The Tattered Notebook: EverQuest Next Round Table roundup

The Tattered Notebook  EverQuest Next round table roundup
Back when EverQuest Next and EverQuest Landmark were announced, SOE President John Smedley made it clear that the two games were henceforth in "open development." That meant that the company would be soliciting feedback and opinions from players about myriad design decisions for the two games.

Since then, EQ Next devs have thrown out new questions each week for players to vote on and discuss. Utilizing polls and forum discussions in a special section of the main site labeled Round Table, important topics like bearded female dwarves and armor appearance customization are delved into and player desires and feedback are gathered. After collecting the data, the devs respond, sometimes in video form.

Today, The Tattered Notebook is going to round up all those roundtables, giving you a summary of which way the community is leaning on these different topics as well as the dev input. I'll even throw in snippets of their opinions as well! Of course, if you haven't added your thoughts to the mix and you'd like to, you still have time to do so as all the polls are still active.

The Tattered Notebook  EverQuest Next round table roundup
1. Should female dwarves have beards or not?

For some of you, this question may be a no-brainer. But because SOE is looking for full community input, others get to put in their two copper as well. The choices are:
  • Let's go in a different direction! No beards!
  • All proper dwarf women have beards!
  • It should be an optional choice!
  • I have no preference.
So far the response has been a resounding: give me options! Interestingly, the devs planned on leading off the roundtable discussions with this "less serious" question to get players used to the idea of discussing things. Little did they know how passionately people would respond!


2. Should the Ratonga be in EverQuest Next?

A favorite of some EverQuest II players, these small and furry critters are pretty adorable (sorry guys, I have never seen any Ratonga look remotely menacing to any degree). Half the respondents so far think they should stay. But which would you choose?
  • I'm not a fan of novelty races.
  • Rats have a long history in fantasy. Let them in!
  • Ratonga are part of EverQuest. Let them in!
  • Yes, but they should be called Chetari.
  • I don't care.
EQII's Ratonga
I'll admit, my hear always breaks when I hear NPC in EQII dissing on Ratonga, and every vote against them is just another boot stomping down on them. Not that I am trying to sway you or anything...

The devs: Franchise Director Dave Georgeson stated, "The Mice that Roar. I love 'em. I always think of them as musketeers for some reason. Swashbuckling mice." Creative Director Jeff Butler made his position clear by simply going, "<squeeee!!!!!!!!!!>"

3. To what degree should players be able to change the appearance of armor?

How unique do you want to look? One side of this argument is that people want to know what kinds of skills they are up against in PvP just by noticing what an opponent is wearing. Then again, devs have stated that stance and weapons will serve that same role. So what do you think: Should armor be completely customizable, non-customizable, or somewhat so?
  • As much as possible
  • Some, but not so much that I can't tell what they're wearing
  • Make it an option and let people decide on their own
  • I'm not sure.
The first two answers are currently ahead of all the others, with "some" beating out "as much as possible" by 10%.



4. How complex should the Landmark design tools be?

This question gets right to the heart of Landmark. As someone absolutely frothing at the mouth to get in and build, I know this question is especially pertinent to me, so I dived right in to make my voice heard. Have you voted yet? The possible answers are:
  • Simpler than Minecraft's
  • About the same as Minecraft's
  • I have no preference
  • More complex than Minecraft's
  • Complexity is no issue; I want power!
Most players seem to be more like me and just want to get drunk on the power of creation. And what did the devs think of the ideas and thoughts presented during the discussion? Although you may have seen this video before, it's definitely worth a re-watch.


5. Should all races have access to play all classes?

You might notice a bit of a theme going on with the questions; many are geared toward how much choice do you want in-game? Interestingly enough, however, not all of the answers are all that you have and more! In fact, this question garnered the most votes for restrictions. I didn't quite see that coming. Which would you prefer?
  • I'd like to see certain races restricted to certain classes based on lore
  • I want to play any class with the race I choose, even if it means a penalty to some combinations
  • It adds interest and replayability if some races can't play some classes
  • I prefer to play just one character, so I want to be able to access all classes if I want.
  • I don't have a strong preference either way

The devs: Lead programmer Steve Klug said, "Restrictions mean interesting choices players must make, but can turn off players that want a specific combination." Georgeson gave his thoughts as well:, "Race/class restricts are a D&D influence on us all. But do they help or hinder roleplay? Both sides seem valid."

The Tattered Notebook  EverQuest Next round table roundup
6. How do you feel about modern concepts like guns and Ninjas in EverQuest Next?

No, this question isn't asking if you are prepared for some Teenage Mutant Ninja Frogloks, but it does want to know to what degree modern concepts should be integrated into EQ Next. This question felt like it played out more in the comments and discussion than in the poll itself.
  • Modern concepts like guns and ninjas have no place in a fantasy environment like Norrath.
  • Norrath should be able to include modern concepts like guns or ninjas, assuming they fit the visual style and have appropriate lore.
  • It depends what it is; I think it needs to be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
  • I really like it when fantasy games can find a way to include a version of modern concepts in a unique way, and I'd like to see a lot of this!
  • I don't have a strong opinion either way.
Nearly half of all respondents clearly insist that modern concepts like guns and ninjas have no place in Norrath. During the discussion, however, some folks tried to point out that the use of "guns" and "ninjas" was meant only as an example for modern elements, not just those particular ones. For instance, flintlocks would be preferable and possible to weave in, whereas AK-47s would not. What do you think?

The devs: Senior Art Director Rosie Rappaport offered her opinion: "It's added fun as long as it fits within the style and story." Lead Game Designer Darrin McPherson mirrored those sentiment, stating, "I think that the EverQuest Next could include things like this as long as they are integrated properly."


7. Should friends lists be account-based or character-based?

Here's another I am actually very passionate about. And by very, I mean this is close to a deal-breaker for me if devs go the wrong way. In fact, the very reason I do not play Star Trek Online and Neverwinter is because my privacy is forcibly ripped away from me. Even devs get to have characters that the public isn't privy to, so I want the same privelege. During the discussions, players came up with some very interesting alternatives to the choice listed. What are your thoughts?
  • I want to link accounts with friends I add so I can see any character they have online.
  • I want the option to add friends by account. With approval I'd see all of their characters. Denial would show only the friended character.
  • I prefer to add friends by character. If I want to add their alts, I will do that manually.
  • I don't have a preference.
The Tattered Notebook  EverQuest Next round table roundup
The devs: Senior Producer Terry Michaels stated, "I like staying connected with friends, but would love something like an acquaintances list too!" Klug said, "Ideally both as long as it isn't confusing. Each player should be able to choose if their alts are exposed."


You may be noticing a lack of dev response videos these last few entries; that's because we are getting into the most recent questions. For instance, the question regarding contested content was posted only a couple weeks ago. So far, the public is leaning towards a mix. Do you agree?
  • Everything should be contested!
  • The hardest content/most valuable reward content should be contested.
  • There should be a good mix of both contested and non-contested content.
  • Everything should always be available, not contested. Players should never have to wait or compete for content.
  • I really don't have a strong opinion either way. Both can work.
The devs: Butler's opinion is, "Contested content, fun for only the people who get there first. Hope that is you." Georgeson sings a different tune, saying, "I love contested content. Unexpected competition gets my adrenaline moving."


9. What's your favorite small race?

Now, folks who know me know I tend to always make my characters on the shorter side when given the opportunity. but what about short races? Which is the community's favorite? It's actually quite a close race at the moment. Of course, many players are hoping that means the winners will be playable races when the game launches. So which is yours?
  • Gnomes
  • Frogloks
  • Halflings
  • Ratongas
  • Fae/Arasai
EQII's Arasai race
The devs: Michaels said, "Frogloks have a special place in my heart. I joined the EQ team the day after LoY launched!" Klug, who gave Ratonga the thumbs-up, stated, "The only small race I've played is a Fae, but I'd have to say Ratongas have more character."

\
10. Do you want to build in public or in private in Landmark?

The latest roundtable question, this one hasn't even been out a week yet, but folks are already voting away. Where do you stand on the issue?
  • I don't care about building under any circumstances.
  • Letting other people see what I'm building would add to my enjoyment.
  • I want people to see my finished product but not my progress.
  • I'd rather keep all building in instances and decide who can see it at all times.
  • I love building and will do it anywhere and anyhow; I don't care whether other people can see me or not.
The devs: Georgeson relayed his thoughts: "I love building in public and seeing the world change every time I log in. Why wouldn't I?" McPherson, however, expressed these sentiments: "I like the freedom to have private buildings, but I also want to display some things I build." klug rounded out the opinions with this statement, "I want people to see it, but preferably only when it's done--not something in mid-construction."



EverQuest II is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all. Join her as she explores Norrathian nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every other Saturday, The Tattered Notebook is your resource for all things EQII and EQNext -- and catch MJ every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!

This article was originally published on Massively.