We have a followup to the last Producer's Letter that addresses some of what we've already done and talks a bit more about what's yet in store for those who play mostly Solo and in Small Groups, and another post that will follow up on what's on deck for Artisans.
Since information on Mentoring will be available in a Test Server update message very soon, It made sense to skip straight to this post regarding a feature that's in development. We'd rather you get the full picture instead of being surprised by a Test Server update message.
One of our goals with EverQuest II is to make it as easy as possible to group up with the people you want to be playing with. Over the past few weeks, we've been working on a way to let friends adventure with friends, no matter what level anyone is.
With that goal in mind, we're pleased to announce EverQuest II's new Mentoring system.
What is Mentoring?
The idea behind Mentoring is a straightforward one. It should mirror the analogy of a dedicated teacher offering valuable lessons to an eager student.
Higher level characters (Mentors) are able to teach lower level characters (Apprentices) about the world, the creatures in it, and how foes can best be defeated, by grouping up with them and taking on challenges appropriate to the growing skills of the Apprentice.
While the Mentor and Apprentice are grouped up with each other, both can learn valuable lessons (experience) in the process. Apprenticing to a skilled Mentor can also be a faster way to learn than just trying repeatedly on your own
Further extending the analogy, having a whole team of trained Mentors offering different perspectives on life's lessons will naturally cause the Apprentice to learn even faster.
How does it work in game?
When you right click a lower level group member, you will see an option to Mentor them.
Selecting "Mentor" will make you appear and perform as if you were the same level as your Apprentice. It will be as if you were that level with a full bar of XP, and had all of the abilities that a person with a full experience bar of that level would have (for levels in which you get new abilities part of the way through).
Mentors will be able to continue using their existing equipment. There is no need to get diffferent sets of equipment for mentoring people of different levels.
Mentors can use any spell or combat art for their class that is in line with their Apprentice's level.
The Apprentice will receive an experience bonus while under the guidance of a Mentor. Up to 5 other players can act as a Mentor for a single player at the same time. Each subsequent person Mentoring an Apprentice adds to the bonus experience that the Apprentice receives. A single Apprentice can be mentored by up to five other people.
The Mentors and Apprentice will receive experience, loot, and quest credit as if the Mentor were the same level as the Apprentice.
Mentors do receive viable amounts of experience and advance toward their actual level while mentoring, though at a slightly reduced rate. The rates will fluctuate while this feature is in testing.
The one exception to Mentor experience gain is taking an Apprentice who is under level 10. Helping someone through the most basic parts of the world doesn't provide sufficient opportunities for the Mentor to learn new things, and the Mentor doesn't gain experience during that period.
Apprentices must have their Experience Gain turned on in order to be Mentored. (The optional XP disable can't be in use.) Mentors can have this setting any way they prefer. We are sensitive to the possibility of creating a new way for people to retain arbitrary levels for the purposes of bot-farming, and don't wish to create a system that encourages it.
A Mentor can right click their Apprentice and select "Stop Mentoring" when they wish to stop acting as a Mentor.
If the Mentor or Apprentice leaves the group, the Mentor will go back to their original level.
Mentoring will be arriving on Test Server in its next major update, this week. It is currently scheduled to be available on all live servers two updates from now.
Depending on the issues that arise on Test Server, we may decide to offer it in a Beta form to the live servers an update early. Our goal is to get this new feature out there for everyone to use as soon as possible.
There are more and more people arriving in EverQuest II every day and many of them have friends already playing who are higher level. We're thrilled to be able to offer a way they can play together, right off the bat.
They did this in City of Heroes, and the exp was minimal for the mentored character. It was strictly a way to hang out with a higher level character. Experience was faster doing pretty much anything else solo.
*edit* Also, the mentored character got temporarily raised to the level of their mentor, so lower level mobs were all grey. Skill levels did not raise, so mentored characters had trouble hitting the mobs.
This is actually closer to CoH's exemplar system than it is their mentoring system. I think it's a fine idea, although I agree with many of the posters on the SOE forum that no experience bonus while mentoring is necessary.