Category Archives: entertainment

Get Lockjaw Today!

Erm… I mean get on the Lockjaw server today!  Maybe.  Daybreak has targeted today, May 29, at 11am Pacific Time as the launch point for the second Voting Time Locked Progression Server, Lockjaw.

Given all they have gone through over the last week, I would hope that this would be the easy bit.  Just clone the server, wipe the character database, and go!  As if anything in life is ever that simple.

Lockjaw Defeated

He’s going to be ready to go by 11am, right?

As I noted in yesterday’s post, this seems to be the only answer for Daybreak at the moment.  Even with all the updates they have done for the Ragefire server, it remains popular beyond its capacity.  People will have to start fresh however.

How this plays out in the longer term… well, Daybreak could help out by not forgetting about how popular Ragefire has been while they have talked about it.

Don't forget about me!

Don’t forget about me!

Addendum:

 

WildStar Survives Another Day by Going Free to Play

Back in January one of my least controversial new year predictions was probably this:

WildStar will go free to play.  NCsoft has a deal for the China market, so they can’t shut the thing down just yet.  But to get to China I am going to bet they have to go F2P.  And if you’re going to do the work for China, you might as well apply it in the west as well.

The issue seemed in doubt when the NCsoft Q1 2015 financials were released and amongst the data it was revealed that WildStar was officially doing worse than City of Heroes was before it was shut down.  But Carbine appears to have dodged that bullet for the time being (though they were very touchy about the business model subject for a while) as they announced today that WildStar would be going free to play this autumn… provided it doesn’t tank even further… a possibility when you tell be subscriptions will be optional in a few months… and simply get shut down.

Wildstar_logoFor me the biggest surprise was that Elder Scrolls Online went for the free to play option first, given the dev team attitude about monetizing things in-game.  But then they had the big console release coming up and subscriptions are even more out of favor on that front.

But when it comes to WildStar, I have never really been a fan of the game.  I was skeptical of a team that left Blizzard in 2005 because they felt World of Warcraft was doing it wrong even as it was becoming a popular sensation.  I was dubious that their CREDD plan … which allowed Carbine to claim that they were offering up a “hybrid” model since you could play for free if you bought CREDD with in-game currency… would make an iota of difference, or that there was any evidence that WildStar could build up an economy that would support a PLEX-like scheme.  And I was somewhat exasperated at their near tragic misuse of the Bartle types for their path system.  Also, the graphic style did nothing at all the encourage me to play.

So, yeah, I wasn’t really all that interested when it was announced, it clearly wasn’t my thing when it launched, and going free is unlikely to change my mind.  There are simply too many other things I would rather play ahead of WildStar on my list.

But for those who enjoy the game, at least it will be around a while longer.  As I have noted, the conversion from subscription to free to play usually brings about a happy time, a resurgence of interest, and the joy of populated servers… at least until that dies down and the whole thing descends into the usual in-your-face cash shop focused lockbox monetizaion hell that is the standard for MMO F2P games these days.  A mixed blessing indeed.

The question, of course, will be just how free is “free” really going to be.  Well, there is a FAQ posted, because there is always a FAQ somewhere with these things.  And Carbine does seem to be serious on the free thing, emphasizing it throughout the FAQ, summing up with this paragraph:

We place no restrictions on any of the game’s content. Every zone, every dungeon, every raid, every battleground… they’re all available. All players will be able to create characters of every race, class, and path while choosing any tradeskills they like. Characters can achieve level 50 and path level 30, just as they can under the current system.

The nudge to get people to subscribe… which is being called a Signature player or some such… is the usual set of perks and restrictions on various aspects of the games.  The list from the FAQ is available after the cut because it is a bit long to stick in the middle of the post.  Saved for posterity, because we know how these things can change.

So another bow to the inevitable in an MMO market crowded with competitors.  Moment noted.

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Days of Ragefire

Maybe not the best post title, but I figured I already had two literary allusions for titles so far this week, so why not run with the trend.

The Ragefire Voting Time Locked Progression Server, or whatever its full title is, carries on and remains more popular than expected.  There were problems from launch, but Daybreak has been working hard to accommodate all of those who want to play.  They have tweaked the zone instancing, they have put in code to log off players who go AFK for extended periods (the big problem last week), they have upped the capacity of the server so that Ragefire can now handle more players at once than the old progression servers, Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak, combined.  They even added a queue to the login page.

And still I couldn’t get on last weekend.

Okay, I admit, I did not try that much.  My daughter wanted to go to FanimeCon, which is just over in San Jose, so we spent most of our waking hours down at the convention center. (80+ street passes on my 3DS XL!)  But during those times when I was home and had some time to log on, I was left looking at the login page and wondering where I was in the queue.

Just keep waiting, just keep waiting...

Just keep waiting, just keep waiting…

It is great that they put in a login queue, but it is primitive enough that I immediately longer for something better… like a queue that told me how big the queue might actually be.  I will sit patiently if there are only a dozen people ahead of me, but if there are 900 I might just choose to go and do something else.  Even the ArcheAge queue, which would just say “more than an hour” beyond a certain point would at least tell you how many people were ahead of you. (Which led to at least one person telling me that the ArcheAge queues were not so bad because they never said anything beyond one hour, so the trick worked.)

Anyway, for all of the work Daybreak has done, the problem remains; the draw of nostalgia has gone far beyond what they expected.  The time has come for them to roll up a second server.

Lockjaw Defeated

Shit, get a priest over here, we need a res

And so at some point soon we will get the Lockjaw server, that being the second place name from the poll.  It will be otherwise the same as the Ragefire server.  If you want to play on Lockjaw you will have to start fresh.  There will be no transfers from Ragefire.

That works for me but, as noted, I haven’t been able to get on much, so I don’t have a lot invested in Ragefire yet.  Others who have more invested may be reluctant to swap.

Level 3 druid is easily replaced

Level 3 druid is easily replaced

And this will likely lead to another issue in the longer term.  Daybreak has been very reluctant to simply roll up another server to deal with the load.  That is because the history of EverQuest progression servers shows that the enthusiasm won’t last.

Some people will get their fill of nostalgia quickly enough.  A few days or a week or a month or two of playing in the original content will sate them and they will leave.  Others will hit the wall somewhere in the 30s when areas for exp groups start to thin out  and finding a free camp or a group that will take you starts to become a chore.  That will change when Ruins of Kunark goes live and opens up the world considerably, but that is six months and a successful vote down the road.

Eventually things will die down and we may end up with two sparsely populated progression servers, with one the poor relation in that regard, and there will be calls for a server merge that will never come. (Although there will inevitably be the person declaring that they like an empty server, because you can find support for any point of view if you look hard enough.)

Of course, Daybreak could help keep this from happening, or happening sooner than it should.  The starting point would be to not forget that they have these servers.  The last time around, with Fippy Darkpaw, SOE was great guns about the whole progression server idea until about two weeks after it launched… and then it never mentioned the whole thing publicly again.

Seriously, Daybreak should make a big deal out of the servers beyond launch.  If nothing else, the opening of expansions should be noteworthy, especially Ruins of Kunark with its new starter zones, new race, and all that.  Played right, each expansion could be a rallying point to get people to come to these servers, or return to them, as they progress.

But that is another one of those corporate culture things I bring up now and again.  An ingrained corporate culture can keep a company from doing what seems easy and obvious from the outside.  Blizzard will never roll up a WoW nostalgia server because their culture cannot fathom why people would want such a thing.  SOE’s corporate culture included a recurring habit of hyping something up, then totally failing to follow up and letting things go silent for ages.  Progression servers, The Agency, EverQuest Next, whatever, they make a big splash, then let things sit until the last ripple has faded.

So I suppose we will see if Daybreak is really a new company or just the old same old SOE with the same old habits we’ve come to know so well.

Addendum:

Daybreak has announced that they will be instancing some additional zones to accommodate the blob of players moving through the leveling curve.  The list right now is:

  • High Keep
  • The Liberated Citadel of Runnyeye
  • The Western Plains of Karana
  • The Northern Plains of Karana
  • The Southern Plains of Karana
  • Eastern Plains of Karana
  • The Gorge of King Xorbb
  • Blackburrow
  • The Lair of the Splitpaw
  • Kithicor Forest
  • The Lavastorm Mountains
  • Solusek’s Eye
  • Befallen
  • Najena
  • The Qeynos Aqueduct System
  • The Feerrott
  • Temple of Cazic-Thule
  • The Rathe Mountains
  • Lake Rathetear
  • The Lesser Faydark
  • Crushbone
  • The Castle of Mistmoore
  • The Estate of Unrest
  • The City of Guk
  • The Ruins of Old Guk
  • Dagnor’s Cauldron
  • Erud’s Crossing
  • Freeport Sewers
  • North Desert of Ro
  • South Desert of Ro
  • Highpass Hold
  • The Ocean of Tears

That is quite a list.  You can get pretty far into the original content on that list.  We’ll see how it plays out.

A Feast for Ravens

Down in Queirious, we seemed to be starting off weekend on the back foot.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the Reavers had been driven back to our one staging system by Darkness and their allies, our gains made during the Delve conquest retaken.

Foothold in Querious

Foothold in Querious

And as I logged in for the op the other night, things looked somewhat grim.  Darkness had our staging system SBU’d, our main POS was reinforced, and we were there to try and hold them off as the timer ticked down.

Timer on Education

Timer on Education Friday night

That we were not able to hold the region was no real surprise.  Reavers are not a large group.  Operations are often just 20-30 pilots flying away from where the enemy is to hit them where they are not, shooting their SBUs, dropping our own, reinforcing towers, dropping siphons, and generally being pests that fade away when confronted.

But we are in a time of transition.  Alliances and coalitions in null sec are shifting about, often hunkering down, in anticipation of the sovereignty changes coming this summer.  The Imperium is inwardly focused, setting up the Seven Regions to be defensible under the coming new reality.  As such, there isn’t a lot of combat ops going on, and there certainly isn’t any large deployment of campaign of conquest to take part in.

In this situation, the Reavers were still hanging out down south.  Our leader, Asher Elias, said that if we could get better numbers, we could start getting into fights with Darkness, as their numbers were not all that huge.  So a new round of Reavers recruiting went out, this time with the promise of doing something more that just shooting structures.  Even The Mittani was out pinging on Jabber about Reavers getting fights that were big enough to be interesting, but small enough to not bring on time dilation.

We also end up getting some support down south thanks to convenient wormholes allowing fleets from Deklein to pop in for an evening.  And so it was that even as we seemed to be on the brink, with our system vulnerable, we were able to take the fight to the enemy.  Basically, that first evening, we got numbers early and were able to go camp the undock of their station in I1Y-IU.

Reavers on the move

Reavers on the move

On their undock we were able to hold our own and convince them to give up after a couple of brief exchanges. (Battle report, which I got from today’s null sec update) I even got my recently reactivated alt out and into an Ishtar, where he got a few kills thanks to the ongoing magic of drone assist.  I assigned his drones to assist Asher, anchored him up, and then went back to flying Wilhelm in his Basilisk.  Suddenly my alt, who I had trained up for combat at one point, had some kills.

We were then able to head back to ED-L9T and rep out POS, shoot the hostile SBU, and then cover the dropping of our own to secure the system.

Fun times.  But Asher had a further treat in store for us.  He announced a new Reavers doctrine.  In addition to Ishtars and Vexors and Crucifiers, we would also be flying Ravens.

This was the fleet doctrine I had been waiting for.  I had all those Raven and cruise missile skills trained up way back in 2008.  Now I would get to use them.  I even had a couple of Raven hulls sitting around in Amarr space, left over from level 4 missions way back in the day, ready to be re-purposed.  I got the fit, loaded them up, and set out for our staging system Wilhelm and my alt each flying one.

Ravens arriving in ED-L9T

Ravens arriving in ED-L9T

And while demand for Ravens was high… contracts for them kept selling out almost immediately… our logistical team was able to keep importing them so that we were able to form up our first Raven fleet.  The operation was a moment of opportunity, as Darkness was away.  Pizza had baited them to another system some jumps away and then put up bubbles on every gate on the route back home, so Darkness was mired for some time.

This allowed us to SBU their staging system and reinforce their station, setting the shield timer.

That was great fun, but I think most of the time was spent being great big nerds and talking about our new toys.  Watching the smoke trails of missiles hitting the station or the simply unfamiliar shape of and old school battleship was the highlight of the evening.

Missile exhaust trails

Missile exhaust trails. That big white ship is a Nestor.

The only opposition we faced was a bomber pilot who tried to hit us a couple of times.  That let us try out the smart bombs we all had fit, as used correctly those can kill incoming bombs.

Smart bombs active

Smart bombs activated

We missed the first bomb, but intercepted the second one.  Unfortunately, we also managed to kill a couple of our own frigates that were standing in close to the battleships, which was hilarious at the time.

Once we set the shield timer, killed the repair and fitting services, and discovered that there was no infrastructure hub in the system to shoot, Asher sent the small ships off to the gate for home, then had the battleships align to the gate.  We were going to land 100km off the gate, at which point Asher told us to activate our micro jump drives. (Lore behind MJDs) This would lets us experience another aspect of the doctrine.  As we landed, we activated the drives.

MJDs lighting up

MJDs lighting up

However, as we landed, some ships started bumping each other, changing their alignment.  This cascaded until the moment the drives were about to engage.

All that jump energy distorting space

All that jump energy distorting space

Micro jump drives jump you through space in the direction you are pointed when they go off.  So rather than all of us jumping straight to the gate, we all went off in a variety of directions in something of a MJD star burst pattern.  About three of us actually landed on the gate.  My alt was one of those who hit the gate, primarily because his skill level was so low, so his activated later than most.  I realized he couldn’t use MJDs just as we were about to undock, so bought the skill and started training it as we headed out.  I don’t think he had the skill up to 2 by the time we did the test.

We collected ourselves back on the gate and jumped through, headed for home. op success, as we certainly had a good time.

Getting the Ravens into combat though, that is going to be a more difficult nut to crack.  Occasionally we run into people who just don’t know what to think of us, like this Imperial Navy Slicer that we locked up at about 80km range and who thought he would just burn away from us.  With my skills, I can lock out to 150km and my missiles keep going to 220km.  He wasn’t pointed or webbed and a few volleys of cruise missiles caught him before he could out range them.  Again, hilarious.

Our fight with a Darkness T3 fleet however did not go so well.  They came to hit us while we were reinforcing a tower they had set up in our staging system.  When they arrived there was a period of warping around trying to gain advantage, but in the end when we got into engagement range, we had trouble breaking their tanks while they were able to whittle down a couple of our ships with every clash, often because somebody was slow aligning and didn’t get out when the rest of our fleet warped.

We eventually reshipped to Ishtars, at which point I jumped into a Basilisk and joined the logi force trying to keep people alive.  Then there was a report of a Darkness triage carrier in the system and we swapped back to Ravens again to hit that, though I stuck in with the Basi as we seemed to need as much logi as we could get.

I had some problems in the logi role when it came to the Ravens though.  At one point the Ravens lit their MJDs to jump into range of the enemy, which sort of left the Basilisks hanging in space by themselves, well out of rep range.  We were told to light our microwarp drives and overheat them to catch up.

Here is where I ran into problems, where I always seem to run into to problems.  I don’t know if it is me or the UI, but I cannot seem to reliably turn off the overheat option.  I clicked on the UI element to overheat my mid-slots, boosting my speed considerably, and I got the glowy green outlines on the modules indicating they were overheating, and I saw them taking damage.  But then I couldn’t seem to turn off the overheat options.  I clicked on the UI element again, and it seemed to take.  But then the modules were all glowing green again.  So I clicked it again.  And again. And then, soon enough, all of my mid-slot modules were burned out and I was a slow, easy target, my hardeners having all gone with the MWD.

This is not the first time this has happened happened to me.

And I felt all the more stupid because Arrendis, the logi anchor, said on coms not 30 seconds before this happened, “Don’t burn out your prop mods!”  So when he was asking why I was lagging behind I had to say that I burned out my prop mod because I am just that bad at EVE Online.  Oh the ignominy!

So I fell out of range as I tried to keep up my part of the cap chain and rep people as I went.  I just go lucky nobody targeted me.  As I fell too far back, I dropped out of the cap chain and warped to the station for a quick repair, but by the time I was able to undock again the fight was over and we were headed back to the station.  The battle clearly did not go our way, with us losing about seven times as much shipping when measured in ISK, with us losing a little over 8 billion ISK to their 1.5 billion ISK loss. (battle report, also a write up over at TMC)

Of course, over 40% of our loss value was tied up in three stupid-expensive ships; Arrendis’ Nestor, christmascaveman’s Barghest, and WhiteHalo117’s Raven Navy Issue were the high value targets of the evening.  (And, thanks to smart bombs, I got on the Raven Navy Issue kill.)

Still, we clearly need to work on that.  But even with the loss people were still excited about Ravens.  After ages with Ishtars, flying an old school battleship and using missiles is new and different.

Some more screen shots from the weekend.

Fear of Flying

In one of those “note the date, something big was said” moments, Blizzard has announced… through a proxy at least, if not via an official press release… that they likely won’t allow flying mounts in Draenor… or maybe in any future expansion.  You can read about it over at Polygon, where the fateful words came as part of an interview.  I think this sums up the justification.

Having looked at how flying has played out in the old world in the last couple of expansions, we realized that while we were doing it out of this ingrained habit after we introduced flying in The Burning Crusade, it actually detracted from gameplay in a whole lot of ways

There is a bit of irony in that, seeing that Outland, an alternate timeline Draenor, was the first place to feature flying mounts, but Draenor will be denied them.  Flying mounts have been a thing in WoW since 2007.  But the interview goes into all the thing people tend to bring up as the downside of flying mounts.

Certainly, flying has been a contentious thing in WoW.  And Blizzard has no doubt been aware of the trade off that flying brings with it since The Burning Crusade.

Back then you only got to spend what seemed like a ton of gold on a skill and a flying mount… back when buying the mount was the expensive bit… when you hit the level cap.  At that point you got to fly and there was some content that required flying to access.

Then came Wrath of the Lich King, and there was much moaning because flying went away the moment you hit Northrend, at least until you got to level… 77? 78? not quite the level cap… at which point you could train Cold Weather Flying and move into some of the content that required a flying mount.  That was a hint at the problems to come, as once somebody has something, it is a hard task to take it away.

Cataclysm gave us flying from the first moment and pretty much proved to me that flying had its problems.  Aside from Vashj’ir, which was under water (though you could make the case that your under water mount was effectively a flying mount), you had access to your flying mounts in all of the new zones, which took much of the effort out of them.  There were a few points where you needed flying, but for the most part flying felt like a pass to flit past any opposition to get to a quest objective.  It basically sped up leveling, something I am not sure WoW really needed.

Blizzard pulled back from that with Mists of Pandaria, going back to the model of allowing flying mounts only at level cap.  There was even a bit of content that required a flying mount, though nothing like the level of content in Outland or Northrend.  But that led us back to the cycle of losing flying with the next expansion again, and Blizzard hemmed and hawed about flying in Warlords of Draenor.  There was a promise to look into flying, an assumption that we would get flying, but no concrete statement that it would be so.

And now we have the word… or perhaps it is just a trial balloon that Blizzard can deny was the official line if the rage grows too strong.

Personally, I get what is being said when it comes flying.  It does make the world feel smaller.  It does trivialize travel.  It does let players bypass all that annoying “content” to go straight their objective.  It does make an already too fast and too convenient game feel even faster and more convenient.  Exploration ceases to be a thing… there being little or no effort in exploring on a flying mount… and some types of adventures just don’t happen when you can fly.

It is just a shame that flying is so much damn fun.  Here is what I wrote back when I got my first flying mount in WoW.

Flying… it is good enough that it feels like cheating.

Yeah it does.  And I never get tired of it, especially when it comes to druid flight form.  I could easily spend an idle hour amusing myself with my druid just jumping off of tall buildings and then going into flight form as I fell.

Patience got me Flight

Druid just floating above the world…

Once you have a druid with flight form, even flying mounts feel a bit awkward.

I love when I can fly by the form hasn't drawn yet...

I love when I can fly and the flight form hasn’t drawn yet…

And, like any really good, empowering cheat, it is very tough to let go once you have used it once.  I never think, “Oh, I should just ride or walk, flying is too easy.”  I just fly.  It would take a serious effort of will to walk or ride when flying was available.

So I can see why people are upset at the even the suggestion that we might not get to swan about on flying mounts everywhere in Azeroth.  We’ve all had that bit of heroin in our veins by now, and it is a tough habit to break.

But I also can’t help but see something of a parallel between how a few people are responding to this and how some botters responded to their bans recently; petulance and declarations and speaking for the community as a whole along with threats to never give Blizzards another nickel.  The usual stuff.

I just can’t get all that worked up about it myself.  If I could press a button and turn on flying in Draenor, I probably would.  But I also have a bit of a fatalistic outlook when it comes to video games.  I try to look at things like this as obstacles to conquer as opposed to things that I should spend much time pouting/raging about.

And, coming of age with video games when I did, I also seem to give developers a lot of leeway in shaping their game to be played the way they want it to be played, as opposed to the way the players think it should be played.  That is one of the great philosophical questions of our age, the relative importance of developer vision versus player desire, and one that gets deftly avoided time and again when people, including myself, write about games.

That doesn’t mean I don’t bitch and moan about some decisions, or count the cost of a particular change… that’s great fun at times… or occasionally think I am smarter than the devs on a given issue, but you’ll note that I mostly focus on the games I keep playing anyway.  It is more a matter of my wanting to talk about games than any desire to impose my will.  Just last week I took the time to note that the harsh death penalty of TorilMUD was being relaxed.  I had suffered from that harsh penalty more than a few times in the past, but always considered it to be part of the game and altered my play style to accommodate it.  Now that has changed, and likely the game itself will change because of it… though given the low population of TorilMUD these days the range of the impact likely won’t be great.

Anyway, there is a mob howling about flying.  I won’t be upset if Blizzard holds to their current vision for flying mounts.  I think Blizzard has some legitimate points, ones that have been brought up time and again.  But if the heat is too much for Blizzard and they decide that putting the toothpaste back in the tube is beyond their means, I’ll be riding around in the air on my flying mount like everybody else.

Other bloggers looking at the whole flying mount thing:

 

Memorial Day 2015

For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal,
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation,
And a glory that shines upon her tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall  grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labor of the daytime;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known,
As the stars are known to the night.

As the stars will be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon, 1869-1943

TorilMUD and the End of the Harsh Death Penalty

I haven’t written much about TorilMUD of late.  My last recollection of the old days in my Leuthilspar Tales series was posted over a year ago.  In part this is because I cannot piece together much more in the way of coherent posts from memory… my most recent real play time in TorilMUD is now more than a decade in the rear view mirror… and in part because not much has been going on in the world of TorilMUD.

TorilMUD_logo

I peek in every so often using the web-based MUD client they offer on their site. (Rather unfortunately triggered by the ‘Log in’ button rather than the ‘Play Now’ button that needs a local telnet client.)  But news out of the game has been sparse.  A year has passed since their own last posted update.

But things have suddenly stirred.  There was a fresh post earlier this week gathering up some changes and updates that had gone into the game.  Nothing astounding there, but at least it was a heartbeat to prove that the game was still alive.

That, however, was just a warm up for the big news that hit today.  TorilMUD is changing how death and the death penalty works.

This is a monumental change.

As with so many aspects of EverQuest, TorilMUD’s death penalty was the prototype as to how things would work in Norrath.  And it was a harsh example to follow, with experience loss (a quarter of a level, and likely your current level to go with it if you weren’t far enough into it) just the opening salvo when you died.  Then you had to go back to your corpse because all of your equipment remained with your dead body.  That meant going back to where something that killed you lay in wait, only you had to go there naked.

In the three dimensional world of EverQuest this was multiplied by the difficulty one could encounter in just finding your corpse.  In TorilMUD you could at least scroll back and find a room name.  Out in a big zone like West Karana, you could be anywhere on that bad linoleum texture landscape.

Bandit Camp Gone Bad

Bandit Camp Gone Bad

SOE had to lighten up on the whole death penalty thing within a couple years as competition came along that offered an easier time with this sort of thing.  I remember a friend speaking glowingly about Dark Age of Camelot primarily because dying wasn’t such a game stopping, gut wrenching event.

But TorilMUD carried on as it was.  For as long as I have known about the game, and I started playing back in 1993, the death penalty has been about the same.  A couple of years back they removed level loss from the equation.  You would lose exp, and even go into exp debt for your level, but you wouldn’t lose a levels any more.  But that seemed to be the only concession that the team seemed willing to make when it came to that hard core aspect of the game.

And believe me, I know the pain of losing your corpse and all the hard earned equipment that might be on it, not to mention the complete horror showing of finding your corpse some place dangerous and dying repeatedly to rescue your gear.

So it comes as something of a shock that the TorilMUD team has decided to change their tune on the whole death experience.  The stated justification was put forth as:

The penalty for failure is so high that it’s terrifying to lead a zone or follow a new leader. After all, you may have spent years building your equipment. Do you really want to risk it on someone else’s leader training? Also, death comes so swiftly and suddenly on this MUD that every play experience is a potential hours long corpse retrieval. Not many people have time for that, and I’d rather they spend their time in the game having fun.

At a high level, the new system replaces equipment and experience loss with item damage and death fatigue penalties.

It is hard to argue with that.  And in a time when the population of the game is rather sparse, to the point that if a full group of 16 wipes you probably can’t find enough equipped people to come and save you, it probably makes a lot of sense.

The bullet points for the change are:

  • You will no longer lose experience on death. Ever.
  • When you die, you will be transported to a special holding room wearing all of your equipment.
  • From there, you can either wait for a resurrect or re-enter the game at your guildmaster via a portal.
  • Though you will have a corpse for resurrection purposes, your equipment stays with you at all times.
  • If you choose to enter the game via the portal your empty corpse will vanish. You can either get resurrected or enter the game yourself, but not both.
  • However you re-enter the game, you will have two penalties: equipment damage and death fatigue.
  • Resurrect will reduce these penalties significantly.
  • A new spell, raise dead, works similar to resurrect but doesn’t reduce the penalties very much. All Priest classes get it.

An end of another era.

I can understand why.  Even back in the day when you could count on there being more than 100 people online during most evenings and multiple 16-person groups would be out doing zones, people were still choosy about who they might follow.  That often helped assure failure, as a new group leader could not count on the best players and would end up with a second tier group that would be much more likely to wipe, thus reinforcing the perception that this new leader is not yet ready for prime time.

Now death’s sting will bite in a different way.  After more than 20 years TorilMUD has gone with the equipment damage and death fatigue option, both of which are staples of the MMORPGs that followed on after EverQuest.

More details on the change here.