Thursday, 27 October 2011

Home Is Where The Art Is : EQ2

Takes "chilling by the pool" to a whole new level














 Ardwulf said something today that set me thinking. He pondered whether EQ2 has more content than EVE and wondered whether EVE's player-driven approach gave players more to do than EQ2's "dev-designated tracks". Reflecting on this, it occurred to me that EQ2 has quietly sandboxed itself without anyone really noticing.

 Everquest 2 probably has more content than any other MMO I've ever played. Even if you've played EQ2, though, you might not have spotted it. Like the proverbial iceberg, much is invisible. Unlike the iceberg it's not underwater, although EQ2 does have plenty to see beneath the waves. No, it's behind the doors of all those houses and inns that you scarcely register as you pass by on your way to the bank or the broker or the bell. 

Indoors is outdoors
Housing has been in the game from the start. The picture at the top of my blog is taken from my gnome templar's inn room in Beta back in 2004. Back in those days a single room in an Inn sufficed for most people. Over time, that changed. Probably because housing fell into the purview of EQ2's greatest ever developer, Domino.

Under her stewardship much of the vast variety of existing furnishing was added to the ever-growing range of crafted recipes. So many lovingly designed items that had long been reserved for the sole pleasure of NPCs fell into the eager hands of player-decorators. Even some of the layout tools used by the devs themselves were handed over to players to use.

Freeport as a French boulevard
It didn't stop there. In the way of MMO players everywhere, those obsessive enthusiasts who never fail to find loopholes that devs never imagine, let alone intend, some anarchic genius worked out how to "break out"  of his house to the zone outside. Now you could not only enter your house through a door in the actual zone but with a little shimmy you could slip outside into your own quasi-legal instance and build over the whole of Maj'Dul or Greater Faydark.

Then Smokejumper got in on the act. His theory seemed to be "one house good, ten houses better". Or twenty.

Someone built this from scratch, In a house. Snark has no place here.














It's one thing when you can have just one house per character and that house might have at most five rooms. It's something else entirely when each character can have up to 20 houses chosen from from dozens of different models, from tiny dojos to entire islands or full-size castles. Decorating exploded.


The dentist will see you now
You can't really appreciate just how wide-ranging the possibilities of EQ2 housing are until you see what people have created. One thing the game lacked was an easy way to go on a tour of your server's stately homes. The recent addition of a housing leaderboard, despite some appalling conceptual and philosophical flaws, at least fixed that. You can now pop into a large number of listed properties on a whim from wherever you happen to be standing.

EQ2 already has by far the most extensive options for architectural creativity of any Western "theme park" MMO. Yet when the forthcoming expansion arrives there will be more. You won't just be able to design and decorate houses. You'll be able to build dungeons too. And adventure in them. It may not have the economic or espionage potential of EVE but EQ2 has an awful lot more to offer than on-rails questing and dance-card raids.

6 comments:

  1. I would say Star Wars Galaxies rivalled EQ2 up till its last gasp. Every object in the game was able to be picked up and mounted on a wall or put on the floor. People used to order droids, suits of armour etc as furniture.

    With the demise of SWG EQ2 is unrivalled.

    Add me to the Domino fan club. I was never a fan of devs worrying too much about forums before but she has made a wonderful job both of taming the forum and taking good feedback from the EQ2 crafting forum and adding it to the game.

    She has a blog you know, well worth adding to your blogroll:
    http://tradeskill.blogspot.com/

    Btw good job here. Nice layout well-written articles.

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  2. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Also for the link to Domino's blog, of which I was previously unaware.

    I have played SWG, although not very much. I've heard a lot about the housing there but in my brief visits I haven't found managed to find any great examples. Random house visiting is a needle/haystack affair at best, though.

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  3. Great points all around, and they hit to the core of what I was saying over at my place. The idea that quests and similar things are the only things that qualify as content is very narrow.

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  4. UO (back in 2001 or so?) let you free-build a house in the open world. It was pretty great. I remember spending a lot of time locking down tables and such to create "open" paths, and keeping my "private" areas blocked off to store items and such. A lot of very creative people made some great-looking (and functional) shops or arenas.

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  5. I saw some really impressive houses in UO in the brief time I was there (about 2 or 3 months in 2000 I think it was). I do prefer open-world housing, provided it avoids urban sprawl. Vanguard has an excellent version that could really have been something if the game had been even a moderate success.

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  6. I've seen some incredible SWG houses. On the server I played on we had 1 person in particular who was widely know as "the best" interior decorator and she'd do some wild stuff for people. I had a friend who liked to decorate and I hired her to do my house. She didn't do anything wild or out of the ordinary, but she simply made the place look great.

    Some of the PA halls that were set up as shopping malls had some pretty insane deco -- at least up in the public areas. I wish I'd kept all my screenshots. Ah well.

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