People tend to spend a great deal of time paying attention to very small things. Last week's article on the Equipment Gap received 130 comments in six days. We spend much time concerning ourselves with class balance, Time instancing, equipment statistic issues, and uber versus casual debates.
None of that is important.
What is most important in Everquest is meeting people and having fun. The damage per second on wizard blasts makes little difference. Adding another 50 hitpoints to a level 70 breastplate makes little difference.
This week's patch added three major changes that helps bring in new players and ties the social community of Everquest closer together. These include the new tutorial, the new level 10 to 20 quests, cross-zone group invites, and the autojoined chat channels.
Players now have a wide variety of tools to help find other players for groups. Now you can use the LFG tool to find players looking for groups and ask in the General chat if anyone is interested. If they are, you can immediately invite them into your group regardless of what they are. Group members can coordinate much easier when everyone is in a group instead of a barrage of tells. The cross-zone invite is a great convenience as well as a tool for helping build social bonds between group members faster.
The new chat channels also create entire new social circles. No doubt, due to the age of the game and the typical resistance to change, many people will immediately leave the public channels and stay with the channels they know best. Many will stay, however, and hopefully some of the cynics will return to them. These channels act as an excellent communication pathway. The General chat cuts across all players, whether level 25 or level 70, whether a once-a-week player or a hard core raider.
Smart players will use this channel to find groups or build pickup raids. Supportive players will use it to help people learn more about the game and teach them about their classes.
If you are a player who wants to help teach new players how to play Everquest, add "NewPlayers" to your autojoin list ("/autojoin NewPlayers"). This lets you join that channel regardless of your level. New players are automatically added to this channel so you can easily find new players to help. Using other players as a resource is the only way most players can cut through much of the complexity in this game. Use of the General and NewPlayers channels help solve this very well.
If you're one of the cynics who found the channels invasive and distracting, consider at least joining the General channel and saying hello.
Over the past couple of days I have taken my new warrior through the newly released Everquest Tutorial, Mines of Gloomingdeep. This tutorial will soon become the core of the "Escape to Norrath" free demo, but it is available to all new players now.
The new tutorial is a lot of fun. While the popup windows on the initial lessons can be a bit distracting, especially for older players who learned six years ago how to "hail" someone, the rest of the tutorial is a blast. The lessons are now done as quests in the quest journal, helping EQ compete with the quest journals of EQ2 and World of Warcraft.
There are about fifteen quests including three group quests. Along the way you can collect a new set of armor specific to the tutorial with statistics similar to the original newbie quest armor. There are three boss encounters; the spider queen, the Kobold Overlord, and the demon in the pits. I particularly enjoyed the pit demon mission. The Kobolds in their digging dug too deep and released a great horror. Only you and your heroic friends can stop it.
The new tutorial helps give direction to new players. Both times I hunted there I saw over forty other players hunting as well. Groups formed quickly and met challenges. There was some twinking but powerleveling isn't really possible.
The tutorial looks great. The Mines of Gloomingdeep uses a unique zone, newer graphic models from Dragons of Norrath and even a new unique kobold model. The graphics are very good with light reflections and excellent detail. In my battle with the pit demon I marveled at how good EQ can look after six years.
If you haven't tried out the new tutorial, spend a few minutes rolling up a level 1 and go through it. It is a lot of fun.
This patch also included a bunch of new level 10 to 20 quests from the Plane of Knowledge. When a new player leaves Gloomingdeep they are now sent to the Plane of Knowledge, the central hub of Everquest, and given a set of new exploratory quests to help them get around. While it detracts from the cultural bonding that we once knew starting out in our home cities, the low population of those cities made it harder for players to meet one another. It is a difficult change but one for the better.
There were many other changes in this patch but my hand grows weary. I will leave you with today's Mobhunter Exclusive:
Mobhunter Exclusive: Blood Boils Among the Trolls
As a reporter in the world of Norrath it is important for me to keep my fingers on all of the strands of information that cross our waters and travel over our mountains. It is sometimes important for me to deal with unsavory and questionable people in order to learn everything I must know. One of these unsavory characters, a young troll spy, sent me a scribbled note through the Antonican Bards and it is the contents of this troll spy's note I will report to you here.
It appears the trolls within Neriak begin to plot. They speak of violence. They speak of war. They speak of a warlord named Bortar who will deliver them from Neriak and send them back against the Frogloks of Gukta. These notes come at great cost; it took eight scholars and five engineers to teach the troll how to write with a quill. Here are some of their whispers:
# Luruk Dridor says 'Me hear talk Trolls angry about being stuck here long time Me wonder what happen next'
# Grigdor says 'Me hear dat Daboo do most talking, dat Daboo almost kill Elf cause Elf try to tell him what to do'
# Luruk Dridor says 'Me hear dat too Me tink dat Daboo be lucky he stay calm He kill Elf den we all end up in fight'
# Grigdor says 'Me hear Draboo [sic] say stupid tings at bar too Tings dat Elfs can hear and not like'
# Luruk Dridor says 'What tings?'
# Grigdor says 'Daboo say dat Elfs not let Bortar lead Trolls to kill Frogs He blame Elfs for not giving Trolls enough room in stupid city'
# Luruk Dridor says 'Me tink dat someting Daboo say Sound like Daboo Daboo not too smart'
# Daboo Dogak says 'SHUT UP! Me right here you know!'
# Gardunk says 'You hear Ranjor? He loosing mind'
# Kaglari says 'He just tired of Elf city and still mad about losing home'
# Gardunk says 'He not only one If Bortar not come back soon, Clan Grobb fight Dark Elves Me not sure Clan Grobb win'
# Kaglari says 'Grobb win if work together Lots of Trolls here not want fight here, want fight for Grobb, kill dem frogs'
# Gardunk says 'True dat Kaglari have much control over Clan Grobb hearts Kalgari talk to clan, calm down Ranjor'
# Kaglari says 'Ranjor not listen anymore, me try Me tink Hukulk more likely fight He talk quiet, but his heart angry Angriest in clan'
# Gardunk says 'Me angry too Me want fight But me want home back, not take Elf home Ugly place, Elf home'
# Kaglari says 'Might not be able to stop fight, might only choose where clan fight Me try to keep all quiet until Bortar come back'
# Gardunk says 'Me hope you can'
# Zignal Luk says 'Me had enuf Dis not Troll home! Troll not belong in stupid Elf home!'
# Wista says 'Me no mind Make good money here'
# Ootok says 'You not want home back? You not want kill frogs! You stupid as Ogre!'
# Wista says 'Me want kill stupid frogs, but me like glowy things in elf city'
# Zignal Luk says 'No matter what Wista like We no wait more Bortar lazy slob, no act We take action soon, no matter what Bortar say anymore'
# Ootok says 'Zignal right Trolls wait too long for revenge'
# Wista says 'Zignal maybe right, but Zignal talk too much Elf no like talk of revenge, make too many trolls angry'
# Zignal Luk says 'Me duty to remember Troll past, make Troll culture If me shut up, nobody remember'
# Wista says 'Zignal shut up before inkies hear'
# Zignal Luk says 'Me be quiet, but me not be quiet long'
# Ranjor says 'Me tink it not a good idea'
# Hukulk says 'Me tink you not real Troll Me tink you coward'
# Ranjor says 'I tink me gonna kill you now!'
# Glubtak says 'Dey at it again Stupid Trolls, fight each other not enemy'
# Ranjor says 'You shut stupid mouth! You not know nothing!'
# Hukulk says 'She right Me kill you not help Grobb Clan, so me not fight'
# Ranjor says 'You coward!'
# Hukulk says 'No, me smart You not control self, you fool'
# Glubtak says 'You both shut up You know Bortar tell Trolls not fight Trolls Me Bortar's friend, me not want to tell him you fight'
# Ranjor says 'Me tired of talk! All time talk! Me want do something!'
# Hukulk says 'You get chance soon enuf, Ranjor'
# Slunga says 'Hey, Capee, you kill anyone today?'
# Capee says 'No Me no find anyone to kill But me hurt some Elf real good'
# Slunga says 'Ha! Dat good! Me tired of dem Elfs Wish me had time to smash some'
# Capee says 'You no have customers, ever You got time'
# Slunga says 'Stupid Capee Even if no customers, not allowed to leave Boss make me stay'
# Capee says 'Well, me hear dat some Trolls tinking of taking Elf city for selves Me like dat plan'
# Slunga says 'Dat sound good to Slunga'
# Svunsa says 'You two shut up Me not pay you to make trouble or talk stupid'
Changes are on the horizon. Keep watch.
4 July 2005