Tag Archives: Progression Server

EQ Aradune Server and Trading One Problem for Another

I almost wrote a post this past week about how queue times had disappeared from the EverQuest Aradune server.  After all, that was the problem when it launched late last month, the problem that Daybreak was focused on addressing.

Nostalgia is live

Unfortunately, in opening up the server to allow more people to get into the game led to different problems.  Something is always the bottleneck, so when you fix one you often end up finding the next one.

In this case, people could log into the game, but moving between zones began to take as much as 15 minutes at times and often simply led to the game client getting disconnected or crashing.  Tipa declared her Aradune adventures over based on this state of the game.

The cure seeming worse than the disease, Daybreak announced that they were rolling back the population cap increase and would be working on server stability.

We wanted to update players on Aradune with some changes made recently. Since launch we have been working on solving the issues with server performance that has affected game play for many of you. In the interim we have reduced the server capacity slightly as a short term fix. Disconnects while zoning have been greatly reduced, and some of the sources of crashes while zoning will be addressed in the upcoming June update.

While the server is at a reduced capacity it is likely that you might see a queue during peak times, we know this can be frustrating and thank you for your patience while we continue to work on the outstanding issues.

So the server is back to queues again.  Those are more palatable than problems once you are in the game.  Tipa even suggested that she might return to Aradune, since queues were at least a consistent issue to deal with.

Darkpaw Games studio head Jenn Chan also put out a note to the EQ community (and the EQ2 community as well) last week about the problems that had hit their games last month when they did the server merges and add the new servers.  Players of both games got something for the problems.

So it goes.

On the bright side, being too popular to handle all the people who want to play on a new server is a good problem for a 21 year old game to have.

EQ Aradune Server Remains Over Crowded

In addition to launch day problems on Wednesday, the Aradune “Truebox Dedicated Progression” server remains over crowded.

Nostalgia goes live

Rather than being able to simply log in and adventure, players are finding long queues most hours of the day.  Daybreak has spent some time in the past creating a structure that could absorb more players on these special servers, adding the ability to spawn multiple versions of popular zones and creating a login queue for the launcher.  But the draw of a fresh new, true box progression server remains a bigger draw than they can handle.  The following statement was issued on the forums this morning:

We know lots of you are excited to play on Aradune, and wanted to provide an update. We’ve been monitoring queue times for the server closely and at this time we’re at the maximum capacity it can safely handle. We have noticed, If you have a flexible play time, there have been little to no queues between 12 AM and 7 AM PDT. We have made changes to the AFK timer to improve queue flow and are continuing to look at further improvements to reduce queue times during peak hours.

This does not apply to the Rizlona server, which also launched on Wednesday.  Logging into the game on that server is not nearly as difficult.

Aradune is, of course, a special name, being the handle EQ developer Brad McQuaid used in game, and was no doubt chosen to remember his passing last year.  That no doubt drives a bit of the desire to be on that server.

Also, the Rizlona server is not a “True Box” server, allowing players to multi-box if they like, a practice that has angered some players who have been quite vocal in the forums about Daybreak needing to do something about this sort of thing.  That has probably driven people to choose Aradune over Rizlona as well.

The question now is whether the pressure on the Aradune server is something Daybreak can manage until the population spreads out and the initial enthusiasm wears off, at which point the queues will likely disappear, or if they will need to add an additional server, the old school way to solve this sort of problem.

Adding a new server inevitably ends up with the second server being low population after a while, necessitating a server merge down the road.  We shall see which path Daybreak chooses.

 

EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start

Yesterday was the big day, the day that saw the launch of the two latest EverQuest progression servers, Aradune and Rizlona.  You can read more details about these servers at a previous post.

Nostalgia goes live

And things looked to be going better than normal, with the server launches hitting the promised noon Pacific Time launch window unlike so many past launches so that Daybreak was able to post the news on time.  I was even able to peek in and see that they were up and going.

The launcher shows them live

Of course, as the situation often unfolds, there was a rush to get on the servers and into the game as soon as the servers went live, though it appeared that Daybreak’s somewhat opaque queuing system might be up to the task.  Some people got in while others had to wait.

19 minutes isn’t a bad queue… it just doesn’t update

And then things fell over.  I saw an update pop up indicating there were problems and bringing up the launcher seemed to confirm that all was not well.

Yeah, that is not looking good

That apparently sent people scurrying to the forums to find out what was going one, so that they too promptly fell over.  Too many connections.

These are not the forum messages you were looking for…

The forums were available again after not too long, but all the forums are interconnected, so it seems that the EverQuest II forums were seeing problems.  And, apparently, the EverQuest II login servers as well.  I did not know they were connected, but I guess since the games share accounts that makes some sense.

Twitter updates not too far apart

Once the forums could handle the load there was a note about working on the issues followed by updates.

I am loathe to blame the user base for believing that Daybreak could successfully launch two new servers on time and without issue… but really, it is the same story every launch, isn’t it?  Delays, crowds, problems, they are all part of the authentic experience here now.

This is one of the three problems I feel MMORPGs are never going to solve, or bother solving at least, because it is transitory.  A week from now the crowds will have thinned and in a month any additional hardware applied would be sitting idle.

On the bright side, it does speak volumes about the ongoing popularity of EverQuest, now past the 21 year mark, and the desire to get back to a more primeval state of the genre.

As we got into early evening Pacific Time it seemed like Daybreak had finally gotten a handle on the problem and that things would finally kick off at about the usual time for these servers.  Logins were allowed and the queues quickly swelled up t about an hour.

And then something fell over again and all the servers were taken down once more and stayed down until around midnight, when the situation seemed to finally be settled.

This morning the servers appear to be up and running.  Maybe they should always launch at midnight?

The Aradune server, the true box progression server, had a queue this morning when I checked, once again running close to an hour in length.

The Rizlona server, which allows multi-boxing, seemed less in demand and I was able to pop right in and make a character to try out.

Halas on a crisp May morning

I ran out to Everfrost where I almost immediately had somebody train a red con skeleton onto me, which stunned me then killed me before I could do anything.  So all is normal in the world.

I haven’t really decided if I will give either server any sort of real effort.  I am always a bit interested, but I am not sure I am up to the task.  We shall see.  And if I let it pass, there will likely be a new server next year.

Others on this topic:

Darkpaw Announces and Adjusts Plans for the Rizlona and Aradune Time Locked Progression Servers

Sometimes it pays to wait a bit after Daybreak announces something as they are a company that is willing to change their mind in front of a live studio audience.

That can be a good thing.  As I said back in the SOE days, they do try to get to the right answer.  The problem is that their starting point does seem oddly wrong at times.  I don’t think this was necessarily one of those times, but feedback did seem to change their minds.

This all has to do with the Rizlona and Aradune time locked progression servers that were announced as part of the ramp up to the EverQuest 21st anniversary celebration.  This week we got a target date and some more information about the plans for those servers.

Coming this month

The rules were posted and seemed both restrictive and a bit confused.

The restrictive aspect was the plan to stop both servers at the Planes of Power expansion after unlocking an expansion every three months.  That was a plan similar to the Agnarr server that launched back in 2017, which was advertised as a “PoP Locked” server, and which hit that end point back in 2018.

That seemed like a reasonable idea back then, an attempt to recreate something like the locked in time spirit that rose up around the now seven years gone Al’Kabor server that hosted the EverQuest for Macintosh community.  But I am not sure they need to reboot that idea every few years, and not with two servers.

But they changed their mind on that and now neither server will be “PoP Locked.”

They also announced that both servers were to be “GM Dedicated” servers, the meaning of which I’ll just quote:

Rizlona and Aradune are GM dedicated servers, this means they will be more visible on your server and petition queues will go direct to them. It is possible that there will be instances where other GMs may assist when available but most will go to your specific GMs. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more about your server’s GMs!

I remember a time when GMs were pretty visible in EQ, so maybe they are trying to revive that era again.

And then there is the confusing bit… or at least the bit that is confusing to me.  The full titles of the two new servers are:

  • Aradune Truebox Dedicated Progression
  • Rizlona Boxed Dedicated Progression

In the parlance of past severs, “truebox” means no multi-boxing at all, while “boxed” is a new one on me, but at least implies that they will allow some for of multi-boxing.  But then there are the rule sets described for the two:

Aradune Ruleset:

  • Mangler XP Progression
  • Agents of Change Enabled
  • Pick Zones Enabled

By playing on Aradune you agree to:

  • Absolutely No Automated/Unintended Game-play, any incident of automated gameplay is immediate suspension, second offence is ban including Aradune associated accounts.
  • Boxing any more than 2 characters will result in the following actions taken against your account. First Offence: A written warning from the GM. Second Offence: A 7 day suspension of account privileges on all Aradune related accounts. Third Offence: Permanent ban on all Aradune associated accounts.

Rizlona Ruleset:

  • Mangler XP Progression
  • Agents of Change Enabled
  • Pick Zones Enabled

By playing on Rizlona you agree to:

  • Absolutely No Automated/Unintended Game-play, any incident of automated gameplay is immediate suspension, second offence is ban including Rizlona associated accounts.

Does that mean you can dual-box on Aradune and multi-box to your hearts content on Rizlona?  Did the meaning of “truebox” change at Darkpaw?  It is possible.  I don’t keep up that closely.

And I can imagine why Darkpaw might want to give multi-boxers a fresh server to play on.  While the practice is often decried by the forum warriors, it has been a thing for most of the life of the game and… of course… you have to have to have a subscription for each account in order to indulge in the practice on these special servers.  No free to play allowed.  So if you want to box a fill party to level cap, Darkpaw will be happy to take your money and direct you to a special rules server just for you.

I don’t know that I will opt to play on either server, but my Daybreak All Access subscription will still be running when they launch, so I might log in for a peek.

In advance of these new servers, there is also the planned server merge coming a week earlier.  On May 20th the following which will see the following servers merged:

  • Lockjaw into Ragefire
  • Trakanon into Vox
  • Fippy Darkpaw into Vox
  • Brekt into Firiona Vie

I covered the origins of the soon-to-be merged servers in a previous post, so won’t repeat it here, but there are some good reasons for these merges.  Details on naming conflicts and character slots and the like are available in a Darkpaw post.

EverQuest Progression Servers vs WoW Classic

For the last few years one of the key arguments to my mind in support of the idea of something like WoW Classic were the progression servers that SOE and the Daybreak rolled up for the EverQuest community over the years, starting back in 2007 with The Sleeper and The Combine.

A splash screen of many expansion splash screens

There was a lot to be learned from even that first rough run, including the idea that it might be more popular than expected requiring the company to roll out another server.

After running lukewarm-to-cold on the whole special server idea during the SOE years, where they would launch with some fanfare and then never mention the servers again in any official capacity, Daybreak has turned the special server nostalgia thing into a part of their ongoing business plan.  When Holly Longdale says that EQ has more players in 2019 than it did in 2015, it is in part due to the cottage industry for Norrath nostalgia they have created.

So now Blizzard is in the nostalgia business with WoW Classic, and is clearly seeing some success from having done so.  But it is interesting to see the different paths Daybreak and Blizzard took to get to their respective positions, both in how the went after the idea and how their respective games evolved over time.

The Classic Splash Screen

The idea for this post came via a comment from Bhagpuss on the post where we were having trouble finding a definitive answer on the functionality of meeting stones.  He noted that information about mechanics in WoW Classic were not as readily available as they were for Daybreak’s games.  While places like WoW Head have been able to recreate WoW Classic versions of their site with quests and locations pretty well covered, they are not quite complete as we discovered.

Meanwhile, if you start digging up stuff on EverQuest you will find old articles, often not updated for a decade or more, are pretty spot on, both for live and progression servers.

Part of this is, of course, due to how SOE and then Daybreak approached the nostalgia idea.  While Blizzard set out to recreate the 2006 experience running in its own version of the client, an EverQuest progression server runs on the same client as live and draws on the same assets and resources.

This was no doubt due to a few reasons, with a lack of resources being at the top.  Blizzard has the personnel and the budget to create something like WoW Classic while the EverQuest team hasn’t had that sort of opportunity since the early days, at which point it probably seemed like a silly thing to take on.  The team was cranking out two expansions a year for quite a stretch, and expansions made money and kept people subscribed.

There was also something of a lack of commitment to the nostalgia idea.  While I give SOE props for even getting into it back in 2007, just eight years after EverQuest launched, it wasn’t until well into the Daybreak era that the company really took the idea seriously, that resources were dedicated to make the nostalgia server idea a thing and address some of the problems that the fans had been complaining about since the first round of them.

But SOE and then Daybreak were able to get away with their half-assed approach to progression servers largely due to the way the game have developed and evolved over time.

The thing is, if you log into an EverQuest live server today you can wander around a lot of old zones that have remained pretty much untouched since they were launched.  The EQ team has released expansion after expansion, adding zone after zone, while never doing anything to really reform or consolidate the world.

Yes, there is the Plane of Knowledge, the travel hub of Norrath, and SOE updated a few old world zones like Freeport, but a lot of content was just left where it was dropped and rarely looked after again.  Somebody might add a new zone connection for another expansion, and a few places got a Tome of Knowledge added to get people to the Plane of Knowledge, but for the most part if you wander through old zones they look like they did back in the day.

And you can add to that the fact that the team didn’t go hog wild on revamping classes with every expansion.  If you roll up a warrior on a live server or a progression server, they still start with the same old skills from back whenever.  Spells got a bit of a revamp, losing the every five level aspect at some point, but otherwise you still get Spirit of the Wolf at about the same point you got it in 1999 or 2007 or 2011 or 2018.

In that environment where you haven’t really added a bunch of new stuff to the old zones, where classes are about the same now at level 1 though 20 or 50 as they were back in 1999, where content has been delivered in nice little stand-alone silos, a company can get away with a low effort, same client nostalgia experience.  Fippy Darkpaw is still running at the 1999 gates of Qeynos. delivering his line, over and over again.  So they can fiddle with some toggles about which zones you can access and play with the experience slider and call it a day.

Yes, there is Project 1999 and the purist attempt to really recreate every little detail of the original game. (They have a new server coming too.)  I admire the effort, but it does feel a bit like a niche of a niche, the desire to get back the entire experience.  Daybreak delivers about 80% of the experience already in a… I was going to wite “modern client” but let’s not be silly… supported client that gets updates on servers that get a lot of traffic.

Compare this with Blizzard’s lot.

The elephant in the room is the Cataclysm expansion, which redid the old content, updated the old world to allow flying, and added zones that adjoined to classic zones, and basically stirred the pot radically.  This is ground zero of the “missing old content” movement.

But that is only the most stark example of change.  Blizzard stirs the pot with every expansion.  Occasionally I see a call for “WoW 2.0″ and I laugh, because we’ve been there already.  The Burning Crusade was literally WoW 2.0, and while its changes were not as sweeping as Cataclysm, the game changed the day it dropped, as it did with Wrath of the Lich King and Mists of Panaria and so on and so forth.  And while Blizz gives us a new city to hang out in each expansion, it also pushed to keep us in Stormwind and Orgrimmar as well, with portals to ease getting back and the auction house to serve as a draw.

I have written about how the hunter in WoW Classic is so different that retail, but even the simple classes have seen change.  Compared to rolling a warrior in EverQuest today, rolling one in retail WoW is nothing like the 2004 or 2006 experience.  You go through different content with skills that work differently up a different skill path to unlock different talents on a different talent tree.

In that environment there is no cheap way out to create anything like a vanilla WoW experience.  You cannot half-ass an attempt to test the water, you cannot just roll out a new server with only the level 1-60 content unlocked, because that 1-60 looks different, plays different, and for the most part is different.

I think this is why, as Bhagpuss noted, that some info is just difficult to find about WoW Classic.  With Blizzard shaking up the game and every class with each expansion, there hasn’t been the sort of static, almost sedimentary, layers of development the way there was with EverQuest over the years.  Fifteen year old articles at Allakazam are still relevant because SOE and Daybreak laid down some content and moved on.  Blizz doesn’t play that way.  Blizz changes the whole world, touches most everything, in a regular ~24 month cycle.  There was no simple path back to vanilla because it was so well and thoroughly gone.

And so we got Blizzard pushing off the idea of vanilla WoW and things like J. Allen Brack’s now infamous line for at least a decade.  I was already referencing calls for “classic” Azeroth servers back in August 2009.  Private servers offering a vanilla experience were already pretty common seven years back when I dabbledwith the Emerald Dream server.  But for Blizzard to get there required such a commitment that it was only after retail kept sagging that they decided to play the nostalgia card.

Daybreak got their imperfect nostalgia merely due to their rather silo focused content delivery.  Blizzard got more perfect nostalgia but had to rebuild it as a new client due to their propensity to change the world.

I suppose the lesson to take out of this is to plan for nostalgia… at least if you think your game is going to run 15 or 20 years.

Daybreak Sketches Out some EverQuest II Anniversary Celebration Plans and Other Items

Destined to remain ever in the shadow of World of Warcraft, EverQuest II has its fifteenth anniversary coming up in November, just a few weeks before WoW celebrates the same milestone.

Oddly monochromatic logo, but sure

Daybreak published a Producer’s letter for both EverQuest titles yesterday which give some details, and more hints, at what to expect from the coming anniversary.

The EverQuest update says that the senior title, which turned 20 earlier this year, will celebrate the EQII milestone with the launch of a new progression server.  Go figure.

This will be a new style of server, with players starting as level 85 heroic characters… nice to use a mechanic that is already in place… and content through the House of Thule expansion unlocked, with further expansions unlocking every 2-3 months.  The details are not set yet, so there will be further updates as the plans mature.

The EverQuest II update offers both more and less when it comes to anniversary celebration details.

A progression server for EQII is also planned, also featuring players starting off with level 85 heroic characters, with content unlocked through the Chaos Descending expansion.

There are also mentions of completely new server-wide event on live servers, including a dragon themed event that will reward players with something never before seen in the game.  As before, more details will be made available as the events draw closer.

The Producer’s letters for both games also reference the coming expansions for each game.  While no names or themes were mentioned, both will see a increase in level cap, boosting the top level in EverQuest to 115 and in EverQuest II to 120.  As is customary, the current expansions for both games are now available for a discounted price.

There was also a mention of in-game bonuses for the coming US Labor Day holiday, and a reminder that the next update for EverQuest II, which includes the annual summer panda event, will land on August 27th.

August 27th is also the official opening date for WoW Classic, so in a way history continues to repeat itself.

Finally, there is also a poll linked in both producer’s letter related to a possible EverQuest oriented player event, possibly for next year.

Addendum: The latest episode of The EverQuest Show has some extra screen shots from the next EverQuest expansion which they have posted to their site if you want to examine them for clues as to what to expect.

Also on this topic, Inventory Full has a post up about both producer’s letters.

And Massively OP has their own update on the letters.

Faster Selo Server, Faster!

Daybreak continues to explore just what “fast” or “casual” or whatever means in terms of a progression server as they announced a boost in experience gain on the Selo server that launched with the 20th anniversary.

Selo moves even faster

From the forum post by Holly Longdale:

We have been watching and evaluating community concerns by playing on Selo before and after the experience bonus in order to gauge pacing. Given we envisioned this as our fastest progression server, we do want to keep the feel of the 50% bonus players have had as part of the Selo experience for the past three weeks. With the 50% bonus, Selo feels in line with how we presented the intent of the server.

As of noon PDT on Friday (today), the 50% bonus is permanent. After the update on the 17th, the server’s base rates will be updated in code so that future XP bonus days will affect the new, increased XP rates making them truly ridiculous (by EQ standards!).

We’ll continue to evaluate the experience rate – and other rates – as we move forward to make sure it delivers on our vision of Selo without breaking continuity and progression.

I suppose it isn’t so much of a boost as it is a return to what thee experience rate was for the balance of March, when there was a 50% experience boost game-wide.  Players on the Selo server apparently got used to that boosted rate and have been asking for it back in the forums.

I am not sure where that places the experience curve relative to the live servers, since they said it was going to be slower than live initially, but this should allow people to keep up with the speedy unlock schedule detailed in the FAQ for the server.

This does not apply to the other progression servers that Daybreak launched back on March 16.

Quote of the Day – EverQuest Hubris and Reality

If we tried to broaden our horizons and invite new people in, I don’t think we’d have enough servers to be able to handle the influx of new players.

Holly Longdale, Interview at PC Gamer

I love EverQuest as much as any bit of my gaming history.  And all the more so here on the 20th anniversary.  But I also try to inject at least some tiny amount of objectivity into my rose colored glasses view of the game.  In that spirit, I would have to say that there is no way that EverQuest could attract and hold enough new players that server capacity would be a worry.

20 Years Ago…

The idea strikes me as very much an “if I had a magic wand” sort of hypothesis.  I’d have to see an example of another game of similar vintage hauling in new customers to be convinced.  Remasters of games, like Age of Empires II, and return launches of old games, like last week’s appearance of Diablo on GoG, happen.  And the will likely continue to show up.  But I don’t see much evidence that this has meant any sort of gold rush of new players these titles.  Rather, it seems more a plan to sate demand from an older demographic… people like me who played those games when they were new.  There is money to be made on that.  Not chart topping, League of Legends money, but enough to support a small team.

That said, the article linked… which I also linked in Friday’s post… is well worth a read for fans of the franchise and has a lot to unpack and there are enough tidbits that I could probably write half a dozen posts exploring them.

Key among them are:

  • “We have more players now than we did in 2015 and our revenue has gone up.”
  • “I’m not allowed tell you exactly how many people have come through the game over the years, but it’s enough to sustain us.”
  • “So we just have an agreement in place that they [Project 1999] don’t launch stuff around the same time we do.”
  • “Our biggest customer service request is people asking what email they used for their EverQuest account 15 years ago, because they want to log back in and play with their old characters again.”
  • “Every three years we do a level increase, and we have changed the way some things work.”
  • A new expansion, The Burning Lands, was released in December last year, and another is on the way.
  • “But fundamentally, we don’t want to change the game. It’s like when we did the New Game Experience for Star Wars Galaxies and everyone quit.”

Those are all out of context, but not dramatically so.

Meanwhile, given the fact that every single time EverQuest opens up a progression server there are queues and problems and crashes until things settle down… and that was going on yesterday as Daybreak tried to get the Selo and Mangler servers off the ground… I agree that if they could attract a bunch of new players, there is no guarantee that their current servers could handle it.  I just don’t think there is any way they could attract those sorts of numbers.

We’ll see if Daybreak has better luck on day two, which also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day as well.

I used Station Cash just to get this screen shot

Maybe a bit of luck will help them.

Daybreak Updates Its Norrath Anniversary Progression Server Plans

As I have no doubt mentioned a few times already, and will likely mention again before we’re there, this coming March 16th is the 20th anniversary of the launch of EverQuest.  This is a big deal for me, having been there for the launch, and for Daybreak, as this is the oldest title in their catalog and the foundation of the company that was once Sony Online Entertainment.

So naturally enough Daybreak has some special things planned for Saturday, March 16th, including the launch of four different special servers.  Two are focused on the original EverQuest while the other two are in EverQuest II.

That we’re getting two EverQuest II servers seems a bit odd to me, as that title has its fifteenth anniversary coming up in November of this year.  But maybe they just want to get in on their ancestor’s glory moment.  We’ve already heard that EverQuest II is getting an expansion this year, so maybe that will the the focal point of its 15th anniversary.

Anyway, the official rules for these four servers seem to be set, so let me review what we have here.

The rules for the two EverQuest progression servers were announced a couple weeks back and met with some push back from the players.  Daybreak said they would take this under consideration and came back on Friday with an update heralded on Twitter with this message:

Hail, Norrathians! We heard your feedback, and have made changes to the upcoming Selo and Mangler Progression Servers so that you can get excited about finding a new home in Norrath on March 16th.

So what did they change?

Selo – Ultra Casual becomes Fast

The Selo server was probably the most controversial because Daybreak said in advance it would be “Ultra Casual” and then didn’t define what that meant.  As one might expect, that let everybody interested in the idea set their own mental expectations, so when the rules for the server came out they seemed for many to be at odds with their personal view of the situation.  The Selo server was going to start three expansions in, be true box, unlock an expansion every month, and offer faster experience gains than other progression servers, but still slower than live servers.

Beware of an old game in a hurry

Reading the forums, that seemed ideal for the hardcore raiders, who as a group are always antsy for the next raid unlock, but not exactly casual.  Meanwhile, if you read any of the forum posts on this topic, what constitutes casual is a pretty wide topic.  I personally expected mercenaries or multi-boxing to be allowed and probably experience at the level of a live server.  Others were calling for slower progress, or less experience, or whatever their hearts told them.

Anyway, Daybreak fixed all of this by changing the description of the server from “Ultra Casual” to “Fast Progression.”

Seriously, looking at the FAQ for the Selo server, nothing else has changed.  Given that, I would claim that the message I quoted above was pretty much a lie when it comes to the Selo server.  I’m not saying there was a right answer for everybody who was complaining, but this looked like no answer at all.

Mangler – Plain old Progression Server

Mangler was supposed to be the hardcore server.  Again, what constitutes hardcore is up for debate.  Some people want slower progression, others want to wear the hair shirt and have slow exp.

Hair of the dog

As with the Selo server, Mangler was supposed to start with the Shadows of Luclin expansion, but move more slowly with a much more oppressive experience curve.

In the update, Daybreak has relented and will start a progression server on the 20th anniversary of the classic launch at classic content.  That seems fitting.  But with that, they decided it will be standard progression server, with 12 week unlocks until the Gates of Discord expansion and 8 week unlocks there after for any expansion without a level cap increase.

There is a FAQ up for Mangler, but if you’re familiar with any of the last few progression servers, you won’t find anything new.

Nagafen – Another Shot at PvP

On the EverQuest II front, the previous big news was Daybreak trying to revive PvP with the Nagafen server.  PvP servers have tended to be self consuming for EverQuest II, with the population dying off, followed by players complaining in the forums, then SOE making changes which have tended to only to make things worse.  But they’re willing to give it another try, so if you’re willing to subscribe to all access, you can have a PvP server to play on.

Nagafen’s all consuming fire

The server will be free-for-all PvP and will only allow you to make a single character per account.  You can kill anybody from any faction, with the only safe areas being Qeynos and Freeport.

The newbie starter areas will only allow you to attack people +/- 4 levels from your own, while in the open world you will be restricted to +/- 8 levels, save for the level 40+ zones, where there will be no restrictions at all.

The Nagafen server FAQ covers the plans for seasons, itemization, and expansion unlocks.

Kaladim – A New Gimmick

Finally, there is the Kaladim time locked progression server.  I think there is a message in the fact that Daybreak thinks they can launch a plain vanilla progression server for EverQuest, but for EverQuest II they need something to spice it up.  Not that I am against a gimmick.  I like me a new gimmick now and again.  But it seems odd that Kaladim needs one while Mangler does not.

Kaladim is a dwarf place, so a dwarf

When it comes to the Kaladim server the twist is that you will be able to earn account-wide rewards for completing heritage quests and special account-wide titles for collection quests.

In addition, you will be able to go to the old starter home areas.  This is something of a mixed blessing to my mind.  On the one hand, it will be nice to see old areas of the game that have since been removed.  On the other hand, few things were as disappointing as the racial ghettos of the two starting cities when EverQuest had a unique hometown for every race.  While I missed the old Isle of Refuge starting area, my memories of Greystone yard in Qeynos are mixed at best.  Barbarians and dwarves started there, and little about the place reflected either race.

Also, I had never heard anybody refer to these areas as “hoods” until the Kaladim announcement.  When I saw the word “hoods” I literally thought there was going to be some new cosmetic head gear.   But I guess they cannot call them ghettos, the way I do.  I am certainly using that word in the pejorative sense.  And they aren’t home towns, but places where they are sorting our refugees from the great cataclysm.  No wonder I have little affinity for them.

Anyway, as with the previous three servers, there is a FAQ for Kaladim that goes into more detail.

Which to Choose?

So that is four new servers, all launching in March 16th in celebration of the EverQuest 20th anniversary.

Honestly, I am not enthusiastic about any of them.

If I was part of a group that was keen to visit any of them, I would probably go along.  But for just me, there isn’t much of a call for any of these four.  In this they are unlike the LOTRO Legendary server, where I knew that I could at least progress through and see all the sites on my own.

So where does that leave my plans for the 20th anniversary?

I think I might just stick with the Vox server, where I am already through the tutorial and in the Plane of Knowledge with my cleric.  I am not sure if there will be anything special for him at his low level, but There will be banners and special NPCs to see if nothing else.

It also raises the likelihood that I will head off into Moria once SSG figures out when that will unlock on the Legendary server.  I don’t expect Daybreak to make any changes to the servers announced at this point, but we shall see.

EverQuest 20th Anniversary Progression Servers Announced

More build up to the EverQuest 20th anniversary next month.

As promised in the previous Producer’s Letter there will be two progression servers set to open on Saturday, March 16 as part of the anniversary celebration.

Let’s take a look at what we’re getting.

Ultra Casual

The first of the pair will be called Selo, a name no doubt derived from the bard class song Selo’s Accelerando, which let your group move more quickly.

Selo moves you faster

This is appropriate because the Selo server will be the fast/casual progression server, with an experience curve that will  likely let you get to level cap much faster than you ever did back in 1999.  It will still be slower than live servers, but not as slow as any past progression server.

It will also advance much more quickly, starting in the Shadows of Luclin era and opening up a new expansion on the first Wednesday of every month thereafter, starting with the Planes of Power unlock on May 1, 2019.  That will give people a little extra time to get ramped up on those initial levels.

After it catches up to the current expansion level, something that will still take close to two years (so many expansions, and probably a new one at the end of the year), it will become a normal live server.  There is a FAQ for the Selo server available.

Hardcore

The second server will be named Mangler, named for the black guard dog that hangs around in one of the back rooms of the Fool’s Gold in Rivervale.  It is of the more traditional progression server style.

Yes, my dog bites

The experience rate for Mangler will be somewhat slower than the usual, already slowed progression server norm, and is aimed at the more hardcore raider faction.  For this server, expansions will unlock every 12 weeks until Gates of Discord opens, after which expansions that include level cap increases will last for 12 weeks while those without will last for 8 weeks.

That still puts the life of this server out in the five year range.

There is also a FAQ up for the Mangler server.

True Box

Both of these servers will be in the “True Box” model that Daybreak has adopted, which means that you will not be able to multibox.  Multiboxing was deemed the literal worst thing ever by a loud faction of the progression server community.  And I get that it can be annoying to see one obvious group all being controlled by a single person owning your favorite spawn.  Further, I agree that on a server like Mangler, it is probably in the zone.

My Reaction

I want to say right up front that the idea of starting a progression server on the 20th anniversary of the launch of EverQuest that kicks off anywhere but classic is complete bullshit.

Seriously, who at Daybreak thought, “Let’s celebrate classic by bypassing classic!” was a good plan?  That was enough to make my playing on it go from “sure thing” to “maybe.”

That aside, I am also confused as to what “ultra casual” means to the team at Daybreak.  On hearing them use the term “casual” I thought they might relax the whole “true box” thing so people could dual box a tank and a healer or something, like I did back with Fippy Darkpaw.

Or, even better, maybe allow mercenaries onto the server from day one… in classic… so that you could hire your own in-game healer to follow you as you explored.  But neither will be the case.

I guess I am okay with the faster XP curve.  I can see the argument for not wanting to wear the hair shirt if you’re in for a casual tour.  But the whole faster expansion unlock thing?  That seems to be the opposite of what casuals have been asking for out of a progression server.  It is the hardcore raiders that always want the next unlock once they’ve finished up the current expansion.  Casual players have traditionally been the holdouts looking for longer stretches with each expansion since they tend to play at a casual pace.

Giving substance to that unlock history, it seems as though the hardcore raiding guilds are planning to avoid Mangle altogether and hit Selo instead, since it pretty much gives them what they have been asking for; the ability to level up more quickly in order to raid and faster unlock times for expansions so they can have new content for their guilds more often.

The casuals… well, if you trust the Progression Server section of the the EverQuest forums… are feeling left out.  I don’t seem to be the only one who thinks that starting anywhere besides classic is simply wrong, but there is the usual amount of arguing back and forth as to what the server ought to be, interrupted only by the person who opened a thread asking for a PvP progression server.  That seemed to unify a lot of people… against PvP.

But the key factor here seems to be badly set expectations.

Daybreak told us there would be an “ultra casual” progression server back with the Producer’s Letter, but did not bother to explain what that might really mean.  So for a couple of weeks people got to make up their own idea “ultra casual” server in the head, setting the expectations themselves in the big blank that Daybreak left open.  I certainly did so with my thoughts about mercs or true box.

And then Daybreak told us what they had in mind and it failed to match almost everybody’s self-constructed view.  No surprise there I suppose.  Remember when they told us H1Z1 was going to be for Star Wars Galaxies players?

We shall see if the heat in the forums leads to any changes.  Unlike EverQuest II, where the company often seems to blow with the loudest wind in the forums, the Progression Server section of the EverQuest forums has a long standing tradition of being ignored by Daybreak.  An actual post by a Daybreak employee there is generally looked upon as something akin to a miracle.

But starting a progression server anywhere except at classic… no… just no.  That has got to be fixed.  On a server where the unlocks will be once a month, I can’t even imagine an argument for skipping straight to Shadows of Luclin.  It will be unlocked soon enough already.  Seriously, what the hell?