Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rebuilding The Spires : EQ2

The guidelines are up for the forthcoming EQ2 Timelocked Expansion Servers. Yes, already. These Daybreak guys don't hang about, do they?

Wilhelm has a great, detailed post up about it, which more than covers all the bases. I was typing up a reply to that but it ran on a little so I moved it here instead.

Geez. Where to start...

  • I do not believe there is anything like the public interest in EQ2 nostalgia that there is for EQ. I'm going to be pretty surprised if we see anything remotely like the feeding frenzy that accompanied the launch of Ragefire.
  • Oddly, though I agree with Wilhelm broadly that EQ/EQ2 and PvP have never been happy bedfellows, I think the PvP version here could be the more successful of the two. Almost all of the changes seem to be the ones PvP players have been yelling about for years and it's not like they really have a "home" they feel happy in right now, so it should at least sop up just about all of whatever interest still exists for that format.
  • Those unlock times are insane. An expansion every month or every other month for the slacker option. I can only think they've looked at the speed people actually level on retro servers, worked out that it really does only take a few weeks, at most, for the bleeding edge guilds to clear the entirety of the available content in an expansion and decided to benchmark on that. Sod everyone who can't keep up. It seems a very odd way to try and monetize this thing though - you'd think they'd want to keep people hanging around, although maybe they're bargaining on wringing as much money out of people as fast as possible before the marks realize they've been had.
  • As for that "feature set", they really should start running business seminars. Apparently there's a way to make money by selling a cut-down version of something people already have to those same people, even though they already get the full-fat version for free! It's like they've found a magic money mine!
  • Like Wilhelm, I also prefer Freeport/Qeynos followed by Antonica and Commonlands for my 1-20 play but for the record I'd like to say that I prefer Darklight Woods to Frostfang Sea by a considerable margin, if only because FFS is so utterly depressing to look at.  I'd much prefer to start on The Isle of Refuge but...
  • They do seem to have a hang-up about that, don't they? Bringing it back would be such an easy PR win and it surely can't be hard to do, yet they just will not countenance it. I'd love to know what's going on there...

I just can't summon up any enthusiasm at all for this project. For my money, the current version of EQ2 is a hundred times better than even the first, good iteration, the one after Scott Hartsman came on board and saved the ship from crashing into the rocks back in 2005. The original iteration was horrible but at least re-creating that would be of some pseudo-historic value - maybe. This isn't even close - it's just the current version with bits switched off. Some of the best bits, I'd say.

There are good arguments to made for the original Everquest experience, arguments that can be remade convincingly for each evolution of that game through Kunark, Velious, Luclin, Planes of Power and Lost Dungeons of Norrath at least. There are probably people who'd even make a case for Gates of Discord and Omens of War although I'd like to think they aren't allowed anything sharp to write with where they are.

Over in EQ2 however, while there may be things to be said for the way the State of the Game developed circa Echoes of Faydwer and Rise of Kunark, having played through most of the expansions at time of launch I never felt anything like the huge step changes that each EQ expansion brought. There was a gear reset and that tended to be about it. I'm not at all sure what nostalgia this is even supposed to kindle.

All the same, I'll be logging in and voting and I suppose I'll end up making a character on whatever the server is called (it'll be some dragon's name, no doubt) and I'll be there whenever it launches (a lot sooner than anyone expects, probably). Be there or be square or something.

I'm starting to think all this nostalgia is getting out of hand though.

Scratch "starting".


  1. The only thing that has me thinking that this whole idea might pay off is how popular the Freeport server was during the EverQuest II Extended experiment. Yes, it was free, but a lot of people seemed to be happy to transfer/copy off of other servers to be able to play on a fresh server.

    And, hey, if they go with the every 30 days unlock schedule, it will be the current version of the game, with everything switched on, by this time next year!

    (Gates of Discord - Still the most unintentionally appropriate expansion title in the series.)

    1. Yes, Freeport was an unexpected success, wasn't it? Its big USP was that it was free, though, when the game in general wasn't. This is the exact opposite. Can't help feeling that might be significant.

    2. Well, it will give all those people who complained on the forums about uninvested free players soiling their servers a chance to put their money where their collective mouths were!

  2. I feel like someone accidentally deleted the Isle of Refuge and they've been covering up ever since so they don't have to rebuild it.

    1. I could believe that if they hadn't just added the frickin' thing as a Prestige Home!

    2. Oh it is still there... the art assets are still even in the client thanks to it being a prestige home and all... it is just a matter of how it was wired into the game in its old form and what they did when they chopped it out like a tumor.

      I'd guess that turning on the Isle of Refuge itself and pointing new players at it would probably not be a huge task (though that relies on a few pretty huge assumptions). But getting it linked back into the flow of the game, because it led you into a series of quests in the also-gone racial ghettos, which in turn had their own series of quests that are all now gone as well, that is probably more work than they have budget for this project.

      This is a a "make money fast!" project for the EverQuest team, and they also have to keep the live servers going and work on the next round of constepansions or whatever they call them now while they are doing this task. I am surprised they have done as much as they have on the Ragefire side of things, though that was a pretty popular move for them in the short term.

  3. I'm in agreement that the PvP server will probably be the more successful of the two. I was actually just talking with my Dad about it, us both being long time EQ2 players. I remember when Nagafen first launched during the Kingdom of Sky days and the huge amount of players flooding Antonica and the Commonlands was amazing. It was a fun time for everyone. However, seeing as how PvP wasn't a launch-time option, it will also be a different experience than the one I had when Nagafen launched.

    Is it worth paying the sub price though? Will the populations stay and play through the content or will they just pop in to check things out and then head back to whatever else they have been doing? Time will tell. I just feel like if I was to subscribe again I should probably level my two mains up through the last couple expansions that I haven't played, despite nostalgia tugging at my heart strings.

    Also, I'd prefer keeping the game locked at EoF or Kunark, and not really going beyond that. Even SF was a decent expansion but I was pretty burnt out on the game by then. Knowing that it will indeed move past those points in time, and possibly at a very fast rate, I feel like participating wouldn't be worth it unless you got in on the ground floor and played nothing else til you had your fill again.

    1. The fast pace of the expansion unlocks makes most sense if you see this as a special kind of New Live Server. As Wilhelm says, the new server could catch up to Live in a single year. On a pace like that it might well keep its population - assuming most of them are actually existing EQ2 players looking for a busy, vibrant server.

      If the bulk of the population really does want a 2005-2007 experience, th0ugh, then they'll be gone in 3-6 months, tops. It will be interesting to watch it play out.

      Actually, what I think it is more than anything is Daybreak playing with payment models. Like the upcoming SW:ToR expansion I think there is something of a return to some form of subscription agenda running here. God forbid SynCaine might actually be proved right, and I don't think F2P is going away soon, but clearly the industry is still experimenting with how best to monetize the product.

  4. While I think the Isle of Refuge code is still there, supposedly there have been so many changes to the coding through all of the updates it would take a huge rework to make the original available. My guess is that they are pushing these servers out so fast that the time needed. While I can go without the Isle of Refuge I really wanted the leveling experience of the city neighborhoods and the small zones off of them. I spent a lot more time there then on the Isle.

    The only interst I have, which is not a lot, is to be able to start on a completely fresh server that is hopefully populated. My current server feels pretty empty.

    1. They've timed this quite well. If they'd done it after the server merges I think there'd have been less interest but a lot of people feel their current Live server is "dead" apparently so the idea of a fresh start with a lot of people must look pretty enticing.


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