Category Archives: EverQuest

The EverQuest Team Expands on their UI Engine Roadmap Update

On Thursday I wrote about the 2023 roadmaps that Daybreak posted for EverQuest and EverQuest II, calling out a couple of items from each that were of interest to me.  On the EQ side of things, one item of particular interest was the reference to a new UI engine, which they plan to start introducing this coming April.

The 2023 road map for EverQuest

Interest in this particular update sparked notice in more people than just I, such that over in the forums the team decided to expand on their plan, at least to a certain extent.

We’ve seen lots of questions about the New UI Engine. While we’re not ready to answer all of them, here are some that we can answer now.

That was followed by a list ot things they chose to share

  • There’s some confusion around the new UI engine and if we’re doing a port or a revamp of the UI / UX. We are performing a port which means we’re replacing the engine (the part the runs the UI) and not planning to do any changes to the look or flow of any of the existing windows in this phase.
  • Once we have completed porting all the windows in the default UI to the new UI engine, we have plans to discuss a revamp of the UI / UX.
  • For people that use the default UI, we’re trying to make it as much like the current UI as possible. That means that ideally, in this phase, it should look and behave like the current UI except for the new features.
  • Some of the new features that will be there when we do the initial launch are:
    • Window scaling – there will be a slider that controls the scaling of all the windows that have already been ported. This means if you want to make your UI larger (or smaller) you can use this and not have to use a custom UI to change the size of the text and images. This would be like the scaling of the “Button Size” on hot bars right now or /chatfontsize in the Chat window, but it would apply to the entire UI all at once.
    • Window docking – each window in the UI can “snap” to the edges of the entire game window and other windows within the UI when moving around the window.
    • Do note that the features will not apply to windows that haven’t yet been ported and will apply as soon as the window is ported.
  • The initial launch will only have a part of all the windows in the UI ported. We will continue to port windows throughout the rest of the year. This means some windows will be using the new engine and its features, and others will not.
  • For people that use or develop custom UIs, this next part is for you.
    • While we cannot port your custom UI for you, we will be supplying a converter tool. The goal with the tool is to help aid with the porting of your custom UI. We can’t guarantee that it will cleanly port everything for you, but it should automate some of the parts to help you get converted.
    • The language that the new engine will use is HTML5 based. So, if you’re comfortable with building web sites or pages, you should already be comfortable with the new language. It isn’t fully HTML5 compliant, but a large portion of the language is supported in the new engine.
    • The specific details of how new custom UIs will mix with the new default UI and the old default and custom UIs will be supplied as we get closer to release on the Test server.
  • We plan on launching the new engine and some ported windows to Live with the April Update. The plan is to put the new engine on the Test server in March. Depending on how things work out internally it may go to Test with the March Test Update or soon after the March Live update completes. If we can launch the new UI engine to the Test server earlier, we will try to do so.

I have some mixed feelings on this, but I understand the logic of it as well.  As somebody who finds the current EQ UI balky and outdated, I would prefer a clean sweep.  I have, in the past, written about having Norrath content with a WoW UI being something of a dream.

Well, we won’t be getting that, the focus being on changing the underlying engine and trying to keep the UI consistent with what the current user base is used to, and rightly so.  Many a title has foundered by not catering to its installed base.  They need to service those who are paying the bills today and worry about people like me much later on.

That in mind, I am also a bit worried about the team killing the current custom UIs.  There are a lot of slick versions of the EQ UI out there, and it is probably a surprise to many how customizable the UI has been over the last fifteen years or so.  I try to avoid mods, but playing EQ is one place where I have indulged.

The worry is that when you kill off that field of options, many of which are probably now unsupported, there is a big question as to how many will become available after the change over.  I am happy that they will support a form of UI customization, and the EQ installed base is nothing if not dedicated, but I fully expect the selection of options to be significantly narrowed.

That said, even with the statement about sticking to the current UI conventions, I am still interested to see what the team will bring to the table when the update lands in April.

EverQuest and EverQuest II have a Roadmaps for 2023

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

EverQuest

The 2023 roadmap for EverQuest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EverQuest II

The 2023 roadmap for EverQuest II

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

But what interested me from the EverQuest II roadmap was:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewing My 2022 Predictions

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

2022 is what we get

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

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

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

Anyway, let’s get to the scoring.

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

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

But it did not come to pass.

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

Zero points.

2 – No WoW Expansion in 2022

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

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

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

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

3 – The Arthas Hail Mary

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

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

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

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

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

4 – Immortality is Overrated

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

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

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

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

5 – Activision Will Settle with the State of California

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

6 – Bobby Kotick Will Remain in Charge at Activision

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

7 – Enad Global 7 will Announce Marvel Universe Online

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

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

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

Zero points.

8 – H1Z1 Will Remain in Limbo

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

10 Points.

9 – LOTRO Old and New

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

Zero Points.

10 – Nothing New in Norrath

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

10 points.

11 – Ji Ham Confirmed as CEO of Enad Global 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 – New Eden Economic Times

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

14 – New World on Consoles Announcement

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

15 – New World Store Update

None of these things came to pass.  Zero points.

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

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

17 – Metaversary Rhymes

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

18 – Non-Fungible Fiascos

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

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

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

19 – Chapter and Metaverse

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

20 – A Better Metaplace

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

21 – Non Starters

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

Extra Credit

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

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

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

The Final Score

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

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

The Night of Shadows Expansion Arrives in EverQuest Today

The day has arrived, the next EverQuest expansion, Night of Shadows, lands today.

The Night of Shadows arrives

Night of Shadows is the 29th paid expansion to the game, which I have to think is some sort of record.  There are lots of titles out there that put out updates and content drops regularly, but a full blown annual expansion… and it was two annual expansions for a stretch, which is how we get 29 expansions for a game that will be 24 years old next March… but I cannot think of an MMORPG that is anywhere close to this level of effort.

And if they keep doing it, it must be making them money and keeping people subscribed.  With Daybreak now running Enad Global 7 we know that the bottom line is primary.

Night of Shadows puts us back on Norrath’s moon of Luclin.  Norrath’s leading vampire has been kept at bay, but there is always some new conflict brewing.  From the expansion brief:

Norrathians have ended the conflict between Mayong Mistmoore and Luclin herself, but can they relax their vigilance? The recent attention of Luclin has emboldened the Akheva, and they continue their plans to conquer the moon!

As war rages across the surface of Luclin, disaster has befallen Shadow Haven deep below. The mysterious sealed door has been smashed open, and the great spirit trapped behind it has rampaged through the city, leaving death and destruction before retreating to the unknown caverns it escaped from. What maddened the spirits? How can the Akheva be stopped? Can Shar Vahl survive as war threatens to engulf the city? The truth lies in the shadows — will you survive to find it?

And what will this expansion bring to the game?

  • 7 Expansion Zones – Explore more of Luclin to calm the spirits.
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • Tradeskill Component Depot – Your account will gain a Tradeskill Component Depot that can hold 250 stacks of different tradeskill items. You can add slots with marketplace items as you need them! This depot is shared among your characters on the same account and server, like a shared bank. Each of these slots ignores the standard stack sizes and can hold significantly more of each item. Additionally, you can utilize these items anywhere in the world when crafting.

Some of that is the standard fare for any Norrath expansion, but the tradeskill component depot is probably going to make some crafters happy.  Inventory management, even with a couple of decades of UI improvements, is still a chore in EverQuest.

Otherwise there is no level cap increase, so it is the other advancement metrics that come into play. The Alternate Advancement page already has more fine print than a rental car contract, but I guess there was room for a few more paragraphs.

As for the seven new zones, I saw somebody post to Twitter an updated map of Luclin indicating where the zones fit in, but I can’t find it.  They were somewhere around the Twilight Sea on the old map.

A busy place, the moon

As always, there are the usual version of the expansion available for purchase, from the reasonable Standard Edition to the crazy “give me two of everything and make half of it tradeable in game” Family and Friends edition.

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

The pre-launch purchase bonuses are likely gone, but there is still a 10% discount if you are an all access subscriber.

So congratulations to the EverQuest team!  Every time they launch an expansion I feel a slight pang, a desire to go back and play.  I am just so far removed from the current game’s meta that it is too high of a mountain to scale.

I do wonder what they will do for next year’s expansion, what we will get for the 30th expansion.

Related:

EverQuest and the Night of Shadows Expansion

Daybreak is getting better at both announcing and presenting their new Norrath expansions, but also being sure that their announcements don’t step on each other lest one drown out the other.  So, previously, we had the EverQuest II announcement of the Renewal of Ro expansion and now we have EverQuest and the Night of Shadows expansion.

The Night of Shadows approaches

The leader for this expansion says:

Norrathians have ended the conflict between Mayong Mistmoore and Luclin herself, but can they relax their vigilance? The recent attention of Luclin has emboldened the Akheva, and they continue their plans to conquer the moon!

As war rages across the surface of Luclin, disaster has befallen Shadow Haven deep below. The mysterious sealed door has been smashed open, and the great spirit trapped behind it has rampaged through the city, leaving death and destruction before retreating to the unknown caverns it escaped from. What maddened the spirits? How can the Akheva be stopped? Can Shar Vahl survive as war threatens to engulf the city? The truth lies in the shadows — will you survive to find it?

How many expansion blurbs include mention of attempts to conquer the moon?

As for what the expansion brings with it, the list has many of the usual suspects:

  • 7 Expansion Zones – Explore more of Luclin to calm the spirits.
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • Tradeskill Component Depot – Your account will gain a Tradeskill Component Depot that can hold 250 stacks of different tradeskill items. You can add slots with marketplace items as you need them! This depot is shared among your characters on the same account and server, like a shared bank. Each of these slots ignores the standard stack sizes and can hold significantly more of each item. Additionally, you can utilize these items anywhere in the world when crafting.

No level cap increase, but plenty of horizontal progress to be made.  The Alternate Advancement page already has more fine print than a rental car contract, but this time around there will be more.

Tradeskill Component Depot sounds like a boon for those doing crafting, as inventory management was ever a chore in EverQuest.

Meanwhile, seven news zones on the moon?  It isn’t like Luclin lacked for zones.

Zones on Luclin… make room for seven more

I had a whole adventure just trying to get to the Scarlet Desert on Luclin back when EverQuest turned 20.  We’re going to need an updated zone count infographic when the game turns 25… which will happen in 17 months and a day.

The 2019 census of EverQuest

Anyway, there has always been a lot going on in original Norrath, and soon there will be just a bit more.

The pre-order for the expansion is up now on the expansions page, with the pricing being:

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

That matches the pricing for the EverQuest II expansion, though you do not get as much with EverQuest.  There is no level boost with the Standard Edition, for example, as there is with EQII.

On the other hand, level boosts in EverQuest have their own strange story, which Bhagpuss attempted to explain to me about when I was chagrined that the recent increase in the character boost for the game went from level 85 to 100, while the level cap is 120.

There is no boost into the current content, and the team seems to like it that way.

Anyway, the expansion has been announced, details revealed, pre-order opened, and the beta is on its way.

Related:

Classes in Wrath Classic

One of the differences between running a “classic” server in World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs doing the same is how Blizzard handles classes.

For example, we’ll take my benchmark for retro servers, EverQuest, which did its first such servers back in 2007, when the game was a mere eight years old.  The team at SOE, and later at Daybreak, didn’t spend a bunch of time worrying about classes

That isn’t because things haven’t changed in the game over the years, but due to how they have handled change.  Rolling up a level 1 warrior and dropping in Qeynos today you’ll find a lot has changed since 1999.  You earn xp faster, your health regenerates faster, you’ve had to bypass a tutorial and other starter zone options, and the UI has changed with the times, just to name a few obvious updates.

But if you put on your rose colored glasses and squint your eyes a bit, you can attack a snake out in front of Qeynos with your basic skills… kick, taunt, and shield bash I think… and get the occasional skill improve and generally feel the way you did back in 1999.

That is because the team has mostly handled class changes for expansions by using skills or spells or alternate advancements or special abilities within the context of a specific expansion.  When it comes to classes, expansions are somewhat compartmentalized, in that they don’t effect the class as it played up to that point, but adds or changes things that go forward.

That is a general rule, and there are some exceptions.  SOE redid spells at one point so you don’t get them every five levels, for example, and that affected everybody from level 1 forward.  But for the most part they have kept to that rule.  So when you go back to an old expansion on a retro server, it at least plays and feels mostly like it did at the time.

This is, of course, in stark contrast to how Blizzard has handled classes in World of Warcraft when it comes to expansions.  In WoW every expansion revamps your class.  Sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot.  Sometimes your favorite class and spec becomes unfun, and sometimes things get a bit better.

Between vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade the class changes were not very radical.  My paladin and my hunter, the two classes I have played continuously since I first started with WoW, got some updates, but there wasn’t any radical change as to how the classes played.

My paladin was still putting up seals, judging them on every cool down, to improve damage and, in the case of my protection pally, hold aggro by enhancing holy damage.  Likewise, my beast mastery hunter still had to run off and tame other pets to learn skills to train his main pet, who needed to be fed pretty regularly.

And that seems pretty logical, given what we know.  The WoW team spent a lot of the time during vanilla just honing the game, udoing false assumptions, and really trying to make the whole thing work.  So there wasn’t as much time for radical class changes as they prepared for Outland.

The road to Northrend though, that seemed to have room enough for class reworks, and I have been trying to get on board with them.

With my paladin, Wrath is the first of a long line of expansions where somebody felt it was time to rework seals and judgment.  Or judgements, because with Wrath you get three flavors of judgement.

I have no memory of this…

Seals are also flat rate now, no ranks to them, and last for 30 minutes or until you judge.  So there is some getting used to things on that front.

On the other hand, exorcism is no longer limited to undead and demons, so my pally now has a single target ranged attack for pulling.

For my hunter, on the other hand, the Wrath pre-patch has been like Christmas.

Happy hunter and pet out in the Blade’s Edge Mountains

I did a quick re-spec of him after the patch and was doing some lazy questing and, with just auto-shot most of the time, he got a 100 DPS bonus before I started digging into things.

His pet now has its own talent tree with some interesting abilities, like Heart of the Phoenix, which totally not OP.

Basically, a backup pet in you pocket if your pet dies

I did the Hemet Nesingwary quests solo with my hunter, including the final named mobs, and solo’d them without problem.  I had to use the Heart of Phoenix skill once, but my hunter and pet were otherwise blazing away without issue.

And, while we’re not there yet for the removal of ammo yet… hunters free up that ammo pouch slot with the Cataclysm pre-patch… ammo now stacks in groups of 1,000 rather than 200, which means you really have to neglect your supplies to run dry.  My 16 slot ammo pouch now holds 16,000 rounds rather than 3,200.  Or, I can just get a regular bag and keep some ammo in there because ammo pouches no longer give you a bonus.

Meanwhile, I am still trying to figure out my druid.  There were some changes to feral spec, but I have been mostly distracted by having flight form, which is one of the single best things about druids in WoW.

I haven’t had time for any other classes so far.  My warrior is still level 60, and the next highest character after that is my level 40 rogue.

My goal is to get a few characters to 68, or as close as I can, while the experience bonus remains in the game, because when that goes away it will be a bit of a drag to level character up through Outland.  If there is a reason to regret not getting the dungeon finder in Wrath Classic, it is that it was the fastest way through Outland.

Level 100 Heroic Upgrades are Coming to EverQuest, but Level 85 Upgrades will Remain

Another item from the roadmap posted back in January, EverQuest is getting level 100 heroic character upgrades in the cash shop next Wednesday.  At last!

Something to evoke heroism I think

If you’ve been around here for a while reading my commentary about EverQuest, you may have noticed my impatience at times with the state of heroic characters up until now.

Introduced back in 2014 as part of the game’s 15th anniversary celebration, it was of immediate interest to me because “insta-levels” as I called them were starting to become a thing.  At about the same time Blizzard was giving us details about the level 90 character boost that was going to come with the then upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion, so it was kind of a topic of the time.

Anyway, at the time I was a little bemused about level 85 being the target.  The booster came out during the reign of the Call of the Forsaken expansion (#20), and the level cap at the time was 100.  85 hadn’t been the level cap since the Seeds of Destruction expansion (#15) and seemed a more appropriate level boost for something during the House of Thule expansion (#17) when the level cap was raised to 90.

But, whatever.  What was fifteen levels?  I couldn’t even find my way to the recommended zone after boosting with one of the free heroic upgrades they were handing out.

However, unlike other titles in the genre, including its sibling EverQuest II, the heroic character boost stayed at level 85 even as the level cap rose to the level 120 mark where it stands today.

Fifteen levels, maybe, but 35 in a game where the level cap rises by 5 every other expansion or so?  I suppose it depends on what the goal of the booster is, but that goal can’t be “get me up to the current expansion.”

And that question doesn’t get much better with the level 100 heroic character boost.  I mean, you do get some nice things for you 4,000 Daybreak Cash ($40 real world value):

  • 25,000 Platinum
  • Selyrah Mount
  • One Extra Mercenary Slot
  • Two 40-Slot Bags
  • Spells
  • Thousands of Auto-Granted Alternative Advancement Abilities (AA’s)
  • Full Set of Equipment, including weapons, armor, Power Source and Charm
  • Food, Drink, and Ammo
  • 200 Bayle Marks

But you’re still level 100, which as I pointed out, gets you to the level cap of the 20th expansion, but the 28th expansion is the current content, and the 29th expansion will be coming out by the end of the year.  That doesn’t leave you as far back as the first level boost attempt by Lord of the Rings Online, that stopped at level 50 when the level cap was 95, but it isn’t exactly putting you in the thick of things either.

And LOTRO at least fixed that later.  EverQuest is putting you behind the curve for $40 again.

And then there is the really odd part, which is that the level 85 heroic boost won’t be going away.  You will still be able to buy that for 3,500 ($35 real world value) and receive:

  • 15,000 Platinum
  • Jungle Raptor Mount
  • Two 24-Slot Bags
  • Spells
  • Thousands of Auto-Granted Alternative Advancement Abilities (AA’s)
  • Full Set of Equipment, including weapons, armor, Power Source and Charm
  • Food, Drink, and Ammo
  • 100 Bayle Marks

I don’t get who this is really for, but there it is.

I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.  I have always been a bit dubious of character boosts, which tend to plop you down in high level content with little or no clue how to play your class.  And that is especially true of EverQuest, where a caster can have hundreds of spells that the game is bad at telling you about and which you must pick through the awkward spell interface.

Seriously, I played a cleric up to level 50 for the 20th anniversary of the game, then got a free level 85 heroic boost and applied it to him, and pretty much made the character unplayable.

So I shouldn’t care about the boost only going to 85 or 100.  Even if it went straight to the level cap I’d be lost all the same.  But I am sure it will be of some benefit to somebody out there.  I wish them well and hope it works out for the game.

What Will it Mean to have a Bunch of 20 Year Old MMORPGS?

I know we already have some MMORPGs that are over 20 years old.  EverQuest turned 23 earlier this year, Lineage hit 24 last week, and Ultima Online has its 25th anniversary celebrations coming up soon.  Even Anarchy Online has managed to shamble past its 21st birthday.

Welcome indeed… we’ve been here a quarter century

But we’re getting past the point where that first generation of financially successful MMORPGs have passed two decades and are rapidly coming up on the next generation, the successors that tried to learn and adapt what was learned from the first titles to cross the 100K player mark.

We are now about a half a year away from EVE Online turning 20.  This coming November World of Warcraft and EverQuest II will hit the 18 year mark.  And after that pair hits 20 we’ll see some long surviving title like Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online hitting 20.

I was just going on yesterday about 16 years being kind of a long time in the life of a person, a significant portion of their lifetime experience.  Hell, part of the reality of this blog is not so much that it has been around for 16 years, but that I have been writing about and playing the same half dozen games for most of the time I have been writing it.

What does 20 years mean in a genre that is only 25-50 years old, depending on where you want to mark the starting point?  If you subscribe to the notion that video games are for kids, what does it mean when you have a set of titles that are old enough to be considered adults?

MMORPGs kind of broke the mold when it came to video game development.  You used to make a game, ship it, maybe do a couple of patches and maybe an expansion if the game was a big freaking deal, then you moved on to the next title.  In the end, selling boxes was the goal.  You might rework the same game… how many annual Madden titles have we had after all, or Call of Duty, or even Wizardry if you want to go back to my youth… but you shipped the game and started on the next one.

MMORPGs though, they just keep going.  Or some of them do.  There are, of course, some bodies along the side of the road to 20.  Some less successful titles were thrown overboard to keep various companies afloat and their senior execs in lemon scented moist towelettes or whatever.

But for a set of titles, if they hit a certain critical mass of core players and establish just the right amount of social bonds, they seem to be able to go on forever.

Yeah, sure, they are past their peak.   There aren’t 250K players in Ultima Online anymore, or 400K in Dark Age of Camelot, or 500K in EVE Online, or 550K in EverQuest, or 12 million in World or Warcraft, or however many in whatever other aging titles you care to mention.  Their prime is in the past.  But they managed to hold onto enough players to remain viable, even profitable.  Very profitable, in some cases.  EG7 is never going to let go of EverQuest if it keeps up, nor will Blizzard ever abandon WoW, which still pays most of the bills even in its decline.  The only thing that will kill them is gross mismanagement… and even WoW seems to be able to handle that.  (EVE Online though, that remains a test case for management that wants a different game.)

Even if new content is out of the question, there are always events and special servers and a host of tricks and enticements to keep people playing and paying.

It used to be Mark Jacob’s gig to go on about how the market for MMORPGs was vast beyond anybody’s measure. (A quote of one of the many times he said something like that.)  But I do wonder what it means to have a market where the old competitors, rich in content, history, and memories, are hanging about as the occasional new entry shows up and tries to compete.

I’ve gone on about the peril of the market for new entries, and the thing isn’t unassailable if you’ve learned the right lessons from the past.  Go see how Lost Ark has been doing, a title that had its act together, versus New World, an entry in the genre that seemed determined to forget every lesson ever learned.

I do not have any deep insight or huge conclusion to wind up this post with.  It is just something that occurred to me as I was tidying up yesterday’s post about my blog turning 16 and how its fortunes have tracked along with some of the games I’ve written about.  I’m past my peak as a blogger as well, but enough of you show up and drop a comment now and then to keep me going… and enough comment spam bots land to load up ads to pay the bills.

Friday Bullet Points about Enad Global 7 and Q2 2022

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

Enad Global 7

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

  • Hey We Made More Money

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

EG7 – Q2 2022 Net Revenue

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

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

EG7 – Q2 2022 Game Revenue Segments

  • LOTRO hits a Recent High

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

EG7 – Q2 2022 Looking Forward

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

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

  • Norrath Expansions

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

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

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

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

  • Done with Acquisitions for Now

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

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

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

  • Reverse Merger Complete

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

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

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

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

Related:

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

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

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

  • EverQuest Producer’s Letter

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

Classic EverQuest

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

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

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

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

  • EverQuest II Producer’s Letter

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

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

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

  • LOTRO and Support’s Packs

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

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

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

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

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

  • DDO and Perma-death Again

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

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

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

  • PlanetSide 2 goes Under Water

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

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

Sturm und Drand

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

  • H1Z1 Has Absolutely Nothing New

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

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

Remember when this was a thing?

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