Tag Archives: Phinigel

The Life of Progression Servers

I was looking at the front page of the EverQuest site to see if there was any news worth knowing and I was struck/amused that the two most recent items involve progression servers, with the vote to unlock the Planes of Power expansion hitting the Ragefire server and the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion opening up on the Phinigel server.

Playing the nostalgia card has worked out pretty well for EverQuest and I am glad to see they are taking it more seriously than they did in the past, where such servers were launched with fanfare, only to be mostly ignored thereafter.

On the other hand, I do wonder when we might hit the “too much of a good thing” margin when it comes to nostalgia.  Yes, the latest progression server, Phinigel, remains the most popular server for the game most hours of the day.  On the flip side, such servers now represent almost 25% of the total EverQuest server base and, according to the recent Producer’s Letter, Daybreak plans to launch a new one this summer called Agnarr with its own special twist.

EverQuest Server List – May 2017

What should become of progression servers that are past their prime?  The original pair, The Combine and The Sleeper, which launched a decade back… can you have nostalgia for nostalgia… were eventually rolled into standard servers when they had caught up.  That was back in 2009, so they didn’t linger on for long on their own.

But Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak’Aerr launched back in February of 2011 and, last I saw of them, the vote for the Underfoot expansion was going on… that was in 2014… and I haven’t heard much about it since.

The next round came in May 2015, with Ragefire, then Lockjaw following up in the traditional spillover server role a bit later.

That was followed up six months later by the current reigning champion nostalgia server, Phinigel, which took all the zone instancing and server queue lessons Daybreak learned and rolled in some features to keep people from multi-boxing.

Now, about a year and a half down the road from the Phinigel launch, Agnarr looms.  While Agnarr has a different formula than Phinigel, it will still likely steal some of the players from the older server, just the way Phingel denuded the populations of Ragefire and Lockjaw.

Meanwhile, Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak’Aerr linger on… are they effectively live servers at this point?  You need All Access to log in, but if they’re done progressing on their own maybe that shouldn’t be the case.  And is there too much capacity in the EverQuest nostalgia department at this point?  Should some of these servers get merged in or have they spawned resilient (and paying) communities worth keeping the servers up?

Phinigel, the True Box EverQuest Progression Server, Opens Today

We know how those estimates work out.  Still, I would guess that the server will be open by the time people get home from work on the west coast.

Yes, the EverQuest team is betting on yet another special nostalgia server to keep the money flowing and its fortunes bright… or as bright as they can be for a video game facing its 17th birthday early next year.

Named for Phinigel Autropos, the last known knight of the Kedge, it aims to solve most of the loudest complaints aimed at the previous progression servers.

Also, I find thid GIF of Phinigel to be adorable

Also, I find this GIF of Phinigel to be adorable

First, and foremost, the Phinigel server will only allow players to log into it with a single client from a given machine.  This is an direct attempt to thwart the scourge of multi-boxing, with players driving a full groups via IS Boxer or some such and hogging all the good spawns.  You are going to have to play with other people if you want to group up… or multi-box by literally using multiple boxes.

A Computer for every client

A Computer for every client

I think this will be a good thing.  Multi-boxing has always existed in EverQuest, to the point that SOE eventually fixed the client software so you could run multiple instances of it on the same machine without any tricks of special software.  Why say “no” to somebody who wants to pay for multiple subscriptions, right?

But in the nostalgia environment, the point seems to be more about reliving the old days when we had to find groups rather than eschewing all social contact to solo yourself to level cap and through various bosses.

That was complaint number one solved.

Next on the list was expansion unlocks.  Votes for unlocks have been close and contentious, while unlocks based on raid content being completed have lead to very fast unlocks.  So this time the unlocks will be set in stone, coming at 12 week intervals.  We’ll see if the forums erupt in “we need Kunark sooner” demands, as they did with the last progression servers.

Finally, there is the raiding question.  As I understand it, raid bosses (which have been booster in power) will still be available in the open world, but they will also be accessible via instances.  The instances will have an account-wide 6.5 day lockout, so you and your team will be able to hit raids weekly without having to worry about fighting over spawns.

That brings a welcome end to Holly’s past statement about raiding:

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

Casuals will now get their opportunity to raid.

Otherwise, all of the changes made during the launch of Ragefire and Lockjaw in order to handle a rush or players… multiple versions of zones, improved performance, more players allowed on the server, and a primitive server queue… are still in place.  My hope is that these, and the lack of multi-boxing players, will keep Daybreak from having to launch a second server.  That has happened with every progression server launch so far, and always leads to a secondary, underpopulated server over time.  One server will keep everybody together in what will hopefully be a well populated world.

Still, all is likely not to be peaches and cream.

This will still not be a real 1999 level server.  Your gear doesn’t stay on your corpse when you die.  Lots of new things will still be in the game.  This will annoy some people.

And then there is the question of how much nostalgia is too much?

Currently Daybreak still has the Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak time locked progression servers running.  They are getting close to live, but aren’t there yet.  Then there are the Ragefire and Lockjaw servers that were launched back in May.  That wasn’t all that long ago and they are still on the Ruins of Kunark expansion.  That puts them in a nostalgia sweet spot.

So launching Phinigel today will make for five nostalgia servers running at once, all available only to Daybreak All Access subscribers. (For nostalgia, you gots to pay to play.)

Will the other servers hold on to their dedicated populations?  If so, will that keep the Phinigel server population more manageable, or will it fail to hit that critical mass needed to make a world feel alive?

Or is the allure of starting fresh (and no mulit-boxing) strong enough that Phinigel will drain players off of the other four servers and run into the sort of first night follies we’ve seen in the past, with over crowding, queues, and the team eventually giving in and launching a second server, all while the other four servers languish for lack of enough players?

Too soon?

I already think this might be the case for Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak

I like that Daybreak is iterating on the nostalgia server idea, but is there a limit to how often the nostalgia card can be played.  I am interesting in this new server and how seeing how well it goes, but I am still good on EverQuest nostalgia from the early days of the Fippy Darkpaw server.

Maybe I’ll jump on the next one.

Anyway, if you are interested, Daybreak has a full FAQ posted for the Phinigel server in the forums.  And no, recruit a friend is not available on this server, please stop asking.

EverQuest Phinigel Server – A True Box Progression Server

The EverQuest team is prepping another nostalgia run with a new progression server, which will mean that there will be a total of five such servers in play with Fippy Darkpaw, Vulak, Ragefire, and Lockjaw still chugging along.

The nostalgia is strong in Norrath.

Named for Phinigel Autropos, the last known knight of the Kedge, this is going to be a special progression server according to Daybreak.

Phinigel awake...

Phinigel awake…

The Phinigel time locked progression server is aimed at addressing some of the more common complaints about the past round of servers, specifically Ragefire and Lockjaw.

To this end, you will only be able to log into the server with one client from a single computer.  Multi-boxing a pile of characters from a single computer will be blocked.  As the Daybreak team put it, if you want to multi-box you will have to do it the old-fashioned way.

A Computer for every client

A Computer for every client

(Real old-school would have had a half dozen scrounged 15″ CRTs.)

In addition to this, the whole open world raiding log jam will be addressed by having both open world and instanced versions of the big bosses.  From Daybreak:

The big raid targets from each expansion will be instanced. While bosses like Lady Vox, Lord Nagafen, and (/cough) Phinigel Autropos (hey, THAT’S where we got the name!) will still spawn out in the world, groups of players will ALSO be able to have these targets available to them via Raid Instances.

The instanced raids’ targets have an account-wide 6.5 day lockout and will have the same difficulty as the non-instanced version of the raid target. Note that raid bosses on progression servers have had their difficulties increased since the launch of Ragefire.

So the bosses will be out in the open if you want to compete for them and hidden away in an instance on a timer if you just want to raid and not deal with external guild drama. (Internal guild drama is still on you.)

And, finally, voting will be dispensed with and expansions will unlock on a regular, 90 day schedule.  People can just be angry about that schedule being too short/long rather than claiming vote fraud.

So what will EverQuest players find to complain about in the forums this time around?  I have no doubt they will find something.  Recruit a friend is always popular.

All of this kicks off on December 9th.  We’ll see if the tradition holds and Daybreak has to open up a second server, though with all of the multi-zone instancing work they have done, I hope they can keep the population on a single server.

And, as always, in order to play on the Phinigel server you will have to have Daybreak All Access active on your account.  I’ll have to see how I feel when the launch date arrives.  I am currently not playing any fantasy MMORPGs at the moment and it is strange.  Of course, Gaff is now trying to get me back to LOTRO, so we shall see…