The results of the Ruins of Kunark vote are in for the Ragefire and Lockjaw servers. As a reminder, here is what the ballot looked like:
The vote ended on Monday and the results have been posted in the EverQuest forums.
The key for a lot of people is this quote:
On both servers, the 6 month option got the most votes by far, meaning a very large percentage of you like things as they are and want to continue on that path.
That means the status quo won, right? The “stay the course” option got the most votes.
Well, no. That option did not win a majority… 50% + 1… of the votes in the polls on either server. The majority of
players voting voted votes cast were for either the ASAP option or the three month option on both servers.
So shortening the unlock date won, right?
Well, no. If this had been some sort of parliamentary democracy there would have been a run-off vote of some sort on each server between the two options that received the most votes, which on Ragefire was 6 months and 3 months and on Lockjaw 6 months and ASAP, to decide the course of action.
But this is not a parliamentary democracy, it is a business and a dictatorship. Daybreak sets the rules of the game. And so they have come up with a compromise worthy of their SOE heritage.
On the Ragefire server, the unlock vote for Ruins of Kunark will be reduced from 6 months to 3 months. On the Lockjaw server, the unlock vote for Ruins of Kunark will remain at 6 months. The possibility of free transfers between the servers has been mentioned, but is not a sure thing. And given how allegedly important server communities are in EverQuest, it shouldn’t be popular even if they implement it.
So there we have a decision pretty much guaranteed to provoke the more vocal members of the community, as well as pulling the two servers out of sync before the first expansion, something that will muddy all future decisions on this front.
We will have to see how that plays out. Keen has his own views on this, stronger than my own, likely because I haven’t really invested in the whole progression server thing this time around.
Meanwhile, in an interview over at Massively OP, EverQuest team chief Holly “Windstalker” Longdale spoke about some other issues facing the EverQuest progression servers. One of them was the alleged plague of multi-boxing groups on the server.
If you read the forums you might be convinced that every worthwhile spawn on Ragefire is being camped by some guy running six mages who never logs off or takes a break, but simply farms that spawn everybody else wants all the live long day.
I couldn’t tell you how prevalent that actually is, but it is generating a lot of forum rage and so, Daybreak being the child of SOE, where forum rage is how players have long been trained to get what they want, the EverQuest team is looking into this. Holly mentioned the possibility of limiting EverQuest logins to one per computer. You can still multi-box, but you’ll need multiple computers to do it. However, given the long tradition of multi-boxing in EverQuest… SOE at one point fixed the client so that it was officially a supported thing… I am not sure how you then make this change to the client… the same client the rest of the servers use.
So I guess we shall see how that plays out. I would like to hear from Daybreak some numbers on how many people they think are out there running the dread six mage multi-box group (and paying almost $90 a month for the pleasure) on your average night before I make up my own mind on that. I distrust forum rage.
And then there are the raid issues and zone instancing and all that. Way back before the progression server beta Daybreak already had an official stance on whether or not they would instance raid bosses in the expansions before Gates of Discord:
Uninstanced content on this level was a unique experience for EverQuest, and there are people out there who have never experienced it. We want to believe that you can work it out on your own. We have plans for what to do if you can’t work out something equitable, though, and we might have to contract Alan Rickman to read them.
Basically, no instancing because that wasn’t the way things were, with at least a tacit admission that the whole contested raid thing was going to be a problem because it has literally always been a problem every time it has been a thing.
Apparently unsatisfied with this stance, Holly “Windstalker” Longdale decided to clarify this with a quote that is likely going to haunt her for a while:
What we don’t want to do is instance raids, which is what casuals want us to do because they want to fight Nagafen. Casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen… that diminishes the achievement of others. That’s part of the challenge: You have to be better than the other guy; you have to be more strategic that the other guy.
You cannot get tone from a quote in text, but it is really hard for the voice in my head not to read the start of that second sentence as “Filthy casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen!” in a voice filled with derision and mockery at the very idea of such a thing.
Now, that is just the voice in my head playing games. I know this. But I also know that voice is working from notes based on years of war over who should get access to raids, raider elitism, causal entitlement, and the general muddle of conflicting views that is MMO community. And Holly, given her time having to deal with this sometimes toxic community, ought to understand that. She isn’t some junior dev dropping a casual quote, she is the Executive Producer responsible for EverQuest and EverQuest II. Her views set the tone for the game, and that was the tone we got.
Meanwhile, just after the ellipses, we have a confirmation from her that allowing casuals to do things that elite players do hurts the elite by diminishing their achievements. This goes back to there being an intangible equity system in play where things like LFR hurt the game and should be banned. What you are allowed to do affects my game, even if we do not interact.
Ah, such fun! Burn, baby, burn! At least she didn’t tell casuals that, if they want to fight Naggy, they should just buy a level 90 on a standard server and go solo him. Wait, no, that would diminish the achievement of others… or would it? Crap, how does this even work?
This is an issue where I can wander either way depending on my mood, the direction of the wind, and whether or not I went with the hot salsa on my Chipotle burrito. (Always barbacoa!)
I absolutely think there should be aspirational content in games like this, things that take some work and skill and that not everybody gets to do. There should be things that take a lot of effort and which few attain.
On the other hand, I quite enjoyed my time doing LFRs in WoW. The raid tourism thing was interesting, I got to see the content, and I was perfectly happy not getting the same drops that people doing the raids at the highest levels got. But I wasn’t there for the loot, I was there for the show. Anything else I got was a bonus.
So I, personally, have no answer.
And, on this front I do not expect anything to change. This is the third time through the whole progression server thing, making it the fourth time through the exact same set of problems. Daybreak will most likely follow in the grand SOE tradition and try to muddle through until raids are all instanced, when they can forget the whole thing.
Anyway, here in the summer doldrums, when not much generally happens, Daybreak is doing their best to give us something to talk about. And we haven’t even gotten to the EverQuest II time locked expansion servers yet.
Addendum: Meanwhile, Massively OP apparently couldn’t resist going the click bait rage route with the Ruins of Kunark vote, gratuitously tossing the casuals quote in there for good measure. (And somebody at Daybreak agrees with my assessment.)
Addendum: In response to accusations on the forums that the whole poll thing was just a smoke screen to allow Daybreak to do what they wanted to do in the first place came this dev response:
This is not what we wanted.
It would be much easier for our team if both servers remained on the 6 month timeline. We wouldn’t need to support character transfers, prep Kunark while waist-deep in the Campaign effort, or maintain two servers with staggered unlock schedules. This is not the ideal outcome for us, and we’re putting in extra work to attempt to give those interested in max nostalgia or early unlock a place to play the way they’d like.
Also, if we did what we wanted, the TLP servers would be on a seasonal ruleset.