Tag Archives: Meaningless Milestones

EverQuest II Unavailable at its Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday would have been the usual date when I write something about another EverQuest II anniversary, for it was on November 13th 2004 that I signed on to play for the first time.  Roll stock footage of the early days.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

Some years I make a big deal out of this.  Last year, at the fifteenth anniversary, I wrote a long tale of the game. This year I was just going to log in and write a little something about the passing of another year.  However, Daybreak is having an outage.  If your client isn’t up to date, and they have pushed new content since I last logged in, you are out of luck.

Sorry, no update for you

This apparently applies to all of their titles, EverQuest gives me the same error, and has been going on for a few days now.  This seems like a critical issue, but Daybreak has fallen back into their usual bad habit of being uncommunicative.  Feldon of EQ2 Wire fame has been keeping an eye on this:

Daybreak has since banned him from the forums for poking at this issue as it drags on.  The company line is that they are helpless to do anything until their CDN provider fixes the issue.

For me this isn’t a huge deal.  I only wanted to peek in on yet another anniversary and see what was up, look at my characters, and poke around a bit.  I’m already invested in WoW retail and WoW Classic along with EVE Online at the moment, so my bandwidth for another game is limited.  But, you never know.  Last year I didn’t plan to play and ended up subscribing and playing for a few months.

Of course, for Daybreak this should be a big deal.  They are in the midst of their ramp up to their latest expansion.  They want people coming back to the game.  The pre-orders are available, the pre-launch events are starting, people should be coming back to the game.

Except, of course, some people cannot currently.

So I’ll just note the anniversary without logging in.  I hope they get their act together soon… at least on the patching issue.  As an overall wish for the company that is probably too much to ask.

Related:

Addendum:  After I wrote this Daybreak made some progress on the issue, the PlanetSide 2 team being the only one to broadcast it, though I still could not get logged in  They let you bypass the launcher patching, but then it fails on the in-game patching service, so the game is still unplayable, at least for me.

Also dug up was the fact that Daybreak is still using the Sony domain for some of its services more than five years after they were split from the company.

Level 40 in Pokemon Go

As I mentioned in the month in review post, I managed to make it to level 40 in Pokemon Go at last.  My wife got here too, though about a week behind me.

The big four oh

In support of the whole idea that Pokemon Go is an MMO, hitting the level cap had both that climactic and anti-climactic feel to it that reaching the level cap does in a game like WoW.

On the one hand, you’ve climbed the xp mountain.  The goal has been achieved.

And, as I mention, the way the level curve in Pokemon Go is setup, the gap between level 39 and level 40 represents 25% of the total xp needed to go from 1 to 40.  That last step is a big one, and since I hit 39 back in April I have noted not just my level in the month in review posts, but the percentage of the way I had made it towards that final goal.

There was a lot of anticipation running through me as to how long it would take to reach the summit, so when I arrived it was kind of a big deal.  I got my moment, the big 40 on my phone screen, the pile of goodies that come with the level, and all of that.

But then there is the inevitable realization that once you’re at the top of the mountain, the climb is done.  As often happens to me in MMOs, I get focused pretty hard on getting there as I get closer and closer… and then suddenly the last bit before level zips past and it happens so fast that you feel like you never had a chance to savor those last moments.

And then after all the time focused on one primary aspect of the game, you’re done with it and left feeling a bit empty as your goal is suddenly reached.

I took a screen shot of my basic stats just after I hit level 40.

Status as of level 40

It is interesting to note that you keep accumulating xp even after you hit level 40.

My wife was a bit irked to hit level 40 after me as the account on her phone is a month older than the one on mine, so she had been ahead of me in levels for most of the chase up to level 40.  I caught up around level 36, then she passed me again, then I pulled out in front for the final stretch.

Part of the reason she is irk is that her stats on that page, for Pokemon caught and PokeStops visited, are more than 10K higher than mine on both counts.  That is few million points of xp she should have over me.

But I did better with Pokefriends.  I have 34 “best” friends in the game, and you earn xp for each of the four friend stages, the last two being worth 50K and 100K respectively.  She had about half that many when she hit 40, so that gave me a couple million extra xp on my own.  Plus, I managed to pop a lucky egg for a couple of best friend events, which doubles the xp.

Now that we’re both 40 and the xp race is done, the question is what to do now?  After all this time, it is kind of our thing, something we do together.

In the grand tradition of the mainline Pokemon RPGs, there is always the quest to catch them all.  There are still a bunch of Pokemon we’re missing.

And, more in the MMO tradition, there is raiding.  One of my wife’s friends has been including us in a group that coordinates to do gym raids, something that is also helping us fill in the missing Pokemon.

We did talk about trying one of the other Niantic games, specifically Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.  However, that didn’t seem to be taking off… or be much more than a re-skin of Pokemon Go with a Hogwarts motif… so we stuck with the our current game for now.

Pokemon Go has been upping its game this year too, with a lot of events.  And there is talk about either raising the level cap or adding another form of progression.

For now though, we’re working with the game at the level cap.  We can finally boost up our Pokemon to their max CP.

Sunday WoW Items Before Shadowlands

We’re into November, and a bunch of stuff is coming up in World of Warcraft, not the least being the Shadowlands expansion.  But that is out on the 23rd, and a few things are in between then and now.

The November 1 calendar entries

Darkmoon Faire

It is the start of the last Darkmoon Faire before the expansion, and the first one since the big level squish.  You can get a final five points in any of your Kul Tiran or Zandalarian professions before Shadowlands profession updates arrive.  My main is just 3 points shy of finishing engineering, so I’ll be in there with him.  You have until Saturday night to get that done.

I’m also going to see if I can figure out the deal with heirloom gear.  Most of mine seems to be useful only through level 34 now, which isn’t so useful in a 10-50 alt leveling context.

Day of the Dead

It is also your chance to run the Day of the Dead event.  Get on this right away though, as it is a single day event.

Anniversary Event

World of Warcraft turns 16 this year, and the anniversary of the initial launch coincides with the launch date for Shadowlands.  I guess they did not want the two events interfering with each other or confusing anybody, so the anniversary event starts today and ends on November 22nd.  The 23rd is reserved for Shadowlands.

End Date

The event itself is a modest example of the genre.  You get a package in your mail box with some time warped tokens, a quest starter for a time walking event, a firework, and the usual xp boost token.

16 years means 16% boost

I am going to guess that Blizz doesn’t want to go into Shadowlands while giving people an xp boost.  They’ll save that for later.

The Headless Horseman’s Mount

Once again I queued up for the Headless Horseman.  I was half-hearted when Hallow’s End started, but was motivated by Belghast’s post about going all out for it.  Having done an audit of all of my characters, I knew that I had 18 characters who were level 20 or higher after the squish, the minimum level to run the Headless Horseman’s instance.

The first couple of the days I just ran with the dozen eligible characters on the paired servers, Eldre’Thalas and Korialstrasz, that I think of as home.  At the end though I dug out some old characters, spec’d them up, and ran with anybody I could get in the queue.

But, after the final run this morning as the event wound down, I found myself once again without the mount.

Not mine

Lots of masks, a lot of candy, a few rings, one sword, but no mounts.

On the bright side, I didn’t do horribly with the rando alts.  I’d probably go back and spec a couple of them to tank specs just to shorten the wait in the queue, but I didn’t do too bad.  I only had one bad group along the way, which wiped on the event three times before I bailed.  I was tanking that one with a level 50 pally and was putting out more DPS than the rest of the group combined.

Next year in Scarlet Monastery I guess.

Two Hundred and Twenty Million Skill Points

Didn’t I say I was done with these posts back at 200 million?  See how much you can trust me.

This time around the milestone sort of crept up on me by surprise.  I had diverted training on my main account to an alt for a stretch, but then a few things showed up that I wanted to train and I put the queue back on Wilhelm.  That was a ways back, but I swear that the total count was only about 218 million when I last looked.  Suddenly, yesterday, it was past 220 million and time for a post. (This does not count the ~3 million unused skill points I have waiting for some urgent need.)

My skill point history so far:

That is pretty much my career in New Eden.  This time around  a couple of the usual suspects saw most of the skill points.  My standings:

Spaceship Cmd   75,646,193 (68 of 85)*
Gunnery         21,207,181 (46 of 63)*
Drones          17,036,708 (22 of 26)
Fleet Support   13,351,107 (14 of 15)
Missiles        11,954,833 (22 of 26)*
Navigation       9,660,314 (13 of 13)
Engineering      8,939,855 (15 of 15)
Electronic Sys   8,159,689 (15 of 15)
Scanning         7,168,000 (7 of 7)
Armor            6,131,137 (13 of 13)
Shields          6,074,039 (12 of 13)
Science          5,714,282 (21 of 39)
Resc Processing  4,756,183 (22 of 37)
Subsystems       4,096,000 (16 of 16)
Trade            3,994,040 (11 of 14)*
Neural Enhance   3,810,275 (7 of 8)
Targeting        3,207,765 (8 of 8)
Planet Mgmt      2,983,941 (5 of 5)*
Rigging          2,576,865 (10 of 10)*
Structure Mgmt   1,446,824 (6 of 6)
Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Social           1,130,040 (5 of 9)
Corp Mgmt           24,000 (2 of 5)

Total         ~220,227,747

Values that changed are marked with an asterisk.

As usual, Spaceship Command say the bulk of the skill point gain, going up by about 5 million, or half the total since the last checkup.  This started when the EDECOM ships showed up back in June and Asher suggested that we might try doing something with them in Reavers.  So I can fly them all now, and have most of them to level V.

EDENCOM Skybreaker

I have not, in fact, flown any of the EDENCOM ships.  I have not even SEEN one of them in space.  Asher said that sourcing them would be a pain, and that they were not very good in any case, so it fell off the Reavers plan.  But should that change, I am ready!  Maybe next week’s update will make them more viable.

That plan also explains the pop in the Gunnery number, since the Vorton Projector that goes with the EDECOM ships falls under the Gunnery category, as do the supplementary skills.  That ate up a good two million more of the points trained.

Missiles got a small jump, shy of a million, but I honestly cannot recall what I trained there.  Probably one of the advanced skills to boost Tech II damage.

Trade saw some training, this time for the Advanced Broker Relations skill that came in with the March update.  And Planetary Management went up when I decided it was time to earn some ISK and I thought maybe PI would be a plan.  But I am bad, I forget to check on it for weeks at a stretch, so it probably hasn’t even paid back what I have invested in it.

As for Rigging, I know exactly where that went.  Or I thought I did.  I remember putting some skill points into Armor Rigging V when I figured out it would give me just a little bit more speed when flying and armor rigged ship.  But I wrote about that last time.  So my guess is that Launcher Rigging got the points this time around, since that is the only other Rigging skill at level V.

And that covers my last ten million skill points.  My level distribution is currently:

Level 1 -   1
Level 2 -   3
Level 3 -  37
Level 4 -  89
Level 5 - 235

As for where to go next… it looks like Black Ops V is the current skill being trained, another one for Spaceship Command… and a lot more level Vs after that.  Maybe I should swap back over to my alt again.  I can fly all the subcaps on my main again, so until CCP adds some more I’m probably good.

Condition Report for the Fourteenth Interval

Conditions were superior during that interval

-Corr, speaking of some past period of time

It is that time again.  Another blog anniversary has rolled around.  I have now been doing this for fourteen years.

WordPress.com says hi

Fourteen seems like a long time.  It is about a quarter of my life at this point.  But, then again, beyond a certain age you find a lot of things that have hung around for significant fractions of your life.  I’ve been driving my current car for 17 years, I’ve been married for 21 years, I have shirts in my closet that still fit that pre-date the blog even.  And don’t get me started on the little things that collect around the house, items that do not have any real value but which I hang on to for whatever reason, like the front license plate to my first car, which was towed off to the junk yard back in 1986.

So, in a way, fourteen years doesn’t seem like all that long ago.  Also, the number fourteen doesn’t strike me with much in the way of inspiration.  Sure, it is the sum of two prime numbers and the age I was when I started high school.  I’ve also had a job pretty much continuously since I was 14.  But nothing really struck me for a post title besides Wilson’s fourteen points.  Me and history.

I’m also a bit lost for a graphic representing that number.  Thirteen had the whole bad luck superstition around it, and fifteen at least has a Taylor Swift song going for it, but fourteen… I suppose there is a state highway 14.  Whatever.

California State Highway 14

Past efforts, with better titles, if you are interested.

Like so many things on this site, there is now a set pattern of items I share annually, so we might as well get on with it.

Base Statistics

The same thing every year, looking at how the various needled moved over the last dozen months.

Days since launch: 5,114 (+366)
Posts total: 5,609 (+394)
Total Words: 4,378,757 (+411,478 words, not including this post)
Average words per post: 781 (+20)
Post Likes: 12,090 (+2,578)
Average posts per day: 1.097 (-0.01)
Comments: 33,780 (+1,329)
Average comments per post: 6.03 (-0.19)
Average comments per day: 6.61 (-0.23)
Spam comments: 1,482,548 (+18,381)
Average spam comments per day: 289.90 (-23.1)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 43.8 (-1.8)
Comments written by me: 6,857 or 20.3%
Images uploaded: 16,210 (+1,635)
Space used by images: 1.5 GB of my 3 GB allocation (49%)
Blog Followers: 1,888 (-40)
Twitter Followers: 775 (-1)
Tumblr Followers: 34 (+0)
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 7

For some of you that will be enough stats.  Others will want to dive deeper, which you can do after the cut.

Continue reading

Fourteen Years of Spaceship Meta

Another year has gone by since I started playing EVE Online.  Fourteen years ago today I rolled up my first character using a name I had originally made up back in 1986 to play another online spaceship game.  This pre-dates the launch of the blog by two weeks, so EVE Online was the last new game I started playing before I started this mess.

New Eden Me

I don’t really have much to say for this anniversary.  I think I have told and re-told the tales of my early days enough and I barely do anything new anymore.  New Eden is like a story that keeps going, a book I cannot quite put down.  Some chapters were so good that I can put up with some more pedestrian times in the hope of something interesting coming up again.

Like a war.

Well, we have a war, a good one, with lots of stuff blowing up and potentially a climactic ending.  A last stand in 1DQ1-A would be something… though I thought a last stand in VFK-IV would be something as well, and we didn’t get that.  But I’ll write about the war some more later.

Today I thought I would reflect on something else.  In looking for something to write about I started thinking about all the ships I had flown and how the meta of the game dictated many of those choices.  Even early on, when I was wandering about solo and chasing the goal of mining perfection, there was an optimal path forward.  You went from the Bantam to the Osprey to the Retriever to the Hulk.

Oh, and you totally needed a Mammoth to haul ore on your alt.  That was the optimum configuration.

Mammoth and Retriever… with jet can… back in 2007

That all got shaken up later on.  They redid the mining barges and exhumers, then added mining frigates.  You need never mine in a combat ship any more as you climb the ladder to the Rorqual, the current mining pinnacle.

But change is the way of things.

Early on the Rifter, the icon frigate of New Eden for so long, was what you flew.  Now you don’t.  Maybe you fly a Kestrel instead, or an Atron, if you want to go do some frigate PvP.  Just not a Punisher.  Two mid slots are never enough.

It is fun to think about the cycles over time, of balance passes bringing one hull or another to predominance and then further tweaks casting that same hull down.  When I came out to null sec, the Maelstrom was the CFC ship of the line and the Hurricane the battlecruiser of choice.  I had a Digi-cane at one point, though I couldn’t tell you what that signified.

Then there were some changes and the era of the MWD Drake came into being, moving along at 1,300 m/s and spewing heavy missiles.  That was good because back then I had few skill points, but I had invested heavily in shields, heavy missiles, and the battlecruiser skill. (Back when it and destroyers were just a single skill for all empires.)  Then some counters came up and then heavy missiles got a nerf and we were on to something else.

Meanwhile the Malestroms gave way to the Dominix when drone assist was the thing.  Then came Megathrons then the Apocalypse and then a mix of the two.  We were hot on the Machariel for a bit, then the Typhoon off and on, and then back to the Megathron.  The Rokh and the Abaddon show up now and again as well for special tasks.  Oh, the Rokh showed up again just last week in a new doctrine:

To this day I remain mildly amused at the spot the Ferox now plays in null sec fleets.  To have suggested it as a doctrine back in the day would have been met with derision.  I remember an early attempt to form a doctrine around it had to be called the “non-ironic Ferox doctrine” just to indicate that it was serious.  Now you can’t show up to a fleet fight without tripping over Ferox wrecks, while a Drake on the field is a rare sight indeed.  We actually blew up an NSH Drake the other day and I was practically shocked.

The a balance pass comes, the meta shifts, and a new ship becomes the doctrine flavor of the month.  How many times have people complained, at least out in null sec, that the game has become Ishtars online, or Lokis online, or Feroxes online?  If we’re talking destroyers then it is Cormorants online for sure.  Or maybe Jackdaws online.  Caldari hulls seem to be doing pretty well.

The only sure things are that eventually something will change and that somebody will start complaining about the new meta, whatever it ends up being.

Well that and that some ship will remain left out.  The balance pass doesn’t promise every hull a chance.  I’ve never flown a Hyperion, for example.  The Harbinger was popular for about five minutes during a break with the Ferox.  But the Ferox came back and I never got to fire the lasers on the Harby in anger.  And we had a Cyclone doctrine for about 15 minutes one summer afternoon years back.  I know because I have a screen shot.

Orbiting the customs office in some Cyclones

Cruisers also seem neglected, save for the Caracal.  But they tend to be fragile.  I think every Rupture I ever flew ended up getting pipe-bombed.  So heavy assault cruisers rule the day.  I have at least flown some of those in combat.  The Ishtar, the Cerberus, and the Munnin seem to always have a place.  Eagles were popular for a season, and Zealots seem to come and go.  The Sacrilege is a hot item currently, and I see a Vagabond now and then, but I don’t think I have ever seen a Deimos in the wild.  Probably not suited to the kitey bullshit… the term of art these days… that FCs favor.

And then there are the faction ships, especially faction battleships.  They come and go or have special roles.

The nice thing is that after fourteen years I think I can fly any subcap you throw at me.  I even trained up the EDENCOM hulls to V since they were released.

The story of the game and your own history with it can be told in many ways.  Expansions.  Skill points.  Battles.  ISK.  Or even the ships you flew and when you flew them.

Addendum:

The Greybill linked to some videos about ships and their popularity over the years in EVE Online.  You can find the videos listed below:

Those graphs are for the game overall, so don’t always reflect the null sec meta.  In battleships you could see the drone assist era with the Dominix at the top.  But after that the Machariel rules the roost, likely based on low sec, as it is a fairly rare doctrine in our corner of null sec these days.  Though, that said, null sec is also Feroxes and Munnins online most days, so battleships do not get that much weight out where I live in any case.

A Year of WoW Classic

It is hard to believe it has been a year.  It feels like it has been both much longer and no time at all since WoW Classic launched.

Classic is as Classic does

Last year we were standing around in queues in the very crowded starter areas politely waiting for our turn with a quest mob.

Waiting in line in the snow

Of course, it isn’t like I have been in any hurry to get to the end of the game.  I have a couple characters in the mid-50s and a couple more in their 40s and we’re just now tackling Sunken Temple.  Some short breaks have happened.  But we have kept plugging along.

And it has been good.

I know, back in the build up to the launch, I was pretty starry eyed about the game and its potential.  I literally have a post from last August, after the final load test, with the title “All I want to do is Play WoW Classic.”

But I was also a bit worried.  When I get heavily invested in something coming down the pike it often leads to disappointment when reality fails to live up to expectations.   And I was so very invested in WoW Classic.

But here’s the thing; I was not disappointed.  Things were and remain good.

Sure, they were not perfect.  The recreation is not exact.  There have been issues.  Issues are part of the MMORPG experience.   But the popularity of WoW Classic keeps getting proven.  Blizz removed layering again last week and and queues returned.

That is a sign that things are still rolling pretty strong.

Overall, I think the game has lived up to my desire of last year.  I have done things other than play WoW Classic, but it has also been part of the bedrock of my rotation.  The instance group being back together is great and we all seem to be having a good time reliving our early days in the dungeons that were there for us back then.

I just hope Blizzard has a long term roadmap for the classic idea.  Maybe we’ll hear something at virtual BlizzCon this year.  But they really need a plan.  Even if Shadowlands does very well Blizzard has shown in the past that they really need something to boost subscriptions after about a year.

 

No. I’d Rather Kill Rats.

In keeping with the anniversary theme of this year, and dipping once again into the Computer Gaming World archive.  I give you the ad that ran in the December 2004 issue, which hit news stands and mail boxes in November.

Computer Gaming World Issue 245 – December 2004

A two-page spread isn’t so bad.  Since I am working from a scan, ads spread across two pages don’t line up unless I leave an appropriate gap.  That is a decent screen shot to capture a bit of the game.  It feels like it is in Stranglethorn Vale maybe?  I’m sure somebody will know where it is set.  I’m not sure there is such a dragon there abouts, but maybe there was at one time.

The only fly in the ointment was that the ad was way back on pages 78-79.  That’s the back half of the magazine, the cheap seats.  Diablo II didn’t have to put up with anything that far back in the magazine.  That position placed it lower in precedence than the horrible Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude ad, another Vivendi title, which got the opening pages, and the IGE.com gold seller ad, which holds the back cover.

I suppose at least it was a few pages ahead of the Saga of Ryzom ad.

You might get a sense of how tentative the launch date for WoW actually was from this ad.  Placement of ad copy has to happen a couple months in advance.  So when this ad suggests that you sign up for the beta, it means that likely back in August or so they were really not feeling firm about November.

Again, as I have said in the past, CGW isn’t any sort of definitive measure.  It wasn’t the biggest video game magazine out there.  But it was scrappy and it jumped on big titles to sell copies.  And on the cover of that issue was EverQuest II.  You can see that cover, and download a .pdf of the whole thing, here.

Anyway, happy fifteenth anniversary to World of Warcraft!  I didn’t get around to playing until early March 2005.  When WoW launched I was with Jeff Green, wading into post-cataclysm Norrath wondering if the lighting that was EverQuest might strike twice.

Also, you can totally kill rats in Azeroth if you want.  Sure, that quest in the tram station just has you charm them, but with the implication that they were to be turned into kebabs, which I find to be something of a distinction without a difference.  And the fact that they went hard on the bear, boar, wolf quest kill quests doesn’t exactly represent a leap in the genre.

Where they really innovated was in the realm of poop and outhouse related quests.  Why don’t we have a trailer about that?  Where is my poop parade?

Oh, and today also marks the 25th anniversary since the launch of the Warcraft franchise.

Warcraft has been a thing for almost half my lifetime.

Two Hundred and Ten Million Skill Points

I thought I was done with these skill point progress posts.  I said at 200 million skill points that I probably had enough skills trained on my main and that I should start working up an alt because you become completely spoiled after a while by having every primary and secondary skill trained up to at least IV and usually V for any fit you want to fly.

And I stood by that for maybe seven months, turning off training on Wilhelm and running up skills on an alt I could leave behind in Delve for things like homeland defense fleets while otherwise deployed.

And then CCP added more ships to the game and my goal of being able to fly all the subcaps reared its head yet again and now I am another ten million skill points up on my main.

As I do with these posts, here is my skill point journey so far, broken out in ten million skill point increments.

And here is where I stand on skill point distribution.

Spaceship Cmd  70,558,541 (66 of 81)*
Gunnery        19,565,141 (36 of 52)*
Drones         17,036,708 (22 of 26)
Fleet Support  13,351,107 (14 of 15)*
Missiles       11,111,853 (22 of 26)
Navigation      9,660,314 (13 of 13)
Engineering     8,939,855 (15 of 15)*
Electronic Sys  8,159,689 (15 of 15)*
Scanning        7,168,000 (7 of 7)*
Armor           6,131,137 (13 of 13)
Shields         6,074,039 (12 of 13)
Science         5,714,282 (21 of 39)
Resc Processing 4,756,183 (22 of 37)
Subsystems      4,096,000 (16 of 16)
Trade           3,821,020 (10 of 14)
Neural Enhance  3,810,275 (7 of 8)
Targeting       3,207,765 (8 of 8)
Rigging         1,944,630 (10 of 10)*
Planet Mgmt     1,612,315 (5 of 5)
Structure Mgmt  1,446,824 (6 of 6)
Production      1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Social          1,130,040 (5 of 9)
Corp Mgmt          24,000 (2 of 5)

~Total 210,477,704

Items with an asterisk changed from last time I checked in.

My skills broken out by levels.  Lots of level V skills now.

 Level 1 - 1
 Level 2 - 3
 Level 3 - 38
 Level 4 - 90
 Level 5 - 224

As usual, Spaceship Command got the bulk of the last ten million points, rising by about 7.5 million points since last check in.  The Triglavian menace drove quite a bit of that.  I can now fly all of the Triglavian ships from Damavik to Leshak, including the Tech II models in the middle.

A Damavik and a Vedmak in warp

A Damavik and a Vedmak

I’ve only flow the Damavik in combat so far, back when DBRB had his Triglavian roam, but I have a Leshak sitting in my hangar for structure shoot ops.

I just make a “bzzzzzzz” sound in my head when I see a Leshak burning something down

I also made sure I could fly the Monitor… not that I plan to be an FC, but just as a completionist skill.  I want to be able to fly ALL the subcaps dammit!

Likewise, the coming of the Triglavians and their new weapon systems meant that gunnery also got a boost in skill points.  I didn’t go tech II across the board there, just where I thought it might be required.  Again, Leshak is ready on that front.

In the other areas… I guess I tuned up a few skills to level V.  The only other one I remember clearly is Armor Rigging V, which I trained out of my reserve of unspent skill points, when I realized that my Guardian would go slightly faster if I had that trained.  We were on an op with Asher and listing out all the skills that might make ships go faster for the armor Ishtar doctrine we were flying and that was the only one I did not have maxed out.  I will spend skill points freely for a bit more speed.

That all got me pretty far along for the ten million skill point milestone, but I was still short.  So I trained up one silly skill.  I trained up Capital Ships V.  So, when it comes to the age old question… or at least as old as I have been writing this series of post… of how far I am from flying a titan, the answer is now “under two hours.”

It only took me a dozen years to get from about 168 days to under two hours.  That is real government project level efficiency there.

And now I am back to training up that alt.  He is nearly done with tech II logi skills.

EverQuest II at Fifteen and the Memories of What Could Have Been

I am sure I’ve told this tale before… probably several times… but playing EverQuest II back at launch was really a last minute decision for me.  Meclin… or Gaff… or Rarik…  or whatever I call him these days… Tim I guess… with whom I had played Sojourn/TorilMUD on and off for the previous decade, was suddenly taken with the idea of playing EverQuest II.

An ad for EQII from the August 2004 issue of Computer Gaming World

I hadn’t really been paying attention.  I’d stopped playing EverQuest for a variety of reasons, gave my account to a friend who still played and was doing some multi-boxing (they never changed the password, so I checked back on that account and found all my chars deleted), and basically played single player games or online match-based games like Delta Force and Battlefield 1942.  I knew some people who played EQ or DAoC, but I wasn’t interested.  I had neither the time nor the inclination.

TorilMUD revived itself, after having gone missing for a stretch, in early 2003 which got some of the people I knew back together.  I dove back into that and for one last stretch it became my main game.  But after getting to level cap and getting into a guild and doing zones regularly, word started to get around about EverQuest II.

There was a strong tie between TorilMUD and EQ, with TorilMUD having been the home of a number of EQ devs, including Brad McQuaid, and having served as the basic template for EQ.  A lot of early EQ, from classes to the death mechanics, were rooted in TorilMUD.

So with an new EverQuest coming, it was natural for people to be looking into it.  Not me however, I wasn’t feeling any sort of itch.  Tim though, he was listening to the reports on the new game.  He even passed me a write up somebody had done in beta.  He wanted to get in on the new game, and all the more so since he missed out on early EverQuest.  So a bunch of people from our guild… him and Chandigar and Pril and Oteb and a few others… got on board with playing EverQuest II at launch.

Or almost at launch.

We didn’t get there for the first round of servers.  But the team at SOE had a plan for launch that included bringing new servers online as the current ones filled up.  So we joined in with the launch of the Crushbone server on November 13, 2004, fifteen years ago today.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

We got in, got through the Isle of Refuge, made it to town, and eventually formed a guild the next day.

Our guild on Crushbone

The guild was a mix of TorilMUD players and some EverQuest players that included a friend of Tim’s.  We all joined together and became the Knights of the Cataclysm.

The EverQuest II lore is based on a cataclysm, the breaking of the moon that rained down debris on Norrath, sundered the lands, broke up continents, reworked the landscape, and basically provided a way to start from scratch to a certain extent.

The game, heir to EverQuest, the reigning champion of the fantasy MMORPG genre with more than 550K subscribers, was expected to carry on the tradition of the original.  The headline of the review by Jeff Green in CGW was The Once and Future King!

Unfortunately, cataclysm proved to be something of an apt metaphor for the game.  There was a lot wrong with it at launch.  For openers, the systems requirements were way too high, something that prevented much of the EQ base from even considering migrating to the new game.  And that migration was clearly central to the plan at SOE.

There were also a myriad of bad assumptions, bad features, and last minute changes… the game was already a year or so “late” so the need to launch seemed to be driving much of the process at that point… that hamstrung the game.

Some of it was self-inflicted.  There has long been the tale about how the EQII team felt they had to steer away from the original game and create their own lore.  Crafting, which had been its own class during the beta, because a sub-class for players, though retained the same advancement structure.  What it also retained was an overburden of complexity and interdependence between the professions.

Adventuring classes had the odd archetype system, where you chose fighter, rogue, cleric, or mage up front, then specialized at level 10, then again at level 20, at which point you were finally at your final class.  But there were really too many classes and too many races and not enough character slots (just 4).

Grouping was pretty much required if you wanted any sort of smooth ride while leveling.  Some zones were locked behind group quests, though only if you wanted to go there before a given level.  Afterwards you could just walk in.  And somebody at SOE had given too much ear to people complaining about twinking in the forums, so a lot of spells could only be cast on groups members, others had pitifully short duration, and some spells combined both.  Gone were the days of casting Spirit of the Wolf on grateful lowbies.

And then there were the core issues, like zones.  The market was moving towards the seamless world idea, but EQII still had you zoning.  And there wasn’t even the illusion of a single world as with EQ.  The place was chopped up into disconnected areas that you visited via a portal or a bell.  I am sure that some problems were solved with this approach, but it left the game feeling less like a world.

Add in the graphics, which were not bad if you had a rig that could display them, though the color scheme tended towards muddy, but when you did crank them up went a little too far into the uncanny valley when it came to characters, and the seeds of discontent had been sown.

Meanwhile the gaming market itself had changed.  When EverQuest launched in March of 1999 there were other MMORPGs, but they were pretty different.  Ultima Online had its isometric 3rd person perspective.  Meridian 59 was all about PvP.  When Asheron’s Call showed up it had a different advancement philosophy.  These were all distinctively different titles.

By late 2004 more games had appeared in the genre.  Dark Age of Camelot talked about being like EverQuest with PVP but without the “suck.”  There was already news coverage for other competing titles.  Guild Wars was in the offing.  Brad McQuaid had already left SOE with some of the original EverQuest crew and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was vying for the successor to Norrath title.  And, of course, there was that title from Blizzard that was getting lots of coverage.

And so the cataclysm metaphor seemed apt.

Not that it was all bad.  The game’s housing system, and how well integrated it was to the game, including a trade profession dedicated to building furniture, still stands apart from any other MMORPG I have played.  Its free form decorating and the ability to hang trophies from your adventures on your wall, as well as being your in-game store front, worked very well.

As a group, as a guild, we stayed mostly pretty dedicated to the game for almost a year.  But we were something of the exception rather than the rule.  People who did not feel at home in the new world often went back to EverQuest.

But in a couple of weeks after we first logged in World of Warcraft launched, and a lot of people who didn’t go back to EverQuest moved on to WoW instead.

SOE knew they were in trouble pretty quickly after WoW launched, and the game started changing to adapt.  We got little quills and books over quest givers, the EQII version of the big yellow exclamation mark and question mark in Azeroth.  Trade skills got revamped.  We got offline selling.  The emphasis on grouping being a requirement after level 20 or so was relaxed somewhat.  A lot of those group encounters in the Thundering Steppes were made solo encounters.  Buffs got saner timers.  Travel was tinkered with.

Meanwhile, the SOE mania with more content lest we all leave… EQ was well into its “two expansions a year” era… meant that an expansion popped up before some of us were at level cap.

Within a few months people started to fade away.  On guild coms people were pining for Vanguard, which they were now sure would be the real EQ successor.  I went off and tried WoW. came back for a while, then a large portion of the TorilMUD faction in our guild went to WoW together, settling on the Eldre’Thalas server where I still play some of the characters I rolled up back then.

And now here we are, fifteen years down the road, and the game is still there.

As their splash screen proudly declares… though that is the original EverQuest box art

It has been updated, changed, and re-arranged over the years often, but not always, improving the game.  It still gets a new expansion every year, which is a lot more than many games in the genre get.  People still pine for an alternate universe where WoW never launched, but I don’t think that would have made the game any more popular.  It was a mess at launch, but has matured over time, so that the game today plays differently than it did way back when… though there are too many damn skills still.

Oddly, I think the fact that the game has changed so much, mostly for the better, is one of the reasons that the whole progression server idea isn’t nearly as popular for EQII as it is for EQ.

In EQ the old locations mostly look about the same.  Okay, they updated Freeport, but Qeynos and Faydwer still look as crappy as they did back in 1999.  Even if the progression server isn’t a pure 1999 experience, you can squint your eyes and pretend and mostly feel the nostalgia burn.

But EQII?  How the hell does Daybreak even begin to simulate the chaos and dysfunction that was early EQII?  So much has changed that there is no going back to 2004.  There simply aren’t enough free resources at Daybreak to re-create the original game.