Category Archives: EverQuest II

Chaos Descending Expansion Coming November 19th with Pre-Orders Available Now

In its way it is a bit more interesting to be talking about a new expansion when I am actually playing EverQuest II pretty regularly at the moment.

Of course how I get from where I am now, which is somewhere in the Destiny of Velious expansion from 2011, to the new stuff isn’t at all clear to me.  Given how far behind I am, and that I just picked up last year’s Planes of Prophecy expansion for half price in last month’s sale, it is pretty unlikely I am going to be in a rush to pre-order.  But I will go on about it all the same.

Just a month away

After announcing the upcoming expansion in the middle of last month, along with the half price sale, Daybreak was finally ready to reveal more information about what to expect.  This came in the form of a live stream using Facebook, a choice that, along with its mid-morning timing, made it extremely unlikely that I would watch it.  Fortunately they had the foresight to record the whole thing and upload it to YouTube so we could review it at our leisure.

Given the advent of video editing software like 30 years ago, once wonders why we much endure more than four minutes of “Broadcast Will Begin Shortly,” but I guess that gives you the full streaming experience.

When the stream does start nobody begins talking about actual game content until the 13th minute, spending the opening time with the underwater prestige home and other items that you get when you order the premium edition.  Have to pimp the upsell I guess.

Eventually they start in on the hub area and the new zones, though the whole thing moves along at such a leisurely pace that I wandered off at some point after the 25 minute mark. Everything doesn’t have to be a snappy, well-rehearsed BlizzCon style announcement, but this was very low energy and life is too short for videos that can’t even meet me halfway when it comes to engagement.

I was probably better served by the blurb on the pre-orders page.

The Elemental Planes of Order have been thrown into chaos! Thrust in the middle of a mystery of Celestial proportions, you must return to the Planes of Power to help restore balance to the Planes of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. Accomplishing this will be no small feat, and you will need to make new allies such as Maelin Starpyre, the Grand Librarian of Myrist, who resides within the Plane of Knowledge, as well as learn the fate of infamous characters from Norrath’s past by traveling to the Plane of Justice.

I could see how they were getting to some of that on the stream now.  There were some bullet points to go along with that.

  • Face the trials of the Elemental Planes with all new adventure, tradeskill, and public quests!
  • Get ahead with new achievements, collections, and more.
  • Conquer all new Solo, Heroic and Raid challenges, including a new contested Raid Dungeon!
  • Mount Gear – Mounts can now be equipped with gear to bolster their rider’s power!
  • Mount Levels – For the first time your mounts can now level! They can level to 10.
  • Ascension Levels – Ascend 5 levels to 20.
  • Mercenary Levels – Gain another 10 levels, for a maximum of 20!

Some of that is the same thing you could say about every expansion.  And Ascension levels going to level 20 doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t have any Ascension levels yet so far as I can tell.

Mounts get gear and levels though, that is new.  I wonder what that really means though.  Is this just a new way to inflate player stats as a way to gate content in the usual overkill method?  I guess mounts have had stats for a while now.  But gear and levels… I don’t know.

And I guess I know what mercenary levels are, having just blown a good chunk of my Daybreak Cash reserves boosting one of mine to level 10.  I will likely use the “set and wait” method for those additional ten.

So there are your progression options, in addition to the usual gear inflation.

In addition, when you buy the expansion you will get access to all previous expansions.

Last year Daybreak was saying something about maybe not including past content along the way with new expansions, but I guess that madness has passed.  Their web site only allows you to buy the most recent expansion.

As noted, pre-orders are available now at the usual price points.

Premium packages available for premium prices

I get to use that same graphic every year since they don’t change the pricing, though the higher priced packages now say “Buy or Upgrade Now” in a nod to the fact that some people might change their minds later and want that under water house, maybe as a memento to remember the 2008 financial crises or something.

As usual, All Access subscribers get 10% off the price, which always makes me wonder how many non-subscribers actually buy the expansions.  Whatever.  Probably best not to think too hard on that.

The standard edition gets you the new content and a character boost to get you to level 110.  Given the way of the world, that is not a bad deal for the content you’ll get plus the inevitable mid-point game update mini-expansion that will likely show up next year.

The pricier collector’s and premium editions get you additional boosts for things like trade skills and ascension levels, plus an array of other items including the under water prestige home that featured so prominently at the start of the video above.  I am less inclined to favor those choices for the price.

In addition, if you pre-order you get a special cosmetic illusion as well as access to the beta, which is happening right now and which offers all sorts of rewards if only you’ll come test the expansion.

As somebody who just got the last expansion at half price, and who is nowhere near that content, much less the coming content, I don’t have much incentive to pre-order.  Had I not, I might have considered it to get the content I do not have yet, but now I’ll likely wait until this time next year when the pre-order for the next expansion is available… if there is one… and skip this one entirely.

Unless I keep on with my Norrath adventures and actually finish the content I have.  But since I’m still back in 2011, I am not sure how likely that is.

Anyway, there it is, EverQuest II expansion number 15 going live in about a month.

Through the Withered Lands

The trick with returning to EverQuest II is generally finding some task or zone I can get into, something that will keep me going for a bit.  It doesn’t have to be the latest content… as noted, I am not sure I could even find that… but something at about the right level.

As I said in last week’s post, I went with Bhagpuss’ suggestion and started out on the Days of Summer quest.  That gave me a couple days of wandering Norrath and, as it turned out, having to find and roam through some of the later expansions as part of the 2017 series of quests also brought me to some content that looked about right.

Somewhere pretty… not sure which expansion

The goal was to get my level 96 berserker into something and get him closer to level 100.  And as I went through various zones I spotted one that looked about right as a starter.  I jotted down the name as I flew through it to get the update for the summer quest.  It was The Withered Lands.

Getting the last bit for the Days of Summer quest

However, when I had finished up the Days of Summer quests and decided to go find it again with Sigwerd, my berserker, that left me wondering where it was.  I had the name, but in the whirlwind tour of Norrath I had misplaced the where.  It doesn’t appear on the big travel map.

Oh the places you’ll go in Norrath

As it turns out it is a zone from the Destiny of Velious expansion, which is from 2011, so I am still seven years behind on expansions.  You have to first travel to The Great Divide and, from the bell there hop over to the New Combine flight point.  However, there is another flight point in between you and that, so I ended up trying to wrong flight point a couple of times before I got that settled.

From the correct flight point it is a quick flight/zone transition to the zone.

The zone itself it is very linear, consisting of a long, bending canyon.

Welcome to the Withered Lands

There are two flight points in the zone, but both are only to move to other locations.  My little red arrow is where you land while the second flight point… the little set of angel wings… is the far end of the zone and the quest chains that guide you through it.

In between are a some quest hubs, done in the classical fashion where you go grab half a dozen or so quests and run out to slay or explore until you’re all done, then you run back for the big set of turn ins.

There is fast travel… or at least hands free travel, it isn’t all that fast… between the quest hubs.  Each of them has a stable stop so you can take a horse between them.

The stable stops along the way

If you have a flying mount you can move about the zone over most of the mobs.  However, there is an unassailable mob flying around the zone that will knock you out of the sky as it passes by.  When that happens you’re down in the mud and cutting your way through the locals.  So sometimes it is better to just take the horse and let the locals look on as you pass.

Can touch me on this mount!

The quests are fairly standard.  EQII does a reasonable job marking where you need to go on the mini-map, though I sometimes feel that has released the quest writers from ever feeling the need to give you a hint as to where you might need to go.  There were a few quests that involved scouting a location that was deep in a cave complex, but the only hint you got was a blue mark on the map.

And, of course, there are the usual comical oddities that come with quests and interacting with the locals.

So there are two of you now?

The zone started out a little bit below me in level.  But that was fine as it let me get back into the swing of things without having to worry too much about fighting and correct use of my combat skills.  I wasn’t one-shotting things with auto-attack, but mobs went down pretty quickly.  As I went further though, the mobs started to catch up a bit in level.  But I leveled up as well, so the experience wasn’t too bad.

As I got to the last quest hub, Alivan, I got the achievement for exploring the zone.

Been there achievement

I don’t know what it is about achievements in EQII, but they don’t motivate me the way they do in WoW, or even Rift.  I don’t know why that is.  Maybe it is because they showed up so late in the life of the game that I don’t think about them.  I am always happy when I get an achievement in WoW, even the dumb ones, but in EQII my response is always a bit of a blank look.

Of course, in WoW achievements lead to things like unlocking flying, so maybe that helps.  I am not sure.

At Alivan the quest chain ends and you are essentially done with the zone.  You get a thank you from a big dragon and you’re set.

A job done, if not well done or done well

There is, however, that flight point Aliva.  It only has one stop, and that is Skyshrine: City of Dracur.

Having no other plans, I headed off for there.  Arriving, I found it to be one of those confusing mixes when it comes to difficulty that seems to be a specialty of EQII.

The main area itself is a hub in the midst of three city segments, each populated by heroic encounters.  Those, according to the help, are supposed to be set for groups of three players.  And, sure enough, after picking up some quests and wandering out into the city, I found those encounters to be difficult enough that if I got adds I was pretty much dead.

However, EQII has a solution when you need a small group, which is good because I saw nobody else in the zone the whole time I was there. (Probably not surprising for a zone from 2011.)  The solution are mercenaries.  I had forgotten about those until I died a couple of times and was pondering what to do.  I had a mystic for a mercenary who happily buffs and heals me when he is called up, not to mention kicking the crap out of any mob that looks at me sideways.

Me and my merc

But I didn’t always need him for heroic encounters.  There is a whole series of time travel quests, which I quite enjoyed, that send you off to various instanced bits of content, which is full of heroic encounters that I could easily handle solo.  So I dismissed my mercenary, if only to give the mobs half a chance and save the 20g every 30 minutes price.

There is an overly complex method of determining the difficulty of a mob that has to do with its level, whether or not it is flagged heroic, and the decorations around its name where the thickness of the frame, the barbs, and the up arrows all indicate… something.  More is more difficult, and the mob having a name is am additive as well.

Given all that, the level 100 heroic dragon mob in the screen shot above, which is named, has three up arrows, and a barbed frame thick enough to use as a sewer pipe, ought to be pretty tough.  Certainly tougher than the one in the screen shot below.

Looking on at Ovalis… also, the Halloween event turned my weapon into a shovel, of which I approve

Ovalis there is only level 98 after all, which made him my level at the time.  He looks more on par to this other named dragon, which I did solo without a blink. (Though, admittedly, he only has two up arrows, so he is easy according to the guide.)

Another named dragon… so many

However, the first dragon, which was early in the quest chain, went down so fast I barely had time to get that screen shot, while Ovalis was a different story altogether.

Ovalis is at the end of the quest chain and might be, for all I know, the last mob before you’re done.  I don’t know because I couldn’t finish him.  He was in an instance of heroic encounters that I was able to mow down solo.  But when I got to him he didn’t have much problem taking me out.  So I got out my mercenary and took another run at him, but he took the two of us out about as easily as he did just me.

It turns out that Ovalis is actually a boss fight, unlike all of the other named heroic, graphically festooned mobs I had run across up until then.  There is a run down of his fight on the wiki, but I wasn’t able to get through it on a few tries, so I started looking around at how to up my game.

I figured out that mercenaries can now be leveled up, which opens up equipment slots on them.  So I blew about two thirds of my hoarded Station Cash… Daybreak is probably tickled pink that I finally spent some of it after all these years… and boosted my merc up to level 10.

I then went off and crafted a full set of level appropriate armor for him.  Sigwerd is an armor smith, and I had be harvesting along the way, so that was easy enough.  I also managed to get his armor smithing skill to level 100 while I did that.

There were some other open slots for my mercenary, but those seemed to be for level 100 items, so were out of reach for me.   But otherwise as well equipped as I could make him, I headed back out to the Withered Lands and Skyshrine: City of Dracur, taking the various flight points and horse runs, to get back to Ovalis in order to challenge him once again.

And after all of that I was defeat yet again, just as easily as before.

So I am just shy of finishing the Withered Lands.  There isn’t much else to do in the zone, so I am off to find the next zone to try.  There is currently a boost to experience on the server, so I would like to get Sigwerd to level 100.

But overall the Withered Lands gave me a good solid chunk of content, which is all I am asking for really.

Norrath Nostalgia Tour turns into Literal Nostalgia Tour

One of the early themes on this blog was nostalgia for Norrath and the annual autumnal return to EverQuest or EverQuest II.  If you go way back to September 2006 you’ll find that to be the topic of the third post on the site.  So there is a lot of history/tradition here, and I have referred to it as a “nostalgia tour” off and on since that time.

As has probably happened more often than not here over the years, autumn showed up and I started thinking about Norrath. And, as also tends to be the case, I feel a bit lost as to where to go these days. It is hard to believe that EverQuest II and World of Warcraft were not even two years old when I started the blog.

Fortunately Bhagpuss had a suggestion for me and, as I noted last week, I started down that path by visiting Yun Zi and picking up the Days of Summer quests.

I’m here for the event please

Before getting to the current version of the event I had to go through and run the 2017 quest line.

Getting started

The event is, as the title notes, literally a tour of Norrath, with the 2017 version running players through various expansions with each quest.  This started well in my range of knowledge, kicking off in the Desert of Flames, where you had to head off to various points in the expansion to get updates.

Peeking in on the Silent City

I could not do the quest without some help.  I am not sure how I was supposed to divine the destination for the little icons presented (except perhaps the coin with the Maj’Dul faction on it) and I honestly did not have the patience to fly hither and yon about the expansion trying to guess.  But even with the locations from the wiki to hand I did have to fly around a bit to figure out where to go.

The next quest, which feature the Kingdom of Sky expansion, was a little bit more tricky.  I played EQII from launch until KoS, took a break then, and then came back with Echoes of Faydwer, so I avoided a lot of KoS.  I did end up running through it at one point, so it wasn’t totally alien to me, but I did need to use the waypoints provided by the wiki now and again to figure out where to go.

I do actually remember coming here at one point

After that it was off to Echoes of Faydwer, which was the great revival expansion for EverQuest II, where they decided maybe they should just ignore the lore from EverQuest.  With this they chose to embrace it.

In the Butcherblock harbor

That return to the lore proved popular and revitalized the game somewhat.  With that expansion, which came out in November of 2006, we’re into the era of the blog.

Welcome to the nut house

Having played through much of Faydwer repeatedly, I was again able to just travel based on the locations the wiki fed me.

The next quest brought me to Rise of Kunark, which might be the last expansion I played, or at least purchased, at launch. (I have the little pewter bear mount on my bookshelf still.)  I wrote a bit about my getting stuck in the waterfall, but otherwise was able to get around the expansion pretty well.

After that, however, I was in unknown territory.  The expansion list for the game goes on… and gets a bit strange… but they are mostly areas where I either haven’t been, or if I have been there, I did so without really knowing which expansion I was wandering around.  Still, some of it looked nice and I got a feel for the generally increasing level caps of the zones.

Somewhere pretty… not sure which expansion

But with my heroic boosted Shadow Knight (chosen because he can one-shot just about anything I’ve ever run into) and copious help from the wiki (I not only had to use waypoints but also look up how to simply get to certain areas) I was able to complete the 2017 series of quests.

That done I was able to start in on the 2018 set of quests.  For those I got out my level 96 berserker, Sigwerd, who I consider my “main,” even though I have four level 100s.  He is the one character I have leveled up the furthest in the old fashioned way.  He at least made it through Kunark before I used a free boost on him a couple years back.  I forget if it was level 90 or 95, but he made it to 96 and has been lingering ever since.

I chose him because the 2018 quests go back to the original zones of EverQuest II, so I clearly wasn’t going to need a character that could one-shot level 100 heroics.

While I wasn’t going to need directions on how to get the various zones, I still used the list of destinations from the wiki.  With that I was pretty sure I could find the landmarks, starting in Antonica.

Heading to Coldwind Point

I rolled through that, seeing the sights from so long ago, then it was off to the Commonlands.

Looks like a golf course

Nek Forest, on the other hand, was a bit more challenging.  As often as I ran through there, I was at a bit of a loss for some of the landmarks and had to wander for a bit before finding a couple of them.  This was as much because of the claustrophobic feel of the zone as anything.

The Thundering Steppes though, there I raced ahead to each landmark.

At the Shrine of Decay

I rushed so fast that I missed a checkpoint and only realized I wasn’t getting updates when I was way over in the Ruins of Karana, so had to backtrack and run through again.

After that the Enchanted Lands were a breeze, it being a smallish zone with landmarks I well remember.  And then Zek, a run which ended predictably at Deathfist Citadel.

I’ve been here before

And then I was drawn up short.  Apparently, in Norrath, summer runs with the baseball season, and the last three weeks of the event, with a zone each, had yet to unlock.

So I was all caught up.  Now I have to wait like everybody else for the event to finish as well as finding something else to do in Norrath.

September in Review

The Site

The site turned twelve, something about which I went on at length in a post mid-way through the month.

The official notification

It was also the month that saw the most likes in a single day on the site.

Such an achievement

I don’t know why.  I never know why.

It was also a month for some big news, acquisitions, closures, and new expansions.  All of that, plus the usual residual interest in the site after Blaugust, drove things to a pretty decent month when it came to page views.  It still isn’t 2012, but it was a very respectable month by 2018 standards.

Finally, for the third month running, the most viewed posts does not include a single post written during the month.  It isn’t unusual for older posts to become search engine favorites, but I have yet to figure out why some of those posts, making their third appearance on the list, are popular.

One Year Ago

The blog turned eleven and so I brought out an elf.

I was talking about a typewriter.  The first typewriter I used.  I still have it.

Raptr announced that they would be shutting down at the end of the month.

GuildWars 2 launched their Path of Fire expansion.

Pokemon Gold & Silver were made available via the 3DS Virtual Console.

Crimson Leaf Games announced MegaWars – Dawn of the Third Age.

I took a look at Daybreak 30 months into is existence.  And, as I did that, we got the bad news that EQ2 Wire was shutting down after covering the game for nine years.  Then Daybreak announced that the Fippy Darkpaw server would be merged with the Vulak server… probably a few years too late to make any difference.

In EVE Online CCP gave us a heads up as to the coming Lifeblood expansion, complete with trailer.  Last I checked the site was still up, but running pretty much unattended.

I was running on about meaningful PvE progression in New Eden and going on about return on time invested and content on demand.

In space I was doing the Alpha Strikes event while the August MER showed that deploying to Hakonen cost the Imperium in mining and ratting revenue.

Then came the Warzone Extraction event to celebrate the non-VR version of the soon to be in maintenance mode EVE: Valkyrie.  It was a tough event by EVE Online PvE standards and I am sure it killed some newbies.

But the big EVE Online news of the month was The Judge betraying Circle of Two, selling their Keepstar to the Imperium (who later sold it to TEST) and the camp in 68FT-6 as alliance members tried to escape from their former home.  GigX was banned and CO2 seemed doomed.  It was one of those “Only in EVE” sort of events.

Andrew Groen was planning some EVE Online history lectures via a new podcast.  That only lasted five episodes before he went back to writing books on EVE Online history.

In a bullet points post I noted the passing of the EVE Gate site, that CCP cancelled their deal with Nexon for Japanese EVE Online support, that Ultima Online was talking about free to play, and that Daybreak wasn’t going to be handing out any more free content in Norrath for the foreseeable future.

And finally Chris Roberts was unironically talking about developer optimism in an interview.

Five Years Ago

We heard that Warhammer Online was slated to shut down in December.

We also got the official word that Blizzard would be killing the auction house in Diablo III.

SOE was getting over some of their Station Cash screw ups.

In general I wasn’t too excited about the expansion outlook on the MMO scene.

In EVE Online the Rubicon expansion went live.  Our corp had a little drama as Gaff plotted to overthrow our CEO and created a new corp, Black Sheep Down.  As is usual, he was good for the intrigue, but once he became El Supremo, he got bored and stopped playing.  Happens after every coup… and there have been a few.  We went from being literally the worst corp in TNT to… erm… well, that didn’t change I guess.  We did run out to low sec for a fight and I put my alt in the corp to bolster our numbers because there was a minimum height requirement or something.

In general we were finishing up our deployment in Delve cleaning up after the TEST collapse and I hit 110 million skill points.  Also, there was the war between evebloggers.com and evebloggers.net.

The instance group, in a hint as to where we were headed, ran a series of WoW dungeon knock-offs in Neverwinter.

And it was time for the usual bout of autumnal nostalgia.  This time I returned to Azeroth, which made me ask the question, when is it nostalgia anyway?  My daughter and I and a friend had a plan to roll up some new characters on a new server.  Whatever it was, it felt like home.

And, finally, I covered the great resurrection exploit in TorilMUD.

Ten Years Ago

Warhammer Online went live, first with the head start and then for everybody.

As we saw with other MMOs, there were issues coordinating with friends about which server to choose, leading to yet another gripe post about the whole sharded existence we have had to put up with in MMOS.  I did wonder if the EverQuest II mechanism of multiple versions of a given zone might be worth it to get everybody on a single server.

The instance group was into WAR (after escaping from Durnhold Keep), though as a group we have some parameters that we had to work within.  And the battlegrounds in WAR were not playing out well.  And the type of quests that were in PvE led to some talk about which goal was worse.

In Warhammer itself, war were declared on gold sellers and Mythic was being very demonstrative about it.  Of course, it did not appear to stem tells from gold seller bots that seemed to sit active for days.

went on about those tips you see on the loading screen of many MMOs, spurred by a couple less than helpful tips in WAR.

In EVE Online I hit a major ISK milestone.  But I was building up ISK because I had my eye on a freighter.

The Empyrean Age 1.1 update was upon us, which included 2 changes designed to reduce the scourge of suicide ganking.  And nobody ever complained about that again.

Meanwhile CCP was offering up battleships for sale… model battleship for real cash, not ISK.

But the most important EVE Online event was probably Yahtzee Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation review of EVE Online Much shoe-on-head wearing and talk about tactical logistics reconfiguration ensued.

In EverQuest II, the Living Legacy promotion was ending.

I was wondering why there wasn’t a World of Warcraft animated series yet.  I think that might have been better than the movie we got.

LEGO Batman showed up.

And, finally, the site hit the two year mark.

Fifteen Years Ago

Valve released the first version of Steam, mostly to replace the World Opponent Network they bought from Sierra.

SOE released the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion for EverQuest, bringing instanced small group content to the game.  Their ads specifically mentioned the new “dungeon crawl” experience.

Twenty Years Ago

Pokemon Red & Blue for the Nintendo GameBoy and GameBoy Color launched in North America.

Delta Force launched in the US.  I have written about it and voxels and the coming of 3D accelerated video cards in the past.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  2. Extra Credits – Picking at the Lockbox Thing Some More
  3. Do You Wear the Mask or does the Mask Wear You?
  4. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  5. Winter Movie League – Denouement
  6. SuperData and the Rise of Fortnite
  7. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  8. Rift Prime Time
  9. Spring Movie League – Wrinkle in the Mix
  10. Honest Game Trailers – Animal Crossing
  11. The Road to CSM13
  12. February in Review

Search Terms of the Month

are there any games as good as everquest
[No]

everquest franchise dead?
[Also no]

minecraft complaints
[It is so blocky to start with…]

minecraft how to make warm ocean
[Declare it the toddler pool]

how to hand in madness within wow
[I think most of the madness is outside of WoW]

Spam Comment of the Month

Yes! Finally something about facebook advertising.
[I nearly approved this just for irony’s sake]

Black Desert Online

Since Pearl Abyss was set to buy CCP I thought I would take a look at the game that people keep putting forth as a cash shop pay-to-win horror show.  I haven’t done much past the tutorial so far, but it does have its own look and feel.  It ain’t WoW, which isn’t a bad thing.  We’ll see if I end up playing enough of it to be able to make a post.

EVE Online

The war in the north has come to and end with a peace agreement signed earlier this month that came into effect yesterday.  We will be packing up and leaving the north for a month and won’t pester GotG for at least six months.  That will make for a quiet October as people get home and pick up mining and ratting again to make some money.  That will make some time for other things, since I haven’t ratted or mined or done PI in a year at this point.  Maybe I’ll watch some TV.

EverQuest II

This came out of nowhere… or out of the thin yet cooling air of autumn.  Anyway, suddenly I was keen to go and play in Norrath towards the end of the month.  And I did.  And I continue to do so.  We shall see.

Pokemon Go

I finally caught a Lapras, so I can take that off the list finally.  In two years I only ran into one once, and it ran away after the first throw.  This month Niantic changed the Pokemon mix back to favor first generation and now I’ve caught five.  Still, it was an exciting moment when I caught that first one.

It was also the month of many friends.  One of the special research tasks required you to add three new friends.  After struggling for a bit and only finding one, I posted my friend code on Twitter and got more than a dozen in a short time.  I deleted the tweet after a while as it was a bit too successful.  Now I have 19 friends to find gifts for, most of whom are from Japan.  That is probably more friends than I have in real life.  But it is kind of neat as each gift has a picture that goes with it, so I’ve seen some new places… and the 7-11 logo.  There must be a Pokestop at every 7-11 in Japan or something.

Level: 33 (+0)
Pokedex status: 339 (+4) caught, 357 (+3) seen
Pokemon I want: Dragonite… Dratini are so rare where I live
Current buddy: Wailmer

World of Warcraft

My efforts in Azeroth sort of petered out over the course of the month.  I went from daily logins during Darkmoon Faire to basically logging in for a bit each weekend to get a little further along with my main on Kul Tiras, who is still just level 117 at this point.  This is sort of how non-addicts play video games I hear.  Admittedly, this slackening of attention might not have been entirely out of boredom with the game as during this period of time my wife and I also binge-watched the first three seasons of Better Call Saul and the first season of Castle Rock and most of the first season of Handmaid’s Tale, and some of that show on Hulu with Hugh Laurie, as well as knocking out season five of Bojack Horseman with my daughter and getting through season three of Archer and the first few episodes of season 2 of Ozark on my own.

That is actually a lot of television.

So perhaps WoW isn’t wholly to blame.  I just spent a lot of time on the couch rather than in front of my computer.

Coming Up

BlizzCon is actually on November 2nd which, while not next month, is close enough that I am sure we’ll be hearing more news and speculation as to what Blizzard might be showing.

I expect some more news from Daybreak.  We got the title of the coming EverQuest II expansion, but no details.  In addition, there is still an EverQuest expansion that they ought to be talking about.

In EVE Online things will probably be somewhat quiet.  The war in the north is over for now and we have committed to taking a month off.

There is also EVE Vegas coming up mid-month.  I will be attending again.  I will actually be speaking.  But don’t worry, I am only talking about blogging, so you won’t be missing anything if you’re not there.

Stuck in the Waterfall in Kunark

Last night I got into EverQuest II and, following Bhagpuss’ suggestion on yesterday’s post, I went off to find Yun Zi and the Days of Summer quest line.  Or lines.  there is the 2017 quest line and the 2018.  They are literal nostalgia tours, which is somewhat amusing since I used to refer to the annual autumnal return to the game as a nostalgia tour.

Anyway, uncertain how long the Days of Summer quests would be active, the autumnal equinox having passed already, I got right on with it, taking a tour through the Desert of Flames, Kingdom of Sky and Echoes of Faydwer expansions, areas that did bring some nostalgia.

Next on the list was Rise of Kunark, which honestly starts to get into the edge of nostalgia for me.  That was probably the last expansion I was at level… or close to level… and able to get into as it launched.

I took the spires to get there… the spires transport system is the one that I never think about because it wasn’t active until Kingdom of Sky… which put me in the mountains at the north of the Kylong Plains.  I had to get down to the docks for the first check-in point.  Fortunately I have a flying mount so that wasn’t too tough.

But as I flew out of the snowy mountains I espied a long waterfall dropping from the mountain down into a pool far below, which itself was the head of a small river that flowed to a small lake.

Coming out of the mountains I see the waterfall

Trust me, that geometric, translucent aqua blue area is water.  This is 2008 level graphics.

As a lark I decided to fly through the waterfall on my way down.  And there I got stuck.

In the water and drowning

I was trapped in the column of water, unable to move in any direction.  The game flagged me as being under water and the breath bar started counting down and rather more quickly than it does in WoW.

I found that if I tried to move around that I could regain my breath.  I didn’t seem to be moving at all, but apparently I was breaking the surface sufficiently get breath, so the bar would refill and go away, only to return and begin to count down if I stopped.

I was in quite a spot as, along with drowning, I was way up in the air in a game where a fall can kill you.  There was water down below, but given how the water up here was behaving I wasn’t keen to trust it.  But after a while of trying various things I figured I had to go one way or another, so I dismounted.

That apparently was enough and I fell down the waterfall into the pool below unscathed, bobbing along with the current.

Headed down some sort of water hill

This was an attempt at getting flowing water to act on players to they would be pushed down stream, something I expect did not interact well with a flying mount, something that came along later in the history of the game.

So I was saved from peril of the waterfall.  But it made me a bit wary later in the evening when, while touring the Destiny of Velious expansion, I had to fly through another waterfall.

Later in Velious

However, Destiny of Velious is when they introduced flying mounts, so the falling water was more forgiving.

Looking for a Path in Norrath Again

As it ever does, the coming of autumn turns my mind to Norrath.  There is certainly some association in my mind with there finally being a bit of a chill in the night air and nostalgia for what once was.

Of course, having a long running blog… the self-recharging epicenter of my of my nostalgia… as well as Daybreak talking about expansions and events and what not feeds into this need to return to Norrath, visit my house, and see what is new in the world… or what is old and memorable and still there.

Going to go see that bitchin’ Firiona Vie poster in my room

I will even have some time.  The war in EVE Online has reached its conclusion so, aside from move ops home, there won’t be much activity for a month or so, while I seem to have paused in Azeroth for the moment, as noted on Friday.  So Norrath could be a thing.  I have room on my calendar.

The problem is that EverQuest II has, over the years, accreted layer after layer of barriers seemingly designed to thwart any sort of easy return to the game.  As has been said many times over the years, EQII isn’t WoW.  But I still manage to forget exactly how determined Daybreak can be in blocking people from getting back into the game.

And this autumn there was an additional barrier on the way to Norrath.  Having upgraded my rig recently I was still in the process of finding out what worked and what did not after the move from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

EverQuest II started off in the not working column.  It crashed early and often.

That it was copied over from the old system meant that something might have gotten corrupted, so I renamed its directory and did a fresh install.  That did not seem to help.  Fortunately, having gotten ZMud to run on Win10 I knew I was not out of options.  Setting EQII to run under Win7 emulation and as administrator seemed to take care of the block on actually playing the game.  It has not crashed since.

Which left me with the old problems of what to do once I could play.  I see three possible paths forward.

Level 100

Over the years, through various boost offers, I have managed to accrue several characters at, or very close to, level 100.  The character I would consider my “main” is level 96.  I used a level 95 boost on him back in the day and actually played him enough to get within striking distance of level 97.  There are two other level 100 boosts and then the super-special level 100 boost from earlier this year.

They were handing out flying mounts with that boost

So getting a high level character isn’t a problem.  Figuring out what to do with one, on the other hand, seems to be a bit of a chore.  The last couple of times I have tried the in-game messaging has directed me in the wrong direction.  I certainly didn’t end up where many other people were playing.  But going out of game doesn’t seem to be much help either.  Googling what I should do in EverQuest II at level 100 gets me results like this:

  • A wiki article that directs me to an NPC that is no longer there
  • A wiki article that directs me to go back to the starting zone to run gray quests
  • A wiki article that tells me I need to learn two languages or I can’t play new content
  • A forum thread that calls level 100 boost “bait and switch” without very much in the way of push back

And I hate to say it, but those were among the more helpful, or at least on point, results I found.

Even if I can figure out where to go, there is the perennial problem of trying to figure out how to play a given class again, though that problem is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the last 100 boost I got had good enough gear that I could pretty much faceroll my way through anything I could find.

Start Anew

This is always an option, though it is one I have may have used a few too many times at this point.

On the upside, starting fresh does hit right at the nostalgia factor, especially if I start on the Fallen Gate progression server, which has the Isle of Refuge starting area.

The problem there is that I may have trod that path too many times at this point.  How many more times am I going to fight the orc on Zek or run through Feerrott trying to complete The Journey is Half the Fun?  And even when I throttle experience pretty heavily, diverting it to AAs, I will persist in leveling up faster than the content.  And then there is the need to completely re-gear every ten levels that becomes oppressive when you’re a level the market has forgotten.

And then, in the end, after moving through content I have done so many times I will hit a point where I will tire and stop, somewhere between the Desert of Flames and the Rise of Kunark if history is any indication, leaving me with yet another mid-level character.

Mid Level Options

The middle way is often the worst, and in Norrath it does tend to be a combo of problems.  I have an easy half dozen characters… probably more… situated between level 50 and 80.  I ought to be able to pick one of those up and carry on.  The double whammy here is that these mid-levels miss out on the old content nostalgia angle that I would get if I simply rolled up a new character but also face the age old EQII problem of having to relearn how to play the classes.

If I were to highlight a single problem that the game has, I would probably pick “too many damn skills” for every class.  I generally have to operate with three 12 button hot bars on my screen, which usually means I don’t have all the combat skills or most of the buffs/debuffs represented.

So this seems the least likely path forward.  I fear that my dual-baton wielding monk will never get any closer to level cap.

Finding a Path

So there I stand, looking for a way to proceed.   Subscribing isn’t an issue if that will make things easier to find, and the Planes of Prophecy expansion is half price, so if that was the way to go I would jump on board with it.

I am sure Bhagpuss will have a suggestion or two, but I an open to any advice on this front… as well as maybe a clue as to which wiki or site is the most up to date when it comes to EQII.

Hurry though.  That autumnal feeling doesn’t always last.

Time Capsule – Computer Gaming World October 2003

I ran across this while I was working on upcoming Month in Review posts.  If I have a block of time I will sometimes knock out a couple of those long in advance.  Well, I’ll knock out the part I can do ahead of time, the looking back sections covering a year, five years, and ten years ago on the blog.  That is the most important part of each month’s review post, at least to me.

The review section is primarily about what I was posting back in the day.  However, I have started adding in addition information for context of the time, usually in the form of launches or closures.  Those will sometimes fall further back in time, being 15, 20, or more years ago.

As I was tracking something down that came up in 2003 for a “15 years ago” entry I ended up on a website that has an archive of issues of Computer Gaming World in .pdf format.

I started digging through the site, scanning various years.  Computer Gaming World, which later became Games for Windows Magazine, stopped publishing back in 2008, having run for 27 year.  During its run it covered a lot of computer gaming history.

You can find the archive at http://www.cgwmuseum.org/ .  Or you could find it there.  At some point between Thursday night and Saturday the site went down.  When I went back to continue looking I was greeted with error messages about the site having gone missing.

The transitory nature of the internet is one of its major frustrations.  Things change or disappear and data goes missing.

Unless, of course, the Internet Archive is backing the site up.

Fortunately I was able to find everything that went missing backed up and waiting for me and I was able to return to this gem from October 2003.

Computer Gaming World October 2003 cover

Just for openers there is a preview of World of Warcraft from more than a year before its launch.

There is also the CGW review of Star Wars Galaxies, something which will annoy the purists I am sure.

And while those are worth the price of admission, there are just so many little things in the issue that are interesting to see.  There are, of course, the ads.  So many great ads.

For SOE fans there are ads for the EverQuest Evolution, a roll-up pack of EverQuest expansions, the EverQuest Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion featuring the all new “dungeon crawl” experience, and Lords of EverQuest, the Norrath based RTS.

There are many other things worth seeing.  Half-Life 2 was the top pre-order. (And EverQuest Evolved was on the top releases.)

And then there is the Pipeline section that has a list of upcoming releases with planned launch dates.  Included on that list:

  • EverQuest II – Q4 2003
  • Total Annihilation 2 – Q4 2003
  • World of Warcraft – Feb 2004
  • The Matrix Online – Q4 2004
  • GuildWars – Q4 2004

Good times.

Anyway, if you have time to roll though video game nostalgia, you could find worse places to wallow.

Addendum: If you go back a month, to September 2003, you can find their EVE Online review.  They liked the music and space graphics, but the UI… it sums up like this:

Two stars is all