Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sometimes It's The Little Things...

This is just a short post (No, really...) about a couple of Norrathian bits and bobs I happened to notice  yesterday. The first is a small but very significant change to the login process for EverQuest that's going to make choosing a server much more straightforward for new players. It should also make life much easier for anyone coming back after a long layoff.

EverQuest has a lot of servers for a twenty-five year-old game. More than two dozen of them and the number keeps growing. Two new ones were added just a few days ago. If you've been away for a while, it can be hard to remember where you were last time you played. I've created a lot of characters over the years and I always have trouble remembering what server half of them are on. 

Even knowing the name of the server where you were playing doesn't always help. As many servers as the game has now, over the years it's had many more. I long ago lost track of which servers merged and then re-merged. The merger process is hard to keep up to date with not least because it never ends. Next month a server called Thornblade, which I can't honestly say I knew existed, is merging with Mischief, where I think I might have made a character once.  

There have always been a few places you can go look this stuff up but as with all information on the internet, you can't always find exactly what you need and even when you do, you can't always be sure it's current or correct. Now, all you need to do is look at the Server Select screen, which has been re-tooled to be far more useful and informative than ever before.  

Every server is listed along with five topline criteria:

Status - When the server is up, this shows the current online population (Low/Medium/High). Otherwise it will say Locked or Down as appropriate. This information has always been available from the Game Server Status page on the website and it might have been on Server Select before, but never as clearly as it is now.

Ruleset - This tells you Daybreak's official name for whatever ruleset is operating on a specific server, for example Standard, Timelocked Progression or Randomized Loot. More detail about the ruleset in question appears in the description at the foot of the table.

Expansion - This lets you know exactly where each server sits in the progression chain. With thirty expansions to date, all of them adding features and many changing the level cap, knowing which one is in effect when you log into a server is crucial information.

True Box - If a server is flagged "True Box" it means each player can only play one account at a time per computer. There can be variations to the basic Yes/No binary - one server is currently listed as "Relaxed(3)", meaning you can play up to three characters per PC but no more. It's a complicated issue that needs a little background.

The game has a long tradition of multi-boxing, where one player simultaneously logs in multiple accounts and plays one character from each, often making a full group of six to do group content "solo". This used to be quite tricky and often required the use of 3rd party software that would get you banned if you were caught using it. 

These days, EQ is so undemanding of modern gaming PCs you can easily log multiple accounts in on the same machine, making swapping from character to character very straightforward even using just the regular, in-game controls. As so many of EQ's hundreds of zones are often empty and so much of the later game is instanced, multiboxing came to be seen as a legitimate activity, provided multiboxers also abided by the general "Play Nice" rules and didn't get in anyone's way. 

That attitude changed when the often much more crowded and competitive special ruleset servers came into play. There were a lot of complaints and new servers started to include rules on how much, if any, "boxing" was allowed at launch, along with how far the server had to progress before those rules were relaxed.

Even if the server is flagged Yes for True Box, theoretically you can still play more than one character but you have play each of them on a separate computer, old school. How DBG can tell is beyond my remit to explain but apparently they can and they'll ban you if they catch you, so it's good to know what the rules are in advance.

All Access - Finally and crucially, this lets you know if you need to have paid your sub to log into the server in question. Mostly it's the Standard ruleset servers that are Free To Play but there are exceptions.

All of that is great and an improvement and all but it's not worth getting excited over, let alone writing a whole post about. What got me really excited was the additional detail available in the full server description that appears at the bottom of the screen when you select a server.

This includes a full description of the ruleset with unlock schedules for expansions and notes about special features such as increased spawn rates and economic models. All stuff I can never remember, in other words.

There have been more than a few times in the past, when I've had to go digging around in old press releases to find which of EverQuest's myriad special ruleset servers is on what set of special rules. There are so many of them now and the differences between them are sometimes so arcane and abstruse, I'd be surprised if even the people who set the rules can remember them. The new Server Select screen collates all the pertinent information in one easy to find location and will make my life much easier any time I decide to write about EQ.

Even more useful to me is the inclusion of full details of the merge history of each server. Once again, this has always been available online somewhere... I just could never find it when I wanted it. Now I can just log into the game and see immediately that one of my old servers, Lanys T`Vyl, merged with Tunare in 2005, as did E`Ci. Another server I had characters on, Seventh Hammer, joined them all in 2010 and the whole crew now goes by the name Tunare - Seventh Hammer.

Since I can almost always remember the name of the server where I originally made a specific character but almost never where that character ended up after all the merges, this is going to save me a load of time and trouble. I may not play most of these characters any more and most likely never will but there have been a surprising number of occasions when I needed to find a particular character to check something or to take a screenshot for a post. This is going to make doing stuff like that a lot less annoying.

The second thing I noticed yesterday relates to EverQuest II and a vlogger I follow by the name of Borgio. Borgio used to make useful and entertaining video guides that he posted regularly to his YouTube channel. I found them very helpful in getting past a few instances and bosses in various expansions, which is why I subscribed.

Unfortunately, like many veteran players, Daybreak eventually managed to piss him off sufficiently to make him quit (I forget if it was anything specific or just the general drift of the game away from the way it used to be.) and he moved on to other games, then stopped posting much at all. 

He has sporadically popped videos up since - he briefly visited the Vanguard Emu a year or so back, which was nice - but his channel had been silent for almost a year until yesterday he posted this:

While he doesn't explicitly say so, I'm guessing Anashti Sul lured him back.The video is short and - at least for anyone who's ever visited the Isle of Refuge - quite interesting. I was surprised to find I had actually seen and killed all of the Named mobs he shows but if you'd asked me about them before I watched the video I wouldn't have remembered any of them, even though I just played through the whole main quest series on the Outpost of the Overlord just a few days ago.

It almost makes me want to go back with another character and do it again to see what else I might have forgotten.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide