As previously mentioned, I’m back in the world of Norrath.Â In addition to picking up the reins on Ishiro, I decided to also start up a new character so I could run through the new tutorial and see some of the changes to the game.Â So Jhaer the Drakken cleric was born.Â At the same time, since I did sign up for the Station Access, I started up EverQuest II to see how the game had changed since I later played.
In EQ, the new tutorial is fairly fantastic.Â It does a great job of introducing you to the features of the game, even grouping.Â EQ2 is pretty much the same… in fact after going into game I realized how much Sony cribbed the new EQ design off EQ2.Â The default UI layout, the quest logs featuring step by step goals.Â They are very similar.
After playing both for a couple of days, I came face to face with one of the reasons I tired of World of Warcraft but had not noticed until now: Breadcrumbs.
In game design, this is the idea of quests, tasks and objects that slowly lead a character through content.Â In WoW as a human you start in the newbie area and after a few quests you get one to take a note to Goldshire, where you find your next few quests, which eventually lead you to the lumber mill, and then you get lead to Westfall, and so on.Â In WoW though, quests are some of the best source of experience and loot in the game.Â The quests are the game.Â EQ, being that at its core it is still the same game that came out in 1999, is based largely on killing monsters with quests being secondary.Â The two don’t always mix together well.
For World of Warcraft and even EverQuest II, since the game was made for these sorts of quests and the quest log design, if you need to collect gnoll scalps, gnolls scalps don’t drop unless you have the quest.Â In EverQuest, gnoll scalps drop even if you don’t have the quest, but while under the old style quest system (no quest log, no stage tracker) if you got 10 scalps before being given the quest, you could turn them in anyway, however, under the new system it only counts the scalps if you loot them AFTER getting the quest, so if you have 10 scalps and get a quest to collect 10 scalps, you have to get 10 more.
Over in EverQuest II, I ran into a different problem.Â One of my quests asked me to find evidence of the missing soldiers.Â After getting fed up looking for this evidence, I went to a spoiler site and they explained I just needed to go to one spot and find the dead soldier body, which would then spawn a defiled soldier that I would have to kill.Â So I went back into game and went to the spot, but there was no dead soldier.Â I ran around the area for a couple hours killing everything, but no dead soldier.Â The problem here is that this quest is the second quest in a series of six or so breadcrumb quests that are supposed to lead me around the island.Â This tutorial area is built with two lines of quests, and if you complete both sets before leaving you end up with a basic set of armor and weapons to carry you into the game.Â I fully completed one line, but the second is halted because of this dead soldier who doesn’t seem to exist.Â To make things worse, there are usually eight or more of us waiting around for this dead soldier.
In addition to a single broken quest halting an entire line, breadcrumbs quest lines also funnel the players through areas without exploration, and in fact since quests are where the real rewards are in newer games, you are often passively penalized for getting off the path and looking around as progression of your character virtually halts if you don’t play the game the way they want you to play.
I don’t know if there is any solution to this, or if it even needs a solution, its just something I felt like rambling about.