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Reader Comments (33)

Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 2:12PM Rhazes said

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I prefer players but having the option for a Merc is always a plus. The majority of players do not want to play a tank in pugs or even play one at all.


I'm looking forward to SWTOR companions, they are voiced and you can equip them.

Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 2:20PM Borick said

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I loathe the new trend toward NPC companions.

The problem I see is the disconnect between those who want to socialize through sports-like competitive team play and those who are seeking low-stress persistant social bonding activities.

EverQuest was great for me because the pace let me spend extensive time chatting and bonding with the people I play with. Like being in a knitting circle, it's still a skilled social activity but of a different mindset.

Giving us 'companions' feels like just another end-run in trying to suck people into the sports-like shell game.

Where are the 'knitting circle' activities in MMOs? Why must the rewards of non-competitive players be locked to the same reward matrix as the aggresve, competitive types?

There's a daily quest in the new WoW patch where they load you up with a team of NPCs, and I find that it makes a cluttered mess.

NPCs don't socialize. That's my problem with companions.

Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 2:30PM bobfish said

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@Borick

When I last played EQ2 seriously around two years ago, even then there simply weren't enough people below the level cap to group up with.

I was forced to do solo content for 90% of the time and the other 10% always had at least one person mentoring down to help out.

Mercenaries are unfortunately a necessary evil, because EQ2 hasn't had sufficient new blood coming into it for many years now. Probably not even since launch.
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 4:23PM Seffrid said

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@Borick

"NPCs don't socialize. That's my problem with companions. "

Fair point, but then not everyone sits on their own at the computer playing a game in order to socialise. There are better ways of doing that that don't involve sitting on your own :)!

I'm personally in favour of maximum choice in MMOs. Make enough solo, duo, small group, full group and raid content to keep everyone happy regardless of their preferred playstyle, and add in mercenaries as another way of allowing players to implement those playstyles. Win-win all round.
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 4:32PM augustgrace said

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@bobfish I had the same experience. I tried EQ2 on a couple occasions but between both efforts I might have seen half a dozen low level players. I got offers from max level chars to come help out, but I don't want to play through the content with someone else doing all the work. This is the problem with level based games, eventually the dedicated players reach end game and tire of leveling alts, so new players are left alone in the low level areas.

I do however see this as a negative move. When EQ introduced npc party members it made sense because the game was so old and people had moved on. Introducing that system to EQ2 does come across as an admission that the game isn't doing well. If I were paying a sub for the game I would be a bit upset by this news.

Of course if I had a sub to any of Sony's games I'd be upset with them right now :p
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 10:08PM Jade Effect said

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@Borick

If socializing is so fun, then surely players will continue to group up even when NPC companions are available, no?

Why must socializing be done with group members? There's nothing to stop you from socializing within zone chat, guild chat, level-range chat, class chat, etc.

If people are socializing less than before, it can only mean it's not an activity they really enjoy. Gameplay conveniences is valued over meaningless banter with total strangers. Kinda like chatting with the person sitting next to you on a long boring plane ride.
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Posted: Jul 24th 2011 2:14PM Tom in VA said

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@Borick

"NPCs don't socialize. That's my problem with companions."

And THAT is exactly why I love them. I get tired sometimes of the stupidity, drama, and bigotry of real players. Forming groups with NPCs occasionally offers a welcome break.

Guild Wars rules the roost of the games I have played because of its mercenary features. They are unfailingly agreeable, courteous, customizable, uncomplaining, and -- most of all -- READY TO GO when I am.

Too many MMOs are married to the idea that players MUST group with strictly defined numbers (for some reason, FIVE seem to be the prevailing magic number for player groups) other players. I get tired of this.

Yes, I want to play with other players *sometimes* but I do not want to be forced each and every time I want to do something significant to find precisely 4 other players with the right balance of skills.

Replaying GW1 as I have the past month or so has reminded me of how sorely I have wished such a feature/option was more widely available.

In my opinion, (1) grouping with friends is MUCH BETTER than (2) grouping with mercenaries, which in turn is VASTLY BETTER than (3) grouping in random Pugs. For some stupid reason, most MMOs force you to choose option 3 if option 1 is not available. MMOs that offer both options 1 and 2, however, are the ones I am going to play (and pay for).
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 2:55PM alucard3000 said

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I like this idea wish more mmo's would do it.It's my money so I should be able to pick and choose when I want to "multiplayer" it up and when I just want to run my own solo rpg.Forcing people to group for content isnt always going to make the "social" aspect of it better especially if the ones doing it are only there begrudgingly because thats the only way to experience that content.

Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 3:02PM Ordegar said

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A mercenary won't get upset if you kick him or her from the group. In other words, you don't have to use them in a group. If you prefer to find other people to group with you can; and if you think that having mercenaries available will make people not want to group, think again. People who want to group still will, and those who don't will duo around with their merc; since they wouldn't group anyway it's not taking them away from the grouping pool.

When I heard that mercenaries were going to be coming to EQ2, I fired up my All Access ( formerly Station Pass, but now without extra character slots ) and hopped into Everquest to see how mercs are doing there since they already have them. I have to say it is absolutely wonderful. I love it.

As I look back at my time in mmos it is apparent to me that most of the time I end up soloing, and when I do group up it's just one or two other people. In Everquest I had my Ranger with a tank merc going through the tutorial starting area and ended up grouping with a Rogue with his tank merc. With our little group we zipped through content that would have been impossible solo, and difficult to duo since neither of us was a tank, but with the tank mercs we had a blast. When I played EQ before, I always played a Paladin, Druid or a pet class so I could get by on my own; and I never could get going in other classes because some classes in EQ are not solo friendly at all; now I can play those classes I never got a chance to really try out. I love mercenaries.

Now that I've revisited EQ though, and saw how they are smoothing the rough edges and modernizing it a lot, I just may stay there and not bother with EQ2. ;)

Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 5:51PM Nepentheia said

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@Ordegar

Exactly! I think that's what I appreciate most about mercenaries/henchmen/heroes... it allows the player to play a class they WANT to play (and not need to play a class they HAVE to play just so they can get groups so they can level).
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 3:15PM winterborn said

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I think they should do away with levels and make all zones/content lvl 90. Then the grind is only about AA and gear. Since everyone is the same level grouping would improve. Vets would group with noobs to do a lvl 90 version of Wailling Caves etc. if it had useable loot. Plus you would not dread the fact that if the next nerf sucked all the fun out of your lvl 90 class, you would need to level all over again since you start at 90.


Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 3:19PM Saker said

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Just bring me EQNext, and -DON'T- screw it up!!!

Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 3:56PM Ghostspeaker said

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It seems kinda silly to go through all this trouble to solve a problem that could be fixed by doing something as simple as allowing F2P and P2P players onto the same servers. For existing players, the biggest plus for a game going freemium is the massive boost to the player base, which makes grouping easier. Unfortunately $oE decided to sequester the freemium folks even after they start paying money, thus robbing folks of the single biggest benefit they could've gotten from the change of business model. They shot themselves in the foot.

They'd be better served by bandaging the foot up rather than shooting themselves in the other one too and then building an elaborate prosthesis to make up for having no legs to stand on.

Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 4:35PM Seffrid said

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@Ghostspeaker

"For existing players, the biggest plus for a game going freemium is the massive boost to the player base, which makes grouping easier. Unfortunately $oE decided to sequester the freemium folks even after they start paying money, thus robbing folks of the single biggest benefit they could've gotten from the change of business model. They shot themselves in the foot."

You're so wrong. It was the existing players who forced SOE into creating a separate F2P server because they did not want their experience cheapened by those who had bought their achievements in a cash shop.

Given a free choice I have absolutely no doubt that SOE would have had combined servers (they said as much on the forums) but they realised they would lose most of the existing playerbase if they did that so they opted for separate ones.

Existing players never even wanted the Marketplace and kicked up such a stink over Station Cash prices/items being included on the NPC merchants that SOE had to remove those things immediately from the Live servers and claim their inclusion been an unintended mistake (which no-one believed, of course).

Combining the two game versions on the same servers would have been a disaster. The F2P version wouldn't appear to have been a great success in any event, given that there's still only the one server.
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 5:16PM Ghostspeaker said

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@Seffrid

Ah. So the community is so insular and resistant to change that they'd rather just die alone on their sinking ship. Ok, they've made their own beds, then. I just feel sorry for the folks who didn't throw a tantrum having to pay for the sins of the whiners.

Still, SoE isn't without blame even then. Sometimes devs need to do unpopular things for the sake of the game's long-term health. This would have been one of those times. And really, the freemium option could have been a much bigger success if they hadn't restricted the freemium players so hard (even the paying ones don't get the whole game). That's one area where it's completely on the company's head.
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 5:30PM Seffrid said

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@Ghostspeaker

"Ah. So the community is so insular and resistant to change that they'd rather just die alone on their sinking ship."

Or to put it another way, they wanted to continue playing the game on the same basis they'd been playing it, with the subscription covering the full game, rather than having to switch to the cash shop model SOE were trying to foist on them.

A lot of people are opposed to the F2P business model and want nothing to do with it especially on an established subscription-based game, and that is a perfectly valid position to hold, even if it's one that you disagree with.

EQ2's players have been embracing change ever since the game launched. I doubt any other MMO has undergone so many changes but for many this was a change too far. I can understand that, and they were entitled to express their opinion (as were those who didn't share it).
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 7:01PM (Unverified) said

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@Seffrid

I would say that Lotro has undergone more changes than EQ2 and actually made F2P work on all servers and is thriving rather well.

The folks that were subscribing... still subscribe and actually get more content.

SOE dropped the ball on their F2P attempt, that is just all there is to it.
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 7:05PM Ghostspeaker said

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@Seffrid

Sure, they're both valid positions to hold. But that doesn't mean both positions result in equal outcomes for the game. The end result of players' reactionary response is that the game continues to slowly bleed to death and keep the devs (whose spinelessness is admittedly their own fault) from doing anything to improve the game. I stand by what I said. Whatever their reasons, they're the ones ultimately at fault for the slow death of the game they love so much they'd rather kill it than let it change.

And frankly, I doubt it would have been as big a disaster as you make it out to be. The number of people who whine and threaten to leave a game over whatever change are invariably much smaller than the number of people who actually leave.

There has yet to be a game ruined by including a freemium option. And it's no coincidence that the two games who have been helped least by freemium are the two with the most restrictive business models.
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Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 5:24PM FrostPaw said

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I'm not surprised, mercanaries sounds like another concession to the lazy and idle players who can't be bothered to look for or interact with other players unyet for some bizarre reason want to pay money to play a massive multiplayer online game surrounded by other people.

Pretty soon we'll all be playing single player games for a monthly fee, the momment all mmo's started having so much solo content it almost killed all social and community incentives and if games now start adding in fake group members that just makes group content...solo content.

Posted: Jul 23rd 2011 5:28PM pcgneurotic said

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I love the new trend toward NPC companions.

As a middle-aged family man with less time to play than a snowball has to survive in hell, when I do get to play finally (usually at night after kids' bed time), I never know when my game-unfriendly wife might walk by and start screaming blue murder at me. So not having to piss off perfectly innocent human beings by potentially having to go AFK every fifteen seconds by using an NPC group is, for me, nirvana. It's the only reason I play the otherwise-dull as ditch-water Guild Wars!

BRING ON THE ROBOT PLAYERS!!!

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