There are two horrible decisions in the current Everquest 2 test-build that are being protested strongly by the playerbase. You’ll find them both at the top of the patch notes.
* Qeynos and Freeport have been disabled as starting cities.
* Mounts will now be temporarily suspended while in combat.
They’re similar, in a way, in that they both take things away from the game, instead of add new choices. We were already somewhat aware of the threat to Qeynos and Freeport, and I have discussed my opposition to that change in this post.
We have been able to fight while mounted, if I remember rightly, since the beginning of the game. Back then, Paladins even had some combat moves that could only be executed while mounted, so mounted combat was always the intention, and an important feature of EQ2. The animations if you’re on the back of a horse or other animal look fine, and if you’re standing on a flying carpet then they’re exactly the same as if you were standing on the ground, except for, you know, that you’re standing on your awesome flying carpet.
Now your mount is going to vanish every time you enter combat. Nobody was asking for this. Even the raiders, who are concerned with lag, just wanted to be able to turn mounts off for raids, not for the entire world.
Mounted combat is a feature that most MMOs would kill for. How can it be that SOE is prepared to give it up so easily? I love my mounts. I was even going to post about my very newest, the Hotwired Gnomish Hoverpad, and quite how awesome it is. Not feeling quite so enthused now, seeing as Maltheas won’t be able to do this any more:
There has been a response to player unhappiness from Smokejumper. My comments are in green:
Well, I guess it’s time to stick my head in the dragon’s mouth. Here goes nuthin’.
I’ve played with the system as it is currently on Live (rather extensively). I’ve also played the system that is on Test now.
It’s basically a change about “what looks best”.
The fact is, the Live solution doesn’t look very good. Especially if you’re playing a character with radical animations, like a Monk. It looks bad in your opinion. In the opinion of the players it was working fine. Even the folks with kicks looked perfectly fine on flying carpets. Fighting on the back of your mount is cool, and makes some of us happy.
Also, we already have the conceit in the game, for things like climbing and swimming, where your mount turns off/on.
Additionally, there is no way that we can add the literally hundreds of necessary anims and hunks of code to make combat look spectacular while on a mount. (At least not with our existing task load for future features.)
So, the solution is to turn off the mount while in combat. You may ask, “When does the mount off/on occur?”
1) It doesn’t happen if you’re just aggroed. It only happens if YOU attack something.
2) We’re going to massage the code a bit (soon) so that your mount doesn’t immediately pop back in until a few seconds after you destroy your current opponent. That way, if you’re not using AoEs, the mount doesn’t keep popping back in before you can switch to a new target and continue fighting.So we get to see even less of our mounts.
This system allows you to continue seeing the great combat animations and makes the game more visually appealing for all players.If we cared so much about seeing the “great combat animations” then we’d get off our horse. We already see them when fighting in dungeons (mounts are disabled in indoor zones), so having some variety when outside was nice.
Regarding the “/showmount” request…that’s not something we want to do either. If you’re getting the speed boost, other players should know why that’s occuring.That’s an utterly spurious argument. The game is packed to the gills with items that increase run speed, such as the Earing of the Solstice and the Journeyman Boots. Other players can’t see them, so that is no argument whatsoever for not having a /showmount command. You may well have a reason not to implement the /showmount command, but it certainly can’t be that.
Regarding a graphics option to show the mount even while you’re in combat, we’re not doing that either. This is an aesthetic decision that keeps the game more attractive for all players. The currently munged animations that occur while riding look like (well, actually “are”) a bug. Since we don’t have time to create all the extra anims required to fix that in the perfect way (which would also make it *much* harder for us to create new mounts in the future because they would need all those extra anims also), we’re going to have to go with this solution. Why? Why has this suddenly become so important?
We fully realize this won’t please all players, but it will result in a better looking game for most players, so that’s why we’re making the change.. Having our mounts pinging back and forth into existence is NOT aesthetically pleasing.
Elsewhere, Cronyn had this to say about the Qeynos/Freeport issue:
Hey folks. I understand that many of you would like to see the old starting islands remain, but I’d like to explain the decision, at least so you see where we were coming from.
Primarily, the starting islands and following content, simply put, are not up to the standards of the newer starting cities. Players who start in these zones are at a disadvantage when compared to players who start in the newer zones. In the more recent starting zones, the play experience is laid out better, with improved loot and quests. From an art and design standpoint, the islands were great five years ago when the game launched, but the game has changed and improved in many ways and we don’t feel the newbie islands are as good as they should be today. Then update the loot. How long would it take to change the stats on some items?
A great positive effect of having four starting zones is that it helps focus players into areas with other people, and encourages interaction and community. The current content revamp helps players travel along a common path as they level up, so that they will more likely come across other people, and form relationships, form communities, and experience the game when it’s at its best – with friends. Making sure they have this chance by focusing them into content we feel is strong is one of the goals with turning off the islands as well.If you follow that logic, then I guess this is just the first of many zones to be removed. Anything not on this newfangled golden path had better watch out.
Finally, I’d like to say that we are not planning to abandon Freeport and Qeynos. However, we’d like to repurpose them somewhat into content destinations rather than starting points. A good deal of overarching content deals with these cities directly, and we’d like to create even more content that basically turns these into important quest and activity hubs, so to speak – I can’t go into it too much right now (although you saw some of what I mean during the destruction of Freeport live event), but there’s definitely an idea on how we’d like them to be presented going forward. The legacy content that is there (especially the racial quests) are not being removed, but we’ve been discussing ways to make this content more functional overall.
Anyway, we really appreciate all of the feedback, and we hope you can see why we felt this was a necessary change.
The other thing these changes have in common is that the solution chosen to the perceived problem has been the one that requires least effort, rather than fixing or making something new. If the newbie islands are truly lacking, than the proper thing to do would be to bring them up to speed, not to just cast them aside.
Nobody was asking for either of these changes, and we’re being utterly ignored and overruled. I am beginning to wonder why they have a feedback forum at all if we’re just going to be told that father knows best. We’re not being listened to, and it feels like many of the reasons being given have been made up after the fact to justify the decisions. It is feeling at the moment like some sort of “old is bad” ideology has crept into the thinking. Possibly because most of the people who made the original content have moved on, and people are naturally more supportive of content they were involved in making.
You can see the main forum threads pertaining to these issues at “Qeynos and Freeport have been disabled as starting cities”, and Mounts will now be temporarily suspended while in combat. Thus far, it is very clear how the majority of players feel.
This would be a good moment for our new Producer, Dave Georgeson, to make an appearance. In a recent interview, Zam asked him:
ZAM: Have you yet gone and thrown out any of the plans that were on the table as of last Wednesday?
Dave: No. I will go so far as to say that any of the short term plans are not going to be changed a bit. The farther it gets from today the more impact I’ll have on what’s actually happening. But I would expect it to be a month or two before any kind of shifts the I’m making will have any kind of difference in what we’re doing on the game.
This is your opportunity, Mr Georgeson, to show that you are willing to listen to us. It would be unfortunate for you to spend the first month of your reign standing by and letting this happen.
I would rather have written that post about how fun the new tinkered mount is. I’d like to be planning to rave about Halas. As it stands, the breezy and dubiously argued way that player feedback is being discounted is the thing I’m thinking about most when I consider EQ2 at the moment.
Update: It turns out Smokejumper IS Dave Georgeson. I find that EQ2′s producer would have said what he did in his comment on mounted combat to be deeply discouraging.