Category Archives: EverQuest II

EverQuest II Unavailable at its Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday would have been the usual date when I write something about another EverQuest II anniversary, for it was on November 13th 2004 that I signed on to play for the first time.  Roll stock footage of the early days.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

Some years I make a big deal out of this.  Last year, at the fifteenth anniversary, I wrote a long tale of the game. This year I was just going to log in and write a little something about the passing of another year.  However, Daybreak is having an outage.  If your client isn’t up to date, and they have pushed new content since I last logged in, you are out of luck.

Sorry, no update for you

This apparently applies to all of their titles, EverQuest gives me the same error, and has been going on for a few days now.  This seems like a critical issue, but Daybreak has fallen back into their usual bad habit of being uncommunicative.  Feldon of EQ2 Wire fame has been keeping an eye on this:

Daybreak has since banned him from the forums for poking at this issue as it drags on.  The company line is that they are helpless to do anything until their CDN provider fixes the issue.

For me this isn’t a huge deal.  I only wanted to peek in on yet another anniversary and see what was up, look at my characters, and poke around a bit.  I’m already invested in WoW retail and WoW Classic along with EVE Online at the moment, so my bandwidth for another game is limited.  But, you never know.  Last year I didn’t plan to play and ended up subscribing and playing for a few months.

Of course, for Daybreak this should be a big deal.  They are in the midst of their ramp up to their latest expansion.  They want people coming back to the game.  The pre-orders are available, the pre-launch events are starting, people should be coming back to the game.

Except, of course, some people cannot currently.

So I’ll just note the anniversary without logging in.  I hope they get their act together soon… at least on the patching issue.  As an overall wish for the company that is probably too much to ask.

Related:

Addendum:  After I wrote this Daybreak made some progress on the issue, the PlanetSide 2 team being the only one to broadcast it, though I still could not get logged in  They let you bypass the launcher patching, but then it fails on the in-game patching service, so the game is still unplayable, at least for me.

Also dug up was the fact that Daybreak is still using the Sony domain for some of its services more than five years after they were split from the company.

EverQuest II Announces the Reign of Shadows Expansion

Where EverQuest goes, EverQuest II must surely follow.  We got a Producer’ Letter announcing the next EverQuest expansion two weeks back, now we get one announcing the next EverQuest II expansion, the Reign of Shadows.

Reign of Shadows

The 17th expansion for EverQuest II is going to take players to the dark side of Luclin, carrying on from last year’s Blood of Luclin expansion.

The lead in reads:

Emperor Ssraeshza and his unyielding throngs of insidious zealots and enslaved minions have laid claim to the ancient citadel of Vex Thal. The march of the nefarious snake-like shissar must end there, deep within the heart of the dark side of Luclin.

Face terrible challenges and forge great alliances in regions unseen by Norrathian eyes in centuries: Echo Caverns, Shadeweaver’s Thicket, Grimling Forest, Shar Vhal, and Vex Thal. Heroes will be made in the shadows!

The features list includes:

  • Play as a Vah Shir! THAT’S RIGHT OUR FIRST NEW PLAYER RACE IN 5 YEARS!
  • 20 Reign of Shadows Prestige Advancement Points and 10 new Reign of Shadows Prestige Abilities.
  • Maximum Guild Level increased to 350 with an all new content-driven guild leveling mechanism.
  • Discover new Adventure, Tradeskill, and Signature quests as you investigate what secrets lay concealed in the endless gloom.
  • Master all new Solo, Heroic, Challenge Heroic, and Raid content in the perpetual shade of Luclin’s dark side!

The new race is a big deal, as it brings the Vah Shir, the EverQuest feline race from Luclin, to the game.  The rest sounds a bit like the usual “new zones, new quests, new raids, new collections” sort of stuff that make up the bulk of any expansion.

However, they do mention an attempt to revamp the whole Alternate Advancement system.

Launching with Reign of Shadows, archetype and class Alternate Advancement abilities are getting a full revamp so that every point has an impact on how your character plays. These changes should not affect Kaladim in a significant way and we do not plan on having them affect future TLEs either. To see these changes before the launch of the expansion, please login to beta when it opens and check them out.

Alternate Advancement, which was an early way to channel experience into something besides levels with new expansions, have grown unwieldy over the years.  I think AAs came in with Kingdom of Sky and the company has piled more into them with every update since.  We shall see if they can come up with a better system.

In anticipation of the new expansion a “Gear up, Level up” event will kick off this Thursday, October 29th, to get people ready for the new content, while pre-orders and beta for Reign of Shadows are planned for November 10th.

Addendum:

Wide Screen

A very astute reader of the blog might have noticed that, recently, some of my screen shots included in posts were a bit… wider… than normal.  That last screen shot on my post about WoW Classic alts was different that the rest.

And some screen shots in the post about the battle at 46-U6U in EVE Online featured some screen shots like that as well.

This is because I recently was able to borrow a Dell U3415W monitor.  The “34” refers to it being 34″ diagonal in size.  It is a big monitor.  Perhaps the biggest one I have ever worked on, at least when it comes to screen resolution.

It displays at 3440 x 1440 resolution.  That is a lot of pixels to push.  My main monitor, a 24″ Dell U2412M was just 1920 x 1200 for comparison.

But the first thing was to find room for it on my desk.  The monitor is big enough that it is curved slightly, so that the whole screen stays in your peripheral vision.  I was able to squeeze it in there and still keep my little (1600 x 900) secondary monitor on the side, so I can play full screen and still be able to see IMs or pull up maps or quest info or whatever.

It fits there

The main problem is what to do with my Snowball microphone.  It used to sit off to the side of the old monitor, but cable reach and space constraints now mean it has to it somewhere in front of one of the monitors.  Unfortunately, it is just tall enough that it blocks something no matter where I put it.  So it moves around at need for the moment.

And once I had the monitor hooked up… well… let me tell you, your perceptions about desktop space and what windows need to be opened up full screen change.  It was kind of crazy, having that much room for stuff on the screen.  I wondered how I would get used to it… and then about an hour later I was.

You certainly don’t need to expand most things to take up the full screen.  Web sites, text documents, chat windows, they can all live in much smaller spaces.  Spreadsheets though!  Now there is some full screen magic.

But first I was on to games.

I wanted to know what games would actually support a 3440 x 1440 resolution.  What could I play full screen?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, World of Warcraft was totally fine with the big screen.  In perhaps a bit of a surprise though, WoW Classic is also good with that much real estate.

A Plaguelands panorama

The UI scales fine, nothing is awkwardly out of place, no bits are stretched, everything is anchored in what feels like just the right spot, and playing in a world that extends to the edge of your vision is actually pretty cool.  I got used to that very quickly.

EVE Online, my other much have, likewise seemed fine with a big screen, though the client has been somewhat resolution agnostic for a while.  It will size to whatever screen you want.  The UI does get pretty small and things you need to click on… and you need to click on many things in EVE Online… can seem pretty far apart until you move around some of the UI, but it works.  And the view can be breathtaking.

In the slow motion scrum of battle

Games that are screen size agnostic, games like RimWorld, had not problem with the bigger monitor.  You just get to see more real estate.  I was a bit surprised to find that Age of Empires II HD was good with the resolution.

An RTS panorama

The awkward bit is that the game anchors the mini-map and the build controls at the lower corners, which are way far apart and distant from whatever you are likely doing on the main screen at any given moment.  Not so bad if you have memorized the key controls.  But if you’re like me and need to click, the sheer distance will slow you down.

Other games worked with varying degrees of success.  EverQuest II seemed good with the screen size overall, save for the experience and control bar at the bottom of the screen, which only scales to about half that width.

I guess it anchors on the left size of the screen

However, the view of the landscape, in the newer zones at least, was very nice.

It’s older sibling, EverQuest, gamely tried to follow suit.  Launching the game, the windows seemed disinclined to stretch and just stayed their usual defaults.  Once in the game, things opened up as it tried to accommodate the wideness of the new reality.

Let’s get wide in Norrath

The UI ended up getting stretched across the screen as things tried to remain relatively spaced. The UI settings acknowledged the screen size, but the view into the world felt a bit stretched across the horizontal plane.

Likewise, Lord of the Rings Online started up fairly awkwardly. As it started up windows were stretched, controls were stretched, and the signs looks bad. But once in the game, things settled down. The UI had a few quirks… when you open up your bags they all have unnecessarily space between them… but otherwise looked good.

From middle to wide earth

I was at least covered on some of the older games I play. I haven’t dug through them all yet, and some are up front about not supporting anything wider that 2560 x 1440. Diablo III falls in that category, not that I have played it recently.

Probably the only downside I’ve seen so far is Minecraft. It runs just fine and scales up to the right size without issue. And when looking out on the world it is quite a sight. But the moment I turn left or right, the way it handles motion blur at the edges of the screen starts to give me a bit of motion sickness. (I get the head ache sort, not the nausea sort.) That might be something I could get used to, but it was unpleasant so I stopped playing around with it pretty quickly.

And then, of course, there is my video card. When I built my current system about two years back, I went with an EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB video card. That was a decent choice as it appears to be just about able to handle the big screen when running some of these games. When I used the GeForce Experience to optimize my graphic settings for the new monitor, it did turn down the detail on some titles. Even with WoW Classic, which I had been running max settings on, needed a couple of settings dialed back a bit.

Of course, I immediately started looking into new video cards, but the timing is bad. Not only is there the whole “kid in college” level of expenses to deal with at the moment, but nVidia just announced a new lineup, but the older cards haven’t seen a price break yet. Maybe by Christmas time there will be a decent upgrade at a good price.

That assumes I’ll get to hang on to the monitor for a while, though it might be one of those things where once you have had this much screen space you can never go back.

[This post was written in WordPress.com’s new “block editor,” about which I will complain at a later date. It is not only awkward to use, but makes the post look different from other posts if you look closely. WP.com deployed the block editor while I was writing this, and I thought I was trapped with it, but I have since figured out how to continue to use the “classic” editor going forward.]

April in Review

The Site

April is usually a big month for page views.  The Blizzard April Fools post usually gives me a boost in search engine traffic for a day or two.

Googly eyes at the hero select screen in Overwatch was the big item

August generally sees a boost in page views as well due to Blaugust.  So turning that into Blapril ought to have been a double whammy.

The Blapril commeth

And I suppose I did get a boost from the both.  Traffic was up noticeably from March, this month being the most active for page views since last September when WoW Classic traffic was driving people here.  But it was down from last April, which was down from the April before, and so on.  My peak page view date is April 1, 2013, and it has been a slow decline ever since.  Even the pandemic and stay at home orders can’t make blogs popular again.  But I persist.  If I wrote for page views I wouldn’t write how I do currently.  Sometimes it is better to quietly write what you want than to write to seek attention.

One Year Ago

April Fools, once a grand tradition at Blizzard, was pretty sparse.

Google Plus went away.

The Minecraft Village & Pillage update landed.

CCP loudly announced the removal and banning of CSM13 member Brisc Rubal.  And then in what I described as the “nightmare scenario,” CCP hedged, promising to investigate further.  And then they exonerated Brisc and restored him apologizing for all the trouble. A disastrous example of “measure once, cut twice” by CCP.  And Brisc didn’t get his reputation back.  I still see people who think he must have been guilty and somehow worked a deal or threatened to sue in order to get CCP to back down.

CCP also announced the CSM14 election timeline.  Brisc opted to stay away from that.  And the April update brought capital nerfs, especially for the Rorqual.  Hilmar was starting on something about player retention.  And CCP unveiled the Katia Sai monument in Saisio.

Actually out in space myself in EVE Online, I was flying with Liberty Squad as we visited The Spire for a fight over a Sotiyo as well as busting some other structures and setting some timers.  There was also an op from Delve to Lonetrek and another Reavers Race.

NantWorks handed H1Z1… or Z1 Battle Royaleback to Daybreak, having failed to make a go of the challenge of reviving the game.

I reviewed a bit of the coverage the EverQuest 20th anniversary got.  There was also some changes to the Selo progression server, which reflected on what players wanted versus what Daybreak was offering.

I was also playing World of Warcraft, binging on pet battles and catching some new pets.  We got some news about the approaching update, which would unlock flying in Battle for Azeroth.  That promoted me to get the first part of the pathfinder achievement done.  I also got my first alt to level 120, though he hadn’t even been to Zandalar or Kul’Tiras.  Pet battles will do ya.

And I came up with a guide to criticizing games you do not like.

Five Years Ago

As ever, it was April Fools at Blizzard and elsewhere.

Elsewhere, EA was still selling lots of Sims titles, but were cutting online games like Need for Speed: World.

In what I thought must be an April Fools joke, Daybreak said they were not going to do any more expansions for EverQuest II.  Instead it was going to be DLC like the Rum Cellar.  A rum idea if ever there was one.  Likewise, though EverQuest was getting a new progression server, it seemed like it was the end of the road for expansions in old Norrath.  Also, that logo, totally not stolen.

Of course, why would you even need an official progression server, since Daybreak declared Project 1999 totally legit.

And speaking of rum ideas from Daybreak, they were also pushing people off of their forums and on to Reddit.  How were they going to lock threads and delete posts there?

CCP was talking about ship skins in EVE Online, in hopes of finally finding the right formula for the Mosaic expansion.

In New Eden the war was still going in Delve, including a big fight at ZXB-VC, while the Reavers were doing their work in Querious.  Not only that, but we were also decked out in our spiffy new jackets… well, some of us were.  I was trying to be in both fronts of the war. The Reavers front was the place to be though.

The Imperium was declared, with Max Singularity VI as our spiritual leader.  Also, Karma Fleet was launched and Xenuria got in and was a Goon for like ten minutes!  How crazy was that?   I’m sure that will never happen again.  Right? [Narrator: Xenuria has been in KarmaFleet since August of 2015.]

Blizzard’s WoW Token idea went live, and the US regional version immediately dropped below the opening price.  It recovered and went up eventually, but it took a while.  They also had a beta for the StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void expansion for which I was not prepared.

The instance group was doing Auchindoun and Skyreach in Draenor… after which we were fresh out of dungeons until we all hit 100.  After that I was leveling up some characters and complaining about little things in WoW.

Meanwhile, the war of the rings in Lord of the Rings Online was dragging out into its eighth year.  Is this Mordor or Afghanistan?

While we’re there, Guild Wars turned ten.

And there was this Liebster thing, which feels like it happened a lot further back than it did.

Ten Years Ago

Video games as art?  Did we flay Roger Ebert enough over that?

Turbine was purchased by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.  No word on a Harry Potter MMO as yet, though we did get LEGO Harry Potter.

Crimson Leaf Games brought out their rework of Megawars III / Stellar Emperor.  1986 style online game play at a much cheaper price.

SOE announced a new subscription plan for EQII, the EQII Passport.  Framed by at least one person as “1/3 the price for 1/10 the access” it surely must have been the right plan for somebody.

And speaking of paying for games, I wondered where Facebook credits were headed.  They seemed like a bad deal for games relative to paying companies like Zynga directly.  Despite speculation that they would be the ONLY currency allowed on Facebook, that has still not to come to pass.

And while talking about Facebook games, I couldn’t bring myself to play Mafia Wars, so I secured a deposition about the game from a friend.

In EVE Online somebody was trying to blackmail Gaff’s corp.  This was an out of game threat though.

Blizzard introduced the Celestial Steed (aka the sparkle pony or the greed steed) to the Blizzard Store.  Blog reactions were mixed, but the queue to buy the mount on day one got 140,000 transactions deep.  That is a lot of horsies, which meant they were everywhere in the game pretty soon.  The Lil’ XT companion pet that was introduced at the same time also made its own mark on the world… until Blizzard toned it down.

The instance group was in WoW still, playing horde characters on the Lightninghoof RP-PvP server.  We we working on Dire Maul, attempting a successful tribute run after having run around Blackrock Depths.

Since the instance group was getting close to finishing up the classic WoW dungeon and wondering if we should press through the Burning Crusade content (as short as it passes), we started exploring other games as possible alternatives.  This lead us to try out Runes of Magic for a bit.

There was April Fool’s.  I had a contest while Blizzard went over the top, as used to be the case.

And, finally, the cruelest 2010 April Fool’s tease, the iPad arcade stand.  On the bright side, while it started as a tease, it ended up becoming a real thing.

Fifteen Years Ago

Guild Wars: Prophecies launched, with ArenaNet going with a “buy the box, play for free” business model for its new MMO, though they wouldn’t call it one at the time.

Twenty Years Ago

The first expansion for EverQuest, The Ruins of Kunark, launches.  We got ten more levels, new races, and a new continent to explore.

Nintendo sold its 100 millionth GameBoy/GameBoy Color.  That total eventually passes 118 million units sold, only tapering off with the arrival of the GameBoy Advance a year later.

Sony announced that the PlayStation 2, which launched the month before, was so sophisticated that the Ministry of Trade would place export controls on it as it could be used for military applications.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2020 is Centered on Overwatch
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. The Hunt Goes Live in New Eden with New Implants
  4. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  7. I Fly a Titan At Last
  8. CCP Launches a Surgical Strike on New Eden
  9. WoW Tokens Five Years Later
  10. CCP Quietly Starts a New Login Campaign in EVE Online
  11. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  12. My Actual First Computer vs My First Real Computer

Search Terms of the Month

“world of warcraft” “subscriptions” “2020”
[“sorry” “just” “MAUs” “now”]

is dragonvale dead
[It is dead to me]

sto game sexiest female uniforms in the game
[It is Star Trek]

eve online apparel account wide
[No. In fact, it has to be in your current station to use.\

Game Time from ManicTime

I played, or at least logged into, more games in April than in March, with the time break down looking like this:

  1. WoW Classic – 38.49%
  2. EVE Online – 25.29%
  3. World of Warcraft – 12.57%
  4. RimWorld – 8.91%
  5. EverQuest – 7.45%
  6. Pokemon Sword – 4.89%
  7. EverQuest II – 1.98%
  8. LOTRO – 0.42%

WoW Classic remained the top choice, though not by the long margin it was last month.  I go into the reasons below, but overall I spent less time playing games in April than I did in March as well, which I mentioned in a post earlier this week about motivation.

EVE Online

I did get out and on a few ops at the start of the month, though even the tempo of ops has slackened with the changes that CCP applied mid-month.  Super carriers being more vulnerable means that they don’t undock, so there are fewer to save and/or blow up.

EverQuest

I am not really “playing” EverQuest in anything like the traditional sense.  I have been messing around with the Overseer feature instead.  It does, as some have noted, seem to have more in common with a phone game than an MMORPG, but they gave it just enough depth and progression to keep me logging in every day.

EverQuest II

I am really not playing this, not even the version of the Overseer they have.  Darkpaw updated the feature, actually giving it a bit of progression.  But it still lacks what depth the EverQuest version has, seeming to be more of a magic prize machine rather than a game.  Oh well.  I also used my level 110 trade and adventure boosts on a new character, and then haven’t played them.  But they are geared up.

Lord of the Rings Online

I patched this up and logged in for a short bit.. I was certainly in for a lot less time than the patch process took.  The patcher hs never been a strong suit of the game.  I was primarily interested in purchasing the Minas Morgul expansion with my LOTRO points, SSG having said it would be available in the online store come March.  Here it is, the day before May and it is not yet available.

Pokemon Go

I hit level 39 at last just a couple of days ago.  That sounds like I am almost 98% through the leveling game, but since the gap between 39 and 40 is five million points, or 25% of the total points to level cap, I suppose I am only 75% of the way there.

Level: 39 (2% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 531 (+5) caught, 560 (+4) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Servine

Pokemon Sword

I did play a bit of this, though not as much as I intended.  As a game on the Switch Lite, it is something I can play away from my desk, where I now spend all day for work.  However, I need a kind of quiet place to focus.  I used to go play on the couch when nobody else was home, but we rarely achieve the state of “nobody else home” these days.  Still, I made it through the sixth gym.

RimWorld

I thought I was going to play a lot more of this in April.  It is, in its way, a pretty good game to play while you listen to an audio book or a podcast or whatever, and I am pro multitasking in that way.  And I did play some.  Just not as much as I thought.  Part of that was just not feeling like playing anything, but the fact that RimWorld suffers from the classic mid-game problem added to my lack of play time as well.

World of Warcraft

I did actually play some retail WoW this past month.  As I posted, I unlocked flight in Battle for Azeroth.  And with flying now available on all my alts as well as the 100% xp boost that will be available until the Shadowlands expansion hits, I have been tempted to play more.  I did work on a Horde alt some, but I am not really invested yet.

WoW Classic

As with most of the past six months, WoW Classic continues to top the play time chart.  But it also has the biggest month over month drop in time played.  It has a double whammy in that not only to I sort of have to stoke myself up to log in and play, I also have to figure out what I want to do as my prime alts, who are all in the around level 40 trough where quests ramp up faster than you do.  It wasn’t so bad with my hunter, as it is easy to just grind mobs with him, especially if I can skin them as well.  But my pally… he is sitting at 40 and I now remember why my pally back in vanilla seemed stuck at 40 forever.  The instance group is carrying on, but on the whole we’re not logged in nearly as much.

Coming Up

Another month.  Isn’t that enough?  So tired.

Well, there is the Blapril roundup for sure.  One last time to link out to everybody.  If history is any guide, the title of that post will be The Labors of Blapril.

There are some EverQuest bits and pieces coming up.  I’ll probably get to that tomorrow.  I also want to write something further about the Overseer feature.

There are updates and such for EVE Online expected as well.  Maybe that rather dry login campaign will wrap up and be replaced with something a bit more engaging.

In World of Warcraft Classic it seems likely that the instance group will enter Zul’Farrak.  It is also possible that I will hit level 50 with at least one character next month as well.  Maybe I’ll even figure out where to go with my level 40 paladin.

I am still tempted by the double xp in retail WoW now that I have unlocked flying.  I could maybe get my blood elf paladin to level 120 without much effort beyond seeing the story on that side of the game.

What else is coming up… Mother’s Day and Memorial Day in the US…the Activision-Blizzard Q1 earnings call… and probably a few other things I am forgetting.  Oh, another month of stay at home here as they have apparently have been under counting cases where I live.  Apparently in suburbia we just die at home and don’t tell anybody.

March in Review

The Site

What a month.  There was nothing much of note new on the site, but gaming life and blogging time and all of that was subject to some changes as the COVID-19 pandemic confined so many of us to home.  Fortunately my job is doable from home, but being there at my desk all day long does suck some of the joy out of gaming or writing.  If I’ve already been in my chair for nine or ten hours, there isn’t a lot of joy in staying there for a few more to play a game or write.

At least I can go sit on the couch and play Pokemon Sword.

My new Switch Lite

Good thing I got that for my birthday early in the month, as they are sold out now.  I have not yet succumbed to the mounting pressure to get Animal Crossing: New Horizon though.  My daughter loves it, but she isn’t sure it is a game I would like.

Otherwise it has largely been a constant series of, “Wait, did that happen this month? It seems so long ago now.” moments as the world falls further into whatever it is that we have going on now.

One Year Ago

I dug up my old Macintosh PowerBook 190cs, which I didn’t even remember I still had, and thought about writing about some of the games still on it.  However, I was unable to get it onto the network, so screen shots were difficult to obtain and I ended up running out of steam on the whole thing for the time being.

Activision Blizzard was hedging a bit on what effect their layoff of 8% of the company might produce.

Perfect World Entertainment officially killed of the Foundry in both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, ending their player made content experiment.

Steam decided that they really did need to curate games on their site, a decision pushed by their inept handling of Rape Day.  The Epic Game Store, always eager to capitalize on Valve’s foibles, declared that there would be no porn in their store.

Gamigo killed off the Rift Prime retro server due to lack of popularity.  It remains my opinion that the Storm Legion expansion killed the game the first time around, so having it do it again was no surprise.

A data center move brought down and kept offline Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online for longer than expected.

Over at Massively OP they were talking about “niche MMORPGs,” a term as ill-defined as most in the gaming world.  Honestly, one could argue that MMORPGs are a niche genre.

Over at GoG.com we got a version of the original Diablo, and while it felt primitive it was still very playable and pretty damn good.

Niantic finally allowed players to change teams in Pokemon Go, allowing me to swap from Team Mystic to Team Instinct.

I was giving Path of Exile a shot again with their Synthesis update.

On the LOTRO Legendary servers the Mines of Moria expansion opened up.  That sent me off to Eregion in search of legendary weapons and such.

In EVE Online the March update brought new restrictions to Alpha clones.  They could no longer run level 4 or 5 missions.  People could buy skill books straight from their character sheet… for a bit of a markup.  CCP was also tinkering with null sec anomalies.  They were worried about too much ISK in the economy.  Skill Points though?  They were just handing those out.

There was a video of Burn Jita 6 in full 4K.

CCP Guard announced he was leaving CCP after 16 years of service.

In New Eden there were two notable ship losses, the first Komodo titan to die and a rare Gold Magnate.  I also got a ship blown up as part of my Myrmidon Experiment, though that was a much less expensive loss.

There was also the EVE Ather Wars tech demo, which went well enough, even if it did not get as many players in space as the company had hoped for.

But Katia Sai was being celebrated for visiting every system in New Eden.

I was pondering the proposed level squish for World of Warcraft.  My guess was that Blizzard would be too risk-averse to do it, but I was proven wrong later in the year at BlizzCon.  Blizz also revived Wintergrasp, the huge battleground from Wrath of the Lich King, which was fun to visit again.

Runes of Magic turned ten and I reflected on its place in the tale of the genre.

But the big news was EverQuest turning 20 years old.  I reflected on its history and celebrated its anniversary.  I covered what the team had to say, which included some good news as well as a bit of hubris.

And I was still doing my own play through of some EverQuest content.  I got a mercenary for my cleric, traveled to distant zones via dangerous paths, and even hit level 50.  It was a lot easier to get there than it was back in the day.  It was quite the tourist excursion!

Five Years Ago

I hit level 50 yet again.

The Elder Scrolls Online dropped the subscription business model.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign was still running.  I was wondering if they had a mid-game plan.  They really didn’t, but the campaign still brought in $1.7 million, double what was asked.

EA closed down Maxis as an entity within its organization.  It is what EA does best.

It was a Turbine roast as an insider spilled the beans on problems that have plagued the developer of Lord of the Rings Online.

Rift hit its four year anniversary, but it felt like it had been around for longer than that.

I was wondering what a progression server would look like with EverQuest II.  But it was Sweet 16 for EverQuest, which was getting a new progression server for its birthday it seemed.

Blizzard announced that they were going to go ahead with their PLEX-like idea, the WoW Token.  The instance group was in the Iron Docks and farting around in garrisons.

CCP was talking about the next stage of the proposed sovereignty changes for EVE Online.  There was the Scylla release, which was overshadowed by Fanfest.  Also, the members of CSMX were announced.

In New Eden I attempted to fly an Ibis from Immensea to Deklein.  Then there was a rumor of war as the usual suspects attacked our sovereignty in Fountain.  That called for a big old move op which, in post-Phoebe New Eden, meant caps taking gates.  Then there was that system our foes took.  And once they were evicted from Fountain, it was time for a punitive expedition to Delve.

And The Mittani declared that the power blocs of New Eden would never die.  We shall see.

My daughter and I tried out Diablo III on the PlayStation 3.

I put together a review of my Kickstarter history… I should do that again.

Finally, it seemed as though some of the MMO news sites were paying attention to bloggers again… at least briefly.

Ten Years Ago

With the March 2010 month in review I was able to announce that the site had passed the one million page view mark.  A minor milestone.

FarmVille.  We all tried it as research for Shut Up We’re Talking #60.  We didn’t inhale.

ran through GDC and had dinner.

I was waxing nostalgic for some flavor of Rome.

EA was saying very stupid things about how many subscribers Star Wars: The Old Republic would need.  It is never too early to set the bar for failure.  Also they were threatening to taint 38 Studios.

I was also wondering about greater challenges in MMOs.  Must all paths be equally easy?

I held an April Fools contest, which got a few entries.

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver launched and, after some delay,  I was picking that initial Pokemon.

I was still invested in Star Trek Online… I was trying…. well, they were giving us lifetime subscribers some perks.

In EVE Online I hit 50 million skill points.  I also had my first Tengu.

World of Tanks was staring to announce some of their progression trees, starting with the Russian and American sets.  Those have changed a lot since then.

The instance group was beginning to embrace the Dungeon Finder.  However, after Mauradon we found we still had to do a chunk of external legwork to prepare for our Sunken Temple run.  I also got a chopper along the way, on my birthday no less.

And, finally, that whole Derek Smart/Alganon thing was just kicking off.

Fifteen Years Ago

Monolith, backed by Sega and Warner Brothers, launches The Matrix Online in the US.  It hits Europe a month later. The title is soon taken over by Sony Online Entertainment, which runs it until its closure in 2009.

The Bloodline Chronicles adventure pack is released for EverQuest II.  It is free for Station Access subscribers.  Among other things it gives the game destructible walls.

Twenty Years Ago

Sony launched the PlayStation 2. Available initially only in Japan, it had ten launch titles.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Overseer Feature, Progression Servers, and Free Heroic Characters Coming for EverQuest Anniversary
  4. The State of Voice in 2020 with a Poll
  5. The March Update Brings Market and Moon Changes to EVE Online
  6. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  7. The Windstalker Leaves Norrath
  8. The Passion of the Overseer
  9. Visiting the Katia Sae Monument
  10. An Uldaman of Vague Memories
  11. Blizzard in the Badlands
  12. Seeking the Hydrocane

Search Terms of the Month

camelot unchained massive refund requests after terrible announcment
[Somebody knows what they’re looking for]

online rpg apple iie
[That is going to be a bit or a stretch. A MUD maybe?]

does concord intervene during killing spree in eve online
[All normal CONCORD rules apply]

null sec infrastructure to spawn mining belts
[infrastructure hub]

what plane in war thunder has the most bombs
[Going to guess it is the B-29]

wilma flintstone memes
[I don’t even]

Game Time from ManicTime

Time tracking shows I spent most of my play time with WoW Classic.

WoW Classic – 64.13%
RimWorld – 13.25%
Pokemon Sword – 10.93%
EverQuest – 5.10%
EVE Online – 4.32%
EverQuest II – 1.92%
World of Warcraft – 0.34%

You would think I would be further along, but I always find time to potter about.  Also, Pokemon Sword isn’t tracked by ManicTime, being on the Switch and all, but the save page in the game gives you an elapsed time played report with each save, so I can include it in the mix.

EVE Online

While I did not spend that much time in New Eden in March, the time I did spend was fairly active.  There was a move op north to Venal, followed by some fights, and then a move op home.  Structures were shot, ships exploded.

EverQuest

With the 21st anniversary going on I decided to poke my nose in while my all access subscription was still running.  I used the heroic upgrade on my cleric from last year’s anniversary, which promptly made his spells an unfathomable mess.  But I did end up playing with the new Overseer feature.  While it has a mobile game air to it, the EQ version has more depth than the EQII one does, so I do keep logging into play it.

EverQuest II

I fear my momentum has faded in EQII.  After grabbing the expansion last year and driving a few characters up to the level cap, both for adventure and crafting, I sort of lost interest and wandered off.  I did a bit of the Overseer thing, but it isn’t all that compelling.

Pokemon Go

My drive to the level cap slowed down somewhat.  The friend rewards, which are worth 100,000 points when you hit the highest level, drove me the last couple of months.  However, daily gifts have tapered off as people hole up at home and can’t get out to Pokestops.

Level: 38 (83% of the way to level 39)
Pokedex status: 526 (+14) caught, 556 (+11) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Dewatt

Pokemon Sword

As noted previously, I got Nintendo Switch Lite and a copy of Pokemon Sword for my birthday, which was about a week before we all had to go into hiding, so that is some timing.  I am three gym leaders in so far and it is shaping up to be a pretty solid entry in the genre.  The villainous team is a little more buffoonish than normal, but we’ll see how that plays out.  I just have to get myself setup to pull screen shots from the game so I can post about it.

RimWorld

RimWorld got the Royalty expansion, which adds a new dynamic to the game.  I have that out and played through some.  But even if you do not get the expansion, the launch of it also brought a bit update patch for the base game that includes a lot of nice improvements.

World of Warcraft

As usual, my time spent in retail WoW was mostly around Darkmoon Faire, though I did log in to grab a map of Gnomeregan for a post, and found that I had forgotten that they had nerfed some of the outside area as well.

WoW Classic

A lot of time spent playing WoW Classic.  I was grinding for a mount and working on some alts, but the big effort was around UIdaman where, after three weeks, we took down Archaedas.  Now comes the time to prep for Zul’Farrak.

Coming Up

It is Blapril, so expect some blogging reflective posts and as much linking out to other participants as I can manage.

It is also April Fools tomorrow, though given the current state of the political scene in the US, I am not sure anybody will notice.  Much of the last couple of months has involved public figures saying things that should have ended with “April Fools!” but somehow did not… more so than usual.

EVE Fanfest should have been kicking off soon, but that was cancelled in what seemed like forever ago, though it was just a month back.  Still, it has been reported that CCP will have some news and a new trailer for us.

And it seems like a fine time for video games, especially online games.  But April promises to be as relentless with bad news as March was, so the end of the month will probably feel like another year has gone past.

The Windstalker Leaves Norrath

If it is Friday afternoon it must be time for a news bomb from Daybreak.

It follows you as you move about the room!

This time it is the departure of Holly “Windstalker” Longdale from the company.  Yes, I suppose it should be Darkpaw Games, but it isn’t like Daybreak doesn’t still pull all the strings here.

Darkpaw Gamed for Norrath

Holly Longdale has been running the combined Norrath division of Daybreak since EverQuest and EverQuest II were rolled up into a single team.  That was back when Smed was still promising us that EverQuest Next would be fine because it had the largest development team at Daybreak. (Some fun comments on that post.)

EverQuest Next was cancelled and then Landmark was shut down, but the Norrath team carried on.  And, despite something of a rocky start in the Daybreak era… all that talk about doing little campaigns as opposed to expansions… a plan reversed in half a year… things seemed to go pretty well for the Norrath team.  They managed an expansion and a big update for both EverQuest and EverQuest II each year since.  And while everything hasn’t gone perfectly, for the last five or so years it has felt like the company has cared more about the franchise than during the final five years of the SOE era.

And, thanks to the team finally embracing the nostalgia and special server idea, it was reported last year, during the EverQuest 20th anniversary, that the player base had been growing since low ebb in 2015.

At the helm for that whole time was Holly Longdale, Executive Producer in charge of the EverQuest franchise.  And while you can’t credit her for everything that went right, a good boss makes good things possible, while a bad boss can make even good things turn to shit.  So she gets some credit for the improved state of the games.  I was very much on #TeamHolly over the last few years.

Which is why the Friday night post over on the EverQuest and EverQuest II sites announcing her departure made me sigh and wonder what was going to happen next.  The text from both posts:

Greetings Norrathians,

It is time to bid ye all a heartfelt fond farewell.

I will be taking my leave from Darkpaw Games for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I owe to all the players and developers of EverQuest and EverQuest II.

From my first experience at EverQuest’s launch as a dark elf wizard trying to leave Neriak for two hours, to joining the EverQuest and EverQuest II teams, my life has been a thrill and a blessing. For more than a decade, I’ve felt honored and thankful to have been a part of the lives of so many players and our amazing family of developers.

I’ve seen these games grow and evolve for so many years. I took part in the first-ever instanced content and forging new ground with Lost Dungeons of Norrath. I had the honor of working with Brad “Aradune” McQuaid, John Smedley, and a great number of talented people.

Both games have grown through the rise of nostalgia with progression servers in ways we didn’t expect. Above all, our community is ever-present, guiding and informing us, and helping us make better choices.

Our success as a franchise is built upon the love of those who live in Norrath. I can’t thank every one of you enough for being part of this magical life. I will miss you, but I won’t be far away!

My passion and love for EverQuest and EverQuest II is unending. Even though I am leaving Darkpaw Games as a producer for now, I will remain part of the community as a player.

Our intrepid Franchise Technical Director and EQ veteran Jennifer Chan will take hold of the reigns with gusto and head up the studio. She has been my leadership partner for over 5 years and excels at keeping us on track, improving our technology, and making sure everything gets done as smoothly as possible.

I promise you that the game and teams are in more-than-capable hands.

Rest assured, Norrath will continue to grow and prosper as I hope you all will.

Much love to one and all, forever. And, as always, I’ll see you in game,

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale

People move on.  New opportunities arise.  Things change.  It sounds like she is leaving for something she wants to do.  But whether she left or was pushed, the inevitable question is, “What happens next?”

Jennifer Chan will be taking over.  All I know about her is that she has some technical chops, with a BS in Computer Science, and has been a technical director for SOE, then Daybreak, since early 2014.  There is a Shack News interview with her that puts a little more info out there (side note: She mentions that they work closely with the LOTRO and DDO teams, so who owns Standing Stone?  Also, the interviewer was the author of Stay Awhile and Listen.)  But that isn’t a lot.

My sense from that is that she might be more technical than “vision,” but maybe that is what the franchise could use.

So we will have to wait and see what this really means.  Back in January there was some hope that the splitting of Daybreak into sub-studios would mean good things for the EverQuest franchise, secure on its own as Darkpaw Games.  But the fickle finger of fate will have its way.

Related Posts:

The Passion of the Overseer

The Overseer feature came into EverQuest II as part of the Blood of Luclin expansion back in November and I have been trying to pin down its raison d’etre ever since.

Snakes. Moon snakes.

My introduction to the Overseer feature involved the typical SOE/Daybreak muddled experience.  I had purchased the  collector’s edition of the expansion, which entitled me to three special Overseer agents.

The agents are available through the /claim interface, where EverQuest II keeps all the special goodies you have been awarded over the years… bonus expansion content and veteran rewards and the like… and fifteen years down the road with the game I have quite a bit of junk hanging out in that interface.

Account age as I started writing this

They used to give bonus age to your account for buying expansion, which meant they had to be a year ahead on veteran rewards, back when they were still doing those.  Veteran rewards died out at year twelve.

Anyway, I went to the /claim interface and went to the Blood of Luclin tab, because where else would I go, and saw my bonus agents.

Here they are…

They come in a box, which you unpack into three boxes, which you unpack in their turn.  Each of the three boxes lets you choose one agent.

Who to pick?

There isn’t a lot of guidance as to whom to pick.  Two of the packs contain agents with a single trait, while the third has agents with two traits.  The traits are things like “agile” or “noble” or “lucky,” but there isn’t any real guidance as to how those might work.  The agents have little descriptions as well, but those are meaningless as well.

So I picked one from each pack.  They end up in your inventory where you can right click on them to add them to your collection.  After that I went to the Overseer window from the main menu and… couldn’t figure out what to do.  I had three agents and no missions and nothing seemed to be going on.

As it turns out, in order to get started you need to pick up the starter pack which is in the Promotions tab of the /claim interface.

Start here

That gives you a starter agent and a starter mission.  When you add those to your collection then open up the Overseer interface, if gives you a quick tutorial mission, then sends you on your way.  At that point things worked.

I have, on a few occasions, compare this to the mission interface in the garrisons of the Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft.  This is very unfair… to WoW.

Love them or hate them, the missions and minions in Warlords of Draenor were a big deal, a very deep system, and fully integrated into the expansion.

You could have dozens of minions, but had pick a select set for your active group.  Minions had to be leveled up, and then geared up, which made them more effective on missions.  Minions could also be used in your various garrison buildings.  Some minions could even be drafted to come adventure with you out in the game.  Even getting them was a “gotta catch em all!” game.  Some you could recruit, others came from quests, and more still from dungeons and raids.

And the missions… there were many missions, and picking the right minions was critical to mission success.  Mission availability ebbed and flowed.  Some missions lasted from couple of hours to a couple of days.  And eventually you even unlocked naval missions.  It was crazy complex, such that somebody built a huge addon (Masterplan) just to help you keep track of what was going on without needing to keep a spreadsheet.

If you want a metaphor, garrison missions were to the Warlords of Draenor expansion as the plumbing is to your house.  You could still live in your house without it, but you really get used to having it and come to depend on it… which was one of the problems of that expansion.

Even the pared down version of missions and minions that came with Legion and Battle for Azeroth were still heavily connected with the game and the story.  They were integral to those expansions.

When we speak of the Overseer feature and EverQuest II, the metaphor is probably different.  It is more like somebody attached a tube and a funnel to the side of your outhouse.  It is a nice little addition and adds a bit of convince, but it is a cheap, nailed on feature, and if fell off you’d just go back to going into the outhouse to take a piss.  You might miss it, but it didn’t change the basic functionality of things.  It isn’t an integrated part of the outhouse system, such that it is.

Okay, the outhouse metaphor probably sounds worse than I intended, but the point remains; Overseer is its own system pretty much independent of the game.  As I saw suggested elsewhere, it could have been a mobile app and maintained the same functionality.

While the Overseer functionality has gone through some functional gyrations since launch, it has remained mostly the same basic premise.  You open up the interface and you see your agents and your missions.

Welcome to the Overseer

You have a list of your agents on the left, with icons to indicate their special traits.  Most agents do not have traits.  To the right, in the main part of the UI, is a list of missions at the top, with details of the highlighted mission below.  Missions have a “Mishap Chance,” which is a failure, or 5% or 10%, which means the success rate is 90-95%.  That can be mitigated by a percent or two by assigning your familiar to the mission.

There is also a bonus chance, which stands at 5% by default, but which can be improved by assigning agents that have traits that match the mission, and further by assigning your mercenary to go along on the mission.

A mission with the odds changed

Neither your mercenary nor your familiar actually “go” anywhere.  They are still with you, so there you might as well click on the plus sign above the chance options and add them to a mission every day.

Missions vary in duration, running from one to three hours so far as I have seen.  The only exception is a rescue mission.  If you hit the mishap roll, you then have an opportunity to go rescue your agent.  Those missions run six hours or so and offer some special rewards if you hit the bonus, so maybe you don’t want to put your familiar in the mix just to get some more mishaps.

Missions themselves reference places in the game, like the Fool’s Gold Tavern, which I rob daily, but otherwise have no depth to them.

You are limited to 10 missions a day.  A real world 24 day, not a game day.  That 10 mission limit is account wide, so you’ll probably end up concentrating on one character to run missions.  There won’t be any need to log in all of your alts daily, which was one of the Warlords of Draenor grinds.

The mission list, which was per character for a while, are now account wide.  For a long stretch missions would come and go and I rarely had more than six on my list.  With the account wide change, I now have more than 10 missions to choose from on any given day.

Agents, however, are per character.  So, once again, you will probably want to concentrate on a single character to run missions.  I found that I could trade my special collector’s edition characters through the shared bank boxes, so some of my alts handed over better quality agents to my main mission runner.

The rewards vary.  You can get crafting materials, both common and rare, advanced crafting recipe books (which are so common that the market for those books has crashed), gear, collectables, and additional agents and missions.  The gear you get is better than basic crafted, worse than master crafted, and not always better than gear you might pick up on quests.  None of it was better than gear I got on the signature quest line.  But since you can salvage or sell the gear on the market, or just vendor it, it won’t go to waste.

I think the collectables are my favorite reward, though I say that now that my bank is overflowing with advanced crafting recipe books.

Overall, not a bad little feature.  I log on to play with it a couple times a week.  My crafters now all have their advanced skill books in hand.  But, as I noted, not exactly connected to the game in any meaningful way that I have noticed.  More of a mini-game with some rewards.

So I was a bit surprised to see the Overseer described as a “passion project” in the EverQuest producer’s letter I mentioned last week.  It isn’t bad, but it isn’t something that would keep me subscribed to the game either.  It is a little too simple and a little too limited to be a big deal to me.

But apparently it is a big enough deal that it will be coming to EverQuest this month as part of the game’s 21st anniversary.  I will still be subscribed at that point, my current three month cycle being good into April, so I will no doubt give it a try there.  I might even find it more useful in old Norrath than new, but we shall see.

Bhagpuss has been posting about the Overseer feature for a while now, and his takes are more complete, so visit his posts for a better look at it.

February in Review

The Site

With Firefox and (finally) Chrome trying to make the web safer, both browsers are now less tolerant of potential security risks, flagging sites as containing questionable content much more aggressively.  And The Flag Counter widget, which I have been running for almost a decade in my side bar, apparently started causing the site to be reported as a risk at some point in the last month or so.

The thing with the flags and numbers

After some tinkering and manually updating one embedded URL to be HTTPS things seemed to be kosher again and various browsers stopped declaring the site a danger.

Thanks to MagiWasTake of the Indiecator blog for pointing out that recent browser updates were causing the blog to be flagged as unsafe.  It should be all good now.  But if it isn’t, let me know.  I’d rather just remove Flag Counter than have an “unsafe site” warning pop up when people land here.

One Year Ago

Epic Games had announced their digital storefront the previous December, but we were finally getting a deeper look at their strategy for taking on Steam.  One word: Exclusives.  (Some of which were already up for sale on Steam, then withdrawn, making as many people angry as happy.)

Over at Activision-Blizzard they announced record annual revenues for 2018, then laid off 8% of their staff.  I suppose, in hindsight, they predicted 2019 correctly.

Daybreak gave us some details about their planned special rules EverQuest II PvP server.  On the same front, the plans for the EverQuest anniversary servers sounded a bit muddled.  They gave us a revised plan for all servers before the month was out.

Meanwhile, the PlanetSide Arena launch, pushed back to March, was pushed out again, this time until “summer,” with a planned simultaneous Playstation 4 launch given as a reason.

I also wondered what EverQuest III should even look like, were it a possibility.  I doubt that it is, but it is fun to speculate.

All of that aside, with the approach of the EverQuest 20th anniversary I started logging in to play a bit with a fresh character.  I started on Vox, a standard rules server, with an eye on the tutorial.  I ran through the revolt in Glooming Deep.

On the LOTRO Legendary server I was wrapping up in Eriador.  It was time to start considering Moria.

I was also rolling back into WoW and Battle for Azeroth for a bit.  It was a change up from LOTRO.

On the EVE Online front it was announced there would be no alliance tournament for 2019.  The February update brought us some fixes and the Guardians Gala event.  CCP was also talking about letting people buy skills straight from the character sheet.  There was also talk of a new launcher coming.

I wrote something about the time zones of New Eden, it being a world spanning, 24 hour game.

Burn Jita was back again, kicking off with explosions as usual.

I wrote a bit about the city of Waterdeep, the heart of TorilMUD.

Twitch offered me a free trial in Final Fantasy XIV, but I couldn’t get it to work.

I was on about there being no good expansions again.

And there was word of a smaller Switch, the end of the Wii Shop Channel, eports was stomping its feet and demanding to be taken seriously, and the Olympics rejecting esports all wrapped up in a Friday bullet points post.

Five Years Ago

Sony Online Entertainment ceased to be, having been sold off to Columbus Nova and rebranded as Daybreak Games Company.  The launch was not auspicious to my mind, with Columbus Nova issuing a questionable press release while the new company shed many old hands.  Still, classic Norrath seemed to be safe.  New progression servers for EverQuest were announced fairly quickly thereafter.

H1Z1 was out in early access (or “recently launched” according to Colubus Nova) and having some issues.  Polygon took my own point of view in stating that if a company is out there taking money for a game then they felt entitled to review it as it stood.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign launched and the game quickly hit its initial goal.  Meanwhile, I was wondering how Nebula Online, another project with a Kickstarter, was going to make any money.

Massively and WoW Insider were recreating themselves as Massively OP and Blizzard Watch.

I was still playing WoW , which still had 10 million subscribers, while looking towards the 6.1 patch was due.  I was doing pet battles and looking at my addons.

I was also still flailing about a bit with Elite: Dangerous.

Star Wars: The Old Republic seemed headed back to that vaunted fourth pillar.

The Tiamat expansion hit EVE Online, unleashing the Svipul menace.  CCP was bribing people to vote in the CSMX election. And for the monthly blog banter walking in stations came up again.  I was also figuring out how to change my space clothes and Reavers were making a difference.

The now defunct BattleClinic had just finished their site overhaul, allowing players to mine more data out of their kill mails.

Then there was Juche.

And, finally, a farewell to Leonard Nimoy.

Ten Years Ago

We learned SynCaine’s dirty secret.

I was invited to go play in the beta for the web based Crown of Byzantus.  It didn’t really stick with me, though I wrote about it a couple of times.

There was another press release or some such for a Wheel of Time MMO.  My call then: It isn’t going to happen.  And it still hasn’t happened.  And it isn’t going to happen.

Ten Ton Hammer made a list of their Top Ten PvP MMOs, and there was some chagrin that Ultima Online didn’t make the cut.

For reasons I cannot recall, Conner at MMO Fallout started looking into how MMO companies ranked over at the Better Business Bureau.

There was an announcement for a new game… World of Tanks!

In World of Warcraft, the instance group did Scarlet Monastery, Uldaman, and got as far as Zul’Farrak in our horde adventures, though we were still forgetting we could use the Dungeon Finder.  Otherwise we were running around doing holiday events and the like.  Also, I finally fished that last coin out of the fountain in Dalaran.

Oh, the Dungeon Finder.  My first runs with that were… not so good.  I seemed to run into some cliche bad groups.

Meanwhile, WoW decided to emulate WebKinz and start selling stuffed animals that had codes for in-game versions.  My daughter wanted that Windrider Cub real bad.

Hi-Rez Studios launched Global Agenda.  The game went down during a server move in 2018 and was later reported as dead for good.

Over in EverQuest II the Sentinal’s Fate expansion launched.  The sixth expansion for the game, it raised the level cap from 80 to 90.  I remember almost nothing specific about this expansion

The Azeroth Advisor went buh-bye.  Thanks for killing it 38 Studios!  I saved all the email tips they sent me, however they were all pretty much worthless post-Cataclysm.  Also, they were full of live links that no longer work.  Ah well.

Finally, there was Star Trek Online.  The head start ended, The game went full-live, I was fiddling with my super special pre-order collector’s edition junk, and I gave out some codes in a caption contest.  There was even some new content.  But by month’s end, STO faded for me.  Worst gaming purchase of the decade for me.

Fifteen Years Ago

The Dragons of Norrath expansion launched for EverQuest.

Twenty Years Ago

The Sims launched, becoming a staple of video games sales lists for well over a decade and one of the best selling video game franchises of all time.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. The Camelot Unchained Refund Stonewalling Begins
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  4. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  5. Honest Game Trailers Hits Warcraft III Reforged Hard
  6. A Good Fourth Quarter for Blizzard… When Compared to the Rest of 2019
  7. Radical Rock Reductions in New Eden
  8. EVE Online Gets Wormhole Fun, New Implants, and More
  9. Scarlet Monastery Cathedral
  10. Camelot Unchained Refund Received
  11. Raids versus Fleet Ops
  12. I Burst to the Top of the Chart

Search Terms of the Month

will there ever be another everquest
[reply hazy, ask again later]

is it easy to learn everquest if boost to 85
[Oh, heavens no!]

karmafleet which race
[They are down with whatever you are]

i did a search on the internet for somewhere with a warm sea, not cold. with is a none words
[And yet somehow you arrived here]

Spam Comment of the Month

Anything cam have an innuendo with food and/or sex if you try hard enough…

Again, think outside the trapezoid

Game Time from ManicTime

The measure this month shows that I tapered off quite a bit when it came to EverQuest II.  That was both because I ran out of steam on my desire to get more characters to the level cap… four is pretty much three more than I have ever had… and because things picked up in both WoW Classic and EVE Online.

  • WoW Classic – 69.29%
  • EVE Online – 22.07%
  • EverQuest II – 8.36%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.28%

Those percentages do not reflect the raw data reality, in which I spent less than half as much time on video games in February when compared to January.  I was away from home for a week and I didn’t have as much free time when I was home.

EVE Online

A new SIG and a new deployment gave me something to do in New Eden.  I was out in Venal with the GEF.  The DDoS attacks early in the month made playing problematic at times, but CCP got past that eventually and even gave us some skill points for our trouble.

EverQuest II

I have tinkered with some alts, but the drive to level up has faded somewhat.  I had considered seeing what it would take to roll a fresh character from level one to the cap, but upon reflection I guess it would take more than I had in me.  Still, I was surprised to find I still had a free character slot and now I have a level 20 necromancer hanging out somewhere.

Pokemon Go

I have been moving along pretty well in the quest for level 40.  This has been largely due to exchanging gifts with buddies in the game, which yields 100K points when you hit maximum friendship.  I have also had some fun with the new Battle League.  I want to keep going with that at least until I unlock the Pikachu wrestler outfit.

Level: 38 (61% of the way to level 39)
Pokedex status: 512 (+17) caught, 545 (+20) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Dewatt

World of Warcraft

As I have written almost every month since summer, I pretty much only log into retail WoW for Darkmoon Faire.

WoW Classic

Back to the instance group and my alts in the land of vanilla.  I am still happy with the experience.  The combo of simplicity, difficulty, and lost memories around so many corners will keep me going for a while still.

Coming Up

Another busy month in RL for me… though with the Coronavirus running about maybe everything will get cancelled and I will just stay home and play video games.

The instance group will carry on in WoW Classic.  Once we get past Razorfen Downs it will be time to ramp up for Uldaman and then Zul’Farrak.

Out in New Eden we will have to see if the GEF deployment will continue.  There are probably fights to be had and structures to be shot still, but target of the war, Darkness, has disbanded.  Oops.  And then there all the new things that CCP has in store for us.

As mentioned earlier this week, EverQuest is coming up on its 21st anniversary.  I’m not sure it will be as big of a deal as 20, but we shall see.

Finally, RimWorld has an expansion and a new update patch.  After a couple of revisions it looks like it has settled down so it might be time to break that out again.

One thing that won’t be happening next month is GDC up in San Francisco, which has been postponed until late summer due to Coronavirus.

Into the Kronosphere

Being back to playing EverQuest II at the level cap in the latest expansion put me at something of a disadvantage financially.  A lot of my characters are pretty old, with the oldest dating back to the launch of the game in 2004, with another generation that was rolled up as part of the EverQuest II Extended experiment in 2011.

But like most MMOs, and their MUD predecessors, EQII has been subject to quite a bit of inflation over the years.  SOE, then Daybreak, has tried to keep that under control  In the deign of the game they opened the gap between coins, so 1 silver was worth 100 copper rather than 10, while back at launch mobs didn’t even drop coin in an effort to keep the money supply tight.

But all plans like that fall through when faced with the players.  Exploits, dupes, and holes in the system were found, the money supply ballooned a few times, and the price of everything went up.

So in the game with even my nine year old characters I was feeling a bit of a pinch trying to by things from other players off of the broker.  Those characters felt pretty set back in the day with 100p in their pocket, now stuff things I was looking at were selling for hundreds or thousands of plat, with some items in the auction channel going for hundreds of thousands of plat.

It is a different economy.

The one thing I could do was sell though.  Some things, like collectables, were selling for dozens to hundreds of plat on the broker at times, so I forswore filling out my own collections, opting to sell them to raise plat.  And I did pretty well with that.  When there is a lot of coinage in the economy it is easy to get some of it to stick to you if you focus on selling.

Coins gained so far

That meant day to day expenses were well and truly covered.  The cost of mending your armor is still stuck in 2004, and even your mercenary only runs a bit over a plat every 30 minutes up to level 110.  (For whatever reason your mercenary is free after that.)

But when I went looking for Adept level skills for characters, those were running 10K and up, and if there is a legitimate complaint about EQII, it is that characters have way too many skills.  I couldn’t cover skill upgrades on one character, much less across a few with my selling efforts.

I was able to supplement that some with the loyalty points cash option.  The loyalty point broker will sell you a bag of 500p for 5 points.

At the Loyalty seller in Qeynos Harbor

That is good for topping up some alts, making sure anybody I drag out has enough coins to deal with the day to day costs of the game.  But all my points would only buy about 60K plat, so I was doing better selling at the broker.

So I muddled along with apprentice skills until over the holidays Daybreak had a sale on Krono.

Krono came into the game back in 2012 and is like EVE Online PLEX and WoW Tokens, a way to buy game time for in-game currency from players who need that in-game currency.

All About Krono from back in 2012

I bought two and, looking at the market, listed them for 5 million plat each.  Well, once I got them to the broker I listed them.  You have to drag them from your character sheet to the broker, and somewhere in that transition they disappeared.  But I opened a ticket and Daybreak fixed that pretty quickly.

Anyway, I listed them and they sold fairly quickly, which probably means I listed them too cheaply, but whatever.  I was now in possession of 10 million plat.

And that changes everything… or some things.

I doled out a million plat to a few characters and suddenly prices on the broker didn’t seem so bad.  I wasn’t splurging on things… there are a lot of items I could use that run above 250K plat, a price range that would noticeably drain my largess.  But cheaper items on the broker took less thought.

And I started keeping shinies I picked up, adding them to my collections rather than diligently listing them all on the market.  The whole thing really reduced my desire to sell and took the edge off the financial aspect of the game.

But I wonder if that is a good thing.

My observation over the years has been that people who get a lot of in-game currency easily, be it via RMT (illicit or officially sanctioned) or from friends or just good luck, tend to tire more quickly of the MMO in question than somebody dedicated to the financial grind.

Raids versus Fleet Ops

Massively OP ran a Daily Grind post last week about raiding.  Those are sort of their regular “questions for the audience” posts.  The question was whether people avoided raids in the MMO and why.  It seemed like a setup for some back and forth between those who enjoy raiding and those who fail to find pleasure in it.

I chimed in with a short comment about how I have never felt as lost an ineffectual in an MMORPG as when I have been on raids.

My raiding experience is long in the past, with a lot in TorilMUD then some in EverQuest and EverQuest II many years back, along with a bit of LFR in World of Warcraft.  Even that last bit, which is pretty much raid tourism as opposed to actually raiding, just reinforced how I ended up feeling in raids as time moved along.

Garrosh Awaits… back during Pandaria

None of my reasons for avoiding raiding stray very far from the usual list of gripes, from time to guild drama to time commitments to return on effort to just not having fun.

A raid group from back in EQII

I much prefer my MMORPG content in a smaller group.  Dungeon runs with 3-6 people, people I know, is the right path for me.  Not playing with strangers does mean that I do not end up knowing a lot of people in game, and the strangers I do end up meeting tend to be the very aggressive and demanding sorts who give interacting with people in MMORPGs a bad name.

None of which ought to be a surprise to any long time reader here.

Which, as usual, leaves EVE Online as the odd man out as, to put this in the format used on Twitter:

  • Me: I don’t like large group content!
  • Also me: 250 person fleet op? Count me in!

It is true.  While I am reluctant to join in large group activities in most MMORPGs, it seems to be what I do most in EVE Online.

And some operations include multiple 250 person fleets

And it isn’t like there isn’t solo and small group content in EVE Online.  A five person gate camp is very much a thing as are small group roams and a wide variety of other options.  And solo PvP is very much an primary occupation for some.  New Eden offers opportunities for groups of all sizes.

So why the big groups for me?

I think it has to do something with a sense of purpose.  There is very much a correlation between the number of people that are called for to fill out an operation and the certainty of its purpose.  You can get 20 people easy to go camp a gate for a bit or for a roam.  On deployments an FC can get 40-60 people on a quiet with the idea of going to shoot a structure in hopes of getting the defenders to form for a fight.

But when you start pinging early and often for a fleet and want 250 people, or maybe multiple fleets of 250 people, the intentions tend to be pretty concrete.  We’re going to blow something up, like a Keepstar or a Sotiyo or an opposing group has an operation planned and we’re going to drop in and shoot them.  Some specific content is on the menu and, while it doesn’t always come to pass, the agenda is generally short and clear.

Nobody calls for a huge fleet then says they want to go on a roam and see what turns up.  Well, not if they want to keep a fleet that size under their command.

There is also room for a range of skill levels in big fleets.  When you have a small group camping a gate everybody needs to be somewhat competent.  But in a 250 person fleet there is enough slack to cover those still learning.

The line members of the fleet, flying the DPS ships of the doctrine being used, are often derided as being “F1 monkeys,” but you have to start somewhere.  But some people are perfectly fine in that role.  I tend to favor flying in the logi wing, which is more demanding, but sometimes I too like to just shoot things.  It can be fun to just let the FC take you someplace and tell you what to shoot as you watch the pretty battle.  (And all the more so with the 64-bit client where you can leave your graphics turned up so the battle is actually pretty.)

You don’t have to be the main line DPS person.  A fleet has plenty of other roles for the experienced and novice alike.  It can be fun to just fly a target painting Vigil, getting on kill mails while sailing around the fleet at high speed.  And, at the other end, your average FC is busier than any raid leader.  You can find the level of effort/responsibility/skill that works for you.

And then there is scheduling.  In a big coalition fleets run all around the clock.  I don’t have to dedicate specific nights of the week to fleet ops.  In fact, I can be quite haphazard about my fleet participation.  If I sit down at my computer and have some free time, I’ll take the next fleet that pops up on Jabber.

I will set aside time for specific objectives.  If there is a Keepstar kill coming I’ll block that time off to make it.

So in this, as in so many things, EVE Online is an outlier, the game that doesn’t quite fit the roles of the genre.

Of course, fleet ops are PvP, so that changes things as well.  There is something more akin to raiding in New Eden.  They are called incursions, and I have tried that as well.  While they can be lucrative, it is not nearly as much fun as the chaos of live enemies.