Seeing the coming of open world raid issues on an EverQuest progression server is ike predicting the sun rising in the east in the morning; anybody surprised by the occurrence probably hasn’t been paying much attention.
And so it is on the Ragefire and Lockjaw time locked progression servers. The raiding guilds have leveled up and have started warring over the raid bosses while taking over the zones where the raids occur.
Last time around, on the Fippy Darkpaw server this became a big problem, at least relative to the percentage of the population involved. Bad behavior at raid bosses became a thing, leading people to complain and open support tickets and generally cause a lot of smoke. Eventually GMs had to step in, first with their own creative solutions on the spot and then later by imposing a rotating schedule for raiding guilds so that everybody would have their own crack at the loot pinata.
That’s the story of open world, contested raid content right there.
Now in the post-Sony as Uncle Moneybags era, the new Daybreak Game Company isn’t running so many GMs and has limited what issues they will deal with, so it seems unlikely that they will devote resources to a GM enforced raiding schedule.
As with so many aspects of these new servers, Daybreak is moving very fast (compared to the SOE days) to find a new solution. And so we have an announcement:
As Holly mentioned, we’ve been doing some work on raid targets and high end zones on Progression Servers. There are more active players on Ragefire and Lockjaw than there ever were on our launch servers, and right now there’s too much competition for some very limited resources. We know some of you have suggested moving the raid targets into private instances, but we firmly believe that competition is a definitive component of the original EverQuest experience.
At launch, as now, there is only one Lord Nagafen and only one Lady Vox. If you defeated them, you also had to compete with a server full of people who wanted to defeat them, too. That’s a pretty big accomplishment.
So, in the spirit of making raid content more available while still allowing for competition and accomplishment, here’s what we have planned for an update in July:
- Nagafen’s Lair, Permafrost Keep, the Hole, and Kedge Keep are now load-balancing zones. This will let more people have access to these zones for XP and non-raid items (WTB GEBs, PST).
- We now have a way to prevent raid targets from spawning in extra load-balanced zones. We have done this with Lord Nagafen, Lady Vox, Master Yael, and Phinigel Autropos so they will only ever spawn in the base version of their zones.
- All raid targets (dragons, Phinigel, Yael, and gods) now spawn more often than they used to, but have a much larger variance in their spawn times so they’ll be more difficult to predict.
- We’ve made the raid bosses more difficult, so that they will require coordination of more adventurers to tackle them successfully. Healing and support should once again be very important in these encounters.
- Speaking of Hate and Fear, while we didn’t implement load balancing, we did reduce the respawn time of all non-raid targets by two thirds. Any mini-bosses that didn’t have persistent timers (such as the Fear golems) now have them and have additional variance in their respawn times. This means that they won’t necessarily be spawned when the server first comes up.
In summary, we’re increasing availability so that there are more chances at the content, increasing difficulty for both a greater challenge and to require coordination of larger groups of people, and increasing variance in spawn timers so that knowledge of the last kill time is less of an advantage.
We’re hoping that the combination of these changes will both relieve some of the competition for experience and item content at the top end of the server but keep the integrity and uniqueness of the race for raid targets. Thanks for playing!
The first thing that struck me was how they went right to their “multiple instances of a single zone” solution. When you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. That said, as a non-raider, being able to access those zones without having to be part of the raiding drama is about all I could ask for. Raiders can have the base version of the zone with the raid boss and everybody else can be in a different instance. Like Keen, I am pretty happy with the zone instancing plan so far.
The rest is… interesting. They seem to be committed to the old-school, open world raiding experience that was EverQuest in 1999. Of course, putting those bosses in real instances with lockout timers and all that stuff we’ve come to accept as the way things should be might be too much work as well.
Taking raid bosses off the static timer sounds good, but as we have seen in the past, that sometimes will just make people camp the site non-stop. But at least they made the timer shorter. The net result should be more raids possible.
Making the raid bosses more difficult though? My gut reaction:
Schadenfreude aside, making the bosses tougher is probably a really good thing. This isn’t 1999 any more. The game has changed, the classes have been revised, and the tactics of these fights have long since been mapped out in great detail. And it will keep us from seeing another multi-boxer down a boss mob with a group of Shadow Knights using vampiric touch in rotation.
Of course, there is the question as to what “more difficult” really means. More hit points? Hitting harder? More resists? All of the above?
Anyway, the whole thing seems pretty reasonable to me given what Daybreak has to work with at the moment. Of course, that is easy for me to say, since I will never actually be in one of these raids. But it is certainly more effort put into the game itself than they did with Fippy Darkpaw. Of course, back with Fippy Darkpaw the expansions were unlocking a lot quicker, so I am sure there was a bit of “We just have to get to Gates of Discord and this problem goes away” on the team.
Reactions to this on forum are mixed… which would pretty much describe the reaction to almost anything Daybreak posts on its forums. There are concerns about implementation and what the new timers will mean for line members in the raiding guilds… which seem to be the same raiding guilds that were on Fippy Darkpaw. We shall see how this works out.