like slum of Temple Street is a valid fantasy setting as well. And it affects your mood and enhances the feel of the game.
So maybe my philosophical commentary was invalid, though I think I still think it kind of makes sense from a general perspective.