Archive for EQ

Nothing is as Good as Your First

Posted in Blogging, Everquest, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , , , , , on 01/16/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

No, that’s not some reference to sex. I’m talking about that first true MMO love. Everyone in the MMO world came into it because of one game. Most of us end up playing that game for years, finally getting tired of it and try to move on to the next big thing. The problem is, that next MMO never really feels the same as the first. In fact, it just can’t quench that thirst like the first game could. So we move on and try another…and another…and another, eventually becoming MMO nomads.

I know I can’t be the only one that feels this way. Ever since I gave up Everquest about two years ago, I’ve been game hopping. Free to play, pay to play, or somewhere in the middle, it just doesn’t matter. I’ve never truly felt as satisfied as I did in EQ. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of games have come close, but it seems the more games I try, the less I’m able to actually stick with them on a consistent basis. All of my pondering on this subject came to a head today when some weird synapse in my brain shot off, and told me it would be a good idea to resubscribe to EQ.

That’s right. I took the plunge. I went crawling back to my ex with my tail between my legs. Or at least it felt that way. As I was downloading the latest patches, I was sort of regretting the decision. I couldn’t believe I’d done something that I had sworn off such a long time ago. That feeling was thrown quickly by the wayside, though, when that oh-so-familiar loading screen music started playing. Anyone who’s played EQ knows what I’m talking about. That tune is like a seductive mistress whispering poison into her victims’ ear. What a sweet melody it is.

I found myself in the throes of passi…err…battle for hours. What a triumphant return it was. Friends came out of the woodwork and welcomed me with open arms. We spent a great amount of time catching up and sharing stories…something that has NEVER happened to me in any other game I’ve played. I would be lucky to have even one person that I’ve met in WoW treat me with this kind of reception. This all goes back to my post from earlier this week about the dieing aspect of community and camaraderie in games. I’ve never had such meaningful friendships form in any other MMO. In EQ we relied on each other for day to day survival; there was no soloing to the level cap. I have to admit, the reception felt good…really good.  I literally had people sending me tells until I logged off for the evening.

After the glistening light started fading, and began snapping back to reality. I spent quite a few hours in game today and one thing was definitely apparant: the reasons that I had left in the first place were still relevant. The question I have to ask myself over the coming month as my sub winds down is “does the good outweigh the bad.” I can’t lie to myself and say I didn’t have a good time. That would be doing me a disservice. But with Rift coming out in March, and TOR later this year, am I really ready and willing to devote the time and effort it will take to get myself caught up to max level in EQ, and start raiding again in order to make my character truly relevant again gear-wise. These are things I have to think about, but I’m definitely heading to bed with a smile on my face tonight…it was like the almost like the first time all over again…umm…in Everquest that is…

The Lost Art of Community

Posted in Blogging, Everquest, WoW with tags , , , , , , , , , on 01/12/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

If there’s one thing I can say was EverQuest strongest asset, it was community building. I went into EQ knowing only one other person that played the game, and came out 10 years later with more friends than I can count. It was an odd side effect to playing a game. Before EverQuest I’d only really played Single Player games or played with friend on the same TV screen. Even the people who played things like Unreal Tournament or Half Life/Counter Strike didn’t exactly get to know each other. Yes, I know there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part that was the case.

EverQuest changed that paradigm of gaming for me and a plethora of others. See, the reason I feel that this was the case with EQ (and UO and DAoC), was that you really needed to have help to advance in the game. There were no handouts, and if you tried to go alone you wouldn’t get very far. The only way to truly level up and strengthen your character was with a group. Because of this you had to get to know your fellow Norrathians. For the longest time, and for the majority of my level, I can name 10-15 people whom I grouped with more than anyone else. These people quickly became my friends, and we ended up joining a guild together. To this day, I still keep in touch with most of them.

This whole feeling of unity and camaraderie is lost on the current generation of gamers. With the onset of World of Warcraft and other modern MMOs, online gaming has become more of a solo experience than it has a group experience. Even the higher end dungeons in games are more of a “Queue up, don’t talk, get your loot, and get out!” The whole “Brothers in Arms” feeling is gone. I really think this type of gameplay is killing the true experience of what a MMOG is supposed to be.

I’m not saying we need to bring back corpse runs, massive XP losses, or mob grinding for leveling. But something really has to be done to bring back the social aspect of these games. The closest things I’ve seen at all lately is one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to Rift. That would be the title aspect of the games, the Rifts. Trion has taken the initiative to create content that encourages teamwork early on in their game. Even so, I don’t know if it’s enough to really bring back that feeling of needing to group. While I hope it does, I think MMO developers need to come up with some sort of system in their games that encourages and rewards players to work together throughout the game, and not just in the raiding portion. Guilds and groups need to matter and feel a sense of accomplishment.

MMO gamers are starting to act more and more antisocial towards each other. It used to be said that games like EQ could help shy teens and young adults really break out of their shell and learn to integrate better into society. I wish I could find a link to the study, but there was one done at one point talking about this exact fact. As time has gone on, and games have become more and more solo friendly (or solo forced?), we are seeing a growth in players who fit into [NSFW] John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory.

Gamers already seem to get a bad wrap in the media. The stereotypes are attrocious and the growing asshat-ish attitude isn’t helping. I truly believe this all goes back to the shrinking art of community. Guilds don’t even mean as much today as they used to. It wasn’t abnormal to see guilds of 100+ players in Everquest and even early WoW. In fact, that was an average size guild. Everyone got to know each other as well. In the past few guilds I’ve been in in WoW, players rarely –if ever– communicated in chat. In fact, even most raids didn’t see much chatter. It was more “you better know the strats before you get to the fight or you’re going to be kicked,” and a lot less of “hey guys, let’s strategize and learn this fight!”

It really saddens me to sit back and look at what’s happened to the social aspect of MMOs. I really hope that some day we will at least move back in the right direction, and back to the true meaning of what MMO means. Until that happens, I feel we will continue to see a growing trend of anti-social and anti-teamwork behavior.

What’s the Deal with Addons?

Posted in Gaming, MMO, MMORPG, Rift with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/11/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

A common topic over at the Rift forums is about the pros and cons of addons. Some people want certain ones in game, and others oppose them. Having played MMOs since EverQuest, I can definitely see the ups and downs of having addons and meters. Here are some of the major ones, and reasons that I feel they could be a blessing or a hindrance in the world of Telara:

Raid Helpers

Back in EverQuest, no one used to share strategies. It was up to the players and their guilds to figure out how to take down a boss mob. At the time, everything was open world and highly contested. There were no instances. If a boss was dead, you’d have to wait anywhere from 24 hours to a week to actually see it spawn again, and most likely the guild that took it down knew its spawn timer and were there waiting for it to rear its ugly head.

With the inception of instances, this practice slowly fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until very recently in EQ that people started giving up their secrets, but not long after raiding became popular in WoW, add-ons such as Deadly Boss Mods and BigWigs started popping up. Now, don’t get me wrong, wiping over and over again trying to get a boss strategy down sucks, but it’s a part of the game, and something I always found extremely fun. Once you finally figured it out, you could feel the sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately for those folks like me, the Raid Addons actually detract from the whole experience by basically holding your hand throughout the entire encounter, telling you move for move what to do.

For those that don’t have the time or the patience to figure out a strategy, or just want to kill the boss and move on to the next big thing, these programs are a God-Send. Seriously, who needs the countless wipes and repair fees when you can have someone else do all of the hard work and just tell you and your guild how it’s done. These mods helped streamline raiding, and made it more accessible to a majority of gamers.

While I fall into the first camp on this and find that these addons detract from the gameplay, most guild require them now and will kick members who do not have it installed and ready at the time of raiding. I’ve gotten used to using these types of mods because of raiding in WoW, but that added extra of figuring it out yourself is something I feel is being lost now-a-days.

 

DPS/Threat Meters

Everyone wants to perform their best, right? Well, that’s what these types of meters were designed for. If you don’t know, DPS stands for Damage Per Second. This is the amount of damage your character can put out over a period of time. If you play a DPS class such as a rogue or mage, this meter is a must have in modern MMOs. What plays in conjunction with this is a threat meter. It tells you how much aggro you’re drawing on the monsters you are facing, making sure that you don’t pull threat off of the tank. Rangers in EverQuest were notorious for out DPSing everyone else and drawing high amounts of threat, often resulting in their death or the complete wipe of the raid party.

That was part of the experience, though. You had to know how to manage your DPS and Threat so that you didn’t die and/or cause everyone else to die. And trust me, your guildmates would help keep you in check (or never let you live down the time you pulled the entire zone of Kael Drakkal on them). Ranger jokes aside, I’m very neutral on these type of addon. It’s a nice perk to have to know that you’re for sure pulling your weight, and also that you’re not going to have the boss giving you a black eye. On the other hand it is just another chance for your guildmates to belittle you if you’re not living up to their expectations, an attitude I wish could be wiped off of the face of MMOs as we know them.

Gear Score

Gear Score addons are the ultimate E-Peen meters. It used to be fun walking through town in an MMO and seeing the higher levels in their awesome gear. It looked cooler and usually had some kind of special effects. It gave you something to strive for. I remember plenty of times setting goals for my character based on seeing someone else in some awesome gear and thinking, “I want to be wearing that some day.” It just added to the adventure. It wasn’t a requirement though.

With Gear Score mods, games have turned from “Oooh, look at the pretty armor” to everyone else judging you on NOT having the armor. Now it’s more like “You’re not allowed to group with me until your addon says you have 10,000,000,000 Gear Score…N00B!” I honestly can’t stand it. People used to help each other get gear. You would go camp a mob for days on end together until everyone else in your group and/or guild got what they needed to move on together. Because of things like Gear Score guilds have become more exclusive instead of inclusive. If you don’t meet the Gear Score requirement, come back when you do. Guilds used to try and take on an encounter regardless of the members gear, and now you can’t raid unless you have the Uber Suit of Uberness +5.

If you can’t tell, this is the only addon that I loathe. I really feel that Gear Score has completely changed the face of the end game of MMOs. Grouping and Raiding is supposed to be about fun, exploration, and adventure, not about what level of gear you have. Am I saying that someone wearing starter rags should be dragged along on an end-game raid? Not by a long shot, but if someone has been working their character and trying their hardest, and is a good player, they should not be held back by an arbitrary number. A lot of times (and especially back in EQ) skill outweighs the level of gear you’re wearing. I really hope the Developers over at Trion keep this type of mod out of Rift.

Games like Peggle and Bejeweled

Game addons are the orginal addons. In fact, not a lot of people knew this, but if you typed /gems in EverQuest you got a Columns style game to play while you were waiting or meditating. This evolved further in WoW with Peggle and Bejeweled being added as free mods. Other spawned from this as well, such as TriviaBot that could get an entire Raid Force involved when recovering from a wipe.

The only downside to these in my eyes is the message “Healer01 has beaten their high score in Bejeweled,” during a raid or a dungeon. Usually this happens right as everyone is dieing. Bad healer, bad!

Auction House

Love it or hate it, auction house mods are some of the most popular. In game they allow you to keep track of your servers market, usually with up to date prices. If you’re an auction house junkie, or aspiring entrepreneur, these addons are for you. In fact, these are the first type of addons to make their way to smart phones so that players could keep up on their auctions while on the go. While some companies such as Icarus Studios don’t charge any extra to use the Fallen Earth App (outside of the $1.99 to buy it), businesses such as Blizzard choose to charge an extra $3-$5 per month to have access to the Auction House features.

This is another type of app that I’m neutral on. I’ve never been a big Auction House player. I don’t like to spend my time in game — or my time away from game when it comes to the apps — standing in one spot and cancelling and resubmitting auctions just so I can buy and resell things for a profit. I’d rather go out and earn my money the old fashioned way, but killing lots of evil creatures and stealing their bowels…er…*ahem*

I know that these are not the only Addons that we see in games today, but they are definitely the most widely used. Love them or hate them, they have become way too popular to ignore. While there are some that I hope see an untimely death, there are others that help enhance gameplay in ways that we didn’t think possible 10 years ago. That’s enough of my ramblings on the subject though. What do you all think? Do you enjoy Addons in games, or should they get put by the wayside? Which Addons do you love, and which do you hate? And which would you do away with if you could?

 

The Raid Leader’s Manifesto

Posted in DDO, Everquest, Gaming, Guides, MMO, MMORPG, PC, SWG, SWTOR, WAR, WoW with tags , , , , , on 07/10/2009 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Those who read my blog and know me in game (whether it be WoW, EQ, SWG, or any other world I’ve stepped into), know that I’ve spent much time as a raid leader. And if you didn’t know, you do now! If you know anything about raiding in MMOs, you know it’s hard work, but if you think that just being at the raid is hard, try leading it! I garuntee your stress level would be through the roof. Anything that goes wrong is pinned on the raid leader, regardless of actual fault. For some, being the leader of 25 (72+ when I was leading in EQ) is not an easy task, to others it’s a breeze. It can be game making, or game breaking. In the end it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Clockwork Gamer had this awesome post yesterday about what it means to be a raid leader, and I thought I would share (full article at the link).

The Raid Leader’s Manifesto

I am a raid leader.

Time is my enemy. I recognize that the most important number on any raid is not the mitigation of my tank, the health of my target, or the damage of my raid force – it is time I have left on this raid.

Anything or anyone that interferes with the limited time I have before my raid breaks up is aiding my enemy. Raiders who show up unprepared, raiders who have not read the strategies I’ve written, raiders who do not listen while plans are discussed, raiders who get into conversations during fights, raiders who did not work on their character since the last raid – these are all collaborators I must halt or overcome in order to perform my duties within the time my raid force has alloted me.

As a raid leader, I am impatient. By definition, patience is a virtue that requires time. Time is my enemy. I grow frustrated when the raid is taking too much time. I do not care about dying…I care about dying slowly. I do not care about wipes…I care about recoveries which take too long. I do not care about careful pulls…I care about pulls which hold us up. If I must repeat myself, I am wearied. If I must wait for a recovery, I become irked. If I our raid wipes frequently due to the same mistakes, I grow upset.

When we run out of time, the raid is done. If I have lead my raid well, they will have accomplished something new, performed better, or moved faster than they have in the past. They win when they gain new loot, see new enemies, or learn something different. Any or all of these things are referred to as progression. When my raiders do not progress, I have lost the raid. In order to avoid losing, they must progress…and they must do so within our time constraints.

Whenever I am online, I am either raiding or preparing for a raid.  When I am online between raids, I talk about raiding. I discuss raiding. I ask questions about raiding. I try to get my raiders thinking about raiding. I want my raiders to understand that success in a raid does not start in a raid zone.

Groups are the way to success. Before I ever step foot into a raid dungeon, I know that our raid force’s success has already been largely determined. I realize that the best way to prepare for raids is to prepare raiders and the best way to prepare raiders for raiding lies in groups. I know that we bond in groups. We gear up in groups. We prepare for raids in groups.

Mine is a thankless job. I accept this. I accept that if I am polite and the raid fails, I will be berated. I accept that if I am kind and the raid is slow, I will be judged. I accept that even if the raid is a success, so long as I am not polite, I will be criticized. I accept that when I do well, I will rarely hear it. I accept that when the raid fails, it is my fault.

If I believe I am acting firm, I am being rude. If I ask someone to leave the raid, I am a jerk. If I call out someone on their performance, I am elitist. If I reserve any loot for a critical raid class, I have favorites. If I remain quiet, I am weak. If I chat, I am distracting. No matter what I do, I will never please all of my raid force. No matter what I do, I will always be compared to other raid leaders who do things better than I.

It is irrelevant that the very people who tell me what I am doing wrong as a raid leader are rarely people who have ever been a raid leader. It is irrelevant that the reason a raid failed is due to one person making the same mistakes over and over. It is irrelevant that the target was just too hard for the raid force we brought. Any time we fail the raid and any time I am criticized, the fault is mine.

I take failure personally. Each time we fail, there is something that I could have done differently. I could have explained the strategy differently. I could have benched a different raider. I could have chosen a different target. There is a never a raid which fails which is not my fault. That is the responsibility which is mine as raid leader.

There are no second chances on raids for the leaders. Each raid is a trial. Each raid is a judgement. Each raid is a review. If I perform well, raiders will continue to follow me. If I perform badly, they will stop attending my raids or even seek a new raid force. This is the reality I live with. This is the the only thanks I will ever truly know – that if I do my job well enough, I will be allowed to continue to do my job again in the future.

I am a raid leader.

110% accurate, so you followers out there, remember this the next time something goes wrong on a raid. Don’t be too hard on the guy organizing it all.

What a Great Idea!

Posted in Everquest, Gaming, Gaming News, MMO, MMORPG, PC, Retail, WoW with tags , , , , , , , , on 01/17/2009 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Even though my current “main game” of sorts is World of Warcraft (again), I’ve always been a Sony fanboy. Whether it be their consoles or their MMOs, I’ve always at least given them a shot. Most of the time, I have not been let down.

Earlier today there was an announcement put out about a new way to get your hands on SOEs MMOs. Steam. Yep, you heard (read) me write! Sony’s main MMOs are now available for download on Steam. Why do I care? Steam reaches over 15 million people. These 15 million people now all have a ton of MMOs more readily available to them, including Everquest. If it wasn’t for EQ, I wouldn’t even have this blog. It’s what brought me into the world of MMOs, and for that, I will be forever greatful.

So my props and kudos to SOE, for taking a step in the right direction, where marketing and distribution are concerned. Wish them the best of luck in this endeavor, and truly hope that this will actually cause a spike in subscription numbers for EQ, EQII, Vanguard, and any others that are now on Steam.

As a side note: For those that don’t know, I spend a lot of time as an Admin on NotAddicted.com and have recently started hosting the site’s PodCast. Be sure to check out Not-A-Cast, and NotAddicted, when you get a chance. I keep it fairly short…for now. Also, I’m scheduled to be on an upcoming No Prisoners, No Mercy Podcast as well. Stay tuned!

It’s That Time Again

Posted in Everquest, Gaming News, MMORPG with tags , , on 12/19/2008 by Jeremy (Jmo)

I went to check my e-mail tonight and found this nifty little message there:

Important Information Regarding Your EverQuest® Account

New Worlds of Adventure

On January 21, 2009, EQ will be consolidating “The Combine” server and “Druzzil Ro (Tarew Marr)” server into one server to be titled “Druzzil Ro (Tarew Marr, Combine).” The merge will begin at 3 a.m. PST and will last approximately five hours.

In addition, in conjunction with the upcoming EQ 10th Anniversary celebration, SOE is expecting to add a new EQ server in March 2009 and players will be able to vote on a new server type. To provide your input on the type of server you’d like, visit EQplayers.com in January.

We hope that these changes will provide players with an even more enjoyable EQ experience.

It seems it would be that time again. Everquests servers aren’t quite as popular as they once were, even less so since the last merger. I’ve barely touched Everquest in the past year, but one fo the main reasons I left is that when my core group wasn’t on, I could spend hours, and I mean hours, just sitting in the Guild Hall with LFG up. I think Sony really needs to look just beyond these two servers and start across the board mergers. It would definitely pick up morale.

Who knows though, maybe they already have it planned. I remember Everquest back in its’ hayday where you would find no less than 350-400 players congregated in the Plane of Knowledge at any given time, day or night. It would seem we will never see those times again. How unfortunate for the game that truly started it all.

Holiday Happenings

Posted in Everquest, Gaming News, MMORPG, SWG, WAR, WoW with tags , , , , , on 12/17/2008 by Jeremy (Jmo)

It seems that the Holiday Fever has taken over all of our favorite MMOs.

Sony has a list for all of their games posted here.

WoW has Winter’s Veil, as well as WAR and their drunken games. What have you thought of it all so far? Post your thoughts and comments here! I’ll be posting mine as the week goes on.