Tag Archives: Progression Server

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.

EverQuest Turns Eighteen

The date has come again where I tell you I still have that receipt from Fry’s for a copy of EverQuest dated March 16, 1999 and reminisce for a bit about the good old days and what a revelation an open, 3D world was back in 1999 and how far the game has come and how amazing that here, eighteen years later the game is still live and viable and getting updates and expansions.  I think you will find similar posts just about every March 16th (or 17th if I was lazy) over the life of the blog.  Ten years ago today there was a post here on the blog about EverQuest turning 8.

And there is nothing wrong with that.  Why shouldn’t I celebrate something that clearly left a mark on my life?  The EverQuest team is celebrating as well.

They can now buy cigarettes and vote

There are all sorts of things going on in old Norrath, with new events, bonus experience, and the return of old anniversary favorites.

You can even get a free level 85 boosted character between now and March 31.

Being level 85 makes you heroic by default

The offer is good for any account that has ever played EverQuest or any new account that is an All Access subscriber.

There is also a new Producer’s letter up that, among other things, promises a new Progression server called Agnarr that will stop unlocking content at Lost Dungeons of Norrath and simply stay there.  There is also an explicit statement that there will be an EQ expansion this year, as though we would doubt that at this point.

All good stuff for a game that continues to defy expectations and carry on despite its age.

1999 EverQuest Trivia from 2011… the level cap is 100 now

But the anniversary also brings up some questions as well.  A lot of MMORPGs have come and gone during the game’s run, and it is purported to still be one of the most popular/highly populated games at Daybreak.  This leads me to wonder how long can EverQuest last?  How long will it keep getting updates?  What combo of critical mass and notoriety does an MMO need to hit to achieve this sort of longevity?

I have failed to answer those questions before, though not for a lack of trying from time to time, starting with a post back in 2007 when I wondered how many more expansions the game would get.  This was at the time when the EQ team moved from two expansions a year to just one.  I guessed two or three.  So very wrong.  Currently Daybreak summarizes the game’s features as:

  • Experience 18 years of continuous development including 21 expansions of amazing content
  • Build your character through 100 levels of power
  • More than 500 zones to explore
  • Choose from 16 unique races and 16 distinct classes
  • Thousands of Alternate Abilities available to further customize your character
  • More than 50,000 items to earn and collect
  • Hire and control unique mercenaries to aid you in your heroic adventures
  • A robust in-game marketplace containing potions, weapons, armor, and mounts
  • Solo, Group and Raid across continents filled with perilous dungeons, eerie crypts, floating landscapes, and underwater adventures
  • Participate in several seasonal and holiday events throughout the year

Anyway, another year passes and Norrath still seems to be going strong.  Same time next year?

My past anniversary posts, just to keep track:

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.