Five Features Blizzard Should Steal From EverQuest II

There have been discussions of how much EverQuest II has borrowed from World of Warcraft since launch.  Vitality (double exp after resting), icons over quest giver’s heads, and quest NPCs appearing on your map all spring to mind.  (Though EQ2 did WoW one better and shows one icon (a solid orange dot) on your map for NPCs to whom you need to report and another icon (a hollow orange dot) for NPCs who have quests available for you.)

But what about the other way around?  I only started playing WoW a year ago, so I do not know what Blizzard might have borrowed in the past, but since I have started playing I have not noticed anything.  There are, however, some things I wish they would borrow.

Guild Features

Right now in WoW, guilds are a chat channel and a title over your head.  Yes, you can make more out of your guild if you want do it yourself.  You can make up your own structure and go nuts.  But my experience in EQ2 has been that the fact that you can do things to level a guild up, which in turn unlocks special things, is a unifying force for a guild.  It lets even the people who aren’t able to get on and play very much contribute to the guild in some way.  It added, for me, an additional dimension to being in a guild that was a lot of fun.

Blizzard may not want to go the status route, but they could build their own point system easily enough.  They could add some solo faction quests that gave a few points as well as making things like the completion of raids or the slaying of instance bosses worth points as well.  For PvP guilds, you could give points for honorable kills and victories in the battlegrounds. 

What should they hand out for guild levels?  They can swipe that from EQ2 as well.  A guild bank, with more slots at various levels.  Unique mounts.  Discounts on items.  Titles.  The people at Blizzard are creative.  They could come up with dozens more.

The usual grouse about the guild features is that it favors larger guilds.  Yes, this is true, but it also helps build cohesion in those larger guilds, and in a big guild that can help a lot.  People become invested in the guild and they are less likely to jump ship. 

And even smaller guilds are not left out.  Shades of Twilight, the Crushbone guild in which some friends and I keep our alts, is level 28, mostly on the work of three people.  That is enough to get a useful amount of guild bank slots and access to reduced price mounts.

Action Key

Here is one I want desperately.  In EQ2, if I put the cursor over an item and hit ‘F’ it acts like a mouse click.  Maybe I have click-phobia after wrecking a trackball playing Diablo II earlier in the decade, but I love this feature.  I put the cursor in a central location on the screen and keep my hands off the mouse for long stretches.  I harvest, open doors, select things, everything you do with a mouse click via the keyboard. (With a little maneuvering to place the cursor.)  This might also cure my annoyance at not having the “H for Hail” key if it allowed me to start interacting with NPCs without reaching for the mouse. 

NPC Finding

In towns in EQ2 you can go up to a guard and one of the interaction options you have is “Find NPC.”  You put in the NPC’s first name, or even part of their name, and the game puts an “X” on your map where that NPC is.  Just often enough I am in Darnassus looking for an NPC and I have no clue where to begin.  I just do not know the city, so I end up just running around until I get that dot on my mini-map.  I want to be able to ask a guard for directions.  The guard will already tell me where some general things are (a feature which EQ2 should copy!) but for a specific NPC you are on your own.

Mentoring

This is a pet peeve item for me, but I will try to give some reasons beyond my hating to have level 60s stomp all over my quests as they power level their buddies.

The first step for this would be to put in a cap on how many levels another player in your group can be for you to still get experience and quest credit.  The EQ2 formula is your level divided by three, with the minimum number as 8.  So you at any level you can always group with a player who is 8 levels above you.  After level 24 this number starts to climb.  At level 36 you can group with anybody 12 levels above you, since 36 divided by 3 is 12.  I remember being very happy when I hit level 38 with my first character in pre-expansion EverQuest II because at that point I could group with anybody up to level 50, the level cap at the time.

Then you need the mentoring mechanism.  Sony screwed around with this for quite a while, but they appear to have perfected it while I was away.    When you mentor a player, all of your current equipment and skills just scale down to the right level.  No changes are required anymore, you are ready to go the second you mentor.

So why bother mentoring?  If you have a friend that joins the game you can play with them, at their level.  Furthermore, in the EQ2 model, when you mentor somebody, they get a boost in exp, while you take a bit of a hit, but you still get exp that goes to you.  So you are actually helping your friend along by mentoring.  You do not have to start a new alt every time a pal shows up and you want to play with them.

Add in the fact that you can go back and play through content you may have missed at the appropriate level and this seems like a winner to me.

At least it is a winner in my eyes compared to being dragged around by a level 60.  But I like to play the game, not play through the game.

EQ2 Players

I love EQ2 Players.com.  I love getting all those stats about my character.  I love knowing how many quests they have done, how many NPCs they have slain, and all of the other information you can get on your own characters.  And not just your own characters!  I love knowing who has done the most quests on my server and world wide.  Or who has done the most damage with a single melee or magical hit.  I am into it.  And while I grumble a little that I have to pay a bit more monthly to get all of the information (you get some basic personal and guild info for free), I still do it.  It costs less that anything at Starbuck’s.

I also love that having this information available on a web page enables people to create things that use the info.  People embed their information in their own web pages.  There is eqsig.com that will embed up to date information in a .sig file.  There have been sites build to help you find people on your server with the right trade skill.  Data is good! (Except that bit that shows how many hours I have played… I have to hide that from my spouse.  My explaining that I left my account logged in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week back when you had to be online to sell isn’t going to help.)

So we have data that the community wants and that the community can use and you can charge a bit extra for it.  Sounds like a winner to me!

Other Ideas

When I started on this idea last night, I had one thing (the action key) I wanted and a title.  I figured that five was the minimum number I should write about for no really good reason.  I was just worried that I could not come up with five.  Eventually I came up with ten, then pared back the goofy ones (the hairdresser NPC is nice I suppose, I nearly went with that, but my other key command annoyances are all pretty trivial) and ended up with those you see above.

But this is a good time for comments.  What else could Blizzard learn from EverQuest II?  Or what have I missed in my own suggestions?

7 thoughts on “Five Features Blizzard Should Steal From EverQuest II

  1. Deniticus

    Sorry for the long post, but it got me thinking…

    Pimping/Mentoring:

    This is one of my single biggest in-game annoyances in WoW. Shutting off quest/xp credit (in the same fashion that players can’t receive quest credit for completing quests goals as part of a raid group) would be a good start. To me, there is nothing more alienating and off-putting to a new or solo player than watching players being towed around by much higher level characters
    stomping out needed hunting grounds or slow spawns pimping their buddies’ toons.

    One of the best aspects of an MMO is the opportunity, but not the necessity, for group interaction. The mentoring concept is long overdue in WoW and would greatly contribute to expansion of the player base (and probably raise its quality too). Teach me to play, not get me too the loot.

    Having spent a significant amount of time working primarily with the same core group of 3-5 gamers over the years on a number of games, including WoW, we generally enjoy both the game and the social interaction which is reinforced by the opportunity for shared experiences.

    With real lives and competing interests, it is difficult to keep a group at about the same level in WoW so that they can meaningfully progress as a group without incidental level creep. WoW’s blue bar/purple bar for rested experience gain helps somewhat, but very quickly players stop viewing blue bar as a “bonus” and start viewing purple bar as a “penalty.” And, ultimately it does nothing to close the gap if all concerned remain in blue bar. If someone gets “left behind” they are too often gone for good, and as a result, so goes the opportunity to experience future group content at-level (i.e., 5-man instances, elite quests, etc.) for all the players, not just the departd player. Enter PUG purgatory or perish.

    Mentoring (mandatory in groups), or even, GASP, the ability to toggle off experience acquisition would allow these groups to be maintained even if play time budgets varied widely, play content at-level and continue collaborative group progression. I for one would love to continue to play my “group” toon outside of group play to make money, gather materials, level tradeskills, etc. without the fear of incidental level creep. I don’t think this would distort the twink factor anymore than 60’s towing twinks through instances for top at-level loot. If instances were “mentor capped,” the twink door would be shut.

    Even when people can’t play or have lost interest, the lack of this tool dramatically inhibits the incentive to recruit new players to the game. Either you start yet another alt or you powerlevel your buddy through the quests without regard to kill based experience. The opportunity to play through older content effectively at-level with new players, or other players’ alts would be a big win for Blizzard.

    While you’re on the topic, what could Blizzard take from other MMOs that would enhance the gameplay experience?

    More Eve-like Auctions: Expand the auction system to a more Eve-like system whereby buy and sell orders could be placed and matched across a longer time period. This would do a great deal to stabilize market pricing.

    My alchemist (and herbalists) could certainly take advantage of placing advance orders for materials and likewise other players’ orders for typical consumables. Too often, supply, demand and prices and as a result transaction volume is lower than optimal mid-week while supply, demand and competition among sellers is higher on the weekend. This market inefficiency IMHO is one reason the professions remain challenged in WoW.

    Mercenary missions: Take the opportunity to inject money into the noob economy (in lieu of vendor trash) in a structured way by adopting purely economic and/or faction quests/missions a la Eve’s agents. Unlike the Furlbog and other so-called reputation quests, these should be difficult, serve some game purpose plot and/or skill building wise and provide an opportunity to earn some cash in a controllable way.

    Reprocessing/No vendor trash: In Eve, drops are either useful as they are or as their constituent parts in the player economy. Vendor trash serves no purpose other than inflating the economy. If all drops could be sold into the player economy as inputs/consumables or reprocessed into inputs to be sold, the tradeskill economy is enhanced and pure mob grinding is less economically rewarding. Why a wild snow leopard drops a leather collar, I’ll never know. Don’t ask me where they keep that 2H mace.

    Diablo, StarCraft and others:

    Temporary Town Portals. I would love the opportunity to purchase a single use, in-zone only scroll/consumable which would allow teleportation back to a quest hub. Teleportation, within limits, can be experience enhancing without breaking immersion too much. I think this would be consistent with WoWs travel idiom which seems to require travel pain for at least one leg of a trip. I want to “live” in IF or SW, but I would like to be able to get from one end of Felwood to the other for turn-ins or repairs, etc. before all my buffs expire…

    Waypoints. Take the FP system down to the zone level. Theramore to RFK by the road please, or the Rebel Camp to Booty Bay please. Probably have to avoid user-designated waypoints to eliminate resource gathering issues, but once you’ve travelled there, and as long as you remain subject to attack along the way, I could chat rather than drive, read through my quest log, etc.

    Player History. I too would love to be able to access my toon’s quest, party, mob, zone history in game. Even if not to compare to other players, knowing quickly and easily whether you have a FP somewhere or whether or where a quest line was completed/abandoned, etc. would be great. Particularly if a mentoring system were adopted, it would allow players to experience more content in an at-level context.

    Manufacturing expertise. Take a page from EQ/EQ2 and make manufacturing output less than 100% certain, albeit return some of the materials from deconstructing less-than-pristine combines. This would dramatically reduce the glut of powerleveled tradeskill items while enhancing the prices for pristine products (and the returns to the manufacturer). If I see another player’s auction listings for 57 azure silk hoods or 29 hillman shoulders at one time, my dwarven head will explode.

    I’m sure there’s lots more out there.

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  2. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Wow, a lot there to digest, but all of it savory and delicious! It makes me wish I had forums.

    I’ve done some mentoring in EQ2 since I came back. It is fun and useful.

    I had not even thought of the “turn off exp” feature, which EQ2 has.

    And EVE Online… there is so much to be learned there. OMFG they are blazing a trail that other MMOs will be following five years down the line. I just wish I could get into it.

    Finally, the guy selling 57 azure silk hoods… I am pretty sure that was me. That has Nomu all over it. That recipe is one of those easy on the items but good on the levels things that you use to bridge a gap between things that are actually worth making. The Hillman’s shoulders, that was me too. Tistann did that.

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  3. Van Hemlock

    Instance Inn Room Housing would be one thing worth stealing. One thing EQ2 has that definitively sets it apart is the trophy furniture. WoW would definitely want to go the instanced route, rather than the sprawling UO/SWG Housing estate way.

    The climbing walls are fun too, but are pretty heavily tied in at the world design stage, so not terribly practical to add to existing zones.

    Scrying Stones: I can’t get enough of this! I probably need an intervention or something.

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  4. mrrx

    EQ2Players.com.

    Why stop at Warcraft ? I was trying to think of an MMO today that has anything similar, and all I could come up with was magelo for EQ and the allakhazam version for WOW; both are pale versions of the EQ2 leaderboards etc.

    I’m looking at games on the horizon for next quarter, and this single feature might keep me in Everquest2 and ignoring the rest.

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  5. Saylah

    These are all great ideas and there are a few things that would top my list for WOW grabbing from EQ2:
    1. Instanced Housing
    2. Mentoring
    3. Indepth Crafting
    4. Extended Auction House
    5. Player Data
    6. Some secondary location binding. You should get race city for free and bind the Hearthstone somewhere else. This would allow you to bind to where you’re currently questing but always be able to quickly jump to one of the major cities.

    Problem with mentoring would be that rolling alts is one of the major ways that blizzard has kept player interest. The level to 60 is relatively fast, 70 will only be somewhat longer and there aren’t many options after that if you dont want to raid. If people weren’t rolling all these alts, they’d have been bored a hell of a lot sooner.

    Anything that makes crafting interactive or introduces any level of failure, people would have a fit. They’re already too used to click a button and walking away. Plus the professions are such a sink, most don’t make a return on investment. If you add a real time investment on top of the comp grind and inability to make a profit, people will kill themselves, and rightly so.

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  6. brent

    Awesome ideas here. WoW would benefit from it greatly (like they need more players…)

    Isn’t it odd that EQ2 has all these great extra features and yet WoW players seem largely oblivious to EQ2?

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  7. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I see a new post up on Nerfbat with a more general rant about the lessons the industry may draw from WoW, including a few more things that WoW has not done perfectly. You can find the post here.

    Like

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