Tag Archives: EverQuest II Extended

A Timeline of SOE and Daybreak Games

We are entering a new era for the games of Daybreak which made me think it might be a good time to review the story so far.  We’re around the 25 year mark for when the seeds of the company were planted and, with the Enad Global 7 purchase, the time seems ripe.

  • The House that EverQuest Built

First there was EverQuest.

Firiona and friends at launch, 1999

At some point around 1996 John Smedley, working at Sony, managed to get Brad McQuaid, Jeff Buttler, Steve Clover, Bill Trost, and a host of others together to create a 3D online multiplayer fantasy game loosely (or not so loosely in places) based off of Sojourn MUD / TorilMUD.

Launched on March 16, 1999, a variety of Sony organizational names were connected to the game at different times including Sony Interactive Studios America, Verant Interactive, 989 Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Sony Pictures, and Sony Online Entertainment.  My original disk and manual both display the 989 Studios logo prominently and names a couple others in the fine print.  As I mentioned in my 20 year anniversary reflections post about EverQuest, one magazine referred to the company running the game as Sony, Verant, and 989 in different parts of the same issue.  It was a confusing time.

Clarity came eventually though when EverQuest exceeded all expectations for success.  That was a bit of a surprise.  March of 1999 pre-dates the age of influencers and social media.  The internet wasn’t seen as a serious news source, though Matt Drudge breaking the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal had at least made a few start paying attention.  But a lot of us were still getting our gaming news via glossy monthly magazines where full page ads at the covers were the best way to gain attention.

I don’t recall any such ads for the game back in early 1999.  I only knew about the game because almost everybody then active on TorilMUD got invited to beta, usually by Brad McQuaid’s Aradune character in game.  I declined the beta invite, but came for the opening.

Not only were ads scarce, there wasn’t a lot of background to draw attention to the game.  Compare that to what most see as its direct competitor of the era, Ultima Online.  The Ultima franchise had been rolling along for more that 15 years when UO launched in late 1997.  The series spawned a studio, Origin Systems, that created other well known games.  And then there was Lord British, who ended up living in a castle and going into space on the proceeds of his Ultima empire.  UO had the fame, reputation, and lineage that EQ lacked.

And yet, at their respective peaks, EQ would have more than double UO’s subscribers.

EQ seemed to spread by word of mouth.  After buying it at Fry’s on my way home from work on launch day, I came into the office and told a bunch of people about it.  They all went out and bought copies and we ended up playing together.  And they told people and I told more people and others who played told people and soon the people I was telling already knew about it and there was a song “Has anybody seem my corpse?” being passed around and the whole thing had become something of a minor social phenomena.

And its success cemented the idea of online gaming at Sony so that the plethora of names was eventually pared down to Sony Online Entertainment.  25 years down the road from Smed collecting a team to get the ball rolling, this is all still the house that EverQuest built.

  • A Timeline of Events

This is not an exhaustive list, and I am not going to try to piece together things that came before March 16, 1999 or betas for various games.  Early access though, that is another story. I am also going to try not to editorialize, which won’t be easy for me.  If I have missed anything important, drop me a note or a comment and I’ll update the post.

  • 1999
    • Mar 16 – EverQuest launches, servers are quickly overloaded and a long series of new servers kicks off
    • Jul 28 – MMORTS Sovereign announced
  • 2000
    • Apr 24 – The Ruins of Kunark, the first EverQuest expansion, launches
    • Oct 5 – SOE acquires Infantry
    • Dec 5 – The Scars of Velious, EQ expansion #2
  • 2001
    • Apr 17 – Cosmic Rift launches
    • Dec 4 – The Shadows of Luclin, EQ expansion #3
  • 2002
    • Oct 29 – The Planes of Power, EQ expansion #4
  • 2003
    • Feb 11 – Sovereign MMORTS officially cancelled
    • Feb 11 – EverQuest Online Adventures launches on PlayStation 2
    • Feb 25 – The Legacy of Ykesha, EQ expansion #5
    • May 20 – PlanetSide launches
    • Jun 24 – EverQuest Macintosh Edition launches
    • Jun 26 – Star Wars Galaxies launches
    • Sep 9 – Lost Dungeons of Norrath, EQ expansion #6
    • Nov – Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga launches
    • Nov 17 – EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers expansion launches
    • Dec 1 – Lords of EverQuest, a single player Windows RTS, launches
  • 2004
    • Feb 10 – Gates of Discord, EQ expansion #7
    • Feb 10 – Champions of Norrath launches on PlayStation 2
    • Mar – EverQuest subscribers hit a peak of 550K
    • Sep 14 – Omens of War, EQ expansion #8
    • Oct 27 – SWG Jump to Lightspeed expansion
    • Nov 8 – EverQuest II launches
    • Nov 12 – A second round of EQII servers are launched to absorb the surge of new players
    • Nov – SOE introduces the Station Access plan that gives players a combined subscription to EQ, EQII, and Planetside for $22 a month
    • Nov – EQII subscribers who opt for Station Access get two extra character slots on their account and access to the EQII Players stats page
    • Dec – EQII is down for almost two days as an update breaks the live servers
  • 2005
    • Jan – SOE Announces SWG is being added to Station Access
    • Feb 7 – Champions: Return to Arms is launched on PlayStation 2
    • Feb 8 – EQ server consolidation starts with the four PvP servers being combined into the single Zek server
    • Feb 15 – Dragons of Norrath, EQ expansion #9
    • Feb 17 – SOE temporarily adds the /pizza command to EverQuest II as a cross promotion with Pizza Hut allowing players to order a pizza from within the game
    • Mar 21 – The Bloodline Chronicles, the first EQII adventure pack launches
    • Mar 22 – Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade, a PSP title, launches
    • Apr – SOE begins a series of EQ server merges to bolster the populations, which runs on until the end of June
    • Apr – EverQuest II – East, developed for China, Taiwan, and South Korea, launches
    • May 5 – SWG Rage of the Wookies expansion launches
    • Jun 28 – The Splitpaw Saga, the second EQII adventure pack launches
    • Jul 20 – EQII gets new servers, Shadowhaven, The Bazaar, and The Vox PvP under the Station Exchange program, which allows players to sell in-game items for real world money; players are allowed to transfer characters there from other live servers
    • Aug 15 – SOE takes over operation of The Matrix Online
    • Sep 13 – Depths of Darkhollow, EQ expansion #10
    • Sep 13 – Desert of Flames, the first EQII expansion
    • Nov 1 – SWG Trials of Obi-wan expansion launches
    • Nov 8 – SWG New Game Enhancements update lands, changing character progression
    • Nov 9 – The “SOGA” character models from EverQuest II – East become an available option in EverQuest II
  • 2006
    • Jan – SOE announces they will be merging 10 low population EQII servers into 10 medium population servers because players are “too spread out” on the low population servers.
    • Feb 17 – Shadowhaven Station Exchange server is merged into The Bazaar server
    • Feb 21 – Prophecy of RoEQ expansion #11
    • Feb 21 – Kingdom of Sky, EQII expansion #2
    • Mar 28 – Untold Legends: The Warrior’s Code, a PSP title, launches
    • Mar 29 – EverQuest II – East is shut down, with all Chinese accounts transferred to the Mistmoore server, all Taiwanese accounts to the Najena server, and all Korean accounts to the Unrest server
    • Jun – EQ launches the first progression servers for the game, The Combine and The Sleeper, which let players play though all of the game expansions in order
    • Jun 14 – The Fallen Dynasty, the third EQII adventure pack launches
    • Sep 19, The Serpent’s Spine, EQ expansion #12
    • Nov 13 – Echoes of Faydwer, EQII expansion #3
    • Nov 15 – Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, a PSP title, launches
  • 2007
    • Jan 30 – Vanguard: Saga of Heroes launches with SOE as publisher
    • Feb 13 – The Buried Sea, EQ expansion #13
    • May 9 – Legends of Norrath collectible card game is launched, running within EQ and EQII
    • May 15 – SOE takes over operations for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
    • Mar 21 – The Sleeper EQ progression server is merged into The Combine server
    • Apr 30 – The EQII Darathar– UK PvP, Gorenaire– FR PvP, and Talendor– DE PvP servers are merged into the Venekor – RP PvP server
    • Jul 11 – The Agency is announced
    • Jul 19 – EQuinox, the official print magazine of EverQuest II is announced with issue #1 featuring Rise of Kunark information and beta access
    • Oct – Station Access pricing peaks at $30 a month for subscription access to all SOE titles including The Matrix Online and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
    • Nov 13 – Secrets of Faydwer, EQ expansion #14
    • Nov 13 – Rise of Kunark – EQII expansion #4
    • Dec – SOE is caught after moving the level 60 Unholy Trinity guild off of the test server to a live server, an action against stated company policy and not something ever made available to the average player, causing a fierce reaction from players
    • Dec – A false rumor spreads that Zapak Digital Entertainment is planning to purchase SOE and its games for $300 million, an amount close to what the company will sell for in December of 2020
  • 2008
    • Jan 22 – Pirates of the Burning Sea launches with SOE as publisher
    • Feb 14 – EQuinox issue #2 is announced, featuring Legends of Norrath cards
    • Apr 16 – LiveGamer is brought in to run financial transaction for the Station Exchange RMT servers The Bazaar and The Vox PvP
    • ~Sep – EQuinox issue #3 is cancelled and the magazine idea is scrapped
    • Oct 21 – Seeds of Destruction, EQ expansion #15
    • Oct 24 – The EQII Venekor– RP PvP is merged into the Nagefen, the final remaining PvP server
    • Nov 18 – The Shadow Odyssey, EQII expansion #5
    • Dec – SOE introduces Station Cash, a virtual currency, and an in-game cash shop in EQ and EQII
  • 2009
    • Jan 23 – SOE games become available on Steam starting with EverQuest and EverQuest II
    • Apr 28 – Free Realms launches
    • Jul 31 – The Matrix Online is shut down
    • Dec 15 – Underfoot, EQ expansion #16
  • 2010
    • Feb 16 – Sentinal’s Fate, EQII expansion #6
    • Mar 4 – The Combine EQ progression server is merged into the Druzzil Ro live server, ending the first retro server run for the company
    • Apr – SOE tries a new EQII Passport subscription plan where for just $5.00 a month you can play for three consecutive days during a single month
    • May 5 – SOE announces The Agency: Covert Ops, a free to play title on Facebook
    • Jun 10 – Tanarus, a title that predated EverQuest was shut down
    • Jun 22 – EQ server merges come again, paring down the server count by ten as low population servers are merged into more populated ones
    • Jul – EverQuest II Extended, a free to play version of EQII launches
    • Aug – Plans for EverQuest Next announced at FanFest
    • Sep 15 – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Adventures launches
    • Oct 12 – House of Thule, EQ expansion #17
  • 2011
    • Jan 11 – DC Universe Online launches on Windows and PlayStation 3
    • Feb 15 – The Fippy Darkpaw EQ time locked progression server launches, with the Vulak’Aerr server being added soon thereafter to handle the crush of players (I have a whole timeline for those servers)
    • Feb 22 – Destiny of Velious, EQII expansion #7
    • Mar 31 – The Agency is officially cancelled
    • Apr – Flying mounts introduced into EQII
    • May – SOE games are down for almost two weeks as part of the PlayStation Network security breach in which personal data from a reported 24.6 million accounts were compromised
    • Jun – At E3 SOE announced that pricing for Station Access, now called SOE All Access, would drop from $30 to $20 a month, but extra character slots for EQ, EQII, and Vanguard would no longer be part of the plan
    • Aug – SOE finally gets a unified server status page
    • Nov 1 – DC Universe Online goes free to play
    • Nov 15 – Veil of Alaris, EQ expansion #18
    • Dec 6 – Age of Discovery, EQII expansion #8, which also ushers in the free to play era of the game as EverQuest II Extended is folded into the live server list
    • Dec 15 – Star Wars Galaxies is shut down
    • Dec 18 – The Vox PvP Station Exchange server for EQII is merged into the Nagefen server
    • Dec 21 – The Bazaar Station Exchange server for EQII is merged into the Freeport server ending the Station Exchange program
  • 2012
    • Feb – SOE announces it is selling its EU customer accounts to a German media company, ProSiebenSat.1
    • Mar 16 – EverQuest goes free to play
    • Mar 29 – EverQuest Online Adventures shuts down on PlayStation 2
    • Mar 29 – Infantry is shut down
    • Mar 29 – Cosmic Rift is shut down
    • Mar 29 – Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga is shut down
    • Aug 7 – Vanguard: Saga of Heroes goes free to play (a week earlier than planned)
    • Aug 7 – SOEmote is introduced to EverQuest II
    • Sep – SOE introduces Player Studio for EQII, which allows players to create cosmetic items to sell in the in-game cash shop, for which they will be paid a cut of the sale
    • Nov – SOE introduces Krono for EQ and EQII, an in-game item that can be redeemed for 30 days of subscription time, which users can purchase for real world cash and sell at the broker to other players for in-game currency
    • Nov 13 – Chains of Eternity, EQII expansion #9
    • Nov 20 – PlanetSide 2 launches
    • Nov 28 – Rain of Fear, EQ expansion #19
  • 2013
    • Jan 30 – SOE publishes the import Wizardry Online as a F2P title
    • Jan 31 – Pirates of the Burning Sea ceases to be published by SOE
    • Aug – A new vision/plan for EverQuest Next is announced at FanFest, which includes the involvement of Storybricks
    • Aug – The FanFest presentation mentions a dev tool EverQuest Next called Landmark
    • Sep 23 – SOE publishes the import Dragon’s Prophet as a F2P title
    • Oct 8 – Call of the Forsaken, EQ expansion #20
    • Nov 12 – Tears of Veeshan, EQII expansion #10
    • Nov 13 – SOE starts selling early access packs to EverQuest Next Landmark
    • Nov 15 – DC Universe Online launches on PlayStation 4
    • Nov 18 – EverQuest Macintosh Edition is shut down
  • 2014
    • Jan – Station Access/SOE All Access pricing drops to $15 a month, the price of a single game subscription, but keeps the 500 Station Case stipend after the forums erupt when Smed suggests they may remove that benefit
    • Jan 24 – SOE announced they will be shutting down Free Realms, Star Wars: The Clone Wars Adventures, Wizardry Online, and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, which is seen as the reason they have cut the price of SOE All Access
    • Mar – EverQuest Next Landmark becomes just Landmark
    • Mar 31 – Free Realms is shut down
    • Mar 31 – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Adventures is shut down
    • Apr 10 – H1Z1 is announced, a zombie horror title oddly dedicated to SWG players
    • Jun 18 – The ProSiebenSat.1 experiment ends and all EU accounts are transitioned back to SOE
    • Jul 31 – Wizardry Online is shut down
    • Jul 31 – Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is shut down
    • Oct 28 – The Darkened Sea, EQ expansion #21
    • Nov 11 – Altar of Malice, EQII expansion #11
  • 2015
    • Jan 15 – H1Z1 releases as early access
    • Jan 22 – The class action suit for the PlayStation/SOE security breach of May 2011 is resolved, awarding the lawyers $2.75 million and each affected player 450 station cash… but only for US players and only if you filled out a form and could prove you were affected
    • Feb 2 – Sony announces it has sold SOE to Columbus Nova and the organization will be known as Daybreak Game Company going forward
    • Apr 28 – The Rum Cellar, the fourth EQII adventure pack launches
    • Apr 30 – Daybreak acknowledged and blessed the existence of the Project 1999 EQ retro server being developed by a private group, with the P1999 team and the Daybreak EQ team coordinating updates so as not to overlap each other
    • May 22 – EQ opens the Ragefire progression server, the start of a regular run of special servers that help boost the game’s popularity by pulling back many lapsed players
    • Jul 24 – Daybreak announces that long time studio head John Smedley is leaving the company
    • Jul 24 – EQII launches the Stormhold progression server and Deathtoll PvP server, the first retro servers for the game
    • Aug 21 – EQII announces the Drunder server, where rule breakers will be sent to play and no customer support will be available
    • Oct – Nine of the lower population EQII servers, including the final PvP server Nagefen, are merged down to three PvE servers, all with new names (Maj’dul, Halls of Fate, and Skyfire), while the Antonia Bayle server remains unto itself
    • Nov 16 – Dragon’s Prophet is shut down
    • Nov 17 – Terrors of Thalumbra, EQII expansion #12
    • Nov 18 – The Broken Mirror, EQ expansion #22
  • 2016
    • Feb 8 – H1Z1 King of the Kill the battle royale game and H1Z1 Just Survive, the co-op zombie horror game, are split into two products, both remain in early access
    • Mar 8 – The EQII Deathtoll PvP retro server is shut down
    • Mar 11 – EverQuest Next officially cancelled, leaving Landmark the remaining active part of that project.
    • Apr 29 – DC Universe Online launches on XBox One
    • Jun 10 – Landmark leaves early access and goes live
    • Jul 1 – PlanetSide is shut down
    • Aug 17 – Legends of Norrath is shut down
    • Nov 15 – Kunark Ascending, EQII expansion #13
    • Nov 16 – Empires of Kunark, EQ expansion #23
    • Dec 19 – Daybreak acquires Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeon & Dragons Online from Warner, setting them up under the name Standing Stone Games, never mentioning in public that they are the actual owners
  • 2017
    • Feb 21 – Landmark is shut down
    • Jul 31 – LOTRO launches the Mordor expansion
    • Sep 22 – The Vulak’Aerr EQ time locked progression server is merged into the Fippy Darkpaw server
    • Oct – H1Z1 King of the Kill renamed H1Z1 again due to a desire to release the game in China, where having “kill” in a game name is frowned upon by government censors
    • Nov 28 – Planes of Prophecy, EQII expansion #14
    • Dec 12 – Ring of Scale, EQ expansion #24
  • 2018
    • Feb 28 – H1Z1 leaves early access and goes live
    • Apr 24 – In response to a question about Russian sanctions Daybreak issues a statement declaring it was never owned by Columbus Nova, in open contradiction to three years of information, and was always solely owned by Jason Epstein
    • Apr 24 – Daybreak removes all references to Columbus Nova from its web site and attempts to edit the Wikipedia page about the company to hide any Columbus Nova connection
    • Aug 7 – H1Z1 launched on PlayStation 4
    • Sep 4 – The EQII progression server Stormhold is merged into the Antonia Bayle server, ending its run
    • Sep 6 – Daybreak announces a deal with NantWorks to create NantMobile G which will take over H1Z1 on PC with a plan to revitalize it, starting by rebranding it as Z1 Battle Royale
    • Sep 6 – NantMobile G project also proposes mobile versions of Z1 Battle Royale and EverQuest
    • Oct 24 – H1Z1 Just Survive is shut down
    • Nov 13 – Chaos Descending, EQII expansion #15
    • Dec 11 – The Burning Lands, EQ expansion #25
    • Dec 14 – Planetside Arena is announced, an attempt to bring battle royale to PlanetSide 2, with pre-orders for early access for sale
    • Dec 18 – Daybreak offers 4,000 lifetime subscriptions for sale at $299 each
    • Dec 24 – Daybreak announces that they have sold out the 4,000 lifetime subscriptions
    • Dec 28 – Daybreak puts 6,000 more life time subscriptions up for sale through Dec. 31st
  • 2019
    • Feb 18 – PlanetSide Arena launch is delayed until summer, allegedly to have a simultaneous launch on PlayStation 4, all pre-orders are refunded
    • Jul 11 – After over a year being offline, Daybreak announces that Player Studio for EQII has been shut down
    • Apr 6 – NantMobile G hands Z1 Battle Royale back to Daybreak having failed to revitalize the game, after which little is heard about the PC version
    • Aug 6 – DC Universe Online launches on Nintendo Switch
    • Aug 30 – A PlanetSide Arena roadmap is released with plans for early access soon, with an official launch in 2020, PC only
    • Sep 19 – PlanetSide Arena arrives in early access just barely making the declared “summer” launch plan
    • Oct 21 – A PlanetSide producer’s letter states that PlanetSide Arena is a stepping stone towards PlanetSide 3
    • Nov 5 – LOTRO launches the Minas Morgul expansion
    • Dec 14 – Daybreak announces that PlanetSide Arena will be shut down in January
    • Dec 17 – Blood of Luclin, EQII expansion #16
    • Dec 18 – Torment of Velious, EQ expansion #26
  • 2020
    • Jan 10 – PlanetSide Arena is shut down
    • Jan 21 – Daybreak announces a series of sub-studios, with Darkpaw Games responsible for EverQuest and EverQuest II, Dimensional Ink handling DC Universe Online, and Rogue Planet Games handling PlanetSide 2
    • May 20 – The Fippy Darkpaw EQ time locked progression server ends its nine year run as it is merged into the Vox live server
    • Oct 20 – LOTRO launches the War of Three Peaks expansion
    • Dec 1 – Enad Global 7 (EG7) announces plans to acquire Daybreak
    • Dec 2 – EG7 presents an unprecedented array of previously private information about Daybreak to its board, shareholders, and the general public proving, if nothing else, that the company made money
    • Dec 8 – Claws of Veeshan, EQ expansion #27
    • Dec 15 – Reign of Shadows, EQII expansion #17
    • Dec 23 – EG7 completes the acquisition of Daybreak Game Company

And that brings us up into the new year.  We shall see what 2021 and beyond holds for the company

  • Sources

The joy of me blogging the way I do is that I have a blog post that corresponds to most every item on the above list that happened in the last decade.  I considered linking to each and every one, but decided against it.  You can use the search box at the top of the page if you want to find posts here about things like EQII Passport.

Before 2010 I was more chaotic in my blogging and, of course, before September 2006 there was no blog, so nothing to reference.  Fortunately, I had done a post about SOE and its MMORPGs back in 2016 where I had recorded the status of their games, and had researched a bunch of other items in the past.  This blog isn’t all just about Blackrock Depths and World War Bee.

And, where that failed, Wikipedia remains a wonderful source.  There are well maintained pages about most of the games and lists of all the expansions for both EverQuest and EverQuest II that helped me quite a bit.  And over at Daybreak there is even a server merge page for EverQuest and another for EverQuest II servers deep in their site.  There are some errors, but the dates seem solid.

As for what to include, I am obviously biased towards the games I play or played.  I did try to include every paid expansion for games, as those were generally pretty easy to find.  Game content updates are more obscure, though somebody has charted all of the episode drops for DC Universe Online on that Wikipedia page.  I just wasn’t that dedicated to the post.  I started getting into special servers, but decided once they became an annual thing in 2015, I declared them as such and moved on.

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.

Team Edward to Norrath?

That I even know what “Team Edward” means kind of scares me.

Yesterday the EverQuest II team posted an item about Velious Winter Rewards.  I saw it come through on Twitter.  I did not click on the link.

Then regular reader Bhagpuss said, “Oh, hey, vampires” in reference to it.  Then I had to go take a look.

The winter rewards is a set of incentives to stay subscribed to EverQuest II while waiting for the next expansion, Destiny of Velious to ship.  From the post:

‘Tis the season for giving! Winter is here and there are only a few short months until the freezing tundra of Velious is open for exploration. Starting in December and ending in February, active EQII Live subscribers and EQ2X Gold and Platinum members (with accounts in good standing) who purchase the upcoming EverQuest ® II Destiny of Velious™ expansion will receive a set of in-game items as complimentary subscription rewards each month.

Each of the three sets is comprised of two amazing items, one of which is the new Ice Wolf Mount (pictured) and the new tightly-concealed Vampire Race, which has yet to be displayed to the public! The December and January mystery items will be revealed at the time the rewards are distributed.

Keep checking EQ2Players for updates about the upcoming EverQuest ® II Destiny of Velious™ expansion launch scheduled for February 8, 2011. Enjoy the rewards!

The eye catcher, which was completely new to me, was the mention, highlighted in red by me, of a new vampire race.

Vampire race?

This could either be huge, or it could be a shark jumping moment.  It could be an invigoration of the game, a way to explore new dimensions, or it could be a goth emo, over powered and soon-to-be-nerfed race disaster.

What is also curious to me is what will be the restrictions on the race if they are giving it away as a customer retention award.  To get it you have to get through three gates of the special, hitting the mark as a paid in full subscriber on December 14th, January 18th, and February 8th.  And you have to purchase the expansion when it comes out to collect.

February 8, 2011 Rewards

  • Ice Wolf Mount
  • New Freeblood Vampire Race

Requires that a player has qualified for both the December and January rewards and has purchased EverQuest II Destiny of Velious. Items awarded one per account and will be available when the expansion is released.

But what if you do not qualify for this event?  Are you going to be out of luck on your vampire dreams, or is this going to be a new Station Cash only race?

Something to keep an eye on.

And among all the prizes you may get as part of this promotion, the only one they will actually show you is Ice Wolf mount.

Ice Wolf on Ice

And should they be handing out wolves and vampires in the same event?  How did that work out?

And that wolf looks a little dazed or cross-eyed or something.  Did the vampires get him already?

Somebody call the producer.

Me, I am still waiting for beastlords to make an appearance in EverQuest II.  But I suppose playable vampires might make an interesting addition.

How about you?

(And this is my 14th post for December.  What is going on?  Yesterday I was posting kitty videos and suddenly there is all sorts of interesting stuff.)

Meanwhile, in the In-Game LOTRO Store, Crafting Materials!

Lord of the Rings Online dropped a huge update yesterday that included new content, a vault update, a barter token wallet (at last!) and a lot more stuff available on which to spend your Turbine Points.  No, really, that is a really long list of new stuff to buy.

Among the more interesting items are crafting materials.

I got yer crafting materials right here

They include:

Scroll of Lesser Craft Acceleration

Provides a 25% bonus to experience earned from crafting. Lasts 10 minutes.

Apprentice Ingredient Pack

Apprentice Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Apprentice crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Journeyman Ingredient Pack

Journeyman Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Journeyman crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Expert Ingredient Pack

Expert Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Expert crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Artisan Ingredient Pack

Artisan Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Artisan crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Master Ingredient Pack

Master Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Master crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Supreme Ingredient Pack

Supreme Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Supreme crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Recipes

The LOTRO Store has had over 100 new recipes added to it for items both new and old!

Seems that LOTRO learned something from EverQuest II Extended.  EQIIX has been selling crafting materials for a while now.  And something to speed up crafting experience… EQII had those as veteran rewards ages ago.

Recipes though, EQIIX doesn’t sell recipes does it?  No advanced crafting books available for Station Cash?  I wonder why not?

Of course, EQIIX has a very active broker right now, something that LOTRO lacks.

Once it gets done patching, I’ll log in to see how this all works.

Now if they would just automate server transfers for characters and get those in the LOTRO store.