Tag Archives: Echoes of Faydwer

Echoes of Faydwer comes to the Stormhold Server

I meant to mention this last week, but the war in EVE Online has gotten in the way with posts about the game taking up 10 of the last 14 posts.  My efforts to note events as they happened there led to me missing things elsewhere, such as the unlock of the Echoes of Faydwer expansion on Stormhold, the nostalgia focused EverQuest II time locked expansion server.

That is Daybreak's graphic for the idea

We are down to just one server now however

Why am I so keen to bring this up?  While I have been noodling around on the Stormhold server some over the last month or so, as a game it has been a distant third behind EVE Online and Minecraft. (I have about five Minecraft posts I want to do. Aaron won’t stop building cool new stuff.)

Part of it is that, with Echoes of Faydwer, we are now straying into the realm of things that occurred during the life of the blog.  EoF came out on November 14, 2006 and I can look back and find posts about that, including one announcing the day another about me trying to find a copy of it (back when CompUSA was still a thing), and then one about the patch process.

Nostalgia within written memory, something I do not have for the launch of EverQuest back in 1999 or even the launch of EverQuest II in 2004.  So I am happy in that regard for a start. (Though I was still figuring out how to deal with images on the blog and was hosting them on ImageShack for a bit. Those images are all gone now, since they don’t host for free any more. But I probably have them squirreled away in a directory somewhere.  Also, in a sign of who SOE used to report to, the install for the expansion put a Sony Pictures trailer on your desktop.)

Beyond that however, in the EverQuest II community the Echoes of Faydwer expansion represented a considerable change in how SOE viewed the game.

Echoes of Faydwer

Echoes of Faydwer

It is no secret that EverQuest II got off to a rocky start for many and varied reasons.  SOE seemed to have come away from the king-before-WoW that was EverQuest with a series of notions, some rather odd, as to what they had to do to make its successor better, a few of which I summed up in the back half of another post from a while back.

But of those notions, the most Bizarro world seemed to be the idea that they should avoid the EverQuest lore as much as possible.  We were still on the world of Norrath.  The cities of Qeynos and Freeport still existed.  Orcs and gnolls abounded.  Broken wizard spires lay in a few key spots.  And we had the heritage quests.  But all of that was treated as more trivia or coincidence than important parts of the world.  After the shattering everything was different.  And the first two expansions, Desert of Flames and Kingdom of Sky, sought to blaze new lore trails away from even the bits and pieces of EverQuest we could find.

Yes, there were many other problems, like simply being able to walk through Qeynos harbor without lagging to death.  But the neglect and abandonment of the lore worked against EverQuest II.  Not only was never as popular as its predecessor at its peak, there was speculation that, with people abandoning the game after launch, it wasn’t just behind WoW in subscription numbers, but EverQuest as well.  You couldn’t find a lot of EverQuest in EverQuest II.

The Echoes of Faydwer expansion came along to change all of that.  The expansion would return to the continent of Faydwer.  The zones would have the same names we knew of old.  Locations like the chessboard would be featured.  Even the geography would feel similar, with the valleys and winding paths.

Greater Faydark scout map

Greater Faydark scout map from in-game

And there would be a new home town, Kelethin that, like the town of old, would be in the trees.  And it wouldn’t be chopped up into half a dozen instance, but actually exist in an active zone, the way that old Kelethin did back in EverQuest.  Old names would resurface, like Crushbone Keep, re-imagined but still with the same character.  Other places, like the old starting towns of Kaladim and Ak-Anon would be there, but taken over by creatures and turned into places of dread.

And you would have to take a boat to get there, eschewing the travel bells and other teleportation schemes that EverQuest II had embraced for its first two years.

Carpet on the Ship

On the boat… with one of those goddam Desert of Flames flying carpets

At the time it was seen as something of a rebirth for the game.  The expansion also gave players a new route from character creation to level cap.  We also got cloaks, the return of deities, adornments, and… the Fae.

Well, Fae glide was pretty cool, right?

The expansion also represented a change to an every November expansion pace, something SOE and Daybreak have managed to keep to, and the inclusion of past expansions as a roll-up included with the purchase of Echoes of Faydwer.  This is how I ended up with Kingdom of Sky, having never purchased it stand alone.

So kind of a big deal, in an SOE-centric way, given the changes the expansion ushered it.  A lot of people came back to see this new vision of places from the original EverQuest.  Granted, the place feels pretty dated today.  Butcherblock is still very good, and I don’t mind the Steamfont Mountains, but any charm Greater and Lesser Faydark had for me back then has worn off completely.

Thus I felt I had to mark the transition, the time when the nostalgia focused Stormhold server hit the point when the game itself first decided to grasp the nostalgia theme for itself.

Of course, some forms of nostalgia work better than others.  We also saw the merger of the Deathtoll TLE server into Stormhold, ending the PvP version of the nostalgia fair.  That, and the merger of the Russian Harla Dar PvP server into the the EU Splitpaw server spells the end of open world PvP in EverQuest II.

As for the Stormhold server, in light of this nostalgia bloom I am building up here, I will see if I can’t find some time to go explore there this weekend.  My Stormhold character is in the zone for Butcherblock, so he can get on the boat and set sail.

Faydwer Map in Kelethin

Here is a cool little detail that I noticed in the scout’s faction house in Kelethin the other night while picking up a writ.

Upstairs, on the wall, there is a map of Faydwer.  I imagine I can see it because I have been running around with my video set to “Very High Quality.”

gfayscoutmap.png

It isn’t very detailed, but you can see how the land is laid out.

Transformers of Faydwer

I noticed on my laptop there was a shortcut on the desktop to a .wmv file called “Transformers – The Movie DVD Trailer” located at the following path:

“C:\Program Files\Sony\Extras\Transformers_OnDVDToday.wmv”

I went to my desktop machine at home and found the very same shortcut.

I can only assume, because I wasn’t watching closely, that Sony slipped this on my machine during the Echoes of Faydwer installation.

There is a Decepticon joke to be made here I am sure, but I am not quite nerd enough to come up with it.

Falling Off The Faydwer Wagon

I had a plan for my fae.  Really, I did.

I was going to stick to the Echoes of Faydwer content.  I was going to spend my time enjoying the new zones.  It was going to be like playing a new game.

But then I ran over to Antonica to get my harvesting skills up.

Just for an hour or two.  No big deal.

Then I had to run over there to light a beacon for the “Ro’s Flame” deity quest.  Just passing through, nothing to see here.  I am just lighting that last beacon then I am going to recall.

Then I had to run back again, to the Oracle tower, for the last leg of “Ro’s Flame.”  While I was waiting around for the cool down on my recall, I thought I would start on “These Boot Were Made For….”  It is a heritage quest and our guild is 28 and would like to get to 30, so why not.

While I was at it, I picked up the Gnoll Mastery book.  There are lots of gnolls I could knock off in Antonica.  And bears.  There are a couple of “kill bear” quests I recall.  Then I thought about the armor quests that start in Qeynos Harbor.  I could do the first one quickly, so why not.  I would get a better set of gloves.  And once I did that, a better set of bracers.

On and on this went, until I had about 25 Antonica related quests in my journal.  So once I finished up “Ro’s Flame” I had to decide what to do next.  I could keep working in Faydwer, or I could just wrap up these Antonica quests to, you know, clean up my journal.

Well, most of my Faydwer quests were yellow to me at the moment, so I decided I could use another level to get lined up to finish them.

Then they went and made green quests eligible for AA experience.

Soon I realized I had done the last three levels in or about Antonica, and rather quickly.  I know my way around.  I know where the NPCs are.  I know which quests I can combine to get a couple done at a time. It is nice to be running around Antonica again.  And, finally, since I have been playing EQ2 solo a lot again, I’m not really dragging anybody out of Faydwer with me.

At least those Faydwer quests will still be worth AA experience if they turn green.

Carpet Bombing Faydwer

While I am having a good time running around playing a fae, one thing is getting on my nerves.

There are too damn many flying carpets.

When I stopped playing back in January, flying carpets were still reasonably rare.  Seeing somebody fly past on one was neat.  Plus they fit into the whole Desert of Flames theme.

But now it seems like every nut from Nettleville has gotten his hands on a flying carpet, and they are all headed to Faydwer.

Look back at this picture I posted about the voyage to Faydwer.  There are three flying carpets on board for the trip.  You can see two in the middle of the deck and, while you cannot see the third carpet, you can see the toon in the “flying carpet crouch” clearly enough.

Carpet on the Ship

I hate to play the immersion card in every rant, but they look really out of place in Faydwer, and the place is crawling with them.  I see them all the time, and I have only really played in Greater Faydark.  I am just waiting to see somebody try and fly one off a platform in Kelethin.

Sony, why have you unleashed these threadbare eyesores upon us?

Travel in Norrath – Voyage to Faydwer

In EverQuest II there have been a number of different variations and restrictions on travel throughout the realms.  There have been enough changes as to make you wonder if things might not have gone better if they had kept most of Norrath a single continent.

In the beginning there were bells.  There were bells in the city to allow you somewhat easier travel between all of the many zones that make up Freeport and Qeynos, including the tier 1 adventuring zones.  Then there were bells on the docks in the Thundering Steppes and Nektulos Forest that would allow you to move between the two or reach zones like Feerrot or Zek (from the Thundering Steppes dock) and the Enchanted Lands (from the Nektulos Forest dock).

However, those zones with bells in Thundering Steppes or  Nektulos Forest,  like the Enchanted Lands, were restricted.  You had to reach a certain level (30 in the case of EL) or complete a rather challenging quest for early access.  Fortunately for me, the busy alchemist, either your trade skill level or your adventuring level were all you needed, so I had access to these zones before I could adventure in them. (Which did not stop me from doing the Zek access quest.  I did not know that trade skill level worked at the time.)

There were still other bells in some of these zones to get you further along into additional zones.  For example, on the far side of the Enchanted Lands there was a bell to Lavastorm that was guarded by a group of mobs.  If you couldn’t survive at least running past them, you could not go to Lavastorm.

Then, once you opened up these zones via quest or level, you could buy a very expensive (at the time) ticket in Qeynos or Freeport to get there, thus avoiding the long run from town to either Thundering Steppes or Nektulos Forest.

Well, the tickets travel were expensive (at least back in those days, when spending a gold for travel seemed like a huge waste), so SOE came up with another plan.  There was a smuggler ship that would sail you to these zones at a discount price.  The catch was that, rather than instant travel, you were transported onto a ship and had to fight mobs that spawned on the ship while it sailed.  Then, after a fixed amount of time had passed and minimum number of mobs had died, you were teleported again to your destination.

I suppose this seemed like a good idea to somebody, but it did not last very long.  There were just too many silly things about it.  You teleported to a ship.  You fought mobs that just appeared out of nowhere on the ship.  You teleported off the ship.  You did not buy a ticket.  Instead, you bought an object that represented where you wanted to go, but which was labelled and identified as though it was a ticket.  And, finally, the price of passage wasn’t a huge discount over the going rate at the main bell in the harbor.

Eventually we hit what I will call the rationalization of the bell system, which remains in place today.  From Qeynos or Freeport you can buy a ticket to either Nektulos Forest or Thundering Steppes.  From those two dock areas you can access bells to all of the other major locations.

When Desert of Flames came out, flying carpets were added to the dock areas of Qeynos and Freeport that would wisk you away to the new lands.  When Kingdom of the Sky came out… I have no idea what happened initially, but I am told there are spires that run on a timer ala EQ that get you there.  And the Fallen Dynasty adventure pack (which actually looks pretty neat) added another bell to the dock in Nektulos Forest.

Which brings up to Echoes of Faydwer.  Boats are back.  See the boat?

If you have played World of Warcraft, this boat routine might seem familiar to you.

If you did the old tutorial for EverQuest II… or did the Zek access quest… or sailed on the ill fated, previously mentioned “fight club” discount passage smuggler ships… or a couple of other things I have probably missed… the boat itself will look familiar.  Does this bring back any memories?

To get to Faydwer you have to run out to the end of the dock in either Nektulos Forest or Thundering Steppes and wait for the boat to arrive.  Here is the boat pulling up at the end of the dock in Thundering Steppes:

One nice thing about the boats is that when the boat is docked, the dock master will tell you exactly how long until the boat departs.  You also get a message in your chat window that lets you know how long until departure when you jump aboard the boat.

In Nektulos Forest and Thundering Steppes the boat does not spend very much time in zone.  The boat appears out of nowhere pretty close to the dock and zones out pretty soon after departure.  This isn’t a scenic voyage, at least at this end of the trip.  I would estimate that the boat spends around two minutes total in either of the two zones, with a little more than a minute of that time spent docked.

Then you zone.  I wish I could say something nice about zoning in EverQuest II, but I cannot think of anything.

On arrival at Butcherblock you do get a more scenic entry.  You sail through a channel, the shore on one side and a series of small islands that are clustered in the middle of what would otherwise be a bay on the other side of the ship.  It is pretty and Butcherblock itself is impressive.  Here is the dock:

I would guess that the boat spends no more than five minutes in zone at this end of the voyage.  Add that in with the time to zone and the boats make a full circuit in under ten minutes.

When you dock in Butcherblock in one boat, you will likely see the other boat pull up or depart while you are there.  I am not sure why SOE decided there had to be two boats.  Thundering Steppes and Nektulos Forest are equally accessible to both factions and only a bell apart.  The two boats are, of course, identicle.  Here is the second boat in Butcherblock as seen from the first:

I will give SOE some points for attempting to make travel, if not more immersive, at least less immersion breaking.  I always felt the bell system was something of a travel cop-out.  This keeps you a little more “in” the game without going to the boat system that used to be in EverQuest.  Still, it seems like a half measure.  There should be a better way to travel that does not break immersion in the game and gives on a sense of travelling in a big world without making it a huge chore.  Maybe Vanguard will show us something new.

And maybe SOE will get a new boat some day.

Patches of Faydwer

I was actually pretty upbeat about getting into Echoes of Faydwer last night because one of my pals, a high school teacher a couple of times zones east of me, was telling me over IM how quickly the install and update went for him.  Of course, he had digital download, which may figure into this.  The digital download version was more up to date it would seem, so he patched quickly and was into the game.

Echoes of Faydwer

Echoes of Faydwer

When I got home I broke out the install DVDs right away and ran them.  That went quickly and smoothly.  The installer recognized that I already had EverQuest II and the Desert of Flames expansion installed and only installed Kingdom of the Sky and Echoes of Faudwer.  One DVD swap, a short run, and I was set. (I was amused to see in the installer a screen shot from the original EQ2 installer featuring a big battle with gnolls (old model) in Qeynos Harbor.)

I ran the application.  It came up, I logged in, the file system check ran, and the patcher started.  Estimated duration at 7:30pm was 26 minutes.  Great!  Just enough time to have some dinner and then I can take a look at Faydwer.

At 8pm the estimate was 10 minutes.  Not bad.

At 8:30pm the estimate had dropped to 8 minutes.  Odd.

After that, the estimate started growing.  Only a few seconds every so often, but it was growing.

At 10:30pm when I decided to call it a night, the estimate was up to 10 minutes, but the total process bar was less than 1/3 of the way full.  There was a long way to go.

At about 2:30am I woke up and checked the computer.  The patcher had quit.  I restarted it and went back to bed.

This morning the patch process appeared to be complete.  I ran it again, rightly suspecting that since I last started it, there would be more updates, and there were.

Still, I could not get into the game, so I went to the forums.  Ah the forums.  I did not linger there very long, just long enough to see that I was not alone in my issues.

IM reports from my friends in-game say that issues continue to dog the release, so perhaps I will go explore The Serpent’s Spine a bit more this evening, or do some of my WoW instance homework.  My screen shots will wait for another day.

I might try to sneak in and make my Fae character though.  I will have to see how things look.  Crushbone is locked at the moment, so that may have to wait as well.

I will just take the high view that it will all settle down soon enough.

The Hunt for Faydwer

As promised, I ran to Fry’s today at lunch.  I drove up, parked, walked in, went straight to the PC software aisle, and went straight to the spot where I expected EoF to land on the shelf.  Not there.  They had boxes of EverQuest II, boxes of Desert of Flames, boxes of Kingdom of the Sky, but no Faydwer anywhere.  I went up and down the shelf.  I looked at the end caps.  I looked at today’s ad on the wall.

No luck.

Then I did what I never do at Fry’s, I asked somebody.

Fry’s carries a lot of stuff.  Nearly everything you would ever want for your high tech hobbies is available at a decent price.  They also have music, books, DVDs, appliances, and so on.  Call it Best Buy x 2, then add another 30% for the stuff that lines the check out lane.

So Fry’s is cool.  But it is only really cool if you know what you want or you want to look at two things side by side.  If you have to ask for help, you can find yourself wading into questionable water.  Not all the time, there are some sharp people working there, but the median experience for me is throwing the person behind the counter for a loop because I am paying cash.

This time I got efficient help.  The guy at the desk by the consol games said they did not have it yet.

Fry’s, you have failed me!  I did not pre-order this on Amazon.com because I just knew Fry’s would have it, and that they would have it at a better price. (Tuesday at Fry’s, new DVD releases, they beat the Amazon.com price every time, even with sales tax.)

Now it is Tuesday at lunch and I really do not know where else to go.  I have no plan B.  Fry’s has been so good on this in the past.

So I get in the car and start driving.  I put on Massively Online Gamer episode 39 and start rolling towards El Camino Real, the main drag through the north end of the county, one of those streets that has one of everything and two or three of most things.

I was seriously afraid I was going to have to go to the CompUSA up the street from my house on the way home.  I have a grudge against them at the moment since I had a bad customer service experience with them back in February.  Plus they are always a week late on PC game releases.

So I turn up Wolf towards El Camino.

I make it over there and head north and am almost immediately rewarded by a brand new Best Buy store where there used to be an auto dealership.

As I pull into the parking lot, Ryan and Gary are talking about Best Buy on the podcast.  Specifically, they are talking about guys lining up in anticipation of getting a Sony Playstation 3.  Sure enough, there in front of the store are some tents and about 10 young guys in three distinct groups camping out.

I walk into this Best Buy.  It is new.  It has new store smell.  I head for the PC Games.  I find the aisle, I find the shelf, I find the spot, I find nothing.  It isn’t on the shelf.  Well, I asked for help once already today, I might as well ask for help again.  Soon I will be asking strangers for directions.

The guy near games sends me up to the customer service desk.  I am there with two other guys also looking for Echoes of Faydwer.  Yes!  I am not soloing this quest at least!  There is demand.  The customer service rep say they have it in stock, but it is still boxed up in the back.  She sends somebody to grab us copies.

We get to talking up while we wait.  One guy is in the Vanguard beta and tells us a bit about that.  His summary sounds a bit like others I have heard: Looks like EQ 2.5, lots of zones are still unavailable, and Sigil has a lot of work to do on quests between now and the release date. (Apparently you cannot report quest bugs until you complete the quest, but most bugs keep you from completing the quest….)

The other guy has been in WoW like me, but a bunch of his friends are going back for EoF, so he is coming along.  I told him about my trips into EverQuest to check out old Faydwer and some of my impressions from The Serpent’s Spine.  We both moaned about character slots in EQ2.  We both have 6 characters already and are bummed we have to go Station Access to get more.

I was tempted, but I did not plug the blog.  I did, however, mention the VirginWorlds podcast.

Then our copies of the game showed up and I got one more surprise.  Best Buy has a promotion that gets you a $10 Best Buy gift card when you purchase Echoes of Faydwer.  So I ended up paying $43 with tax, but I have a $10 card for my next purchase.

Now I am set.  I wonder how long it will take to install and update tonight.

Echoes of Faydwer Day!

The day is here, the day when we can run out and buy the Echoes of Faydwer expansion!  I plan to run over to Fry’s at lunch and pick up my copy on what is also the two year anniversary of my purchase of the initial EverQuest II release.

Echoes of Faydwer

Echoes of Faydwer

To prepare myself for it I have been following a strict regime of avoiding all news about the expansion!

That’s right!  I have attempted to ignore it completely!

Why?

Call it the “movie trailer” effect.  Or, better still, call it the “scenes from next week’s episode” effect.  If I have already decided to watch a movie or a TV show, I will avoid all trailers and commercials about it so as not to spoil it for me.

So, since the lifting of the NDA, I have steered clear of all reviews, blogs, screen shots, and videos about the Echoes of Faydwer expansion.

I decided almost four weeks ago that I was going to buy the expansion.  I did not need to be sold on it any further.  As far as Sony was concerned, I was a sure thing.

Because of that, I did not want somebody elses’ commentary, screen shots, or in-game video to color my initial impressions of the expansion.

But tonight… tonight I will get to see things for myself!  Look for me on the Crushbone server!

Fry’s had better have it on the shelf!