Mobhunter: Loral's Evil Agenda, Summer 2007

It has been 3 years since I first began writing Evil Agendas. It seemed the best way to clarify and simplify the areas I felt would best help Sony improve Everquest. The game has changed greatly since then. Five other Evil Agendas have come out since then. Sometimes the items presented are addressed, sometimes not. Today we look again at the elements that would best help Everquest improve this year.

There are a few factors to consider before attempting to define what might best improve the game. For one, for who are these improvements meant to help? Is there an attempt to bring in new players? Is there an attempt to draw from those who no longer find World of Warcraft satisfying? Is the intent to help keep hard core players continuing to play? Should Everquest continue to refine and polish their high-end raid game? Without knowing the exact strategy SOE employs towards Everquest, I can only guess at what improvements might best help the game meet its goals.

The five areas of improvement listed below assume a desire to bring old players back in, keep existing players playing, and bring in new players where possible. I have stated many of these items before, but I feel they are important enough to keep currently in mind.

1. Rebuild the Plane of Knowledge.

The Plane of Knowledge continues to be one of the top three, if not the most popular, zone in Everquest. The current architecture for the zone is six years old. While SOE has attempted to make new city zones since then such as Abysmal Sea and Crescent Reach, none of these zones has drawn any significant number of players.

Rebuild the Plane of Knowledge and continue to use it as a hub zone for Everquest players of all levels. Build neighborhoods that remind players of the heritage of their characters. Add quests and instances for short duration events at all levels. Make it look good enough and perform well enough to remind us that this game isn't suffering from an eight year history.

2. Add new Player Models.

The existing player models continue to be a legacy from the Everquest of old. The poorly performing and graphically broken Luclin models end up pushing many players back to the original Everquest models developed in 1998. Although we saw a lot of board traffic discussing a new human model, that model, originally discussed a year ago, has not yet been released. Find a faster and more efficient way to release high performance and good looking player models.

3. Focus on 30 to 60 minute events.

With so many newer games out, the tolerance for long-duration events including single group quests, missions, and raids, has gone down. Many players no longer accept long duration 90 minute to two hour events from the older expansions. Shorter events let players get in, have fun, progress, and leave within a time period that is more acceptable to the rest of their lives. Newer games have shown these durations to be possible, rewarding, and fun. Tune these events towards the bulk of the players who go through them, not to those who are able to do them the fastest. Tuning content around the highest power and fastest players ends up hurting the event for everyone else.

4. Reduce flagging restrictions and Remove flags for zones older than two years.

Flagging high-end zones is intended to increase the amount of time it takes high-end raiding guilds to reach the end of any given expansion. When the flags are put in place and tuned, they are tuned towards guilds who raid five to seven days a week for four to six hours. When those expansions become forgotten by those high end guilds, a new tier of guilds, guilds who play fewer nights a week for less hours, then have to overcome those flagging restrictions only with less actual play time.

Remove flag restrictions on end-zones two years after the expansion is released. This will add new life to these zones and help guilds with less time or lower powered players progress quick enough to enjoy the higher-end content in newer expansions. Making a three day raiding guild go through the same steps as a seven day raiding guild strictly because that seven day guild got through content so fast doesn't make sense. Flagging continues to be considered nothing more than a burden to overcome; not something fun and enjoyable.

5. Reduce filler and focus on fun.

Recent expansions revealed more and more content containing large amounts of unentertaining and time consuming encounters. Both single group missions, flagging requirements, and raid zones have become filled with creatures strictly to slow players down. They do not add to the enjoyment of the event. While a certain amount of such encounters are required, they should be reduced from their current number. Going from Tacvi to Anguish to Demiplane have shown an increase in filler mobs. Single group missions also show a large amount of filler mobs before reaching the climax of an adventure. Instead of offering interesting encounters before a climactic battle, it becomes drudgery. Kill X minions to kill 60 minutes before we reach the event we actually intended to play. Reduce tedium and increase fun.

Loral Ciriclight
11 August 2007