Category Archives: EverQuest II

The Burning Lands Expansion Launched Just After Layoffs at Daybreak

We learned a little over a month ago that The Burning Lands, the 25th EverQuest expansion, was slated to go live today.  And so it has.  We knew it was coming, but we were finally getting some detailed information.  Also, pre-orders were open.  You could start giving Daybreak your money.

Does this feel a little “Disney” to you?

The high level points of the expansion seemed to be about on par with what we have come to expect annually from the Norrath team.  Some new zones around a hub, new raids, new quests, new abilities, and a new mechanic.

  • Luck Stat – A brand new stat that influences just how lucky you are! This stat will randomly increase the amount of gold in your split, the amount of critical damage you do, your chance to succeed at a trade-skill combine, and much more!
  • 6 Expansion Zones – You’ll adventure throughout the grand and fantastic environments and architecture of the Planes of Fire, Air, and Smoke!
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections

There is nothing on that list that is going to drag anybody new into the game, but that was to be expected.  MMORPGs beyond a certain age become more about tending to the installed base than trying to grab new players.  Anybody proposing otherwise is fighting history and wasting money.  Once you’ve launched and gone free to play there isn’t anything left to attract new players in anything like the quantity needed to support any radical change.

So a normal autumnal expansion release for EverQuest.  Maybe a couple weeks later than we might have expected… November is more the norm… but close enough.  All seems normal in Norrath.

Or would seem normal if Daybreak hadn’t just laid off a big chunk of their staff on Friday.

Daybreak, not being a public company, doesn’t have to tell us about layoffs.  But in the age of social media, word of layoffs get out quickly and this round was no exception, with John Smedley echoing what he had heard on Twitter Friday morning.

Once the press had been alerted Daybreak issued an anodyne statement about optimization while refusing to mention any details.

We are optimizing our structure to ensure we best position ourselves for continued success in the years to come. This effort has required us to make some changes within the organization and we are doing everything we can to support those impacted in this difficult time. As we look to improve efficiencies and realign resources, we remain focused on supporting our existing games and development of our future titles.

That statement is an example of one trying to have ones cake and eat it too.  Reports say that between 60 and 70 people, or roughly one third of Daybreak’s staff, was given their notice on Friday.  When you are down by a third it will be difficult to both support existing games and develop new titles.

Of course, what even are the existing Daybreak titles at this point?  EverQuest and EverQuest II,  holding up the fantasy end of the catalog, were merged into a single shared group some time back.  DC Universe Online is the superhero game and reportedly the most consistent revenue generator, the PlayStation 4 version being the breadwinner there.  And then there is PlanetSide 2, which has been problematic in the past, though it is still getting updates.

H1Z1 Battle Royale went to NantG Mobile as part of the joint venture between NantWorks and Daybreak announced back in September.  NantWorks had the money and Daybreak had the IP I guess, though Daybreak apparently held on to the PlayStation 4 version of H1Z1.  So if there was anybody left working on H1Z1 or the esports league, they were probably seen as expendable.

Word is that the layoffs were concentrated in the Daybreak Austin office and were related to a new project being developed there around a “top IP.”  Daybreak said that the Austin office was not being closed, but I guess that they are no longer working on that “top IP” if they’ve been mostly let go.

People working on the new thing are gone and people working on the old stuff were already spread a bit thin.  Where does that leave Daybreak.

Back in May there was a post on Reddit alleged to be by a former Daybreak employee about plans for the company.  I summed that up in a post here, and a good thing too as it was removed from Reddit by the author not too long later.

The removal led to it being declared a fake, but some key details certainly ended up coming to pass.

Sure, Just Survive sunsetting was hardly a reach.  Even I predicted that back in January.  But the whole Z1 Battle Royale was alluded to, something we didn’t end up hearing about until September.  And the trajectory for PlanetSide 2 seems to line up.

So, in looking at the rest of that post, you have to ask if we are looking at the end game for EverQuest and EverQuest II, if Daybreak is holding out for one last anniversary update for each of them (they turn 20 and 15 respectively next year) before moving on to the alleged EverQuest 3 and its plan for PvP focus anchored on a fantasy battle royale feature.

If that is the case, my prediction would be to prepare for disaster and a belated attempt to return to catering to the installed base once EverQuest 3 flops, because PvP has never been much beyond a distraction in Norrath.

But, the word has come out that we might be hearing about something new from Daybreak on Thursday.  Bets on what it will be?  PlanetSide 3?  EverQuest 3 PvP?  PlanetSide Mobile?  EverQuest Mobile?  What else have they got to work with?

Sources:

November in Review

The Site

This month I started putting links to posts here on Facebook manually.  I’m not sure why.  Probably because I still manually post them to the Blaugust Discord channel as well, and once I am doing that why not do another site?

My posts used to get posted to the Wilhelm Arcturus timeline on Facebook automatically.  Then Facebook blocked the automatic posting of links to timelines a few months back in an effort to look responsive to people claiming that the company was in some way responsible the results of the 2016 election.  Hiring a firm to promote George Soros conspiracy theories is fine it seems, but random individuals feeding their work into their own timeline is a threat to democracy.

Honestly, after writing that last sentence I am wondering again why I even have an account there.  I don’t believe they influenced the election at all, because in my experience most people make their decision first and then rationalize it after the fact with cherry-picked data.  (See Gevlon for an extreme example.)  But that doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t a loathsome company run by an ongoing PR nightmare of a CEO.  So I might not even be there tomorrow.  It isn’t like Facebook generates any significant traffic.  Posting links this month did increase traffic… actually doubled it… but double means about 60 referrals.  I get more than that when somebody popular (i.e. not me) shares one of my links there, so I am back to not being sure if it is worth the effort.

In other, less dramatic news, the blog hit another minor milestone, crossing the 5 million page view mark.  I think the last such milestone I noted was 1 million page views back in March 2010.  So 4 million since then.

Milestone of a sort

5 million page views is probably what a popular site gets in a day, if not an hour, but it seems like a big number for my little blog.

The site is also coming up on 5,000 posts.  So, on average, each post has over 1,000 page views.  In reality, most people land on the main URL and read from there or hit one of about 30 posts that have anywhere from 10K to 65K views.  About 10% of posts have 1,000 page views or more.

The visitors number on that graphic is a bit deceptive.  WordPress.com didn’t start counting visitors until the end of December 2012.  However, 2011 and 2012 were the peak years of the blog.  Since then popularity of the blog began to fall off in 2013, the visitors entry only represents a “past my prime” sort of number.

Still, April 13, 2013 remains the most popular day ever on the blog.  Looking at the post for that day, my theory about there being an inverse relationship between effort and popularity seems to be confirmed.

Finally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, posts related to Lord of the Rings Online saw a bit of a surge this month, as the most viewed posts section below indicates.

One Year Ago

It was BlizzCon.  Blizzard, while pretty much ignoring the Diablo franchise, did announce the next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, as well as WoW Classic.  There was much discussion after BlizzCon wrapped up.  I brought up a list of things that would likely be different in WoW Classic compared to live.

Actually in WoW I was into Suramar and my class hall campaign, timewalking in Northrend, and picking up again with pet battles.  The WoW thirteenth anniversary event was timely as it gave a boost to faction gains, something I was working on to unlock flying.  Also, as predicted, I failed to get the headless horseman’s mount yet againThis is fine.

In EVE Online we were off on what would become a nearly year long deployment to the north of New Eden.  I was worried about these upcoming Alpha clone skill injectors.  CCP also had a screen shot contest.  And I did a write up about the Neocom II app for iOS and only got a few material facts wrong.

I was trying to get my copy of ZMud 7.21 up and working again.  This comes up every so often.

I had to get ZMud going so I could finish up my post about the Elemental Glades in TorilMUD.

EverQuest II became a teenager, turning 13.  For its birthday it got the Planes of Prophecy expansion.

In Minecraft I was touring our world looking at some of the epic structures.

There was some crazy talk out of EA.  And that was before the Star Wars: Battlefront II fiasco started to boil over, with Disney stepping in to check EA.

Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon launched, marking the end of new Pokemon titles for the Nintendo handheld line.

And a video on YouTube ended up prompting a long discussion about how much it costs to make a video game.

Five Years Ago

TorilMUD, measured through its lineage via Sojourn MUD, hit the 20 year mark.  So I was playing that before there was any sort of Warcraft.

Time was running out on Warhammer Online, but they were going to give people a last chance to see the place… for free.  A pity I couldn’t get my account to work.

There was a scathing quote of the day about what “social gaming” had come to mean.

The Tears of Veeshan expansion launched in EverQuest II while we said farewell to EverQuest: Macintosh Edition.  Meanwhile, EverQuest veteran Aradune was back in play talking about a new MMO he had planned.

As for SOE, they were also being called out for selling Founder’s Packs for EverQuest Next or Landmark or whatever.  I was also wondering about the alleged new combat might imply that latency was no longer an issue.

The Rubicon expansion for EVE Online went live, complete with lots of stats.  The update did not save us from the node crash at E-YJ8G.  Big fleet battles, with thousand of drones in play, were taxing the servers beyond their limits.  Meanwhile, there was the Long Guy Fawkes Day… another node crash, but only after 6 hours of crushing TiDi… and we were headed back to Curse again.

EVE Online community site EVE Bloggers found a new home at last.

BlizzCon rolled around and I was speculating about what they might announce.  The actual big news generated much excitement for WoW players with the Warlords of Draenor announcement, though few thought it would take a year for them to ship it.  There was a silly moment where they declared something impossible.

I was already back and binging on the WoW, but the rest of the instance group came back as well after the announcement… and we basically did what we should have done a few years back, we got out the old group and picked up where we left off.

I was dropping bombs in War Thunder.

I wondered why we couldn’t just turn off achievements.

There was also a moment of Apple II nostalgia.

I was having problems with the LOTRO patcher… again.

And, after having read Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire at its 20th anniversary, I got around to reading the other two books in the series.  The title of that post is a spoiler.

Ten Years Ago

We were all excited about expansions.

For EverQuest II, there was The Shadow Odyssey that showed up around the four year anniversary and which gave us the bear mount.  If you bought retail you also got the pewter bear which went on to feature in so many Tipa cartoons and my own parody thereof.

In EVE Online, the Quantum Rise expansion was available, granting those of us in New Eden certificates, among other things.

While it wasn’t out yet, Turbine was warming people up for the Mines of Moria expansion for Lord of the Rings Online.  It sounded great.  It just took me forever to get there.  At least I got the T-shirt… erm… the cloak.

And then there was a little thing called Wrath of the Lich King.  Yeah, that.  Sort of a big deal for some, setting sales records at the time.

The instance group did its last Outland instance (well, the last one at level) and then began poking our noses into Northrend to start the grand tour of the new expansion.  We even got into the first instance.  We also took a shot at the Headless Horseman.  To this day I still don’t have his mount.

On the flip side, Warhammer Online passed from regular play rotation.  We left, never to return.

Finally, I was keeping the nostalgia ball rolling with a look back at how information used to be regarded back in the days of MUDs, a notable MUD NPC, hitting level cap in TorilMUD, a question about Anarchy Online, and a hazy recollection of a GEnie game called Stellar Warrior.

Twenty Years Ago

In a trifecta month, Half-Life, StarCraft: Brood War, and Starsiege: Tribes all launched.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Who is My Middle-earth Main Anyway?
  2. Finding Evendim
  3. Crafting Again in Middle-earth
  4. LOTRO and the Legendary Server Idea
  5. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  8. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  9. Home From EVE Vegas 2018
  10. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  11. Gamigo Buys then Guts Trion Worlds
  12. Why Fan Expectations for Blizzard are Hopeless

Search Terms of the Month

lotro anor server queue
[Don’t get me started]

lotro anor vs ithil population
[Going to say sun > moon]

blizzard stock
[ACTI, and it is down]

everquest 3?
[Nope]

apps people pay 99 cents for
[Crappy ones?]

arti kata1- a lot of gold for killing 2- the daily reward for watching 6000 videos is increased all in all that a day is offered 3- energy is not wasted 4- rapid level increase 5- increased inventory size to 2 billion)) 6- vip included 2
[I don’t even know how that gets you here]

EVE Online

Kind of a quiet month for me in New Eden.  We did have the Onslaught expansion and two Monthly Economic reports show up, so I didn’t lack for things to post about.  But I only went on a couple of fleet ops and, while I was resolved to run more Abyssal deadspace sites with my high sec alt, I never really got around to it.  Mostly I was tending skill queues and writing about the theoretical rather than the actual.

EverQuest II

My latest dalliance with EverQuest II seems to have come to an end.  I cannot jump between more than a couple of games.  I like to be able to focus and get into a game.  I enjoyed my time, but the game does have a rather jarring transition between content that interrupted what was otherwise a smooth run.  At least I spent a bunch of my Station Cash.  That should make Daybreak happy, or at least somebody in accounting.

Lord of the Rings Online

The LOTRO Legendary server was the flavor of the month for November.  Despite being bad at promoting it and reticent to declare an actual launch date… and the whole thing being rather shy on things to distinguish it from the normal live servers… it was quite a success.  After past optimism on the server front as Turbine, SSG went safe and stuck to a single server, opting to open a second only after the first was well and truly overrun with players.

Being back in Middle-earth has been fun, though that is easy to say when I am still in the midst of content I know and enjoy.  I might even make it to 50 before they unlock the Mines of Moria expansion.  But I have my doubts as to whether there is anything they can do to make anything after Moria fun.

Pokemon Go

This remains the one game my wife and I play together.  I just wish it would let you change teams, as she is Instinct and I am Mystic.  I would pay for a team change token.  But being on different teams hasn’t stopped us from going out to do research tasks and knock down gyms that are help by team Valor.

Level: 34 (+0)
Pokedex status: 371 (+8) caught, 391 (+16) seen
Pokemon I want: Rhyperior, the Rhydon evolution, but I need about 80 candies
Current buddy: Eevee, for the special research task

World of Warcraft

I did managed to hit level cap.  120 wasn’t all that hard, I just fell off the horse when distracted by other things.  I was a bit sullen at yet again being denied the Headless Horseman’s mount, but I did get on and do a bit for the WoW 14th anniversary event.  But by the time Pilgrim’s Bounty showed up I was heavily invested in LOTRO, so my time in Azeroth had tapered off quite a bit.

Coming Up

A new year is in the offing, which means those standard end-of-the-year posts.  There are predictions to review, highs and lows to chart, my January gaming plan to go over, and whatever else I write about every December.  Maybe I’ll pick my books of the year or examine what it was I played in 2018.

The usual holiday events will no doubt be in full force in games soon enough, along with a Steam Winter Sale.  Neither stirs much excitement in me at the moment.

EverQuest will get its 25th expansion next month.  I am sure that will be a moment of note.

And I will have wrapped up the TAGN FML league for a while.  I am going to take winter and spring off from that with a plan to return again for another summer blockbuster season.

As for play time, it seems likely that the LOTRO Legendary server thing will keep my attention.  I am currently working on how to make a LOTROmon joke as a post because, not only do your characters never die (they merely lose morale and are defeated, which seems akin to how Pokemon faint), but the servers are named Anor and Ithil, Sindarin for sun and moon, which were the names of the last real Pokemon games from Nintendo and Game Freak.  I think if I could find a sleeping Snorlax analogy I’d be set.

Final Notes as I Move on from EverQuest II Yet Again

As has become obvious to any regular reader, my time with EverQuest II has fallen by the wayside with the coming of the LOTRO Legendary server.

It isn’t quite correct to say that the latter drove out the former.  Instead, the story is pretty much as it always tends to be with EQII, where I find a path, play it through, and then am left wandering about, looking for a new path, which the game tries to hide from me.

In this case, I hit level 100, finished out the zone I had been running, and was offered several paths forward by the game.  I wrote a post musing about why Battle for Azeroth has levels, and I think EQII made a case for every expansion having a boost to the level cap.

Gating content is reason enough, even if the levels are not that much of a hurdle.  Since EQII hasn’t raised the cap much of late, my hitting level 100 yielded three in-game mail messages inviting me to come experience some content.

One proposed to send me to an alternate version of Zek, though the transportation method wasn’t all that encouraging.

Is there room for my horse in there?

There I encountered a rogue orc priest and then the Zek triplets, Rallos, Tallon, and Vallon, who discussed the nature of things over my dying body.

Les Triplettes de Zek

I ran that alternate version of Zek for a bit before getting hung up on a quest with prerequisites that needed me to go elsewhere.

I spent some time chasing down the Words of Pure Magic quest in order to learn the Druzaic language, which I needed for some reason I cannot recall.  Along the way doing that I managed to pick up the Hierophant’s Crook, one of the early heritage quests.

I am not a crook

I also ran into Firiona Vie.  Despite not being a staple of the cover art for EverQuest II expansions, she is apparently in the timeline.  I probably knew that already, but I have forgotten so much over the years.

Posing with Firiona

And then she died, which was awkward for all concerned.

Look, I was just following orders…

I understand that she is better now, but it was a moment.

And then at some point I ended up in the Vespyr Isles and started doing some quests there and simply ran out of steam.

I thought that perhaps I should change things up and decided to roll a new character.  I was surprised that I even had any character slots left.  The idea behind the new character was to explore some of the old zones from the early game and maybe write up something about them, the way I did with Thundering Steppes way back in the day.  Was that really eleven years ago?

Of course, nothing evokes nostalgia like a completely out of date welcome to the game.

Welcome to EverQuest II

The funny thing is that the graphic there makes me think this was updated around the Echoes of Faydwer time frame.  Even then, three years into the game, it would have been tough to call the experience entirely new.  And fourteen years into the journey?  Forget about it.

I did, however, try to run through a new character, doing the Isle of Refuge and then launching into Qeynos.

Arriving in Qeynos Harbor

But it wasn’t sticking with me.  I found it a bit difficult to get around Qeynos, in part because of the semi-regular bell reorganization plan.

What do you mean the bell “moved?”

And in part because I was used to going through some of the sub-divisions, the racial ghettos like Greystone Yard, to get to some of the early zones.  This was not helped by some of the quests still referencing a layout of Qeynos that is only one of memory.

The destination map

Eventually I figured it out and visited a few key points.

Somebody will get this reference

But I wasn’t feeling it and let it slip.  I got myself wrapped up in writing two more TorilMUD posts, one of which will go live this week, and then came LOTRO Legendary to fill the void left by my tiring of Norrath once again.

So another autumnal venture into EverQuest II draws to a close.  My interest has slackened and awaits once again the siren’s song of nostalgia.

That is not how this works

Maybe next time around I’ll get a bit further past level 100.

EverQuest II Launches Chaos Descending and Celebrates Another Anniversary

The regular pattern of annual autumnal launches for EverQuest II expansions fits in nicely with the history of the game as they tend to hit pretty close to the original launch date, so you get some new content and a celebration of the history of the game all at once.

And so it goes this year, with today being the launch date for Chaos Descending, the fifteenth full expansion for EQII, and that doesn’t include the various adventure packs that SOE and Daybreak have tried now and again.

Chaos Descending the Library Staircase

While I wrote a bit about the expansion before, along with the various purchasing options, the bullet point summary from Daybreak is:

  • New Adventure Quests
  • New Signature Tradeskill Quests
  • New Signature Adventure Quests
  • New Achievements
  • New Zones
    • One Quest and Services Zone (Myrist)
    • 4 Outdoor Zones (Doomfire, Vegarlson, Eryslai, Detroxxulous)
    • 4 Dungeon Themes (Doomfire, Vegarlson, Eryslai, Awuidor)
    • 13 Solo Instances
    • 12 Heroic Instances
    • 7 Raid Instances
    • 1 Contested Raid Dungeon
  • Mount Equipment Feature
  • Mount Equipment Bundle
  • New Mercenary Equipment

That is a pretty nice chunk of new content being delivered, and on par with what the combined EverQuest & EverQuest II team delivers annually.  There is none of this “every other year” talk for expansions, and they still deliver a sizable mid-year update along the way as well.  They might be the hardest working team in the genre.

In addition, EverQuest II just celebrated its 14th anniversary last week.  The official launch date was November 9, 2004, with the Europeans getting their launch two days later, on the 11th.  And the anniversary brings out the Hero’s Festival for players in Qeynos and Freeport.

No Firiona Vie on EQII boxes

But wait, there’s more!

While the game launched on November 9th, my own anniversary with the game actually falls on November 13th.  That is when SOE, no doubt expecting the same rush for servers that they experienced with the EverQuest launch back in 1999, rolled out their second wave of servers for US players.  So on that date the Crushbone server went up and and what ended up being our guild, a mix of players from EverQuest and TorilMUD, started making plans for how we were going to attack post-cataclysm Norrath.  We were the Knights of the Cataclysm.

Our day two guild on Crushbone… I left in 2005 and came back in 2006

And so began a year of playing… and fighting with… the new game as both we and the in-game systems evolved.

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

It was a strange time.  I have fond memories of it, though I am sure I have blocked out many of the problems and irritations that plagued the game back at launch.

Well, I can certainly recall some of them.  I could go on about crafting, no off-line selling at the broker, locked encounters, dupe bugs, experience debt, five minute buffs, the tiny quest log, having only four character slots, guild leveling, mounts, the experiments with risky boat travel, and that graphical processing bug in Qeynos Harbor that made you machine slow to a crawl as you came and went from using the bell positioned out at the end of the dock.

So yeah, if I remember all of those right off the top of my head then there were probably a lot more I’ve forgotten.

But it was still exciting and new and probably all the more so since I had stopped playing EverQuest actively a couple years before, only popping in to visit now and again, so there was very much a new to MMOs again aspect to it.  And having Meclin along, who had skipped EQ so was really in his first MMO experience made it a pretty special time.

Meclin swinging for gnoll necks… original gnoll models

And the game looked good.  Well, it looked better than EverQuest in any case, if you could run it with the graphics settings turned up enough to appreciate it.  I recall tales of people coming for EverQuest and finding the system requirements for the new game so onerous that they had to turn down the settings to the point that they couldn’t see the faces on character models.

I think this was called “future proofing” or some such, but it seems to sacrifice the necessary today in favor of a theoretical tomorrow.

Fortunately I had a decent rig… a big purple Alienware box with an okay nVidia card in it… so I could appreciate some of the graphical quality of the game.  I couldn’t go full settings, but enough to get a decent screen shot.

The catacombs under Qeynos back in the day…

It was also an awkward time for video cards, with the horrible, power hungry nVidia 6800 GT series ruling the roost and burning out motherboards and power supplies in the name of graphical fidelity.  The 6800 design stayed around for ages, being continuously improved as time went along.  I never went for the initial mode due to its horrible reputation, but had a couple of the follow-on 8800 GT boards (LOTRO burned out two of those), then a GTS 250 and a GTS 450, both of which had their roots in the old 6800.  At the time though I stayed with the more reliable 6600 GT and then an ATi 800XL.

It is amazing the amount of little details that lurk in my brain and yet I still can’t remember somebody’s name ten seconds after they’ve been introduced to me.  And I’d have to check the settings to tell you which video card I have installed now.

So it is something of a triple, the 15th expansion drops, the game celebrating its 14th year, and I celebrating my 14th anniversary of joining the game.  Though, if I look at my character, it actually puts me in line for the 15th anniversary present in another ten days.  I wonder what we’ll get.

SOE gave me time

Of course, the timing is all off as well.  Last month I was playing and writing about EverQuest II.  Now LOTRO has captured my fickle heart with its Legendary server.  Still, I might have a post or two left in me this year about Norrath.

October in Review

The Site

Happy Halloween.

A happy kitty pumpkin I carved… a long time ago actually

The strange traffic patterns here continued here for the fourth straight month and I am at a loss to explain it.  It is unusual for no posts from the current month to make the list, much less four times in a row.  And while a few posts on the list make some sense, you have to get down to 25th place before you hit a post from October. (Gamigo Buys then Guts Trion World, which was popular and linked elsewhere is in position 25.)

I cannot tell where some of this is coming from as the referrers count is much lower than the total visitors or page views, though that is not unusual.  Some sites just don’t show up in that list for various reasons, including Massively OP.  I can see the traffic hitting those pages in the Flag Counter reports, and it is from all over the US on Windows, iOS, and Mac OS, so it isn’t just one guy hitting refresh.  So I just don’t know.

Meanwhile, WordPress.com continues with its ever encroaching ad placement.  You won’t see it here, as I am on a yearly plan that turns ads off, but if I hit other WP.com sites with a browser that doesn’t have Ad Block of some sort (which I have to have for work), I end up seeing more and more ads.  The latest is an add that drops down from the top of the page to obscure what you’re reading.

Fill in the gap between the top and the other ads

This is one of those things that makes me shake my head.  Ad blockers were not created because people don’t want to support online content, they were created because the ads grew obnoxious enough for people to look for a way to block them.

And then there was this beauty.  I took a look at my other site using Chrome on my iPad, where there is no ad block extension, to use a link from the sidebar and had my whole session hijacked by an ad.

WP.com lets ads take over your browser session

I love those faked comments at the bottom from two and three years ago.  And this ad led into another and another.  I couldn’t get back to my other site.

And so WP.com has inadvertently joined in on promoting ad blockers by becoming an ad shitshow.  Well done.  I could not recommend WP.com as a platform it you plan to blog.  Go make a Blogger account for that, and make sure you have an ad blocker if you visit a WordPress.com site.

One Year Ago

I wrote about how we used to yell and sell in Waterdeep back in TorilMUD, which predates that auction house stuff we have today.

RimWorld was eating up a bunch of my gaming time.

The then still in early access H1Z1 had King of the Kill removed from its name, reverting back to just H1Z1.  This was due to as-yet-still-unrealized plans by Daybreak to bring the game to China where they couldn’t have “kill” in the name.  They have since changed their mind and renamed the game again.  It is now H1Z1: Battle Royale, or maybe Z1 Battle Royale.  It is honestly hard to tell/care at this point.  All I know is it will probably have another new name before this gets to the “Five Years Ago” section in 2022.

In New Eden I had finished up my time with the Warzone Extraction event.  I also remapped my attributes, something that affects the learning rates of skill.  You don’t do that lightly as you’re stuck with the remap for a year.  I also went and rounded up data cores.  I should probably do that again.  It has been a year.

I was headed to EVE Vegas and wrote up my report when I returned.

The Reavers SIG turned three years old.

In space we went out to Aridia to clean up the neighborhood.

As the month headed towards its end CCP released the Lifeblood expansion for EVE Online which changed moon mining, upgraded The Agency, and added a bunch of PvE content.  There was also a joke about lighting farts to be made.

However, following EVE Vegas, where VR was heavily emphasized, and the Lifeblood expansion, CCP had a round of layoffs and effectively stopped developing for VR.  Among teams hit hard was the community team.

I hit level 30 in Pokemon Go.

And I returned to World of Warcraft, having taken a break.  I once again failed to get the headless horseman’s mount.  And I was wondering if Blizzard would announce the next WoW expansion at BlizzCon.  It seemed pretty likely.

Five Years Ago

EverQuest: Mactinosh Edition was slated to shut down after a ten year run.  Meanwhile, EverQuest Live launched Call of the Forsaken, the game’s 20th expansion.  The Fippy Darkpaw server made it to The Buried Sea expansion.  And in EverQuest II, insta-level characters were set to become a thing.

Also, Daybreak got DC Universe Online onto the PlayStation 4 where it reportedly continues to do quite well.

With the release of Pokemon X & Y, which required upgrading to Nintendo 3DS hardware, I was saying farewell to the series.  Little did I know I would be pulled back in a few months down the road.

As part of some NBI event I attempted to recount all the guilds I had joined over the years.

Somebody was attempting to remake the old Kesmai game Stellar Emperor.

Path of Exile finished up beta and was officially live.

After a post-F2P boom, Trion went back to paring down the number of servers for Rift while its servers in China were shut down completely.

The instance group was still running Foundry modules in Neverwinter.

I was trying out War Thunder.  After failing to get through the tutorial for World of Warplanes, I opted for its competitor, which seems better suited for the inept like me.  I was able to get out there and be a target for other players while bombing at least.

In New Eden our gate camp deployment to the Curse region was wrapping up almost as soon as it started.  It felt like we had just snuck in.  It was time to go home to the quiet of Deklein for a while and wait for the Rubicon expansion.  While there I finally bought my first capital ship, an Archon carrier.  It went for its first jump and then stayed docked for almost a year.  Of course, I found out I had a lot of stuff sitting in hangars around New Eden.  Nine million things, to put a number to it.  And CCP was setting up classes for new players… which was great if you lived in the European time zone.

I was pondering the “journey vs. destination” question with MMOs while feeling a bit wistful that World of Warcraft holidays were not offering much new.

Marc Pinkus, founder of Zynga, declared he was bored of games.

And we finally ditched AT&T DSL for Comcast cable-modem internet, resolving the bandwidth sharing problems at our house.

Ten Years Ago

In one of the worst kept secrets in video game development it was announced that BioWare’s MMO project was in fact Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Their subscription goals were, of course, quite modest.

I celebrated my 15 years of playing Sojourn/TorilMUD with the first in a series of posts.  Nostalgia FTW!  And I guess that makes this the 25 year mark.  My, how time flies!  I probably need a post about that.

And speaking of Nostalgia, Tipa was out looking for EverQuest blogs.  I’m not sure any were discovered.  EverQuest itself launched its fifteenth expansion, Seeds of Destruction, which brought NPC mercenaries to the game to assist players.

The instance group formed up a guild and was running in Warhammer Online.  We had our best night and our worst night, plus a few that were somewhere in between.  All in all though, things were not as exciting as we had hoped.

Mythic was trying out incentives to get better server balance while starting to talk about new stuff coming soon.  Not a word about the quest log however.

In EVE Online Potshot, Gaff, and I were playing with fleets and I was flying a shiny new ship.  Also the EVE Blog Pack was defined.

Finally, I stared logging into World of Warcraft again to get things lined up for the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  I managed to survive through the controversial scourge event and was intrigued by the shiny new achievements.

Fifteen Years Ago

A shooter named Call of Duty launched.  Now Activision’s annual revenue pretty much depends on shipping a sequel to it.

Lineage II launched as well.  The successor to the original Lineage, which was in last month’s post celebrating its 20th anniversary, it had the usual problem of MMORPG sequels in never living up to the success of the original.

Twenty Years Ago

The Rise of Rome expansion came out for Age of Empires.

Thirty Years Ago

The Sega MegaDrive launched in Japan.  Mentioned mostly because I ended up with a Sega Genesis, the name used in the US, a few years later.

Forty Years Ago

Really, am I going back that far now?  Yes I am!  Back in October of 1978 Space Invaders arrived in North America.  I posted about that event.  It was a big deal back in the day.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  2. Honest Game Trailers – Animal Crossing
  3. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  4. Rift Prime Time
  5. SuperData and the Rise of Fortnite
  6. February in Review
  7. Spring Movie League – Cats and Birds and Bruce
  8. Do You Wear the Mask or does the Mask Wear You?
  9. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  10. H1Z1 – Going Live in Time to be a Zombie
  11. Extra Credits – Picking at the Lockbox Thing Some More
  12. How Many People Play EVE Online?

Search Terms of the Month

seagels stop it now
[It is spelled “Seagal” and he’s just the cook]

what game has more people playing everquest 1 or everquest 2 in 2018?
[The original by all reports]

sylvana windrunner rule 34 animated
[Really?]

epic journeys and random encounters (world of warcraft) hentai
[I was with you until that last word]

china gay 3d game pc
[The state probably won’t okay that]

EVE Online

The Pearl Abyss acquisition of CCP was finalized and there was EVE Vegas.  While the latter brought news of the future, my time in game was actually pretty low key.  I did get my one kill mail in for the month as I joined in on shooting one of Pandemic Horde’s high sec structures.  Otherwise I spent some time with the Crimson Harvest event and that was about it.

It has been a bit of a tough month on third party sites.  First Total EVE went down due to a problem with their provider.  Then EVE Files which, among other things, hosts the null sec influence maps, had a RAID failure and went down, taking with it a lot of New Eden history.  The influence maps are created elsewhere, but have been publicly archived on EVE Files.  There are backups, and Chribba started moving some of the videos stored there to YouTube, but how this will work out is unclear.  And then there was a scare with the DOTLAN infrastructure earlier in the month.  The EVE Online ecosystem is fragile and getting more so as it ages. [Total EVE is back up.]

And then there was the Monthly Economic Report for September, which failed to materialize this month.  I don’t know if that is over as a thing, but this is the first time CCP has missed a month since they got serious about it over two years ago.

EverQuest II

I made my way to level 100 at last, though that doesn’t seem like much of an achievement when I tell you I started at level 96.  But that leaves out the real adventure of returning to the game, which is simply figuring out where to go.  Anyway, I paused for a bit at level 100 to do some of the Halloween event stuff.  That was probably to stave off deciding on which path to choose now that I am at 100.  This is never easy.

Pokemon Go

I made my first “Best Friend” in Pokemon Go.  It happened to be my wife, so true in game as in the real world.  It turn out that making a best friend yields quite a good chunk of experience.  Here is what you get by levels of friendship:

  • Good Friends – 3,000 xp
  • Great Friends – 10,000 xp
  • Ultra Friends – 50,000 xp
  • Best Friends – 100,000 xp

I was about 40K shy of level when the best friend event happened, which pushed me right into level 34.  Still a long way to go to level 40, but I have some more friends on my list to help me along as our friendships level up.  You do need to send 90 gifts to get to the best friend level, and my current problem is always running out.  I need Pokestops to be more reliable at dispensing gifts.

There was also the introduction of 4th generation into the game, which gave us all new Pokemon to catch.  That helped boost my Pokedex count.

Level: 34 (+1)
Pokedex status: 363 (+24) caught, 375 (+18) seen
Pokemon I want: Dragonite… pretty much no progress on this
Current buddy: Wailmer… past 330 candies now

World of Warcraft

Sort of stopped playing WoW it seems.  This is me being me.  At some intellectual level I want to finish up the Kul Tiras campaign and get my main to level 120, but somewhere deep within me is the bit that gets me to log in and play, and that bit isn’t having it.  Oh well.  This seems to be following my usual pattern of diving into a new WoW expansion, playing for a bit, then going away for six months or so until the issues are settled.

Hallow’s End did get me logging back in some, but the mount of the Headless Horseman still eludes me.  While waiting for the queue to pop my main hit level 118.  Who is the slowest to level now, eh?

Coming Up

BlizzCon is the day after tomorrow.  Those at the event or watching from home with the Virtual Ticket don’t get a cute pet or mount in WoW this year.  Instead it will be a chance to try WoW Classic.  The Barrens and Westfall will be available to download and play.  I expect this to be examined in minute detail and the topic of articles and blog posts for at least a week afterwards.

There was word that we might get the LOTRO legendary server on November 6th, but there is no official announcement that I have seen.  And the LOTRO Twitter account later denied everything.  It would be nice if there was a date front page, center on the LOTRO web site.  The problematic nature of this server aside, SSG failing to do a decent promotional run up to its open… which, again, would be well served by something like a big count down timer to build up some excitement… is just typical of how the game has been handled for over a decade.  There is a quote from Tolkien that I can’t find at the moment, about the race of man failing to live up to its potential that seems to fit very well to LOTRO as well.

There will also be the new expansion for EverQuest II coming on the 13th.  I’m still too far back to worry about buying that, but it will unlock some new content and more crazy stat boosts.

And then the word is that WildStar will be shut down by the end of the month, so it is your last chance to take a look… before somebody gets an emulator project off the ground.

Finally, Daylight Savings Time ends in the US… for locations in the US that observe the change… this coming weekend.  It will be slightly less dark when I drive to work now.

Friday Bullet Points Before EVE Vegas

Today is the start of EVE Vegas and when this post, scheduled in advance, goes live I will probably be on a plane for the short flight from Silicon Valley to whatever euphemism you care to use for Las Vegas.  Though, given the actual layout of the boundaries in the area, it is debatable whether or not I will spend even a moment in what is actually Las Vegas while I am in Las Vegas.  Call it a trip to Paradise instead I guess.

So while I am traveling I have some bullet points to post about.  This is good for current me, as these posts are easy to put together.  Future me, writing the month in review post in October 2019, will hate this because it is a pain to reference multiple topics in a single link in my usual format.  Current me is always burdened by the actions of past me and generally seems unconcerned about sticking it to future me.

  • One Week and No Cash Shop Apocalypse

The Pearl Abyss acquisition of CCP closed a week ago, on October 12th.

Together for reals now

So far the new owners have managed not to burn down New Eden with horrible game-breaking pay to win schemes.  Yes, they haven’t had much time, and they have an opportunity this weekend to spring that sort of stuff on us at EVE Vegas, but if you read some of the panicked threads on /r/eve after the acquisition announcement you might be surprised that New Eden isn’t already a cash shop dumpster fire.

  • No Commerce War in Perimeter

Back on Monday it looked like there would be something interesting going on in high sec with war decs sprouting between null sec groups looking to battle over the trade citadels in Perimeter, a system just one jump from Jita.  TEST even dropped a Keepstar in the system, a first for high sec space.

A Keepstar in Perimeter

However, Pandemic Horde, who previously held the Perimeter PLEX and Skill Injector market, announced to their pilots that they would be punting on defending this source of income, as well as any income from their home in Geminate, in order to concentrate on attacking the Branch region.  Branch is where GotG had to send the ratters and miners during the war in the north when Imperium forces were working to suppress such income generation in Fade, Deklein, and Pure Blind.

So TEST will be taking over the Pandemic Horde markets in high sec without a fight.  The TEST citadels are online and offering a very low tax rate, while the PH citadels look to be headed to destruction.  Hail to the new boss, same as the old boss, only at a slightly discounted rate.

  • 64-bit EVE Client on the Road Map

CCP has been bringing up the idea of a 64-bit client for over a year now.  It was part of the justification for shutting down the captain’s quarters and the built-in Twitch integration.  But I noticed earlier this week that the idea has made it to the Updates site, along with some other items we’ve been expecting, as part of the Winter update.

A 64-bit client would help players during large null sec fleet battles as it would be able to access more memory.  The current 32-bit client dies at just past 3GB.  And anything that would make those battles more viable would be good for CCP, since they are pretty much the only things that gets the company publicity lately, barring being acquired by yet another company.

When will we see this and the other things planned for winter?  I am sure we will hear more about that at EVE Vegas.  But, while winter may be coming, it doesn’t actually start until December 21 and runs until March 20 in the northern hemisphere, though emotionally I would accept any date in December as counting as winter.

  • No Monthly Economic Report for September… so far

The usual MER for EVE Online is running late this month.  Posting about the changes and economic imbalances has become a monthly staple here, so I hope they haven’t given up on it.  I suspect that prep for EVE Vegas has gotten in the way, but maybe we will hear something about that at the event.  With my luck it will probably get posted while I am driving to the airport rendering this bullet point moot.  But that is why I hid it in the middle.

  • Crimson Harvest Event Returns Soon

Holiday events are always a bid odd in New Eden since playing the game mostly amounts to being in outer space.  And, in any case, CCP has been sporadic in its acknowledgement of holidays for most of the life of the game, save for maybe the time around Christmas.  But they seem to be settling into a routine, with the Crimson Harvest event, a pseudo-Halloween thing, coming again to the game.

2018 Edition

As has become the norm, this event comes to you as part of The Agency interface where you will get tasks to earn points to collect prizes.  This year there is a mention of mining as an option in addition to combat as well as being able to construct your own cerebral accelerators.

I don’t know what that really means other than CCP is trying to make these events appeal to a broader range of players.

  • Days of Summer Ending in Norrath

And, as a “screw you” to future me of next year, I can’t even keep the whole post focused on EVE Online.

The Days of Summer event in EverQuest II which, among other things, yielded a comically overpowers armor set for my recently turned level 100 character, is coming to an end.

I’m here for the event please

As with baseball, summer seems to run well into October in Norrath but comes to an end eventually.  So if you want to get the last quest, which takes you on a tour of Lavastorm, it is time to head to the Sundered Frontier zone and pick it up from Yun Zi.  If you don’t pick it up now… well… I really don’t know.  Does Yun Zi and his vendor Pas Yu go away at the end of the event, or do they just sit there handing out quests and updates until next summer?  I don’t know if Days of Summer, despite having a seasonal name, is treated like a seasonal event akin to holidays or if it is different.  Welcome to Norrath.

  • Sinnoh Comes to Pokemon Go

It is like I don’t even care about future me.

In the land of Pokemon Go Niantic has unleashed the fourth generation Pokemon, the ones introduced with the first titles on the then fairly new Ninetndo DS handheld, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.  So I now have the first starter Pokemon I ever chose, Piplup.

Best penguin ever

I realize that Niantic has only released some of the fourth gen Pokemon, and some are only available in certain regions, but the fact that I have Piplup makes me pretty happy.  I hate to evolve him, as I do almost all of the starter Pokemon, but at least his later forms aren’t as crazy bad as some of the starter Pokemon.

I think if I catch a Shinx and show it to my daughter she’ll start playing Pokemon Go again.  That was her favorite Pokemon ever.  Time to test that theory.

So that is it for bullet points.  Monday’s post will likely be some sort of news round up from EVE Vegas.  I don’t care enough to lug a laptop with me to post live updates, so my scribbled notes and vague recollections will have to do.

Level 100 in Norrath

It is always a bit of a problem for me in EverQuest II.  I find a zone that is about the right level that I can work though to the end… and then I am at the end and have to go someplace else.

The last time I checked in from Norrath I was wrapping up the Withered Lands.  I had finished the overland zone and had gone off to the instanced area, Skyshrine: City of Dracur.  There I had fell short of finishing up everything when faced with an ornery boss dragon, Ovilas.

Looking on at Ovalis

I couldn’t best him either solo or with a merc healing me, so it looked like I ought to find a new path in order to get to level 100.

I wasn’t badly equipped.  Sigwerd had made it up to level 70 when I took one of the occasional free boosts that Daybreak hands out and jumped him to level 95.  That boost came with a set of gear that was better than any drop I received over the length of the Withered Land and, aside from Ovilas there, I was able to face most foes solo.  Those that I could not solo were generally doable with a merc, though I did have to be careful not to pull half the zone.  I could still be swamped if I wasn’t at least a bit self-aware.

And so the search began.

This ought to be an easy thing.  You can Google the zones by level for EverQuest II and find a nice chart at one of the wikis.

But what is the right level and what you can handle and how you actually get there are always complications.  This is made more difficult by the fact that there is quite a bit of overlap when it comes to zones in a given level range.  95-100 covers several expansions worth of content, often gated by various quest lines and by levels of difficulty that can vary greatly.

For all the problems WoW has, knowing where to go generally isn’t one of them.  And, I suppose, this is another answer to the question about why their expansions have levels.  It doesn’t just gate, but also segregates content.

Anyway, in looking at that list on the Wiki I decided to hit the Tranquil Sea, only to find out when I got there that I had done a lot of the lead-in quests for the first part of the zone about two years back, when I had boosted Sigwerd to level 95.  He’d even made level 96 there.  But as to where to pick up after two years away, I was at a loss.

Feeling a bit optimistic, I then tried Zek: The Scourge Wastes, a re-use of the old Zek zone, one of my favorites back in the day.  It was listed as level 100 and it was on the list of locations available from the spires.  I was level 98, close enough right?  However, selecting that as a destination only informed me that I did not meet the requirements to enter the zone.  There is a quest to get there, and you can only get the quest after you hit 100.

Then there was another zone on the list… the name of which has already escape my brain… that seemed about right but you needed to learn the language of dragons which was a quest from the old days which involved a dungeon in Lavastorm and a quest chain that I looked into and then gave up on pretty quickly.

And then there was Cobalt Scar, where I started early on, gave up on, then returned to after the other paths did not seem so fruitful.  I think the problem was that I took the spires to the zone, and that drops you in one end of the zone, but not the end where any quests lines start.

Cobalt Scar on the map

This was not helped by the fact that apparently at some point I visited and started up one of the quest chains, so the camp part way into the zone that seemed like an obvious place to start… was not at all a place where I could start.  Eventually I got that sorted out as I found where I had left off, which was with the otter-like Othmir down on the beach.

Osh and Nika of the Othmir

The Othmir quest line carries on down the shore, dealing with the usual collections quests and a hostile walrus-like people encroaching on their turf, but then takes a dark turn as you are sent on down the beach into what becomes the Othmir version of The Walking Dead.

Zombie otter people attacking the otter people

There is a fairly sizeable set of quests where you help the surviving and besieged Othmir fortify their outpost them investigate what is going on, which involves travel through both time and space.  At one point I was sent off to another zone and somehow totally lost the thread of the story and ended up in the Tower of Frozen Shadow, which is in the Great Divide zone, which happens to be, for the most part, much lower level than what I was looking for.

Tower of Frozen Shadow

Game for anything that would get me along to level 100, I went into the tower, grabbed the inevitable quest, and became a bit lost.  I went to look up information about the zone and ended up with the walk-through for the original EverQuest version of the tower, which told me to go kill the big undead gnoll.  This actually turned out to be correct for the EverQuest II version of the tower as there was indeed a gnoll guarding the mirror that serves as a gateway into the rest of the tower.  The problem was that the gnoll was epic.  No, really.  All the mobs in the zone are.

Not the gnoll, but the same warning

Again I have run into the problem of being able to tell what I ought to be able to kill and what I should avoid.  Ovalis, up at the top, slaughtered my merc and I, so I was a bit concerned that this guy might wipe the floor with us, named Epic 2 full group raid mob that he was.

But it was no problem.  My merc and I killed him handily, no problem at all, barely an inconvenience.  So I carried on with the quest… until it required me to take on a whole room of such mobs.  That was a bit too much even for the merc and I, even when the merc was able to ress me mid-fight for a second run.

This is too epic

Thus thwarted, I turned back from the tower and began to look in earnest for the Othmir undead story thread I had lost.  Eventually I found it, got back to Cobalt Scar, from whence I was sent off to the Eastern Wastes, another zone in the Destiny of Velious expansion, to run down some quests at the Othmir camp on the beach.  There I met the leader of the Othmir.

King of the cute

They live alongside, and are constantly battling with, a race called the Yha-lei, which I can only describe as what murloc would look like if they lived in Norrath.

You know what you are

I did the Lore and Legend quest for them, the trophy for which is a trident described as “Glubble Bluggle Blurggle Bluggle Glubble.”  If that isn’t a straight knock-off of murlocs then I don’t know what is.  Unless they were in the EverQuest Scars of Velious expansion, we know where these came ceom.

Again, after being side-tracked for a bit with that I got back on the story thread, ended up back in Cobalt Scar, and seemed to wrap up the whole zombie Othmir quest chain… though the zombies seemed to still be swarming.  I guess that is how it always ends up.  But there was a quest chain out of there which sent me to a remote camp which, in turn, eventually sent me off to the New Combine fort where the spires dropped me when I entered the zone and into a series of quests that were almost at level for me.  At last!

Following those along for a stretch got me through level 99 and to the magic number.

Level 100 at last

At that point I finished up the quests I had opened and headed off to Yun Zi and his vendor assistant to pick up the level 100 equipment set that was available for characters level 100 and above who had completed the 2017 Days of Summer quest line.

While, as I said, the level 95 gear I got with the boost two years back was pretty good, this new set was a serious boost in stats.  I took before/after screen shots just to see how much of a boost it was.

Upper stats old vs. new

lower stats old vs. new

Aside from my shield block percentage, everything went up by a huge amount.

So, of course I made my way back to the Withered Lands to test all this gear on Ovalis, who had so soundly defeated me before.  Things went a bit differently this time.

Calling all crazy damage numbers!  Boom! Headshot!

He was no problem now.

Of course, I had just rushed into the instance to slay him, forgetting to pick up the mid-point quests so I could complete the zone.  But at least I had made it to level 100.

Which naturally left me once again looking for my next path forward in Norrath.