Monday, May 11, 2015

Prog Rocks : Everquest

The Open Beta for Everquest's third round of Progression Server fun has been up and running for a few days now. As Wilhelm observed, now they've been freed from the shackles of the Sony Megacorp, Daybreak Games seem determined to demonstrate their fleet-footedness and general joi-de-vivre. Everything is careering along at a breakneck pace that would have given the old SOE terminal whiplash. As far as I know there's no official launch date for Ragefire but I would bet on it being sooner rather than later.

As the years roll on, I am becoming increasingly certain that my days of doing volunteer Quality Assurance work in my leisure time are behind me, most especially for projects that I plan to play when they go live. My attempts to grab one of the dropped beta portals for the next round of Heart of Thorns testing in GW2 were desultory at best. Where some people devoted the entirety of their playtime for day after day until they got lucky I managed less then two hours.

Don't listen to Nusback. He's just our Belts guy. I'm your real Guildmaster!

Someone said in map chat that today is the last day the portals will drop and still it literally did not even occur to me to go and have one last try. When a couple of people linked their purple portals in chat at Fire Elemental this morning my immediate reaction was "Congrats! Now you get to test unfinished content on a temporary character!" I may even have said as much in /map.

As we move uncertainly into the era of buy-in betas, Early Access and the rest it seems likely that my interest in beta-testing will be limited to MMOs that are only available in that form, that are likely to remain so for a good while and that don't require me to do much more than give an email address to apply. Other than that I reckon I can manage without, thanks.

There's an NBI Talkback Challenge going on concerning Early Access vs Kickstarter to which I guess this post is some kind of response. Kickstarter doesn't interest me greatly. I don't have much faith that anything very significant will come out of it. I see it either as a way to place a long pre-order for projects that look solid and which offer good perks at an affordable price or as a way to express solidarity, as I did with both Project:Gorgon and Massively OP.
Oh come on! I can get through there! I'm a dwarf fer Brell's sake not an Ogre.

Other than that Kickstarter campaigns are a kind of low-involvement entertainment in and of themselves. Crowfall has been fun to follow, for example, regardless of how the game eventually turns out, as was EverJane before it. In the end any real choice and certainly any meaningful emotional commitment won't arrive until there's something I can actually play, and I don't mean a tech demo.

When it comes to Early Access, I'm a lot more interested. As I commented after the The Mystic Mesmer's post on the subject:

"Early Access is just a very straightforward purchasing decision like any other. The unfinished game is a product/service that you can examine and accept or reject according to whether you think it’s worth the price being asked. The only real problem (particularly for consumers who are not interested in buying unfinished games) is whether a wide acceptance of Early Access will lead to a drop in availability of “Finished Quality” products."

The apparent commercial and to some degree critical success of barely started, let alone finished, games like H1Z1 may set warning flags for those who prefer a polished product but it's still Skyrim and GTA5 that make the big headlines and the big bucks so I feel we're safe from any kind of sea change away from quality finished product for the time being. On the other hand, when Microsoft announces the end of discrete versions of Windows in favor of the kind of on-the-fly patching MMO players have come to know and love then I guess anything could happen.
Did the cracked staff go out of fashion or what?

With all that rattling around in the background, today I finally got around to making a character on the EQ Prog Beta. Since I definitely plan on playing it when it launches, albeit sporadically and to little purpose, I'm sure, it seemed like a good idea to download the client and make sure it worked, which it does.

I have it installed on a 64GB USB stick (it uses about 10GB) so I can in theory play it on my Tablet. I'm already playing EQ2 on the Tablet in my lunch hour now and then so I'm guessing EQ should run okay. So far the only MMO that won't play nicely with the Tablet is GW2, which won't even let me update the client.

I made a dwarf warrior and spent a quarter of an hour getting her out of Kaladim - and that was with the in-game map we shouldn't really have. Another fifteen minutes killing decaying skeletons and goblin whelps just in front of the gates took me to level two, at which point I logged off. It still has the magic but I'm saving my energy and excitement for a permanent character.

I might log in again while the beta lasts. There's some kind of reward for participation, most likely a bag, that will be redeemed when the game goes live. Well, sometime after the game goes live. Daybreak will decide what it is and when we get it. They're very clear on that in the new, plain-speaking style they seem to have adopted and which, I think, is going down quite well with their core audience.

They don't say how many of the tokens we need to acquire, which is very Classic EQ, but at least, unlike the GW2 portals, its a very common drop. I was getting one for about every three kills. While I was playing a serverwide broadcast announced that the progression-required raid target, the White Dragon Lady Vox, had been killed. The victor popped on to general chat to confirm that yes, he'd just soloed her and her loot was rotting if anyone wanted it.

The shape of things to come? Let's hope not. Even if it is, though, it's not going to affect me any. I very much doubt I'll get further than Blackburrow. Still, I fear it could be a long six months in end game for some.


  1. The wife and I are looking forward to it. We've never actually played EQ1, should be amusing. Certainly I've been longing for the sort of decision making about what I can pull, positioning, mana conservation, etc. that we enjoyed back in classic WoW. And we've been having fun in EQ2.

    Now for the tough char-creation decisions. Looking forward to Wednesday. Not sure I want to try the beta first.

    1. I'd be interested to hear how you and your wife get on with EQ. I think it might be a bit of a culture shock just in terms of the UI and so forth. They have modernized a lot but some of t still feels quite alien compared to current MMOs. Could take some getting used to. The gameplay I think would be less of an adjustment especially for anyone who played vanilla WoW, which was based firmly on EQ/DikuMUD as far as I understand it.

  2. EQ1 was the most magical experience of my life growing up and it will never be replaced.
    Taking gaming beyond a few people in a game to the world of massively multiplayer was indescribably awe inspiring.

    1. I think for a lot of people it wasn't just that EQ was their first taste of virtual worlds or online gaming - it was their first real experience of real-time communication with strangers from all over the world. A lot of things that are now utterly commonplace seemed awe-inspiring when we first encountered them while adventuring through Norrath. That's the feeling a lot of people miss and no, that won't ever be replaced. Not, at least, until some new technological advance introduces us to something equally as unfamiliar and unexpected.


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