Tag Archives: Ragefire

Days of Ragefire

Maybe not the best post title, but I figured I already had two literary allusions for titles so far this week, so why not run with the trend.

The Ragefire Voting Time Locked Progression Server, or whatever its full title is, carries on and remains more popular than expected.  There were problems from launch, but Daybreak has been working hard to accommodate all of those who want to play.  They have tweaked the zone instancing, they have put in code to log off players who go AFK for extended periods (the big problem last week), they have upped the capacity of the server so that Ragefire can now handle more players at once than the old progression servers, Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak, combined.  They even added a queue to the login page.

And still I couldn’t get on last weekend.

Okay, I admit, I did not try that much.  My daughter wanted to go to FanimeCon, which is just over in San Jose, so we spent most of our waking hours down at the convention center. (80+ street passes on my 3DS XL!)  But during those times when I was home and had some time to log on, I was left looking at the login page and wondering where I was in the queue.

Just keep waiting, just keep waiting...

Just keep waiting, just keep waiting…

It is great that they put in a login queue, but it is primitive enough that I immediately longer for something better… like a queue that told me how big the queue might actually be.  I will sit patiently if there are only a dozen people ahead of me, but if there are 900 I might just choose to go and do something else.  Even the ArcheAge queue, which would just say “more than an hour” beyond a certain point would at least tell you how many people were ahead of you. (Which led to at least one person telling me that the ArcheAge queues were not so bad because they never said anything beyond one hour, so the trick worked.)

Anyway, for all of the work Daybreak has done, the problem remains; the draw of nostalgia has gone far beyond what they expected.  The time has come for them to roll up a second server.

Lockjaw Defeated

Shit, get a priest over here, we need a res

And so at some point soon we will get the Lockjaw server, that being the second place name from the poll.  It will be otherwise the same as the Ragefire server.  If you want to play on Lockjaw you will have to start fresh.  There will be no transfers from Ragefire.

That works for me but, as noted, I haven’t been able to get on much, so I don’t have a lot invested in Ragefire yet.  Others who have more invested may be reluctant to swap.

Level 3 druid is easily replaced

Level 3 druid is easily replaced

And this will likely lead to another issue in the longer term.  Daybreak has been very reluctant to simply roll up another server to deal with the load.  That is because the history of EverQuest progression servers shows that the enthusiasm won’t last.

Some people will get their fill of nostalgia quickly enough.  A few days or a week or a month or two of playing in the original content will sate them and they will leave.  Others will hit the wall somewhere in the 30s when areas for exp groups start to thin out  and finding a free camp or a group that will take you starts to become a chore.  That will change when Ruins of Kunark goes live and opens up the world considerably, but that is six months and a successful vote down the road.

Eventually things will die down and we may end up with two sparsely populated progression servers, with one the poor relation in that regard, and there will be calls for a server merge that will never come. (Although there will inevitably be the person declaring that they like an empty server, because you can find support for any point of view if you look hard enough.)

Of course, Daybreak could help keep this from happening, or happening sooner than it should.  The starting point would be to not forget that they have these servers.  The last time around, with Fippy Darkpaw, SOE was great guns about the whole progression server idea until about two weeks after it launched… and then it never mentioned the whole thing publicly again.

Seriously, Daybreak should make a big deal out of the servers beyond launch.  If nothing else, the opening of expansions should be noteworthy, especially Ruins of Kunark with its new starter zones, new race, and all that.  Played right, each expansion could be a rallying point to get people to come to these servers, or return to them, as they progress.

But that is another one of those corporate culture things I bring up now and again.  An ingrained corporate culture can keep a company from doing what seems easy and obvious from the outside.  Blizzard will never roll up a WoW nostalgia server because their culture cannot fathom why people would want such a thing.  SOE’s corporate culture included a recurring habit of hyping something up, then totally failing to follow up and letting things go silent for ages.  Progression servers, The Agency, EverQuest Next, whatever, they make a big splash, then let things sit until the last ripple has faded.

So I suppose we will see if Daybreak is really a new company or just the old same old SOE with the same old habits we’ve come to know so well.

Addendum:

Daybreak has announced that they will be instancing some additional zones to accommodate the blob of players moving through the leveling curve.  The list right now is:

  • High Keep
  • The Liberated Citadel of Runnyeye
  • The Western Plains of Karana
  • The Northern Plains of Karana
  • The Southern Plains of Karana
  • Eastern Plains of Karana
  • The Gorge of King Xorbb
  • Blackburrow
  • The Lair of the Splitpaw
  • Kithicor Forest
  • The Lavastorm Mountains
  • Solusek’s Eye
  • Befallen
  • Najena
  • The Qeynos Aqueduct System
  • The Feerrott
  • Temple of Cazic-Thule
  • The Rathe Mountains
  • Lake Rathetear
  • The Lesser Faydark
  • Crushbone
  • The Castle of Mistmoore
  • The Estate of Unrest
  • The City of Guk
  • The Ruins of Old Guk
  • Dagnor’s Cauldron
  • Erud’s Crossing
  • Freeport Sewers
  • North Desert of Ro
  • South Desert of Ro
  • Highpass Hold
  • The Ocean of Tears

That is quite a list.  You can get pretty far into the original content on that list.  We’ll see how it plays out.

The Four Stages of Ragefire Login Grief

The official launch announcement is up in the forums, the Ragefire time locked progression server is live.  Now the reality strikes home…

1 – Cannot log in

You could at least not toss my user name with each try...

You could at least not toss my user name with each try…

2 – Cannot connect to server list

Oh, come now, this part should be easy

Oh come now, this part should be easy

3 – Time out at the server list

And yeah, that login screen doesn't like me either

And yeah, that login screen doesn’t like me either

4 – The server is just full

Wasn't instancing the starter zones going to cover us on this front?

Wasn’t instancing the starter zones going to cover us on this front?

And about every fourth time I click on “PLAY EVERQUEST” there is just long enough of a delay before the error comes up that I think I might just get through.

Oh well, I guess I’ll watch the promo movie a few more times.

Hey, I had ISDN when EverQuest came out, no modem connecting chatter for me back in 1999!  Also, I was totally able to log in the first night.

Hrmm, how about that EverQuest Lore video then, that will keep me busy for another minute.

Ragefire First Night Follies – Half-Elf Bards, Level 50s, and the Big Wipe

On the bright side, I suppose it says something that a game past its 16th birthday can open a new server… a new server that requires you to be a subscriber in an age when free to play is the norm… and find it overloaded.

Crowd on the Kunark Dock

Is this where we catch the boat to the Ragefire server?

Seriously, when the Ragefire server went live yesterday at a little after 2pm PDT (at least half an hour before the plan) people were saying that the rush to get on was such that it was slagging the login servers and causing a problem across the game.

Still, people were getting in after a bit and there was a huge amount of goodwill right up until somebody noticed there were level 50 characters wandering the server.

The server was then locked and pretty much remained in that state going forward.

Fippy Darkpaw was up and low population...

Fippy Darkpaw was up and low population…

At one point the finger was being pointed at the Half-elf bards in particular as being problematic.  If this were really SOE, it would have been rangers… and nobody would have noticed the problem because who rolls rangers in EQ after all the years of abuse?

The initial plan appeared to be to get in, delete the level 50s, clean up any items they might have handed off, patch whatever caused this to crop up, and just open up the server again.

This caused a good deal of outrage.  With the server just up and fresh, it seemed better to the teeming masses that Daybreak just wipe the whole thing and start fresh, lest there forever be a taint on Ragefire.  Why wouldn’t Daybreak just take the obvious path out of this situation?

Well, it appeared that, once again, we were getting hosed by the cash shop.  According to the official post in the forums, the only downside listed to doing a wipe was that they would have to refund cash shop purchases, thus violating the eternal code of the con man, “Never give the mark his money back.”

We’re exploring the option of wiping the server. The benefit is it gives everyone a clean slate. The disadvantage of a wipe is it also clears all Marketplace purchases on the server.

-Roshen, Daybreak Forums

That there is a cash shop on the progression server rankles many, even if it is only supposed to be selling XP potions.  And if they were fretting about cash shop purchases, I guess some people logged in, rolled up a character, and immediately bought some.  So it was off on a search for a fix.

However, the fix wasn’t immediately forthcoming and people getting home from work or deciding to log in to see how things were going with the Ragefire server were continuing to have an impact.

At various points they were letting players on to the server again to check fixes, but for the most part it remained locked.  Along the way the overall plan changed and a full player wipe became the officially stated goal once they had the problem addressed.

However, as the hours dragged on the team needed to call it a night.  The server was up and down a few more times, but the official line eventually pointed to trying to start again fresh today as new issues cropped up, so we can hopefully look forward to another launch attempt this afternoon.

I was joking at one point about getting the fully authentic day one EverQuest experience with all of this, but for all the problems and crashes and disconnects and what not more than 16 years back, I was still able to actually play for a couple hours on that very first day.  I was never amongst those who were able to get on Ragefire yesterday, so I went and tended my garrisons in World of Warcraft.

Still, this does seem to answer the musical question, “Who is this company that claims it used to be SOE?”  Clearly there was some SOE showing through with them getting to the right answer only after having annoyed their audience with the wrong answer first.  The Daybreak aspect seems to be an attempt to be SOE, just faster.

We shall see what happens today.

Addendum: Keen has his own look at the day, including a screenshot of the bards errant.

Also, it would be cool if Ragefire was added to the server status page.  They managed to add the Beta server after all.

EverQuest Ragefire Progression Server is Coming May 20th

I have to ask again, who are these people who claim to have once been Sony Online Entertainment?  They seem to be moving at a speed unlike anything I ever saw out of SOE.

Last week the EverQuest Ragefire progression server beta opened up, then yesterday they announced in the forums that the Ragefire Progression Server would go live next Wednesday, May 20th.

Ragefire awakens!

Ragefire gets real!

Okay, yes, the EverQuest team, which now runs both EverQuest and EverQuest II and which has also been plundered to provide bodies for other projects, if I read things right, isn’t exactly making a new game like their brethren on the EverQuest Next team, nor are they trying to fix long standing problems and expand to new platforms like the PlanetSide 2 team.  They aren’t even trying to bootstrap a new game on top of the PlanetSide 2 code, as with H1Z1.

No, the EverQuest team is just trying to put together another progression server, which they have done a couple of times before, so this ought to be somewhat straightforward.  They have actual progression servers still running, right?

But even with the rather focused task, the EverQuest team does seem to be moving at a brisk pace.  The last time around there were a couple of months between the results of the server name poll, which yielded Fippy Darkpaw, and the server actually going live.  I think it must be all the attention the idea of another progression server is getting from Daybreak, and how much it contrasts with the lack of attention that the Fippy Darkpaw server got after it launched.

Anyway, the poll results were last Wednesday, the server goes live next Wednesday.

That is almost too soon for me.  I was guessing a June date in part out of wishful thinking and the onset of the usual instance group summer hiatus.  But there it is.

Like Bhagpuss, I have spent a little time on the beta server, following my usual pattern.  I rolled up a half-elf druid and started in Surefall Glade.  That was my plan back in 1999, the half-elf druid thing having been my main back in TorilMUD.  But I had two friends who also wanted to roll half-elf druids as well, so I relented and rolled a ranger instead, thinking that they couldn’t possibly be as bad as rangers were in TorilMUD.

They were.  My friends went on to greatness with their druids, one of the first really OP classes in EverQuest, while I struggled until I rolled up a bard.

So I rolled up and then rolled out of Surefall Glades and off to the front yard of Qeynos proper, the traditional spot for the first few levels for those of us starting west of Highpass.

Yeah, this looks familiar

Yeah, this looks familiar

It had been a while since I actually got out and slayed a gopher snake or two in Norrath, so there were a few changes I wasn’t aware of, like the updated looting method.

A menu of looting options

A menu of looting options

That actually helps, since one of the traditional EverQuest problems has been clicking on yourself while trying to click on a corpse to loot it, your own target area being huge relative to your actual avatar.

Of course, the prime item to loot was the Stone of Beta.

The Stone of Beta

The Stone of Beta

You collect the stones from corpses.  Not all kills yield them, but if you just keep killing they will start piling up.  Then you click on them, which puts up a firework and clicks a counter somewhere indicating your ongoing participation.  I hope the threshold for reward isn’t too high.  There is talk of a bag or some such, which would be nice.  But if you need more than 100 stones I probably won’t get there.  With the /betabuff command and content seemingly wide open on the server (I was on the Plane of Knowledge for a bit) the population feels diffused, so there aren’t the traditional groups forming up to camp bandits and such.

I did try the /betabuff command myself, boosting my first character to a level 20 druid.  However, it also turned me into a female halfling along the way.  That wasn’t going to stand, so I re-rolled another half-elf druid and went back to level 1 again.

One outstanding question is what happens with the Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak servers once Ragefire goes live?

Too soon?

Too soon?

Fippy Darkpaw is around the House of Thule expansion now… I think.  SOE never bothered to announce these things so, as I have noted in the past, the only way you could tell when an expansion hit from the forums is when SOE screwed something up… which was regularly for most of the unlocks.

But now, with Ragefire opening up soon, what will happen to the other two active progression servers.  They are long past the expansions for which most people are nostalgic.  By House of Thule SOE was in full on backport mode, trying to bring every feature from EverQuest II back in time to old Norrath.  I expect that the population, not huge on Fippy Darkpaw and small enough on Vulak that calls for a merge between the two come up regularly, will drop off with a rush back to the excitement of day one in the classic content.

We shall see I suppose.  About time to get signed up for Daybreak All Access I suppose.  The beta is free, but the live server will require a subscription to play.

And the next order of business is to see who might actually be playing on Ragefire when it opens.  EverQuest is no fun solo.

Addendum: Make that May 21st.  Much ado about happenings on May 20th.

EverQuest Ragefire Progression Server Beta is Live

Who is this company that claims to once have been Sony Online Entertainment, yet uses the word “soon” unironically as though it meant something?

Even as I was digesting bits of the forum thread about the server poll results last night, a new thread went up saying that the Ragefire Beta Server had gone live.

Ragefire awakens!

Ragefire awakens!

You need a special client for the beta, which is linked in that forum post, and it is a 10GB download, so we’re getting a lot of the game.  But on the upside, the beta/preview is open to all accounts, not just those on Daybreak All Access.  So testing is like, free.

Tell that to the H1Z1 team.  Or the Landmark team.

Of course, being beta… and the server is literally called “beta” in the launcher… it isn’t always up and running.  I haven’t been able to get in yet, though I can see the server.

Your server option...

Your server option…

And while they are getting feedback in the forum thread about the beta server going live, they are officially pointing people towards the EverQuest section on Reddit… because Smed.  Of course, as noted before, that just takes moderation out of their hands, and not everybody is happy about the poll results.

Anyway, I hope they get things together so I can take a look this weekend.

 

EverQuest Ragefire Progression Server Poll Results

The polls in EverQuest closed earlier this week and Daybreak has posted the results in the EverQuest forums.

The first result we were already pretty sure of over the weekend, which was the name of the server.  Ragefire won the poll handily, being out in front by enough to be declared the likely winner a few days early.  Here were the options in order of popularity:

  1. Ragefire
  2. Lockjaw
  3. Gorenaire
  4. Yelinak
  5. Meldrath
  6. Anashti Sul
  7. Opal Darkbriar
  8. Mrylokar

And so it goes.

Lockjaw Defeated

Lockjaw Defeated

Next was what content should be available at launch.  The options were Classic, Classic and Kunark, or Classic and Kunark and Velious.  I personally couldn’t see the appeal of starting with anything besides Classic, and apparently I was not alone, as that was the winner.  Good on that.

After that there was the Yes/No option on voting to unlock expansions.  I was strongly against voting.  That seemed to cause as much drama as anything during the reign of Fippy Darkpaw.  There was real forum rage around the first half dozen votes. Plus, it makes the game play of at least part of the progression server demographic, the raiders, dependent on the whims of the voters.  The raiders are keenly interested in when expansions unlock and are often in a semi-dormant state towards the end of an expansion cycle.  Getting them queued up hoping for an expansion unlock, only to tell them to check back later feels like jerking around some of the most dedicated customers of the server.  Better to keep to a schedule that everybody is aware of in advance in my mind.

However, people who vote on polls like to vote on polls, to votes to unlock won handily.  As with Fippy Darkpaw, there will be a minimum level for voting, something that enhanced the voting power of the raiders, who all tend to be at level cap.  This time around you will have to be within 21 levels of the cap in order to vote on unlocks, which means level 29 for the Kunark unlock vote and 39 for the Velious unlock vote.  We’ll have to see how this works out, but I am issuing an early drama warning given past history.

Finally, there is the important poll item, what sort of server progression will there be?

Server detail vote

Did I really vote for that?

The choices were:

Maximum Nostalgia: Six months between early expansions, dragging classic, Ruins of Kunark, Scars of Velious, Shadows of Luclin, Planes of Power, and Gates of Discord out into a 3 year event.

Accelerated: Sort of a fast-slow-fast rhythm.

Level Cap Bias: Eight months between expansions with level caps 70 and under, four months after that.

Half Speed: The real world expansion release rate run at twice the speed… so the option seems mis-named.  It should of been Double Speed or Half Duration or something.

I voted for Level Cap Bias because… um… oh, yeah… that gave me maximum classic and Kunark, which is all I want out of a progression server really.  Velious and forward is still “that new crap” in my mind.  Old biases die hard.

However, I was in a small minority with that thought I guess, as the results were:

  1. Maximum Nostalgia – More than half the vote
  2. Accelerated
  3. Half Speed
  4. Level Cap Bias – Just over 10 percent of the vote

So Maximum Nostalgia it is.  Rather than getting eight months of classic I will only get six.  But I can live with that.  A full year of nothing but classic and Kunark works, though there is already a bit of “six months to Kunark?” drama.  Yes, it is the best expansion ever in the history of MMOs, but if any aspect of EverQuest has six months worth of content, it is classic dammit.

So those are the results.  They were followed up by a FAQ with details about things like the Daybreak Store (will be there, but only XP potions available), the beta (soon, maybe in less than a week), and subscription requirements (you must be an All Access or whatever it is called now subscriber to play) along with a listing of specific things you will see or not see on day one.  You can read it all here, but this was the detailed but:

  • When the server is opened, only zones, classes, and races that existed when EverQuest first launched will be available, with some exceptions.
    • Paineel and the Hole will be open.
    • The Temple of Solusek Ro will be open.
  • Everyone will start at level 1. There is no tutorial, characters can not transfer to this server, and Heroic Characters are not available to be redeemed.
  • When raid targets are defeated, they will be broadcast across the server. When all of the raid targets in an expansion are defeated, a countdown begins.
    • For EverQuest, Kunark, Velious, Luclin, and Planes of Power, this countdown will be six months.
    • For Gates of Discord and all following expansions, this countdown will be three months.
  • Polls are scheduled to start every two weeks, on every other Monday. May 4th was the most recent, May 18th will be the next, and so on.
  • If the countdown timer ends with at least a full 168-hour week left before the current poll ends, the current poll will be activated. If there is less than a full week left in the current poll, the next one will be activated.
  • When a poll is active, you will go to a Priest of Discord and say ‘vote.’ If you’re within 21 levels of the current level cap, you are allowed to vote.
  • When the poll ends, if more people voted ‘yes’ to the next expansion than ‘no,’ the next expansion will open and the cycle begins again.

So that is how things stand.  I might sub up to try and get into the beta just to get a taste.  But the real outstanding question is when will this all start for real?  I am going to say no earlier than June 15 and no later than July 7 as a guess.

When do you thing we will see Ragefire go live?  And will you play?

The Next EverQuest Progression Server will be Named Ragefire

Daybreak has posted up in the forums that, while the poll is still open, the name “Ragefire” is currently so far ahead that no other name appears to have a chance.

The name celebrates Zordakalicus Ragefire, a dragon from the Skyfire Mountains of Kunark.

Ragefire hanging out..

Ragefire hanging out..

As was mentioned in the comments of my post about the current polls, among the things he drops is an item for the Water Sprinkler of Nem Ankh quest.  The name is also probably the easiest on the list to spell/remember, which was my reason for picking it. (Lockjaw, the other easy name is running a distant second.)

Name choices

Name choices

Meanwhile, the polls are still open in game for a couple more days and, since there was no mention of other options clearly winning, there is still time to influence how this server will be run.

EverQuest Expansion Plans and Progression Server Polls

On the one hand, the news out of Daybreak is a little sad.  We now know what the last EverQuest expansion is (a question I was pondering eight years back) because, according to the latest producer’s letter the game is following its younger sibling, EverQuest II, into the realm of adventure packs.  I’ll quote from the letter because I don’t know how long that link will last.  Daybreak is still running on the Sony domain.

We expect to do two campaigns a year with our first coming this fall. Our primary goal is to keep the world vibrant with content and respond to player needs and issues. We will still provide new lands and character advancement opportunities with our campaigns.

In our two campaign releases each year, we plan to release about the same amount of content as we normally would in one annual expansion. This is important to us because it will allow us to deliver content to you more often as well as respond to an ever-changing player base. For example, the Progression Server is just one thing we are doing in response to recent community feedback. I’ll also say that pricing has not been determined for the first campaign coming in fall, but we’ll share details when we get closer to our release.

So The Darkened Sea will be the end of the line, the twenty-first and final EverQuest expansion.

And yes, there is a discussion to be had as to what going to smaller DLC means and exactly how different that will be from the “expansion every autumn” plan that both EverQuest and EverQuest II have followed for more than half a decade. (Before that it was two expansions a year!  Oh heady days of too much content, broken or not, and speculation about SOE abandoning EverQuest!)

The change was not unexpected I suppose, and the idea of smaller, more regular DLC is certainly part and parcel of the whole free to play idea.  Of course, so is the whole throwing up an alert in the middle of combat asking you to become an All Access subscriber, where “All” has a curious definition.

All the games we say, not actually ALL the games...

For specific definitions of “All”

I mean at least The Elder Scrolls Online says they are limiting their on screen ads to once per day.  Daybreak pops that “Go Gold!” ad (and why is it “Gold” one moment and “All Access” the next?) a couple times an hour if you haven’t subscribed.  But I guess at least it goes away when you’ve subscribed.

Anyway, an end of an era, with the last expansion box, virtual though it might have been, having left the building.

On the other hand, the new progression server plan seems to be taking on more life, and getting more thought, than the past couple of runs.  Seriously, from the outside at least, the next progression server feels like it is getting more thought that the last two runs (plus the 51/50 server) combined.  There is a progression server FAQ, which is getting updated regularly, in the forums (I guess I should be happy it isn’t on Reddit) that goes into a lot of detail as to what is being planned.

High on the list of good ideas is applying their zone splitting tech to the low level zones so they don’t feel a need to roll another server immediately to cover the influx of new players.  That, in the past, has always led to a lesser, underpopulated server over the long run and calls for server merges, which are a pain.  So the following zones will be able to spawn additional versions to cope with the expected initial load:

  1. North Qeynos
  2. Surefall Glade
  3. Qeynos Hills
  4. West Freeport
  5. Commonlands
  6. Nektulos
  7. Misty Thicket
  8. Everfrost
  9. Steamfont Mountains
  10. Greater Faydark
  11. Butcherblock Mountains
  12. Innothule Swamp
  13. Toxxulia Forest
  14. Paineel
  15. Field of Bone

That doesn’t seem like quite enough for me, though that is likely because I will roll up in Qeynos (screw Freeport and its fancy new graphics!) and West Karana will likely be heavily used as well, if past experience is to be believed.

Zone Line - Well Marked

Just look at the corpses at the zone line

Also, no Blackburrow?  Ah well, we’ll see how this works.  And the crowds won’t be there forever.

The FAQ also indicates that they have updated the progression speed options that they are allowing people to vote on.  In addition to the ones I listed previously, there is now the  Level Cap Bias option, which plays out like this:

  • Ruins of Kunark:         8  months
  • Scars of Velious:         3  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      3  months
  • Planes of Power:        3  months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       2 weeks after PoP
  • LDoN:                           4 weeks after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       4 months after PoP, then every four months

I am not sure how that really matches the name, but the FAQ says that they would have to work out the unlock schedule.  I am torn on this, because 8 months to Ruins of Kunark means we spend the maximum amount of time in classic EQ, which favors my own bias.  So, with the poll already up in-game, I voted for that as my first choice, with Maximum Nostalgia as my second.

Server detail vote

Server detail vote

That does, however, give Ruins of Kunark, the best expansion ever, a pretty short run.  It deserves more time.  That made another question, the opening day content question, more difficult.  I eventually went for classic only, but I was not wholly against day one being classic plus Ruins of Kunark.  That makes for some gear mis-matches and the level 50 raid content becomes odd when you are cleared to level 60, but Kunark does have a lot of nice low level zones that tend to get bypassed when everybody is already 50 when the expansion unlocks.

Opening up with classic, Kunark, and Velious though, that seemed like too much.  I couldn’t go there.

I also picked expansion unlocks on a schedule versus via a vote.  Voting has been so problematic over the life of the Fippy Darkpaw server that I would rather just not have it than have more close votes where people are saying that the poll wouldn’t open for them.

Starting content and unlock process

Starting content and unlock process

Finally, there was the vote on a name.  I had to go with the simplest name to remember.

Name choices

Name choices

I am not even sure what “Ragefire” is in the context of EverQuest, but it sound nice.

And the final bit of interesting news, for me at least, was the fact that Daybreak plans to have a beta to test the mechanics of the new progression server.  Imagine that!  Those who participate will get some sort of non-power goodie, with an extra large bag having been mentioned as a possibility.

So not only does it look like a progression server is going to happen, but it is starting to feel like Daybreak might be serious about the whole thing.  Of course, they seemed serious about past incarnations of these servers as well, right up until they launched, at which point then ceased to be mentioned ever again.

Anyway, those of us looking forward to this sort of thing… which seems to be Keen and Bhagpuss, along with myself… will no doubt be in there and voting and covering events as they come up.  The age of EverQuest and the nature of its growth (with lots of segregated content added over the years) makes this sort of server viable in a way that something like LOTRO can likely only dream of.

 

EverQuest Progression Servers – How Slow Can You Go?

About a month back I posted about Daybreak putting up a poll about the next round of progression servers.  The options for that in-game poll were:

  • Existing Rules
  • Slower Progression
  • Locked Progression
  • Seasonal Challenge

You can read the details about each option in my previous post on the subject, but the results are in and posted on the EverQuest forums.  Slower progression won.

Slower progression isn’t a bad choice I suppose.  That is what I voted for.

Progression Server Polling...

Progression Server Polling…

What was the right choice depends upon your point of view, and there are any number of factions interested in the next server.

The raiders, who tend to drive the whole progression server thing, will probably be okay with slower, depending on how much slower things end up.  But if you had your hearts set on a classic server, one that stops progressing at some point, then you are probably not happy with the result.

Personally, I fall into the “everything after Ruins of Kunark is crap” camp, so my motivation is to have any future progression server spend as much time as possible on the base game and Kunark.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

And yet I am not all that interested in a locked server stuck in Kunark for all eternity.  I like the progression idea, that the server moves forward and unlocks content, and that the game changes and evolves.

I am not sure that such a server needs to pass through all twenty-one expansions.  There comes a point when the server is close enough to live that it makes little difference and it might as well be rolled into a live server.  Where that point is would no doubt make for a lively debate.

Anyway, with the first poll out of the way, there is now a second in-game poll up.  This time the choice is about how much slower should the expansion unlocks should be.

The original progression servers, The Combine and The Sleeper, which rolled out back in 2006, were driven forward entirely by unlocking raid content.  There were no brakes on the system and, while I do not have a timeline for those servers, I recall the response by many non-raiders as being “too damn fast.”

The still active Fippy Darkpaw server was put up as a “time locked” voting server, where by there was a minimum amount of time that had to pass after raid content was finished before an unlock vote for the next expansion could take place.  That slowed things down some.  Here are the unlock durations I recorded for the “important” expansions.

  • Ruins of Kunark:        3.75  months
  • Scars of Velious:       2.75  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      2.75  months
  • Planes of Power:        2.75  months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       1 month after PoP
  • LDoN:                   1 month after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       4 months after PoP

So the server unlocked Ruins of Kunark in just under four months, because there was a special delay, after which each expansion unlocked in just under three months.  The exceptions were Gates of Discord, which failed three unlock votes, and Underfoot, which failed at least one, and then Legacy of Ykesha and Lost Dungeons of Norrath, which are considered mini-expansions and so get unlocked on a set timer after Planes of Power.

(All of the Fippy Darkpaw unlocks I managed to record are available here.)

The vote underway now is to decide how quickly to unlock expansions.  It has three choices, which I will list out from fastest to slowest.

Add 50%

This option would add a 50% boost the the minimum unlock time that we had for Fippy Darkpaw, so the unlock schedule would look like this:

  • Ruins of Kunark:        4.5  months
  • Scars of Velious:       4.5  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      4.5  months
  • Planes of Power:        4.5  months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       3 weeks after PoP
  • LDoN:                   3 weeks after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       3 months after PoP, then every three months

I think somebody forgot we were given extra time before Ruins of Kunark, though they did remember that LoY and LDoN were both unlocked two weeks late due to technical glitches.  Still, that does give the base game and RoK a longer run than they had before.  Estimated total time to run through the expansions is five and a half years.

Maximum Nostalgia

The second proposed rule set would put a six month gap between server unlocks up until Gates of Discord, after which expansions would unlock every three months… because who cares about that shit.

  • Ruins of Kunark:        6  months
  • Scars of Velious:       6  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      6  months
  • Planes of Power:        6  months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       2 weeks after PoP
  • LDoN:                   4 weeks after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       3 months after PoP

So the time until each expansion could be unlocked would be fairly flat, with the server spending more that two years getting through Planes of Power, with the whole slate of expansions taking six and a half years to work through.

Half Speed

This is the most radical of the three proposals.  This would run the progression server forward at half the pace of the actual, real world release schedule of the expansions.  So the run up through Gates of Discord would look like this:

  • Ruins of Kunark:        6.75  months
  • Scars of Velious:       3.75  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      6     months
  • Planes of Power:        5.5   months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       4 weeks after PoP
  • LDoN:                   10 weeks after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       7.75 months (after PoP)

After Gates of Discord the schedule calms down a bit, with expansions hitting about every three months through the “two a year” era and then every six months after Secrets of Faydwer.  At this pace it would take eight years to get through, since EverQuest is just celebrating its sweet sixteen.

What to Pick?

Give those three choices, I am inclined to go and vote for the Half Speed server, as it gives us the longest run from the base game to Ruins of Kunark, though the Maximum Nostalgia option isn’t completely off the table, as it would give us a full year of just base plus RoK, thus not selling that huge expansion short.

In addition to the three server types to choose from, there is a second vote up about whether or not expansion unlocks should be put to a vote every time… and thus possibly delaying releases… or if things should just unlock on a schedule.  I am in favor of the latter.  I would rather have expansion releases on the calendar so that the raiders, who will be part of the progression server community, can plan their activities.  One of the problems for them on Fippy Darkpaw has been knowing when to call everybody back to the game to move on. (Though most of the time that has been SOE screwing up the unlock for whatever reasons as opposed to unlocks being voted down.)  The raiders are not there for the same reasons I am, but I don’t think that should give me license to screw them over on a server that has been billed as progression from the start.

Anyway, I am happy to see that the progression server idea is moving forward though, like Bhagpuss, I have to admit that planning something that could take as long as eight years to get through might be an act of extreme optimism for Daybreak at this point.

Will there still be an EverQuest… or a Daybreak Game Company… in 2023?

Progression Server Progress in EverQuest

Color me surprised.  I mentioned EverQuest and progression servers at the top of the week, then left that behind, expecting to hear no more about it for many months, thinking on the Galactic Student Council and the Crowfall Kickstarter campaign and the WoW 6.1 patch and other more current items.  Plenty of time for these things before EverQuest news shows up again.  There isn’t even a community team left to put our EverQuest news, is there?

And then I saw this tweet from Holly “Windstalking” Longdale, now executive producer of both EverQuest and EverQuest II, last night.

Wait, what?

Sure enough, the link to the EverQuest forums resolves to an actual post talking about proposed progression server models.  That is like moving at light speed for the organization formerly known as SOE.

The forum post explores four potential progression server models they might pursue, and I am going to copy the text for each wholesale here because you just KNOW that this company change is going to end up with another revamp of the forums and the inevitable loss of old posts.

The proposed models are:

1. Existing rules – A restart of what we have on Fippy Darkpaw

  • Server starts with only the original EverQuest zones active. Players start at level 1.
  • When players kill a set of predefined targets, a two-month countdown timer starts. There is a three-month timer before Kunark and Velious can unlock.
  • When the timer is complete, a two-week vote starts that will enable the next expansion. If the majority chooses ‘yes,’ the expansion unlocks at the end of the voting period. If the majority chooses ‘no,’ a new vote begins immediately.
  • This progression can continue until the server is no longer able to defeat raid targets or until it catches up with live servers.

2. Slower progression – Fippy taking it easy

  • Server starts with only the original EverQuest zones active. Players start at level 1.
  • When players kill a set of predefined targets, a three-plus month countdown timer starts.
  • When the timer is complete, a two-week vote starts. If the majority chooses ‘yes,’ the expansion unlocks at the end of the voting period. If the majority chooses ‘no,’ a new vote begins immediately.
  • This progression can continue until the server is no longer able to defeat raid targets or until it catches up with live servers.

3. Locked progression – Fippy that won’t progress to live, possible classic server

  • Server starts with only the original EverQuest zones active. Players start at level 1.
  • When players kill a set of predefined targets, a two-month countdown timer starts. There is a three-month timer before Kunark and Velious can unlock.
  • OPTION: When the timer is complete, a two-week vote starts that will enable the next expansion. If the majority chooses ‘yes,’ the expansion unlocks at the end of the voting period. If the majority chooses ‘no,’ a new vote begins immediately.
  • OPTION: Dev determines the unlocked progression based on the player completion rates.
  • At a specific point, determined by Dev, votes are no longer available and progression is complete.

4. Seasonal Challenge Server – Constantly refreshing Fippy

  • The server starts with only original EverQuest zones active, or with content enabled through a later expansion. Players start at level 1.
  • OPTION: When players kill a set of predefined targets, a vote begins within a week. Each vote lasts two weeks. If the majority chooses ‘yes,’ the expansion unlocks at the end of the voting period. If the majority chooses ‘no,’ a new vote begins immediately.
  • OPTION: Alternatively, Dev may choose to unlock content when progression targets are complete.
  • Players have a set period of time (one season) to complete as much content as they can. The player(s) who get the farthest will receive recognition and a prize (to be determined later).
  • Once the season is complete, the server is reset and the challenge begins anew!

Of those four, I would be happy enough to see any of the first three, as they contain what I consider the key element of fun/interest for me, which is everybody starting together at level one in the old content.  Honestly, once the game gets past Ruins of Kunark, my interest starts to fade, so slowing things down a bit or not holding out until the bitter end of the last expansion before syncing up with the live servers makes sense to me.

Not that the fourth option doesn’t sound interesting.  That might be the old school raider progression vehicle of choice, with a constant stream of raiding goals and prizes and what not.  I just wonder how that will play out given how raiders behave every single time there are contested open world raids.  Because once the GMs have to get involved and make a schedule (or start their own fight club) somebody else is controlling the flow.  Don’t try to tell me it will be different THIS time, because it won’t.

Not that I would even be able to get into the raiding bit.  And I must admit that a server that basically pwipes at intervals and starts everybody back at level 1 again has a certain appeal.  Some of my best times on TorilMUD were at pwipes.  That would essentially replay what I consider the best part of the whole thing over and over, like some demented shared Norrathian version of the movie Groundhog Day.

The problem is that I do get attached to my characters.  I like to see them progress.  And even when they don’t get very far, I like that they at least made SOME progress and got to KEEP that progress in anticipation of my return.  For me it starts to get into the “death or rebirth?” discussion, and having that happen at regular, and presumably short, might end up wearing me down.  Or it might let me jump on the ride when it starts up again.  I am not sure.

Anyway, as mentioned in the forum post, there is a poll up in EverQuest currently that allows you to vote on which of the formats you might prefer.  I actually got out the EverQuest client and pushed the button for one of the options.

Progression Server Polling...

Progression Server Polling…

The poll itself had some trouble recording my vote because… well… EverQuest polling is like that.  See the forum thread related to any Fippy Darkpaw expansion unlock vote, there is always a few people who are not able to vote because the client is just not feeling it at that moment.

Of course this might all be for naught, at least if the discussion in the general channel on the Vox server is any sort of barometer of player sentiment.  After I voted I watched a stream of vitriol about the whole progression server idea flow past in text form.  I would politely sum up the general sentiment I saw as, “Progression servers just steal players and developer resources from the real game and nobody wants to go play the 1999 version anyway because it was horrible.”

Meanwhile, all is not peaches and cream in the progression server sub forum either, where vocal members of the various factions that haunt that section are calling for any number of impractical or unlikely suggestions that have piled up over the years.

We shall see how this plays out.  This could mean that DGC might roll out some new form of progression server in time to take up the slack of the summer hiatus.  Or the whole thing might just fall down a well, never to be heard from again.

What kind of progression server would you like to see?  Or is that even your thing?

Also, if you want to see the progression of the Fippy Darkpaw server up through July of last year, when the vote to unlock the Underfoot expansion failed, you can find it all summed up here.

Addendum: Keen, who is also interested in the whole EverQuest progression server thing, has his own post up on the same topic.