Tag Archives: Freeport

Qeynos Reskinned – And The Beat Goes On

In which I complain about slights both real and imaginary.

Qeynos? There is no “there” there!  Let’s talk about me.

Firiona Vie, EverQuest Spokesmodel

Long have the residents of Qeynos suffered neglect as the second city of Norrath.  Ever have we been in the shadow of our rival city, Freeport, and have been discriminated against because of our unjustly diminished stature.

In old Norrath, in the original EverQuest, a vast right coast conspiracy placed Freeport at the center of the world’s activity, with many smaller racial home towns feeding naturally into it via the Commonlands or the Ocean of Tears.  It acted as a crossroads and became the destination for those looking to trade, and it flourished.

Classic Norrath

And even as the bounds of Norrath grew, even as the bazaar took over from the Commonlands tunnel, Freeport remained an important destination.  Ever is there activity in Freeport.  It was important enough to get a complete revamp a couple of years back, along with the Commonlands.

The updated Freeport docks

None of the original cities of Norrath have had such attention lavished upon it.

Certainly not Qeynos.

(Conspiracy theories and a few pictures of the new Qeynos after the cut.)

Continue reading

The Worst News from Fan Faire…

At least EverQuest II related news… and in my highly opinionated view.

I saw this quote over at MMO Axis and felt a pang of despair.

Outside the expansion, EQ2 will be launching the revamp of Freeport.

Really?

Was the revamp of Freeport in EverQuest such a booming success that it was felt that SOE needed to repeat it in EQ2?

To me, revamping the over-wrought monstro-city of Freeport should be a pretty low item on the list of things to do.

Freeport cannot even claim to have been the focal point of the game the way it was back in EverQuest.

Unless the upcoming Age of Discovery expansion is going to focus on the city (and let the player base that is aligned with Qeynos/Halas… which seems to be the majority of players on the servers on which I have played… access the city) I cannot see the upside of this for the game as a whole.

Now I am biased, having suffered the neglect of the Qeynos citizen at the hands of SOE in EverQuest, where they took the time to redo Freeport but cannot be bothered to fix the fog effects west of Highhold Pass.  And then in EQ2 it felt like SOE spent about 10x the resources creating Freeport vs. Qeynos.

Long simmering resentments aside though, I still wonder what SOE feels they are going to gain from this.  If they had announced a Qeynos revamp, I think I would still be asking the question, “Is it worth it?”

Yes, the city could be improved.  Cutting down on the number of zones that make up the city would be a start.  And that goes for Qeynos as well.  But couldn’t the effort of doing the revamp be used elsewhere?

We need only look over at World of Warcraft which revamped the 1-60 parts of Azeroth and wonder if such work is worthwhile.  Did that improve the game, or merely sever a link that many of us had with the game’s past?

What do you think?  Is the planned revamp of Freeport a good thing or not?

Addendum:

EQ2Wire has some additional info about the Freeport revamp, which I only saw after I posted this.

A screenshot of the rebuilt Freeport which is being redone as a single large city zone which will function as a quest hub through the entire level range. Players will be encouraged to come back to their home city and continue to do quests for them. I look forward to a rebuilt Freeport which is no less sinister but perhaps one which looks a bit less like a landfill.

Still, the question stands: Good thing or not?

More details from the EQ2 Zones and Content panel.

That Don’t Look Right…

We were out in the Commonlands for a few things over the weekend, and at one point as I was running back towards the docks, I noticed that the Freeport skyline had changed a bit.

Looking towards Freeport

I do not recall the main tower leaning quite that far over… or leaning at all.

In fact, wasn’t that tower floating previously?  Did we have a Ringworld event?

And the flames erupting from its base, just visible in this picture when viewed full size, seem to be new too.  Though if the tower crashed down on the city, I shouldn’t be surprised that something caught fire.

Or maybe it just landed on that tire fire that Lucan D’Lere used to keep burning to cast a pall over the place and keep everybody fearful so he could continue to extend his emergency powers.

Obviously something has been going on while I was away.

Meanwhile, certain mounts seem to have been granted considerably more off-road traction.

Horse with a creeper gear

With that sort of traction, I might be able to ride up the side of that tower, the way it is leaning.

I’ve obviously been away too long.

Stranded in the Ocean of Tears

It wouldn’t be an EverQuest adventure without something going awry in the Ocean of Tears.

After our time in Najena, I thought I would scout out the path to Unrest, just to remind myself how to get there.  In this adventure, Potshot does the tanking and the healing and I play the faithful Indian guide.

So to keep that role, and the illusion that I know where the hell I am going and what I am doing, I take it upon myself to figure these things out in advance and then suggest them casually when we are in game.

So I decided to take the boat to Butcherblock.

That involved actually finding the harbor in East Freeport, which was not small matter.  While you can use the “find” system to locate a lot of things, the harbor isn’t one of them.  Eventually though I made my way to the dock.  As I suspected, the fishing vendor was near the harbor, so I used the Find option to get myself to them.

Respect my Port Authority

Tistann and Thrall got on board and sailed away.

Aboard the Boat

The boat seems to move much faster than I remember.  The trip from Freeport to Butcherblock took just under 5 minutes.  Again, memory from the old days recalls a much longer trip, something in the 20 minute time frame.  It used to be a big deal when the boat showed up, since it seemed to dock about once an hour in Freeport.

And to miss the boat was a heart breaker.

But now it seems to sail speedily along.

Welcome to Butcherblock

I made it to Butcherblock, ran around a bit to scout, getting as far as Kaladim, then headed back to the dock.

Visit Spectacular Kaladim!

This is another zone that is still in its classic, 1999 state.

On the way back Tistann and Thrall ran into two aqua goblin wizards.  They only con’d blue, so I had my two guys go after them.

Wizards, being wizards, put out a lot of damage, much more than Tistann’s song of healing could counteract.  So while I managed to kill both of the goblins, Tistann went down as well.

Bound in Freeport, Dead in Butcherblock

That sent him back to Freeport where he needed to take the boat again.

And this is where my troubles began.

I found my way back to the dock.

Standing on a dock by the bay...

The boat pulled up.

Here comes my ride

I boarded.  The boat sailed away.  We zoned into the Ocean of Tears.

And then, once in the Ocean of Tears, the boat sailed off while Tistann remained floating in mid-air.

Now this is not right

This is not a naturally tenable position for a bard in heavy armor and eventually he fell into the water.

But he fell into the wrong water.

After a long and futile attempt to swim to a nearby island, I finally worked out that I was outside of the actual zone.

The unreachable island

There was an invisible barrier between me and what people would generally consider the geography of the Ocean of Tears.

The zone itself is a rectangle with an invisible barrier around it.  I was on the wrong side of the barrier.

Thinking I'm outside the box

That little arrow on the map above.  That is me.  The purple line is the zone barrier, while the aqua line is the path the ship takes.

Once I figured out my position, I decided to see if I could just turn around and swim out of the zone.

Instead, I ended up swimming to the edge of the zone, at which point I fell out of the ocean.

Unexpectidly in mid-air... again

I could fall out of the ocean, but I could not leave the zone.  At about this point I decided I had better open a ticket.  I quickly received an automated response.

Question Reference #110328-002106
Summary:
Stuck in the Ocean of Tears
Product Level 1: EverQuest
Category Level 1: [EQ] Stuck
Date Created: 03/28/2011 08:53 PM
Last Updated: 03/28/2011 08:53 PM
Status: Unresolved
Server: fippy
Race/Species: Half Elf
Class/Profession: Bard
Level: 17
Guild/Association:

Character Name
Tistann

Discussion Thread
Auto-Response
03/28/2011 08:53 PM
Greetings Denizen of Norrath!

Thank you for petitioning for your Stuck Character issue. This automated response is directed to help us accurately assist you as quickly as possible.

There is a command in-game that attempts to back your character up a few paces. To try troubleshooting stuck character issues, please attempt the command /rewind in-game.

We try our hardest to answer Stuck Character petitions as fast as possible since they are so time sensitive and we hope to have a Game Master in-game to assist you in the very near future!

I do not think they employ very many game masters these days, so I wasn’t very hopeful that I would be saved any time soon.  In the mean time, the /rewind command was not cutting it.  That is fine when you get stuck and cannot move.  I was free to move all I liked, just outside of the zone area I needed get to.

This is not the first time I’ve fallen off of the boat in the Ocean of Tears, though it is the first time I have fallen off in this part of the zone.

I remembered that, back in the day, that if you placed yourself in the path of the boat it would sometimes just scoop you up and you would be back on your way.  So I spent some time trying to line up the boat, which seemed to pass quite easily through the invisible zone barrier.

BOHICA!

That did not work out.  The boat ran me over, pushing me aside, and went on its way.  I have to guess that the zone has been reworked since last I fell off the boat.

The old boat used to allow you to go below decks.  The current boat keeps you on the main deck.  So I would guess that the invisible barrier is probably deck height, or just below deck height.  And, it was probably that barrier on which Tistann was stranded initially.  He probably just stepped off the wrong way.

I guess this also answers my question about the rowboats.  There used to be little rowboats in the Ocean of Tears and Freeport harbor that you could, well, row around in.  If you were really determined, you could row across the Ocean of Tears.  It would only take you about three times as long as the boat, but I remember doing it just to do it.

Now the rowboats are probably just a memory.

That reverie aside, I hung out in the water, looking for a loophole out of my mess and hoping that a GM would fish me out of the Ocean of Tears.  After about an hour, I decided to call it a night.  It was just turning 10pm.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Of course, in the morning, there was an email response to my petition.

Subject
Stuck in the Ocean of Tears

Discussion Thread
Response (GM Maaku)
03/28/2011 10:09 PM
Greetings Tistann,

This is GM Maaku, Thank you for contacting Sony Online Entertainment, After investigating your issue, I was able to move your character to the Butcherblock in hopes that you can now access your character. Thank you for your patience and understanding regarding this issue, If you have any further issues, feel free to contact us, and we will be glad to assist you.

Good Luck And Safe Travels,

GM Maaku
EverQuest In-Game Support
Sony Online Entertainment

Thank you GM Maaku!

If I had just waited a few more minutes, I would have known I was saved.  But I was headed to bed anyway.  10pm bed time.  This is what happens when you get old.  It isn’t that you don’t want to stay up, you just can’t any more… if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I should be set to explore Butcherblock.  But maybe I had better bind in Kaladim, just in case.

Finding a Helm in Freeport

I finally got around to binding in Freeport.  The graphically updated Freeport.

The new and oppressive Freeport.

Welcome to Freeport! Now go away!

I remember Freeport of old being more ramshackle and feeling a bit lighter and open and airy.

Now it is a city that feels like it could evolve into the Freeport of post-cataclysm Norrath, the Freeport of EverQuest II.  It just needs to spawn another dozen zones and it is nearly there.

(Is it safe to use the word “cataclysm” any more in reference to things that happened in other MMO story lines?)

And it was my complete lack of ability to find a coyote, much less kill one and get the drop I needed, that made me decide to put down roots and make a commitment to the place.

Thrall and Tistann bound just inside the gates that lead to Northern Ro.  I figured we were more likely to die out there and this would get us back in the field more quickly.

Plus, where else would I bind?  I suppose Thrall has the spell Gate, which returns him to his bind point, so maybe something like the enchanters guild would be better, but Tistann has to walk everywhere, so better at the gate.

Plus I am less likely to get lost.

It is really a good thing that they have the “find” system, because you really need it in Freeport.  Or at least I do.

Follow the Wisp

If I didn’t have that lit path before me, I would… well… I’d spend a lot more time running around lost.

SOE did a smart thing too.  In addition to all of the usual suspects, they also put the gates out of the zone on the list.  So you can get a wisp to show you to the bank, your guild, a vendor, or the gate to Northern Ro.

Tistann wanted to find the bards guild.  Having given up on coyote skulls for my Wind Spirits Helm quest, I wanted to see what the Freeport version of the bard armor quest was like.  I was kind of hoping that the Songweavers Armor quest would be doable and that I might get a helm of a different color to contrast against my bright emerald armor.

One wish was fulfilled.

In yet another example of how those who start in Qeynos face a total screwjob compared to Freeport, I ran out and did the helm quest in about 15 minutes.  The Freeport quest had pieces that dropped within a zone of the quest.  I didn’t have to run across the whole continent to get key items.

So a couple of Orcs, one wolf, and some barley from a vendor and, hey presto, I had the pieces to make my new helm.

However that helm looks just like the rest of my armor.

In Freeport, it is easier being green

You can see why I run around with the “show helm” option turned off.  That is just too much green.

I will have to see what the caster armor quests are like next.

And when I was done with that I got a tell from Potshot.  He was on and it was time for some more camping in Southern Ro.  But while running out to join up with him, I had to face one more Freeport poke in the eye.

Your skull, gives it to me!

I was sorely tempted to slay it, just to see if it would actually drop that coyote skull for which I had spent hours searching.

But I had already heard other people, no doubt from Qeynos, looking for coyote skulls on the OOC channel.  I left this one for them.

The Lively Desert of Ro

Now in Freeport, I began my search for a coyote skull.  Rumor had it that I could find coyotes in the Desert of Ro, so I ran through the Commonlands tunnel to the Northern Desert of Ro, just in time for sunrise.

From a hill in the Northern Desert of Ro

The Desert of Ro is one of those zones that has had a makeover, something about which I am dubious.  The zone does look good, about as good as any outdoor zone I have seen in EverQuest.  On the other hand, it does nullify the nostalgia factor somewhat, at least for some I am sure.

Fortunately, The Desert of Ro was never one of my regular haunts, so I do not really miss the old look the way I would if SOE redid the Karanas. (I am loaded with screen shots now, just in case they do.)  So the graphical update and the fact that the Oasis of Marr is now part of Southern Ro are not that big of a deal to me.

It turned out that Potshot did, indeed, make it safely to Freeport.

As I was hunting for coyotes I got a tell from him indicating that he was in North Ro as well, so we linked up.  While a lot of things in North Ro were still worth experience for us, I suggest we take the group to South Ro where we might find some more challenging, and lucrative, prey.

There we found a spot and settled down to kill some of the locals.

Angry Orc Priest

After the Karanas, and especially West Karana, where everything is very spread out, the Desert of Ro seemed almost a bit claustrophobic.  This was both good and bad.

We never had to go far to find our next victim and often said victim would wander right into our midst.  Our slaughter went on at a rapid pace.  Fortunately, with Thrall now able to cast Breeze, casting was able to keep up.

On the other hand, we often got our next victim a little early.  A red con dry bones skeleton is not a welcome addition when you already have two yellow con orcs on the hook.

We were also a little close to other groups who were hunting.  One player in wolf form showed up with a group and then seemed intent on driving us away by trying to tag all the mobs in the vicinity and then training the whole mess over our casters who were meditating for mana regen.

Ironically, this actually ended up helping us.  The result for a while was this person just delivering us more victims while keeping the area around us clear of potential adds.  It was only when he and his group left us alone that we got in trouble.

Left to our own devices we started getting more and more adds.  Mana ran low first, then hit points, and then it was time to run.

Tarlach went down holding off our mass of adds while the rest of us escaped back to Northern Ro.

Fortunately, Potshot had taken the time to bind his characters in Freeport, something I had not yet bothered to do.

We decided to set up in Northern Ro for a bit and plonked ourselves down by one of the dervish camps in the zone.

No friend of the whirling dervish

There we picked off dervish cutthroats as they spawned and picked off anything else that walked within range.  The Desert of Ro is very lively, and we rarely had to move far to find new targets.

We stuck out our camp until Tarlach and Deneldir hit level 13, by which point we were also laden with loot, and then headed back to the vendors at the north end of the zone to sell and camp.

The only thing missing from the evening was coyotes.  I did not see a single one.

My coyote search continues.

Getting to Freeport is a Breeze

Sunday afternoon, Potshot and I were able to get together in EverQuest and continue our adventures.

Both of us had been working on our armor quests and had gotten quite far.

Thrall, Tistann, and Tarlach in new outfits

Tistann is only missing his new helm, while Tarlach is just short a pair of gauntlets to complete all of his quests.

Thrall only has the sleeves, bracers, dagger, and robe so far, though when you look at that robe you might ask, “What else could he possibly need?”  Ming the Merciless reborn!  The collar on the robe is an especially good detail.

And then there is poor Deneldir.

The druid armor quests from Surefall Glade appear to be bugged, so he does not have any shiny new duds to show off.  But if things are going right, he doesn’t have to do much beyond heal and buff and toss in the occasional damage spell.

We though we ought to take our new threads out for a test drive, so we headed to West Karana and the bandit camp on the ridge where we have been a couple of times before as part of other groups.

We're hunting bandits

The combination of upgraded equipment and higher levels all around made for a very successful expedition.

We found we could take on as many as six bandits at once (or five bandits and a higher level brigand) without things coming unglued, even when some wise guy trained a few bandits over us while I was AFK.

That moved us right along experience-wise, and Thrall became the first in the group to hit level 14.

This was odd, since when I started out Thrall, he was almost two levels behind Tistann.  By level 11 he had almost caught up and now at level 14 he is a good 20% of a level ahead.  I have to think that this is the racial penalties in play.  Tistann has the half-elf burden while while Thrall, being human, faces no penalty.

Or maybe the bard experience table is just a bit tougher than the enchanter table.

Either way though, Thrall hitting 14 was a big deal, because at 14 he got the spell Breeze, one of my three favorite early game spells along with Spirit of the Wolf and Mesmerize.

Dinner time ended our bandit camping, but later on in the evening I got back online with a mind to run east again to the Commonlands to pick up that new spell.

I brought Tistann along for his song of speed and headed out.

Unlike the last trip, I was prepared both physically and mentally.  Specifically, I heeded my own “too late” advice that came to me on the last trip and just ran along the north wall of Kithicor Forest.

The only hazard here is falling off...

Nothing blocked my way to the Commonlands aside from an occasional tree that was too close to the invisible zone barrier for me to squeeze around.

Then it was just a matter of finding the right vendor… and not getting killed by the wrong one yet again.

I wandered around a bit and then vaguely remember that there were some spell vendors over in the tunnel to North Ro.  The tunnel that is effectively the Commonlands Bazaar.

Plenty to buy and sell... don't trip on the dead troll

Inside the tunnel I wandered around until I found the right vendor and was able to make the big purchase.

Worth every copper!

And so my main mission was accomplished.

I still had a giant fire beetle carapace to collect along with a coyote skull, but figured that could wait a bit.

As I was about to log off for the evening, Potshot logged in.

I mentioned that I had made it successfully to the Commonlands.  After a quick chat we decided that, since we now have bind affinity on two of our characters, it might be time for a change of scenery.

So I parked myself in Freeport while Potshot started out on his own cross-country journey.

Of course, once I bind in Freeport it will mean running the other way across Norrath to complete the armor quests.  But maybe the druid armor quests in Freeport are not bugged so Deneldir can get a few upgrades.

This will also test my EverQuest knowledge.  I have adventured around Freeport and on Faydwer before, but most of my memories are from west of Highpass Hold and involve leveling up in zones in the order: West Karana, North Karana, East Karana, South Karana (Aviaks!), and then the Rathe Mountains.  Outside of that, things are a bit blurry.

Cats in the Commonlands

In line with trying for some fresh experiences in my return to EverQuest II I mentioned starting out on the Freeport side of the world.  Unlike World of Warcraft, this does not mean a complete sundering from all thing Qeynosian.  While relations between Antonia Bayle and Lucan D’Lere might be… uh… strained, outside of their cities most NPCs take a somewhat more neutral stance, rather like the goblins in Azeroth.  These NPCs have quests that need to be performed and they have a “no questions asked” position when it comes to who accepts them.

So, while getting into Qeynos and to the Revelry and Honor guild hall involved some dodging of NPC guards, for the most part the world is pretty similar for either faction. (Though I have to figure out how to get past the guards and pick up the heritage quest “The Journey is Half the Fun.”)

That meant freshness was going to have to come in other ways, such as a new race and a new class.

I went with a Kerra for my first character on Guk with some design help from my daughter.  I chose a Kerra because it was one of the races that can start in Timorous Deep, the Sarnak starting area introduced with the Rise of Kunark expansion.

For a class I copped out slightly and went with a brigand.  While it is technically a class I have never played, it is close enough to a swashbuckler that it barely counts as “new” for me.  I could not resist the ultra utility features of the class (and of swashbucklers) such as smuggle.

Melkerr the Brigand

Melkerr the Brigand

And while Timorous Deep was “new,” I was not especially thrilled with it and when finally got to Gorowyn I was ready to ship out for Freeport.  Gorowyn makes the Undercity in WoW seem sensible and Freeport the pinnacle of municipal planning.

Okay, maybe that is a bit harsh.  Gorowyn is quite impressive and a lot of work went into it, but it just isn’t the city for me.

Unfortunately, the transition from Gorowyn to Freeport did not go as smoothly as I had hoped.  While I eventually became a citizen of Freeport and got the “Call of the Overlord” recall skill, I somehow missed out on the skill that allows one to reset their recall point.  I will be stuck recalling to Stonestair Byway until I figure that one out.

Once character up to level 10, I decided to roll another.  This time going with a fury (no, that that Fury), a class I have never played in any guise in EQ2.  Sticking with the feline theme though, it ended up as another Kerra.

Torill the Fury

Torill the Fury

This time I went straight for Freeport and the old starting island, called the Refuge of the Overlord when starting as Freeport aligned.  At this point Potshot and Ula were both starting new characters as well, so we roved the island together and then headed to Freeport.

Finally, I had to make one more character because my daughter wanted to make one more cat.  A girl cat with a nice leopard pattern who is a troubador, another new class for me.

Ouiza the Troubador

Ouiza the Troubador

And I had to promise her I would play this character.  She likes to make characters for me, then gets quite disappointed when I do not play them.  (This is why I can never install City of Heroes again, I would never get my computer back once she got into that character creation tool.)

So now I have three cats in the Commonlands looking for adventure.  And I even managed to avoid giving them “cute” feline names.

The Salesman of Waterdeep

Once in a while somebody puts up a post expressing the wish to a have more dynamic worlds in MMOs.  We want places that feel less static and more alive it is claimed.  We want places that behave more like a real world.

At least we think we do.  I have my own theories on that, but let’s assume for the moment that is what we truly want.

We have certainly moved in that direction as we have climbed out of the (Diku)MUD and into three dimensional worlds.

In 1999 the city of Freeport in EverQuest certainly felt like a real place when compared to the text based city of Waterdeep in TorilMUD on which it was based.

Sure, the guards walked around more like robots than humans and most of the other NPCs pretty much stayed put, but it was a step in the right direction.  The visual sense were satisfied.

And in 2004 the city of Freeport in EverQuest II moved us further still towards a world that felt real.  It is a virtual city with angles other than 90, 45, and 30 degrees.  The guards, while they still follow a predictable path, move more naturally about the city.  Even some NPCs wander from place to place.  The building look more realistic and the ones you cannot enter do not feel like they are part of a Potemkin village.  Wildlife even moves about.

But in some ways, Waterdeep in TorilMUD is more alive than than either of these Freeports.  Existing in mere text, the NPCs of Waterdeep are allowed more freedom.

For example, there are several salesmen in town.  They pick things up off the ground and then try to sell them to you, so you end up with encounters like this:

The salesman enters from the north.

The salesman starts following you.
The salesman saunters up to you and says, ‘Hey Zouve!  Have I got a deal for you! Take a look at this magnificent arrow. Isn’t it just a dream?  And it can be yours for just 504 coins!’

Of course, you cannot actually “see” the salesman, but you can look at him and get the visual image.

Following people around and selling the most impractical items possible, the salesman is at the top of his trade. He wears fine silks dyed in very stylish colors. He seems to be telling his newest victim about his latest and greatest product.
The salesman is in excellent condition.

He is persistent too.  You’ll note he started to follow me, so now as I move about the city, I have him in tow.  All the while he tries to interest me in his wares.  And, if I wanted, I could actually buy the item from him.  Today I did not want.

The salesman says ‘Only 504 coppers – a bargain!’

The salesman demonstrates the unique usefulness of arrow.

The salesman waves the a carven arrow in your face.

The salesman chuckles politely.
The salesman says ‘I tell you this arrow is of the finest quality.’

He even tries to ingratiate himself with you when you smile at other people.

The salesman smiles too, trying to join in on the fun.

Of course, even a text-based NPC has limited patience.

The salesman throws his hands up in disgust.
The salesman stops following you.

But not to worry, the salesman will spot another mark, even attempting to chat up his fellow NPCs.

The salesman now follows the salesman.
The salesman makes a sales pitch to the salesman.

The salesman says ‘Only 504 coppers – a bargain!’
The salesman tries to sell the arrow to the salesman.

So while we have moved towards worlds that look more realistic, I do not think I have ever had a random interaction like that in an MMO.

Have you?