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Wednesday, April 07, 2004
03:45 pm EDT @Creator MightyE EQ2 Screenshots
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When I look at EverQuest 2 screenshots, I'm strangely torn in a dozen different directions based on my impressions of them.

On one hand, the modelers behind these screenshots are some very talented people. On the other hand, the models look plastic. I really don't believe that the models we see in the screenshots are what will be released when the game goes live. The polygon count is way too high. In the scenarios you see in the screenshots, where there are 4-5 characters on screen, no doubt frame rate is acceptable given you have a moderate rig. But MMO's have this unique tendency to cluster large numbers of players together, typically called a raid.

In any other off the shelf game now, having 70 models of this quality on the screen will bring your frame rate to something that wouldn't assault the reflexes of a slug. Mark my words, there's going to be a bunch of quality sliders in EQ2's options that affect how close your own gaming experience mirrors that of these screenshots. And any time that you're not staring at a wall, or perhaps several walls in close proximity, you'll want to have these sliders down pretty low, unless you've got $4,000+ to spend on a high end gaming system.

Another aspect of the EQ2 screenshots was pointed out on Penny Arcade today, which is something that'd been bugging me, but on which I couldn't quite put my finger. That is that the screenshots are very... sterile. As though the modeling and world at large was created not by an art department where eager artists push the limits of the technology they're provided in order to bring their vibrant imagination to life, but rather as though they were created by a team of corporate types who channel the creative energies of an artist through their grey-tinted view of the world. Anything that might be considered flair is missing. Anything that might be objectionable to a corporate yesman (or is it now yesperson?) is gone. For those of you fortunate enough to not have had to carry a creative bit of art through a committee of corporate types, those involved in the committee have made a career of finding things to disagree with. That's the value they bring to the table, the ability to complain about things that would have never bothered anyone should they not have had a starting objective of finding things to complain about. The end result of this is something that once resembled art, but no longer does. As Tycho puts it:
They look as though every original element has been painstakingly stripped away, until reaching some predetermined, inoffensive generic void. On technical merits, the engine easily bests WoW. There's no contest. On vision, on the manifestation of artistic vision scale which I have just invented, you can't even see World of Warcraft from where they are. World of Warcraft is in a harvest field wading through golden, chest-high wheat. They are in a cold place shivering as they wait for a morning that never comes.
(source: Penny Arcade)

Gamespot has a bunch of new EQ2 screenshots up for the gandering.

When contrasted these against World of Warcraft's screenshot archive, the first thing you'll notice, if you're anything like me, is the astounding low polygon count found throughout the world. Despite this, the developers of WoW have managed to not really make the low polygon count stand right out at you like early 3D games which elected to model at a high poly count, and then just lob off the vertices that were under a certain angle threshold, leaving the world looking as though it'd been carved as a rough out of very hard stone.

We don't yet have any screenshots (that I know of) of EQ2's interface, but we do know that Sony is beginning to ramp up their marketing engine as it begins to anticipate heavy competition from WoW, which is now getting tons of free publicity due to the nature of its disclosure-allowed beta. Early reports on the WoW interface indicate that it's exactly the sort of simple, intuitive, powerful interface that one would expect if they had any history with past Blizzard interfaces.

EQ2 and World of Warcraft are suspected to be coming out at about the same time, EQ2's release date is scheduled for late September, though it hasn't started public beta yet.

MightyE
11:45 am EDT @Creator MightyE WoW: 2-Headed Ogres Con't
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Despite the 2-headed ogre thing being a farce, it seems there's a group of players trying to convince Blizzard to implement this for real (Thanks Ceva for pointing this site out). Whee, good luck guys, I'll chime in and say I agree, this would be great, though I seriously doubt they'd give this option at game release, as they have too many other balancing issues to consider all at once. Perhaps in an expansion.
MightyE
07:22 am EDT @Creator MightyE WoW: 2-Headed Ogres
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This appeared back on April 1 on the World of Warcraft beta site, so I assumed it was an April Fools joke. But there's been no official statement from Blizzard that I've seen indicating that it is indeed a joke. So I'll perpetuate it, and perhaps Blizzard will get a good chuckle over getting others hopes up =).

Blizzard says that they will be offering a new race in WoW, the Two-Headed Ogre, which requires two people to control, one person at each half of the body. Each head can be a separate class, and many functions will require the cooperation of both players in order to successfully execute.

It's a really fascinating concept, and as much as I still believe it's probably a joke, it seems like that could be a lot of fun if you played in the same room as another person (as my wife and I do). Boy, talk about being joined at the hip...

Update: Ok, so I apparently can't read the WoW home page where it clearly lists the two-headed ogre as a joke. Forget I wrote this =).

MightyE
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