As many readers of EQ2 Forums and EQ2Flames have sussed out, Chris Kozak (known on the forums and in-game as Aeralik) stepped down in his position of Game Mechanics (class balance, mechanics, etc.) in early November. Today’s Producer’s Letter announces his replacement, the scrapping of the unpopular Gear Scaling system and Fighter Revamp, and the rescheduling of Shaders 3.0 to Game Update #55:
Alan “Brenlo” Crosby, Senior Producer of EQ2, has posted a Producer’s Letter for December 2009:
Lots going on in the EQII world! We are just about to release our next update, Will of a Tyrant and couldn’t be more excited! With this update you are going to see a few hundred lingering bugs fixed in EQII. Some of these bugs date back to launch and are being knocked out before we gear up for the expansion. In fact, we have taken to calling this update our “bug bash” as we pulled out our hammers and smashed them into oblivion. As for content in this update, it might feel a little lighter than recent updates however there is a reason for that. Actually, there are a couple of reasons. The first is that it was a shorter development cycle for us, with only about two months of time between this update and last. The second reason is that we are starting to shift many of our resources over to expansion work as it gets closer to its release. In addition, we have some as yet to be announced surprises coming. They’re some rather large features, which we hope will excite you. More on those in the months ahead.
One feature we have been receiving a lot of questions about is the Item Ratings system, which some of you may know as item degradation. I know that since it was announced there has been a great deal of confusion over the system and what it is intended to accomplish. After many internal discussions, and listening to feedback from you, we have decided not to move forward with this system. We are exploring alternatives that would allow us to continue to grow items and allow your gear to advance in meaningful ways, without giving the impression that you are going backward.
Another long announced and long awaited feature has been the rework on the “fighter revamp”. This is another project that is going to fall by the wayside as we now focus on small changes, rather than sweeping revamps. Fighters are going to see some love here in the near future, thanks to Xelgad, who is taking on some of the class balance responsibilities. Other classes will be seeing improvements and tweaks as we take a hard look at how each class performs in solo, group and raid play. Our goal is to make sure every class has a role and will be wanted in groups and raids, as well as being able to successfully solo.
Shader 3.0 work is pretty much complete at this point, with all of the shaders being converted to the new system. That being said, we will not be releasing it with Will of a Tyrant. We are not seeing the performance increases that we had hoped so we will continue to optimize and tweak until they provide not only a visual boost, but a performance boost as well. We do not want to take a step backwards in performance just to make things look shiny. Currently it looks as though this feature will land with the next game update, on expansion launch day.
I know you are all excited about the upcoming expansion, or at least I hope you are. We are very excited as a lot of hard work has gone into making Sentinel’s Fate. We still have a lot to do and the time for release is getting close! So close in fact, that you can now sign up for beta which should begin admitting folks in less than two weeks. You can sign up on the EQII players site, so if you are interested in joining in, make sure you sign up soon.
Lots going on,
See you soon in Norrath and Merry Frostfell.
The EQII Team
Alan “Brenlo” Crosby
We can only assume that Aeralik’s departure was fueled by the aborted Fighter Revamp, unpopular Gear Rating/Scaling system, and untimely Avatar Loot nerfs (gear he designed and submitted in October 2008 was identified as overpowered in February 2009, and then finally substantially nerfed in August after players had invested many months of game time acquiring it).
Several classes in EQ2 have endured major shortcomings and balance issues, some all the way back to the Rise of Kunark expansion in November 2007. Druids and summoners have been described as outright “broken” by many players. These issues have received little attention, allowing as much as 2 years to elapse without necessary changes.
Class balance received very little focus in 2009, with no significant fixes in Game Updates 52, 53, or 54, even as the game has gotten more complex, raid encounters gotten more demanding, and groups have become more selective about which classes and players they accept. Tolerance for players who have elected to play a class that doesn’t have the same tools for curing, healing, tanking, or DPSing, as other classes have dropped to a point where players are routinely asked to give up and “re-roll”.
With this challenging stage set, and a frantic 2 1/2 months before the expansion, we see Xelgad stepping into this hotseat position. He has not been very visible on the forums, but we understand he has already been hard at work sorting through the changes we’ll see in Sentinel’s Fate.
We are cautiously optimistic that each class will finally be given the tools necessary to do their job. We are hopeful that a new approach of subtle changes, picking-and-choosing the best aspects of what was previewed at Fan Faire, along with Player Feedback, can be used to solve some long-standing problems. Of course, only time will tell what his vision of the game is.
We will continue to provide up-to-the-minute coverage of the upcoming EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate expansion with a critical, but fair eye for detail.