Author Archives: Wilhelm Arcturus

About Wilhelm Arcturus

I started playing online, multiplayer games in 1986. I expect to get the hang of it any time now.

Forty

It took five months, but I finally hit level 40 with my first character in WoW Classic.  That might seem pretty slow… lots of people have been level 60 for a while now… but I have been pushing a group of characters through the game in parallel, not to mention spending some time getting characters to the new level cap over in EverQuest II.  And I am in no hurry in any case, spending more time going into various side areas to see the things I might have missed back in the day.

And in getting past level 30 you do end up with opportunities to see more things.  While even at lower levels the rise in quest levels in zones encourages you to do a couple zones in parallel, past 30 it becomes something of a requirement.  I think one of the reasons that leveling past that point starts to feel difficult is that you have to have some insight into where you might go to pick up a few quests in your level range.  Tistann, my hunter, went all over.

Hunting Ravagers in Desolace

There are little bits and threads of quests in Desolace, Theremore, Thousand Needles, and Stranglethorn Vale that send you back and forth or lead you to other locations for a bit, like a diversion of the Swamp of Sorrows.  I had forgotten about a group that lived there, though I am sure they won’t enter into the story in any significant way.

You’re from where now?

And while I was out I also poked my nose into neighboring zones, like the Blasted Lands and Tanaris to pick up flight points and set myself up for later ventures.

The sights around Tanaris – Do I want to know how hanging people ends up with all that blood?

But eventually I was in Stranglethorn Vale, the southern end, when the moment hit and my hunter rolled over to 40.

I missed the ding, but here I am seconds later

And there I was.  I finished out the quest I had going and recalled back to Ironforge as level 40 brings with it a whole host of new things.

New Skills

There are always some skills to learn or upgrade every other level, but 40 got me Aspect of the Pack, the group buff version of Aspect of the Cheetah that lets everybody run 30% faster.  There was also Volley, a new shooting skill, and Track Giants to add to my list of tracking options.  I always feel blind when I play another character after my hunter because I get used to tracking very quickly.

New Pet Skills

There were also some pet skills to upgrade, including a new version of Growl for my wolf, to help him keep aggro.  This actually feels a bit overdue as he had been having trouble holding aggro for the last couple of levels.  I supposed that help keep my melee skills up to date, but it will be nice for him to be a little stickier going forward.  I just have to get him to level 40 now so her can use it.

New Ammo

Level 40 gets you the next tier of ammo, the accurate slug, that increases the amount of damage each shot applies.  I also upgraded my gun at the auction house, as the one I was using was a few levels past its prime.  So I can throw a lot more damage down range.  The wolf is going to need that new taunt, and until he gets up to where I can train him, I am going to be getting more time to work on my melee skills I guess.

New Armor

Technically one of the skills I got at 40 was the ability to wear mail armor, but I am putting it in its own category because this feature is on my list of “Why?” questions that go back to vanilla WoW.  Playing WoW Classic has reminded me of that list and I should probably do a post on it.  But still, why did Blizz think that changing armor type at level 40 was a good idea?  They got rid of that, but only much later.

I suspect that Blizz just assumed people wouldn’t obsess about it and pick up new gear as it became handy, which would just prove that Blizz doesn’t know people very well.  I started collecting mail armor drops from about level 35 forward and have been hording turtle scales to make mail armor, a leatherworker skill, but I am still mostly wearing leather.

A Mount

Of course, the big thing that comes with level 40 is the ability to buy a mount.  Unfortunately, after dealing with the above, I am well short of the gold needed.  I had about 30 gold going into level 40 and a little more than 12 gold once I got everything settled.

Of course, part of the problem is that I end up sending the good equipment drops to my alts rather than selling them at the auction house.  I have two characters that will be upgrading to plate armor at 40, so I save every such drop I see.  And, of course, with several characters in rotation I don’t end up with a lot of time spent on just working on earning gold.  So it will be Aspect of the Cheetah for a while now as I don’t think I have 100 gold across all my characters combined.

But, as I said, I am not in a huge hurry to get anywhere.  I’ll have the gold at some point, but for now I walk.

Friday Bullet Points about EVE Online and Bonus Skill Points

It is Friday and, despite not playing much in New Eden myself this month, I have accumulated a few items I want to mention about EVE Online.

  • More Bonus Skill Points

Another bonus skill point event starts today.

Bonus skill points are the best skill points

Log in daily from today through Monday and get some free skill points to spend on skills you need… or to hoard  for some potential future need.  Alpha pilots will get 75,000 skill points if they claim every day while Omega pilots will be eligible for 250,000 skill points.

  • PLEX For Good

The PLEX for Good campaign to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross is still going.  You can donate PLEX, the cash value of which will be donated, through until January 26th.  Details on how you do this are at the link.

PLEX for Good

There is also a Stream Fleet event coming this weekend to raise awareness for the efforts and drum up more donations.

  • Download Your Year in EVE

I wrote about the Your Year in EVE videos CCP produced already.  You can see one of mine again if you need a reminder as to what they were.

If you enjoyed your video and want to keep it, you need to download it by January 30th.  CCP will be purging them after that date.  Fortunately, each video has a link included that downloads an MP4 copy of the video to your system.  That format is pretty much ideal for uploading to services like YouTube, which is what I did.

Everybody who got a video should also be getting a reminder in the email about the videos going away, but it you don’t check that email account very often here is another reminder.

  • 64-Bit Client Transition Complete

Last year saw the introduction of the 64-bit client which promised to make EVE Online a better experience when it came to big space battles, or even smaller ones as you would no longer have to go into “potato mode” just to be sure the old client wouldn’t exceed the 32-bit memory limit and crash. (64-bit was also necessary for ongoing MacOS compatibility.  Apple doesn’t hang about supporting legacy features the way Microsoft does.)

Getting people to move to 64-bit went better than expected according to a Dev Blog from CCP, such that they have declared the transition complete.

Every dev blog gets a graphic

Because of this the old 32-bit client will be officially sunsetted on February 26, 2020.

In addition, the system requirements for EVE Online will be raised, with 4GB becoming the new minimum RAM requirement and 23GB being the new minimum drive space allocation.

  • December MER

The Monthly Economic Report for December 2019 is out at last, so now people have all the data for the year so they can explore what went on.

December 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time – Everybody’s favorite chart

The Nosy Gamer has already been at it.  I don’t have much to say myself and am giving up the monthly posts about the MER.  They got tedious when I was reporting on them generally, so I went to focusing on specific items each month, but I think most people find the whole thing a snooze, so I’ll just play with the data on my own.

  • I Won a Thing

In conjunction with the Year in EVE videos I mentioned above CCP ran a social media contest around the hash tag #MyEVE2019.  Winners were picked at random and so I managed to make the RNG cut with this tweet.

Winners all got 500 PLEX which was delivered this week and the promise of a special SKIN to arrive at some future date.  I am going to keep the SKIN of course, but I am sending off the PLEX to the PLEX for Good campaign mentioned above.

California Explores Gaming Power Usage

The misperception that computer gaming is conducted only at the “fringe” of society has dampened curiosity about their role in energy use.

-A Plug-Loads Game Changer: Computer Gaming Energy Efficiency without Performance Compromise

The state of California issued a 92 page long report last year exploring the electrical usage of computer gaming in the state,  prepared for the California Energy Commission by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, exploring both why video games use as much electricity as they do and how the state might plan for the future related to gaming power usage.

That electrical generation has an environmental impact is multiplied by the fact that the northern half of the state is mostly served by one of the more dysfunctional companies of the breed, Pacific Gas & Electric.  The company has gone bankrupt twice in the last two decades and has a habit of setting up situations where it ends up blacking out large swathes of the state due to its own incompetence.  Even my late grandfather used to refer to it as “Perpetual Graft & Extortion.”

Anyway, the whole report is available for download from the state as a PDF file here.  But the key graph early in the report indicates why this is even being discussed as it ranks various categories of electrical usage.

Estimate Power Use of Various Residential Activities in 2016

That is computer gaming using 4.1 terawatt-hours of electricity, which puts it ahead of the total power consumption of Cambodia, if the CIA is to be believed and I am able to do the unit conversion in my head.  Also, we appear to use about a terawatt-hour of electricity a year on hot tub pumps.  I could have guessed that I suppose.

The report opens, naturally enough, with how this number was arrived at, definitions for quite a few terms (kind of interesting), an attempt to break gamers out into discreet usage segments, and even a chart of power usage for specific titles from various gaming  genres on different platforms. Also, there is the revelation that people play a lot of games online.

For the purposes of this report the computer gaming energy use category includes:

…desktop and laptop computers, consoles, and media streaming devices and associated displays, local network equipment, and speakers, as well as associated network and data-center energy.

If I wanted to nitpick, I would go straight to asking how data-center power usage figures into  residential plug-load numbers, but nobody is going to listen to me and I suppose as long as we’re only referencing data centers within the state then I ought to let it slide.  Even the report admits that the whole thing is complicated to address.

Then there is the matter of what we should do about it.  As I like to put it, the “So what?” part of the report that attempts to move it from interesting trivia to some for of action.  As the report points out, there has not been a lot of focus on energy consumption in this area, dubious EnergyStar ratings and efficiency measurements for computer power supplies (the 80 Plus program) being about the sum total of the efforts.

The possible suggestions include expanding power/efficiency ratings for components to having a system of ratings for games that indicate the energy use effects that they might have, along with some possible ways to incentivize players to use less power.

Then there are some forecasts of power consumption going forward involving various scenarios from the status quo maintained to VR takes off to consoles explode well beyond current popularity.

In the end it is mostly an interest read, an attempt by some people serious about their jobs to quantify, explore, and explain a complex situation that defies easy measure.

Much of the information in the study is based on earlier studies which are available online from Greening the Beast and which go into more depth in places:

In the end you and I pay the electrical bill, so it makes some sense to be at least somewhat aware of the impact game, setting, and hardware choices might have on your monthly statement.

To Stranglethorn Vale in Search of 36

After our peek into the Armory in Scarlet Monastery the previous week we were feeling a bit under-level to consider trying to finish off the instance.  The gut feeling was that we probably should be level 36 as a group of four to have a hope of getting through the Armory to finish off Herod and the Scarlet Monastery floor show.

We were all in and around level 34 when we wrapped up that run, so there was between a level and two levels of extracurricular activity that had to happen to get us back there.

The question was where to go?

Having crossed over the level 30 threshold, we are now in the timeline of no fixed zone for leveling.  If you’re working through solo from 30 forward you optimally end up bouncing between a few zones like Thousand Needles, Hinterlands, and Desolace.

I do not know if it was a deliberate design choice, but in these zones you find that the levels of quests increment, often jumping a level or two with each step in chain, so that you can quickly find yourself bumping up against red quests and mobs where an accidental add means death.

But as a group that might be a more manageable proposition.  So in looking for a destination for us I wanted a zone that had a bunch of quests, the more the better, that we as a group could burn through.

Having run through pieces of those zones solo with my hunter, Stranglethorn Vale seemed like the obvious choice.  It has the series of quests from the rebel camp at the north as well as the first “slaughter the local fauna” Hemet Nesingwary quest hub, something that has become a tradition in WoW expansions since.

And the quests, for the most part, seemed about ideal.  For a group, killing a set number of mobs, as Hemet would ask, is about ideal.  Likewise, the rebel camp sends you off on a series of quests that almost require a group.  Both the Kurzen camp and the troll areas are teeming with mobs, packed in tightly and with sprightly respawn rates.  And the last quest in the Kurzen quest chain sends you after a level 40 elite.

Also in its favor is that most of the early quests are pretty well contained to the northern bit of the zone around the rebel camp and Hemet Nesingwary’s setup.

The general vicinity

That compares favorably with, say, Desolace.  I’ll get to Desolace later.

So that was our plan for the weekend, to dive into Stranglethorn Vale.

It was just a matter of getting people on together.  And getting there.  STV has a flight point, but it is down at the southern tip, at Booty Bay.  While I appreciate the sparse flight point aesthetic of early WoW, where every zone gets one flight point whether they need it or not, I have to admit that the later addition of the flight point to the rebel camp in STV was sorely missed more than a few times over the weekend.  Even a mailbox would have been appreciated.

Instead you have to hoof it from Darkshire into STV.

Welcome to Stranglethorn Vale

I set Viniki up down there ahead of time.  Oddly, of my alts in their 30s, I think he was the only one of the bunch that had not started on any of the quests there.  I camped him with Hemet so he would be ready when the time came.

Not the last time I’ll run into you

Saturday evening Skronk, Ula, and I were online, but Moronae wasn’t expected.  Skronk had his hunter out and was just starting in on the Kurzen quest line.  I grabbed my pally to join him, while Ula came along.  She was the furthest behind in experience, needing a little more than two levels to get to 36.  Skonk and my warrior, Viniki, were much closer to the group goal so we kept to our alts.

I was kind of glad to get my pally out.  While he had done some of the Nesingwary stuff, he was still early on in the rebel camp stuff.

Not for the last time, I wish it had that flight point

Specifically, he was a bit stuck on the quest Bad Medicine.  That requires seven drops, which are, of course, rather sparse.  In addition, the easiest source of the drops, the medicine men in the Kurzen camp tend to be both heavily hunted and a bit of a pain to solo with a pally.  They self-heal at a cycle faster than my interrupt, so each fight becomes a protracted event.

While we couldn’t do much about the competing groups… STV on a Saturday night had people running all over… we were able to press on into the caves where the headhunters also drop the jungle remedy potion needed to complete the quest.  So we were able to press on and finish that up.

Bad Medicine unlocks a couple of quests, including the first foray into the trolls.  That run was… interesting.  I had done it with my hunter a couple weeks back, so could guide everybody to the four tablets on which you need to click.  The challenge is more that the population density in the troll areas is pretty high.  It is easy to get way too many adds.  Even with other players around, getting through can be a challenge as the respawn rate is also very quick.  We had a duo wipe just ahead of us… horde, so we could only mourn… while we were fighting a group that had just respawned after their passing.

Trolls on the way out

But running the troll circle also brought us through areas for three of the Nesingwary quests, so we picked up various flavors of tigers, panthers, and raptors before finally circling back to turn in quests.

It is especially easy to see the quest levels ramp up with those kill quests.  The tigers are the easier of the trio as they start doable at 28 or so, with the final task of slaying Sin’Dall, a level 37 non-elite being soloable at 35 without much fear.

Waiting for Sin’Dall to spawn

At the other end are the raptors, which are level 40-41 when you are only on the third round.  We managed that at the end of the night, with a group that was 5-7 levels shy of the mobs.  A group of three can handle that, but the level difference means that the raptors resist spells regularly, and an add can be fatal.  We did have one death, though that was mostly because I had to remember that paladin’s can heal.  Fortunately they can also ress.

We also sorted out pages from the Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest.  I had been to STV already with my pally and, after collecting most of the pages, I bought my way through the quest at the auction house.  So I was able to hand over needed pages for Ula and Skronk, though in the end they too used the auction house to collect the last page or two.  I think I did this the hard way back in 2006.

The next afternoon was to bring Moronae on the scene.  However, some of us were early and so Skronk and I worked with a different set of alts, his pally and my restoration druid, while we waited for Moronae to show.  We dropped our alts when he logged in and started out with out mains.

Like Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon saw other groups hunting out in the Kurzen camp.

The Kurzen camp awaits

Having learned our lesson the previous night, we passed through the camp and into the caves and back down to where Sgt. Malthus lives to fight the mobs there that also drop the needed jungle remedy. Needing seven a piece and with low a drop rate, we were down there for a while.

Taking them all on

Aside from the occasional lost player, we had the place to ourselves for a while.  The spawn rate was rapid enough to keep us mostly engaged, while adding in the occasional surprise.

Skronk to be bonked by a surprise spawn

It took us a few cycles of spawns, but we eventually came up with seven jungle remedy potions for the three of us that needed them.  And then, on the way out, jungle remedy potions pretty much dropped off of every possible mob.  There were enough between us that I collected seven and set them aside to mail to one of my alts just to get past that stage of the quest.

What wasn’t dropping were pages for the Green Hills of Stranglethorn.  Unlike the night before, when we were getting quite a few such drops, this time around we all came out with one page.  And that was all I would get for the night.  Some times it rains those pages and overflows your inventory… usually when you’re on with you hunter… and some times they just don’t drop.

We went back to the rebel camp to turn in quests and pick up the next round.  Ula took a break while Skronk, Moronae, and Vinki went to go do the troll tablets run, which has the previously mentioned benefit of swinging through areas for raptors, panthers, and tigers.

We circled back from that to Nesingwary then to the rebel camp, where we happened to catch Private Thorsen doing his patrol, which allows you to get another quest chain going.  Unfortunately, Ula wasn’t back yet so missed out on grabbing that.

After a bit of a break we made out final run of the evening at the Kurzen camp.  We made a quick venture to the camp to knock out one last preliminary quest, then picked up the final goal.  We were after Colonel Kurzen himself.

I remembered this vaguely enough to know that we had to go all the way to the end of the cave to find him.  We found a solo druid who was trying to go that way as well and asked if he could join, so Skronk invited him.  We had the room.

And then we were into the caves and clearing our way to Colonel Kurzen.  That wasn’t particularly tough as the mobs are not elite, but there are a lot of them and you have to plow through row after row of them to advance and even non-elites can pile on if you pull too many.

We had made it through most of the cave and were just down the path from Colonel Kurzen himself, literally right outside his den at the end of everything, when a level 44 night elf hunter ran right past us as we were mid-fight and into Kurzen’s room.

I wasn’t going to let that stand.  I abandoned the mob I was finishing and ran into the room after him and tagged Colonel Kurzen with my gun.  It was on.

We were, of course, still involved with a couple mobs and Kurzen had a couple more with him, while the colonel himself is an elite with his own special routine.  It was not a guaranteed slam dunk at that point, and the hunter was content to let us work this out on our own.

Getting thing under control was… a challenge.  Things looked bad when Skronk went down before I could pull mobs off of him.  But we had two druids in the group, so there was a combat ress to be had.  Our guest druid got his off, putting Skronk back in the fight as we eventually got a handle on everything.  Kruzen went down, we looted his head, and that was that.

We had to fight some of the way back out of the cave, the respawn rate being what it was, along with stopping to get the the contents of the locked box that was on the quest chain that Private Thorsen set us on.  But from there it was back to the rebel camp to turn things in.

At that point Ula hit level 36, the first in the main group to do so.  Viniki was very close to 36, and managed to get there with a few kills later on.  Skronk likewise managed to get to 36 shortly thereafter.  And Moronae is very close to 36 and will likely get there soon enough; if not before out next run, then probably not too many mobs into it.

So we look to be set up to make another run at the armory in Scarlet Monastery.

The Daybreak Studio Split Comes to Pass

It isn’t even Friday afternoon and we’re getting news from Daybreak.  The splitting of the company into discreet studios focused on specific games is under way, something that has been somewhat expected since July of last year.  Of prime importance to me are the fates of EverQuest and EverQuest II, which will now be run by Darkpaw Games.

Darkpaw Gamed for Norrath

A producer’s letter from Holly Longdale announced the change, though details were scant.  Quoted from the site for posterity:

Welcome to our first bark as Darkpaw Games!

Unsurprisingly, our motto is “Never Give Up” given that our studio name is borne from our beloved in-game character, Fippy Darkpaw – the gnoll that won’t quit. For over 20 years he’s been fighting the good fight for his tribe. Same goes for our studio, our games, and our tenacious players.

We are the OG. The passionate. The dedicated. And the proud! Grrr….Bark Bark…Grrr.

I’m sure you want to know what this change means…

Darkpaw Games will operate autonomously and focus on the EQ franchise, its community, and its future. I will be at the head of Darkpaw and Daybreak will be our publisher with its incredible support and operations teams we’ve come to know and love over the years.

We will work toward expanding the franchise and invest in our future as a studio.

Currently, nothing will change for your accounts and membership. No worries there.

Our staff has grown a bit and we’ll continue to adjust as Darkpaw evolves and grows into its development strategy and vision. What’s that, you ask? To create immersive entertainment that is socially driven and diverse, enriches lives and fuels imagination.

That vision comes from decades of working with and listening to our communities about how EverQuest games have impacted, changed, and enhanced their lives. We want to continue it. It’s what we do best.

Immediately, and in practical terms, our focus is on the fans and investing in our current games and the business of starting new ones. We’re already executing on the plans we had for 2020, like expansions and events for EQ and EQ2.

We’ll start evaluating the interest in, and logistics of, a fan faire and move forward with that as soon as possible.

More than anything, we want to deliver on what players love and go even further. We are going to think outside the box a bit, so hold onto your tails!

This month, we plan to sell a limited run of our EverQuest 20th and EverQuest II 15th anniversary shirts on Amazon. If it goes well, we’ll keep exploring official product ideas. We’ll send out links and details as soon as we have them!

EverQuest’s first anniversary in its THIRD decade will come in March and we’ve got plans for that, so stay tuned! EverQuest II has its own plans that will roll out soon – Yeehaw!

Now, with all my heart, thank YOU! We hope you continue to embrace us as we grow into our indie paws. We want to communicate in new ways with our own Darkpaw voice, too. Many of you are familiar with our personalities and we want to live our best life as gamers and developers with you.

Join the pack! More news as it comes!

Sincerely, as ever,

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale
Executive Producer, Darkpaw Games
“Never Give Up”

What this means for the business itself is unclear.

The PlanetSide 2 team had a similar announcement, declaring that they are now developing as Rogue Planet Games.

Rogue Planet for PlanetSide

Then there is DC Universe Online and the Austin studio that goes with it got a post from Jack Emmert that they will now be Dimensional Ink.  No cool splash screen yet from them, and they ended up not going with the previously registered Golden Age Studios.  Jack Emmert is probably most famous for his association with Cryptic and City of Heroes and his letter stands out among the three when declaring some level of independence.

Those three teams cover most of the company.

Omitted from mention at this point is the H1Z1 and Z1 Battle Royale games, whose web site has no similar note from a producer.  I suspect that they will roll along with Rogue Planet, but we shall see.

All three of the posts make sure to declare that nothing is changing right now and that everybody should remain calm.  That is the standard starting point for everything.

There is a fourth post from Daybreak as well, which sums up the other three:

Daybreak Introduces Three New Franchise Studios –
Dimensional Ink Games, Darkpaw Games, and Rogue Planet Games

Newly Branded Development Teams Reflect “Franchise First” Model to Strengthen Autonomy of Studios with Signature Games and Genres from MMORPG to FPS and Superhero Titles

SAN DIEGO, CA – Jan. 21, 2020 – Daybreak Games today announced its “Franchise First” initiative in the form of a business structure that establishes three new individual creative franchise studios — Dimensional Ink Games, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games. Building on the success of the teams that introduced genre-defining games and franchises including DC Universe™ Online, EverQuest® and PlanetSide®, this business model is the result of a long-term strategy designed to amplify the existing franchises while enabling each studio to further foster its unique identity, community and culture.

By allowing the identities of each of these studios to thrive under their individual studios, each team will have the flexibility to continue their work developing current and upcoming games, recruiting new talent and building upon the legacy of their respective franchises.

Dimensional Ink Games in Austin develops and operates DC Universe Online, the one-of-a kind DC Super Hero-based MMORPG enjoyed by millions across PC and consoles. Dimensional Ink will be led by Jack Emmert, the mastermind behind City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter. The studio will continue to support DCUO while developing its next high-profile action MMO project starting in 2020.

“Crafting iconic MMORPG experiences has always been Daybreak’s lifeblood,” said Emmert. “We intend to continue that legacy and grow Dimensional Ink, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games into the future. Whether it’s DC Universe Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2 or our future projects, we’ll be giving players their ideal fantasy game experiences for years to come.”

Darkpaw Games will be focusing on EverQuest, one of the most legendary MMORPG IPs recognized worldwide. Holly Longdale will continue to lead the studio as its Executive Producer. Darkpaw’s mission is to continue to expand upon the unique and amazing fantasy adventure that is EverQuest and EverQuest II and develop the next innovation for the franchise.

Rogue Planet Games, the studio branch in San Diego that broke new ground in the massively multiplayer first-person shooter genre with PlanetSide and Planetside 2, will be working to craft even more new and unique experiences in the space under Executive Producer Andy Sites at the helm. The team is looking to develop its next genre-defining experience for fans of shooters under its new banner.

As for what this really means, that is yet to come.  All three letters say that Daybreak will continue to publish and support the studios.  Does that put them on an equal footing of independence as Standing Stone Games and their work with Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online?  We would probably have to know something about the actual relationship between Daybreak and SSG to answer that.

Daybreak, however, will continue to be a thing.  How that evolves and what that really means is still foggy.  Are they set to become something more akin to Gamigo or Perfect World Entertainment, a holding company for milking old MMOs?  Is there a plan to perhaps sell off one or more of these new studios?  Or is it all window dressing?

The Darkpaw producer’s letter sounds very promising all the same.  Ongoing expansions and otherwise doing what they have been doing is about all you can ask for at this point… aside from a new EverQuest game, but that seems unlikely.  After some early stumbles, the EverQuest franchise has done better under Daybreak than it had been doing during the last few years at SOE.  I hope that success for Norrath will continue.

Of course, we have been waiting for this to come to pass.  It was on my list of news I was expecting in the last quarter of 2019, but had to roll it over into my 2020 predictions.  Now to see what it really means.

Other coverage:

The Handy Dandy Guild Hall in Norrath

More going on about EverQuest II.

I was on about leveling up crafting in EverQuest II last, but I decided to cut out a portion of the post where I drifted off into how much having a guild hall helped out.

EQII had housing… good, game integrated, flexible housing… at launch, but it took four years for the game to get guild halls.  In 2008 Game Update #48 kicked off an event that culminated in guild halls being released into the game.

And some of the guild halls are quite impressive.  I still have a character in the Revelry & Honor guild from way back in 2009… they never kick anybody I guess… and I can recall being quite impressed with their guild hall.  I mean, it was on an island visible from the shores of Antonica.  I wrote a post about it even.

So back in 2011 when the instance group made their one attempt to adapt to Norrath, a guild hall was on the shopping list… once we made a guild.

Guilds have been around since day one as well, and were considerably more complex than the World of Warcraft guild features, which consisted mostly of a chat channel, a guild roster, and a MOTD.  EQII guilds had levels and ranks and access to special perks like subsidized housing and early mounts and such, to the extent that there was a lot of whining in the forums about how you had to be in a guild to get some of these special things.  But there is always a lot of whining in the forums about everything, so welcome to the club.

So being in a guild was very much a thing, if you could form one.

There is always a barrier and it is amusing to go back a read some of the posts from that time as they are, like my current day posts about EQII, rife with confusion as to how to get things done… like how to make a guild.

The Guild Creation Window is more promise than details

At the time, because we were in EverQuest II Extended, the free to play experiment before the whole game went that route, you needed the following to create a guild:

  • A guild charter – 450 SC from the Station Store (60 silver won’t cut it)
  • Guild leader/charter buyer must be a subscriber
  • A full group – that means 6 people
  • The whole group in the same zone with the guild registrar
  • Everybody the same alignment (no mixed Qeynos and Freeport, even in New Halas)
  • A guild name that hasn’t been taken and meets the filer standards

According to the wiki we’re back to just 60 silver for the guild charter, but the other items still apply, the most difficult of which, for the random individual, is probably forming a full group of six and getting them together in the zone with the guild registrar.  Still, we managed to do it back in the day.

That gets you a guild.  But for a guild hall your guild must be level 30.  Having divided up labor for crafting (to do trade skill writs) and set our eyes on some heritages quests, we went to work to level up the guild.  It took us about a month, though almost two weeks of that time SOE was offline due to the great 2011 hacking of their (our) data. (Though the post hack exp boost that SOE gave people probably helped us along.)  Anyway, the we got the guild to level 30.  We could buy a guild hall.

In hindsight it is amusing how much of a burden the cost of buying the hall and playing for the upkeep seemed to be.  Now, with the usual ongoing inflation, the sums, both in coin and status, seem laughably small.  But that is what time will do.

50 Platinum seemed like so much back in the day

We bought the standard guild hall in New Halas, which turned out to be a boon in the long term as that allows both Qeynos and Freeport players to get to it, and started setting it up.  While decor was on the list, amenities were the key item.

Amenities added to the upkeep cost… you buy the hall then have to pay for upkeep every seven days… but were essential to making the whole venture worthwhile.  We setup a whole crafting room down in the basement with all of the crafting stations. (We did have to push the guild to level 40 to unlock enough amenity slots to get all the things we wanted, and some amenities require a specific guild level.)

The crafting room

The harvest supply depot, which lets you store crafting materials that you can automatically draw from if you craft in the guild, was placed in the center of the room.  This is perhaps the most handy feature, as you don’t have to keep raw materials on your person.

The supply depot limit has expanded over the years

We also opted for a fuel merchant, as crafting requires a fuel component for each run.

Then, behind a counter are the gathering hirelings, which which can be sent out harvest common crafting materials every two hours (you get to pick which level range you want them to harvest), and which Gaff and I shepherded pretty regularly in order to build up a healthy store of materials.

Guild gatherers ready to go

Then there were the two trade skill writ NPCs, one for normal and one for rush orders, with their clipboards on the wall behind them, which is where you pick up your crafting assignments.  And, of course, a banker and a broker NPC so that stored items and the market were only a few steps away.

The names were funny at the time

As I said, all of this cost coin and status and, at the time, it was a bit of work to keep it open.

The upkeep with amenities

Fortunately, nothing goes away if you don’t pay the bill, and for a long stretch when 136K status seemed like a lot, we would let the guild hall sit idle, locked, waiting for our need.  A feature of my return to the game every year or two would be the unlocking of the guild hall to do a bit of crafting.

The years have helped out when it comes to paying for the guild hall.  back in the day that price was something I had to think about.  Now, with the usual amount of inflation that goes on between expansions, keeping it open is a no brainer.  The signature and crafting quest lines hand out an abundance of status.  While it is pegged to the pricing of status items that come with the newer expansions, older items have become quite affordable.  The status is so free flowing at times that the guild has leveled up a few times.

So with the guild hall open and the NPC gatherers filling the supply depot every two hours… at least when I remember to go speak to them, as it is not automated… I managed to build up quite a supply of raw materials to draw on.

For items that I need to craft inside of an instance I look at the wiki about the quest line, specifically the supply list, and pull the items from the supply depot.

If there are items I can craft outside of an instance, and there are a number of steps that just have you craft items that get used as part of the crafting quest lines, I use one more feature of the guild hall.

A very short cool down

The guild hall homing beacon is one of the amenities, but it is a nice one.  You got in and attune yourself to the beacon… click on it… and then you get the skill that brings you straight into the guild hall.  And to compliment that we also have a mini spire for the in-game transport system so I can finish up and head straight back to Luclin. (The Luclin spire is not on the “I’m a subscriber, teleport me at will” list of options yet.  At least not for me.  You might have to finish the signature quest line to get that.)

Anyway, the work we did back in 2011 keeps paying off for me whenever I return to play.  If nothing else, I spend a lot less time out harvesting raw material for crafting than I used to back in the day.

Three to the Moon Now

Meanwhile, in Bizarro Norrath, I now have three characters at the new level cap introduced with the Blood of Luclin expansion.  This is a feat so without precedent that I am not sure what to do.

Now available to more of my characters

And I am not just at the  level cap for adventure levels, but also for crafting levels as well.  I have three level 120/120 characters.  And all of them have gone from level 100 to 120 since I got back into the game back in November.

The first, my berserker Sigwerd, was probably the biggest effort, since I opted to get him to Luclin the “hard” way, via the adventure versus the trade skill intro quest.  But he was still there at level cap only a few days after the expansion launched.  It took him a bit more time to get his crafting up to level 120, as he started at level 100, so went off to do the trade skill quest line in the Plane of Magic.  But in the end he was there.

The second time around was a bit easier.  I got out my other level 100 character, my paladin Vikund, and sent him on his way to Luclin.  He did the Plane of Magic to get to 110.  Then, because doing the access quest to Luclin unlocks direct access to the expansion, Vikund was able to go there, grab the gear upgrades from the box… I went on about gear for a bit previously… which made things go more smoothly when he went back and did the intro quests.

The third time through was with my templar Nehru, who is a copy of my first EverQuest II character, Nomu.  Back when EverQuest II Extended came along, the free to play experimental server, SOE had a deal where you could copy characters from other servers, though they could only bring with them what they had in the bag and not everything in their bank.  The price was a mere 1,000 Station Cash which, with the 3 for 1 bonus sales offers they were fond of at the time, made the idea seem pretty cheap.  I copied a few characters. (Vikund was a copy as well, taking my second oldest character to the new server.  There is clearly an exploration of my character paths post somewhere in the future here, if only so I can have it all laid out for myself.)

He was only in his 60s, but I had a level 100 boost token leftover from some point in the past, so I boosted him up back when the dragon even was going on, just to get him in on that.  I didn’t think I would get to him when it came to leveling up.  But then I was two characters in and he seemed like an interesting third.

That was because, unlike the first two, who were plate wearing tank types with healer mercenaries, making them somewhat impervious to most encounters, Nehru is a templar, which is a healer/caster type, and he had a paladin tanking mercenary. (Templars wear plate armor, like any good cleric should, but still.)  I wasn’t sure how that would work out.

In the end, he ended up doing very well.  While his merc’s DPS was nothing to get worked up about, geared up he was able to hold on against every encounter with Nehru healing him.  Meanwhile, Nehru’s offensive spells had enough power to take care of burning down mobs.  He actually moved through the encounters in the intro quest much faster than the two tanks.

It is a different sort of play style.  With the pally and the berserker I was content to gather up all the mobs in the area and burn them down while my merc healed.  I had to be a little more focused with the templar, if only to not spend all my time healing the merc.  But done right, he moved along to the adventure level cap quickly enough.

On the crafting side he was a level 95 alchemist.  I’ve been through the crafting without crafting thing in a post already this week, so I’ve mentioned how slow crafting writs get.  Fortunately, there are some trade skill quest options before the Plane of Magic, so I was able to pop him up to level 100 with that, then to level 110 in the Plane of Magic, and then to 120 on Luclin.  He pushed on and finished the whole quest path on Luclin so as to unlock flying.  Now he can soar, as can my other two level 120s.

Nehru Soaring Free

Speaking of flying, his path to 120 was made much easier as they fixed the flight path options.  Previously you could only fly from Seru’s Ascent, the city hub where a lot of the quests are based, but not to it, forcing you to make the run through a hostile range of mobs.  It wasn’t a long run, but you end up doing it a lot.  The last update put in the option to actually just fly there rather than being automatically sent off to Grieg’s Spire when you clicked on the drone.

This was not an option previously

He might be my most useful crafter at this point, as alchemists make skill upgrades for warrior types.

All three of my level 120 have finished up the crafting quest, but have not gotten to the end of the signature quest line.  All three are at the same stage too, where they need to do another instance run to kill a whole pile of specific mobs, which is not an enticing option.

So, instead I have been looking at who else I can get to the level cap.  I have two more level 100 characters, left over from the various free heroic character offers Daybreak has given out.

One is probably a no-go.  First, he is a berserker, which I’ve already done, and second, he is on another server, so won’t benefit from the handy dandy guild hall I have access to on the Skyfire server. (More on that in another post.)

But the other one is a level 100 shadow knight who is in the guild already.  He also has an inquisitor mercenary, which is supposed to be close to the best balance between healing and damage.  Having taken him out for a spin in the Plane of Magic, he might be the next candidate for the moon.

After that I still have the level 110 booster that came with the expansion, which would allow me to send one more character directly to Luclin.  The question is, who?  I have a few low to middle range characters about… a ranger, a swashbuckler, a troubadour, and a mystic… all of whom are fairly far along with their trade skills.

And if I get five to level cap, I will then have a 100% boost to xp for all of my characters.  Is it then worth it to go back and level some up the old fashioned way, flashing through expansions until I out level them and then moving  on?  Do I start somebody from scratch with that big of a boost.

Anyway, I am not tired of the whole thing yet.  We shall see how long this run lasts.