As part of the Newbie Blogger Initative Battlechicken has challenged the bloggers to tell her Why We Do What We Do, preferably in pictures. Here’s a small collection of my characters, the result of 12 years playing MMOs, who is answering the question.
|Feliz: I am a yodel bard
||Sambaugh: Watching your back
|Dimo: I heard they had cheese and pimp hats
||Minsk: Barfights and barmaids!
||Plintenegger: I’ve got Death Touches
|Plinkocommie: Goblins of Azeroth unite!
||Dimkski: The Lich King is dead
|Shamble: Looking into a radiant future
||Dime: There’s a vision, always was, always will
||Shambles: I am your father, Feliz
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I feel the itch. Now that free-to-play has been announced for the game, it looks like a couple of former players are already returning, in hoping the community will grow quickly. There’s been some activity among the bloggers regarding Vanguard, too: Ardwulf’s Lair has a couple of articles and Bhagpuss @ Inventory Full has some honorable mentions as well.
I have to say, I’d like to return, too. A few days ago, I signed up for another Vanguard trial. This screen shot is the result of 2 hours of playing a bard. Vanguard is one of the MMO’s I regularly go back to, when other games turn sour on me. I just love some of the games mechanisms: You’ll eventually have to decide if you want to skill up one weapon over the other: long- or short sword, piercer or a mace. At some point you won’t have enough skill points to keep them all maxed. My bard can “compose” his own songs. In combat there are skill combos and situational abilities I need to act on.
I am usually not much of a trade skill kind of guy, but I often do the basics and come back to it every now and then. The trade skill sphere has some interesting concepts. Your trade skill level is independent from your adventuring level. You can only advance through work orders, which will not produce any usable goods. You can make usable items, but they won’t advance your skills. You have your won set of trade skill gear and tools. The same is true for harvesting.
The game has a third sphere, diplomacy. To make it short, I’ve never been using it much, but it does have its own rewards.
The world of Telon is huge. Three massive continents offer enough room for content, cities, dungeons and places to just go Ooooh and Aaaah. You can have flying mounts and you can build your own ship to travel oceans and rivers.
Vanguard is certainly old school (now without corpse runs), but you will respawn elsewhere and have to run back, if you want to continue working on your current goal. Mobs will respawn on your way, if you don’t hurry or if you were in way to deep into a dangerous area. Grouping is often recommended.
There’s more to the game, like nice race and class selections or meaningful NPC factions. But I’ll leave that for another time, to be discovered as I get further into the game.
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It’s been three weeks already? Time flies when you are having fun. And I am certainly having fun getting back to Norrath and Everquest. I’ve made a few characters on the brand new “Vox” server, while hardly looking at my old ones. I just don’t think I’d be able to play them very well at their level. Creating new characters gives me time to relearn the game and to get familiar with the changes since I left. Besides, new characters are fun, at least for me.
For the F2P start SOE created “Hero’s Journey”, a guide and a set of achievements through the leveling process. It took me a while until I found out about this, but once I noticed it, all was good. It leads you through the Crescent Reach zone and all other zones of that expansion. It gets you great gear along the path. If you are going to restart, I recommend to do just a few steps in the tutorial, just enough to get you 3 pieces of armor, and continue with Hero’s Journey.
Not following Hero’s Journey lead me to the level 10+ armor quests and my first encounter with the old competitiveness of the game, namely kill stealing. Old Everquest hands will know that loot rights and experience gain for a kill go to the player or group who do the most damage, not the person who tagged the mob first. Which of course happened to me, trying to kill tarantulas in the Desert of Ro. They are kind of rare and all of a sudden, the tarantula I just had engaged was dead. Some higher level shaman had killed it and continued to clear out the area without giving others the chance to finish their quests.
Lots of drama has ensued over this in the past and obviously will continue. This extended into raiding as well, since dungeons and raids were not instanced. Guilds and players had to compete for the kill. I could already experience my dose of hardcore behavior while visiting Project 99 a while back, and just hope this doesn’t extend into the new end game. Time will tell.
But now to the nicer sides of the game. You can notice much more cooperative behavior among the players than anyplace else, even if you take the competitiveness into account. Players offer buffs in the Plane of Knowledge and asking for buffs is accepted as well. Group play happens, although with the limitations of not having a LFD tool. But the players are far more willing to group up and share. Experienced and higher level players will run up to you and hand you loot, or just offer it for free in chat. And as it used to happen, valuable loot that nobody in a group or raid wanted is often offered to the public in general chat.
Speaking of POK, since F2P players can’t sell their goods in the bazaar, they have to rely on /auction chat. Which gives the already humming Plane of Knowledge even more traffic and there’s some hope it will become like East Commonlands, the market place of old. However, it seems to slow down a bit, as subscribers offer their guild mates to sell their gear through the subscribers traders.
So far, I haven’t run into killer issues with free-to-play. Most of the gear on my old characters is unusable, due to having bad augments, but that’s more of a bug than intention. There is a limit on the amount of money a character can have and there is no shared bank. F2P players can’t send mail or parcels. This limits the ability to transfer items between characters, but nothing keeps you from creating a second account and using it to hold a few bags. The number of bags is limited, which initially seems like an issue, but in the end, with a bit more organisation, you’ll get by.
I am a bard of old. I did crowd control in Solusek A and Karnor’s Castle and I charm kited in the Plane of Nightmares. So I asked in the bard channel what instruments are now in easy reach for my level. The answer made me cringe: Use the instrument modifiers that come with your defiant armor. Modifiers not even half the strength of your standard store bought lute or hand drum. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be to much of a surprise, with leveling now being so easy, there isn’t much need to squeeze out an edge through 10% more damage output with you drum. At least they confirmed that the higher run speed coming from a better drum is useful.
And lastly, something I am far from mastering, yet. The game mechanics of the solo and group game are much more dynamic than modern games. Even though, you can chat a lot while on auto attack, you still need to pay attention to what’s going on. Roaming mobs for instance. Crowd control. Managing pets and MERCs. Your focus is not on what button to push next in your spell rotation, but you look around and react to what’s going on. This might be a bard specific thing, but I had to be on the lookout with my beastlord as well.
Anyway, it’s been a lot of fun so far. I am still rediscovering all the old places like the Ry’Gorr Fort in Eastern Wastes or Warsliks Wood. I am not expecting to stick around for 6 years, though. Probably more like 6 weeks and then on and off. Which is the great thing with F2P. No need to go through subscribe/unsubscribe. Just play.
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Sometime in early 2001, I went to the computer store to look for yet another computer game, since I had grown bored of the most recent one. I had seen the box of Everquest, Rise of Kunark before, but had put it back into the shelf for one reason or another. But this time there was also “Scars of Velious” standing right next to it. Seeing the second expansion of a game gave me pause. Guess there must be something to it, I thought and grabbed the Kunark box.
A bit later a new dwarf named Tomlin appeared outside Kaladim on the Vazaelle server. I had yet to discover the newer full screen interface and could see the world only through a window less than half the size of my screen. Things were confusing, but I managed to kill some skeletons and some goblins. But of course I got lost, had to search for my corpse and got saved by some friendly player who saw I was in distress. Eventually, my dwarf grew up a bit and found his way into Greater Faydark, which he left almost immediately for Lesser Faydark at level 6 or so. There he meet some brownies…..
The story from here on is the same as many others have experienced the game. Getting your first set of banded mail, experimenting with other classes and general exploration of all continents. There were my first steps onto Kunark, wondering how to get to that level 14+ zone while dodging monster spiders and giant dogs. The boat trip to Velious was fun, seeing the gnomish steam boat. Going out exploring as a non caster was always interesting and dangerous, since you’d better find a bind point fast. I had settled to play a bard, which I turned into a Vah Shir bard once Luclin came around.
I joined a small casual guild, left them for a bigger guild, which imploded to form another more “focused” raiding guild and joined a newly founded raiding guild by the time Planes of Power went live. That’s where I meet my wife through frequent grouping and raiding. More expansions came out, but so did Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft. The guild collapsed, but we played on for a while, before succumbing to the lure of World of Warcraft. That was around the time of Omens of War. My wife held out a while longer, but eventually moved to WOW as well.
We had short appearances during veterans weekends and I took the opportunity to return to Fippy Darkpaw for a short while, but have stayed away since. Now Everquest is going free-to-play on March, 16th, 12 years after its introduction. I will be there. I finished the download of the regular client a couple of hours ago and I am waiting for the doors to open. I don’t know if I will start on the new server or revisit my old toons. Most likely scenario: A new beastlord on the new server. I certainly won’t be a frequent visitor, but free-to-play will give me the opportunity to drop in every now and then, just to see how things are faring.
It is some investment to get re-aquainted with the game and the user interface. Or just imagine the geography. I will probably manage the classic Norrath maps, a bit of Luclin and Planes of Power, perhaps even Ykesha. But after that, I don’t even remember the zone connections anymore. Yes, I know, things have gotten simpler in the game, but it has become a huge world. I guess it’s still the biggest world out there in MMO terms. And a nice one to go back to. See you on Friday.
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