Tag Archives: Isle of Refuge

The Call of Free Trade in Norrath

Daybreak put up a new EverQuest II server yesterday.  Named “Isle of Refuge” after the original new player starting area, Daybreak is billing this as a “Free Trade” server.

Obligatory Isle of Refuge screen shot stolen from Daybreak

Obligatory Isle of Refuge screen shot stolen from Daybreak

Back when the intention to launch this server was announced, I wasn’t sure I got the appeal of the”free trade” idea.  And now that it has gone live, I’m still not sure.

It isn’t like the concept is difficult or subtle.  I am pretty sure I get what they mean from their description:

Isle of Refuge is what we call a “Free Trade Server.” This means that almost all items can be traded freely between players. There are a few exceptions – Heirloom items purchased via a merchant or in the marketplace, granted from repeatable quests, or received via /claims will remain Heirloom.

Basically, what we might call “bind on pick up” items in the context of WoW will mostly be “bind on equip” when it comes to this server.  Yes, I know that in EQII the flags “attuned,” “no trade,” and “heirloom” are used, but I think WoW’s descriptions are better.  So you can sell or trade your epic raid gear, or twink alts with it, or whatever.

I am just not sure I get WHY this is seen as a significant enough differentiation from other normal live servers to justify rolling up a new server.  Is there a huge demand for free trade?  Have people been agitating for it in the forums for ages?  It certainly doesn’t seem to justify the Daybreak tag line for it:

Get ready to journey to a Norrath like you’ve never experienced before.

Because it will otherwise be a live server.  It won’t be content locked or involve progression or have steeper experience tables or harsher death penalties or any of those things.  I don’t even think the Isle of Refuge will appear on a server named “Isle of Refuge.”  Daybreak, like SOE before it, seems to have no sense and/or fear of irony.

The only restrictions will be that you won’t be able to transfer a character to or from another server (but you can buy a level 90 if you want), some “/claim” items won’t be available, there won’t be battlegrounds, and you will have to be a subscriber in order to play, which was the experience they used to offer back before EverQuest II Extended launched the free to play idea at SOE.

Basically all stuff I have, in fact, experienced before.  I’ll even count transfers, given how prohibitively expensive they were back in the day.

Of course, I think it is the last bit, the All Access requirement, is the real key to the situation.

After ages of the SOE “Free to Play, Your Way!” mantra, which admittedly meant trying to get you to subscribe via a variety of sticks and carrots, Daybreak has bought into the idea of special servers for subscribers.  We saw progression servers on the Daybreak road map almost immediately after they were free from SOE.

However, my guess is that they couldn’t quite bring themselves to put up a new, subscriber-only server where the big draw was “No Freep Scum Allowed!”  So “Free Trade” became the MacGuffin here.  It is all about that.

Not that their plan lacks its appealing aspects.

New server smell, with no transfers from the rest of the game, does mean building a new community.  It will be a fresh start on a new server with new markets and new guilds, all in the current content package; same expansions, same events, same specials, same cash shop, just about the same everything.  So you can leave behind your old, overstuffed bank and those offending freeloaders and come play on a server for people who have some skin in the game!  Also, free trade!

I do sort of wish that the level 90 buy-in option wasn’t available, but I am sure it will be popular and help soak up the remains of the giant pool of Station Cash that I bet is still left over from the foolhardy sales during the dark ages of SOE’s failure to understand economics, an era which led to people paying as little as $5.00 for expansions and $1.25 a month for a Gold subscription.

So there it is.  A chance to play on a fresh server with some minor rules variations.

Now the question is, after Daybreak built it, will they come?  Will people… subscribers… flock to this new opportunity?  Does new server smell, with a side order of free trade, have the draw?  And if it is successful, will it simply draw off the paying membership from the recently consolidated live servers, fragmenting populations and leaving live in something of a bind?

Finally, if it does have some success, will it be headed to EverQuest next… erm, I mean headed next to EverQuest?

We shall see.  The new server isn’t up on the Daybreak status page yet, so I cannot tell if it is bursting at the seams or a ghost town.

Hat Tip to EQ2 Wire for reminding me yet again that this server was a thing.

Return of the Isle of Refuge

As mentioned in my previous post this morning, I was away for the week so the posts that went up on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday were written well in advance of their going live.  So my Tuesday post about the EverQuest II time locked expansion servers going live was working on the information I had at the time and lacked any immediate action on my part.

So I was pretty surprised to find upon my return that Daybreak had pulled a fast one and had actually put the Isle of Refuge back into the game for these servers.  I logged in and made a character… a barbarian berserker, which is my default EQII character choice most days of the week… and found myself, as Bhagpuss put it, on the boat and on my way to the isle.

Where are we headed Captain Varlos?

Where are we headed Captain Varlos?

In fact, when you create a character you are back to the two original choices.  No Frostfang Sea or Darklight Wood options were displayed.

You have your choice between two identical islands...

You have your choice between two identical islands…

I ran through the boat ride and landed on the Isle of Refuge, but stopped there.  It did appear that, if the whole retro isle experience wasn’t your thing, you could leave immediately as opposed to after you finished up the main quest chain.

The servers themselves seemed pretty busy for a Thursday night.

TimeLockedServersPvE seemed to be beating out PvP for the time being, and enough people were rolling in then that I ended up in Queen’s Colony 3 on the PvE side of the house.

I will have to devote some time to playing this weekend to see how the retro experience stacks up to my memories.

And there is an incentive to get into the game sooner rather than later.  Daybreak is offering a 16 slot bag to those who log in before August 7.

Subscribers Only

Subscribers Only

Given that you start out with a single 4 slot bag… where will I store all my stuff… that seems like a good thing.

Now to decide which trade skill to pick up.

EverQuest II Time Locked Expansion Server Names Poll Unlocks the Irony

Meanwhile Daybreak is going forward with their EverQuest II nostalgia plan, involving those PvE and PvP Time Locked Expansion servers, and holding an in-game poll to decide what they should be named.

As noted over at the EQ2 Wire, Daybreak first went to the forums and asked for name suggestions and then… I think… drew from those suggestions.  My suggestion didn’t make the cut.  I figured that since the last great server experiment, EverQuest II Extended, got the name Freeport that it was time for Qeynos to be recognized.

That was a faint hope I am sure.  The anti-Qeynos sentiment on the team, present since before the 1999 launch of EQ, remains strong and we’re probably more likely to get a server named Qekaerbyad than Qeynos these days.  Anyway, it didn’t make the cut.  Instead, these are the names you get to choose from in the currently-running in-game poll.

EQ2TLEServerPoll

My choices indicated

For the PvP server there didn’t seem to be any obvious stand out choice, but I have always felt that Bonemore was a particularly grim sounding name, so I went with that.  Deathtoll seemed too unsubtle while the rest didn’t really resonate with me, but any of the names would probably work.

On the PvE side I could say something for Stormhold, that dungeon in Antonica in which we spent so much time back in the early days.  In fact, that would have been my go-to choice had the obvious winner not been glaring at me.

Yes, I think the only appropriate way to vote is to go with the “we’re going to keep bringing it up until you bring it back” name, Isle of Refuge.

This is almost a text book example of what SynCaine refers to as “SOE being SOE.” I cannot imagine how that name made the cut for the vote.

First, the name implies that this subscriber-only server will be a place to escape from whatever sins you care to count on the live servers.  Screw you, freeps!

Second, they will be naming a server after a zone they took out of the game which represents a good chunk of the nostalgia they are attempting to milk pander to recreate.  How is that a good idea, reminding everybody every single time they log on that the Isle of Refuge server does not include the actual Isle of Refuge that those likely to play on this server want?

So clearly, I feel you should log on immediately and vote for Isle of Refuge.

Make Isle of Refuge happen.

The Isle of Refuge – What Do You Do With Your Own Zone?

The EverQuest II 10 year anniversary just passed, and I posted about hitting the 10 year mark myself with the game last week.

This past weekend, while taking a break from Warlords of Draenor so as not to burn myself out on it right away (a hazard as I spent the two weeks running up to the expansion binging on the game), I decided to log into EverQuest II in order to see if I was eligible for the 11 year veterans reward.

Yes, I can do simple math.  How can I get the 11 year award just days after the 10 year anniversary?

SOE, as part of the enticement to get people to buy expansions, threw in a 90 day boost to your veteran’s status with the first four expansion.  Having purchased The Desert of Flames, Kingdom of Sky, Echoes of Faydwer, and Rise of Kunark (and The Shadow Odyssey, which was the last EQII expansion I purchased, in part because I haven’t even made it into Rise of Kunark yet), I had, like many long time players of the game, an extra year on my record.  And so SOE has to be a year ahead of the game when it comes to these things.

There was also a point in time when SOE was only counting the time you were actually subscribed to the game.  I think that went in at some point after Rise of Kunark.  Up to that point the calculation was based on when you created your EQII account (or the launch date, if you were in the beta).  So, despite taking time off, I was always eligible for the latest award.  Then they got picky, people were complaining in the forums that it was not “fair” for non-subscribed time to count (I seem to recall Scott Hartsman backing that idea, but I could be wrong), and I wasn’t playing very much, so I fell behind.

With the advent of EverQuest II Extended and free to play, SOE eventually changed their minds, no doubt wanting to avoid complications, and set veteran rewards simply based on your account start date again, and suddenly I was overloaded with such items to claim.

The rewards vary in quality.  They started out as anniversary loyalty markers… you usually got a title, a house item, and a couple experience potions… then somebody at SOE thought that such awards might help with player retention and we ended up with a batch of rewards for the first two years.  There is a one day award.  Yay, you didn’t uninstall and walk away after a day with the game, have a 12 slot bag rather optimistically called “The Bag of Endless Adventure!”  I think of it more as the bag of about 15 minutes of resource harvesting, but you go with your experiences.  You can see the semi-complete reward list at the wiki.

Anyway, enough of that back story, though this post is going to be pretty much all back story and nostalgia.

I logged in with Sigwerd, a berserker and the last character I played as a “main” or sorts, and I didn’t even have to type in the /claim command to check.  There in the system messages in chat was a reminder that I was eligible for the 11 year reward.  So I typed in /claim and brought up the list.

The 11 Year Reward

The 11 Year Reward

The 11 year reward is a prestige home in the form of the Isle of Refuge.

More after the cut.  Warning, back story and nostalgia ahead.  Also, screen shots.

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