[MUD-Dev] I Want to Forge Swords. [Another letter to game designers]

Vincent Archer archer at nevrax.com
Mon May 7 14:31:21 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

According to Batir:

> The point is that large worlds can be done right, without instant
> travel.  To me, and as I said, never played EQ, it sounds like EQ
> towns are messed up, if their not the social gathering spots they
> should be.

There are several good reasons for that.

The first is the zone system itself. Since you haven't played EQ, I'll
explain it quickly. EQ is separated in separate and discrete zones,
with full isolation (you don't see anything between zones, you can't
hear people on different zones - except by direct or guild
tells). Each and every city is one (or sometimes more) separate zone,
distinct from the surrounding countryside.

The system itself might not be bad, but it leads directly to the
second reason. Namely that most cities are in dead-ends or semi
dead-ends.  You almost always exit a city from where you came
in. There are only 3 cities that are a transit point for people, and
these are Qeynos, Freeport and Kelethin (one might argue that
Rivervale is one too, but it's rarely used). And Qeynos and Freeport
are merely transit points for people taking a boat, something that,
given the waste of time it is (sitting 20mn on a deck, looking at flat
water whose texture try to simulate small wavelets), most people
studiously avoid once they've done it more than 2-3 times.

The banks, notably (where people come and go), are even more to the

The third is, of course, the travel times. When it takes 30mn to go
from your current adventuring area to a city, you don't want to spend
much time doing it, specially in an achievement-oriented game like EQ.

But the fourth and main reason is simple. Everquest has a faction
system, which determines the NPC reaction toward each player. And the
races are roughly divided in 2 categories: the good and the
evils. Guess what: most evils are slaughtered on sight if they attempt
to go in a good town, and vice-versa...

And voila. Why are the cities underused in EQ from a social
standpoint?  Because of their awkward location, and the fact that
usually a third or more of a random set of people are blocked from
going in.

The result is that there are 3 major places for social gatherings.

  - Arena, for the purely social. It features the amenities of a city
  (binding) a PvP arena for fun bashing between people, and is totally
  neutral. It's rarely used except for exceptional events, however,
  because it is far from all teleport points.

  - East Commonlands, which is a shortcut between northeast antonica
  and the southern, relatively neutral (the tunnel has no guards), and
  not "too" far from the two banks useable by goods (Freeport) and
  evils (Neriak).

and on some servers

  - Kelethin, which is a good-only city (wood elves), but sports a
  bank *and* a TP point in the same zone, which means instant
  commerce, and the only neutral "bind point" on the continent of

Here's, in a nutshell, why cities are totally underused in Everquest.

Vincent Archer                                         Email: archer at nevrax.com

Nevrax France.                              Off on the yellow brick road we go!
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