Daily Archives: September 6, 2012

EverQuest – Rain of Fear Announced

One more for SOE Thursday.

I typed, and then retyped, “Reign of Fear” three times before getting that title right because I after the previous announcements today I felt that “Reign of Fear” was far more appropriate… or ironic… plus “Rain of Fear” sounds way too literal.

Oh, and I hated the logo on the EQ expansions page, and on the Producer’s Letter Page, so I mashed up my own… because that’s the way I roll.

So there it is.  The 19th EverQuest expansion has been announced, continuing to mock my 2007 prediction that we were probably two or three expansions away from being at the end of such things for EQ.

It will be available for real money (no Station Cash!) pre-orders soon, no doubt with some sort of bonus and will launch in November, thus piling on to the already busy MMO shipping season.  Let’s see, we now have Mists of Panderia, Guild Wars 2, Torchlight II, Rider of Rohan (if it stops slipping), Storm Legion, and Chains of Eternity showing up in the three month window before the holidays. (assuming no slips by SOE)  Anything else?  What a mess!

Back to the Rain of Fear.

Okay, shards of crystalline fear are falling from the sky… blah blah blah… given that I was so into lore last night, I’ll just show how disingenuous I was by totally ignoring it now.

Or maybe I am proving my point, that lore should flow from playing the content.

Yeah, that sounds much better.  Don’t tell me, show me… or something.

Anyway, the big news for the expansion is that they are finally going to keep Stargrace from racking up countless EverQuest hours on Raptr by allowing you to keep your trader up in Bazaar while logged out!

Offline selling at last!

Saints preserve us, if  I was serious about EQ, I would pay for that feature ala carte!

Besides that, the list looks pretty standard, with a few choice tidbits.

  • Level cap increase from 95 to 100 – Achieve a new max level of 100 and set a new standard of gameplay.
  • Hunter System – Gain special rewards and titles for defeating large numbers of foes.
  • Aggro Meter – A brand new tool to help better manage your aggro. You can now see your aggro level relative to your group.
  • Collection System – Discover items throughout Norrath and collect sets for exciting rewards and titles.
  • Improved Brokering System – Sell items in the Bazaar while being offline! More flexibility as a buyer to search and purchase from anywhere in the world.
  • New Linear Item Progression – Stats on armor collected will increase as you move up from one tier to another.
  • Customization with non-visible armor – All non-visible armor in Rain of Fear can be worn by all. You’ll be able to customize your stats for every encounter.
  • Class-specific stat distribution – Collect items that are designed specifically for each classes’ abilities.
  • More than 1800 New Spells (Ranks 1, 2 & 3) – Exponentially add to your spell arsenal.
  • More than 550 AAs – Elevate your power and abilities like never before.
  • More than 3500 New Items – Create your own identity with thousands of new items.
  • More than 3000 New Tradeskill recipes – Increase your value across Norrath by creating items only available by your craftsmanship.
  • More than 110 Quests – Challenge your skills and gather useful loot.
  • 13 Raids – Collect valuable rewards from all new adventures.
  • 9 Zones – Be the first to discover untouched lands of Norrath.
  • 19 Missions – Experience intriguing lore and immersive Missions.
  • Continued opportunity to kill off Halflings.
  • Legends of Norrath™ – 5 Digital Booster Packs.

Okay, I am all for killing off Halflings and experiencing intriguing lore.  But can I get a halfling slayer title?

More levels, more spells, more items, more recipes, and more AAs simply boggle the mind at this point.  The absurdity of expanding level based MMOs laid bare for all.  Especially when you start using phrases like “Exponentially add to your spell arsenal!”  Really, when we get to exponential spell growth, we have gone too far.

(Can somebody please check the spells and then do the math to make sure the growth really is exponential and not, say, linear, logistic, or cubic?  You know how marketing people are with math.)

Some items are clearly borrowed from EQ’s younger brother, like collections. (And offline selling.) I remain of two minds on collecting little sparkly bits across the land.  Yes, it can be fun… until you’re in the group with the ADD healer who keeps running off to grab them mid-fight. (Me)

Meanwhile, Legends of Norrath has bored me for five years now, while the concept of non-visible armor customization just makes my head hurt.

It looks like we won’t see the end of EverQuest expansions (or anything like EverQuest offline) for a while yet.

SOE Player Studio – You Make Our Damn Marketplace Crap, We’ll Pay You!

The other shoe has dropped.  The big announcement is here.

That is right, SOE has announced Player Studio.

You will get paid to create new items for SOE’s marketplace.  It is kicking off in EverQuest and EverQuest II and will move to other SOE games in the future.  Not stat items though.

And, just in case you were wondering, you won’t get paid in Station Cash.

I think my guess at the big announcement was kind of amusing in hindsight:

I was wrong overall, but was right about an EQII expansion and user created content.

While there is a basic question and answer section at the link above, real details will have to wait for a bit.

We will be announcing more information and details about the Player Studio program at this year’s SOE Live event on October 18-21, 2012.

So what do you think?  Are they making a fundamental change to the industry?

Is this the new wave of the future, the way to keep the cash shop fully stocked with fresh new items?

Does this sound a bit like Second Life?

And are you going to run out and make some skimpy armor or a new mount or some Danish modern furniture as soon as it is available?

A fuller, and less snark-ish view of this is available, of course, at EQ2 Wire.

SOE Announces “Chains of Eternity” Without a Hint of Irony

Really, could you come up with a clearer expression of an MMO business plan?

Make them stay forever!

EQ2 Wire, ever on top of things, spotted the premature release of the EQII Producer’s Letter onto the forums which announced the expansion.

And, as Brasse put it:

It seems to contain the usual stuff.  More levels, more quests, more loot, more this, more that… more more more of the same old thing.  Again, is it eternity, or does it just seems like it?  I suppose I will have to wait for more details (more!) to see if there really is anything “new” amongst the “new.”

There is supposed to be some more big news from SOE today and tomorrow… Smed was actually pretty dramatic about that point last night.

But for now, we have word that there is an expansion coming for EQII… and a hint somewhere that Planetside will be going free at some point.

SWTOR – Did The Lore Choice Hurt It?

As part of writing my homage to the stylings of SynCaine when it was announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to go free to play, I spent a bit of time looking for the right picture to go with the piece.

While I eventually went with another graphic, I was initially drawn to this piece which Google images was kind enough to bring to my attention.

Tortanic and the original cast

I really like the picture.  If it is yours, I apologize for using it without credit or permission.  I will happily assign credit where credit is due.  It is a master work of referential parody.

The reason I did not use it is pretty obvious; none of the characters pictured actually appear in the game.  That fact seemed to distract from the Titanic metaphor, and so I set the picture aside and went with another choice.

Later, I ran across the picture again in a folder of collected images on my hard drive and, in looking at it, I began to wonder if there wasn’t another message in it altogether.

If you were to make the picture correct for the SWTOR/Tortanic reference, what characters would you include?

Now, I fell off the SWTOR wagon pretty quickly in beta, so I may be way off base in saying that there are no of sufficient stature in the game to stand in for the original cast.  The game lore struck me as completely of Expanded Universe quality, which can be indifferent, and characters in such lore have a tough time breaking out enough to match even third tier characters who happened to be around for some screen time during the life and times of Anakin Skywalker.

Which makes a Star Wars MMO, where one of your key selling points is “Hey, Star Wars stories,” a bit more challenging.  Not that I think a Star Wars MMO has to trot out Han Solo the moment I show up just to get me to play.  That is crazy talk.

Okay, stop that you!

But looking at Star Wars games in general, those taking place in and around the movies out number those outside of that time frame by a fairly lopsided margin.  Just being original trilogy focused obviously doesn’t make a bad game good, but it certainly seemed to make some mediocre games more popular than they might have managed otherwise.

I realize that this ignores the popularity of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which is clearly the standard bearer for Expanded Universe games.  Certainly when it was announced back in 2008 that BioWare was going to be making what was essentially a KotOR MMO, there was quite a bit of cheering.  But were the cheers because the lore from KotOR was so good, or was it because KotOR was a good SINGLE PLAYER game regardless of the lore?

And I will also admit that eulogizing a game that was still, at last report, the second most popular subscription MMO in the US/EU, might seem more than a bit premature.  But even the stalwarts have to admit that the subscription trend was going badly and the decision to go free to play is the sort of radical change you do not make if things are going well.

All of which brings me around to my real question.

Do you think SWTOR would have been better, more popular, or longer lasting had it been framed in the lore of the movies as opposed to BioWare’s setting 4,000 years before the movies?