Thursday, April 23, 2020

On With The Show

Last year The EverQuest Show ran a story about a visit to Daybreak Games' San Diego offices, where they interviewed then franchise producer Holly Windstalker Longdale and other members of the teams behind both games.

The lengthy interview with Holly was posted back in October but since then we haven't heard a lot from The EQ Show and I was beginning to wonder if the whole project had gone the way of so many others, into oblivion. Happily that turns out not to be the case.

Episode 8, just released, features interviews with the new producer of the EQ games, Jennifer Chan, as well as several members of the EQII team.

It's a highly professional production, better than some promotional videos from studios themselves. Fading, who put it together, apologizes for the long delay between episodes, saying "they do take a lot of time to edit because I like to have the quality there". It's there, no worries about that.

There are no great revelations in the thirteen minute video but there are a couple of very strong data points on that perennial topic, "how well are the games doing?". Fading mentions in passing that the EQII team is smaller than the EverQuest crew, which shouldn't be a surprise but kind of is anyway.

I know there are delusional EQII players who believe it's their game that carries not only the new Darkpaw division but the whole company. You see them chime in on the forums now and then, questioning who would want to play an ancient game like EverQuest.

A lot of people, apparently. We already knew from comments Holly Longdale made last year that EQ's population has been growing over the last few years. Now we learn that EQII's has as well.

In general the game is "doing great". In fact "we're doing better than we were years ago". There are a couple of references to the current server populations in EQII in which we learn they are "pretty strong" on every server, even "a little overpopulated" on some of the special rulesets.

It wasn't always that way. Several comments from the EQII team make it clear they went through some dark days not too long ago, when they thought they might not be able to keep on making expansions simply because they didn't have the resources. They also acknowledge the dispiriting effect of multiple rounds of layoffs.

Their claim that the smaller team is more effective may sound like wishful thinking or making the best of a difficult situation but it's entirely borne out by my experience as a player. I know there have been issues with testing and quality control and some players aren't happy with certain design decisions but my feeling is that recent expansions have been some of the best for many years.

It was also very surprising to learn that all of the music in EQII for the last few expansions has been done by one developer, unpaid and working in his spare time. They lost the budget for production of new music so Mark McBride began composing and recording it himself, together with input from the whole team, as a "passion project".

Which would be very sweet and rather sad if it wasn't for the plain fact that the music in EQII has improved almost out of recognition! I love the whole, new gothic style he's brought to the soundscape of the game and particularly the performing NPC bands and orchestras that pop up in the hub cities. You might want to try experimenting with a major chord once in a while, Mark, but other than that - good job!

I recommend the EQ Show video. It's a very interesting - and reassuring - watch for anyone who plays or follows the franchise.

My other public service announcement today is an in-game tip. Everyone probably already knows this but it was news to me.

I was puzzled when I got my free flying horse recently and found it had gone directly into the Mount tab of the character who'd opened the pack. I was sure it had been flagged Heirloom, meaning any character on the account could use it, but I couldn't see how that could happen if it was just an icon on a list belonging to a single character.

So I asked in general chat and someone said I should be able to pull it out and put it in the shared bank. You can turn any mount into a house item, they said. It's the same as that.

And so you can. I'd forgotten all about mounts being convertible to house items. I don't believe I've ever done it.

Having sorted that out, I happened to look at my currency tab, which once again is individualized for every character. I wondered if the same trick would work there, too, and it does.

You can drag and drop currency stacks from the tab into your bags to transfer them between characters. No more having to do the same holiday content twice because you're working on a different character, even though you have a stack of the currency left over on the first one.

I thought I'd share because although this is probably old news to most players, the very fact that I've gone fifteen years without noticing suggests it's quite easy to miss. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

And if anyone has any more tips on similar obscurities, don't be shy - share with the group!


  1. I remember to have traded currencies like the Maj'Dul court's coins between characters, but that was before we even had a curreny tab. If I'm not mistaken they didn't even stack very high, what an inventory clutter that was.

    Good to know they're still tradeable, thanks for the tip!

    1. I spent so long getting max faction with Court of the Blades so I could buy my Maj'Dul mansion. I kind of based myself in Maj'Dul for a while but for a few years I've been more of a Freeportian. I still think of the mansion is still my main home although since I set up my Mara Estate to allow full crafting for everyone on the account (actually on more than one account) it's been a little neglected.

      It also still amazes me how many things I can not know about a game I've spent thousands of hours palying...

    2. Fortunately my Maj'Dul coin farm only began a few expansions down the road - I don't remember what for to be honest.

      A raid-geared level 80 Warlock wipes out a full tower in like two minutes. Good times. :-)

  2. Not a lot new there... literally, I suppose, since the interviews were from last year. I suppose the EQII team being smaller makes everything tighter and easier to keep on the same page. I've experienced that myself. But there are times when it feels like they lack a bit of depth to handle problems when things go wrong.

    We shall see. I saw that EQII was joining the pack and offering an xp bonus starting today. That seems to be a trend now.

    1. I might carry on levelling my Fury with that xp bonus. I stopped when things slowed down in the mid-80s. I'm more interested in the double BoL drops, which usually means just the chests from the final bosses of instances, but of late has also included the random bonus items from the public research quests. Since I spend half my time doing those that's been a nice little extra.

      On the interview, there's a moment when it sounds as though someone says the EQII team used to be 9 people but then based on what he goes on to say I think he must have said 90, because he talks about people having no idea what the person next to them was working on. The idea of 90 people working on EQII is a bit mind-boggling. Those days will never come again.


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