EverQuest Next: Epic Quests for Epic Weapons

Posted Tue, Jul 23, 2013 by Dalmarus

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SOE Live is barely a week away and with it, the unveiling of EverQuest Next. One thing that I’m desperately hoping we all see a return of is the epic weapon and the quests that went along with it. For old timers, even the phrase “epic weapon” brings sighs of awe. Some people got them and some didn’t. One thing is for certain though – those who did earned an instant amount of respect when they walked by with one because it took nothing less than a herculean effort to get one.

Today, there are awesome weapons in games, and some that even require the player to do extreme grinding, whether in terms of faction, items to be gathered, or just simple time involved. When the original epic weapon quests were introduced to the game (now referred to as 1.0 epics), they were insanely brutal and incredibly convoluted. Despite the amount of bitching they caused at the time, everyone wanted one and the hunt was on.

The druid epic, affectionately know as the leaf blower.

To give you an idea of what it took to get one of these items of legend, I’ll use the Necromancer’s 1.0 epic weapon, the Scythe of the Shadowed Soul (such a kickass name). From start to finish, it took over 20 quests, scattered across more than 10 zones, required the gathering of almost 20 items, and involved killing nearly two dozen different mobs.

That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? What if I told you quite a number of those mobs were rare spawns? I don’t mean rare as in, “Aw, shucks, I’ve got to wait an hour or two for it to spawn”, I mean spawns on multiple day timers. Assuming you were the one to catch that elusive mob you’d been camping for days without some asshat wandering by at just the wrong time and tagging the mob first (whoever hit a mob first owned it and the loot), there was still no guarantee the mob had the loot item you needed. That’s right folks, not only did you need to kill a rare spawn, it had a rare loot table.

Ok… that’s pretty rough. Sounds like quite a bit to go through, but at least it was worth it. Ho ho ho, my precious little students. We’re not done yet. You had to go through this process for multiple mobs. And sometimes (in fact for at least 3 of the items I can think of off the top of my head), you had to do it with a raid. A full 40-man raid to be exact.

I know, I know… the shock of this is hard to comprehend, but let’s spit it out in short form so we can really understand what people had to go through. For multiple pieces needed in a massive string of quests, players would, on more than one occasion, need to get a raid of 40 players together to kill a raid boss that may or may not have the item piece they need. When they weren’t trying to get a raid together for a quest item, they were camping rare spawns for days for even more rare loot.

It was hell to go through. I played EverQuest with a pretty active guild for years. After 2 years of growth, we eventually reached the point to get some of the guild members their epic weapon. And by some of the guild members, I mean three. I’m not kidding.

I myself never received my beloved duck stick, but I clearly remember the awe I felt on those extremely rare occasions I would see a fellow Necromancer with one. Just by seeing a player walk by with one of these weapons, you instantly knew that they put an insane amount of time and effort into getting it. The solo/group time was astounding, let alone the raid time.

So now that I’ve scared the pants off of any gamer unfortunate enough to not have seen EverQuest at its peak, let me assure you I don’t think we need to go quite so far for any epic weapons in EverQuest Next. The concept of getting a 40 man raid together to kill a raid boss and hope for that rare piece of loot that will let you get your epic weapon is cool and all, but even I think it’s going a little too far.

What I’d like to see is the same item being able to be gathered by more than one method. For example, if a quest item is needed off of a 40 man raid boss, let it exist in the normal hunting areas of the world as well. Sound too easy? Hear me out.

Quack!

For those items on the raid boss, give it something along the lines of a 10%-20% chance to drop (I’m not a designer, so I’m just pulling numbers out of my ass, but follow along). For the person who wants to go about it the hard way instead, the item they need should be able to drop off of any mob in the game, as long as the player in question would actually gain experience off of it.

For example, let’s say I’m playing a Necromancer (wow… that’s really a stretch) and I need 27 different quest items to complete my epic. From the tender character level of 10, every time I kill a mob, a check should be made. If the mob gives me experience, a loot roll should be made completely separate from the normal loot table and of course, completely behind the scene like all others. This roll is like a slot machine in which I need to come up with three jokers to hit the jackpot and receive one item off of my epic quest list. Once the item is received, it gets scratched off the list (if you manage to destroy or lose it, you can just reclaim it like veteran rewards).

The odds of me getting 27 jackpots over the course of anything under a couple of years worth of gameplay seem pretty astronomical to me, so I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request. This would allow epic weapons to still be extremely rare, but would satisfy the crying over people unable to raid still having a chance to get them. Even so, it’s time for players to accept the fact that not everything works as planned 100% of the time in neither life nor games. Everyone could do with a little fizzle in their lives… but of course, that’s a topic for next week!

While you wait for next week’s piece, catch up on any previous EverQuest Next articles you may have missed! If you’ve got questions, old-school aspects you’d like me to cover, or anything in between, shoot me an email or hit me up on Twitter!

Aaaah the joy of epic weapons in EQ !! Being a magician, I remember seeing this awesome pet bumming around a fellow mage and nearly sh*t my robes.... Saw the Orb of Mastery in his hands and went on my knees begging him to explain what the deal was with those...

Needless to say, after 10 minutes or so of conversation, I was awestruck by the sheer amount of stuff to do to obtain the beloved item. And I was only lvl35 at the time, in a small guild....
Then I cried.

Again alittle nitpicking, no you didnt own the mob, it was quite possible to killsteal if you could do more dmg than who ever had pulled the mob, tho most had the common sense not to.

I would enjoy botting your suggestion.

You say, 'Hail, Telin Darkforest'

Telin Darkforest looks at you serenely. 'Hello, wanderer.'

You say, 'What are you doing in this forest?'

Telin Darkforest says 'Mighty this place must have been, once. Now scarred by hatred and suffering. I have been sent here seeking answers to problems not yet understood.

----

The above text is the start of my epic quest - my epic JOURNEY in EQ. I received the first sword (Swiftwind) relatively quickly. It took me a full calendar YEAR to complete my journey and get Earthcaller...

And every second was worth it.

The epic quests in EQ didn't just TELL a story - they made you PART OF the story.

For sure, some things could be cleaned up. Stuff like they did with the cleric epic where they made the Skyfire dragon spawnable by completing some group or raid oriented quests rather than having to do the dreaded "24 hour a day, 7 day a week camp" that some of us split up time and sat through...

But I would make those changes WITHOUT removing any of the burden / difficulty of obtaining your epic. Because as odd as this sounds for an adult to say - the night I finalized my Epic - I was so excited I was unable to sleep.

That was part of the joy of EQ as well. It was full of lows for sure - but those lows ALWAYS seemed to have a reason at the end that made enduring them worthwhile - and also more intense.

You DID go through a lot to get your epic - and so people DID recognize you when you walked past with them...

And that DID become a community builder.

How many of us had people send us tells?

"Hey, do you mind me asking you a question? How did you get those swords???"

Bring them back - and keep them brutally hard... so that having them means something... so that I can endure another sleepless night when I FINALLY get mine - and so that people who get them can again experience the chance and the joy of helping someone else on their way toward getting theirs when they are approached with "Can I ask you a question?"

I hope they are listening to you SOE, Dalmarus.
"The concept of getting a 40 man raid together to kill a raid boss and hope for that rare piece of loot that will let you get your epic weapon is cool and all, but even I think it’s going a little too far.

What I’d like to see is the same item being able to be gathered by more than one method. For example, if a quest item is needed off of a 40 man raid boss, let it exist in the normal hunting areas of the world as well".
I agree, I want it complex, but no more 40 man raids.

I disagree with no more 40 man raids. 10 player, 24 player, etc... played a role in driving raiding into over scripted, over tuned affairs.

Worse - get down to 10 man, and you stand a chance of wiping if one or two people die.

I know sometimes it could be boring waiting to try and gather 40+ people... but the fights were more enjoyable (in my opinion only) in EQ than they ever were in EQ2, WoW, or "WoW clone of the day"... and so, like much else in EQ - worth the effort.

I don't think Dalmarus was calling for the end of 40 mans btw... I think he was saying that having things like a rare drop from a rare boss from a 40 player raid being the only way to progress your epic might be a little too much.

Having said that - a LOT of people got their epics even with those restrictions.

I love this particular post and you hit about every point on the head. What I really loved about the epic 1.0 was that if you had it, you earned it period. There was no magic drop off a mob and you just happened to get it. You put some blood, sweat, and tears into this quest so heck yeah, people should turn your way and applaud you. Anything shy of that, the accomplishment would not be "epic".

Let's fast forward to 2013, I'm 40 years old now and have far too many obligations to ever even attempt a quest like that. Working 48-60 hours a week, a wife and 2 kids really takes a toll on a person. I simply don't have the time like I used to. Back in the day, I managed to get my epic 1.0 for my cleric, druid, and bard. My poor ranger never got it. :( Today, it just wouldn't happen with the way the system was designed. Is this fair? Yes and no. If it weren't for a great raiding guild, I probably would never have gotten any of my epics. Unfortunately, a ton of people I knew never finished their's simply because they couldn't form a raid fast enough to get the kill. You start spamming the airwaves that uberrarespawn is up and it's guaranteed to get stolen from you.

In a nutshell, keep epics around... and they should be game changers like they were in classic EQ. They should also progress from then on with EVERY expansion that is released. I don't mind the rare drops off the rare spawns. I don't care if I mindlessly scavenge for items across a 1000 mile continent. Please, don't make me have to form a raid for a "chance" to get an item I need. Include alternative methods if need be so the average, casual player has a shot at awesomeness. The raider may complete the quest in 100 hours game play where the casual gamer may invest 500+ hours on his/her own terms. I think back to my early EQ years and just wish I was back there again. Life was so much fun, no worries in life... just having fun. I'm so jealous of young people (and retired scum like my dad) who can log 100+ hours a week. Maybe by the times EverQuest 9 comes out, I can play indefinitely too! :)

I think raids were an important part of epics - but I also think they implemented them differently from class to class - with some being easier and some distinctly harder.

Getting the dragon that I mentioned earlier for the cleric epic in Skyfire could be quite the challenge... but Getting Venril Sathir's Remains for Rangers and Druids? Not so much.

When I needed him - I simply decided to log out in Karnor's Castle every night so that eventually I would log in and find him up. It took about two weeks. More, VSR dropped TWO of the items needed for the ranger and druid epics every time he was killed - period.

I could see three things working for raids in relation to epic quests:

1) Give rare spawns a means of being spawned that takes ROUGHLY the same amount of play time as there would be wait time for it... so for example - if the end mob for your epic is on a 7 day spawn and has a place holder... make me do 7 full days of stuff in game that allows me to trigger the boss. That means you could just sit and wait it out if you want, or work to be able to spawn it. Perhaps the estimated hours of work you would need to do could be something less than the mob spawn cycle to account for sheer dumb luck in finding your spawn up.

2) Stop the rare drops off of rare boss mobs routine. If you either waited out the boss, or worked to spawn the boss - and then were able to get a raid together that successfully killed the boss... that should be enough of a bar. You shouldn't have to cross that bar 2, 5, or 100 times to get your drop.

3) I would make Epic raid bosses be EXCLUSIVELY for the epics - and I would give them some very nice drops that occurred along WITH the epic drop the person working on their quest needs... in this way, you give guilds a reason beyond being totally selfless to go... i.e. "The only time I'll ever have a chance to get that uber sword of awesomeness is if I help kill that mob on that epic quest" YOU get your epic drop, some guild mate or other gets what amounts to a pretty rare nice item.

I think this would work for more casual players - as the ability to quest for the trigger items would then allow casual folks the ability to actually PLAN a raid: "Hey everyone in my guild - I've done the work and I'm ready to kill uber boss X... I'd like to do it Friday at 9:00pm eastern!"

I would keep all of the single group / solo running around stuff pretty much the same in the quest lines.

I like your some of your ideas for getting drops for your epic. I think I would still like to get rid of the raids to getting it.

Sadly, I did Epic 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 on three different characters. I do believe in the time spent doing that, I might have earned my Masters.

Can't wait for EQNext!

You forgot a key point. Unlike all WoW loot or even a lot of ordinary EQ loot. Epics could last 2,3 or even 4 expansions and were later used for future new epic quests. So it truly was an epic weapon.

This was true of gear in general for EQ back in the day. You didn't get new gear for a slot every 2 days... sometimes you didn't get new gear in a slot every two months!

As I recall, I would target a specific SLOT - look for upgrade options and try for them - then work on another slot...

Turning over a full set of gear took a while - and you generally felt good about it when you achieved it.

That's a great point!

one of the basics of the epic quests, which though mentioned by some, seems to be glossed over by others is the necessity of community in order to achieve an epic. What I mean is, though each epic quest reward was given to an individual, no single individual could complete the entire series solo. The quests were built that way. As a result, in Kunark and Velious days, back when 1.0 was fresh and still top dog for most classes, each guild often had a separate page on their forums, listing which toon was where in their quest series, and raid nights were often planned out accordingly.

Guilds of course would prioritize those epics that were most useful to a guild raid, so of course cleric epics were the first to get listed. My guild would often set up 1 or even 2 "epic raid" nights / week, during epic heydays, in order to turn out as many as possible. I was lucky enough to be the 2nd ranger to get my blades, and I can tell you that it still stands out as one of my favorite times in 10 or so years in EQ1, off and on, and by far beats any other day in any game I have played since.

To come back to the community thing however, is to talk about the differences in gaming mentality from early 2000s to now. I could be wrong, but for the most part, people in my experience, who game today. are much more likely to be selfcentered and selfinterested, and therefore less likely to help someone out with such a quest, since they see little in it for themselves. Back in the day, enough ppl were willing to chip in and help others, and expected, and therefore got, help when they needed it. I still remember days when someone would just /ooc need help with epic fight in Kithicor! or anywhere else for that matter. More often than not, I would go and help out, both before and after I had my own epics, just because i remembered what a high I got off completing mine, and wishing that high to be experienced by someone else. These days, I expect if you asked for that kind of help in most games, you would just be laughed at, or ignored, at best. The side loot of epic quests was never that great, and without something for others to gain, they have little to no incentive for assisting.

It is too bad really. Maybe this attitude still exists out there, and I have just been unlucky. I sure have not found as tight a crew to run with in any game, outside of the great guild I belonged to for years in EQ1 on Torv. Over the years, I have completed ranger epics 2x, shammy epics 3x, rogue x 2 and bard x 1, cleric x 1.

I am truly hoping for an amazing game in EQnext, and a return to the classic style and fellowship that could be found back in the day. However, I am also afraid I am setting myself up for another disappointment, as has happened so many times since then. My fear is that the world kept turning, and those of us who miss the old days are just SoL....

aroidan, proud ranger of Kelethin on Torv
Loupgarou, stinky barbarian shammy of the Tribunal

Aroidan - in many respects, the game drives the community.

In EQ, EVERYONE needed EVERYONE ELSE... and so a community of helpfulness ensued. Today's MMO's are more and more "Massive Solo Player Games" - In WoW for example, you only need a guild if you plan to hit their "top end" raid content if you are a PvE player. Everything else - you don't.

And so the new games teach people to be self centered. If EQ Next is done right, I expect there will be a HUGE backlash from such folks who just want to do their own thing and end up doing things that, back in EQ, would have gotten them shunned by the community...

Because if done right, those things will start to get them shunned by the EQ Next community. It is at that point where SOE will either have to stand their ground, or risk what happened with Vanguard. Vanguard today is actually closer to old EQ than current EQ is in game play and - in some respects - game community... but in trying to please at least some of everyone (and this is BEFORE Vanguard launched buggy) they lost most of the old school players (in BETA) and never got the new school players at all...

I believe that SOE needs to make a game for old school players (and if all the rumor out there and hints that SOE is putting out there are true, they are) - but I also expect that this will mean it won't be a "WoW killer" - but, with the trend that seems to be out there - will be pretty big and pretty successful in its own right.

I totally agree with you here. MMORPGs, since the release of WoW pretty much, have an important business model decision to make. The decision is whether to 'dumb down" the game and make it soloable for the most part, as WoW did, and therefore appeal to the masses and makes lots of money, or to stay "old school" and risk staying a marginal game with a much smaller player base.

Everquest, upon release, was able to do what it did, because there was almost nothing else on the market. While it made many decisions to render the game more difficult, it had little competition to take away its player base, therefore giving it mass appeal by simply existing. Over the years, however, it has done more and more to simplify the game and make it more and more appealing to the mass audience. In doing so, it has alienated many of its old core of gamers, and at the same time failed to attract the masses, who still find it too 'difficult' or community-based for their tastes, at least compared to other games on the market.

EQ2 was released about the same time as WoW. Both of these were made to appeal to a larger audience, though SoE did make the decision to go middleground, and remained more "old school" than did WoW. As a result, the vast majority of players out there went for WoW, as they could get in, advance their toon noticeably in just a short while, and log out. One could even solo a toon all the way up to max lvl, something completely impossible in either EQ1 or 2. This meant that EQ2 never really did succeed. The people who wanted hardcore and oldschool went back to EQ1, while everyone else went to WoW.

Vanguard was made by a crew of the original creators of EQ1, and was definitely intended to be of the more core-like and oldschool along the lines of their first creation. I was all for that. EQ1 was showing its age, the graphics were a little worn out, and EQ1 devs were taming the game more and more. VGSoH would never have been a WoW killer, it was just entirely geared towards a different audience, and would never be more than a niche game. Unfortunately, what with the fiasco of release, it barely even became that. It had huge potential, and after years of work has become a somewhat decent game, but the stigma of its release will never go away, and I don't think it will ever reach its potential.

There have been many many games released of course. For the most part, all of them that I can think of, all hope to become the WoW killer. They are built to appeal to the mass market, since that is where the money is. I understand that, the games need to make money after all. I just find it unfortunate that my gaming tastes differ so much from the mass market, so I don't get what interests me as much. I have tried many of the games over the years.

I guess my biggest fear is that SoE will make the same decision that all the other companies have, and target the mass audience where the most money is. WoW is in a certified state of decline right now, and many gaming companies are chomping at the bit to make some of that blizzardcash. So far, VGSoH is by far the closest I have come to enjoying gaming again, but I still find myself trying others and not getting sucked in. We will see what happens with EQnext, but I won't hold my breath. I would pretty much be overjoyed at a remake of EQ1 with better graphics and a few minor changes. I somehow doubt that will happen anytime soon though lol

aroidan

The thing that gives me hope is a video clip of Smedley that was put out - oh- maybe two or three years ago now. In it, he said that he realizes (essentially) that you can't build the "WoW killer" - and that SOE's approach would be to have lots of games that appealed to specific groups with the intent of keeping those groups of people for a long time.

If you look at SOE's product offerings, you can see that taking shape.

I can see EQ Next becoming bigger than I might have expected maybe a year or two ago - if for no other reason than the fact that it seems sandbox is the coming trend in MMO's, and SOE has experience in at least Sand PARK (which is what EQ really was). They could become the monster in that room... but I think the room will never be the millions large that WoW was.

But a million+ for a long time? The trend toward sandbox could have them hit that.

we can only hope.

However, I also recall a quote by Smedley, years ago, back when SoE intrdoduced the ingame Store. "This [LoN] is not some slippery slope towards selling items directly in EQ & EQ II." Now that is worth a good laugh, since if we look at what has happened, that is exactly what occurred. The slippery slope was slid to the depths....

Since that time, I take anything Smed says with a huge amount of distrust.

I would give that one a "Yeah, but..."

Specifically - the F2P model wasn't really there yet... and the micro transaction model wasn't really there yet.

For any company NOT to take advantage of the micro transaction model is just crazy at this point - as it seems to be quite lucrative - and once they went F2P (well, their version of F2P) - pretty much mandatory.

I look at it this way: The choices they made with things like F2P and micro transactions gave them the cash they needed to build a couple competing versions of EQN... throw them away - and build what we are now all avidly waiting for.

I do suspect that they didn't throw EVERYTHING away - as I would GUESS that they kept game world assets, etc... and threw out class designs, game mechanics, etc...

It's amazing that no game has come out in the last decade that was a "WoW killer". This is a true testament to Blizzard and the way they catered to the gamer. Below average systems could run the game smoothly, you could solo with every class (what a concept), you were spoon fed everything, and you could max out your character in a mere week (almost did this playing casually during a trial week). People want things now... that's why micro transactions are the new fad. Why play a game and actually "play" it when you could pay a small fee and beat it faster and be one up on someone else. I personally hate micro transactions but I admit I have used them before. Free to play models are everywhere in almost every genre... followed by the micro transaction. If you were producing a game at this point and you didn't offer both of those "incentives" you might as well pull the plug. Only way you could get by with this is to basically have one helluva game that literally blows every other game out of the water.

Overall, I think the overall camaraderie in games has stagnated (with some guild exceptions) due to the solo capability in games. I recently started up a character on EQ's test server, joined a progression guild that's actually reminiscent of old school EQ and gaming in general. I think these people are still out there, they may just be a little hard to find.

A few posters has mentioned V:SoH... I'm really surprised to hear this game is still around and thriving. I had such high expectations for that game but with all the bugs and glitches at launch, I just went back to playing EQ2 at that time. If Vanguard would have been set in Norrath, it would have (and should have) been the real EQ2. Crafting was phenomenal and playing as a bard composing my own songs was crazy cool. I should have given this game a chance... heck, I am looking at the collector's edition of V:SoH sitting on my bookshelf right now. Maybe I'll wipe the dust off the box and install it again to see how much it's improved.

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