I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you… stranger
-The Joker, The Dark Knight
Daybreak Week continues here at TAGN as the company continues to cough up good news to counteract last Friday’s announcement. (Though not all of the news this week is good.) This time it is on the EverQuest II front, though there is a bit of an EVE Online theme mixed in, as the title suggests.
There was a live stream earlier this week by the legacy Norrath team that listed out all the things they have planned for Game Update 100. Feldon at EQ2 Wire has it all summed up nicely, and I will say that it is a ton of stuff. As Bhagpuss noted, there was enough stuff on the list that it would count as an expansion for some other MMORPGs… though since you have to be a Daybreak All Access subscriber to get some of the new stuff, maybe the line between updates and expansions isn’t colored in as thickly as you might imagine.
Of course, some bits are making people cranky. The fact that the team is re-using some old zones to host new content is being unfairly dismissed by a few in the comment thread. Personally, I am a huge fan of that idea. For example, they are using one of my favorite mid-level zones from the original release, Zek, the Orcish Wastes, to host a new story in what will be called Zek — the Scourged Wastes.
I love this. It is a great zone, but it is a level 30 zone in a game where the cap is level 100 now and the rate at which players level is so fast now that you’ve level out of the zone long before you’ve finished the main quest line. So it seems right to re-use this landscape for another story line, complete with new orc models, while the old version remains in place.
Again, I am a big fan of the idea, and this isn’t the only zone they are going to use. The landscape artists are no doubt busying working on new zones for this year’s expansion, so this gives the team a way to deliver some new content without an impact on that time line.
There are a number of other items listed out for the update, but aside from the content based on reusing zones, there was just one that leaped out at me. This one:
Adding a new system called an XP Vial where you can Siphon your excess XP into an XP Vial which you can sell to other players on the broker or transfer to alts. You can claim a bunch at a time. It is a tradeable item. Empty XP Vials must be purchased from the Marketplace. Combat XP only.
Where have I heard about this sort of thing before?
Oh yeah, back in February, with what I called the Madi Gras release, CCP introduced its skill point trading system, wherein players could remove skill points from one character via a skill extractor and sell them on the market, allowing other players to buy and inject the skill points into their own character.
This set the market aflame in New Eden, with skill related transactions making a lot of people pretty wealthy. The traditional method of advancement, basically time, was unglued from reality and the character bazaar was suddenly a place to harvest skill points as opposed to buying a character with the skills you needed. A skill point from Fleet Commander V is the same as a skill point from Caldari Frigate I when it is in a skill injector.
In fleets people were talking for weeks about injecting skills to fly new ships. I know people in-game who have a million skill points injected and unallocated, set aside in case they need to learn a new skill quickly. And, of course, there was the character that was boosted up to have all the skills, using up 1.8 trillion ISK in injectors.
This idea is coming to EverQuest II.
Not that this is the first time SOE/Daybreak has taken an idea from EVE Online. PLEX was without a doubt the inspiration for Krono, which plays a similar role in the markets of EverQuest and EverQuest II.
But, while Krono sort of works in Norrath… the market isn’t as brisk as in New Eden, it is divided up across multiple servers, and in a game you can play much of for free there isn’t as much incentive to use them… I do wonder how Experience Vials are going to work out.
To start with, there is the stark difference between skill points in EVE Online and Experience Points in traditional MMORPGs, mostly because EVE doesn’t have something as straightforward as levels.. People often conflate the two, mistaking skill points for a form of experience. Aside from the fact that you earn skill points even when logged off, skill points have always stuck me as more of a skill tree/specialization system of sorts, where you choose the shape of your character’s knowledge, rather than something as linear as simple level advancement. There are a lot of parallel paths for skill points.
And those paths are deep. Iron Bank up there with his 474 million SP represents more than 20 years of continuous training, at a decent 2,500 SP/hr rate, in order to get all the skills full trained.
Compare that to the effort required to get a character in your standard MMORPG up to the current level cap. Barring the sort of meandering efforts I have been prone to at times, that is a time frame where years don’t really enter into it. We are talking about efforts best measured in days or weeks for most of us, or maybe hours when talking about those intent on the goal.
So the potential market doesn’t seem to be nearly as vast, while the ability to generate experience to be extracted into vials seems ripe for optimization.
Then add in the fact that you can simply buy a level 90 character for Daybreak Bucks, or whatever the micro-currency is called these days, and it doesn’t seem like there would be sufficient demand.
And to top that off, it is just combat experience, at least initially. If you could extract for AA experience or, even better, crafting experience, I could see at least a somewhat expanded market. I would be tempted to buy some crafting experience at times.
All in all, the Experience Vial thing feels like one of those classic SOE, “Don’t think about it, just do it!” moments we’ve all grown used to over the years. I will be interested to see how this turns out and who will end up being the market for these vials.
If you are interesting in seeing the EQII GU100 live stream, it is now up on YouTube.