It isn’t new news that Alan “Brenlo” Crosby has stepped down as EverQuest II’s senior producer but I have yet to talk about it. In many ways it scares me that the stable hand behind the game is gone and a less experienced one has been put in its place. I have a huge amount of respect for Alan and will miss him. In my years of being a SOE gamer, from EQ1 to EQ2 and everything in between, he was always kind to me. I wish him all the success in whatever endeavor he finds himself. That leaves us with the here and now. What happens when an MMORPG gets a new captain?
I’ve made it no secret that I haven’t been thrilled with the direction EQ2 has taken lately. Adding battlegrounds and focusing solely on them has been very detrimental for the PvE experience. It just doesn’t feel as polished or complete as it has in previous expansions. Itemization is still a mess as we watch patch notes come out with new battlegrounds gear sets and enhancements. I’m sure someone will point out how many people are doing battlegrounds but that is not always an indication of enjoyment. Battlegrounds are the path of least resistance. Do you want to select your own loot that is comparable or better than what you get from running a dungeon? Run repetitive battlegrounds over and over and you’ll get it. I’m also certain someone will make the comment that the gear is “only good in PvP.” That just isn’t the case. The effects might be PvP limited but the raw stats are there. It is unfortunate that this is occurring since WoW went through the exact same issue. I pointed this out prior to the release and I stick by it now. It happened as we all expected it to happen.
The real question is in what direction Dave Georgeson will take the game. He made it clear that in a recent Massively interview he wasn’t up to speed yet but will eventually be making the major decisions. Given that Dave has a solid background in PvP titles it is safe to imagine he would stick with what he knows at first and then move into areas he is less familiar with. That could mean a rather long cycle of content I have no interest in. What I want is rarely a criteria for game design though!
I did like one particular thing that Dave said that gives me hope for his leadership. He basically stated that he likes micro-transactions over subscriptions because it takes the power away from the developers and gives it to the players.
From a player’s standpoint, I’d personally rather have microtransactions than anything else. Why? If a dev team is running on microtransactions and they don’t do the right stuff that you like, they don’t make any money. If what they’re doing isn’t fun, then they don’t make any money. If it’s not at the right price point, they don’t make any money. The burden shifts from the old school style into a new, “What have you done for me lately?” kind of perspective for players. This makes developers become genuinely interested in giving you the things that you want.
That is one attitude I can appreciate and hope to see more of in the future. The subscription model has become a sour fruit for me due to the fact that you pay up front for something you may or may not get later. I like the buffet ideal behind it but these days it feels like you purchase the buffet only to find out that they stopped putting sesame chicken on it. That is always a tragedy in my book! What do you think though?