The Tattered Notebook: A wish list for EQII's 'phase two'

EQ2 Beastlord
EverQuest II has had quite a year, but I was recently thinking about a comment that Executive Producer Dave "SmokeJumper" Georgeson made regarding the future of the game. In a recent interview, he discussed plans for "phase two," which is an ongoing list of things the team wants to do to improve the game but don't make it to live. With all of the new changes to the game, the team usually comes up with lots of extra ideas, and Georgeson said the focus going forward will be to knock out some of those ideas on the "phase two" list.

I thought it would be fun to put together a list of things I'd like to see on the phase two list, and since it's the season for wish lists anyway, the timing is perfect. Read on for a look at a few things I'd like to see in EQII next year, and then share your ideas below!

Overland content

EQII has tons and tons of great content, but most of it is instanced, and the shared dungeons have usually been ghost towns in the past. Public quests are great, and it was nice to see a new one added to the Commonlands with the Freeport update. I'd love to see more open-world content added to the game -- even, dare I say it, a return of the Avatars. There's a chunk of the EQII population that would love the chance to mix it up again, and more contested content would liven things up and renew long-standing guild and server rivalries. For other players, more open-world content like public quests are a fun way to get out of the isolated instances and get more involved with the rest of the playerbase.

A true mentor system and a chronomage revamp

I always loved the mentor system in EQII, but it has always had the problem of not being a true system. You can mentor down to a lower-level player, but a mentored level 30, for example, is always more powerful than a true level 30. The recent addition of the chronomage system was a noble effort to get players to mentor more often and go back and use old content, but it never really caught on other than as a way to score a few AAs for level-capped players.

A revamp of the mentoring system would probably be a huge undertaking, but it has a ripple effect that would help many other areas of the game. The dungeon maker system, for example, had to launch with creature-based gameplay because it was the only way to allow for all players level 20 and up to do the dungeons on a level playing field. Putting in a true mentoring system would solve that issue. In addition, the rewards for high-level players to mentor could be increased, since there would once again be a true challenge for doing old content. It's a great system, and it's something that I miss when I'm playing other MMOs that don't have it, but it would benefit greatly from a much-needed revamp.

EQ2 sleigh
Itemization

I'm almost torn about this one because I'm so used to quirks with itemization, I'm not sure what I'd do if things were smoothed out. On the other hand, the layers of new content, as well as the "flavor of the month" feel to stats, can create a confusing and sometimes frustrating experience when it comes to gearing up.

The big itemization revamp helped to establish the groundwork for a more consistent path of upgrades, but it still needs work, and there are still items out there with poorly matched stats and inaccurate values. The team has said that itemization's still on the list, and it's understandable that the expansion and game update nudged it to the side for a bit. Hopefully now that things are quieting down, itemization will once again be a priority.

Bring community leaders back into the fold

When you think about how long EQII has been around, it's amazing how long the prominent community figures have stuck around as well. Players like Naimi, Feldon, and Jethyl have been around for years, and there's an amazing amount of terrific player-created videos, songs, and write-ups for EQII fans to dive into. Now that there's a way to publish screenshots and videos to social media, it would be great to see EQII take the ball and run with it. Fans have often pined for the day when their favorite game finally had some advertising, but the veteran community figures basically advertise the game all the time, for free, and could arguably do a better job because of their vast amount of knowledge.

I know that there's a risk for an MMO to embrace player-evangelists because there's no guarantee they'll be around forever, but it surprised me to read how Feldon from EQ2Wire and others were shut out of press tours and pre-launch expansion interviews. (Note that Morgan's description of MMO companies paying airfare, hotel-costs and expenses to get press sites to cover their games does not apply to Massively. It's our policy to not take gifts for our coverage.) I know in the past, the SOE team has done a great job of highlighting community sites and player-made web content, even going as far as to send them pieces of a lore puzzle to kick off the launch of the Sentinel's Fate expansion. It would be nice to see that relationship rekindled in the future, especially since EQII has one of the oldest and most loyal group of community figures.

When you compare the EQII of seven years ago to today, it's astounding how much the game has changed. This past year especially has transformed the game, and it's a completely different, and I'd say much-improved, game from its launch-day version. The game has come a long way to overcome the usual issues and problems that MMOs face in their first few years, and it's at a point where it can really push the envelope and try some exciting stuff. Hopefully we'll see some of that on the "phase two" list!

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.