Tag Archives: Progression Server

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.

Agnarr Server Success and the Nostalrius Question

It looks like Daybreak did manage to get their new EverQuest nostalgia server, named Agnarr for a raid boss of old, up and running and open to the public around their 2pm Pacific time target.

While I was at work, I make this assumption after the fact because there was already a thread up in the EverQuest forums by 2:01pm complaining about overcrowding.

Agnarr the Stormlord approves… I think…

Reading the forums there was apparently over a 4 hour queue to log into the server, problems with user creation, problems with disconnects, problems with zones crashing under load, and a problem with some starter zones being denuded of MOBs by the rush of new characters.  And, just to pile on, Massively OP reports there is even a duping situation on the server, something that can destroy a server economy.

Just another day at Daybreak where “dey break games” in the grand SOE tradition, right?

And there is certainly an element of that in the situation as the crew down in San Diego carries on the SOE habit of being unprepared as events carry the day.  Laugh at them, they’re used to it by now.

But the element that pervades every nostalgia server opening is overwhelming popularity.  Before the Agnarr server launcher, the most popular EverQuest server was Phinigel, also a progression server, followed a ways back by Firiona Vie, the RP preferred live server.

After Agnarr launched, looking in last night and this morning, Angnarr and Phinigel both have full server status indicators and Firiona Vie is out in third place.

Nostalgia sells, these servers are popular, they offer something people want and, more importantly, something people are willing to pay for.  You have to have a Daybreak All Access subscription to play on these servers, so everybody sitting in the queue trying to get on is a paying customer.

This is all the more interesting when you recall that just over two years back SOE blessed Project 1999, the EverQuest classic server emulation project, which you can totally play on for free.

Conclusions one might draw:

  • Nostalgia is popular
  • People are willing to pay for it
  • People want an official server

All of which brings my mind back to another MMO that stopped talking about subscription numbers because they were tanking so bad a while back, World of Warcraft.

Things are better now, or were better with the WoW Legion expansion at least until the end of Q1.

And yet Blizzard wants nothing to do with this nostalgia stuff.  A development team that probably has a larger head count than all of Daybreak combined won’t even glance in the direction of a special server.  Last year Blizzard were keen to shut down Nostalrius, the rogue WoW classic server emulation project, but had not plan to offer anything of the sort on their own, claiming to be unable to even manage what a small group of outside amateurs did.

Initially unmoved by the ensuing drama, Blizzard did eventually agree to meet with the Nostlrius team, listened to them politely, took their user data and code, said a few bland words, mumbled something about maybe a special server of some sort at some future date, then threw the whole thing in the trash bin and went back to working on their master plan to make unlocking flying in the Broken Isles a horrible grind.

In a situation where the burning question for the WoW team ought to be, “Do we have a wheel barrow big enough to hold all the money classic servers would bring in?” the team has stuck to their trifecta of responses, claiming that it would be too hard, nobody wants it, and that the current game is better in any case.

The first is offset by money.  Doing that difficult task would earn money that would make it worthwhile.  And I know it won’t be easy, something you assign to the summer intern, even if that was pretty much the Nostalrius level of effort.  Blizzard has quality standards that they would not want to compromise.   But this isn’t the impossible task that some are making it out to be.  We are not living in some dystopian fantasy future where mankind has lost the ability to make a pre-2007 World of Warcraft server.  While I hate to that guy, since I have been on the recieving end of this quip several times in my career, but it is only software.  When you have coded something once, doing it again is much easier because you solved all the real problems the first time around.

Again, The WoW team is huge, beyond 300 members last I heard, and yet they cannot do what the tiny EverQuest team does and put up a nostalgia server… and get an expansion out every year?  Yes, the two courses are not parallel.  The Daybreak team is a lot more keen to take risks, that they fall on their face before us as often as they do is evidence of that.  And, of course, the EQ team didn’t destroy their original content when pressed for an expansion idea, a fact that does make WoW’s path to nostalgia more difficult.  But a game that is still bringing in more than half a billion dollars a year has the budget to get past that.

The second is just bullshit.  The popularity of the Nostalrius server, the popularity of the EverQuest nostalgia servers, and the willingness of EverQuest fans to pay to play when a free alternative exists argues heavily in favor of any official WoW server offering being off the hook popular.  WoW and EQ share a common bond in that they were, in their times, the first and formative MMO experience for a lot of players.  The key difference is that while EQ peaked at 550K players, WoW peaked beyond 12 million.  That means there is a huge patch of fertile ground on which Blizzard could farm nostalgia.

And the third… the third just seems like ego… ego or fear.  If the current WoW team did roll out some sort of nostalgia flavored server and it turned out to be as hugely popular as I suspect it would, it would be, in the parlance of the genre, a slap in the face.  Nothing hurts like being the new guy and people loudly and exuberantly extolling the virtues of the old guy.  There has to be a strong desire to avoid that sort of public comparison on the team.  It would be bad for them if WoW fans voted with their wallets heavily in favor of the old stuff.  Better to claim it can’t be done.

However, while I argue in favor of some sort of special WoW server, I doubt we shall ever see such a thing.  Even as Blizzard is exploring the idea of farming nostalgia… there was the unsatisfying attempt to recreated Diablo in Diablo III along with the coming remastered versions of StarCraft, Diablo II, and Warcraft III… the WoW team doesn’t seem at all enamored with any such move towards the past.

Still, the ongoing popularity of EverQuest nostalgia does seem to be getting around.  Over at Trion, a team with some old SOE members, there is some talk about special servers for Rift.  I am not at all keen on the challenge server idea, but Trion rolling up an original content server with some special achievements and such might get me to install their launcher again.  Original Rift… vanilla Rift… had some of the tightest, well put together zones I have ever played through.

Anyway, if you’re keen for nostalgia in Norrath, you’re in luck yet again.  If you’re seeking other worlds, your mileage may vary.

The Agnarr Server to Open Another Door to Norrath Nostalgia

Over on the EverQuest front a new progression server is slated to open up this evening.  The Agnarr server, named for the raid boss Agnarr the Stormlord will add a new facet to Daybreak’s nostalgia farming techniques.

Agnarr the Stormlord is judging you…

As I mentioned in my post about progression servers last week, Agnarr is perhaps not really covered by that name.  It will, in fact, progress, though it won’t go through any of that voting or content unlocking in order to do so.  The Agnarr server already has a fixed schedule:

  • 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

And once there, progression will stop, as laid out in the server FAQ.

This will give a very vocal segment of the EverQuest forum community something they have been asking for since progression servers started; a server locked in the past, that will sit at content released in September of 2003.  It is the classic server that has been demanded for so long.

While Daybreak is calling it a “PoP-locked” server, PoP being the Planes of Power expansion, one of the most ambitious (and bug plagued at the time) raiding expansions in the game, a watershed in the game’s history, and the last hurrah for open world contested raiding, two more expansions will follow on, Legacy of Ykesha and Lost Dungeons of Norrath.

There is a certain irony here, or a certain symmetry if you want to look at it from a different angle, in stopping at LDoN.  That is where SOE introduced instanced group content to the game, a full year ahead of the launch of World of Warcraft.  Who copied whom here?

But the Agnarr server will include all of the features and details of the past servers.  It will be a “true box” server, so no multi-boxing will be allowed.  The server will be able to spawn multiple instances of zones to deal with any crowding issues.  And raids will be instanced.

from the FAQ:

Q: How Does Raid Instancing Work on Agnarr?

The system will allow a full raid (72 players) into an instance. You will need at least 6 players in your raid to request a raid instance, and the players in your raid need to be level 46 or higher.

When you request a raid instance, the player that requested it, and his or her entire raid, will be given an account-wide request lockout for that specific raid for 2.5 days.

Each “boss” in the zone will grant a 6.5 day account-wide lockout. For the most part, this is just the big boss (Lord Nagafen, for example) and the stuff in his/her/its immediate vicinity.

For launch, Plane of Sky is an exception to the above instancing rule. Each island will have a lockout. Kill any NPC on that island and everyone in your raid will receive a 6.5 day account-wide lockout for that island.

You will be able to raid in peace with your guild, fighting the boss when you can get your group together rather than having to worry about vying with other guilds.  Raid PvP won’t be a thing.  Even the nostalgia experience has to bend to the reality of player behavior.

The server is set to go today at 5pm 2pm Pacific time, which is UTC minus 7 currently.  Given past launches, I expect there to be some delays.  But maybe they have this progression server thing locked down by this point.  We shall see.

I am sure some people are excited.  I see Keen is hyped up for this server.

I am a bit indifferent.  I like the idea, but even with casual grouping generally a thing, going in alone without friends of a regular group doesn’t appeal to me.  Also, the initial time frame before the first expansion feels a bit short to me.  But the server won’t have moved too far along if I join later.

Anyway, the classic server idea, locked in time, that some have been clamoring for will soon be a thing.  Again, you can find the server FAQ here for the details.

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?

The EverQuest Agnarr Progression Server to Remain Locked in Time

Daybreak is no stranger to special servers.  On the EverQuest side of the house they have had quite a few over the years.  The nostalgia progression server idea itself is a decade old, having first come to pass with The Sleeper and The Combine way back when.

Those were followed by Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak about six years ago, then Ragefire and Lockjaw a couple of years back, and then Phinigel which went live about a year and a half back.

Each has been a refinement on the attempt to capture “the good old days” of early EverQuest, when graphics were raw, groups were required, and spawns were camped.

Back in March, the Producer’s Letter at the game’s 18th anniversary mentioned a new progression server would be on its way this year, and Daybreak has now announced the timing and some details.

The server name will be Angarr, as previously mentioned, named for Angarr the Stormlord, a raid boss from back in the day.

Agnarr the Stormlord approves… I think…

This fifth generation progression server will carry on with the improvements from the past, including being a “true box” server, which is Daybreak’s way of saying that the are going to try to keep you from multi-boxing your way through the game, an innovation brought in with the Phinigel server.

But the key new feature for Agnarr is how it will progress… or, rather, how it will NOT progress.

The Agnarr server will, as always, kick off in the original March 1999 EverQuest content, such that it is.  Then every 12 weeks Daybreak will unlock an expansion, following the usual path forward with Ruins of Kunark then Scars of Velious and so on.  However, the unlocks will stop with the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion and no further expansions will come to the server, leaving the server to run on with content introduced in late 2003.

The Agnarr server is set to launch on May 24th, and given the “every 12 weeks” plan, the server cycle should look something like this.

  • 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

Unlike past progression servers the last two expansions, Legacy of Ykesha and Lost Dungeons of Norrath, will not unlock semi-concurrently with the Planes of Power expansion.  There will be full 12 week gaps between each.

And then the server will stay like that, at least as long as there is sufficient population to warrant keeping it around.

This will/should/may satisfy the long standing calls that come with the launch of every progression server that Daybreak create a permanent “classic” server which sits still in time and never advances.  These calls have grown all the more common since the closure of EverQuest Macintosh Edition back in late 2013.

I am mildly skeptical about the prospects for the server.  EverQuest Mac was a magical place locked in time, but it was also made up of a community that evolved naturally over a decade, forged by a shared feeling of isolation and neglect, and started at a point when it was running current content.  Can Daybreak recreate that by just rolling a new server?  While they can restrain the march of expansions the servers will, by necessity, be tainted by changes made over the years like revamped zone graphics and updated user interface.

Meanwhile, progression servers themselves have been shown in the past to be very content unlock oriented, with populations rising with each new expansion and the dwindling off as time with that content ages.

And then there is the “what is classic EverQuest?” question.  The expansion after Lost Dungeons of Norrath, the aptly named Gates of Discord, is pretty much accepted as being “post-classic,” if you will.  So no point in going there.  But is Lost Dungeons of Norrath, where the game becomes focused on instanced content, really classic?

Of course, like anybody from the old school, I have my own view.  For me, everything after Ruins of Kunark is “that new shit,” but I might be more conservative than most and I have said in the past that I think Kunark is the only truly good expansion ever released for an MMORPG.

And where does Project 1999 stand in all of this?  It was blessed by Daybreak as a legitimate place to go explore your retro EverQuest nostalgia, and it is an attempt to create a real “classic” experience, untainted by many of the updates that have gone into the game over the years.  The problem is that Project 1999 requires you to have a specific, out-of-date, no longer available at retail version of EverQuest and can’t tell you how to find it otherwise.

Anyway, the launch is coming on May 24th.  As always, access to the Agnarr server will require a Daybreak All Access subscription.  We shall see how it progresses.