Tag Archives: Philosophical Questions

What is a Niche MMORPG?

A Massively Overthinking topic came up at Massively OP last week that struck me as… well… a bit silly.  Not that every post has to be razor sharp intellectually, but this one was almost the straw man fallacy illustrated, as the staff was asked whether they would prefer a niche MMORPG that focused just on on a couple of strengths or an all-in-one MMORPG that covered all the bases.  Somehow, that became a measure of features as everybody weighed in.

Unsurprisingly, the entire staff decided that they would prefer an MMORPG that had it all.  It was like asking somebody if they preferred a lover who only satisfied some of their needs or one who satisfied them all.  Absent any other details, why wouldn’t you choose the latter.

Left completely out of the post, except in the minds of those opining on the topic (something I wouldn’t swear to even that in court given some of the responses), was any sort of attempt to define what niche vs. all-in-one comparison even looks like.  You know, some details that might serve as illustration.

It is very easy to say that you’d prefer an MMORPG that did 10 things pretty well than one that did 2 things better than anybody else, or that you’d trade graphical fidelity for features (Is graphical fidelity even something niche MMORPGs offer as a comparative feature?), but what does that look like in the real world?  Where is the comparison?  Show me that niche MMORPG that does 2 things so well and compare and contrast it to you favored jack of all trades.

Sure, World of Warcraft, the one live MMORPG that gets a mention,  can stand in for the “does everything” title I suppose.  But what about the niche side of things?  Where is that?

My first thought went to Project: Gorgon.  That is as niche as it gets in the MMORPG world, right?

But I would be hard pressed to declare that Project: Gorgon has focused on doing anything “better” than the rest of the genre, unless you count being weird and quirky.  I mean, graphic fidelity certainly isn’t on the list.  And it does a whole bunch of things… whether they are better or worse than you want seems to be pretty much up to you.

Basically, its niche status is set more by its low production values and departure from the beaten path than anything the MOP staff was railing against.  Maybe of its 10 things, some are you wouldn’t suspect, but it does them.

Then there is Pantheon: Shadows of the Past.  But that hasn’t shipped yet, so while it has been declared niche, we cannot really be sure what that means.  Given Brad McQuaid’s enthusiasm in embracing any feature that gets brought up, I wouldn’t bet on the focus aspect.  And, in any case, I think its niche status is less about features and more about being old school, for whatever value you care to assign to that.  Is walking to school uphill, in the snow, both ways a feature?

Likewise, Camelot Unchained is still under wraps.  It could be the chosen niche game, being focused on RvR and crafting… and building… and housing… and a few other things I think.  Can it be more than 2 but less than 10 features?  Anyway, it isn’t an option yet, so it doesn’t count to my mind.

Shroud of the Avatar came to mind as well, but that doesn’t fit the bill either.  It is niche in its approach I suppose, but it does many things… many of them badly… does being bad make you niche?

Anyway, as I trotted down the list I started to suspect that you couldn’t really be an MMORPG… and my definition of such means worldly online games like EverQuest or World of Warcraft or EVE Online or Star Wars Galaxies, and not instanced lobby games like Diablo III or World of Tanks or whatever… without focusing on more than a couple of features.  Being a two feature MMORPG is like being a two legged tripod, something that just doesn’t work out well in the real world.

In the end, I couldn’t really come up with a live niche MMORPG that met the seeming criteria of the post.  I could, however, come up with examples of MMORPGs that went too far with features, to the detriment of the game.

So I am left with some questions.

What is a niche MMORPG?  Is it something defined only by features?

What defines an all-in-one MMORPG?  I mean, WoW is the easy answer.  But is it?  I suspect that people on that panel would argue against it because it lacks some feature they feel a “real” MMORPG needs, like player housing.

When does an MMORPG have to have all those features?  The response “at launch,” or even “on a detailed roadmap at launch,” seems unrealistic.  EverQuest, which I dare anybody to tell me isn’t as full features as they come, shipped with a feature set that would probably be considered inadequate in the context of “all-in-one.”  But it grew with expansions.  Then again, it also came from an era where MMORPGs didn’t peak on launch day and fall off after that.

Finally, what counts as a feature in any case?  Seriously, how granular can one go before things count or do not count?

In the end I remain unconvinced that features are the defining benchmark that post suggests.  There are plenty of MMORPGs out there with a lot of features that do nothing for me.  I certainly go back to WoW time and again in part because of the feature set it offers.  But there is more to my affinity for the game than that.

Of course, we could dial this back another step and start in on what an MMORPG really is.  I may be defining that more narrowly than others.  But, then again, I am not sure comparing and contrasting World of Warcraft against something like Occupy White Walls leads us anywhere fruitful either.

Meaningful Progression in New Eden PvE

On Saturday I was a guest on Matterall’s Talking in Stations show about the Lifeblood expansion and PvE.

The look at Lifeblood was largely a review of what was part of the expansion announcement last Friday and comparing that with what we knew already from past statements from Fanfest along with a bit of speculation.  Also noted was the fact that October is already Winter in Iceland, so Lifeblood is, indeed, the Winter expansion.

Then we moved on to the PvE discussion which was picked up and driven by Seamus Donahue of EVE university and quickly turned into an EVE University PvE 101 lecture covering the breadth of PvE options in New Eden.

Certainly a guided exploration of the What to Do in EVE Online chart has value.  I didn’t know each box in an much detail before the show as I did after, so I came away more informed.  However, that was not the discussion I prepared for and, as such, I had little to add to that presentation aside from some details about escalations and cosmic anomalies.

Once the exploration of the chart had subsided the show moved on to some discussion of the Alliance Tournament, its popularity, and whether or not the teams really represent alliances or specific sub-groups within alliances.  I had nothing to add on this front as the Alliance Tournament doesn’t hold much meaning for me, so the audience was spared having to listen to my voice any further.

After the show wrapped up and people wandered off, Noizy from The Nosy Gamer, who was also on the show, myself, and Matterall hung out in the Discord channel for a bit to chat a bit about the philosophy, reality, and problems CCP has with PvE in EVE Online, the discussion Noizy and I had prepared for.  Matterall actually recorded some of that and it may at some point become a subsidiary show.  But, as I pointed out in our discussion, I try not to let things go to waste and notes for the show could also be notes for blog posts.

However, rather than jumping straight into a sprawling screed about the failings of both PvE in New Eden and CCP’s assumptions about how PvE players will approach a game like EVE Online, I want to focus on one specific aspect of PvE, progression.

While I am in a null sec alliance now, I spent the first five or so years of my time with the game doing various PvE things in high sec.  I did them in the traditional MMO way, solo.  And even since my move to null sec at the end of 2011 I have spent time exploring various aspects of PvE.  See yesterday’s post for an example.

Anyway, after that long preamble, let’s talk about progression.

Progression is, to my mind, a vitally important “hook” that keeps people playing various MMORPGs.  You can find progression in various forms, from the loved/loathed levels that are the staple of so much of the fantasy genre, to raiding progression, to faction and standings, to your PvP battleground scores or arena standings.

Progression is a thing that keeps a lot of people going, and EVE Online has its own sandbox forms of progression.  It is something that people pick up on… if they get through the tutorial and pick up on anything at all… pretty quickly.

You might remember this chart from Fanfest 2014. (Seen in this video.)

New Player Trajectory

Back before the Alpha clone option, when you had to figure out if you wanted to subscribe to EVE Online by the end of your 14-21 day free trial, half of those who actually opted to subscribe cancelled their subscription before it reached the end of its first cycle.

At the other end, ten percent of those who subscribed found a group and went off to play in New Eden in the ways that CCP expects people to do.  They found or formed groups and went off to help build or blow up castles/content in the sandbox.

In between those two, are the people who came to EVE Online and played it like they would expect to play any other MMORPG.  40% of those who opted to subscribe, myself included back in the day, hit the end of what passed for a tutorial, followed the bread crumbs to the first mission agent, and started running missions.

Missions do provide some of what quests do in other games.  As with WoW, which I will use as the baseline for this discussion, there is a financial reward.  Sometimes you get a module or an implant as a reward.  Not as often as you get a gear upgrade in WoW, but once in a while.  You also get loyalty points, which can be traded in for equipment, so maybe that makes up for not getting gear as mission rewards.

And there is even progression of a sort.  Every time you finish a mission you gain standing with the agent, which increases your future mission rewards, as well as standing with the agent’s corporation.  The latter will, over time, open up access to higher quality agents as well as higher level missions.

Eventually, however, that progression ends.  Once the solo missioneer has unlocked level 4 missions, progression is about over.  They can unlock higher quality agents for a while longer, but eventually you’re done.  Level 5 missions, which run in low sec (read: danger zone!) and are supposed to require groups to finish, are not a viable route.

Continuing to raise standings by running more level 4 missions has some minor benefit, in that you get a small boost with the empire as well, which raises standings for all of the associated corps of that empire.  I’ve done enough missions with various Amarr corporations that if I want to start in with a new one I go straight to level 3 missions.  And standing used to have other uses, like being able to deploy jump clones in empire stations and being able to put up a POS in empire space, but that has all fallen by the wayside of the years.  So progression is pretty much done.

Compare this to WoW.  While every quest gives you some immediate reward, that is almost a minor aspect of most quests.  More important is the progression.  With each quest you gain some experience that helps you level up.  You also gain some standing with a given faction with most quests that helps you unlock rewards later on.

In addition to that, each quest unlocks the next quest.  And, while I may revile the destruction of the old world with the Cataclysm expansion, the quest system that resulted where each zone has a story and each quest advances that story means that there is a sense of coherence with the progression as you move through zones.  My nostalgia fights with the improvement that brought to some zones.  And the zones add up to stories in expansions and so on.

Now, of course, WoW has it’s own problems with progression ending.  When arriving at the last quest in the expansion we have seen a lot of people unsubscribe and go off to other things until the next expansion arrives.  And hand tooling a series of quests requires a lot of work and tend to be one-offs, so it costs to do that.  And then there is the eternal gear grind and upgrades and what not.  It is an imperfect system.

But this progression is popular enough that WoW’s subscriber base at the post-Draenor low ebb was still an order of magnitude larger than EVE Online‘s peak a few years back.

So the question seems to be should CCP devote some time to that 40% of players who show up looking for an internet spaceship progression journey?

CCP has remained steadfast in believing that progression in New Eden means going from PvE to PvP of sorts, though they do have paths to group PvE via incursions and higher risk PvE that exists outside of high sec space.  Should CCP throw the solo PvE players a bone?  Is that compatible with the sandbox?

CCP knows they have a problem here, and they have tried a few things.  We have the various empire epic mission arcs.  Though, like many things in the game, those remain hidden gems rather than obvious destinations.  And the recent events based on the event framework of The Agency have given people little bites of progression.

But it doesn’t seem like enough.  Furthermore, if you looked at the Lifeblood updates (Noizy goes through what we know point by point) you’ll see in the mix an attempt to turn The Agency framework into a multi-player event focus, no doubt based on data indicating that people who join up with other players end up sticking with the game.

However, as some players will never progress to PvP or null sec or faction warfare, some players will never progress past a solo focused experience.  So going towards a group focused version of The Agency will leave people behind.

I remain mixed on the whole idea myself.  I see a great benefit to extending and enhancing the solo capsuleer experience, giving them meaningful progression that will guide them to exploring the game more fully without the expectation that they will graduate to some other aspect of the game.  A few will.  More will likely stay in the comfort zone.

On the flip side I am concerned about making a path that might funnel people away from the sandbox nature of the game and I cannot personally visualize a form of progression that would both fit within the nature of the game and that would both provide the sort of fulfilling guided experience that would keep the solo mission runner demographic engaged AND not end up as disposable or empty in the long term as the typical WoW expansion quest/story chain.

So I come to the end of this with many questions and no answers, just a feeling that there could be something CCP could do.  Somewhere between sandbox heresy and doing nothing at all there ought to be an answer.  I’ve been down this path before.  But New Eden is a place that benefits from more players, even players who just live there but keep to themselves.

The Last Good Day

There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is “Your Last Good Day.”  At the time, it is just another good day.

-Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

Yes, I am going to take a quote from a movie based on a book about teens with cancer and try and apply it to video games.  I will take it as read that this makes me a horrible person and probably guilty of cultural appropriation or some other first world thought crime.  I even have a graphic just to seal the deal on my horrible nature.

Serious business...

Serious business…

Anyway, my daughter, who had read the book, insisted that the whole family go see the movie back when it was in the theater despite the fact that she knows that my wife will cry at anything sad or emotional on screen.  And tears were indeed shed as this sad and emotionally manipulative film ran on before us.

But what stuck with me, aside from the abuse of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and how much seeing this movie made watching Divergent difficult/amusing/distracting (Augustus is her brother! It is Luke and Leia all over again!), was the whole concept of there being a “last good day,” a high point in any endeavor, after which things are never quite that good again.

So, yeah, of course this applies to video games.

Well, at least to MMORPGs.  So maybe I can change that graphic.

A more general statement

A more general statement

I suppose I could make it more specific, or a version for each MMO I might play, but I think that is sufficient.  If you are dying to have one of your own, I made a background template, you just have to provide the text.  You’re on your own for the font.  I used one called “eraser dust” I found on the internet.

Anyway, that is all off the subject at hand, which is that of a last good day in an MMORPG.

There are MMOs where I can identify that last good day.  In Warhammer Online it was probably that one great keep battle we had before things went south for our group as the game emptied out.

In Rift it was no doubt some date not too long before the first expansion came out.  Everything was good, I played a character from each of the four base roles up to level cap, and then Storm Legion hit and changed the nature of the game for me.

For EverQuest it was likely to initial stages of the Fippy Darkpaw server, when Skronk and I were playing, the game was active with lots of low level players, and the whole thing felt… if not as good as day one back in 1999, then a reasonable facsimile of that time.  Certainly there was less crashing.

But those are all games I stopped playing.  Even EverQuest, for which I bubble with nostalgia, hasn’t really been a destination for me since Fippy Darkpaw.

And, in having stopped, I can pick out the high point.  I can find that theoretical last good day… or week… or era… or event.  But that might change if I would… or, in some cases, could… go back and pick up the game again.  Probably not, but there is a non-zero chance of good days ahead.

This all came to mind because of a more current game.  Not EVE Online.  I made that graphic at the top for Rixx Javix a while back.  No, this all came about due to the the Legion expansion for World of Warcraft getting a ship date.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

Just in case your forgot that since yesterday

August 30, 2016 and the whole thing goes live, while at some date a couple weeks in advance of that there will be the pre-expansion patch that will have the warm-ups for the whole thing.

I am coming up on a year of not having been subscribed to WoW.  I have a two copies of the expansion pre-ordered for my daughter and I via Amazon.  But now that there is a date set and a timeline out before me.  I won’t be resubscribing today or tomorrow or next week, but at some point over the course of that timeline, between now and August 30th, there is a date at which I probably should subscribe and get back in the game and start getting warmed up to fight the Legion.

But the announcement of the date also made me question whether or not I really want to go back.  I do not feel a lot of enthusiasm for the expansion.  In large part that lack of enthusiasm is due to how Warlords of Draenor played out for me.  It wasn’t horrible, but it was dissatisfying, and garrisons carry the lions share of the burden on that front.  Dungeons were mediocre, mostly in how sparse they were, and the story line was mostly just okay, but garrisons were the anchor.

Garrisons failed to be the right thing for me on all fronts.  They were not optional, you had to do some garrison stuff if you wanted to play through the expansion.  And they were not housing, or at least did not have any aspect of housing that I wanted.  There was no way you could make the garrison really your own.  Meanwhile, they did exactly what Tom Chilton told us housing would do, back when he was saying they would never do housing, it took people out of the world and hid them away.

In my view, garrisons were basically the worst possible set of features, doing what Blizz said housing would do without any of the beneficial “sticky” features of housing that make people feel like they have a spot in the game that is uniquely their own.  I guess if I were to make a prediction now that Tom Chilton is saying that Blizz will never do a vanilla server, I might guess that they will end up doing some sort of special rules server that will satisfy neither fans of vanilla nor more recent lapsed players, at which point Tom can say, “I told you so.”

That is all my view of the expansion.  So when I think back in search of a “last good day,” which at this point I am likely conflating with a peak of enjoyment as opposed to saying every day thereafter was “bad,” I have to go back to Mists of Pandaria to find a real happy time… which is odd because I was pretty dismissive of MoP when it was announced and didn’t buy the expansion until nearly a year after it went live.  Meanwhile, Warlords of Draenor, with orcs as the bad guys yet again, that I was up for.

So perhaps missed or misplaced expectations were the real problem?

Nah, garrisons just sucked.

Anyway, as the quote at the top says, you can never know if that last good day is happening as it happens.  You can only identifying it in comparison to the days that come later.  The question is whether or not there is a peak of enjoyment waiting for me in WoW Legion or if I have simply had that last good day already.  I guess I have a few months to consider that, but I am feeling doubtful right now.

Quote of the Day – Is H1Z1 an MMO or Not?

I look at H1Z1 not as an MMO at all. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with MMOs. It’s a session based persistent online game.

John Smedley, Twitter

So H1Z1 has been a thing… at least an early access thing… for almost a week now and, as I have noted, it has gotten a variety of reactions.  Whether you believe early access is a good thing or not, H1Z1 is out there, the latest MMO from SOE.

The night is dark, I think I'll go to bed

And, of course, will IT survive?

Only there is that Smed quote from Twitter.  This was in reaction to a story posted over at Massively, More Boredom than Terror, that describes Syp’s venture into H1Z1 on a PvE server.

Putting together the full series of tweets from Smed, they read out:

Watching [Massively’s] story about how H1Z1 is boring and seeing other commentary along the same lines from people playing PVE.  Makes me realize just how stratified the online gaming industry is. Not a bad thing at all. just interesting. Basically the review is from the perspective of an MMO vet coming into it. The comments are identical to stuff we heard from our own company.

My perspective is different – new kinds of experiences with comparisons to current MMO experiences mean people are looking at it through a different lens then we made it. All still valid points of view though and can’t disagree with them.

I look at H1Z1 not as an MMO at all. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with MMOs. It’s a session based persistent online game.  session based because lots of people play until they die. It’s an easy stopping point.  anyways… just a bit of rambling about it, but I find the experience an MMO vet has coming in to H1Z1 (or Day Z for that matter)

I will say that at least Smed didn’t go for the cheap “It’s a PvP game” shot like so many comments over at Massively did.  SOE provides PvE servers and the team has, in Smed’s words, “…really have gone out of our way to make sure PVE players will be happy” so the idea of “not playing it right” can be discounted.

But how about the idea of not looking at it right?

That does bring us back to the age old question of “what’s an MMO anyway?”  I know what I mean when I use the term… when I write it, it is almost always short hand for persistent world, progression based, multiplayer, online, servers and shards, role playing game.  I also usually mean “fantasy” as well, but there is EVE Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic out there, so maybe I should stop thinking that automatically.

But what I mean when I say it clearly carries little weight, as the term gets used for games like War Thunder and World of Tanks and League of Legends, and probably quite a few more games that would not, in any way, meet my own personal definition.

On the flip side, H1Z1 does seem to press most of my MMO buttons.  You have a character, a persistent world, the whole shards concept with many parallel realms, a form of progression… it is equipment based progression, but that is hardly a new thing… and there is the whole multiplayer aspect.  Common mechanics we find in MMOs, quests and raids and auction houses, are missing, but so what?  Common isn’t the same as required, while the hardcore nature… gotta eat and drink or you’re gonna die… doesn’t disqualify it.

In the “quacks like a duck” view of the world, H1Z1 seems like an MMO to me.  Also, SOE calls it an MMO right there on the SOE main page, thus planting the seed rather firmly.

H1Z1 is a zombie survival MMO set in a post-apocalyptic world where thousands of players must strategically align with friends and against enemies in order to survive the worldwide infection.

And then there is the description on the H1Z1 site itself:

Tell me about H1Z1 please...

Tell me about H1Z1 please…

And “sandbox” is a common subset of MMOs, at least for purposes of argument most days.

Of course, you might say that marketing needed to call it something, and they call everything else at SOE an MMO… except of course, they do not.

They manage to avoid the term, at least on the SOE main page, with Landmark and with H1Z1’s antecedent, PlanetSide 2…. and also with EverQuest and EverQuest II, which are clearly examples of the MMO genre.  Maybe marketing was just lazy.  After all, they also say that EverQuest is the “online game that started it all!”  Though, to be fair, they don’t really define “all.”  However, you get the possible implication swimming in that vagueness, don’t you Ultima Online and Meridian 59 vets?

But I digress.

The usage of the shorthand term MMO could also just be the lens through which we… me, Syp, SOE marketing… are seeing things as well.  The human brain loves to categorize things.  It was a key survival instinct out on the African savannah and remains so in many modern situations, like crossing a busy street in a big city. (Hint: Cabs are predators.)  But it doesn’t always help in situations that are more nuanced… or even when recognizing which situations might be more nuanced.

I know the idea of an MMO is more nuanced than the industry treats it.  A lot of things seem to get that label more because of marketing than any deep thinking on genres and classifications.

But even with that, H1Z1 still feels more like an MMO than any other option.

Is H1Z1 an MMO?  Is it something else?

Are we too fixated on MMOs to be able to tell?  Is Smed to close to be able to see beyond the details?

Original Level Cap At Last… Do Copies Count?

About a decade back I read a science fiction trilogy that covered the ability of inter-stellar travel via a mechanism that made a data copy of a being and then was able to transmit that data across space to reassembled at the destination.  As I recall, in the novels (Frederick Pohl’s Eschaton Sequence if you must know, a tidbit of information that I was only able to recall thanks to Amazon.com keeping your entire order history on file) there was a certain amount of philosophical discussion as to whether these copies were really the original (which was deliberately destroyed during the process… or so they said) or… well… just copies… or new beings… or something else.

If that sounds a bit vague or uncertain, well the novels were not that good, this was more than a decade ago, the question was somewhat tangential to the whole tale, and I am surprised I remember that much.  But it was part of my thought process and I am going to write it down if just to keep me from having to go look up those novels again.  Diverge early and often should probably be my motto.

The question of what you were post-travel was complicated by the fact that the transport device could (and would) pop out a new copy of you, with memories only extending up to the moment you started the process, if you died.  And death was expected as the technology was used for exploration and contact with distant civilizations.

All of which came to mind, though in an even more muddled fashion… no, really, the above was pulling it all together and trying to make it coherent… because a character of mine on the EverQuest II Extended server, Freeport, by the name of Nehru hit level 50.

And your reaction might be somewhat along the lines of “so what?” since I have other characters who have gotten at least a dozen levels past 50 in the past, level 50 isn’t all that tough in EQ2 these days, and the level cap is 90 and so on.

The thing is, Nehru is special, and not just because he has a totally awesome name. (And I’d totally get him the jacket if there was such an appearance item in the SC store.)

Nehru is my first EQ2 character.

Well, a copy of my first EQ2 character.

Nomu was my first character in EQ2, rolled into being on November 13th, 2004.  He was my only character for nearly two weeks before I was afflicted with alt-itis yet again.

After that Nomu mostly he ended up being the guild alchemist, as demand for his many chemicals and inks, all essential to most of the other trade skills back then, was quite strong.

He still got played now and again.  I managed to keep him with in grouping level range (you had to be within 6 levels or 1/3 of the lower characters levels, which ever was more, if I recall correctly) of most of our guild so could tag along, stand back, and heal.

But he was mostly a character for trade skills, and because of that I chose to copy him over to EQ2X during the great double XP event to help with our drive for a guild hall.

When that was accomplished, I let him be for a bit until I decided that, as my highest level character on the EQ2X server, Freeport, that there might be some value in playing him.

If I could remember how to play a templar.

It had been a while, something given perspective by the age of some of the quests in his journal.


That was the oldest one I could find, though I purged his quest log of a pile of gray quests as it was full, so I am sure there were a few in there that were older still.  But most of those which remained ranged from mid-2005 to early 2006 when Kingdom of the Sky came out and I took a break from the game.

I was determined, without much real reason, to get him to level 50.  That was the level cap for EQ2 at launch, and he never quite got there.  So I started him off in the Sinking Sands, which is where I had left off back in 2006. (I was surprised to find that he was an ally of the Court of Truth already.  Memories of hunting guards for tokens is a dim memory at this point.)

I mentioned my plan to Gaff and he thought maybe something like the Temple of Cazic-Thule in Feerrott would be a good choice.  There was another place I had not been since probably 2005.  He got out a couple of his level 80 range characters, we grouped up, he mentored Nehru, and off we went.

Looking across the temples

We did managed to pick up the lead-in for the heritage quest for the Screaming Mace.  Named mobs continue to be up almost every time we go looking for them in the older zones.

In addition to that, we picked up some quests in the zone.  There are lots of them that follow the quest philosophy of early EQ2: Kill 10-30 of a specific mob in a zone where maybe 4 or 5 of that mob spawn.  These are handed out by any number of clickable objects in the zone, so as we went along we collected quite a few of these quests.

I think we only completed a couple of them though.  We made the screaming mace our focus and anything else was incidental.  Nehru did finish up his Lizardman Lore & Legend quest, and gain the Thulian language due to the drops we got.  And he even hit level 50 not too far along into things.

50 in Cazic-Thule

Nehru doesn’t look very dwarf-like there, as he was wearing the free Ratonga disguise they were giving out in the Station Cash store for free as part of Ratonga Week. (Whatever that was about… I often feel like I am in the community, but not of the community.)

We actually called it a night shortly after Nehru hit 50, it being a week night and such, but we returned the next night (or the night after that) and managed to bash our way through the zone and finish up the Screaming Mace.

It was a strange run.  First, the zone feels a more than a bit surreal. (Did you see those eyes in the picture?) Then add in the vague memories from having done this zone and quest line with another character back in the 2005 time frame and it was a unique experience.

But the mace was obtained.

Reach out and take the mace

And it is a very nice mace.


Though I think it is kind of bunk to give out a level 42 mace at the end of a level 50 heroic quest.  I’m sure it made sense back in 2004, but now that items lose some of their abilities when they are more than 10 levels below your adventure level, this probably will only be a weapon I can use for two levels.

Still, it is a nice mace

Nehru and his new mace

It will make a nice house item.

And I got my original EQ2 character to level 50, the original level cap.

Or did I?  Does this count?  Nomu is still level 48, but his copy is past 50 now.

In any case, only another 40 levels to go until the current EQ2 level cap.