September 22, 2008

Less > More

I’m sorta torn on this topic, because the research nerd in me loves to let my fingers do the walking and get instant answers to pretty much any MMO question I have.  But there is definitely something to be said about the “good old days” of Everquest, when fansites, wikis, databases, and, yes, even bloggers, were few and far between.  Sometimes it really is best to leave something to the imagination.

“Back in the day,” I remember people arguing about what the spell harmony did – some insisted it was a mana buff, and would cast it on other players, while some, correctly, said it was a threat reducer (although it was still up for debate on whether the spell should go on the player or on the mob).

I also remember being half dazed from doing our second guildie camp of Zordak in a row, (my 16 day proof of insanity) taking an afk, and feeling the blood drain from my head when someone told me that I screwed up the timer because I was sitting on the Zordak spawn point.  Practically every night in /ooc, as adventurers settled in to their nightly camp claims, the neverending debate about the Anti-camp code would always find a way to surface.

There were lots of mysteries in Everquest – some true and some still unresolved.  Don’t kill bixies or you’ll spawn griffons; don’t fall in the lava or you’ll die and have no corpse to loot; Lake Rathe is home to the Krakken, a giant underwater beast; the Tower of Frozen Shadow has a secret 8th floor; don’t organize monk protests outside Freeport or you’ll face the wrath of a 100 foot gnome named Smedley….

………

For better or worse, Everquest had a lot more of “the human element” in it than current MMO titles.  On the downside, players survived the upheaval from such scandals as pie tin exploits, and tumpy tonic turn in abuse.  But we also had the thrilling metagame called vendor diving, where you could explore the recently sold items on any particular vendor’s inventory and, possibly, find a real steal or two.  Some poor sap’s careless sale was another man’s phat platz.

The content of Everquest was also more varied than the crisp decorum of level tiers and linear progression that so many MMOs sport today.  Some zones were definitely better experience than others, but we didn’t have the benefit of a numerical exp tally with every kill, so patchtime often brought on careful exploration to see what the new best hunting spots were.  Market prices were also unpredictable due to changes in drop rates – or the discontinuation of an item altogether.  Rubicite armor was valuable to begin with, but skyrocketed once it stopped dropping.  (and while it was a quest item, I still /mourn the end of the BFG).  The fluctuating drop rates made the market a lot more interesting, because that certain worthless trash drop could suddenly become an overnight diamond.

Over the summer, Everquest 2 has had a lengthy in game event about the invasion of the void, and the murder of the Priestess in the North Qeynos temple.  I’ve participated in each part of the live event quests that launch with every game update, and while I’m impressed with the unique rewards and storyline, I found myself thinking, “why did they have to tell us about it in the patch notes?”  They have kept it vague enough that the mystery is still up in the air, but it would have been cool to log in one day this summer and, out of the blue, run into one of the black void clouds, with no warning or explanation.  We wouldn’t know what these clouds were all about, and we wouldn’t know why the creatures nearby were suddenly afflicted with some sort of tempest-illness.  There would be lots of in-game discussions about the back story, and eventually players would track down and share the locations of the quest NPCs.  These in game chats about the quests would not only do a better job of getting the word out to the playerbase about the live event, but would also help to build *ta-da!* Community!  I’m sure there is a very good reason why so much is revealed in patch notes these days, but I still think it would be cool if we were kept in the dark a bit more.

Warhammer suffers from this a little…..ok, a lot.  By the time the game was launched, so much was written, screenshotted, podcasted, and video’d about it, there is little left to solve.  Heck, a bunch of revelations came straight from the official site, in the form of regular journals, videos, and site guides.  It’s almost like George Lucas blurting out that Darth is Luke’s father.  Or Orson Welles announcing that Rosebud is the sled.  The bright side is that the game is PvP heavy, so no one can predict exactly what’s going to happen (larger side will win).

Developers are, in a way, playing the role of MMO gods.  Why not imitate the ancient gods of Greek and Roman mythology, and keep us on our toes a little more?   More giant Smedley gnomes, less talk.

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Gaming Commentary | Comments (8)

8 Comments »

  1. What proportion of the player base got to see the Smed gnome would you imagine? Does that make it an effecient use of dev resources or not?

    Comment by Yeebo — September 22, 2008 @ 8:08 am

  2. Bah, my last sentence wasn’t meant as a demand for a larger in-game developer presence. You’re taking it a bit out of context.

    The examples I listed of EQ mysteries were all things that were coded and patched into the game. The change I’m pining for is to see less of it announced upfront. Let us explore, test, discuss, and discover on our own. That doesn’t add to the developer burden, and it doesn’t strain dev resources.

    Comment by jayernh — September 22, 2008 @ 8:27 am

  3. That is so true! And it probably was another big part of why I enjoyed EQ. Back then I never read forums, blogs, or fansites. I had no expectations and everything was a surprise.

    With EQ2, even if they didn’t announce it in the patch notes those who experienced it on test would be posting about it. And it sort of takes away the meaning of this whole who discovered this first thing. It’s really just a matter of who was home to log in first.

    Too much information out there nowadays and it’s just too hard to ignore. Don’t think we can get back the mystery of the game.

    Comment by aspendawn — September 22, 2008 @ 9:43 am

  4. Talking about things people argued over, on Xegoney in Gfay I would often hear the debate over the haste on the FBSS. Depending on which person you listened to, it was 17% or 22% if I remember correctly. In fact, Faeran and I would often start those debates. One of us would ask in occ and the other answering either 22 or 17. That would be enough for at least a half hour debate. Good times.

    Comment by Gathilas — September 22, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  5. Oh thank god! SOMEONE else remembers the BFG! I mention it nowdays and people just arch an eyebrow and I can tell they’re thinking about Doom.

    That is by far the quest I regret not doing the most in EQ1. =/

    As for mysteries, I always liked the whole, “you have to loot the corpses for mobs to respawn,” one. Or the one about how clicking on the clockwork clock in Qeynos at the right time would teleport you to a zone where you fought a clockwork dragon (though from what I understand, they DID add a clockwork dragon eventually).

    The only mysteries I’ve found in Vanguard are little bits of cave and dungeon ferreted away under the world or behind walls. Considerably less fun, I must say. =/

    I also miss the days of GMs and Guide not having a damn flowchart to follow whenever they talk to you. They used to be players that wanted to give back to the game and acted as such. You could have a real conversation with them and feel like they cared. Now days, they all talk like robots. It just doesn’t convey a sense of them giving a a_rat’s_ass00 about your issue.

    If I thought I could hop back into EQ1 after two+ years of being away (LOL, yeah right!), I would in a heartbeat. Even though the game has changed so much, last time I was on it still felt more…alive…than VG or EQ2.

    Comment by Keddar — September 22, 2008 @ 3:52 pm

  6. Warhammer does have some mysteries left. I keep hearing about these things called lairs in the game. Apparently there are areas which can only be opened through a secret entrance or a puzzle. All of them have a Hero boss in them that drops a decent piece of armor.

    They’ve found some of lair entrances so far, but not the method for opening all of them yet.

    http://www.warhammeronline.com/english/gameInfo/gameFeatures/LairsUnearthed.php

    http://warhammeronline.wikia.com/wiki/Lair

    Comment by Relmstein — September 25, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

  7. mansions-of-madness discussions…

    Journeys with Jaye » Less > More…

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    Journeys with Jaye » Less > More…

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