Category Archives: EverQuest

Ragefire – Counting Votes, Fighting Boxers, and Keeping Casuals at Bay

The results of the Ruins of Kunark vote are in for the Ragefire and Lockjaw servers.  As a reminder, here is what the ballot looked like:

Vote early, vote often, vote all your accounts

All votes in

The vote ended on Monday and the results have been posted in the EverQuest forums.

The key for a lot of people is this quote:

On both servers, the 6 month option got the most votes by far, meaning a very large percentage of you like things as they are and want to continue on that path.

That means the status quo won, right?  The “stay the course” option got the most votes.

Well, no.  That option did not win a majority… 50% + 1… of the votes in the polls on either server.  The majority of players voting voted votes cast were for either the ASAP option or the three month option on both servers.

So shortening the unlock date won, right?

Well, no.  If this had been some sort of parliamentary democracy there would have been a run-off vote of some sort on each server between the two options that received the most votes, which on Ragefire was 6 months and 3 months and on Lockjaw 6 months and ASAP, to decide the course of action.

But this is not a parliamentary democracy, it is a business and a dictatorship.  Daybreak sets the rules of the game.  And so they have come up with a compromise worthy of their SOE heritage.

On the Ragefire server, the unlock vote for Ruins of Kunark will be reduced from 6 months to 3 months.  On the Lockjaw server, the unlock vote for Ruins of Kunark will remain at 6 months.  The possibility of free transfers between the servers has been mentioned, but is not a sure thing.  And given how allegedly important server communities are in EverQuest, it shouldn’t be popular even if they implement it.

So there we have a decision pretty much guaranteed to provoke the more vocal members of the community, as well as pulling the two servers out of sync before the first expansion, something that will muddy all future decisions on this front.

We will have to see how that plays out.  Keen has his own views on this, stronger than my own, likely because I haven’t really invested in the whole progression server thing this time around.

Meanwhile, in an interview over at Massively OP, EverQuest team chief Holly “Windstalker” Longdale spoke about some other issues facing the EverQuest progression servers.  One of them was the alleged plague of multi-boxing groups on the server.

If you read the forums you might be convinced that every worthwhile spawn on Ragefire is being camped by some guy running six mages who never logs off or takes a break, but simply farms that spawn everybody else wants all the live long day.

I couldn’t tell you how prevalent that actually is, but it is generating a lot of forum rage and so, Daybreak being the child of SOE, where forum rage is how players have long been trained to get what they want, the EverQuest team is looking into this.  Holly mentioned the possibility of limiting EverQuest logins to one per computer.  You can still multi-box, but you’ll need multiple computers to do it.  However, given the long tradition of multi-boxing in EverQuest… SOE at one point fixed the client so that it was officially a supported thing… I am not sure how you then make this change to the client… the same client the rest of the servers use.

So I guess we shall see how that plays out.  I would like to hear from Daybreak some numbers on how many people they think are out there running the dread six mage multi-box group (and paying almost $90 a month for the pleasure) on your average night before I make up my own mind on that.  I distrust forum rage.

And then there are the raid issues and zone instancing and all that.  Way back before the progression server beta Daybreak already had an official stance on whether or not they would instance raid bosses in the expansions before Gates of Discord:

Uninstanced content on this level was a unique experience for EverQuest, and there are people out there who have never experienced it. We want to believe that you can work it out on your own. We have plans for what to do if you can’t work out something equitable, though, and we might have to contract Alan Rickman to read them.

Basically, no instancing because that wasn’t the way things were, with at least a tacit admission that the whole contested raid thing was going to be a problem because it has literally always been a problem every time it has been a thing.

Apparently unsatisfied with this stance, Holly “Windstalker” Longdale decided to clarify this with a quote that is likely going to haunt her for a while:

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.

You cannot get tone from a quote in text, but it is really hard for the voice in my head not to read the start of that second sentence as “Filthy casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen!” in a voice filled with derision and mockery at the very idea of such a thing.

Now, that is just the voice in my head playing games.  I know this.  But I also know that voice is working from notes based on years of war over who should get access to raids, raider elitism, causal entitlement, and the general muddle of conflicting views that is MMO community.  And Holly, given her time having to deal with this sometimes toxic community, ought to understand that.  She isn’t some junior dev dropping a casual quote, she is the Executive Producer responsible for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  Her views set the tone for the game, and that was the tone we got.

No Casuals!!!

Nagafen says, “No Casuals!!!”

Meanwhile, just after the ellipses, we have a confirmation from her that allowing casuals to do things that elite players do hurts the elite by diminishing their achievements.  This goes back to there being an intangible equity system in play where things like LFR hurt the game and should be banned.  What you are allowed to do affects my game, even if we do not interact.

Ah, such fun!  Burn, baby, burn!  At least she didn’t tell casuals that, if they want to fight Naggy, they should just buy a level 90 on a standard server and go solo him.  Wait, no, that would diminish the achievement of others… or would it?  Crap, how does this even work?

This is an issue where I can wander either way depending on my mood, the direction of the wind, and whether or not I went with the hot salsa on my Chipotle burrito. (Always barbacoa!)

I absolutely think there should be aspirational content in games like this, things that take some work and skill and that not everybody gets to do.  There should be things that take a lot of effort and which few attain.

On the other hand, I quite enjoyed my time doing LFRs in WoW.  The raid tourism thing was interesting, I got to see the content, and I was perfectly happy not getting the same drops that people doing the raids at the highest levels got.  But I wasn’t there for the loot, I was there for the show.  Anything else I got was a bonus.

So I, personally, have no answer.

And, on this front I do not expect anything to change.  This is the third time through the whole progression server thing, making it the fourth time through the exact same set of problems.  Daybreak will most likely follow in the grand SOE tradition and try to muddle through until raids are all instanced, when they can forget the whole thing.

Anyway, here in the summer doldrums, when not much generally happens, Daybreak is doing their best to give us something to talk about.  And we haven’t even gotten to the EverQuest II time locked expansion servers yet.

Addendum: Meanwhile, Massively OP apparently couldn’t resist going the click bait rage route with the Ruins of Kunark vote, gratuitously tossing the casuals quote in there for good measure. (And somebody at Daybreak agrees with my assessment.)

Addendum:  In response to accusations on the forums that the whole poll thing was just a smoke screen to allow Daybreak to do what they wanted to do in the first place came this dev response:

This is not what we wanted.

It would be much easier for our team if both servers remained on the 6 month timeline. We wouldn’t need to support character transfers, prep Kunark while waist-deep in the Campaign effort, or maintain two servers with staggered unlock schedules. This is not the ideal outcome for us, and we’re putting in extra work to attempt to give those interested in max nostalgia or early unlock a place to play the way they’d like.

Also, if we did what we wanted, the TLP servers would be on a seasonal ruleset. :p

June in Review

The Site

Well, WordPress.com finally decided to impose their new stats page on us.  I am not a fan, to say the least.  While they did fix the problem where the first three years of my stats were missing, which I complained about previously, the format leaves me cold.  They have added a few more informational tidbits to the mix:

That is 18:00 UTC, probably when Bhagpuss gets home from work

That is 18:00 UTC, probably about when Bhagpuss gets home from work

But they have removed all the summary charts that I really, really like.  Fortunately, for the time being, you can still access the previous version of the stats page at the URL:

https://wordpress.com/my-stats/

You can also find the even older version of the stats page for your WordPress.com blog if you modify this URL to add in your blog’s domain:

https:// <blog name e.g. tagn> .wordpress.com/wp-admin/index.php?page=stats

You do have to log in and have permissions for any given blog, so you cannot modify that URL to see the stats of others.

Meanwhile, WordPress.com and Automattic, its parent company, are coming up on their 10th anniversary in August of letting people in to blog for free.  It seems odd that I have been around and blogging on WordPress.com for almost 9 of those 10 years.

One Year Ago

I toasted the Newbie Blogger Initiative class of 2014.  Long may they post.

WildStar launched… and started its journey to F2P.  Still alive though.

SOE finally broke its ties with the ill-fated and ill-conceived ProSiebenSat.1 deal.

Derek Smart was telling us why to charge for beta.  Lord British was getting serious with virtual real estate.

It was summer and the short lived strategy group was looking to the Steam Summer Sale for a new game.  Meanwhile we were still playing our epic game of Civilization V.

We heard about how CCP handled/mishandled World of Darkness.

CCP launched the last of its expansions with a six month lead-time.  Kronos was the end of the line for twice yearly expansions.  I set off on the training plan to be a wing/fleet booster in EVE Online.

In Azereoth, my attempt at the Loremaster achievement had me in Darkshore and then on to Ashenvale and the Stonetalon Mountains .

Meanwhile the Warlords of Draenor alpha was starting, so I had to avert my eyes.  So I started pondering things like how Blizzard should change the starter edition of WoW.

The instance group, heading towards its regular summer hiatus, was hitting the Mogu-shan Palace.

I took a look at a long history of gear obsession.

And I was wondering if authenticators were still a thing.

Five Years Ago

Warhammer Online, whose game tips I previously mocked, was out soliciting user written game tips with the most boring video game related video ever.  Really, I was embarrassed for them.

Meanwhile, there were comical tips to be found in another game.

CCP was telling people that the steep learning curve in EVE Online was just part of the game, and Hulkageddon III was on the way.

FrontierVille came along, evoking the whole Oregon Trail thing… for which they recently were sued.  And a good thing to, as they are a bunch of lying bastards there at Zynga.  They never sent me my FarmVille magnet.

There was the big news from Turbine with Lord of the Rings Online going Free to Play.  I wondered is Lifetime Subscribers like myself would get the shaft in this transition.  But Turbine made me a perm VIP instead and put out one of those charts that seems to accompany these multi-level subscription scams structures.  But I was winning LOTRO lotteries, so I was happy for the moment.

In Pokemon SoulSilver I had beat all the gym leaders, but we were having Pokewalker problems.

Then there was Blizzard.  Where to start?  They were to the Summer of 2010 what CCP is becoming to the Summer of 2011.

They were selling WoW Gold straight from the main page.  Really.  It just isn’t what you think.

They screwed up the parental controls interface… in my opinion… along with compromising the security of it.

The whole RealID thing was just getting warmed up.

One of the accounts in our guild was compromised and the guild bank was looted.  That has happened a couple times since and is barely news any more.

And during all this, the instance group was working its way through The Burning Crusade content with our Horde alts, but we weren’t really feeling it.

Ennui had set in and our only hope was Cataclysm.  And there were plenty of offers to get us into the beta.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogrolls, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. Fine, You Can Fly in Draenor, But Only AFTER You Hit an Arbitrary Content Threshold!
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. The Search for the Summer Game
  4. Introducing Carnyx the Magnificent
  5. Entosis Link Modules in Action in Querious
  6. Travel Advisory – Conflict in Amarr
  7. Quote of the Day – F2P Insight
  8. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  9. What Future for Turbine after Infinite Crisis?
  10. The Revenant Kill in JU-0WQ
  11. A Bit of Ancient History that Still Sticks With Me…
  12. On to 64-Bit Gaming

Search Terms of the Month

civ iii on win 7 64 bi compuer
[That isn’t the hardware info I need to help you]

aggronauts myspace
[I’m pretty sure Belghast gave up on MySpace]

is turbine developing a new mmo?
[If they are, they haven’t shared it with me]

totally free and legit courses online
[Good luck with that]

why does server emulation take so long to do
[It probably takes less time than the original]

Spam Comment of the Month

So, sum up the advantages of belonging to the pre-war, animal husbandry, which is the top 30% inhibition, can play a little more aggressive, make good use of the hammer then fear storm control, and no brain start to play shield + disperse oppressive force play. Danelaw went to the former and Wessex to the latter with each side taking half of Mercia.
* Fast Poison.

EVE Online

After the Reavers left Querious things slowed down a bit for me in New Eden.  We ran a couple of ops to Fountain to assist Brave Newbies, making us the rare exception to the “let’s go to Fountain and farm!” trend.  And there was Burn Amarr.  But the last week or so has been more about settling in and finding a home in Tribute.

EverQuest

I have probably been playing this for some definitions of “playing,” but even so I have not made much progress.  I made a few characters to claim the storage box that was given to those who joined the beta, which gave me a pile of alts to work on.  So now I have a pile of low level alts.  None of them are even level 10 yet.  It is just like 1999 again.

EverQuest II

I have been keeping an eye on EverQuest II because of the plans for their own nostalgia server.  I am interested to see how this will turn out.  I suspect it will be successful for reasons different than the EverQuest side of the house.

Minecraft

Since Father’s Day I have put in quite a few hours in the low-res world of Minecraft.  It certainly has a charm of its own, even if I am a few years late to the party.  But then, that just means that they have fixed all the bugs by now, right?

War Thunder

I have been putting in a bit of time with War Thunder over the last month.  I am still horrendously bad at it.  If I was better I might spend some money on it.  But I have a whole post on that and how the usual trend in F2P is manifesting itself in the game.

World of Warcraft

This has been in something like maintenance mode for most of the month.  I log in to tend my garrison.  I totally fail to show up for group nights.  I don’t do much else.  Then came the 6.2 patch last week.  Well, I am sure I will have a post about that.  I am just not sure what to say at this point.

Coming Up

July is the start of the summer silly season, when news dries up and we all start fixating on things like prognosticating octopi and the like.  Then we’ll head into August, the barren wasteland of new content and game launches, where memes and questionnaires will be all to sustain us as we entertain bizarro world ideas, like turning Pong into an MMO or imagining Star Citizen delivering on all its promises or taking crazy ravings on the internet seriously.  I will no doubt be digging deep into my drafts folder looking for something to write about then.

It is enough to make a body want to just take the summer off.

Still, there are a couple of things on the horizon.  Daybreak will be doing whatever it is they plan to do with EverQuest II and their nostalgia server.  There is supposed to be a beta starting as soon as the week of July 7th.

CCP has another expansion coming up on July 7th, to be followed a week later with the final transition to Fozzie Sov, at which point we’ll get to see first hand just how many loopholes and exploits there are in the plan.  I expect at least two sov holding alliances to fail cascade in simple frustration at dealing with the mechanics.  Could be interesting times, and doubly so since SniggWaffe (Pandemic Legion Junior) and some pals look like they came along and kicked J4LP out of half of Cloud Ring, so we’ll have them on our doorstep.  That should make for some excitement.

What else is coming up in July?

Ragefire – A Vote for Kunark is a Vote for… something

The current round of EverQuest time locked progression servers, Ragefire and the spill over Lockjaw, continue to provide a spectacle as they move forward.  To their credit, Daybreak does appear to be paying attention, something that differentiates this round of servers from the Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak servers, where SOE was mostly an absentee landlord, setting a bar for the minimum amount of acceptable communication and then failing to meet it.

Ragefire hanging out..

Note to self: Name future servers after dragons and not freakin’ gnolls

Having worked on the open world, contested raid boss problem last week, this week Daybreak has turned its gaze back to the population problem.  The servers remain popular despite requiring a subscription in order to play on them.  This means they are a money maker at least.  Nostalgia pays.

However, it also means Ragefire got pretty crowded pretty fast.  Daybreak initially used their multiple parallel zone instancing technology on the starter zones and upped the server capacity, but that wasn’t enough.  They put in a login queue, but that didn’t help much.  Finally, they had to relent and open up a second server, Lockjaw, and apply that parallel zone magic to even more zones in the old world.

Don't forget about me!

Lockjaw on the scene

And apparently that still wasn’t enough.  The TLP forum has been running hot with the idea of an early unlock date for the Ruins of Kunark expansion as the one true way to accommodate the population of these servers… or at least on the Ragefire server, as it remains the more popular of the two by a fair margin. (History repeats there, the spill-over server tends to be less popular.)

And Daybreak must see some merit in this idea, as there is now a poll up on Ragefire asking if the Ruins of Kunark expansion should open up earlier than planned.

Vote early, vote often, vote all your accounts

Vote early, vote often, vote all your accounts

Personally, I am sympathetic to an early opening of Kunark.  It would add a variety of additional low-to-mid level zones, zones that would likely get under-utilized once the bulk of the population leveled up past them, as would be likely after six months of classic EverQuest.

Kunark is popular and, in my opinion, perhaps the best MMO expansion ever released.

Crowd on the Kunark Dock

Crowd on the Kunark Dock during Fippy Darkpaw’s reign

Ruins of Kunark is the prototypical MMO expansion, a monument to what every MMOs first expansion ought to be as well as a warning about how hard subsequent expansion will have to work to live up to that first expansion.  It had something for pretty much everybody.  But being the child of classic, it tends to be overlooked and under utilized on the progression servers.

For Fippy Darkpaw we had to wait 90 days in classic EverQuest before Ruins of Kunark could be unlocked.  But Kunark and beyond were all 60 days from final raid boss down, something that took just a couple of days from expansion unlock.  That led to it getting short shrift in my opinion.  So, back during the progression server poll, my votes were hinged on getting the maximum amount of time with Kunark.

However, there are counter arguments.

There is the group I would call “the classicists” who simply do not want the server to progress beyond the original EverQuest content and who have vowed to vote “no” on every unlock.   That doesn’t seem to be a very realistic goal, but they certainly have the right to go that route.

Then there are those who decry the legitimacy of this vote and who worry about what precedent it will set.  The decision was made up front, via a poll of players, to unlock expansions at the current planned rate.  If you allow people to punt on that a month in for Ruins of Kunark, will we get the same thing after that unlocks?  Will players then vote in Scars of Velious early?

I get the sentiment that Daybreak shouldn’t make changes to the plan lightly.  However, I reject the idea that once a decision has been made it can never be revisited or revised, and doubly so as that original poll was taken from the EverQuest population at large.  This poll will be taken from the people actually playing on the server, who have committed to the project, and who are facing the challenges that come up.  I think that gives this poll all the legitimacy it needs, especially since Daybreak, watching things from their end, seems to think that the idea has some merit.

Then, of course, there is the question of what the level increase and better gear that comes with Kunark will actually do to the server.  The whole idea goes to hell is most people just drop classic and run to Kunark and make that the new over-crowded location.

And, finally, there are some people pointing out that all the changes that Daybreak made… the improved server capacity and the parallel zone instance technology applied to more and more zones… is actually working, and working well.  In that case, opening up Kunark early will just disperse the population and reduce the number of zone instances to the point that you won’t be able to pick one that has the camp or spawn available that you are looking for.

Now, admittedly, that isn’t how things worked back in classic EverQuest, but it seems to be working out well enough on the Ragefire server, so you have to question the desire to mess with something that seems to be going okay.

So that is the poll and some of the questions at hand.  Interesting times and I would like to say yet again how much better it is with Daybreak actually engaged with these servers, at least relative to the benign neglect we saw for most of the Fippy Darkpaw era.

Too soon?

Probably the reality for Fippy Darkpaw these days…

I would tell you how I voted on the poll… only you have to be level 10 to vote, and I am such a slacker that I don’t have a level 10 character yet.  The poll runs through the 28th, so maybe I’ll get a character there this weekend.  My bard seems the most likely candidate at this point.

Ragefire – Solving Those Open World Raiding Blues

Seeing the coming of open world raid issues on an EverQuest progression server is ike predicting the sun rising in the east in the morning; anybody surprised by the occurrence probably hasn’t been paying much attention.

Ragefire hanging out..

This picture means I’m writing about the Ragefire server!

And so it is on the Ragefire and Lockjaw time locked progression servers.  The raiding guilds have leveled up and have started warring over the raid bosses while taking over the zones where the raids occur.

Last time around, on the Fippy Darkpaw server this became a big problem, at least relative to the percentage of the population involved.  Bad behavior at raid bosses became a thing, leading people to complain and open support tickets and generally cause a lot of smoke.  Eventually GMs had to step in, first with their own creative solutions on the spot and then later by imposing a rotating schedule for raiding guilds so that everybody would have their own crack at the loot pinata.

That’s the story of open world, contested raid content right there.

Now in the post-Sony as Uncle Moneybags era, the new Daybreak Game Company isn’t running so many GMs and has limited what issues they will deal with, so it seems unlikely that they will devote resources to a GM enforced raiding schedule.

As with so many aspects of these new servers, Daybreak is moving very fast (compared to the SOE days) to find a new solution.  And so we have an announcement:

As Holly mentioned, we’ve been doing some work on raid targets and high end zones on Progression Servers. There are more active players on Ragefire and Lockjaw than there ever were on our launch servers, and right now there’s too much competition for some very limited resources. We know some of you have suggested moving the raid targets into private instances, but we firmly believe that competition is a definitive component of the original EverQuest experience.

At launch, as now, there is only one Lord Nagafen and only one Lady Vox. If you defeated them, you also had to compete with a server full of people who wanted to defeat them, too. That’s a pretty big accomplishment.

So, in the spirit of making raid content more available while still allowing for competition and accomplishment, here’s what we have planned for an update in July:

  • Nagafen’s Lair, Permafrost Keep, the Hole, and Kedge Keep are now load-balancing zones. This will let more people have access to these zones for XP and non-raid items (WTB GEBs, PST).
  • We now have a way to prevent raid targets from spawning in extra load-balanced zones. We have done this with Lord Nagafen, Lady Vox, Master Yael, and Phinigel Autropos so they will only ever spawn in the base version of their zones.
  • All raid targets (dragons, Phinigel, Yael, and gods) now spawn more often than they used to, but have a much larger variance in their spawn times so they’ll be more difficult to predict.
  • We’ve made the raid bosses more difficult, so that they will require coordination of more adventurers to tackle them successfully. Healing and support should once again be very important in these encounters.
  • Speaking of Hate and Fear, while we didn’t implement load balancing, we did reduce the respawn time of all non-raid targets by two thirds. Any mini-bosses that didn’t have persistent timers (such as the Fear golems) now have them and have additional variance in their respawn times. This means that they won’t necessarily be spawned when the server first comes up.

In summary, we’re increasing availability so that there are more chances at the content, increasing difficulty for both a greater challenge and to require coordination of larger groups of people, and increasing variance in spawn timers so that knowledge of the last kill time is less of an advantage.

We’re hoping that the combination of these changes will both relieve some of the competition for experience and item content at the top end of the server but keep the integrity and uniqueness of the race for raid targets. Thanks for playing!

The first thing that struck me was how they went right to their “multiple instances of a single zone” solution.  When you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  That said, as a non-raider, being able to access those zones without having to be part of the raiding drama is about all I could ask for.  Raiders can have the base version of the zone with the raid boss and everybody else can be in a different instance.  Like Keen, I am pretty happy with the zone instancing plan so far.

The rest is… interesting.  They seem to be committed to the old-school, open world raiding experience that was EverQuest in 1999.  Of course, putting those bosses in real instances with lockout timers and all that stuff we’ve come to accept as the way things should be might be too much work as well.

Taking raid bosses off the static timer sounds good, but as we have seen in the past, that sometimes will just make people camp the site non-stop.  But at least they made the timer shorter.  The net result should be more raids possible.

Making the raid bosses more difficult though?  My gut reaction:

Down in San Diego...

Also, the remaining GM team in San Diego…

Schadenfreude aside, making the bosses tougher is probably a really good thing.  This isn’t 1999 any more.  The game has changed, the classes have been revised, and the tactics of these fights have long since been mapped out in great detail.  And it will keep us from seeing another multi-boxer down a boss mob with a group of Shadow Knights using vampiric touch in rotation.

Of course, there is the question as to what “more difficult” really means.  More hit points?  Hitting harder?  More resists?  All of the above?

Anyway, the whole thing seems pretty reasonable to me given what Daybreak has to work with at the moment.  Of course, that is easy for me to say, since I will never actually be in one of these raids.    But it is certainly more effort put into the game itself than they did with Fippy Darkpaw.  Of course, back with Fippy Darkpaw the expansions were unlocking a lot quicker, so I am sure there was a bit of “We just have to get to Gates of Discord and this problem goes away” on the team.

Reactions to this on  forum are mixed… which would pretty much describe the reaction to almost anything Daybreak posts on its forums.  There are concerns about implementation and what the new timers will mean for line members in the raiding guilds… which seem to be the same raiding guilds that were on Fippy Darkpaw.  We shall see how this works out.

What Sort of Special Server for EverQuest II Then?

Apparently it has somehow not escaped the notice of the EverQuest II team at Daybreak that the Ragefire and Lockjaw time locked progression servers have been a pretty big deal over on the EverQuest side of the house.

The third round of nostalgia based servers… maybe the fourth if we count the somewhat short-lived 50/51 server from back in 2009… that have gone live and have been so popular that the company has had to open up a second server each time seems to have finally seemed to trigger some sort of, “Aha!” moment in the EverQuest II team.

It probably helps that the same person now runs both the EverQuest and EverQuest II teams, Holly “Windstalker” Longdale.

So yeah, an EverQuest-like progression server idea seems to be something of a possibility for EverQuest II.  However, that brings us right back to the question of, “What in the hell does “progression server” even mean in the context of EverQuest II?”

It certainly doesn’t mean a “classic” server, that is for sure.  I went over that a couple months back, how the infrastructure restrictions imposed by having to run such a server in parallel with the live servers, using the same client, means that there is almost zero possibility of returning to the chaos of the 2004 launch.

And, Daybreak has pretty much confirmed my suspicions with this tasty and relevant quote picked up by Feldon over at EQ2 Wire from this week’s live stream:

Just to clarify, the code of the EverQuest II game as it existed at launch no longer exists as it has been patched over, however there are a lot of possibilities and challenges we could do to make an attractive server.

Where we’re going, we’d better not need old code.  Nostalgia is dead, lost or patched over, when it comes to mechanics.  2004 is gone, never to be seen again.  No crazy crafting mechanics or whatever will be making an appearance.

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

2004 was full of muddy textures and spelling errors anyway

But still, the EverQuest II team is now publicly stating that they are looking into some sort of progression/nostalgia/special server.  Or at least they did on the live stream, if not in the likely much more widely read Producer’s Letter.

But in the absence of the world of 2004, what would we want to see?

We know that just rolling a new server and blocking it off from transfers and character boost will bring some people out.  Remember the EverQuest II Extended experiment?  The chance to join a fresh community while it is all low level.  That will get a bit of buzz which will last at least for a little while.  But I don’t think that is a spicy enough meatball to get a large, long term commitment to a new server.

So what else would they need?

Limit the content to the original and dole out the expansions over time.  That seems like an obvious starting place, the whole progression thing.

Lock out classes and races added after launch and only allow them when the content that added them is introduced.  Again, obvious, though perhaps not as big a deal as with EverQuest.  SOE added what… four races and two classes since launch?  And Froglocks came in as delayed part of the launch content.

Turn off flying, leaping, gliding, bouncing, or whatever mounts.  Maybe that is just me again.  Also, I might consider turning off griffon towers… maybe.  Or turn them off in zones where they were not available at launch, and  at least make people discover them in a zone before they can use them.  We good there?

Crank up the leveling curve.  Right now you level up so quickly in EverQuest II that you have to dump at least half of your exp into the Alternate Advancement bucket… and I admit that is a nice feature, SOE gets a cookie for that and other companies should copy the ability to route base exp into something else… so if they are going to ration out content over time, they have to make it last longer.

Also, they have to turn off AA points until Kingdom of the Sky in any case, so there should be no bucket to siphon of exp for a while in any case.

Dial up the difficulty.  I hope there is a dial for this.  Give mobs more hit points or make them hit harder or at least toughen them up a bit so if you’re in a group the mob doesn’t die before everybody gets a hit in.  Toughen up dungeons especially.

Make it for subscribers only.  That will limit things to people actually invested in the server and will keep new players from wandering in and asking what the hell is wrong.  Also, doing that will offset the next item.

I already mentioned locking the server off from transfers and insta-90s, but clamp down on the cash shop as well.  I know, cash shop is money, but everybody here is a subscriber.  Shut down as much of the cash shop as you possibly can, even cosmetics.  There is already a great cosmetic armor system in the game, let people discover and use items from the original content and go about sporting that.

And while we’re shutting things down, how about Chrono mages, holiday events, any of the PvP battle ground distractions… any PvP at all, frankly, as PvP is not the core audience so spending time trying to cater to a small group who won’t even show up for this seems pointless, the dungeon maker thing, and some of the insta-travel options.  I know, there were never boats to take people to places in the old content, but we used to have to at least go to Thundering Steppes in order to travel to the Enchanted Lands, Zek, Feerrott, and Frostwhatever.  Do that again, if you can.

I am tempted to say cut mentoring as well, but that still has its uses.  I can’t quite part with that.

And would it be too much to ask for the Isle of Refuge as the starter zone again?  We have to have some starter are, why not that again?  I am not asking for old Qeynos of the racial ghetto home towns or any of that.  But dude, Isle of Refuge would go a long way towards nostalgia.

Also, maybe, just maybe, some special server only achievements that can only be earned by doing things in the content when it is the latest available on that server.  I’d dig a “Nostalgia Warrior – The Journey is Half the Fun” achievement, or something like that.  It would make me actually look at the “added way too late, half-assed, uninspired, cribbed straight from WoW yet looks about a tenth as good” achievement system that got tacked on to EverQuest II a couple years back.  Seriously, Rift copies the WoW achievement system wholesale and made it work, why couldn’t you guys?

Or, if not achievements, titles maybe?

Anyway, it sounds like the old Norrath team at Daybreak… as opposed to the new Norrath team, which is doing Landmark and, we assume, EverQuest Next… is semi-seriously considering the possibility of exploring the idea of maybe doing something akin to the “overwhelmingly popular three times running” EverQuest progression server idea for post-Cataclysm Norrath.

What other ideas… realistic ideas, because they are clearly going to have to do this on the cheap… should they be considering for such a server?  What would get you to come play?

May in Review

The Site

Another month, another algorithm change at Google, another drop in page views, both here and at EVE Online Pictures. (Which also turned 7 years old this month.)  It was only supposed to about mobile friendly sites… and my WordPress.com theme has mobile options… but who knows what is really going on at Google?

Anyway, that is just the random search engine traffic.  The demographic that I guess I would call “people who actually come here on purpose” remained about the same, as it has over the last few years.  And that’s what matters, right?  Right?

Meanwhile, I have been wondering how other sites choose what pictures to display when my posts are syndicated.  WordPress.com has options that allow me to syndicate out notifications when I post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr.  But I have yet to figure out the pattern as to how an accompanying graphic, if any, is chosen for a given site.  Some days they are all the same, some days each site picks something different.  And then I do a post with no pictures in it, like this one.

One Year Ago

EA killed off Mythic Entertainment.  They had already handed over Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot to Broadsword, so what was left in any case?

The news about post-Kickstarter Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen continued to be off-putting.

I got another seven day trial in Landmark.

The strategy group started in on our BIG map campaign in Civilization V.

In EVE Online I was wondering about the prospects for a summer war.  Everybody just assumed that there would be one, though in null sec the various empires seemed to be settling in and consolidating.  Sure, there was the trap at Daras… another on the list of reasons we shy away from low sec… the run down to Placid for a kill, and that op down in Syndicate (my post on which stirred up some sour grapes about day one players) but otherwise things were quiet.  That left plenty of time to go find my name on the monument.  Also, I wanted to know if the alleged ‘learning cliff’ was still the biggest issue facing EVE Online.

In World of Warcraft the Timeless Isle was still a thing.  The Warlords of Draenor expansion was still over the horizon and subscriptions were down to 7.6 million under the weight of wait.  The pacing of content delivery was an open topic.  Meanwhile, our group was slowing down a bit even as we started in on dungeons in Pandaria.

In attempt to make plans for another summer hiatus, I gave Star Wars: The Old Republic a try, going through the Sith starting area.

And then there was the kick off of the 2014 Newbie Blogger Initiative.

Five Years Ago

I was unemployed, which you would think would leave me a lot more time for gaming and blogging.  But the anxiety of looking for a job for the first time in 12 years… and the first time in 20 years where there wasn’t just one out there waiting for me… made for a quiet gaming and blogging month.

Yes, I did start to poke my nose back into LOTRO.  A game where I didn’t have to pay a subscription seemed about right. (I have a lifetime subscription.)  That meant getting back into the swing of the game and figuring out what had changed.

We actually got THE DATE for the release of StarCraft II.  How did that turn out for everybody?  I skipped the whole thing.  Maybe when the StarCraft II warchest version comes out with all the expansions I’ll look into it.

The Agency came to Facebook, in the form of The Agency: Covert Ops.  A Mafia Wars-like game, without the multi-level marketing aspect, it had its good and its bad.  I liked the puzzles.  The dogs with guns… and the submarine fight… not so much.  Who knew that would be all of The Agency we would ever get?

Meanwhile SOE was transcending bad taste with their EQII PWNZ marketing campaign.

There was some Pokemon fun going.  I was twinking the Pokewalker while our cats worked against me.  The cats won in the end.

We also went to see the Pokemon Video Game Championships in our area.

And the instance group was wrapping up Dire Maul and Stratholme.  Then, having hit 60, we let the Dungeon Finder guide our way into the Outland.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogrolls, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. WoW Subscriptions Drop to 7 Million on Purpose
  2. EverQuest Ragefire Progression Server is Coming May 20th
  3. The Next EverQuest Progression Server will be Named Ragefire
  4. The Doomed Convoy at KVN-36
  5. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  6. Ragefire First Night Follies – Half-Elf Bards, Level 50s, and the Big Wipe
  7. Fear of Flying
  8. Project 1999 – Now Totally Legit
  9. Progression Server Progress in EverQuest
  10. Traveling Home and the Contraction of Empire
  11. Draenor Tourism Season is Over, WoW Back Down to 7.1 Million Subscribers
  12. EverQuest Ragefire Progression Server Poll Results

Search Terms of the Month

“tnt” + perpetual inventory system
[That sounds like a drastic solution, I like it]

eve leaving game who to give money to
[Me! I pick me!]

terry pratchett on j k rowling
[Rule 34 knows no limits]

hay porn games
[Fun down on the farm?]

5 features of blizzards
[Low res graphics?]

everquest next expansion
[You are the optimist, aren’t you?]

EVE Online

Well, the conquest of Delve ended and most of The Imperium went home.  Reavers, however, remained in the south and spent the month doing un-Reaver-like things… such as defending sov and getting into fights… on purpose.  It has been a fun distraction, since about the only other thing going has been alliances shifting locations up in the north.  I did move a pile of stuff down to our new home in Tribute, but haven’t actually done anything there as yet.

EverQuest

For all the posts I have done about the Ragefire and Lockjaw progression servers, I haven’t actually spent a lot of time playing on them.  Almost none at all really.  It has been a busy month and unlike with Fippy Darkpaw, I didn’t get into a group with anybody else who wanted to play, so I have been soloing my way up to a level where I can get a group, which isn’t all that much fun.

H1Z1

I got on board with the deal between Daybreak, The Imperium, and The Mittani dot com and bought a copy of H1Z1.  I went in and played with the group of Reavers who joined in as well, and exploring the game with a group on voice coms was pretty fun.  I could not see playing the game solo at all, but as a small group game it has potential.  However, since the Reavers had other things going on, by mid-month I had stopped playing.  At some point I will have a summing up post, because there is both good and bad in the game.

World of Warcraft

I have been slacking in WoW.  I haven’t made the instance group all month.  I haven’t leveled anybody up.  All I have been doing is daily garrison stuff and some pet battles.  I am in a routine where I can churn out a 30 slot, hexweave bag about once a week, so I am slowly growing in storage space.  And I have many level 25 pets.  But I haven’t done anything besides that all month.

Coming Up

We have the WoW 6.2 update in the near future.  They have already done some of the pre-download for it.  I am going to guess it won’t be this coming week, but the following week seems likely.

We also have the next EVE Online mini-expansion, this one called Carnyx.  That comes with the first round of entosis link sovereignty capture mechanics.  We shall what that brings.

I managed to get a World of Warships key yesterday, which prompted me to download that, World of Tanks, and War Thunder.  I haven’t played the latter two in a while.  We’ll see if I spend much time there.

And it is June, so time for a Steam Summer sale maybe?

Get Lockjaw Today!

Erm… I mean get on the Lockjaw server today!  Maybe.  Daybreak has targeted today, May 29, at 11am Pacific Time as the launch point for the second Voting Time Locked Progression Server, Lockjaw.

Given all they have gone through over the last week, I would hope that this would be the easy bit.  Just clone the server, wipe the character database, and go!  As if anything in life is ever that simple.

Lockjaw Defeated

He’s going to be ready to go by 11am, right?

As I noted in yesterday’s post, this seems to be the only answer for Daybreak at the moment.  Even with all the updates they have done for the Ragefire server, it remains popular beyond its capacity.  People will have to start fresh however.

How this plays out in the longer term… well, Daybreak could help out by not forgetting about how popular Ragefire has been while they have talked about it.

Don't forget about me!

Don’t forget about me!

Addendum: