First thing, apologies for not writing recently. I’ve been distracted.
First of all, Team Fortress 2 has re-set it’s hooks into me. I find myself playing before and after my EQ2 play sessions. I’m actually starting to represent myself a little better, which is saying something for a gamer of my, er, life experience level.
Second, I’ve started a new obsession. It’s with art vinyl. What the hell is Art Vinyl? Well there are several companies that give vinyl figures to artists and ask them to make designs on them. One of the popular ones is from Kidrobot. The figures that I have become interested in are called Dunnys, and you can see some of them over at the official Kidrobot site. Turns out that these are done by what I would call “pop-culture” artists, designers that have traditionally done illustration, tattoos, grafitti, and other popular art expression. The stuff is mostly very cool. Tarkheena and I have been playing eBay and trying to get a few of these figures. We’ve also started an eBay business selling them. I’ll tell you the name if it takes off.
We’ve been playing EQ2 for about 3 weeks since we (Tarkheena and I) returned to the game for another go. I thought I’d get some thoughts down here about what I’ve been noticing in the game.
This game feels like a “real” MMO to me. I’m not sure exactly what that means myself. I can tell you that most of the other games I try seem to be missing that elusive something that EQ2 has. The only other live MMO out there that also has this feel for me is WoW.
One of the factors for this is diversity in game play. In most MMO’s there is a very distinct feeling that you should be heading down a certain road. Other gameplay styles don’t seem to be encouraged. I know I’m hung up on crafting, but it’s a perfect example of this. In EQ2, if my eyes are bleary from a few nights of hunting and questing (where ARE those effing Dragoon Lieutenants, anyway?) then I can roll up in front of a forge and make armor for a few hours. It’s wonderful to discover that some of the rare harvests I made can be crafted into usable and lucrative armor pieces. I have also enjoyed setting up my house with furniture and getting a little business going selling from the cork board there. I have not been nearly as successful as Tarkheena has. She had the foresight to go into carpentry which seems to be more lucrative than the armorsmith that I chose.
This isn’t really a personal-progress journal for me, but since I’ve been telling you all a little about what I’ve been playing I thought I’d share that my Arasai Guardian reached level 30 last night. While I know that level 30 in Everquest 2 isn’t anything uber by any means, I’ve always looked at level 30 as the end of the noob levels.
So here we are (Tarkheena’s Arasai Inquisitor is also level 30 now) at the threshhold of more entertaining content and adventure. Some of you are going to think that I’m nuts when I say this, but the game play from 1-30 here in EQ2 is quite a bit more satisfying than the comparable levels in WOW. In particular, the ability to craft useful items, collection quests, and player housing combine to add a lot to the game for me and Tark. WoW actually probably has slightly better questing, and the characters have more, well, character.
If you haven’t given EQ2 a try, or if you tried at launch and were disappointed, I’d encourage you to give it a try. It’s quite a good MMO. The game at launch was balky, claustrophobic, and the encounter system was deeply flawed. All of that has changed. The game is vastly improved. I’m not going to be just a shill for this because you all know how I feel about SOE in general and their “don’t get it” factor. This game is being handled correctly and I think it deserves another look.
Today, Tipa wrote about her third or fourth article about EQ2’s new expansion, Rise of Kunark. Let me start off by saying that although I have an active subscription to EQ2, I’m not actively playing it. My perceptions come from what I have been reading about the game and it’s perception from those who are.
If you have read this blog before, you know that I have openly challenged the game designers that take an established game and change it, to presumably improve upon it. SOE has done it with SW:G, EQ, Vanguard, and now with EQ2. In the case of EQ, it’s understandable, as it was a mature game with declining subscriptions and popularity by the time that they made the changes.
With EQ2, SOE has a game that launched poorly against World of Warcraft. It was generally perceived to be released early, wasn’t as fun, and had much higher system requirements. So if you have a polished game that practically runs on a cell phone vs. a game that didn’t quite get the polish that needs a relatively state-of-the art PC to enjoy the visuals, it’s pretty easy to predict what is going to happen. Particularly in hindsight, which I obviously have the benefit of. SOE has spent the last almost 3 years changing the perception of EQ2 to that of one of the best MMO’s out there. It’s nearly impossible to do that in the market. Generally, when a game launches badly (SOE has never said that they were disappointed with how the game did initially, although clearly they must look at WoW and wonder what could have been) it’s nearly impossible to turn the ship around and change that perception. You really have to give them a lot of credit for doing that. After a handful of expansions, and the raising of the level cap to 70, most of the people who are at that level have established play styles and in-game relationships. That’s where Tipa’s article kicks in.