Daily Archives: May 1, 2018

Lost Dungeons of New Eden

This past Saturday I wrote about the EverQuest Agnarr server, one of Daybreak’s progression servers, and passed over at one point one of the expansions slated for it, Lost Dungeons of Norrath.

The main focus of that expansion was instanced content, a brand new concept for EverQuest at the time.  They were dungeons that came in a few basic flavors that had some variations between them, allowed the players running them to choose a difficulty level, and ended up rewarding players with “augmentations” that they could use to upgrade their current gear.

It was a moment of change for EverQuest and MMORPGs in general.

Saturday evening I decided to log onto the EVE Online test server, Sisi, where early cuts at the upcoming abyssal deadspace content had been made available for people to try.

The “How to” aspect of this new feature wasn’t obvious to me, but I found the thread about trying it out in the forums, which at least got me pointed in the right direction.

I wasn’t sure what ship or fitting I ought to try, so I just used my ratting Ishtar fit and figured I would adjust from there.  Everything on Sisi is 100 ISK and the market is stocked with all the non-faction non-officer hulls and modules, so you can grab what you want.  When grabbing some ammo I accidentally bought 2,000 Ishtar hulls, but what the hell right?  It is all 100 ISK.

I then grabbed a “calm” filament, the level 1 flavor and headed out to give it a try.

Ishtar in an Abyssal pocket

The tiers run like this:

  1. Calm
  2. Agitated
  3. Fierce
  4. Raging
  5. Chaotic

And each comes in variations, the difference between which I have yet to see.

Tiers and types of filaments

I spent most of the first run fiddling with my drones to figure out what would work and what I ought to skip.  All the NPCs had placeholder names, but they were either ships or drones.  I seemed to be running into just Sleepers, but that might be related to which filaments I picked.

It seemed that 5x Acolyte IIs would eat up anything small and be able to dodge incoming fire.  Mediums and heavies were too easy to hit and I had to pull them right away.  So I plowed through a room, went through the gate, which opens up once you’ve cleared, then did another room, and then another, and then was back in normal space again wondering when I would get my prize.

I knew that ships did not drop loot, so skipped past them, but I didn’t notice the part about blowing up the structure in each room.  That is the loot pinata.  So I grabbed another calm filament and gave it another try.  This time I broke all the pinatas and came out the other side unscathed.

That run dumped a bunch of loot on me, though the loot payout is cranked up at the moment, well beyond what it will be when it goes live, to let people experiment with drops.  I got a mutaplasmid for a large shield extender so bought one off the market to mutate it.  The result was okay.

Mutated shield extender II

CPU usage went down but power grid went up.  Sig radius got a little bit worse, but the shield hit points were boosted quite a bit.  Not a bad mutation I guess.  And the newly created module shows you what was initially mutated and what got better or worse.

The after module

It also has a button to find that sort of thing in contracts, since these items won’t be on the normal market.  I am going to guess that contract usage will jump sharply when these are introduced and that we might get a pass on the contract UI after a lot of people are suddenly using them more than ever before.

I also had a mutaplasmid for a medium shield booster, so I grabbed a tech II version and ran it through the process… and ended up wrecked.

Worse for the tinkering

I also got a tier 4 filament drop so decided to give that a try.  That went less well.  I managed to blow up small stuff in the usual way… a pack of cruisers in this case… with acolyte IIs, leaving me with a Sleep battleship once they were out of the way.

Sleek Sleeper Seeking Me

And even that seemed to be going well.  I pulled in the acolytes and sent heavy drones after the battleship.  Not problems at all…. right up until my ship suddenly exploded and I was dead.

And that was that

I am not sure what did me in really.  I may have flown into a pocket of toxic space.  The timer may have run out.  Nothing in the feedback (or in the logs) indicated what happened.  Something just turned my ship into mush, ripping through armor and hull in a flash before I could react and do anything.  Surprise!

That threw me to where my death clone was set.  From there I had to move to a station that had stuff up on the market then set about fitting another ship.  I decided to go with an Eagle this time.  It could hold the five acolyte IIs I’d need and I thought the guns might speed things up.

Eagle on a run

As it turned out, nothing I could do would make medium rails track the small drones once they closed range, but my own drones took care of them as expected.  Being able to reach out and shoot larger targets seemed to work okay.  And I could pop the structure right away.

Structure going up as the gate opens

I ran some tier 1 and 2 versions just to get a feel for it.  It sure looks pretty.

Eagle waiting for the gate to open

My tour ended when I had another insta-pop event.  This time I didn’t even see things change, I was flying one moment and dead the next.  The logs don’t show anything, just my drones popping away at the small stuff… and it was all small stuff.  Maybe I hit a mine.  I don’t think the timer ran down… but there is no visible timer, so I am not sure.

Just before my sudden demise

Anyway, that was enough for me to get at least some flavor of what is in store.  I might try it again as we get closer to the Into the Abyss expansion release and things have settled down some.

But as I tinkered around with all of this my brain kept making the link with the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion for EverQuest.  Here we have players being given instanced content, able to choose the style and challenge up front while the actual layout comes from a set group of possibilities, and offering up items that augment current equipment as a possible reward.

Nothing new in the world I guess.

Unfortunately my impression so far is that abyssal deadspace has all the drawbacks of of PvE in EVE Online; It is fun and interesting the first couple of times, but it becomes tiresome on repetition.  And there is the insta-death timer thing.  I don’t know enough to know if that is avoidable or if we’re going to get a visible timer, but it will rile people up when it happens on the live server.  People do not like to get their shit blown up.

In the end some people will optimize and do abyssal deadspace for the rewards, and then complain about having to grind and the lack of predictability in getting what they wanted.

And that leaves aside the whole RNG module upgrade element, which already has people annoyed, as well as the strange new contract marketplace that will spring up where you’ll have to be very careful to inspect whatever you buy because every mutated module could be different.

That it doesn’t appeal to me doesn’t mean much in the larger scheme of things.  Somebody will love it.  There is a niche fan base out there for every feature.  But will it be a draw for enough people to have been worth the effort?  Will it change the game in a good way?

Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest

Because we just can’t stop staring at Daybreak now that they’ve drawn our attention.

The eye seems more angry today

Over at Massively OP they reported on a Reddit post by an alleged former Daybreak staffer who was part of the big layoff and who decided to spilled the beans on what the company has under wraps.  I am going to quote the substance of the post just to have it here for reference now and in the future.

The list re-ordered for narrative flow and importance to me:

Everquest will have one last expansion. The 20th anniversary will introduce a series of nostalgic raids that tie into complex quests. These quests can be done in order to grant alternate characters powerful scaling weapons.

Well, I have long asked how many expansions could EverQuest sustain.  20 years is a pretty good run, and I imagine that they’ll keep playing the progression server card.  But it will be a sad day when the final expansion hits and Norrath reaches its final size.

Everquest 2 will also have one last expansion and eventually a similar series of send-off weapon quests and raids.

It seems like 2019 (or 2018) will be a final kiss-off for the slowly dwindling and increasingly bitter base of Norrath fans.  EQII will have made it to 15 years but won’t end up with nearly the immense scope of places that EQ has.  Another sad day for the MMO with my favorite housing scheme ever.

Everquest 3 has been back in development for a year and is being rebuilt from the ground up. It aims to compete with Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen and to be the first fantasy MMORPG to put an emphasis on team battle royal PvP.

I guess we should be happy about this, but after the first EverQuest Next announcement, then the restart, then the voxel word promises and Landmark and the faked AI in all the demos and the final cancellation I cannot find any enthusiasm for this at the moment.

There was a rumor going about last year that there was a Norrath based multiplayer RPG in the works that would not be an MMORPG, but I guess once you are on the stage with the other MMOs it is hard not to keep going that direction.

The idea of competing with Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen AND injecting the flavor of the month feature of battle royale PvP seems silly.  Would picking a focus be too much to ask?  And what would team battle royal PvP be anyway, and how would it be different from World of Warcraft battlegrounds?

I realize this isn’t an official announcement, but they have a lot to sell on this one if it is anywhere close to true.

Just Survive is on its last legs. Several ideas for increasing profits have been floated around but at this point it looks like a sunset is most likely.

Not unexpected.  Certainly the most credible item on the list.  The name seemed too on the nose when it was given, like naming a mayfly “dead by Friday.”

Planetside 2 was supposed to be getting new character models and animations in May. A new map and an aircraft carrier are planned for the end of the year.

Sounds okay I guess, unless you’re planning to replace the game.

Planetside 3 is in early development. Other teams will be siphoned into this project next year. This will be a team based battle royal game that combines the building aspect of Fortnite with territory acquisition.

Oh, you’re planning to replace the game.  The ghost of Smed continues to wander the halls of Daybreak I guess, which is odd because he isn’t actually dead.  And, of course, battle royale figures into it because of course it does.  Doesn’t Daybreak already have a battle royale game in H1Z1?

H1Z1 will get a smaller map as well as a remake of “Z1”. The PS4 port is looking good. After that new skins will continue to be released but most of the team will be moved over to Planetside 3.

Drop work on the current battle royale game save for cash shop items so you can work on the new battle royale game, which will probably launch when the market has gone well past saturation and will have to be altered to fit whatever the flavor of the month is at that time.

Well, down 70 people and with a handful of games to maintain I guess they have to make some tough choices if they ever want to launch anything new.

Of course, this could all be nonsense or misdirection too.  You can’t really know from the outside.  But I figured I would mark the moment so we can return to it later and see if any of it plays out.

I doubt there will be any official response to any of this, but we’ll all keep an eye out for announcements in the distant future from the house that Jason Epstein built.

Others on these rumors: