In the upcoming GU45 update, the Everquest II development team has added a new feature of character flair: user-created books. Now, adventurers across Norrath can record their adventures, budding authors may create their own stories, and more! The news post on the EQ2Players website notes a limit, however, to how much can be placed in a book: “There is no limit to the number of pages, but books are limited by the amount of text. A progress bar will let you know how much more text your book can hold as you are typing.” In further good news, for those perfectionists out there, the writing system can auto-save your writing to your hard drive in case of trouble.
A player interested in creating a book only need to go to a crafter. The books start out blank, begging for your quill to fill them. Any player can write in a blank book, but once pen touches parchment, the book becomes the property of the author, and only the author can edit it. Once you've completed your book, you can make as many copies of it as you like. All that's needed is a blank book. EQ2Players gives the instructions: “Right-click the original book and choose “Copy”. Your cursor will turn into an arrow allowing you to select the blank book in your inventory that you’d like to copy it to.”
These user-created books can also be traded, so you can distribute your novels to friends, or even offer them up on the broker. Upon the breaking of this news, the Everquest II Official Forums exploded. User dreiden asked, “What are the penalties of plagiarism (someone copies Harry Potter into the game)? Who retains copyright of original works placed by players into the game? Sony, the player, joint (Sony and the player) or Creative commons open licenses?”
It's a good question, especially in the heyday of the Internet, when anyone can copy anything. The official answer from Rothgar?
“Book text is run through the profanity filter the same as chat text if you have the filter enabled. For highly inappropriate text or copywritten material, a book can be reported and CS will take a look at it. If a player continues to cause problems with books, his ability to create/edit can be taken away similar to biography and naming privileges.” To be expected, of course, but a good measure from the developers.
Another interesting item is the copy system itself. According to Rothgar, the programmer that is working on the book content, he says in the forum thread:
“A book can be changed by the author at any time if it’s in his possession. Book text is not linked though. Making a copy makes an entire independent copy of the book.” What this means is that if a player writes a book, then makes a copy, and gives it or sells the copy, that the player can still edit the original book and add new entries and content. The new content won't extend to the copy. Also, only the author can make copies, and the book can only be edited in the author's inventory.
In further good news, the tradeskill developer (username DominoDev on the Official Everquest II forum), confirms that the books will not count toward a player's item total when placed in a home. Rothgar, on the other hand, offers a caveat to those thinking to hoard books in an impromptu Library of Congress - “The jury is still out as far as how many books someone will try to put into a house or guild hall. Every book that you add will be a little more memory that the house will have to consume. A large quantity of books could certainly impact performance. We'll just have to watch and see how it goes and tweak from there.” We might just have to see user-created books in a phase of updates, if that is the case.
Right now, illustration isn't allowed in the books. ASCII art, however, may work. To sweeten the deal, a player suggested to Rothgar to allow language-specific text in the books as well. For example, say I decide to write my book in elvish. Since my character is an elf, and knows the language, the book will be understandable by any character that knows the elvish language, and to those who don't know elven, it will display in elvish text. Once completed, the book's author and title will become the name of the book item.
Discussion is going on right now over in this thread in the Everquest II Official Forum
My thoughts on the user-created books goes like this: I think it's a radical idea, the developers, Rothgar in particular, are taking a step forward in really immersing a player, or in the very least, giving those players that consider themselves “bored” something interesting to do. I for one will look into making a book, probably nothing more than a little journal of what my character has seen and done. But this will have growing pains as an added feature, too. Players will inevitably attempt to circumvent the quality of books, possibly plagiarism, perhaps even using the books for hate speech. There are measures in place to try to stem this, but as everyone on the Internet knows, for every 1000, there's at least 100 that will attempt to ruin things for others. I'm excited to see how far players can take their books as well. Will we see some high-selling books on the broker? Could this also be the start of a possible newsletter/newsprint system in the future, where players can pass out, or even sell, their own newspapers?
Only time will tell.