Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are EQ2’s Toons Fat or WoW’s Anorexic?

A few weeks ago I heard two items that led me to a strange thought. The first was the podcast for the February 3rd edition of EQ2’s-day. I know that most people don’t think of Everquest 2 as a game with an expanding population, but Zanadi asked EQ2 Associate Producer Jen “Kirstie” Genell about the possibility of a split of the Antonia Bayle role-playing server because of lag issues. Kirstie proceeded to explain how although the Antonia Bayle server may not have the most characters playing at any given time, those characters are huge in terms of database resources used because they have been around longer. The performance of the servers is affected not just by the number of characters logged in at any given time but other factors such as the number of quests in the quest journals and the amount of items in players’ banks. The players on the role-playing server tend to keep more items than the average player. Dellmon made the crack that role-players were fat. That was an amusing line, so it was still in my mind when I listened to The Instance #136 and Randy Delux complained that World of Warcraft players were still stuck using the 16-slot backpack and wishing that the Blizzard devs would create a backpack with 20 slots. I’m assuming that Randy wanted an affordable backpack made with common materials and not like the hideously expensive items I’ve seen on some websites.

Just as the role-players in EQ2 have a lot more “stuff” (as George Carlin used to say) than the average EQ2 player, I wondered how much more stuff EQ2 players can own than players in WoW. In particular, I wondered how much more stuff my main owns (and thus more database resources I use) than a player can own in WoW.

I started with what I carry around on my character. First, characters in EQ2 have 6 bag slots compared to 5 bag slots for WoW toons, putting WoW players at a disadvantage. EQ2 players really shine (or are stinking fat, take your pick) because they can carry around containers with a lot more than the 16 slot backpack that Randy wants to see updated. In my personal case, I have a 36 slot bag that only carries harvesting items, a 28-slot bag I received from completing a quest and a 20-slot bag I bought off the broker for less than 20 gold. My main is a ranger with over 800 strength, so I also carry around 3 36-slot storage crates that are really meant for bank storage, giving me a total of 192 storage slots on my person. If I really wanted to, I could have a total of 216 slots. In comparison, the biggest capacity bag a WoW player can own is 22 slots, so I think that means a player only has 110 storage slots, meaning that I can carry about 82 more slots worth of gear, items, and harvestables than the most max’d out WoW player. If a player is using the old standby 16-slot backpacks, then a player will only have 80 bag slots, or less than half the lots I run around Norrath with.

Next I looked at bank storage. I haven’t played WoW in years, so I went on-line and found out that Blizzard gives each toon 24 bank slots plus allows players to purchase 6 bag slots. If a player puts the 22-slot bags in those slots he will have 156 bank slots. For those players using the more reasonably-priced 16-slot backpacks, that is 120 slots. In contrast, EQ2 players enjoy 16 free bank slots in which you can put bags. All of mine are stocked with 36-slot storage boxes, meaning that I have 576 dedicated storage slots for my main. Why do I say dedicated? Because I also have 8 bank slots that all the characters on my account can share. I have all of those slots filled with 36-slot storage boxes, so I have 288 bank slots I can use to pass items among my toons.

But wait, as Ron Popeil used to say, there’s more! 768 storage slots for one character is just not enough. I still have to count my apartment in Willow Wood, the home village for wood elves in Qeynos. My main only has the starter one room apartment that holds 2 storage crates and 2 sales crates. Unlike WoW, characters sell items on the world wide broker and put their items up for sale in sales crates. If a buyer wants to avoid the 10%, 20%, or even 40% broker fees, he or she can visit the seller’s home and pick up items directly. Once again, I have two 36-slot containers in my house vault to hold other items. I also have the 40-slot veteran’s display case and a 48-slot fir potion cabinet (my main is an alchemist) to sell items from my apartment. I really should get the 80-slot mahogany potion cabinet, but I get by with what I have now. So currently I have 160 item slots in my starter home. And did I mention that the biggest homes can have 6 bag slots in their vaults and can hold 6 80-slot sales crates? The maximum number of storage slots for a house is 672.

The 672 figure for homes does not include house items. My little starter apartment only holds 100 items, which is plenty for a wandering ranger who just needs a simple place to sleep, put my sales crates, and place my alter to worship my god Karana. The fact that I can also place some of the cool weapons that I have won over my career on the wall is just a nice bonus. The biggest homes can hold over 500 house items.

So let’s see. My main currently has 928 dedicated storage and sales slots plus 288 storage slots I share with the rest of the characters on my account. If I really wanted to (and I do have the resources and personal strength to do so) I could have 1464 dedicated storage and sales slots, 288 shared bank slots, and 500+ house items.

Did I just run through all the storage space SOE gave me just to make World of Warcraft players jealous? No, although if this makes anyone want to play EQ2, come on over, the game’s great! Seriously though, I wanted to state what the disparity is so I could write another post on the consequences of this design decision in both games. I hope to have the post ready in the next week or so.

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