Things are Looking Up: EQ2, PC Gaming

I spent the weekend thinking about gaming, and playing a bit. I kind of realized that I don’t envy being a developer trying to make games right now. I read somewhere that Battlefront 2 probably “only” sold 1.2 to 1.5 million boxes in it’s first month of sales – and is considered a complete failure. There are not many industries where doing over 100 million in sales in your first month (on a single title) – with Christmas sales and a supporting movie launch on it’s way still – that causes your stock to drop – but welcome to PC gaming and a broken capitalist system. It was #2 just behind Call of Duty on the sales charts.

We had some super hot titles such as Crowfall and Camelot Unchained that have largely fallen off the radar, and depending on who you talk to Star Citizen is either vaporware of the best self-funded perpetual marketing campaign in history. Didn’t Lord British launch a game? Or almost? Is that still in Beta or Alpha somewhere? Fortnite, a Co-OP PVE darling that I funded decided to (very successfully) copy Player Unknown Battlegrounds and finally find a niche they could be successful at. TONS of people are playing Fortnite : Battle Royale. The catch? They haven’t monetized the game mode yet. They launched a paid-for beta for a largely abandoned PVE mode to instead successfully find a niche in a free for all PVP mode that is not monetized. That that shake around your noodle for a bit. Heck, I was largely tempted to buy myself pre-alpha access to Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen – except I still don’t trust Brad and Fortnite swore me off of early access titles. Meanwhile, Paladins is in it’s 64th patch of Open Beta and has changed/altered their monetization methods four or five times in 14 months and have finally settled on one – that has their best supporters quitting outright, and most others following them. Despite an outcry to please listen and not ruin what makes their game great – they are not listening and ruining what makes their game great.

Yet, as the title says, I am very optimistic.

It’s the little things – like PCs and NPCs making eye contact when interacting

I visited Norrath again. I do this often in EQ1, but have not in EQ2. I have often updated EQ2 on my PC and thought about it but this time I finally did it, and spent hours. Stalbik was not my first character in EQ1 (That was Fisdib, a Gnome Magician in EQ Beta 1) but he was my EQ Guide avatar on the Rathe server. And instead of making a new character I decided to retrieve Stalbik from the EQ1 Guide only island and give him his first real adventure that does not involve a player camping dispute. He was off and on his way.

Before specifically discussing my EQ2 experiences I have to say that my year in review post is underway as a draft and where I spent all my time gaming this year was a bit of a surprise. Not to spoil it, but looking back makes me hugely optimistic for PC gaming. There are so many long running games that are so interesting and satisfying to play. There are platforms where small developers can launch great games and make money. There are still tons of sequels and big titles for the giant conglomerates to launch meaty marketing yet shallow but satisfying experiences. There is really something for everyone right now. Developers clamoring that if they can’t monetize something to death they won’t build it will only push gamers to games that are fun instead. If you can’t develop a fun game at a decent profit point then learn a new way of developing games. No one feels bad for you that you haven’t mastered the easy way to suck the blood dry out of a big enough fan base.

I should be a big target demographic for gaming companies. I have more disposable income to game with then I can imagine. I almost spent the $1000 on the Pantheon alpha because I have no issue with spending that on games in a year, and I can’t see where or how I will spend that in 2018 with what is coming up. Unfortunately for gaming companies I am a very patient gamer. I don’t mind waiting for 3 days for my next Warframe to be ready. I will pay for the extra slots and customization options though, so Digital Extremes gets my investment. They have found something that is worthwhile for me to invest in. It wasn’t forced either – I won’t spend money on a “you must pay this to be on a level playing field” or “you must pay this or wait!” items. I pay to reward companies for good gaming design that makes me happy. And I’m willing to pay a lot of they figure that out. Unfortunately, it seems many gaming companies are instead focused on triggering consumption habits that players can’t control – taking advantage of their weaknesses. That won’t last long, I am afraid.

Back to EQ2.

I have returned to this blog with the news of my victories! While EQ2 was very new to me it is also very familiar – both by being standard MMO fare with WASD and hotkeys, as well as being the sequel to my favorite game of all time. There weren’t many surprises along my first journey except the voice acting. As funny as it is, I don’t remember that when I first tried EQ2 back at launch. That is actually something pretty stand out that most MMOs still do not do (at least not the ones that I play) and I found myself paying more attention to the NPC interactions because of it.

I rolled an Enchanter because I really enjoyed playing one in EQ2 – sorry, Coercer. I always loved controlling a group of NPCs and making a “friend” of my enemies to fight with me. Here is a short list of thoughts / first impressions / questions:

  • I rolled on Maj’Dul server – I believe Izlain and Bhagpuss are both there.
  • Outlevelled the starting island really quickly, but I was invested in sorting out what was causing all the issues there – so I stuck through the story line to the end although all bad guys were grey to me
  • Impressed with little things – like how on one quest I had to disable totems as a source of infection, and during the last boss fight I had to notice there were also totems there – and that by disabling them it allowed me to damage the final boss. It didn’t prompt me to destroy the totems first, I just figured that out from my prior quest experience. One of those experiences that reminded me of The Secret World questing. Rewarding to solve something on your own.
  • Appreciate things such as quests that start by inspecting random loot – for example, zombie flesh – which leads to a bigger quest if I am willing to farm other pieces of zombies to really understand how they are put together. (badum-ching)
  • Aforementioned eye contact between PC and NPCs when interacting was a no brainer. Especially so as a gnome
  • Is there any reason to NOT trigger a heroic moment when soloing? Seemed like it did a ton of damage? Can you macro that to a spell hotkey, so you hit that and then a spell automatically?

I finished the starter Island and had the boat drop me off at the docks at  Qeynos. Qeynos was special to me in EQ1 although I never made a starting character there or venture within it’s walls much. The Qeynos gates was the end of a long journey for my Gnome pals and I. At launch, Minotaur Axes were one of the best starter weapons and of course they only dropped in Steamfont Mountains. We would farm them, fill up our bags, make the long trek to Qeynos and sell them for handsome profit at the gates. The city is familiar and brings me a bit of joy and a lot of comfort – although it is hardly the same except in name now.

Greeted at the docks, Moyna had an all too familiar style of quest to collect centipede meat so she could continue to fish. I was prompted to go to a nearby Inn to find a room – my new home perhaps? The tutorial kept flashing about housing and every once in a while Daybreak reminded me I could give them money for things, even though I had no clue what things were best or what would be wise to do. The docks were as good of a place to log out after Stalbik’s first adventure and like a creature comfort, I know he will be waiting patiently for me right there for when I return.

Where to next? Who knows! That is the best part.

8 Comments

  1. Bhagpuss

    Good post! I’m particularly glad you mentioned the eye contact thing. I was going to give that as an example of the attention to detail and the sheer characterfulness of EQ2 in the post I wrote yesterday. I had a screenshot waiting and everything but in the end I couldn’t fit it in.

    Much though I love to level through the old villages and instances around Qeynos and Freeport (not forgetting the three levels of tombs/sewers) and wouldn’t want to put you off, I feel I should mention that they never really upgraded the drops for any of those when they did the four recommended starter areas. If you want to gear up you probably should go to Frostfang Sea, Darklight Woods, Timorous Deep or Greater Faydark. Let’s be realistic, though – there’s enough starter content in EQ2 for you to level up to 20 or 30 on at least six characters without ever doing the same thing twice, so whatever you do you’ll miss most of it!

    Reply
    1. Isey (Post author)

      Very helpful. While not in a rush and in a very “stop and smell the roses” situation here, I still like loot efficiency. I’ll go ring the bell and have a look at those places. I feel like it will be Gfay, because, well, that’s where all gnomes go eventually!

      Reply
  2. Tyler F.M. Edwards

    I don’t understand how anyone can be pessimistic about the current state of gaming. I’ve been a gamer for a long time, and we have more and better games now than ever before. Used to be the problem was finding enough good games to fill your free time. Now it’s finding enough free time to play all the good games that are out there.

    Reply
    1. Isey (Post author)

      I agree! I think some of the pessimism I am seeing, reading, and feeling in Blognation is the fact that “games as a service” (ie: Microtransactions) are all big companies are talking about as the future. There are also no real big giant exciting titles to look forward to like we used to have (especially with MMOs). It’s definitely awesome, just very different from what we are used to!

      Reply
  3. Psy-Q

    The “a company is a failure unless there is growth” tweet is great. Look at tiny companies like Jeff Vogel’s Spiderweb Software. There isn’t any growth but there is great sustainability over decades. I think that is the much more noble goal, only this isn’t taught at management schools (yet).

    I’m glad to see Verant/SoE/Daybreak still alive after all these years, I honestly wouldn’t have expected it, now that the MMO genre has waned and even Blizzard struggles.

    Gonna reinstall EQ2 to see if they’ve reversed direction at some point and stopped trying to make it like WoW. That was probably my biggest gripe at the time.

    Reply
    1. Isey (Post author)

      It’s one of my new favorite quotes and is a business angle more should consider as vital to a healthy, functioning and purposeful economy. Perpetual growth is impossible and is a house of cards. EQ2 is very easy, that’s my only WoW-ish feel after 10 levels. I don’t suppose those levels should be hard but it has been fun traipsing around in a new but familiar world.

      Reply
  4. Izlain

    I should have the new expansion this week. I have decided what to use my boost on, etc. If we can happen to be on around the same time I can likely get you an invite into my guild, the guild hall alone is worth it even if you’re soloing your way up.

    Reply
    1. Isey (Post author)

      Awesome =) I’ll be playing over the holidays – not to aggressively or anything, but will be around =)

      Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: