The East End of Stonefield

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I finished up Freemarch and was moving into Stonefield in Rift Prime.  While the leveling via quests dynamic was holding me a bit behind in levels, I was still about set, entering Stonefield and hitting level 18.

Stonefield tiger in the wild, find a quest hub for this child

But it wasn’t too long before pushing into Stonefield that the quest trail started to pull away from me.  Quests are pretty manageable at up to two levels ahead of your own level, but after that the situation gets a bit dicey and it wasn’t too long before I was wading around in quests three or four levels above me.  I was level 19 by then, but the quests were 22 and up.  Not a viable position for me.

After looking at the map I realized that the lead-in quest for the zone teleported me a ways into the zone and that the quests from there had only sent me back to the previous quest hub.

Stonefield map

Something in the back of my head told me that there was something to be found in the gap between that first quest hub and the boarder with Freemarch along the road between the two.

Sure enough, there were a few quests there, which helped me along.  But it wasn’t enough to catch up.  I was still lingering at level 19.  And then Wednesday’s patch hit.

There were a few items in that patch, but the key one was this:

QUEST EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN DRASTICALLY INCREASED! The exact percentage of the increase varies by level range, but is substantial– about 3x overall!

Increased quest experience, enough to keep me on track I was pretty sure.  But first I would have to get back on track.  Boosted quest experience only helps when you can actually do the quests.

I had an idea.  I went back to Freemarch and picked up the daily rift event related quests from three different quest hubs and ran after some rifts for a bit.  That was four quests total and I can confirm that the experience output was noticeably higher.  After closing a second rift to finish off the last of them, I hit level 20.

So many notifications

That was just enough to get me back on the rails in Stonefield.

Still, all was not as well as one might have hoped.  There was a report that invasion experience was wrong now and that something was amiss with warfronts (battlegrounds), the latter coming into play because somebody grabbed the PvP guild quest.  We were knocking out the PvE ones too quickly I guess.

Anyway, there is another emergency maintenance downtime today to address issues as yet unspecified.  Lag and server stability are still issues.  We shall see how things look tonight.  I am sure this is all a learning experience for Trion.  Daybreak has the advantage of having done the retro server a few times and they still stumble a bit at every launch.

Spring Movie League – Some Could Not Imagine

The third week of our spring Fantasy Movie League has come and gone and it was definitely one of those weeks.

The lineup for the week looked like it had a few potential anchors with the usual lot of filler.

Tomb Raider         $407
Black Panther       $391
A Wrinkle in Time   $241
Love Simon          $217
Game Night          $82
The Strangers       $78
Red Sparrow         $67
Deathwish           $54
I Can Only Imagine  $41
7 Days in Entebbe   $29
Annihilation        $29
Jumanji             $23
Gringo              $21
The Hurricane Heist $19
Peter Rabbit        $15

With that I spent most of my time thinking about what to anchor my lineup on.

I was not convinced Tomb Raider was going to pass Black Panther and, as I noted, Liore endorsing Love Simon in chat made me set that aside.  Then there was A Wrinkle in Time.  The safe choice seemed to be to anchor on Black Panther, with either two screens of that or one screen and something else, before working on filler.

I, however, got hooked up in a side theory from chatter that was convinced that, as a kids film, A Wrinkle in Time would have a smaller week over week drop than one might expect.  A 50% drop is pretty normal but some kids films, like Peter Rabbit, dropped off much more gradually over time.  Wrinkle dropping 50% didn’t interest me, but if it only dropped 40-45% it would not only been in play as an anchor, but as priced might contend for the best performer slot.  And I could get three screens of Wrinkle with plenty of room to back fill.

So as I fiddled with variations around Wrinkle, a monster was forming in the filler column.

Down in the filler was I Can Only Imagine, a sleeper priced with maybe a $3 million weekend box office performance in mind.  That was the Monday thinking for FML when they unlocked the lineup for our picks.

But by Wednesday the forecasts for Imagine were starting to come in way over that number.  I saw a forecast for $6.5 million first.  But one outlier forecast does not a groundswell make.  But then there were more, and the number was rising, with predictions going to $8 million then $10 million on one site I generally don’t trust.

One site going overboard you can dismiss, but when everybody is predicting high you have to figure something is going on.  It was becoming clear that Imagine was going to be the best performer, so those paying attention began to optimize for it as their filler.  But anchors still seemed to matter.  Even at $10 million plus the $2 million bonus wouldn’t replace your anchor screens.

I decided to bet on Wrinkle doing better than expected, mostly because I can convince myself of anything if I say it to myself enough times… and a couple of forecasts had it above $18 million, which just reinforced the story I was telling myself.   So I went with 3x Wrinkle and 5x Imagine.

Spring Week Three – My Picks

When the screens finally locked there wasn’t much variety in MCats.  We all had Imagine as our filler.  But in the TAGN league clearly some people had not gotten the word.  They were not alone.  According to the research tab only 33% of players had Imagine in play.  But I was feeling okay about Wrinkle as an anchor as it had some play in the top 100 players list:

  • 12 — 2x Black Panther, 5x I Can Only Imagine, 1x Blank Screen
  • 9 — 1x Black Panther, 1x A Wrinkle in Time, 6x I Can Only Imagine
  • 6 — 3x A Wrinkle in Time, 5x I Can Only Imagine
  • 4 — 1x Tomb Raider, 7x Game Night
  • 3 — 1x Game Night, 7x The Strangers
  • 3 — 1x Black Panther, 7x I Can Only Imagine
  • 2 — 4x Love Simon, 4x Annihilation

But 2x Black Panther, 5x Imagine, and one blank screen was the most popular pick overall.  And come the Saturday morning results, that seemed to be the winning play.  But Imagine was doing even better than the most optimistic forecast.

The Sunday update had 1x Black Panther and 7x Imagine in the perfect pick slot, with Imagine looking to take third spot in the weekend box office, passing Wrinkle which was headed for a 50% drop over the previous week.    That perfect pick held when the final numbers were released.

Spring Week Three – Perfect Pick

No joy for me, but Liore, who placed last in the first two weeks of the season, had the perfect pick along with 164 other FML player, making her the overall winner for week three.  I guess I can’t troll her this week.

  1. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $165,384,269
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $157,536,351
  3. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $153,035,716
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $146,825,365
  5. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $146,825,365
  6. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $146,825,365
  7. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $146,825,365
  8. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $144,294,622
  9. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $144,294,622
  10. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $133,076,678
  11. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $132,965,578
  12. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $130,792,717
  13. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $115,499,771
  14. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $67,113,951
  15. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $66,871,277
  16. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $66,643,027
  17. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $60,456,300
  18. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $58,901,732
  19. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $58,351,058
  20. Kraut Screens (T) – $58,341,937
  21. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $56,540,940
  22. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $39,024,976

The Meta League Legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

Those of us who loaded up on as much Imagine as our anchor screens would allow did not fall too far behind, though my choice of Wrinkle set me back a ways.  But anybody who didn’t check the forecasts from the sites I listed out in the opening post of the season were in for a rude surprise if they didn’t pick Imagine.  This wasn’t one where the Thursday night preview numbers on Friday morning helped. The forecasts were trending by Wednesday. (And, in the TAGN League, mentioned in the FML Chatter forum for the league.)

The week shook up the overall standings, lifting up those who went with Imagine in their lineup.

  1. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $343,521,112
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $326,056,604
  3. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $321,512,791
  4. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $320,953,929
  5. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $317,863,111
  6. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $312,716,024
  7. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $301,730,279
  8. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $301,695,127
  9. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $298,967,337
  10. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $297,591,982
  11. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $285,876,086
  12. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $280,443,980
  13. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $270,168,439
  14. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $239,361,430
  15. Kraut Screens (T) – $234,181,483
  16. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $226,087,490
  17. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $222,776,183
  18. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $211,286,068
  19. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $208,306,170
  20. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $206,764,632
  21. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $190,581,986
  22. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $135,890,663

Liore was the biggest winner of the week, rising from 21st place into 10th position.  Po held on to overall lead in the Meta League and still has a buffer, but Corr and Ben, who fought it out for first last season, closed the gap considerably.

And now week four looms with the following choices:

Pacific Rim             $340
Black Panther           $251 
Sherlock Gnomes         $223
I Can Only Imagine      $176
Tomb Raider             $157 
Paul, Apostle of Christ $155
A Wrinkle in Time       $126
Love Simon              $98
Midnight Sun            $66
Unsane                  $58
Game Night              $56
Peter Rabbit            $50
The Strangers           $34
Red Sparrow             $34
Deathwish               $24

Gone from the choices are 7 Days in Entebbe, Annihilation, Gringo, The Hurricane Heist, and finally after so many weeks Jumanji.

Replacing them are Pacific Rim, Sherlock Gnomes, Unsane, Midnight Sun, and Paul, Apostle of Christ.

At the top of the list is the Pacific Rim sequel, priced as though it plans to dethrone Black Panther from the top of the weekend box office this time around.  The last to weeks failed to knock Black Panther from the top of the list.

Meanwhile, seeing other movies appearing on the list, do you suppose it was an accident that Tomb Raider came out close to Easter?

The March Update Brings Big Things, Little Things, and More Guristas to New Eden

The March update for EVE Online is upon us today, and with it comes a pretty long list of updates and changes.

Where do I even start?  The list this month is so long!

For openers, there is a new event in The Agency called The Hunt.

Fatal and The Rabbit’s turn to be loot pinatas

This seems to fall into the now standard pattern of events from The Agency; find a site, warp in, kill NPCs, collect loot, earn points.  The twist here is that you need to harden up against and shoot kinetic and thermal ammo.

For those using capitals, jump bridges, and back ops bridges, there has been a reduction in jump fatigue.

Having both jump fatigue and range restrictions dropped on us with the Phoebe release about three and a half years back felt like a bit of a double whammy.  From my personal perspective I went from being able to do a series of 12ly jumps in my Archon to just a 5ly jump and an accompanying wait which increased with each subsequent jump.  It had to be done.  Capital travel was too easy.  But that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel like a hit, and doubly so when I had to make my way from Saranen down to Delve.

That has been dialed back some in the past and is being dialed back even more with the current update, as detailed in this dev blog.   Jump fatigue will now be capped at 4 hours, down from five days, with the jump timer being similarly brought down from a maximum of 9.6 hours to just 30 minutes.  No longer will this be seen:

The old jump fatigue maximum

We will see what that means for capitals and jump bridges and the like.  People will hopefully feel more free to go on ops as the participation requirement of “no jump fatigue!” fades away.

There is also a change to tethering.  When you jump in to a cyno on a citadel you won’t tether immediately.  There will be a cool down during which you will be vulnerable.

That dev blog also includes changes to entosis operations related to sovereignty warfare.  We shall see if that makes trying to take space more common or not.  Right now you can sit back and build up ISK and material in a single region if you’re willing to care bear it, so grabbing more space or trying to upgrade your own space isn’t much of a motivator anymore.  It isn’t like the old days where the CFC took Fountain because of moons.

There has also been a balance pass for ships.  Tech I battleships get a boost to lock range and cargo space, the Oracle, Naga, Talos, and Tornado can now fit MJDs, and the Ferox and the Machariel have been nerfed a bit while a few ships got buffs.  We’ll see if this leads to Munin fleets or not.

Also part of that is the new FC ship, the Monitor.

The Monitor Flag Cruiser concept

Since it was brought up by CCP last month it has had the ability to fit a target painter and a probe launcher added (along with the ability to hold some probes) so FCs can scan down enemies and get on kill mails.  We shall see if anybody ends up using this thing.

In addition today’s update spells the end for EVE Voice as well as a revamped chat system that features a back end on its own server.

And, finally, there is the Little Things update, where CCP has updated or improved a bunch of small items that should make capsuleers happy.  There are quite a few on there that make me happy, especially being able to see the ship type of people broadcasting for reps.

Who is asking for reps?

It isn’t that logi doesn’t like you frigate pilots, but spending time locking you up to find you’re already dead or have zipped out of range is annoying.  Logi has bigger ships to protect.

So that is what I have to report.  The update has gone live and further details can be found in the Patch Notes and on the Updates page.

Addendum: The game is down while they look into issues that may have come from the new chat system.  The whole thing was troublesome enough during the first mass test that I am surprised that they didn’t push it off to a future release.  This may be a rocky launch.  It is a good thing we all have a skill queue now.

Addendum 2: According to the forum thread the game is up as of 19:00 UTC, but there are still issues:






Addendum 3 – The bounty system has been fixed and now pays out correctly.  Those who did not get paid today should see a payout in the coming days.  Chat, however, is still not working as expected.  When I logged in earlier, Jita was silent.

Finishing Freemarch and the Vendors of the Ascended

The Rift Prime venture continued to hold my attention over the weekend, though it was admittedly a weekend where I did not have a lot of spare time to play.

Rising up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances

I managed to complete the circuit around Freemarch, completing quests as the chain zig-zagged across the zone, slaying mobs, collecting items, and eating cheese.

Yes, it even includes a cheese eating pun in the achievement

The problem was that by the time I had gotten around to where quests started to dry up I was just hitting level 17, which was a bit shy of the level you want to be to head on to the next zone, Stonefield.  The game was ready to send me there.  I had the quest.  But I felt like I needed to be at least closer to 18 to move off to a zone that is billed as starting at level 20.  Even doing the near constant zone events hadn’t edged me far enough along.

Oh, we’re slaying this guy again

So I did what I often do and checked my achievements.  Rift came along after WoW had already made achievements a necessary feature, so it has a pretty complete set, including the usual exploration and quests in zone variations.  Sure enough, I had yet to explore all of the zone and I was a good eight quests shy of that achievement as well.

Freemarch and Meridian

The problem seemed to lay in my faulty memory of the game.  I would wander off to where I thought the next quest ought to be, causing me to miss a couple of quests along the way.  I seemed to have a pattern of not going to the beach, so I rode off to where, in the dusty bits of my memory, I seemed to recall a few quests lingering.

Riding off to the beach at dusk

I rode because along the way I had also sprung for a horse.  Paring down my bag inventory mercilessly and selling a few items at the auction house made investment in a mount seem worthwhile.  There are only a few choices.

Horses for sale

I went for the bay.  It doesn’t feel all that fast, but it is faster than walking at least.

I found a few quests at one beach, then a couple more up the way in an unexplored area, then was left with both one unexplored point on the map and a couple of quests.  That unexplored location was another beach area just east of Kelari Refuge.  So it was that I got the exploration achievement as soon as I arrived.

Freemarch explored

And, once there I found a couple of quests ready and the location where I expected to find another, though it had been overrun by an invasion foothold that I had to take out in order to get the quest giver to respawn.  That is a thing with Rift, you sometimes have to clear hostiles off the quest hub.

Once I got those setup… and then helped clear a water rift that had descended on the beach in the middle of the area I needed… again, a very much a thing in Rift… I was able to finish up the quests, getting the achievement on the last turn in.

The Long March complete

That achievement actually had a reward, some void stones, one of the in-game currencies, so seemed worth doing for both that and the experience.  And there was even one more quest over on the shore that I had not done, though I recalled it requiring a stretch of underwater work.  That doesn’t thrill me, so I let it be and headed back towards Meridian to clear my bags and see about getting to Stonefield.

Up to that point I had forgotten that the game had something equivalent to the hearthstone in WoW, though why I should have forgotten that when Rift copied so much of WoW is something of a mystery.  I only chanced upon it when I was looking at my abilities for something else.

Like a hearthstone, but doesn’t take up a bag slot

Of course, five years down the road the WoW version of this has become three different hearthstones (which, of course, take up three different bag slots) that have only a 20 minute cool down.  Now an hour seems so unreasonable.  I’ve got places to be, I can’t wait an hour!

Anyway, I got my void stones, clear my bag, and got a lift to Stonefield.  I was just shy of 18 at that point, but found some quests open to me when I arrived.  However, once I rolled over to level 18 a bunch more suddenly became available, proving my point.

So I am starting off on the second zone, still having a good enough time.  I opted for Rift over WoW all week.

Stonefield, where there are more rifts

I am starting to agree more and more that progress relative to the quest chain is off, even when I have done a bunch of rifts and invasion events.  But I haven’t taken the time to go off and do a dungeon yet.  Maybe I need to do that as well.  The last time I did Realm of the Fae, the first dungeon on the list, was December 2011 and I have almost no memory of it.

The world seems to still be quite well populated.  I’ve always found other people around when doing the various events.  But it feels like the events are set to go off at a pretty rapid pace, so I wonder if Freemarch will simply be overrun when the population dries up some more.  Or maybe the level scaling will keep people coming back in search of planarite.  We shall see.

I did see some of the server issues people had been complaining about.  At a couple of points during peak hours it was taking quest NPCs a while to respond and rift event transitions seemed to lag.  And during one invasion event it looked like the whole zone got disconnected a couple of times.  Lots and lots of people dropped and logging back in.  But the login queues didn’t seem to be a thing, at least when I was getting online.

Meanwhile the Carnival of the Acended, the Rift anniversary event, launched on the live servers.  Trion had said they were going to do something on Rift Prime for it, which I had hoped it might add a bit of spice, or at least something else to add to the xp budget.  But in the end they just put a couple of vendors in the cities and called it a day.

Vendors of the ascended

As if being encouraged to celebrate a holiday by spending money wasn’t too real world enough, the vendors had crap all worth getting.  I had hope that maybe there might be a cosmetic hat on which to spend some of my void stones, but I was destined to be disappointed.  I will save my void stones for something else.

So there it is. I continue along with Rift Prime for the moment.

CSM13 – Hurry Up and Register Your Candidacy!

The first major phase of the CSM13 election season is about to commence.

Coming to a space election near you…

The window of time when you can register yourself as a candidate in the election starts soon.

As mentioned in my Road to CSM13 post earlier this month, the timeline for the election has changed, including the window to register for the ballot.  What was previously a two week window of time has been shrunk to just about four day, running from March 19th through the 23rd.

Now that sounds like five days, but it really isn’t  The registration process won’t be open and accepting entries until 12:00 UTC on the 19th according to CCP.  That is half a day gone.  And, at the far end, CCP has also said that registrations will close at 12:00 on Friday, which is another half a day shaved off.

So you only have a full four days in which to register.

I asked why they tightened up that part of the process so much, expecting to hear something akin to their argument about why they are also making the window for voting small, that most of the action tends to happen on the first day or the last day, so a long middle period isn’t all that necessary.

Instead the answer I got was that they wanted people to be able to start campaigning as soon as possible, something that seemed increasingly nonsensical the more I thought about it.

There won’t be an official ballot until Fanfest, which is coming mid-April, which will be the marking point as to who really is a candidate and who is not.  Anybody can campaign before then, and some already are, so shortening the registration period seems like an ineffectual way to extend campaigning.  Maybe they just want to cut down the list of candidates by making the window smaller.

Anyway, if you want to run, be ready to register before 12:00 UTC on March 23rd.

Meanwhile, as a reminded, here is the CXM13 election schedule as we know it so far:

  • Applications are open – March 19 to 23
  • Application processing – March 23 to April 11
  • Candidates for CSM 13 are announced – FANFEST (April 12-14)
  • Voting will take place late April/May – Dates will be announced later in a separate blog
  • Spring/Summer – CSM 13 onboarding & orientation
  • CSM 13 Summit 1 – September (likely dates are Sept 3-6)
  • CSM 13 Summit 2 – February

EverQuest at Nineteen Launches a New Server

I see it around me
I see it in everything

-My Sundown, Jimmy Eat World

Here we are at EverQuest’s nineteenth birthday.  Cue the usual tale about buying it at Fry’s on the way home from work back on March 16, 1999, arriving home, installing it, and being instantly hooked.

And, as I have opined before, if you had told me I might still be able to play the game in 2018, that it would still be live and viable and getting expansions, I am pretty sure I would have at least politely agreed to disagree on that.

Back in 2007 I put up a post wondering how many more expansions we could expect from EverQuest.  The game just turned eight years old, the producers had announced that they were cutting back to a single expansion every year, the Sayonara Norrath video had already been making people misty eyed for a couple years, and I was guessing that it would make it at least to the ten year mark, maybe getting expansions out to twelve years.

In reality last year saw the Ring of Scale expansion launched, the 24th expansion for the game and here we are again for my annual homage to the world of Norrath.  How does it do it?  How has the game lasted so long?

Sure, it isn’t the oldest game out there.  It isn’t even the oldest MMO.  But a lot of things its age are quirky niche games in an already niche genre or are being run more as a hobby or labor of love than as a viable business venture.

EverQuest has followed the industry trends over the years, easing the death penalty, instancing content, focusing on quests, and going free to play.  They have even taken a shot at upgrading the graphical quality of some of the early zones. I am not sure how much any of that has really helped though.  Did free to play bring enough new players?  Did anybody like the reworked Freeport and Commonlands?

What keeps EverQuest going?

I think it helps that Daybreak owns the IP.  A licensed IP means writing a check to somebody else every month, not to mention the need to protect the IP, which means the owner might not want it attached to some maintenance mode shanty town.

Likewise, I think that its age is actually a benefit.  It stands out as one of the early archetypes of the genre, the trail blazer of what became the path most followed.  Also, having been initially built in during a time that pre-dates the rise in popularity of the genre meant that much of the game had to be built from scratch.  That means less third party tools and middle-ware that has a regular license fee attached.  It isn’t as simple as just having enough money to pay the electric bill and the network connection fee (and the domain registration, let’s not forget that… again).  I am sure there is a hefty database in there that has an annual maintenance contract.

So, while EverQuest does cost money simply to run (probably more than you or I think), and even more to keep people maintaining it, the absolute base line level to keep it alive is considerably less than a game like Star Wars: The Old Republic, which has bills every month for a licensed IP, the HeroEngine on which it was built, and probably a pile of additional middle-ware and tools for the team, not to mention the revenue expectations of EA which, as a public company, has to trim products that are not performing. (I bag on EA a lot, but they are a product of the Wall Street environment.)

But the strongest card in its hand seems to be nostalgia, wherein it also benefits from its age.  If you wandered into the MMORPG genre in 2008 or later, you might have picked one of any number of games… though you probably went for World of Warcraft.

However, if you started playing before the year 2000, you likely played one of three titles, Ultima Online, Asheron’s Call, or EverQuest… and it was probably EverQuest.  Even if you moved on to other games, or moved to WoW and never looked back like a lot of people… EverQuest remained the foundation of the genre for a lot of players.  While the subscriber base peaked just past 500K, millions of people came and went from the game by the time WoW showed up at ate the genre.

And so EverQuest plays on that, and rightly so.  It works.  Expansions revisit old themes like elemental planes, pirates, or dragons, along with old locations such as Faydwer and Kunark.

But most of all this nostalgia is harnessed via special servers.  This is the magic… and money making magic, since you have to opt-in on an old fashioned subscription in order to play… that seems to keep people interested and returning to old Norrath.  Subscriptions for the nostalgic and expansions that hearken back to familiar themes for those who never left.

And so it only seems natural that today, on the game’s nineteenth birthday, Daybreak is launching yet another time locked, true box, instanced raiding, multi-zone spawning, something something, progression server, Coirnav.

Coirnav the fast and bulbous

Coirnav the Avatar of Water is a raid boss from from the plane of water, thus rolling back on that elemental planes theme I mentioned above.

There is a FAQ for the Coirnav server, though as far as I can tell it matches what they did for the last such server, which I think was Agnarr.  I believe with this there will be six such progression servers running for EverQuest, which leads one to the question of when should they end and be merged back into the live servers.  The problem is that EverQuest has so many expansions to unlock that every 12 weeks you still end up with a five year mission.

But roll on nostalgia if it keeps people interested and playing/paying.  I believe the best part is the first few months when everybody is new and the possibility of finding new people to play with is very real.  Once you get past Ruins of Kunark things settle into the more traditional fixed groups we know from many other MMOs.

I won’t be joining in for this round.  I had a good time with the Fippy Darkpaw server (which is still running) back in 2011, but I am not sure I am ready for any sort of serious return. (Follow the tag for the life and times of that server.)  I read somewhere that the internet has brought about the post-nostalgia era, since nostalgia means a longing for something gone and you can now find just about anything on a web page somewhere.  Certainly the knowledge that EverQuest is there and that I could go wander around the world and play for a bit should I ever want keeps me from missing Norrath as much as I might.

Future grad students will have a bounty of information about all of our trivial thoughts when they look back on the dawn of the 21st century.

Anyway, here is to nineteen years of EverQuest!

It is a nostalgia post, so I might as well close with a nostalgia video.  Here is the updated 720p version of Sayonara Norrath from 2004.

I am not sure it needed to be upped to 720p.  Certainly the graphics from the game were not up to that standard at the time.  But I still get a little misty eyed seeing all the old locations go by.

Project Gorgon on Steam

The day arrived earlier this week as Project: Gorgon, long in an alpha that you could play for free, finally moved to Steam.  It is early access, to be sure, but it has arrived.

A New Logo for Steam

For a very small project that took three tries to get a Kickstarter funded, this is a pretty big deal.

Yes, I expected it would get there sooner.  I’m pretty sure Eric Heimberg expected it to get there much sooner as well.  After all, the post-Kickstarter plan was to get to Steam some time in October.

October of 2015.

Welcome to the problem with Kickstarting a beast as complicated as an MMORPG.

At least the promise was only to get onto Steam.  Other ventures in which I have a minor stake, Shroud of the Avatar, Camelot Unchained, and Star Citizen, have all blown past their promised ship dates.  Shroud of the Avatar might hit something that looks like a finished project by the end of this year, but Star Citizen continues to recede from the horizon while Camelot Unchained is shooting for a beta at some point this summer.

So the two people pretty much baking an MMO on their own project looks pretty good by comparison.  Sure, it still doesn’t have a Wikipedia page yet (Project Gorgon there references an US Navy missile program) but there it is on Steam at least.

Of course, there are something like 35 games arriving on Steam every single day, threatening to bury us all in a bottomless pit of derivative crap that should never see the light of day, so getting there isn’t exactly the leap over the high bar it was once upon a time.  But, woo hoo, go indie dreamers all the same I guess.  (Just don’t quit your day jobs.)

I am in a mood to bitch, aren’t I?  Well, I shall complain no more… or not as much… for this should be a happy thing, something to celebrate.  You can actually find Project: Gorgon on Steam and read all about it.   And, honestly, it sounds better than I remember.  The bullet points are all good.

  • Each non-player (NPC) you meet has their own goals and interest, and reward players that choose to be their friend.
  • You can drop items on the ground, and other players can pick them up. What’s so great about that? Imagine laying down a trail of literal (virtual) breadcrumbs to guide your friends (or lure your enemies) into the woods.
  • Shopkeepers keep inventory, so you can buy items that other players have sold to them. Want to help out new players? Sell your cast-off items to the shopkeeper in the new player zone and watch the new players go to town.
  • If you are on fire, you can jump into a lake to put it out. This type of mechanic can have a subtle effect on your strategies, especially when you are fighting a fire mage!
  • You can inscribe messages onto items, write books, and even leave notes for other players. Make your name as an in-game poet, or pronounce your greatness to the world!

Some of that sounds like classic MUD stuff that has gone missing in the more modern revisions of the genre.  Likewise this batch sounds interesting.

  • Battle Chemistry: Create huge explosions, inject yourself with mysterious mutagens or program a pet golem!
  • Unarmed Combat: Grapple and control enemies using a situational-aware combo system that varies based on where you are and what day it is.
  • Animal Handling: Tame animals and train them to become ferocious fighters. Then breed your best and sell their offspring to other players.
  • Necromancy: Seek out corpses and graveyards to raise an undead army. No graveyard around? Well, there are always the corpses of your friends.
  • Cow: Got turned into a cow by that boss? That sucks. But learn some kicks and how to stampede, and you’ll be right back out there kicking grass in no time!
  • That’s just a few! There’s also Sword Fighting, Combat Psychology, Staff Fighting, Sigil Scripting, Mentalism, and more.

In addition, there is a reasonable list of goals to achieve before the game moves from Early Access to Live, like fleshing out the content, which currently runs up to level 70, to level 100.

All in all I am impressed.  And if you act now, you can buy it on Steam for 25% off the normal $40 price.  Or if you are like me and paid back in 2015, there is a Steam key waiting in your in your email.  I got mine.

Project: Gorgon moving to Steam has long been my stated trigger point to start playing, and I am going to get right on that… once I am done with Rift Prime.

Okay, I’ll probably get Project: Gorgon loaded up on Steam and take a peek but, in my dotage, I have become mostly single threaded when it comes to fantasy MMORPGs.  I kind of just want to play one at a time, enjoy myself as the world washes over me, then change up when I am starting to tire.  And for the moment that world is Telara.