Monday, May 23, 2016

Essential Bookmarks For EQ2

A couple of people mentioned in the comments that they were thinking of coming back to EQ2 after a long time away or even giving the game a try for the first time. After a dozen years and as many expansions, plus several Adventure Packs and a hundred Game Updates, getting up to speed can be a daunting process.

With a brand new MMORPG I would see it as a problem if players needed to refer to third-party sources just to be able to get to grips with everyday gameplay but there comes a time in any long-running MMO's life when the sheer weight of the past begins to overwhelm new or returning players. EQ2 passed that point long, long ago.

The official Daybreak Games EQ2 website has a comprehensive list of third-party resources, some of which I would consider essential and some of which I've never used or even heard of. A couple that every EQ2 player probably has bookmarked would be EQ2Wire and EQ2 Traders Corner. They're each run by a pillar of the EQ2 community although I think it's fair to say that their approaches and the way they've been received have varied radically over the years. 

Feldon of EQ2Wire can be something of a thorn in the side of management, be that SOE's or DBG. 

He takes a forthright and occasionally confrontational stance on issues big and small and on occasion certain gung-ho members of EQ2's internal hierarchy have seen fit to ban him from the forums, a fate that, it must be said, can happen to anyone and not always for any good reason. In Feldon's case it has always been from an excess of speaking truth to power - or what thinks of itself as power. 

EQ2Wire is the first and best source of news about EQ2. It's fast, accurate and Feldon has sources that allow him to gloss the facts with nuance that is often revealing.

EQ2 Traders Corner takes a very different tone. Hosted by the inimitable and much-loved Niami Denmother, this is the place to come for everything tradecraft-related. Mum, as she's known for short, has been active on the Test server for as long as I can remember, taking a comprehensive look at all new crafting content before it reaches the Live game so that she can be there on day one with a full screenshot gallery and all the practical information you need.

Her husband, Ngreth, used to be the Tradeskill Dev for EQ1 so her connections with the company run deep, making her more of an insider than Feldon but that doesn't prevent her speaking her mind when appropriate, although the critique might be presented rather subtly in a roleplayed, fictionalized form.

The other two absolutely essential resources are the official EQ2 Wiki and EQ2Map. For years I have used these two so extensively that I think of them as an integral part of the game. I can imagine playing without them but I don't think I'd want to try.

Most MMOs have wikis these days but EQ2's is exemplary. Going by the name of EQ2i it's beautifully organized and thoroughly comprehensive. It's very rare to look for an answer there and not find what you need, whether the quest you're stuck on was added last week or a decade ago.

EQ2i used to have very strong competition from the Zam network (formerly Allakhazam) but as Feldon reported almost a year ago, Zam was bought by China's Tencent Holdings and effectively mothballed. The site is still up but the last posting is former Editor-in-Chief Cylenia's farewell message.

According to Feldon's piece, Zam also owned both EQ2Interface and through it the crucial add-on EQ2Map. As I discovered last week, when I got my new PC up and running and logged into EQ2 for the first time on a fresh install, the default in game maps are barely adequate. Scratch that - they aren't even barely adequate.

I don't like add-ons. My strong belief is that every MMO should provide sufficiently robust tools to make external add-ons unnecessary. In my experience most do but one area where many an MMO falls down is mapping. 

EQ2Map is still going strong at the moment. I re-installed it last week and it updated to the current Scourge of Zek content. Long may that continue, whoever is behind the curtain.

Other resources that I find either useful or fascinating include EQ2 Library and The Athanaeum. And although I don't personally use EQ2U, a spin-off from EQ2 Wire, many would consider it the most important resource of all.

For a twelve-year old MMO with a low profile and a dwindling audience that's still a very impressive range of resources. I would encourage anyone coming back to or starting out in EQ2 to make the fullest use of all of them. And if anyone has any other suggestions please don't be shy about talking them up in the comments.


  1. I still go to Zam for quest info, if only because most of the older quest data is still correct and they have a nice little button setup to copy waypoints in the format that you can just paste into chat in order to get the wisp. I understand that Zam itself is trying to turn itself into something of a Polygon clone. At least one blogger I know has been hired to write for it. But its old life is no longer the focus. Another gyration in the life of that site that was once THE place to go for EQ information.

    I have something of a mixed relationship with EQ2Map. When I have it installed I tend to find it a bit annoying as there are often way too many POIs on the map to be able to find anything, or even click on that one POI you want in a sea of competing icons. On the other hand, without it installed, as you note, the map feels very, very bare bones. So I keep it installed.

    1. Yes, EQ2Map can be cluttered, what with everyone adding POIs for things they think are important but no-one else does. What I mostly do is cut and paste the locs from the wiki into the search line on the map. That makes questing a lot more enjoyable. The Zam click thing would be good but I have to keep resetting No Script to use that and it's more trouble than it's worth. With Zam's chequered history I don't feel like whitelisting it.

  2. Once again, a timely and pertinent blog post!

    I had a situation this past weekend where my investigative skills and my understanding of the intricacies of EQ2 were not equal to the task, and missed an opportunity that I understand may not come around for another couple of months or so.

    I had previously noticed the nifty backpack in your screenshots, and having checked Google images from a search was able to identify that it was the impressive 66 slot Naylie's Nebulous Newsbag. I then read the quest entry on the EQ2i wiki but failed to recognize that "Speak to a Guide" and "The guide is not always there" is EverQuest 2 lingo for an actual live GM person who is an extremely rare spawn that evidently only appears every couple of months or so at a pre-arranged time posted on the official EQ2 forums!

    They put in an appearance yesterday, but not being "in the know" I did not schedule my activities around their arrival and so missed my chance at picking up the quest that starts the chain, alas.

    I'm familiar with PvP'ers having content & rewards that are designed and restricted to them, as well as raiders having content & rewards designed and restricted to them, as a questaholic I'm surprised that there is a "rare spawn" questgiver that only "spawns" every couple of months and requires knowing in advance when the spawn will occur and being there at that exact time & place!

    I had become accustomed to NPC questgivers, and in special enjoyable cases questgivers with a cutscene, I was not expecting the EQ2 implementation of an actual live person who only appears on rare occasions reportedly months apart. EQ2 may be quirky bordering on kooky for those who are not accomplished EQ'ers ...

    I had noticed that the ZAM EQ2 site is a great resource that was no longer current, but I was unaware until now of the events that caused it to unfortunately, for the site and the folks who had invested so much into it, no longer be maintained. :(

    1. If you're online when the guide appears to do the Newsie quest, and assuming you have General or Crafting chat open, people will usually call it. I've seen that a few times. Of course that doesn't help if you don't happen to be playing at the time.

      EQ and EQ2 both used to have very active GMs and Guides. It's something that rarely gets mentioned these days but for the first few years I played MMOs, ad hoc events hosted by either paid employees or volunteers were a commonplace of the genre. EQ was infamous for having GM event that got people killed and with the harsh death penalties back then players would often be in a hurry to leave the area when one started rather than head towards the action.

      I think EQ2 is about the only MMO I play that still has a vestige of those kind of unscheduled, human-driven events. It is a great backpack too - worth making the effort to be there if you get the chance.

    2. "It is a great backpack too - worth making the effort to be there if you get the chance."

      Oh, yes, as a packrat questaholic, I was excited about an involved quest chain that led to a 66 slot backpack with a great cosmetic appearance, there will be no "sour grapes" about the niftiness of the backpack from me. :)

      I wonder how frequently the GMs handed out the initial starting quest when the content was new and fresh? Perhaps after it is no longer quirky and cute they could implement an NPC as the quest giver for those of us who come along late to the party?

      I tried searching on YouTube to see what was special about this "event" that benefits from GM involvement, but my search skills did not reveal anything. I'm left perplexed that whatever it is that the GM does is not better handled by a questgiver with a cutscene.

      I know that for me that when I logged on last night and learned that I had missed the unique opportunity to pick up the quest for perhaps a couple of months that it took the wind out of my sails. I had earlier visited a Mariner's Bell to investigate the quest area, and came away with the understanding that it would be a bit before I was the appropriate level to pursue the quest. But the feeling of waiting to level up to access the quest was totally different, for me, from the feeling of being denied the opportunity to get the quest for perhaps months.

      In fact, after finishing up what I was doing last night I no longer had the enthusiasm that I earlier had and so logged over to LotRO to quest there. Of possibly more concern to the devs is that after subscribing and spending money in the cash shop this past weekend I was still considering spending more in the cash shop to pick up some wings, but today I no longer have the urge to spend additional money on EQ2.


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