Progression, Nostalgia, and Special Servers July 21, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Sony Online Entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Nostalgia, Rambling Friday on Monday
One of the questions that comes up all the time in the EverQuest forums is when will SOE launch the next progression server? It may be the most popular question on the Progression Server sub-forum.
Second place goes to people asking for a Classic server, though those questions are somewhat undermined by both the fact that they are off-topic in that sub-forum and that there is nothing like an agreed upon definition of what a Classic server would actually include. It ranges from just launch content out to the Planes of Power expansion, though there are a couple of voices that would stretch thing to just shy of Gates of Discord.
So the two most popular topics seem to be about getting a new special EverQuest server from SOE.
And why not? SOE has something of a history with special servers for EverQuest, going all the way back to the initial PvP server to the first progression servers, The Combine and The Sleeper, which rolled out in June of 2006, to the Mayong 51/50 server back in 2009, to the current Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak’Aerr servers, with their time locked rule sets, which went live in February 2011.
So the assumption is that of course SOE is going to roll another one, it is just a question of when. When will SOE roll out the next progression server?
My gut response to that is “never.”
There are lots of arguments for such a server. It brings people back to the game. It rewards long term fans. It is popular, illustrated by the fact that both times they have done a progression server they have had to roll a second server to accommodate demand. And in a time when the game is free to play, a luxury item like a special nostalgia server seems like a reasonable way to boost revenue.
On the flip side of all of that there is the problem with nostalgia. That driving sense of nostalgia often doesn’t last long beyond the point when you return to the time/place/song you were nostalgic for. I have read a couple of articles about how the internet is going to kill nostalgia as a sensation before too long. When you have access to what amounts to a historically unprecedented amount of information in the comfort of your own home, the moment you feel nostalgic for something, you can track it down on the internet and watch/listen/read all there is available about, to the point that the sensation is sated. Having access to the thing for which you are nostalgic replaces nostalgia with reality. And, often times, the reality includes the downside, the reason the world moved on or the series got cancelled or that you never bought that band’s second or third album.
So while the progression servers… or any special servers… tend to start off strong. Things taper off over time. Fippy Darkpaw was packed when it opened and remained popular for the first few expansions.
After a while though, the feeling begins fade. Potshot and I joined in on the fun and were quite invested for a while, visiting many old locations in the game. And while the great PSN/SOE hacking episode of April 2011 knocked us off the path, that episode might have done us a favor. We ran around a little bit more after that, but for me at least, content after Kunark is still flagged as “that new stuff” in my brain, so our progress was arrested before we made ourselves sick on nostalgia.
But nostalgia does wear off. And so it is that the question “When will Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak’Aerr be merged?” might be the third most common question on the progression server sub-forum. In hindsight, SOE probably should have just bit the bullet and stuck with a single server, especially based on the history they had with The Combine and The Sleeper, which had to be merged less than a year into their lives, because now things are very quiet on both servers.
Unless you are in one of the raiding guilds. They still play, racing to unlock each expansion and then hanging around, farming gear, until the next expansion. But they are playing their own game and the rest of the server could be empty and it would not bother them.
So nostalgia wears out or the server advances to the point where the current expansion is no longer nostalgia and you end up with something more akin to a special raiding preserve as opposed to a home for old school players.
Thus I think that, given the cost of maintaining such a server and the limited pool of personnel that SOE has to devote to such tasks (as opposed to working on EverQuest Next) I think we may have seen the last special EverQuest server out of SOE. Smed isn’t going to overtly point you to Project 1999, but SOE hasn’t shown much interest in stamping out such private servers of late either.
And what other game would be prime for such a nostalgia server? EverQuest is somewhat unique in that not only were there a lot of expansions, but that expansions tended to leave old zones alone. Blackburrow today looks pretty much like it did back in 1999.
Certainly World of Warcraft would spring to mind for many, but Blizzard effectively shut down that idea when Cataclysm reworked the original game. There are parts of the old world that were no doubt better for the change, but you cannot go home again. There is nostalgia for original vanilla WoW in part because you can’t go there any more, and Blizzard isn’t going to support two clients just so you can go back in time.
And what other games would be prime for nostalgia. RuneScape has an old school server up now, and Dark Age of Camelot did one in the past. But most other MMOs are too young or have changed so much that the work to create anything like a nostalgia server would make the whole thing a non-starter. Lord of the Rings Online still delivers about the same experience for the first 40 levels, so who needs a different sort of server. A few people pine for the early days of EverQuest II, but how would you even roll back to that?
Then there are games like EVE Online, where there is only the one server.
I asked in a post just about two years back if SOE was going to be the sole vendor of a nostalgic MMO experience. Now I wonder if even they will keep that up.
But then there will be nostalgia.
Maybe, at some point, way down the road, nostalgia will become a viable business decision for some MMOs.
What sort of special server would you want to see? What game should have a nostalgia server some day?
Stellar Emperor Remake October 9, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Ancient Gaming, entertainment.
Tags: CompuServe, GEnie, Kesmai, MegaWars III, Nostalgia, Stellar Emperor
It always raise somebody’s ire when I call them twins. They were, in fact, as close as twins when I was playing Stellar Emperor back in 1986, back when I was actually winning in online games. (It has been all down hill for me since then.)
However, Stellar Emperor began to diverge from MegaWars III not too long after that, and by around 1990 they were as different as chalk and some sort of dairy product.
MegaWars III basically sat still in time and remained pretty much the same through to the end of its run… and the end of CompuServe’s run… in 1999, thus spanning about 15 years online. So when, a couple of years back, Crimson Leaf Games decided to recreate MegaWars III, it was pretty recognizable to those who played the original.
Meanwhile Stellar Emperor changed. GEnie seemed much more interested in getting graphic front ends into their online game offerings. Things like Air Warrior were the direction they wanted to go, and Kesmai seemed keen to oblige them, bringing Stellar Emperor along for the ride. By about 1990 Stellar Emperor would have been practically unrecognizable to a MegaWars III player. Game mechanics were changed, ships were slimmed down to a series of pre-set sizes, not unlike what Kesmai did in Stellar Warrior (which is the game some MegaWars III players think I am referring to at times when I write about Stellar Emperor), commands were changed or simplified.
And then there was the front end software.
If I recall right, you could still play the game from the terminal interface like the original… at least you could the last time I tried, which would have been in the 1990/1991 time frame. But the front end client could be used and was there to make the game both more visually interesting and accessible. And given the state of gaming as viewed from the command line interface these days… what do we have, MUDs, some Roguelikes, and maybe a few other retro experiences hiding in various corners… it was the way to go. Friendlier graphical user interfaces were the way to go.
And that is about where my personal timeline with GEnie and CompuServe ends. Oddly, that is about the time where I started dealing with them professionally, but that is another tale altogether and does not involve any online games.
So my memories are of a time when these games were as about as sophisticated as minimal vt52 terminal emulation would allow. I think of the blinking cursor and arcane commands like “imp 200,100″ and text scrolling off the top of the screen, never to be seen again. And it seemed quite natural, from a nostalgia perspective, to recreate such games from that era with a command line interface, though with the web you can always put in buttons for those of us who cannot remember all of those old commands.
And who wants to create a new GUI client for this sort of thing which must have a pretty small audience?
Well, somebody does. I managed to wrest a message from the horrible new Yahoo web mail interface sent to me to announce that there is a remake of Stellar Emperor under way. And it is not an attempt to redo the original, 1986 vintage command line version either. This will be a shot at the GUI client version of the game that ran through the 1990s until the game was shut down by Electronic Arts in 2000. (Electronic Arts motto: We buy game studios and kill them.)
Cosmic Ray Games, LLC is the name of the group working on this project. They have a site up, the game is in beta, there is a client you can download, and a reasonable amount of detail is available. Their FAQ describes Stellar Emperor as:
Stellar Emperor is an online 4X (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) MMORTS strategy game. It maintains a periodically (usually 4 weeks) persistent universe in which a player colonizes planets and forms teams to compete against others real players. You Explore the galaxy to find planets to manage and build your resources, form teams or alliances to help further your survival, gather intelligence on your enemies, and use your resources to defend yourself or to weaken or eliminate your enemies.
There are several elements that make Stellar Emperor a fun and unique gaming experience, which include:
- You only play against other real people, no NPCs to waste time on grinding.
- A periodically persistent universe.
- All events occur in real-time, whether you are online or not, no waiting for turns.
- The world has a strict time limit in which you have to earn your way to winning any of the various titles.
- All players start each war on an even basis. The game can only become uneven for the duration of an individual war, not eternally.
- You command several planets to do your bidding.
- You can build for growth and score, or you can build for war to take from others.
- Build ships or supplies to defend yourself, attack others, or gain an advantage in combat.
You can win a specific title in a war:
- Emperor – Leader of the winning team.
- President – Player with the highest planetary score.
- Warlord – The player with the best overall adjusted combat score.
- Ravager – The player most successful and attacking other player’s planets.
Combined, these elements create an environment where players must work together to achieve their goals and overcome adversities presented by the other players vying for the same goals, winning the game! You will see expansive battles, strategy execution, conflict, and teamwork as all players battle their way for the top spots.
Given the speed of the game, I might not describe Stellar Emperor using the “RTS” acronym. It may literally be true, but when you think of an RTS game, you are more likely to imagine StarCraft, which takes minutes to hours to play as opposed to a game that runs out over a four week time frame. But then it isn’t like an ongoing, persistent universe MMO like EVE Online either, since it does reset every four weeks.
The update I received reported that the game was at about 95% functionality. There are some screen shots, which I stole, and guides to playing the game on the media page of their site.
While I am interested in general about this sort of nostalgic revival of older games, I am probably not going to jump on this one quite yet. As noted above, this is really a poke at something that was after my time with the game. And EVE Online seems to be filling my need for internet spaceships at the moment. But I will keep an eye on this and will be interested to hear if anybody else gives it a try.
Quote of the Day – Commandments of Online Worlds August 30, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, MMO Design.
Tags: Nostalgia, Quote of the Day
Thou shalt not mistake online worlds for games, for they encompass far more; nor shalt thou forget that play is noble, and game is no epithet.
Raph Koster, The Commandments of Online Worlds
A little over seven years ago Raph wrote his commandments post. It, and the resulting discussion in comments, feels like it is from another era. Of course, it is from before Zynga and gamification and free to play as the default revenue model, back when the idea of a virtual world had meaning to a lot more people.
I was reminded of this post because I was listening to VirginWorlds postcast #17 this morning. The show itself is a nice time capsule, having gone live back in July 2006. Brent talks about DarkFall, EA buying Mythic and what that could portend, The Burning Crusade expansion that was set to come out six months later, along with a discussion of subscription numbers and what they mean. Or meant.
Five Games I Want to See Revamped March 15, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
Tags: Autoduel, Bolo, Civilization II, Diablo, Nostalgia
The announcement that Hidden Path is doing a revamp of Age of Empires II, along with such refreshes as Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition, naturally made me think about what other games ought to get cleaned up and brought forward into the current age.
Here are the five that I want to see.
1 – Civilization II
Civilization II remains my favorite version of Civilization. I have continued playing this through all the follow up versions. There is a simplicity to it that gets lost in the later games that I find quite endearing. And by reports I am not alone in continuing to play. One of the most popular posts on the blog is about how to get Civ II to run on Windows 7 64-bit.
Which, of course, brings up the question of why it even needs an update if it runs already. It doesn’t even look horrible and thanks to the Microsoft programming doctrines of the time, it runs in a window that resizes to whatever screen resolution you need.
Well, it runs, but not without difficulty at times. You have to get the right version of the game and use somebody’s home grown patch to get it to run on 64-bit. And you still need the CD in the drive to play, and I’ll admit right now that I managed to lose mine… again. And there are a number of long standing AI issues that could be cleared up along the way.
Basically, I would like to buy a fresh copy that works on my machine. I don’t care if it comes from Steam or GOG.com, I will make that purchase.
Why It Won’t Happen
The game was published back when Sid Meier was doing games for the now defunct MicroProse, so I am not even sure who owns the rights to the code itself, though Sid did manage to wrest the Civ name from them. Sort of. There were issues. And even if Sid and Firaxis owned the rights free and clear, they would much rather you buy Civilization V and some of their DLC than some code that is going on 20 years old here.
2 – Diablo
Again, back to a simpler time. My first thought was Diablo II, but that actually runs on my system okay and doesn’t look that bad. So no work to be done there. But the first game in the series?
I can almost get the original Diablo running on my machine. There are a couple of tricks to getting the palettes to load correctly. The game loads, you can play for a bit, but it is about as happy as a summoned demon about the whole thing. The palettes are muddy, the lighting clearly has another agenda, and things lock up at inopportune moments. And the whole thing is presented in a very chunky 640×480 on my big monitor.
But it is nearly there. You can just get a taste. You can hear the sound effects. You get a sense for a moment how dark and moody the caverns under Tristam were. I think a rework of this would do well. And, of course, Blizzard owns it all and could roll a fresh version is the desired. I would subscribe to another year of WoW to get it.
Why It Won’t Happen
I see a vision of Mike Morhaime explaining how Diablo III is really the superior product while dismissing the idea of a rework of the original. Blizzard never moves backwards. Old products get some support, but once a new version is out, the old one is pretty much dead to them. This is why there will never be an official version of the WoW Emerald Dream server. Blizzard just doesn’t do that.
Plus, I am not sure I would trust Blizzard with this. They didn’t even make the original. That was the long-gone team at Blizzard North.
3 – Bolo
At this point I suspect that most of you are going, “Huh? What is Bolo?”
Bolo was a fun little networked tank game on the Mac back when adding network capabilities to your typical DOS box took an expensive package from Novell. Created by brilliant networking programmer Stuart Cheshire, we used to play this for hours on Friday nights at the office. There was an interface that allowed people to create AIs to drive players, and we would set up a series of AI boxes in the lab and have horrible, bloody, never ending battles. Great stuff.
Why It Won’t Happen
Nobody could make any money from it. Mr. Cheshire said he was done with it ages ago, but I don’t think that means he’ll let other people take it over. And, honestly, as a game, it had some issues with coming to a final resolution. It was hard to win. Basically, one team generally grew tired first and gave up. And if it was AIs versus humans, well, the AIs never got tired.
4 – Auto Duel
Autoduel was the great mid-80s computer game manifestation of Car Wars from Steve Jackson Games. It took the vehicular combat game and forced it into the computer RPG mold quite successfully. There was an unfolding story and goals and side tasks and character development and buying new crap to bolt onto your car all wrapped into one game.
I spent hours sitting in front of my Apple II playing this game. It was great. What could possibly go wrong.
Why It Won’t Happen
Well, to start with, it was an Apple ][ game. (Along with other such now defunct 80s computer platforms.) You cannot, would not, should not literally translate it to a version that runs on today’s machines. Which means that you would need to re-imagine it in the way that the Wasteland 2 group is trying to redo Wasteland. But I have my doubts on that. It might be that this (and Wasteland) were only great in the context of the limited computer hardware we had at the time. And… you know… Auto Assault.
Plus, if that weren’t enough, Steve Jackson Games owns the rights and doesn’t seem to have any interest in such a venture, seeming content to work on their own board game nostalgia instead.
5 – EverQuest
This one is probably the least realistic as well as being the one to which people are most likely to take offense.
Here we are, the day before EverQuest’s 14th birthday. The game has a huge amount of content added in over 19 different expansions. It has grown, expanded, and adapted over time, first setting trends and later following them. It has gone free to play, so money isn’t even a barrier to playing the game.
SOE has worked to remove many barriers to getting people to play one of the great MMORPGs of the 20th century. But one huge barrier still remains.
I don’t mind the bad linoleum textures, the primitive animations, the intermittent sounds, the decrepit character models, or some of the crazy, grindy game play.
But every time I go back to play the game, wrestling with the damn client is a royal pain. They have tried to bring it up to date or to adhere to conventions that came into fashion for MMOs after it shipped. Things like WASD movement keys as a default.
And they have managed it quite well. But the client feels like it has too many features stuffed into it, while still showing some of the flaws it had back in 1999. For example, how frickin’ big does the contact area around my character need to be. I am constantly trying to click on something off to one side of him and ending up with him as the selection.
So I dream of an all new client, designed and built from scratch that delivers a smooth and modern user experience. And it pains me to say that, as the cardinal sin of every young, and many old, programmers is the heartfelt need to reject anybody elses code, opting to rewrite things from scratch. But I cannot get to my desired state by continuing to pile on to the old code base. A fresh start is needed.
In my mind, I see what is essentially EQ running with WoW’s client.
But I would accept the EverQuest II client frankly.
Why It Won’t Happen
There is no money in it. Having gone free to play, if it doesn’t come from the cash shop, it doesn’t bring in any money. The only exceptions are subscriptions and expansions. The client is free to download.
And, of course, even if there were money in it, it would be a huge operation and many a company has gone under rewriting code rather than pushing forward with new features on top of old spaghetti. See Netscape. The costs would be huge, and the benefits likely marginal at best. And I may want a better EQ client, but I suspect I am in a slim minority. Plus, how well did such revamps serve other games in the past?
Of course, there were other games that came to mind. I was tempted to list any version of SimCity besides the current one, just because. GetFudgedPopulation FTW! But we already have SimCity 4 on Steam.
I was also wondering about Ultima III and the original Wizardry. But I suspect that neither would make good games today. Or they might make fine iOS/Android games, but not something that would compare favorably to what we have available now on our desktops. Basically, almost anything from the pre-Macintosh or pre-Windows era is likely mired in the time before GUI and has to be re-imagined to be brought forward. Only dedicated hobbyists are likely to show any interest in games from that time.
Still, that does leave a good gap in time, and a whole pile of games that do adhere to at least some of the standards to which we have become accustomed and which could be reworked, polished up, and re-released.
What else should be on the list? What would you like to see reworked and brought up to date?
RuneScape Embraces Nostalgia February 22, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Misc MMOs.
Tags: Dark Age of Camelot, MMO Nostalgia, Nostalgia, RuneScape
RuneScape, a popular (200 million accounts created is their claim to fame metric) browser-based fantasy MMORPG, has decided to farm the nostalgia sector by opening up servers aimed at those who want to relive RuneScape’s past.
Officially called “Old School RuneScape,” the setting will be August 2007 version of RuneScape.
Jagex, the game’s developer, has taken an interesting approach to bringing these servers to the community. They have a poll up to gauge how much interest there is in the servers, with more interest by the player base yielding more focus by the studio itself.
Omali has some condensed details over at MMO Fallout about what happens at given result levels. (There is an update to go along with the final results.) There is also an official FAQ up about the servers.
Interesting to me is that by default… with the likely poll results… is that people interested in playing the classic version of this free-to-play game will have to pay for a subscription. That seems right to me. I don’t think people looking to relive a “classic” experience do so because it might be cheaper.
And that is how SOE has handled things with the Fippy Darkpaw server in the post free to play EverQuest world, making it available only to subscribers.
So RuneScape joins the rather short list of MMOs offering official “old school” versions of their game. I only know of two others. There is SOE with its EverQuest progression servers and Mythic with its past classic Dark Age of Camelot server (and its never to see the light of day Origin server).
And while there will always be arguments about what point in time is the “best” and whether such a server should be stuck in time or move forward, I think this sort of exercise is a good way to reach out and revive interest in your game with a big chunk of your current and former player base.
Of course, this sort of things probably works with some games better than others. World of Warcraft is an obvious target. Few expansions and slow improvement over time gives it a series of identifiable eras. EVE Online, on the other hand… their whole single server approach pretty much precludes such a nostalgia path… plus who wants to go back to the days before “jump to zero?”
What MMOs would you like to see embrace nostalgia? Or does that even have any appeal for you?
Turbine Time Machine – Asheron’s Call 2 Returns December 14, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Misc MMOs.
Tags: Asheron's Call, Asheron's Call 2, Nostalgia, Turbine
Be careful what you ask for, because people will take note of what you do if you get it.
It has been seven years since it was shut down. I never played it, nor its predecessor, but I have seen more than a few posts over the years bemoaning its demise.
Now, I can hardly criticize people for being nostalgic for a game like this. I run back to EverQuest just about every autumn, which is when the nostalgia bug seems to bite. But the whole act of reviving a game seven years gone does raise some questions.
I would assume that Turbine has done some work on the game in the interim. But I suspect it will still represent the state of the art at Turbine circa 2004. And while AC2 may have done some things right, is that going to be enough of a draw for any but the nostalgic and those with an archaeological bent? Has what made people leave AC2 been addresses, or is this just hope against hope?
What will be the business model this time around? For the beta you need an Asheron’s Call subscription. I am sure that the nostalgia bug will make for a spike in subscribers just to get in on it. But this was a game that was shut down seven years back because of a paucity of subscribers. And Asheron’s Call itself was always a distant third in the UO/EQ/AC triumvirate when it came to subscribers. Is Turbine planning to make this another free to play title? And are there enough interested parties out there to make this a viable venture either way?
And finally, what does this say about Turbine itself? It has been more than five years since they last launched a new game, which was Lord of the Rings Online in the first half of 2007. In all the time since then, the best they could come up with was to pull a game they shut down out of cold storage? That is a big bet on the nostalgia card with a game that purportedly peaked at 50K subscribers and had dwindled to less than a third of that by the end. Is this a love letter to long time fans or a desperation move?
Like I said, I can hardly criticize anybody for nostalgia, since it drives much of my own gaming patterns. I can never fully answer the question about reliving the past. But there is a lot to this that makes me raise a quizzical eyebrow.
Anyway, Turbine has set the WABAC Machine to 2005. Are you going to go for a ride?
Norrathian Tourism 2012 December 3, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II.
There is clearly a difference between me playing an MMORPG… well, I will say “seriously” for lack of a better word… and me going back to play one for the sake of my annual autumnal nostalgia drive.
In the so-called serious mode, it can be a somewhat OCD-like drive to see and experience the world, to chase down the last quest in a zone, to peek into every corner, run dungeons, fight in events, and so on and so forth. And a key aspect to this is that the world must resist my efforts. If things are too easy, I will lose interest. I should not be able to do everything correctly on the first try every single time.
In fact, I think making things too hard is better than making things too easy, at least to a certain point. Walking out into a the world only to be insta-killed by the first set of mobs is turning the knob too far for most games. And I am not sure how soon you want to transition over from learning how to play the game to the game making things difficult.
In my experiences on the Emerald Dream server, for example, I replayed how WoW used to turn from the playing slaying easy, non-aggro mobs in Elwynn Forest to facing packs of Defias with overlapping aggro zones in the vineyard in one very short step.
But in nostalgia mode, I am not interested in a lot of such thing. I am not interested in grinding my way through a zone’s storyline, I do not want to work hard. I want to run around, visit interesting places, and kill the local boss.
In this, I think EverQuest II might be perfectly arranged for me.
It helps that I left myself a character perfectly setup for a nostalgia tour. I cannot remember if I did this on purpose or not, but my barbarian berserker Sigwerd hit level 42, at which point I outfitted him with a full set of master crafted gear… that probably translates to very good blue items or base level purple in the WoW scale of things… upgraded all his skills, and then parked him.
So, when I did come back to roam I had the maximum amount of time to run around before running into to the “you must completely replace all your equipment every 10 levels” barrier. Add in mercenaries so I can hire a healer and become pretty much invincible to heroic named encounters, and I was set.
So, I ran around visiting places, slaying named mobs, and wrapping up the occasional quest. The slaying named mobs seemed to be helped by the fact that named mobs seem to be up a lot more frequently. Or less people are out there slaying them.
And, like all tourists, I took a series of pictures along the way. I posted some previously, but here are some more.
Of course, some came out blurry. And the JPEG compression is pretty harsh. And half the time I forgot to take a picture. Such a tourist.
Now though Sigwerd has hit level 52. And while I was able to harvest enough rares to re-equip him for another 10 level jaunt, I am wondering where he should head next. What should be on the tourist map for 53-62 in EverQuest II?
Fippy Darkpaw – Dragons of Norrath and The Story Going Forward November 23, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Sony Online Entertainment.
Tags: Depths of Darkhollow, Dragons of Norrath, Fippy Darkpaw, Nostalgia, Progression Server, Vulak
*** Progression Servers ***
- Fixed a problem that could cause an expansion to open without a vote.
From the EQ Test Server Patch Notes
From what I have seen, the Dragons of Norrath expansion was fully unlocked and accessible on the Fippy Darkpaw server by the morning of November 13th, so I will mark that for my unofficial timeline. As I mentioned in my previous post on the subject, no unlock vote was taken for the expansion, and no word has come from SOE about what happened, but it looks like the unlock will stand and there will be no roll back for a vote.
Meanwhile, it was reported in the forums that the pre-unlock message for the next expansion, Depths of Darkhollow, had been seen on the Vulak server. There had been no vote up for that and I have no idea if it went any further than just a message.
There was, however, a poll taken on Vulak and Fippy Darkpaw about the unlock timer settings. Currently unlock votes are set to be taken 60 days after specific content from an expansion has been defeated for the first time. The result of the poll was that a majority of respondents wanted that 60 day time frame increased. There has been no word on when that will come to pass, though there will likely be another poll to determine how long the delay between content complete and a vote should be.
Of course, this is likely to please very few.
Voices from the raider factions claim that the repeated no votes on the Gates of Discord expansion unlock sent a good chunk of their population away, never to return. Longer delays between expansions will not make their lot in life any better.
On the flip side, the constantly posting and ever unrealistic “I want to turn the progression server into a classic server” faction has been trying to slow down votes since day one. And while there are many sub-factions within that group that want things to stop at one expansion or another, I am pretty sure that Dragons of Norrath is not high on anybody’s list as a classic server setting.
And in the midst of all of this, SOE has been saying… nothing.
There hasn’t been a word from anybody about what is going on. The only thing approaching an official response has been from SOE-MOD-02, who comes in to shut down duplicate threads on subjects being discussed.
This is something of an irksome bit for me because, while I realize that the EQ team is in the midst of launching the Rain of Fear expansion, which is slated to come out next week, the population of the time locked progression servers represents paying customers. You have to have a gold account in order to play on the TLP servers, so this is a population of SOE’s best customers, and they are being left to stew and squabble amongst themselves.
Must mishandled customer relations ever be the SOE hallmark?
So, with a great big sigh and a rolling of eyes skyward, I am going to call to a halt my attempts to try and track the progress of the second round of time locked progression servers. It has been difficult to do since I stopped playing on the servers, which honestly happened back during Ruins of Kunark, and has gotten more so as time has gone on and the population on the servers has dwindled.
I am not going to renounce doing any more posts on the subject of these servers. In fact, I can foresee at least two more such posts. One will be when the Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak servers get merged, and the other will be when the remaining server, which will likely be the more populous Fippy Darkpaw server, gets merged into one of the standard EverQuest Live servers, thus ending this round of progression servers.
I suspect that both of those events will be easy enough to spot and will help me round out my timeline.
But I am not going to spend time watching forums, emailing people, asking people to log onto the server to check polls, or otherwise spend time trying to tease out information that simply does not get posted anywhere.
But even with the community squabbles and the opportunities that SOE missed to use this server as a community building tool, it has been a grand experiment to my mind. A flawed, irksome, neglected, forgotten in the back of the closet for months at a time experiment that often represented the triumph of reality over dreams and nostalgia, but a worthwhile one none the less.
For what really turned out to be just a few weeks for Potshot and I, it was a misty water colored reflection of the game we played in 1999 that brought out both its benefits and its flaws.
I played in the snow. We read graffiti the Qeynos sewers. We went to Blackburrow. We camped bandits in West Karana. We ran to Freeport. We delved in Najena. I got stuck in the Ocean of Tears. We died in Unrest. We sailed on Lake Rathetear. And we ended up on Kerra Island and then in Runnyeye.
It was a decent nostalgia tour that let us relive many fond memories.
All of the posts related to this are under the Fippy Darkpaw tag if you want to review.
So, with that, I give you my timeline of the Fippy Darkpaw server so far with, as I said, the intent of updating it at least two more times.
- Fippy Darkpaw server goes live with classic EQ content, February 15, 2011
- Classic EverQuest competed, February 24, 2011
- Ruins of Kunark unlocked, June 6, 2011
- Ruins of Kunark completed, June 19, 2011
- Scars of Velious unlocked, August 29, 2011
- Scars of Velious completed, September 14, 2011
- Shadows of Luclin unlocked, November 21, 2011
- Shadows of Luclin completed, December 4, 2011
- Planes of Power unlocked, February 13, 2012
- Lost Dungeons of Norrath unlocked, March 12, 2012
- Legacy of Ykesah unlocked, March 12, 2012
- Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 7, 2012
- Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 21, 2012
- Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, June 4, 2012
- Gates of Discord unlocked at last, June 18, 2012
- Omens of War unlocked, September 10, 2012
- Omens of War content complete, September 12, 2012
- Dragons of Norrath unlocked without a vote, November 13, 2012
I expect in a few years we will see the EverQuest Progression servers, round three. Despite the problems, nostalgia pays.
Will you be there?
An EverQuest II Chains of Eternity First Impression November 20, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II.
Actually, that title is pretty much a lie. I was just on a roll with “First Impression” posts.
While the post is something of a first impression about returning to the game, it isn’t about the expansion.
I have not purchased the Chains of Eternity expansion for EQII, mostly because it is focused on characters well beyond the highest level of any of my own. I think my characters cap out in the 60s for adventure levels and in the 80s for crafting levels. So even had I purchased it, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything with the content. Life in the level based MMO lane.
Still, the launch of the Chains of Eternity expansion and my own minor reflections about the past eight years of EQII did kick off a bit of a nostalgia vibe. My post I got Gaff nostalgic for the game. And then he started chatting to me about it, which got me more interested in going back for a peek.
Such is the power of the blog. What I do influences what I write. What I write influences what I do.
I am told that the screen shots really sell the nostalgia angle.
Anyway, I patched up the game and opted in for Gold level, which means the traditional subscription. More blathering aboutthat after the cut.
Tags: Dragons of Norrath, Fippy Darkpaw, Nostalgia, Progression Server
One of my worries about trying to report on expansions unlocking on the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server while not subscribed and actively playing is that at some point an unlock will go off without a hitch, thus keeping the forums from lighting up with complaints.
Those complaints are the trip-wire that alerts me to unlocks, because I certainly cannot count on the Fippy Darkpaw timeline they have on the EverQuest site. That has been broken since March, when the game went free to play.
So it is a good thing that SOE seems to have my back on this!
And so this morning there is a post in the forums reporting that features from the Dragons of Norrath expansion (of which Giant Bomb has a great summary) such as Guild Halls and faction NPCs and bandoliers and such are now available on the Fippy Darkpaw server. (But not on Vulak.)
However, none of the actual content, the zones that make up the bulk of the expansion, appear to be available. [Update: The zones appear to be in and live, but are blocked off.]
Oh, and the vote for the Dragons of Norrath has not come up yet.
There was a rogue poll that showed up just after Omens of War was unlocked, so maybe that masked the need for an unlock vote? Or maybe the unlock vote was supposed to go up today? Or maybe whatever changes SOE is putting in for the Rain of Fear expansion that is supposed to go live this month broke something?
Or maybe it is just another day on the Fippy Darkpaw server.