Saturday, January 28, 2012

That Ain't Hay! : EQ2

So, EQ2 makes 25% of its revenue from ponies. Alright, not just ponies. Tigers, wolves, rhinos, pegasi (no, wait, those are ponies), hover discs, clouds, dinosaurs... open up that little SC tab in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and out they tumble. Who knew there were so many?

Well, I didn't. I can't remember the last time I opened the Mount tab in the Station Store and I've never bought a mount in my life. Not for Station Cash, anyway, nor for any other convertible imaginary currency. I'm not against it in principle you understand, but really why would I want to? It's not like there aren't already a bazillion mounts I could get for free. I mean, look at this list

Wanna see my 360?
And anyway, how many mounts does a person need? I was somewhat taken aback to find that my most fully-rounded character already has thirteen. That's eight or nine more than he ever uses. Most of the time he rides his zippy gnomish disc (for the looks and the bootleg turns). He's got a flying griffin under the hood for, uh... flying, and a Leaper in reserve for the rare no-fly zone where he might need to get to some inaccessible ledge. Like that happens every day!

That's the utilitarian view, though. Stand around the South Freeport bank for a few minutes, and you'll soon gather that utility is the last thing on some folks' minds. Posing about on a pink unicorn or a 12-foot tall armored warthog, getting in everyone's way seems to be the fashion. It's the Norrathian equivalent of the paseo. See and be seen. Although if anyone really wanted to express some genuine original thought they'd do better to stroll into the bank on foot.

Wait just a minute, Madam. I think I have a stepladder under here somewhere.

I guess it's easy enough to see how someone looking at all this posturing and preening might decide to cut to the chase and just buy a pony. And once you've opened that door, well, you can never have too many shoes, right? It's all a long way from where we started, that's for sure.

I remember my first Everquest mount. It was 2002 (I was late to Luclin) and it was a horse. It took me a good while to save up the thousands of platinum it cost and handing it over hurt. It was the most expensive purchase I'd ever made in EQ and I felt it in my imaginary pocket a lot more than I'd ever have noticed spending $20 out of my real one.

How is she doing that?
I got a horse, of course. It wasn't like I had a choice. Well, that's not entirely fair. I could have had a brown one or a slightly more brown one. Or a slightly less brown one, come to that. White or black? Dream on! I didn't have that kind of money. But never mind, I had a horse!

Yes, he lumbered around like a spavined seaside donkey. Yes he took what seemed like half an hour to get up to a canter (and even longer to come to a complete standstill so I could actually cast a spell). Yes, it was probably faster to get SoW and run somewhere than it was to ride. But when you rode you were sitting down. And when you were sitting down you were medding. For a priest or a caster, that trumped everything.

It's a rental.
After Luclin you never saw a cleric or a wizard on foot ever again. Which is pretty much the norm in every game now, only it's every class and it starts from day one. Of course, we all regenerate mana (or power or whatever it happens to be called today) in seconds these days but everyone still wants a mount, for two reasons: speed and status.

No-one wants to walk anywhere. Walking's for noobs. Read general chat in any starter area, any modern MMO and someone will be asking "Where do I get a mount?". Oh, and those ponies? The sparkly ones are for girls and the plain ones are for roleplayers!  We want real mounts! Motorcycles, Elephants, 12-seater Dragons...

Or how about a "Classic Ford Car" ? (thanks to Carson for that tip).

Has it all gone too far? Probably. I used to feel my blood pressure rise when I saw a flying carpet cruising the mean streets of East Freeport. I got over that but I'm not sure I could recover if a retro Ford car passed me heading south on Justice Road. There's giving the customer what he wants and then there's saving him from himself. If there was ever a shark to jump, I think MMOs jumped it a decade ago, but even so, there has to be a line somewhere and wherever that line is drawn a Ford car's going to be on the far side of it.

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