August 15, 2008

EQ2 Guild Hall Lore

I was out and about earlier today, checking out the latest live event quest that came with Game Update 47, when suddenly I saw a very snappy looking Qeynosian strut by on his equally decked out horse. His name was Commander Vincent Angellicor, and he sauntered from the South Qeynos Gates to the Lighthouse, where he proceeded to check in with Karn Rockhopper, and Brieanna Soph, who are heading up the construction of a fortress offshore.

Commander Angellicor checks in with both of them to see how things are going with the construction of the “fortress.” He explains that the Queen is preoccupied with the threats from Kunark, and, more urgently, with the threats from the energy storms.

Karn Rockhopper does admit that there were cracks in the foundation, which led to them using more stone than they had planned. Brieanna Soph says she has adjusted her plans a bit to account for the increased need for stone, but Commander Angellicor tells her not to adjust so much that they don’t create a fortress that is strong enough. She also reports that there is a mysterious stranger that has been watching the progress of construction. He disappears before anyone can get close enough, but he is wearing a Freethinker’s Amulet.

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Now, that “fortress” being discussed is referring to the upcoming launch of guild halls. So what can we speculate about its launch?

Here are a few of my thoughts. Some are probably a wish more than a prediction.

First, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that guild halls will require a guild to be at a certain level (I’m hoping it’s 60!), and also have a certain enormous amount of status. But based on Master Rockhopper’s comments, it looks like guilds will need to contribute some raw materials as well – namely, stone.

The urgency of the construction is very curious. The fortress has to be strong, but it needs to be completed quickly, due to threats from the void incursions. It sounds like these fortresses are meant to be protection in the event that Qeynos itself comes under attack.

Which leads me to my next hope – that Qeynos (and Freeport) are destroyed by the invasion of the Void. This would satisfy two hopes of mine, because I want guild halls to really have a purpose, and I want to see the Void invasion really feel like an invasion. With all the PvP and RvR that’s being injected into our MMO veins, wouldn’t it be refreshing for us PvE carebears to face a little shake up of the status quo? A little sense of danger can go a long way.

How cool would it be if the general population needed to use guild halls as the base of operations for their daily endeavors, like crafting, mending, banking, and brokering…

I don’t know anything about the League of the Freethinkers, so I’m curious as to why they are distant observers of the constuction site. Apparently, if you go to one of the nearby islands near the guild hall, you can occasionally spot this Freethinker spy on a nearby hill. He uses a magic potion to disappear in a cloud of smoke, though, so you won’t have much of an opportunity to engage in pleasantries.

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Everquest II | Comments (5)

August 14, 2008

That’s How We Roll

I was putting together the “Fall Goals” for the guild today, and it gave me a nice opportunity to step back and look at the big picture for a moment.

Above:  RnH on our first trip to Shard of Hate.

We started up as a guild back in January, about 8 months ago. In that time, we have successfully raided almost all content up to T8. We also worked together to complete several heritage quests and some of the larger questlines, like the class hat quest. Several members have dinged level 80 in adventuring, or tradeskilling (or both!), and many of those have completed their fabled adventuring epics and tradeskill epics. Our guild has reached level 60 now, and this past week, we ventured into our first Tier 8 raid zone – Shard of Hate, to try our luck on scooping up loot from the trash and to play around with Demetrius Crane.

Above:  Ah, memories.  Guild pose on the pyramid in the “Spirits of the Lost” raid zone, after taking down Venekor.

The part that I think is the coolest, though, is that we did it on a very laid back, casual playstyle. We only raid two nights a week, and raiding isn’t mandatory. Any guild events we do run from 8:30 EST to 11 EST, and I think we’ve gone over that 11 PM time only once. Our motto is, “Focused progress, but not at the expense of a good night’s sleep.” For me, it sunk in last week that we actually have been able to do exactly that.

Above:  Celebration after taking down Harla Dar in Temple of Scale.

Funny thing is, that moment has come and gone. I’m always uneasy about the direction of the guild, and I’d love to know if that’s a common feeling among guild leaders, or if it’s just me. I find that leading a guild can be a lot harder than other leadership positions, like coaching or teaching, primarily because it’s impossible to know whether everyone in the guild is “on board,” with your philosophy. When you’re facing a team or a class, you can instantly tell how your words are being received. That’s impossible with a guild, because of the distance between you and everyone else. That can make things very frustrating at times, but it also makes guild accomplishments that much more enjoyable.

Above:  RnH taking on Cthulu, one of the Guild Raids.  This was one of our first raids, “back in the day.” (about 4 months ago).

We’re definitely not a uber guild, but we’re also not trying to be one. Given our limited playtimes and flaky schedules, I think we’re doing pretty darned good.

Above:  The RnH carpet brigade, back in March, taking on Rahotep for the Scepter Heritage Quest.

…and now I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…..

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Everquest II,Gaming Commentary | Comments (0)

August 11, 2008

Betrayal

One feature that often gets overlooked in Everquest 2 is the betrayal system. “Back in the day,” when being good or being evil actually had some semblance of importance, you could choose to betray sides early on in your toon’s existence (I think it was level 17). So, if you played an evil class, you would become the good aligned equivalent, and vice versa.

Above: Shard of Fear. Why the heck am I running *toward* the wall of fire?!

The whole “good vs evil” thing in EQ2 has been watered down a lot in the years that followed, but the betrayal system not only remains in place, but has been revamped to allow you to betray at basically any level. So if you played a templar (the good aligned cleric class), you could switch over and play an inquisitor. If you got tired of playing an evil dirge, you would betray and become a troubador, or good bard. You still might be playing the same basic class (bard, cleric, enchanter, warrior), but there are some noticeable differences between each good and evil pairing. The betrayal system is great, because it offers a chance for someone to freshen up their gaming without having to reroll. It also offers flexibility for those that might be looking to raid with a particular guild that has closed recruiting to their particular class. Maybe the guild of your dreams is no longer seeking mystics (the good aligned shaman), but wants defilers. Betray and you are in!

There is a penalty, of course. When you betray, all your spells and abilities are gone, and you no longer can live in your original city. You are exiled to Haven until you do enough faction work to earn the right to live in your new city of choice. Also, if you have class specific armor, you’ll need to replace it. Honestly, it’s the perfect penalty – not too timesinky, but severe enough to prevent people from making betrayal a nightly ritual.

So why stop there? Why can’t I switch classes within my archetype, so if I am a monk, I could betray and become a guardian? If I’m a fury, I can betray and become a templar. Heck, why stop at archetypes, why can’t someone retrain as an entirely new class? (Lemme interject here and toss out the disclaimer that I’m only thinking about this for a PvE environment. This idea might create huge problems in a PvP game) Obviously, the first argument against it is that the bigger the jump in class, the harder it would be to properly learn that class. True enough, so why not make the process of betrayal contain a series of challenges that force someone to study their class, and only allow them to “graduate” if they have passed the challenges? Much better than slaughtering newbmobs for faction, I’d say.

Above: RnH on a recent Harla Dar kill in Temple of Scale.

You might argue that it would lead to rampant betrayals, and the population would always be lopsided in favor of a certain small number of classes. First, the current betrayal system in EQ2 proves that it would not be rampant. Some do betray, but of the 100 different individuals in my guild, to use a small example, only one has betrayed. As for it leading to population imbalance, the law of supply and demand will always smooth it out. Even if, suddenly, every single healer decides to betray and become a fury, some will settle back into the other classes, simply because it’s no fun to be druid #400 that’s sitting lfg, or fury #15 that’s waiting to get on a raid.

I’ll admit, I have a bit of a bias here, because I believe that leveling is archaic. So the standard argument of “don’t like your class? Reroll and play an alt!” doesn’t fly with me. There is no good reason that someone should have to redo every level, and re-grind all the content, to play another class. If there was one, WoW and all the other MMOGs wouldn’t be making it faster to reach the level cap as their respective games grow long in the tooth, and larger in levels. I’m also on my soapbox because I’m so totally done with the concept of raid limits, especially in EQ2. 24 classes, and 6 are tanks. The math doesn’t work, and it never will.

The only drawbacks I suppose are that A) low level areas would be a lot more sparsely populated, since there might be fewer twinks running around and B) there might be less of a demand for lower level items on the broker. The broker issue could be easily solved, if you reset a newly betrayed player’s skills to zero, and then went with a skill based requirement on items, rather than level based. As for the low level areas possibly losing population, it’s not ideal, but let’s face it, the longer a game is out, the lower the population in low level zones anyway. And more often than not, most are soloing through the low level content anyway, simply because it’s faster and easier.

If I want to switch my class and turn my level capped whatever into a new class, and I pay a fairly steep penalty for it, along with a rigorous retraining and challenging tests (Trainer NPCs actually acting like trainers?! Get out!), how does that affect someone else’s game experience? And I’m asking out of all honesty, because I don’t see any serious issue other than the fact that “that’s not the way it’s done” in MMOGs.

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Everquest II,Gaming Commentary | Comments (2)

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