What Sort of Special Server for EverQuest II Then?

Apparently it has somehow not escaped the notice of the EverQuest II team at Daybreak that the Ragefire and Lockjaw time locked progression servers have been a pretty big deal over on the EverQuest side of the house.

The third round of nostalgia based servers… maybe the fourth if we count the somewhat short-lived 50/51 server from back in 2009… that have gone live and have been so popular that the company has had to open up a second server each time seems to have finally seemed to trigger some sort of, “Aha!” moment in the EverQuest II team.

It probably helps that the same person now runs both the EverQuest and EverQuest II teams, Holly “Windstalker” Longdale.

So yeah, an EverQuest-like progression server idea seems to be something of a possibility for EverQuest II.  However, that brings us right back to the question of, “What in the hell does “progression server” even mean in the context of EverQuest II?”

It certainly doesn’t mean a “classic” server, that is for sure.  I went over that a couple months back, how the infrastructure restrictions imposed by having to run such a server in parallel with the live servers, using the same client, means that there is almost zero possibility of returning to the chaos of the 2004 launch.

And, Daybreak has pretty much confirmed my suspicions with this tasty and relevant quote picked up by Feldon over at EQ2 Wire from this week’s live stream:

Just to clarify, the code of the EverQuest II game as it existed at launch no longer exists as it has been patched over, however there are a lot of possibilities and challenges we could do to make an attractive server.

Where we’re going, we’d better not need old code.  Nostalgia is dead, lost or patched over, when it comes to mechanics.  2004 is gone, never to be seen again.  No crazy crafting mechanics or whatever will be making an appearance.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 - Nov. 14, 2004

2004 was full of muddy textures and spelling errors anyway

But still, the EverQuest II team is now publicly stating that they are looking into some sort of progression/nostalgia/special server.  Or at least they did on the live stream, if not in the likely much more widely read Producer’s Letter.

But in the absence of the world of 2004, what would we want to see?

We know that just rolling a new server and blocking it off from transfers and character boost will bring some people out.  Remember the EverQuest II Extended experiment?  The chance to join a fresh community while it is all low level.  That will get a bit of buzz which will last at least for a little while.  But I don’t think that is a spicy enough meatball to get a large, long term commitment to a new server.

So what else would they need?

Limit the content to the original and dole out the expansions over time.  That seems like an obvious starting place, the whole progression thing.

Lock out classes and races added after launch and only allow them when the content that added them is introduced.  Again, obvious, though perhaps not as big a deal as with EverQuest.  SOE added what… four races and two classes since launch?  And Froglocks came in as delayed part of the launch content.

Turn off flying, leaping, gliding, bouncing, or whatever mounts.  Maybe that is just me again.  Also, I might consider turning off griffon towers… maybe.  Or turn them off in zones where they were not available at launch, and  at least make people discover them in a zone before they can use them.  We good there?

Crank up the leveling curve.  Right now you level up so quickly in EverQuest II that you have to dump at least half of your exp into the Alternate Advancement bucket… and I admit that is a nice feature, SOE gets a cookie for that and other companies should copy the ability to route base exp into something else… so if they are going to ration out content over time, they have to make it last longer.

Also, they have to turn off AA points until Kingdom of the Sky in any case, so there should be no bucket to siphon of exp for a while in any case.

Dial up the difficulty.  I hope there is a dial for this.  Give mobs more hit points or make them hit harder or at least toughen them up a bit so if you’re in a group the mob doesn’t die before everybody gets a hit in.  Toughen up dungeons especially.

Make it for subscribers only.  That will limit things to people actually invested in the server and will keep new players from wandering in and asking what the hell is wrong.  Also, doing that will offset the next item.

I already mentioned locking the server off from transfers and insta-90s, but clamp down on the cash shop as well.  I know, cash shop is money, but everybody here is a subscriber.  Shut down as much of the cash shop as you possibly can, even cosmetics.  There is already a great cosmetic armor system in the game, let people discover and use items from the original content and go about sporting that.

And while we’re shutting things down, how about Chrono mages, holiday events, any of the PvP battle ground distractions… any PvP at all, frankly, as PvP is not the core audience so spending time trying to cater to a small group who won’t even show up for this seems pointless, the dungeon maker thing, and some of the insta-travel options.  I know, there were never boats to take people to places in the old content, but we used to have to at least go to Thundering Steppes in order to travel to the Enchanted Lands, Zek, Feerrott, and Frostwhatever.  Do that again, if you can.

I am tempted to say cut mentoring as well, but that still has its uses.  I can’t quite part with that.

And would it be too much to ask for the Isle of Refuge as the starter zone again?  We have to have some starter are, why not that again?  I am not asking for old Qeynos of the racial ghetto home towns or any of that.  But dude, Isle of Refuge would go a long way towards nostalgia.

Also, maybe, just maybe, some special server only achievements that can only be earned by doing things in the content when it is the latest available on that server.  I’d dig a “Nostalgia Warrior – The Journey is Half the Fun” achievement, or something like that.  It would make me actually look at the “added way too late, half-assed, uninspired, cribbed straight from WoW yet looks about a tenth as good” achievement system that got tacked on to EverQuest II a couple years back.  Seriously, Rift copies the WoW achievement system wholesale and made it work, why couldn’t you guys?

Or, if not achievements, titles maybe?

Anyway, it sounds like the old Norrath team at Daybreak… as opposed to the new Norrath team, which is doing Landmark and, we assume, EverQuest Next… is semi-seriously considering the possibility of exploring the idea of maybe doing something akin to the “overwhelmingly popular three times running” EverQuest progression server idea for post-Cataclysm Norrath.

What other ideas… realistic ideas, because they are clearly going to have to do this on the cheap… should they be considering for such a server?  What would get you to come play?

5 thoughts on “What Sort of Special Server for EverQuest II Then?

  1. Izlain

    I would definitely be down for a version of EQ2 circa 2007, when I was fully devoted to the game. End game when the cap was 70 was when I played daily, and didn’t play any other games. Kunark was the start of my burnout phase. I miss the old game, but I still doubt I would really put that much time into it again.

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  2. bhagpuss

    I just got back from holiday to this news bombshell and… I find I’m really neither very excited or interested by it. Surprised, yes,

    Frankly, I think the huge majority of systemic changes made to EQ2 over the years are improvements on the original. many of them huge improvements. Not only would I not want to go back to the grim, miserable pre-Hartsman EQ2 but I wouldn’t want to go without any of the quality-of-life improvements in your list above.

    Moreover, the idea of playing any kind of slower, more arduous version of EQ2 is an anathema. The whole “make mobs harder” thing confuses me a lot for a start. When were they ever hard? I have a vivid memory of being the second healer in a full guild group doing Varsoon’s about three months after launch. Almost every mob in the dungeon conned red to me and to most of the group – we were all either the “right” level for the zone or slightly too low.

    The tank just ran into everything and we mowed it down. Mrs Bhagpuss was main-healing on her cleric and no-one ever took enough damage for me to have time to cast a top-up heal. Which was just as well because my PC of the time handled EQ2 so badly it would repeatedly shut down from overheating – in the end I had to buy a new power supply just to play.

    That was my experience of EQ2 from the start – crushingly slow and dull solo, mindlessly fast and simple in a group. Indeed, I put much of my subsequent negativity towards group play down to the original EQ2 experience. So, I can’t say I can summon much enthusiasm for another round of that.

    On the other hand, starting over on a new server has always been one of the most enjoyable things to do in any MMO so I will probably end up playing there in spite of whatever rule-set they come up with. Can’t imagine I’ll hang around long though.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – I am not sure that saying the mobs were never hard is really a retort to the idea of making mobs harder. And while you may find any change to the leveling speed to be “anathema” are you really suggesting that Daybreak create a server that, at launch, will likely cap out at level 50 and leave in the current leveling curve from the live servers, where you could hit 50 over a weekend if you were persistent?

    But you’re still invested and playing EQII, so I suspect that you are not the target audience for this sort of nostalgia server thing.

    I too was surprised by them even suggesting this sort of server for EQII. As I have noted in the past, unlike EQ, EQII does not seem to be well suited to the whole nostalgia/progression thing. And the idea of a PvP server… that has to be the hand of Smed. PvP has never been anything besides a waste of resources for the game.

    We shall see what they come up with.

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