Thursday, August 5, 2021

Hurry Up And Wait


Yesterday I came home from work after a long and tiring day and had tea with Mrs Bhagpuss while defining self-reflexivity by watching a five-year old episode of Pointless on YouTube before sitting down at my PC to do a few dailies. 

While I was waiting for stuff to load I checked my email and...


We all played the recent open beta. There were bugs, for sure, but the general impression was very positive. A game viewed with cynical disdain two years ago, rising to grudging tolerance last year, had hauled itself all the way up to eager anticipation and widespread acceptance. It might not be perfect but consensus was New World was in better shape than most mmorpgs in recent memory and certainly ready to launch.

The expression "Take my money, already!" comes to mind. You wouldn't think it would be an issue. If there's one thing we all know about Amazon it's that Jeff Bezos likes money. 

The thing is, he also has a lot of it. The point has been made many times that if there's any would-be game developer that can afford to spend time polishing to perfection it would be Amazon. That's always been presented as a positive, not least by me, but I think we're beginning to see the dark side of deep pocket syndrome.

There's an obvious reason Amazon might be anxious about hitting the big red Launch button, of course. They've done it twice before and everything's blown up in their faces. Five years ago they announced the newly-formed studio was working on three games: Breakaway, Crucible and New World.


 Breakaway never made it to launch. It was cancelled while still under development in 2018. Crucible launched in May 2020 to almost complete disinterest from the game-playing public. A month later it was sent back to a closed beta status from which it never re-emerged. It was shuttered for good in the autumn of the same year.

With a record like that you can sympathize with the levels of anxiety evident in New World's repeated delays but there comes a time when you just have to commit. This is a relatively short pushback and I'm sure it will be grumpily accepted by most of the large audience that's eager to play. Any more, though, and patience is going to more than wear thin. It's going to snap.

There's also the question of what Amazon can hope to achieve in a single extra month of tweaking and furbishing. It's possible that after the busy and successful open beta they have a detailed list of specific bugs and an accurate timeframe for fixing them. And perhaps that's going to get done in the time. Let's hope so.

I wonder if there isn't also an element of adjusting the date for maximum commercial impact. As has been said, the end of August isn't the best launch window. Late September does suit me better. I'd have preferred it all along. It's just annoying to have something you want dangled in front of you and then hoiked away. Makes me feel like one of those cartoon donkeys following a carrot on a stick. Or pigs, apparently. Or dogs. (Dogs like carrots??)

After that disappointment, luckily there was some much better news from Daybreak to cheer me up. Jennifer Chan, who has, I think, just about the best tone of anyone who's written these things, issued a new Producer's Letter for EverQuest II and it was full of good things.

Last in the letter but first in importance is confirmation that the circle remains unbroken. We're getting another expansion at the end of the year. At least I think we are. Every year we all do this strange dance, where we allude to the potential of an expansion without naming it. It's as though the arcane magic of the game had somehow breached the metafictional barrier to permeate our reality.

What Jenn actually said was this:

"The thing you're all probably wondering about is our major annual end-of-the-year event. Oh look! A dinosaur!"

What is that? Coy? Cute? Cautious? Crazy? I'm taking it to mean yes, Virginia, there is an eighteenth expansion. (I think it's eighteen). 

If normal patterns pertain it'll be months yet before we find out what the damn thing's called let alone what's in it. We can start the guessing games right now, though. Or we could if that one picture meant anything to me at all. 


The only thing it reminded me of are those little guys in Tranquil Sea. They look like that and there are dinosaurs all over the area where they live. Why we would be going back there, though, I cannot begin to imagine.

Never mind. We'll find out soon enough. There's exciting stuff happening long before then. In less than a week we get what sounds like an excellent opportunity for solo and casual players to grab some Heroic and better upgrades, rng as always permitting. 

You have to be a Member (what the cool kids call subscribers these days) to benefit, which is appropriate, I think. That's why they call them Membership Benefits, after all.  

"Members in Reign of Shadows will have bonus loot satchels for most quests. What's in those satchels? Glad you asked! They will have anything from heroic to public quest loot in them which will be a paw-some way to get your characters quickly caught up for the new expansion."

Oh, wait, hang on! Look! She said it! She said the E word! So much for the winking and nodding. Cat/bag alert!

There's also a new... something... called Toil and Trouble. Speculation on the forum seems to be centered on it being some kind of dungeon or instance although I'm  not quite sure why. All it says is

"Whether you like to tradeskill all day, run around and complete quests, or raid with your guildmates, there is something for everyone!"

Well, that clears things up!

And there's another free level 120-character boost (one per account) for Members because you can never have too many of those. I'll add it to the pile, along with the one we'll inevitably get for buying that confirmed expansion. (Confirmed!)

All of that is coming in just five days, which makes the announced detailed reveal "coming in a post scheduled for a later date" feel somewharedundant. Why not just tell us now? Oh well, I guess I might get another post out of it!

Last and most definitely not least there's confirmation of the return of Yun Zi and his near-effortless goodie giveaways. Rebranded this year as Panda Panda Panda and officially time-shifted from Summer to Fall, the insanely rich stay-at-home bear will be handing out more priceless artefacts for traveller's tales of places he's never going to go.

I said last, didn't I? Not quite. There's some stuff for the Kaladim and Tarinax servers that people will complain about (Seriously, don't read the forums. EQII players are the most miserable ingrates in gaming.)  and then there's this:

"You'll soon be the Centaur of attention."

This cryptic sign-off is being interpreted in some quarters as confirmation that the 2021 expansion's lead feature will be Centaurs as a playable race. That would be weird

I mean, how will they ride mounts?


  1. Based on the 30 day push back from Amazon, I wouldn't be surprised if what they are doing is seriously upgrading their initial server infrastructure based on the response to the beta. The time frame is about right for that I think given how difficult it is to get hardware these days.

    1. That does make sense. Also optimization appeared to be a major issue. If they can sort that out it would make a huge difference.

    2. There was also the server merging they tested and didn't seem to say too much about, so maybe something went amiss there? Also I have to heap my approval on the idea of testing server merges prior to launch... nice they have foresight.


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