EverQuest Next: Everyone Needs a Little Fizzle

Posted Tue, Jul 30, 2013 by Dalmarus

EverQuest Next - Fizzles

Can you believe it? In less than one week, we’ll be flooding you with information about EverQuest Next. I know the wait is killing everyone (trust me, it’s killing me too). Not to fret, though! I’ve got something that can help. And of course, that would be another article about what I’d like to see in EverQuest Next – fizzling.

Any person that has played a caster character in EverQuest knows the curse of the fizzle. Earlier this month, I talked about the need to keep your skills up. Whether you were a melee class or a caster, everyone went through the pain of keeping their skills up or paid the price. Even when a player kept their skills maxed out as they should, there were still a number of ways a spell could fail.

The most common failure was the infamous fizzle. Fizzling was so famous in the game that one of the screen messages that would pop up while you were waiting for a zone to load was, “You have gotten better at Fizzling (47)”. The best part about this “skill” was that it would inevitably happen at the most inopportune moments. When you fizzled, not only did the spell you were attempting to cast not go off, but you also lost a portion of the spell’s mana cost in the process. A fizzle at the wrong time could cause the death of a warrior, wipe an entire party, or mean the difference between your own life and death near the end of a fight. No other regular game mechanic caused so much panic and/or frustration for players.

Yeah, this is probably a bad time for a fizzle.

Another mechanic still available in many games today is the ability for casters to be interrupted when they’re in combat and getting beat on. It’s very rare to see happen in games today compared to how often it happened in EverQuest. If you were getting beat on by a mob, the best thing to do was remain calm and wait to start casting until the moment your opponent swung at you. And I don’t mean when the animation swung, but when the text lines underneath said they had swung and either hit or missed. (To be fair, we are talking technology over a decade old… not everything was in sync). This gave you the best chance of getting your spell off before being struck and possibly interrupted.

There was also a skill called Channeling that was what the system used to determine your chance of continuing to cast after you’d been struck. A maxed out channeling skill was invaluable if you hoped to cast through a fight. How did you get this Channeling skill up? You could do it through normal casting, but the I found the fastest way to get the skill up was by casting spells while getting beat on by an angry mob. Like most things in EverQuest, this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but most caster classes learned early on how to avoid being hit while taking down a mob.

Even if you had your multiple spell skills maxed out, you stood a (not uncommon) chance of fizzling at least once during a few battles. Even if you had your Channeling skill maxed, you still stood a decent chance of having your spell casting interrupted if you were struck by a mob before it went off. As I mentioned, these things always happened at the worst times and periodically caused a lot of frustration.

Come to think of it, in combat there's really no <em>good</em> time for a fizzle.

So, if these systems caused so much anguish, why do I want them back? That’s actually pretty simple for any Dungeons and Dragons players (Shadowrun, Pathfinder, etc – they all work) to understand. Which stories do you and your friends still talk about from the game sessions of your past, the one where there were no surprises in the battle, or the time when the Cleric was rushing over to the Fighter for a touch-based heal, just as the Mage made a critical fumble and failed to take the Ogre out, just as its axe came rushing down on the Thief’s head and nearly took it off in one clean stroke before he made a critical success and dodged out of the way? It’s the added element of random chance that makes the system so exciting.

I miss the days of having that random element in my combat. In today’s games, I know that as long as I stay out of range, I’m virtually guaranteed to get my ability off with no problems and most times instantly. Even the longest spells today only take a second or two to cast, so it’s easy to get done. EverQuest had a large number of spells that took 3, 4, or even higher than 5 seconds to cast. Trying to get one of those off to save the day in the midst of combat took good timing and a touch of luck. The pace of combat in general was also longer, but 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!

It's funny that the things we used to find so flippin' frustrating in games are the things we remember and yearn for (yes, I said "yearn" in relation to games) the most. Bring back the element of surprise!

Very excited to see what news comes of EQ Next.

I think this points out the general lack of understanding of what all of the "frustrating" things meant to the game back in the day... WHILE we were "back in the day"

I have read several threads over the years since I left EQ where people were arguing over what "MMO" meant - with some of what I think were us more old school folks taking a stance that MMO meant a game where people were meant to play together... and a bunch of what I think were new school folks taking a stance that MMO just meant a lot of people in the same game world.

All of the "frustrating" mechanics - fizzles, corpse runs, death penalties, having to skill EVERYTHING, etc...

All of them were things that ultimately pushed us together in varied ways. In this particular case, a badly timed fizzle could impact people's evening in any number of ways. Does the fizzle cause a setback that your group was able to overcome? Like perhaps the tank dies due to a fizzle during a heal - but the healer pulls through and keeps the monk or maybe even the ranger alive while they finish out the fight...

That was a pretty high "high" in EQ.

Maybe they had a string of fizzles (we all know that happened every now and then!) And you wiped. Did you kick the healer? NO! You all knew what happened - and so you picked up that healer (who was likely frustrated because their inability to cast caused you all a death) - and you all fought back in and recovered... together... and this was another type of "high" in EQ.

For each of the mechanics folks would call frustrating in EQ - examples can be easily given for times those mechanics pushed people together.

This is a lost component in today's games. Nothing pushes players together... sure there are raids or whatever - but with stuff like "LFR" - you don't even need community for that. You just click a button and wait to get in.

I think there are many of us who would welcome again these frustrating things - that push us together so that we can have fun together... instead of avoiding each other like the plague in the game world.

Sony and other companies need to realize that World of Warcraft is a fluke. It has a large player base because it's barely more interactive than television. Hopefully, Sony's business model is to have 10 million subscribers from 4 or 5 niche games instead of trying to encompass all the play styles in one game -- because that simply will not work. Also, if EQ Next ends up being fantasy Farmville like I've heard, I'll just fire up Eve Online again.

Love the article once again as usual. Fizzling was the bane of every caster in EQ (especially the healer). I remember countless times where that one tiny fizzle completely wiped a group/raid. I also had the fizzle chains that were so lucrative you had to have a screenshot to believe it. My worst chain fizzle was 6 times during a break-in raid of PoH. Lost half my mana, raid wiped (not completely because of me) and then the CR commenced. Keep in mind all my skills were maxed... theoretically I should never fizzle with skills maxed but that was the beauty of the game. At the time, I hated it... after seeing games today I'm like these guys had it right way back then. What happened? The tiny bit of uncertainty in the game always had you on the edge of your seat, watching every cast to make sure it went off successfully. Same thing went for invisibility... if it were to wear off randomly, it was always at the wrong time. You would then make a mad dash to the zone in hopes you would survive the inevitable butt whooping as you trained half the zone.

In all honesty, I don't put a ton of faith into SOE... sorry but that's my opinion. I've watched over the years as they have mishandled many games (including EQ) and it really leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. SOE has redeemed a bit of my confidence with PlanetSide 2 so I'm still optimistic. I am actually a Sony fan boy and that does include SOE, therefore I set a higher standard for them. If SOE listens to even half the things posted on these forums, EQN has a very good chance of bringing back the old school crowd as well as the next generation of gamers. I think people are growing tired of MMO's because they are all so easy (with the exception of Eve Online). Sometimes you need tough love to truly appreciate a game for what it is and you want something that will challenge you every step of the way.

Bring back the uncertainty in our games and all the negatives that went along with it. Allow the player to really work on their skills in a meaningful way so that there are no cookie cutter classes out there. I would like to see more of the players spending hundreds and thousands of hours on one toon to make that one as powerful as he/she can be and it should be very difficult to achieve this. People get bored but seeing people with multiple max level toons seems silly to me. If developers would implement ways where a character could never totally "cap out" on anything, people would be more inclined to play their main. Usually lack of content motivates people to roll some alts but keep that carrot dangling in front of us regardless if an expansion is on the horizon. Make the skill system and advancement abilities run very deep. Possibilities are endless in this so called "sandbox" which will be EQNext... will just have to bring my shovel and pail with me and prepare to play.

"I would like to see more of the players spending hundreds and thousands of hours on one toon to make that one as powerful as he/she can be and it should be very difficult to achieve this."

I TRIED to play alts in EQ - I really, truly, did. I had a couple low level alts... but I could never manage to pull myself away from my ranger. I enjoyed playing him - and there was ALWAYS - ALWAYS - ALWAYS more to do to learn something new about him or to improve him... even BEFORE they put in AA.

(aside here - I hope to see an old EQ implementation of AA again... all of these "tree" implementations of them just result in cookie cutter)

Once they put in AA - it was all over for even trying any alts... I LOVED that no matter what I was hunting I was building AA and improving my avatar... and I absolutely loved that there was a mix of AA that:

- Were fun but served no real purpose
- Were great utility but didn't directly make me more powerful
- Made me more powerful
- etc...

I hope again to play an EQ game where I look at other classes and WANT to try them - but enjoy my class thoroughly and just never feel that I have the time to TRY any of the others.

Excellent point on that one ScubaNC

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about. I have a form of ADD/ADHD (if you want to call it that) when it comes to gaming in general. I'll routinely toggle between games and gaming platforms. I'll get heavily into PS3 gaming and working on trophies for a month or so then switch back to the PC where I will play FPS's and/or MMO's for a month. This usually happens until something new and exciting comes out which really holds my attention (which usually never happens anymore).

When I was playing EQ originally I got my cleric to level 50, had full PoH gear, all skills maxed, all spells, and our guild had killed everything the game had to offer at that time. I created a Ranger and played him to 50, got full PoF gear, all spells, killed everything once again. Started a Necro... guess what I did? Nope! Didn't level this time... got bored and sold my cleric for $1500 right before Kunark and my ranger for $500.

I didn't journey back into EQ until Velious was about to be released. I started a new account and created a Druid as a main. Leveled him up and joined a hardcore raiding guild, got my epic and some of the best gear in the game prior to the Velious release (most raid gear was rotting, yay for me!). During the time of waiting on Luclin and I ended up re-creating my Cleric, and my Ranger. I also made a Bard and a Monk and got them all to max level when Luclin went live. I then started 3-boxing my bard/cleric/druid because they were my favorite classes at the time. This went on till GoD was released and I really REALLY hated that expansion and I started to question my enjoyment of the game. I was constantly capping out my AA's on multiple toons buying abilities that were pretty much stupid just to burn them on something. I ended up getting moved to night shift at work and it pretty much determined my EQ fate. If I couldn't raid, I didn't want to play. This is when I retired officially. Miss ya SoT.

Sorta went off on a tangent there but really it's about boredom. When people create alts, it's usually to satisfy a craving that a person is missing. Maybe an expansion of the AA system that's different from current EQ. I hate EQ2's take on AA's... everyone that raids typically has a very similar AA structure and it's capped. If a cleric wants to dabble in tanking... who's to stop him from putting points into melee and defensive based abilities. I've always liked the ideas of cross-training classes (back from my MUD'ing days) simply because it puts a twist on the game. You could have one character than can do almost anything but the more you learn, the least successful you are at any one thing. If you are a wizard, you really should focus on all your caster type AA's. Once you exhaust that, why not dabble into other areas to really round out your character where they might be useful in more groups. Can see it now, Wiz/Mag/Enc (in order of strength) LFG! May sound silly... but if you had a HUGE depth of character possibilities with a toon, wouldn't you spend more time with it exclusively? Just saying! :)

As usual an excellent article Dal! A question though, why wasn't it over at EQhammer (I thought all these types of articles would be over there)?

Also, Scuba and Wandidar, I love your comments. I can't explain how happy I am to read your posts because it really makes me feel like other people out there 'get it' the way I do.

"As usual an excellent article Dal! A question though, why wasn't it over at EQhammer (I thought all these types of articles would be over there)?"

I was wondering the same thing. I'm assuming after these weekly messages cease and SOE makes it's big announcement... information will start flowing from EQHammer. I've always loved TenTonHammer for it's info but I never really posted anything till the EQNext postings started.

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