EverCast GamesCom Report: Day 0

Skip to the Everquest chapter if you want to skip all the side talk. Additionally if you are looking for new EQ Next data and already watched today’s Press Conference you will not find any additional information in this article, it is best to wait for the other daily reports!

Today the best time of the years started, no not Christmas it’s time for GamesCom. For the last 4 years I’ve been reporting on GamesCom in a none official capacity. And this year I’ll be bringing you what I hope to be loads of information regarding Everquest Next.

Who am I and what do I do

If you are visiting my website for the first time and are wondering who the hell is this guy. I’m Kalbuir (Robin) and I’m just a gamer and streamer, my one passion that drives me in online games is the community. I stream all my gameplay on Twitch.tv and have been a gamer for more than 14 years.  But that’s about all I feel like talking about myself at this point, I want to talk about more interesting things GamesCom!

I have a little tradition, first and foremost I do not do vacations very well, my way of relaxation is going to GamesCom, picking a game and attempting to bring the experience that game offers at GamesCom as close to that games community as possible. In the last 4 years I’ve done this with various games most noteworthy would be games such as RIFT for the fan site rift-calculator and for Defiance for defiance-central.com.

This year and most likely next year my GamesCom experience and if I succeed your GamesCom experience will be all about Everquest Next and Everquest Landmark!  I do this for an amazing project I’ve been part of the last two months a live show all about community: EverCast. We currently use a bi-weekly schedule and our next episode will be on Sunday!

GamesCom

One thing many people don’t know is that for individual gamers with no direct ties to press or the gaming industry GamesCom is not freely visit able on the first day of GamesCom. This means that today for me was officially planned as a  travel day. Starting tomorrow I will be camping the Everquest and SOE booths to keep all of you updated on what is being shown and discussed and hopefully pick the brain of the people behind the games.

If there is one thing that in my opinion is great about GamesCom: it’s one of the few times a year where European gamers have the possibility to have personal face to face time with developers. In the few years I’ve been going to GamesCom as fan and gamer I’ve met so many wonderful people involved in game design, quality assurance, press and most of all community management. This provides insights in the gaming industry that I would otherwise never had the privileged to knowing. An industry that one day I hope to be part of.

The first day

So what have I been doing today? Well we left much later than expected sadly due to some obligations I had. We arrived in Cologne at around 4 PM and walked around the GamesCom area a bit half hoping to obtain some trade visitor tickets by either using a small business we have registered or other means. This as could be expected did not result in much but was not a waste of time. It was nice to see the area in quiet and talk with some people outside get some impressions of the setups this year and how halls were organized.

We moved to the center of town at around 5:30 for some great German beer!  Had some trouble getting Germans to understand that sending away paying customers if your restaurant is empty is not a good business approach even if you prefer to sell full meals.

Eventually we found a great place close to the Dom (big Cathedral) in the center of Cologne. It was quiet, had a great atmosphere, had awesome regional beer for great prices, kind staff and most importantly THE BEST FUCKING CHICKEN FINGERS I HAVE EVER TASTED!

We then moved to the hotel setup all our equipment and prepared for the next morning.

Concerns about this years GamesCom

Many people think that I’m going to the event walk around, play some games, pick up some swag and go home on Sunday. While this is the experience many people on GamesCom have this hasn’t been the way I’ve been experiencing GamesCom in the last 4 years. It hasn’t been the way I would want to spend my GamesCom this year.

First of all full days are spend in the GamesCom complex most of that in the past I’ve always spend on the booths in question. This might sound boring to some to me it isn’t, I enjoy talking to people who are seeing or hearing about these games for the first time gauge their unbiased first impressions of games and generally just observe.

Developer interaction has played a key role in the past but realistically is never something you can expect as a fan. That being said many people on GamesCom go far beyond to interact with fans and enthusiasts. I’m going to GamesCom with specific goals, get questions answered, cover the event, show the booth but most of all meet the people who are building and designing these games.

Now much of what I can cover and what I can do depends of the format a gaming company chooses to build their show on. As an example in the last 4 years I’ve experienced multiple formats such as open floor with pc’s (RIFT), queued 10 minute PVP play tests (Defiance) to various presentation formats.

The last on is the hardest one to cover as there is little going on besides the presentation. Seeing the booth of EQN in the livestream this afternoon part of me fears that people queue for a presentation (the same presentation that was given on the press conference) and after the next group comes in. This is a very effective way to show your ideas and market your product but it makes it a little harder for me to “camp” the booth for nameds (devs) and epic loot (info).  Either way, I am at GamesCom for EQN and I will try my absolute best to cover the event as best as possible.

Everquest

Up until this point besides the small viewing we had with my stream community I’ve never really publicly commented about my thoughts of the EQN. I wanted to write a blog item but due to graduating my Bachelor’s degree in computer science this month I’ve been under a lot of pressure to finalize the last details.

However it’s just past midnight I have to get up in 6 hours and I am way to excited to sleep anyway. So let’s get that out of the way shall we? Before SOE live we knew nothing about Everquest Next my speculation back then were mostly hit and miss but most of my real hopes are still not confirmed to be out or in.

I will go into these things in a little bit but first I want to clarify that Everquest Next already has me sold. Why? Because they are doing something new, something refreshing something that we truly haven’t seen in a few years. How long has it been where an MMO was announced that genuinely pushed the boundaries of our imagination with more than just marketing…. I can’t think of a better term I’m sorry: bullshit.

My hopes

The hopes I have for EQN are quite generic hopes a collection of features and things I miss from the days where MMO’s were not mainstream. Many things we might not see for at least a decade or might not ever see again in mainstream AAA MMO’s. This is also the reason why these hopes aren’t necessarily deal breaks for me.

Challenge: MMO’s should challenge me not only as a group but also as a solo player. I want to go back to the days where venturing into the world is a dangerous undertaking. Where grouping isn’t just a part of the game but a necessity.

Lost Mechanics: Many small but in my opinion important game mechanics were slowly forgotten about and removed from MMO’s think of: proper social agro, mobs fleeing, breaking linked pulls proper mezzing and lulling capabilities, FD pulling.

Death that makes me regret dieng: RISK vs REWARD the fundamental thing that is lacking in so many games these days. There is no real reward there is a feeling of entitlement to loot.

Social interaction inspired through game mechanics:  SWG is all I will say, if you don’t understand what I mean remind me to write an article about this because there is no way I can cover my love for some of the social aspects of SWG in this article and do it justice.

Deep crafting:  I mean more than button clicking, I mean harvesting that matters, dynamic created resources. Dependency on a large amount of other crafters to obtain subcomponents and most of all specialization to a degree that you can make amazing things but only in a very select field.

Now these are only a few things but outline the general hopes I’ve had for every MMO since arguably Anarchy, SWG and Vanguard. Many of my experience with these 5 points shaped and defined me as a gamer to the type of gamer I am today, with the distinct difference that not many mainstream games fulfill these things for me. let’s not get into the how and why (pssst their probably isn’t a big enough market 😉 )

After SOE live some of these hopes were reinforced , some went out of the window others turned into maybe’s but at the end of the day Everquest Next and Landmark also brought in new hopes and dreams. For the first time in quite a few years a game had its hold on me again where in the first few hours of reveal there were a million new idea’s, hopes and speculations going through my head.

Less likeable aspects

Art Style The first time I saw the graphics of EQN I said to my stream “Oh that’s some nice concept art”. Then the concept art started to move and in the first few seconds I made a very harsh and premature conclusion: “Oh shit they went with SWTOR’s type of art style”. Now as the presentation continued and I saw more of the world I had already began to understand the reasons behind their decision of art style but it was not until the name voxels was mentioned that I really got excited.

The art style suddenly made sense as just like EQ and EQ2 it would make the franchise last longer than an MMO like Vanguard who at this point this has dated graphics with a “realism” approach.

Character models will take quite a bit of taking used to for me though from the 3 we have seen there isn’t one that I really like. This could have to do with the early stage of development and lack of customization options or me not being used to the art style.

Combat and Holy Trinity For all Its flaws and dated methods I am a big lover of hotkeyed combat and the holy trinity. I am a player that enjoys rocking the socks of groups when the main tank dies and raid leader calls: “Abort, wipe please”. I am that guy that shouts ”No no, boss I got this!”, which in the majority of cases with the help of smart reallocation of healers turned out to be true. I enjoy being depended upon, and I like the fact that I can carry groups through content even if their skill level in games might not be what the difficulty of the area / dungeon is designed for.

But during the class panel Jeff Butler made an absolutely unarguable statement and it makes sense. I might not like the implications it has for me as a player who enjoys carrying his group through healing challenges that aren’t “intended” but I am willing to give up on that if that means that we can work with SOE to come up with better solutions for the holy trinity.

This is where many people say: but but GW2, but but TSW. I think we should all resist the urge to mention these games because limiting a design process based of previous products is not always the best idea. I believe that with use of open development we can influence the way our group dynamics will take place, we can influence and inspire a combat system that isn’t only flexible for the type of roles it fills but also allows people to play how they want while not having to compromise in dumbing down your gaming or it become a bore fest. (everyone heals a little bit, and please don’t stand in fire!)

BTW I lied, please stand in fire so I can heal you! 😀 I enjoy healing by the way 😉

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