Category Archives: EverQuest

EverQuest Announces The Broken Mirror Expansion

Part two of yesterday’s Norrathian live stream announcements was the big reveal of the upcoming EverQuest expansions, The Broken Mirror.

Mirror cracked... also boobs

Mirror cracked… also boobs

As with EverQuest II, classic EverQuest is moving away from the whole DLC idea that Daybreak put out earlier this year and is back in the long familiar territory of old fashioned content expansions to keep people busy for another year or so.

The copy for the expansion reads:

A goddess wakes and gazes into a looking glass. The reflection of her true nature fractures and breaks. Even as the looking glass shatters and the world around her dissolves, Anashti Sul only looks deeper still into the fragments as they drift away. When her fractured mind glimpses her surroundings, she discovers that she is adrift in an unknown time and place where gods and goddesses maintain direct influence over Norrath. A hunger for power wells within her, having passed many an age with no power at all and an upstart sitting in her place. With a whole new realm before her, she resolves to rule again!

Anashti Sul’s passage through a rift into this reality caused her to split into the two most dominant aspects of herself – life and decay. Fully aware of each aspect, she knows that both must command a plane of power lest she weaken entirely and crumble into the nothingness of The Void. And so she crafts a plot to infect the planes of Norrath with a war that threatens to collapse the balance of all life! Are you brave enough to face the might of a goddess who is ravenous to rule? Will you prevent the chaos she would unleash in all of Norrath?

The Broken Mirror is the 22nd EverQuest expansion. This expansion features new zones and dungeons, and must-have in-game items.

I think 22 expansions in, the team at Daybreak probably has their system down pretty well, so the content looks pretty standard:

  • Level Scaling Raids – Instanced versions of Plane of Hate and Plane of Fear that scale for level 75-105 raids.
  • 7 Expansion Zones – 4 completely new zones and 3 revamped zones.
  • Illusion Key Ring – Access your illusions in one easy location!
  • New Quests, Heroic Adventures, Missions, and Additional Raids
  • New Spells and AAs

Again, no new races, classes, or levels, but I am going to guess those are more labor intensive.  You do what you can with the resources you have.

The pre-order page is up, so you can give Daybreak your money today if you so desire.  And, as with the EverQuest II expansion, there are three options ranging from reasonable to outrageous.

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

$35 is at the fairly reasonable end of the spectrum for an solid MMORPG expansion, while $140 wanders well within the bounds of greed as far as I am concerned.  But, as with the the EverQuest II expansion, I am no longer invested in the game, and that Premium Edition is clearly not targeted at idly nostalgic players like myself.

They also have a Time Locked Server Adventure Pack offer as well, and like the EverQuest II version, I assume it includes the expansion, since the bag and potions clearly are not worth the $35 they are asking.

I have not seen a launch date listed anywhere, but I would predict it will be go live on a Tuesday in November that isn’t the 17th.  If I had to pick a date, I would go with November 10th.  We shall see.

Enforced Raid Rotation Ends on Ragefire and Lockjaw

It was no surprise a couple months back when enforced raid rotation reared its head on the Ragefire and Lockjaw time locked progressions servers.  It is one of the rules of EverQuest that this must happen because one of the unsolvable problems of limited, contested open world content is that it will turn people into assholes, or at least strongly encourage those who are already assholes to remove all restraint on that aspect of their personality.

I would go so far as to contend that such an act on the part of SOE is fully in line with the whole EverQuest nostalgia experience.

No Casuals!!!

To be here, first you must defeat other players in a griefing contest

Anyway, nobody would care except that it is bad for business.  There is a whole code of conduct (where, among other items, you’re still specifically disallowed from impersonating an employee of Verant Interactive) and players complain about other groups behaving badly and it becomes a matter where the company generally has to intervene or suffer through the torture of a thousand tickets.  Better just to nip the whole thing in the bud than to let things fester.

The surprise came this week when Daybreak announced that they were no longer going to enforce the raid rotation schedule.

They didn’t say raid rotation was bad.  In fact, they praised the cooperation of the guilds in sticking to the raid rotation and encouraged them to continue and to play nice in the spirit of the community and that whole code of conduct thing.  Daybreak just won’t be bringing down the hammer by suspending whole guilds for the actions of one member if there are problems with the rotation.

I have to wonder what caused the change of heart at Daybreak.  I know it wasn’t any sort of “open world content is the best content” feeling since, as I have pointed out, they’ve been down this road enough times to know the folly of that idea.

It is possible that, a few months into the lives of the servers, that the raiding community has settled down and Daybreak feels that the point of crisis has passed.  Or perhaps the opening of Ruins of Kunark on Ragefire has spread people out enough that the problem has been reduced.  Or it could be that the customer service team, no doubt whittled down during the post acquisition layoffs, doesn’t want to have to spend time dealing with this particular issue.  Certainly having players resolve their own disputes was a theme in the announcement.  Maybe we will see them demanding an EverQuest version of the Drunder server so they can just banish their annoyances without having to actually ban their Daybreak account.

And, of course, people both cheered and complained when rotation enforcement was announced and they are both cheering and complaining now that it has been suspended.  I suppose we shall just have to see how it all turns out.

EverQuest and EverQuest II Plan New Expansions

Holly “The Hero” Windstalker was out with a new EverQuest II Producer’s Letter which announced that this fall EverQuest II would not be getting some DLC, or an adventure pack, or a campaign, or a campansion (whatever that entails), but an actual, old fashioned expansion.

The Adventure Packs

Remember Adventure Packs?

Though the decision seemed to be one of degrees rather than a hard barrier.

Our next expansion release is right around the corner! Yes, you heard me right – expansion! The team has been churning away and when we looked at the amount of content we created, we decided to call our next release an expansion rather than a campaign…

Enough content to call it an expansion isn’t perhaps the most solid endorsement ever, but it is something.

Color me pleased.  I am one of those people who thinks that DLC or content packs or live updates or what not are just fine, but an expansion is an event, a point in time that changes things, where there is only a before and after.  Or some such.  Syp had the bullet points for that.

Back in April I was declaring the circle complete.  SOE started off back in the day with adventure packs then dropped that to go back to the tried and true EverQuest style expansions.  Then, back in April, during the Daybreak post-acquisition hangover phase, it was announced that there would be no more expansions, that something akin to adventure packs, starting with the Rum Cellar, would be the new way of things, with a promise that the overall content over the course of the year would be about equal to an expansion.

Now though the circle is… um… re-complete?  We’re chasing our tails or running in circles on indulging in non-Euclidean geometric progression?

Also, is this expansion Cthulhu themed?

Also, is this expansion Cthulhu themed?

Further details on the expansion are promised for October 1st, which I assume will include a launch date and, perhaps more interesting to me, a price.  Expansions are worth more, so they will charge more no doubt.  But will there be a digital collector’s edition to skim off money from the faithful?  The last report I recall was that half of those who purchased the current Altar of Malice expansion went for the deluxe package.

And, as these things have gone in the past, buying the new, as yet unnamed expansion will also get you all previous expansions, including the Rum Cellar.  I told you that was a thing.  It is also something of a discouraging factor for the 50% off sale for Altar of Malice and Rum Cellar that they are running through the end of the month.  I can get all that for free with the next expansion… but for how much?  At least there is the option to buy it with Station Daybreak Cash as well.

Meanwhile, there was also an EverQuest Producer’s Letter and hey, guess what, it has the same news!  An expansion will be coming our way this fall.

We are excited to announce we have an expansion on the way – that’s right, expansion – not “campaign.”  As we’ve been toiling away this year, the content we’ve been working on evolved and grew more than we expected.

And, as with EQII, details to come on October 1st.

This sounds less like a coincidence or “whoops, we made too much content!” and more like a plan to keep Norrath viable and making money with the expansion cycle we have come to expect over the years.  What does this say for DLC, campaigns, or campansions?  And what about the other games in the Daybreak portfolio?

Anyway, Norrath keeps on rolling.  Expansions for everybody!

Ruins of Kunark Unlocked on Ragefire

Back at the launch of the EverQuest time locked expansion servers, the unlock plan that was voted into place by the players asked for a six month gap before the first expansion unlock vote would occur.

And then the usual drama happened, with restless raiders, complaints about multi-boxers camping all the good spawns, and a feeling in some quarters that everything would be better if Daybreak would only open up the Ruins of Kunark expansion.  That would raise the level cap and open up a bunch of new low level areas.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

So Daybreak put up a poll asking if they should unlock the expansion early.

Vote early, vote often, vote all your accounts

Now, three months, or six month

In the end, the original rules got the most votes.  However, it did not win a majority.  A majority voted for now or three months.  So in one of those compromises where nearly everybody feels a bit cheated, Daybreak decided to change the unlock time frame on Ragefire only to 30 days.  The Lockjaw server would remain at 60 days.

Daybreak did eventually open up the ability to buy a character transfer between the two servers so players could theoretically be on the unlock plan they desired.  However, those transfers stopped last week because the unlock vote on Ragefire hit, because if the two servers get out of sync on expansions, transfers will not be allowed.  You can’t be carrying Kunark loot to Lockjaw.

And transfers will stay locked because the Kunark vote passed.

The Ruins of Kunark expansion is now officially live on Ragefire.  Holly post a picture of people waiting at the dock for the boat.

Ragefire Kunark line

Ragefire Kunark line

About the same size crowd as was waiting for the expansion back on the Fippy Darkpaw server in 2011 I suppose.

Now will people be happy with Kunark for a full six months?

GuildWars 2 and What Free Really Means

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…

Me and Bobby McGee, most famously sung by Janis Joplin

ArenaNet seems to be hitting some sour notes with its installed base.  First there was the announcement that anybody who purchased the upcoming Heart of Thorns expansion for GuildWars 2 would get the base game for free.  At least there was that free character slot goodwill gesture when people were unhappy.


But then there was the second hit of the one-two punch, an announcement that the base game would be free in and of itself.  Thanks to everybody who forked over $59.99 or more at launch, but now we’re just giving it away.

Strange times in the Buy To Play corner of the MMORPG market I guess.  Certainly ANet never felt the need to give away the original Guild Wars base game back in the day.

But that was then and this is now.

Here I suppose we see an interesting intersection of the realities of the current market.

The problem of expansions… at least the problem with multiple expansions… is an old one at this point in time.  EverQuest, EverQuest II, and World of Warcraft have all had to address the “too many damn expansions” problem as the games progressed, which ended up with all of them giving away some content for free.

In Norrath the plan after a while was that buying the latest expansion would roll up all the previous ones as part of the price.  There was an interim period of roll-up packages with names like EverQuest Platinum and EverQuest Titanium, but eventually that became too cumbersome.  EverQuest II went straight to the “all previous expansions” route with Echoes of Faydwer if I recall right.

eqplatadPeople who bought every expansion at launch still paid a lot more money, but it simplified the task for those just jumping in, or those returning to the game, in getting all the right software on their drive.  There was an era when you had to buy all these in box form from your local retailer.

In Azeroth, Blizzard’s plan has been to stack expansions at the other end of things, giving you a range of expansions with the base game while leaving the latest and greatest for sale separately.  Again, those who waited long enough got stuff others paid full retail price for.

So giving away some content for free that was previously available only at a monetary cost has been established as something of an industry practice, or at least a reflection of industry reality.  Not everybody has doe this.  I think Turbine has held the line for Lord of the Rings Online, where you have to buy each of the expansions individually and in the correct order.  But part of their F2P plan is to sell content, so giving some away would seem counter-productive I suppose… though that is probably why their insta-level option is limited to level 50, as beyond that requires expansions.

But I haven’t heard of anybody making the base game free upon launching an expansion nor doing a bundle deal, base + expansion with just the first expansion.

Expansions for free, sure thing. EVE Online has been doing that for more than a decade.  It was also a thing in Lineage II and a few more games.  Content keeps people subscribed.

So giving away the base game after building your business on B2P is new. Yes, there are some restrictions that come with free, many of which sound somewhat familiar to those who watch the F2P side of the MMO market, as laid out on this chart, though others, like things locked until level 30, are interesting.  You can ask how free is free with that, especially when you can still buy into that sort of odd middle group of players, like myself, who bought the base game at one point but who likely won’t buy expansion.  And where are they left in the grand scheme of things?

I suppose they could have decided that they aren’t going to sell many more copies of the base game without letting people play first.  After all, they’ve cut the price and then discounted even that by as much as 75% at times to get every last interested customer to buy in.  So maybe that cupboard is bare, but they see potential in the now somewhat standard F2P “free with annoying restrictions” model.

Of course, the base game has also lost value over time.

If you bought the box on day one, just about three years back, at full retail price you were looking forward to a couple years worth of special events as part of the deal.  All of that, save maybe the Super Adventure Box, is in the past now, never to return.  If you joined the game today, you would not get to experience any of that.  Perhaps it is too much to ask that people buy a game where much of the content is done.

Or maybe ANet just doesn’t want anything standing in the way of selling their new box.

If only that were sole issue stirring up GW2 players.  Where is that theory in which developers should listen to the customers who paid the most money now?

Enforced Raid Rotations on Ragefire and Lockjaw

What we don’t want to do is instance raids, which is what casuals want us to do because they want to fight Nagafen. Casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen… that diminishes the achievement of others. That’s part of the challenge: You have to be better than the other guy; you have to be more strategic that the other guy.

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale, ‎Speaking on EverQuest progression server raiding

I love this point in the life cycle of every EverQuest progression server, when the nostalgic visions and hardcore ideals have to get overruled and open world, contested raiding proves itself, once again, to not be a viable, sustainable idea.  It was a problem back in the day, it was a problem in 2007, it was a problem in 2011, and it is a problem again today.  Seriously, we should start tracking a “time to raid rotation” number to see if it is a constant.

No Casuals!!!

You want the open world Nagafen? You can’t handle the open world Nagafen!

Unlike the sentiment at the top of this post, instancing raids wasn’t done to cater to casuals, it was done to keep the hardcore from behaving badly, a simple fact that gets illustrated every time they launch another EverQuest nostalgia server.

So last week the announcement finally went out, after the usual round of forum drama, that the raiding guilds had best come up with a rotation schedule themselves or Daybreak would step in and make one for them.  And either way, Daybreak was committed to enforcing that rotation.

So there is the reality of things coming home to roost yet again.  Meanwhile, feel free to continue telling me that open world, contested raids are how things should be.

Addendum: And when one member of your guild steps over the line, the whole guild gets a three day ban… even if you repudiate his actions and kick him from the guild.

Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime MMO Ennui Blues

Theoretically, this should be an exciting time for MMOs for me.

Blizzard finally gave us the WoW 6.2 patch, bringing us a new zone and opening up flying in Draenor.  Daybreak has the EverQuest time locked progression server thing running, and it is more popular than ever.  They are also warming up an EverQuest II version of the same, which could be interesting.  There is a new update dropping for EVE Online next week and then the final round of Fozzie Sov changes the following week, which should liven things up.

And yet, I am not really feeling it right now.

The 6.2 patch in WoW, far from bringing me back into the game, seemed to tip the balance the other way.  I had been in something of a garrison and pet battle holding pattern for ages, and then 6.2 hit and I stopped logging in altogether.

There was the momentary shock of the Master Plan addon breaking.  Really, doing garrison missions without that makes the whole thing such a chore that I didn’t bother trying.  And even when the addon was fixed a day later I didn’t bother.  Garrisons kept me going for a bit, but they are also my undoing in the end.  (The death of the easy-money gray trash from the salvage yard didn’t help either.)

I think, perhaps, that the two year straight run with WoW might mean it is time for a break.  Blizz has said that 6.2 is it for the expansion, so the whole game will be in something of a holding pattern until BlizzCon, at which point they will likely announce the next expansion.  We’ll see if Blizz can wait that long.  I suspect that the Q2 2015 results, which ought to be announced in August, will show another sharp decline in subscribers.

On the EverQuest side of things, I am just not feeling it.  For all the nostalgia I feel for the game, I might not be in the right state of mind for another round of bandit camping in West Karana, undead in Unrest, and whatever else.  I am glad it is going on, I am enjoying watching from the sidelines, but I just don’t log in.

I fear the same might be true for the EverQuest II nostalgia servers.  I am not entirely happy with the name choices.

Deathtoll seems just a bit too cute for the PvP server.  And, while Stormhold would have been my first choice for the PvE server had Isle of Refuge not been on the list, I am somewhat shocked that Isle of Refuge didn’t win.  It was the runaway favorite in the nominations.  I don’t want to go all Daybreak vote rigging conspiracy theory on this, but I seriously thought Isle of Refuge winning was pretty much a given.  But, Stormhold it is I guess.

Stormhold, in Antonica

Stormhold, in Antonica

There is the promise of more polls to come for the EverQuest II time locked expansion server, along with a beta promised for next week, though I have to wonder how Daybreak is feeling about polls now given the seeming “ain’t nobody happy” compromise around the Ruins of Kunark unlock vote.

And then there is EVE Online.  I suppose that EVE doesn’t really count, as boredom and finding it difficult to log in is the normal state of affairs for me with the game.  Then something will happen… a war, a deployment, a new fleet doctrine… that will lead to the moments of excitement that make the hours or boredom worthwhile.

All of which has added up to me mostly playing Minecraft every evening when I have some time.  So you can probably expect more “letters from those late to the party” posts about the game going forward.