So everyone is up in arms right now over Live Update 24, which they should probably rename the coming of the apocalypse. I haven’t followed the specifics, all I know is that they are nerfing some things that seem to make people feel like their class will become the next version of the EQ bard. (Did they ever end up fixing that class? Seemed like all they did was break it more and more) If I had more time, I’d peruse the update notes more carefully and disect why each change totally decimates the game and will lead to everyone cancelling their accounts. But I don’t so I won’t. It would be pretty cool though if Mutz and I had the entire world to ourselves! The update notes can be found here though if anyone is interested.
I want to write about the opposite today. Rewards! We actually do have a nice one coming this weekend, with bonus experience to anyone level 1-60. Even though I probably will hit 60 before this bonus weekend is over, I think it’s nice to help newer players and more casual players catch up a bit and be able to start tackling the Kingdom of Sky expansion, as well as be ready for the new adventure pack, The Fallen Dynasty, coming in June. I for one can’t wait to find out why the gods left Norrath! And the theme reminds me of medieval Japan, which I think fits much better with the spirit of roleplaying games. (Much better than aliens at least!)
I’d like to see more rewards given out though, but not for the reasons you’d think. There is something missing in “the next generation” online roleplaying games. Everquest not only grabbed a huge following, but was able to maintain it for a good 5 or 6 years before there was any real sign of mass departures to other games. I remember hearing several times about new games that were going to kill Everquest, but it never really happened. Even the release of Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft didn’t really kill EQ. While it did make a noticable dent in subscriptions, there are many who still avidly play, and many who have left and returned to the game. I don’t see that happening with Everquest 2 or World of Warcraft.
There isn’t that strong sense of community in newer games that existed in Everquest. The Prexus community, for example, had such a strong sense of community that the server message board is still going strong even after the retirement of many of its players. And Prexus has actually formed a sort of shared history, with players fondly recalling such moments as “Oops I poofed Dain again,” “the PDF flash video,” Sanctioned!, Renvhoek’s insane deals in the EC tunnel, Meemers hacking the server (!), and the BoTB tournaments, which still get discussed even 6 years later. It’s a place where the four letters TWDL carry great importance.
This probably isn’t an earth shattering observation, but the tweaks that eliminated bad interaction among players, such as training, scamming, and guild cockblocking, also eliminated opportunities for good interactions.
That’s fine, but that means there has to be another way to motivate people to come together if there is to be that same sense of community, and stronger commitment to staying with a game, which brings me to my next point.
Know what people want in games? They want a bone thrown to them here and there, and they want to feel like they are getting something special. This weekend’s bonus experience is a good example of that. I’m sure we’ll see a busy weekend coming up. I’d like to see something like this, but with a few more perks, in a festival type event that comes and goes every so often. It can be part of the Live Events on servers, and can be scheduled rarely enough, and rotated through days of the week enough, so that all people have a chance to participate at some point, but not so often that it waters down the challenge of the game.
Having a Festival type event that throws a bone to all sorts of play types will bring back the sense of community, and with it a deeper commitment to sticking with the game. People play to be noticed, whether it’s through slick looking gear, fancy titles, pvp domination, unique market wares, or roleplaying performance. Reward for participation in festival, as well as the audience it brings together, will establish that community. There are several different playstyles, so there should be several different incentives to match them. Here are some ideas I had:
For the lower levels — Fast leveling. An NPC could give out an easy quest or funny game, with a sure win. The reward could be a useful combat buff or a bonus experience mod for set amount of time. Like the bonus weekend, this could be limited to certain level ranges.
For those with end gear/levels — An audience to flaunt it! Also, you could set up a tournament like Best of the Best, which would be a nice way to let the power players determine who is “the best.” Winners would get bragging rights, obviously, some kind of title, and maybe take the winners from every 10 or so tournaments to compete in a round robin tournament to settle the true best of the best….of the best. Winners of that could win some kind of item, like a charm, with a unique effect. Something like the old GM awarded artifact items from live events.
For the tradeskillers — A marketplace to hawk wares. You could flag the entire zone to be a “bazaar,” like the one in Everquest. Tradeskillers could become walking vendors to sell to people at events, or stay afk and sell in some kind of separate area. The incentive would be that there is a large consumer population ready and waiting, plus there would be no broker fee, so consumers would be more willing to buy at the festival.
Roleplayers — Events that add atmosphere and spirit. Perhaps there could be a player judged competition for best tale, with in game voting by participants. The reward could be a title, like The Lorespinner. (Lame, I know)
There have been several terrific live events so far in Everquest 2, so I’m sure doing stuff like this wouldn’t be difficult at all. And the types of quests and games offered at the festival could vary, allowing some opportunity for developers to push the envelope a bit and roll out new ideas.
Hey, it worked for the Romans, why couldn’t it work for online gamers!
On another note, last night Mutz, Lauxen, and I went to Poet’s Palace for an hour, and did the access quest for the second floor.
I love the zone, despite Mutz grumbling how he hates the ali baba and the fourty thieves theme. Experience was great too, and while we didn’t get any nameds, we hopefully will grab some loot next time we go in. I’ll try to do a full write up of the zone when we complete it. So far, it was well worth the pita quest for access though.
Happy Bonus Experience Weekend!