Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Back To The Old House : EQ2

Remember, remember the fifth of November, pumpkins and ghosties and ghouls. Ah, good old Halloween. It should have vanished in a puff of evil black smoke sometime last week but here it is yet, persistent as the grave.

Each year in each MMO we go through the old routine. As Wilhelm observes, after a while it gets hard to summon up quite the same level of enthusiasm. Even when there's something new it doesn't always live up to expectations. To quote Syp "Oh, I have a candy corn elemental (?) that will put him back in his coffin.  Oh, that’s it.  Seriously, that’s story?"

So this year, although I did do the GW2 meta-event and quite enjoyed it, thanks very much, when it came to EQ2 I thought I'd skip the usual Halloween collecting, gathering, instance-running and crafting and cut straight to the chase. I bought my own Haunted House.

If I slide down this bannister I'm going to get splinters

Housing. It's the new black. Or something. Keen's had about all the shooting, stabbing and jumping he can stand. He's got a yen to build and EQLandmark can't come soon enough, even if it has to be beta, where all foundations are made of sand. J3w3l, Jeromai and Stargrace are off in Terraria proving you don't need to build the whole world, you can just hang the blueprint on the wall. Who needs a third dimension anyway?

FFXIV flatters to deceive, announcing housing for the soon-come first major update then rowing back with a lot of ifs buts and maybes. After this gloss on the recent two-and-a-half hour Letter from the Producer Video (life is literally too short to watch over 200 minutes of game developers talking to each other in Japanese with no subtitles) FFXIV's  off the table for me, at least as far as housing is concerned. Come back in a year or two. Maybe it'll be ready by then.

Hmm. It has potential.

Richard Garriott does a much better job of piquing interest with his chatty run through what looks like some very impressive housing options in Kickstarter darling Shroud of the Avatar. I hadn't really been paying much attention to this one. Now I am.

With the exception of the die-hard housing refuseniks at Blizzard and ArenaNet it seems every developer wants a share of those decorator dollars and last night SOE got some of mine. Well, they got some of the huge heap of Station Cash I've been sitting on for years. They had the actual dollars long ago.

Ok, the bait looks good. Now I just have to set the trap.
I can't actually recall where I first heard about the new Fright Manor Prestige Home but I do remember thinking "I'll have one of those!". I've always loved haunted houses in MMOs, from Everquest's Estate of Unrest through Vanguard's Hilsbury Mansion to FFXIV's Haukke Manor, there's no better setting for a really intense dungeon experience than a big ol' house full of spooks. How much better yet to have one all of your own to explore and decorate without all that tedious fighting and questing?

They say if you look in the pool at midnight, under a full moon,
you'll see the reflection of the one you're going to murder.

When it comes to "housing" in MMOs, I'm much more of a decorator than an architect. Building the whole damn place from the ground up doesn't appeal to me all that much. I like to move in after the builders have left with my crates full of bric-a-brac and set right to making the place look lived in. Or, in the case of Fright Manor, possibly Un-Lived In.

The deed went to my ratonga necromancer. It seemed appropriate. Okay, she already has her Research Sanctum, an underwater lair worthy of a supervillain, but to be honest those incredible high ceilings and vast plate-glass windows were always a little intimidating. She felt more like a scared little mouse in there than the scary Queen of the Undead she is inside her head.

Eye of frog, toe of newt... oh noes, that is not right!

No, the small rooms of the faded clapperboard two-story walk-up looked much more manageable. Set in its own grounds that come complete with graveyard (of course) and a pond deep enough to swim in, Fright Manor seems to have its own micro-climate. A perpetual thunderstorm rumbles away almost overhead yet the hammering rain that varies only in intensity can't put out the fires the lightning strikes have started in the surrounding forest of dead and dying trees. It's perfect.

As it so happens, after a hard day summoning the undead to do her bidding, there's nothing she likes better than a little carpentry. As a level 51 carpenter she may be a bit off the pace but she can still hammer up a bed or a kitchen range when the need arises. Crafting is a painstaking process in EQ2, though, so it was a happy moment when I remembered that somewhere on the team was a Coercer who dabbled in woodwork and who'd once done about a dozen levels making nothing but Day of the Dead items. And because I'm a packrat she still has them all.

I'm going to need some drapes. Or a firehose.

A quick shuffle through the shared bank and half an hour squinting at things to get them lined up and the new place was, if not fully furnished, at least fit to live in while the fixing up continues. All the old Halloween furniture that looked so out of place in every other house looks right at home here. As does my Necromancer.

And now you'll have to excuse me while I pop out to buy some bats and cats. What kind of a haunted house would it be without a few of those roaming around, after all?


  1. Is that a Smiths reference I see before me? <3

    I've just started playing EQ2 again. My initial impression is it's a lot more free player friendly. My silver account seems to now let me equip legendaries, have all bank and bag slots open. Seems a big boost to accessibility.

    EQ2 is such a charming and beautiful game, with certain elements, like housing taken to levels that modern games don't even get close to. Maybe Garriott will manage. In many ways it's the maturity of EQ2 that makes it so unsurpassable in such things.

    1. Good old Morrissey, eh?

      Yes, the tweaks and changes to the format have made Silver a really strong option, especially in making it very attractive for ex-players to come back, which was one of the main drawbacks of some of the earlier restrictions. I still have a Station Access account but to be honest I keep it out of habit and inertia. If I lost Gold status now I'd hardly notice. The character I play most is on a Silver account anyway.

  2. That is actually a pretty nice prestige home. You could really do something with that. Not that I need any more than one home in EQ2... but I would consider that one.

    I wonder if it is the same motivation to avoid housing in GW2 and WoW? Blizz says they don't want to hide people away, they want their towns full of people. How about Anet?

    (Fix the link to me!)

    1. It's a great little house. Beautifully designed, very easy to manage with the small rooms and with a fantastic outdoor area that you don't have to jailbreak to use. If only it would stop raining once in a while...

      ANet have been sitting on the fence about it since before launch. It's on the "we'd like to but it's not a priority" list rather than the "it would harm the game" list Blizzard has it on. GW2 does have "Personal Instances" although plenty of players don't even know they exist and ANEt have been inching towards doing something with those. We got a candy corn harvesting node for our personal instance from the Halloween meta-achievement and just today I got an Obelisk form the current Living Story meta that I can place in my Personal Instance and use for crafting. It's baby steps but its something.

      (Thanks for spotting the broken link - all fixed!)

  3. I'm in the process of decorating my first prestige home. It really feels like a daunting task with all the tool and items available but i'm slowly getting there.


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