Tag Archives: EverQuest II Extended

SOE Eschews the Middle Tier with Vanguard Free to Play Pricing

SOE announced back in March that Vanguard, the fantasy MMO step-child in their lineup, would be going free to play this summer.

Having been around the block with SOE titles moving from subscription to F2P at least twice before, first with EverQuest II and then EverQuest, it was probably easy enough to predict what was going to come to pass.

Both of those games ended up with a three tier subscription plan. (Yes, EverQuest II Extended had FOUR tiers, but that was clearly an experiment.)

At the bottom was “free,” which required no money changing hands.  All you had to do was create an SOE Station account, download the client, and you were set to log in and go.  Of course, there were some pretty severe restrictions on just what you could do with a free account.  These were put in place both to encourage you to upgrade and to keep abuse from gold sellers and the like to a minimum.

At the top end there was the “Gold” subscription, which was essentially the old monthly subscription plan in a new wrapper.  You could continue to give SOE $15 a month and get access to what you had before the transition.

And in the middle was the “Silver” tier where, for a fee of 500 Station Cash (which could range in value from $5.00 to 80 cents depending on various sales and incentives), some of the restrictions placed on “free” accounts were relaxed.  You got a couple more character slots, the ability to have more cash per character level, and no restrictions on chat channels.

This “Silver” tier made a lot of sense to me.  For an up front, one time payment, you were able to still dispense with the monthly fee, but got some benefits by essentially buying into the system.  Doing so probably meant you were unlikely to be a gold seller or other nefarious character likely to commit acts that might get you banned.  You had invested.

So I was somewhat surprised to see the Vanguard subscription matrix that was released today, as that “Silver” tier appears to be missing.

The two tiers of Vanguard

There is a FAQ up about the transition to F2P, which this time appears to cover most of the pertinent questions, but which makes no mention of the lack of a middle tier.

I wonder if that “Silver” level has proven ineffective in keeping the riff-raff under wraps, or if it ended up being too appealing to players, thus siphoning off potential dollars from players who might otherwise opt for a monthly subscription.

And this still leaves me wondering about PlanetSide? It will soon become SOE’s sole subscription-only title.

Reusing Images is “Green,” Right?

Smed says PlanetSide won’t be going away when PlanetSide 2 shows up.

When will it go free to play?

EverQuest II Live and Extended, Merged and Down Together Now

The great merger of the two halves of EverQuest II, the Live side and the Extended side, appears to be off for the moment.

The new patcher seemed to load up and download fine.

New Patcher Updating

The game launched with the great big Freeport Reborn splash screen.

I'll bet money the Qeynos update won't get a splash screen

And then, well… everything was locked.

Locked across the board...

And while it is too early to panic, you can color me concerned that the original versions of characters I copied over to Freeport appear to be missing from the list… and that despite all promises, and the fact that I deleted a few characters just to be sure, I am showing up with not enough character slots.

Oh, and the launcher keeps running even after the game comes us.  Is it supposed to be like that?

Anyway, there was an update on Facebook… because the EQII site appears to be down with the game…

We have just evaluated the status of the current update and have come to the conclusion that we can either unlock servers and risk broken content, or ensure that we provide the best experience possible and delay the update to tomorrow morning.

We have to do it RIGHT. For all of you and for all of us.

So please, bear with us, relax overnight, and let us sortie into the new day together. Community will be in office at 7:00am PST and will immediately review status and give you all an update. We are aiming for morning and working as hard as we possibly can.

Yer faithful Dwarf,
Brasse

So better luck tomorrow night I hope.  Have to remember to check the server status page first next time.

Addendum: The CTO at SOE, Rich Lawrence, has some details about what went awry.

EverQuest II Extended Is Dead – EverQuest II Goes All Free to Play

Another of my demands for 2011 has been met.  The two EverQuest IIs will be reconciled.

SOE has announced an important new aspect of the Age of Discovery expansion… which is apparently they have discovered that their free to play experiment known as EverQuest II Extended worked pretty well, so they have decided to apply the business model across EverQuest II.

No longer will there be a free to play server running in parallel with a pile of servers that run on the old standard subscription model according to the latest EverQuest II Producer’s Letter.

This will all go live in “Early December… or November 30th… or Winter 2011 (December 22 on my calendar)” or maybe some other date.  SOE seems confused on that point.

There is a new, revised subscription chart.  You can see the old Extended one here if you want to compare.

Subscription Options - Nov. 10, 2011

The key item is that Gold is now the top level account, with Platinum being phased out.  If you have a Platinum account and it is set to recurring, you can continue at Platinum, but no new Platinum subscriptions will be allowed.

Gold also now offers all of the benefits that the standard subscription plan offered for the EverQuest II servers, which is a boost for people playing on Extended.

The Station Cash Marketplace is going to be unified across the game now, which will mean the removal of the following items from the former Extended server, Freeport:

  • Power potion
  • Health potion
  • Self-rez scroll
  • Wand of Obliteration
  • Rune of Devastation
  • Mastercrafted Equipment (all)
  • Tradeskill Components

That is pretty much a solid win for the old-school players, the vocal members of which seemed dead set against being able to buy any of the above.

In fact, the whole thing is pretty much a big win for the players who stuck with the EverQuest Live servers.  They felt sidelined by the whole EverQuest Extended experiment, and rightly so.  Extended certainly absorbed a majority of the new players entering the game.

But will this change alone be good for the game?

One of the best things about the EverQuest II Extended was that it took place on a single server.

That single server became a wild, vibrant place, full of life with new players and copied over veterans intermingled.  It was very nice to play on a server where almost everybody under level 50 wasn’t a twinked alt of a level cap player.

Soon the Freeport server will simply be one of 18 EverQuest II servers and new players will be dispersed by whim and random chance across the range of choices.  And a lot of those servers never show anything above a low load level on the SOE Server Status Page.

It isn’t that I want to deny all those other servers the life’s blood that is new players.  It just felt like Freeport really came together as a lively server and I hate for the game to lose that.

Ah well, what can you do?

CCP – First Company to Yield to My 2011 Demands

I received a nice note from CCP Manifest a couple of days back.  He wrote that CCP was going to do their best to meet my 2011 demands, which were:

Will you put that drink down already?  EVE is still going, still making money, still popular, still unique, I get it.  And you are improving it over time.  But really, you’re starting to look like a one-trick pony.  What are all those people in Atlanta doing?  You don’t have to ship something new this year, but at least make us believe you’re really working on something new.  We’re starting to think you’re spending all that money you make on akvavit and exotic dancers.

We shall see if we get something solid about a World of Darkness MMO this year.

In addition, he said that CCP would continue on with their two expansions per year for EVE Online as well as finishing up the leftover pieces of Incursion, the latest expansion.

He included a link to the YouTube page that shows examples of one of the most visible updates still to come for Incursion, the new avatar creation tool.

It is good to see that some companies can be reasonable about this sort of thing.

Meanwhile, in what can only be seen as a complete rejection of my demands,  SOE is doing more to keep the two EQII communities apart, with EverQuest II Extended getting its own forums, plus some really disappointing information about where the Velious beta forums are going to live.  Putting those in the EQII Extended forums seems to be… dare I say it?  A slap in the face for those long playing and loyal EQII Live players?  Especially when it meant deleting the beta forums, and all discussions therein, that were already in progress.

EQII Extended Choice – Gold

As I mentioned in last week’s post (complete with poll), I was trying to decide my course for EverQuest II Extended through the next month or two.

I ended up choosing a Gold membership for at least the next month.

For now, with new, low level characters without much in the way of in-game currency, having access to the broker to help build up a nest egg was too important.

However, I did not end up making that choice until I had to, and we’ll see if I end up using the broker enough to justify another month at Gold after this one expires.

The timing was right though to get the December Velious Winter Rewards.

I do not know that they are anything to get too excited about.  There is the Coldain Butler:

The Butler Did It!

About which SOE says:

Good day, Sir (or Madam)! We are pleased to introduce you to the newest member of your household staff; your Coldain Butler. Your new butler can be placed in your house and will speak to his master as well as guests who may come calling. He may also be asked to join you on your adventures, and will follow you outside of your home for the span of an hour. He is very outgoing and will speak to others when hailed, and also likes to talk about his master. We hope you are pleased with this new member of your staff…his is certainly pleased to be in your service.

I’ll have to see how he really works out.  Could be fun… could be annoying.

And then there is a painting.

We All Dig Firiona Vie, Right

With its own SOE description:

The Scars of Velious painting pays homage to the release of Scars of Velious; the second expansion in the original EverQuest series. Scars of Velious introduced the lost continent of Velious, where frozen wastes, ancient enemies, and new adventures awaited Norrathian explorers in a land forever scarred by the claws of the Great Dragon Veeshan. The painting depicts the cover art from the Scars of Velious, with the Avatar of Growth, Firiona Vie, striding through the battle-torn landscape of snowy Velious. The painting has a status reduction of 1000.

That’s some decent status reduction.  I don’t have access to any housing that has rent based on status… at least not in New Halas… but maybe some day.  And at least I will have a painting that looks as good as the one I saw in EverQuest.

We’ll see how much play time EQII gets now that Cataclysm is out.  It has been split about even.  I tend to play EQII on weekday evenings, but come the weekend, WoW tends to rule.

Considering My Path Forward With EQII Extended

I have to decide tomorrow what I should do about EverQuest II Extended.  My 30 days of Station Access expires and I am not really keen to renew it.  I got to poke around in EverQuest and EverQuest II Live, where nostalgia lay.

But I spent most of my time in EverQuest II Extended, which was fun because the world actually has people in it…  people below level 50 who aren’t obviously alts being leveled up.

I had enough fun that EQIIx could very well be my “other” game.  I can generally play two MMOs at a time, swapping between them.

World of Warcraft is obviously going to be one of them, what with the expansion and the instance group reforming yet again in Azeroth.  And while I figured that Lord of the Rings Online would be the secondary game, we did have a good run with it over the summer and I could probably let it rest for a while.  After all, I am a lifetime subscriber, so it will wait.

So I might stick with EQIIx for a while.  But that leads to the subscription options… and there are a few.

Now, of course, there is a downside.  I often have fun with the 1-40 levels.  I have a lot of characters in various games who got to 40 or so, who were then were replaced with a fresh new alt… or with a new game altogether.  So I am uncertain how “sticky” the game will be for me.

That is compounded by the fact that I have yet to bump into anybody I know.  There is no guild of old friends or acquaintances, no pals looking to form any sort of regular group, just a bunch of strangers so far.

Granted, lots of them.

And I am sure many of them are very nice.  And while I have grouped up a few times, I do tend to shy away from guilds that have such low standards that they would actually invite me.  At least sight unseen.

With all that in mind I am going to put up a poll (we all love polls, right?) and ask for opinions.

For those that aren’t up to speed on the various options, here is the membership grid yet again.

The account level matrix

The only thing missing from the grid is Station Access, which gives you a Gold level membership, but also allows you to play other SOE games.   however, it comes at double the price of a Gold membership, so you really had better be playing two or more SOE games if you go that route.  (And I’m not sure if I would get free vampires in EQII Live and EQIIx if I kept Station Access.)

The Allure of a Booming Marketplace

I have the crafting bug.

In every MMO I play, I usually at least try to craft.

I couldn’t tell you why, but it is just something I have to do.  I have more than a few alts that were started not because I wanted to play yet another class, but because I was accumulating resources for a crafting profession I did not yet have a character plying.

This is why I have a Rune Keeper in LOTRO.  I had all these scholar items.  And since he was also a farmer, and because I was accumulating gems as well, I then rolled up a Champion in order to take up the jeweler/cook crafting combo.  That I had the Champion around when the instance group needed him was an accident.

And I generally get into crafting in pursuit of the twin delusions of wealth and self-sufficiency.

My mileage has varied on those two.

In EverQuest, for example, I became an armor smith early, a vocation that cost a lot of money and which produced items that nobody wanted.  I essentially became the vendor that sells the white named armor in WoW.  I couldn’t afford to do any other crafting after that.

In LOTRO I have had alts following several crafting paths and have obtained a certain level of self-sufficiency for myself and our kinship.  As for wealth though, that I could have had if I had just not crafted and sold all my raw materials at the auction house.  It was an either/or proposition.

In WoW things have ebbed and flowed.  I struggled to get Vikund to 450 engineering, a profession which comes with lots of fun toys, but almost no money making potential.  My characters who have tried inscription have made some money, and being able to make enchanting scrolls made my enchanter a money maker at last.  But the money flow was really dependent on the server and faction with which I was working.  In the end I could make money, if I cared to, but I could make as much just about as much just selling raws.  And self-sufficiency didn’t really enter into it, as you really have to go out and work for equipment drops to get anything decent.

Then there was EverQuest II, where I eventually came the closest to my dual goals.  My woodworker made piles of gold selling arrows and my provisioner made pretty good money making food.  And a lot of the time, I was much better off creating finished goods, since if people were harvesting a lot, and in EQII you can harvest everything independent of your trade craft, the market prices would become seriously depressed.  It was common to see dozens of stacks of some commodities selling for 1 copper per unit.  I don’t know why people even bothered to sell at that price, but it often worked to my advantage.

Self-sufficiency I also obtained, to a certain extent, though you need so many trade skills to cover all your needs (skills, armor, weapons, jewelry, food, bags, storage boxes) that you can go nuts trying to follow that path.

With that background, it was no surprise that I started harvesting right away when I hit EverQuest II Extended.  Yes, there is a trade skill quest there at the starting point in the Frostfang Sea, but that only gets you a tiny step into the process.

Self-sufficiency was what I had in mind.  I thought I was going to be playing at the bronze level, where the broker is off-limits.

I was, no surprise, a bit surly about this lack of broker access.  What bunk!  I was going to be denied access to markets.

Then I found out that, with Station Access, I had gold level access to the game.

And my tune changed a bit.

You see, when you are a Gold or Platinum player, the market is there to enrich you.  All those silver players, they can buy things, but to sell they have to purchase broker credits, which essentially means they need to spend 15 cents to sell a single item.  (Unless, of course, they scam the system, fill up a bag in their inventory, then stick it in the broker slot.  You can apparently bypass the restriction that way according to the wisdom of the auction channel.)

And the poor bronze players, they can’t even buy stuff.  (I made a bronze account to see what it was like.)

They only get this message when they try.

But I can buy as silver, right?

So I went to work selling last weekend and made quite a bit of money.

sales were brisk

Okay, two and a half plat isn’t all that much, at least not in EQII Live.  But I remember how long it took me to make that first platinum coin back when EQII launched.  And I have three characters in EQIIX now, and all of them have passed the two plat mark.

In fact, I wonder where all the money is coming from.  You cannot bring any coinage over if you copy your character from EQII Live, and EQII used to be pretty stingy about handing out cash for anything in an attempt to keep the economy from going the way of EverQuest, where it some times seems that they might as well do away with all coins less than 1 platinum.

Still, the market is pretty hot.  There must be money flowing in from somewhere.  And a some of it was flowing my way.

Enough, in fact, that I am a bit worried about the end of my Station Access subscription, which is set to run out in a little over a week.  When that happens, my characters will drop to Bronze level access and I will only be able to have 5 gold per level on a character.

To haul around more than 2 plat I need to pass level 40…. on three characters… who are all around level 20.

That’s not going to happen, but I don’t want to have SOE just take my excess cash.

Somebody on the Auction channel (again) suggested investing in trade skill fuels.  It is the one thing that you can vendor back at the same price you paid for it.

I might have to start a fuel hedge fund.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem at all if I could buy the Silver level option for my account before my Station Access ran out.

And then, of course, I’ll be on the “full broker access for silver!” side of the fence again.