Your Next: Do It Like EverQuest

Why SOE has no choice but to do it like EQ, and not do it like EQ

I know that I'm meant to be talking about EverQuest Next and Landmark, and we'll get to them shortly, but there are a couple more stops to go on the H1Z1 train before we get there. After an inaugural livestream plagued by tech issues, but showing potential, SOE President John Smedley headed once again to Reddit to float a new idea.

Many developers seem to enjoy the semi-structured feedback they can get from the Reddit boards, and Mr. Smedley seems to love it. He's a big ideas man, after all, and they don't come much bigger than this.

Since H1Z1 works with an MMO server architecture it will work a little differently to other games in the genre—with a huge persistent world holding thousands of players and no server resets, the game will operate more like an MMO and less like a large shooter map. This could end up being one of the major selling points for the game, but one drawback of the system is the lack of player run servers with their own rules and personalities.

This is where the big idea comes in. Mr. Smedley wants player communities to be able to define the theme and ruleset for their own server. With enough active support from the community we could see those PVE 'carebear' servers that are continually slammed on the DayZ subreddit, or stricter grouping and faction rules designed to let players know who is really friendly.

Now, I understand completely why players want these kinds of rulesets for the Apocalypse Survival genre, but I would bet my last tin of beans they would be a colossal failure.

Players want these kinds of servers because they're sick of KoS, they want to band together with other people to survive the harsh new world and community is what makes persistent online games great. Ultimately though, the fact is it is these hardships and obstacles that make the genre great. If you don't like it, maybe you just don't like the genre. If it wasn't for the intense paranoia and tales of what happens when two people met in the game, DayZ would never have got the recognition it has, and the genre may never have existed at all.

I could be totally wrong of course; as all gaming experiences are subjective I could be in the minority in thinking that DayZ on an empty server feels like eating dry toast when you aren't hungry, or that playing Minecraft on peaceful difficulty feels like spending a sunny afternoon making confetti with a hole punch.

Hilarious as my analogies may be, there are many people who will disagree with me, they will most likely get what they ask for, and (insert deity of choice) help SOE when a change to the game affects the balance of a community server.

If the system is successful, it seems quite likely we'll see it in EQNext and Landmark. The possibility of large communities being able to come together easily in Landmark could be great for the game in the long term, and requests for themed islands are common.

What I'm really interested in is how this could affect EQNext, with a very vocal group asking for servers that mimic the mechanics of EverQuest, could this mean there wish has come true? Almost certainly not, but that won't stop them from trying all the same.

The problem is that when people ask for these 'throwback' or 'hardcore' servers, they invariably ask for features and mechanics that were in EverQuest but not in later MMOs. It usually comes down to wanting limited class based fast travel, a 'harsh' death penalty and no auction house. There is nothing wrong with any of these requests—I have played and enjoyed games with all of these features. Unfortunately, mechanics in games as complex as MMOs do not work in isolation, and dropping ones you like into games you don't won't change much.

Add to this the fact that EQNext is not intended to function in the way that previous MMOs have and you could have some thoroughly disappointed players. The feeling of EverQuest was not created by the specifics of the mechanics, it was created by the sense of wonder, of the exploration and camaraderie between players, from the sense of risk and purpose. If EverQuest Next just reheats the old strategies, how can it hope to recapture the magic?

The way I see it, the only chance a new game has of coming close is to do exactly what EverQuest did; be bold, fresh, ahead of the curve, take some chances, to push what is possible to the limit and keep pushing.

We must remember that the term “MMO” does not mean 'like EverQuest' or 'like World of Warcraft'. The definition is incredibly flexible and as we enter the post WoW-goldrush days I hope we finally see more products with clear goals and some vision.

Every game is different, and no game is for everyone. In my opinion, the worst thing a game can do is try to please everyone, because you can't please all the people all the time.

Comments

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/sigh
# Apr 20 2014 at 4:00 PM Rating: Decent
1 post
I guess long gone are the days of "This is the game we made........for those who will enjoy it"

The bigger the net, the more fish that swim through it. WoW players crave new content all the time, Why is this? Because they made it too easy. What if.......What if there were multiple encounters or events that would take every player being in max gear and exceptional talent to defeat it. OH MY NO! You mean something so challenging that the masses could not feel a sense of achievement? This is exactly what is lacking. The anticipation, the building towards something. As an individual and as a group or guild. Content should not come out quicker, on the contrary, content SHOULD LAST LONGER!

I long for the days of dev's putting something out there and saying "here it is.....try to beat it" not even knowing if it is possible. I have no taste for easy, medium, and hard modes......this is the encounter period! Perhaps I have become old and cranky but the amount of people who feel entitled to see all of the content because they pay a sub fee or use a cash shop, is inconceivable to me.

I really hope that Sony can find the line. It will be challenging but I think they have the right people in place.

-Med
/sigh
# Apr 20 2014 at 6:54 PM Rating: Decent
1 post
I don't get this argument at all. WoW has extremely difficult challenges and rewards, such as the top 0.5% PvP rewards that actually sell for upwards of 2500 USD from pro players. What more do you want? 99.5% of the participants being unable to get those rewards isn't enough for you? If you were actually looking for a challenge you would've found one, no matter your playstyle. There's plenty of optional difficulty to go around.

WoW is as easy as you want it to be, and everyone **** about the game being for casuals should maybe look in the mirror.

Edited, Apr 20th 2014 8:56pm by ****
totally agree
# Apr 20 2014 at 9:27 AM Rating: Decent
1 post
And what I think this looks like is getting rid of the garbage PVE servers. This will just lead to more and more "grinding" content and populations that get bored and go to another game.

It is time to go back to something like what Ultima Online or EVE had. Griefing is an important game mechanic in moderation.
Speciality servers
# Apr 19 2014 at 5:23 PM Rating: Good
**
712 posts
I don't see one single negative with having a few different ruleset servers. People might enjoy the game either way, but giving players the ability to tweak their gaming experience somewhat towards what fits their playstyle is long overdue if anything. Funnily enough that in itself is quite revolutionary in the MMO genre.

A game trying to please everyone on one type of server will not work, I agree there. Having a base game that then branches somewhat into other playstyles via different servers however sounds like a great solution.

Looking at the genre since WoW, those who enjoy the more old school approach has been left out more or less. Most companies are not willing to risk alienating the more casual/bigger market by catering to those who enjoy more old school visions for what feeling/feel a game should bring. An approach with speciality servers could somewhat bring a lot of new options for the whole old school playerbase which I think is definitely a good thing, and the same applies to other playstyles too.

Edited, Apr 19th 2014 7:40pm by Belcrono
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