Jargon plagues Everquest. We find meaningless words or phrases everywhere. Everyone has an idea, everyone has a complaint, and everyone has something about the game they want to talk about. Instead of finding ways to properly communicate what our problem is, we fall back to generalizations and buzzwords that may have meaning to us but lose that meaning the more they are used and misused. These words don't help us communicate with SOE. Instead of articulating a problem, they muddy the conversation and cloud the real problems.
Five terms in particular get used dozens of times each week on the various forums. These words add nothing to our conversations and don't help SOE find and fix the problems we gloss over. If we eliminate them from our vocabulary and speak in detail, we increase SOE's ability to respond. Lets take a look at these meaningless words:
Uber: The German word for “Over” describes high end characters, guilds, equipment, or abilities. We hear about uberguilds and ubermobs. We use the word as insult or praise when a friend acquires a new shiny item. Uber is anything more powerful than you. Some 65 paladins with 300 AA points don't consider themselves uber. Level 25 rangers tear through Crushbone like a tornado and everyone in the zone considers them uber. There is no specific use of the word that helps describe a particular state of the game, guilds, or players. In almost every Mobhunter article I wrote for my first three months, my editor, the uber wizard Azile Ciricbane, had to edit out my use of “uberguild” and told me to replace it with something more specific.
Casual: Casual is the most misunderstood and misused phrase in the Everquest community. There are casual guilds who raid the Elemental Planes. Some casual players have hundreds of AA points and play 40 hours a week. Everyone has a different definition of a casual gamer. Sometimes it means low level. Other times it means non-raiders. Instead of asking for changes for the casual gamer, we need to describe exactly what it is we desire. Do we need more short-duration events? Do we need less locked content? Do we need higher power equipment available to single LDON / Ornate equipped level 65 groups? Avoid the word casual, speak in detail.
Mudflation: This ancient term gets used any time someone sees the game progress and doesn't like it. Mudflation means little but has a built-in wrapper of negativity that lets us label progression like a package of spoiled meat. Few describe exactly what they mean when they use the term and fewer can describe how to fix it. The game gets larger. The high-end zones get higher. Level limits increase. Equipment grows in power. That isn't mudflation, that's progress.
Timesink: This is one of my favorites. Timesinks describe any action in Everquest that someone doesn't enjoy. Everquest is a timesink. Reading a book is a timesink. I know one perfect way to avoid timesinks. If you aren't enjoying what you do, do something else. Before you begin telling me that you HAVE to camp shards to get intoVex Thal or you HAVE to get your Ring of Scale faction up, remember that this entire game is voluntary and the world is big enough to find a million other and often more enjoyable things to do. If you find a particular event or hunt that bores you to tears, instead of labeling it a timesink, just tell SOE what you don't like about it. Speak in details, not overused and meaningless generalities.
Class Balance: Classes, by definition, cannot be balanced. Every class is good at some things and bad in others. There is no way to balance the wide variety of skills from one class to another. How does one compare the blasts of a wizard to the slows of a shaman to the healing of a cleric? With limited combat interaction it becomes difficult to make every one of the sixteen classes unique yet not required for a group. SOE can tweak class abilities and help support those unique roles. SOE can also tune encounters so they work well with particular class archetypes as they did with knights and the Ikkinz trials. There is never a clear solution for class balance and there is no conclusion. Classes cannot be balanced without ruining the unique skills that each class has to offer.
Every day players interact with SOE and every day players use these terms to gloss over deeper problems or recommendations. When you find yourself using one of these terms when writing a message board post or sending feedback, ask yourself what you are really saying and replace it with detail. Instead of asking for more casual-friendly content, ask for more single-group events that don't require raid gear. Instead of complaining about timesinks, ask for more Ring of Scale faction options. We love our meaningless terms but our communication becomes stronger and SOE's ability to respond becomes greater when we say exactly what we mean.
11 September 2004