Daily Archives: February 20, 2011

Death Gains Teeth, I Learn About Maps

Potshot wasn’t around, but I had some time to play, so I thought I might fool around with the whole mult-boxing thing again.

But then as I was getting setup, I got an invite to a group in Qeynos Hills, so I decided to run with that instead.

An odd fact about me in MMOs is that I will hardly ever bother other people and ask them to group, worrying that I might be interrupting something else they have going on, but if I will almost always drop what I am doing to join a group when asked.

This lead to another educational moment.

There was no map back in EverQuest at any time when I played it seriously, just as there was no quest log, no mounts, and no avoiding running naked back to your corpse when you died.

But I knew that a map had been added.

The map SOE added in has struck me in the past as probably the best compromise one could hope to have tacked onto the game, but not exactly a feature you want to put up in a head to head challenge against maps in other MMOs.  While it accomplishes the basics, there is a drawing of your current area and an arrow that represents you and the direction you are facing, it comes across as quite primitive.  In wide open places like West Karana, you have to zoom way out on the map to even see a landmark, while in town you have to zoom way in because all of the landmarks and legends blur together.

Finding something in South Qeynos

Now, on the upside of this map interface, you can get in there and add your own notations and create your own maps.  And you have to at some point, as I recall that maps to a lot of the zones are not provided by SOE. (Though you can find maps for most locations at MapFiend.)

Anyway, enough map background.

When I joined the group I asked where they were and was told to look at the map.


I opened up the map and just saw Qeynos Hills.

Then I noticed a button over on the right hand side with the label “group.”  It was not selected, though SOE’s choice of indicating what options are selected and which are not is… suboptimal in my opinion.  I look at it, see text in yellow and text in white, and my first thought is to wonder if the stuff in yellow is highlighted because it is somehow more important.  I have to think about it for a minute before I realize that yellow is “on” and white is “off.”

Not the worst UI choice in the world, but even back in 1999 there was a huge body of work on UI design and I don’t think this would have made the cut.  But like so much in EverQuest, it is what it is and after 12 years it is not going to change.

So I clicked on group, turning it on (and yellow) and… nothing happened.

Then I closed the map and opened it back up again and there were little green Xs where the group members were on the map.

A little green X

Crude, but oh what a time saver that would have been back in 1999.  We used to sit on group chat or in tells trying to direct people by landmarks or, worse yet, the /loc coordinates.  There is a whole list of unofficial landmark names for nearly every zone, or there used to be, to help direct people and point out what is currently camped.  Only you had to have memorized that list, and the list sometimes changed… it was one of the great oral traditions of EQ, the passing down of the landmark list around the campfire.

Anyway I found the group, and in any current game I am not sure that it would come across as the ideal mix, but it worked well enough.  We had a ranger with tracking to run out an pull mobs, two shaman, and a paladin.

The paladin was invited to the group just after I got to the others and it was, hey, Stroppadin.  And he asked, “Where are you guys” and got told “Check the map” just like I did, which means that maybe I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t turned on the group markers.

We all sat at a fixed location while the ranger, Siege, ran around and pulled stuff to us.  We then took over the fight, beat up or burned down the mob, and moved to the next one he brought.  So it was puller, tank, and two healers/buffers.  We did later add a damage dealer, Samoth, a wizard who spent most of his time seated and regaining mana but who, when he was able to stand up and join in, pretty much one-shotted anything that got pulled.

Waiting for the next pull

We did that for a stretch, and things were working well enough, and then another group moved in up the way and mobs were scarce for a while.  So we decided to run over the hill and see if Blackburrow offered anything.

Behold! Blackburrow!

Of course, we got in there and nobody claimed to know anything about the place except me, so everybody followed my lead.

My usual plan for Blackburrow is to dive right in but just falling through the false bottom in the hollow tree and then spending the rest of the time trying to find my way out.  So down we went.

However, as I might have expected, Blackburrow was heavily camped.  We got complaints and moans from people as we elbowed our way through the throng, killing the occasional gnoll we could get our hands on.  Siege, our puller, chose the moment after we dropped through the tree to go AFK for half an hour.  He was killed by something aggro in short order.  I’m not sure what, since we were all wandering around lost.

Eventually we found a small spot to camp where a couple of gnolls would pop.

In Blackburrow

Siege eventually came back and wanted to know how to get to us.  Meanwhile, we decided that we had actually been doing better up where we were, so told him to sit tight and we would come to him.  Our little camp in Blackburrow had the advantage of being a point from which I knew how to get out of the place.

We ran back to Siege outside of Surefall and resumed our routine.  The other group had moved on and mobs were plentiful.  Both Stropp and I managed to hit level 6.

And lest you think that line about losing experience when you die is a bit subtle, a window also pops up to remind you that death will now cost you.

Now what constitutes a “small fraction” of my experience… we shall see.

Back in the day it used to be 20-25% of a level gone with each death, though you would get some of that back if you got a ress.

And now I suppose that, when I die, I will leave corpses laying about the landscape, like Skronk and I saw in West Karana the previous night.  Progress, in a way.

A new aspect of the game.  But at least I am now a level closer to Spirit of the Wolf.