Category Archives: EverQuest II

EverQuest and EverQuest II have a Roadmaps for 2023

I was surprised when Daybreak published roadmaps for EverQuest and EverQuest II for 2022 last January, and all the more so because of how well the dev team stuck to them over the course of the year.  So, capitalizing on that success I suppose, they now have roadmaps for EverQuest and EverQuest II for 2023.

EverQuest

The 2023 roadmap for EverQuest

The graphic is nice but I am glad they break it out into some text bullet points for those of us who like that sort of thing.  But first I want to call out the highlights for me on the list.  They are:

  • April – New UI Engine Initial Launch
  • December – EverQuest’s 30th Expansion!

The second was hardly unexpected, but it is nice to be reassured annually that the game is still growing.

The first though, the new UI engine… well, that could be interesting.  EQ has gotten UI upgrades over the years, but it is hard to keep things going as time goes on and when you’ve added more and more features… and more and more UI elements to support them.  And when I go back to play it takes me a while to adjust to how the UI behaves.  It feels like a 20 year old title at times.

EVE Online has gone through something like this over the last year with the new Photon UI, an attempt to create a more modern, supportable, and unified UI.  The problem is that it is tough to get it all right on the first pass.  Looking at the road map though, it seems that the EQ team has a phased approach planned.  I will be interested to see what they have coming.

Otherwise, here is the road map in text bullet points.

  • January:
    • Night of Shadows Tier 1 Raids Unlock
      • Insatiable An Appetite
      • Pit Fight
      • Mean Streets
  • February:
    • New Content for Erollisi Day
    • Night of Shadows Tier 2 Raids Unlock
      • When One Door Closes
      • Myconid Mutany
      • Dance of the Demiurge
  • March:
    • Night of Shadows Tier 3 Raids Unlock
      • The Spirit Fades
      • The Shadows Move
      • Under Siege
    • New Content for Brew Day
    • EverQuest’s 24th Anniversary Celebration – New quests and a mission.
  • April:
    • New UI Engine Initial Launch – Full engine launch with some of the windows ported to the new engine.
  • May:
    • New Content for Tempest Festival
    • New Progression Server (Ruleset “To Be Announced”)
  • June:
    • New Pride Month Familiars
  • July:
    • Server Merge – Merging Coirnav to Vox.
  • August:
    • New Content for Stone Cold Summer
  • October:
    • 2023’s Expansion Beta + Pre-order
    • DirectX 11 API port
  • November:
    • Extra Life Game Day – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
    • New Content for Feast of Giving
  • December:
    • New Content for Frostfell
    • 2023’s Expansion Launch – EverQuest’s 30th Expansion!
  • Throughout the Year:
    • Porting More Windows to the New UI Engine
    • Zone Performance Improvements
  • Release Date TBD in 2023:
    • Guild Tradeskill Depot

EverQuest II

The 2023 roadmap for EverQuest II

And, as above, for those who cannot read the tiny print on that graphic, they have also spelled out the whole year in bullet points, which I will list out below.

But what interested me from the EverQuest II roadmap was:

  • May – Mercenary AI Update
  • Late November – EverQuest II’s 20th Expansion!
  • Beyond 2023 – DirectX 11 API Port

Mercenaries, which are pretty much the key to solo play in the last half dozen expansions, get some help.  I mean, they’ve already gotten gear and other updates, but maybe working a bit smarter will make them more viable.  Or maybe not.

And DirectX 11… makes me wonder where they’re sitting now.  I haven’t been paying close enough attention, but is it still a DirectX 9 title?  Just asking… because we won’t see that update this year, but at least it is in the plan.

Then, of course, the next expansion, the game’s 20th, which is quite an accomplishment.

  • January:
    • Renewal of Ro Raid Zones Unlock
      • Raj’Dur Plateaus: The Hunt
      • Sandstone Delta: The Standing Storm
  • February:
    • Varsoon unlocks Fallen Dynasty – Explore the Island of Mara and its environs.
    • New updates to Erollisi Day
    • Renewal of Ro Raid Unlock
      • Takish Badlands: The Boundless Gulf
  • March:
    • New updates to Chronoportal Phenomenon
    • New updates to Brewday Festival
    • Renewal of Ro Raid Unlock
      • Buried Takish’Hiz: Emergence from Stone
    • New updates to Bristlebane Day
    • Game Update 122 Beta Opens
    • Server Merge: Tarinax to Antonia Bayle
    • Server Merge: Kaladim to Antonia Bayle
  • April:
    • New updates to Beast’r Eggstravaganza
    • Game Update 122 Launch – New raids, contested dungeon, quests, tradeskill content, collections, Overseer Season 05 and more content for all playstyles.
    • Varsoon unlocks Echoes of Faydwer – Explore the continent of Faydwer, “borrow” the dwarven brewing kegs in Kaladim and unlock class Alternate Advancement trees along the way. Try not to fall off of Kelethin.
    • New PvP TLE server
  • May:
    • Mercenary AI Update – Mercenaries will more reliably heal and resurrect their companions, and generally react faster, with higher tier mercenaries gaining increased reaction time over their common brethren.
  • June:
    • New Live Event Equipment Slot – A new slot for equipment obtained exclusively through live event content.
    • New large updates to Summer Jubilee’s Tinkerfest
    • New updates to Patches of Pride
    • New large updates to Summer Jubilee’s Scorched Sky
    • Varsoon unlocks The Estate of Unrest, Shard of Fear, and three contested Avatars.
  • July:
    • Game Update 123 Beta Opens
  • August:
    • Game Update 123 Launch
    • New large updates to Summer Jubilee’s Oceansfull Festival
    • Varsoon unlocks Rise of Kunark – Pillage the ancient lands of Kunark from atop a mighty leaping steed with the power of a level 80 adventurer or tradeskiller, wielding 140 Alternate Advancement points to lay waste to your foes.
  • September:
    • Expansion Prelude
    • New updates and a small revamp to Panda, Panda, Panda! – Those fluffy rapscallions will no longer require you to complete all their previous adventures to embark on their latest escapade.
  • October:
    • 2023’s expansion Beta + Pre-order
    • New updates to Nights of the Dead
    • Varsoon unlocks Runnyeye: The Gathering, Veksar: The Invasion, and Shard of Hate.
  • November:
    • Extra Life Game Day
    • New updates to Heroes’ Festival – Celebrate our 19th Anniversary!
  • End of November:
    • 2023’s Expansion Launch – EverQuest II’s 20th Expansion!
  • December:
    • New updates to Frostfell
    • Varsoon unlocks The Shadow Odyssey – Slog through the goop in Innothule Swamp to meet the Froglok menace of Guk. Vacation in the pleasant Sauna of Najena, or drink a fine vintage of red wine with toothful friends in the crypts of Mistmoore. Boldly trek with 200 Alternate Advancement points and the Shadows AA tree to assist your travel planning.
  • Release Date TBD in 2023:
    • Swag Store
  • Beyond 2023:
    • DirectX 11 API Port

So there they are, the plans for Norrath in 2023.  Daybreak is announcing plans for some of their other titles as well, including DC Universe Online.  But my heart is always in Norrath when it comes to their products.

Reviewing My 2022 Predictions

We are back once again for another review of some really bad predictions I made at the start of the year.  I have engaged in an almost annual experiment in proving how wrong I can be about the future for a good fourteen years now.

2022 is what we get

While we are still a good two weeks shy of the new year in my book, if it hasn’t come to pass by December 15th, it probably isn’t going to happen.  So it is time to see how off base I was.

As usual, I will score by giving myself 10 points for each correct prediction, with partial credit available… because I often write rambling predictions with multiple points of contact.

Looking back at the questions from the start of the year… well, I seemed to be in something of a mood, especially about EVE Online.  Though not without reason on that front.  After declaring an “age of prosperity” they went and announced a plan to keep the economy strangled going forward.  “Prosperity” was nowhere in the cards they were dealing out.  But I was also moody about a few other companies.

Anyway, let’s get to the scoring.

1 – Activision-Blizzard will drop “Blizzard” from the Corporate Name

I backed myself into this one, having made a declaration about this in August of 2021, when it seemed as though the company could sink no lower in its scandal ridden tales.  It seemed like they had run the name through enough mud that it might be time to go back to Silicone & Synapse.

But it did not come to pass.

Now, I could make excuses about how the Microsoft acquisition, which showed up less than three weeks after my predictions, locked everything in place, so no major name change was likely to occur… but, in hindsight, no name change was likely to happen either way.  When you have Bobby Kotick at the helm, Blizzard would have to work a lot harder to eclipse the stink on him.

Zero points.

2 – No WoW Expansion in 2022

Man, I was not on a hot streak for 2022 was I?

Okay, this one did not look that outrageous a year ago.  Blizzard seemed to be in disorder, Shadowlands was flailing about without content updates, and there was some word about retooling their approach.  It seemed likely that they wouldn’t get out an expansion this year.

But they managed it.  The jury is still out on Dragonflight… I mean, I loved Shadowlands for about a month, before I found the quick trip to level cap meant and endless endgame treadmill… but it launched at the end of November and is still running along.  I haven’t seen the traditional glowing “current expansion exceeds all past expansions” press release about any sales metric yet.

In the end though, even if it dies in a month, they still shipped an expansion.  Zero points.

3 – The Arthas Hail Mary

I’m going to have to quote this one, just to avoid having to recount it point by point.

Wrath of the Lich King Classic will be announced to great fanfare.  This will be the big 2022 announcement for the WoW franchise, and it will be as stale as you expect.  While I love the whole retro server scene, and WotLK as well, there is a reason that Daybreak doesn’t put out a press release every time an EverQuest progression server unlocks a new expansion.  And it will be tainted by the same things that hurt Burning Crusade Classic, like a special deluxe package with a horrendous mount to single you out for ridicule.  It will be more popular than whatever is going on with Shadowlands, an admittedly low hurdle, but it won’t launch until Q4 so we won’t see any financial impact during the 2022 calendar year.

I mean, sure, Wrath Classic, big fanfare… but Dragonflight was probably the bigger announcement, if only because it was new and unexpected.  We all had no doubt Wrath Classic was going to show.  It also made it into Q3, just barely.  But it counts.

It did, however, get the ugly mount that singles you out and it was sure as hell more popular than Shadowlands this year.

I am going to give myself 4 points for this one.

4 – Immortality is Overrated

Okay, I am getting a little better as we go along here.

Diablo: Immortal will finally ship in time for summer… after all, NetEase is the one doing the work here.  It will get a lot of hype from the company because WoW Classic and Hearthstone updates can only carry so much water for them.  It will be briefly popular, because we do in fact all have phones, combining as it will everything Blizzard promised (something like Diablo) and everything fans feared (cash shop from hell), but the Q3 2022 financials will only mention it in passing.

I mean, isn’t that pretty much what happened, right down to shipping in time for summer?

You can split hairs on that one, but I am giving myself the full 10 points.  I rarely get this close to the mark.

5 – Activision Will Settle with the State of California

Okay, after that riding high on that last one I am brought low again.  I, not for the last time I am sure, invoke the Microsoft acquisition to explain this away.  Zero points.

6 – Bobby Kotick Will Remain in Charge at Activision

And, just to switch things around, the Microsoft acquisition pretty much made this a lock.  Not that I thought Bobby was going anywhere otherwise.  He has set himself up to suckle at the company’s teat, sucking down a huge amount of cash while he runs an entertainment sweat shop.  Why would he step away from that?  10 points.

7 – Enad Global 7 will Announce Marvel Universe Online

Oh EG7, you had such a potential winner here.  Even the hint of this project got the company more press than it had seen in a decade.

Massively OP declared Blizzard’s problems with its NetEase contract the biggest MMO company blunder, but when we measure the potential upside lost relative to the size of the company, this one dwarfs the NetEase deal.

Yeah, in case you hadn’t heard, all they announced was that the project was cancelled.

Zero points.

8 – H1Z1 Will Remain in Limbo

Sometimes I need a gimme.  H1Z1 is Schrodinger’s battle royale, neither dead nor alive.

10 Points.

9 – LOTRO Old and New

I was predicting a split in the product, with a new branch to support the console plans that EG7 kept talking about.  But we didn’t get anything really about the whole console thing.  I suspect the tepid response to Amazon’s Rings of Power, which was supposed to ignite more Tolkien interest, might be on the list of reasons.

Zero Points.

10 – Nothing New in Norrath

EverQuest and EverQuest II rolled on as before, and no new Norrath titles were launched, announced, or even hinted at.  Kind of a gimme.  But I need all the help I can get.

10 points.

11 – Ji Ham Confirmed as CEO of Enad Global 7

This is a complicated one.  Technically I think Ji Ham is still “acting” CEO of EG7.  His linked in profile still has “interim” on display.

On the other hand, the Daybreak team completed their reverse acquisition and now pretty much run EG7, so the idea that he is going to be asked to step down from the position seems pretty silly.

I am going to give myself 4 points because he is the CEO and they aren’t going to replace him.

12 – CCP will Circle the Wagons to Defend Against Player Feedback

Yes and no.  CCP management certainly came into the new year saying they knew better and would do whatever they wanted.  But push back from players got them to declare against crypto in EVE Online (for now), and they eventually began to relent on some of the things dragging down the New Eden economy, like capitals and battleships being too expensive to bother producing and the stranglehold on minerals… things that were pointed out as problems the day they were announced.

The economy is still not perfect, but things are at least better now… a year later than they could have been… should have been… but better.  I’m giving myself 2 points for the beginning of the year.

13 – New Eden Economic Times

This is basically part 2 of the previous item, only more about the in-game economy.  CCP eventually relented on many things that players had been complaining about since they were introduced, so I feel like I would be double dipping if I gave myself more that zero points.

14 – New World on Consoles Announcement

Sorry, no.  They spent most of 2022 trying to fix the game so people would play it again.  Their expansion saw a brief spike, but fresh start servers are really what brought people back because they could at least play on worlds that had not been screwed up economically by the company’s bumbling management of the game for the first few months.  Zero points.

15 – New World Store Update

None of these things came to pass.  Zero points.

16 – Crypto Mania will Continue and yet Yield Nothing of Value

I mean, unless you can assign value to schadenfreude I guess.  10 points.

17 – Metaversary Rhymes

Part two, the whole crypto metaverse idea of being able to bring your car from Mario Kart into Forza or whatever.  It didn’t go anywhere either.  10 points.

18 – Non-Fungible Fiascos

My ongoing bets against crypto seemed solid, but my guesses as to which company’s we beshit their games with it… well, this was the list:

  • EVE Online
  • Star Citizen
  • Black Desert Online
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Wild Card: Some Gamigo Title

None did however… which, given the talk a year ago, means crypto must have really taken a dump in 2022.  I was never happier to get zero points.

19 – Chapter and Metaverse

I was predicting that Zuckerberg’s own personal metaverse, Horizon Worlds, would gain no traction.  They were making managers force their employees to log in.  Hell, it was all they could do to announce legs… and even then they didn’t show the actual in-game legs, but specially rendered ones on the virtual Zucks.  10 points.

20 – A Better Metaplace

Raph and Playable Worlds did not deliver anything in 2022.  Zero points.

21 – Non Starters

My usual gimme list of games that won’t ship.  Basically 10 points for free.

Extra Credit

These are bonus, usually outrageous guesses for some additional points.

The first guess was that CCP would get fed up with players electing the CSM and just appoint their own council, the way Blizzard did.  Like I said, I was in a bad mood.  That did not come to pass, so zero points of extra credit there.

Meanwhile, I also guessed that Blizzard would get bored of their own WoW Player Council, thank everybody for their service after a year, and forget about the whole thing.  While the WPC has been a giant nothing burger so far as I can tell, I just went to check its special forum and it still exists.  So zero points of extra credit there as well.

The Final Score

I had a total of 210 possible points for my main predictions.  From my scoring above, I managed to get a total of 90 points.  That gives me a nearly 43% success rate, which is far better than I have done in some past years.  I guess the lesson here is always bet against crypto.

That is all I have.  Another year down.  Now I have to decide what I will do for 2023.  Predictions?  Questions?  Demands?  Something else?  I have two weeks to figure it out.

The Renewal of Ro Expansion Launches for EverQuest II Tomorrow

You would think that the EverQuest II team might retain some institutional memory about launching straight into the teeth of World of Warcraft. But here we are, 18 years down the road and EverQuest II is launching an expansion not just in the same month as WoW, but pretty much the day after WoW is launching its latest expansion, Dragonflight.

On the other hand, the days when anybody realistically viewed these two games as being competitors in any but the most vague, genre based sense, are long gone.  We had five years or so of “what if” discussions around bizarro world scenarios where EQII came out ahead in that match up.  The odds were never going to favor anybody but Blizzard in that fight.  SOE made a lot of mistakes, but even if they hadn’t, WoW was going to win big.  I mean, they converted a lot of EQ stalwarts.

So the reality is, it doesn’t matter if EQII launches an expansion tomorrow, today, or yesterday.  The overlap in customers is probably minimal.  A lot of people pick their game and stick to it.  So tomorrow Renewal of Ro will launch and there will be a whole new range of content available in EverQuest II.

Renewal of Ro

This will be the 19th expansion for EQII, putting it well ahead of WoW on at least one front.

EQII expansions are a lot more focused than WoW expansions tend to be.  They tend to be much more about a change in the scenery, story, and villains and much less about borrowed power, class revamps, and throwing the game up in the air to change things up in an attempt to keep things fresh, a strategy that has not always served Blizzard well.

So tomorrow EQII will go back to the Desert of Flames, the first expansion, to unearth some new tales and explore some additional terrain.

While on a valiant quest to help aerakyn return to their original thread of reality, adventurers find themselves going back to the brutal island of Ro, but this time on the southern half of the flaming desert. Here, with the help of a local tribe of Hizite nomads, they will make their way across the unforgiving Raj’Dur Plateaus, to explore what is left of the Elddar Empire’s cursed city, the long Buried Takish’Hiz, before finding themselves within the renewed Takish Badlands, as they are led into the treacherous Sandstone Delta by the machinations of a notorious foe. They will come face-to-face with Raj’Dur bandits, power-hungry djinn, desert madmen, cursed Elddar, Dunetooth goblins, the Mhyt-moo school of Yha-lei, the Stormfury and Swordfury cyclops clans, and the Ortallian zealots of Ro, not to mention the glorious heroes they will team up with along the way.

There is more information available on the expansion page.

The content falls into most of the usual categories.  There is no adventure level increase, but the game has several parallel progression paths, so they can skip bumping the level cap.

  • Rise above the rest with 5 new Ascension levels and spells.
  • Epic Spell Quests – Embark on an adventure to discover and upgrade an all new powerful epic spell for your class.
  • Discover new Adventure, Tradeskill, and Signature quests in the unexplored regions of the deserts of Ro.
  • Conquer all new Solo, Heroic, and Raid content. Return to the flaming desert! Rediscover Takish’Hiz!

That means more of all the things for the regulars.  For me, not so much this time.

I do like to go back to the game now and then, and each expansion comes with its own catch up mechanic, so it is possible for me to skip an expansion or two and still get up to speed when the mood strikes me.  This time around it really doesn’t.

But Dragonflight doesn’t strike my fancy either, so I won’t be playing either in the near future.

Thoughts on Housing as EverQuest II Turns 18

EverQuest II launched 18 years ago today, back on November 9, 2004.  It was an event and the game was very much expected to carry on before it the way EverQuest had, becoming a dominant player, if not the dominant player in the fantasy MMORPG market.

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

Yeah, that didn’t happen.  And I’ll be frank, as I was there at the time, even if World of Warcraft had launched six months or a year later, rather than just three weeks, EverQuest II was destined to be, shall we say, more of a niche title.

An ad for EQII from the August 2004 issue of Computer Gaming World

I mean, in the scope of the success of WoW at least.  If there had been no WoW, it would have been a modest success, if somewhat disappointing success.  A lot of people went from EQII to WoW, but as many if not more went from EQ to EQII and back to EQ.  Maybe they went to WoW later because, if anything WoW was the real successor to EQ, but people left EQII in droves.

EverQuest II on the cover of CGW – December 2004 Issue

Mistakes were made.  There were a lot of problems.  So many problems.  Technical issues, high system requirements, a chaotic market, crafting interdependence gone mad, no gear atonement so people would just resell their old gear, quest log problems, and just a host of core ideas that drove the design of the game.

About a dozen years back, when SOE was talking about lessons learned for EverQuest Next, I took that and laid out what appeared, in hindsight, to be the lessons learned that drove the EQII design.

It was a difficult game to play and I remember hearing about people with old machines playing the game on such low settings that basically nobody had a face in the game.

But one thing they got right, straight away on day one, was housing.

Once you got through the isle of refuge and made it to your home city… only two home cities with a bunch of oddly segregated ghettos… how did barbarians and dwarves get grouped together… you got a quest to set up your first home.

Yes, it was a crappy, shoe box sized one room apartment, but it was YOUR crappy, shoe box sized apartment.  And there was stuff to do with it.  There were quests and items in the world, trophies and such, that you could bring back to display there.

Wall of Weapons and some of my other stuff

There was also a whole profession dedicated to furniture and such.

And if you wanted to sell on the market you HAD to have a house.  That was also your store front.  And there wasn’t offline selling at first, so you had to leave your character logged on, in your house, so people could buy your stuff while you were away.  I used to log myself in, then go to work all day, come home in the evening, and find myself still logged in.

Whatever you say about the initial design of the game, they were committed to housing.

I’ve written about what makes housing feel worthwhile in MMORPGs.  There are a lot of aspects that can go into it, and some of them are subjective and also drive a lot of emotion.  Some people absolutely have to have a real physical house that occupies space that unambiguously belongs to it.  Nothing but such a literal simulacrum attempt will do, no matter the issues inherent in that. (Which exist in both the real in virtual worlds because, as any real estate agent will tell you, it is all about “location, location, location.)

EQII opted for instanced housing, which has its own problems.  But you can at least always get a place that is convenient to where you want to be or what you want to do.

And that is one of the strengths of the game, one of pillars that holds the game together in my opinion.  I have played a lot of games with indifferent housing, forgettable cosmetic ventures that add little or no value to your experience.  But whenever I go back to play EQII, and I was doing that as recently as a year ago, I always check in on my house, add new items, move stuff around.

Then I go to the guild hall, which is something else they did very well, though that took a little more time to gel into another cornerstone of the game.

So here we are, 18 years down the road.  Given that Ultima Online is celebrating 25 years and EverQuest is well into its 23rd year, 18 doesn’t seem quite so long.

Of course, on the flip side, a commercially viable online game run by a public company that is 18 years old… well, in a world where EA is a thing, that does seem a bit strange at times.  Plus I was there, playing the damn game on November 13th, 2004.  A lot has changed since then.

So congrats on another year of EverQuest II.  It at least gets to celebrate its birthday before World of Warcraft every year… sort of.  WoW is even now loudly making plans and trying to scoop up all the possible guests for its birthday on the 23rd.

At least it has more expansions than WoW I suppose.

Another year goes by and I add another anniversary post to my list.

Past posts if you are in a nostalgic mood:

EverQuest II and the Renewal of Ro Expansion

Meanwhile, over in the land of Norrath, Daybreak has started giving us glimpses of the next EverQuest II expansion, Renewal of Ro.

It came up as a bit of a tease with the EverQuest II producer’s letter last month, but there wasn’t much to go with it other than a splash screen, so the time did not seem ripe yet.

Renewal of Ro

But things are starting to move along.  The roadmap that they put out in January, and have stuck to admirably (most roadmaps begin to fall apart at the six month mark in my experience) has October slated as the beginning of the Beta, the start of pre-expansion events, and your chance to pre-purchase the expansion.

And you can’t start selling an expansion without telling everybody what it is about, so we have the initial description:

While on a valiant quest to help aerakyn return to their original thread of reality, adventurers find themselves going back to the brutal island of Ro, but this time on the southern half of the flaming desert. Here, with the help of a local tribe of Hizite nomads, they will make their way across the unforgiving Raj’Dur Plateaus, to explore what is left of the Elddar Empire’s cursed city, the long Buried Takish’Hiz, before finding themselves within the renewed Takish Badlands, as they are led into the treacherous Sandstone Delta by the machinations of a notorious foe. They will come face-to-face with Raj’Dur bandits, power-hungry djinn, desert madmen, cursed Elddar, Dunetooth goblins, the Mhyt-moo school of Yha-lei, the Stormfury and Swordfury cyclops clans, and the Ortallian zealots of Ro, not to mention the glorious heroes they will team up with along the way.

There is more available on the expansion page.  I’m honestly not sure what all of that means, but we seem to be going back to the Desert of Flames setting, which was the site of the first expansion… only things seem more green.

Tropical looking

As for what is coming with the expansion, the bullet points are very familiar:

  • Rise above the rest with 5 new Ascension levels and spells.
  • Epic Spell Quests – Embark on an adventure to discover and upgrade an all new powerful epic spell for your class.
  • Discover new Adventure, Tradeskill, and Signature quests in the unexplored regions of the deserts of Ro.
  • Conquer all new Solo, Heroic, and Raid content. Return to the flaming desert! Rediscover Takish’Hiz!

Going back to the Desert of Ro does stoke a bit of nostalgia in me.  I was playing EverQuest II semi-seriously back during Desert of Flames.  But my experience with the last expansion wasn’t great… though the joy of EQII expansions is that you can just skip over the old stuff and start right away in the new.  There is always a chest of catch up equipment at the entrance waiting for you.

As for what it costs, the price ranges from reasonable to outrageous, depending on what you really want.  From the expansions order page:

  • Standard Edition – $34.99
  • Collector’s Edition – $69.99
  • Premium Edition – $139.99
  • Family & Friends Edition – $249.99

The standard edition will get you in the door… and comes with a level 120 boost, while the friend’s and family gets you a whole truck load of stuff, including an extra copy of the standard edition that you can trade in-game.

The expansion itself isn’t due out until December, so we have a while to go yet.  But the march to launch has begun.

Friday Bullet Points on Saturday about EVE Online

What do you do when you have a nice set of items for a coherent, single topic bullet points post and then Friday is the last day of the month so your month in review post gets that spot?

You declare Saturday an honorary Friday and just run with it.  So here are some short items about EVE Online that I probably could have cranked posts out of… but didn’t feel like it.

  • Empires of EVE Vol. II Audio Book

I received an email last week from the Empires of EVE Vol. II Kickstarter project I pledge to back in 2018 that the audio book version of the project was finally complete.  The physical book has been in my possession for a couple of years now, but an audio book release, as we got with the first book, had been a promise.

The sequel!

The audio book announcement was for backers only and contained a link that allowed us to download it.  The good news is that it is available.  The less good news is that it still needs work to be released for Audible.com, something that may not happen.  That is a shame, because once I saw the email subject line I ran over to Audible to buy a copy just to support the project and its author one more time.

Andrew Groen, the author, has had his own trials over the last couple of years, as have we all, and it sounds like chronicling the tales of the null sec empires is no longer on his agenda.  Two books is more than enough to ask of one person I suppose, but one can always dream of a third volume.  The downfall of The Mittani might have made a reasonable bookend to the series… at least until something else happens in null sec.

  • The Mittani Gone from GoonWaffe

Speaking of The Mittani, the word spread this past week that he had been kicked from GoonWaffe, the executor corp for Goonswarm Federation.  This news was greeted by cheers, jeers, and very few tears.

The corp history of The Mittani

I’m not particularly worried about him and his well being… he’s not even as old as I was when I started this blog… but I do wonder how he has filled the hole in his life that EVE Online used to occupy.  How much of your average week does it take to be a space emperor?  More than I am willing to commit no doubt.

  • Alliance Tournament XVIII Begins

Or, rather, it has already begun by the time this post goes live.  This weekend sees the Trials Tournament where teams that did not get direct entry into the AT or buy their way in with the silent auction are able to battle it out to earn a spot in the tournament.

Alliance Tournament 18

The linked post also shows which teams are already lined up for the AT as well as the tie breaker methodology for the tournament.  (Hint: fly Minmatar hulls)

  • Weekend Fleet Pack

Finally, while I usually don’t shill for CCP when it comes to special offers, this one connects to some interesting history.

CCP just announced what they are calling the Weekend Fleet Pack, that gets you 3 days of Omega time and 50 PLEX, all for the low price of $3.75.  Yes, that is $37.50 for 30 days of Omega at that price, almost double the going rate, but that is not the point.

Weekend Fleet Pack

This looks like it could be a smart move by CCP.  This allows a player to unlock Omega for 3 days, so if there is some big move op or fleet battle going on they can jump on in without committing to the $20 fee that is the base 30 day subscription these days.

And, once you’re in and invested, maybe you’ll see the light and subscribe further.  It could happen.

But what makes this interesting is that SOE had an offer kind of like this back in the day called the EQII Passport.

One from the archive

Back in 2010 SOE floated the idea that you could get 3 days of game play for just $5.00… and it got a pretty rough response from fans.

In hindsight, I think the plan suffered from a few items, not the least being price.  But I think the fact that it was treated as a “once per 30 days” option was the real killer.  What were they thinking?  They wanted players to commit to 3 consecutive days of play in a month during a time when there was no free to play option.

In light of that experience, I think CCP’s cheaper price and more flexible terms might stand a much better chance of success.

Friday Bullet Points about Enad Global 7 and Q2 2022

Nobody said I couldn’t do a Friday bullet points post about just one topic, so here I am.  Future me will no doubt like this post.  And the topic of the day is going to be Enad Global 7, their Q2 2022 financials, and a few related tidibits.

Enad Global 7

There are a few sources of information about their earnings and I will list out all the links at the bottom of the post for those looking for more.

  • Hey We Made More Money

Enad Global 7 reported some serious year over year returns, though that number is helped along by the fact that Q2 2021 wasn’t lighting anybody on fire.  Still, the numbers look good and have been on the rise since that low point.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Net Revenue

Games seem to be taking on a bigger role in the revenue mix, which was about split with services a year ago.  Also, it is about 10 SEK to the USD right now, so you can just divide by ten to get the approximate value in dollars.  I guess that works for Euros now that there is parity between the Euro and the dollar.  For GB Pounds, though, you’re on your own there.

When we look at the game revenue it looks like Daybreak rules the roost, bringing in 75% of that particular pie.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Game Revenue Segments

  • LOTRO hits a Recent High

The EG7 future game plan still rides a lot on Lord of the Rings Online, referencing Amazon’s Middle-earth saga and the coming revamp in the middle term plans.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Looking Forward

They also mentioned that the 15th anniversary of the game raised number of players logging into the game to its highest level since 2016.  It is hard for me to judge exactly what that means.  Sure, more is always better, but was 2016 a benchmark year?  A high water mark of some sort?  Or just a point on the graph downward from the initial free to play conversion numbers?

Left unmentioned was whether the recent acquisition of the Tolkien IP rights by the Embracer Group would have any impact on the future plans for the game.

  • Norrath Expansions

Not that I doubted there would be expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  They are there in the game roadmaps for the year.  But it is nice to get that in writing from the company.  Daybreak… I mean EG7… has changed their minds on things suddenly in the past.

In addition, in the Q&A transcript, the following was said about the expansions:

And the upcoming annual expansion packs for EverQuest and EverQuest II, large updates that perform well every year.

They perform well every year, eh?  That financial insight we got from EG7 before the acquisition, that was cut off in 2020 before the expansions for either title shipped.  I wonder how much that would have boosted their numbers.

  • Done with Acquisitions for Now

The word “organic” comes up a lot in their presentation and the investors call.  Organic growth refers to growing the revenue for their current titles and services, as opposed to driving it up by acquiring other companies.

During the investor call they didn’t say that more acquisitions were out of the question, but they did declare it was a very different market than it was over the last couple of years, so it sounds like they’re not going to be pursing other companies the way they did in 2020 and 2021.

Instead, they will be focused on growing the current titles… and becoming some sort of consulting business or something.

  • Reverse Merger Complete

Finally, one of the big announcements on the agenda was the ascension of Jason Epstein, the second largest shareholder in the company, the the position of chairman of the board, where he will take a more active roll in the overall running of the company.  Meanwhile, Ji Ham continues to hone his dramatic talents as Acting CEO of Enad Global 7.

I speculated last month that Daybreak was in the process of completing a reverse merger, that the company that was acquired was going to end up owning the company that did the buying.

This is what the end game of such a move looks like, with the players in the former taking over key positions in the latter.

All I can says is, “Epstein, you magnificent bastard!”  I did not, however, read his book.

Related:

Friday Bullet Points about Daybreak, Plans, and Producer’s Letters

Another Friday in July and time for another bullet points post.  I am going to have to go back and check, but July seems to be the most popular month for bullet point posts here.  My guess is based on my having done the “one year ago” section for the month in review post and seeing that I did four of them last July and the fact that this is my fourth one this month.

At least I have been trying to go easy on future me who will have to write that month in review post in a year by keeping them mostly on related topics in a single post.  And this week it is Daybreak.

  • EverQuest Producer’s Letter

There was a producer’s letter for EverQuest and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the team is still sticking to the roadmap format they introduced at the start of the year.

Classic EverQuest

I fully expect companies to do something like that then forget about it in two months and never reference it again.  But here they not only have it front and center, they took the time to put links in the line items so you could go read about the output of a given item.

There honestly wasn’t much in the current producer’s letter that was of interest to me.  Another special rules server is being retired and merged into the Vox server, the designated home for retro refugees.

But coming up in September we’re supposed to get an update to heroic characters… the insta-level option in EverQuest and EverQuest II… so that they will no longer start off at level 85, where they have been for almost a decade at this point.  The update will raise them to start at level 100… which isn’t exactly stellar when the level cap is already 120, but it is something I guess.

Also, there are some hints about the upcoming expansions… which to me mostly confirms that we will be getting the usual annual expansion.  This year will be the 29th in the series.  How many is too many?  I guess we don’t know yet.

  • EverQuest II Producer’s Letter

As with its older sibling, EverQuest II got its own producer’s letter which also stuck to the roadmap from back in January.  There the update was focused on game update 120, called Myths and Monoliths, which is their big mid-year content drop for the current expansion.

The aging second entry, no longer so young compared to the original

There were also some hints about the next expansion, number 19, which we can expect to see by the end of the year if they are sticking to the usual plan… and I don’t see anything to suggest that they are not.

  • LOTRO and Support’s Packs

Lord of the Rings Online also had a producer’s letter, which drew attention to the update 33.1.1 and the adventures of the sons of Elrond, Elladan & Elrohir.

However, their 15th anniversary plans do not include and expansion.  They haven’t been on a solid annual schedule over the life of the game, so I suppose that isn’t a huge surprise.  But they would still like some money from you, so they have introduced Supporter Packs, where you can spend some money on unique cosmetic items along with some LOTRO points.

The packs are $35, $60, and $100, so it is like buying an expansion, just without the content.

I am not the best person to judge the community reaction, but I got the impression “underwhelmed” might be in the ballpark.

Supporter packs, the departure of some staff, and the emergence of a pirate retro server raised the question What is going on? over at Contains Moderate Peril.

  • DDO and Perma-death Again

Dungeons & Dragons Online… I don’t know if they do expansions or producer’s letters frankly.  I haven’t tried to play it in over a decade.  Put I do see news and headlines about it now and then, and it does come under the Daybreak banner, so I might as well add in something about it.

The latest update is the return of the Hardcore League for its sixth season.  This is a perma-death server experience where players compete to complete as much content as possible while staying alive.  Unlike special servers for other Daybreak classic titles, you do not need to be a VIP subscriber in order to join in on the experience.

As an added bonus, season six has some special dangers waiting for players who might have otherwise mastered the routine in the last five runs.

  • PlanetSide 2 goes Under Water

Now I am really out of my depth as what I know about PlanetSide 2 could be written into the margins of a standard trade paperback book without distracting the reader for more than half a page.

But I can read well enough myself to see that they made a big splash with the Surf and Storm update earlier this month which introduced the island continent of Oshur and features under water game play.

Sturm und Drand

Underwater content tends to be one of the few things to disorient me and give me a bit of motion sickness in 3D MMOs, so I am not all that excited about this, but it does indicate that they are carrying on trying new things with the title.  And hey, it might even be stable by the time this post goes live.

  • H1Z1 Has Absolutely Nothing New

I looked to see what was up with DC Universe Online and H1Z1 to see what they had to report and… well, DCUO is an even bigger mystery to me than PlanetSide 2, but I could at least go to the game’s site and see that there were recent news items and updates.

H1Z1 however… the most recent news item on the game’s web site is from October of 2020.

Remember when this was a thing?

So it goes, another bullet point post comes to an end.

Friday Bullet Points about Daybreak, 64-bit, and the End of the Drunder Server

It is Friday and I don’t have anything worth a full post, so here are a few tidbits mostly about Daybreak.

  • 64-bit EverQuest II

I was actually thinking about writing a full post about this, but there isn’t that much to say at this point.  Server and client have been upgraded to 64-bit, which was pretty much necessary to ensure the long term viability of the game.

There wasn’t a lot of fanfare around the launch.  It just showed up at the top of the patch notes and got a short news item on the site.  But they have done 64-bit upgrades for the other titles in the Daybreak stable already, so it doesn’t seem all that exciting.

The system requirements for the game have changed, and if you’re still running on 32-bit Windows XP then your days of playing the game are over until you upgrade.  But otherwise, just another day at Daybreak.

  • Drunder Goes Under

It seems like ages ago when Daybreak announced the unique “special” server that was Drunder.

Fortress of Drunder is included on the Drunder server

It was almost seven years ago when they hit on the idea of collecting all the problem children together. Anybody busted for breaking the game’s rules wasn’t to be banned, they were to be banished to the Drunder server.  There they could hang out with all their fellow miscreants and reflect on their crimes.  Also, they would get no customer service support and would have to pay a subscription to keep playing.  It was a strange idea.  I wrote a whole post about it when they announced it, with links out to like posts.

Well, the Drunder era is over.  It was announced on the forums that the server was no more.

We are announcing today that Drunder has been retired. This also means all accounts associated with Drunder will no longer be accessible.

It was strange to think that somebody might continue to play, or even subscribe, when they had been banished.  But if somebody was doing so, they can play no longer as their accounts are not longer accessible.

In an ironic twist, the forum message ends with:

Please contact Customer Service with all questions or concerns here: https://help.daybreakgames.com/

Since they were not supposed to get any customer support once banished, I wonder what they should expect now?  Or if there was anybody left to expect anything in any case.  I have a feeling that if the server was active with still paying customers it wouldn’t have gotten the chop.

Related Coverage:

It seems they banned Daybreak accounts and not just the EverQuest II access.  Oh, Daybreak.

  • Robin Flodin Paid Off

This isn’t strictly a Daybreak thing, and it happened more than a month ago at this point, but it has been in my notes to bring up at some point.  Robin Floodin, one time CEO of Enad Global 7 and the enthusiastic face of the company that bought out Daybreak, was bought out of the company.  Per the statement published back at the end of May:

On May 25, 2022, the EG7 executive team and select board members purchased 2,446,592 shares, representing 2.8% of outstanding shares, from Robin Flodin, the former CEO of EG7. The purchase price was SEK 16.25 per share and amounted to almost SEK 40 million. After this transaction, Mr. Flodin will no longer be a shareholder in the company. The purchasing group was led by Jason Epstein, a current board member and the proposed new chairman of the board who acquired 1.1 million shares; Ji Ham, the acting CEO, acquired 900,000 shares, doubling his stake; and Alexander Albedj, the current chairman of the board, acquired 250,000 shares. Additional participants in the group included the deputy CEO and CFO, IR-responsible and independent board members.

A nice payday for Mr. Flodin I suppose, but it does make one wonder if Enad Global 7 really acquired Daybreak or if it is ending up the other way around.  As noted over at MMO Fallout, “acting” CEO Ji Ham doesn’t appear to have an replacement waiting in the wings many months after taking on the center stage role.  One might begin to think that it is less an act and more a fait accompli.

The EverQuest II Varsoon Time Locked Expansion Server Launches Today

Check another one off of the EverQuest II roadmap that Daybreak gave us back in January, as the Varsoon time locked expansion server they promised for May is arriving today.

Varsoon today

Such servers are no longer anything new for EQ or EQII, but the team does continue to refine the formula with each launch.  This time around expansion unlocks will be on a 16 week timer, save for Desert of Flames, which is only worthy of 12 weeks.  That means you have 16 weeks to play through the content with the main lump of players who start today in order to experience the old content as it was meant to be, with that aforementioned lump of players all in the same expansion and zones.

They have posted a FAQ in the forums about the server.  One of the key items is that you need to be a Daybreak All Access subscriber in order to join in.  Special servers are for subscribers only.

Other tidbits from the FAQ:

What’s Happening on Varsoon?

Varsoon is a Time-Locked Expansion (TLE) server where expansions unlock automatically. This server will be very similar to the Kaladim TLE except that Varsoon will also be a Free-Trade server. Which means items that are normally heirloom, will be able to be traded with other players.

Return of the Hoods

The hoods and villages will be open for Varsoon, like Big Bend, Longshadow Alley, the Baubleshire and Nettleville. Quest content in these villages will remain changed, but the hoods themselves will be there to access and reminisce.

Overseer

Q: Will the Overseer System be available on Varsoon TLE server?
A: Yes! The Overseer System will be available on the Varsoon TLE server.

That latter is interesting.  It isn’t so much that the feature is completely out of bound for most of life of the game so far.  It is more a matter of wondering how they will itemize the rewards.  They can barely be bothered to update the reward system for the Overseer feature on the live servers, so you end up with stuff a couple of expansions out of date.  I assume they have done some work for this server, but will it change every 16 weeks or just muddle along in some semi-useful state?

In addition, Daybreak has also announced the Summer Jubilee, which will run from June 2nd until August 24th, and which will be an umbrella event that covers Tinkerfest, the Scorched Sky Celebration, and the Oceansfull Festival.

  • Tinkerfest — June 2, 2022 to June 15, 2022
  • Scorched Sky Celebration — June 30, 2022 to July 13, 2022
  • Oceansfull Festival — August 11, 2022 to August 24, 2022

I mention this because special rules servers, including Varsoon, will get their own version of the event.  Anyway, Bhagpuss has more to say about Jubilees than I do.

So, at some point today… I am sure the plan is noon Pacific time, but experience shows that later in the evening is more likely… the Varsoon server will unlock and the rush through the content will begin.