Thursday, July 9, 2020

Take The Cash: EQ, EQII

Back when Sony was running the show, someone there came up with the less-than-stellar idea of holding frequent double Station Cash sales. Towards the end of that age of decadence SOE even threw a few triple SC beanos. For a weekend or even longer you could get two or three times the imaginary money for the same price. There was even an insane moment when you could buy expansions and pay your subscription with it.

I imagine it brought in a useful chunk of revenue at a convenient time for someone. Shifted a few needles on some dials in a direction they needed to go. In terms of the long-term health of the game, though, it was a kind of slow suicide.

The moment the company changed hands that was the end of any such nonsense but the damage had already been done. Even I, who never really bothered much with the cash shop, hadn't been able to resist the lure of seeing dollars go on sale for not much more than thirty cents apiece. What with a few weekends like that plus the dripfeed of five hundred a month that came with the sub, by the time Daybreak took over I already had close to twenty thousand DBC stashed away on each of my two main accounts.

The problem was finding something to spend it on. I'm terrible at buying things in cash shops. They never seem to have anything I want.

Housing was good for an occasional splurge. I bought a couple of Prestige homes. The problem with that was, once I'd bought them I needed to do something with them, and that takes time and effort. Not to mention that I already had more than enough imaginary homes already. I'm not going to be buying any more in a hurry.

I can't remember what else I bought. I know I have a couple of thousand less than I did at the start of the year (I can see the figures in screenshots) but I have no recollection of what I spent the money on.

Whatever it was, it was about time. In recent years I've rarely managed to get through my monthly 500DBC stipend before the next rolled in. I'm guessing that's a common problem because a while ago Daybreak started offering heavily marked-down mercenary and familiar crates as an alternative. I took one, once, but generally I prefer the cash, even if I don't end up using it.

About the only thing I spend DBC on regularly are the scrolls that give any class the ability to track mobs for five hours. Those come in stacks of five for 50DB and as a Member I get a ten per cent discount on that. At 45DB for twenty-five online hours of tracking I rarely get through a single stack in a calendar month so that's not making much of a dent.

When we got the Overseer system earlier this year I finally found something to spend my imaginary money on. Not in EverQuest II, where the feature plugs along perfectly without any intervention from my wallet, but in the original EverQuest, which until that point I wasn't playing any more and which I honestly never expected to play seriously again.

Whereas EQII's Overseer is good for gear, EQ's is fantastic for levelling. I've added ten levels to my Magician since it started, something that would have taken me years if I'd tried to solo it the regular way. Not only have I been logging in every day, in the last week or so I've actually started to go out and kill things again!

To get the best out of the Overseer feature in EQ is a trickier proposition than it is in EQII. Not only is it a deeper mini-game in its own right, requiring closer attention when setting the missions, but the timers it uses are significantly less forgiving.

You're allowed ten missions a day but only five at any one time. All missions run for a multiple of six hours. I've seen six, twelve, twenty-four, thirty-six and forty-eight hour missions so far.

Here I am, jumping on Meldrath's bed. I owe it all to Overseer quests!
The ones that work best for me are the twelve-hours. If I remember to set my first quintet after breakfast I have time to collect the rewards and set the next five before I close my computer down for the evening. If, that is, I don't forget.

But sometimes I do forget. It's half an hour after the time I meant to stop for the evening and I'm logging out of My Time At Portia or Elder Scrolls Online and I suddenly remember I haven't set my Overseer missions in EQ.

On the face of it, that's easily solved. Log in quickly, grab the rewards, take five or ten minutes to get the next set rolling, log off, job done. Except all that does is push the problem into tomorrow.

Next day, when I log in at the usual time, instead of last night's missions sitting there finished, waiting to be cashed out, they'll still have an hour or more to run. I could just wait, but then the next lot won't be ready until later in the evening than I want to be playing. And if I make another mistake and forget again I'll be into some kind of fail cascade I can only fix by skipping a set altogether.

Luckily there's a very simple solution. Daybreak, who love to monetize every possible interaction in the game, much to the chagrin of those players who haven't noticed the world moving on since 1999, have implemented a handy Finish Now! button. Press that and all your time-shifting problems are over.

Yeah, sure. When I first saw that button I assumed the cost would be eye-watering. It certainly is if you want to buy more Agents to send on Missions, which seem to be priced to catch whales. Dim whales at that, since you get more Agents for free in game than you're ever going to be able to use. It costs nothing to look, though, so I pressed it and prepared to be outraged.

I know there are people who can work themslves into a state of righteous hysteria over a misplaced apostrophe in a pizza delivery flyer but I challenge anyone to get up a head of steam over this one. To complete a twelve-hour mission that has an hour or so left to run costs around four Daybreak coins. It varies a little according to the quality of the mission. I think I payed as much as seven, once.

The current rate of exchange, at its least favorable, is one cent to one DB. Four cents definitely counts as a genuine microtransaction in my book. Most of my missions are the regular sort so for my monthly 500DB I could clear over a hundred mistimed quests. If I messed up my timing that often I'd deserve to pay a penalty charge.

As I've mentioned before, despite having a perfectly good All Access subscription, in good standing and fully paid in advance for a year, on which I play EQII, I'm not playing EverQuest on it. Don't ask. It's too tedious to explain.

That might be an issue - or at least it might mean spending a little real-life money - if it wasn't for the situation I outlined at the start of the post. This account, the one I'm using for EQ, is Silver (grandfathered-in slightly better than F2P) but it used to be my main account, back when SOE was in charge (Hah! Irony! "In charge"!). My pockets there are stuffed with barrel-loads of double and triple sale SC from when that was a thing, not to mention all the years of unused monthly pocket-money.

At time of writing I have fifteen thousand two hundred and twenty DB on that account. I think I've spent a few  hundred correcting timers since this whole thing started. Some days I did shift more than just the odd hour. I seem to remember paying about 24DB one time. Crazy, I know!

My magician is Level 103 now. She makes about 10% of a level most days. A lot more when there's a server bonus like last weekend. I fully expect her to hit the current level cap before the end of the year, provided I remain sufficiently interested in getting there. At the rate I'm going I'd have enough Daybreak cash to last me more than a year and a half, even if I messed up my timing every single day.

Since I have no intention of levelling any other characters the same way, that's way more than I need. I would seem to be well set. And in practice I make my timers most days, anyway. I probably only buy my way out of trouble a couple of times a week.

Looks like I'm going to have find something else to spend my imaginary money on.


  1. While I do agree that at this low pricing and in your particular situation the cost isn't a big deal, but I really, really dislike timers that come in increments of 12 hours in MMOs.

    That situation you describe, 'do it (whatever 'it' is) just a bit later than you could, and you'll have to do it this much later every time from now on or miss one whole cycle' is a kind of game design that's as unfun as it comes in my opinion.

    Give me 10 hours instead of 12, and 22 (or even better 20 or 18) instead of 24, then I'll gladly do stuff twice a day or daily without feeling any pressure. Making me stare at the clock all the time will probably make me stop bothering at all sooner rather than later.

    1. Of course, if I didn't insist on going to bed two hours earlier than I used to so I can watch stuff on my Kindle, this would never be a problem. The EQII timers are mostly multiples of five, so it is a bit odd. Not sure why they've gone for different intervals. There's also the issue of when the daily quest allocation resets. I haven't committed that to memory yet but I have a feeling it's on a different schedule again...

  2. They must have gone really crazy with deals back in the day, because I'm sitting on about half as many points as you have and I know you are a much more hardcore EQ player than I am. I remember buying points to add classes and races to my EQ II silver account, however I can't think of anything else I've ever spent them on. Maybe some character slots?


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