Below are the answers to the reader-submitted questions I received in my last article.
Except where noted, the answers came from Travis "Rashere" McGeathy, EverQuest Lead Designer
Is there any intent to change the rate at which characters earn experience or AA experience?
There are two areas concerning experience where we are looking at making changes.
First, we’re going to smooth out the bonus experience you get for killing a creature close to your level. Currently, when you kill a creature that is dark blue to you, you get double the creature’s base experience. If you kill a creature that is even one level below dark blue, you just get the base experience. We’re going to change it so that you continue to get double experience at dark blue, but the bonus will slowly fall away as the NPC gets further below dark blue instead of going away immediately. This will be happening in the near future.
Second, I’m looking at smoothing out the experience requirements from level 51 to 60 so it’s a more gradual transition from the easier experience levels prior to level 51.
What will the flagging system be like in Secrets of Faydwer?
There are two different flagging systems in Secrets of Faydwer, the single group flags and the raid flags.
The two most powerful "dungeons" in the game, Meldrath’s Mansion and Crystallos, require players to complete a single-group quest in order to gain access to those zones.
For raiders, there is a progression of raids that they will need to defeat, similar to previous expansions. They will fight their way through raids in the base zones, then take on Meldrath in his mansion, and, finally, confront Kerafyrm in Crystallos. Each area gets progressively more difficult. The majority of this is pure raid completion flagging, but you’ll obviously need access to Meldrath’s Mansion and Crystallos as well through the access quest before you can take on the raids in those zones.
After the release of Secrets of Faydwer, will SOE open up or reduce the flagging restrictions for older content? If so, when?
We have no plans to change entry requirements for old content. The content was built with those requirements in mind and we want people to experience the content flow as it was designed. As the game advances and characters become more powerful, it naturally becomes easier to meet these requirements.
What is the plan for new player models?
We don’t have any definite timeframe for releasing new player models. Right now, we’re doing iterations on the new human based on player feedback. Once that’s done, we’ll get the new versions up on test server so people can see them. The plan is to continue to do these feedback cycles until we are happy with the state of the models, at which point they’ll be released to live servers.
Does Secrets of Faydwer include any improved solo hunting areas or solo quests?
EverQuest is a group-based game, so we don’t specifically design content for soloing. Instead, the ability to solo happens naturally due to player abilities and power progression. That being said, there are several areas in the new expansion that beta players have had a lot of success soloing. Also, the majority of quests in the expansion are available as a solo player, though you may require help to finish them if you’re taking on content that is difficult for you.
Can you describe any changes to tradeskills or quests? In particular, high-end tradeskills required raid-level drops to grow; will there be any new ways for tradeskillers to reach high-end rewards without raiding?
Ngreth: Jewelry Making will be undergoing a redesign. Jewelers will make base items that can have a gem inserted. The Jewelry making skill will be required to cut the gem. The metal that the base item is made of will affect how much of the gem’s power is focused and given to the player wearing the ring. This system will allow players to customize their jewelry to fit their needs.
Existing trade skill quests have not been altered.
Raid level rewards will continue to require participation in raids. This is a paradigm that is not likely to change. That said, certain trade skill quests with large time investments may give rewards near to raid level rewards.
With this expansion a new long trade skill quest will be introduced. This quest does not require raiding in any part of it, but will be a significant time investment. Additionally, it is in some rather difficult zones and is likely to require grouping in order to complete the quest. One of the zones this quest uses definitely requires a minimum three person group. This reward item will be a piece of jewelry that can fit in finger, ear, wrist, neck, or face slot. Additionally it will have at least two versions: a melee focused version and a caster focused version. I have hope that it may even have some attraction to raiders to fill an odd slot they may need to upgrade.
How will the content in Secrets of Faydwer be balanced against level and AAs? What amounts of AAs are players expected to have at what levels?
The first tier is approximately the same as The Buried Sea, so is balanced against that. For the second tier, the first real jump in power, we did a query of all the players in EQ and found that the majority of players have less than 500 AAs. We then created testing character that are in top-end casual-level gear (full praetorian armor, basically) and gave them 500 AAs to use. These characters were used as the tuning point for the second tier of zones. From there, the following tiers are based off the equipment you get in the previous expansion tiers and we kept the 500 AAs the same.
Is there an attempt to bring new players into EQ with Secrets of Faydwer or will that be left to future expansions?
Secrets of Faydwer is built mainly for high level characters, but the actual box for the game is all-inclusive so a new player coming into the game can pick up the expansion and have everything EQ has ever released immediately! The SoF all-in-one pack is scheduled to be available at participating retail stores and via digital download on November 13th and will include original EQ and all previous EQ expansions.
What changes are you making to the general philosophy of itemization in Secrets, if any? Will the item power jumps be significant? How many tiers will it include? What gear and power level is required to acquire the lowest tier? Part 2: How will SOE address changes to itemization after the release?
With the shift to one expansion per year, we’re returning to the old itemization paradigm used up to around Planes of Power where player power rose significantly with each expansion. This allows the expansion to have multiple tiers of difficulty to progress through even for top end casual characters.
With SoF, there are essentially 4 tiers of difficulty and, correspondingly, 4 tiers of items. The expansion starts at around the same difficulty as the easier mission instances in Katta Castrum (Atiiki missions, for instance) and the rewards are similar. This provides an entry point for players who haven’t completed TBS. From there, content and items scales upwards over the tiers with each tier built to be a challenge for players who have geared up in the previous tier.
Post-launch changes will be addressed as they always have been. We keep a close eye on the live game at all times and make adjustments as needed.
Is there any attempt in Secrets of Faydwer to increase gear rewards for high-end players in single groups?
Definitely- One of the things that the longer expansion cycle allows us to do is have larger increases in player power over a single expansion, so both group players and raid players have significant improvements to look forward to. We’re also making some shifts to bring certain aspects of group gear (such as AC) closer to raid level gear. This is being done to facilitate the ability for non-raid players to successfully group with raid level players.
Will there be any new content released between expansions?
We haven’t locked down our post-expansion plans at this point, but our goal is to add more live content over the course of the year leading up to the next expected expansion in the fall of 2008. We would like to address adding new events, quests, missions, and potentially even zone revamps, new raids, and a supplemental release of AAs.
Are there any new monster missions in Secrets of Faydwer? If not, is there any plan to add any in the future?
Secrets of Faydwer does not include new monster missions although we certainly plan to use them again in the future- they just didn’t fit into our plans for this expansion.