[MUD-Dev] Interesting EQ rant (very long quote)

Vincent Archer archer at nevrax.com
Tue Dec 19 16:14:34 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


Sorry for resurrecting the thread, but a week of flu kept my IQ way
below what was needed to reply properly into this thread.

I will try not to stir things too much, but having been charged to
support my statement, I will try to do so. Without repeating the rest
of the EQ-threads around, and without writing 200 lines of text.

According to McQuaid, Brad:

> Actually, EQ is pretty darn close to what we originally designed and
> had in mind.  I've mentioned the few areas where it didn't work out
> as

Well, not having access to the initial document design, one cannot
compare how it was planned, and how it is played. That you are
successful, not even the biggest fool could deny, and it's hard to
beat down subscription numbers.

> Making general and sweeping statements asserting we're out of touch
> and have no clue what we've made, Vincent, without backing it up but
> rather stating that it's simply 'obvious', isn't too much
> appreciated.

We don't know what's going on at Verant. What we get, we get thru the
various official positions.

So, I'll try to raise a few examples.

I quite clearly remember the waves of fear that rippled across the
community when Gordon Wrinn said words that amounted to "we never
intended monks to use feign death to pull". That is one of the most
striking examples of gamers playing in a way that was never intended
to be, and Verant acknowledging that it wasn't supposed to be that
way. And why did the community shiver in fear? Because they instantly
assumed that you would take any and all measures to "correct" this.

(Fortunately, it didn't came to be. Instead, mob behaviours were
changed in some cases, so that those mobs immediately go back to their
home point rather than randomly waiting, before going back. Nerf, but
not the expected total nerf)

> well as we'd planned before, and one of them includes camping.  We'd

That's another one of the most proheminent disparities between your
design and the results. Chiefly because it's the heart of how people
play.

In practice, it ties in with how the game is perceived. All games have
scores. You may argue that there are games that are played for the
pure enjoyment of it, but 99% of the games have a way of scoring your
performance in it. Even something as social and as fun as Trivial
Pursuit has a scoring method.

In EQ, scoring is your level and equipment.

Hmmm, I'm digressing. This will be useful later in the discussion, but
let's get back on track. The following statement DO support my
assertion:

> randomized loot has helped this with Kunark and Velious (and as
> mentioned, we're going to revamp some old world zones in the same
> fashion), but more can probably be done.

You have tried to reduce camping. You have repeatedly tried to push
people into the way you want them to play. And despite all your
efforts, the game which people play is not what you want. "more can
probably done" says you haven't given up. You still want people to
play your way, while everything in the game design (the one we can
see, because we play it every day) rewards people playing a different
way.

Someone compared once the EQ player population to a generic algorithm
launched into an environment, and trying to solve a problem, with a
score that, for at least 90% of the people, is what I said above:
increasing level and equipment.

That's what I'm saying at heart. People play the game the way it
works, not the way you'd like them to. But you still want them playing
the way you envisioned. After 2 years.

> originally hoped that players would 'do' dungeons -- in other words,
> head into a dungeon with a party, and attempt to wipe out all or
> part of a dungeon, and then move on to another dungeon (or adventure
> area).

The antonican dungeons are poorly designed in that area. Kunark did a
lot better in that realm, and I think Kaesora is the best design I
have seen to promote that. You can make your way into Kaesora when the
monsters at the entrance are still all rewarding (blue), and push all
the way to the end. It requires a well-balanced group, and people who
play well, but it's perfect.

Despite that, Kaesora is woefully underpopulated. Almost no one goes
there, except to go and get their key quest item for Charasis, and a
handful of item farmers.

But if you had as a goal design to "do a complete dungeon, and move
on", then it was doomed from start. And for an obvious reason: a
dungeon, done from start to finish, does NOT provide enough experience
for a group to be able to move on to the next. You would have needed
four or five times the number of zones to feed this type of behaviour
(and producing content for these zones would have driven the cost of
EQ thru the roof).

Plus, as someone remarked elsewhere in the thread, doing so require a
significant time commitment, which means you need people to prepare in
advance, and be sure no one is going to say in the middle of the
expedition "sorry, have to go now".

> And while many players do this, many also don't, and instead camp a
> static spawn over and over again, trying to get a specific item.
> Some

I wouldn't say that. I'd say about only half of the people camp a
static spawn trying to get a specific item. The other half camp the
same static spawn for the other scoring method: get XP.

Randomising the loot gets rid of one incentive. It doesn't gets rid of
the other. And since loot is random, people aiming for the equipment
still camp the same spot for equipment. You merely removed competition
for camping spots, not camping itself.

> While I'm sure there might be some major enhancements or mechanics
> changes that would require a sequel or some such, there's still all
> sorts of ways we can make EQ a better EQ (and we've been doing just

If you want a game that conforms to some of the statements you have
made, you need a lot more that Kunark or Velious. Some of the core
mechanisms of EQ (and the ones you have repeatedly said being closed,
definitive, unchangeables) would have to be completely redone to steer
the dynamics in a different way than what they are.

And the resulting game would not be the EQ there is now.

> I guess this could now branch into a huge debate on what a hard core
> player is, what a casual gamer is, and whether there are other

I have my own definition. A hard-core gamer is one that plays to
score.  A casual gamer is one who is there to try out thing, to play
according to whimsical goals, to chat. One might say "just to enjoy
being there".  It's got nothing with the amount of time you play per
week, or anything else.

If you go back to my Trivial Pursuit example, the casual player is the
one who makes joke around questions, try to raise laughs and all that,
while the hard-core player is the one who tries to find the correct
answer, steers his token to best way to get to the colors he hasn't
earned yet. He laughs and jokes while doing it. But he still wants to
score.

I know ONE casual player in the game. His highest character is level
23, and he has been playing since september 99. I have a level 43
character with *less* /played time than his.

Of course, the usual acceptation of hard-core players isn't those who
play to score, but those who play to score the fastest (or the
highest).

A final word, then. One the Sony boards, you have repeatedly said that
going there, and camping wasn't the only way to play the game, that
wandering around was a reward in itself. As you have said, a majority
of the EQ players seem to be hard-core (see my definition above). They
play to increase their score.

Wandering and looking at birds doesn't increase your score much. :)
(well, unless the bird is a Spiroc with phat lewt!)

There. I hope I haven't been toooo long.

--
Vincent Archer                                         Email: archer at nevrax.com

Nevrax France.                              Off on the yellow brick road we go!
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