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Mobhunter: The Chipped Tooth of the Dragon

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Anonymous
March 10, 2005 8:19:45 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.everquest (More info?)

February of 2005, Sony Online Entertainment released the best of the
eight existing Everquest expansions, Dragons of Norrath. This
expansion combined elements from the previous four expansions and
added a few new elements to create an expansion far greater than a
simple collection of new zones. Features like the guild hall, corpse
summoner, mission system, and loot vendor, show Everquest growing into
a mature and expanding game far different than we've seen in the last
five years.

Not everything in this expansion shines so brightly, however. Like
everything in life, this expansion has room for improvement. In this
article I discuss the details of five larger problems with Dragons of
Norrath and offer areas for improvement.

Dragons? What Dragons?

They're on the cover. We all heard about Tirranum's roam of the wastes
of Lavastorm for a couple of days. A few of us even snapped a few
pictures of him with our strange gnomish picture-capture devices.

So where are they now? Well, if you're lucky enough to be in a Time
Tier 5 level guild, you have a chance to cut down Tirranum deep in his
lair. Any less power and you may have a chance to see the great lava
dragon for a few seconds before he turns you into a pile of ash and a
column of smoke. And Tirranum is the weakest of these new dragons.

Dragons should be raid-level mobs. Only a stupid pompous fanboi would
ask for newbie-friendly dragons that six well-armed level 24 hunters
could best. Yet it would be nice to at least SEE one of these mystical
beasts from time to time. Let it lurk deep in a cave we might wander
into during our travels. Let them come out from the depths of their
lair for a quick snack of barbarian and a chai halfling latte.

As it stands, only a few very powerful hunters will see the Dragons in
Dragons of Norrath.

Everquest: Goblins of Norrath?

What do we get instead of great red wyrms roaming the lava-crusted
wastelands? Goblins. Lots and lots of goblins. Yes, they are the
most well animated goblins I can recall seeing outside of a Peter
Jackson film. Their slick skin reflects in the setting sun of Sol.
They listen to the approaching footsteps of adventurers. They gnash
their little razorsharp teeth in anticipation. And even if you are a
70th level adventurer with 10,000 hitpoints and a sword from the God of
War, they can still open a can of old fashioned goblin whuparse.

What do they feed these things? How can a goblin with fingernails
shorter than my short-hair cat hit me for 1200 points of damage? How
can a group of adventurers that challenge the darkest demons of Torment
get torn apart by scampering little hairless gnomes?

Now granted, the EQ team came up with the best spider model I can
recall seeing and if it had a forty foot leg-span I am sure I would
run in horror, but as is, the spiders are about the same size as the
ones I killed outside of Felwithe at level 1. Even the drakes, as
wonderful as they look, remind me of the drakes I killed within the
first five levels of my hunts.

A level 50 expansion should have level 50 beasts. This doesn't mean
taking a sewer rat and giving it a 1400 flurry. This means digging out
the old D&D monster manual and finding the baddest beasts that a
pizza-eating DM ever threw against his obnoxious friends. Hydras,
Werewolf Lords, Beholders, Mind Flayers, Ogre Mages, Umbur Hulks,
Wraths, Liches, Demon Knights; those are beasts that remind you that
you're level 50.

For seventy levels I hunted in Norrath's great lands. I have traveled
to countless worlds and fought the strongest avatars of the unholy Gods
of the lower planes. I wear armor and carry magical items that could
fund kingdoms if sold. I killed my first dragon when I was level 46;
twenty four levels ago. Last night, I was killed by an 80 pound goblin
wearing a loincloth.

Please, no more rats, no more bats, no more spiders.

Mission Balance

Missions are the best feature of Dragons of Norrath. Missions offer
real storylines, real plots, real goals, excellent rewards, and all
within a reasonable time-frame. They tie together the instanced
dungeons and reward system of Lost Dungeons of Norrath, the expeditions
of Gates of Discord, and the task system of Omens of War.

Missions are a feature that lets EQ outshine the competition.
Everquest 2 doesn't have them. Warcraft doesn't have them. Only
Everquest offers you group-quests that reward all members of a party
equally in an instanced and uncompeted lair.

Offering such a wide variety in missions makes mission balance a
difficult achievement. Though each mission can offer a different
reward than the others, some, like the Gimblax mission, might become so
easy to defeat that everyone who ever gets five people together will
want to do that mission and ONLY that mission.

Changing the missions around one-by-one creates frustration in players
and having only a single reward type for the missions leads to
min-maxing: Players will only do the easiest and most consistently
rewarding mission to eventually acquire the best gear.

Offering rewards for those who choose variety rather than continued
hunts in the same mission could get people to spread out and try more.
The current mission progression tracks help this to an extent but most
of the progression is based on faction, tasks, and a few required
single missions to progress.

No Tiered Equipment Progression

One of the reasons SOE didn't embrace the loot system of Lost Dungeons
after its release was due to the ease at which people acquired the top
gear. Even though hard adventures rewarded more points, powerful
groups could squeeze three normal adventures into the same time as a
hard. The easiest content, when hunted enough times, allowed a player
to reap the greatest rewards of the system.

Dragons isn't much different. The crystals rewarded on the easiest
missions allow players to buy the best gear available on the adventure
merchants. This limits the power of the gear available on mission
vendors. Though the loot is far superior to Lost Dungeons and helps
close the gap between the equipment available to single-group hunters
and that of raiders, it still is limited by this design problem.

A tiered loot system helps solve this problem. Certain new sets of
higher-powered loot could become available after achieving certain
goals that prove the power of the player is appropriate for the reward.
Perhaps achieving each of the Lavaspinner, Stillmoon Temple, and
Ascent missions opens up a new tier of loot. Once someone completes
all of the Thundercrest Isle and Nest missions, they open up a third
tier of possible loot. This system ensures that a player did not just
complete the easiest adventures but instead met the required trial to
receive more powerful equipment.

No Love for the Little Guy

Dragons of Norrath has a lot of exciting new content as long as you're
above level 50. Since the release of Lost Dungeons of Norrath two
years ago players below level 45 received very little new content.
Yes, the task system in Omens of War offered quite a lot of new content
but limitations prevented this system from radically changing the game
as much as it could have.

Mission systems are a perfect way to increase the use of old-world
zones. Lower level tasks, quests, and missions can lead a brand new
player through the basics of the game and show them much of what they
need to know in order to grow. Instead, brand new players get to see
five year old stories and struggle through the same problems SOE fixed
for players above 50.

New missions, mission vendors, and group tasks in old-world dungeons
could breathe new life to the old and often underused zones we all so
fondly remember.

Dragons of Norrath shows us how far Everquest has come. Long past are
the days of frustration and drab colorless hunts. Dragons opens up a
new system for dynamic and involving storylines for groups of six
players or raids between 18 and 54 players. Dragons capitalizes on the
best features of past expansions and shows us a path to new and greater
adventures. Though the above examples show the short-comings of this
new expansion, I have high hopes that we will see these problems fixed
in future releases.

Loral Ciriclight
10 March 2005
loral@loralciriclight.com
March 10, 2005 6:39:49 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.everquest (More info?)

"Mike Shea" wrote

> Dragons should be raid-level mobs. Only a stupid pompous fanboi would
> ask for newbie-friendly dragons that six well-armed level 24 hunters
> could best.

Why's that? There's no such thing as a baby dragon? Why
wouldn't they grow in power (and wealth, as displayed by
drops) over time? EQ2 has a raid-level (2 group, level 24
IIRC) dragon in one of the tier2 zones. At least you can
see the model fairly early...

> Only Everquest offers you group-quests that reward all
> members of a party equally in an instanced and uncompeted
> lair.

EQ2 has several quests done as a group with equal rewards.
Admittedly you have to get them individually but they're
group quests, just each person has to hail & follow the
dialog for each.

EQ's a *great* game -- but I don't see a need to compare
it to newer ones. It's definitely an older game -- with its
own charm that's not being copied by newer games. Some
of the design differences are for the better; some aren't.
Anonymous
March 10, 2005 7:49:12 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.everquest (More info?)

In article <9TZXd.163002$JF2.50727@tornado.tampabay.rr.com>,
Wolfie <bgbdwolf@gte.net> wrote:
>"Mike Shea" wrote
>> Dragons should be raid-level mobs.
>Why's that? There's no such thing as a baby dragon?

They don't need to bother with dragons. They could just do
it the way they usually do and make raid level rats.
Related resources
March 11, 2005 1:58:37 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.everquest (More info?)

In article <d0ptq8$jpe$1@reader1.panix.com>, wrat@panix.com says...
> In article <9TZXd.163002$JF2.50727@tornado.tampabay.rr.com>,
> Wolfie <bgbdwolf@gte.net> wrote:
> >"Mike Shea" wrote
> >> Dragons should be raid-level mobs.
> >Why's that? There's no such thing as a baby dragon?
>
> They don't need to bother with dragons. They could just do
> it the way they usually do and make raid level rats.

Or just call it a dragon rat and just display the default human male
model.

I've been seeing him in a number of odd places lately. :( 
March 11, 2005 2:33:07 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.everquest (More info?)

In article <1110460785.017448.140910@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>,
mshea01@gmail.com says...
> February of 2005, Sony Online Entertainment released the best of the
> eight existing Everquest expansions, Dragons of Norrath. This
> expansion combined elements from the previous four expansions and
> added a few new elements to create an expansion far greater than a
> simple collection of new zones. Features like the guild hall, corpse
> summoner, mission system, and loot vendor, show Everquest growing into
> a mature and expanding game far different than we've seen in the last
> five years.
>
> Not everything in this expansion shines so brightly, however. Like
> everything in life, this expansion has room for improvement. In this
> article I discuss the details of five larger problems with Dragons of
> Norrath and offer areas for improvement.
>
> Dragons? What Dragons?
>
> They're on the cover. We all heard about Tirranum's roam of the wastes
> of Lavastorm for a couple of days. A few of us even snapped a few
> pictures of him with our strange gnomish picture-capture devices.
>
> So where are they now? Well, if you're lucky enough to be in a Time
> Tier 5 level guild, you have a chance to cut down Tirranum deep in his
> lair. Any less power and you may have a chance to see the great lava
> dragon for a few seconds before he turns you into a pile of ash and a
> column of smoke. And Tirranum is the weakest of these new dragons.
>
> Dragons should be raid-level mobs. Only a stupid pompous fanboi would
> ask for newbie-friendly dragons that six well-armed level 24 hunters
> could best. Yet it would be nice to at least SEE one of these mystical
> beasts from time to time. Let it lurk deep in a cave we might wander
> into during our travels. Let them come out from the depths of their
> lair for a quick snack of barbarian and a chai halfling latte.
>
> As it stands, only a few very powerful hunters will see the Dragons in
> Dragons of Norrath.
>
> Everquest: Goblins of Norrath?
>
> What do we get instead of great red wyrms roaming the lava-crusted
> wastelands? Goblins. Lots and lots of goblins. Yes, they are the
> most well animated goblins I can recall seeing outside of a Peter
> Jackson film. Their slick skin reflects in the setting sun of Sol.
> They listen to the approaching footsteps of adventurers. They gnash
> their little razorsharp teeth in anticipation. And even if you are a
> 70th level adventurer with 10,000 hitpoints and a sword from the God of
> War, they can still open a can of old fashioned goblin whuparse.
>
> What do they feed these things? How can a goblin with fingernails
> shorter than my short-hair cat hit me for 1200 points of damage? How
> can a group of adventurers that challenge the darkest demons of Torment
> get torn apart by scampering little hairless gnomes?
>
> Now granted, the EQ team came up with the best spider model I can
> recall seeing and if it had a forty foot leg-span I am sure I would
> run in horror, but as is, the spiders are about the same size as the
> ones I killed outside of Felwithe at level 1. Even the drakes, as
> wonderful as they look, remind me of the drakes I killed within the
> first five levels of my hunts.
>
> A level 50 expansion should have level 50 beasts. This doesn't mean
> taking a sewer rat and giving it a 1400 flurry. This means digging out
> the old D&D monster manual and finding the baddest beasts that a
> pizza-eating DM ever threw against his obnoxious friends. Hydras,
> Werewolf Lords, Beholders, Mind Flayers, Ogre Mages, Umbur Hulks,
> Wraths, Liches, Demon Knights; those are beasts that remind you that
> you're level 50.
>
> For seventy levels I hunted in Norrath's great lands. I have traveled
> to countless worlds and fought the strongest avatars of the unholy Gods
> of the lower planes. I wear armor and carry magical items that could
> fund kingdoms if sold. I killed my first dragon when I was level 46;
> twenty four levels ago. Last night, I was killed by an 80 pound goblin
> wearing a loincloth.
>
> Please, no more rats, no more bats, no more spiders.
>
> Mission Balance
>
> Missions are the best feature of Dragons of Norrath. Missions offer
> real storylines, real plots, real goals, excellent rewards, and all
> within a reasonable time-frame. They tie together the instanced
> dungeons and reward system of Lost Dungeons of Norrath, the expeditions
> of Gates of Discord, and the task system of Omens of War.
>
> Missions are a feature that lets EQ outshine the competition.
> Everquest 2 doesn't have them. Warcraft doesn't have them. Only
> Everquest offers you group-quests that reward all members of a party
> equally in an instanced and uncompeted lair.
>
> Offering such a wide variety in missions makes mission balance a
> difficult achievement. Though each mission can offer a different
> reward than the others, some, like the Gimblax mission, might become so
> easy to defeat that everyone who ever gets five people together will
> want to do that mission and ONLY that mission.
>
> Changing the missions around one-by-one creates frustration in players
> and having only a single reward type for the missions leads to
> min-maxing: Players will only do the easiest and most consistently
> rewarding mission to eventually acquire the best gear.
>
> Offering rewards for those who choose variety rather than continued
> hunts in the same mission could get people to spread out and try more.
> The current mission progression tracks help this to an extent but most
> of the progression is based on faction, tasks, and a few required
> single missions to progress.
>
> No Tiered Equipment Progression
>
> One of the reasons SOE didn't embrace the loot system of Lost Dungeons
> after its release was due to the ease at which people acquired the top
> gear. Even though hard adventures rewarded more points, powerful
> groups could squeeze three normal adventures into the same time as a
> hard. The easiest content, when hunted enough times, allowed a player
> to reap the greatest rewards of the system.

> Dragons isn't much different. The crystals rewarded on the easiest
> missions allow players to buy the best gear available on the adventure
> merchants. This limits the power of the gear available on mission
> vendors. Though the loot is far superior to Lost Dungeons and helps
> close the gap between the equipment available to single-group hunters
> and that of raiders, it still is limited by this design problem.
>
> A tiered loot system helps solve this problem. Certain new sets of
> higher-powered loot could become available after achieving certain
> goals that prove the power of the player is appropriate for the reward.
> Perhaps achieving each of the Lavaspinner, Stillmoon Temple, and
> Ascent missions opens up a new tier of loot. Once someone completes
> all of the Thundercrest Isle and Nest missions, they open up a third
> tier of possible loot. This system ensures that a player did not just
> complete the easiest adventures but instead met the required trial to
> receive more powerful equipment.

I like this VERY MUCH but only IN CONCEPT. The reality is that these
sorts of things are FAR TOO OFTEN handled with a competent core group
that pulls their gimp friends & guildies through.

As a recent example, I recently finished the 9th necromancer iksar hat
quest with a 30th level necro. It involved killing a number of 50th
level mobs and camping in zones like HS. This is an existing example of
a character getting access to gear well beyond him because he had a
group that could hold his hand.

Similiarly If they introduced this tierd DoN loot, my 70th level gimp
cleric bot in Kunark armour would just join up with some uber-OoW raider
friends who would take him through the 'hard adventure' and get him
'flagged'.

My cleric shouldn't qualify for access just because a group can afford
to drag some dead weight around. There's a lot of clerics who aren't
bots, in better armour, who play their clerics much better than i play
my bot... and yet I'll qualify to purchase teir 3 armour and they won't.
How does that make sense?

There has to be some heuristic that can recognizes whether or not you
are dead weight... so many PoJ, Sewer Trials, Flag Raids, etc work like
this ... a high level core, and the dead weight gimps along for the
ride.



> No Love for the Little Guy

Yup.

> Dragons of Norrath has a lot of exciting new content as long as you're
> above level 50. Since the release of Lost Dungeons of Norrath two
> years ago players below level 45 received very little new content.

I don't really think players want another playable race, or a new class.
Without which there really isn't a need for even more zones. Low level
players and the game in general would benefit from extensive existing
low/mid content revamps.

Quite simply there is already too much to do at the low midlevels. Few
players get to see much of what is out there, and most of it is outdated
and not really worth doing except for the sake of saying you did it. It
would be better to re-itemize and re-vitalize old zones and quests than
to simply dump more into the game.

> Yes, the task system in Omens of War offered quite a lot of new content
> but limitations prevented this system from radically changing the game
> as much as it could have.

> Mission systems are a perfect way to increase the use of old-world
> zones. Lower level tasks, quests, and missions can lead a brand new
> player through the basics of the game and show them much of what they
> need to know in order to grow. Instead, brand new players get to see
> five year old stories and struggle through the same problems SOE fixed
> for players above 50.

/agreed
Anonymous
March 11, 2005 3:25:10 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.everquest (More info?)

"42" <nospam@nospam.com> wrote in message
news:MPG.1c9a7102ed72bb9989a5d@shawnews...
> Or just call it a dragon rat and just display the default human male
> model.
>
> I've been seeing him in a number of odd places lately. :( 

Yarr...golem / garg model bugged atm.
Anonymous
March 12, 2005 6:04:59 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.everquest (More info?)

Wolfie wrote:
> "Mike Shea" wrote
>
>
>>Dragons should be raid-level mobs. Only a stupid pompous fanboi would
>>ask for newbie-friendly dragons that six well-armed level 24 hunters
>>could best.
>
>
> Why's that? There's no such thing as a baby dragon? Why
> wouldn't they grow in power (and wealth, as displayed by
> drops) over time? EQ2 has a raid-level (2 group, level 24
> IIRC) dragon in one of the tier2 zones. At least you can
> see the model fairly early...
Final Fantasy you go after your first dragon at a max of 25 (You may be
higher than that, but it will cap your level down before you do the fight)
Admittedly, he's not that bad of a dragon. With experience of what was
up I beat him recently with one damage dealer (me) and two healers
healing me.
Now the level 30 dragon for the Dragoon job quest... that guy is mean
for a level 30ish party to take on.

But you can certainly give lower levels fun/exciting content. That's one
of the best things about FFXI... the fact that the storyline is
accessible at a relatively low level.
!