Tag Archives: Time Locked Expansion Server

Given the Boot in Fallen Gate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A likely location in the Frostfang Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before it was a meme

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

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

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

Beetle infestations are ever a Qeynos problem…

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

The Frostfang Sea remains popular

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

Facing the orc onslaught

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

An easier achievement on the live servers…

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

Featuring the boot

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

The Pedipowered Posterior Punter

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

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

The mount matches the Guardian armor… sort of…

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

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

Looking for Nostalgia and a Guild on Fallen Gate

Over the weekend I gave in and re-upped for EverQuest II in order to potter around on the new Fallen Gate server.  That seemed to put me in league with just about every other EverQuest II player out there judging by the server status monitor.

Fallen Gate is #1

I did make one concession to my current play pattern and only opted for a single month Daybreak All Access subscription.  As I documented with Runes of Magic and Guild Wars 2, my interest seems to be wane in about three weeks.

Daybreak was happy enough to take my money and soon I was hooked up as a subscriber.  The first thing I needed to do was roll up a character on Fallen Gate.

But that meant deleting a character.

Through means shrouded by the mists of time I have managed to acquire 18 character slots on my account.  That is about half a dozen more than I think I should have.  I know I didn’t buy that many extra slots.  And, of course, all of them were full.

Fortunately a couple of the slots were taken by filler characters I rolled up back when the Stormhold server launched about two years back and never really used.  I wasn’t sure what class I wanted to play, so rolled up three right away because there was some early start prize or bonus if you did.  What the actual benefit was I have forgotten, but they got it and then never used it, so deleting them was easy.  My other characters, going back as far as November 2004, remain safe.

As usual I wasn’t sure what to roll up, so I went for my default, which is a berserker on the Qeynos side of the world.  And then I clicked the wrong thing and ended up with a guardian.  But, since I don’t think I have ever played a guardian, I ran with it.  I was soon on the boat to the Queen’s Colony on the Isle of Refuge (I got that bit right at least), a rescued bit of flotsam from the sea, and as quickly on the isle itself ready to start my new life.

On the Isle of Refuge

The isle isn’t what it used to be back in the day.  My memory is no doubt faulty to some degree on this topic, but the quests seem different as do some of the mobs.  And the pacing of the quest line seems to be set to accommodate specific rate of advancement not present on Fallen Gate.

Do I know you guys? Were you here in 2004?

On the Fallen Gate server experience gain is supposed to be set close to 2004 pacing than what you would find on a current live server.  For the first 50 levels on a live server you out run the old content pretty quickly.  On the new, while the pacing wasn’t completely hamstrung, I did find myself picking up quests that were marked as high and higher level without leveling up myself.

Well, the isle isn’t the only option.

Back in the day I used to stick around on the Isle of Refuge with a new character until the bitter end, doing all the quests, hitting the max level allowed, banking up some additional experience so at least one more level would pop as soon as I left, and, most importantly of all, I would finish up the two isle-only collection quests.

The feathers quest

Back in the day you could not return to the isle nor could you find the items for those collections in any other place in Norrath.  So you had to find the last item there or pay what was often an extortionary price on the market later on.

Now though the feathers and shells spawn in the other starter areas and you can go back to the isle if you feel you must.  So while the Isle of Refuge has some nostalgia value, I’d been through it a few times since its return a while back, so was ready to move on.

Yes, I get it.

Even the NPCs on the isle were bringing up the idea of getting the hell out of there pretty early on.  Here I am hitting level 3 and being given a prompt to get out of Dodge.

Are you still here?

That meant talking to Captain Varlos to arrange the voyage to the mainland.

What are my options here?

From the Isle of Refuge you can head to Qeynos, which is semi-nostalgic though much changed since 2004, or the Frostfang Sea, which at this point is old enough to have some nostalgia value of its own.  The Frostfang Sea and New Halas also have a more coherent quest line and better housing when the time comes, so I chose the frozen wastes even though I had yet to find shoes.  Gear was an issue.

Alas, Captain Varlos and his ship did not survive the journey.

A quirk of the change from the Isle of Refuge to the newer starting zones is that they operate on the same assumption, that you were fished out of the sea.  So when I arrived I was telling people how orcs attacked the boat I was on.

Relating the tale of Captain Varlos… apparently

Since Captain Varlos and his crew were nowhere to be seen I have to assume they did not survive.

I was dropped into the shallow end of the pool in the Frostfang Sea, where the first low level quests start.  This seems to be at odds with Bhagpuss’s experience, as he ended up in the deep end somehow.  I am not sure why we were in different points, but logic doesn’t always survive the journey to Norrath either.

I kept on running the quest line from there, getting bits of gear.  I did spent a bit of Daybreak Cash to buy a pair of 24 slot bags from the shop.  They were 150DC each, but I got 500DC for subscribing, so I am still ahead on that front I suppose… plus I still had another 13K in DC on my account.

Another quest hub on the Frostfang Sea

This is the usual story, starting out, running through the initial content, getting the first bit of gear.  I suppose the next decision is what trade skill I should go with… I cannot imagine playing EQII and not crafting.  The problem is that EQII trade skills all have their merits, and by picking one I know I will feel the sting of missing out on another.  This is how alts develop.  I am leaning towards armor crafting, since you need to re-up all your gear every ten levels, or alchemy, to boost my skills through the complicated skill level process in the game.  I haven’t committed yet, but I am harvesting along the way in order to be prepared.

And then there is the bigger question.  What should I do to keep myself from tiring in three weeks and wandering off to some other short-lived adventure?

Ideally I should find a guild to join.  There is even a guild recruitment interface in the game so you can find guilds that are looking for players.

Looking for a Guild looking for me

However, I am horrible at picking guilds.  I tend to pick guilds where I know somebody so I have someone to chat with. I tend to be a very quiet person… ever the outsider at the party… so being in a guild of strangers ends up with me playing solo.  Of course, that isn’t all on me.  Guilds looking to simply scoop up players wholesale in order to boost levels tend to be a mass of individuals with a common tag as opposed to a team.  You can’t really be on the team if the team never gets together.

So that is my goal, to find some group or guild to join so I’ll have a reason to stick around.  I don’t mind playing solo 90% of the time, but I like to do some group content now and again.

Of course, part of getting into a guild is being something a guild is looking for, and at level 6 on a server where the great bubble of players looks to have already hit level 20 and beyond makes me feel like I am behind.  So I must grind up to join a guild so that I may be in a guild to grind… or something.  We’ll see how it goes.

EverQuest II Opens Up the Fallen Gate Progression Server

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

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

That got extended for a bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

My favorite item from the FAQ has to be this:

What will be available for Tradeskills?

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

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

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

Stormhold Dodges Third Strike, Votes to Unlock Kunark

The results are in! The community has voted and it looks like everyone is ready to assail Chardok and conquer Karnor’s Castle! The Rise of Kunark expansion will launch at noon PT on August 16th.

The final results for those of you interested were 66% of participants voted to unlock the next expansion.

RadarX, EQII Forums

As I noted earlier in the week, the Stormhold time locked expansion server was on the horns of a dilemma, stay put for a long stretch or move ahead to the next expansion.

That is Daybreak's graphic for the idea

That is Daybreak’s graphic for their retro server(s)

The vote to unlock the Rise of Kunark expansion was up for the third time.  If it failed to unlock yet again, the votes would be extended out to an every 90 day cycle, an idea that was causing much fuss on the forums.

However, it looks like the “yes” crowd got its act together.  As RadarX, the CCP Falcon of Daybreak, announced, 66% of the votes cast were to unlock, up from 46% last time around.

For me, Rise of Kunark represents the last expansion where I really know anything about the story or content.  It was, as with the Echoes of Faydwer expansion, a nod to the original EverQuest in design/content/lore.

The next expansion up for a vote is The Shadow Odyssey which, like every expansion after that, I couldn’t really tell you squat about.  Even over at Wikipedia expansions after Rise of Kunark get the briefest of summaries on the page listing out EverQuest II expansions.

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.

The Race to Trakanon and Quarm Event Servers

Daybreak is carrying on with its special server bonanza for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

Earlier this week the Race to Trakanon, the first “event server” for the company, went up for EverQuest II, and if you’re just reading about it here… well… you’re late!

Event servers are limited time servers that are setup for a special purpose, and the purpose of the Race to Trakanon server is just that, a race.  Focused in the Rise of Kunark expansion time frame, it is a race to level up, get achievements, and otherwise be the server first for whatever.

It is a race

It is a race

By creating a new character on the server and competing, you can earn rewards that can be claimed by characters on other, more permanent servers.  There are more details here, while Feldon of EQ2 Wire has set up an Event Leaderboard over at his EQ2 U site. (Addendum: There is also a FAQ with more info in the forums.)

Even if you are not keen to race to level 80 or other such achievements, if you create a character on the server and get to level 10 before July 26, 2016, you will get a special mount that you can claim on every character on your account.

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

Not a bad mount compared to many in EQII

So there is that.  Telwyn seems to be on board.  For a mount on all my characters, I might just bang out a level 10 character while my account All Access remains active.  There is the catch, of course.  As with all Daybreak special servers, you must be an All Access member in order to play.  No Freeps allowed.

The server will shut down, and characters created will be migrated off to live servers, once the event is completed, with the run time being set at a minimum of three months.

Over on the EverQuest side of the house, there is a new event server as well, the Quarm server, which went up this week as well.  On the Quarm server you will start a new character at level 51 and pursue achievements and help defeat Overlord Mata Muram.  Details, such that there are, available here. (The FAQ in the forums has further info.)

Will they get a Quarm

Will they get a Quarm

As with the Race to Trakanon server, the Quarm server will be temporary and characters will be migrated off when the event closes.  There is also a prize if you roll a character on the server before July 27, 2016.

Another potion...

Another potion… I wanted a mount

You do not even have to level up a character… since you start at level 51 in any case.

and, of course, it is open to All Access customers only.

This is not the first event server on the EverQuest side of things.  In addition the the various generations of progression servers, there was the Mayong 51/50 server back in 2009 after the first pair of progression servers.  That was shut down by the end of 2010, along with the two bleed over servers it spawned.

Given that EverQuest progression servers tend to become races for raiding guilds in any case, I wonder how well this one will work out.

Meanwhile, since I am on the topic of Daybreak special servers, I want to note in passing that back on the Stormhold Time Locked Expansion Server, the vote to unlock the Rise of Kunark expansion has failed for the second time, with only 46% of those voting casting ballots in favor of the expansion.  There is probably a Brexit joke to be made about that, but I am not going to make the attempt.

Rise of Kunark Vote on Stormhold

Over on the EverQuest II nostalgia server, Stormhold, the march of expansion unlocks continues.  The unlock vote for the Rise of Kunark expansion… I keep typing Ruins of Kunark, because the original EverQuest expansion is much more meaningful to me… and the names are so similar… has been sent out to players.

Yes or No on Kunark

Yes or No on Kunark

Of course, this brings us to one of those nostalgia server issues which I alluded to last week in that, even if a company decides to go down that path, it is tough to please all of those interested or to find a pace that doesn’t alienate some chunk of your audience.

In this case the Rise of Kunark expansion… the subject of perhaps the only spot-on prediction I have ever made on the blog… which, among its other features, raises the level cap to 80, doesn’t do a lot for me as I am still pottering about in the low 20s.

And I haven't hit 23 yet

And I haven’t hit 23 yet

Now, this is mostly my problem.  Since the Stormhold server launched I haven’t played very much, and even when I have been playing the game has been in third place behind EVE Online and Minecraft. Which isn’t to say I haven’t played at all.  If I had rolled up a fresh character in WoW and put the same amount of time into him, he’d be into Mists of Pandaria by now.

I am not sure on which game that reflects the most poorly.

And the fact that I have been playing solo hasn’t helped.  Unlike the live servers, unnamed heroic mobs are not soloable on Stormhold, but a lot of the quests I have been running drive you straight into their arms.

So close to me goal...

So close to my goal…

Stormhold would have been an excellent opportunity to play with a small group.  Even a healer and a tank together would have owned.  But solo and playing a Shadow Knight, a brand new class for me, has made things a challenge and kept progress down.  I run into quests I cannot finish at level solo often enough, then I have to go find another path to level up on, so I can return later when I can overpower my way through the original.

On the other hand, putting expansion unlocks to a vote every 60 days seems like a fairly brisk pace.  Well, to me in any case.  And so far, only one expansion unlock has been voted down, a vote that led to the usual amount of acrimony in the forums.  No matter which way the vote goes, somebody is unhappy and wants to share.  The forever war between those who want a classic environment that sits static and unmoving and those who want to race to the top and unlock the next bit of content goes on.

Of course, I was happy enough to seen Echoes of Faydwer show up after the last vote.  That added some more 1-70 content, the emphasis for being on the late teens and early twenties, didn’t raise the level cap, and represented an important change in the history of the game.

Now though, with Rise of Kunark, we’re getting into content I didn’t even finish the first time around… even though it went live back in late 2007.

I may not be enthusiastic for the expansion to unlock, but it won’t change my play style at this point.  I am way too far behind the pack to catch up so I will continue to meander along at my own pace, dying to heroic mobs until I am at least a few levels above them.