Category Archives: EverQuest

EverQuest Launches Empires of Kunark

After decades if slumber, Imperator Tsaph Katta awakens and vows to reform the Combine Empire – the progenitors of much of the human race – by any means necessary. He will lead them into a renewed age of prosperity. Tsaph Katta focuses on rebuilding the coalition between the races of Norrath in order to cement his place in the annals of history as The Great Unifier. But not all are ready to bend to the will of Katta and his allies, least of all the current inhabitants of Kunark. Will a unified Norrath prevail, or will the Combine’s arrival in Kunark lead to a war of catastrophic proportions. Find out in Empires of Kunark, EverQuest’s 23rd expansion!

-EverQuest Empires of Kunark promo text

The fourth new expansion this week (following Minecraft, EVE Online, and EverQuest II), which went live yesterday, is the Empires of Kunark expansion for EverQuest, the 23rd expansion for the game.

Everybody loves Kunark

Everybody loves Kunark

This is a nostalgia play by Daybreak as it returns to the setting of one of the most fondly remembered expansions, Ruins of Kunark.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

It has actually taken them a while to get back to Kunark, given that the first expansion came out back in April of 2000.  I think they’ve done pirate themed expansions twice since then.

Anyway, without a site like EQ2 Wire covering EverQuest, I do not have as expansive a list of new features to steal as I did with yesterday’s post.  I have to make do with the official site, which isn’t always as helpful as you might imagine.  The latest item in the News section on the forums is an announcement that Daybreak branded game cards are coming, game cards which have since been discontinued.

From what I can glean, the expansion is the standard fare of new things to do with no rise in the level cap.

  • 7 Expansion Zones
  • New Quests and Missions
  • 8 New Raids
  • 24 New Collections
  • Familiar Key Ring – Access to your familiars in one easy location! Store up to 10 familiars per character, with the ability to buy additional slots to handle all of your familiar storage.

And, as with the previous day’s EverQuest II expansion, Empires of Kunark is available at various prices, depending on your need for fluff.

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

I loved Kunark and all, but is any form of Kunark worth $140?

Unlike the EQII return to Kunark however, I am not at all tempted to pick up Empires of Kunark.  I follow EverQuest mostly out of a sense of nostalgia these days.  I haven’t played it in any serious way since the release of the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, when Skronk and I set out to relive old times… which we did for about 30 levels and then SOE got hacked, everything was down for a couple of weeks, and then we never really went back.

That was actually a good time… really, about as successful a nostalgia tour as you could probably get for us…  but if you scroll back through the Fippy Darkpaw tag on the blog, it was also over five years ago, and every attempt I have made at the game since has ended very quickly.  I am over playing EverQuest I think, preferring to just watch it from a distance these days.  But nostalgia remains a draw for others.  Look at this snip of the game’s server status, which looks about the same every time I check it.

Not so many servers as the old days

Not so many servers as the old days

The most popular servers are Phinigel, the true box nostalgia server, Ragefire, the progression server before before Phinigel, and Firiona Vie, the RP server where all the cool kids hang out and actually have a community.  I am actually a bit surprised that the Fippy Darkpaw server, and its sibling Vulak’Aerr, are still around.  I have lost track of where they stand, but they must be getting close to current after more than five years, at which point it would probably make sense to just roll them into a live server, as they did with the first round of progression servers, The Combine and The Sleeper, years ago.

Hell, with the zone spawning tech they put in for Ragefire and Phinigel, they could probably merge a few of those live servers together as well… maybe a lot of those live servers.

Still, I am happy to see that it is still alive and well enough to be getting expansions.  That it is still there lets me imagine now and again that we might someday form another group and return to old Norrath for one final adventure.  We certainly don’t seem to be in danger of getting a new Norrath anytime soon.

Kunark is Coming November 15 and 16

The classic Norrath team and Daybreak seems to be up for the one-two punch.  This week we got announcements about the new expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II on consecutive days.  More surprising though was the news that the expansions would launch on consecutive days as well.  Usually there is a week between the now traditional November expansion launches for the two titles, no doubt to give the combined classic Norrath team a chance to focus on one thing at a time.

Not this November.

First up, on Tuesday, November 15th, is the launch of the EverQuest II expansion Kunark Ascending.

Back to Kunark

Back to Kunark

The expansion promo reads:

Norrath remains in danger from Lanys T’Vyl and her pursuit of power! It is up to you to keep Lanys T’Vyl from acquiring the third and final Chaos Stone. Return to Kunark to stop Lanys from ushering in a new age of power. Will you stand against the Tenets of Hate? Adventures await you in Kunark Ascending, EverQuest II’s 13th expansion!

Features of the expansion are listed as:

  • All new dungeons for Solo, Heroic, and Raid parties alike.
  • 4 new Ascension classes available to all max level characters!
  • Upgrade your epic weapon with all new Epic 2.0 Quests.
  • Gear Up Your Mercenaries – With the new mercenary equipment feature you can now equip your favorite Mercenaries with gear to increase their power.
  • New Wardrobe Tab – Free up space with the new Wardrobe tab. Any relevant items placed into the Wardrobe will be converted into appearances and won’t take up any inventory slots!

The expansion is now available for pre-order at the usual three price tiers:

Premium packages available for premium prices

Like Daybreak, I was able to re-use last year’s pricing graphic

Purchasing early will get you access to the expansion beta as well as the ability to use the level 100 character boost that comes each package.  And if you are an All Access subscriber… and who buys the expansions but doesn’t subscribe… you get 10% off of your purchase.

Then, planned for the very next day, Wednesday, November 16, 2016, is the EverQuest expansion Empires of Kunark.

Everybody loves Kunark

Everybody loves Kunark

For the EverQuest return to Kunark the copy reads:

After decades if slumber, Imperator Tsaph Katta awakens and vows to reform the Combine Empire – the progenitors of much of the human race – by any means necessary. He will lead them into a renewed age of prosperity. Tsaph Katta focuses on rebuilding the coalition between the races of Norrath in order to cement his place in the annals of history as The Great Unifier. But not all are ready to bend to the will of Katta and his allies, least of all the current inhabitants of Kunark. Will a unified Norrath prevail, or will the Combine’s arrival in Kunark lead to a war of catastrophic proportions. Find out in Empires of Kunark, EverQuest’s 23rd expansion!

Features of the expansion are listed as:

  • 7 Expansion Zones – Explore familiar and unfamiliar areas and learn what has changed since your last adventures in Kunark.
  • Familiar Key Ring – Access to your familiars in one easy location! Store up to 10 familiars per character, with the ability to buy additional slots to handle all of your familiar storage.
  • New Quests, Missions, and 8 Additional Raids
  • New Collections – For those who love to find and seek, there will be 24 new Collections to complete.

As with its EverQuest II cousin, the expansion is available in three tiers, with various extra fluff for additional dollars, and is available for pre-order now:

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

Trying selling DLC for $140 and see how people react…

Unlike EverQuest II however, there is no beta access listed and the expansion does not come with a character boost.  You do, however, still get a 10% discount as an All Access subscriber and all previous expansions are included in the deal.

So that is Daybreak’s big Kunark plan for the classic Norrath part of the company.

Both titles are running pre-expansion in-game events to help you level up and gear up and otherwise get ready for the new content coming in November.

Up All Night in Leuthilspar

Syl wrote about day/night cycles in MMOs a couple of weeks months years back.  Clearing of the drafts fodler here, as you might guess. Of course, one aspect of that is how long such a cycle should be.  At one end of the spectrum is World of Warcraft, where Azeroth turns on a literal 24 hour cycle, and server time is in-game time.

EVE Online also runs on a real-world 24 hour clock, though I am not sure that a day/night cycle makes much sense there.  It is always night in space, right?

Anyway, in Azeroth that means if you are like me… I live in the US Pacific time zone but play on a server in the Easter time zone, 3 hours ahead of me… you might spend most of your time in WoW playing at night.

Not that night is all that big of a deal in WoW.  Every single instance group screen shot has been taken during the night cycle and most of the time you couldn’t tell it was night.

The lair of Lockmaw

This is night. Stars in the sky.

There is, as Syl noted, a nice sunset period if you are on at the right time, and likely a similarly pleasant sunrise, though I’ve never seen that.  I’ve been online when it has happened, I was just deep in Uldaman at the time.

Other games have a much shorter cycle.  In EverQuest you passed through the day/night routine every 72 minutes if I recall right, 3 minutes per in-game hour.  That could leave you running around in the dark a few times in a single long play session.

Scarecrows in West Karana

Night, when the Scarecrows come out in West Karana

And at the extreme end is Minecraft, which has a 20 minute day/night cycle, which means if you play for an hour… and who plays Minecraft for just an hour when you’re into something… you will spend half that time in daylight and the rest in the dusk, night, and dawn portion of the cycle, during which time the night life will be coming for you.

Coming to get me...

Coming to get me…

Of course, the Minecraft example brings up what is probably the key question when it comes to a day/night cycle; should it have impact on game play?

In World of Warcraft there is almost no impact on game play.  As noted, you can barely tell it is night as the moon over Azeroth apparently reflects 80-90% of the sun’s luminosity during the night time hours.  And I am hedging by even using the word “almost” there, because something in the back of my brain believes there was a “night only” spawn at some point.  But that could be me.

At the other end of spectrum is Minecraft, which isn’t an MMO but is MMO enough for this discussion, where the transition from day to night changes game play dramatically.  It actually gets dark out, so lighting matters.  But even more so, as noted above, things come out at night.  Bad things.  Things that seek to kill you or blow you up.  So you either hunker down and wait out the night… or sleep if you’re alone on your server… or get out there and fight the encroaching zombie/skeleton/creeper menace.

Maybe that is an extreme example.

But I do hear calls now and again for not only a day/night cycle in MMORPGs, but that the cycle should impact game play, that night should be different than day, and that NPCs should behave in a way attuned to the cycle of the world and their lives.  They should go to bed at night.

That last bit… that is one of those things that always sounds better in theory that it does in reality.  And I say that as somebody who has lived a bit of that as reality in an online game.

Back we go again, back through the mists of time, back to TorilMUD and the days of text, triggers, and ANSI color characters as a substitute for graphics.

All text, all the time

All text, all the time

I’ve written about TorilMUD many times before, and specifically about the hardship of the elves of Evermeet, stuck until recently in their own little corner of the game until level 20 with few zone choices and not much in the way of gear available.  The sorrow of the eldar is never ending and all that, as my Leuthilspar Tales series has illustrated.

But we did have one advantage there on Evermeet, and especially in the city of Leuthilspar.  For the most part elves don’t seem to need any sleep.  Shops were open all night long and even the city gates, which the guards closed and locked at sunset, could be passed through after hours if you spoke the right word. (It was “peace.”)

The rest of the world however…

It was a sure sign that a player was fresh through the elf gate and in Waterdeep for the first time when, locked outside of town, they would stand there saying things like “peace” and “please” and whatnot trying to get the gates to unlock so they could pass through.

And imagine to confusion in the a poor elf’s eyes when a vendor in town suddenly announced they were shutting up their shop for the night and wouldn’t be serving customers until the morning.

Outside of Leuthilspar, shops had business hours!

The vendors wouldn’t go away… though I think one in Baldur’s Gate used to move into another room… they would just stand there as usual.  However, when you attempted to interact with them, they would announce that they were closed and admonish the player to come back later.

In a way, it sounds quaintly archaic in today’s world.  But TorilMUD, measuring from its predecessor Sojourn MUD, is past the 20 year mark as well.  It was a simpler time and a different audience in an era when game devs sometimes felt the user ought to conform to a much more rigid set of rules.

I couldn’t imagine a MMORPG today putting something like that in place.  But TorilMUD was smaller than even the most niche MMORPGs we’ve seen.  I would guess that maybe 10K people created accounts on the game over its lifetime.  During its peak it could get a couple hundred people online at the same time, which was considered quite the crowd.  In that sort of small, self-selecting environment, you can set different rules.

And the vendors didn’t just have hours, but would also only deal in specific goods at times.

But, at least the day/night cycle was short.  The ration was one real life minute to one in-game hour, so a day went by in just 24 minutes.  Not as fast as Minecraft, but close.

Anyway, such were the was of the past.  How niche would a game today have to be to get away with that sort of thing?

EverQuest is Returning to Kunark as Well

Thanks to a nudge from Bhagpuss, I went over to the EverQuest site and read more than the first news entry this time.  As with EverQuest II, yesterday’s producer’s letter says that EverQuest will be returning to the island of Kunark for its 2016 expansion.

While EverQuest II went to Kunark last in 2007 with Rise of Kunark, leaving a 9 year gap between then and the upcoming Kunark Ascending (rise? ascend? is there a message in that?), EverQuest last went there in April of 2000 with the Ruins of Kunark expansion, the first of many expansions to the game, leaving nearly a 17 year gap between visits.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

This box art is going to get a lot of use

After that long gap, EverQuest is going back with the Empires of Kunark expansion, due out this November.

As with the EverQuest II announcement I reported on earlier today, there are not any real details about the expansion aside from zone names and… well… that it will be set in Kunark.  I am sort of surprised it took them this long to get back there.  They’ve been back to Faydwer in one form or another a few times already.  Hell, they’ve done pirate/sea adventures as a theme twice now. (The Buried Sea and The Darkened Sea.)

More information about the expansion will follow later.  Daybreak says they are planning bonus events and sales to help players get ready for the expansion when it launches.

The Race to Trakanon and Quarm Event Servers

Daybreak is carrying on with its special server bonanza for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

Earlier this week the Race to Trakanon, the first “event server” for the company, went up for EverQuest II, and if you’re just reading about it here… well… you’re late!

Event servers are limited time servers that are setup for a special purpose, and the purpose of the Race to Trakanon server is just that, a race.  Focused in the Rise of Kunark expansion time frame, it is a race to level up, get achievements, and otherwise be the server first for whatever.

It is a race

It is a race

By creating a new character on the server and competing, you can earn rewards that can be claimed by characters on other, more permanent servers.  There are more details here, while Feldon of EQ2 Wire has set up an Event Leaderboard over at his EQ2 U site. (Addendum: There is also a FAQ with more info in the forums.)

Even if you are not keen to race to level 80 or other such achievements, if you create a character on the server and get to level 10 before July 26, 2016, you will get a special mount that you can claim on every character on your account.

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

So there is that.  Telwyn seems to be on board.  For a mount on all my characters, I might just bang out a level 10 character while my account All Access remains active.  There is the catch, of course.  As with all Daybreak special servers, you must be an All Access member in order to play.  No Freeps allowed.

The server will shut down, and characters created will be migrated off to live servers, once the event is completed, with the run time being set at a minimum of three months.

Over on the EverQuest side of the house, there is a new event server as well, the Quarm server, which went up this week as well.  On the Quarm server you will start a new character at level 51 and pursue achievements and help defeat Overlord Mata Muram.  Details, such that there are, available here. (The FAQ in the forums has further info.)

Will they get a Quarm

Will they get a Quarm

As with the Race to Trakanon server, the Quarm server will be temporary and characters will be migrated off when the event closes.  There is also a prize if you roll a character on the server before July 27, 2016.

Another potion...

Another potion… I wanted a mount

You do not even have to level up a character… since you start at level 51 in any case.

and, of course, it is open to All Access customers only.

This is not the first event server on the EverQuest side of things.  In addition the the various generations of progression servers, there was the Mayong 51/50 server back in 2009 after the first pair of progression servers.  That was shut down by the end of 2010, along with the two bleed over servers it spawned.

Given that EverQuest progression servers tend to become races for raiding guilds in any case, I wonder how well this one will work out.

Meanwhile, since I am on the topic of Daybreak special servers, I want to note in passing that back on the Stormhold Time Locked Expansion Server, the vote to unlock the Rise of Kunark expansion has failed for the second time, with only 46% of those voting casting ballots in favor of the expansion.  There is probably a Brexit joke to be made about that, but I am not going to make the attempt.

Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead

There is a game you can play with Google… well, there are probably many, but this is one of them… where you enter the name of something, followed by “is” to see what pre-filled search suggestions come up.  These results are driven by what people have searched for previously.

As I was playing this game the other night instead of doing something important, I began to notice a trend in my searches.  It seemed like Google was declaring most everything dead.

Sure, sometimes that was apt.

GSAbeVigodais

Abe Vigoda, after being reported dead by mistake on multiple occasions over the years, does indeed now sleep with the fishes, having passed earlier this year.

And sometimes the result wasn’t so spot on:

GSObamais

I’m pretty sure somebody would have mentioned if he was dead… or a mack daddy.

I decided to see if that trend held for video games on my side bar.  First on the list was, of course, EVE Online:

GSEVEis

Given that “EVE is dying…” is practically an meme at this point, that wasn’t too surprising.

Likewise, EverQuest, at 17 years of age got a similar result:

GSEQis

At least it wasn’t both “dead” and “dying” I suppose.  Of course, that last item lead me to World of Warcraft:

GSWoWis

Three of those aren’t so good, “dead,” “dying,” and “boring.”  Even EVE Online didn’t get “boring” as a top result.  That lead to a series of other titles, all of which at least got dead as a result:

GSGW2is

GSLOTROis

GSRiftis

GSWildStaris

I had a whole run there where “dead” wasn’t just a result, but the top result.  Then I started branching out from MMOs:

GSSCis

GSTF2is

I finally hit a game where “dead” wasn’t the top result, though I am not sure that was a good thing:

GSStarCis

Even Minecraft got “dead” as a result, though at least it was in fourth position, which was practically an endorsement at this point:

GSMinecraftIs

Hey, “awesome” came before “dead!”

Landmark was odd, but I think it suffers from having a generic name:

GSLandmarkis

Still, I think “dead” might be in there just for it.

Then, finally, I hit a game that wasn’t dead:

GSLOLis

League of Legends is only “dying,” not “dead.”  Also, it is “gay,” which I think says more about the demographic that is searching for things about it.  Still, it is doing better than Heroes of the Storm:

GSHotSis

“Dead,” “dying,” “bad,” and “free!”

Then at last, I hit a search where “dead” wasn’t even a result:

GSHearthis

I’m not sure Hearthstone was really winning with that draw.  I mean sure, “dead” wasn’t on the list, but the rest was hardly an endorsement.

The Last Good Day

There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is “Your Last Good Day.”  At the time, it is just another good day.

-Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

Yes, I am going to take a quote from a movie based on a book about teens with cancer and try and apply it to video games.  I will take it as read that this makes me a horrible person and probably guilty of cultural appropriation or some other first world thought crime.  I even have a graphic just to seal the deal on my horrible nature.

Serious business...

Serious business…

Anyway, my daughter, who had read the book, insisted that the whole family go see the movie back when it was in the theater despite the fact that she knows that my wife will cry at anything sad or emotional on screen.  And tears were indeed shed as this sad and emotionally manipulative film ran on before us.

But what stuck with me, aside from the abuse of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and how much seeing this movie made watching Divergent difficult/amusing/distracting (Augustus is her brother! It is Luke and Leia all over again!), was the whole concept of there being a “last good day,” a high point in any endeavor, after which things are never quite that good again.

So, yeah, of course this applies to video games.

Well, at least to MMORPGs.  So maybe I can change that graphic.

A more general statement

A more general statement

I suppose I could make it more specific, or a version for each MMO I might play, but I think that is sufficient.  If you are dying to have one of your own, I made a background template, you just have to provide the text.  You’re on your own for the font.  I used one called “eraser dust” I found on the internet.

Anyway, that is all off the subject at hand, which is that of a last good day in an MMORPG.

There are MMOs where I can identify that last good day.  In Warhammer Online it was probably that one great keep battle we had before things went south for our group as the game emptied out.

In Rift it was no doubt some date not too long before the first expansion came out.  Everything was good, I played a character from each of the four base roles up to level cap, and then Storm Legion hit and changed the nature of the game for me.

For EverQuest it was likely to initial stages of the Fippy Darkpaw server, when Skronk and I were playing, the game was active with lots of low level players, and the whole thing felt… if not as good as day one back in 1999, then a reasonable facsimile of that time.  Certainly there was less crashing.

But those are all games I stopped playing.  Even EverQuest, for which I bubble with nostalgia, hasn’t really been a destination for me since Fippy Darkpaw.

And, in having stopped, I can pick out the high point.  I can find that theoretical last good day… or week… or era… or event.  But that might change if I would… or, in some cases, could… go back and pick up the game again.  Probably not, but there is a non-zero chance of good days ahead.

This all came to mind because of a more current game.  Not EVE Online.  I made that graphic at the top for Rixx Javix a while back.  No, this all came about due to the the Legion expansion for World of Warcraft getting a ship date.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

Just in case your forgot that since yesterday

August 30, 2016 and the whole thing goes live, while at some date a couple weeks in advance of that there will be the pre-expansion patch that will have the warm-ups for the whole thing.

I am coming up on a year of not having been subscribed to WoW.  I have a two copies of the expansion pre-ordered for my daughter and I via Amazon.  But now that there is a date set and a timeline out before me.  I won’t be resubscribing today or tomorrow or next week, but at some point over the course of that timeline, between now and August 30th, there is a date at which I probably should subscribe and get back in the game and start getting warmed up to fight the Legion.

But the announcement of the date also made me question whether or not I really want to go back.  I do not feel a lot of enthusiasm for the expansion.  In large part that lack of enthusiasm is due to how Warlords of Draenor played out for me.  It wasn’t horrible, but it was dissatisfying, and garrisons carry the lions share of the burden on that front.  Dungeons were mediocre, mostly in how sparse they were, and the story line was mostly just okay, but garrisons were the anchor.

Garrisons failed to be the right thing for me on all fronts.  They were not optional, you had to do some garrison stuff if you wanted to play through the expansion.  And they were not housing, or at least did not have any aspect of housing that I wanted.  There was no way you could make the garrison really your own.  Meanwhile, they did exactly what Tom Chilton told us housing would do, back when he was saying they would never do housing, it took people out of the world and hid them away.

In my view, garrisons were basically the worst possible set of features, doing what Blizz said housing would do without any of the beneficial “sticky” features of housing that make people feel like they have a spot in the game that is uniquely their own.  I guess if I were to make a prediction now that Tom Chilton is saying that Blizz will never do a vanilla server, I might guess that they will end up doing some sort of special rules server that will satisfy neither fans of vanilla nor more recent lapsed players, at which point Tom can say, “I told you so.”

That is all my view of the expansion.  So when I think back in search of a “last good day,” which at this point I am likely conflating with a peak of enjoyment as opposed to saying every day thereafter was “bad,” I have to go back to Mists of Pandaria to find a real happy time… which is odd because I was pretty dismissive of MoP when it was announced and didn’t buy the expansion until nearly a year after it went live.  Meanwhile, Warlords of Draenor, with orcs as the bad guys yet again, that I was up for.

So perhaps missed or misplaced expectations were the real problem?

Nah, garrisons just sucked.

Anyway, as the quote at the top says, you can never know if that last good day is happening as it happens.  You can only identifying it in comparison to the days that come later.  The question is whether or not there is a peak of enjoyment waiting for me in WoW Legion or if I have simply had that last good day already.  I guess I have a few months to consider that, but I am feeling doubtful right now.