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4

EverQuest Agnarr Hype!

The EverQuest TLP server Agnarr launches in less than two days! We're looking at a 5pm EST launch on May 24 according to the recent announcement.

The EQ team released an Agnarr / Timelocked Progression Server FAQ this afternoon as well that details a lot of good information for anyone unfamiliar with the TLP setup.

Agnarr Server Status

Agnarr Server Details

Here's what you need to know for Agnarr:

  • It'll go as far as the PoP area, but that includes through Yakesha
  • Experience is faster than other progression servers but still slower than live server experience rates
  • It's "Truebox" meaning only one client per computer is allowed (extent of enforcement unknown)​
  • The 'pickzone' feature is enabled meaning there are multiple versions of the same zone to avoid overcrowding

Keen's Agnarr Plans

Class: Shaman
Race: Troll
Diety: Innoruk
Stat allocation: Wisdom / rest to stamina

​I'm going to start off by staying pretty close to Grobb. I think there will be some decent froglok smashing there until probably around level 8 when I'll head over to the Commonlands to group up with other people.

I'm joining up with a group of Keen and Graev Community veterans back from the 2009 era. They're EQ fans and starting a guild, so that works for me.

I'm still seeing if I can get Graev to play with me. ​There will probably be a battle until the very end before he swings to one side or the other. 

Either way, I plan to play casually but enough that I can hopefully stick with the curve. I'll do plenty of grouping as a Shaman, and enjoy the journey.

There is truly nothing else on the horizon​ until the launch of Albion Online, so I welcome the fun.

20

EverQuest Next Officially Cancelled

EverQuest Next Cancelled

Unfortunately, this day has been coming for a long, long time.

[su_expand more_text=”Read the rest of Russel Shanks’ relese” less_text=”Read less…” text_color=”#2a2a2a” link_color=”#011948″ more_icon=”icon: file-text-o” less_icon=”icon: eject”]To Our Daybreak Community,

I’m writing today to let you know that, after much review and consideration, Daybreak is discontinuing development of EverQuest Next.

For the past 20 years EverQuest has been a labor of love. What started as a deep passion of ours, as game creators, grew into a much larger passion shared by you, millions of players and Daybreakers alike. Watching EverQuest’s ability to entertain and bring people together has inspired and humbled us. It’s shaped our culture and has emboldened us to take aggressive risks with our game ideas and products. When we decided to create the next chapter in the EverQuest journey, we didn’t aim low. We set out to make something revolutionary.

For those familiar with the internals of game development, you know that cancellations are a reality we must face from time to time. Inherent to the creative process are dreaming big, pushing hard and being brutally honest with where you land. In the case of EverQuest Next, we accomplished incredible feats that astonished industry insiders. Unfortunately, as we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn’t fun. We know you have high standards when it comes to Norrath and we do too. In final review, we had to face the fact that EverQuest Next would not meet the expectations we – and all of you – have for the worlds of Norrath.

The future of the EverQuest franchise as a whole is important to us here at Daybreak. EverQuest in all its forms is near and dear to our hearts. EverQuest and EverQuest II are going strong. Rest assured that our passion to grow the world of EverQuest remains undiminished.

Yours truly,

Russell Shanks

President, Daybreak Games[/su_expand]

The reasons for failure are many.

  • Losing Dave Georgeson, Steve Danuser, and the heart of SOE to form Daybreak was the day EverQuest Next officially died.
  • EverQuest (Next) Landmark and EverQuest Next brand confusion and crossover were a huge detriment to development and brand hype.
  • EverQuest Landmark’s failure foretold EverQuest Next’s failure. The same team worked on both titles.
  • Omeed Dariani and embracing the Twitch mentality destroyed the early days of EQ Next’s marketing hype and building a MMORPG community.
  • Destructible environments aren’t necessary and are indicative of a phased and ‘reset-able’ world. Voxels and tech demos aren’t what true MMORPG gamers want. We don’t need the gimmicks. We’re looking for substance and heart.
  • “Dynamic” events will never, ever, yield a world that feels immersive.

EverQuest Next was always treated as a tech demo. They weren’t talking about the heart and soul of the game, but always focusing on the superficial surface. They weren’t talking about the gameplay. We saw tech ideas and voxels. We were fed teaspoons of information about Landmark like it was supposed to make any sense at all. Every time they brought up Landmark and Next — even a few days ago in the video I just watched of them sitting in a conference room — it was this weird disjointed and awkward conversation of how the two would make sense together. Reality: They never did, and never would.

Just like you can’t take a huge budget and ridiculous themepark ideas and throw them together expecting a successful AAA launch, you can’t take an idea based in technology with zero gameplay vision and expect the successor to EverQuest.

Some people are praising them for trying something “bold.” I’m shaking my head wondering why they were so foolish. The recipe for success never included they ingredients they were tossing into this one. Oh well.

Hopefully the team working on the game can at least be assigned elsewhere and stay employed, and the people who were overseeing the project and came up with the foundation will learn from their mistakes and move forward making something better. Hint: Not H1Z1.

I’ll continue to support EverQuest. I am an EverQuest fanboy at heart, and will continue to actively play EverQuest. My subscription is current, and I am enjoying Kunark on the Phinigel server.

8

“I haven’t seen that in a decade…”

Had an interesting experience in EverQuest last night. I was healing the Unrest Fireplace on my Halfling Cleric and everything was going as you might expect. We had two rangers, a rogue, a mage, a shaman and me. Obviously with no tank things can get dicey, but being EverQuest people are typically a little more careful. Bad pulls still happen like the one we had last night. Puller brought in way too many ghouls and skeletons from the top floor and we ended being being rooted all over the place with no CC.

I found myself having to take a few hits, which is typically not a problem for a plate-wearing healer, but it can only last so long. I noticed the tank (the ranger with better gear) was rooted, so I ran over to him for him to be able to peel the mobs off me. He did, we lived, and all was well. I then received quite a shock: The tank was praising me for how well the fight went saying he hasn’t seen a healer run to the tank for over 10 years, and how I managed to maintain my mana pool with no gear (my cleric’s gear sucks) was a shock to him. I received a few other praises and we continued on for a few more hours.

Nothing I did was particularly worthy of praise. I used the right heals on the right people at the right time. I knew the mobs and what they were capable of, so I wasn’t healing people who had a mob I knew they could tank on them while someone else was risking death. I moved where I needed to be to let the classes do their job. I played correctly.

Their reaction stuck with me. I think they reacted the way they did because people, for the most part, aren’t used to games where people need to think. Modern games tell us where to move (out of the red circles) and UI mods tell us what to heal — or we have infinite mana and just mass heal everyone. Most groups in most games can just AOE everything down and death is unheard of while leveling up.

Playing my class well mattered last night. I liked that feeling. The praise was nice too, but it was knowing I was good at what I did and that very fact influenced what we were capable of doing as a team. I’d like to see that matter more these days.

4

EverQuest Main Theme Piano Cover Arranged By My Wife

My wife has been on a roll with these video game arrangements. This time she arranged a version of my absolute all-time favorite song from any video game: EverQuest’s Main Theme.

[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://youtu.be/cNWmlGt_xQY” width=”700″ rel=”no” wmode=”transparent”][/su_youtube_advanced]

I told her to take the original EverQuest midi theme and put her own personal twist on it. Now you have to realize, she has never played EverQuest. She knows it’s my favorite game, and she knows I certainly play a lot and tell her all about it, but she doesn’t have the same emotional ties to the game like I do. That said, I think she nailed the sense of adventure and feel behind the game. Makes me want to go play right now! 😀

Subscribe to her Musical Bri Youtube channel and let her know what you think. If you have any requests, she reads these comments and will be happy to add your game to her list. I think I’ll get her to arrange The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind theme next!

12

Adventure Log Update on Games I’m Playing

I’m slacking hard on blogging. Honest truth here is that I have a lot of games I’m enjoying right now. So let’s dive into an adventure log update!

Keen’s Adventure Log, stardate 2/10/2016.

Final Fantasy Explorers

I’m really drawn into FFE. Graev and I are having a good time taking out Eidolons and building up our characters. This is one of those weird situations where I know there’s no story, I know there’s not true ‘end’ to the game. Things just end when I feel like I’ve gotten the most out of making a character and I want to quit. I’m playing a Dark Knight right now, but I think I want to switch over to Red Mage. Something about chain casting and doing more magic with a balanced sword-wielding class seems fun. I’d feel more useful and less one-trick pony, though a DK’s one trick is to do a ton of damage.

A few of you asked about multiplayer. The multiplayer work where you turn on multiplayer mode in your singleplayer game. You then can choose local co-op or multiplayer co-op. You can make a room and have others join it, or join someone else’s room. These are like lobbies. You can password your room and let your friends join — that’s what we do.

Albion Online Closed Beta InviteAlbion Online

Really, really falling hard for Albion Online. Despite so much about the game being centered around GvG combat and taking territories, I find myself harvesting and crafting. What I’m worried about is the benefit of zerging. Zergs will win everything. Zergs will control the map, and despite it being huge it’ll still be that way. Zergs will feed crafters and outperform a solo crafter, or even a crafter backed by a group of friends or group of 10-15. It’s all about numbers.

The more I play, the more I realize there’s still a ton left to do to fix the balance. I think the devs know this. For example, crafting really is borked. To truly master one line of crafting would take like 2 years, but to get that far in combat takes 2 months. While needing to make crafting easier, they can’t make it something anything can just do on the side, otherwise they’ve ruined crafting. The entire game hinges upon how they balance this out. Please, PLEASE, get this right.

I’m about to upgrade my house and add more laborers. I’ll write up on those sometime here soon.

EverQuest

Every day I come home from work, go to the gym, and then log into EverQuest. It’s my routine. I think to myself, “I’m going to get a group and play!” Then I can’t find a group for 20-30 minutes. I get frustrated. I log off. None of this changes my desire to group. I -WANT- to group. I’m playing a Cleric FFS… It must be my schedule. I’m trying to play around 5:30pm Pacific time. Am I too late? Too early? It’s becoming frustrating enough that soon I’ll come home and go straight to Albion Online or FFE.

3

EverQuest Upping EXP Rates for Progression Servers

everquest-phinigel-xp-rates-up

Daybreak announced the details of the upcoming February EverQUest update. Most notably, experience rates are going to improve.

So, Experience Is Better?

Yes. After this patch, the overall experience gains on Phinigel, Ragefire, and Lockjaw will be better, while making leveling up via fueling Lokar To`Biath’s alcoholism or Xelha Nevagon’s coleoptericide less effective.

Ragefire and Lockjaw experience will still be slower than live servers, but faster than Phinigel.

The references to alcoholism and coleoptericide are for quest turn-ins. People have been amassing quest turn-in items and finding it’s faster to shoot up in levels by buying your way than playing your war. Clearly not in the spirit of EverQuest, unless we’re talking about belts.

I won’t complain about the increase to exp. Although I’m definitely not among the group who feels the exp is unplayably slow, I do wish I could get a little bit more progress each night in order to make my pre-kunark goals. I know one of my friends felt less inclined to log in because of the exp rates — that’s exactly the opposite experience Daybreak wants people to have, though it does make me curious to see their profit maximization calculations for potion sales vs the subscriber curve.

My fingers are crossed that this change will make finding a group easier. That’s really all I care about.

17

The Effects of an Aging Player Population

The bulk of EverQuest’s current population has to be 30+. EQ originally came out in 1999, and I was 15 years old. I’m now 31 years old, and I can remember even back then that most players were older. That was back when MMOs weren’t even MMOs. That terminology didn’t even exist back when EQ first originally launched. We were still toying with what to call these online graphic DikuMUD things.

Now, 16 years later, on a niche game running niche rulesets with a specific niche holdout community, it’s not farfetched to think the average player has to be older. What does that mean for the community?

Maturity & Civility

You would think so, but really people are still immature asses. The “barrens chat” isn’t at a high school or college level; instead it’s about social security. People are still idiots. The people who would have been the offenders 16 years ago, or on a modern MMO, are the same type of people they are even when older. Camps are stolen, scams are run, intentional training runs rampant, etc. People are people.

Playtimes

Here’s an interesting one. I’ve been complaining about getting groups lately, and I didn’t stop to think about why it may be such an issue. I play at prime time when I get home from work. If everyone is my age or older, we all have full time jobs, spouses, kids, etc., in a higher concentration than most newer games. No wonder it’s difficult, right? 95% of the population all wants a group at the exact same time I do.

I’ve seen on more than one occasion people saying that the server is dead in the mornings and you can practically get whatever camp you want. Well that makes sense. I also have noticed firsthand how in the 7:30-8:00pm range that suddenly a lot of people all have to log off — bed time? Yep, that’s when I usually let my groups know I need a replacement.

Economics

EverQuest operates on the usual $15/month subscription, at least for the progression servers. However, Krono and in-game potions/boosts are common too. I keep seeing so many people uses potions and the Krono market is definitely a regular part of the economy beyond what I would have expected for a niche game. Why? Again, the average player has a job. We aren’t starving college students or teenagers begging our parents for cash anymore. Most people just buy what they want, when they want it. This absolutely plays a part in EverQuest.

Design Choices

Although pretty much nonexistent in terms of developing or designing the game since we’re just playing an old game anyway, I have to wonder if (hopefully) Daybreak games makes their decisions knowing their players are older. In H1Z1 they push hoodies and gimmicks. In EQ they push nostalgia and convenience. Why does this server exist anyway? To relive the past.

I do wonder what MMOs as a whole would be like if everyone was older and the average player’s age was closer to 40. The choices devs make to capture the 40 year old vs. the 18-24 year old would certainly make MMORPGs different. Just something to think about this Monday morning as you sit at work waiting to get home and play. 😉

6

Phinigel Server’s First Month

We are coming up on the 30 day monthiversary of Phinigel’s launch! Time flies when you’re having fun, and I have certainly enjoyed myself while playing two characters and grouping regularly with friends.

I want to take inventory on where I’m at with my characters, some of the experiences I’ve had on the server, and detail some of the challenges I am currently facing on Phinigel.

Characters on Phinigel

Fragglemancer the Necromancer -> Level 30

I really, really enjoy the Necro class. Necro was what I played mostly back in the classic era of EverQuest, and returning to my roots has been great. This class has proven far more useful than it ever was back in 1999 due to the arsenal of spells given to the class throughout leveling. Necro DPS feels very high.

I feel welcome in groups and useful on many levels. I can charm undead to create a pet with astounding DPS, or use the charm as a form of CC. I can snare, obliterate undead with special nukes, fear, aggro wipe, and even tank far longer than most people can because I can lifetap my HP back up.

Nurtz the Cleric -> Level 10 (almost)

I always wanted a Cleric, and this has been my opportunity to dabble in that dream. I love healing. I have main’ed a healing class in many MMOs both hardcore raiding, casual grouping, and even competitive PvP. I enjoy the role of support. Clerics in EverQuest come with amazing buffs, fantastic healing (I like spike heals), and some fun support tools as well. Overall, juts a fun class that I plan to take to the max level.

Phinigel Server

The server itself has had an interesting go of things.

Community

Compared to Ragefire, this experience has been heaps better. The community is, overall, more friendly and more in-line with a community feel. I do not feel like I playing against the community whereas on Ragefire I felt like everything was a competition. Ragefire created animosity with boxers, guilds fighting for spawns, etc. Here things seem much more relaxed.

Class Balancing and Changes

One of my early gripes which has mostly been alleviating by simple acceptance is that of class balance changes. My class (necro) was nerfed on launch day. I have come to terms with this, realizing that it simply means I do not solo as much but instead focus on grouping. While I’m really perfectly fine with this, I will address later why it is my biggest frustration.

Economy

The economy is slow to start, but that’s a good thing — I think. Prices are fluctuating weirdly, but deals can be had. I see the Stein of Moggok going from 150pp early in the day, up to 350pp during primetime. Overall, Kronos are far less prevalent. Ragefire was all Krono, all the time. I see a few adverts in chat, but mostly it’s the occasional 1 krono for 1650pp. That may start to change now that the 30 day mark is upon us tomorrow. Personally, I’m wearing no items except for the Ancient Croc sleeves. I don’t plan to enter the Krono market until Kunark.

Double XP Weekends

We’ve had two great double xp weekends, and those were a welcome site for someone with my shorter play sessions. I might have 2 hours on a week day to play, but sometimes not even back to back.If you recall, XP on Phinigel is about 1/3 of what it was on Ragefire. The double exp allowed me to join groups and gain a level or even two levels and feel like I made massive accomplishments.

Instancing & Picks

Most or all of the “end-game” content can be “instanced” for the first time. This means that the guild drama and competing against each other in the community has been alleviated. I question the motives some people have when they come to the Phinigel posts on the community forum and say things like, “How’s instancequest? I’m playing the real EverQuest on X server…” It’s like they have to justify their existence. Then I see them say, “We’re “earning” our gear over here on X server.” Huh. Well, have fun with that.

Population

The server is very much alive. There are regularly 7 picks of LGuk, 4-5 of Unrest, and regularly people out exping in the less common places like SRO crocs. Chat channels regularly have 400-500 people in them each. My class channel for Necromancer is actually increasing in population over the past 2 weeks.

My Frustrations with Phinigel

Can’t Find Groups

There are thousands of people playing. There are plenty of picks and even more capable of opening for zones that fill up. Yet, for whatever reason, I am struggling in a big way to find a group during my play times. This wasn’t an issue up until this past week. I come online with 2 hours to play, start LFG tag, advertise in the appropriate channels, and nothing. Groups are there. Zones are packed. People are online. I can’t decide if it’s a lack of people with initiative to form groups, or if new picks aren’t actually opening, or what.

I see easily 10 groups worth of people LFG every time and nothing. To those who would say, “start your own group,” I have to push back and point out that starting a group would probably take most of my time leaving me with having only formed a group and never had the opportunity to play.

I know that this could all be an issue of level. I’m level 30. I’m too high for Unrest and too low for the core of LGuk. I’m in the transitionary phase between major grouping locations. I may just have to persevere.

Can’t Solo Well Either

Okay, so I’ll just solo then. Well, since Necros were nerfed that has become a bit of a challenge. Sure, I can solo blues. I’ll play for three hours and gain maybe 1/20th of what I would have gained in a group (which is already 1/3 of what I would have gained on another server). On Ragefire I would easily solo on my Mage, and watch with envy as Necros pulled off things I could only dream about doing. Not really the case here. Most of this is also due to my level. I’m level 30. Too low for Hill Giants (which are camped anyway) and too high for most of the nice soloable 20 stuff.

The Future of Phinigel

I’m going strong. The frustrations can all be alleviated by a few well-timed good groups. We have a good group or 4 (if we can all manage to play together). I like my class(es). The server ruleset is right where I want it to be. I just have to hold on for two more months when Kunark comes and the options blow wide open.

While Kunark is a bright spot in my future, I still have goals for the next two months:

  • Reach level 50 on my Necro and level 30 on my Cleric
  • Obtain decent gear on my Necro without buying Krono (things like Harvest, Stein, a Robe of Ishva or better, etc)
  • Find a way to earn plat (which would help with obtaining the gear)

Having a MMORPG to play where these goals feel like they are hefty and will take effort is nice; a nice change from the past year.

9

The Best Games of 2015

Unlike most years, 2015 was jam-packed with amazing games. In fact, there were simply too many amazing games for the average gamer to play them all. What a marvelous problem to have after so many years of needing to come up with a reason to like more than one or two games. I could simply list off the big releases and call it a day — for that check out our 2015 Holiday Buyer’s Guide for Gamers — but instead I’m going to cite a few of the games that made my own personal gaming time special in 2015. These are my most memorable games. So let’s call this a list of ‘the best games of 2015 for ME.’

ac syndicate

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

[su_button url=”https://www.keenandgraev.com/2015/12/17/assassins-creed-syndicate-review” target=”blank” style=”flat”  icon=”icon: gamepad”]Read our Review[/su_button]

The AC franchise hit a home run this year with Syndicate. So many quality-of-life improvements went into refining the experience of traversing the world, and the beginnings of customization system that makes sense are starting to emerge. The story was intriguing and the side missions worth doing — overall not a dull moment. My wife, who doesn’t normally go for the violent games at all, was very interested in the presentation and setting, along with the interesting story points. Playing together was a ton of fun as we completed nearly everything there was to do in the game.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Play Sets

Disney Infinity 3.0

[su_button url=”https://www.keenandgraev.com/tag/disney-infinity” target=”blank” style=”flat”  icon=”icon: gamepad”]Read Our Reviews[/su_button]

The toys-to-life genre exploded in 2015. I could have easily put Skylanders on this list, and perhaps LEGO Dimension will be once I get to playing it (see the end of this post) but I decided to go with Disney Infinity 3.0 because of how much the presentation and stories captured my interest. Being able to play through the familiar Star Wars settings was a blast, and I like how each one has a slightly different take or another angle to go along with the main story we all know. I enjoyed making a little youtube series following my progress through the first playset (Twilight of the Republic). I have plans to do the same here very soon for Rise Against the Empire and the brand new Force Awakens playsets that just released.

splatoon-combat

Splatoon

[su_button url=”https://www.keenandgraev.com/2015/06/02/splatoon-review” target=”blank” style=”flat”  icon=”icon: gamepad”]Read our Review[/su_button]

Nintendo’s first real foray into online shooters did not disappoint. Splatoon was a breath of innovative fresh air. The inking system, weapons, and presentation were all very enjoyable. Nintendo’s constant stream of updates, especially in the first two months, made each week exciting to see what new maps, weapons, and outfits were added. Nintendo captures the spirit of gaming in Splatoon, and honestly that can be said for the other great games they released this year like Mario Maker.

EQ Classic Ragefire Server

EverQuest

Why is this on my list you ask? Why do I keep bringing up a game that is nearly 20 years old? Because I put over 280 hours into the game in 2015, and gave the company who made it almost as much money as I gave to Disney and Nintendo.  Both Ragefire and now Phinigel have given me more MMORPG enjoyment than I’ve had in years. People used to love to sling the “if you love it so much why don’t you go back and play it” line at me. Well, I did. And guess what? It’s awesome. Still going strong on Phinigel.

The Backlog is Real

Now I should note here that I still have a backlog I’m working through, and several games on my Christmas List. Here are just a FEW of the games I still need to play, which could have easily been on this list had I been able to get to them.

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X – Wii U
  • LEGO Dimensions
  • Just Cause 3
  • Legacy of the Void
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Witcher 3 (potentially, though I haven’t played 1 or 2)
  • Fallout 4 (Have to finish it)

Did I forget any games I should have mentioned in my backlog that you haven’t seen me cover before? Should I be adding more to my backlog? Let me know what you think were the best games of 2015.

4

Double XP Weekend on Phinigel

We had a really fun weekend on the Phinigel EverQuest “True Box” Progression Server this weekend. Daybreak turned on double experience, even on progression servers, allowing us to propel ourselves forward at a little more reasonable rate. If you recall, experience on Phinigel is 66% slower than Ragefire and Lockjaw servers. Doubling the exp brought things a little closer to what they were on the other servers which is crazy since this weekend it felt like exp was absolutely flying. Discussions of experience gain always throw me into a catch-22.

EverQuest, for me, is entirely about the journey. I could not care any less about the end-game or raiding or my end-game gear, etc. I enjoy grouping, gaining experience, the challenges, and the world. All of that resonates with me in ways no other game can. Then double XP comes along and I’m loving how it accelerates the leveling process.  Wait, aren’t those two things on opposing ends of my enjoyment? I know, hence my catch-22. I think I like how it allows me to push characters has a rut or into new areas. People in general seem to be a little more focused on working together to take advantage of the XP gains, so groups are aplenty.

I ended up getting my Necromancer to level 19, and my Cleric was able to reach level 6 (almost 7) thanks to a few crushbone belts from my friend. So despite the fact that some people have already killed the dragons on this server (yes, it has been up for just over a week) and are decked out in amazing gear, I’m enjoying myself in the Estate of Unrest killing the undead while leveling up at a now snails pace thanks for having to work on the last day of the XP bonus.

There are about 10 weeks until Kunark comes out. I think that should be enough time to get 50, or close to it.

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