Tag Archives: Meaningless Milestones

EverQuest at Nineteen Launches a New Server

I see it around me
I see it in everything

-My Sundown, Jimmy Eat World

Here we are at EverQuest’s nineteenth birthday.  Cue the usual tale about buying it at Fry’s on the way home from work back on March 16, 1999, arriving home, installing it, and being instantly hooked.

And, as I have opined before, if you had told me I might still be able to play the game in 2018, that it would still be live and viable and getting expansions, I am pretty sure I would have at least politely agreed to disagree on that.

Back in 2007 I put up a post wondering how many more expansions we could expect from EverQuest.  The game just turned eight years old, the producers had announced that they were cutting back to a single expansion every year, the Sayonara Norrath video had already been making people misty eyed for a couple years, and I was guessing that it would make it at least to the ten year mark, maybe getting expansions out to twelve years.

In reality last year saw the Ring of Scale expansion launched, the 24th expansion for the game and here we are again for my annual homage to the world of Norrath.  How does it do it?  How has the game lasted so long?

Sure, it isn’t the oldest game out there.  It isn’t even the oldest MMO.  But a lot of things its age are quirky niche games in an already niche genre or are being run more as a hobby or labor of love than as a viable business venture.

EverQuest has followed the industry trends over the years, easing the death penalty, instancing content, focusing on quests, and going free to play.  They have even taken a shot at upgrading the graphical quality of some of the early zones. I am not sure how much any of that has really helped though.  Did free to play bring enough new players?  Did anybody like the reworked Freeport and Commonlands?

What keeps EverQuest going?

I think it helps that Daybreak owns the IP.  A licensed IP means writing a check to somebody else every month, not to mention the need to protect the IP, which means the owner might not want it attached to some maintenance mode shanty town.

Likewise, I think that its age is actually a benefit.  It stands out as one of the early archetypes of the genre, the trail blazer of what became the path most followed.  Also, having been initially built in during a time that pre-dates the rise in popularity of the genre meant that much of the game had to be built from scratch.  That means less third party tools and middle-ware that has a regular license fee attached.  It isn’t as simple as just having enough money to pay the electric bill and the network connection fee (and the domain registration, let’s not forget that… again).  I am sure there is a hefty database in there that has an annual maintenance contract.

So, while EverQuest does cost money simply to run (probably more than you or I think), and even more to keep people maintaining it, the absolute base line level to keep it alive is considerably less than a game like Star Wars: The Old Republic, which has bills every month for a licensed IP, the HeroEngine on which it was built, and probably a pile of additional middle-ware and tools for the team, not to mention the revenue expectations of EA which, as a public company, has to trim products that are not performing. (I bag on EA a lot, but they are a product of the Wall Street environment.)

But the strongest card in its hand seems to be nostalgia, wherein it also benefits from its age.  If you wandered into the MMORPG genre in 2008 or later, you might have picked one of any number of games… though you probably went for World of Warcraft.

However, if you started playing before the year 2000, you likely played one of three titles, Ultima Online, Asheron’s Call, or EverQuest… and it was probably EverQuest.  Even if you moved on to other games, or moved to WoW and never looked back like a lot of people… EverQuest remained the foundation of the genre for a lot of players.  While the subscriber base peaked just past 500K, millions of people came and went from the game by the time WoW showed up at ate the genre.

And so EverQuest plays on that, and rightly so.  It works.  Expansions revisit old themes like elemental planes, pirates, or dragons, along with old locations such as Faydwer and Kunark.

But most of all this nostalgia is harnessed via special servers.  This is the magic… and money making magic, since you have to opt-in on an old fashioned subscription in order to play… that seems to keep people interested and returning to old Norrath.  Subscriptions for the nostalgic and expansions that hearken back to familiar themes for those who never left.

And so it only seems natural that today, on the game’s nineteenth birthday, Daybreak is launching yet another time locked, true box, instanced raiding, multi-zone spawning, something something, progression server, Coirnav.

Coirnav the fast and bulbous

Coirnav the Avatar of Water is a raid boss from from the plane of water, thus rolling back on that elemental planes theme I mentioned above.

There is a FAQ for the Coirnav server, though as far as I can tell it matches what they did for the last such server, which I think was Agnarr.  I believe with this there will be six such progression servers running for EverQuest, which leads one to the question of when should they end and be merged back into the live servers.  The problem is that EverQuest has so many expansions to unlock that every 12 weeks you still end up with a five year mission.

But roll on nostalgia if it keeps people interested and playing/paying.  I believe the best part is the first few months when everybody is new and the possibility of finding new people to play with is very real.  Once you get past Ruins of Kunark things settle into the more traditional fixed groups we know from many other MMOs.

I won’t be joining in for this round.  I had a good time with the Fippy Darkpaw server (which is still running) back in 2011, but I am not sure I am ready for any sort of serious return. (Follow the tag for the life and times of that server.)  I read somewhere that the internet has brought about the post-nostalgia era, since nostalgia means a longing for something gone and you can now find just about anything on a web page somewhere.  Certainly the knowledge that EverQuest is there and that I could go wander around the world and play for a bit should I ever want keeps me from missing Norrath as much as I might.

Future grad students will have a bounty of information about all of our trivial thoughts when they look back on the dawn of the 21st century.

Anyway, here is to nineteen years of EverQuest!

It is a nostalgia post, so I might as well close with a nostalgia video.  Here is the updated 720p version of Sayonara Norrath from 2004.

I am not sure it needed to be upped to 720p.  Certainly the graphics from the game were not up to that standard at the time.  But I still get a little misty eyed seeing all the old locations go by.

One Hundred and Ninety Million Skill Points

That time has rolled around again.  Another meaningless skill point milestone, a new round number, made more meaningless by the advent of skill injectors, but at this point it is a tradition so I might as well carry on.

Past the 190 million mark

The story so far, for those wanting a quick summary of my skill point progression over the last decade or so.

Since the last check-in at 180 million I did an attribute remap to chase down some skills not focused on willpower and perception, which covers a spaceship command and a lot of the weapon skills, changing the emphasis to memory and intelligence.

Thanks to the way CCP thinks, I am committed to that remap for a full year, which puts me out to October.  You would imagine that a remap token would be something worth selling in the New Eden Store, but that hasn’t occurred to CCP quite yet.  They’ll sell skills directly to Alpha clones, but a skill remap would be heresy I guess.  So until then I am somewhat gimped if I suddenly need a new ship type trained up or a weapon skill.

Fortunately I have all the sub-cap skills up to IV and many of them to V, so that isn’t too likely.

Anyway, this change was to allow me to wrap up skills around scanning.  I was feeling the pain of that after using my alt to scan.  He has all the skills up the V and Wilhelm was still languishing with skills at level III of IV.  So that was my initial focus.

However, that wasn’t going to take anything like a year so, at this point, scanning skills are all done, pushed up to level V.  I haven’t had an opportunity to use them yet, but like so many of the skills I have trained over the years, they are there waiting if I should need them.

That done I started going through and tossing skills on that would be optimized by my remap, or at least not drastically hindered by it.

 Spaceship Cmd 61,730,636 (60 of 75)*
 Gunnery 17,197,141 (36 of 46)
 Fleet Support 12,896,000 (14 of 15)
 Drones 12,652,303 (22 of 26)*
 Missiles 11,111,853 (22 of 26)*
 Navigation 9,660,314 (13 of 13)
 Engineering 7,886,130 (15 of 15)*
 Electronic Sys 7,806,958 (14 of 15)*
 Armor 6,131,137 (13 of 13)
 Shields 6,074,039 (12 of 13)*
 Scanning 5,791,765(7 of 7)*
 Science 5,714,282 (21 of 39)*
 Resc Processing 4,756,183 (22 of 28)*
 Subsystems 4,096,000 (16 of 16)*
 Trade 3,399,530 (10 of 14)*
 Targeting 3,207,765 (8 of 8)
 Neural Enhance. 3,202,510 (7 of 8)
 Planet Mgmt 1,612,315 (5 of 5)
 Structure Mgmt 1,446,824 (6 of 6)*
 Rigging 1,312,395 (10 of 10)
 Production 1,157,986 (5 of 12)
 Social 1,130,040 (5 of 9)
 Corp Mgmt 24,000 (2 of 5)

 Total ~190,000,000 (345 of 424)

That is a total of 345 skills by my count, up from 338 last time, so somewhere along the line I picked up 7 more skills.  Those with an asterisk went up since the last check-in.

Of course, Spaceship Command still reigns supreme as the top category after all these years and, despite the attribute remap, it still went up a bit this time around and a new skill was added.  That would be Minmatar Carrier, since the Nidhoggur is the current new hotness in the meta.  I don’t own one, but I could get in one and fly it if I had to.

A Nidhoggur with a Cerb shadow on it

At the top end of the list Gunnery and Fleet Support didn’t get touched, but Drones saw a boost as I started working on the level V versions of fighter skills in order to use tech II fighters with carriers.  This was spurred by my going on a capital training op that actually explained how to use fighters in terms I could understand, so I think I can do that now… though I think I already forgot how to send fighters to specific locations using that two-axis command.  We’ll see.

A few other slots got minor boosts, but Scanning, as one might expect from what I wrote above, saw the biggest boost overall, jumping over 2.7 million skill points since the last check in.  I have all those scanning skills to V now.

All that training upped the count of skills at level V, so my current spread looks like this:

 Level 1 - 1
 Level 2 - 4
 Level 3 - 43
 Level 4 - 91
 Level 5 - 206

That’s what you get at my end of the training cycle, a lot of skills.  As for what to keep training… well… I always have a queue at least two years deep.  I have to finish up those fight skills.  Then there are things like Neurotoxin Control and Neurotoxin Recovery to enhance my in-game drug usage… all Reavers are Quafe addicts… and others that align with my current attribute selection.  There is more than enough there to keep me going through the 200,000,000 mark.

I do wonder how much longer this series of posts will be viable.  In part, I wonder when I’ll just be done an start actually training an alt on my account.  But mostly I wonder about my ability to get at the data for these posts.

I have used EVE Mon for the data over the years.  However, support for it has fallen by the wayside of late and, while it did get an update recently, even if development for it is renewed with some vigor, it still faces the looming cliff of the death of the old API system in the spring.

Come the 8th of May the old API system, along with CREST, will be shut off and only the new-ish ESI API will be left.  I get the reasoning and we’ve certainly been given plenty of warning, but it will still mean the death of a number of third party applications that have popped up over the years as the authors decide if it is worth reworking their integration.

That’s the problem with community projects, which make up the bulk of EVE Online tools, they depend on players remaining invested with the game.  Once they wander off, support for their tool often stops.  I worry that come May 9th we might find something major like DOTLAN EVE Maps has gone missing.

Meanwhile, my experience with the new ESI API system, largely confined to the Neocom II app on my iPad, has been less than stellar.  Either that app is messed up or the new interface does not deliver data in an accurate or timely manner.  As I noted in my look at that app, it shows me two different skill point totals, neither of which are correct.

Of course, I could just log into the game and dig through my character sheet for the data.  However, it doesn’t total up my skills nicely by category the way EVE Mon always has.

My skill counts by category in game

Though EVE Mon is fallible as well.  It still showed the old 5 subsystems per empire skill plan, but that has been trimmed to 4 now, so it should be 16 total skills for the Subsystem category, not 20.  Such is life.

And my alternate choice, EVEBoard, where you can see my character’s skills laid out, also depends on the old API as well, so that won’t help much unless/until they upgrade as well.

So the next milestone is 200,000,000 skill points which, given the usual 7 month cycle, ought to hit at some point in September.  We will see then if

A Tipping Point for My Time in New Eden

What was going on in December six years ago?

The instance group was still early in its adventures in Rift.

EverQuest II merged with the EverQuest II Extended F2P experiment.

Diablo III seemed to be on the horizon, along with Torchlight II and Path of Exile.  My annual MMO Outlook post wasn’t very MMO-ish.

Star Wars: The Old Republic was arriving on the scene while Star Wars Galaxies was being shut down.

Lord British was being coy about his ultimate RPG, how fond he was (or was not) of EA, and how nice it would be if EA would let him use the Ultima IP he sold them way back when.

We starting to worry about the fact that the Mayan calendar seemed to call it quits in 2012… again, Lord British on the scene here as well, he seemed to be talking a lot back then… until we all got a new one in the mail from our Mayan insurance agents.  That was probably a good thing, since the contact information on the old one was pretty far out of date.

And I was back subscribed to EVE Online for the Crucible expansion.

Crucible – November 2011

Having voted with my wallet and unsubscribed after the Incarna fiasco, I was back to see if CCP was really changing course or not.

Crucible dropped at the end of November 2011 with a promise to focus on fixing the game that already existed in New Eden as opposed to dumping new features on us.  As Hilmar told us, the era of the Jesus Feature was over and the patch notes foretold a lot of incremental look and feel improvements for the game.

Things were pretty in Crucible, I gave CCP that.  But it was still the same game overall and I had worn out most of the paths in high sec that were available, having run missions, manufactured, invented, mined, and played the market.  After a few days of looking at space and ships and such I was already feeling a bit done with things.

And then my pal Gaff suggested I come out to null sec where he was.

He had been out there for a while and had asked me to come out previously, but I was always tied up with what I was doing.  I get hung up on my “stuff” and all of that “stuff” was in a station in Amarr space, much closer to Delve than Deklein.  The idea of packing it up and moving was too much and I would always put off joining him until I was “ready,” whatever that meant.

This time, however, I hadn’t been around my “stuff” for months.  My attachment to it was pretty weak, as was my attachment to the game itself in that moment.  I was pretty sure I was going to unsubscribe anyway, so I said I would go.

So six years ago today was my first null sec post where I joined the corp Gaff was in, set my home to their main station, and self-destructed to awake and find myself in Deklein.  From there it was fleet ops and space battles and ships and effects I had never before seen in the game.

From that point forward I started seeing new things and playing in a new way.  In the six years since the sovereignty map has changed (what it looked like back then), the mechanics have changed, the fleet metas have changed, the graphics have changed, moon mining has changed, jump travel has changed, skill injectors arrived, Alpha clones became a thing, and null sec has gone from being a pretty restricted club to being pretty accessible via large new player organizations with low barriers to entry like KarmaFleet, Pandemic Horde, and Brave Newbies.

Also, I’ve been part of an invasion of Delve at least four times.

But all of that has kept me invested in EVE Online and came at a time when I was ready to step away from New Eden once again.

As for the tipping point, with the coming of my sixth year in null sec it also means that along the way, in the last few months I suppose, I passed over the line where most of my in-game time went from being in high sec space and doing the PvE things I mentioned above… which I still do sometimes, but not as my sole vocation… to being mostly null sec based.

I suppose the real question now is, am I a bitter vet yet or not?

Thirteen Years of This in Azeroth

I stood there in the rain amongst the looted corpses and burning huts.

The scene, repeated over and over…

As I surveyed the grisly scene, the reasoning behind the task seemed less and less plausible.  Did I really have to kill them all and burn down their huts?  Was there some other way where both sides could have gotten what they wanted?

Well, at least that guy promised me some gold for this… and guys like that always pay… always about the same amount too… like there was some sort of industry standard price for this sort of thing.  Hrmm…

Maybe the next task will be different.

Happy Birthday World of Warcraft.

A Timely Anniversary in WoW

We are in the anniversary zone in World of Warcraft, the official launch date being November 23rd.  But Blizzard spreads out the celebration for a while, so anniversary events and such are live in the game.

The traditional WoW Anniversary Tabard

But the re-usable boost token is really on my side this year.

13% for 13th Anniversary

I am not so concerned about experience gains, but since I am in the reputation grind to unlock flying in WoW Legion, I will take every little boost I can get.  I still have a ways to go on reputation, so I’m using the bonus while I have it.

EverQuest II Becomes a Teenager

Part of me feels a need to mark these sorts of anniversaries.  Thirteen is significant in that is the age at which one passes into the tumultuous teen years, hormones all in a rage and stuck in between being…. and wanting to be… both a child and an adult.

I don’t have a stock EverQuest II graphic

EverQuest, the progenitor, went Free to Play on its thirteenth birthday, striking out to remake itself in a new mold like many a teen.

But MMORPGs are not people, and thirteen isn’t really the start of the teens for games the genre.  MMO titles crow up fast and adulthood can be reached in just weeks or months.  If anything, thirteen is well into middle-age, when routines have been establish, destiny pretty much set, and you have a stable of acquaintances who’ve already made up their mind about you long ago.  EverQuest going free to play at thirteen was not an act of teen rebellion but a bowing to reality.

Now EverQuest II is thirteen, as WoW will be in a couple of weeks.  I don’t know that there will be anything truly special about this turning of the calendar for either game.  But I am in a nostalgic mood.  It is autumn, I am back playing WoW and I have been poking my nose into TorilMUD again, having gotten ZMud up and running once more. (Expect more MUD posts.)

As part of all of that I was digging around and came across a Microsoft Word document.  It was a summary of EverQuest II from a person who had been in the beta and sent to a member of our Shades of Twilight guild on TorilMUD to convince them to come and play EverQuest II.  The document was passed on to Gaff who passed it on to me.  It is the answer to the question, “Why did you run off to play EverQuest II?” for our guild.

We ended up in a mixed group of migrating EverQuest players from a guild and our TorilMUD guild coming together to form Knights of the Cataclysm on the Crushbone server back on November 14, 2004.

Our day one guild on Crushbone

Crushbone had just been stood up, a second round server to hold the influx of players coming to the new game.  We got there largely due to the document I am including after the cut.  I do not know the original author’s name nor am I posting with their permission.  I am justifying this as a bit of history that describes a lot of the things that were in place in EverQuest II at launch.

Many, many words after the cut.  Real life names redacted.

Continue reading


No, I am not trying to trigger Syp.  Well, not just that anyway.

Any elf will do for our purposes…

Back in high school, a distance through time more easily measured in decades than years at this point, I took German as my foreign language.  I think the primary outcome of three years of the language is that my writing in English improved greatly.  One of those side-effects, you have to examine your own language in order to learn another one.

I think my greatest achievement in German was reading Catch-22 in the language, something that took me most of a summer, a copy in English, and my German-English dictionary.  Other than that, I retain very little of the language.  Enough to annoy my mother-in-law (who is German), catch the occasional bit of dialog in a movie, appreciate The Germans episode of Fawlty Towers slightly more, get that joke about the German novel where the last two chapters are nothing but verbs, and make a poor joke from a post title.

Anyway, the German word for “eleven” is “elf,” something endlessly amusing to a 13 year old boy, an age I have never fully ceased to be.  The title is a joke because I write about fantasy MMORPGs now and again… less lately than before… where the elf is a staple, and yet relevant because this is one of those anniversary posts… my eleventh.

The Annual WP.com achievement

I am clearly out of clever titles and amusing intros at this point.  Remember that anniversary post that was full of Soviet propaganda?  Or the one grounded in Winnie the Pooh?  Now I am hanging my hat on the fact that the German word for eleven is a mythical creature in English.  It’s all I’ve got, and I’m not even going to run with it.  I’m going to just break in the usual statistics for a bit and hope I can come up with something new to say before we get to the end of the post.

For those interested in some of my better attempts at anniversary posts, here is the list:

And from that we might as well get stuck into this.

Base Statistics

In which I attempt to quantify what I have done here in the last twelve months.  The change over last year’s totals are noted in parentheses.

Days since launch: 4,018 (+365)
Posts total: 4,416 (+341)
Average posts per day: 1.097 (-0.013)
Comments: 29,415 (+1,456)
Average comments per post: 6.66  (-0.2)
Average comments per day: 7.32  (-0.33)
Spam comments: 1,376,145 (+63,980)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 424
Average spam comments per day: 342.5 (-16.7)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 47.2 (+0.2)
Comments written by me: 3,873 or 13.1%
Images uploaded:  10,416 11,764 (+1,348)
Space used by images: 270MB of my 3 GB allocation (9%, down 69%)
Blog Followers: 1,340
Twitter Followers: 722
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 6 (one twice)

This is the first year of the blog where I wrote less than one post per day, hitting the publish button 24 fewer times in the last year than the year before.  That is about a month of weekday posts I did not do.  See the effect of MMO malaise?  Because, seriously, I didn’t take any long vacations or suffering from debilitating illness over the previous twelve months.  I just wrote less, something that generally happens when I am just not interested in a given topic, which in this case is my MMO hobby.

Still, the average over the full life of the blog is over a post a day.  And even 333 is more than a post every weekday, the goal for which I strive.  That would only net me about 260 posts so, while no Stakhanovite, I have exceeded my posting norm.  Not bad for an eleven year long streak.

With posts down, comments were also down, both overall… simply fewer comments than last year… and as a percentage of posts… people commented less per post.  My comments, as a percentage of the total, was up.  Probably me talking to myself.

One oddity in the stats above is the amount of space used by my uploaded images, which dropped precipitously since last year’s post.  For some reason WordPress.com reset my allocation last year.  Maybe it was a happy anniversary gesture.  Maybe it was a bug.  I suspect that nothing good will come of it and that some day I will log in and find every screen shot from 2006 through 2016 missing, having been deleted by some automated process.  But for now they survive.

Anyway, that is the basic gist of what happened here over the last year.  The remainder of the post is after the cut to keep the long list of mostly meaningless words and statistics from overwhelming the from page.  See you on the other side, should you choose to go there… or if you are looking at this in an RSS reader.

Continue reading