Finding the Fluff
Looking at the Extras of EverQuest 2
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones
Game content is a lot like a pillow. If it's too big, it's overwhelming and uncomfortable. If it's too small, you'll replace it with something better. Every MMO, usually has some element of what is referred to as "fluff." This non-essential content ties together the world, and fills in the gaps to help enhance the gaming experience. Whether it's background story of in-game characters, or an environmental element placed by developers, fluff provides a level of enjoyment and discovery that few would deny adds something to the game. What does EverQuest 2 have in the way of fluff? Let's take a look shall we?
Live from Norrath!
EverQuest 2 over the past 6-8 months, has had some great events, many focused on holidays. Participation was by no means necessary, but I can't remember running into anyone who didn't want to take a look at what was going on. Doing the quests available to you always provided some fun, a little bit of experience, and a nifty house item for your inn room.
Halloween in particular, SOE really outdid themselves on. From being able to trick or treat around town, to the jack o' lanterns, you could tell that a ton of work had gone into making the events special. The Haunted House for example, provided a number of intricate mini-quests that had you releasing the spirits of tortured souls only to end up discovering the real evil in the house. Let's also not forget your reward for finishing that quest. That stupid scare crow still freaking jumps out at me on a regular basis in my room. I hate it...but I love it.
When Christmas rolled around, the Developers were once again prepared, and invented the holiday of "Frostfell." From a wonderfully lit tree, to presents every day, the spirit of the holiday was felt in the cities. As a treat they also provided us with buckets containing snowballs, which could be thrown at other players. It actually became a common occurence for my guildmates to throw them at people who were too lazy to make up real character names. Sorry "Imurdaddy," but you had it coming bud.
Those were just two examples but there are plenty of others. Whether it was building Griffin Towers, or the more recent Spires for travel to Kingdom of Sky, EverQuest 2 seems to have provided a more than ample amount of fluff in the way of events.
Does Martha Stewart Live in Qeynos or Freeport?
Another way EverQuest 2 provides non-essential content is in the form of house items. Although this mainly consists of furniture it is far from limited to things that go on your wall or floor. Carpenter's might disagree with me (I swear I'm on your side about the missing recipes!), but there are a ton of wonderful looking furniture items that will more than enhance the decor of your room.
As you can see in the picture here, not only was I able to obtain a gorgeous painting, but I also managed to procure a giant freaking palm tree! Now if I can just find some little umbrella drinks I'll be good to go! There are beds, bookcases, tables and chairs all of which are readily available on the broker or from your local crafter. There are more quests that provide a book reward that I care to think about. Many recent book quests give you the book up front, but require you to locate missing pages.
What would furniture be however, without animals to crawl all over it? Thats right! Just like in real life, you can have animals running all over your room, and many people do. From a flaming boar, to a cobra like mine in the picture, there are dozens to choose from. I have a guildmate who has so many animals, it actually lags my machine to zone in his room. Love the zoo though.
It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times
One of the best things EverQuest 2 does in my mind, is provide a story which brings the game alive. There is always someone willing to talk to you about what they are doing and why, or about another non-player character. These subtle little touches add an element of realism to the game that I can't find in other games. While it's proven to be impractical now, the voice overs they did with the original release game were absolutely amazing. There were a few that got annoying (if I hear "Gather round people!" one more time somebody is dieing) but overall it provided an immersion that I have yet to see in another MMO.
I mentioned the sheer number of books earlier, but I did not mention the text. Next time you pick up a book, open it up and actually read it. Left to right, top to bottom in case you've forgotten. The stories that have been put together, remind me of the detail and thoroughness I found in Morrowing books. Much of this is due to the incredible writer SOE brought on board, Owlchick, who has done a fantastic job with these.
So we've looked at some fluff, but the obvious and more important question is "Why do we need it?" I'm glad you asked. Without events, we'd be doing the same old vanilla quests that everyone else has. Without house items we'd all have identical rooms, and if you haven't read it, the book 1984 isn't a pleasent one. Finally, without story, the game would have no passion and we'd be doomed to just fighting our way to the level cap. In the end, all the fluff adds flavor to the game, and I can't imagine EverQuest 2 without it. So take moment if you would, next time you are in-game, and notice all the little things you run by because you have a guildmate yelling at you to get in Teamspeak. It might just give you a who new level of appreciation for what goes on around you.
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