The Tattered Notebook: EverQuest Next roundtable roundup, take two

Back in September, The Tattered Notebook gathered together the first 10 roundtable questions that EverQuest Next and EQN Landmark devs posed to fans, with their accompanying community thoughts, developer opinions, and video clip answers. However, that was only the tip of the iceberg. The Round Table discussions were not just an introductory fad; they are a permanent part of the development process. As such, new polls are put up every week for fans to vote on and to post their own feedback and thoughts about on the forum.

So now that a couple of months have passed, it's time to round up the next wave of questions in one central location, focusing this time on the six questions with dev responses. Maybe there is a query or two that you missed as the weeks rolled by, or maybe you just want to see what direction the community is leaning. Got some strong opinions about death penalties or fast travel in EverQuest Next? What about in-game holidays? This is definitely the time to share them!

11. One guild per character in EverQuest Next? Or more?

For some folks, the idea of belonging to multiple guilds is heresy; loyalty should belong to one and only one. But for others, guilds are just a social structure, so the more social circles you can belong to, the better. What are your thoughts?
  • I have no preference.
  • I want to join more than one guild at a time. They're social groups, and I want as many as I'd like.
  • I prefer to keep it simple: one character can belong to one guild, no more.
  • I'd like different types of guilds -- e.g., families, alliances, guilds -- and you belong to one of each type.
  • I don't want to see any type of guild system at all.
The majority of those who voted noted they wanted one guild for one character, but that lead is not very big. The idea of different types of guilds with membership allowed in each type appealed to nearly as many. Me? I like the idea of having alliances and family ties that can bind you to other players besides just a guild and would totally support this.

The devs: Lead Building and UI designer Jake Sones stated, "Choosing one guild makes that choice seem so important; I wear my guild tag with pride!" Lead Game Designer Darrin McPherson explained his thoughts: "I like single guild relationships, but there should be other ways for players to unite as a group."

12. Fast travel in EverQuest Next: love it or leave it?

If you were looking for a hot-button topic, fast travel seems to be it. Players feel strongly about the issue, just not all in the same way. I can understand that; I have my own concerns about fast travel stripping away the exploration part of games, but there is that convenience factor. Which would you prefer: moseying along through the world to enjoy the scenery as you go, instant access to friends and groups, or something in between?
  • I want to be able to get to my groupmates within 5 minutes, wherever they are in the world.
  • I want a huge world, even it means 30 minutes getting to my group each night.
  • Fast travel with limitations, such as only via player abilities or requiring you to visit "the long way" first.
  • I would like a fast travel network between major cities/hubs only, not outside.
  • I don't have a preference.
No fast travel at all and only available at hubs are neck-and-neck in the polls, but the clear leader is that travel is acceptable, with limitations.

The devs: Franchise Director Dave Georgeson sums up the thoughts of the majority: "I like to explore first. Make me explore and then give me fast travel to avoid repeats... but preserve risk." Creative Director Jeff Butler thinks along those same lines but emphasizes the ability to group more by saying, "Taking too long to reach your friends feels like denial of service, but it should be fun to explore -- with limitations on porting about madly!"

13. There are many ways death could work in MMOs. What's your preference for EverQuest Next?

How you die in game can be just as important as how you live. And there are certainly a number of ways death can be handled in your favorite MMO. SOE laid out the choices for you here:
  • Permadeath all the way! One death only; if you die, you start a new character.
  • I want a hefty penalty such as a corpse run that might require an entire group to help.
  • I want a fairly high personal-only penalty such as lost XP, de-leveling, or equipment damage. - 32%
  • I prefer a minor penalty such as XP debt or a ghost corpse run that is essentially just a loss of time. - 26%
  • There should be no penalty, just let me revive at a nearby location and go.
Interestingly, this question actually came out right at the beginning of the development process for this mechanic, so player input could potentially have even a greater impact. However, no choice was a resounding favorite among respondent players. Currently the idea of a high personal penalty is the favorite, with a minor penalty coming up close behind, and then a hefty penalty just a bit further back on the preference scale. So far, permadeath has the least votes, not even breaking 10%.

The devs: Butler doesn't seem to mind being in the minority, stating, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once." McPherson, however, took a more moderate view, explaining, "Death should create tension but not frustrate progress or cause fear of exploration and experimentation."

14. Do you want to see in-game holidays in EverQuest Next?

In the midst of so many holidays, it's hard not to be thinking about holidays even when you are in a game. But do real-world holidays actually belong in our virtual worlds? Inquiring devs want to know!
  • I'd like to see some of the ones that already exist within the franchise from EQ and EQII.
  • I'd like to see in-game holidays that fit the new world and lore, not real world events.
  • I don't like it when fantasy games celebrate real-world holidays even disguised with game lore.
  • I love it when we can celebrate real world holidays with something matching in game.
Even though EQN is part of a franchise, most players polled voiced a preference of having new holidays that fit the game lore over using known festivities from either EQ or EQII. The second place finisher, with 10% fewer votes, was the idea of just celebrating real-world holidays in the game. Players should be happy to know that the devs intend to please both groups with lore-based holidays that coincide with real-world seasons.

The devs: Senior Art Director Rosie Rappaport exclaimed, "I love the holiday stuff almost as much as I love the holidays! It's festive and fun." Senior Producer Terry Michaels chimed in with, "In-game holidays are great. I think you can mix real and new holidays to make sense."

15. What is your favorite way to consume the lore of EverQuest Next?

Through the previous question we learned that people want lore (at least in regard to holidays), but how do they want to get that lore? This question focused on lore delivery. Which of the following methods speaks to you?
  • Outside the game, such as on web sites; I prefer to spend my in-game time in action, not reading.
  • Cutscenes bring the story to life, even if it does mean sitting and watching the show.
  • I like in-game lore that I can reference later, such as stories in in-game books or a quest journal that I can read when I have some down time.
  • I like the lore to be conveyed to me in real-time in the game through quest dialog and other narration in small pieces while I adventure.
  • A mix of the above!
The overwhelming majority chose... all the above! Now does that make it easier or harder to develop? I guess that's not our problem. At least those who really love lore don't have to wait until the game launches to get into it, as the site already has a number of ebooks players can access.

The devs: Vanguard Creative Director Steve Danuser added his thoughts to the mix: "Lore should come alive around me as I play, a rich setting for my own character's stories." Technical Director Steve Klug shared his ideas as well, saying, "I like cutscenes, as long as you can skip them, and quest text. Lore should be optional with rewards for digging deeper."

16. How much should the world of EQ Next change based on time of day?

Night and day is like, well, night and day in the real world. Different elements come out, and there are definitely different feels to the two times. But sometimes in virtual words things don't change much except for a little lighting. is that how you prefer it, or would you like there to be more of a distinction? In other words, how would you feel about stumbling around in the dark in your gaming session? Yea? Nay?
  • The world should be significantly more dangerous at night, for the night is dark and full of terrors.
  • I'd like to see the AI factor time of day into its behavior.
  • The environment should change, but I don't want it to affect my objectives.
  • The time of day shouldn't impact my gameplay.
You know, it's almost unfair -- it doesn't matter what the choice is; adding A Game of Thrones reference just makes it the best! Over 50% of respondents want night to be a dangerous place. Personally, I agree, but I don't like that I had to choose between that and AI behavior being influenced by day/night cycles because I'd really like to see both! Perhaps those who sided with AI behavior feel the same way. In either case, all but 8% voted for one of those two choices!

The devs: Lead Combat Designer Michael Mann keeps with the theme, saying, "'Light our fire and protect us from the dark, blah, blah...' Unlike Tyrion, we should be afraid of the dark. Make time of day matter, but let me complete my goals at any time." Georgeson chimed in with, "I like ecosystems. Nocturnal and diurnal creatures/situations make variety, and variety is great stuff."

The EverQuest realm 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.