First Takes: ‘Chains of Eternity’ Expac, PlayerStudio

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Expansion News, Game Updates & Maintenance, Player Studio

Today brought a double helping of news for players of EverQuest II, and I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve got on each subject.

EverQuest II: Chains of Eternity

After a features expansion, and then a “guspansion”, Chains of Eternity puts us back on track with a content expansion. This time around, we’ll see Guild, Tradeskill, and Adventuring Level Caps all raised to 95. We’ll also see more expansion in the Prestige AAs tab with new abilities for each Subclass. Also new in the expansion will be Prestige Tradeskills for crafters wanting to specialize their trade.

A truly new feature is Organic Adornments which sound interesting in that they may further streamline itemization. For the last couple of years, War Runes have been the be-all-end-all of adornments. Once you had won the rights to your desired Red “War Rune” adornment, you had it forever, and could always pick up more for your alts. However as expansions and guspansions go by and player power explodes, some of the older Red adornments have become outdated. If Organic Adornments truly grow with their players, then maybe adornments will stay relevant rather than requiring constant maintenance from the EQ2 designers.

After hearing last year that new tools had been given to the EQ2 Art Dept to allow them to quickly develop overland terrain, I was a bit puzzled to hear that this new expansion would take place in repurposed versions of the Feerrott and Loping Plains.  This isn’t a deal-breaker, as the popular Kingdom of Sky expansion was built upon familiar land masses.

The announcement of 9 new instance dungeons and new solo and heroic quests should help address some of the pent up demand for new content from players who have fully explored all that Skyshrine has to offer. Although no mention of raids was made, the Sleeper’s Tomb is expected to open this month (September). I’m hopeful that we’ll see another an x2 raid, or perhaps further EM (Easy Mode) raid content with enough latitude to be doable by smaller raid forces.

One detail which was immediately picked out of Windstalker‘s announcement was the return of Avatars in some form. It’s unclear if these planar representations of Norrath’s deities will return as the familiar contested x4 (24 person) raid content as they were in the days of EoF, Kunark, and TSO, or if they will take some radically different form. Perhaps they could be part of new Public Quests, or perhaps something we haven’t even thought of.

PlayerStudio — Player Made Items

I’ve long been a proponent of player-made content. While it is up to the artists, animators, writers, and designers of the EQ2 team to plot the main storylines that underlie world events in Norrath, I feel that players can also have some part to play. Time and time again, we have seen players demonstrate remarkable creativity in writing and interpreting lore, illustration, house and guild hall design, player-made videos, and so forth. Putting player talent to use seems a no-brainer in the content-thirsty world of MMOs.

No recent event drew players together so strongly as when designers and friends collaborated to build and fully decorate a guild hall and Tenebrous island for young RibbitRibbit to experience in his last few weeks.

At last year’s Fan Faire, whispers of the upcoming Dungeon Maker feature elicited excitement. I’d seen the possibilities of the intense freedom to create offered in other games such as NeverWinter Nights and Minecraft. Alas, what was finally delivered with the Age of Discovery expansion was so compromised by balance concerns and designers were so shackled to simplistic rooms that the end result was little more than dungeon decorating.

After the restrictive Dungeon Maker, today’s news that players would start creating not just re-colored in-game items, but truly design, draft, and build in-game EQ2 items from the ground up with third party software was all the more surprising. If anything, it gives me hope that maybe Dungeon Maker might get a second look. Surely if players demonstrate that we can grapple with such formidable software as 3D Studio Max and Maya, all the while juggling textures and vertices, then we can handle a little bit of dungeon scripting!

Some players have been quick to dismiss PlayerStudio as a shadow of such games as Second Life which are known for monetizing player-made items. I also continue to renew my objections to StationCash items — even if players will get a 40% cut of the profits — but just the concept of player-made content is intriguing to me. I think Dethdlr and I demonstrated with EQ2U that getting players involved in things traditionally done by the official team is not necessarily a bad idea. ;)

Getting players involved not so much in the creative direction of the game, but expressing their creativity has more benefits than drawbacks.

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Comments (23)

  • Loch

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    Very well put, Feldon.

    Reply

  • Gealaen_Gaiamancer

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    +1

    I believe this is one of the best write-ups/editorials Feldon’s given us to date. I’m also excited to check out PlayerStudio … and you really can’t go wrong with a new expansion. Well. Hopefully not, anyway. ;)

    Reply

  • Taka

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    I enjoy public quests.. now if only they weren’t time based. They need to be up all the time any time in various stages.. like in DCUO or Warhammer. They’re always available in various stages but with like a 1hour or 2hour cycle time. They are drop in drop out and they do or do not scale depending on the event.

    I do like eq2′s public quests and I think they were relatively popular in DoV, mostly because they were in the armor progression line, but if they put something to make people come back to them aside from armor progression they’d probably stay more popular. I.e. emerald halls has the seeds that people still go get for certain things. Echos was several expansions again.

    Tradeskill materials or those rare items are prime examples of exclusive drops that make people revisit and replay content years after its been obsolete.

    Lastly, I too have hope for dungeon maker and player studio.. the contest proved there are amazingly, creative players out there.

    Reply

  • Pipsissiwa

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    IMHO they shouldn’t have announced the Player Studio until everything was in place for ALL players to use it, and by that I mean Europeans too. We know it is ‘complicated for legal and tax reasons’, but SOE bigging it up and then adding, ‘oh and we’re working on it for Euros’ at a time when us European customers have an all time low morale thanks to the PSS1 debarcle it is something of a smack in the face with a wet fish. They could have held off the annoucement, or stressed that when it launches it will be available for ALL, rather than adding Euros as an after thought. Maybe I am over sensitive, but I am not alone in feeling like this – us Euro customers are utterly sick of being second-class and after-thoughts to SOE.

    I also wonder if the delays to EQ2′s transition to PSS1 is more to do with timing it around the expansion for promo and player retention reasons than it is to do with any concerns over PSS1′s capabilities.

    Yours,
    An utterly fed up European SOE customer

    Reply

  • camelotcrusade

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    Nice to see some positive commentary out of you, oh Bitter One.

    At first I was worried that the bar would be too high for most players to get in on user-made content, but after thinking about it more I guess this will ensure a smaller stream of stuff for SOE to check (and hopefully higher quality, too).

    And I can’t wait for 9 more instances. I’m hoping for a solid heroic progression that has a good long run before requiring heroic people to have raid gear to finish it (cough Drunder cough).

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    We’re going to see about providing a Repository of example models, useful tools, textures, etc. for aspiring artists.

    Reply

  • Landiin

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    You guys are fooling yourself if you think you will be able to create something truly ground up with 3DSM and be able to get it added into the game. Just taking ques off the crappy DM, I’ed say it will be a Lego type thing. Where you’ll be able to use SOE provided templates/macros in software like 3DSM but that is about it.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Landiin,

    You will be able to CREATE house items from scratch. Full stop.

    Look at the websites linked in the PlayerStudio article. They link you to 3rd party 3D modeling software, texturing/illustration software, etc. It’s nothing like what you are describing.

    House items and cloaks are the two things you’ll be able to do at first, with more to come.

    Reply

  • Lempo of Everfrost

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    I have the same feeling Landiin, I have the feeling that there will be small print limiting the number of polygons/triangles/vertices etc to such a small number that items created will look like garbage.

    I would also have reservations about submitting work to them for review with certain policies they have in place. These policies are of course standardfrom all companies.

    http://www.soe.com/termsofservice.vm?locale=en_US

    C. RIGHTS IN USER CONTENT

    Any and all User Content submitted (e.g., by uploading or transmitting) to SOE shall be deemed, and shall remain, the property of SOE and/or its Third Party Providers from the moment of uploading or transmission. Accordingly, SOE shall exclusively own all now known or hereafter existing copyrights and all other intellectual property rights to all User Content of every kind and nature, in perpetuity, throughout the universe and you hereby assign to SOE as a present assignment of future rights all such intellectual property rights to the extent owned by you. To the extent any of the User Content is not assignable, by submitting User Content to an SOE Communication Feature, you agree that SOE and/or its Third Party Providers shall be irrevocably entitled to, throughout the universe and in perpetuity, use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, broadcast, license, perform, post, sell, translate, create derivative works from and distribute any User Content for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, in any medium now known or hereafter devised, without compensation or credit to the provider of the User Content, including sublicensing any third party to do any of the foregoing. To the extent permitted by applicable laws, you also give up any claim that any use by SOE and/or its Third Party Providers of any User Content violates any of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, privacy rights, rights to publicity, proprietary or other rights, and/or rights to credit for the material or ideas set forth therein.

    So unless there is a specific exclusion of this policy for anything submitted for review under the player studio well I’ll just remind everyone of the thread where they were asking what kind of items we wanted to see in game thread where very early on it was asked (and of course ignored, because that was the obvious intent and purpose of the thread to begin with) are these for crafter or for the SC shop… Then soon ideas from that thread started apppearing where? Hint: the answer was NOT in any recipe books fro crafters.

    So SOE doesn’t like your item for whatever reason and rejects it but then goes and makes some minor changes to it and it goes into the shop and you are SOL.

    Wouldn’t even bother asking about this specific policy on the forum it would just be ignored or moderated for discussing legal policies etc.

    Reply

  • Eschia

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    I saw the producer letter today. I just gotta say, is this expansion that big announcement? There has to be more… Ground Breaking shift? I don’t see one. It may be because I been playing MMOs for 15 years and became a bit callus to what is or isn’t innovative, but I just see another expansion with the same old stuff promised. Sure we got a player studio coming, but I have one already. it’s called Second Life. And I don’t have game devs taking a cut of my earnings or restricting what I can upload there. Unless its copyrighted, trademarked, patented by someone else.

    Reply

  • badcat

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    So the real question is how much is this xpac going to cost, i figured 49 bucks there abouts

    Reply

  • Landiin

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    First I said I was taking my que from DM. I never said it was how it was going to be, it was just an assumption. I was more referring to armor, pets, mounts etc but yea I didn’t really make that clear.

    I’ve been doing UI mods for eq2 long enough to know the kind of restrictions they like to keep on the community moding in-game objects to know they’ll never give free reins.

    Reply

  • Badfae

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    The expansion looks decent, not too many details to judge by so far. How many prestige points? One every 20% as before? I really like the idea of organic adornments, will have to wait and see how they are implemented. The nine instanced zones is kinda vague, is it nine distinct zones, or a solo/heroic/raid version of three?

    Wasn’t there supposed to be a big announcement scheduled for today (Friday) as well? I though SJ tweeted that.

    Reply

  • Lempo of Everfrost

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    Well I would assume based ontheir recent math 9 instanced zones will be 3 zones, solo, heroic and raid all using identical templates and 90% of the mobs will be the same.

    Reply

  • Common Sense

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    Hmmm doing this could be make for a good portfolio depending how good your work is.

    I make stuff from time to time in Source SDK for tf2, so this sounds like it has potential, but from SoE, i’m holding my breath for the moment.

    Reply

  • Noctew

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    The big Friday announcement was Alpha Squad for Planetside 2…pay $40 get 4000 SC, instant beta access and the F2P equivalent of a pre-order bonus (XP boni, free unlocks, unique textures).

    Reply

  • Trueflight

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    I think we will see a lot more public quests as they seem to be pretty plentiful in Guild Wars 2 which is where SoE will be getting all of its content ideas from for the next few years.

    Reply

  • uncle

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    quote from http://www.gamebreaker.tv this week in mmo feature

    “maybe this(player studio) is why we havent herd too much about eqnext.”

    Reply

  • Common Sense

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    I honestly wouldn’t be surprised Trueflight. SoE clings on to one gimmick idea, trashes it, then moves on to the next. They have no solid leadership and it seems Holly is just the lamb sent out to the wolves so SJ doesn’t get the heat for being a terrible leader. Then again, it’s been this way years before SJ anyways *looks at Smedley*

    Reply

  • venomizer

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    imo 9 new zones means ? solo zones, 9 heroic zones, and atleast 3 raid zones recycling the heroic zone.
    its unrealistically pessimistic to think the new 9 will be 3 solo, 3 heroic, and 3 raid.

    the pattern is established. TSO, 5 overland zones with 3 instances each (plus bonus varsoon and zua), 1 raid zone per overland. SF 2 overland zones, 4 sets of 3 instances each, 4 raid zones. DoV part 1. 4 sets of 3 instances. 1 raid zone per set. since then weve had piecemeal. drunder with a set of 3, then skyshrine with a set of 3 plus bonus ud.

    its illogical to assume it will be 3 solo, 3 heroic, and 3 raid, totaling 9.

    that level of pessimism is irrational. the only time sets of “3 only” are added is without purchase. drunder and skyshrine were both free for those of us who already bought velious. that brings velious to a total of 6 sets of 3 instances, with bonus ud, plus tofsx2 and vuulx2.

    Reply

  • Madcat

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    that level of pessimism is rational, unless you havnt played EQ2 since long (very). There s reason, LOT of reason to be pessimism. It’s cald be reaslit.
    So many bugs, broken thing, itemization just this word say like 25% of the thing.

    It’s simple they dont work to improve the game anymore at all. Just some fluffy things… and not that much.

    And for be realist, i bet on the 9 zone, if there is 3… we ll have at last one who ll be bugged at hell, totaly unbalanced. (easy bet :P)

    They fall so low, now they have to prove they are able to do it, we cant beleve it until we ll see it.

    Reply

  • Thaleem

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    My guess on the “9 new instance dungeons” it will probably be the same dungeon layout or maybe a couple with different mobs and maybe a few different decorations…seems to be the trend

    Reply

  • Rasa

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    Well according to SOE’s RIGHTS IN USER CONTENT, it may be fun for players to create content, but I’ll be dammed if I’m going to create anything that is then owned by SOE. What a scam – a good way for SOE to employ slave labor.

    Reply

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