Tag Archives: Holly Longdale

Friday Bullet Points Return to Norrath

There has been some news coming out of Daybreak since the layoffs announced last Friday.  I do not have a huge amount to say about any of them at this time, which makes them all perfect for another Friday Bullet Points post.

  • Holly Longdale on the The EverQuest Show

The EverQuest Show finally posted their previously teased interview with EverQuest and EverQuest II Executive Producer Holly Longdale.

For those not interesting in watching the 23 minute long interview, the EverQuest Show has also kindly posted a transcript on their site.

While Bhagpuss has a deeper look at the interview, things that popped out for me were:

    • EverQuest population is currently half on live servers, half on retro servers
    • Expects EverQuest to be around at least for another decade
    • The size of character database entries is a limiting factor
    • There will be another Norrath title some day

There is more in there, especially about the passion of the team, but that is what stuck in my brain and made nice bullet points.

  • Torment of Velious

The EverQuest team announced the next expansion for the game, Torment of Velious.

Coming later this year

The producer’s letter that contained the new describes some of what we can expect from the expansion including:

    • Level cap raised from 110 to 115
    • 6 new zones
    • All the usual more quests, more raids stuff

Pre-orders will go live this coming Wednesday and there will be the usual array of collector’s edition goodies.  Beta for it is coming up soon and a December launch is expected.

  • Miragul Server

Also in the above linked producer’s letter it was announced that there would be a new progression server launched on November 5th to help celebrate the rapidly approaching EverQuest II 15th anniversary.  Named Miragul after the lich of Everfrost, it will start players at level 85 in the House of Thule expansion.

  • Blood of Luclin

There was also an EverQuest II producer’s letter which also announced the next expansion for that game, Blood of Luclin.

No expansion splash screen yet.

As with the EverQuest expansion it features some of the same expected items:

    • Level cap raised from 110 to 120
    • All the usual more zone, quests, more raids stuff

Not a lot of details there.

Pre-orders for Blood of Luclin will go live on November 5 with, as expected, plenty of collector’s edition goodies for those willing to spend the extra cash.  The expansion is slated for a December launch, with a beta period coming up.

  • Rivervale Server

As with EverQuest, the EverQuest II team is also launching a special server.  The Rivervale server will have no locked content and will allow players to start a level 90 heroic equipped character if they so desire.  It basically sounds like a fresh live server that requires a subscription.  Not that it is a bad idea.  Some people like fresh servers and not everybody likes the timed content unlocks.  No word on exp rate or other details.

  • Anniversary Events

As noted, next month sees the 15th anniversary of the launch of EverQuest II.  The producer’s letter also mentioned that special anniversary events will kick off on November 7th.

As with the interview on The EverQuest Show, Bhagpuss has also has a post about what we know about the expansions, servers, and events so far.

  • EverQuest II Custom UI Outage

No all is peaches and cream in Norrath.  They grim reaper of the layoff may have passed them over, but problems still lurk.  In an effort to track down a server lag problem that has been plaguing the game, all custom UI addons, including the ubiquitous EQ2maps, will be turned off this coming Tuesday, October 22.

The outage is not permanent, but how long it lasts depends on how quickly any problem is found.  It is hoped the outage can be turned off as early as Friday, but it will remain in place as long as it is needed to debug the problem.

Details and compensation are in a forum post.

And so it goes in Norrath.  More information on most of the above will likely be arriving soon.

Quote of the Day – EverQuest Next Reality

There was a real nugget of an idea there, but a technical hurdle the team just couldn’t get over. All the other stuff that EverQuest is kind of got lost because it was focused on voxels and a dynamically-generated changing world. There was not enough computational power. If people are digging holes, you have to update pathing for the entire world.

-Holly Longdale on EverQuest Next, Variety interview

With the 20th anniversary of the game Holly Longdale, the executive producer of the EverQuest franchise, has been available for interviews, several of which I referenced in a previous post.  The post a Variety showed up last week and I dismissed it at first because of the source.  Variety sticks its nose into gaming rather sporadically, so it isn’t any sort of a focus for them.  Given that they can be quite superficial when it comes to things on which they do focus… I was reading the film section regularly when into Fantasy Movie League… I wasn’t expecting much.

The only reason I even saw the article is that Variety uses the WordPress platform and I watch the “everquest” tag in the WordPress Reader.

But yesterday, on a whim, I read the whole thing.  Not much new appears under that tag these days, so it hadn’t fallen down more than a couple of entries.  And, in reading it, I was a bit surprised at the details that were revealed.  Sure, some of it was the “reacquisition” plan we had heard before. But then Holly started spilling some tea about EverQuest Next.

A Firiona Vie that we’ll never know

Just a bit over three years ago Daybreak announced that they were cancelling EverQuest Next.  In the big statement from then-president Russell Shanks, which is available at that link, the key take away that people saw was:

Unfortunately, as we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn’t fun

And that was that.  People were angry, disappointed, dismissive, and there was much throwing of metaphorical stones at Daybreak.

But other than that we didn’t get a lot of details.  I mean, we had heard rumors that things were not coming along, that the SOE Live demos were all live people rather than any of the AI dreams they had been peddling.

Now she is saying that it wasn’t going to work as envisioned in any case.  Emergent AI and being able to change the world weren’t in the cards with the current level of tech.

She calls the cancellation a “deep burn,” but then goes on to deliver something of a burn herself.

Of the team that exists now, we spent two and a half years defining what the franchise really is, going to our archives and retconning some stuff to prepare it for a really strong future.  EverQuest Next is not a game I would have made. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, but we’ve been evaluating what makes EverQuest EverQuest. In my opinion, that wasn’t where the game was going with EverQuest Next.

It sounds as though there was a struggle over what EverQuest really meant as a franchise and that the fundamentalist wing won out in the end, which probably also meant the end of Landmark, which fell under the EverQuest franchise umbrella.

And Holly Longdale is of that fundamentalist breed.  Early on in the article she plays up the social interdependence of the game, even going for the reputation card, how being bad would make you an outcast server-wide.  Anybody familiar with Dunbar’s number can spot the hole in that idea… Fansy the famous bard was the outlier exception, not the rule… but certainly in smaller circles you had to get along or find new friends.

And in the past she has made her own questionable statements when it comes to the purity of the EverQuest game experience.

What we don’t want to do is instance raids, which is what casuals want us to do because they want to fight Nagafen. Casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen… that diminishes the achievement of others. That’s part of the challenge: You have to be better than the other guy; you have to be more strategic that the other guy.

The EverQuest team did walk that back eventually.  Raids got instanced on the progression servers after all, if only because the company couldn’t afford the resources necessary to mediate all the disputes that open world contested raiding brought about every single time it was a feature of the game.  Even the hardcore raiders want to be able to just go and do the raid when they’re all together rather than having to cancel because somebody got there first.

But that is where you end up when you take a hard look at what made a game what it was.  You start back down the path of the original features and have to examine things like corpse runs and instancing and the like.

There is nothing concrete in the article about any future games, such as an EverQuest 3, but neither is that sort of thing ruled out.  But she does say that the two key elements of EverQuest are “classic high fantasy and community dependency.”

“Anything we talk about in the future, those are the two nuggets.  I would never say that there isn’t a world where I wouldn’t love to do another co-op or even a single-player experience that tells some of these amazing stories that we’ve fleshed out over 20 years, but the social dependency is who we are. It’s questing with other people. It is having a role on a team. I don’t think we’ll ever move away from that, even if it were a single-player game like ‘Dragon Age,’ that’s our special sauce and what our players would expect. You don’t think ‘EverQuest’ and think ‘single player game.’

And on the topic of MMOs allowing a single player experience she responded, “That will never be us.”  Maybe this is why the team had such an odd view of what “super casual” meant on the first round of the Selo progression server.

Of course, my post from yesterday might indicate that the game is not so pure on that front as one might assume, given her statements.  When you give players mercenaries to tank, heal, or DPS, you’re pretty much catering to solo.

Still, you can see why rumors of an EverQuest 3 put it as something that would compete with Pantheon.  I’m still not seeing the battle royale aspect of it, though maybe with that part of the business falling flat at Daybreak, it will be allowed to die in the context of any new EverQuest title.

Overall though, Daybreak continues to cater to the core EverQuest audience with annual expansions and updates for the audience on the live servers and new progression servers on a regular basis for the nostalgia audience.  It seems to be working.  As I quoted last week, the franchise has more players now than it did back in 2015.

Quote of the Day – EverQuest Hubris and Reality

If we tried to broaden our horizons and invite new people in, I don’t think we’d have enough servers to be able to handle the influx of new players.

Holly Longdale, Interview at PC Gamer

I love EverQuest as much as any bit of my gaming history.  And all the more so here on the 20th anniversary.  But I also try to inject at least some tiny amount of objectivity into my rose colored glasses view of the game.  In that spirit, I would have to say that there is no way that EverQuest could attract and hold enough new players that server capacity would be a worry.

20 Years Ago…

The idea strikes me as very much an “if I had a magic wand” sort of hypothesis.  I’d have to see an example of another game of similar vintage hauling in new customers to be convinced.  Remasters of games, like Age of Empires II, and return launches of old games, like last week’s appearance of Diablo on GoG, happen.  And the will likely continue to show up.  But I don’t see much evidence that this has meant any sort of gold rush of new players these titles.  Rather, it seems more a plan to sate demand from an older demographic… people like me who played those games when they were new.  There is money to be made on that.  Not chart topping, League of Legends money, but enough to support a small team.

That said, the article linked… which I also linked in Friday’s post… is well worth a read for fans of the franchise and has a lot to unpack and there are enough tidbits that I could probably write half a dozen posts exploring them.

Key among them are:

  • “We have more players now than we did in 2015 and our revenue has gone up.”
  • “I’m not allowed tell you exactly how many people have come through the game over the years, but it’s enough to sustain us.”
  • “So we just have an agreement in place that they [Project 1999] don’t launch stuff around the same time we do.”
  • “Our biggest customer service request is people asking what email they used for their EverQuest account 15 years ago, because they want to log back in and play with their old characters again.”
  • “Every three years we do a level increase, and we have changed the way some things work.”
  • A new expansion, The Burning Lands, was released in December last year, and another is on the way.
  • “But fundamentally, we don’t want to change the game. It’s like when we did the New Game Experience for Star Wars Galaxies and everyone quit.”

Those are all out of context, but not dramatically so.

Meanwhile, given the fact that every single time EverQuest opens up a progression server there are queues and problems and crashes until things settle down… and that was going on yesterday as Daybreak tried to get the Selo and Mangler servers off the ground… I agree that if they could attract a bunch of new players, there is no guarantee that their current servers could handle it.  I just don’t think there is any way they could attract those sorts of numbers.

We’ll see if Daybreak has better luck on day two, which also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day as well.

I used Station Cash just to get this screen shot

Maybe a bit of luck will help them.

Daybreak Prepares for the Coming EverQuest 20 Year Anniversary

The often quiet Daybreak has surfaced to address the coming EverQuest 20th anniversary.  That’s right, EverQuest turns 20 this coming March 16th.

In a producer’s letter from Executive Producer Holly “Windstalker” Longdale… I hadn’t seen anything from her is so long that I wasn’t sure she was still with Daybreak… laid out some general expectations about what the company has planned.

Original Box Art

In game the letter says that there will be “brand new land, raids, and rares with a story about preserving our past, and it’s free.”  That is something for the regulars, the people who still congregate to play on the live servers.

For the extended fan base, which includes those of us lapsed Norrathians, who like to watch from a distance but who haven’t played the live game with any serious intent for years, there are a couple of new progression servers planned.

Progression servers are the SOE/Daybreak specialty and have proven quite popular when given the attention they deserve.  But Daybreak knows they cannot just roll out the same old thing every time, so these two new servers will be variations on the usual theme.

While the rules have not been revealed yet, one will be targeted as “hardcore” and the other “ultra-casual.”  Sign me up for the latter I guess.  I’ll be interested to see the rule set for both.  And both servers will launch on March 16th to coincide with the 20 year anniversary.

Starting then will keep them far enough from the impending launch of WoW Classic, slated for this summer, which I suspect will own the retro server market for some time.

And maybe with two servers launching on the same day there won’t be a huge queue.  Or maybe there will be.  I’d take it as a good sign for the franchise if there was one.

In addition to that, the producer’s letter says that a real life fan event is possibly in the works.

We’re working on pulling together an EQ fan event so we can hang out with you, our honored guests.

There are no details, and the tentative nature of that statement means it might not pan out.  But if it does, it will likely happen over the summer.  More details are promised come March.

In addition, Daybreak is asking for player submissions of short videos, 20 seconds or less, about how EverQuest changed your life or 15 second videos of your main character in game, to be included as part of an a 20th anniversary album that Daybreak will put out on Facebook this year.  If that interests you, you can submit your video via this page.

It has been a long time since EverQuest launched.  It was a very different world back in 1999.

There is no sign or word about the predicted end of content for the game, something that came about as a rumor back around the beginning of May last year. (After one of those layoffs.)  That some of what was stated has come to pass lends those rumors credence.  But things can change.  And  I wouldn’t expect to hear anything about that before the anniversary, lest it mar the event.  So we’ll hear more about what Daybreak has in store soon I hope.

Meanwhile, Bhagpuss has his own look at the producer’s letter and the coming 20th anniversary events.

Landmark Decision

The other bit of news from Daybreak last week, largely overshadowed by the EverQuest Next cancellation, was that EverQuest Next: Landmark… erm, Landmark… was going to launch soon.

LandmarkSteam

Landmark was, of course, the tool set that was going to be used to help create the world of EverQuest Next which grew into a product in and of itself.  It was a bit of a line item for me in the original announcement, an adjunct to the main focus, which was EverQuest Next.

Then Landmark sort of grew and morphed and became a product on its own, shedding the EverQuest Next prefix after a bit.

LandmarkChange

Now though, there is no EverQuest Next, only Landmark.  And Landmark is coming this spring… spring being defined as March 20th through June 19th on calendars in San Diego:

To Our Loyal Landmark Community,

You read the title right: Landmark is LAUNCHING this spring and I’m thrilled to be on this adventure with you!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Holly “Windstalker” Longdale. I’m the executive producer of both EverQuest and EverQuest II. I care passionately about the EverQuest franchise and have been involved with it for much of my career now, starting out as a player and game designer. Why am I here? I’m now the executive producer for Landmark and have been working with the amazing team for a few months!

As the community has grown and designs have flourished, we no longer view Landmark as just a building tool. We’ve been toiling away making Landmark into a wonder unto itself. While the look of our world was inspired by what was intended to be the voxel world of EverQuest Next, Landmark has evolved into its own game with its own unique identity and purpose. If you missed the news on EverQuest Next there’s a letter from Russell Shanks, Daybreak Games president, here.

The creativity of the Landmark community and the potential for telling stories in this digital world is beyond what we imagined. Our vision for Landmark is to provide a place where you can create ANYTHING, tell your own stories, and share your creativity with other players. We are wrapping up a HUGE game update for Landmark with LOTS of new additions and improvements, some of which you’ve already seen in sneak preview posts from Emily “Domino” Taylor on the forums. We are excited about what’s to come for Landmark and we can’t wait to see what you think.

The Landmark team has a lot to do before launch this spring and we’ll continue to keep you informed! For starters, here’s an FAQ if you have any questions after reading this letter.

We’re grateful for your continued support and are looking forward to the coming weeks as we prepare to launch Landmark!

Holly Longdale
Executive Producer

So there is that.

As a personal opener, I am a little bit miffed that Holly Longdale is now the executive producer of Landmark.  It isn’t that I want to deny her any career growth she might desire, but she has been the executive producer of the legacy Norrath group over the last year at Daybreak and I hate to see her attention split away from EverQuest and EverQuest II.  Those two titles had a good year and, while I know Holly isn’t literally responsible for everything, she has been the public face of that team since the Daybreak acquisition.  During that time she has done a lot more to promote those games than the community team ever did.  Half the time it seems that the official accounts are just retweeting Holly.

So while it is Landmark’s gain to get her on the team, I do hope it isn’t Norrath’s loss.

Then there is the FAQ mentioned in that update.  I think we can declare “Free to Play, Your Way” dead at this point.  As was announced with the H1Z1 split, nobody is getting anything for free these days.

If you bought a Founders Pack, then you are set.

Ars Technica Reports...

For specific definitions of “best value”

However, if you were in Landmark on a Founder’s buddy key or some other free intro, it is going to cost you $10 to get back in the game once it goes live.  That isn’t a huge toll… it is half the price of getting in early… but it is a bit of a change-o-rama from past tales when “free” was still a thing.  You might imagine that if you gave SOE a hundred bucks for the game back in 2014 that your buddy keys would be covered.  The forum thread is full of people irked about that.

Also noted is that being a Station Access… erm… Daybreak All Access member gets you nothing as far as Landmark goes.  You have to pay the $10 toll as well.

And then there was a bit about wipes.  The worlds will be wiped at least two more times between now and launch.  There are new features to be put in, including that pioneer landscapes plan to make flat claims available.

Finally, there is the appeal of the game itself.

I am not sure what to think of the pitch about Landmark giving you a way to “tell your own stories,” aside from meaning that you had best not expect Daybreak to be providing any in game narrative.

But as a “better” Minecraft, the game has potential.  Being able to build in a better drawn world where everything isn’t scaled off cube shaped blocks that are one meter on a side is a pretty big deal.  People have made some incredible things in Landmark.

However, I am still a bit dubious about the whole “social MMO” aspect they are pushing when it comes to Landmark.

One of the charms of Minecraft is that you can have a world of your own, or you can run your own server and keep the population down to just friends.  And, of course, you can build anywhere in Minecraft.

When it comes to Landmark though, you are not necessarily going to be able to pick your neighbors.  While I am sure that Daybreak will have some guidelines they will enforce, you may find your exquisitely fashioned crusader castle sharing a valley with a McDonald’s or other such things.

Freedom's just another name for...

Freedom’s just another name for…

As I pointed out in a past post, freedom to make what you want in a shared world means having to put up with what other people want as well.  And making a fuss about what your neighbors are up to can often end up making things worse, something I’ve heard happened more than once in the primordial sandbox world of Second Life.

So while I am interested in what I guess one could call the “Hi Def Minecraft” aspect of Landmark, the shared world, the claim limitations, and the idea of neighbors close at hand isn’t thrilling me.  Then again, it is only $10, and I’ll bet it will be $7.50 or $5.00 when the Steam Summer sale hits… should Daybreak be able to keep to their Spring launch plans.

I will also be interested to see how much buzz the game gets at launch.  One of the possible problems I see with early access… and Landmark will be well past the two year mark in that state when it goes live… is the potential story for the core audience before the game ships.

Addendum: Daybreak announced that they are adding what sounds like the dungeon creation system from EverQuest II into Landmark as part of the pre-launch updates.  That gives the title something else, but I am still not sure how that will fit in with the limited claim size aspect of the game.

EverQuest and EverQuest II Plan New Expansions

Holly “The Hero” Windstalker was out with a new EverQuest II Producer’s Letter which announced that this fall EverQuest II would not be getting some DLC, or an adventure pack, or a campaign, or a campansion (whatever that entails), but an actual, old fashioned expansion.

The Adventure Packs

Remember Adventure Packs?

Though the decision seemed to be one of degrees rather than a hard barrier.

Our next expansion release is right around the corner! Yes, you heard me right – expansion! The team has been churning away and when we looked at the amount of content we created, we decided to call our next release an expansion rather than a campaign…

Enough content to call it an expansion isn’t perhaps the most solid endorsement ever, but it is something.

Color me pleased.  I am one of those people who thinks that DLC or content packs or live updates or what not are just fine, but an expansion is an event, a point in time that changes things, where there is only a before and after.  Or some such.  Syp had the bullet points for that.

Back in April I was declaring the circle complete.  SOE started off back in the day with adventure packs then dropped that to go back to the tried and true EverQuest style expansions.  Then, back in April, during the Daybreak post-acquisition hangover phase, it was announced that there would be no more expansions, that something akin to adventure packs, starting with the Rum Cellar, would be the new way of things, with a promise that the overall content over the course of the year would be about equal to an expansion.

Now though the circle is… um… re-complete?  We’re chasing our tails or running in circles on indulging in non-Euclidean geometric progression?

Also, is this expansion Cthulhu themed?

Also, is this expansion Cthulhu themed?

Further details on the expansion are promised for October 1st, which I assume will include a launch date and, perhaps more interesting to me, a price.  Expansions are worth more, so they will charge more no doubt.  But will there be a digital collector’s edition to skim off money from the faithful?  The last report I recall was that half of those who purchased the current Altar of Malice expansion went for the deluxe package.

And, as these things have gone in the past, buying the new, as yet unnamed expansion will also get you all previous expansions, including the Rum Cellar.  I told you that was a thing.  It is also something of a discouraging factor for the 50% off sale for Altar of Malice and Rum Cellar that they are running through the end of the month.  I can get all that for free with the next expansion… but for how much?  At least there is the option to buy it with Station Daybreak Cash as well.

Meanwhile, there was also an EverQuest Producer’s Letter and hey, guess what, it has the same news!  An expansion will be coming our way this fall.

We are excited to announce we have an expansion on the way – that’s right, expansion – not “campaign.”  As we’ve been toiling away this year, the content we’ve been working on evolved and grew more than we expected.

And, as with EQII, details to come on October 1st.

This sounds less like a coincidence or “whoops, we made too much content!” and more like a plan to keep Norrath viable and making money with the expansion cycle we have come to expect over the years.  What does this say for DLC, campaigns, or campansions?  And what about the other games in the Daybreak portfolio?

Anyway, Norrath keeps on rolling.  Expansions for everybody!

Ragefire – Counting Votes, Fighting Boxers, and Keeping Casuals at Bay

The results of the Ruins of Kunark vote are in for the Ragefire and Lockjaw servers.  As a reminder, here is what the ballot looked like:

Vote early, vote often, vote all your accounts

All votes in

The vote ended on Monday and the results have been posted in the EverQuest forums.

The key for a lot of people is this quote:

On both servers, the 6 month option got the most votes by far, meaning a very large percentage of you like things as they are and want to continue on that path.

That means the status quo won, right?  The “stay the course” option got the most votes.

Well, no.  That option did not win a majority… 50% + 1… of the votes in the polls on either server.  The majority of players voting voted votes cast were for either the ASAP option or the three month option on both servers.

So shortening the unlock date won, right?

Well, no.  If this had been some sort of parliamentary democracy there would have been a run-off vote of some sort on each server between the two options that received the most votes, which on Ragefire was 6 months and 3 months and on Lockjaw 6 months and ASAP, to decide the course of action.

But this is not a parliamentary democracy, it is a business and a dictatorship.  Daybreak sets the rules of the game.  And so they have come up with a compromise worthy of their SOE heritage.

On the Ragefire server, the unlock vote for Ruins of Kunark will be reduced from 6 months to 3 months.  On the Lockjaw server, the unlock vote for Ruins of Kunark will remain at 6 months.  The possibility of free transfers between the servers has been mentioned, but is not a sure thing.  And given how allegedly important server communities are in EverQuest, it shouldn’t be popular even if they implement it.

So there we have a decision pretty much guaranteed to provoke the more vocal members of the community, as well as pulling the two servers out of sync before the first expansion, something that will muddy all future decisions on this front.

We will have to see how that plays out.  Keen has his own views on this, stronger than my own, likely because I haven’t really invested in the whole progression server thing this time around.

Meanwhile, in an interview over at Massively OP, EverQuest team chief Holly “Windstalker” Longdale spoke about some other issues facing the EverQuest progression servers.  One of them was the alleged plague of multi-boxing groups on the server.

If you read the forums you might be convinced that every worthwhile spawn on Ragefire is being camped by some guy running six mages who never logs off or takes a break, but simply farms that spawn everybody else wants all the live long day.

I couldn’t tell you how prevalent that actually is, but it is generating a lot of forum rage and so, Daybreak being the child of SOE, where forum rage is how players have long been trained to get what they want, the EverQuest team is looking into this.  Holly mentioned the possibility of limiting EverQuest logins to one per computer.  You can still multi-box, but you’ll need multiple computers to do it.  However, given the long tradition of multi-boxing in EverQuest… SOE at one point fixed the client so that it was officially a supported thing… I am not sure how you then make this change to the client… the same client the rest of the servers use.

So I guess we shall see how that plays out.  I would like to hear from Daybreak some numbers on how many people they think are out there running the dread six mage multi-box group (and paying almost $90 a month for the pleasure) on your average night before I make up my own mind on that.  I distrust forum rage.

And then there are the raid issues and zone instancing and all that.  Way back before the progression server beta Daybreak already had an official stance on whether or not they would instance raid bosses in the expansions before Gates of Discord:

Uninstanced content on this level was a unique experience for EverQuest, and there are people out there who have never experienced it. We want to believe that you can work it out on your own. We have plans for what to do if you can’t work out something equitable, though, and we might have to contract Alan Rickman to read them.

Basically, no instancing because that wasn’t the way things were, with at least a tacit admission that the whole contested raid thing was going to be a problem because it has literally always been a problem every time it has been a thing.

Apparently unsatisfied with this stance, Holly “Windstalker” Longdale decided to clarify this with a quote that is likely going to haunt her for a while:

What we don’t want to do is instance raids, which is what casuals want us to do because they want to fight Nagafen. Casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen… that diminishes the achievement of others. That’s part of the challenge: You have to be better than the other guy; you have to be more strategic that the other guy.

You cannot get tone from a quote in text, but it is really hard for the voice in my head not to read the start of that second sentence as “Filthy casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen!” in a voice filled with derision and mockery at the very idea of such a thing.

Now, that is just the voice in my head playing games.  I know this.  But I also know that voice is working from notes based on years of war over who should get access to raids, raider elitism, causal entitlement, and the general muddle of conflicting views that is MMO community.  And Holly, given her time having to deal with this sometimes toxic community, ought to understand that.  She isn’t some junior dev dropping a casual quote, she is the Executive Producer responsible for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  Her views set the tone for the game, and that was the tone we got.

No Casuals!!!

Nagafen says, “No Casuals!!!”

Meanwhile, just after the ellipses, we have a confirmation from her that allowing casuals to do things that elite players do hurts the elite by diminishing their achievements.  This goes back to there being an intangible equity system in play where things like LFR hurt the game and should be banned.  What you are allowed to do affects my game, even if we do not interact.

Ah, such fun!  Burn, baby, burn!  At least she didn’t tell casuals that, if they want to fight Naggy, they should just buy a level 90 on a standard server and go solo him.  Wait, no, that would diminish the achievement of others… or would it?  Crap, how does this even work?

This is an issue where I can wander either way depending on my mood, the direction of the wind, and whether or not I went with the hot salsa on my Chipotle burrito. (Always barbacoa!)

I absolutely think there should be aspirational content in games like this, things that take some work and skill and that not everybody gets to do.  There should be things that take a lot of effort and which few attain.

On the other hand, I quite enjoyed my time doing LFRs in WoW.  The raid tourism thing was interesting, I got to see the content, and I was perfectly happy not getting the same drops that people doing the raids at the highest levels got.  But I wasn’t there for the loot, I was there for the show.  Anything else I got was a bonus.

So I, personally, have no answer.

And, on this front I do not expect anything to change.  This is the third time through the whole progression server thing, making it the fourth time through the exact same set of problems.  Daybreak will most likely follow in the grand SOE tradition and try to muddle through until raids are all instanced, when they can forget the whole thing.

Anyway, here in the summer doldrums, when not much generally happens, Daybreak is doing their best to give us something to talk about.  And we haven’t even gotten to the EverQuest II time locked expansion servers yet.

Addendum: Meanwhile, Massively OP apparently couldn’t resist going the click bait rage route with the Ruins of Kunark vote, gratuitously tossing the casuals quote in there for good measure. (And somebody at Daybreak agrees with my assessment.)

Addendum:  In response to accusations on the forums that the whole poll thing was just a smoke screen to allow Daybreak to do what they wanted to do in the first place came this dev response:

This is not what we wanted.

It would be much easier for our team if both servers remained on the 6 month timeline. We wouldn’t need to support character transfers, prep Kunark while waist-deep in the Campaign effort, or maintain two servers with staggered unlock schedules. This is not the ideal outcome for us, and we’re putting in extra work to attempt to give those interested in max nostalgia or early unlock a place to play the way they’d like.

Also, if we did what we wanted, the TLP servers would be on a seasonal ruleset. :p