Saturday, April 4, 2020

Calling All Agents

When the Darkpaw devs came up with the name "Overseer" for the new feature they were planning to add to both the EverQuest games they almost certainly imagined players would picture their characters in the titular role, overseeing teams of agents as they sent them out on missions or quests. They probably didn't envisage the system itself having oversight of the players, controlling their actions and decisions, effectively dictating their gameplay.

It may not have been intended but, for me at least, that's been the effect. I have a routine now. Each day, as soon as I get up, often before I even make a cup of tea or have breakfast, I log into EverQuest II and set my Overseer missions for the day.

I have two primary Overseers, my Berserker and Necromancer. They get first pick of all the agents that drop. After that, spares go to my Inquisitor, then my Warlock and finally my Bruiser. Any agents still left over after that sit in the bank. That's set to change.

According to the latest Kander's Candor podcast, moves are in place to convert excess agents to a form of currency. There will be an NPC vendor in the world who'll take that newly-minted coin in exchange for some of the rewards currently assigned randomly when missions complete.

That will appease the vocal faction that finds the current rewards too arbitrary and unmanageable. It also solves the problem, mentioned by Wilhelm, of what to do with all those duplicated agents. 

Before that happens, something has already changed, as I discovered when I logged in yesterday morning and began setting my missions as usual. After I'd done about half of them I glanced at the UI to see exactly how many I had left from my daily allowance of ten and saw I had... fifteen.

Overnight the daily stipend of missions seemed to have doubled. I checked the most recent patch notes. Nothing. I took a look at the forums. Still nothing. I posted a comment about it on the Overseer suggestion thread and went back to the game. Thinking it might be a display error, I carried on allocating agents, swapping between characters to get the best match of talents.

The counter kept ticking down. I ran through all the available purple missions, then all the yellows. I still had a couple left when I got to the blues. I haven't needed to set a blue mission for weeks.

Twenty it was, then. I was in two minds about it. I'm very happy to have more missions because more missions mean more rewards and the rewards from Overseer have been very, very good to me so far. On the other hand, I'm already spending the best part of half an hour every morning setting missions. If it turned into an hour, well, it's fine while I'm furloughed but it's going to play merry hell with my pre-work schedule if things ever go back to normal.

Luckily (I guess) it turns out the extra ten missions are the latest in the ongoing bonuses we're enjoying while we all shelter at home. Someone replied to my forum comment, pointing me to a news item I'd missed. It's double Overseer quests, yes, but only until Thursday 9th April. (It's even on the Launcher now).

I'll be all over that while it lasts. So far, I've made more than seven million platinum selling the Expert spells and combat arts I've made from the Shadowed recipe books that dropped from Overseer missions. I've made Experts for almost half the new level range for all my fighters and for a couple of levels for my casters. I have limited-use recipes for several red adornments which sell for millions on consignment. I'll keep those for my own characters for now along with the very good white adornments I also have recipes for, courtesy of the Overseer.

I'm in the process of acquiring all the Empyral Manas and powders needed to craft them. I have the recipe to convert those formerly useless Essence of Chaos and Fragments of Planar Energy to transmuting stones that convert into mana or infusions, turning those ingredients from insanely rare to commonplace and dropping the cost, should you prefer to buy them on the broker, from outrageous to trivial.

All of this does rely on having the right crafters at max level. Wilhelm observed that he didn't know what to do with all the gear that drops from Overseer missions. The answer in my case is to use the small number of 160 resolve items as upgrades and transmute the rest for adorning mats.

For that you have to have a character with the transmuting skill at 600. That's not something you can just pull out of a hat. It takes time and dedication but I have put in the hours and now I'm reaping the rewards.

Over in EverQuest things are different. The Overseer system there is much more developed. It involves a lot more reading and a good deal of forward planning. There are also time management concerns to be considered. It's already a full-blown mini game and I have no doubt it will continue to add complexity. I tend to do it in the evening and it takes me a good while.

Unlike EQII, though, the rewards are extremely simple to handle. Well, they are for me. I take character experience every time. I'm leveling my Magician purely through the Overseer system. She dinged 94 two days ago.

At first I thought it would be a viable but glacially slow way to level but that perception has changed. The 50% server bonus did apply, so that helped, while it lasted. A critical success on a quest also bumps up the xp you get.

More importantly, though, as you level up your agents and increase the quality of those you have avaialable, and as the level and difficulty of the quests you're offered increases, the rewards improve. At the beginning the highest xp reward I could get for a single mission was 0.9% of a level. Now I can get over 2%.

If this rate of increase continues, even if it caps at, let's say, 5%, it's going to become not just a viable method of levelling for a solo or casual player but the best, as in fastest, easiest and safest. It seems not unreasonable to imagine my Magician dinging 100 by the end of the year if I just keep plugging away, something I would have thought impossible before the Overseer appeared.

I'm loathe to go into too much detail on the Overseer system because a) it's extremely time-consuming to write about and b) anyone who cares is probably already familiar with it from their own experiments. It's also a new feature for both games and it's going to take a good while before it settles down, so any commentary is likely to date fast.

For now, in EQII it's probably wise to stash any spare agents you get pending their conversion to a currency. I had a load in the bank, which I had been adding to any character who could take them, but as of today I'll only be adding new ones to my main Overseer characters, the ones who will actually use them. I'll be saving the rest to see what the new vendor has to sell.

That does pose a slight storage problem but Kander thinks that the transition to currency will also make the agents stackable so it should only be a temporary issue. Or maybe they'll just convert straight into the wallet - Dreamweaver didn't think to ask him that.

No doubt I'll be returning to this topic again. It's already a major part of my gameplay and it looks like my engagement could grow still further, in both games.


  1. I will continue to hoard duplicate agents in EQII I guess. I hope they get around to upgrading things soon... and maybe make skill books a currency. I am drowning in them and on the market they are selling for less than a vendor will give you.

    On the EQ front my heroic upgraded level 85 cleric rolled over to 86 yesterday. Still enjoying that and logging in a couple of times a day for 6 and 12 hour quests.

    1. Do you find it mopre efficient to do the 6 and 12 hours? I'm doing the 12 and 24s plus the 36s and 48s for the uncommon agents but I haven't sat down and worked out if that really makes sense.

    2. I haven't figured it out either, but I only get so many higher quality missions, so I fill those up first, then just roll through some of the lesser ones that happen to line up with the agents I have available.

  2. Peeking into EQII, the doubling of missions allowed per day ends up with me running out of agents before I run out of mission slots now. (Because of cool downs and my lack of desire to log in multiple times per day.) But since mission slots are shared among your characters, but agent cool downs are not, I now just log in a second character, who has picked up all of the dupe agents that have come in as rewards, and set agents going on him.


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