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Posts with tag everquest

Why we solo

Lauren of the Mystic Worlds Blog has a new post up called "Why we Solo in MMOs," offering her perspective on why, over many years and many MMOs, she has always tended to ignore the grouping game and instead go it alone. While I'm not against grouping at all -- I was very active in the 40 man raid game, and tend to run Heroics around once a week and Karazhans around 1.5 times a week across my 3 70s -- I've always felt that the solo game has a valid spot in MMORPGs, and I've often indulged in it myself. In fact, I'd bet that most WoW players do so on a regular basis these days, whether leveling up or doing their dailies.

She rattles off the usual list of reasons for going solo -- having a weird schedule, needing to take frequent "real life" breaks, not having enough time to go LFG for a dungeon, unwillingness to deal with the infamous horrible PuG group -- then takes it a step further. She believes that many people use these types of statements as excuses or defense against people who can't understand why they wish to solo in a multiplayer game, or actively flame them for it, and that the real reasons are a lot less complicated.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, PvP, Quests, Leveling, RP, Making money, Alts

Breakfast Topic: The secret lives of Blizzard employees

Tom "Kalgan" Chilton, in his interview we posted yesterday, said that one of Blizzard's class designers was the guild leader of one of the world's best known PvP guilds, but he wants to keep him anonymous. Wait, what?

Chilton meant that Blizzard has solid ties into the community, but should it worry us at all that those ties might be a little too close-knit? We already know that Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan has major ties to a guild in the game (he was actually hired by Blizzard from his Everquest raiding guild), and quest designer Alex "Furor" Afrasiabi also comes from a guild that is still active in World of Warcraft. In fact, we've already seen Blizzard get in trouble by their own admission for treating the devs' guilds differently -- is it right for them to keep their guild associations anonymous?

On the one hand, obviously it's much easier to keep the developers' ingame identities anonymous, otherwise they wouldn't be able to play the game at all without getting approached with questions and complaints every time they log on. But on the other hand, not only is there the potential for favoritism in terms of game design, but what if the PvP guild mentioned in the article was one that won an eSports or the Arena realm tournament? Is it right for Blizzard's developers to keep their guild associations anonymous?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Rumors

Blizzard needs to steal character customization Ideas from other MMORPGs

The idea of being able to customize your character's look and feel beyond choosing one of 4 or 5 basic face and hairstyle choices at character creation or upgrading to a new piece of loot is one that's near and dear to me. I'm an RPer, so I like to think of each of my characters as a unique person with unique quirks, ideas, and fashion sense that I can't always express as I'd like to due to the limitations of WoW's mechanics. I've even had some very good friends quit WoW because their characters weren't customizable enough.

The idea came to the front of my mind a few weeks back when I was visiting my brother. We played EverQuest together, but when it came time to move on from that game, he (and most of our EQ guild) chose Everquest 2, and I chose WoW. So, of course, he ribs me about it quite often, and since I was visiting, he decided to load up EQ2 and show me what I was "missing."

Now to be honest, I'm still a bigger fan of WoW, but that's a subject for a different article. One thing I will say for EQ2 is that I was very impressed with the wider range of options to customize your character and show off your character's accomplishments. There's a few ideas related to character customization from EQ2 and other games that I'd really like Blizzard to continue emulating in future patches and in the WoTLK expansion that I believe would deepen the game experience for me and my friends, and for many other players as well.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Expansions, Factions, RP

Insert cute pet story here

About 3 months ago I got my first pet. His name is Max, and is a grey domestic short hair cat. He was a stray that was scratching at my apartment door on a very cold November evening. At the time it was decided that he was just going to stick around for the night, but he grew on us so quickly that we weren't able to let him go. He now is a happy member of my family, and just like the rest of them, he has to put up with me playing World of Warcraft.

Except, it's not really "putting up with" WoW, it's more like "intensely interested in what's going on." Max will often times spend the whole four hours of the night's raid spread across the desk staring at my computer screen. He'll react to the sounds, the bright flashes of light, and occasionally even other in game cats. When someone says "lol" and their character laughs, he'll jump and stare down the speaker the laugh came from.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Humor

Do you have roots in World of WarCraft?

The first MMO I got hooked on was EverQuest. The harsh nature of the game forced you to bond with other people. Some of those bonds have lasted longer than I played the game. I started EQ seven years ago, and while it's been at least a year since I've logged in, I still chat with people I met in-game even though they've quit as well.

Because WoW is an easier game than EQ (we can debate whether WoW is a training wheel game about as long as we can debate casual vs. hardcore), I'm concerned it might not have a long-lasting social fabric. In many ways my EQ guild was like family: we loved and fought (usually amongst ourselves) as much as most families. A guild alliance that lasted not even a year still has people stopping by to say "hi" six years after it disbanded. People stop by their old EQ guilds all the time. A lot of the time it's like old soldiers getting together to talk about a bad situation. "Say, Gan, remember that time it took us ten hours to almost clear Fear, and we wiped near the end and it and it took another ten to get our corpses? Was that a pain or what?" Shared misery can make for some long-lasting friendships.

In my EverQuest guild, I had over 2,000 posts on our guild's message boards. In my various WoW guilds I'm lucky if I have 50 over the last two years. One-third of my AIM list is people I met in EQ; zero are from WoW. How about you? How often do you talk out-of-game with other players, and will you keep in touch after you've quit the game? Is it because WoW doesn't have the hardships of other games, or am I just and old fogey remembering the good old days?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Humor

A Tigole flashback to Legacy of Steel

Reader Dbandith sent us this little gem-- it's Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan's old EQ guild page from back in 2002. Back before Blizzard really got started with World of Warcraft, they raided (pun intended) the biggest guilds in a few other MMOs, most notably EverQuest, for developers, and some of those folks became the Blues that we know and love today. I know both Tigole and Alex "Furor" Afrasiabi came from EQ guilds (and in fact, their old guilds still play WoW, and it's gotten them in trouble at least once), and Rob Pardo originally ran Legacy of Steel, the guild that Tigole came from.

But this little flashback is extremely interesting, not only for the post at the top of the page-- it's very cool to see a fresh-faced Tigole, one excited about breaking the MMO mold and not a guy concerned with balancing Arena Ratings and an expansion beta schedule-- but also for the expletive-filled post at the bottom. "Fix your goddamn buggy bull**** half-assed encounters," rages Tigole at the EQ staff. And he sounds just like the same folks raging on the forums about Blizzard's current problems, even if their language isn't quite as strong as his.

Now don't get me wrong-- Kaplan and Blizzard have done an amazing job, and created one of the best games in history. Fighting over Brewfest bugs (or even one tree of one class in the game) is 1000% better than fighting over the entire act of playing the game itself-- there's no question in my mind that Kaplan and all of the other raiders brought on board at Blizzard pushed the MMO genre light years ahead of where it was back in their raiding time. But it is an interesting sight to see Blizzard devs on the other side of the message board posting button, raging against mistakes in implementation just as so many on Blizzard's forums are today.

Thanks, Dbandith!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Leveling

Breaking News: Casual players hard to define

Let's take a poll. If you consider yourself "casual" raise your hand. Yes, even you in the back-and you thought that webcam was off (and put some clothes on for God's sake).

Ok, that's quite a bit of you. Now, if you play more than 20 hours a week keep your hands up.

That's what I thought.

At the last two Dragon*Cons I've asked that same question on my panels. The numbers come out like this: 90% of the room raised their hands at the first question and 80% of them kept their hands up for the second.

You are not a casual gamer if you fall into that spectrum. Since I am laughably a games journalist, I am eminently qualified to use the word the industry uses to define "casual gamers": Peggle. We also have a word to describe people who play Peggle too much, but since AOL owns us I probably can't use it here.

When you wonder why Blizzard doesn't do enough for the casual player, or why they focus their attention on the hardcore raider, the answer is simple: Blizzard doesn't have a clear delineation between the two groups any more than you do. It used to be that casual players refused to put in the time to get ahead, while the hardcore raiders were a bunch of catassers who had no lives. WarCraft has drastically blurred those lines. Robin Torres wrote an excellent piece on the differences between casual and raiders here. Let me say I agree with her, but she was a tad too polite.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard

/silly: Time for Plan B


Sometimes we, as players, do some incredibly silly things. Even after, say, 45-50 levels of dealing with the character, learning the tricks of the trade and the ways of your class, we can still make mistakes which may or may not lead to our certain doom. In the case of our poor Tauren friend in this week's comic, that certain doom is very, very certain and all together rather doomish. Clicking on the big florescent green "Click Here" symbol will reveal this doomed fate to you, but don't say I didn't warn you: There will be doom involved.

Speaking of doomed fate, somewhere just beyond this sentence there is likely a link that says (more...) and clicking on it will more then likely provide you this elusive "more" they keep promising all over the Internet. Go ahead, click it. You will see.

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Filed under: Odds and ends, Humor, /silly

Hallowe'en every day of the year - no thanks!

We talk a lot about the features we want in the game. What about the features we don't want? I don't know about anybody else, but I've been watching the news surrounding the release of Everquest 2 Update 38 with horror. Read with me from the press release.

"Upon reaching level 20, you'll be able to access new appearance item slots on the inventory window! Have favorite pieces that are an important part of your style? You can now keep wearing them for looks while continuing to upgrade your primary gear!"

Are they out of their freaking mind?! Sure, I like to look good as much as the next player, but let's shift to World of Warcraft for a minute and consider the ramifications of such a change in our world, especially to our PvP-loving brethren. Do you really want to go into a battleground or an arena match and see a paladin standing there smiling at you buck-naked (perhaps wielding a Pitchfork, and wearing overalls for effect) when in fact he's actually wearing a full Tier 6 set?

Rattlesnakes have a rattle for a reason. Cobras have their distinctive hood for the same reason. You should be able to look at a player in-game and be able to with some degree of certainty be able to assess their threat to you. I don't think it's such a wonderful idea to allow people to masquerade around as noobs when in fact they may count themselves among the best-equipped players in the game. How many times do you actually target somebody or mouse-over them to see their class? So if you see a dwarf in a robe you think priest, right? If a change like this was ever implemented in World of Warcraft, that could be a deadly assumption. I've got nothing against the Orbs of Deception and Savory Deviate Delight and other such items. Their effects are temporary, and easy to spot. Hallowe'en should be contained to one day of the year.

You may wonder why am I freaking out over this when it's not even something going in World of Warcraft. I'm freaking out about it because this is a novel idea that I think will catch on in the MMOG genre. As Blizzard looks to add hairstyles and other cosmetic changes in the future, Sony has approached the same issue from an interesting and novel direction. This is one direction I hope Blizzard never takes. What things do you hope Blizzard never introduces in the game?

[Special thanks to Olandu from "Guardians of Azeroth" on Gnomeregan for being my photo model for this article!]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items, Features

Interview with a farmer


No, not a farmer in World of Warcraft gold farmer, but an Everquest 2 plat farmer. When EQ2 player Ogrebear received a tell from someone trying to sell him plat, he responded how he usually did -- with a threat. However, this particular plat seller actually responded to Ogrebear's tell, resulting in an interesting conversation that gives us a bit of insight into the industry.

So what does this farmer make? About $100 a month for seven hours work a day. (Ogrebear notes that that's 71 cents an hour if he only works five days a week.)

How many characters does this farmer go through in a week? Seven. But apparently it's profitable enough to keep at it.

What's this mean to those of us playing World of Warcraft? It means that Blizzard has an uphill battle ahead of them -- the farmers are making enough money to keep at this, despite bannings. And I've got to wonder if they can ever ban enough of them. Perhaps this explains Blizzard's recent push to resolve this issue via legal methods.

[Via PlayNoEvil]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

Why other MMOs remain the underdogs


Over at MMOG Nation Michael tries to answer the question of why Everquest 2 remains an underdog in the MMO market despite numerous updates and improvements to the game by SOE. And I've got to say I agree with his answer -- whether we're talking about Everquest 2, Lord of the Rings Online, or even Star Wars Galaxies (do people still play that game?). Despite how good other games may be, if all of your friends play World of Warcraft, I bet you're going to be playing World of Warcraft, too.

While MMOGCHART hasn't been updated in nearly a year now, their last set of data breaking down the number of active subscribers maintained by all of the major MMOs at the time showed World of Warcraft holding over 50% of the market, leaving a dozen games to split the remaining half of the market. And just looking at my circle of friends, all of them play World of Warcraft -- a couple of them play Everquest on the side, several of us play Lord of the Rings Online as well, and one dabbles in the world of Final Fantasy. But if I want to hang out with all of my friends, I've got to log on to World of Warcraft. So how's the next big thing going to break into the market when all of my friends -- and probably yours -- play WoW? I'm guessing it won't be able to simply be a Warcraft-alike, but be something so far beyond World of Warcraft today that it will draw in the same mass of subscribers WoW did in its initial release.

So what do you think the next big thing will be in the MMO market -- or is it so far off that we'll all just be playing a different Blizzard game by then? (I'm still waiting on World of Starcraft, thank you very much!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

What is the ideal raid size?

Over at Elitist Jerks Quigon of Maraudor started a thread about raiding. In it he philosophizes about raiding as we knew it, and how things have changed since the expansion. Raids in the original WoW varied in size, but the main push was toward the 40-man grouping. We did it in MC, in Naxxramas, even with the world dragons. But with the large number of members the encounters were for the most part simplistic, since it takes a great deal of skill to coordinate a large number of people to do just about anything.

As Quigon puts it, the feeling of an epic fight has diminished somehow, despite the new encounters being more challenging. There isn't the same amount of excitement as a boss drops, that tangible electricity over the Vent channel. Is this because the encounters still need some tune ups, or is it because of the smaller group? Do you get the same swelling of pride as you form up as a group of 25 heroes to wage war as you would if there were 40 of your brethren around you? On the other hand, what about the 72-man raids in Everquest? Since we have so many variations in spec, build and class these days, wouldn't more people in a raid be better than fewer?

He raises a lot of stimulating questions, questions I'd love to hear your perspective on. What is the perfect raid size? Is it 10, 40, or 100?

[via Elitist Jerks]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

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