Friday, February 7, 2020

Motivations and Shattering Lands in EQ2

For the first time in a while I picked up an editing gig for my "real job". This has resulted in me writing considerably less for the blog. It's also lessened the amount of time I've had for video gaming.

This gives me the big old sad.

What gaming I have been doing has been mostly of the Everquest 2 variety. I'm still following my plan of locking my character's experience levels at the original level caps of the base game. This isn't strictly necessary since you can adjust your own level downward at nearly any time, but gives my gameplay a bit of structure. And as I said during my inaugural blog post, I like structure.  Last night I finished up Antonica and it's related instances (Blackburrow and Stormhold). This means I'm effectively done with all the content level 20 and below. Well, almost, I still need to betray my home city of Freeport so I can do all the various Qeynos/Qeynos Sewers/Qeynos Suburbs quests but I don't want to do that until around level 80. At that point I'll have finished the main city questlines in Freeport. Also, I'm still working on some low level collectibles. And some of the more annoying book quests.

There might be some stuff I end up skipping.

I was originally going to level a good character and an evil character simultaneously to avoid the betrayal issue. But I decided to do everything on one character for three reasons. Firstly, I've never betrayed before in the game, and I want to see both the betrayal questlines and I want to experience being a Exile. Secondly, I got tired of juggling two characters. Do I worry about maxing out the spell ranks for both characters? How about collectible quests; should each character do them all or should I split them up? Once you hit level 30 and the distinction between good zones and evil zones lessen will I still care about keeping up with two characters?

And thirdly, I had difficulty deciding if my playthrough was character-motivated or content-motivated.

I guess we should define our terms, but I think it's all pretty self explanatory. Some games I play are character-motivated, like say, Diablo 3. The storyline for Diablo 3 could literally not be any dumber if you tried (and I honestly suspect they did). What kept me playing was improving my character: better gear, higher paragon, etc. But I tend to play most games in a content-motivated frame of mind. I want to experience the world, the storyline, the atmosphere, and etc. In a single player game, once I hit the credits, I'm out.

MMOs tend to blur the line for me. Usually there is more storyline in the 'endgame'. Raids, content that is unlocked through daily grinding, events, etc. But I also grind rep, improve my gear like I would in a more character-motivated game. Usually I just play until I burn out, and then come back in the next patch and play through that new content.

(I also think there is an obvious third motivation: increasing ones skill at the game. But that feels less relevant for me in Everquest 2.)

It's not something I consciously think about. Not usually. I play until the game feels stale and then I play something else. But when you're faced with a gigantic magnitude of content that Everquest 2 has you have to come up with some home made structure. I have a level 110 character boost sitting in my inventory. If my goal was more character-based I'd be at max level right now with everyone else and grinding out whatever it is that you grind out in the EQ2 endgame.

So it's a cause of conflict for me. Having a good and an evil character would be a more convenient way of experiencing ever drip of content that Everquest 2 has. But the divide between the factions doesn't seem to be very important in the big picture, at least from what I understand. It's not like WoW's Alliance and Horde divide, with significantly different single player content for both sides.

I think ultimately I'm going to focus on just one character, and I'll betray factions if I think the content warrants it. I really do like having a "main". One character that has seen and done it all. Even if it was done 15 years after it was initially was released. In the game world, it all counts the same.

I suppose there might also be a fourth motivation for me: nostalgia. Or maybe even a fifth: a fear of having missed out, which is distinct from the fear of missing out. I oscillated a bit between WoW and EQ2 when they first came out. I was confident the veteran MMO franchise with the emphasis group play would win that duel. It did not. Also, all of my friends were playing WoW. After a couple of months it became clear which game I was going to end up playing. But I still missed EQ2's charm even if I ultimately found WoW to be the better game for me. That's the nostalgic bit.

But I also wished I could go back in time and do a lot of this content when it was new. I don't even really know why. I don't really love progression servers because they tend to be overcamped and I don't get to play at my own pace. Also, you just can't put the magic back in the bottle. The EQ2 and WoW that I played in 2004 can't be brought back in it's entirety because that audience, and my own experiences, have changed. Playing through the old content in EQ2 is a combination of what was and what could have been.

So I don't super know what my motivation is. I'm having fun, that's the only motivation I really need. But I have huge backlogs on both PC and console and here I am playing a 15 year old game that doesn't even work correctly with my monitor. I'm chasing something, even if I'm not 100% sure what it is.

2 comments:

  1. To be realistic, even with level-locking, you aren't going to make much of a dent in fifteen years of content. If you seriously attempted to do everything it would take you many months to do each expansion. I played most of them as they came out, often as my main MMORPG, and I never did anything close to everything in any of them.

    At best, in something like Kunark or Faydwer, the really big expansions, I completed all the main solo questlines and most of the side quests and at least saw most of the dungeons - and that lasted me a whole year! Even the smaller expansions, where just about all I did was the solo signature line, took me a couple of months.

    One thing I've never done in fifteen years, though, is betray from one city to the other. I really ought to try that.

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    1. I have no delusions about how long it will take. I'm sure the answer may very well be years in all practicality.

      I think my focus will be on the major solo questlines. Even now I'm skipping the more tedious quests that are nothing more than kill 10 X, wait for spawn, kill the placeholders, and then kill X again. I'm sure I won't end up doing a lot of the raids that have mechanics that are soloable even with a huge level difference.

      I'm sure there is some upcoming grinds I won't want anything to do with it either.

      I guess it's more accurate to say I'm attempting to do everything, and then discarding whatever doesn't seem fun or essential. I think it's an ambitious but still doable approach. And I do think moloing will make things a little bit quicker than months for each expansion. And just general gear inflation, and the fact that I can buy my upgraded spells and gear on the broker. Or that general chat has been so helpful with volunteers helping me take out Epic level bosses in some of the dungeons so far.

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