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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.