I knew that the patch was coming to EverQuest II yesterday, the patch that included the change to how Alternative Advancement points would be awarded. I mentioned it in passing earlier in the week, how the game would now award some AA points with levels so as to make sure that by the time you hit level 90 you would have 280 points. The whole thing was detailed over at EQ2 Wire.
What I did not expect, a few minutes after logging in… because it takes the system a while to catch up with you… was to get the achievement for having earned 280 AA points with Sigwerd, who was 27 levels shy of the guaranteed 280 points at level 90.
As I read the release notes, it seemed like the change would only boost you up to a minimum floor amount of AA points for your level, which according to the chart at EQ2 Wire should have put Sigwerd around 175 AA points, a boost of 65 over the amount he carried into the patch.
My immediate thought was that SOE had made a mistake and that they would be taking away these AA points if I didn’t spend them right away. So I went and spent 170 AA points.
I like spending AA points on things that enhance skills I already have or that boost my character in specific ways. I do not like spending AA points on things that add a new skill to my book. I already run with three full bars of skills visible at all times and another two full up of things buffs and other rarely used items, and I will be damned if I can tell you what even a full bar of them specifically DO… aside from “some damage” or the like… so the idea of adding in more skills, which just get lost in my skill book, has little appeal.
As I was spending, I started to wonder if perhaps, yet again, SOE had taken my trade skill level into account. SOE has often been rather indifferent to any distinction between trade and adventure level. Back in the day, when you had to complete a special quest in order to get to Zek or the Enchanted Lands before level 30, I was able to wander in with my guild well before that because my trade skill level was past 30. Sigwerd, thanks to doing the Frostfell crafting quest, had just become a level 88 armorer.
To test this, I logged in a few other characters who also had an imbalance in trade and adventure level. However, nobody else hit 280, though one hit 200. But he also had a lot of AA points already.
So my theory then became that, for this transition to the AA granting process, SOE was just going to give you the total number of AA points that was set as the floor for your given level, regardless of how many AA points you may have had already. That theory was born out later when I actually looked up the release notes, which appear to say something that could be interpreted as thus.
So Sigwerd had 110 AA points and then had his the floor amount for his level, 170-180 I would guess, dumped on top of that, stopping at the grant cap of 280. He will, thus, be granted no more AA points as he levels, having already hit 280, and it looks like he might have missed out on 5-10 free points in the bargain.
On the bright side, he has his 280 AA points NOW and can continue to earn AA points as he moves forward to 90.
And he is moving forward.
I decided to follow the advice of Gnomenecro in the comments and have been splitting my time between the Cloud Mount series of quests and some activities in Frostfell. (I had also forgotten how much better ZAM’s EQ2 site is compared to the official, SOE supported EQ2 section at Wikia.)
The Cloud Mount quests, done while ignoring other quests in the area, are something of a whirlwind tour of the Kingdom of Sky expansion that sends you almost every island exactly once. So you get discover XP, you open up the map, and you get a bit of a feel for the place. I have been doing a few of those quests every night, and am about a third of the way through it, well into the Barren Sky part of the quest line.
The run has given Sigwerd some decent equipment upgrades as well as some furniture for his home… he might need a bigger house at this rate. And, of course, adventure experience. Last night Sigwerd hit level 64, officially making him my highest level character… in adventure levels… in EverQuest II.
And, as mentioned, I have also been doing some of the Frostfell quests, which has been enhanced by SOE’s holiday double status special. While somewhat vague about what gets doubled, as an All Access subscriber I appear to be getting double Frostfell E’ci tokens with each quest turn-in. That, at least, has made the Frostfell Decoration Committee crafting quests, where you must craft 48 things in an instance without leaving or going to the bathroom or logging off, somewhat more worth it, as the turn-in grants 20 tokens.
That quest also grants a decent amount of crafting experience, boosting Sigwerd up to a level 88 armorer, which I think puts him in contention for my highest level crafting character.
So the return to Norrath nostalgia run seems to be off to a decent start. Gaff even logged in to see what was going on, though he was struck by how dated the game felt. And that is a hard part to argue with, especially since we have both been playing Warlords of Draenor content recently as well. Despite years of updates, there is still very much a sense that this game was released before everybody felt they had to follow so many of the conventions cemented by WoW.
But, in its way, the dated feel of the game is part of its charm for me. EverQuest II hasn’t always aged well. Recently I felt especially odd heading back into the Echoes of Faydwer content, which when it was launced was an amazing revitalization of the game, but which now strikes me as an awkward and disorganized jumble. Bits of it are still good. I like the Butcherblock dock area and a lot of the dungeon content still feels fine. My attempts to quest in Lesser Faydark and the Loping Planes were just frustrating.
But then I wander into some really old area, like sewers under Qeynos or the Isle of Zek or… and I am loathe to admit this because I did not like the expansion at the time… some parts of the Desert of Flames expansion and things still look as good as they did a decade back.
We’ll see how I feel when I get into the 2007 content with Rise of Kunark.