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Professor Syp’s Homework Assignment

Posted by Stropp on November 26, 2009

Professor Syp over at the Biobreak School of MMOGenomics and Appliance Repair has set all of us bloggers who also play Everquest 2 a little homework assignment. And just before the Thanksgiving holidays* too. Hrmph. What a killjoy!

The work he is asking us to do is to list five features of EQ2 that are better than those in World of Warcraft. Fortunately he didn’t set a word requirement.

  1. Housing. Everquest 2 has the best housing system in any MMORPG I’ve played. WoW doesn’t have housing.
  2. Guild Amenities. Guilds in WoW are simply a group of like minded players. It’s the same in EQ2 except that guilds can level up. At certain levels various amenities become available to the guild such as trade quest givers, guards, crafting component storage, and mail boxes. Not to mention at certain levels guilds can move into bigger and better guild halls.
  3. Crafting. I really don’t consider World of Warcraft’s crafting system to be a real crafting system. All you do is have the required components and hit a button. That’s not crafting, that’s mass production, Jetsons style. However, while EQ2 requires more involvement while crafting, it’s still not the best system I’ve seen. ATITD is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned, even if it does require a PHD to work out. Still EQ2 crafting beats WoW Crafting hands down. Not to mention crafting is not tied to adventure level. A player can just be a crafter if he wishes, and never step into the wilderness.
  4. Quest Variety. While EQ2 still has much of the same quest structure of WoW, they have a bigger variety of quest types. You can do heritage quests, epic quests, heroic quests, and a couple of other quest types as well. The rewards also include furniture and trophies that can be put in your house or guild hall.
  5. Collections. These are a kind of sub-quest where a player must find shiny objects around the world to complete collections. Completing these collections often offer a reward. Collections are not critical to the game, but they do offer a nice diversion.
  6. Alternate Achievement Points. Can I add a sixth point? WoW has Talents, but I like the way EQ2 uses AA points (which is a similar system), and how I can acumulate them faster than I level. It’s also optional to do this, so players can choose to race to the level cap, or to accumulate AAs for a stronger character before moving to the next level. Nice little feature.
  7. Flexibility in Appearance. Can I have Extra Credit, Professor Syp? In EQ2 you’re not restricted to the look of your armor. After a certain level, players can equip gear in appearance slots. These don’t provide stats, but only affect the look of your character.

So there you go. Not five, but seven features in Everquest 2 that I consider to be better that the equivalent features (if they exist) in World of Warcraft.

While I believe that WoW does parts of the MMORPG experience better than other games, and while the bits it does do better are the ones that count, it’s my opinion that Everquest 2 is a superior game to World of Warcraft. The points I listed above are only some of the reasons I believe that.

* BTW, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Australia, so Professor Syp hasn’t interrupted our vacation with this homework after all.

Everquest 3 Contrarian

Posted by Stropp on May 31, 2009

There’s been a little discussion of late about the nature of Everquest 3. Tipa has been proposing that EQ3 will use the client/server model that seems to work so well for Free Realms. This model works by streaming data as the user plays, not by downloading a single large patch before playing. Ogrebears has taken the opposite viewpoint in that a hypothetical Everquest 3 would have a much larger data footprint than Free Realms which would make a streaming data model impractical (for a number of reasons.)

[adsense_id="1"]So why are we talking about Everquest 3?

Well, it appears that SOE have a new project in the works, and that this project has been the destination for a couple of high profile members of the EQ:OA and EQ2 teams. (Sorry, I read this the other day and can’t find the article.) This would seem to suggest that the new project is something at least related to Everquest.

However, I’m going to disagree with Tipa’s premise. I don’t believe that SOE are developing Everquest 3. I think that the effect that EQ2 had on EQ1 is reason enough for them to go for a new IP.

Everquest 2 had a big impact on Everquest: Online Adventures. Players left for the new game and didn’t come back when EQ2 wasn’t what they had hoped for. (Some did come back, true, but WoWs arrival a few months later siphoned off a lot of disillusioned EQ2ers.)

So with both Everquest and Everquest 2 now seeing a measure of stability — a player base that seems fairly healthy and consistent — why would SOE jeopardize this by releasing another sequel?

But if the potential for destabilizing the existing playerbase is an issue, the other is lack of freedom. If SOE decide to go the EQ3 route they are constrained to follow the existing lore of both games closely. The alternative is to risk alienating the players who love the world and lore of Norrath. The big advantage of developing a new IP is that the developers can pretty much do anything they want, go in any direction they want. And the players get something fresh and new.

Finally, as has been pointed out before, there’s a perception that MMORPG sequels don’t tend to do all that well. Having said that, there have been precious few sequels to be able to validate this, and (as I believe) it has more to do with managing expectation and execution rather than the fact of being a sequel. But, there’s a perception of greater risk with sequels, and I’d have thought this would have been taken into account by SOE’s marketing department.

So I just don’t think the new game will be EQ3 set on Norrath. I’m expecting something new.

Of course, I also don’t see how Hollywood can justify doing sequels and remakes of old movies and TV shows out the wazoo either.

As just an aside, developing a new project is expensive. Given the current recession, perhaps this is a big part of why SOE have canned The Matrix Online, to open up some funds for whatever it is they are developing.

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