I agonized all week over which of my favorite titles, The Secret World or EverQuest II, would get the honor of being the subject of my gratitude post for Thanksgiving. And then I decided I didn’t have to pick! After all, we already had one combined EverChaosing column, so why not have another? So in honor of Thanksgiving, a time when I reflect even more on those things I am thankful for, I am focusing on both games.
Some might wonder why be thankful for a MMORPG? After all, it is just a video game. When compared to family, friends, health, housing, etc, a game seems like a paltry thing to expend gratitude efforts on. Is it though? How many have developed deep, meaningful relationships through a game that have extended their circle of friendship or even family? I know it has happened for me. What about for those who have found solace, joy, and social connections living in a pixel world for a time when health prevented doing much in the real world? Again, been there, done that. What about just having a fun pastime to enjoy? But it goes much farther than that.
For me, expressing gratitude is a way of life — for small things, large things, and any thing in between. And not just because of how it changes my view of the world and how I relate with it; showing appreciation has a positive effect on everyone. When you know that your time, efforts, ideas, and work are appreciated, you are uplifted, aren’t you? Doesn’t receiving thanks and appreciation make you want to continue with what you are doing and even do better? Why wouldn’t we show appreciation to the devs of our favorite games and those features we really like. So here’s my little letter of appreciation. Feel free to add your own in the comments!
This may seem like a “duh, of course” kind of thing to be thankful for, but I really am. Both TSW and EQII have weathered very serious scares that development could cease. Funcom battled through a financial crisis, and Daybreak had to reinvent itself after SOE was dropped by Sony. There were very real moments where losing these games was a higher possibility than players ever had to face before. So the fact we are still here enjoying them is something I am indeed very grateful for.
Even beyond that, we are continuing to see development of content. EQII just released a new expansion that opens up a section of Kunark. There has been a yearly expansion without fail since the game launched as well as some meaty game updates and a DLC. TSW just introduced a an investigation raid with its Halloween event. There hasn’t been a new issue in a while, but we’ve heard tell of an expansion of sorts coming early next year that will most likely start the next story arc (as the current one has finished up). I may certainly wish for more content in both cases, but there are games out there languishing without any development attention at all
Last year when I focused solely on why I was thankful for TSW, the very first entry was about story. And that hasn’t changed. I am very appreciative of the amazing experience that TSW offers. It truly is top of the line. But EQII also has story. The lore of Norrath is pretty rich, and the quests are little stories with bits that add to the flavor. The signature quests are deeper, leading players along an entire story line. There are even signature crafting quest lines.
Story not only makes you feel more a part of the world, but it gives meaning to action beyond “just grinding because that’s what you do.” I personally am not a fan of just grinding; I will always gravitate toward quests. I like those little glimpses into the world. Even if it isn’t a short story worth of discourse, I prefer understanding the why behind quests, and EQII and TSW both offer that. I have to say that if there is an interesting reason behind it, I don’t mind the typical kill ten rats quests nearly as much as if I’m just sent out to do it. (OK, I will admit it: I also really like when you apparently have some saucy retorts in your dialogue options! Too bad you never respond in TSW.)
Along with story is getting to know and love certain characters. Some NPCs become memorable because you get to know them. And getting to know them involves learning their story. It may not be a story that touches the whole game world, but that won’t make the NPCs’ impact on your play any less memorable. Heck, there are a few I’d totally want to hang out with in life, like Nassir from TSW.
This may also seem like a no-brainer, but I have talked with quite a few devs over the years. And having devs who are truly passionate about the game they work on is most definitely a plus. TSW and EQII don’t have a monopoly on this, but that doesn’t make me appreciate their enthusiasm any less. Knowing that they do care about the game and the players’ experience means the game is in good hands.
I am also appreciative of the innovative ideas that dev continue to come up with, especially in The Secret World. That game is all about setting a bar, then breaking that and setting a new one. Admittedly not everything goes off without a hitch, but I wouldn’t change that creativity for anything!
Home sweet home
EverQuest II totally takes the top prize on this one. The game still has what I feel is the best housing system, and it hasn’t let up on adding things into the system. From decorations to housing options, it keeps expanding. Every holiday adds new items, and Player Studio continues to offer more and more as well. When I want to go on a decorating spree, I don’t want to change up my real house — I want to see what is possible to create in EQII! It’s a satisfying creative outlet, and I am so grateful it hasn’t been tossed aside or abandoned.
I do appreciate the Museum of the occult in The Secret World for its semblance of housing. It gives me a place to hang out with friends that is somewhat personalized. (You can’t get more personal than a giant statue of you in the entrance, right?) I can’t deny, however, that I am sill dying for that housing idea Romain Amiel shared with me all that time ago! I do hope that makes it into the game.
Of all the games out there in the MMOverse, these two have my favorite holiday celebrations! I’m not ashamed to say I have planned my days around being able to participate in the festivities in both Secret World and EverQuest II. Sometimes, when the two games have events that overlap, it actually gets rough trying to incorporate everything into my schedule (I am looking at you Halloween!). Both games have a holiday that some players return to game just to participate in: EQII’s Frostfell and TSW’s Samhain. I also appreciate how how the events stay thematically within each world (and often have story to boot!)
Add to that the fact that both games continue to upgrade holiday festivities and I have something else to thankful for. Sure, not every single holiday gets new tasks and quests (and sometimes we might be a little let down by that), but there are always new goodies to acquire, and plenty to do otherwise.