In my mind, it was a simple plan.
We would spend two of our Saturday night sessions in the New Halas starting zone, the Frostfang Sea, and then progress on to bigger and better things. We would move quickly to actual group content.
After all, running Frostfang Sea only takes me about 3-4 hours solo. The parts that slow me down are where there are so many mobs around that you have to clear them out slowly, which is to say, the parts that would benefit from being in a group.
So, with our “three hours on a Saturday night” play time budget, I figured I was being generous and leaving ourselves quite a buffer.
Then zone design and UI challenges arrived to thwart my simple plan.
We had spent one evening on the first island getting into the swing of things. But then it took us a whole night to finish off the second quest hub as a group. And there really were not that many quests.
As I mentioned last week, it seems awfully difficult to determine simple points of fact, like if everybody is on the same set of quests.
We thought we had this figured out this time around. There is a tree control in the group tab of the quest journal with the title “shared.” Before setting out, I checked to make sure all of the quests we were looking to cover next were listed under the “shared” category.
What we learned after the first round of quests was that “shared” meant “shared by at least one other person in the group” and not “shared by everybody in the group.”
Not the definition we wanted at all.
And so, once we got everybody on the same set of quests, the procedure became to simply read out the list of quests, usually just 3 or 4, and have everybody verbally acknowledge that they had all of the quests read out in their journal.
Crude but effective.
And if that had been our only issue, we could have pressed on to our ultimate goal of the night, which was to finish the starter quest line, get out mounts, the penultimate reward for the quest line, and be ready to move on to bigger and better things.
We were, however, thwarted by yet another issue which I mentioned last week, the fact that a very small percentage of quests share updates across the group.
Quests that were about killing a certain number of orcs or frost weasels or what have you, they tended to update across the group.
But any quest which involved collecting drops, picking things up, placing things in specific locations, fixing things, destroying things, or, in one case, pouring beer on things, those required each of the people in the group to do individually.
And I realize that this is no big news flash after last week. What made this an unexpected pain was that most of the quests the second quest hub, the one in the cave, were of the no shared update variety.
This was compounded by a few cases where the updates people needed were from items relatively limited in number.
So we stood around a lot waiting for death totems or basilisk eggs or slain Coldain to spawn so we, and the other players in the area, could race to them to get the update.
Yes, other players. There is a problem you don’t really run into at low levels in EverQuest II Live/Classic/Original/Whatever very often.
So we got bottle necked more than a few times trying to finish up a quest that, solo, takes about 2 minutes.
I appreciate that SOE was using the new player quest line as an opportunity to show off as many different variations of the go get stuff/go kill stuff quest type as they could, just to give people a taste. I just wish that the message that the new player zone sends about grouping is, “F your friends, they are holding you back!”
Thus, even with my attempts at efficient pathing through the parallel quest paths, we ended up just getting to the point where we advanced to the final quest hub in the new player experience before people began calling it a night.
And so, three weeks into the EverQuest II Extended adventure, we are still in the starter zone. And we are there still primarily because we insist on playing as a group.
All was not lost though. As it was a double experience day, most of us cranked up the AA slider and our AA totals quickly surpassed our levels in most cases. That was nice.
It was also nice to find that those Bronze and Silver players in the group could, in fact, spend their AA points. I couldn’t remember if that was on the freebie feature list. This made me feel better about telling them to move their sliders, which I did without considering the differences in account types.
And we hauled everybody into New Halas to show them where to sell status items to help the guild advance.
The guild was closing in on level 3 the last time I checked.
Since this coming weekend is Mother’s Day/VE Day, it was assumed that we probably wouldn’t be able to get together as a group. So everybody was given free reign to finish out the quest line, get their horse, get to level 20 or so, and be ready for adventures ELSEWHERE in Norrath.
And then the whole hacking thing cropped up, the games went down, and now we’ll probably be standing exactly where we were last when the next group night comes along.
We shall see when that next group night comes along.
Meanwhile, our experience as a group in the Frostfang Sea made Meclin nostalgic for the Isle of Refuge, the old EQ2 starter zone. That experience seemed to be much more group friendly.