EQ2 Announces Late April Fools Joke

I almost spat my coffee out when I saw this video over at Rock, Paper Shotgun this morning. I still can’t quite figure out if this ‘SOEmote’ feature for Everquest 2 is all just an elaborate hoax or not. Indeed, if it had been announced two months ago, I don’t think any of us would be having any doubt that it’s just an April Fool’s joke gone awry on the part of SOE. Even the presenter, David Georgeson, is so incredibly enthusiastic that it’s verging on the sarcastic. I was half expecting him to turn and wink to the camera at the end.

But alas, it does seem to be the real deal and I can’t say that I get it. Voice fonts, whilst a nice ideal ‘n all, really just aren’t at the stage where they can actually be effective and I was practically cringing when ol’ David there gave us a sample of what they would sound like in-game. Call me strange but I really don’t want to be having conversations with people who either sound like the serial killer from Scream or one of Alvin’s long lost chimpunk brothers. After a few minutes of utter hilarity, it’s going to get very old, very quickly. Personally, until a MMO can make me sound like Brian Blessed, I think I’ll just pass on the whole thing.

The facial expression emulation does look pretty nifty, I’ll give SOE that, but again I’m left scratching my head wondering what the real use of it is considering it’s very hard to see that level of detail in other character’s faces when actually playing a MMO. Was all the time and effort required to implement such a feature worth it? I can’t help but think SOE could’ve found some better use of their time and resources. Plus, I’m half expecting the developers to announce it as a prank and release a web site in a few months of gullible gamers gurning into their web cams.

I think I’m definitely developing some sort of weird love/hate relationship with Everquest 2. I played it religiously from 2004 to 2008 and still say it was the finest MMO of it’s time. It pushed boundaries, it fought tremendously hard to pick itself up from a rather lackluster launch and, perhaps more than anything, it was innovative and ambitious. Whilst WoW was just playing it safe and very slowly refining mechanics, EQ2 was speeding ahead, producing excellent content and in-game features, and becoming an incredible game.

And then it went lost direction and went all kind of gimicky, for some reason becoming more obsessed with silly, superfluous features than proper content or games mechanics. I also don’t think this it’s a coincidence that this started to happen around the time when Scott Hartsman and Steve Danuser departed to work on RIFT and Copernicus respectively.

Some folks feel more positively about the direction Everquest 2 is taking though and after reading Bhagpuss’ take on it, I am almost tempted to log into EQ2 just so I can have some utterly bizarre in-game avatar roleplaying conversation with him. That is if the idea of having a voice-modulated conversation with a lip-syncing Ratonga didn’t creep me out so much.

I think I’ll just wait for Everquest Next.

-Gordon

If you liked this post, why not subscribe to the RSS feed.


Related Posts

  1. Hear me, Hear me! WoW Voice Chat

A Few Things MMOs Could Learn From Diablo 3

Enter Leoric's Passage

Every game should have a quest entitled "Enter Leoric's Passage".

Like a lot of people I’m currently engrossed in Diablo 3, shunning my MMO activities for the past week in favour of battling the demons of hell throughout the realm of Sanctuary. It’s a good game and I’m having a lot of fun although I daresay it’s not quite as tremendously incredible as I somehow expected. To be fair though, that’s probably more due to the fact that nothing could have possibly lived up the excessive amount of hype that Diablo 3 had heaped upon its shoulders, a grand accumulation of 12 years of nostalgia, impatience and seductive teasing.

Read more →


Looking Forward To Diablo 3’s Real-Money Auction House

Diablo 3 Auction House

"Sorry honey, but I just spent this month's mortgage gearing up my Wizard"

I have to say that I’m quite looking forward to Diablo 3’s Real-Money Auction House (RMAH), not because I intend to buy or sell anything through it (although I can’t say that I won’t) but because I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how its introduction affects players and online gaming in general. See, I reckon Diablo 3 is going to sell by the bucket load and make Blizzard a mountain of cash, a mountain that will turn into Everest itself one they start raking in revenue through the RMAH, so much so that I’d bet real money (see what I did there?) that the feature becomes a staple in every online game to come from now on.

Of course, I don’t think we’ll be seeing real-money auctions springing up in every online FPS or MMO or what not overnight but I have little doubt that it will happen slowly and surely. Just like 10 years ago the idea of a cash shop in a MMO or a free-2-play subscription model would’ve sounded inconceivable, I honestly believe in five years time almost every game with online capabilities, and most certainly all MMORPGS, will have some sort of real-money trading system. There’s just too much cash to be made out of it.

Read more →


Why I Don’t Like Raiding

Wintergrasp raid

I have no idea what's going on in this screenshot

I’ve never been a big fan of raiding in MMOs and it’s certainly something that I talk about fairly regularly. For me, raiding offers a pretty disjointed experience, counter intuiative to the whole leveling game in itself. Indeed, just like we now have games like League of Legends that offer what equates to essentially full-time PvP battlegrounds, maybe we should have completely separate games for raiding instead of trying to tack them onto a leveling game?

Perhaps I’m a ‘traditionalist’ in the way that I like my MMOs to be about leveling up and questing or fighting through static content. Not to say that I don’t appreciate the appeal of raiding, I do, and if it’s something you like then who I am to disagree. In fact, although it’s not for me, I can fully understand the thrill and enjoyment people get from activities such as competitive raiding and the like.

Read more →


Why Females Are Oversexualised In Video Games

Female Demon Hunter

Pre-Victoria's Secret concept art from Diablo 3

Update: A lot of this article has been misconstrued either through confusion or in the name of melodrama. To be 100% clear, I’m not condoning sexism or oversexualisation in video games in any way at all. Indeed, if anything, the purpose of the article is to highlight the history of inequality that has existed between the genders and try to answer why it not only happened but still continues today.

For the sake of consistency, I’ve left the article unmodified even though I’ve been sorely tempted to correct areas where I’ve perhaps been unintentionally flippant or insensitive. Still, the post is merely a theory based on some interesting and plausible conjecture and I’d encourage everyone to read it carefully and thoroughly before passing judgement.

Read more →


Play World of Warcraft, Become A Mass Murderer

World of Wacraft wallpaper

Didn't you know? WoW will turn you into a sociopath

Or so some of the press would have us believe. I don’t know how much it’s being reported in the US but in Europe the media are having a field day reporting that Anders Brievik, currently on trial for the murder for 77 people in Norway last year, played World of Warcraft 16 hours a day for one year solid. It’s the old “video games are evil” debate all over again except this time the Internet is being thrown into the mix too.

Now I can’t say for certain that computer games don’t impact our mental state but I do find it rather depressing how the press leap all over them at every available opportunity, usually representing them with ill-informed facts. Case in point, the article by The Telegraph linked to above describes WoW as a “a virtual world where 10.3 million players attempt to achieve the position of ‘Justicar’”. Justiwah? Since when did a PvP Achievement title the main focus of the game?

Read more →


The Real Key To Player Retention

WoW Pet Battles

Behold, pet battles! The future of all MMORPGs.

There’s little doubting that the long-term financial success of MMOs is in player retention. Box sales alone don’t count for much and I could easily run off plenty of examples of games that sold well on release then took a nose dive after a month or two and now languish in low popularity limbo. However, when it comes to what matters most, few developers actually seem to have been able to unlock the secret player retention.

BioWare for one looks like it’s suffering and if their latest awful promotion is anything to go by, they seem to be having trouble holding on to players that have hit the level cap. Personally, I’m not surprised. SW:TOR is a lot of fun and the story mode stuff is interesting but ultimately it doesn’t have the long-term hook that other MMOs have (at least for me anyway). The similarity between classes, the limited storylines, the overall lack of things to do… eventually people are going to get bored.

Read more →