Next week I travel to New Orleans and join in the fun at this year's EQ Fan Faire. As I did with the guild summit in March, I write the direction I would like to see EQ travel. This article describes five areas for SOE to focus on and improve in the future.
Quests should be the cornerstone of Everquest. Currently, however, most progression comes from killing beasts and getting occasional rare drops. Many different types of events could spawn from quests, whether they are group hunts, raids, tasks, tradeskills, or soloing.
Add and update quests. Consider developing a new quest system similar to the task system. Update the Ro armor quests with valuable pieces. Add level 30 and 40 armor quests. Add a mid-level epic quests.
Everquest should include fun, powerful, and progressive quests at all levels. Quest completion should offer significant experience bonuses, character flags, equipment upgrades, augments, new spells, and new disciplines.
Build a new quest interface that uses the "find" trail, compass marking, and a log-book to keep track of quests players currently follow.
Quests should return to the center of the game, especially a game titled "Everquest".
Add a /groupinvite keyboard command to invite players from outside the zone into a group. Add "invite player" to the LFG window so one can send invites across the game. Allow players to invite another by pressing the "invite" box on the group window and typing in a name.
Improve the "Friends" window. Add a notes field for each friend. Add a way to track alternate characters of a single player. Add a way to forward tells from one character to another. Make the "Friends" window more like the guild tool so we can track friends online, view notes, send tells, and perhaps send messages to off line characters.
Add short-duration tasks for groups of two or more people working on a single task. Use the task system of Omens to give groups a short-duration quest tracking down evil bosses or hunting packs of loosed werewolves. Tie it in with an improved quest system so groups can get together, pick a quest, and accomplish it within 90 minutes for experience and progress towards new gear.
Find a way for high level and low level players to work together. Both should be challenged and both should receive an appropriate reward. With the large amount of both high level and low level players, if methods can be found for these groups to work together, far more groups will gather together, run off, and have fun. Gandalf and Frodo both grouped together and Frodo was totally g1mp.
While many Everquest players play for long periods of time, many cannot. Everquest should focus around 90 minute game sessions. Players should be able to progress in levels, AAs, and equipment in 90 minute intervals. Camping for extended periods of time should not be the only way to progress in equipment at higher levels.
LDON offers a 90 minute point-based loot system that lets players earn new gear in smaller play-sessions but longer periods of time. Use systems like this one to let players with limited time earn new equipment in other areas of Norrath.
Not every area or encounter should focus on 90 minutes, but many of them should. Everquest needs to fit in better with our busy lives.
Add more variety to single-group encounters. Use instanced expeditions to tailor scripted encounters around groups. Find new challenges for players other than straight damage. Consider a lich that has very few hitpoints but many spells of protection that must be defeated before damaging the lich. Consider beasts that only cast spells instead of melee, but with devastating effects! Keep it fun, not frustrating. No more chain complete healing mobs or mobs that gate only to earn back 30% of their hitpoints.
Use the experience gained from building excellent raid encounters to build fun new single-group events. I understand the Muramite Provinground trials include events like this. Continue this great work and build it for players of all levels, not just the highest high-end players.
Everquest is a very difficult game to learn for new players. Systems like the tutorial help but further refinements could help new players learn how to play and become slobbering addicts posting general substance-free negativity on the ranger forum in a few short months. Here are a few suggestions:
Add a newbie chat channel autojoined at character creation. Make it very easy for players to learn how to chat. Give them a message that tells them how to send information and what the chat is for.
Streamline the interface for skills, disciplines, AAs, and other hotbutton effects. Create a single window with all possible effects that we can drag over to our hotboxes. Auto-learn skills or notify players of new possible skills when they become available.
Add in an alternative to corpse recovery. Add an NPC that summons bodies to Shadowrest for a high level-based cost. Make the bodies he summons unressable to account for the easier corpse recovery. As an alternative, add it as a necromancer and shadowknight spell.
Flexibility is the strength of Everquest. Every year our world changes and every year it gets better. The requests above will help Everquest continue to grow into an enjoyable and ground-breaking game for both old and new players.
21 October 2004