Tag Archives: Progression Server

LOTRO and the Legendary Server Idea

We are excited to announce a new way to experience The Lord of the Rings Online: Legendary Worlds! Relive the tales of Middle-earth, chapter by chapter, visiting iconic locations and adventuring with new friends – or reconnecting with old ones – on the path of Frodo, Gandalf, and the Fellowship of the Ring.

Join us this fall on a Legendary World and make a fresh start with a brand new character; see Tolkien’s bustling realm anew, whether for your first or fiftieth time. Initially, the Legendary World will begin at the very start of the game and run through Angmar, then open new regions and levels over time. Relive the legend: where everyone is here and the story is now.

-Standing Stone Games, Legendary Server Announcement

I think the big question up front is whether or not WoW Classic is going to wreck the retro/progression/vanilla server idea for MMORPGs the way that WoW itself can be argued to have wrecked MMORPGs overall.

Yes, that is an odd way to start off a post ostensibly about Lord of the Rings Online, but World of Warcraft remains the dominate power in the genre and when they get into any given aspect of the genre everybody else has to take notice or get trampled.  So bear with me for a minute.

I wonder if WoW Classic will set the bar for quality and fidelity so high as to be unattainable for studios who don’t practically print money.  I mean, you can shit on Blizzard because you think they might not get the Vanilla WoW experience to line up exactly with your memories from 2005, but who else out there has the staffing and budget to pick a point in the past and go remake the game from that time so it will not only run, but will be a full on quality Blizzard experience?

All of which came to mind when I saw the Standing Stone Games announcement about their planned LOTRO Legendary Server… or World… they use both terms.

We’ll just stick with “Legendary” I think

The announcement itself is pretty brief, quoted almost entirely in full at the top of this post.  The bulk of the information is in the form of a FAQ, and the key to the whole thing, and in my question above, is in the final question.

Is the Legendary server a “Classic” or “Vanilla” server?

By most descriptions, a “Classic” server is an attempt to recreate LOTRO exactly as it was at launch, using only assets and content that was available in 2007.

A Legendary server runs alongside existing servers, and therefore contains many of the changes that have been made to the game over the years, such as UI improvements, bug fixes, changes to game systems, etc. In cases where we have updated or changed the layout of regions, the Legendary server uses the updated version of the regions. In cases where we have changed items or player abilities, the Legendary server uses those updated abilities.  Some content or gameplay that isn’t appropriate to the Legendary server’s current level cap may be restricted, until that portion of the story unlocks with level cap increases (one does not simply walk into Mordor on Legendary until the time comes).

This, along with some of the other questions, makes it clear that this is more of a fresh start progression server than anything else.  New classes, new races, and all other changes that have gone into the game over the last decade or so will be present on the Legendary server.  There will be, so far as I can tell from the FAQ, virtually no difference between starting a fresh character on one of the current servers and on this new server, save for the fact that cash shop items related to later features, like legendary weapons, will be absent and you will need to have a VIP subscription in order to play.

So what is the draw then?

This isn’t EverQuest, where the original 1999 content has been bypassed by a tutorial, fresh starting zones, and the Plane of Knowledge.  Going back to an EverQuest progression server means going into content you likely wouldn’t otherwise play.  And while some of the world has had its graphics updated, if you’re like me and long for original Qeynos, it is still there waiting for you. (Just don’t get me started about the fog.)

Also, EverQuest has 20 years and 24 (soon 25) expansions worth of content to work through.

All of the improvements from the Live servers come along for the ride, so hot bars work like you expect and WASD is a default control option, but things that came with later expansions, like new races and classes, are held off until that expansion unlocks.

And this isn’t World of Warcraft, where a lot of the original Vanilla content was hacked out of the game like a tumor, so there is no going back to play it unless you want to try a pirate server, at least until WoW Classic comes along.

As far as I can tell, Standing Stone isn’t even going to make you wear the hair shirt so popular with this sort of server by clipping experience gain or the like.  It is just going to be a live server for VIPs with all the new features and classes and currencies, just restricted to before Mines of Moria expansion… for four months, with new expansions every four months after that until they unlock Mordor two years down the road and it essentially becomes a VIP only server.

So I am not feeling the draw for this Legendary server idea.  I suppose if you had a group of friends and wanted to do a fresh start, this will be your opportunity.  And, of course, there will be the launch time euphoria when for a brief moment everybody on the server will be level 1 together and all the early zones will be full of players.  I might try it for that last aspect alone… I have a lifetime subscription, so why not… though I am not sure how long I would stay.

In addition I wonder both if there is enough to draw players and, if there is, can the live servers stand the hit?  That is a topic that has come up with both EQ and EQII, that the progression

Then there is the fact that, to my eye at least, LOTRO has not aged well.  It is still a balky UI with tiny, hard to distinguish icons graced with some of the least informative imagery to every land in an MMORPG.

EverQuest is old and it feels old as well, but the team has polished up the UI some.  The hitbox for your own character is still huge, so you end up selecting yourself annoyingly often, but a lot of other things are better than they were back in the day.  Those updates smooth out annoyances that you wouldn’t likely want to remember, things that would more likely get in the way of your nostalgia rather than enhance it.

I do want to be fair to Standing Stone Games.  Given their limited resources this is about the level of server they are up to providing.  This isn’t a cash grab, as some have already announced, but an effort to provide something akin to what a vocal segment of the community has been asking about for a while now.

All of which brings me back around to what effect WoW Classic will have on this sort of thing going forward.  When EverQuest or RuneScape classic servers were the benchmark, things like Rift Prime didn’t seem so far off base.

But when WoW Classic shows up with a remade version of late 2006 Azeroth, with paladins who can’t tank and only have a ranged attack good against undead and hunter pets for which you have to go out in the world and find updated skills and ammunition in your bag and the whole Sunken Temple or Uldaman dungeons available in all of their previous horrific glory, how is a special server that limits you to the initial content but is otherwise indistinguishable from the live servers going to stand up?

Oh well, we shall see.

And, in one last bit of irony, even at the four month between expansions drop rate for the new server, the journey from start to the opening of the Mordor expansion will still take longer than the War of the Ring, if measured from Gandalf telling Frodo to get the ring out of the Shire (April 12, 3018 TA) to the Battle of Bywater (November 19, 3019 TA), clocking in at 2 years compared to 1 year 7 months for the events in the book.

Still, that is much faster than the decade it too the game to get to the gates of Mordor the first time around.  And you might be able to start late, a month after the Mines of Moria unlocks, and try to keep pace with the books.  That would be an interesting project… maybe more interesting to read about than to try, but there it is.  Though you could do that on the live servers right now if you wanted.  Oh well.

Others writing about the server announcement:

The First EverQuest II Progression Server is Coming to an End

Just a little over three years ago I was writing about the launch of the Stormhold and Deathtoll servers, Daybreak’s first run at the time locked progression server idea with EverQuest II.

That is Daybreak’s graphic for the idea

The idea has been an ongoing success for EverQuest, but there was still an outstanding question as to whether or not the original was uniquely qualified for that sort of thing of if Daybreak could make the magic happen with the never-quite-a-successor.

There had been polls and a bunch of details about what to expect when it launched.

Missing from my lauch day post was the last minute surprise about Daybreak bringing back the Isle of Refuge as the starting zone for the new servers.

Subscribers Only

I was excited to see how this played out and signed up to give it a try.  However, like the game at launch, going back to something akin to its origins wasn’t a very satisfying solo affair.  Like a lot of my EverQuest memories, my good times in EverQuest II were as part of a guild that played together.  Wandering solo at a slow pace meant not keeping up with expansion unlocks and the mass of players, so I did not stick with it for too long.

I kept an eye on the news as things progressed through the first few expansions, but even that tapered off after a while.

I was still watching when Deathtoll, the PvP server, was shut down due to low population, ending the history of PvP servers for the game save for the Russian server.  It was gone before the Echoes of Faydwer expansion was up for a vote.

After that I didn’t hear much about it and didn’t pay it much mind.  Daybreak did other special servers, the Race to Trakanon event server, the Free Trade server, and the second round time locked server, which opened a little over a year ago, Fallen Gate.

Today, however, I saw some news about the Stormhold server.  It has apparently run its course.  Unlike the many expansions of EverQuest, which has kept the Fippy Darkpaw server, which launched in February 2011 (last time line here), up and running with things to unlock to this very day, the plan for Stormhold only had a dozen transitions planned.  Even at a leisurely four unlocks a year, possible with the short voting windows, Stormhold could have easily run its course by now.

And so, come September 4th of this year, the Stormhold server will be merged into the Antonia Bayle server.

I am curious as to why they chose that server.  It used to be the popular server, the cool kids server, where events and such happened.  It was the server that was passed over when server merges hit the other live servers back in November of 2015.  But now it seems to be in need of a bit of a population boost.

Of course, this is just my sort of luck.  When the server merges happened before no two servers that I had characters on were merged together.  The server count went from ten to four and I still had characters on three different live servers.  Well, now it will be four.  I have a couple of characters on Stormhold and soon they will be on Antonia Bayle.  Just what I needed.

The EverQuest Agnarr Server Hits the Planes of Power

About a year back Daybreak announced yet another retro/progression server.  This was the Agnarr server and it was to have a feature to make it stand out from its numerous predecessors.

Agnarr the Stormlord for whom the server was named

The Agnarr server would be “PoP locked,” that is it would progress only to the Planes of Power expansion and then stop, remaining for its existence at that point.

Planes of Power – Hope you like it!

Actually, “PoP locked” is incorrect.  The FAQ for the server indicates that the Legacy of Ykesha and Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansions, which came after Planes of Power, would also be unlocked.  The schedule was for an expansion to be unlocked every twelve weeks, so the timeline ought to be as follows:

  • May 24, 2017 – Agnarr server opens with original EverQuest content
  • August 16, 2017 – Ruins of Kunark expansion unlocked
  • November 8, 2017 – Scars of Velious expansion unlocked
  • January 31, 2018 – Shadows of Luclin expansion unlocked
  • April 25, 2018 – Planes of Power expansion unlocked
  • July 18, 2018 – Legacy of Ykesha expansion unlocked
  • October 10, 2018 – Lost Dungeons of Norrath unlocked

Things were right on track with Planes of Power opening up this past Wednesday. (Though most of us were consumed with other drama at the time.)  So while there is more content to be unlocked, the Planes of Power expansion is the last big raid focused update for the server.  With past progression servers the follow-on pair of LoY and LDoN were opened up semi-concurrently with Planes of Power.

Released Together?  Not this time

LoY, which was only called an “extension” rather than an “expansion” back then introduced the Froglock race which evicted the trolls from their home, sending them to Neriak.  Tales of races seeking the ancestral homes are common in MMORPGs, but have we ever had somebody driven from theirs (or returning to theirs if you take the frog side of the conflict) as part of an expansion?

Meanwhile LDON is notable for introducing instanced, small group dungeons that attempted some level of randomness in layout to increase replayability.

That is where things will stop on Agnarr come October, at which point the plan is for the server to remain static.  This is the “forever classic” server that many have pined for, though I am sure there is still heated debate over what really constitutes “classic.”  It may also be an attempt to recreate the long passed EverQuest for Macintosh server Al’Kabor which stayed locked in time for so many years as a time capsule representing the game as it was back in 2002. (Officially shut down on November 2013)

The Gates of Discord expansion, the next in line on the long list of EverQuest expansions, which introduced instancing for raids as well as small group content, won’t be seen.  The Gates of Discord expansion remains controversial for using instancing, though that very idea would be picked up by Blizzard for World of Warcraft, set to launch a little more than a year later.

Not for Agnarr

The irony is that in order to keep player complaints down and keep the servers from needing direct GM intervention with things like raid schedules due to bad player behavior, Daybreak has put instancing in for all of the old raids already.  In the end the Gates of Discord expansion was the path forward.

But now the Agnarr server, the progression server that will soon cease to progress, has hit its crown jewel, the Planes of Power expansion.  It is an expansion of legend in the history of EverQuest, both for its breadth and ambition as well as for its level of brokenness at launch.

Firiona Vie casts in the expansion graphic

Daybreak has even put up a guide on their site that highlights what you can find in the Planes of Power expansion.

What will become of the server once the final expansion has been unlocked and it is left to drift on its own?  We shall see.  There are some who predict the growth a vibrant community, others who expect it to end up a ghost town.  But to play on it you have to subscribe, so it had best offer something that can’t be had for free on the live servers.

EverQuest at Nineteen Launches a New Server

I see it around me
I see it in everything

-My Sundown, Jimmy Eat World

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

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

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

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

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

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

What keeps EverQuest going?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coirnav the fast and bulbous

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, here is to nineteen years of EverQuest!

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

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

Fippy Darkpaw – A Merger Too Late

Long has been the tale of the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server and it has been quite some time since I last posted about it.

Fippy has been around for a while now

I started out playing on the Fippy Darkpaw server back when in launched in early 2011.  Potshot and I had our old school adventures for a time there.  And much fun was had. (You can click on the Fippy Darkpaw tag and scroll way down to read about us playing if that’s your thing.)  However the great big Sony hack that brought PSN and SOE games down for a couple of weeks killed our momentum and we fell out of the habit of playing and that was that.

But the server went on.  Such servers have their own lives.  I continued to follow major events on the server… votes and expansion unlocks… but at the time SOE was so bad at publicizing the server that I had to depend on people complaining in the forum about problems with new expansions to figure out when something changed.

I will say that Daybreak did get on board with their special servers and now broadcast updates prominently.  Good for them.

Eventually I gave up on following the server.  I made it to the Underfoot expansion in July of 2014 and that was about it.  Somewhere I said I would probably have two more posts at some future date, when Fippy Darkpaw merged with its twin the Vulak server and when the pair were eventually rolled into a live server.  That was the fate of the previous progression servers, The Sleeper and The Combine.

Now the first has come about, the Fippy Darkpaw server is slated to be merged with the Vulak’Aerr server in the latter half of October.  October 18th, to be specific.

My initial reaction was wonder that it took this long to get to a merger.

The two servers were the result of the usual unbounded enthusiasm that a new retro server tends to bring out in the EverQuest community.  That enthusiasm has a limit however.  After having two full servers for a short amount of time Daybreak/SOE tended to end up with one viable server and one sparsely populated one.  So people were calling for a Fippy Darkpaw/Vulak merger at least five years ago if not earlier.  But somehow the two marched forward on their own, probably more out of neglect than any actual plan.

Daybreak has since launched more such servers and has gone on to bring over multiple zone spawning technology from EverQuest II in order to handle the initial surge of players without having to double down on server creation.  The community split/merge problem has been reasonably addressed.

However, they still have two pairs of launch twins, Fippy Darkpaw/Vulak and Ragefire/Lockjaw.  The older pair now has a merger in their future and I expect that the newer pair will get the same treatment as well at some point.

The question, I suppose, is who will this impact?  Both sets of servers do not see much in the way of load these days.  There is a tendency to jump on the latest retro server when it shows up, and with Phinigel and Agnarr servers having shown up, a lot of people have moved on.  In my opinion the best part of any such server is everybody starting fresh.  But some community forms and sticks with servers even after the new server smell fades and the short term enthusiasts like myself wander off.

Anyway, something else to add to the tale of the Fippy Darkpaw server events.  According to the FAQ at the end of the announcement, the Fippy Darkpaw server is currently on The Darkened Sea expansion, which means it has only moved on five expansions since I last reported on it. That leaves only The Broken Mirror and Empires of Kunark to complete before catching up with the live servers.

My event list up until this point:

  • Fippy Darkpaw server goes live with classic EQ content, February 15, 2011
  • Classic EverQuest competed, February 24, 2011
  • Ruins of Kunark unlocked, June 6, 2011
  • Ruins of Kunark completed, June 19, 2011
  • Scars of Velious unlocked, August 29, 2011
  • Scars of Velious completed, September 14, 2011
  • Shadows of Luclin unlocked, November 21, 2011
  • Shadows of Luclin completed, December 4, 2011
  • Planes of Power unlocked, February 13, 2012
  • Lost Dungeons of Norrath unlocked, March 12, 2012
  • Legacy of Ykesah unlocked, March 12, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 7, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 21, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, June 4, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlocked at last, June 18, 2012
  • Omens of War unlocked, September 10, 2012
  • Omens of War complete, September 12, 2012
  • Dragons of Norrath unlocked without a vote, November 13, 2012
  • Prophecy of Ro completed, April 26, 2013
  • The Serpent’s Spine unlocked, July 16, 2013
  • The Serpent’s Spine complete, July 19, 2013
  • The Buried Sea unlock vote goes up, September 23, 2013
  • The Buried Sea unlocked, October 7, 2013
  • The Buried Sea complete, October 9, 2013
  • Echoes of Faydwer complete, ~end of January 2014
  • Seeds of Destruction unlocked, May 1, 2014
  • Seeds of Destruction complete, May 12, 2014
  • Underfoot unlock vote fails, July 14, 2014
  • Daybreak announces Fippy Darkpaw/Vulak merge – September 22, 2017

And so it goes.  It looks like there will be a couple more entries on this list before the server goes away.  Also, this was totally going to just be the last bullet point on the previous post until I realized that I had a tradition of over-long posts about the Fippy Darkpaw server to uphold.

Given the Boot in Fallen Gate

One of the weak points of a primarily quest driven MMORPG is pacing.  If you are going to make quests the focus of you game, then they really ought to be tuned so that a player doesn’t out level them or find the quests growing in difficulty faster than they grow in power.

The former is the usual problem.  As a development team adds more expansions and more levels they often want to help players “catch up” so that they can play in the new content.  This is most easily done by simply reducing the amount of experience required to level up.

And so it is that in aging quest driven MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and EverQuest II, you can easily find yourself out leveling the quest lines… and whole zones if you’re not careful… as you try to follow the prescribed path through the game.

A couple summers back when I was shooting for the Loremaster achievement in WoW… an achievement as yet unachieved by me… part of my plan was to finish out the zones with a character of the appropriate level.  This required me to run with three different characters due to the leveling too fast issue.

Once in a while though you run into the opposite problem.  Such is the case on the Fallen Gate nostalgia server in EverQuest II.  In order to give the server an old school feel the rate of leveling has been throttled back.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  As noted, EQII is an aging MMORPG where out-leveling the early content is comically easy on the live servers.  Some throttling was required.  But EQII isn’t EverQuest, where you can unmindfully move the experience gain slider and not change how people play the game.

In EQ you’re going to go grind mobs with a group at a spawn most likely.  Quests, such as they are in the early EQ content, were all side quests and mostly deliver gear of some sort rather than experience.

In EverQuest II the way forward is via the ubiquitous quest hub.

A likely location in the Frostfang Sea

Technically, EQII wasn’t always as quest oriented.  Back at launch quests were more common than in its predecessor, but were still a bit hidden.  There were no little quest feathers on your mini-map because the quest available markers floating over the heads of NPCs didn’t appear until after WoW launch with its now almost universally recognized exclamation point/question mark quest markers… and because EQII didn’t have a mini-map back then.

So for a few months in the early days you went out in a group to grind heroic mobs because the quest chains would only carry you so far.

That changed in 2005 as the team at SOE added more and more quests to the game to flesh out the zone experiences and accommodate those who expected to level up solo by doing quests.  And then they reduced the experience table and we ended up with the situation on the live servers of having many more quests than you can possibly run at level.

This was somewhat addressed back in 2010 with New Halas and the Frostfang Sea zone with a series of interlocking quest chains that would bring a new player from character creation to level 20 in one smooth progression… a smooth progression only marred by its unfriendliness to groups and the occasional recurring reduction in the experience requirements.

Basically, designed to be smooth in 2010, still relatively smooth in 2017 on a live server.

On the Fallen Gate server however Daybreak has rolled the experience table back to what seems to be a pre-2010 level.  It isn’t comically out of whack, but having skipped most of the Isle of Refuge (where the problem is apparent as well) the quest levels creeping further and further away from my level did start to become a burden, even with my completing the collection quests along the way.

Fortunately, if there is one thing that EQII does not lack for, it is low level content.  As quests started to get three and four levels ahead of me… rewarding gear I couldn’t use yet due to level restrictions, gear that I really needed in order to handle quests that far ahead of me… I decided to take a detour to Qeynos and Antonica where one can unironically kill ten rats for a quest.

Before it was a meme

I didn’t head for Antonica first, as I was only level seven and that zone was really for level ten to twenty, but the mini zones that are part of Qeynos proper.  Or I hit those once I could find them.  Back in the day they used to be connected to the various racial ghettos of Qeynos.  I spent a lot of time in Graystone Yard because that was the home of Dwarves and Barbarians, a zone that also held the entrance to Oakmyst Forest.

But they closed off all of those ghettos and so I was running around for a bit trying to recall how to get into those zones.  If Quasimodo had been about, he would have reminded me about the key to getting around Qeynos; The bells!

So I pottered about those zones, which was a bit of an “Oh yeah, I remember this…” time, perfectly fit for nostalgia, before venturing out to the plains of Antonica to slay some of the wildlife out there.

Beetle infestations are ever a Qeynos problem…

Some time there put me back on track for the Frostfang Sea, so I returned there to pick up where I left off.  The gear that you get as quest rewards is good both in stats and from a cosmetic angle, so I was keen to carry on there… as were many others it seems.

The Frostfang Sea remains popular

There it was all about thwarting orcs, because orcs are orcs and fill the generic bad guy role so often.  I think there might be room in Norrath to make orcs a third faction playable race given how ubiquitous they are.  You could start on the Zek with Emperor Fyst as your mentor rather than the Isle of Refuge.  But for now, killing orcs is still the thing.

Facing the orc onslaught

I came back to the Frostfang Sea well into level nine, so it wasn’t too long before I hit level ten.

An easier achievement on the live servers…

But this is a special server with its own special achievements, so level ten is a two-fer.

Featuring the boot

A special achievement for a special server, and indicative of the reward you get for reaching the exalted level of ten; possibly the most heinous mount ever conceived by Daybreak,

The Pedipowered Posterior Punter

And I might well have eschewed this mount, as I do any of the gnomish contraptions, except that in a world where you are running around on foot any speed boost is a good speed boost.  And, being a “leaper” mount, you also get some jumping/soft landing benefits from it.  That does something to mitigate its look.

Also, it doesn’t stand out too much on my back.

The mount matches the Guardian armor… sort of…

The quest line through the Frostfang Sea ends with the player getting a nice mount… a horse.  I hope I can then use the horse as the cosmetic “look” while retaining the benefits of the boot.  Either way, having it will make getting around quicker and at least one heritage quest will be pretty easy with the speed boost.

Otherwise I am continuing on with the Frostfang Sea.  When I get through that it will be about time to start looking for a guild.

EverQuest II Opens Up the Fallen Gate Progression Server

Daybreak is back to playing the nostalgia server card again, this time for EverQuest II.

The server was expected to go live at Noon yesterday.  However this is Daybreak, so unexpected issues are the order of the day..

That got extended for a bit.

But by late afternoon Daybreak announced that the server was up and people could log in.

This isn’t the first progression server that Daybreak has done for EverQuest II.  Back in the summer of 2015 they brought the Stormhold server online, springing the revised Isle of Refuge on us as part of the experience.

Since then there hasn’t been too much news about the server, aside from the expansion unlock votes and its PvP server twin Deathtoll being merged into Stormhold due to a lack of interest.  But that is the nature of these sorts of servers; there is often a fuss up front, but they excitement tends to fade over time, especially when they get many expansions out.

So after two years I suppose it is about time for a new one, and so we have the Fallen Gate progression server going live today, named for the dungeon zone that is sort-of the Commonlands version of Stormhold.

Outside Fallen Gate, which has a door that is still standing

As with the Stormhold server, you need a Daybreak All Access subscription to play.

The difference between Fallen Gate and the old Stormhold server appears to be that all races and classes will be available immediately on Fallen Gate and that expansion unlocks will come at regular 12 week intervals rather than being subject to the whims of a vote.  Voting just leads to bad feelings, especially if the vote is close.

There is also something of a theme for the server, which is focused on heritage quests.  Those quests are a nostalgic nod to the Norrath of the original EverQuest, proving that even 13 years back SOE hadn’t completely lost sight of the link the two games share.  You can earn some special achievements by completing such quests.

As usual, there are some incentives to come and play on the server, including a deplorable “mount” you can get if you reach level 10 on the server before July 11.  There is also a special Gateway to Adventure Pack you can buy in the cash shop that has a 66-slot bag, speed enhancing Journeyman’s Boots (not the ones from the heritage quest I assume), and some potions to help speed your progress in other ways.

 

There is an announcement page with the overview as well as a FAQ posted about the server.

My favorite item from the FAQ has to be this:

What will be available for Tradeskills?

Tradeskilling should look similar to the original EverQuest II launch.  Apprentices will not be made available until a later date.

I seriously doubt crafting will look anything at all like the interdependent tradeskill chaos that marked the launch of EverQuest II, but the thought of it amuses me.

As keen as I am on such servers being available, I do not think I will be joining in this time.  My nostalgia for the Norrath MMOs involves playing with a semi-regular group, so embarking on what would be a solo venture doesn’t have much appeal.