Category Archives: EverQuest

EverQuest Launches the Vaniki and Yelinak Progression Servers

Meanwhile over at Daybreak, after cancelling the Marvel IP MMO… which, again, got more press traction than anything else they have ever announced even when they were saying they weren’t going to do it… and launching the Varsoon server for EverQuest II, they also found time to bring two new special servers online for EverQuest, the Vaniki and Yelinak servers.

Vaniki and Yelinak

Once again we are reminded that EverQuest somehow has the audience to be able to push out two special servers annually, despite being a 23 year old game.  That is the installed base I often reference that can be farmed to ensure the longevity of titles.

The Vaniki server is on the level locked plan, which I am not sure I fully understand, but there is a whole FAQ posted about it, with a timeline included.

  • Open at level 40 with expansions up to Gates of Discord unlocked
  • Four weeks later: level 50 unlocks
  • Two weeks later: level 55 unlocks
  • Four weeks later: level 60 unlocks along with expansions up to Prophecy of Ro
  • Twelve weeks later: level 65 unlocks along with expansions up to The Buried Sea
  • Twelve weeks later: level 70 unlocks along with Secrets of Faydwer
  • Eight weeks later: level 75 unlocks along with expansions up to Underfoot
  • Twelve weeks later: level 80 unlocks along with House of Thule
  • Eight weeks later: level 85 unlocks along with Veil of Alaris
  • Eight weeks later: level 90 unlocks along with expansions up to Call of the Forsaken
  • Twelve weeks later: level 95 unlocks along with expansions up to Empires of Kunark
  • Twelve weeks later: level 100 unlocks along with expansions up to The Burning Lands
  • Twelve weeks later: level 105 unlocks along with expansions up to Claws of Veeshan
  • Twelve weeks later: level 110 unlocks along with Terror of Luclin
  • Twelve weeks later: level 115 unlocks
  • Twelve weeks later: level 120 unlocks

If I do the math right that give about 33 months of life for this server from launch to the final unlock, which after a decent interval, will no doubt be merged into the Vox server, the now standard landing place for special servers that have run their course.

The Yelinak server is a bit more traditional type of progression server, with a couple of new twists, detailed in its FAQ.

  • Ruleset: True-Box Timelocked Progression – New expansions unlock automatically every 8-12 weeks. (Early expansions unlock more often. The specific schedule is below.) Only one EverQuest client may be run per computer.
  • Experience: Progression standard. Starts off slower than live, but faster than EverQuest at the original launch and increases at Gates of Discord, Depths of Darkhollow, and The Serpent Spine.  At The Serpent Spine experience is as normal live servers.

Unlock Schedule:

  • Eight weeks after launch: Ruins of Kunark
  • Eight weeks later: Scars of Velious
  • Eight weeks later: Shadows of Luclin
  • Eight weeks later: Planes for Power and Legacy of Ykesha
  • Twelve weeks later: Lost Dungeons of Norrath
  • Four weeks later: Gates of Discord
  • At this point the schedule becomes consistent. Enjoy expansions for twelve weeks when a new level cap is unlocked, and eight weeks in expansions where the level cap stays the same.

True Box

  • This server starts with standard True Box. Only one EverQuest client may be run per computer.
  • When Omens of War unlocks, we will move to a Relaxed True Box. You may have up to 3 clients per computer logged into the server at the same time.
  • When The Buried Sea unlocks, True Box will be removed.

The “true box” thing seems to be an admission that a lot of people start off on these servers on day one… they often have queues to get logged into them… but that the population starts to fade as time goes on.  So no multi-boxing when the population is high, but as it tapers off… well, then few are likely to care if you three box, then six box I guess.

Likewise, the experience starts off slow and gets loosened up as the expansions unlock, so that by the time you get to The Serpent’s Spine (fall 2006) you’re working with the live server experience table.

Anyway, both servers were off and running… um… Thursday.  I am a couple of days late on this I guess.  But there is still time to catch up.  A lot of people don’t even start until the first weekend hits, knowing that the first 24 hours of any Daybreak launch is often fraught with misadventure.

Related:

Enad Global 7 Cancels Its Daybreak Marvel MMO Project

Say farewell to any dreams about a Marvel Universe Online landing with Enad Global 7, as they announced in a press release that they were giving up on the project and writing of the money invested in it so far.

Enad Global 7

The press release was short and to the point and surprisingly not released at 4pm on Friday afternoon.  But they had an earnings announcement to do, and you have to get the bad news out with that.  The actual text for posterity:

EG7 plans to reinvest Marvel development resources across multiple long-term projects

EG7 today announced it will be discontinuing the development of the Marvel project at Daybreak Games. Based on the re-evaluation of the development risk profile, size of investment, and the long-term product portfolio strategy for the group, the board has decided to change the development priorities and reallocate resources within the group to focus on alternative long-term projects. The company had planned to invest more than SEK 500 million in the Marvel project over the next three years. The company will now diversify this investment across multiple, smaller size projects within the group, including the previously announced major upgrades to The Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online, and new game opportunities with our first party, original IPs. Along with this reallocation, the company expects a write down of approximately SEK 230 million in project related assets in Q2 2022. As one of the long-term investments, the change to the Marvel project plan will not impact near to medium term revenues and profits other than the balance sheet and P&L impact related to the write-down.

You will note the not very subtle spin about investing in other projects… projects they already said they were investing in previously.  Does that mean they are investing more in things like LOTRO and DCUO?  I don’t know.  Maybe?

The assumed reason for the cancellation of the project is the departure of Dimensional Ink studio head Jack Emmert, whose history with super hero MMOs is the stuff of legend.

EG7 even called him out

His leaving, along with whoever he took with him to go work at NetEase, was apparently enough to scuttle the project.  That is always a hazard if a project depends on specific individuals.

This is pretty much a calamity for Daybreak as it continues their lifetime streak of bringing no new projects to launch since the SOE era.  Seriously, H1Z1, EverQuest Next, and Landmark were all under way before Daybreak, so the sum total of Daybreak initiatives looks like the spectacular failure of PlanetSide Arena.

Not only that, but the Marvel project might have been the most widely covered thing that Daybreak has ever announced.  My Google alerts about the company were lit up for days following the tease that they were making a Marvel IP based MMO.

Of course, what I was already calling Marvel Universe Online should have been a slam dunk.  DC Universe Online is already the most popular title in their stable and generates the most gross revenue. (EverQuest, so very cheap to maintain, and such a pillar of the genre, matches it for net profits though.)  Daybreak would have had to go really, really wrong to mess this up.

And yet, here we are.

Then there was the Q1 2022 quarterly report, where they noted income was up year over year, largely through acquisitions, the stock price was down, Daybreak is still the largest single contributor towards revenue, Ji Ham is still acting CEO, and that Innova, a Russian company, is no longer an issue, double pinkie swear.

There wasn’t a lot of new in there, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it, save for this slide.

EQ7 Q1 2022 – Looking Forward

You can see they are still betting on a boost from Amazon’s second age Middle-earth show and that they still want to invest in the things they have said they wanted to invest in previously.  At least H1Z1 isn’t being promoted quite so vigorously… and I say that only because they appear to have no plan for it, so they shouldn’t be promoting it.

So it goes.  The high hopes of 18 months ago seem to have fallen, sapped by the reality of Daybreak at the gaming industry in general.

Related:

Discord as a News Source

One of the ongoing issues of the blog over the last decade and a half has been consistent access to a reliable news feed when it comes to the games I follow.  I’d like to write about what they’re up to if only they would take a moment to let me know.

You can find a few rants early on in the life of the blog where I am frustrated that a given company… usually SOE… has a new page on their web site dedicated to a game and then won’t update it, or breaks the RSS feed, or insists on putting any useful information deep the forums, where no sane person dare go, or, perhaps most common of all, simply fails to update anything anywhere for long stretches of time.

That was in early days of social media, when Twitter and Facebook were something of a novelty and community teams mostly hung around on the forums or made podcasts, which were the hot new thing.  There was a long stretch of me dissecting each SOE podcast for news, back when that was a thing.

Social media has made things a bit better.  At some point various studios realized that they needed to raise their profiles on the various social media outlets, so we got official accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and where ever else one might find potential customers.  Some go so far as to post game news on LinkedIn, which has basically become “business Facebook” because the advice of every half-assed consultant demands that you build your brand by posting nonsense there.

The problem is that social media platforms are bad at timelines.  Twitter seems distressed that I follow so few accounts (I keep a hard cap of 500), so gleefully injects all sorts of suggested accounts into my feed, muddying up the waters.

And they are great compared to Facebook and Instagram, where time apparently has no meaning (I seem to get all the Instragram “Going into Friday like…” memes on Tuesday for example) and once you’ve seen something it gets stored somewhere you can never find it again.

And even when they are not screwing with your timelines, you do need to be there and looking at their site when something gets posted in order to see it in a timely fashion… or at all… which, admittedly means being online and ready at some point after 4pm on a Friday looking for bad news.

That used to be a standard Daybreak move, though CCP ran with the same plan for the great price increase news this past week.

Things have gotten better in that various community and marketing teams seem to get that they have to, you know, keep the players informed in order to keep them engaged.  That is literally the base function of their positions.  If you can only do one thing, do that.  But consistency remains spotty and, as noted, the social media platforms seem to be working against any sort of useful information getting to people since that doesn’t drive engagement like inflammatory political rantings from niche players you would never have heard of except that the know how to play to the algorithms.

Getting timely updates remains harder than it should be.  And don’t even get me started on the Bizarro world that is Google Alerts, which will go out of its way to tell me about every sketchy analyst group that wants to sell me a report on battle royale games but doesn’t seem to know that Massively OP is a thing when I get results for “Daybreak.”  (And when Pokemon has a “Daybreak” update… fergetaboudit.)

Then I ran into a Discord feature that allows game companies who run their own server to setup a news channel that you can subscribe to and pipe into your own server in order to get updates as they get posted.

Unity through Discord

I took the TAGN Discord server, which I setup back when Fantasy Movie League was a thing, and created a new channel in it, and went around and subscribed that channel to the news feeds of various video games.

And it has worked pretty well.

It has its limitations, the largest of which is that a studio has to set up its own Discord server and actually maintain it.  But Discord is popular, even by my own meager measuring, and has become a go-to spot for a lot of companies since gamers are already there.

For example, Daybreak seems to have bought in fully on running a Discord server for at least a couple of their games.  I am subscribed to the news feed for the EverQuest and EverQuest II servers and, for maybe the first time in the life of the blog, I feel like I am getting timely and relevant updates for those games.

Granted, Daybreak as a studio has gotten much better at communication, but this puts updates in my field of vision faster than ever.  They seem committed to the platform for now.

Valheim also provides updates in a timely and consistent fashion.  The Forza Horizon team might be a bit too eager to share, though I will admit everything they post is relevant for players of their titles.

Amazon Games is a little iffy.  They do post updates reliably, but seem to forget that they have more than one game.  They seem to copy an update from either New World of Lost Ark and post it to Discord without actually mentioning which game the news is for.  Usually it is somewhat obvious, but if they announce server restarts and don’t mention a game, do I assume them both?

And then there is Playable Worlds, which has yet to discover the subscribe feature… but they also don’t have a lot of news yet that is worth digging into.

So, for game companies that commit, it works very well for me.  The problem is that not every studio is that into the idea, and those that are do not exactly advertise their servers very well.

I know that Daybreak, as a studio under Enad Global 7, is very much into the Discord thing, but you had to know the servers were even a possibility in order to find them.  LOTRO, in a classic, old school move, announced their server in the forums… more than five years ago.  Early adopter, but non-obvious if you’re looking for it today. (They have social media button for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch on the front page, but no Discord.)

Addendum May 10, 2022: That was actually a third party LOTRO server that was being promoted, and it has since decided it isn’t interested in LOTRO anymore, so forget about that.

CCP, which does like to get into the trenches with customers now and then, seems reluctant to go the Discord route with an official server, but then made a server for Fanfest which quickly became the official server by default because they ran it.

And some companies… well, they just aren’t that into us.  I was kind of surprised to find that Gamigo actually has a couple of servers for former Trion Worlds game, including Rift and Trove.  I am not sure how useful they are… Rift seems to mostly be about the weekly cash shop deals and server restarts, which is not news that interests me… but it is there if you’re still playing.

Anyway, a new option in the struggle to find news.  It is out there, though your mileage may vary.

What Makes Housing Worthwhile in an MMO?

Over at Massively OP they had a daily grind question about which MMO housing was the most “usefless.”  That elicited a lot of opinions, many of which with I agree, and even another blogger response, but I still felt like there was some cross purposes in some answers, because “useless” is something of a loaded description.  We all know at least one pedant who will argue that it is all useless by definition because video games have no practical use or some such.  But even among the more sensible, there is a wide range things that make housing something they will use in an MMO, so I thought I would explore some of the items that came to my mind on that front.

Personalization

Basically, can you make the housing your own, or will it always look like everybody else’s place?  This can mean a lot to some, but doesn’t necessarily influence the other items on the list.

I would put Rift and EverQuest II at the top of the list, as both allow free form decor and have crafting that can create house items.  EQII would be my top choice because it allows you to convert things from some special quests into trophies for your home, which is what I tend to display.  Also, there is a ton of wall art.  But Rift gets the nod for overall flexibility and being able to go nuts constructing things.

New World isn’t too far behind, mostly because it doesn’t feel like there as many general “things” in the world for basic decor.  The housing options also feel a bit more constrained.  But it is also new, so it may catch up.

Then there is EverQuest… my list is not exhaustive, I am just going through the titles I know personally… which has borrowed a lot of ideas from its younger sibling and has free form placement, including out in your yard.

Lord of the Rings Online is a bit behind that, largely due to limited items and the fixed hook system that puts a rather low cap on the things you can actually put in your house.

Then we get down to WoW and Warlords of Draenor garrisons, which I am declaring housing for the purposes of this discussion, and not simply to dunk on it because it ranks highly in some regards.  But for personalization it had a very limited range of pre-set options you could unlock, so every garrison felt very much like every other one.

Then, finally, I am going to bring in the captain’s quarters from the EVE Online Incarna expansion, specifically to dunk on it and provide a bottom end of the range for comparison.  The only thing that made the captain’s quarters unique was the presence of your avatar shambling about it awkwardly or sitting on the couch.

Captain’s Quarters

It was otherwise identical to every single other one until they introduced a couple of basic faction options, and then they were identical to everybody who chose the same faction as you.  Not that you could tell, because you were the only one who could enter.  We can argue over whether or now a POS or a station or a citadel counts as housing, but this actual attempt at player housing in the game was absolutely the suck.

Asthetics

Is it pretty?

I am going to be down on LOTRO housing in a number of these categories, but I will say that if you like the art style of the game, then their housing is very nice.  And the limited customization that I mentioned above means that in the neighborhood housing concept that the game uses, you can’t really end up living next to that horrible person who fills their yard with crap that spells out obscene words or political symbols.  The Valar giveth, and the Valar taketh away.

I am going to put New World up high on the list too.  Again, despite its limitations, the housing looks good and is well integrated into the settlements.

Since I brought WoW into the mix, I will say that garrisons look find, fit in to the game, and actually have some fun aspects in their look.  Once more, huge limitations on how much you can customize, but it doesn’t look like crap relative to the rest of the game.

I am a bit iffy on EQII on this front.  It isn’t that there are not some wonderful, pretty housing in the game.  But there are also a lot of dingy little spaces.  If you are a new player and get your first house anywhere save Halas, it probably sucks.  I remember my first one room cracke rbox apartment in Qeynos.

Likewise, Rift has so much potential, but a lot of the new player starting dimensions just look like work rather than a place you want to own.

I am also going to put EQ down here.  While it uses the neighborhood concept like LOTRO, its neighborhoods are kind of shabby and there is always the person who has their decorations for their favorite holiday out in the front yard all year around.  Plus vacancies are very obvious.

And the, finally, just to see if Bree at MOP reads this, I am going to drag the Tatooine trailer park that was SWG housing into the mix as an example of ugly housing in an MMO.

Looks like they had used YT-1300s on sale at QVC

I will grand practicality and integration into the game, however they looked like ass and in places stretched for as far as your draw distance would allow.

Practicality

Can I actually do something useful to the game in my home?

Or, perhaps more to the point, if I can do things in my home would I bother doing them there rather than in town or a guild hall or some other location in the game?

Warlords of Draenor garrisons could barely be personalized at all, and aesthetically it was basically part of the game, which could be good or bad, but you could do stuff there.  So much stuff.  Too much stuff in the end really, as it managed to deliver on the prophecy about housing that Blizz had used as an excuse previously, that it takes people out of the shared gaming world..  I still visit my base when I play retail WoW to craft some 30 slot bags for alts and that sort of thing.  It remains useful.

So, for all of the other knocks on garrisons, they are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to integration with the game.  I mean, you had a flight point, a special hearthstone for the place, and could have a bank and transmog vendor.  I kind of want to dig through Reddit to see if anybody wrote a post about playing the expansion without building their garrison.  Is it even possible?

And after that I guess I would put EQII which, while far behind in function, is integrated into the game in that you have to setup your store front for the broker in your home.  That was a day one item, and no doubt something influenced by SWG, so if you were looking for a compliment on that front after ripping it on aesthetics, there you go.  You can also set up crafting stations, mail boxes, and all sorts of other things in your home that may be of use.  Crafting stations in a home used to be a sure fire sign of somebody who botted their crafting back in the day, but it is still something you can do… craft, not bot.

Then maybe LOTRO, because at least the neighborhoods have a crafting hall.  I found them less than convenient to use, but they are there and you could commit yourself to them I guess.

After that… well, I think the bare minimum, the low bar, is to provide some additional storage space, or access to your bank storage in absence of that.  I think all the usual suspects and a few more that I have yet to mentions, like Rune of Magic, at least give you that.

Viability

I don’t think that is the right word, but it is the one I am running with.  Still, I will explain what I mean.

What I am driving at is whether or not any player, new or old, who wants to engage in housing as part of their play can do so without too much effort or cost.  I supposed “accessibility” might be a better word, but it is also a word weighted down with its own baggage, so I try to avoid it.

So, for example, EQII ranks highly in this regard in my estimation.  The game guides you to player housing in the first ten levels of the intro, gives you some instruction in it, and the rent for basic housing is very reasonable at 5 silver pieces a week.  That was a price that didn’t even bother me back in 2004 when SOE was trying to keep a very tight lid on the economy such that mobs did not drop coin and when I finally got my first platinum coin it felt like a huge achievement.

EQII even hands you some furniture as part of the intro.  Everybody gets that same table and mirror that they have been handing out since launch, back when having an in-game mirror that actually reflected was kind of impressive.

Rift as well, once they introduced dimensions, gave new players a shove in that direction and a basic location right off the bat, though it was not very inviting in my estimation.

Dimension by the Sea with my free items strewn about

Lost Ark, which I haven’t mentioned up to this point, also gets right in there and requires you to take on a stronghold as part of progressing in the story.   You may or may not like it, but you’re getting one… also, it is shared by all your characters on the same server, which I view somewhat favorably.

Runes of Magic also gets you into some housing pretty quickly as a new player, though it was pretty dull and pointless housing as I recall, so I set it up and never returned.

New World throws housing at you as well… but then  makes it too expensive for low level players.  Without grinding for coin specifically I could have bought a house, but upkeep would have been too expensive with all of the other day to day costs of the game.

LOTRO throws housing at you at some point… you get a quest about seeing somebody about a deed or a house or something.  But housing has so little practical purpose in the game and is so out of the way and… at least back in the day… used to be a bit pricey for any new player that it falls way behind.

Then there is EQ, which I am not even sure ever tells you directly that housing is a thing.  I think the only in-game notification I can recall is getting a reward that was marked as something to put in your house, which at least strongly implied there was housing.  I have a whole post from 2010 about the effort I went through to get a house.

Some EQ housing

Also, the EQ housing is very reasonably priced… so long as you’re a veteran playing in the current content.  If you’re a new player still selling rat whiskers to the vendor for 18 copper, housing is way out of your reach.

And then, way down at the non-viable end of the list for me sits any game where your home exists in the actual game world on real estate that only one person on the server can occupy.  So I am looking at you SWG and Ultima Online and FFXIV and a few other title that escape me at the moment.

And yes, I know what you’re going to say if you think that kind of housing is great.  I get that it is very cool that your house, and yours alone is there in that spot and everybody can see it.  But as soon as you make real estate scarcity a thing and put specific locations in demand, housing shakes out into winners and loser and most players will be on the losing end of things.  The argument that it makes the game more “real” doesn’t wash with me.  If I wanted a game with the same pain as real life I’d go play EVE Online…. wait….  Anyway that is my opinion and you are free to disagree, just know that you are unlikely to sway me.  I live in Silicon Valley where real estate PvP is a thing already.

Location, Location, Location

The tired old joke of real estate is that the top three considerations are “location, location, and location.”

In this case I am not referring to the whole “instanced vs in the world” housing which I was going on about in the previous section, though I will say that if new players can’t get a house some place useful, your game fails on this front… which means instanced housing rules for location generally.

For the purposes of this section I mean whether or not housing is some place useful, like in town or near services you might need as a player.  EQII is pretty good on this front, though some locations are better than others.  As a new player in Halas everything you might need is right outside your door, which is great… if you chose Halas.  If not, your mileage may vary.

New World is also pretty good on this front.  Housing is all in settlements.  There is some vagaries around what level facilities will be available, but you will be in town.  That makes it feel like you live somewhere worth living.

Other titles seem a bit more dicey.  EQ puts you kind of off of the Plane of Knowledge, through the guild staging area, if you know where that is.  LOTRO puts you out in the middle of nowhere, though there are fast travel options.  But I seem to recall there also being some mithril coin or other cash shop currency relation options is you need it on demand.

So What?

I’ve gotten this far kind of riffing on memories and old screen shots of housing, and have probably mislaid my point along the way.

Oh yeah, housing being worthwhile.

In this reflection, it sure seems like the genre can be all over the map on the various aspects I have picked out.  In general I am in favor of having housing in our MMOs, but I also feel like if the developers don’t have time to do it well, have it look good, be useful and integrated into the game, and have it available to users in general, then maybe they should spend their development time on other tasks.

EverQuest Turns 23

I don’t have much of a post for this year’s anniversary, so I am mostly just noting another one passing.

It is starting to make me feel old… or older…

It is still pretty amazing that the game is running along, still one of the most profitable titles in the Daybreak stable of games.  And it is still getting expansions and recently was upgraded to 64-bit.  When it launched people were still using/developing/shipping 16-bit apps.

And there is still a roadmap of things to do for the game.  It carries on.

The company itself has some celebration plans in the works, including some in-game events and a 23rd anniversary sweepstakes where you could win some original EverQuest art.

Roll on Norrath.  The original remains strong and no successor seems likely to replace it.

February in Review

The Site

Another month flies by and we are at the 186th month in review post.  Part of getting older is wondering how time goes by so fast.

I did, however, get another meaningless achievement this month.

700 Days in a Row

We’ll see if I keep going.  If I get to the end of March I will have gone two years straight.

February was also a light month for traffic.  It is already a short month and world events seemed to draw people away over the last week.  I get that.

The odd bit is that ad revenue was way down relative to the dip in traffic, barely cracking the $10 mark.  And it seems a different problem from last month, where ads served was way up but revenue was down, reflecting low quality ads being pushed.

This time around ads served was way down as well, much more so than the down turn in page views might suggest.  Either more core audience all has adblock loaded up… and I commend your good sense in that… or ads simply aren’t being served up.  Some checking showed that there was at least some of the latter going on.

Checking from my iPad with Safari, which is not set up to block ads, I was seeing nothing come up for a couple of days.  I don’t know if that is WordPress.com’s problem or the ad broker they are using, but the well of ads was running dry at times in February.  That never seems to happen with Words with Friends.

We’ll see how next month goes.  I’m still on track with my goals even at $10 a month from ad revenue.  That is enough to pay for the premium hosting package.

One Year Ago

It had been a year since the first documented death in the United States from Covid-19.

It was also the end of Silicon Valley retail staple Fry’s Electronics.

Nintendo announced that they were going to finally do a remake of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.

Out of nowhere, so far as I could tell, Valheim showed up.  I took a look and very soon our group was playing together.  We went out hunting deer, along with the first boss, set sail to find the Black Forest, stormed ashore and setup a base, fought trolls and smelted bronze, then set sail to find the Elder, the second boss, fought an epic battle with that, and wandered into the plains and died to deathsquitoes.  It was quite a time.

Then there was BlizzConline (and Blizzard’s 30th anniversary), which was spoiled a bit by leaks, but which featured the Burning Crusade Classic announcement along with Diablo II Resurrected and other news items.

The Activision Blizzard Q4 2020 earnings call showed WoW was carrying the ball for Blizzard, while SuperData Research showed WoW up on the Shadowlands launch and ongoing WoW Classic momentum.

Actually in WoW Classic, I was working on my paladin, who was catching up to the group, we spent some time getting materials for enchanting, and we were still working on Blackrock Depths, though we got down to the final quest there.

In EVE Online, World War Bee carried on, with PAPI starting to come out of their post M2-XFE slump and CCP’s economic changes sending mineral prices climbing.

And I went on a bit about the difficulty of entering the MMORPG market.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak shut down Landmark less than a year after it officially went “live.”  That’s what extended early access will do to you.

In EVE Online applications to run for CSM12 opened up.  The CSM itself was reduced from 12 members to just 10.  That allowed CCP to potentially fly all members to summits, but also reduced the likelihood of more voices outside of null sec being elected.

Blog Banter #79 explored the benefits and pitfalls of being a long time veteran of New Eden, while CCP posted a nice graph tracking the 25 largest corporations over time.  The graph only had starting numbers, so I provided the ending numbers.

We also got an update that introduced insurance to citadels and kicked off the Guardian’s Gala event.

Actually in game I was blown up by battle Rorquals as well as spending time moving my stuff to a new home system, sitting on a titan, sitting on a Keepstar, survived my first capital op, and dipped my toe into the spectacle that was Burn Jita 2017.  I also had a new favorite EVE Online screen shot.

I wasn’t playing World of Warcraft, but that didn’t stop me from trying to find information about it in Activision Blizzard’s annual financial report.  Good luck there.  I didn’t even bother this year.  Meanwhile, in an unexplained turn, SuperData Research divided WoW into East and West on its monthly Top Ten chart.  I still suspect that was an attempt to make Overwatch look better.

Not only was I not playing WoW, I wasn’t playing any fantasy MMORPGs.  Standing Stone was trying to get me to log into Lord of the Rings Online with the promise of a new mount.

I was confronted by a metaphor for a MMO Kickstarter projects when somebody decided they wanted to make an Apocalypse Now based MMO.

I was still working on the mansion road in Minecraft.  I hit a setback along the way… fell into lava surrounded by creepers… but still made it past the half way point.

And finally, after taking a bit of a break, I was back into Pokemon Sun, working my way towards filling the Alola Pokedex.

Ten Years Ago

I made a video celebrating the first year of the instance group, which formed up back in 2006.  It was focused on what was essentially vanilla WoW and had a serious nostalgia vibe to it.  It got some views.

Then I made a video about Sunken Temple in the same vein that pretty much nobody watched.  That instance always got mixed reviews.  (And my video of the EVE battle at EWN-2U was more popular than both combined.)

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

And Blizzard was making money, optimizing clients, and selling new mounts.

In EVE Online, the war in the north had gone kind of quiet.  There were some big battles over tower (e.g. EWN-2U, which was my first epic fleet battle, and 92D-OI), but the sov grind had not begun.  There was some fun around VFK.  I also noted that a “green” kill board seemed to be the norm for individuals.  Meanwhile, CCP was making money and giving us the occasional fun statistics about the game.

Trion gave us actual loot pinatas as well as a check box to turn off exp in Rift.

And, probably most importantly, we got standardized build templates for common rolesRift’s soul system is still deep and complex for those who want to theory craft, but for mere mortals it became possible to just get a workable build and go play.

As a group in Rift we made it to the Darkening Deeps.

I also figured that, due to the way Rift was progressing, it wouldn’t go free to play unless WoW did.  Wrong on that in the long term I guess, it went free to play ages ago now.

On Fippy Darkpaw, the Planes of Power expansion opened up.  For many the PoP expansion marks the dividing line between what counts as “classic” EverQuest and what is considered “the new crap.”

And EverQuest Mac was saved from the chopping block, going free for… as long as it stays up I guess.

Fifteen Years Ago

I wrote a lot of posts.  Not the 59 posts of the month before, but 41 is still a lot of posts.  Half of them seem to relate to stages of heritage quests in EverQuest II.

Back then Kendricke (remember him?) dropped by with the news that Sony Online Entertainment applied for a trademark for “EVERQUEST II RISE OF KUNARK,” thus confirming my guess from December that Kunark would be location of the EverQuest II expansion due near the end of 2007.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site did not show anything for my guess for the 2008 expansion. (Return to the Planes of Power FTW!) The USPTO did show that SOE at one time had the trademark for, “EVERQUEST: THE DEMISE OF ARADUNE,” which was mildly ironic from a Vanguard point of view. I wonder what they had planned for that title?

Of course, SOE also announced a price increase for Station Access shortly thereafter, always a buzz killer. This was immediately blamed on Vanguard.

Meanwhile, SOE launched The Buried Sea expansion for EverQuest.

I also started off in the Lord of the Rings Online open beta which eventually lead to the instance group spending the spring and summer in Middle-earth before returning to Azeroth.

And speaking of Azeroth, a year ago we were just starting to get into the fun that is Uldaman. And somewhere along the line I swapped out my rogue Blintz for my paladin Vikund, who has remained with the instance group ever since.

I also compared how long it took me to level a swashbuckler up to level 40 in EverQuest II versus how long it took me to get a hunter to the same level in WoW. 

Also, Gaff got flight form in WoW and was really happy with it.  There is flying in WoW, and then there is druid flight form, which is in a league of its own.

I listed out five insane MMO things I wanted, which were not all that insane.  Includes the first time mentioning that I wanted EverQuest redone using WoW’s engine.  I was also on about people picking famous names for their characters, how WASD was messing with my typing, and something else about modelling stealth.

I was looking into the distance to see what Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising might offer.

Peggle launched.  Do you remember Peggle?  It was from PopCap.  Do you remember PopCap?  The game was all the rage on the GFW Radio podcast.  Do you remember the GFW Radio podcast?  Do you remember GFW?  How about Jeff Green?  You know I met him once, way back when he covered modems for MacWeek.  Anyway, it all ended up at EA, including Jeff.

And, finally, my wife got me a Wii for Valentine’s day that I couldn’t use until Easter!

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Mario Kart 64 launches, the second version and maybe the first truly great entry in the Mario Kart series of games.  This one is worth buying whenever Nintendo revives it on later platforms.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Guardians Gala Returns to EVE Online for YC124
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  5. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  6. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  7. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  8. Pearl Abyss Promises a Blockchain Economy while CCP Prepares for EVE Fanfest
  9. The CCP World War Bee Press Briefing
  10. Off to Another New World in New World
  11. Looking Into Lost Ark
  12. Opening Weekend with Lost Ark

Search Terms of the Month

john carmack create facebook horizon world
[I don’t think you can lay that all on him]

Разработчики установили в eve online стальной памятник девушке
[I’m not sure they were really a “girl” technically]

огромный дом в майнкрафте локация
[Where ever you want to build it]

everquest ruins of kunark back of box
[I don’t think I have that here]

Game Time from Manic Time

Well, there was a bit of a change up in the list this month.  Two weeks ago EQII was at the top and Lost Ark wouldn’t have made the list.  I did, at one point, think about playing Crusader Kings III.  There was an update, and I like the stories that come out of it for other people.  I even patched it up and got it ready, but didn’t end up playing.

  1. Lost Ark – 42.78%
  2. EverQuest II – 37.23%
  3. New World – 10.61%
  4. EVE Online – 5.92%
  5. Pokemon Pearl 1.80%
  6. EverQuest – 1.65%

EVE Online

The month started out with my account lapsing and me spending some time figuring out what I could do as an Alpha clone.  That developed into me mostly not logging on at all once the Guardian’s Gala login rewards were over.  I suspect there is a message in that.  Like many other aspects of the game, free to play hard mode is much harder in New Eden than it is in other MMOs.

EverQuest

The game turned 64-bit, which was a thing I guess.  It was enough to get me to update the client, create a new character, and play through some of the tutorial again.  I kind of enjoy that once in a while.  I had some mad vision of doing a year long event to run a character from creation to level cap, all in the 64-bit era… and then I wandered off and did something else.

EverQuest II

I came into February very strong on EQII, playing it more than anything else for the first half of the month.  I got several character up to the new level cap for both adventure and crafting and started working on the adventure signature quest line… and kind off fell off there.  Expect a post about that this coming week.

Lost Ark

This sort of came out of nowhere for me, and was a bit of a slow burn at that.  With EQII tapering off and not logging into EVE, I had a hole in my play time just when Lost Ark showed up.  I tried it on a lark, kind of liked it a bit, kept playing, and started getting into it.  Here, at the end of the month, it was my most played title.  I had to convert it from a tag to a category here on the blog because the instance group started playing it.

New World

Ah, New World… I don’t hate it, but it does manage to disappoint on such a regular basis.  Amazon games is working on it still, but their list of fixes for February was a bit underwhelming.  That, and being dropped into a new server where the bad things people have been talking about started affecting our game play… and it was time for a break.

Pokemon Go

The month ended with the Johto Tour, which was a good day’s fun.  My wife and I did the free part of the event, because $12.00 is kind of a big ask for a bit of content, and were happy enough with that as it took us nearly all afternoon to finish up.  The downside of the event was that it very much focused on past content, so was a good catch-up for newer players, but there were no new Pokemon out there for us.  I did get a shiny Raikou though.

Level: 42 ( 27.9% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 685 (+5) caught, 705 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Floette

Pokemon Shining Pearl

Playing this remake was a good time, but I have to admit that once I got through the Elite Four and Cynthia, I was kind of done playing.  That is the culmination of the story, the basic win scenario, and after that everything is somewhat self-directed.  I’ll do a final thoughts write up on the game at some point.  Overall though, I quite enjoyed it.

Zwift

Much to my surprise, I am still doing this regularly… three or four times a week… six month down the road.  It would be very easy to just stop, and there are times when I want to skip even my rather minimal routine.  But somehow I have carried on.  This must be what adulthood is like.

Meanwhile, my distance cycled puts me about from my driveway into the middle of Salt Lake City, Utah, which is where the Winter Olympics were held 20 years ago.  I didn’t watch them then, and I didn’t watch them this past month in China either.  Keep on peddling.

  • Level – 13 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 774.8 miles (+90.3 miles)
  • Time – 1d 16h 55m (+4h 45m)
  • Elevation climbed – 33,855 (+4,354 feet)
  • Calories burned – 25,924 (+3,113)

Coming Up

March is upon us and it is Mardi Gras tomorrow.  Most people won’t care, but a branch of my family is from New Orleans, so it will be jambalaya, red beans and rice, and king cake at our house tomorrow.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

March also brings my birthday.  Pokemon Legends: Arceus is on my list, so I might be playing that later on this month.

Then there is Lost Ark.  No doubt this will come up a few more times on the blog.

There is a possibility that CCP will makes some changes that might loosen up the economy and make larger scale warfare viable again in null sec.  I’ll go back to Omega for something interesting.  The battleship changes look interesting to a lot of people.  But EVE Online is still in kind of a messy state.

I might try to figure out what Elden Ring is.  A lot of people are suddenly into that in my Twitter feed, but telling me it is like Lost Souls doesn’t help me, because I never played that.  Also, it is $60, has some issues, and I don’t get how the co-op works, so I can wait.

Enad Global 7 Posts Strong Q4 2021 Results with High Hopes for MTGO

Enad Global 7 posted their Q4 2021 and overall 2021 financial results this week.

Enad Global 7

As reported elsewhere, it was a good quarter for the company, with revenue up significantly.

While services made a huge leap in revenue, with the split between services and games being 60/40 in Q4 2021, the whole revenue stack for Q4 2021 dwarfs what it was for Q4 2020 when EG7 was in the process of acquiring Daybreak.

EG7 Q4 2021 slide 8

That said, while Daybreak remains the dominant part of EG7’s game segment, and grew slightly in Q4, I do wonder why it didn’t grow more.

Q3 vs Q4 Games Revenue

Those values are in Swedish Krona, but it is close enough to equal to the US Dollar at the moment as to make no difference for a chart.  Q4 saw Daybreak launch three expansions, with Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest, and EverQuest II selling virtual boxes with price points as high as $250 for the super deluxe friends and family packs, which would at least lead me to assume that Q4 ought to see a significant bump.  I mean, you don’t ship content packages like that unless they are making you money.

Now, I don’t have the same chart break out for Q2 for a direct, ongoing comparison, and maybe they account for pre-orders in Q3 rather than Q4 (though generally you only count revenue when you deliver a product), but it is still something that makes you wonder.

Anyway, the classes I took on finance and accounting were all more than 30 years ago at this point, so my opinions do not carry a lot of weight.

Instead, I’ll move on to the forward looking statements, as there is a slide dedicated to EG7’s 2022 plans.

EG7 Q4 2021 slide 16

In the short term they have a couple of games in the pipeline.  They are also expecting Lord of the Rings Online to see an uptick due to Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power streaming series, which is slated to premier in September.

Then there is Magic The Gathering Online, which I will get to in a moment, along with some mergers and acquisitions they have going.  I wonder who is left worth buying?

While the business focus is “2022,” the last time around things in the medium term seemed more likely to come to pass in 2023.  Big updates for LOTRO and DCUO were previously mentioned, so MTGO is the new piece in that picture.

And then there is the long term, which looks somewhat different that it did in the Q3 2021 presentation, with a promise of new products based on EverQuest and H1Z1, along with DCUO.  That is new.  I am not sure what it means, and after the folly of EverQuest Next I am not about to get invested in any fantasies about what it might mean, but there it is.  And H1Z1?  They can’t let that go, but there is still nobody actually working on it either last I heard, so I don’t even know where to go with that.

Missing is any reference to the Mavel IP MMO being developed, mentioned as part of the Q3 2021 presentation, which was probably the most widely reported thing EG7 has ever announced.  It is mentioned in passing in the Ji Ham statement at the top of the interim financial report, but that isn’t exactly top billing, so that might be far enough out that they don’t want to wear out its popularity too quickly.

And then there is Magic the Gathering Online, which gets a slide all to itself.

EG7 Q4 2021 Slide 4

EG7 announced this deal back in December, and we’re getting a little more detail now.

“Acquihire” generally means to buy another company to get their development team as opposed to their product line, though given that this is being billed as a license deal with no upfront purchase (free to play acquisitions!),  “aquihire” might be the wrong term, but I am not sure what the right word would be.

But the result is that the team that was working on MTGO now works for Daybreak and are carrying on developing and supporting the live game.  EG7 is highlighting this, and it is a big deal with some revenue heft behind it.

But deals like this don’t happen when a title is doing super awesome and revenue is expected to keep growing.  Magic the Gathering Arena, which is available on mobile devices, as opposed to the Windows only MTGO, is said to be the new hotness for digital MTG fans, with a superior business model and all that.

I am not saying that EG7 is being too optimistic.  MTGO is still a substantial business and an immediate addition to their revenue stream.  They are winning on this deal from day one.  And there is no doubt a solid, core player base invested (literally and figuratively) in this title.  But there is a reason that this deal isn’t getting anything close to the amount of press the Marvel IP announcement did.

Anyway, that is 2021 for EG7.  On to 2022.

Related:

64-Bit EverQuest Arrives Successfully

The promised update from the 2022 roadmap came and went this week without much in the way of drama.  Yes, they announced the servers were up and then brought them back down minutes later.  But everything was up and running again well inside the 8 hour time frame the team announced.  EverQuest is now running as a 64-bit application on client and server.

EverQuest, the classic

That probably doesn’t really mean much today.  The game still loads up and patches today the same way it did last week… at least if I remember to run it as Administrator.

Which I forgot to do again

EverQuest certainly isn’t the first older title to make the jump to 64-bit, or even the first Daybreak title, since Lord of the Rings Online has already gone there.

And it probably doesn’t need the upgrade as badly as, say, EVE Online needed it.  Large battles were causing the EVE Online client to cross the 2GB memory access barrier of 32-bit and crashing clients.

But perhaps it is a prerequisite for the “new UI engine” that was at the “beyond 2022” end of January’s roadmap.

I do wish that the Norrath team would do an old school CCP-like dev blog about how the tech will help them.  I know that they need to go there in order to ensure that EverQuest (and later this year, EverQuest II) remain active and viable titles in a world where 64-bit operating systems are now the norm and support for 32-bit will eventually go away.  It will be a while.  It took going to 64-bit Windows 10 for Microsoft to finally end 16-bit support (RIP my original Civilization II disk), so it is best to get upgraded now rather than wait until the end is nigh.

Still, it has been quite a ride from 1999, when apps that required 8.3 file names were still around, to today when my phone probably has more computing power than my first dozen computers all combined.

EverQuest in 1999

I did actually roll up a fresh character, a dwarven berserker, on the Vox server, just to see if things were running okay.  I don’t know if I will play him very far… I have started many a new character over the years, and most of them end up lingering between levels 17 and 24… but it is my first character in the 64-bit era of EverQuest.

Anyway, with 64-bit comes new system requirements, which you can find posted on their site.

What if EverQuest had been based on Forgotten Realms?

This is something of a tangential thought from Monday’s post… it is actually where my thinking started, but I wrote one of the other thoughts first… related to EverQuest.

EverQuest, the classic

We know how things worked out, how EverQuest relied on its own IP, borrowing heavily from how TorilMUD did things, and was successful beyond all expectations, and remains to this day one of the key revenue streams in the Daybreak stable of games.  (DC Universe Online has more players and greater revenue, but EverQuest catches up when we start talking about net profit because DCUO has to split with the console platforms and pay royalties for the IP.)

The thing is, EverQuest could have borrowed more from TorilMUD.

TorilMUD, at the time EverQuest was being developed, was based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition, best remembered today for introducing the concept of “To hit armor class 0” or THAC0, and set in Forgotten Realms IP,  featuring monsters, locations, and tales from the campaign setting.

From the city of Waterdeep (which I wrote about) you could go south and visit Baldur’s Gate and Calimport, or north to the spine of the world and the home of the dwarves, east to Zhentil Keep, Thay, and the Sea of Fallen Stars, or out onto the Trackless Sea to the Moonshaes, or even as far as Evermeet, home of the elves, about which I wrote a series of posts.

And while EverQuest borrowed many of the ideas from TorilMUD, I do sometimes wonder what would have happened it the team that eventually became Sony Online Entertainment had gone all the way and created a Forgotten Realms MMORPG.

There were obvious roadblocks, not the least of which was a company called BioWare having licensed the IP for their successful Baldur’s Gate title.  But it is not entirely inconceivable (and I do know what that word means) that the wily John Smedley might have somehow somehow negotiated a deal with the then new owners of the franchise, Wizards of the Coast, to be able to create a persistent online multiplayer game with the same IP by finding enough hairs to split to distinguish it from the other deals licensing it.

And, had that come to pass, what would the game look like?

Some of it likely wouldn’t change all that much.  Freeport was already modeled on the version of Waterdeep in TorilMUD.  The individual home towns of the different races were already a thing.  Faydwer would likely have become Evermeet, home to just elves and the half-elven.  Kaladim would have to become Mithril Hall and move somewhere north, adjacent to the barbarian space of snowy terrain likely.  The halflings were probably fine where they were, while the dark elves become the drow and likely need a better location.

I’m not sure what you do with the Erudites.  Do you make them illithid and get a psionic class in the bargain?  And do you then need to create the Underdark as a setting?

Or maybe you don’t do as much at launch with an eye to expansions.  Maybe rather than going to the moon you go to the Underdark and have a new race there.

Clearly it isn’t a one to one substitution.  The game would have been built differently with the setting in mind.  But it feels like it could have been done.

Then one wonders at the outcome.  Does having the Dungeons & Dragon franchise and Diku MUD style open world 3D MMORPG mean it becomes an even bigger success?

And, if so, is the additional success worth it?  I mean, looking at Dungeons & Dragons Online, the bar is pretty low for who could get a license from Wizards of the Coast.  (Also, Neverwinter.)  But the fees for the license are not insubstantial and success often leads to greed.  Also, they might require some sort of adherence to the D&D mechanics, a level of editorial control of items and content and whatnot.

And they might not be happy with the graphical fidelity more than 20 years down the line.  Does everything get a Freeport style revamp?  Or does EverQuest II become the revamp and the original goes away?

Would we have a huge world with 20+ expansions today?

Things could have gone very differently.  But there were no doubt many choices along the way that could have diverted both Norrath games from the trajectory they eventually followed.

Just things I think about when I am in the shower.

Playing Mostly the Same Game for Nearly 30 Years

My wife was looking over my shoulder and asking what I was playing the other day.  I said, “EverQuest” which to the response, “The same game you were playing back when we lived in the condo?”

I had to clarify that it was EverQuest II, a subsequent title from the original, but still not all that new, having passed the 17 year mark back in November.

This made me think for a bit about how long I have been playing some of these titles and, more broadly, how long I have been playing what might be accurately a specific lineage of a sub-genre of video games.

Regular readers know that I do not play a lot of new games.  The title of the blog itself includes the word “ancient,” which was in part a reference to the fact that I was likely going to focus on titles that were not exactly new, as well as reflecting the fact that, in my early 40s, I was starting to feel a bit old.

That latter bit feels burdened with more than a bit of hubris now, viewed from the back half of my 50s.  I was literally at my peak in many ways.

Anyway, It occurred to me that conflating EverQuest and EverQuest II was not all that inaccurate.  EQII was clearly created as a response/update/continuation of the the original.

Likewise, if I am going to go for that point, then World of Warcraft could somewhat accurately be so named.  It was, after all, also built in response to EverQuest, an evolution of the game created by a team of Blizzard employees that were hard core raiders in Norrath, using the RTS IP that the company was known for as a shell in which to house their vision of how the EverQuest experience should evolved.

And, naturally, in thinking that the game that is/was EverQuest evolved through those two other titles, I felt that it must naturally have its own antecedents.  I mean, I know it does, that Norrath didn’t spring out of thin air.  It has often been pointed out the similarity between it and the Diku MUD mechanics and, more specifically, Sojourn and TorilMUD.

All text, all the time, login page from the past

EverQuest was, in many ways, directly pulled from TorilMUD, a MUD that both Brad McQuaid and I played over the years.  Some aspects of the new game were lifted wholesale from the old, and one of the aspects that drew me to the game was the interesting mix of newness… how to even describe day one EverQuest… and the scattered familiar aspects.  The races, the classes, the multiple hometowns as starting locations, and even some of the gear, were all influenced heavily by TorilMUD.

I’ve been down that path before.  There is a whole TorilMUD category here, at least 75 posts deep.

I have also covered before how long ago I started playing… that would be some time in the fall of 1993.  And TorilMUD was the only MUD I played, it was just the one that caught my attention and that I stuck with for many years.  So there were some others before that, including Gemstone on GEnie.

So, if we take it as read that all of these titles… TorilMUD to EverQuest to the EverQuest II and World of Warcraft branch… are essentially an ongoing evolution of the same basic game, then I have been playing that very same game for about half of my life, or almost 30 years.

Of course, it isn’t that simple or clean cut.  They are not literally the same game.  In fact, all four still exist, in parallel, today.  I could log into each of them if I wished.  And the games did not cease to grown and change as the newer variations appeared.  TorilMUD still gets updates and EverQuest, which will get to its 29th expansion before the end of 2022, is being updated to 64-bit server and client this month, a move necessary to ensure that it will continue to run for years to come.

And certainly EverQuest II and World of Warcraft, which were born very different titles as evolutions of EverQuest, have gone down very different paths.  The two have grown and changed in ways that have moved them even further apart as the years have passed.

Yet they still seem to be following some similar threads.  I have mentioned that EverQuest II has opted for a path that gets players to the level cap of a new expansion fairly quickly, then gives the players a lot of instanced dungeon content, including solo versions of that content, as the ongoing end game.

That seems oddly similar to WoW and the Shadowlands plan, which set brisk pace to level cap and then led players off to faction building and instanced daily content.

The two certainly feel different in style and mechanics, yet still share something in their roots and direction.

Of so it seems to me.

Addendum:  And just as an afterthought, even at times in the past 30 years where I wasn’t playing one of the four games mentioned I was most likely playing something that was very much an off-shoot of these games.

Lord of the Rings Online tried to steer a bit of a different course, but eventually found its way into more WoW-like mechanics, like the skill tree… which, oddly enough, WoW had abandoned at just about the point LOTRO jumped on that.

And then there is Rift, which was very much an attempt to out-WoW Blizzard for a bit.

Very much the same game in different guises.  But I guess that is what appeals to me, given the evidence above.