I suspect that Pantheon will have some way for starting players to quickly join their friends. However, I actually hope it doesn't.
I enjoyed the relative silos of starting areas that were created by the difficult travel in EQ. It made for smaller tight-knit communities. If you can easily jump between starting cities, nowhere will really feel like home. You won't see the same people around consistently because we'll all be travelling around so much.
I would actually prefer to see more options for starting areas per race than quick teleport systems in-game. Allow halflings and elves to start in each others towns, or allow all races to start in the human area, but don't provide instant teleports between all those cities that all players can take advantage of.
If you're going to provide a quick way in-game for new players to meet each other immediately upon starting, just unlock all the starting areas at creation instead.
I do plan to play Pantheon with some RL friends and family. But if we want to group together from day 1, I fully expect to either roll characters in the same starting area or overcome some serious obstacles to join them.
I'm interested in map mechanics in Pantheon. Here are some ideas I have at the moment
(subject to change based on this discussion):
should be static, hand-drawn items. It
should be up to the player to accurately read the map and apply it to the world. I think the maps from Thief: The Dark Project would be a great place to start.
at a map should stop your character, and take up most of your screen
should be purchasable from merchants at different levels of quality and price. Civilized areas should have more detailed maps easily available, while dungeons
and the wilderness should have harder to obtain, less detailed maps.
should be found in lore-friendly locations as well (Example:
A dungeon map may drop from mobs like “The Orc Strategist” etc)
obtained from different methods may have different information. The
Shady Swashbuckler may sell you a low-quality map of Freeport, but it may have
all the secret entrances identified. Maybe
certain NPCs will sell you purposely bad maps to get you lost, or lead you to
should be purchasable from merchants at different levels of quality
should have weight and take up inventory slots. Potentially
maps could have a storage ‘book’ that players could add to, like a quiver
could be editable in basic ways. A
simple drawing tool to scribble notes or circle locations so that players can
add information. These
options could be increased by purchasing new cartography tools. The cheapest allows black line drawing, the
best allows multiple colors, shapes, brushes, etc
leads to more questions: Should edited
maps be tradeable? Should
players be able to buy blank pieces of paper and draw their own maps from
scratch and then sell those maps? (Personally, I think that would be a nice thing to have)
My point is, maps should not be a default UI element. They should be items in the game that players obtain, or potentially, create.
I don't think that excluding fast travel necessarily dictates that everyone will be spending half and hour running through the same areas repeatedly. It will change the way we play. Instead of saying "I need to go to town and sell quickly, brb" we will have to make decisions ("Do I want to carry this heavy greatsword I just looted or sacrifice it and keep leveling with the group").
Also, there will be mechanisms for fast-travel, they just won't be instantly available with no human interaction. Higher level players will rarely, if ever, walk somewhere. Their group members will port them to their intended destination, or they can simply offer to pay someone for a port. Plus there will most likely be run speed spells (SoW) and mounts that turn your 30 minute run into 15 minutes.
The reason some of us dislike fast travel is because it trivializes the world. If every location is only 1 minute and a couple of button clicks away, the world might as well be a list of rooms you select from a UI. To really feel immersed in a world you need to have the right perspective, and that can be achieved through non-instant travel. This same argument could be made for a harsher death penalty, but I digress.
So before we get too far off topic: How about that unnamed castle with the tentacles in the moat? I'm looking forward to exploring that!
I hate to wade back in to a topic we seem to have moved past, but I found the Gating/Locking/Progression conversation interesting.
I do think that in its current iteration, the acclimation system appears simple. The icy windblown corridor is basically a Door and the infusion is the Key. There isn't much variation, either you have the key or you don't. I find this similar to a game like old-school Zelda, where content is gated behind certain items. Either you have the hookshot and can access the next dungeon, or you don't.
I am hoping that in its final form this is a system with options and room for emergent gameplay, more akin to Dark Souls. For example: that same icy corridor could be overcome with any combination of a strong regen, run speed buff, warming potion, a warm cloak, excessively high hit points, climbing a wall and levitating over, and other things that we won't even anticipate until some creative player discovers it. I see the infusions as an alternate method for players who are motivated enough to pursue it. Like Joppa said, the high level infusions may be rewards to progressively more epic quests. I hope that doesn't mean it's the only solution to the puzzle.
Ultimately, these kind of MMOs are based on stats. As long as there are stats there will be some form of shallow Door/Key locking and I'm ok with that. We've seen with Everquest that it's possible to layer enough complexity on top of that system to keep things interesting.
I'm looking forward to some info on Pantheon Rangers as well. I played as a Ranger when EQ started and I think the class has come a long way since then. It's a tough class to balance but I felt that while the Bard was a jack-of-all trades, the Ranger was just a master-of-none.
I like your ideas about specific Ranger woodworking skills. I would love to see more variety come from a Ranger's quiver. Also, it would be nice to see traps play a bigger role. Tracking is a must. Some kind of run speed buff would be great.
Mostly I just want to see Rangers developed as an individual class rather than a poor version of 2 classes combined. Want to give Rangers a minor heal? Don't give them the level 1 Druid spell, allow them to forage medicinal herbs. It could effectively work the same but it gives the class more character (I realize this was a carry over from the D&D days, but I don't think it translated well to MMOs).
Does anyone know what Vanguard Rangers were like? I didn't get a chance to play one. I'm interested to see the progression from EQ1 to Vanguard.