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The Tattered Notebook: Let's play 'Keep it or nuke it!'

EverQuest II's Gigglegibber Goblin
As a longtime fan of EverQuest II, I'm often asked by non-EQII-players what the game is like. I usually try to answer by describing the usual game features like combat, crafting, PvP, and the unfortunate inclusion of Gnomes. But the best analogy I can think of for EverQuest II is that it resembles a type of MMO archaeological site. If you play the game long enough, you can begin to see the stratification of the game, as layer upon layer of content and features were heaped onto what was already there. It's something I've admired about the game because the developers have always been willing to try new things and make changes. But the mound of content can be overwhelming to a new player and even confusing to those who have returned after an extended hiatus.

With a new round of content having just arrived on servers and even more due in a few months, it's time to consider whether some of the older stuff might need to go, for clarity's sake. In this week's Tattered Notebook, we'll play a little game called, "Keep it or Nuke it." Read on for my recommendations, and then add yours below.

Racial quests

Each hamlet has special NPCs that offer quests to each race. They were added a few years ago to help smooth out the transition from the isle of refuge to Norrath, and they gave a nice little background and a unique house item. The nice thing is that the quests didn't involve killing things, so they were easy to complete and got you ready for the next hunting zone in your level. But with the city revamps, the racial quests are potentially on the chopping block.

Keep or nuke? Nuke. The Golden Path has done a better job of getting new players on the leveling highway, and while the house items are nice, it should be easy enough to move them to other questlines and NPCs that match up better with the more actively used content.

Arena pets

These pets arrived with the Desert of Flames expansion pack and were an attempt to add consensual PvP to the game without having to completely alter the classes in order to level the playing field. That PvP never really took off, and the arena pets were relegated to house decorating duty. More recently, they were given a chance at a comeback when housing amenities were created. One choice was a creature conjuror NPC that would summon any of the pets you owned to fight. Once again, the idea was a lot more interesting on paper than it was in the game, and I'd be willing to bet that I can count on one hand the number of players who readily use this service.

With the impending arrival of design-your-own-dungeons, arena pets have actually been a hot topic on the EQII forums because many players fear that the notion of playing these created dungeons in another form is akin to arena battles and that design your own dungeon will go the way of the arenas as a result. But the two systems really aren't that similar and can't be compared.

Keep or nuke? Nuke arenas (battlegrounds make them irrelevant), but keep the pets and tweak the creature conjuror to make it more useful as a practice tool.

EverQuest II's Arena
Heroic Opportunities

The Heroic Opps system is an idea that has just never had a fair shot. Early on, it was too cumbersome to even attempt (and believe me, my group did give HOs a fair shot, probably far longer than we should have). The system was tweaked to make it a bit more forgiving, but over the years, the special buffs and effects that it gives aren't worth bothering with, apart from some easily macroed solo ones. It had its comeuppance with the last expansion, as it played a major role in the Palace Triplets encounter, but other than that it's fallen short of its potential.

What's unfortunate is that the concept is great, and you can see that the intent was to get players to focus on working together to use complementary abilities in group. So a Warrior who successfully taunts a mob to him can help make a Rogue's backstab that much more effective. In reality, though, the group gets so focused on looking at the HO wheel that they can't see the action on the screen, and that's a shame.

Keep or nuke? Keep, because it still has enough value, but it would be nice to see the concept done right. It deserves a total revamp, but that's probably a bit too labor intensive at this point. Instead, new buffs should be added to the system to bring it more in line with the state of the game today.

Scrying stones

For newer players, those little rainbows all over the original Norrath zones might look like arbitrarily placed atmospheric effects, but real EQII fans know they're actually locations for triggered encounters through the use of scrying stones, which can only be purchased from vendors on the Thundering Steppes docks and Nek Forest (in Thundering Steppes, the vendor is the Ratonga on the docks, over near that Clint fellow).

Keep or nuke? Keep, but tweak it to offer some more enticing rewards. Scrying is hard to figure out, mainly because there's little in game to explain it to players. But that's also why I like it so much. I'd just hope to see the system updated a bit so that the rewards have a little more variety and are as quirky and unique as the system itself.

EQII Scrying Stone vendor and Clint Gilcrush
Gigglegibber Lotto

You'll probably notice these loinclothed goblins near every bell, every live event, heck, pretty much every zone, it seems. For a small price, you can try your luck with their lotto, and you can check the pot by looking at the nearby book. Just as with real-life lotteries, there are smaller prizes for matching three, four, and five numbers, but the only big payoff is matching all of them, and depending on your server, the payoff can be enormous.

Keep or nuke? Nuke it. This is gambling, and that leads down a slippery slope when it comes to MMOs. I mean, what about the ethical considerations involving younger players and the Gigglegibber lotto? And... OK fine, I want to see it go because I lost out on the last pot to someone named Chartreuse. The whole thing is rigged, I tell you!

Anyway, there is a lot of old content in the game that isn't always used much and can potentially make things confusing for someone new to the game. Would you choose to strip some of that away? If so, what would you nuke?

From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to karen@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.