Broken Systems Were The Funnest

Over the past week I’ve done a lot of thinking back to older games I’ve played like DAoC, SWG, EQ, etc. Raph Koster’s posts have been particularly enlightening since they discussed the hows and whys of their decisions, and even revealed what they were actually trying to create when they delivered something entirely different.

I started to think about the fun I’ve had in older games, and then realized a lot of that fun came from systems that were completely broken or so stupid they should be considered broken. Despite that fact, I still enjoyed them. In fact, I think the games might have been less fun without them!

Here are just a couple examples.

SWG’s HAM

The health, action, and mind bar system of SWG was both brilliant and horribly designed at the same time. Using different abilities depleted these bars. Being hit by certain abilities wounded those bars. Let’s say my pistol used my mind bar, and someone shot my mind to wound it and thus reduce my total available mind resources. I could then use fewer mind abilities. The result was that you were killing yourself every time you used abilities.

I’m laughing right now thinking about how stupid this system was, and how much I wish it was like what Raph describes as “bouncy” where your resources regenerated and the entire thing was a rock paper scissors game of undermining your opponents weapon choice and tactics.

All that said, it worked even by not working. Yes, I enjoyed being able to see someone who clearly didn’t work on their mind pool enough. I would one shot them with my pistol.

EverQuest’s Mob Camping

I remember standing in a single spot for 15 hours just waiting on the right monster to spawn. When it finally spawned, it didn’t drop what I wanted. The wait began again. People would stand in line for these monsters to spawn. It could take weeks for it to be your turn. Yeah, it sucked.

At the same time, forming lines and relying on the honesty of others meant you were communicating and building a community of players who cooperated. If you broke the rules, stole a spawn, etc., you were ostracized; your life was over on that character and you would probably never get a group again.

Screwing Up Character Stats in DAoC (or any game)

Who didn’t screw up a character in a game at some point in time? It was a right of passage! It was also completely stupid. To be able to ruin a character and start over without some form of fixing it? I remember in DAoC back in the early days when you messed up your character’s stats or skills or whatever it meant you … screwed up. They eventually added respec stones so that you could undo a mistake and reallocate those skill points.

Screwing up a character and committing to a path that ends up being terrible is… terrible. At the same time, actually having to commit to something and put up with consequences or having to care about how your character progressed gave us substance and meat to character progression. No decision was made lightly.

Strafing in EverQuest

Mob pathing in EverQuest was terrible, and pretty much broken. Characters could strafe (run at an angle) and that meant that mobs had to make an additional path to move into your path… something like that. I won’t pretend to understand it all (it’s probably geometry or something and I don’t do math) but it meant that mobs struggled to actually hit you. Exploit? Maybe. Broken? Yep.

While broken, strafing allowed us to circle kite, and avoid enemies (who always seemed to run just a little faster then us) from killing us when we flee. It became just something you did.

Okay, now that I think about it this post was sorta stupid and broken itself. But do you get what I’m trying to say here? These dumb features/mechanics, when combined with other mechanics (which were often dumb) made that game what it was and if removed would take away a huge part of the magic that made it all work.

New games can come out that refine those broken mechanics, but I think when we fix too much we lose a little bit of the heart and soul of these MMOs. Rather than remove them, I think they can simply be modernized. Modernizing =\= removing.

EQ Progression Server is… Progressing

The EverQuest Progression Server FAQ was updated back on the 15th. If you follow our forums at all you’ll see that we keep the EverQuest news updated regularly; if not you’ll just have to wait until times like now when I catch up and get it on the blog. Pretty big changes worth mentioning this time around. Let’s discuss a couple of them.

Zone Versions
This is pretty much to be expected, and one of the biggest reasons why P99 is likely allowed to remain open. Many of the zones are not going to be in their proper era-specific state and will have to be altered to a version that Daybreak apparently still has in a database. Freeport, for example, will be in its “revamped” (read: sad) state. Other zones like Splitpaw, CT, some Planes, etc., will be in a loot revamp state but will transition to their newer state over the progression.

None of these changes truly bother me.

Game Function
Here’s a tough one. Several of the newer game functions will be in at the launch of the progression server. The map (booo hiss), AA’s (hrmm) and even [rumored] starter gear quests (bleh). There’s no winning here, and nothing will change what we’re getting. This is another reason why P99 is allowed to stay afloat because they offer something Daybreak can’t or won’t.  Regardless, nothing here is TRULY going to ruin my fun, but it’ll dampen it a bit… namely maps. Why? Part of the fun is people getting lost, not knowing where to go, asking the zone for directions, etc. These things contribute to the social structures of EverQuest.

Instancing the first few level 1-15 zones for Population Control
Here’s the one I’m struggling with the most. I don’t like instancing newbie zones. I don’t like the lobby system. I don’t like when players populations are truncated. I think the true experience is to see 50 newbies in a zone and have there be no mobs. This forces people to spread out quicker. It’s the way the game was meant to be played. Is it annoying? Yes. Is it even impossible to level sometimes? Yes.

I know I’m in the minority here. Wilhelm over at Ancient Gaming Noob thinks even more zones should be instanced. I know that most people think they should have a monster in front of them ready to be killed the minute they want one, but that’s not EverQuest — that’s not a true MMORPG.

Not Instancing Raid Encounters
They deserve a pat on the back for this one.

[Technical mumbo jumbo]… “Besides all of that, creating instanced versions of raid encounters wouldn’t be true to the original experience of EverQuest. This playerbase formed raid rotations or other rules on its own before, and we would like to believe that it is capable of doing so again.”

Developers believing in the players? Thinking we can implement social structure and a community?! It feels almost like 1999.

Anyway, check out the polls. Vote on them. I’m fine with Maximum Nostalgia or whatever keeps us in the Kunark era the longest. Whatever it takes to prolong the time until Luclin or PoP which is actually several of them. Very few ways to lose in these polls.

Project 1999 Velious Announcement

P99 Velious Announcement

Velious launches May 30! That’s the big news announced in yesterdays streaming bonanza. Let me back up just a bit. Project 1999 is a private EverQuest server set in the ‘classic’ EverQuest era. The server launched in 2009 when the founder had finished playing Vanguard and decided he missed the original EverQuest experience. To this date, Project 1999 remains the best way to legally play the original EverQuest experience.

Project 1999 (P99 for short) has been in Kunark since around this time in 2011. Albeit the best expansion in EverQuest history, that’s a really long time to be in the Kunark expansion. Nevertheless, the population and community have thrived. I have played P99 on and off since about 2010, loving the go-to nostalgia rush and enjoyment I can find in the Norrath that I remember so fondly.

Okay, back to last night.

Last night there was this big live stream even with the founders of P99 and some of the top brass. Although listening to the stream was… trying (to say the least) on my patience… they finally got to the point of announcing that Velious launches May 30th on P99 Blue (Red is the open-pvp server).

Velious announcement

During the announcement it was revealed that server population records were broken in real time on the server. I was on the server along with 3 other Keen and Graev Community members: Bartillo, Damage, and Yotor. We were all in East Commonlands and North Desert of Ro during the event and let me tell you there were indeed a lot of people there. Funny enough we all thought it was coming out tonight (for whatever reason) so we packed ourselves on the dock in NRo.

Several other big announcements were made. Namely…

  • Velious content will be released on the regular Velious timeline. This includes removing the hybrid class exp penalty 2 months into launch of Velious.
  • P99 will go no further than Velious. There will never be cats on the moon.
  • CUSTOM CONTENT will be released in the future after Velious runs its course. This includes new NPCs, items, quests, zones, etc. They want to create a never-ending classic EQ experience even if that means moving forward custom.
  • Team PvP server (Tallos Zek back in the day) will come eventually

Some of the biggest and best news of the night: PROGRESSION SERVERS!

After Velious has been out for a while, they plan to launch a new server that will progress at the rate of live EverQuest meaning that EQ will launch, a year later Kunark, 6 months later Velious, etc. When Velious is out for a while they will then fold that server back into the main P99 server and start over again. I was incredibly excited to hear this news — it’s exactly what I’ve blogged about several times over the past month!

I’m thrilled about all of the news. My EQ itch is back stronger than ever. I’ll continue to level my Enchanter, and I may even start a Bard alt. Seeing so many people care about the game brought back lots of memories. Good times then, and good times to come.

EverQuest DLC

eq2 rum cellar dlc zepplin mount

EverQuest 2 is officially leaving the expansion model behind. Content will now be released more often than ‘yearly’ in the form of “campaigns” with the first being The Rum Cellar Campaign. Yep, even Daybreak Games says it’s pretty much DLC. Given EQ2’s F2P model, DLC wasn’t a big leap. Actually, if you played EQ2 back when I did you’ll remember the Adventure packs like Splitpaw Saga, Bloodline Chronicles, and Fallen Dynasty. These adventure packs were, as far as I can tell, pretty much what EQ2 is going to be doing now.

I can see the pros and cons of a system like this. EQ2 is an old game now, and that means the community is smaller and players are likely wanting more things todo at a faster rate. Releasing content yearly can seem like a really long wait for someone who has played EQ2 for 5-10 years. Having snack size content might be nice for the people still sticking it out.

However, and here’s the downside, it means people are going to be paying more and getting less. That’s right, despite whatever the marketing spin tells you, the DLC packs will be less content than a yearly expansion and end up costing the players much, much more on the balance. At $15 for The Rum Cellar and an already revealed ‘higher price’ for the Fall Campaign, players aren’t going to be saving anything unless they forego a pack they aren’t interested in.

The dev team at Daybreak Games was cut back not too long ago after their acquisition and transition from SOE to DBG. Is this a response to a smaller team? It’s much, much easier to make snack size content packs that stand alone rather than releasing a huge expansion with a level cap raise.

In the end I suppose all that matters is quality. If these DLC packs add great content that’s really fun, allows players in an older game to continually have something new to do, who’s to say that’s not a good thing for them? DLC in general isn’t a ‘good thing’, but as long as this isn’t a copout and a cash grab, I think there’s a chance this can be good for EQ2.

Maximum Nostalgia!

 

eq-expansion-montage

I was very pleased to see the news of Daybreak’s progress on the up and coming EverQuest progression server. Friday they announced that the “Slower Progression” option won the poll. If you recall from my previous EQ progression server post, this option wasn’t the my ideal choice but a close second. I would have preferred a locked progression, but given their latest bit of news a slow progression server might not be so bad.

  1. Maximum Nostalgia: 6 month unlocks until Gates of Discord; 3 months afterward. This ruleset would take six and a half years to reach where live servers are now.
    1. Kunark: 6 months
    2. Velious: 6 months
    3. Luclin: 6 months
    4. Planes of Power: 6 months
      1. Legacy of Ykesha: 2 weeks after PoP
      2. LDoN: 4 weeks after PoP
    5. Gates: 6 months (after PoP)
    6. Omens and later: 3 months

That’s not bad! Several years of EverQuest? Yep, I’m okay with that. They’re also talking about whether or not voting would be implemented or if the expansions would simply unlock at the predetermined time. I hope voting comes into play so that we can delay PoP.

A few of us in our forum community are already planning to start a group on the server. Let’s hope they keep moving at this pace.