Category Archives: EverQuest

March in Review

The Site

What a month.  There was nothing much of note new on the site, but gaming life and blogging time and all of that was subject to some changes as the COVID-19 pandemic confined so many of us to home.  Fortunately my job is doable from home, but being there at my desk all day long does suck some of the joy out of gaming or writing.  If I’ve already been in my chair for nine or ten hours, there isn’t a lot of joy in staying there for a few more to play a game or write.

At least I can go sit on the couch and play Pokemon Sword.

My new Switch Lite

Good thing I got that for my birthday early in the month, as they are sold out now.  I have not yet succumbed to the mounting pressure to get Animal Crossing: New Horizon though.  My daughter loves it, but she isn’t sure it is a game I would like.

Otherwise it has largely been a constant series of, “Wait, did that happen this month? It seems so long ago now.” moments as the world falls further into whatever it is that we have going on now.

One Year Ago

I dug up my old Macintosh PowerBook 190cs, which I didn’t even remember I still had, and thought about writing about some of the games still on it.  However, I was unable to get it onto the network, so screen shots were difficult to obtain and I ended up running out of steam on the whole thing for the time being.

Activision Blizzard was hedging a bit on what effect their layoff of 8% of the company might produce.

Perfect World Entertainment officially killed of the Foundry in both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, ending their player made content experiment.

Steam decided that they really did need to curate games on their site, a decision pushed by their inept handling of Rape Day.  The Epic Game Store, always eager to capitalize on Valve’s foibles, declared that there would be no porn in their store.

Gamigo killed off the Rift Prime retro server due to lack of popularity.  It remains my opinion that the Storm Legion expansion killed the game the first time around, so having it do it again was no surprise.

A data center move brought down and kept offline Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online for longer than expected.

Over at Massively OP they were talking about “niche MMORPGs,” a term as ill-defined as most in the gaming world.  Honestly, one could argue that MMORPGs are a niche genre.

Over at GoG.com we got a version of the original Diablo, and while it felt primitive it was still very playable and pretty damn good.

Niantic finally allowed players to change teams in Pokemon Go, allowing me to swap from Team Mystic to Team Instinct.

I was giving Path of Exile a shot again with their Synthesis update.

On the LOTRO Legendary servers the Mines of Moria expansion opened up.  That sent me off to Eregion in search of legendary weapons and such.

In EVE Online the March update brought new restrictions to Alpha clones.  They could no longer run level 4 or 5 missions.  People could buy skill books straight from their character sheet… for a bit of a markup.  CCP was also tinkering with null sec anomalies.  They were worried about too much ISK in the economy.  Skill Points though?  They were just handing those out.

There was a video of Burn Jita 6 in full 4K.

CCP Guard announced he was leaving CCP after 16 years of service.

In New Eden there were two notable ship losses, the first Komodo titan to die and a rare Gold Magnate.  I also got a ship blown up as part of my Myrmidon Experiment, though that was a much less expensive loss.

There was also the EVE Ather Wars tech demo, which went well enough, even if it did not get as many players in space as the company had hoped for.

But Katia Sai was being celebrated for visiting every system in New Eden.

I was pondering the proposed level squish for World of Warcraft.  My guess was that Blizzard would be too risk-averse to do it, but I was proven wrong later in the year at BlizzCon.  Blizz also revived Wintergrasp, the huge battleground from Wrath of the Lich King, which was fun to visit again.

Runes of Magic turned ten and I reflected on its place in the tale of the genre.

But the big news was EverQuest turning 20 years old.  I reflected on its history and celebrated its anniversary.  I covered what the team had to say, which included some good news as well as a bit of hubris.

And I was still doing my own play through of some EverQuest content.  I got a mercenary for my cleric, traveled to distant zones via dangerous paths, and even hit level 50.  It was a lot easier to get there than it was back in the day.  It was quite the tourist excursion!

Five Years Ago

I hit level 50 yet again.

The Elder Scrolls Online dropped the subscription business model.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign was still running.  I was wondering if they had a mid-game plan.  They really didn’t, but the campaign still brought in $1.7 million, double what was asked.

EA closed down Maxis as an entity within its organization.  It is what EA does best.

It was a Turbine roast as an insider spilled the beans on problems that have plagued the developer of Lord of the Rings Online.

Rift hit its four year anniversary, but it felt like it had been around for longer than that.

I was wondering what a progression server would look like with EverQuest II.  But it was Sweet 16 for EverQuest, which was getting a new progression server for its birthday it seemed.

Blizzard announced that they were going to go ahead with their PLEX-like idea, the WoW Token.  The instance group was in the Iron Docks and farting around in garrisons.

CCP was talking about the next stage of the proposed sovereignty changes for EVE Online.  There was the Scylla release, which was overshadowed by Fanfest.  Also, the members of CSMX were announced.

In New Eden I attempted to fly an Ibis from Immensea to Deklein.  Then there was a rumor of war as the usual suspects attacked our sovereignty in Fountain.  That called for a big old move op which, in post-Phoebe New Eden, meant caps taking gates.  Then there was that system our foes took.  And once they were evicted from Fountain, it was time for a punitive expedition to Delve.

And The Mittani declared that the power blocs of New Eden would never die.  We shall see.

My daughter and I tried out Diablo III on the PlayStation 3.

I put together a review of my Kickstarter history… I should do that again.

Finally, it seemed as though some of the MMO news sites were paying attention to bloggers again… at least briefly.

Ten Years Ago

With the March 2010 month in review I was able to announce that the site had passed the one million page view mark.  A minor milestone.

FarmVille.  We all tried it as research for Shut Up We’re Talking #60.  We didn’t inhale.

ran through GDC and had dinner.

I was waxing nostalgic for some flavor of Rome.

EA was saying very stupid things about how many subscribers Star Wars: The Old Republic would need.  It is never too early to set the bar for failure.  Also they were threatening to taint 38 Studios.

I was also wondering about greater challenges in MMOs.  Must all paths be equally easy?

I held an April Fools contest, which got a few entries.

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver launched and, after some delay,  I was picking that initial Pokemon.

I was still invested in Star Trek Online… I was trying…. well, they were giving us lifetime subscribers some perks.

In EVE Online I hit 50 million skill points.  I also had my first Tengu.

World of Tanks was staring to announce some of their progression trees, starting with the Russian and American sets.  Those have changed a lot since then.

The instance group was beginning to embrace the Dungeon Finder.  However, after Mauradon we found we still had to do a chunk of external legwork to prepare for our Sunken Temple run.  I also got a chopper along the way, on my birthday no less.

And, finally, that whole Derek Smart/Alganon thing was just kicking off.

Fifteen Years Ago

Monolith, backed by Sega and Warner Brothers, launches The Matrix Online in the US.  It hits Europe a month later. The title is soon taken over by Sony Online Entertainment, which runs it until its closure in 2009.

The Bloodline Chronicles adventure pack is released for EverQuest II.  It is free for Station Access subscribers.  Among other things it gives the game destructible walls.

Twenty Years Ago

Sony launched the PlayStation 2. Available initially only in Japan, it had ten launch titles.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Overseer Feature, Progression Servers, and Free Heroic Characters Coming for EverQuest Anniversary
  4. The State of Voice in 2020 with a Poll
  5. The March Update Brings Market and Moon Changes to EVE Online
  6. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  7. The Windstalker Leaves Norrath
  8. The Passion of the Overseer
  9. Visiting the Katia Sae Monument
  10. An Uldaman of Vague Memories
  11. Blizzard in the Badlands
  12. Seeking the Hydrocane

Search Terms of the Month

camelot unchained massive refund requests after terrible announcment
[Somebody knows what they’re looking for]

online rpg apple iie
[That is going to be a bit or a stretch. A MUD maybe?]

does concord intervene during killing spree in eve online
[All normal CONCORD rules apply]

null sec infrastructure to spawn mining belts
[infrastructure hub]

what plane in war thunder has the most bombs
[Going to guess it is the B-29]

wilma flintstone memes
[I don’t even]

Game Time from ManicTime

Time tracking shows I spent most of my play time with WoW Classic.

WoW Classic – 64.13%
RimWorld – 13.25%
Pokemon Sword – 10.93%
EverQuest – 5.10%
EVE Online – 4.32%
EverQuest II – 1.92%
World of Warcraft – 0.34%

You would think I would be further along, but I always find time to potter about.  Also, Pokemon Sword isn’t tracked by ManicTime, being on the Switch and all, but the save page in the game gives you an elapsed time played report with each save, so I can include it in the mix.

EVE Online

While I did not spend that much time in New Eden in March, the time I did spend was fairly active.  There was a move op north to Venal, followed by some fights, and then a move op home.  Structures were shot, ships exploded.

EverQuest

With the 21st anniversary going on I decided to poke my nose in while my all access subscription was still running.  I used the heroic upgrade on my cleric from last year’s anniversary, which promptly made his spells an unfathomable mess.  But I did end up playing with the new Overseer feature.  While it has a mobile game air to it, the EQ version has more depth than the EQII one does, so I do keep logging into play it.

EverQuest II

I fear my momentum has faded in EQII.  After grabbing the expansion last year and driving a few characters up to the level cap, both for adventure and crafting, I sort of lost interest and wandered off.  I did a bit of the Overseer thing, but it isn’t all that compelling.

Pokemon Go

My drive to the level cap slowed down somewhat.  The friend rewards, which are worth 100,000 points when you hit the highest level, drove me the last couple of months.  However, daily gifts have tapered off as people hole up at home and can’t get out to Pokestops.

Level: 38 (83% of the way to level 39)
Pokedex status: 526 (+14) caught, 556 (+11) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Dewatt

Pokemon Sword

As noted previously, I got Nintendo Switch Lite and a copy of Pokemon Sword for my birthday, which was about a week before we all had to go into hiding, so that is some timing.  I am three gym leaders in so far and it is shaping up to be a pretty solid entry in the genre.  The villainous team is a little more buffoonish than normal, but we’ll see how that plays out.  I just have to get myself setup to pull screen shots from the game so I can post about it.

RimWorld

RimWorld got the Royalty expansion, which adds a new dynamic to the game.  I have that out and played through some.  But even if you do not get the expansion, the launch of it also brought a bit update patch for the base game that includes a lot of nice improvements.

World of Warcraft

As usual, my time spent in retail WoW was mostly around Darkmoon Faire, though I did log in to grab a map of Gnomeregan for a post, and found that I had forgotten that they had nerfed some of the outside area as well.

WoW Classic

A lot of time spent playing WoW Classic.  I was grinding for a mount and working on some alts, but the big effort was around UIdaman where, after three weeks, we took down Archaedas.  Now comes the time to prep for Zul’Farrak.

Coming Up

It is Blapril, so expect some blogging reflective posts and as much linking out to other participants as I can manage.

It is also April Fools tomorrow, though given the current state of the political scene in the US, I am not sure anybody will notice.  Much of the last couple of months has involved public figures saying things that should have ended with “April Fools!” but somehow did not… more so than usual.

EVE Fanfest should have been kicking off soon, but that was cancelled in what seemed like forever ago, though it was just a month back.  Still, it has been reported that CCP will have some news and a new trailer for us.

And it seems like a fine time for video games, especially online games.  But April promises to be as relentless with bad news as March was, so the end of the month will probably feel like another year has gone past.

Using My EverQuest Heroic Upgrade

With the 21st anniversary event offer of a free heroic character upgrade available for a limited time, I decided I should take advantage of the offer while it was around.  I might scoff a bit at the boost only being to level 85, but it is better than no boost at all I suppose.  And you need to be that level to use the Overseer feature.

And I wanted to use the Overseer with a character I had some connection to, which at this late date in the history of the game, is a very rare situation.  I have a couple dozen characters floating around over a range of servers, but I am hard pressed to name them or when I created them.

But there was one I recalled.  Dolenz, my cleric, who I rolled up last year in anticipation of the 20th anniversary.  I started him fresh, went through the tutorial, and got him all the way to level 50.

Dolenz at 50 about one year ago

It wasn’t like I got him to level 50 back at launch.  The xp curve is much lighter and there was bonus xp for much of the anniversary event.  But I still played him through those levels, light though they might have been, and explored a range of Norrath both familiar and not.

So I pressed the button on at the character select screen and applied the upgrade to him.

Dolenz at 85 this week

The good from the upgrade is that the game does hand you a lot of stuff.  You get a set of gear… in green, so it matches the cosmetic hat I got last year, as you can see above… and a couple of 24 slot bags, which are always handy, as well as some cash, a pile of AA points, and all the spell upgrades for the intervening levels you have skipped.

The downside is… well… dealing with all of that largess is, as always, a bit cumbersome in the EverQuest UI.  You have to find all the gear in your bags… you have to find those new bags in your bags, assuming you had space for all of that… and dole it out to the right spots.  You get a series of packages assigned to you through the rewards interface, which always looks like you only get one of the items, since you can only highlight one, even though it says you get them all.  And you do get them all.  It is just awkwardly presented.

Worst of all though are the spells.  The EverQuest team has always been big on handing out new and improved spells with every expansion, no matter how many levels the cap was raised, so there are a lot of choices.  And this isn’t WoW, where the spells have the same name and you just get a new rank level of it.  So when you are sitting there trying to figure out which spells to assign to your nine spell slots… again, the word “awkward” springs to mind.

The heals available

Those are just the heals which, as a cleric, make for the longest list.  And they are all at least flagged by level.  And you can at least see a pattern, with “light,” “renewal,” and “word” heals being the three main flavors.  But I don’t know what the difference is off hand today.  And those are just the main heals, not the delayed, duration, or quick heals, much less the cures.  Then there are the buffs and the damage and the utility spells.

According to my spell book, which is pretty much useless under the weight of that many spells, the total at my disposal is 393.  I guess it could be worse. There are a lot of spells.  Maybe that is why they only boost to level 85, they are afraid that the rain of new spells is already overwhelming enough.  Who knows.

Getting mired in that for a while pretty much put the kibosh on any plans I had to actually go out in the field to fight monsters and run quests.  So he’ll likely become another permanent resident of the Plane of Knowledge.

But I mostly wanted to use him for the Overseer feature.  And he’ll serve for that.  Though in boosting him up I did also discover that your characters, at least on the same server, share the same Overseer setup.  I had a quest going with the pally I boosted years back and after I boosted Dolenz and brought the Overseer up, I found that quest in progress in the UI.

That makes sense.  They have to limit it somehow.  There is already talk of the whole thing being too generous, with changes coming in to keep things under control, even after the very conservative intent the team started with.

But I’ll keep poking at it for a bit.  What happens there will likely be an indicator as to what will happen with the EverQuest II version of the feature, which remains a very poor cousin at the moment.

New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary

Aside from the habit of writing a post about the EverQuest anniversary in advance, as I did with yesterday’s post, I also seem to have to follow up with a reaction post to things announced with the coming of the anniversary.  And so it is today.

An image I can really only use this year

The EverQuest team put up a post with all sort of news yesterday.  There was, of course, the heroic character for all subscribers and Overseer feature that was introduced into the game last week and the usual special anniversary events.

But on top of that they added in a 50% bonus exp event that will run through until April 1st.

They also announced the two new special servers that will be coming for EverQuest.  The names will be Aradune and Rizlona.

Aradune of course honors the late Brad McQuaid whose in-game persona was Aradune Mithara and whose memorial I visited in East Karana not so long ago.

Rizlona, once a mighty bard, is a demigoddess and a guardian of the tower of Solusek Ro, and the name was at one point thought to be a possibility as an overflow server for the Mangler server that rolled out with the 20th anniversary last year.  But that was not needed, so we get the name now.

Full details are yet to come for both servers, but they are said to be variations of the Mangler server (the FAQ for which you can find here) with some special variations.

But before that happens there will be a few server merges.

The Lockjaw progression server will be merged into the Ragefire server.  Lockjaw was the overflow server, launched back in May of 2015, when the population of the Ragfire server exceeded capacity.

Back in 2015 things were crowded

That was the start of a lot of updates for the EverQuest server architecture in order to accommodate the initial rush of players these servers tend to see.  I do not know where either of these servers stand when in comes to expansion unlocks, but it seems natural enough to merge them together.

The Trakanon server will be merged into the Vox server.  The Trakanon and Vox servers were launched back in 2012, when the game became a teenager and the conversion of EverQuest to its current semi-F2P, cash shop, but subscription too revenue model took place.  Like a lot of people, I chose the Vox server to roll anew on for that event.  Vox has remained somewhat more populated than its sibling, so it is natural enough to merge Trakanon into Vox.

The Brekt server will be rolled into the Firiona Vie server.  Both are “free trade” servers, which means you can sell heirloom drops that would otherwise be bind on pick up, or so I seem to recall.  Anyway, I had to look up the Brekt server, with everybody knows Firiona Vie is where the cool kids hang out, so the merge direction seems natural enough.

And finally, the end of days has come for the Fippy Dakrpaw server.  Launched back in Feburary 2011, when SOE still wasn’t sure that retro servers were worth the effort, it was where Skonk and I spent some time wallowing in 1999 nostalgia.  At least we did up until the great Sony/SOE hacking and outage.

Anyway, the nine year old Fippy Darkpaw server, which I last wrote a post about back in 2017, when it was merged with the Vulak server, which was the nostalgia overflow server back in 2011, will finally be subsumed into a mainline live server.  It will be merged with the Vox server.

This is a double special event for me.  Ages ago I promised (to myself at least, since I am not sure that you care) that I would write a final post about the Fippy Darkpaw server when its end finally came AND, unlike other mergers, my characters on Fippy Darkpaw will land on a server where I already have some characters.

There is no word on when these merges will happen, though my guess is before the new server launches.

In the mean time, I have to figure out what to do with my level 85 heroic character boost.  As I have complained, level 85 isn’t a huge inducement in a game where the level cap is now at 115, but it is something.  And it would give me another character to play around with the overseer feature.  Maybe my cleric from last year’s adventures.  I got him up to level 50.  I could boost him to 85 and perhaps use some of that bonus xp time to get him a little further along.  We shall see.

EverQuest at 21

The days are long, but the years are short.

Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

Here we are again at mid-March and another EverQuest anniversary.

Classic EverQuest

I’ve taken it upon myself to mention the anniversary almost every year since the first March 16th of the blog rolled around back in 2007.  I think there was still a bit of a sense or hope that the company would get EverQuest II on track as the rightful successor game it was expected to be and that EverQuest might fade away.  But at ten, twelve, thirteen, fifteen, nineteen, and twenty years it was still around and still looking like the anchor of the Norrath franchise.  It has launched new servers, embraced nostalgia, rolled out new expansions, added new features, and generally kept on rolling and printing money as younger games launched, peaked, and shut down.

And so the date has rolled around again and I wonder once more if there is anything I have yet said about the game.  We’re in the fifth year of the Daybreak era of the game where, unlike some of its stable mates, it has seemingly thrived.

We are also at the start of the Darkpaw Games era, as Daybreak organized three studios under its umbrella. (An umbrella which still shelters H1Z1 apart from those three so far as we can tell.)  That put EverQuest and EverQuest II together under the Darkpaw banner.

Darkpaw Gamed for Norrath

What that means, if it really means anything, is not clear.  There are plenty of theories but few facts.

At this anniversary we are also facing a change of leadership.  Holly “Windstalker” Longdale announced her departure from Daybreak and Darkpaw just about a week back, with the reigns being handed over to Jennifer Chan.  Again, while both games got a note from the new executive producer, it is unclear what that means in the long term.

And now we have the anniversary with the traditional in-game events, which will run out into May.

plenty of time

There are also a few give away according to the current release notes.

What we get

All Access members who log in between now and May 10th will get a free heroic character boost.  This will let you bring any character up to level 85.

Heroic for Free – Unchanged since 2014

I will, as always, grouse a bit about the fact that the level cap has now gone to 115, but they are still giving away… and selling when they aren’t simply handing them out… boosts to just level 85.

Ah well.  They will update that some day I hope.

For now though all you get is level 85.  But they have to give you one because it unlocks the new Overseer feature, which requires you to be level 85 to play.

If you’ve read my post about the Overseer in EverQuest II, you can mostly disregard that.  Darkpaw has take that feature, added some depth and visible… dare I say even comprehensible… graphics and plunked it down into EverQuest.  This version has levels and stats and classes and bonuses and a few other things that at least give the illusion of depth to the whole thing.  And, of course, the ability to spend some Daybreak Cash.

Want to finish early? We can sell you that!

That last bit isn’t active yet, but I am sure it will be soon.

The whole thing is still wrapped in the UI conventions of EverQuest, which date from 1999 and can feel very clunky if you’ve recently been playing WoW… or even WoW Classic… but once you find the Overseer option in the myriad of menu items and move it to your hot bar, it is at least easy to access.

Bhagpuss has a write up about the EverQuest version of Overseer if you are interested.  I do not know what this portends for the EQII version of the feature, but for now EverQuest has the richer, deeper option.

There we are though, a new feature for the 21st anniversary of the game.

The word is that we will also be getting a special server or two at some point here in year twenty-one.  But first Darkpaw needs to clean up and merge some of the aging special servers that are still hanging about.  I suspect that the Fippy Darkpaw server, launched back on February 15, 2011, will be on the list of those to be merged.

What does it even mean when your game has retro-nostalgia servers that are over nine years old?  At least I will be able to write that promised final post about the server.

Congrats to the EverQuest team for making it into another decade!

The Windstalker Leaves Norrath

If it is Friday afternoon it must be time for a news bomb from Daybreak.

It follows you as you move about the room!

This time it is the departure of Holly “Windstalker” Longdale from the company.  Yes, I suppose it should be Darkpaw Games, but it isn’t like Daybreak doesn’t still pull all the strings here.

Darkpaw Gamed for Norrath

Holly Longdale has been running the combined Norrath division of Daybreak since EverQuest and EverQuest II were rolled up into a single team.  That was back when Smed was still promising us that EverQuest Next would be fine because it had the largest development team at Daybreak. (Some fun comments on that post.)

EverQuest Next was cancelled and then Landmark was shut down, but the Norrath team carried on.  And, despite something of a rocky start in the Daybreak era… all that talk about doing little campaigns as opposed to expansions… a plan reversed in half a year… things seemed to go pretty well for the Norrath team.  They managed an expansion and a big update for both EverQuest and EverQuest II each year since.  And while everything hasn’t gone perfectly, for the last five or so years it has felt like the company has cared more about the franchise than during the final five years of the SOE era.

And, thanks to the team finally embracing the nostalgia and special server idea, it was reported last year, during the EverQuest 20th anniversary, that the player base had been growing since low ebb in 2015.

At the helm for that whole time was Holly Longdale, Executive Producer in charge of the EverQuest franchise.  And while you can’t credit her for everything that went right, a good boss makes good things possible, while a bad boss can make even good things turn to shit.  So she gets some credit for the improved state of the games.  I was very much on #TeamHolly over the last few years.

Which is why the Friday night post over on the EverQuest and EverQuest II sites announcing her departure made me sigh and wonder what was going to happen next.  The text from both posts:

Greetings Norrathians,

It is time to bid ye all a heartfelt fond farewell.

I will be taking my leave from Darkpaw Games for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I owe to all the players and developers of EverQuest and EverQuest II.

From my first experience at EverQuest’s launch as a dark elf wizard trying to leave Neriak for two hours, to joining the EverQuest and EverQuest II teams, my life has been a thrill and a blessing. For more than a decade, I’ve felt honored and thankful to have been a part of the lives of so many players and our amazing family of developers.

I’ve seen these games grow and evolve for so many years. I took part in the first-ever instanced content and forging new ground with Lost Dungeons of Norrath. I had the honor of working with Brad “Aradune” McQuaid, John Smedley, and a great number of talented people.

Both games have grown through the rise of nostalgia with progression servers in ways we didn’t expect. Above all, our community is ever-present, guiding and informing us, and helping us make better choices.

Our success as a franchise is built upon the love of those who live in Norrath. I can’t thank every one of you enough for being part of this magical life. I will miss you, but I won’t be far away!

My passion and love for EverQuest and EverQuest II is unending. Even though I am leaving Darkpaw Games as a producer for now, I will remain part of the community as a player.

Our intrepid Franchise Technical Director and EQ veteran Jennifer Chan will take hold of the reigns with gusto and head up the studio. She has been my leadership partner for over 5 years and excels at keeping us on track, improving our technology, and making sure everything gets done as smoothly as possible.

I promise you that the game and teams are in more-than-capable hands.

Rest assured, Norrath will continue to grow and prosper as I hope you all will.

Much love to one and all, forever. And, as always, I’ll see you in game,

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale

People move on.  New opportunities arise.  Things change.  It sounds like she is leaving for something she wants to do.  But whether she left or was pushed, the inevitable question is, “What happens next?”

Jennifer Chan will be taking over.  All I know about her is that she has some technical chops, with a BS in Computer Science, and has been a technical director for SOE, then Daybreak, since early 2014.  There is a Shack News interview with her that puts a little more info out there (side note: She mentions that they work closely with the LOTRO and DDO teams, so who owns Standing Stone?  Also, the interviewer was the author of Stay Awhile and Listen.)  But that isn’t a lot.

My sense from that is that she might be more technical than “vision,” but maybe that is what the franchise could use.

So we will have to wait and see what this really means.  Back in January there was some hope that the splitting of Daybreak into sub-studios would mean good things for the EverQuest franchise, secure on its own as Darkpaw Games.  But the fickle finger of fate will have its way.

Related Posts:

The Passion of the Overseer

The Overseer feature came into EverQuest II as part of the Blood of Luclin expansion back in November and I have been trying to pin down its raison d’etre ever since.

Snakes. Moon snakes.

My introduction to the Overseer feature involved the typical SOE/Daybreak muddled experience.  I had purchased the  collector’s edition of the expansion, which entitled me to three special Overseer agents.

The agents are available through the /claim interface, where EverQuest II keeps all the special goodies you have been awarded over the years… bonus expansion content and veteran rewards and the like… and fifteen years down the road with the game I have quite a bit of junk hanging out in that interface.

Account age as I started writing this

They used to give bonus age to your account for buying expansion, which meant they had to be a year ahead on veteran rewards, back when they were still doing those.  Veteran rewards died out at year twelve.

Anyway, I went to the /claim interface and went to the Blood of Luclin tab, because where else would I go, and saw my bonus agents.

Here they are…

They come in a box, which you unpack into three boxes, which you unpack in their turn.  Each of the three boxes lets you choose one agent.

Who to pick?

There isn’t a lot of guidance as to whom to pick.  Two of the packs contain agents with a single trait, while the third has agents with two traits.  The traits are things like “agile” or “noble” or “lucky,” but there isn’t any real guidance as to how those might work.  The agents have little descriptions as well, but those are meaningless as well.

So I picked one from each pack.  They end up in your inventory where you can right click on them to add them to your collection.  After that I went to the Overseer window from the main menu and… couldn’t figure out what to do.  I had three agents and no missions and nothing seemed to be going on.

As it turns out, in order to get started you need to pick up the starter pack which is in the Promotions tab of the /claim interface.

Start here

That gives you a starter agent and a starter mission.  When you add those to your collection then open up the Overseer interface, if gives you a quick tutorial mission, then sends you on your way.  At that point things worked.

I have, on a few occasions, compare this to the mission interface in the garrisons of the Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft.  This is very unfair… to WoW.

Love them or hate them, the missions and minions in Warlords of Draenor were a big deal, a very deep system, and fully integrated into the expansion.

You could have dozens of minions, but had pick a select set for your active group.  Minions had to be leveled up, and then geared up, which made them more effective on missions.  Minions could also be used in your various garrison buildings.  Some minions could even be drafted to come adventure with you out in the game.  Even getting them was a “gotta catch em all!” game.  Some you could recruit, others came from quests, and more still from dungeons and raids.

And the missions… there were many missions, and picking the right minions was critical to mission success.  Mission availability ebbed and flowed.  Some missions lasted from couple of hours to a couple of days.  And eventually you even unlocked naval missions.  It was crazy complex, such that somebody built a huge addon (Masterplan) just to help you keep track of what was going on without needing to keep a spreadsheet.

If you want a metaphor, garrison missions were to the Warlords of Draenor expansion as the plumbing is to your house.  You could still live in your house without it, but you really get used to having it and come to depend on it… which was one of the problems of that expansion.

Even the pared down version of missions and minions that came with Legion and Battle for Azeroth were still heavily connected with the game and the story.  They were integral to those expansions.

When we speak of the Overseer feature and EverQuest II, the metaphor is probably different.  It is more like somebody attached a tube and a funnel to the side of your outhouse.  It is a nice little addition and adds a bit of convince, but it is a cheap, nailed on feature, and if fell off you’d just go back to going into the outhouse to take a piss.  You might miss it, but it didn’t change the basic functionality of things.  It isn’t an integrated part of the outhouse system, such that it is.

Okay, the outhouse metaphor probably sounds worse than I intended, but the point remains; Overseer is its own system pretty much independent of the game.  As I saw suggested elsewhere, it could have been a mobile app and maintained the same functionality.

While the Overseer functionality has gone through some functional gyrations since launch, it has remained mostly the same basic premise.  You open up the interface and you see your agents and your missions.

Welcome to the Overseer

You have a list of your agents on the left, with icons to indicate their special traits.  Most agents do not have traits.  To the right, in the main part of the UI, is a list of missions at the top, with details of the highlighted mission below.  Missions have a “Mishap Chance,” which is a failure, or 5% or 10%, which means the success rate is 90-95%.  That can be mitigated by a percent or two by assigning your familiar to the mission.

There is also a bonus chance, which stands at 5% by default, but which can be improved by assigning agents that have traits that match the mission, and further by assigning your mercenary to go along on the mission.

A mission with the odds changed

Neither your mercenary nor your familiar actually “go” anywhere.  They are still with you, so there you might as well click on the plus sign above the chance options and add them to a mission every day.

Missions vary in duration, running from one to three hours so far as I have seen.  The only exception is a rescue mission.  If you hit the mishap roll, you then have an opportunity to go rescue your agent.  Those missions run six hours or so and offer some special rewards if you hit the bonus, so maybe you don’t want to put your familiar in the mix just to get some more mishaps.

Missions themselves reference places in the game, like the Fool’s Gold Tavern, which I rob daily, but otherwise have no depth to them.

You are limited to 10 missions a day.  A real world 24 day, not a game day.  That 10 mission limit is account wide, so you’ll probably end up concentrating on one character to run missions.  There won’t be any need to log in all of your alts daily, which was one of the Warlords of Draenor grinds.

The mission list, which was per character for a while, are now account wide.  For a long stretch missions would come and go and I rarely had more than six on my list.  With the account wide change, I now have more than 10 missions to choose from on any given day.

Agents, however, are per character.  So, once again, you will probably want to concentrate on a single character to run missions.  I found that I could trade my special collector’s edition characters through the shared bank boxes, so some of my alts handed over better quality agents to my main mission runner.

The rewards vary.  You can get crafting materials, both common and rare, advanced crafting recipe books (which are so common that the market for those books has crashed), gear, collectables, and additional agents and missions.  The gear you get is better than basic crafted, worse than master crafted, and not always better than gear you might pick up on quests.  None of it was better than gear I got on the signature quest line.  But since you can salvage or sell the gear on the market, or just vendor it, it won’t go to waste.

I think the collectables are my favorite reward, though I say that now that my bank is overflowing with advanced crafting recipe books.

Overall, not a bad little feature.  I log on to play with it a couple times a week.  My crafters now all have their advanced skill books in hand.  But, as I noted, not exactly connected to the game in any meaningful way that I have noticed.  More of a mini-game with some rewards.

So I was a bit surprised to see the Overseer described as a “passion project” in the EverQuest producer’s letter I mentioned last week.  It isn’t bad, but it isn’t something that would keep me subscribed to the game either.  It is a little too simple and a little too limited to be a big deal to me.

But apparently it is a big enough deal that it will be coming to EverQuest this month as part of the game’s 21st anniversary.  I will still be subscribed at that point, my current three month cycle being good into April, so I will no doubt give it a try there.  I might even find it more useful in old Norrath than new, but we shall see.

Bhagpuss has been posting about the Overseer feature for a while now, and his takes are more complete, so visit his posts for a better look at it.

Overseer Feature, Progression Servers, and Free Heroic Characters Coming for EverQuest Anniversary

EverQuest will be turning 21 in a couple of weeks and there is always something going on for anniversaries.

Classic EverQuest

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale penned a brief producer’s letter about what we can expect.

Progression Servers

Nostalgia is a staple of the EverQuest franchise at this point.  There certainly aren’t any new games on the horizon for Norrath.  And the nostalgia for the game is monetized via special severs.  While such servers were mentioned in the letter, they won’t be coming any time soon.  It seems that Darkpaw Games needs to clean up some of the past servers first, so merges are on the way.  Is it time for the decade old Fippy Darkpaw server to finally wrap up?  But once the get that squared away we can expect some new servers.

Overseer

The Overseer feature was introduced in EverQuest II with the Blood of Luclin expansion.  It is, in its simplified way, a version of the WoW garrison missions that were introduced with the Warlords of Draenor expansion and has been iterated on with every expansion since.

While Bhagpuss has been covering this new thing in Norrath, I am still trying to come up with how I feel about the feature.  A blog post about them has been under way for a while.  But apparently they are popular enough that Darpaw is going to bring them over to old Norrath.  Soon you will have minions to send out on missions in EverQuest.  The feature will be available to characters level 85 and up.

Free Level 85 Heroic Characters

Do you want to play with the Overseer feature but do not have a level 85 character?  Well, Darkpaw will fix that by giving you one for free!  All members will get one, though details are still to come.

Of course, this is the usual opening where I complain about the fact that the EverQuest heroic character boost remains stuck at level 85.  That was fine about a six years back when they introduced them, but the level cap got bumped up to 115 with the last expansion.  30 levels is a hell of a gap, especially since some expansions gave people five long levels.  Some day they are going to have to fix this, but I guess today is not that day.