I believe that the best games, whether in the real or digital worlds, on any platform, should have clear and concise rules which are obvious or well-documented for the player. For years, Dellmon (host of the now-quiet but formerly popular EQ2Talk podcast which frequently interviewed members of the EQ2 team) and I have railed against a severe lack of documentation in EverQuest II. Our requests for improvements have spanned how game mechanics work in unexpected ways, to trying to clear up vague item tooltips and spell descriptions, and many other suggestions that would improve the Quality of Life for players. Our input has completely fallen upon deaf ears.
From effects/procs on items that do 1,000 times more damage than the description says, to the way Reforging, Infusing, and Experimentation are indistinguishable from each other when reading item examine windows, and many other examples, it has become tediously difficult to figure out what the hell is actually going on in with your character in Norrath. Despite the availability of 3rd party tools like DarqUI, ProfitUI, Dragon’s Armory, and our own EQ2U, trying to keep even one character fully informed and properly geared for the latest content has become a joyless tedious second career.
“It’s Not Fun”
With alt-discouraging game mechanics like Ascension Levels & Spells, Epic 2.0 Spells, and with extreme item rarity events such as Summer Ethereals and various flavors of the “Burnt Key” mechanic taking the place of achievement and accomplishment, it has all started to feel like we are barefoot and strapped to a treadmill laden with Lego bricks. Our pain is ignored as sharp corners continue to find our feet. Just one of the many examples is the 50% cap on increasing item stats by Infusing. A player can spend Marketplace currency or Raid DKP on an infuser that does almost nothing when consumed, then provides no in-game explanation of what happened. Requests for clarification from the developers using the last remaining communications venue available to us (Discord) is usually met with flat denials or abusive sarcasm.
Yesterday’s update promised a much-requested first wave of rebalancing to EverQuest II’s classes and spells. Players were looking forward to logging in to see how our concerns had been addressed. Instead, according to Caith, the changes have been made invisibly and the spell and combat art windows in game are now deceiving us:
Spell tooltips are not affected by this change at all, so any reduction you are seeing between ability tooltips from yesterday and today have absolutely nothing to do with it. Side effect of the type of modifiers they recieved, I don’t yet have a way to apply the changes the way we need to with them showing in the tooltip. That is in the works, but will probably not hit until expansion. Almost every spell in the game was changed from 1 to up to 20 percent. No, I am not giving you a list.
In an Emperor’s New Clothes way, players must now just accept that as many as 7,227 spells and combat arts have undergone undocumented, invisible, and unverifiable changes.
There has been an undeniable trend in recent years of EverQuest II denying information to players. Descriptions on spells like the Ranger Hawk and recent Adornments tell you virtually nothing about what they actually do. It’s become neigh impossible to confirm if unexpected behavior is intended or a bug. Sometimes the only way you know you’ve done something wrong is if your character suddenly finds itself on Drunder. This isn’t just conspiracy theory. The new Proving Grounds server suppresses all Parsing data. Any analysis of the effectiveness of healing, taunts, or damage are made impossible by the omission of this information from this server’s game logs. This is a real inconvenience when you’re playing time-limited events on a Frankenstein’s monster of Battlegrounds and PvE code with an untested new auto-scaling system. Players flocked to this new content not out of a desire to play this type of content (I think most of us would just be happy to have a Dungeon Finder matchmaker that works), but because disruptively powerful best-in-slot items were dangled in front of us.
We can’t trust that any game behavior is intended, a bug, or an unforgiveable exploit. We can’t glean an accurate assessment from Item and Spell examine windows, and now today, we cannot even trust the Spell and Combat Art tooltips which are shown to us. EverQuest II is starting to feel like reading a disjointed novel with an reluctant, sometimes unreliable narrator. The ability to be skillful about the game has been taken away from the average player. Unless you are a math major who spends hours in front of a training dummy testing different scenarios, you are flying blind. Again, I have raised these concerns with the team, and the response was that the average player doesn’t need to know or care about any of this. This was not the case when I started playing EQ2. It had a complexity beyond World of Warcraft, but diligent reading of in-game tooltips and spell descriptions as well as consultation with a friend or two would set players on the right path.
Today, with system after system piled upon, being knowledgeable about the game has become completely out-of-reach for all but the 1% of the 1%. Continued respectful attempts at making the EQ2 team aware of just how much the game feels like “HomeworkQuest” these days earned this quip by a developer “If you don’t like it, don’t play it.”
Because an EQ2 dev will read this and ask for more concrete examples, here’s one from yesterday:[eq2u]Rune of the Celestial[/eq2u] says it triggers 1.6 times per minute. In-game with a fully buffed character I believe it says 2.0 times per minute. However extensive testing by players has shown it triggers approximately once every 2 minutes. Simple straightforward issue. Here’s Caith‘s reply:
We’ve tested this effect both internally and monitored it on live, and it is triggering at the intended rate.
Is it reasonable to ask that in-game descriptions match in-game behaviors?
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