I’m late to the conversion again, but these EverQuest Next Round Table topics are really worth the conversation both here and around the web (do people say web anymore?). Â A month or two ago the EQ Next team was talking about contested vs. uncontested content. Â No, that doesn’t mean PvP! Â Before reading the questions I was hoping they were ready to discuss the idea about content in the world being shared vs. instanced, and apparently they started tackling it already.
Here’s some of what the EQ team is willing to divulge publicly:
- There are no static spawns in EverQuest Next.
- Camping a room is gone because monsters move (“Emergent AI”)
- A large part of EQ Next is technically “contested”
Please don’t use phasing. Â Please don’t use phasing. Â Please don’t use phasing. Â While I’m begging, please don’t use instancing (x3)!
I like contested content. Â I like going into dungeons and having them be open like any other zone. Â It’s way more immersive to see other people battling back monsters in a dungeon alongside me. Â Instancing feels detached and has always — ALWAYS — pushed the idea that content is to be ‘beaten’ instead of ‘experienced’.
I enjoy finding a spot in a dungeon, hunkering down, and killing the room or two my group has claimed. Â I find it exhilarating to be forced into adapting to trains, dangerous spawns, and the dynamic elements other players bring to a setting.
A great part about the open dungeon idea is the boost to the community feel. Â I have formed hundreds, maybe thousands, of groups in dungeons over the years. Â You learn to pick up people and bring them in even if you don’t necessarily need that 5th person. Â Why? Â You want to help others because you’re going to need help — you want to grow your network. Â You end up seeing the same people day in and day out.
Sure, it can suck when another group has the area all camped. Â Sharing is never easy. Â The idea that other players can impact someone’s enjoyment is taboo in today’s market, but it made games so much more complex. Â Simple solutions are adding more dungeons, making them bigger, and finding the right balance.
EQ Next won’t be what I have traditionally liked about EverQuest. Â I don’t know how mobs moving around a dungeon will affect the ‘flow’ of gameplay. Â I can think of some really neat ways this emergent AI can play out. Â I’m thinking something along the lines of Darkness Falls from Dark Age of Camelot. Â DF was an open dungeon (contested content) that everyone could enter. Â It had static spawns ranging in levels from 10-50 for individuals and groups to camp for experience and loot. Â Deep in the underbelly were wings of harder content that spawned, and once cleared they were down for several hours or days. Â Players banded together to defeat them for great rewards. Â They were essentially boss fights. Â If Emergent AI provides a better version of that experience, count me in.
… but the better part of me knows that this could easily mean a dungeon becomes a public quest.
I don’t trust the coined phrases anymore. Â MMO developers have been screwing with players way too much by calling things “public quests,” “Dynamic Events,” etc. Â Now there’s “Emergent AI.” Â SOE is going to have to earn my trust on this one because I won’t give it freely. Â I hope they can respect the fact that the smart ones among us are going to question how this is truly any different from random monsters spawning in waves like every other gimmicky new way of presenting content. Emergent AI stands to completely ruin what made many of us love EverQuest, or it could just as easily create something new for us to love. Â Changing the formula like that is really dangerous. Good luck SOE — Don’t screw it up!