The Departure of a False Prophet

Dragon’s Prophet left the Daybreak fold pretty much as it entered; almost completely unnoticed.  I totally missed its launch at SOE and was only reminded that it was even a thing when I noticed its logo mixed in with the other SOE titles.

SOE Live 2014 list

SOE Live 2014 list

So I was late on board with the game, tried it for a bit, and never went back.  I think that was more than what most people did.

Dragon’s Prophet seemed to be the Asian import replacement for Wizardry Online, which SOE shuttered, along with Vanguard, back during the summer of 2014.

Not that it felt like SOE needed a replacement Asian import MMO.

But Dragon’s Prophet was from the same people who did Runes of Magic, an early free-to-play title when it came to the west (perhaps most famous in some corners for the now-it-seems-cheap $10 horse)and one of the few Asian import MMOs that seemed to succeed in getting a decent following outside of its place of origin.

Unfortunately, that did not seem to be enough.  Being from “the same people as…” can be a dubious tie to fame in a market with few recognizable developer names.  Meanwhile Wizardry Online had a history that gave it some name recognition on its own.  It had its roots as one of the great early dungeon crawler RPGs.

Apple ][+ The Upgrades Begin

My Apple ][+ and Wizardry back in 1983…

Granted, the Wizardry franchised moved from those origins through a long and winding path to become a Japanese RPG, but it was still a name that a lot of people knew… even if the current incarnation seemed a bit odd.

Some find me... disturbing

What is it with the little people with big heads in these games?

So Wizardry Online at least had a chance based on name.  It attracted some attention.

Dragon’s Prophet enjoyed no such luxury.  It never even made it onto the SOE All Access plan, a sign for me that its days were numbered.

All the games we say, not actually ALL the games...

All Access: All the games we say, not actually ALL the games…

I predicted back in January that it would be gone by the end of the year, and felt that was pretty much a gimme.

Now it is gone, at least in North America, where SOE/Daybreak was the publisher, removed completely from their web site.

It apparently lives on in Asia, from whence it came, and in Europe, where a company called Infernum Productions is the publisher.  Given their portfolio, Dragon’s Prophet probably means much more to them than it did to Daybreak.

Now, will somebody else pick up the game for North America, or it is just done here?

Will Daybreak try its hand with another Asian import, or was that sort a thing only an affordable luxury when they were snug in the embrace of Sony? Now that they have Columbus Nova Prime looking at the bottom line, it seems likely that Daybreak can’t screw around with science experiments and things that “seem” like a good idea the way they could when then were SOE.

And so it goes.


Did you play Dragon’s Prophet?  Will you miss it?

EverQuest – The Broken Mirror Lands in Norrath

I thought The Broken Mirror expansion was going to go live today… I seem to recall reading the 19th as the date over at Massively OP at some point… but when I went to go check for this post I found that the the EverQuest Twitter feed had already announced the expansion as live.  Memory is a faulty receptacle at best, and my own is more flawed than most.

So here we have expansion number 22 for EverQuest.

Mirror cracked... also boobs

The mirror cracked… also, is that Firiona Vie in a bikini?

I won’t reprise my full commentary about Daybreak announcing that expansions were out and that adventure packs were in, only to change their mind for what I consider a clear and pressing reason.  You can read Tuesday’s post for that.  I’ll just repeat my suspicion that it is all about the money.

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

The Broken Mirror pricing? Try the broken gaming budget!

Money is important, without it the game goes away, so Daybreak can hardly be faulted for going back to the expansion plan with its $140 option.

Instead I want to go with how SOE/Daybreak, despite their many mistakes… common enough for me to create a “Because SOE” tag for the blog… and the many dev hours they have squandered over the years on dubious projects that never went anywhere… SOEmote and the SOE Launcher spring to mind, while Legends of Norrath remains in some horrible limbo, neither fully exploited nor completely neglected, just lingering in some middle state… has gained, somewhere along the way, the institutional/organizational knowledge of how important expansions are to keeping their player base engaged with their games… at least their EverQuest games.

EverQuest II, which launched less than a month before World of Warcraft, just had its 12th expansion go live.  Not bad for a game that just turned 11.  Meanwhile, as noted above, EverQuest has had twice that many expansions in its 16 years, 14 of which have been launched during the reign of Azeroth over the MMO universe.

World of Warcraft… five expansions in 11 years, with a sixth set to hit just before the game turns 12.

Now, there are more than a few low cards in that 22 expansion hand that EverQuest is holding.  Some expansions arrived broken or had content of dubious quality… especially so during the rush-rush times when SOE felt the world would end if they didn’t have two expansions out every calendar year… but SOE clearly felt a sense of urgency in getting out content.

An urgency you never really get from Blizzard.

An expansion a year though, that seems to have worked out as a decent pace for EverQuest.  I think there can be too many content drops.  I think EVE Online is feeling a bit of a pinch with its every six weeks or so expansion pace, in part because now expansions are not special, so there isn’t the big spike of returning players anymore.

No, once a year seems good for Norrath.  It gives the game new content on a regular basis and has allowed enough time for some major features to be added, things like player housing.  Okay, nobody wants that in WoW, but still…

And you can certainly argue against what I am saying by pointing at the success of WoW.  The population of Azeroth is down… way down… down below half of one time peak of 12 million subscribers, with only 5.5 million hanging around now, and that is still an order of magnitude larger than EverQuest’s subscription peak of approximately 550,000 players back in 2004.  Who brings in a billion dollars a year baby?  Not Norrath!

The flip side of that of course is that Daybreak, with a small fraction of the revenue and player base somehow manages to get out an expansion a year.  You would think that Blizzard would have the resources to move a little quicker.

Anyway, there are many complexities in that comparison, not the least of which is the culture of the organization that makes the games.  But WoW is still the cash cow for Blizzard… to the point that I wonder if their move to stop reporting subscriber numbers was as much to blend WoW revenue in with their other games (like they did when they announced the combined revenues of Destiny, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm) as to stop people declaring the game is dead because it isn’t the biggest subscription MMORPG by a large enough margin… so I still wonder at their sometimes glacial speed.

Thoughts for the day as EverQuest launches expansion 22, The Broken Mirror.


Home from Wicked Creek

We deployed down to Curse, holing up in a station in H-ADOC, the Monday before EVE Vegas.  Karma Fleet and LAWN joined us as we headed down south.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our main mission was to hit TEST sovereignty down in and around Wicked Creek so they would come out and fight.

Wicked Creek area of New Eden

Wicked Creek area of New Eden

And for the limited goal of getting fights, the operation was a success.  The fights, when they happened, were good and not heavily out of balance due to numbers.  I managed to miss most of the “good fights,” even when I was there in the fleet, but fun times were had.  Even under Fozzie Sov, in the Balkans of the south east of New Eden null sec, attacking somebody’s infrastructure will force people to come out and fight at a specific time and place.

We also got to fly a few doctrines.  We had our usual Tengus, and Ishtars returned to the fold during the deployment.  And with Karmafleet along, there were also Cormorants and Ferox fleets to join.

Sitting with Feroxes at the sun

Sitting with Feroxes at the sun

And if the enemy doesn’t come out to fight, then it costs them.  We managed to drop TEST sovereignty in LKZ-CY when they couldn’t get numbers together to come and fight us.  The did show up, but ended up declining to engage and for a bit the system was unowned.

There went your TCU...

There went your TCU…

I actually got to successfully Entosis a node during that op, flying a Cormorant.  I was also one of the few kills for TEST on that op as I had moved to do a node in LKZ-CY and then they showed up.  They didn’t go after the main fleet, but the dropped in to kill me.

Cormorant on a command node

Cormorant on a command node destined never to be finished

On the flip side, I was also involved in at least one Fozzie Sov endless tug of war horror show.  A couple hours after dropping LKZ-CY, another opportunity came up to hit S-E6ES, which is right next to our staging.  However, we only got about 20 people in the fleet, so the hope was that TEST wouldn’t show up and we could ninja the whole thing.  But TEST did show up after a bit with about 40 people.  That was too many for us to hit directly, and they did not seem inclined to come and get us to force a show down, so we each went off to one side of the constellation or the other and hit nodes.

We had gotten there first and eventually go the balance to tilt 90% in our direction.  But they have more links running, and so the number see-sawed between 80% and 95%, slowly working its way in their favor.  It eventually became clear that, unless we got more numbers… and it was past EUTSZ prime time on a Sunday night… the event was eventually going to go to TEST, the question was just how long were we willing to drag this out.  Sitting around running Entosis Links not being as fun as promised, we opted to stand down and end the madness.

There was a final event, a last battle, on Monday night my time where we ran out what forces we could round up in an Ishtar fleet to try and contest a timer in 1L-OEK.  In anticipation Slyce, which owned the system, put up drag bubbles on every gate between H-ADOC and their system, making us take a detour around to another route.

We ended up squaring off on the 1L-OEK gate in Q-GQHN (which gets pronounced Qui-Gon, as in Qui-Gon Jinn) where the numbers were only slightly against us.  We got there first and repaid the route blockage by having everybody with a deployable bubble drop it around the gate, leaving a small mess for the locals to clean up later.


Bubbles on the 1L-OEK gate

When the locals arrived, the fight was very tight, though we were losing a ship now and again as logi tried to keep everybody up and going.  Our work did not go unnoticed, even by our foes.

Pandi Borgia of TEST

Pandi Borgia of TEST

And then Pandemic Legion dropped in on the fight, landing pretty much in our midst.  At that point the requests for shield reps suddenly spiked and the logi pilots got very busy… to the point that I did not notice I had been yellow-boxed again and was soon wandering around in my pod, my Basilisk a wreck in my wake.

At least then I had a moment to survey the battle.  I set my pod to approach a Nestor in the PL fleet, just to get a closer look.

The shiny Nestor in the bunch

The shiny Nestor in the bunch

My sight seeing tour was short lived, as somebody eventually decided to pod me.  That was probably a favor as I didn’t have to try to fly home through bubble-ville, I was sent there directly and without cost.

The battle report shows the slaughter, with us losing 61 of 104 ships, including all but one of the Basilisks.  There are comments on the battle in one thread over at Reddit. (And a comment from Asher about bubbles, the fight, and our deployment goals.)

After that we were done in the south.  Tuesday evening USTZ the first fleet for home formed up.  I only had a Ferox to bring home, having left three Basilisk, three Crucifier, and two Cormorant wrecks behind in Wicked Creek.

We happened to get a fortuitous direct wormhole and the return op should have been very quick, but then CCP was having a problem with one of its ISP connections in London.  This meant that at a couple of points nearly a third of the fleet would drop from the game as we transitioned through a gate, and then would struggle to get back on.  So we spent more time waiting than we did moving.

Sitting on another gate waiting for people to reconnect

Sitting on another gate waiting for people to reconnect

There were moans at the start of the fleet because an Abaddon was along for the ride and was going to slow down our warps.  In the end though, that was less of an issue than the game itself.  Eventually things seemed to clear up and we got everybody to the wormhole.

Approaching the wormhole

Approaching the wormhole

On the far side of the wormhole we were just a half a dozen gates from the current coalition staging station at 3V8-LJ in Pure Blind.  We were soon landing on the station, docking up, and calling it a night.

Landing at 3V8-LJ

Landing at 3V8-LJ

And so ends another Reavers deployment.  Fun and fights were had deep in hostile territory.

I am going to steal one thing from Asher’s Reddit thread on that final fight.  At some point during the deployment we began spamming local now and again with the word “RATKINGBOIS” linked to the character profile of RatKnight1.  This seemed to start while I was off in Vegas, but I joined in when I got back and spammed local with the team and renamed my ship.  Later the word of the day got changed to “FISHKINGBOIS.”

Asher offered up an end of deployment tale on Reddit of where this all came from.

Oh I promised to explain RATKINGBOIS at the end of the deployment to some of the Test guys who were asking – but be forewarned, like I said before, it’s a shitty story: We were going to Test renter space to ref it and it’s kinda far away so it’s a long boring trip, I was looking through my fleet and I saw the name “RatKnight1” which I decided might be the worst name I’ve ever seen, so I asked him if RatKnight without a number was already taken because it’s such a desirable name. Well Mr. RatKnight1 then very earnestly describes how he is the original RatKnight but he lost access to him so he’s got the number now and we all had a good chuckle because he never seemed to grok that we were busting his balls over his terrible name. So the next day someone called us “RATKINGBOIS” because I guess they forgot the actual rank of the rat, he’s only a knight, not a king. And we were earnestly corrected by said Knight about his rank. So it just stuck after that. RatKnight1 seemed to enjoy the notoriety and being the mascot. And then it became FISHKINGBOIS because we were staging in H-ADOC – which sounds like haddock – which is a fish. So, you know, now you can put this on urban dictionary and your mom can look up why your in-joke is soooooo hilarious.

I had gotten the haddock part of the joke, largely because Sadus trolled it regularly on coms.

So deployment complete.  Now there is a rumor of war and an announcement coming tomorrow to indicate where it will be.

EverQuest II Terrors of Thalumbra Goes Live Today

Today is the day and the unexpected 12th expansion for EverQuest II, the Terrors of Thalumbra, is set to launch.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Smed-thulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Smed-thulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!

I write “unexpected” because back in April Daybreak was telling us that they were done with the whole expansions thing.  It was going to be adventure packs or DLC or whatever you wish to call content additions that aren’t big enough to be expansions but which you still have to pay for.

Then, about a month and a half back, after some coy hints by Daybreak, they finally announced that they were back on the “expansion a year” plan for both EverQuest and EverQuest II.  I strongly expect that pricing had something do to with it.  Can you charge $90 or $140 for an adventure pack?

Premium packages available for premium prices

Premium packages available for premium prices

As noted, EverQuest got its own expansion with similar pricing, due out later this week.

According to the Daybreak copy, this is what you get with the expansion:

Terrors of Thalumbra
Deep underneath Norrath lies a realm on the edge of the Plane of the Underfoot, known as Thalumbra. This expansive, subterranean domain is home to fabled races and ancient terrors!

When the dark shroud upon this land is pierced by Lanys T’Vyl, the recently resurrected demigoddess of Malice, it spells doom for all! You are a hero on the stage of Norrath. Will you play your part and protect Norrath from those who seek to destroy it? What mysteries will your torch uncover deep beneath the surface? Can you withstand the terrors of Thalumbra?


  • Subterranean Overland Zone – Overland zone deep beneath Norrath’s surface.
  • Signature Quests – Special quests for both Adventure and Tradeskill players!
  • New Level Agnostic Dungeons – Brand new dungeons that scale for players 20-95
  • Upgrade Your Items – Through the new Infusion system!
  • New and Updated Deity System
  • New Relic Item System
  • Heroic & Advanced Solo Dungeons, Challenging Raid Zones and a New Contested Zone for level 100s!

Level 100 adventurers are to speak with Virun D’Xyafin in Neriak or Dangle Springbolt in Greater Faydark to begin their adventures.

Right now the servers should still be down for the deployment, along with other updates, details of which you can find over at EQ2 Wire.  Noon is the time slated for the expansion to go live, so it should be good to go by 4pm Pacific Time, given past history!

The Next New Pokemon Games are Old Pokemon Games

My daughter and I were talking about Pokemon about two weeks back and I was wondering when we might hear about the next Pokemon game.  Nintendo and Game Freak had been on about an “every 18 months” schedule, where they would release a title, announce the next title a year after that, and release it six months later.

And when I say a Pokemon game, I mean a game from the core RPG line of games on their handheld platform, the games started it all way back when and not one of the many subsidiary titles.  The last pair in that long line of games to come out was Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, just about a year back.

So I figured we were about due to at least hear about the next entry in the line.  And it just so happened that Nintendo had their Nintendo Direct event last week where they announced a pile of new games.  I watched on Twitter as they announced one thing after another… and then the event was over… and no NEW Pokemon game in the core RPG mold was announced.

But back in the list of things was an OLD Pokemon game… actually three… that had been mentioned.  Here in the West we will be getting the original, first three Pokemon titles to come out way, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow.  The full announcement is here.

Old games come to the Virtual Console

Old games come to the Virtual Console

The titles will be arriving in the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console section of the Nintendo store right on the 20th anniversary of the original launch of Pokemon Red in Japan.  And we won’t even have to wait two and a half years to get versions for other markets.

The games that started it all 20 years ago

The games that started it all 20 years ago

And that is pretty cool, bringing back a 20 year old game for players today.

I’m just not all that excited about it.

Yeah, I an pro retro gaming and going back to examine our roots.   And I thought Twitch Plays Pokemon was pretty amusing.  But the GameBoy era wasn’t my time.

So the old monochrome graphics really don’t do much for me.  I started on the Nintendo DS hardware with Pokemon Diamond & Pearl nearly a decade after the originals.

Still, I will take this as a sign of things to come.

I noted previously that the Nintendo DS series of Pokemon games, Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver, Black, White, Black Version 2, and White Version 2, had all been pulled from store shelves because the Nintendo WiFi network support for them had been brought down, so Nintendo could no longer live up to what was being promised on the side of the box.

Go ahead, try to find some of those games for sale.  Some people are charging a premium for the more popular titles on that list.

Top Prices at Amazon

Top Prices at Amazon… better buy used…

I was able to get White Version 2 for a discount a year ago, but Black Version 2 was going for well over list already.

So my hope is that we might get some re-worked versions of the DS titles for the Virtual Console some day… though I wouldn’t throw over a new title for those quite yet.  I have grown used to the updated graphics on the 3DS.

Quote of the Day – The Power of Fallout 4

Starting at 5am traffic began to drop, down as much as 10% from 7am till noon. In the afternoon traffic returned to normal, but after 6pm it dropped again when we assume that 9-5 workers arrived home and fired up their games.

Pornhub post, Fallout 4 Causes Fall in Traffic

That’s right, the Fallout 4 launch was so big that the internet’s biggest porn site felt it.

By the way, that link itself is safe for work, but it goes to the freaking Pornhub domain, so what do you imagine your wife/boss/IT department will think you’re doing?

Even he doesn't think you're there for the articles...

Even he doesn’t think you’re there for the articles…

Remember, this is the internet where, at one point, a research team needed a group of young adult males who had never “consumed” any porn for control group for a study … and came up dry.  They couldn’t find anybody who met that criteria.

Lest you think that Fallout 4 changed the internet for good however, there is also this quote from the same post.

After midnight it seems like everyone finally took a break, and traffic jumped as high at 15% above daily norms.

A little something to take the edge off and help you get to sleep after a long evening of gaming?

EverQuest II – US Server Merges Complete, Kingdom of Sky Rejected, and Other Tidbits

The server merge… or server consolidation… or whatever they ended up calling it… plans for EverQuest II, officially announced back in August, are now complete.  Nine of the low population servers have been consolidated into three.

As somebody who had characters spread across four servers, Crushbone, Guk, Freeport, and Stormhold, I can now say that… I still have characters spread over four servers.  They are now named Maj’dul, Halls of Fate, Skyfire, and Stormhold.

So no help for me on that front.

The old servers were grouped and merged as follows:

  • Butcherblock, Crushbone, and Oasis servers into Maj’Dul
  • Everfrost, Guk, and Unrest servers into Halls of Fate
  • Freeport, Nagafen, and Permafrost servers into Skyfire

The ever-popular Antonia Bayle server was left to its own devices, while the even more popular Time Locked Expansion Servers, Stormhold and Deathtoll, roll on as before.

Servers outside of the United States have not been touched as yet.  If you want an EverQuest II PvP server, your options now are Deathtoll and that Russian server… Harla Dar?

There is an official FAQ about the merges as well as a helpful why aren’t things working FAQ reproduced over at EQ2 Wire.

I suppose I can bask in the warm glow of each of the characters on those three servers having nine more titles to choose from.  It appears that I got three variations of titles for each of the three servers,  So my character Reynaldo from the Guk server can be “Of,” “Descendant of,” or “Native of” Guk… or Everfrost… or Unrest.  Not sure why he got all three, but there it is.  I think I’ll stick with the old school “of E’Ci” title to show my old Norrathian cred.

Also, Reynaldo has years old guild mail from Revelry & Honor in his mailbox.  Lots of it.  I should probably go delete that at some point.

Meanwhile, on both the Stormhold and Deathtoll nostalgia servers, the Kingdom of Sky unlock vote went down to defeat.  From the forums:

Hail Norrathians,

This is a quick update to let you know that the vote to unlock Kingdom of Sky did NOT pass on either Stormhold (PvE) or Deathtoll (PvP) in November 2015.

Don’t worry if you’re one of the players that was excited about Kingdom of Sky content, because the vote will become available again in 30-days.

So no floating islands in the sky this month.

All this... is for later...

All this… is for later…

I still think a vote every 30 days is too quick, but Daybreak seems keen not to let the EQII retro servers turn into a stale death march of boredom, as tends to happen on the EverQuest time locked servers after the first few expansion.

I was going to proudly report how I voted no on the unlock… and then I went and looked at my screen shot and… well… I guess I voted yes.

Official ballot

Official ballot

I am not sure why I did that.  It seems unlike me.  But hey, glad to see that I went down to defeat.  Go me!

EverQuest II also turned 11 years old this week.  Or maybe it was last week.  I see different dates in various places.  It was either the 4th or the 9th by most accounts, or maybe the 6th, but SOE celebrated it last year on the 10th.  I suppose that just symbolized what a long strange road and all of that.  To celebrate that, Daybreak has their 12 year veteran award all set.

On per account

On per account

I am so out of touch with the game that I have no idea what those tokens are for.

They had to roll out the 12 year reward because purchasing the first four expansions gave people a 90 day… um… boost… to their veteran status.  Don’t ask me why this seemed like a good idea or a needed incentive back then.

As it so happens today, Friday, November 13th, is my own 11 year anniversary with the game, having rolled in just after launch when the second round of servers were opened up to take overflow from the initial servers.  I wrote about all of that last year, so I won’t dredge it all up yet again.  You can read that tale here.

And, in what might be considered an ironic twist, my Daybreak All Access subscription expired yesterday.  I cancelled it at the start of the month because I hadn’t been playing on Stormhold as much as I thought I would.  I haven’t been playing any fantasy MMORPGs recently.  It is just odd that it should expire when it did.  What were the odds?  (1 in 30… so not that long of a shot actually.)

Finally, we stand on the edge of the first post-SOE expansion for EverQuest II, Tales of Thumbelina… ern… Trials of Terre Haute… no… wait… I’ve got this…  Terrors of Thalumbra!

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Smed-thulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Smed-thulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!

Set to come out next Tuesday, November 17th, Daybreak has decreed that there shall be double XP from whenever they said until the expansion launches… at which time you may resume grinding at the usual rate.  Time locked expansion servers are exempt from this because you wanted an authentic experience, right?  Nobody made you roll a character there!

And that is what seems to be going on in post-Cataclym Norrath this week.