Saturday, March 9, 2013

Blue Skies All The Way? : EQ2, EQNext

So it turns out that EQNext won't have permadeath after all:

 He wasn't joking about this, though

And that's probably going to be the last time I embed a tweet. It's like having an ant shout in your ear through a megaphone.

I'm very pleased to hear that EQNext  won't have permadeath. I did indeed miss Smed's sarcasm, as did Feldon at EQ2Wire. More surprisingly, I have mixed feelings about the loosening of the reins on EQ2's F2P matrix.

One ratonga good, two ratongas better
I'm very pleased that all races and classes bar Beastlord and Freeborn will be available to everyone. There is no downside to more ratongas. On the other hand, I gained a huge amount of value from the restrictions on storage. As I mentioned only the other day, having limited bag space affects the way I play and in some respects improves the experience. I'm well aware that next time I play EQ2 and see all those freshly-opened inventory slots on all my Free and Silver characters the chance that I will resist the temptation to throw capacious empty bags into all of them is vanishingly small.

Gis a job, I can do that
Once you have half a dozen 44-slot bags you just know you're going to end up filling them all with stuff that you'll never need but won't dare throw away. By the time you need the space it's taking up you'll have forgotten why you thought it was all worth keeping in the first place and it would take too long to find out, so, well, safest to hang on to everything, eh?

Beckavar? Do I know a Beckavar?
The storage limitations were kind of like a stern-but-fair nanny, making you put all your toys away neatly and giving the ones you didn't play with any more to other children who would appreciate them. (I hasten to point out I never had a nanny, although I did see Mary Poppins several times at an impressionable age...)

The quest restrictions I found equally welcome. All my Gold characters have bulging quest books, filled with long-forgotten, half-finished, barely-started tasks for NPCs whose names no longer ring the faintest bell.

It's been common practice for years for me to begin any session in a new area with fifteen minutes of rootling through my Journal trying to second-guess my future self. Which half-dozen quests can I safely delete to make room for these six highly important new ones that I really will finish this time, I promise, without my future self reaching back into the past and throttling me when he has to start over from scratch because the quest I thought he'd never miss turns out to be the essential prerequisite for something crucial I haven't found yet?

More questing, less editorializing please.
Temporal anomalies aside, honestly, it doesn't matter how deep you make the quest pot. I'm just going to fill it to the brim. If there were no restrictions I'd just take every quest because, why not? I need protecting from myself.

All in all, though, the changes do sound welcome. As time rolls on in that way that it has, all these bumps in the road to a F2P experience that's both genuinely enjoyable for the player and profitable for the producer are beginning to smooth out. There's nothing "free" about Free to Play and as that becomes clearer to everyone the options are expanding. It's all about a smarter way to pay and, very slowly, we do seem to be getting somewhere. Maybe we can have nice things after all.

EDIT:  When I made the "ant" comment about the tweets linked above, those tweets were displaying on the blog in the same enormous boxes you see if you click through the links. Overnight they have converted themselves to a much neater, less shouty format. I did nothing. One of the mysteries of the interwebs. The ant joke doesn't work any more, though. If it ever did...

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