Why do we care about SOE Live? Well, there are multiple reasons, but the most important one is that instead of having to wait until October, we now get to see (and touch!) EverQuest Next in early August!
Hopefully it goes without saying that I'd like to see this stuff in addition to the usual high-quality PvE questing, dungeon, raid, and progression content.
Even though I played the original EverQuest for only about a month, I love love love EverQuest II's heritage lines. In a franchise that already sets the standard for MMO lore, it was a genius idea to tie the two games together and throw EQ vets a nostalgia-drenched bone by offering up extended epic quests with EQ-centric item rewards.
More like that in EQNext, please.
You know SOE is going to put housing in EQNext, as the company does the feature better than any other MMO developer (sorry Trion -- great effort, though). The question is how can it ever be as good as EQII's implementation. Realistically I don't think it can, at least not at release. It's literally a game-within-the-game that has more in common with Minecraft than typical MMO afterthought design, so if it takes SOE a while to fit it into EQNext's framework, I'm OK with that. While we're dreaming, I'd also be more than OK with SOE finding a way to do EQII's housing in an open-world environment.
And yes, I know, Mr. Hardcore Gamer, housing and non-combat options are for Barbie lovers and casuals and no one uses them. Except for the tens of millions of players who have made the Sims franchise the most popular in the history of the personal computer.
This is going to be difficult for SOE to pull off, particularly given the loot-drop legacy of themeparks like EQ and EQII. My definition of sandbox is built on an actual player economy, though, and one of my frustrations with EQII is the vast, intricate, and fun crafting system that is almost totally wasted on a game where most of the gear is mob-dropped and bind-on-equip.
I don't envy the designers here because in addition to the balancing challenges inherent in making and maintaining a sandbox economy, they've also got to deal with the psyche of the new-school MMO player who doesn't want to be bothered with crafters and who wants to remote auction his gear with a minimum of effort and player interaction. At the same time, the firm has minced no words about the fact that EQNext is a player-driven sandbox, so how it navigates this potential minefield will be interesting to watch.
Good guild tools
Copy EQII's guild tools. Anything less makes Jef cry. The end.
Before I knock off for the day, let me spend a couple of paragraphs on things I don't want to see. Firstly, in-game VOIP. Look, I know it makes for a good back-of-the-box (do we still have game boxes?) bullet point, but the reality is that it's a waste of development resources even if it's shoe-horned in there by a third party.
I mean, really, what guild with a clue doesn't use Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, or Mumble these days? These are all free apps -- unless you're the guild leader paying for the server, and even then it's usually much cheaper than a traditional MMO sub -- and they dwarf the functionality found in current in-game solutions. In-game VOIP is going to be laggy, it's going to sound like crap, and the only people who might use it for more than five minutes are the poor saps in pickup dungeon groups.
Secondly, let's not have any of that dev-generated personal story foolishness or the associated voice-acting. This is a massively multiplayer sandbox, after all, and I can think of at least two recent AAA titles that have done more than enough to justify tossing these ideas onto the proverbial pile of MMO fail. I'm probably preaching to the choir here, as Smedley has given multiple interviews over the past few months that illustrate the company's "the players are the content" motto. But, still. MMORPG. Sandbox. Please don't with the single-player savior-of-the-cosmos nonsense. Thank you.
What's in a name?
Whew. This isn't an exhaustive list of course, and I'm quite curious to see what some of you would like to see in EQNext. Rest assured that we'll be revisiting this topic often as SOE ramps up to its August reveal and beyond.
And with that, let's bring this week's issue of The Tattered Notebook to a close. Oh, that reminds me! With EQNext in our near future, MJ and I are likely going to rename the column at some point, both as a way to freshen things up and to better capture the spirit of the franchise going forward. And we'd love your help! Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments or contact us directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
EverQuest II is so big that it takes two authors to make sense of it all! Join Jef Reahard and MJ Guthrie as they explore Norrathian nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every Saturday, The Tattered Notebook is your resource for all things EQII and EQNext -- and catch MJ every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!