Updated Fri, Jan 02, 2009 by Ethec
by Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle
My second article for Ten Ton Hammer, in December of 2004, was a short bit entitled EQ2 Etiquette. The premise: the SOE crew had done a magnificent job of stopping many hotbutton MMO issues before they could take root, yet it was up to the community to take care of the rest. The SOE-covered issues and the EQ2 fixes (at that time)?
My little guide attempted to cover the issues the Devs had placed outside their jurisdiction. It was pretty controversial at that time; and if you don't believe me, read some of the responses to the associated thread in the SOE forums- I think some folks called me everything short of a fascist! No one likes to be told how to interact with other people. Posters went as far as to suggest that they'd exploit as many holes in the EQ2 ethical fabric as they could, in the interest of making an "evil" roleplayer.
Mostly it was nice to see people discuss how far they'd take their gameplay. However, despite the clamor, in the end I found the "standards of conduct" I set forth to be fairly universally followed. This was reassuring; as I'd only intended to set things forth as sort of generic rules of sportsmanship that were generally followed anyway for the benefit of newcomers.Ironically, the issue that everyone was screaming about, node-stealing, seems to have disappeared from the ethical spectrum entirely, presumably as potentially-conflicting harvesters spread out levelwise. The other, more pertinent issues were mostly glossed over.
Whether or not things have gone up- or downhill in the months since that Etiquette guide is certainly up for debate. Certainly some of the issues still exist, but people usually don't think about what they're used to. In any event if any one thing really got your goat, a number of other quality MMOs have since arisen to offer an alternative to EQ2. For those of us that call EQ2 their MMO ("right or wrong, their MMO!" to poorly paraphrase Patrick Henry), I offer my feelings on the biggest player community issues I've seen in the last few months.
Guild melodrama - Maybe my head was simply buried in the sand, but I've never, ever seen the level of Telemundo-Soap Operatic junk go on in this generation of MMOs as in previous games. Sure, it hurts when you lose friends to more or less intense guilds, we watch most go with grace and dignity, but some folks seem to live for creating strife in a guild. Wholesale walk-outs without notice, planting recruiters in other guilds to leech high-level players, pushing issues that clearly aren't the buttered biscuit of a guild to no end rather than accepting guild leadership's decision or moving on, the interpersonal bickering that seems to go on ad nauseum, good grief! The guild seems to be simultaneously the best and the worst part of the game community.
Voice IP vs. Textchat - As more and more of the EQ2 player base starts to reach levels at which highly organized, large-scale raid encounters may become part of the daily or weekly bill-of-fare. One way some players have solved the communications crisis these encounters create is to use VoIP services like TeamSpeak, Ventrilo, or Skype. It works pretty well until someone prefers to keep it to text-chat, then they'll feel excluded from the fast instructions given over VoIP and next thing you know, you've got a Scottish soccer hooligan brawl on your hands. If your raid goes VoIP, make sure it goes all the way VoIP.
Group Breaking - Few things are worse than putting together a group that fizzles on the launch pad. Life happens, of course, but if there's a good chance the baby will wake up, your roommate will need picked up from the bar across town, or the microwave will explode, please stick to solo or duo with a friend that won't care either way rather than a carefully balanced group heading out after an ultra rare spawn.
Poor Grouping Opportunities for Lower Level Players - While not really a "griefing" issue, it seems like the EQ2 playerbase has grown up and left the lower level newbies and alts to struggle groupless. Mentoring doesn't seem to have helped; the higher level folks seem to get higher / more über, the lower folks stay low, and the mid-levellers just seem to muddle through. Zones like Blackburrow and Fallen Gate seem entirely vacant. Perhaps an effort to make more of the harsher group environments for the lower levels more solo / duo / small group friendly would do wonders?
Not to paint a bleak picture, at all. It's easy to see that EQ2 did everything it was intended to do as a cooperative MMO, and more. The problem and the solution, as the old adage goes, is other people. I still feel that Everquest 2 offers the most mature, helpful playerbase anywhere, and if these few issues stick in my craw, they're picayune compared to the ganking / botting / duping issues facing other games.