Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Everything Is Everything Else

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours doing dragons in EverQuest II. The Dragon Attack event is drawing to a close but if anything that's only made it even more popular. There were enough people at each dragon spawn last night to spin up a second copy of the zone and it wasn't even close to prime time for the server.

The event is very well designed in terms of pacing. Each dragon respawns an hour after it's killed and it takes a crowd of fifty or so players seven or eight minutes to kill one. A rotation falls into place; the dragons spawn in a predictable order with a wait of just a few minutes between. Time to go bank or swap to an alt to gather crafting mats from the dragon corpse.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work. It was that way for the first couple of weeks. Some days it still is. At some point, though, some clever bunny came up with a short cut. Instead of the dragon taking anything up to ten minutes to die, it's dead in a couple. I've seen one burned down in less than thirty seconds.

I've been trying to find out how it's done but without much success. Google gives me nothing. I've asked in game several times but the only reply I got was "it's an exploit" without any hint of what the exploit might be.

Over the last couple of days I narrowed my investigations down to "something Necromancers can do". My theory is based on a couple of throwaway comments in general chat, where someone has made a crack about things going a lot faster if the necros "do their thing". Also, I noticed on a couple of occasions in Nektulos Forest, where the dragon summons a horde of elementals that take quite a while to kill, all the sparks suddenly died at once. The cause of death in every case was a "Vampiric Orb" attributed to an NPC Mercenary.

Vampiric orbs are created when a necromancer casts Vampirism on an ally. I have no idea if this is the proximate cause of the so-called "exploit" but it's about the only clue I have.

One reason I'm posting about it is in the hope that one of the handful of people who read this blog and also play EQII might know more about what's going on and chip in with a comment. Another is background to how I came to be looking at Chinese Post-Punk bands on YouTube.

The effect of the "exploit" or tactic or whatever you want to call it is that the elegantly calculated cadence for kills breaks down completely. What tends to happen at first is that all four dragons get killed in about twenty minutes or so and then there's a half hour wait for the first one to respawn. Sometimes the dragons end up overlapping and the order changes.

Either way, there are periods when everyone just stands around in a big gang for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes waiting for something to happen. That suited me fine last night because I had six characters running around gathering dragon mats and it gave me plenty of time to log them in and out. But even then I found myself with time on my hands.

I'd read all the new blog posts in my Feedly and blog roll so I started flipping through my bookmarks, looking for something to keep me occupied. I have a ridiculous amount of unsorted bookmarks, many of which go to things I've completely forgotten about.

One of them goes to a potentially fascinating resource called The Music Industrapedia. When I bookmarked this it was fairly new and didn't have a lot of detail but someone's clearly been hard at work since then. It varies an awful lot country by country but some of the entries under the Music Artist category are quite extensive.

I had a good browse through the Canada, Japan and France sections, which are very well-represented, and picked away at a lot of the smaller territories, which aren't. Then I took a look at China.

Chinese pop/rock music fascinates me. We've had so much discussion in the blogosphere lately about Chinese influence on Western culture and mores but it seems to me that's very much a two-way street. The Chinese government may think one thing is happening but the Chinese people seem to have different ideas. A lot of different ideas.

Glancing down the list I saw several names I rcognized from my own explorations in hyperspace: Carsick Cars, Hedgehog, New Pants, Queen Sea Big Shark... One reason I'm drawn to music and musicians from that part of the world is the amazing, evocative names of the bands. I spotted one I hadn't seen before, Streets Kill Strange Animals, and clicked the link.

There were two more links on the landing page; the band's Bandcamp and an article on Post-Punk.com, a website previously unknown to me. The article was fascinating. It told me in a few paragraphs more about the development of alternative music in China than I'd picked up anywhere else in years, although I have to admit I've never made any attempt to research the subject. I'm sure there are tons of journalistic and academic treatises out there just waiting to explain enverything if only I wasn't too lazy to look.

For the next hour or so I killed dragons to the backbeat of Snapline, Ourself Beside Me, Pet Conspiracy and more. I also watched a tremendously unexpected cover of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Massive Attack but that's by-the-by.

It struck me what a strange and wonderful world we live in. In the same moment I was sharing a virtual fantasy with a hundred strangers around the globe, learning about the aesthetics of cultures and the way they cross-pollinate, and planning a creative act to synthesize it all : this post.

And some people say video games are a waste of time...


  1. Wow, I did not see a dragon get burned down that fast. While I did kill a lot of dragons through the event, I never fully learned the strategies. I know I saw a lot of arguing with the tank to make sure the dragon was facing a certain direction and that had to change based on glowing portals nearby. I think that was only in 1 or 2 locations, not all 4.

  2. Above comment was from me. Think I hit the wrong button and it popped up as Unkown.

    1. Last night, the final day of the event, dragons were dying so fast on Skfire that at one point I couldn't get through the portal fast enough from to be there for the kill. I did a couple of rounds and the only one that lasted more than a minute or two was Loping Plains, because of the tank agro you mention.

      Even there, though, with the dragon having five stacks of scales, supposedly giving it 100% damage immunity, it dropped from full to half health in moments. Whatever causes the damage completely ignores that mechanic.


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