I died and went to MMO heaven…

… at least for a month or two; after that, the way I’ve been game hopping, who knows.

But for now, I’ve been firmly grabbed by the crafting jibblies by EQ2, and by the sheer coolness of finding a guild that’s just like the ones Mort and I used to make, only with more — and more active — people. (This is the guild leader’s graphics site, by the way. And her blog. A little plugging never hurt anyone!) 

I waxed lyrical about guild halls last week, but this week I actually got to be part of a working one and to discover some of the stuff that’s been added to EQ2 in the years I’ve been away. In an MMO-purist way, some of these changes are tantamount to heresy… but the less time I have on my hands, the more I’m starting to appreciate that there’s a point past which purism just becomes dogma. 

The original, heavily interdependent, very heavily subcomponent-dependent EQ2 crafting system has been almost totally overhauled. That shocked me a little at first, and it’s weird to be able to make a bow without first having to make staves, strings, dowels, and lord knows what all else first — but on the other hand, it means you can actually get something done without pulling your hair out over the million little details. Note that I’m not saying interdependency is bad, but that it requires a fully-fledged support system including, at the very least, a way to place purchase orders.

If I can have some jobbing crafter make my bow-subs that’s fine; if I can request 1,000 masticated oils to use in woodworking, for which I’m willing to pay X amount, that’s good too. Waiting on people to be online, trying to haggle with folks who have plenty of other crap to be getting on with, and trying to do business via in-game mail when you have 18 million subs made by 9 different tradeskills is just stupid. So much so, in fact, that most “serious” crafters in most games that have “serious” crafting end up making crafting alts because it’s a damn sight easier to log in an alt to get what you need than to wait who knows how long for someone to show up who can make it for you. And no, I don’t mean auction houses — that’s supply. What I’m talking about is being able to set a demand. There’s a differece, and it’s essential to a real crafting system — but I’ll get off my soap-box for now since interdependency and player-crafted economies aren’t really what I want to talk about here.

Yes, EQ2 crafting is now most grossly independent — shame, heresy, burn the witches. On the bright side, it’s a lot more fun. 

Another thing that was added in my absence was “timed writs.” Writs are like crafting orders given by NPCS — get the writ, make the stuff, turn it in for some money, xp, status and faction points. Back in 2006, writs were mostly something you did to help level up your guild or get personal status points (for shiny stuff like fancy houses, clothes, etc); one thing you didn’t really do them for was to make a living, because they barely paid enough to cover the cost of making the item (each recipe requires a certain amount of a certain kind of fuel, and fuel gets more expensive as you level up). Now, especially with timed writs, you not only get your fuel costs back — about damn time! — but you also get a reasonable chunk of change: my 70-ish provisioner (chef) is making 6 gold or so per writ, and since they’re timed they’re guaranteed to take 8 minutes or less. Sure, there’s the cost of the resources, but when you’re a harvesting ho like me it’s actually quite nice to have something to do with all those resources; there’s only so much Exploding Head Iced Tea any server population can buy. Which is another eternal crafting problem: crafters usually love making stuff, but there’s generally far less demand than what I like to make. Writs keep me busy, suck up resources — always a good idea in an MMO — and make me feel productive on both a personal (xp & money) and a social (guild xp) level. What'[s not to like?

But wait, there’s more! Now, if I craft in the guild hall, I don’t have to cart all my resources around on me, oh no! The guild has a marvellous “harvesting depot” which can hold quite large amounts of resources, and if you’ve got the doohickey enabled, recipes you make using the guild hall crafting stations just grab what they need from the stores in the depot. I’ve already dumped a bunch of stuff in there to somewhat make up for all the stuff I sucked up today levelling from 70 to 73, and I think the whole “resource dump box” idea is brilliant in all respects. (Yes, you have to trust your guild members, but that’s nothing new.)

Have I mentioned that this Halasian Empire guild hall has a full-service basement with bank, broker, merchant, writ-NPCs, and even a pet badger called — what else? — Mushroom wandering around upstairs? There’s a piano lounge, a practice area with target dummies you can practice your skills on (and I don’t mean me), an ice room, an indoor garden, and a Hall of Phat Teleportation that can take you pretty much anywhere you need to go in EQ2. This would be another of those heresies: the removal of tedious travel. Meaningful travel I’m all for, but I don’t think it’s possible in a non-scripted, non-tabletop type game — what we’ve been doing for a decade instead has been tedious travel, for various reasons I’ve explored before. So now I say hurrah for 15-minute guild recall timers, and hurrah for magic doors that can take me from my house straight into the guild hall (especially in a game like EQ2 that’s nothing but zones, zones, zones — anything that cuts down on the number of loading screens I have to see is A Good Thing).

The only real downside to these guild halls, as far as I’ve seen, is that they are so cool I can’t see why most people would ever bother leaving them. That said, the addition of a couple or three new capital cities probably doesn’t help as far as diluting the player pool goes, and the weird partitioned design of Qeynos and Freeport ends up making both cities feel pretty fragmented anyway. On the other hand, I’ve never been a fan of Ironforge-like crushes of people strutting, swearing, spitting, scratching, shouting, spamming, and doing whatever else crushes of people do in WoW.

There are a host of other little changes that have had me going NOWAI!!! at regular intervals in the past few days, but I’m desperately trying to keep my post wordage under 1000 (y’all have stupidly short attention spans, according to the internetz) and I’m already over by several hundred more. Maybe for the next post I’ll remember to take some more pictures, and I plan to fess up on how my “no alts! one focus!” vows held up for all of about 5 seconds and how I reactivated my old account when I said I almost certainly wouldn’t (which is how I have a level 70 crafter — nobody unbotted levels that fast in under a week).

36 thoughts on “I died and went to MMO heaven…

  1. Heh, I’m so glad you’re having fun.

    Do you have the latest expansion, and if so, have you tried the crafting quests in it? I really haven’t….was just getting there when my sub last lapsed.

    I need to make time to log in! I patched and re-upped last Friday (Saturday?) but still haven’t so much as peeked my head in the world.

  2. Glad to hear you’re enjoying yourself! Things certainly have come a long way and changed in EQ2 over the last four years, and I’m glad you’re getting a chance to experience it. That’s not to say that there’s no room for improvement, there always is, but it’s nice to see comments about things moving in a positive way!

    Don’t forget those crafting writs for the Far Seas Trading Company out in the Isle of Mara, where you can do crafting instances level 50+ that reward you with tokens to spend on all sorts of crafter goodies.

    I remember your guild back from when I played on LDL (the first server I transferred to) a wonderful bunch of people.

    Again glad to hear you’re having such a great time!

  3. @Werit: Ysh, Pete, our previously mentioned guild master, and I are all on Lucan D’Lere. (I think that’s all the bloggers, but every so often someone tells me there are yet more. :))

    @Ysh et al: I’ve had the different perspective of coming in for the first time AFTER all these changes have been made, and I can hardly understand how you all survived before this stuff was in the game. Simply carrying all the T1 resources in my bags from before I converted my trial account was a pain in the rear, and I can’t even imagine all that other stuff you’re describing. It doesn’t sound like a game I’d like to play – and, not so coincidentally, I didn’t. Guess I’m the guy folks are talking about when they complain about how badly games are being dumbed down of late. 😉

  4. Great post, Ysh, and thanks ever so much for the plugs…the check’s in the mail! ;D

    It’s always good to know that others are having such fun in a game I love so much, and the icing on the cake is being able to experience that fun with them. 🙂 I’m sure you have lots more “NOWAI!!!” moments incoming, though, so don’t use them all at once, LOL.

  5. It’s good to see you’re having some fun lately. Yeah, EQII has really come a long way. I hope to get in there a little bit more the next couple weeks with my guild. I think I’m going to try and run around and get a bunch of loc dings I missed the first time through. Just do some traveling and visit some areas I’ve never been in or just plain forgot about.

  6. Hrm, the guild halls sound pretty intriguing. I like the resource depot idea a lot; anything that simplifies inventory for a guild is in general good, trust issues aside.

    I’m also fond of independent crafting systems, since as you noted the alternative almost always leads to the outright necessity for crafting alts. That’s not in itself a bad thing… I tend to make crafting alts anyhow… but switching from character to character to make all the required bits for one crafting project can become pretty tedious. I think crafting interdependency can reasonably be sacrificed for enjoyment.

  7. Oh I hate servers. Why can’t all the cool people be on Najena???

    Yeah, EQ2 has improved dramatically over time. There are pros and cons to that. Cities are a wasteland, so that’s a con, but on the other hand, there’s less tedium finding what I need, crafting, or gathering for a raid (set a flag and the whole guild can teleport instantly to the zone in point from the guild hall). Which means we can focus more on the fun fun fun.

  8. Okay, I made a brigand named Jive on Lucan D’lere.

    I might betray to swashbuckler though.

  9. By the way Ysh, the friend syntax hasn’t worked for me. /friend eq2.lucandlere.lyssom returns a message indicating that this character doesn’t exist. 🙁

    It’s beginning to sound like Lucan D’Lere might have a higher blogger density though than Antonia Bayle. Hrm.

  10. Anyone making chars over there needs to keep an eye out (/friend Name, and hit Y for the social window) for Riannon and Kharri who are the guild-leader’s main characters. My new char is Kalliste, and my old account char is Fairuza — but I can’t invite, so you need to make nice to the boss! 🙂

  11. @foolsage — the syntax might be eq2.ldl.charname — Antonia Bayle, for instance, is Antonia_bayle, which took me a long time to figure out. Also, Lyssom is more or less sidelined now because I reactivated my old account and have the original Lissom to hand.

  12. Writs sound brilliant. Those NPCs express Demand after all, then. That’s not only good mechanically, it’s good world building. 🙂

    As for servers, I really wish more MMOs went the GW/W101 route; let people bop around to whatever server they blasted well please. These are friggin’ static worlds, after all, it’s not like Klingon Astrodamus can pop over to a new alternate universe and wreak unholy havoc or anything, and the bonuses from matchmaking potential are huge.

    Then again, WoW would lose another revenue stream from people jumping servers… I’m not sure what Sony does.

  13. I think it’s eq2.lucan_dlere.name for the friend thing. At least that’s how Ysh shows up to me. If you’re on the same server you obviously don’t need that.

    I really would like to roll a character on LDL, but there’s too many people I just can’t stand to possibly see in the game 😛

    My char on Antonia Bayle is Finneous though, should you wish to add meh!

  14. @Tesh SOE seems to really not condone server transfers as their price to do so is $50. Been that way since EQ1. I mean “if you feel like doing it, go for it” seems to be their viewpoint, but it’s certainly not “transfer servers easily and cheaply to play with your friends!”

    Ysh, you can condense my 3 comments to 1 if you want 😛

  15. Ahh, I didn’t try the underscore in the LDL friend syntax. I have added Finneous to my friends list but have been playing kinda erratic hours and not seen you on. I think I might reroll in LDL since I’m not very far into any of my alts yet; anyhow, a lot of the time I’ve spent up till now has been exploration and learning game systems.

    @ Tesh: I really wish they’d make it cheap and easy to switch between servers, as well. I mean, $50 isn’t a lot objectively, but looked at another way that’s more than the purchase price of the game with all 5 expansions. There’d come a point where transfers might be worth that to me, in theory, but surely not with only a couple days’ investment.

    Even better than server transfers of course would be a shared world, a là Eve Online, or one where you can freely jump from shard to shard like GW. Yes, charging for transfers is an income stream to Blizzard/Sony but at the same time it’s a barrier to playing with friends, which in turn makes the games less “sticky”.

    @ Wiqd: Did you really burn that many bridges on LDL? 😛

  16. @Foolsage Unfortunately yes. It was back in my man-whoring days so their broken hearts should have mended by now (if they even still play) but it’s a gamble! AB is treating me fine anyway 😉

  17. Aye, I think the mild revenue stream derived from server transfers is lesser in value than making the game world more hospitable to players, and better for socializing. Imagine that… in an MMO, no less.

  18. @Teki — dude, I’ve been badmouthing you since like 2006, why change now? 😀

    @Oakstout — sad thing is, under the current economy/crafting model, “watered down” is probably better than “really complex” since the latter invariably seems to end up meaning “chew-your-arms-off tedious grind.”

  19. Omg… Forgives for my add but I would love to have a second game to play with a great group of folks 🙂 I have a 69 dirge I somewhat abandoned but if this is a light in the gloom of eq2 guilds I would love to join on a casual basis :). I miss the ratboy. 🙁

  20. Despite being included in the Nile Online Beta, it never occurred to me before your mention above that purchase orders might be a great thing for MMO economies. I can’t imagine that such a system would be hard to add on to the existing Auction House structure in a game like WoW. Wonder why they haven’t.

    To the meat of your post, I’m happy to hear that you’ve found satisfaction, if perhaps fleeting, with EQ2. I’d give it a try, but I’ve already got enough on my plate without trying out yet another new game.

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