Category Archives: EverQuest II

The Race to a Mount on Trakanon

While WoW Legion is clearly in my future, there is still some time to get there, and with my Daybreak All Access still active for a bit I thought I would look into that whole mount thing on the new Race to Trakanon server they put up last week.  All I had to do was get to level 10, right?

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

Just 10 levels, how hard could it be?

I have never been that big on mounts in EverQuest II for some reason.  I have 150+ mounts in WoW… I know this because I got the achievement for hitting 150 a few mounts back… but in EQII I might have… maybe six… maybe ten on the outside… different mounts spread across all of my characters.

It isn’t that there aren’t plenty of mounts in EQII, it is more a matter of them being pretty damn ugly.  There are a lot of really ugly mounts in the game.

Ice Wolf on Ice

There is something not right with that ice wolf

And when they aren’t just plain ugly, they are generally just horrible things I wouldn’t be caught dead riding.

The setup to a "frog in a blender" joke

Rage inducing mount…

There is just something about the aesthetics and design of mounts in EQII that rubs me the wrong way.  I actively collect mounts in almost every MMORPG.  I have a fair number in LOTRO and a bunch sitting around in Rift should I ever return, but in EQII I stick to the most plain, most horse-like looking horse I can find and generally go no further.

Speed - We Haz It!

Plain mounts for me and my friends

But this Race to Trakanon mount didn’t look too bad in the pictures and, better still, once you earned it you would get it for all of your characters.  That is another thing I am a bit mixed on with mounts.  I have grown used to having access to all my mounts account-wide in WoW (aside from certain exceptions) so earning/buying a mount for only a single character feels a bit off for me.

So off I went.

The first thing I had to do was delete a character, as I was out of character slots.  That wasn’t too hard, as I had rolled up a bunch of characters for the Stormhold server.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to play on the server, but if you made a character in the first couple of weeks you got a free bag, and bag space is always a thing on new characters, so I rolled up every potential character I might play just to get the bags.  I still had some level 2, never really played options, so deleting them wasn’t a big deal.

Slots freed, it was time to make a new character.

It has been a while since I created a new character in EQII and they now have a big, shiny server type selection option. highlighting the various flavors on offer.  My target was the event server.

Free players... keep left

Free players… keep left

From there, I had to figure out what would suit me best in my goal to just get to level 10.

I went with a human berserker.  Human, because why not… no size issues, no oddness in looks… and berserker because that is just my go-to class for EQII.  They wear plate armor and hit things hard until they die.  All very simple.

As it so happened, the human they handed me looked vaguely like Boris Johnson, or maybe his son, so I didn’t change any of the appearance options, I just chose the name “Boris” and ran with it.  I chose the Qeynos side of the world and off I went to the Isle of Refuge, where I played for about 20 minutes, then logged off.

This turned out to be a wise move, at least when viewed through the prism of my achieving the simple goal of getting to level 10.  I didn’t come back until the next day, after which I had accrued enough rest experience to last through to my goal.  That meant I would level up twice as fast as I would have had I just tried to plow through after character creation.

I did the run through the Isle of Refuge, though the current version of it seems a bit… off.  I see things or mobs and I wonder where some old quest or another has gone off to since the old days.  I might have missed a quest starter drop or two along the way, or my memory might simply be faulty.  It has been a long time since the Frostfang Sea replace the Isle of Refuge.

Running through that got me to level 7, at which point I spoke to the captain of the ship that brought me there and was teleported off to the Frostfang Sea to continue along my way.

I probably should have just opted for that earlier if efficiency was my goal.  I think the Frostfang Sea starter area is better organized and moves you along more quickly for the most part, though it does have more than its share running back and forth for each new quest.

I crossed over the water on the raft to the first quest hub on the mainland.

A little more ramshackle than the old raft

Roll stock footage of Frostfang Sea raft

I ran through the quests there and moved along to the second quest hub where, only a few quests in, I hit the magic moment a level 10 was mine.

Level 10 yet again

Level 10 yet again

That gave me the reward I was looking for.

Here is your mount!

Here is your mount!

The Sunbrite Clothwork Pegasus was mine.  I just had to figure out how to get it.

Usually items that show up like that as a reward drop into your inventory.  I looked there, but did not see it.  So I thought perhaps it might already appear in my mount options, but it wasn’t there either.  In thinking about it for a moment, I decided that, in order to be available to all characters, including those made down the road, the mount probably had to be accessible via the /claim option, and sure enough there it was.

Pegasus found, I was able to claim it for Boris who was able to join the other level 10+ characters in the zone riding around on their new mount.

Boris on the new mount

Boris on the new mount

For me, this might be one of the better looking “goofy” mounts that Daybreak has added to the game.  As I said above, there is a lot of ugly going on there in my opinion.  I rode it around for a bit, spreading its wings for a glide now and again.

New mount, wings spread

New mount, wings spread

I am not sure it will replace the plain horse for an every day mount, though I say that as somebody who, after playing the game off and on since launch, still doesn’t have a character high enough level to use a flying mount yet.  For ground travel it seems a bit much.  Maybe some day I will actually fly and have a use for a mount with wings.

Anyway, I have it around should that day come, and it wasn’t all that hard to obtain.  Others have been after it as well:

Of course, now there is the WoW 7.0 patch to focus on, plus the big space move that is coming up, so this could be my last moment in Norrath for a while.

The Race to Trakanon and Quarm Event Servers

Daybreak is carrying on with its special server bonanza for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

Earlier this week the Race to Trakanon, the first “event server” for the company, went up for EverQuest II, and if you’re just reading about it here… well… you’re late!

Event servers are limited time servers that are setup for a special purpose, and the purpose of the Race to Trakanon server is just that, a race.  Focused in the Rise of Kunark expansion time frame, it is a race to level up, get achievements, and otherwise be the server first for whatever.

It is a race

It is a race

By creating a new character on the server and competing, you can earn rewards that can be claimed by characters on other, more permanent servers.  There are more details here, while Feldon of EQ2 Wire has set up an Event Leaderboard over at his EQ2 U site. (Addendum: There is also a FAQ with more info in the forums.)

Even if you are not keen to race to level 80 or other such achievements, if you create a character on the server and get to level 10 before July 26, 2016, you will get a special mount that you can claim on every character on your account.

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

So there is that.  Telwyn seems to be on board.  For a mount on all my characters, I might just bang out a level 10 character while my account All Access remains active.  There is the catch, of course.  As with all Daybreak special servers, you must be an All Access member in order to play.  No Freeps allowed.

The server will shut down, and characters created will be migrated off to live servers, once the event is completed, with the run time being set at a minimum of three months.

Over on the EverQuest side of the house, there is a new event server as well, the Quarm server, which went up this week as well.  On the Quarm server you will start a new character at level 51 and pursue achievements and help defeat Overlord Mata Muram.  Details, such that there are, available here. (The FAQ in the forums has further info.)

Will they get a Quarm

Will they get a Quarm

As with the Race to Trakanon server, the Quarm server will be temporary and characters will be migrated off when the event closes.  There is also a prize if you roll a character on the server before July 27, 2016.

Another potion...

Another potion… I wanted a mount

You do not even have to level up a character… since you start at level 51 in any case.

and, of course, it is open to All Access customers only.

This is not the first event server on the EverQuest side of things.  In addition the the various generations of progression servers, there was the Mayong 51/50 server back in 2009 after the first pair of progression servers.  That was shut down by the end of 2010, along with the two bleed over servers it spawned.

Given that EverQuest progression servers tend to become races for raiding guilds in any case, I wonder how well this one will work out.

Meanwhile, since I am on the topic of Daybreak special servers, I want to note in passing that back on the Stormhold Time Locked Expansion Server, the vote to unlock the Rise of Kunark expansion has failed for the second time, with only 46% of those voting casting ballots in favor of the expansion.  There is probably a Brexit joke to be made about that, but I am not going to make the attempt.

June in Review

The Site

In the land of WordPress.com, another new feature/annoyance was introduced this month.  There is a little alerts icon at the top right of the browser window when you are logged into WordPress.  It announces when somebody leaves a comment or follows the blog or when your page view stats see a spike.  Generally I see the latter only with my other blog, where more than 30 page views in a single hour is cause for mention.

But WordPress.com added a new notification in June.  This one pops up to tell me that a scheduled post has, in fact, been posted as scheduled.

O'rly...

O’rly?

The problem for me is that every single post that goes up here is scheduled in advance.  While that is only one or two notifications a day, they aren’t something I really need.  I already have a notification scheme in place that doesn’t require me to be sitting in front of a browser and logged into the blog.  Additionally, the notification uses the “somebody left a comment” icon, so inevitably I go to the blog, see that icon, wonder who left a comment, and am rewarded with a reminder I didn’t need.  Not the worst affliction in history, but I am still looking for a way to turn that off. (Actually, they finally changed the icon to something unique, but I’m still annoyed.)

Meanwhile I am getting a little tired of seeing this in my side bar.

FeedDown

My MMO blog feed seems to be down quite often of late.  At first I thought it must be related directly to my Rube Goldberg implementation.  But I have a second feed, for Gaming Company news, down at the bottom of the side bar, that uses the same process, and it is never down.

But that feed gets relatively few new items in it on a daily basis.  The main feed potentially  draws from more than 200 feeds a day.  And given the times it appears to be down most frequently… which tends to correspond with times when most bloggers in my feed seem to post… makes me wonder if it is struggling to keep itself up to date, or just won’t display when an update is pending.  Anyway, I may pare down the list of blogs it draws from to just a few to see if that changes the reliability.  I’d like to have lots of blogs able to appear, but I would also like the list to appear a bit more regularly as well.

One Year Ago

There was a cheer for the NBI class of 2015.

I was wondering what Turbine would do after they cancelled Infinite Crisis.  I was also looking for a summer game to play.

After waffling before a live audience, Blizzard finally caved and said there would be flying in Draenor.

Remember that time we killed a Mordus Angels Revenant?  It seems like everybody has killed one by now.

Also in EVE Online we got the Carnyx expansion, which had some of the initial Fozzie Sov features.  So we were out sov-wanding station services, though Dominion sov quirks still ruled the day in our fight at ED-9LT.  We then headed back north thinking maybe our friends in Querious would come visit us some day… *cough*

The coming of Fozzie Sov also meant further consolidation of holdings to make sure we could defend our space.  TNT got pushed out to Tribute to share space with the Circle of Two.  We saw how well that worked out.

And then there was Burn Amarr.  I took some screen shots.  And I splurged on ship skins.

Over at Daybreak they were talking about special servers for EverQuest II at last.  It looked like we might get some sort of progression server, for which there was a poll.  And then another poll, looking for a name.

Meanwhile, over in EverQuest, they were still working on how to deal with raiding on the Ragefire server, and the Ruins of Kunark unlock vote was upon us.

I was playing Neko Atsume on the iPad… back when it was only in Japanese!  I was also going on about 64-bit OS requirements finally coming to video games and an old grievance of mine.

My daughter suddenly wanted to play The Sims.  That lasted for about three days.  This is why I make her wait a week on any sudden new fad she want to follow.

The Steam Summer sale came and went and I bought nothing.  That turned out to be the last sale with the traditional daily specials format.

I brought up the F2P business model yet again based on a quote over at Massively OP which, if nothing else, got a long comment from Brad McQuaid on the subject.

And, finally, I played Minecraft with my daughter for Father’s Day, which led to a whole new adventure in gaming.

Five Years Ago

I had to get out my Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD.

Team Fortress 2 went free to play.  Begin the hat-based economy!

I was wondering if people were picking on Lord British.  This was before he started talking about his “ultimate RPG” and made it a very entertaining sport.

We were not playing WoW, but guild accounts were being hacked.  And we were not even among those 600K WoW players that supposedly went to Rift.

LOTRO announced the Rise of Isengard expansion and offered up a exp boosting item for pre-orders.

I was wondering what launch conditions would be like for SWTOR.  Of course, I sort of figured it might launch before mid-December.

LEGO Universe announced it was going free to play.  At our house, my daughter enjoyed it for a bit, but eventually dropped it for Animal Jam.

CCP began a slow and deliberate campaign of alternating between shooting itself in the foot and sticking said foot in its mouth, all in the name of the Incarna expansion.  And my sentry drones were still boring.  And then LulzSec brought them down.  At least they had finally made it much easier to find an agent in the game.

SOE announced a new version of Station Access, its “all games for one low monthly price.”  Called SOE All Access, which had a price of $19.95 a month.  This was a welcome drop from the previous $29.99 a month price.

However, by this point, SOE had dropped The Matrix Online and had just announced they were killing Star Wars Galaxies, so there were certainly less games to play.  Of course, that was also back when they had some games that were not free to play.

At least SOE was up and running after the PSN/SOE outage.  A pity they fumbled the marketing opportunities offered by their make good plan.

The instance group had finally gotten out of the damn starter zone in EverQuest II Extended, but the game still wasn’t sitting well.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, the Ruins of Kunark expansion was opened up and then “finished” in short order.

Ten Years Ago

Paul McCarty turned fucking 64 already and could probably afford to buy the entire Isle of Wight at that point, regardless of how dear it was.

Sonic the Hedgehog turned 15, which I guess means it is 25 now.  Maybe I shouldn’t do call backs to birthdays.  But relevant gaming history was a bit light a decade back, so I felt like I needed some filler, which explains the first three items in this section.  Come September it will be better.

Bill Gates announced that he was planning to relinquish his remaining full time positions at Microsoft in order to focus on his foundation.  Though Steve “Uncle Fester” Ballmer had been CEO since 2000, Gates was still Chief Software Architect and Chief Research & Strategy Officer (along with being chairman of the board).  As of today he still retains the position of Technology Advisor to current CEO Satya Nadella.

EverQuest II got the Fallen Dynasty adventure pack, the last such pack until 2015’s Rum Cellar.

Nintendo finally shipped the Nintendo DS Lite in Europe, though $3.2 million worth of them went missing en route from China.

Half-Life 2: Episode One was released as Valve briefly tried to pay attention to the core of their biggest franchise at the time.  Still waiting for Episode Three.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s featured MMO Blog I want to bring your attention to:

Rohan has been at it for more than a decade now digging into the nuts and bolts of game mechanics as well as bigger picture issues.  While World of Warcraft has been a prime focus, he has delved into other titles along the way.

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

I am a little bit late in pointing at this, give that the NBI 2016 event ends today.  But I haven’t been able to keep up with the event in any case, it having taken to Discord.  Still, it has weekly summaries of this year’s event, which includes the new bloggers joining in and the blog posts done in support the whole thing.  Hopefully there will be a final event summary post tomorrow so I can crib the list of new blogs for a post of my own.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. Remembering Spaceship Warlock
  3. Blizzard Admits that WoW Expansions are Just Going to Take Time
  4. Thrill of the Hunt Not Thrilling Enough, Being Removed from New Eden
  5. RAZOR Leaves The Imperium
  6. One Hundred Million Copies of Minecraft
  7. Scenes from the Saranen Undock
  8. Return to Draenor
  9. Minecraft 1.10 The Frostburn Update
  10. Hurricane Massacre
  11. A Carrier Dies in Deklein
  12. Landmark Goes… Live

My post about the Warcraft movie was in 13th place, but on the Chinese version of the blog it is totally at the top of the list.

Search Terms of the Month

recommended skills to fly a naglfar well
[A tolerance for losing expensive ships?]

hyperion or dominix
[Megathron]

joke european heaven and hell
[Must involved Brexit somewhow]

does anyone play everquest 2 time locked servers
[Yes, yes they do]

jotunheim brass tiamat corpse mud
[Mixing up your Forgotten Realms areas aren’t you?]

Spam Comments of the Month

Labelling the third time inside collection of as the most important improve nevertheless, Jagex documented potential customers will capability to take part in the wow free of necessitating coffee beans or other stopper inches.
[And that is just one sentence out of five long paragraphs of nonsense.]

With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems
of plagorism or copyright violation?
[Posted to my picture blog.]

EVE Online

Just to annoy people with another inapt WWII analogy, so popular with sideline pundits over the course of the war, we seemed to have our Battle of Britain Adlertag in Saranen.  After trying to sit on us and hold us down for weeks in the system, during which we undocked to fight again and again against superior forces, where we were losing the ISK war daily, and were feeding the hostiles many kills, our foes got tired of the whole thing and went away.  Now we just have to liberate Europe… erm, the north.  Maybe the MBC will attack the Russians.  Of course, if we really want to beat this analogy to death, that ends up with them making satellites out of the eastern half of the area and a new cold way or some such.

Anyway, we’re still in Saranen, but with the letup on pressure, we have begun to push back into null sec again.  For us, the war, the same war that has been going on since January, continues.

EverQuest II

I did spend some time pottering about on the Stormhold progression server.  I continued moving along at a leisurely pace.  What I might call my “main” there is just level 25, but I spent some time crafting with him, so his crafting level past 30 now.  And then I used his skill, he is an armor smith, to equip and alt that I ran up to nearly 20 before I set him to crafting as well.  Pretty much usual story in EQII, just at a slower pace.

However, with the return to WoW, I suspect my time here is at and end.

Minecraft

I passed the one year mark for playing the game.  Our world continues to get sporadic attention, though after finishing one grand project, the rail loop, I am looking for another.  Minecraft pretty much took the time slot that used to be filled by a secondary fantasy MMORPG, which is why EQII has fallen off the “games I play” section of the side bar.

World of Warcraft

My daughter and I are back in WoW, though just yesterday she confided with me that maybe we came back a little too early.  She is stuck with one level 100 on the horde side and a level 91 on the alliance side and isn’t keen to do level cap stuff or run through Draenor again.  We’ll see if we can find something while waiting for the pre-Legion 7.0 patch.

As noted, I have made unlocking flying in Draenor my goal, which has given me a series of things to do on a regular basis without it becoming too grindy.  I did warm up a couple of the trade skills so I could get my tailor cranking out hexweave bags again.  Bigger bags are always good.  So I am reasonably content for the moment having a few goals that won’t take huge efforts.

Coming Up

There are a few posts I have planned already, including a salute to NBI Class of 2016, if I can find a definitive list of them somewhere… or even if I cannot… some sort of summary of where I ended up in EQII and what I liked (or did not like) so far with the Stormhold progression server, what I am up to in WoW in some more detail, and some mention of the original PlanetSide, which goes dark tomorrow.

On the WoW front, there is a reasonable chance that the pre-Legion 7.0 patch will drop around the end of this month.  I would not expect it to hit earlier than July 26th.  August 2nd seems more likely, as that would give us four solid weeks with it before WoW Legion goes live.  More than that “feels” like it might be too much, with August 9th being the latest date I think it will hit.  We shall see.

Amazon also delivered my copy of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  If I can get some time in front of the TV, I will play it and probably end up writing about it.

The Steam Summer Sale is going on right now, and will wrap up this coming Monday.  I haven’t posted about it.  But then I haven’t bought anything either.  I haven’t even been logging into Steam to get my daily trading cards during the sale.  I am bad at Steam.

The Call of Free Trade in Norrath

Daybreak put up a new EverQuest II server yesterday.  Named “Isle of Refuge” after the original new player starting area, Daybreak is billing this as a “Free Trade” server.

Obligatory Isle of Refuge screen shot stolen from Daybreak

Obligatory Isle of Refuge screen shot stolen from Daybreak

Back when the intention to launch this server was announced, I wasn’t sure I got the appeal of the”free trade” idea.  And now that it has gone live, I’m still not sure.

It isn’t like the concept is difficult or subtle.  I am pretty sure I get what they mean from their description:

Isle of Refuge is what we call a “Free Trade Server.” This means that almost all items can be traded freely between players. There are a few exceptions – Heirloom items purchased via a merchant or in the marketplace, granted from repeatable quests, or received via /claims will remain Heirloom.

Basically, what we might call “bind on pick up” items in the context of WoW will mostly be “bind on equip” when it comes to this server.  Yes, I know that in EQII the flags “attuned,” “no trade,” and “heirloom” are used, but I think WoW’s descriptions are better.  So you can sell or trade your epic raid gear, or twink alts with it, or whatever.

I am just not sure I get WHY this is seen as a significant enough differentiation from other normal live servers to justify rolling up a new server.  Is there a huge demand for free trade?  Have people been agitating for it in the forums for ages?  It certainly doesn’t seem to justify the Daybreak tag line for it:

Get ready to journey to a Norrath like you’ve never experienced before.

Because it will otherwise be a live server.  It won’t be content locked or involve progression or have steeper experience tables or harsher death penalties or any of those things.  I don’t even think the Isle of Refuge will appear on a server named “Isle of Refuge.”  Daybreak, like SOE before it, seems to have no sense and/or fear of irony.

The only restrictions will be that you won’t be able to transfer a character to or from another server (but you can buy a level 90 if you want), some “/claim” items won’t be available, there won’t be battlegrounds, and you will have to be a subscriber in order to play, which was the experience they used to offer back before EverQuest II Extended launched the free to play idea at SOE.

Basically all stuff I have, in fact, experienced before.  I’ll even count transfers, given how prohibitively expensive they were back in the day.

Of course, I think it is the last bit, the All Access requirement, is the real key to the situation.

After ages of the SOE “Free to Play, Your Way!” mantra, which admittedly meant trying to get you to subscribe via a variety of sticks and carrots, Daybreak has bought into the idea of special servers for subscribers.  We saw progression servers on the Daybreak road map almost immediately after they were free from SOE.

However, my guess is that they couldn’t quite bring themselves to put up a new, subscriber-only server where the big draw was “No Freep Scum Allowed!”  So “Free Trade” became the MacGuffin here.  It is all about that.

Not that their plan lacks its appealing aspects.

New server smell, with no transfers from the rest of the game, does mean building a new community.  It will be a fresh start on a new server with new markets and new guilds, all in the current content package; same expansions, same events, same specials, same cash shop, just about the same everything.  So you can leave behind your old, overstuffed bank and those offending freeloaders and come play on a server for people who have some skin in the game!  Also, free trade!

I do sort of wish that the level 90 buy-in option wasn’t available, but I am sure it will be popular and help soak up the remains of the giant pool of Station Cash that I bet is still left over from the foolhardy sales during the dark ages of SOE’s failure to understand economics, an era which led to people paying as little as $5.00 for expansions and $1.25 a month for a Gold subscription.

So there it is.  A chance to play on a fresh server with some minor rules variations.

Now the question is, after Daybreak built it, will they come?  Will people… subscribers… flock to this new opportunity?  Does new server smell, with a side order of free trade, have the draw?  And if it is successful, will it simply draw off the paying membership from the recently consolidated live servers, fragmenting populations and leaving live in something of a bind?

Finally, if it does have some success, will it be headed to EverQuest next… erm, I mean headed next to EverQuest?

We shall see.  The new server isn’t up on the Daybreak status page yet, so I cannot tell if it is bursting at the seams or a ghost town.

Hat Tip to EQ2 Wire for reminding me yet again that this server was a thing.

May in Review

The Site

The only thing I have about the site is a brand new error that comes up from time to time in my side bar feed.  It looked to be a pretty big issue at the beginning of the month.

Missing link IFTTT

Missing link IFTTT

It calmed down some after that.  I still haven’t figured out the pattern that causes it. if it is specific blogs or not.  But the feed fails to load far more often than it shows that error, so one problem at a time.  Of course, I don’t know why it fails to load either, especially when a second feed of game company news, which uses the exact same process, seems to load almost without fail.  Welcome to the internet.

Meanwhile, in news from elsewhere my other site, EVE Online Pictures, turned 8 years old this month.  No big analysis post about it, though if you want to know its traffic numbers, here are the page view stats.

EVE Online Pictures - Eight Years of Page Views

EVE Online Pictures – Eight Years of Page Views

One Year Ago

There was another Newbie Blogger Initiative, for which I wrote a post.

The whole World of Warcraft “flying in Draenor” explosion started when Blizzard announced that they probably wouldn’t allow flying in that, or any future, expansion.  Lots of people spoke up.  I linked to a bunch of them.

It was not a good month for World of Warcraft.  Subscriptions were down to 7.1 million… and then they banned 100K accounts, so make that an even 7 million.

In the Warlords of Draenor expansion itself I was mostly going garrison stuff and pet battles.

Carbine announced that WildStar would be going free to play after continuing poor financial performance.

EVE Online turned 12 years old.  CCP was offering fan site the option of a free account OR receiving a PLEX every month.  I actually attempted to opt-in for the PLEX, but never heard back.  Was that option ever really a thing?

The war in Fountain and Delve was over, NCDot had been crushed yet again, and we were moving back north as our empire contractedEntosis stuff was looming.  Black Legion caught us taking a badly planned convoy through KVN-36.  Meanwhile, down in Querious, the Reavers were playing with Ravens.  Up in the north, TNT was moving out of Deklein and into Tribute as part of our Fozzie Sov plans.  And I hit 140 million skill points.

Then Daybreak went for a crowd pleaser by launching a new time locked expansion server named Ragefire. It was such a crowd pleaser that it couldn’t handle the crowd.  In addition to some first night problems, you simply couldn’t log in most of the time.  They worked on a login queue and some zone instancing technology from EverQuest II and eventually opened up another server named Lockjaw to take care of the crowding.

TorilMUD, the MUD on which EverQuest was largely based, softened its death penalty.  A sign of the times.

There was word of a Warhammer Online private/pirate server for those who missed the departed game.

And I was playing LEGO Star Wars on the PlayStation 3 while the freshly minted Imperium was going to try and play H1Z1.

Five Years Ago

May 2011 was the time of the great Sony outage, with the PlayStation Network down for 24 days and Sony Online Entertainment down for 13 days.  It was a communication fiasco from start to finish, with bad updates almost daily.  About all they could do was promise us all goodies for when they finally came back up.

CCP was starting the build up to the Incarna fiasco with the introduction of Aurum.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, there was agitation to vote NO on unlocking the Kunark expansion.  Such agitation shows up with every unlock vote.  But no vote failed until Gates of Discord came along.

The instance group was in EverQuest IIwhen it was up… and trying to get the hell out of the starter area.  We managed it, but it took a lot more time than I would have thought.  We started in on some dungeons and got ourselves a guild hall.

World of Warcraft subscriptions started to decline, down to 11.4 million (oh noes!) while Trion started offering free server transfers in Rift.

My daughter was asking me about Dungeons & Dragons.  There was a thread going about making better MMO players.  There were clearly some bad players about.

And finally, as hot as things seemed to be around here, there was no rapture.  You just couldn’t buy a break that month.

Ten Years Ago

World of Warcraft lead designer Rob Pardo was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people for 2006.

The Wii “steals the show” when it comes to the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3.  Despite a drop in attendees, there are long lines to try out Nintendo’s new console.  This was the last E3 before the “new format” of 2007 and 2008.

The ESRB changed the rating for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion from “Teen” to “Mature” in part due to topless female art assets in the game that could be accessed by mods.  Former California Assemblyman Leland Yee (and now Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate number 19629-111) took time out of his organized crime activities to slam the ESRB for missing these hidden art assets.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s featured MMO Blog I want to bring your attention to:

Eri/Jewel is still in her blogging prime, tackling new games, writing about old favorites, linking out to the blogesphere, and a regular podcaster as well.

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

As pets in WoW eventually transformed into a Pokemon-like mini-game, the “gotta catch ’em all” aspect needed a guide book.  Warcraft pets is the place to go to find out what pets you are missing and how to obtain them.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Darkrai Event and More
  3. There is no 85%
  4. Industrial Revolution
  5. Blizzard and the MAU Reality
  6. What is Vanilla WoW in Any Case?
  7. The Warcraft Movie Approaches
  8. A Murder of Fax Machines
  9. Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead
  10. The People You See in Space
  11. Citadels in Saranen
  12. Chasing Asher’s Phantasm

Search Terms of the Month

everquest falling off the boat
[Haven’t we all]

neverwinter paranoid delusions review
[I think mine are more delusions of grandeur]

eve online gsf test reset fountain
[You must be looking for the Fountain War]

in the wheel of time audiobook why do the readers change how they pronounce moghedien
[Noticed that too, did you?]

Spam Comments of the Month

free animal sex pics
[Why pay for animal sex pics?]

I will right away clutch your rss feed
[I am not sure I like the sound of that]

Hello. I am a inexperienced Bank Teller and was planning to better be well prepared for my job at ChevronTexaco Corporation.
[Sounds like an good plan]

Diablo III

I thought about Season 6 for a bit.  I even started a new character.  Well, an old character really, as I used the rebirth option to restart my barbarian from back at launch.  His gear was so bad that he was unplayable anyways, so why not restart him.  I played him for about an hour, logged off, and haven’t been back since.  Maybe I’ll be up for Season 7.

EVE Online

Of course, for me, the war has been going on in New Eden.  We have been evicted from the last of our sovereignty.  We retook a couple of systems, and even still hold one, but that is a token effort at best.  Yet we still form up and fight our foes when they don’t heavily outnumber us and still hunt their ratters and reinforce their systems.  It is a battle of wills and we shall see who tires of it first.

EverQuest II

I have continued meandering around in Norrath.  After writing about my slow progress, I actually played some more and am up to level 25.  At least I haven’t been distracted by a host of alts, which is my usual problem in MMOs.

Minecraft

The rail loop project continues.  I have chosen my path and built a bridge already (a post on that later) and am looking for a site about midway to the mesa biome for one final production camp.

Pokemon

I did not play much Pokemon in May.  I made a little progress in Pokemon Blue, essentially finishing up the Silph Co. HQ building.  I spent most of my time just downloading the various special Pokemon that Nintendo made available this month, with a side journey to FanimeCon this past weekend in order to collect Street Passes.

Coming Up

There are ongoing reports that there will indeed be a Newbie Blogger Initiative for 2016.  However, the forums at NBI HQ appear to be untouched so far.

There was a patch to EVE Online today, YC118.5, which would normally get a blog post out of me.  However, aside from new integrated analyzers that are good for both Relic and Data sites, the patch is mostly just fixes.  (And some music.)  Plus, I already had a regularly scheduled blog post for today, this one.  I guess that wasn’t really a “coming up” item, but I didn’t know where else to put it.

The war in the north will carry on into June.  Everybody is moving into Saranen, but we’ll get to that in a post later this week I am sure.

The Warcraft movie is a week and a half away here in the US.  The reviews have been mediocre, which likely won’t influence fans, but may mean the difference between success and failure at the box office.  Word of mouth can influence that, but it will have to spread beyond those who are already fans.

We are also in the run to the WoW Legion expansion, which will hit at the end of August.  The expansion is now in closed beta, but the date I am waiting for is when the WoW 7.0 patch will hit.  That will be the time to start thinking about resubscribing for me.

As mentioned over the weekend, Daybreak is going to take Landmark live on the same day that the Warcraft movie hits in the US.  Not that I think one will have any impact on the other.  Meanwhile, the company has some more special servers planned for both EverQuest and EverQuest II.  Subscribers only, please.

And then there the possibility that a Steam Summer Sale might be showing up this month.  We shall see.

Rise of Kunark Vote on Stormhold

Over on the EverQuest II nostalgia server, Stormhold, the march of expansion unlocks continues.  The unlock vote for the Rise of Kunark expansion… I keep typing Ruins of Kunark, because the original EverQuest expansion is much more meaningful to me… and the names are so similar… has been sent out to players.

Yes or No on Kunark

Yes or No on Kunark

Of course, this brings us to one of those nostalgia server issues which I alluded to last week in that, even if a company decides to go down that path, it is tough to please all of those interested or to find a pace that doesn’t alienate some chunk of your audience.

In this case the Rise of Kunark expansion… the subject of perhaps the only spot-on prediction I have ever made on the blog… which, among its other features, raises the level cap to 80, doesn’t do a lot for me as I am still pottering about in the low 20s.

And I haven't hit 23 yet

And I haven’t hit 23 yet

Now, this is mostly my problem.  Since the Stormhold server launched I haven’t played very much, and even when I have been playing the game has been in third place behind EVE Online and Minecraft. Which isn’t to say I haven’t played at all.  If I had rolled up a fresh character in WoW and put the same amount of time into him, he’d be into Mists of Pandaria by now.

I am not sure on which game that reflects the most poorly.

And the fact that I have been playing solo hasn’t helped.  Unlike the live servers, unnamed heroic mobs are not soloable on Stormhold, but a lot of the quests I have been running drive you straight into their arms.

So close to me goal...

So close to my goal…

Stormhold would have been an excellent opportunity to play with a small group.  Even a healer and a tank together would have owned.  But solo and playing a Shadow Knight, a brand new class for me, has made things a challenge and kept progress down.  I run into quests I cannot finish at level solo often enough, then I have to go find another path to level up on, so I can return later when I can overpower my way through the original.

On the other hand, putting expansion unlocks to a vote every 60 days seems like a fairly brisk pace.  Well, to me in any case.  And so far, only one expansion unlock has been voted down, a vote that led to the usual amount of acrimony in the forums.  No matter which way the vote goes, somebody is unhappy and wants to share.  The forever war between those who want a classic environment that sits static and unmoving and those who want to race to the top and unlock the next bit of content goes on.

Of course, I was happy enough to seen Echoes of Faydwer show up after the last vote.  That added some more 1-70 content, the emphasis for being on the late teens and early twenties, didn’t raise the level cap, and represented an important change in the history of the game.

Now though, with Rise of Kunark, we’re getting into content I didn’t even finish the first time around… even though it went live back in late 2007.

I may not be enthusiastic for the expansion to unlock, but it won’t change my play style at this point.  I am way too far behind the pack to catch up so I will continue to meander along at my own pace, dying to heroic mobs until I am at least a few levels above them.

Friday Bullet Points are Lucky Even Today

Here it is, Friday the 13th, a date synonymous bad luck and a series of horror movies that, oddly enough, capped out at an even dozen.  How could they not make a 13th one?

Fortunately my wife’s family embraces the number 13 as their lucky number, so that cancels things out… right?  I’m still working from home today all the same.

Meanwhile, here are some items I feel like mentioning but which didn’t quite make the cut for a full post.  If there aren’t 13 of them, well… that’s just bad luck.

They Are So Cute When They Are Young

Nintendo is starting the slow drip of information on the official site about the upcoming Pokemon Sun & Moon games, and so this week Nintendo gave us the date for the launch, November 18, 2016.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon coming in November

We also got a look at the starter Pokemon for the game.

Which one will you choose?

Which one will you choose?

They are Rowlet, Litten, and Popplio, filling the traditional grass, fire, and water starter roles.  Starter Pokemon can be an emotional topic and people get quite invested in their choices.  Currently Popplio seemed to be losing the popularity race on Twitter.

The poll results

The poll results

I traditionally go with the water Pokemon, so Popplio is likely going to be my choice regardless of what people say about him.  Also he’s a seal, how is that not cute?  Meanwhile, is Rowlet wearing a bra or what?  Just asking!

Of course, Nintendo has a track record of turning cute into ugly with evolutions while punishing you by withholding key moves if you opt not to let your starter evolve.  Can’t they stay young and cute forever?  It is a complex issue.

Civilization Goes Cartoony

Firaxis announced the coming of Civilization VI, the next installment in the grand Civilization franchise…. and all anything people seemed to want to talk about was the new art style.  We are so shallow.

A first glimpse of Civ VI

A first glimpse of Civ VI

Alright, alright, I hear you saying that other details were somewhat sparse, so what else were we going to talk about.  I myself welcome a lighter look for the aging game series.  Anything to cut down on the resource demands of a Civ game is probably good.

The game itself is set to ship on October 12, 2016 and will be the industry standard $59.99 for the basic version, and $79.99 for the deluxe edition which will include the obviously planned in advance DLC.  It will probably be four more civilizations that they will end up throwing in with the first expansion in any case.

The question isn’t if I will buy Civ VI, but when.  Given the screw jobs that have happened with Steam sales showing up just weeks after Civ releases or expansions go live, the fact that Civ games are inevitably resource hogging, bug filled, crashing messes at launch… they put in auto-save after every turn for a reason…, and the fact that their last release, Civilization: Beyond Earth was as dull as dishwater and an insult as a successor to Alpha Centauri, and I am thinking I might pass on a day one purchase.  I’ll see what things look like at the Steam Holiday Sale… or maybe the next Steam Summer Sale.

WoW Legion to Beta

I don’t suppose the timing really matters all that much now.  We already have a launch date, so the usual metrics around things like beta-to-launch calculations will be purely academic.  So the important bit is that the WoW Legion beta is now live, having gone up last night.

Beta for those who care...

Beta for those who care…

Blizzard has the initial release notes along with a detailed intro into the features of the expansion.

I do not do beta any more, going so far as trying to avoid information about the release, as I find it spoils my enjoyment when a release goes live.  I feel like I’ve already played it and my enthusiasm quickly wains.

Still, I look forward to hearing some general reactions to Blizzard’s plan for the expansion.  And, of course, the big question is when will the 7.0 pre-expansion update drop?  My bet is on August 9, 2016.

EverQuest II Prestige Servers

The Norrath dev team at Daybreak… we can call the EQ/EQII team that now, since there are no other Norrathian projects now… is looking into what other special sorts of servers players would like.  And so there is a poll waiting in your mailbox in EverQuest II about prestige servers.

Just three options...

Just three options…

As with things in Azeroth, special servers at Daybreak have their proponents and detractors.  Foes of the idea are annoyed that there is no “none of the above” option so they can directly express their displeasure at dev resources being used on projects they don’t care about.  (As the poll notes, they can do so indirectly by not voting, since I am sure that Daybreak will notice if only a few people respond.)

I’m not sure I would play on either server option myself, though that is because I am still pottering around on the Stormhold nostalgia server.  The thing is, the long poll for expansions is content creation, and these sorts of servers just use content that has already been created, so the hand wringing about delaying new stuff isn’t all that valid.

Not That Wild, No Longer a Star

The NCsoft Q1 2016 financials are out and, while things look good for the company as a whole, and most of its properties, WildStar is the noticeable exception.

Q1 2016 results

Q1 2016 results

After an initial boost in revenue with the free-to-play transition, sales have already slumped to below where they were when the game was subscription only.  Of course, this shouldn’t have been a huge surprise given the moves NCsoft was making with Carbine back in March.  This is more the confirmation of what many suspected.

Oculus Rift Retail Rage

So for a brief stretch of time last Friday you could go to a store or Amazon and buy an Oculus Rift unit.  They sold out quickly and you can probably find more than a few re-listed for a well beyond their $599 list price on eBay.  I see one on Amazon for $1,099.  But if you were at the right place at the right time, you could have spent your weekend playing EVE Valkyrie.

But if you pre-ordered a unit back in January, you’re probably still waiting for it to show up.

And so there is a bit of righteous anger out there about the company snubbing the people willing to buy in early in favor of those who waited.  I didn’t buy in either way, but I would have been pissed were I still waiting around for my pre-order to ship.

As Jerry Seinfeld might have put it, taking pre-orders isn’t the important part.  Anybody can take pre-orders.  It is the delivery that matters.  Also, the comments on that linked video are hilarious AND on topic for this post.

CSM XI By the Numbers

I am sure others will dive into the details on this, but CCP just posted the Dev Blog with the details of the CSM XI election.  Charts and explanations and raw data are all available there.

CSM11_logo

It is interesting to see how the two winning blocks stuck fairly well to their suggested ballots.  You can see the top three Imperium candidates, Aryth, Innominate, and Xenuria, getting elected in rounds one, two, and three.  Other tidbits include the fact that players from the US and UK cast half the votes, that most votes came in during the first two days of the election, and that the more recent your account, the more likely it seems you are to vote.  Accounts created back in 2006, when I started, made up only 4% of the voting pool, while those from 2015, 2014, and 2013 represented 14%, 15%, and 16% of the vote respectively.

Episode 18 of the Asher Hour

Asher Elias, head of the Reavers and the 23rd 15th best fleet commander in The Imperium has a new podcast out after a long stretch of silence.  This time around it is just Asher talking about the war, fleets, and what it is like on The Imperium side of the fight.  Not party-line propaganda, but Asher is still enthusiastic and positive about what we can do in the war and where we may end up.

So that is what I had kicking around.  Of course, now that I have all those items cleared out I am starting to wonder what I will write about next week.

Oh, wait, I have 57 unfinished items in my drafts folder.  Maybe that isn’t such a big deal.