Category Archives: EverQuest II

March in Review

The Site

As I mentioned at the end of a mid-month entry, I passed the 5,000 post mark.

Where I stand today… still not popular on Tumblr

I hit 1,000 posts more than ten years ago, a little more than two years into the life of the blog.  As I noted in my anniversary post last year, my style has gone from many short posts to fewer, much longer posts over time, so I guess that lines up.

There are about 3.8 million words spread over all of those posts, making a 750 word post the average for the site.  Given how many 200 word posts I’ve done over the years, like when I post a video on the weekend with just a few comments, that means I have some behemoths out there offsetting those.

One Year Ago

Project: Gorgon made it to Steam.

Shroud of the Avatar left early access.

EverQuest turned nineteen and launched a new server.

In EVE Online the player run Burn Jita event was back for 2018.  Many ships were destroyed and I took a bunch of screen shots and tried to count the cost.

Up in Pure Blind we killed some dreads and I got a kill mark on my guardian.

CCP let out more details about the road to CSM13.  There was a pretty short interval in which to register your candidacy.

The March Update for EVE Online dropped the jump fatigue cap to four hours and introduced The Hunt event.

There was an INN editorial about the metaphorical masks we wear in EVE Online.  I asked if we donned the masks on purpose or if our masks were shaped by the game itself.  I was also blog warring with SynCaine over the idea of instanced null sec battles.  It would break the game in my view.

Rift Prime went live and I spend a good chunk of time playing that.  I was in the guild The Fishing Defiants with Liore and some of the cats she used to herd.  The daily gifts and the chat could be overwhelming.

I played through Freemarch pretty quickly and moved to the east end of Stonefield.  Trion was tinkering with the experience curve, but they gave us some informational tidbits about the server.

And a Kickstarter campaign for the World of Warcraft Diary looked doomed from the outset.  But the author vowed to regroup and return.

Five Years Ago

I was thinking about the word “free” and how it really brings up negative connotations.  Basically, “free” is usually a scam, so why should we expect “Free to Play” games to viewed as anything else?

My other blog, EVE Online Pictures, qualified for inclusion as an EVE Online fan site.  Free account!  Or it was.  CCP is killing the fan site program.

Meanwhile CCP lost money through “derecognizing” an asset which would turn out to be the demise of World of Darkness as a project for them.  CCP was also taking a stab at cosmetic options for ships.

I picked my 15 most influential video games, and got some other people to pick theirs as well.

WalMart was going to get into the used video game market.  Did that ever go anywhere?  I don’t shop at Wally World.

Something called MyDream wanted to be a Minecraft killer or some such.

It was the end of the line for Free Realms and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures as SOE chief John Smedley vowed never to make kids games again.  While over in EverQuest the 15 year anniversary included the introduction of instant level 85 characters.  I gave that a try and got lost immediately.

Facebook bought Occulus Rift.  Meanwhile, Sony announced Project Morpheus which later became PlayStation VR.

Brad McQuaid was a month past his unsuccessful Pantheon Kickstarter and I was wondering what the plan was.

In a set of short items, I also noted that EverQuest Next Landmark became simply Landmark, two of the founders of Runic games left the studio to try their luck elsewhere, while King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, went public and became one of the most shorted stocks on the market!  They were mentioned on the Planet Money podcast about shorting.  Of course, Blizzard ended up buying them, so I wonder how those shorts played out in the end?

The ongoing “Blizzard isn’t giving you…” series continued. while Diablo III: Reaper of Souls went live, an event which included the end of the auction house.  I had gone back to the game to try some of the changes.

Also on the Blizzard front Hearthstone launched. They did manage to find a hook to get me to play Hearthstone… or at least a couple rounds of it.  Five years later I would be surprised to find I have played more than 50 rounds of the game.

I was also musing about WoW and when the expansion would launch and the stat squish and guild levels and pseudo-server merges and my insta-90 choice and Warlords of Draenor being $50… which was at least better than it being $60.  While, actually in the game the instance group took on Zul’Aman.

We formed something I ended up calling the “strategy group,” if only to distinguish it from the “instance group” which started out playing some Age of Empires II.

And I wrote another installment of my ongoing TorilMUD series, this time about the Faerie Forest.

Ten Years Ago

In March 2009 we were excited about Pokemon Platinum around our house, although we weren’t really finished with Pokemon Diamond yet.

I spent a day up at GDC in San Francisco.

In WoW we finished up a short hiatus and started back in at the SteamVault.  My daughter was tearing up Warsong Gulch.  Meanwhile, the Lich King seemed to have laid a curse on my new video card.  Nothing I did ever seemed to change this issue, though it did seem to go away eventually.

In EVE Online, the Apocrypha expansion came out, and with it the classic graphics were swept away.  Adam though, was making his own adventures in New Eden.  Oh, and I bought a freighter.

Mythic was trying to tempt me back into Warhammer Online with 10 days free.

Somebody tried to put together a list of the Ten Most Important MMORPGs.  Like all such list, this one started the comments rolling.

It was launch day and I was already complaining about Runes of Magic… well, about the patcher in any case.

finished up what was then the last book of the Wheel of Time series.  The last Robert Jordan authored one.

The EverQuest 10th anniversary just wasn’t evoking the level of nostalgia in me that I thought it would.

And we had to say goodbye to an old friend and family member.  The picture my daughter drew is still up on the wall.  A decade later it still draws the occasional sad word later in the evenings when people are tired and a bit more emotionally fragile.

Fifteen Years Ago

Battlefield Vietnam, the follow up title to Battlefield 1942 and its expansions, hit the shelves.  This was probably the last shooter I played online regularly.  It never got a stellar mod like the Desert Combat, though it did have the Sweden vs. Norway mod that was… unique.  I also recall one of the maps had an issue that killed your frame rate if you entered a particular area.

Twenty Years Ago

Some game called EverQuest launched.  Heard of it?

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  2. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  5. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  6. Celebrating Katia Sae
  7. The Myrmidon Experiment
  8. Quote of the Day – No Porn
  9. What is a Niche MMORPG?
  10. Burn Jita back for 2019
  11. The EVE Online March Update Brings Restrictions for Alpha Clones
  12. Steam Policy Plays Out as Expected

Search Terms of the Month

sum baer iz durid
[Tehm whos bare durids, can B 4 tank?]

next eq2 expansion
[November]

is eqii dying?
[We’re all dying]

meaning of nazgun
[It should have the u-circumflex and be pronounced ‘Naz-Goon’]

feral bear porn
[There is something wrong with you]

Game Time from ManicTime

Month three of tracking game time is showing a trend of making these month in review posts even longer.  Just what everybody wanted.  Knowing exactly what I played means comments on more titles every month, and this month was especially confused with conflicting bouts of nostalgia competing with one another.  So the March list is the longest so far.

  • EverQuest 31.25%
  • World of Warcraft 15.87%
  • Lord of the Rings Online 12.94%
  • Path of Exile 10.60%
  • EVE Online 9.06%
  • Minecraft 5.73%
  • Diablo 5.72%
  • MS Solitaire 4.09%
  • RimWorld 2.45%
  • EverQuest II 2.27%

Diablo

Released on GoG.com as something of a surprise… was there any indication it was coming or did it just arrive one day… classic Diablo was something I had to buy.  I wasn’t sure I was going to play much of it, and certainly opening up this 1996 title reminded me how far we have come in gaming.  But there is a certain uncomplicated charm to it, and I ended up playing much more than I thought I might.  I have made it down to level 13 and am clearing that, though I had to take a break as the consta-clicking nature of it was making my hand hurt.  Click and hold for repeat attacks on a mob was clearly a feature we needed.

EVE Online

Operations in the east of null sec continue.  There was a bit of a swap or partners as Black Legion joined up with Fraternity.  Meanwhile, Pandemic Horde got a bit more serious about pushing back on our ops and we had some fights come to us in our staging.  Nothing huge or dramatic, though the month did end on a nice kill.  There were a couple of fights I might have written about had I not been swamped by topics already this past month.

EverQuest

Nostalgia fever.  I knew I would jump in for a bit for the 20th anniversary, but I wouldn’t have bet that EverQuest would top my play time chart.  All that travel time to the Scarlet Desert certainly added up.

EverQuest II

I did not spend much time at all in new Norrath.  I basically logged in to get the special gift they were giving out for the EverQuest 20th anniversary.  It was a painting for your home. which I hung up in mine.  Then I noticed how crowded with stuff my basic Halas apartment had become, so I started looking into upgrades.  I actually bought a larger Halas house, and now I need to get all my stuff setup there.  Moving is always hard.

Lord of the Rings Online

The Mines of Moria expansion opened up on the Legendary server and I started in on that.  That meant fiddling around in Eregion for a while before heading underground.  Once you’re in Moria there is no swift travel horse route back to Rivendell or Bree.  Probably a good thing.  I have consulted enough with Elrond.  Plus it is embarrassing to go back there and see Aragon standing around when he allegedly got into Moria ahead of you.

Microsoft Solitaire

I clicked on this during a fleet op where we were waiting on a black ops waiting to hot drop on a target.  It is something to fiddle with while waiting on things in fleets.  Basically, this time would have been counted towards EVE Online if I had just stayed in that window.  But who does that?

Minecraft

I wanted to listen to an audio book, but I cannot just sit and listen.  I have to be doing something while I listen.  That’s just me.  Usually I am driving.  But sitting at home and wanting to knock out the last couple hours of an audio book usually means playing a game, one that doesn’t have a lot of text to process, since that is single threaded in my brain.  Minecraft is about perfect for that.  I didn’t have a grand plan.  I just explored a bit and upgraded a couple of bases, digging mines and building infrastructure.

Path of Exile

I started off pretty strong on this when the Synthesis season dropped.  I made it into Act II and into the mid-20s level-wise.  Then Mines of Moria opened up in LOTRO and the EverQuest anniversary hit and Wintergrasp was back in World of Warcraft and that was about that.  It was just superseded by events.

Pokemon Go

The change to Team Instinct has made playing with my wife better/easier/more fun now that we’re on the same side.  We go battle over a gym in a part near us with another couple we know who is on Team Valor.  Neither side is above throwing berries remotely just to make those fights annoying.  We’re horrible people.

Also, made it to level 36.  Now to do the 2 million point climb to 37.  I need more friends.

Level: 36 (+1)
Pokedex status: 301 (+13) caught, 431 (+16) seen
Pokemon I want: Meltan, but I still have a several tasks to go in order to get there
Current buddy: Togetic

RimWorld

I started out the month playing this.  I thought it might dominate the month, being another game that you can sit and look at and tinker with pretty easily while you listen to a podcast or audio book.  However I fell out with it fairly quickly as other games showed up.

World of Warcraft

I binged on renewed and revamped Wintergrasp when it was the pick of the week for battlegrounds.  Most of my play time was probably during that week.  But I still long in every other day or so to pick up some world quests and do a few pet battles.

Coming Up

Tomorrow is April Fools.  Let’s see if we can get through it without being either a complete fool or a total wet blanket.

Google Plus will be  gone from public use come April 2.  Farewell to my three followers there.

I saw a mention that we might hear something soon about CSM elections for EVE Online, but nothing concrete.  I would have thought we would have heard something by now, as traditionally CCP starts talking about that around February.  But with the world tour schedule and CCP Guard having left, the CCP team might be a bit busy at the moment.

In game, the Imperium is not going to join in on the war in the east… unless you count SIGs and squads.  Then we are totally in on whatever happens.

In LOTRO I’ll likely carry on into Moria.  I’m over the threshold and hidden from sunlight already.

We’ll have to see if I carry on with EverQuest after the 20th anniversary month wraps up today.

Twenty Years of EverQuest

The EverQuest 20th Anniversary is today and, while I thought I said what I had to say yesterday, here it is today and another post.  I guess it is kind of a big deal, so I can post about it today too.  And probably tomorrow.   Plus Daybreak made this nice 20th anniversary image.

20 Years Ago Today…

When I got up this morning the EverQuest site was down for maintenance.  Daybreak is in the same time zone and I am sure they were up earlier than I was getting things ready for the big day.

EverQuest itself was up and running, though the Mangler and Selo servers were not yet available. (The EverQuest II side of the house was more on the ball I guess, as the Kaladim and Nagafen servers were reported up pretty early.)  But that was fine.  I wasn’t planning to join in on either of the EverQuest servers.  Instead I got on my current character on the Vox server and found the Plane of Knowledge already decorated.

The 20th Anniversary is Here

There are the usual things around like special vendors, bonus XP, and anniversary events, both new and historical.

This quest giver looks familiar

Not too long later the EverQuest site was up again, sporting a new design for the anniversary.  The anniversary was front and center of course, including some news about events.

Firiona Vie doesn’t look 20 years older

The site was also pushing special 20th Anniversary packs for $20 and $35, both of which illustrate the problem I have with the EverQuest cash shop.

The 20th Anniversary Packs

Basically, you can get a bag and three rather mild XP potions for $20, or add on two smaller bags and a series of other dubious potions for an additional $15.  I guess, in the context of the EverQuest cash shop those are not bad prices, but I am also familiar with the EverQuest II cash shop, where I find the items, options, and pricing much… more to my tastes I guess.  This comes up every expansion season as well, where I find that I would be tempted by the deluxe editions of the EverQuest II expansions, but the addons for EverQuest seem so tepid.

Basically, $20 for a bag, even a big 40 slot bag, seems like a lot.  But the in-game cash shop sells a 28 slot bag for $18, so I guess it is a deal in that context.  And maybe if I were more invested in the game, or less aware of its younger sibling, I might be okay with it.  Inventory management is a big chore in the original game, and awkward compared to more modern games as well.

Anyway, I decided to spend at least some time playing EverQuest on the anniversary.  I’ll be running around in the daily hotzone quest area soaking up some XP with my mercenary tank.  There isn’t much else I can indulge in at my low level.

In the Paludal Caverns

I’ve already managed to go from level 17 to 21 in not too much time this morning.  Of course, now my inventory is full of crap.  I guess I can see the point of the bags.

Events, deals, and bonuses run through the end of the month, so I guess I didn’t have to jump right in today.  But I figured I had jumped right in on this day 20 years ago, so why not?

Addendum: There is also a 20th anniversary Producer’s Letter complete with infographic.  Of course I saved the infographic because they tend to disappear over the years. (See yesterday’s post for some of those.)  You need to click on the infographic in order to be able to read it.

20 Year Infographic

Reflections on the Eve of the 20 Year EverQuest Anniversary

I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, so sue me if I go too fast
But life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last

-Prince, 1999

What to say, here at the 20 year mark of the game?  There is so much emotion and history all packed around the game, the way it has changed, how the company has treated it, how the players have held onto it, and where it stood in the context of the different times along its twenty year life.

EverQuest stuff I have about the house

I’ve told the tale many times before how hearing about EverQuest through the people playing TorilMUD, some of whom were developing EQ.  I’ve mentioned passing up on the beta.  And I’ve recounted how, on March 16, 1999 I stopped by Fry’s on the way home, picked up a copy, got home, installed it, and was instantly hooked.

It was like no other game I had ever played.  The heavy influence of TorilMUD was clear to me, but that added just a touch of familiarity to help seal the deal.  But EQ was different all the same.  In having to adapt to a 3D world, much had to change.  And it was the open world, the misty edge of Qeynos hill, the far reaches of the Karanas, the dangers of Blackburrow, the sewers under Qeynos, and the fact that the place was full of other people that made it new and different.

But here we are at the 20 year mark and I decided to dig around to see if I could come up with something new to add to what I may have written before.  The blog has been around long enough that I have posts for the eighth, tenth, thirteenth, fifteenth, and other anniversaries.

A splash screen of expansion splash screens at 17 years

Me dispensing a few words about Norrath on March 16th is about as reliable as the Queen’s Christmas Message.

Honestly, for a game I have barely played very much over the life of the blog… save for that burst of activity around the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server back in 2010… I have a lot of posts about it.  It was, at the last accounting, the fourth most common category on the blog, and it doesn’t even get a boost in its count from the month in review posts.

Chart celebrating 15 years

Anyway, I hit upon the idea of maybe dredging up some context for the time around the game’s launch.  After all, in my brain one of the great divides in the world is before/after the launch of EverQuest.  In its way, it changed everything.

Remembering my Computer Gaming World time capsule post from late last year, I got it in my mind to go check out the March 1999 edition of the magazine. EverCrack is what they called it back then and they couldn’t open up servers fast enough for a stretch.  It had 200K players before the year was out.  It must have been a big deal, right?

The archive site was up and running so off I went.

There was nothing on the cover of the March 1999 edition, but it must have gotten a mention inside, right?  Or maybe not.  The .pdf archives are scans of the magazine, not text, so I couldn’t do a search for the name, but there was naught to be seen.  Even the Pipeline section, which tracked the game release schedule didn’t have an entry for EverQuest. (But Duke Nukem Forever was listed, with TBD as a target.)

Well, in the magazine business the date on the cover generally represented the expiration date, so a March edition might represent copy from January or early February at the latest.  So I went to April and May.

Nothing there.  No mention.  Not even ads. (There is an advertiser index at the end of each issue at least.)  Come June there had been enough lead time that EverQuest starts to show up in the listings of the mail order software ads at the back end of the magazine.

And it wasn’t as though their audience hadn’t heard about online games.  The sporadic user popularity poll (in going through the archive it felt like a few different people put CGW together so things appear or disappear from one month to the next) had Ultima Online and Merdidian 59 on the list in April of 1999.

April 1999 RPG Chart

It wasn’t until later in the year that EverQuest started to get mentioned, though in one issue they refer to the company running it as Sony, Verant, and 989 Studios in three different places.  Things were complicated before it all got rolled up as SOE.  There is a column in September 1999 issue (spurred by a mention of the topic in Time magazine) about the sale of virtual goods.  There is even a Brad McQuaid quote in that about virtual worlds.

EverQuest doesn’t even get a mention on a CGW cover until June of 2000 (EverQuest Expansion!) and doesn’t rate its own cover until the December of 2001 issue, to coincide with the Shadows of Luclin expansion.

Firiona Vie in all her mounted glory?

By that point the game was past 400K subscriptions and was the king of the still fresh MMORPG genre.  Certainly SOE didn’t buy their way into that coverage, as there still wasn’t an ad for EverQuest in the magazine.

But the real irony here is which game got the CGW cover the month before.

World of Warcraft hype three years early

That’s right, more than two and a half years after EverQuest launched and more than three years before it would launch, World of Warcraft was the cover choice for the magazine.

I realize that CGW wasn’t the be-all end-all of computer gaming magazines.  PC Gamer managed to get an EverQuest review in by June of 1999.  MetaCritic has some other early reviews noted, so there was some traction, though not as much as you might imagine.  But the CGW archive is handy and looking at the covers and reviews, they were clearly keen to cover anything that might be popular.  There are a lot of familiar games in those pages.

But it is a reminder that EverQuest wasn’t the hot property at launch that some part of my brain thinks it was.  That popularity came later.  While I remember going to Fry’s to buy it the day it launched, I cannot remember how I knew that was the day.  I was aware of it through the TorilMUD connection, so maybe that was it.  And its growth over the first few months was very much a word of mouth affair.  I played on the first night, then came into the office to tell some co-workers that they had to get this game.  They then spread it to other friends.  Eventually it came around and I would run into people and find that they were playing already.

A Nine Year Timeline for EQ

After a while the game started bubbling up other places, it started being called EverCrack, virtual worlds and virtual economies started to be a topic of discussion, and songs about lost corpses started to make their way around the web.

1999 EverQuest Trivia

It was different for later games from SOE.  You can see PlanetSide mentioned on that EverQuest cover.  Star Wars Galaxies started getting mentions in CGW well before its launch.  And come the EverQuest II launch in 2004, there is a scantily clad Antonia Bayle on the cover of the December edition, along with a six page ad spread inside (plus another two page marketing co-op ad from nVidia and a two page spread for Star Wars Galaxies).

EverQuest II on the cover of CGW – December 2004 Issue

Jeff Green was in there with coverage of the game titled The Once and Future King.

If only.

By that point MMORPGs (and gold sellers) were well represented in the CGW ads, with Dark Age of Camelot, Saga of Ryzom, The Matrix Online, City of Heroes, and a little game called World of Warcraft all represented.  There is some irony in how the magazine’s focus turned around, with WoW getting a cover before EQ, then EQII dominating the launch cycle coverage against WoW.

But SOE arrived there, with the assumed natural heir to dominance in the MMORPG genre, because of the way EverQuest took off.  EverQuest and Norrath are the natural foundation of the house that Smed built.  EverQuest remains viable and expanding 20 years later because of what it sparked in so many people back when it launched.

Ultima Online came first, EverQuest II looks better, World of Warcraft took the crown, but nothing so far has sunk what EverQuest started back then.

Maybe some parties were meant to last.

And speaking of lasting, this also happens to be post number 5,000 on the blog.  It seems fitting that it should coincide with the EverQuest anniversary.

Others on the topic of 20 years (I’ll be returning to that first link in another post):

Daybreak Updates Its Norrath Anniversary Progression Server Plans

As I have no doubt mentioned a few times already, and will likely mention again before we’re there, this coming March 16th is the 20th anniversary of the launch of EverQuest.  This is a big deal for me, having been there for the launch, and for Daybreak, as this is the oldest title in their catalog and the foundation of the company that was once Sony Online Entertainment.

So naturally enough Daybreak has some special things planned for Saturday, March 16th, including the launch of four different special servers.  Two are focused on the original EverQuest while the other two are in EverQuest II.

That we’re getting two EverQuest II servers seems a bit odd to me, as that title has its fifteenth anniversary coming up in November of this year.  But maybe they just want to get in on their ancestor’s glory moment.  We’ve already heard that EverQuest II is getting an expansion this year, so maybe that will the the focal point of its 15th anniversary.

Anyway, the official rules for these four servers seem to be set, so let me review what we have here.

The rules for the two EverQuest progression servers were announced a couple weeks back and met with some push back from the players.  Daybreak said they would take this under consideration and came back on Friday with an update heralded on Twitter with this message:

Hail, Norrathians! We heard your feedback, and have made changes to the upcoming Selo and Mangler Progression Servers so that you can get excited about finding a new home in Norrath on March 16th.

So what did they change?

Selo – Ultra Casual becomes Fast

The Selo server was probably the most controversial because Daybreak said in advance it would be “Ultra Casual” and then didn’t define what that meant.  As one might expect, that let everybody interested in the idea set their own mental expectations, so when the rules for the server came out they seemed for many to be at odds with their personal view of the situation.  The Selo server was going to start three expansions in, be true box, unlock an expansion every month, and offer faster experience gains than other progression servers, but still slower than live servers.

Beware of an old game in a hurry

Reading the forums, that seemed ideal for the hardcore raiders, who as a group are always antsy for the next raid unlock, but not exactly casual.  Meanwhile, if you read any of the forum posts on this topic, what constitutes casual is a pretty wide topic.  I personally expected mercenaries or multi-boxing to be allowed and probably experience at the level of a live server.  Others were calling for slower progress, or less experience, or whatever their hearts told them.

Anyway, Daybreak fixed all of this by changing the description of the server from “Ultra Casual” to “Fast Progression.”

Seriously, looking at the FAQ for the Selo server, nothing else has changed.  Given that, I would claim that the message I quoted above was pretty much a lie when it comes to the Selo server.  I’m not saying there was a right answer for everybody who was complaining, but this looked like no answer at all.

Mangler – Plain old Progression Server

Mangler was supposed to be the hardcore server.  Again, what constitutes hardcore is up for debate.  Some people want slower progression, others want to wear the hair shirt and have slow exp.

Hair of the dog

As with the Selo server, Mangler was supposed to start with the Shadows of Luclin expansion, but move more slowly with a much more oppressive experience curve.

In the update, Daybreak has relented and will start a progression server on the 20th anniversary of the classic launch at classic content.  That seems fitting.  But with that, they decided it will be standard progression server, with 12 week unlocks until the Gates of Discord expansion and 8 week unlocks there after for any expansion without a level cap increase.

There is a FAQ up for Mangler, but if you’re familiar with any of the last few progression servers, you won’t find anything new.

Nagafen – Another Shot at PvP

On the EverQuest II front, the previous big news was Daybreak trying to revive PvP with the Nagafen server.  PvP servers have tended to be self consuming for EverQuest II, with the population dying off, followed by players complaining in the forums, then SOE making changes which have tended to only to make things worse.  But they’re willing to give it another try, so if you’re willing to subscribe to all access, you can have a PvP server to play on.

Nagafen’s all consuming fire

The server will be free-for-all PvP and will only allow you to make a single character per account.  You can kill anybody from any faction, with the only safe areas being Qeynos and Freeport.

The newbie starter areas will only allow you to attack people +/- 4 levels from your own, while in the open world you will be restricted to +/- 8 levels, save for the level 40+ zones, where there will be no restrictions at all.

The Nagafen server FAQ covers the plans for seasons, itemization, and expansion unlocks.

Kaladim – A New Gimmick

Finally, there is the Kaladim time locked progression server.  I think there is a message in the fact that Daybreak thinks they can launch a plain vanilla progression server for EverQuest, but for EverQuest II they need something to spice it up.  Not that I am against a gimmick.  I like me a new gimmick now and again.  But it seems odd that Kaladim needs one while Mangler does not.

Kaladim is a dwarf place, so a dwarf

When it comes to the Kaladim server the twist is that you will be able to earn account-wide rewards for completing heritage quests and special account-wide titles for collection quests.

In addition, you will be able to go to the old starter home areas.  This is something of a mixed blessing to my mind.  On the one hand, it will be nice to see old areas of the game that have since been removed.  On the other hand, few things were as disappointing as the racial ghettos of the two starting cities when EverQuest had a unique hometown for every race.  While I missed the old Isle of Refuge starting area, my memories of Greystone yard in Qeynos are mixed at best.  Barbarians and dwarves started there, and little about the place reflected either race.

Also, I had never heard anybody refer to these areas as “hoods” until the Kaladim announcement.  When I saw the word “hoods” I literally thought there was going to be some new cosmetic head gear.   But I guess they cannot call them ghettos, the way I do.  I am certainly using that word in the pejorative sense.  And they aren’t home towns, but places where they are sorting our refugees from the great cataclysm.  No wonder I have little affinity for them.

Anyway, as with the previous three servers, there is a FAQ for Kaladim that goes into more detail.

Which to Choose?

So that is four new servers, all launching in March 16th in celebration of the EverQuest 20th anniversary.

Honestly, I am not enthusiastic about any of them.

If I was part of a group that was keen to visit any of them, I would probably go along.  But for just me, there isn’t much of a call for any of these four.  In this they are unlike the LOTRO Legendary server, where I knew that I could at least progress through and see all the sites on my own.

So where does that leave my plans for the 20th anniversary?

I think I might just stick with the Vox server, where I am already through the tutorial and in the Plane of Knowledge with my cleric.  I am not sure if there will be anything special for him at his low level, but There will be banners and special NPCs to see if nothing else.

It also raises the likelihood that I will head off into Moria once SSG figures out when that will unlock on the Legendary server.  I don’t expect Daybreak to make any changes to the servers announced at this point, but we shall see.

What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?

The future of the EverQuest franchise as a whole is important to us here at Daybreak. EverQuest in all its forms is near and dear to our hearts. EverQuest and EverQuest II are going strong. Rest assured that our passion to grow the world of EverQuest remains undiminished.

-Russell Shanks, March 11, 2016

We’re coming up to the 20th anniversary of the EverQuest franchise next month.  That is a long time for a game to hang around.

EverQuest is still alive and kicking, still getting updates, and still making money so far as I can tell.  It is long past its population peak, which hit way back in 2003.  There have been multiple rounds of server merges in order to keep server populations viable.  But there remains a sizable active player base… a player base that is, in all likelihood, still larger than the initial target Sony had for the game back before it launched.

Therein lies the problem, the dilemma of these sorts of game.  Titles like EverQuest, which I will call MMORPGs, are not like single player games or even most multiplayer games.  They are more like their MUD antecedents in that they have a social aspect that attracts and holds players and keeps them playing long after they might have walked away from a game that only featured a single player campaign.  MMORPGs, if they grab a big enough audience early on, can stay viable for years and years.

Just about five and a half years after EverQuest hit the shelves SOE launched EverQuest II.  It was supposed to ship before then… at least a year before then according to Computer Gaming World back in 2003… but when do these things ever ship on time?

It was meant to replace the original, but was too different and initially too… broken isn’t the right word because a lot of regrettable aspects of the game were working as designed, so maybe just not well thought through… to lure many away from the first game and not good enough on its own to surpass the original.  And, as I mentioned, people invested in EverQuest ended up declining to  jump to a new game to start anew.  The old game was still there and they were settled in the world they already knew and loved.

So Everquest II didn’t exactly break records on the subscriptions front.

In the scale of the time, where EverQuest was the top dog, it still did pretty well.  We’ve seen the subscription chart before that shows it peaking around 350K subscribers.

Subscriptions – 150K to 1 million

That was well shy of EverQuest‘s 550K peak, but nothing to be ashamed of in the mix of games at the time.  Or it wouldn’t have been had not World of Warcraft launched a month later.

I think the the fact that you couldn’t find a copy of WoW very easily until early in 2005 kept people in EQII longer than they might have stayed.  But many of the 350K fled, either back to EQ or on to WoW.    The lesson learned, according to Smed at the time, was no more MMO sequels.  But if they had kept to that this post would stop right here.

Meanwhile WoW‘s subscription numbers distorted all previous measures.  550K looked great, until WoW was rocketing past ten times that number and continuing to climb.  WoW changed the genre and the expectations of both players and studios.  The era of insanity began, where the potential of the genre seemed unlimited.  Charlatans declared that if you weren’t making an MMORPG you were a fool.  WoW became the benchmark for success and money chased those who claimed they could reproduce that success.  However, the plan usually involved copying WoW, sometimes subtly, sometimes brazenly, but WoW was the target.

EQ and EQII chugged along all the same.  They clearly had enough of an audience to remain viable.  They both got updates and expansions on a regular basis.  There was the inevitable change over to a cash shop F2P model since the audience willing to part with $15 a month for a game was limited and, it seemed, concentrated on Azeroth.

Along the way the idea of a sequel began to stir anew.  At SOE Fanfest in August 2010 SOE announced that they were working on a new EverQuest sequel, which had been given the placeholder name EverQuest Next.

The Freeport Next we never saw

I don’t have a post about the announcement itself.  That was back in my naive blogging days when I thought linking out to other coverage was enough.  Link rot has proven that idea wrong.

But I did take a closer look at what SOE considered their lessons learned from the Norrath experience so far.  They sounded reasonable enough in summary:

  • Single world without the need to load zones
  • Instanced dungeons
  • Low system requirements
  • Stylized character models
  • Fewer classes, relative to EQII
  • PvP from day one and “done right”

Basically, it sounded like WoW, except for the PvP “done right” part.  But SOE has never done PvP right in Norrath, so WoW PvP would probably have been a step up.

We heard nothing much else for a long stretch (the usual SOE method) until June of 2012, when it was announced that everything we saw or heard in 2010 was obsolete and should be disregarded.

Come SOE Live, the new name for SOE Fanfest, of August 2013 we were treated to a new vision of an EverQuest sequel.

Firiona Vie makes it to 2013

There was definitely a new plan with a new set of parameters:

  • No Levels
  • Limited Skills Available
  • Skills Specific to Weapons
  • 40 Classes and Multi-classing
  • Six Races
  • Destructible Terrain
  • Parkour-like Movement
  • Combat Roles beyond the WoW Trinity
  • Emergent NPC AI
  • Sandbox nature
  • World Changing Quests

They also adopted EverQuest Next as the official name.  I wrote a long post about each aspect that was covered and linked out to what other people were writing about it as well.  And a lot of people were writing about it, excited by the prospect.

That went on in fits and starts, with long periods of silence, until early March 2016, when the whole thing was finally cancelled.  I declared that the end of the classic open world MMORPG.  Nobody seemed likely to make anything like the original EverQuest again, despite that quote at the top of the post, which came straight from the copy of the EQN cancellation announcement.

But we were into the Daybreak era by then, and closing games had become the rule rather than the exception for the team in San Diego, so a cancellation seemed par for the course.  The development tool-become-game Landmark was all that survived of EverQuest Next, and even its time was limited.

Which brings us to today.  It has been nearly three years since EverQuest Next was cancelled, and I suspect that we will hear no more about it or the goals it had.  Yet still, the rumor of sequels persist.

I had a tip sent to me about two years back that suggested that Daybreak was working on a small scale game based in Norrath, something more like a co-op RPG rather than an MMORPG.  But that was when H1Z1 still included what became Just Survive, which was also supposed to be small scale, with many servers and a co-op or PvP mechanic.  But I haven’t heard anything like that since.  Perhaps the decline and eventual demise of Just Survive kept that from becoming a thing.

Then there was the post-layoff rumor post from last May which had this gem in it:

Everquest 3 has been back in development for a year and is being rebuilt from the ground up. It aims to compete with Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen and to be the first fantasy MMORPG to put an emphasis on team battle royal PvP.

Battle royale EverQuest, because when you have a hammer that worked really well for a bit, every problem looks like a nail?  As PlanetSide Arena suggests, Daybreak is still trying to recapture that battle royale magic that they so briefly held with H1Z1.  And I am not sure that really competes with Pantheon.  But Pantheon is still a vision and some demos five years down the road, so who knows what it might end up being.

And then, back in September of last year, there was the NantWorks joint venture announcement which, among other things, seemed to promise some version of EverQuest on your phone.  But the press release also suggested that H1Z1 and some version of EverQuest were running on the Daybreak’s “well tested game engine,” which might have been a mistake, might have been marketing being unclear on the concept, or might have been a slip that indicated that something in the EverQuest domain was up and running on that engine.

So, with all of that context, where does an actual EverQuest 3 fit into the world?

Wait, I’m not done with context.  Did I mention that it isn’t 1999 anymore?

I realize that the fact that time has moved forward ought to be self-evident, but I don’t think that always sinks in as deeply as it should.  There will be somebody out there who wants the original EverQuest, death penalty and corpse runs included, on an updated platform.

And, I have to admit I have pined for that sort of thing myself at times.  Wouldn’t original EverQuest on the WoW engine be something?

But part of what made EverQuest great and popular and a legend is that it came out in 1999, which I am sad to say is now twenty years gone in the rear view mirror.  At that point in time it was a perfect storm of features and design.  Now though?

So what should an EverQuest 3 look like?

Suggesting going back to 1999 feels like trying to get lightning to strike the same spot a second time, only the storm clouds have long moved on.

Building something more WoW-like with the Norrath lore might have some draw, if done right.  But is the lore enough of a draw if the game is otherwise just another free to play, cash shop, and loot box clone in the genre?

And then there are those lessons learned.  There are some tasty tidbits there.  But Daybreak has already folded on that hand once.  Why would I possibly believe they could revive it again?  It may very well be that the “no sequels” lesson was the one they ought to stick with.

During the coming 20th anniversary of the original I suspect/hope/dread that Daybreak will tell us about plans they have for the future of the franchise.  It seems like the optimum point in time, when nostalgia for the franchise will swell and attention will be drawn to the game as it reaches that milestone.  But I am conflicted as to how I will greet the news of any such successor.

Nagafen will be Pay to Slay

Daybreak gave us our first update since the January Producer’s Letter for EverQuest II late yesterday afternoon.

Why does Daybreak think after 4pm Pacific Time is a good time for news?  That is when you announce things or publish press releases you want people to miss.  Must be a habit from the bad news days.

Anyway, the update was about the coming Nagafen PvP server.

Idealized image of PvP

The beta for the server will start this coming Tuesday, February 5th and will be open to all accounts.  And if this is your thing, you’d better find some time to give it a shot.  Remember what they said in the Producer’s Letter?

If it gets a good following in Beta, we’ll look to launching it live!

The implication is that if you blow this off it will go away… like every past EverQuest II PvP server.

If and when it does go live… though honestly I imagine it is on a trajectory to go live no matter what the Producer’s Letter said… so I guess disregard that last paragraph, Daybreak will probably push this puppy out on optimism alone… you will need to sign on the dotted line for a Daybreak All Access subscription.  No freeps will be admitted.

Other details announced:

  • Nagafen is a seasonal, free-for-all PvP server.
  • Nagafen is a Free-Trade server, where most items are tradeable.
  • In-game scoreboards will keep track of the top killers.
  • Only one character is allowed per account.
  • Stats will be customized and updated for PvP and balance.
  • Channelers and Beastlords will not be available for this season of PvP.
  • Spell research will not be available on Nagafen.
  • Familiars will not be available on Nagafen.
  • Experience potions will not be available on Nagafen.

Free-for-all means no factions.  No need to kill people from the other side of Norrath, you can kill your pals from your home city instead.

They will be doing seasons, which I guess will mean a wipe every so often so everybody can start fresh yet again.  No word on battle royale matches yet.

The stats thing is the bit that always grinds my gears.  History seems to show that you can balance for PvE or you can balance for PvP, but if you try to do both it becomes a disaster so the old SOE solution was to give nearly every piece of gear and every skill or spell both PvE and PvP stats.  For Nagefen they say they have redone the stats and itemization so that it will work for both PvE and PvP, but past experience colors me dubious on that.  We shall see.

Additional follow ups from the announcement include the fact that the cash shop will be pretty bare.  Bags, mounts, and whatever counts as expendables… but not experience potions, as noted above.  And things will be tilted so that PvP will be rewarding if you want to level up.  We’ll see how far people want to level.  As noted, in the old days people level locked around 19 to steer clear of PvP breaking skills.

So another EverQuest II PvP experiment is set to take flight.  I am not rooting against it, I just sound pessimistic based on how this sort of thing has played out in the past.

An EverQuest II Expansion Coming in 2019

We saw a Producer’s Letter for EverQuest already this week, which was focused on the 20 year anniversary celebration.

Following that up is a Producer’s Letter for EverQuest II which indicates that both sides of the House of Norrath will be doing some celebrating in March.

The celebration will start with a new server, which will be up as a beta next week.  Called Nagafen, it will seek to bring back the PvP style that was once part of the game.  We’ll see if PvP nostalgia fares better than it did originally, as PvP servers and PvP outside of battlegrounds was shut down due to lack of interest in the past.  Of course, this quote seems to be hedging a bit on the whole plan:

If it gets a good following in Beta, we’ll look to launching it live!

Maybe if they add a battle royale mode…

There will also be celebration and events on the Plane of Mischief in EQII as well as a new progression server, both to coincide with the 20 year anniversary in March.  As with the two planned EQ progression servers, the details for the EQII progression server are not out yet.

EQII is also having its own anniversary event this year, as it is turning 15 come November.  Included with that will be another expansion to the game that will “take you to a whole new unexplored location of lore and legend” according to the Producer’s Letter.

There isn’t much in the way of details, so we’ll have to wait for that to show up.

Addendum:

Bhagpuss has his own post up about the Producer’s Letter at last.