Wolfshead on EQ Next

I like Wolfshead blog a lot. He stirs up conversation and makes a lot of good points that often aren’t regurgitated observations of new and maturing MMO players. This latest post (Reflections on the Upcoming EverQuest 3) is a plea to SOE to learn from their previous mistakes and do their own thing instead of trying to recreate WoW.

I agree with him for the most part, but I do disagree with his identification of WoW’s weaknesses.

Capitalize on the weaknesses of Blizzard’s WoW:

  • Offer player housing as WoW has no player housing.
  • Offer role-play support and mechanics. WoW has almost zero support and mechanics for role-players.
  • Offer live GM events as WoW has no Live GM events.
  • Provide more opportunities for player freedom and player impact contrasted with WoW’s reliance on heavily scripted quests and narratives — those MMOs will be dead soon anyways
  • Community is a commodity! Blizzard doesn’t understand this. Promote a good community by enforcing chat rule in contrast with Blizzard’s shameful and horrible mismanagement of WoW community which is a cesspool.
  • Implement the original EQ’s accelerated day/night schedule — WoW does this horribly and sentences players who play late at night to a lifetime of eternal darkness.
  • Have different NPCs and mobs spawn during the day and at night – WoW completely misses the boat here.
  • Resist the temptation to regurgitate the sophomoric pop culture references that WoW has in your MMO.

I disagree with player housing. It’s a waste of development time to build a system that really isn’t all that important to players. If player housing was important, why wasn’t DAoC, EQ2 or VG more successful? (Okay, don’t go into details with VG.) I log into a MMO to have an adventure, not play house. I know some people like this, but WoW isn’t suffering AT ALL because they don’t have housing.

I also disagree with the role-play support and mechanics. I played on a PVP RP server in WoW and it was a lot of fun. People will role-play whether you give them support tools or not. I mean, people role-played with text based games and in games like EQ which really only had emotes. I think this is another weak comment.

I do agree with offering GM events. EQ didn’t do this nearly enough (unless you were playing on that special server that cost more), but the fact that there were events run by GMs was a good thing. You don’t see that in WoW. Instead you see scripted events which, even if they are cool, are not unique to your experience and they’re not exactly shared by a select few people either. Everyone gets to do them.

I do agree that WoW leads you around but I do like some scripted results to quests. People can always go their own way and explore, but it’s not as easy. When you hand in a quest the NPCs sometimes react to what you gave them and something results which is often more rewarding than the set of gloves you got.

I agree with the community point but I think it’s a bit unfair to paint every WoW server community with the same brush. I recently played around on a PVP server where people were actually helpful and mature. Tradechat wasn’t filled with Chuck Norris comments or stupidity, they were actually using it for trade or recruiting or setting up PUGs. Still, the Blizzard forums are absolutely horrid. I don’t bother going there. To expand on what was said about the need to group, it was a good enforcer of people behaving themselves. I agree there. I don’t see a game that requires grouping being any success with a MMO subscription type fee. Too many people are spoiled with not wanting to group.

I agree about the day/night cycle. WoW failed at this but I don’t think it’s going to be a game maker. I’m lucky in that I play WoW at various times of the day so I get to see the really awesome lighting effects as the day carries on into night. Night really isn’t all that dark though, which is also a little disappointing.

I somewhat disagree with the pop culture references. EQ1 had plenty of those, they just weren’t always as obvious or plentiful as they are in WoW. I remember there used to be a site that tracked them but I can’t seem to find that now.

He continues to note that by the time EQ3 comes out, Blizzard’s next MMO will likely be out as well as several others coming from places like 38 Studios. Which is a good point – will EQ3 be playing catch up to WoW when Blizzard will be grabbing the MMO genre and leaping forward with it? Who knows.

I like a lot of what he continues to say even if I think most people won’t last long in that sort of MMO.

Go give it a read.

Even if it is going to take hours… Wow, I thought I was done reading a little after that bit but there was more and more.

Here are a few of the points from his wish list:

Allow soloing but don’t promote it. Promote grouping and player interdependence but don’t penalize soloing.
This is like eating your cake and having it too. People are going to go with the path of least resistance because they can’t help themselves. It’s also really hard to develop content for both without drawing lines. In WoW, the lines are you need groups for instances and raids, but you can roam around the world and quest on your own. In EQ1 you could solo, but only for the early levels unless you were specific classes – usually caster classes.
The idea of quests as done by Blizzard WoW needs to be completely avoided as the prime focus of gameplay.
Quests should be rare and special. No player should be able to have 25 quests running at once.
I lumped those together. I don’t agree that quests should be rare and that they shouldn’t be the focus of gameplay – it is going to be called, “EverQuest” after all. I do agree that the quest hub mechanic needs to change and that exploration should garner you quests, not simply entering a small area of NPCs and vacuuming up all the little quests that are available.
Don’t allow addons to do the players thinking for them. If  your MMO is too complicated that it needs addons then reduce the complexity. Points at Blizzard.
I think addons are important and are a big part of the community outside of the game. Some of the addons and UI changes are absolutely wonderful. Others end up trivializing a role or parts of the game. Things like Deadly Boss Mobs or Healbot just make things a little too easy. Granted, some raid encounters are really tough without them, but that just means they’d last longer and you’d need to communicate more.
Possibly a browser MMO? Free Realms engine proves it can be done.
Please no.
Figure out a way to make spoiler sites irrelevant. Perhaps procedurally created quests/tasks and loot.
Another tough and near impossible task. The design involved would have to make most things so random the game would be… too changing(?) every time you enter it. If the Gorbad Frogluks live over in that swamp, they should continue to live there or at least nearby they shouldn’t suddenly be in the norther reaches.

Those were the only ‘asks’ I had different opinions on.


7 thoughts on “Wolfshead on EQ Next

  1. “EQ didn’t do this nearly enough (unless you were playing on that special server that cost more)”

    Not sure when you started playing, but in first few years EQ was out these were a regular occurrence. They waned after a few years due to the scale-down of the Guide program and then appeared as a selling point for $H.

  2. I have grown tired of Wolfs constant attacks on WoW and his praise for the good old days of Everquest. It’s pretty much the same song and dance each time.

  3. He makes a lot of good points and his attacks on WoW have some merit given they’re common grumbles I hear from people that don’t want anything to do with WoW.

    You can look at it as WoW bashing or you can look at is as pleading for something new rather than just another WoW clone (I use that loosely).

  4. @tedronai: I was playing a couple of months after release. Rubicite was still the shit, corpses could be looted, and I don’t believe any of the Planes were open yet.

    As you said, it happened more often before they opened more servers and that special server opened up. Originally I was playing on Karana, then E’ci, then Morell-Thule and finally Stromm. Stromm was my last home, I played a Cleric up to nearly Plane of Time. I did dabble in some of the following expansions, but not to any real length.

  5. What would “Role play support” entail? Extra XP for talking in “thee” and “thou” like some kind of douchebag, simply because most people don’t understand the grammar that goes with English of that time? Making people pay XP to run, so they can only walk places for free like that NWN world that Ken used to be part of?

    The best RP support a game could have would be to have each playable class have a role that it’s good at, and perhaps a secondary role it can fill in in a pinch. Making classes that are good at everything (read: that are exceptional soloers, a la EQ1 druid/mage/necro, WoW hunter/warlock) mean that people don’t have to interact and that detracts from RP.

    RP comes when people can’t play the massively multiplayer game by themselves. Give classes the ability to assist each other (like EQ mage could summon stuff for people, and Enchanters could make things that other people used) beyond just stock buff-casting.

    RP comes when the fun stuff is left in (EQ1 illusion spells, for example, or VG’s little shape change wands).

    RP comes when you get to max level and want to start over again with a new character for new experiences rather than spending your time grinding content in relatively short raids where everyone has a single assigned task that you simply repeat every couple of days like a perverse sort of job.

    RP comes when you don’t have overarching global interaction fora like worldwide markets. EVE does this well – there’s a market, but it’s regional. It’s less than regional, in fact, depending on what your skills are.

    RP comes when you can’t twink equipment down all the characters on your account.

    RP comes when you can play 4 characters on your account and not have to do all the same content 4x.

  6. welll I hope Sony doesn’t listen to any of you :). I think if they listen carefully to everyone and try to make EQ Next everything to everyone it will be EPIC FAIL. I also hope they don’t add massive elements to the game that only a small core group will use.

    Rather I want a huge unexplored Real world, Great play, fear and danger, discovery, loss and triumph. I’d also like to see something like DAOC had, RVR with relics or something would be super cool. I want wild crazy races I can play. I’m sick of dwarf, elf, human… how about a glowing light orb, or a slime being as playable classes.

    I hope EQ Next does something awesome and doesn’t get bogged down in Big things for a minor few. I’m looking at you, you role playing wackos! (jk some roleplaying is just fine hehe)

  7. I agree for the most part. You can’t be all things to everyone. I’ve always said as much and noted that when you do try that, you end up doing a whole lot of stuff that no one likes.

    Unless you some how manage to find a good balance. Too often people try to do the best for everything but run out of time and resources when really just being good at all those things will work.

    Evolving Squid has commented on this before; WoW doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well, instead it does a good job at most things – if not everything.

    Big world? Sure, so long as it doesn’t feel empty or just have shit dropped all over the place just to try to make it seem like there is stuff (EQ2 did this poorly).

    Fear and danger often require risk and something to risk. There aren’t too many risk takers out there and most gamers are spoiled because nothing they have is really ever at risk. Loss is key there.

    DAoC had some neat things as far as RVR (or PVP) goes, but I don’t think it’s needed. I think a lot of people would rather it be optional. The thing DAoC got right about RVR was their siege stuff. That stuff was pretty slick.

    WoW sort of copied RVR in that some zones had PVP objectives that granted bonuses to the side that owns them (this was more common in TBC). The failing in WoW was that these zones were pass through zones rather than open zones like in RVR of DAoC. In DAoC stuff you did in the RVR zone carried over to all the other areas. That was good design because it was worthwhile incentive.

    If Blizzard was smart, they’d make all those PVP zone objectives add up to some bonus that affected either faction regardless of zone (or perhaps based on continent). It’d add more incentive to own those zones. Unfortunately, it’d also mean more work than what you’d see in DAoC because you’d have a bunch of things in the zones to own.

    In DAoC you had to capture relics, in WoW you’d have to own the three things in Hellfire, the towers in Terrokar, the towers in Zangarmarsh, Halaani in Nagrand and… was there others? Shadowmoon Valley? Blade’s Edge? Netherstorm? I don’t think there were other zone objectives?

    In WotLK they made owning WG valuable across the continent which was more practical.

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