No doubt the best part of Fan Faire is talking to the developers. So far I’ve gotten to ask Rothgar both serious and geeky questions about the new UI, server upgrades, guild halls, and of course free-to-play.
I’ve made no secret of my concerns about the logistics of free to play seemingly cutting off the flow of new players to the live subscription side of EQ2.
The XP Curve
I really drove home the point about xp curves and how The Hole was so overnerfed that it was abandoned content. Between mobs that largely resist control effects to just a ramp up in difficulty, the target audience of 3-4 mid-80’s average geared folks don’t get much bang for the buck here.
He said the xp was high at first so they wouldn’t get accused of putting another Karnors castle with hardly any xp for a lot of work. I suggested making sure there are no xp loopholes going in and setting the xp on dungeon crawls lower at first and after 2 weeks bump it up, then a month bump it again to keep it viable. At first you have full power groups of 6 burning through sprawling dungeons to level up and grind AA. Over time you shift to less optimal groups of 3-4 who are not as well geared but want an alternative or break from solo questing.
We talked about guild halls and guild hall amenities. I pitched guild hall alliances like a guild hall amenity to jump from gh to gh. We talked about how housing/gh permissions are stored and accessed and it’s pretty kludgy. I suggested storing a list of houses/gh your character has access to on the character record. We talked about the difficulty of paying rent on a house remotely.
The new server hardware for Nagafen and Antonia Bayle sounds sweet. Rothgar has already laid out some of the details and results, but he said Nagafen had 170 players in a Warfield with no lag. That’s pretty amazing. Once all servers are up on new hardware (likely with server merges so all players have a large pool of players to talk to and group with as AB currently enjoys), contested griefing by calling out friends or fake Guide events to try to lag out a zone may be a thing of the past.
Talked to Domino a bit. I asked if we might see a new UI down the road other than 1-2-3-1-2-3. No commitment just yet. I tried to impart the reality that by streamlining tradeskilling so much, the actual process has gotten a bit dull. She was impressed with SmokeJumper for spending all his free time for his first few weeks leveling new toons in the different starting areas and giving a boatload of feedback about all the places and issues that are confusing to new players to try to make it more engaging.
Bumped into Fyreflyte who was going to Fan Faire incognito. 🙂 These days he’s shifted gears into more programming of content including encounter design. He likes encounters that give players something to do instead of just blocking the players from doing their jobs. Don’t worry, no statue clicking. 🙂
We talked about itemization and the fallout of Sentinels Fate’s launch. Despite months of work, itemization ended up being tight on time and we missed out on some cool items with that “wow” factor. Why? Because after 1 year of itemizing for the expansion and writing better tools to make items, Fyreflyte basically had to start itemization over. Yes, many items came out of a formula/program BUT that was supposed to be the lesser gear so he could focus more attention on making special items with unique effects. We talked about Shard of Hate itemization and how he wanted to add items to SF that had really cool effects (but not as OP of course) but ran out of time.
As we speculated about in my Itemization Puzzle article here on the Wire, the cancellation of Gear Scaling ended up binning months of work and Fyreflyte had to try to reitemize an expansion in basically a month.
In the aftermath, It has to be less stressful to not be the public face of itemization (which has essentially been split over 2-3 eq2 devs). He’s always been straight with us. Itemization was largely cleaned up in the months after Sentinels Fate launched. I’m looking forward to seeing what Fyreflyte is working on next.
Free to Play
And I mentioned that I spoke briefly to Dave Georgeson last night just before the Welcome Address started. He sounds convinced that this will work, and hopes we realize that there are more tweaks and changes to the f2p model yet. He pointed out that there have already been revisions to the bronze/silver/gold/platinum EQ2X chart as a result from player feedback.
The marketing campaigns to come later on after the EQ2X beta ends will focus on both games with a landing page that emphasizes “if you want to earn everything you get, and join a large established community, consider the live subscription servers”
I asked why level 1-30 or 1-50 couldn’t be on all servers, and he said then we would have to put The RMT marketplace on all servers. You can’t make any money if you allow completely free play. (updated)
I said well the f2p server seems to have an identity crisis because you almost have to have a subscription to play it AND there is the store.
I expect the Not Happy Factor to reach 11 in the f2p panel today. The boos when the EverQuest 2 Extended (F2P) slide went up during Smedley’s presentation were loud and clear. He suggested we attend the panel on it.
At this point Brasse started the intros so time to shoot video. 😉 Saved by the Brasse. 🙂
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