Tag Archives: Progression Server

Stormhold Server Faces a Third Strike Vote

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a fan of the whole nostalgia retro server thing when it comes to MMOs.  I have found them to be a fun, if imperfect, way to take a visit back to what things were like.  Not the actual launch experience, but an incredible simulation.

Nostalgia on Wayne!

Norrathmania!

It is also very much an accelerated experience, as the people who show up are generally looking to relive the early days, and know where they want to go and what they want to do.  On the various generations of EverQuest progression servers people knew what zones to visit, what mobs to camp, which spawns to farm, and what groups were needed for any given boss.

It is something like compressed nostalgia.  All the stuff you took months to do now accomplished in a few weeks.

But it isn’t just the nostalgia that is compressed.  A very swift path opens to all the usual MMO problems as well.  Again, as we have seen on multiple iterations, people have problems with groups and spawns and multi-boxing and contested open world bosses and raids and even being able to log into an overloaded server.

However, the most contentious issue of all is content pacing.  There is always a conflict between those who burn through the content quickly and want the next expansion unlocked at the soonest possible moment, and those who move at a more leisurely pace or who showed up late (along with that persistent, classic server sub-group that wants no expansions unlocked ever), who want to hold off on the new stuff.

And so it has come to pass on the remaining EverQuest II time locked expansion server, Stormhold (the other server, the PvP focused Deathtoll, was shut down earlier this year due to lack of interest) that the content pacing wars have begun to burn bright.

That is Daybreak's graphic for the idea

That is Daybreak’s graphic for the idea

Unlocks have not been automatic on Stormhold up to this point.  The pace of votes, which come every 30 days, is such that they must seem too quick to some segment of the population, and so first unlock votes seem to fail regularly.  But the second vote has generally gone in favor of releasing fresh content.  The current vote revolves around the Rise of Kunark expansion.

What was it with SOE and dark elves?

What was it with SOE and dark elves?

However, the Rise of Kunark expansion, which raises the level cap to 80, has already failed its on two unlock votes, and the third one is in progress, being set to end this Friday.

It is a simple yes/no question

Trolling with a simple yes/no question

The thing is, as Feldon at EQ2 Wire dug up, there is a “gotcha” clause if the unlock vote fails for the third time running.  The voting quote from the forums:

Players will have the option to vote to unlock content on Stormhold (PvE) and Deathtoll (PvP) servers every 30-days. The voting period will last a week, and if the server votes not to unlock the next expansion, the vote will start again after 30-days.

If the server chooses not to unlock content three times in a row, the votes for the next expansion will change to 90-days in-between votes. This will reset back to 30-days in-between votes after an expansion is successfully unlocked on your server.

Players must be within 20 levels of current content cap to be eligible to vote.

If the unlock vote fails this Friday, the voting will move to an every 90 day cycle, and won’t go back to every 30 days until an unlock vote succeeds. (Also, my “no” vote in the screen shot apparently doesn’t count because I am only level 30 and you need to be level 50 for your vote to count according to that quote.)

This naturally has the quick content consumption faction seeing red.  In the post over at EQ2 Wire, Feldon has points out three threads up on the forums where players are issuing dire predictions should the vote fail, one of which includes a pro-unlock video.

Of course, there is no telling what Daybreak will actually do should the unlock vote fail.  The company seems to have a history of bowing to the will of the loudest voices in the forums.  Just about a year back they overrode the rules set down for the EverQuest Ragefire progression server and let players vote in an early unlock… a situation that also happened to revolve around the continent of Kunark.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

Can’t get enough Kunark!

I will give even odds, should the unlock vote fail, that Daybreak will disavow the 90 day vote cycle clause and keep with the every 30 day pace.  Anyway, we shall see what happens come Friday.  Maybe the vote will pass and everybody will just move on.

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…

EverQuest Progression Servers – Faster Unlocks! Faster! Faster!

I haven’t mentioned much about the Ragefire and Lockjaw EverQuest time-locked progression servers recently, mostly because I haven’t been playing on them.  But they have also skipped mention because key events, like polls and expansion unlocks, have been spread out.  Not much has happened since the early Ruins of Kunark unlock poll for Ragefire that got pushed by the demands of some players.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

Still the only fully good MMO expansion ever

Well, the complaints were not done.  While the Ragefire server got Kunark early, Lockjaw was going to be the place that waited the original duration… until people started asking for a sooner unlock.  So Daybreak put up a poll last week that closed out today asking the following of Lockjaw player:

Do you want to open Kunark early on Lockjaw? Future expansion schedules will not be affected.

  • No preference
  • Wait to vote for Kunark on the normal schedule (Voting starts December 1st).
  • Unlock Kunark early (November 2nd), with no vote

The polls closed at midnight PDT last night and the results are out today.  The Ruins of Kunark expansion will open up on Lockjaw on Monday.

Meanwhile, there was a more general poll on the Ragefire server asking if people wanted to speed things up… even more so.  The poll specifically asked:

Do you want the Ragefire server to unlock expansions on a faster schedule permanently?

  • No preference
  • Keep expansion unlocks the way they are.
  • Cut expansion unlock time in half. They will take 3 months to unlock until Gates of Discord, and 6 weeks after that.

The results for that poll asked for unlocks to stay the way they are.  So they got Ruins of Kunark early, but will stay on track for everything else.  The requisite raid content has been cleared and the vote for the next expansion, Scars of Velious, is set for March 11, 2016.

Original Box Art

Just in time for spring… snow!

Maybe this just proves my long standing theory about Ruins of Kunark being the best MMO expansion ever.  People wanted that early.  But the rest of the plan is on track as originally laid out.

Unless somebody gets impatient again.  But Daybreak would never go along with that…

Enforced Raid Rotation Ends on Ragefire and Lockjaw

It was no surprise a couple months back when enforced raid rotation reared its head on the Ragefire and Lockjaw time locked progressions servers.  It is one of the rules of EverQuest that this must happen because one of the unsolvable problems of limited, contested open world content is that it will turn people into assholes, or at least strongly encourage those who are already assholes to remove all restraint on that aspect of their personality.

I would go so far as to contend that such an act on the part of SOE is fully in line with the whole EverQuest nostalgia experience.

No Casuals!!!

To be here, first you must defeat other players in a griefing contest

Anyway, nobody would care except that it is bad for business.  There is a whole code of conduct (where, among other items, you’re still specifically disallowed from impersonating an employee of Verant Interactive) and players complain about other groups behaving badly and it becomes a matter where the company generally has to intervene or suffer through the torture of a thousand tickets.  Better just to nip the whole thing in the bud than to let things fester.

The surprise came this week when Daybreak announced that they were no longer going to enforce the raid rotation schedule.

They didn’t say raid rotation was bad.  In fact, they praised the cooperation of the guilds in sticking to the raid rotation and encouraged them to continue and to play nice in the spirit of the community and that whole code of conduct thing.  Daybreak just won’t be bringing down the hammer by suspending whole guilds for the actions of one member if there are problems with the rotation.

I have to wonder what caused the change of heart at Daybreak.  I know it wasn’t any sort of “open world content is the best content” feeling since, as I have pointed out, they’ve been down this road enough times to know the folly of that idea.

It is possible that, a few months into the lives of the servers, that the raiding community has settled down and Daybreak feels that the point of crisis has passed.  Or perhaps the opening of Ruins of Kunark on Ragefire has spread people out enough that the problem has been reduced.  Or it could be that the customer service team, no doubt whittled down during the post acquisition layoffs, doesn’t want to have to spend time dealing with this particular issue.  Certainly having players resolve their own disputes was a theme in the announcement.  Maybe we will see them demanding an EverQuest version of the Drunder server so they can just banish their annoyances without having to actually ban their Daybreak account.

And, of course, people both cheered and complained when rotation enforcement was announced and they are both cheering and complaining now that it has been suspended.  I suppose we shall just have to see how it all turns out.

Enforced Raid Rotations on Ragefire and Lockjaw

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.

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale, ‎Speaking on EverQuest progression server raiding

I love this point in the life cycle of every EverQuest progression server, when the nostalgic visions and hardcore ideals have to get overruled and open world, contested raiding proves itself, once again, to not be a viable, sustainable idea.  It was a problem back in the day, it was a problem in 2007, it was a problem in 2011, and it is a problem again today.  Seriously, we should start tracking a “time to raid rotation” number to see if it is a constant.

No Casuals!!!

You want the open world Nagafen? You can’t handle the open world Nagafen!

Unlike the sentiment at the top of this post, instancing raids wasn’t done to cater to casuals, it was done to keep the hardcore from behaving badly, a simple fact that gets illustrated every time they launch another EverQuest nostalgia server.

So last week the announcement finally went out, after the usual round of forum drama, that the raiding guilds had best come up with a rotation schedule themselves or Daybreak would step in and make one for them.  And either way, Daybreak was committed to enforcing that rotation.

So there is the reality of things coming home to roost yet again.  Meanwhile, feel free to continue telling me that open world, contested raids are how things should be.

Addendum: And when one member of your guild steps over the line, the whole guild gets a three day ban… even if you repudiate his actions and kick him from the guild.

EverQuest II Time Locked Expansion Servers Today

Today is the day.

I am not betting on an early launch, but Daybreak’s shot at nostalgia servers for EverQuest II are slated to come online today, after a two week beta.  The short version of what these servers are is:

TLEannounce

The more detailed list of features, from the forums, is:

  • PvP server: no battlegrounds EVER!
  • PvP server: no prestige housing!
  • PvP server: no flying, leaping or gliding EVER!
  • PvP server: No more pvp stats on gear. Procs return to items that have them.
  • PvP server: Travel bells will be restricted, more information to be determined.
  • There will only be ground mounts and they will have reduced ground speed. Most likely 45%/50% run speed.
  • Only All Access Members will be able to create characters and log into the TLE-Servers.
  • A new queue system for logging into the servers
  • Content will be locked to classic EverQuest 2, starting areas will be Frostfang Sea and Darklight Wood. More on this later.
  • Expansions will be voted to be unlocked at certain times by the population of the server. Majority vote 2/3 of the population.
  • No Veteran Rewards or Veteran experience bonus.
  • No Recruit a Friend
  • No /claims. Anything you could claim on your normal accounts will not be available on the new TLE-Servers
  • Loyalty System and daily quests will be locked to Chains of Eternity expansion.
  • Legendary, Fabled and Mythical crits will be locked to Altar of Malice Expansion.
  • No dungeon finder
  • Level agnostic dungeons will be locked to an undetermined expansion feature.
  • No races or classes will be restricted from character create if you own them. They will all be playable at launch.
  • Re-forging, Mercenaries, and Tradeskill apprentices will be locked to Age of Discovery.
  • Mercenaries may or may not return to PvP, this will most likely become a poll in the future.
  • Guidhalls and their amenities will be locked to a undetermined expansion. We are still considering this.
  • No prestige home portal or home UI will be available.
  • Marketplace will be highly restricted and polls will be done to determine what will be available.
  • Experience penalty will be returned to launch levels of experience gain
  • Coin will also be returned to launch levels of coin gain.
  • Adventure packs will be linked to specific expansions, still being determined.

I am surprised they haven’t updated that, but maybe they will have something new once the server goes live.

And the whole Alternate Advancement side of things will be unlocked as follows:

  • Exp01: Desert of Flames, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 60, Guild Level Cap Increased to 60
  • Exp02: Kingdom of Sky, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 70, Alternate Advancement Subclass Window unlocked with a 50 AA cap, Guild Level Cap Increased to 70
  • Exp03: Echoes of Faydwer, AA Class Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 100, Tinkering, Transmuting, and Adorning Unlocked
  • Exp04: Rise of Kunark, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 80, AA Cap is Raised to 140, Guild Level Cap Increased to 80, Guild Halls
  • Exp05: The Shadow Odyssey, AA Shadows Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 200
  • Exp06: Sentinel’s Fate, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 90, AA Cap is Raised to 250, Guild Level Cap Increased to 90
  • Exp07: Destiny of Velious, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 92, AA Heroic Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 300, Flying, Leaping and Gliding Mounts
  • Exp08: Age of Discovery, AA Cap is Raised to 320, Mercenaries, Apprentices, Reforging
  • Exp09: Chains of Eternity, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 95, Prestige Window Unlocked, Guild Level Cap Increased to 95
  • Exp10: Tears of Veeshan, AA Dragon Tree Unlocked, AA Cap is Raised to 350
  • Exp11: Altar of Malice, Adventure, Tradeskill and Guild Level raised to 100, Prestige Class Tree is Unlocked, Guild Level Cap Increased to 100, Legendary, Fabled and Mythical crits

Unfortunately, this is going to be a busy week for me, so I doubt I will be able to peek in on the server until the weekend.  We shall see how things play out.  While I remain mildly disappointed, though not surprised, that the Isle of Refuge won’t be making an appearance, I will surely head to Qeynos to explore the old zones out there, including the catacombs below the city.

The catacombs back in the day...

The catacombs back in the day…

Now, will anybody show up for this?  Is there nostalgia for some variation of old EverQuest II?