As many of you know, I am a big fan of the Sony MMO game called Everquest II. I started playing the game in early November of 2004 and have been with the game over the last 10 years. In the early days, the game was tough and arduous, with many game rules that made players work in groups and devise tactics and strategies to survive in the world of Norrath. Death penalties were stiff, and the amount of experience points to level was high. Grinding levels, even with quests, took weeks for players to achieve.
Over the years the game has seen many producers and game directors, with each succeeding team wanting to add new things to the game. Everquest II sadly decided to give away free things to entice players to stay. Their philosophy seemed to be feeding candy to starving children. Instead of giving out hardy meals that built strong muscles, they gave out sweets that simply fattened the lethargic player base. Many producers simply doubled the bonuses of items from the last set, tripling or quadrupling the monsters strengths knowing full well the free gear more than made up for the difficulty.
Every new expansion that came out simply made the game easier, turning the beloved franchise into a glorified chat channel. Much of the game is now more of a house decorating simulation than it is about hiking into the back country to fight monsters. Gone are the days of arduous travel, now replaced with teleportation bells scattered literally on every street corner. Gone are the days when a city was vibrant filled with hundreds of characters — all of that being stolen by the endless freebies of the guilds.
No longer is it necessary to seek out crafters, as spells and other items are handed out freely through horrible game mechanics such as the Spell Assistant, Loyalty Points, or the Crafting Assistants. Sadly along with the demise of the crafters, the need to harvest has been utterly gutted by Roving Goblins that do all of it with only needing to click mouse a few times.
So how can we save Everquest II? Its simple, but like an overweight person with the decision to get healthy, the actions are going to be painful. But its either set things right or just give up and wait for the heart attack. Its not if, but when. Don’t let the game slowly fade away and become the next Vanguard!
First we need to strip all the free stuff from the game. Get rid of the Spell Assistants and their crafting counterparts. Stop the travesty of the goblins doing all the harvesting — get players back into the field picking, pulling, and chopping. Flush all of the tertiary coins down the toilet — its platinum or nothing. Everything is earned and nothing is given freely.
Limit double or bonus experience to once or twice a year — during a real holiday. Everyone can agree Halloween is a great times for this.
Limit maximum of three concurrent characters on the same IP — this will stop multiboxers and all of the troubles they have caused. If a family wants to game together, then certainly three slots should be more than enough. A dispensation can allow additional characters to a single IP but this must be authorized by Sony.
Put GMs back in the game and make sure they have the power to kick unruly and brooding trolls. Too often gamers are allowed to say the most vile and horrible things, knowing all to well that Sony has no presence in their games. A few examples go a long way in enforcing gaming behavior. Stick to your guns too — ban IPs to those who are just cruel, merciless, and revolting.
I would really like to see subscriptions come back in full force and get away from the free to play aspect — it is just more trouble than its worth, but I am sure Sony makes good money on the supposedly “Free” game. At least get away from selling aspects of the game that matter — keep the cotton candy, sugar coated vanity stuff. Nothing worse than to see a 5th level character on an epic mount. Every character earns his or her own keep — it doesn’t matter how long you have played the game as a player. Each time is a challenge, not a free giveaway.
Guilds are far too powerful for what their original intention was designed for. Get rid of most the amenities and force the players back into cities.
Get rid of a teleportation bell on every corner and do away with any sort of instantaneous travel. Flying birds and their towers can stay as that was an original concept, but get the boats working again. Make people travel to go places; not an automatic jump — get the wizards and druids porting again!!
All of this can be accomplished if we make the tough choices. Let your voice known to the powers at Sony and Everquest II. We can take this game back and make it the glory it was in 2005.