EQ Ragefire Launches May 20

EQ Classic Ragefire Server

Ragefire, the new EQ progression server, is launching May 20th! That turnaround is incredible, and pretty much what I expected when Daybreak started hinting at a new progression server. Ragefire has only been in “beta testing” for a couple of days, but things seem to be smooth enough for Daybreak to flip the switch in just over a week.

I decided to play in the beta to test out what was different from true classic, figure out what class I was sure to play, and honestly get my feet wet with a version of EverQuest I haven’t played. My time in EverQuest was 1999-2003’ish, then on and off again for a little bit. I never got to see much of the major changes to the game, as my era was classic and dabbling a little bit beyond. Spending so much time in Project 1999, coming to this new version of EverQuest was quite a bit of a change.

The class I’ve decided on is a Wood Elf Bard. Something about the Bard class has always appealed to me. I think it’s the unmatched support role this class can play by providing all sorts of stat and combat increases, lull, mez, run speed, mana regen, etc. Bard is the class to play if you want to be useful, and feel like your group members can’t live without you.

Thus far in the beta I have reached level 8. I quickly realized that this version of EverQuest is a little bit easier than P99. Mobs do not seem to hit as hard — something in the math must be different. Experience is definitely faster too. I killed a bunch of blue to yellow con mobs around Kelethin until level 4 then went into Crushbone until around level 5. Turning in a bunch of bone chips and Crushbone belts to the NPCs in Kaladim brought me up to level 7 where I just started camping mobs with a friend until level 8. It all went very smooth.

Many quality of life improvements exist in this version of EQ. Things like auto loot (advanced loot) have taken a little getting used to, but I think I’m starting to like how this loot management will help make looting go smoother for me and a group. Death still means losing experience and having to get your body for a res, but at least you won’t lose your gear. Stuff like that makes playing a little less stressful, but still close enough to the original EQ experience to enjoy.

Playing on Ragefire will require All Access Membership – $14.99/m with the typical discounts for buying more time upfront. Kronos are EQ’s version of the in-game item that grants game-time. Basically they can be bought for $18 and traded in-game for anything. I think they are a bit stupid. Kronos stimulate hardcore farming for people to pay for their multiboxing. Farming was already the name of the game in EQ, and further enticing people to lockdown camps should make things interesting.

I’m going into this with a realistic view. I will never be a raider in EverQuest. You probably won’t be either. The raids will be locked down by the hardcore elites who never stopped playing. (In case you didn’t know, raids aren’t instanced. If a boss spawns, only one group gets it.) The camps for the super rare items will also be locked down. End-game will not be a fantastic experience for the 99%, so I’m going into this not expecting to participate. If it happens, that’s just super; if not then I will enjoy having leveled up and participated once again in a huge rush of nostalgia. You see, EverQuest has always been about the journey for me. I’m going to take it slow, group with friends, and adventure in Norrath.

I’ll keep you all updated with regular adventure logs, screenshots, and feedback on my EQ Ragefire experience. If you want to join in on the fun with a few of us, visit our EverQuest forum. We’re always happy to meet friendly new people.

WoW’s Continued Sunset Shines Bright For Blizzard’s Future

Blizzard's future isn't WoW

World of Warcraft has once again lost more “subscribers” in a few months than most (close to all) MMOs could ever dream of having. They dropped something like 3 million subscribers in a three month period, marking the sharpest decline in the history of the game. I think they remain at a lowly 7.1 million? All according to plan.

Over the years I have been saying that WoW’s slow decline is in Blizzard’s best interest, and a decline in WoW subscribers is ultimately beneficial for them financially, and realistically their goal. You’d think I was crazy back then given the responses I got in the comments, but look at the landscape of Blizzard’s revenue stream now.

Looking at Blizzard’s financials, over 40% of their revenue stream came from non-WoW games, and that’s estimated to exceed 50% this year. I bet that by the time Overwatch launches, their non-WoW revenue will be closing in on the 70% mark. Blizzard is diversifying, and the money isn’t in WoW anymore, or at least for much longer. They’ve said it themselves, “Strong recurring franchise diversification is in process inside the Blizzard portfolio, which sets us up for a bright 2016 and beyond.”

This diversification is not only a great business move for Blizzard, but a great outlook for us players. We get more games to enjoy in a variety of flavors, and we’ll start to see developers trying new things in order to appeal to the new ‘variety is the spice of life’. Soon, one day, there will no longer be just one giant behemoth of a game strangling the MMO industry. Mark my words, we are returning to an era where there are fewer players per game with more games available offering a variety of playstyles. This day is coming; it must come.

The sun never sets on Blizzard’s empire. So yes, WoW’s decline is good for Blizzard. Those players can now be transitioned into other titles where they will spend more money more often. All according to plan indeed.

Multiboxing

EverQuest Multiboxing

The issue of multiboxing finally made its way back into my gaming life. I’m playing on Ragefire beta right now, the new EverQuest progression server, and it’s already apparent that lots and lots of people will be playing multiple characters at once.

I used to multibox in Dark Age of Camelot. I did so after Graev quit and I took over his account. I used the account to follow me around and help heal/buff my Savage. This is how I became personally familiar with how game-breaking and community-breaking such a practice can be.

Multiboxing can reduce the need for real players fulfilling a role. If I really wanted to play the role of a buffer, teleporter, healer, etc., but people have so many secondary characters that they make just to fill these roles then there isn’t a need for me to do those things.

Multiboxing removes the grouping feature. No that’s not a good thing. If someone doesn’t need to group then they artificially advance up further through the game without having to participate in the established social structure. It dilutes the system for everyone when people no longer need to rely on each other.

Multiboxing makes finding camps harder. If people are allowed to multibox then more camps are occupied by less people. One person running three account could technically camp 3 rare spawns at once. The world is big, but it’s not big that big.

Multiboxing leads to MacroQuest. In EverQuest, macroing became a big issue when people crossed the line and started to automate (through the use of macros) their gameplay. Entire raids could be handled by just a few players.

Not everyone does it to abuse the rules or ruin the fun of others. I know that some people are cool and would drop a box to fill a spot with a real person. There are people who would let a real person have the camp if they had multiple camps occupied. But for every one of those nice people there are thousands of people who use the system to get ahead in a virtual world, and those people ruin it for everyone.

This is one area where P99 will always outshine Daybreak’s TLP server. P99 actively works hard to ban multiboxers. It’s a big rule for them to preserve the integrity of the game’s design — a design that is thrashed when people multibox. I would be a fool to think Daybreak would even consider implementing this rule; one person paying for multiple accounts seems great on paper.

Ragefire Progression Server Details

Lots of EverQuest news today. The official rules/outline of the Ragefire Progression Server were released. Looks like we’ll be playing Classic EverQuest for 6 months, then Kunark will come out and we’ll have 6 months before Velious, etc. Rumor is that the beta will start here really soon, maybe even this week(end).

You can read up on all of the rules elsewhere. What I want to focus on are two specific details: (1) XP Pots and (2) Newbie Gear.

XP Pots

Buying experience boosts from the cash shop just rubs me the wrong way for a few reasons. First off, we have to pay a subscription in order to gain access to the progression server. To then sell experience potions — a huge advantage — goes against the spirit of the game as well as hurts the community by fragmenting the payers from the non-payers.

EverQuest was never about rushing to the end for me. Yes, it was about progressing, but I don’t see wanting to play to progress as the same thing. To pay extra money on top of a subscription just to get through the game faster seems counter productive to why we are playing on a progression server.

Newbie Gear

There’s this whole debate about whether or not gear with stats that wasn’t in during the classic days should be added to the game. It will be added, but the “revamped” uber gear won’t make it it until at least a year and a half (or two years?) from now. Ultimately here’s my stance: As long as the gear they add does not detract from or alter the natural desire and or progression of gear as it stood without the newbie gear then I am fine. In other words, people should still want the gear that dropped and the “newbie gear” should quite literally be newbie gear.

I’m not in the group that’s quite as fussed about it existing at all. It’ll definitely make the game easier if the difficulty curve remains untouched. It’ll be the equivalent of a minor twinked character. I twinked all the time in EQ. I’m twinked in P99 thanks to a friend. I’m fine with that.

 

D&D: Episode 1: Attack on Greenest

The D&D group we put together has successfully completed our first real session! You may recall me posting to request participation from our readers, and the offer still stands. Read through a synopsis of our first session bought to you by our GM. If you’re interested in joining us, we still have room for 2 more. Visit our Tabletop Forum, post here, or email me.

greenest-dragon-attack

(The following contains spoilers for the Hoard of the Dragon Queen)

Our adventurers started their journey as guards for a merchant making his way to Greenest. A group consisting of two gnomes, one disfigured walking with a limp, one talkative with a better story than the one being told [That’s me!], a seemingly generic dwarf stout with a good heart, and a mysterious drow who stays silent but wears the robes of the faithful. Our band of unlikely heroes has been traveling for a few tendays enjoying the green fields for which this area is named. Rumors from others traveling have warned of bandits attacking travelers on the roads but so far the journey has been peaceful and calm with plenty of good song to pass the boring days.

This is the closest image I could find. Imagine him with yellowish blonde hair and instruments on his back (can someone photoshop that for me?)

This is the closest image I could find. Imagine him with yellowish blonde hair and instruments on his back (can someone photoshop that for me?)

As our adventurers topped the hill expecting to see greenest in its peaceful nature, smoke greats them. Greenest is under attack. Townsfolk can be seeing running and distant screams can be heard as a raid is just starting to take place. Flying high above a massive blue dragon towers over the town bringing with him a feeling of dread. Quickly the heroes race to the town to do what they can to save the townsfolk.

At sunset they arrive at the edge of town and as they are making their way through they stumble upon an injured man with his three children and his wife fighting off a gaggle of kobolds — small little dragonesk humanoids with wicked teeth and tiny clawed hands wielding slings and daggers.

Valorously our heroes saved the family and took them through the town facing three more groups of raiding bandits and kobolds. Our dwarf Ursus driving his war hammer through many wicked foes. The disfigured gnome “Ash” quickly dispatched foes using his bow. Inspiring his comrades and assaulting his foes with viscous insults, Keen the bard helped bring his associates to victory. While the drow, Nerubia, tended to the injured and brought radiant light to his enemies.

keen the bard playing his lute

This is pretty much me at the start of every engagement

While able to make their way through the groups of raiders it was starting to take its toll. The wounds on our heroes growing more and more threatening and a final group of a more than a half a dozen raiders lay between them and the keep. Ingeniously our heroes devised a plan. Using a recently acquired keg of strong wine they cleverly placed it with an illusion of gold piling onto it which drew in the last bandit group. The with the trap set and the bait of gold to much for the bandits to resist, the resulting explosion decimated the last standing obstacle before finally safely delivering the family into the keep.

Inside the true devastation of the raid was beginning to dawn on our heroes as they saw before them a towns people huddled in fear against a terrible dragon flying above and chaos in the streets of their fair town now being sacked for their livelihoods.

Leading the town guard and mustering a defense against the encroaching raiders is Escobart the Red, from the Iron Rust clan. Not able to make to much small talk Escobart instructs the adventurers to see Governor Nighthill the town leader. As he will make better use of their unique talents.

With our heroes already weary from several battles Governor Nighthill informs our champions that “The night has just begun.”