Forgive a small segue before I reach my main point.
If you ever played the RTS Total Annihilation, you know how important mobility is to a successful offense and a successful defense. Technically, \’e2\’80\’9cBig Berthas,\’e2\’80\’9d which were giant artillery cannons, could wipe out most any land or naval unit in a single hit with a ridiculous range, with a good deal of splash damage to boot. The same holds true for siege tanks in Starcraft. In pretty much any RTS, you will find massively powerful artillery-based units, with only one weakness.
Small, speedy units could surround and pillage a Big Bertha or a siege tank, with little damage suffered. This made flash tank rushes in TA and vulture runs in Starcraft effective tactics even in the latter stages in the game. I even posted a theorem about mobility advantages a long time ago relating to PvP. It’s a good read if you’re bored and PvP inclined.
The analogy of RTS mobilitiy advantages transfers well to EverQuest. An advantage in mobility over an opponent is often the deciding factor in any type of engagement, whether it be FPS, RTS, BBS, CIS, whatever. In EQ, a mobility advantage means you can:
\’e2\’80\’a2 Flee an outdoors encounter;
\’e2\’80\’a2 Reach a destination faster;
\’e2\’80\’a2 Outrun Kunark and Velious MOBs to separate camps;
\’e2\’80\’a2 Be more successful at backing up to land a root on a creature without risk of interruption.
That\’e2\’80\’99s why vendor-saleable mobility is so disconcerting to me. Before now, players had to go through an excruciatingly long camp to get this type of mobility advantage. You paid a cost in time invested to receive an item. Unlke most people who whined and complained about the \’e2\’80\’9cJBoots\’e2\’80\’9d camp, I thought it was a warranted evil. It kept a mobility advantage confined to a small class of players who were willing to make that type of sacrifice.
In a class-based RPG, where mobility is a class-defining ability, it has even further ramifications. Before, you had five choices: suffering through that camp, making friends with a druid, shaman, or high level ranger, purchasing a Spirit of Wolf potion from a shaman, doing a rare (and limited) quest in the Northern Karanas for a set of boots that held a very limited amount of charges of Spirit of Wolf, or making friends with a gnome who could craft clockwork greaves. Three of those options contribute to grouping and player community in EverQuest. The other two, by their very nature, confined themselves to players who already are unlikely to be participatory in the overall player community.
EverQuest has done a lot right in the past few months. Experience changes and ramping up attention to trade skills have made great strides in fostering greater grouping and player-economy dynamics.
(As a side note, if you haven\’e2\’80\’99t looked lately, trade skills are now viable to the high level market, with high-benefit items at reasonable cost. Exhibit A.)
But taking away class-defining abilities is not a way to foster community. Especially when the item we\’e2\’80\’99re referring to is rumored to be equal to the 57th level druid-casted version of SOW. Druids, rangers, and shamans have complained loud and long, often unwarranted, about their lack of attractiveness to groups.
This time, I think they have a legitimate bitch. Giving this ability to any Tom, Dick, and Harry who can sell enough fire beetle eyes to raise 5,000 platinum is a step back in Verant\’e2\’80\’99s efforts to promote community within the game.
However, the spirit of the change is in the right mind, even if the form is not. If Spirit of Scale, a faster travel spell that removes itself if the recipient engages in combat, were attached to the boots instead, it would create a legitimate gold sink, reduce travel time, and be a happy compromise for all parties involved. Reduction of travel time, taking excess gold out of the market, and maintaining class integrity are three traits of a good advancement in a socially-dependent game such as EverQuest.