Filling a gap #EQ2

With the loss of the Foundry, there are yet fewer MMO homes for players that focus on user-generated adventures, Syp has joined in on the criticism of this loss. Thinking about this again I was struck by a rather fantastical idea that this could be a minor boon for any MMO that still retains a system for player created content. With several games in the genre set to lose this feature, any remaining games outside the Cryptic stable could do a bit of promotional work on social media, for instance, to attract anyone looking for a new creative outlet.

The system I’m probably the most familiar with after the Foundry is the Dungeon Maker in Everquest 2. As noted before it has quite severe limitations at least where my personal interest is concerned – the need to find the necessary furniture and monster generators separate from the game’s housing system was a layer of collection too many for me. But as a potential player of other people’s missions I wonder what could be done, quickly and cheaply, by Daybreak to make player made dungeons more attractive?

It’s actually not that simple a question. Look at the leaderboard on my server and you see that the most popular dungeons list still features some “easy XP grind” type entries despite the fact that they no longer rewards any adventure XP at all. The achiever / power-leveller audience is not what I’m addressing here anyway, at least not directly. But anything that the devs could do to make it easier to get into dungeon making in EQ2 would be a boon to would be refugees from the Foundry. Maybe running dungeons should award one or two random dungeon maker item(s) or monster generator(s) as an end reward?

I also was wondering what might be done to incentivise players other than the most creative types to actually play these dungeons? At the moment, other than experience, running the complete dungeon only rewards a special currency that can be used for items for the same system. So, unless you want to grind the currency for your own dungeon designing needs, there’s not a huge attraction to playing these creations. What other incentives could be given? Perhaps a set number of collection item nodes – possibly with you only receiving the rewards as a completion reward? Shinies are always a nice little reward and they have enhanced value these days as they can be turned in for status or some cash. It’s a sad reality that any such rewards would need to be designed to be bot-resistant to avoid the bot farming that can plague such systems.

I’m sure Daybreak has other priorities for the game’s development, but it would be nice to see the Dungeon Maker receive some love especially in the current context. After all, one of Everquest 2’s greatest strengths is the breadth of features it offers.

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2 Responses to Filling a gap #EQ2

  1. The problem, as always, is that Daybreak is a small company… and it seems to get smaller every six to nine months… so they have to be careful that where they spend their time or the next round of cuts will be even bigger. Getting a new expansion out, which generates revenue, is probably their top item. Other things like special servers and cash shop items are probably next, both of which potentially add revenue. Then there is the mid-year game update to keep the stable subscribers happy and going along with tweaks and updates to holidays and events to try and keep those fresh.

    So the team has to decide if diverting resources from any of that is worth the potential cost.

    EQ2’s Dungeon Maker has the advantage of being much more stable than the Foundry, which was often down and broke with game updates. However, it is stable because, when compared to the Foundry, it is very primitive. It is basically their housing model where you can drop some mobs to fight with a few tweaks to let you add some narrative. It is suitable for housing or XP grinding and not much else. I ran some interesting player made content in Neverwinter’s Foundry. You linked to one of my posts about that. I have never run anything interesting in the EQ2 Dungeon Maker. It is far too limited.

    To get Dungeon Maker to a level where players could create interesting content is probably a pretty big task. I’d wager to say that it would be at the level of choosing between that and an expansion in a given year, and that is no choice at all. The expansion wins. The expansion brings in revenue and keeps the loyal installed base happy.

    And the gotcha in the end is still going to be XP. We have seen time and again that players will choose the path that best aids their character progression. To make Dungeon Maker at all viable it has to progress your character. That means turning on XP again, which will be bad, or creating a new progression system, which will get optimized so that the front page of the finder will still be “easy grind” options.

    This is something that Blizzard has the budget to figure out. Daybreak, not so much. Daybreak is the harsh reality of business for Norrath. Gone are the days when Sony would eat their losses on the promise that some crazy new feature would set them apart. They have to pay the bills first and work on side project after. And, if rumors are correct, they also have to keep working on a new EverQuest. I’m still surprised that they manage to crank out as much as they do these days.

    • Telwyn says:

      I’ve not explored enough of Dungeon Maker myself to assess it’s relative value, but then as I wrote the barrier to that is the lack of content to play with – the collection mini-game. I see that as the biggest limitation of the system personally. I think it’s mixing audiences to have creativity blended with achiever-oriented collecting.

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