You Gotta Fight for Your Right…to Chat!?

Posted: March 21, 2008 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, General Game Concepts, Uncategorized

I was strolling through the internet’s many tubes not all that long ago when I came across a thread on SOE’s official forums where a player was suggesting that access to Everquest II’s exclusive level based chat be based on the highest level character a player has per account…as opposed to the current system which bases such access on the current character being played.

Now, for those of you who don’t actually play Everquest II (and why not!?), let me explain how these channels work in the first place. Across every server in Everquest II, there are channels referred to as “level chats”. These channels are named for the level a character must achieve in order to access the chat channel in the first place. Generally speaking, the channels tend to open up every 10 levels, starting with “Level 1 to 9 Chat” all the way up to “Level 70 to 79 Chat” and even “Level 80 Chat” (which will presumably become “Level 80-89 Chat” when the level cap increases next).

It’s an interesting system, to be sure. I’m just not convinced that it’s necessarily the right one.

I’m not sure what the exact reasoning was for creating such tiered channels, but I can only imagine it was designed to create a general discussion area for players of like levels to speak with one another, perhaps to form groups or help each other with level specific strategy or spell questions. In practice, the highest level (and lowest level) channels end up becoming a free for all bazaar of conversation, with many players feeling the most interesting discussions take place in channel 70 to 79. It’s not always the case, but perception’s a hard beast to turn once it’s picked a track.

Regardless, whether or not the higher level channels are more interesting, the fact remains that a lower level character can’t currently access them. Please note the emphasis on the word “character” there. Even if you have multiple level 80 characters on your account, that brand new halfling berserker you’ve created can’t access any channel higher than “Level 1 to 9 chat”. Are you really missing out on that much? Well, that depends on who you ask.

A certain segment of players have the notion that they’d rather work on a secondary character than sit around waiting for a high level group to form. Seems like a good plan in theory. Why wait around doing little to nothing if you can enjoy yourself at a lower level while trying to find the right group needed for that Crypt of Agony run you’ve been hoping for, right? Well, the problem with this, according to these players, is that many, if not most of the higher level groups are formed up through the higher level chat channels – channels which aren’t accessible to lower level characters.

I can certainly understand that particular argument. It took two years before SOE invested in a more robust LFG (Looking For Group) tool within Everquest II (even though classive Everquest had a more robust tool already in place). Even then, the tool still seems to be greatly underused, and is based on the current character you’re logged into.

This means that if you’re hoping to get into a higher level group with your level 75 Defiler or your level 80 Paladin, the fact that you’re currently on that level 3 Berserker means you’re out of luck. You can’t look for groups in the LFG tool (unless you’re hoping for a level 3 group) and you can’t even access the level 70-80 channels.

There has to be a better way. If MMO’s are trying to encourage grouping, there needs to be better tools involved in the process. The tools being used in most MMO’s today are basically reiterations of the same tools we were using 5-10 years ago: chat channels and basic LFG search tools (with or without filters). Yet, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m drawing a blank at the moment for a better mousetrap.

So, I’m throwing out the gauntlet here. What’s the solution? What’s the answer? What ideas do the rest of you have? What would work? What does work (in current games)?

Either respond here, or simply post your own response on your own site (and link back here). Let’s see if we can’t use our collective mindpower for good or for awesome here.

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Comments
  1. Akely says:

    I’ve wanted a deticated LFG Channel for years.

    All the:
    lvl 50- 59 – Spammbrain says ” 51 BRIG LFG SoS or RoV or XP or wateva”
    lvl 50- 59 – Spammbrain says ” 51 BRIG LFG SoS or RoV or XP or wateva”
    lvl 50- 59 – Spammbrain says ” 51 BRIG LFG SoS or RoV or XP or wateva”
    lvl 50- 59 – Spammbrain says ” 51 BRIG LFG SoS or RoV or XP or wateva”

    can get annouing at times. But then, that would mean that Chat would have to be moderated a bit. But I still think it would be a good idea,

  2. Savanja says:

    Chat has become so useless that the only channels I keep open are private ones. I’m sure there is a better way to assign “jobs” for public channels but it might send everyone into shock if the whole thing is overhauled at this point!

  3. Bowin says:

    The Level channel- Its a good thing if used right. IMO Its a tool that can be mistreated as anything else.

    Bad: Spam and some guy rannting about how hes listening to some Rap song. I ve even seen peeps bad mouth other toons in the channel. It takes a few morons to ruin it for everyone.

    Good: Some people dont have a great guild that will help them on there quest. They use the channel to get a group going” Group needs a healer for Seb run.” Or tell them”I am a lvl 78 Conj. LFG.” Just once. After that, look who LFG by usen the LFG tool.

    It all commonsense. To bad some abuse the tools that are handed to them.

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