Finding Nostalgia on the Isle of Refuge

I jumped onto the Stormhold server in EverQuest II once I was home from vacation last week, and from the look of things I was clearly not alone.  The Isle of Refuge was a popular spot, spawning multiple copies to handle those also seeking a fresh server in post-cataclysm Norrath.

That is a lot of colonies of the Queen

That is a lot of colonies of the Queen

I haven’t made it off the isle yet, but reports indicate that Qeynos and Freeport and Antonica and the Commonlands and the Frostfang Sea are likewise seeing multiple versions spawn.

Okay, Frostfang Sea isn’t really a nostalgia destination, but the housing is very nice.  I will probably end up using the base housing there rather than the box-like apartments in Qeynos or Freeport when it comes times to shack up.

Anyway, I jumped in and rolled up what for me is the default EverQuest II character, a barbarian berserker, and started off on the isle.  But I wasn’t really feeling it.  Too many berserkers on too many servers I suspected.  I decided that for the full nostalgia effect I might have to go back and roll a templar, which was my first character class back in 2004.

Nostalgia on Wayne!

Nostalgia on Wayne! Nostalgia on Garth!

I went down that path, taking the boat ride and starting off on the isle again, but still wasn’t feeling it.  The lure of a plate wearing healer wasn’t enough.

Then, thinking on Bhagpuss’ post and his choice of a Shadowknight (almost wrote “Death knight” there) made me wander off in that direction.  I rolled up a SK, which made me realize that I couldn’t remember ever going to the Freeport version of the Isle of Refuge before.

The boat ride is the same, though the Freeport Captain Varlos seems to have some person space issues.

Dude, I'm not even that close to you

Dude, I’m not even that close to you

I had also never rolled up an SK before either.  There are a number of classes in the game I have never played, no doubt in part because the game launched with 24 playable classes (and only 4 character slots), and while I tend to avoid cloth wearing casters as a general rule, not playing an SK seemed to be a long missed opportunity.

So off I went with that, finding that both the class and the quest chain on the isle were giving me a new experience.

Still trying to figure out where that bee was hiding the chest he dropped...

Still trying to figure out where that bee was hiding the chest he dropped…

That gave me the impetus to run through most of the the isle.  I had no recollection of any of the isle, so I wonder if my one Freeport character took the option to just skip the isle and head straight to town with a boost to level 5, which was something you could do at one point.  I think.  Maybe?

Anyway, it was all new and fun and such, but it wasn’t really nostalgia, being new stuff and all.  Or was it?  Does having a new experience in an old context count?

So I started thinking about how things played out in 2004 and what was missing from the mix today that was going on back when the game launched.

And one big change from the original context is a guild.  Back in 2004 I showed up in the game with a whole set of players from TorilMUD that joined up with an EverQuest guild to form our own guild early on.

Our day one guild on Crushbone

Our guild on Crushbone… I left for a bit then came back… Pretty quiet now…

As such, the early days of EverQuest II were very much a group event, as we spent a lot of time together exploring the world and figuring out the game.  In fact, I’d say that the game, such as it was back in November of 2004, was likely only tolerable in a group environment where we could work through and figure things out together.

So maybe the Freeport side of the world, which I have never really spent much time with, is the right choice as there will be some sense of newness to go along with the long familiar context of the game.   But I am clearly going to have to find somebody else to play with, which means finding a regular group or guild, something I always find difficult.  Without that I will likely play for a bit, taper off, then stop.  Something to work on.  Anybody on the Freeport side of things?

Meanwhile, I might roll up a couple more likely characters.  Surprisingly I still have a couple of character slots left and, honestly, a few characters I could delete and never miss if push came to shove.  My main motivation would be to get that 16-slot bag.

In the Daybreak Store

In the Daybreak Store

I went off to find that bag as soon as I ran into the old school problem of running out of bag space almost immediately because I dared to work on my harvesting skills a bit.  That bag has been a savior.

Project: Gorgon Kickstarter – Third Time’s a Charm?

Project:Gorgon is back for a third try at funding through Kickstarter.

ProjectGorgonLogoI have found fault in the past with various aspects of how Project: Gorgon kickstarters have been handled, with little build up, low press coverage due to almost no follow up, and the name of the game itself.  Also, Eric Heimburg?

And this time around is no exception.  Why, for example, would you want to launch a kickstarter campaign at 9pm Pacific time (midnight Eastern time) on a Friday night?  Who does that?  9am Tuesday morning yes, 9pm Friday night no.

Still, the campaign seems better situated this time around.  The first time out Eric Heimburg asked for $55K and got $14K in pledges.  The second time around he went for $100K and got $23K in pledges.

This time though he is asking for a mere $20K.  That should be attainable, right?

Meanwhile the game is already green lit on Steam, people have been able to play early versions of the game for a couple of years now as it has progressed (go straight to the site and download it), and despite the rather depressing cave-focused starting area, the whole thing opens up into a beautiful world.

The Kickstarter itself is focused on raising funds in order to contract out some work on guilds, guild halls, and mounts.

Backing the project can get you a number of perks from Steam beta access to thanks in the credits to a mount with special saddle bags allowing you to carry more items, and titles up to that of Archduke, which will allow you to name and help design a small city in the game.

The Kickstarter runs until Sunday, August 23 2015 at 9:00pm… another bad end time, he should have waited until Tuesday… and is already past the 20% funding mark, so is looking good on that front.  Maybe the third time, with a low goal, will be a charm.  Of course, if he goes past that too soon, he’ll have to start in on stretch goals.

The project itself is now slated to ship in December of 2016.

Return of the Isle of Refuge

As mentioned in my previous post this morning, I was away for the week so the posts that went up on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday were written well in advance of their going live.  So my Tuesday post about the EverQuest II time locked expansion servers going live was working on the information I had at the time and lacked any immediate action on my part.

So I was pretty surprised to find upon my return that Daybreak had pulled a fast one and had actually put the Isle of Refuge back into the game for these servers.  I logged in and made a character… a barbarian berserker, which is my default EQII character choice most days of the week… and found myself, as Bhagpuss put it, on the boat and on my way to the isle.

Where are we headed Captain Varlos?

Where are we headed Captain Varlos?

In fact, when you create a character you are back to the two original choices.  No Frostfang Sea or Darklight Wood options were displayed.

You have your choice between two identical islands...

You have your choice between two identical islands…

I ran through the boat ride and landed on the Isle of Refuge, but stopped there.  It did appear that, if the whole retro isle experience wasn’t your thing, you could leave immediately as opposed to after you finished up the main quest chain.

The servers themselves seemed pretty busy for a Thursday night.

TimeLockedServersPvE seemed to be beating out PvP for the time being, and enough people were rolling in then that I ended up in Queen’s Colony 3 on the PvE side of the house.

I will have to devote some time to playing this weekend to see how the retro experience stacks up to my memories.

And there is an incentive to get into the game sooner rather than later.  Daybreak is offering a 16 slot bag to those who log in before August 7.

Subscribers Only

Subscribers Only

Given that you start out with a single 4 slot bag… where will I store all my stuff… that seems like a good thing.

Now to decide which trade skill to pick up.

Quote of the Day – The End of Smed?

Daybreak Games confirms that John Smedley will be taking some time off from the company for the near-term and transitioning to a different role to be determined. Upon finalization of his plans, further communication will be provided.

RadarX, EverQuest II forums

l go away for a few days and this happens.  While I was down at Pismo Beach watching the beach bunnies and avoiding the horde of German tourists… seriously, they were everywhere… only to come back home and find that Smed is out as the boss at Daybreak.

I will cut you

The Daybreak era Smed

There is plenty of speculation about why he is out, where he will end up, and how it may or may not relates to his run-in with Lizard Squad and the deletion of his Twitter account.

Smed was, of course, a pillar of the MMO development community who helped make EverQuest possible.  He was also a staple of “Quote of the Day” posts here and not universally loved, having run SOE and Daybreak through various controversial periods including the NGE, the transition to free to play, the current era of early access sales, and the sale of SOE to Columbus Nova Prime.  While he has fans both inside and out of Daybreak, not everybody will be sad to see him step down.

But that just brings us to the next question; who will replace him at the helm?

Smed was at least a gamer through and through.  Russel Shanks, another long time member of the Daybreak team is stepping up for now, but it is not clear to me if that is a permanent move of not.  So the next person running Daybreak may not be cut from the same gamer mold.  And while Smed stepping down may have had something to do with his online conflict coming home to roost at Daybreak, it could be about something else as well… something like money even.

Having worked for a company that was acquired by an investment group in the past, I can tell you that I was often reminded of that scene from Goodfellas:

Now the guy’s got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week, no matter what. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me.

This may be simply the first round of, “Fuck you, pay me.”  Or it could be something else.

What will Daybreak be without John Smedley?

 

Sheep Stole My Mining Cart

Having built the automated sugarcane farm, which now produces more raw sugarcane than I can ever possible use, all while I mine away down below the earth, it became time to start doing something with the output.

Sugarcane storage is full...

Sugarcane storage is full…

My plan, based on my still tenuous knowledge of the game, was to take the sugarcane, turn it into paper, and trade the paper to the right villager in the village we ran across way back when, in order to accumulate the villager currency, emeralds, so I could buy other items from them.

I wasn’t sure how much paper I would need, how much I would get for it, what I would buy with the emeralds once I got them, or even where the village was.  So it was less of a plan and more of a venture based on pure optimism.

The first thing I had to do was find the village again.

I recalled it being vaguely to the southeast of our current home area.  I had actually run across it once since we first discovered it, but did not setup a marker or make note of its general location or coordinates.  I was on another mission at the time.  So, compass in hand I set out to find the village.

I went south first, then veered off toward the southeast to stay in the plains where we tamed the horses.  I found the horses again, and considered maybe riding a horse rather than walking, but I am not sure about horse dynamics at this point.  So I carried on.

I found a cobblestone column with some torches on it, a marker of some point I left.  Not sure why.  There wasn’t an overnight shelter or anything under it.  So I kept going.

Marker of no import

Marker of no import

Eventually I spotted the roofs of the village a ways off and arrived there as dusk was falling.

I had heard from a few sources that villagers are not so bright when it comes to defending their town.  They do go inside at night, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the ferocity of the undead attack that would follow nightfall.  It was really a horror movie scene, with zombies and skeletons pounding on doors and running to and fro in the village.  I stepped out to kill a few, then fled back inside.  I was ignore long enough that I could use the bed I brought to fast forward to daybreak.

With the morning I decided to fortify the village.  I had read that you have two choices on keeping a village safe.  Either stay far enough away from it at night that the chunk it is in doesn’t spawn anything… the world really does revolve around you… of fence it off and light it up.

I had brought some supplies with me, so I made a crafting table an used some wood to build fencing.  However the wood quickly ran out before I had even gotten an eighth of the way around the perimeter.  So I went back and made a few shovels, dug up some surrounding hills, both to provide material and to give me flat terrain to work with, and then built a three high earthen berm around the place, with a few doors and plenty of torches.

I had it mostly done before the end of the first day there, but had to run for shelter as the sun set.  The monsters were not as plentiful due to the wall, but they were still out in force.  The bedtime fast forward worked again for me though, so I was able to resume my work again the next morning, though a pair of creepers hiding around the corner of the house I had claimed nearly got me.  They left quite a hole.

I dug up some more dirt, flattened more terrain, and finished off the berm.  I had to corral a couple of villagers who got up that morning and decided to see what was on the other side of the short earth wall.  But I got the place surrounded and laid out even more torches, so that when the sun went down once again, the forces of darkness were much reduced.

Just Enderman at the fence line staring in...

Just Enderman at the fence line staring in…

At that point, with the village semi-secure, I decided to head back to the castle to make some paper.  I went off with a pack full of exploring supplies only.  I left my bed and crafting table behind, built another lit pillar just outside of the village and, in a moment of obvious oxygen-rich blood flow to my brain, turned on the diagnostic overlay and wrote down the coordinates of the place so I could find it again.

Then it was back to the castle, which was a bit of a zig-zag path, though I did remember a couple of landmarks, and I had my compass, which would set me on approximately the right course.

But once back at the castle I decided to end my cross-country wandering by building a road.  I had plenty of cobblestone from mining and was no longer using them as building material for the castle itself.

And so I started on the long, L-shaped road to the village, straight as an arrow south from the castle, then a right turn east to the village.  And I decided I would run a mine cart track along it to make the trip that much quicker.

On the road facing the castle

On the road facing the castle

The rails had a practical application during the building process as well.  It took several day/night cycles to get anywhere close to the village.  But with the mining cart and powered rails laid, I could just jump in the cart and be home and in bed in a flash.  No need to dig a series of shelters along the way.

The actual building wasn’t very dramatic.  I started the whole thing as a causeway over the plains, but at a change to a tiaga biome I hit a hill and had to make a cut through it, while clearing some trees, in order to keep the road straight and level.

The Tiaga Cut

The Tiaga Cut

And once I was done and had a terminus at the village, access was pretty quick.  The mine cart moves quickly.

Arriving at the village station

Arriving at the village station

I was now able to haul my paper over to trade for emeralds.

The Librarian wants paper...

The Librarian wants paper…

It is a good thing that access is easy too, as the librarian will only take so much paper per day, so I have to go visit regularly to sell.

Of course, having accomplished this minor Minecraft engineering feat, I had to show my daughter.  I was at the village when I called her over to see my new quick route to the village.

I gave her a tour of my village fortifications, showed her which house I had holed up in, and the door in the wall I made to get to the track.

Then I ran over to the end of the rail line and… my mining cart was gone.

I had left it there at the end of the line, as I always do, so I could just jump in when it was time to go.  However, this time the cart appeared to have gone of its own accord.  And then, as we sat there, my daughter acting as though I had left the keys in the car causing it to be stolen, the sound of of the approaching mine cart was suddenly audible.  It was coming back.

And as we watched, the cart rolled up with a sheep in it.

Sheep on wheels!

Sheep on wheels!

Ha ha! Mystery solved and mine cart returned.  And then the sheep hit the end of the line, reversed, and kept on rolling.  The cart, now getting away, I gave chase.

And the sheep keeps on rolling

And the sheep keeps on rolling

Chasing was futile however, the cart moved too fast.  So I wandered up the rail line waiting for to catch the sheep on its return journey as my daughter laughed and explained how animals in Minecraft will do that sort of thing.

I caught the sheep, un-carted him, and slaughtered him for good measure.  More mutton for the auto-furnace that somebody suggested in the comments last week.

Mutton cooking!

Mutton cooking! The input trunk is on the second floor.

So now I take my mine cart with me whenever I arrive at my destination.

Still, I am pretty happy with my little rail line.

I will get home before the sun fully sets!

I will get home before the sun fully sets!

 

EverQuest II Time Locked Expansion Servers Today

Today is the day.

I am not betting on an early launch, but Daybreak’s shot at nostalgia servers for EverQuest II are slated to come online today, after a two week beta.  The short version of what these servers are is:

TLEannounce

The more detailed list of features, from the forums, is:

  • PvP server: no battlegrounds EVER!
  • PvP server: no prestige housing!
  • PvP server: no flying, leaping or gliding EVER!
  • PvP server: No more pvp stats on gear. Procs return to items that have them.
  • PvP server: Travel bells will be restricted, more information to be determined.
  • There will only be ground mounts and they will have reduced ground speed. Most likely 45%/50% run speed.
  • Only All Access Members will be able to create characters and log into the TLE-Servers.
  • A new queue system for logging into the servers
  • Content will be locked to classic EverQuest 2, starting areas will be Frostfang Sea and Darklight Wood. More on this later.
  • Expansions will be voted to be unlocked at certain times by the population of the server. Majority vote 2/3 of the population.
  • No Veteran Rewards or Veteran experience bonus.
  • No Recruit a Friend
  • No /claims. Anything you could claim on your normal accounts will not be available on the new TLE-Servers
  • Loyalty System and daily quests will be locked to Chains of Eternity expansion.
  • Legendary, Fabled and Mythical crits will be locked to Altar of Malice Expansion.
  • No dungeon finder
  • Level agnostic dungeons will be locked to an undetermined expansion feature.
  • No races or classes will be restricted from character create if you own them. They will all be playable at launch.
  • Re-forging, Mercenaries, and Tradeskill apprentices will be locked to Age of Discovery.
  • Mercenaries may or may not return to PvP, this will most likely become a poll in the future.
  • Guidhalls and their amenities will be locked to a undetermined expansion. We are still considering this.
  • No prestige home portal or home UI will be available.
  • Marketplace will be highly restricted and polls will be done to determine what will be available.
  • Experience penalty will be returned to launch levels of experience gain
  • Coin will also be returned to launch levels of coin gain.
  • Adventure packs will be linked to specific expansions, still being determined.

I am surprised they haven’t updated that, but maybe they will have something new once the server goes live.

And the whole Alternate Advancement side of things will be unlocked as follows:

  • Exp01: Desert of Flames, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 60, Guild Level Cap Increased to 60
  • Exp02: Kingdom of Sky, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 70, Alternate Advancement Subclass Window unlocked with a 50 AA cap, Guild Level Cap Increased to 70
  • Exp03: Echoes of Faydwer, AA Class Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 100, Tinkering, Transmuting, and Adorning Unlocked
  • Exp04: Rise of Kunark, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 80, AA Cap is Raised to 140, Guild Level Cap Increased to 80, Guild Halls
  • Exp05: The Shadow Odyssey, AA Shadows Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 200
  • Exp06: Sentinel’s Fate, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 90, AA Cap is Raised to 250, Guild Level Cap Increased to 90
  • Exp07: Destiny of Velious, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 92, AA Heroic Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 300, Flying, Leaping and Gliding Mounts
  • Exp08: Age of Discovery, AA Cap is Raised to 320, Mercenaries, Apprentices, Reforging
  • Exp09: Chains of Eternity, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 95, Prestige Window Unlocked, Guild Level Cap Increased to 95
  • Exp10: Tears of Veeshan, AA Dragon Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 350
  • Exp11: Altar of Malice, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 100, Prestige Class Tree is Unlocked, Guild Level Cap Increased to 100, Legendary, Fabled and Mythical crits

Unfortunately, this is going to be a busy week for me, so I doubt I will be able to peek in on the server until the weekend.  We shall see how things play out.  While I remain mildly disappointed, though not surprised, that the Isle of Refuge won’t be making an appearance, I will surely head to Qeynos to explore the old zones out there, including the catacombs below the city.

The catacombs back in the day...

The catacombs back in the day…

Now, will anybody show up for this?  Is there nostalgia for some variation of old EverQuest II?

A Call for Space Carebears

At one time in the distant past, the CFC eschewed the idea of renting and those who set themselves up as landlords were derided.

And then, as null sec politics evolved and we ended up with essentially three power blocs, two of which were heavily financed by rental space, the tune of the CFC changed.  The Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere was born about two years ago.  The CFC became landlords, pragmatism winning out over exclusion and any spurious  feelings of ideological purity.

That this venture remained a distant third behind the other two main rental empires was no surprise.  The surprise, to my mind, was that it got any renters all.  After years of rental and recruitment scams, who would actually rent from Goons?

As it turned out, quite a few people would, and that rental ISK helped filled the coalition coffers.

And then came the looming threat of what became known as Fozzie Sov.  With the Phoebe expansion, the ability to range across New Eden was throttled and the CFC let go of some of its southern holdings.  As the details of the Summer of Sovereignty changes came out, plans for further consolidation were drawn up.  Fountain and most of Cloud Ring would have to go as well and the coalition, now renamed The Imperium, who fortify itself in the north. (SMA holds that bit in Cloud Ring, J4LP having been reset some time back.)

Regions of The Imperium - June 2015

Regions of The Imperium – June 2015

Now the changes has hit.  Null Sec is choatic as various factions explore the dynamics of the Entosis Link module.  The Timer Board site shows a lot of systems in play.

Up in the north though, things have been relatively quiet for The Imperium.  We have lived there for so long because the systems are decent for ratting and mining.  There are a few lemon systems, but the active defense multiplier… the measure of how much a system gets used, which influences how hard it will be to take… for a lot of the north was pretty high straight out of the gate on the 14th.  Where we live is defended.  However, some places where we have not traditionally lived are pretty weak, with low ADM numbers.  This is particularly true in Pure Blind where, in the past, many of the systems haven’t been worth ratting or mining.

However, with the PvE upgrades that were announced just before the sovereignty changes hit, the systems in Pure Blind are suddenly viable.  The Imperium just needs somebody to live there.  We have been encouraged to rat there and strategic mining fleets have been running out that way.  I think I have personally raised the ADM of one system in the region.

Doing the Ishtar thing in Pure Blind

Doing the Ishtar thing in Pure Blind

But all of that is a temporary measure.  Not many people live in the vicinity.

So a new plan has been announced.  GSF is going to allow corps to join if they want to live in, rat, and mine, in Pure Blind.  There will be a fee to sign up and a tax on ratting and a charge for system upgrades, but otherwise corporations will be able to carebear to their heart’s content as there will be no fleet participation requirements.

In addition there will be a corp in GSF for individuals who want to sign up for that plan.  Ratting will have a 25% tax, but mining will be free.

GSF already has a way for anybody is keen to join to get on board through Karmafleet, which has greater access, so is the more likely conduit for spies and awoxers.

So we’ll see if there are any takers who want to live and rat and mine in Pure Blind.  It is close to Lonetrek, so getting things back to high sec in general, and Jita specifically will be easier than most places.  Is greater population density the answer to Fozzie Sov?