An “Open Dialogue” Regarding Forum Moderation

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

As visitors to the #EQ2Wire chatroom or the EQ2 Subreddit know – which I have to admit is growing on me — I was “permanently suspended” from the EQ2 Forums two nights ago. To date, the exact reason why I was banned has not been forthcoming. After two days of mayhem, a “Free Feldon” campaign (thanks guys!), and additional suspensions, SOE Community Manager Tony “RadarX” Jones has posted a thread today encouraging players to sidestep the “thou shalt not discuss moderation” rule and confess their sins.

Besides a brief statement, at this point I’m choosing to opt out of the discussion and would remind anyone considering responding that you always take a risk of losing not just your access to the forums, but also your access to EverQuest II and you beloved characters. Is it really worth such a high cost? Here is my response to the thread:

It seems my “permanent suspension” has been miraculously undone. To date, the specific criteria with which I was judged to be in breach of the forum rules has not been elucidated to me. I’m not sure it matters anymore. If I want to talk to the developers, I know how to reach them, and if players want to talk to me, they know how to reach me. I’d rather not further distract from the forum discussions which really should be focused on Kander’s new article on the Rum Cellar update and a glimpse at what’s coming later this year.

As for this “open dialogue” thread, I’m going to give the same advice I would give anyone entering a casino:

  • Never bet anything you can’t afford to lose (your access to play EQ2)
  • Never forget that the House always wins.
  • If you’re not a gambler, then heed the advice of Admiral Akbar.

Storybricks Shuts Down After 5 Years

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

NOTE: No news specific to EverQuest II in this article…

storybricks

After trying to launch their own RPG on Kickstarter, Storybricks evolved into a middleware/tools developer for game studios such as Sony Online Entertainment. Chief among those tools was a powerful user-generated content system that would allow players to build dungeons, populate enemies, and then give those enemies behaviors, desires, and drives that would make a completely dynamic simulation that would be different every time.

For EverQuest Next, Dave Georgeson and John Smedley each talked about how expensive content design for MMORPGs is and how no company, no matter how well-funded, can keep up with the insatiable demand that players have for content. The silver bullet for this was apparently a partnership and licensing agreement with Storybricks. Instead of individually populating and scripting NPCs, giving them walking paths, adding specific quests, etc. Storybricks would allow players and designers alike to take a more high-level approach. A player-designer would establish an area that’s hospitable to Orcs by laying out the terrain, plant life, animals, and other creature, and then Orcs would just show up of their own accord. And as players interacted with the content, they might scare those Orcs away and see them pickup and move to some other place. If there’s one thing SOE seemed hell-bent on with EverQuest Next, it was putting a stake through the heart of static content.

Kotaku: Five Things I Didn’t Get About Making Video Games (Until I Did It)

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

NOTE: No EQ2-specific news/commentary in this article.

Kotaku has an interesting article from Anthony Burch who used to write for Destructoid and then at Gearbox Software. He reflects on the perception of game design from the outside vs. the reality of being on the inside and why there is such a gulf between the two. I know as I’ve learned more about game development and the maddening complexity of it, I’ve tried to dial back my own vitriol to something a bit more reasonable.

Before I joined Gearbox Software, I worked at Destructoid as a features editor. I worked there from 2006 to 2010 and specialized in highlighting indie games and spewing vitriol at big-budget games I didn’t like. It turns out there were a shitload of things I didn’t know about games development.

I was an atrocious blogger so I’m probably just speaking more to my personal ignorance during that time than anything else, but jeez is everything about game development more complicated and difficult than I thought.

Continue reading at Kotaku…

Daybreak President John Smedley Responds to Article

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

Not surprisingly, my article “Daybreak Games: It Didn’t Have to Be This Way” received a lukewarm response from its subject, Daybreak President John Smedley.

After exchanging a few candid e-mails with him, I’m able to release this comment:

We absolutely made sure that taking care of our employees was the highest priority and this deal was by far and away the one that took care of people the best.

It is absolutely true that Columbus Nova honored severance packages for those who were laid off and so salaried employees have time to find a new job, most with several months not including unemployment. CN could have reduced or eliminated this program as part of the deal but they did not. Mostly, Smedley feels that whoever I spoke to about the quantity and suitability of the buyout deals mentioned, specifically why Columbus Nova was chosen, doesn’t have all the facts.

Also since the publication of the article, I’ve heard from several players of PWE games that were skeptical about the rosy optimism. Specifically unlock boxes and cash shops and how their Customer Service is structured. PWE supports its developers, but was it a good fit for Daybreak’s games? We’ll never know.

Opinion on Daybreak Games: It Didn’t Have To Be This Way

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

sony_online_entertainment_sign

UPDATE: SOE President John Smedley has responded to this post.


The day has arrived that I’ve been dreading since I heard the first rumors. Layoffs have befallen Daybreak Games, affecting H1Z1, Planetside 2, EQNext/Landmark, EverQuest, and EverQuest II. The Community Relations team was one of the hardest hit, with Brasse, Amnerys, Ashlanne, Hats, and Afista all let go. We haven’t confirmed any other layoffs in any other department such as QA, CS, Platform, Web, etc.

I have to hand it to the EQ2 team who has pulled together as a family over the last week in the face of such terrible questions as “What content could you do with 10 people?” The EQ2 team isn’t as large as in the Kunark days, yet it continues to release Game Updates throughout the year plus an annual Expansion. The team puts in crazy hours to try to deliver what players want and I can only dream of what they could do with more staff. When they heard the news, and in the face of crippling uncertainty, the team started collecting notes on what they’d been working on so that the people left wouldn’t be totally screwed. They did this without prompting and it’s a sign of how strong the team is.

Former Planetside 2 Producer David Carey Shares Thoughts on ColumbusNova

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

From former Planetside 2 producer David Carey on Planetside 2′s Reddit:

Hey guys,

I came on to say goodbye to you guys (at least in my current role, prepare for lurking), but after scanning the front page I wanted to change the flavor of the post a bit.

Columbus Nova deserves no hate in all this. They are more like white knights than negative forces here. SOE needed a shake up/new direction, and CN provided that. They have done nothing but been gracious in their new ownership, and they went out of their way to make sure that Devs and support teams that got laid off were taken care of. Right now things seem shitty, and of course for the folks that were let go, today was rough, but CN and DB were both very open about the need for restructuring. This wasn’t a surprise to folks in the company.

Gaming is a tough industry, and not for everyone. I’ve seen lots of people come and go, both good and otherwise. The fact is, there are no (or at least, extremely few) permanent gaming jobs. If you want to have just one job in your career, don’t pick gaming, or even computer software. It’s just the nature of the beast in such a pioneering industry. But the flip side is that there is always a new opportunity awaiting, it just may require a move to a new location or some other sacrifice.

Most of the let go folks will be working in the gaming industry soon. The rest may decide to move on to other, less volatile lines of work. But no one I talked to regrets their time making games for folks to enjoy. It’s a rare job that lets you bring pleasure to so many people’s lives.

Back to the subject – if you guys feel angry or betrayed, it would be misdirected to place that at the feet of the new company. They didn’t bring in new staff to replace us, or say we did a shitty job and treat us poorly – they looked at the bottom line and the numbers just didn’t line up. The new layout lines up now, and the goal is that DB can be successful and move on from this and eventually expand again. Saying “I’m cancelling my sub” or “I’m never buying another thing in PS2″ isn’t the right tactic, as much as the former Devs appreciate the intent of your support. If you want to make a positive impact, then keep doing what you’re doing – if you like the game, play it. Give feedback. Get your friends to play. Buy what you want to, and what you feel gives you value. If you aren’t happy, tell DB through the means you do now, social media and /bug reports. The game will grow or shrink depending on how you guys act, which is how it should be. If you make a statement on principal for the dearly departed devs, you will be hurting the remaining staff who have worked just as hard to make you guys a game you like to play. They may not be all names you know, but trust me, they put their blood, sweat, and tears into this.

TL;DR – CN didn’t do this, it was something that had to be done. CN is providing a chance for the games you love to continue going

-David C, former PS2 Producer

Edit: Ugh seeing the ‘former dev’ post header brought things home; I’ll miss you and your well-meaning pitchforks :-(

SOE Wasting No Time Rebranding as Daybreak Games

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

On one hand, SOE is wasting no time rebranding themselves as Daybreak Games. They’ve already renamed a number of Twitter accounts and their general forums. On the other hand, the company does not yet have a new logo design, as otherwise I’d have shared it with you. That’s not stopping maintenance from taking down an SOE sign that I stood in front of just 6 months ago…

sony_online_entertainment_sign

SOE Daybreak Games president John Smedley took to twitter to provide some answers to the most common requests he’s been getting by e-mail:

answering a few questions people have emailed me

1) All our games are still up and will continue to be despite our new name.

2) Yes, we want to bring our games to Xbox One in addition to PS4.

3) Station Cash doesn’t change at all (though we will be rebranding it soon here).

4) We’re still making Everquest Next :) nothing has changed.

Speaking of logos…

Massively Shutdown is Official — End of an Era

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

twinsuns

Massively‘s Editor-in-Chief Brianna Royce has posted an extremely candid response about the closure of Massively after 10 years in operation, and despite 40% growth in readership last year. The number of sites that critically review MMORPGs in an unbiased way could already be counted on one hand and now we’ve lost the biggest and the best. It’s the end of an institution as they say, and once again AOL, the company that shouldn’t even exist anymore, continues to be a cancer on the internet community, destroying everything in its path.

I have sad news for the Massively staff and community today, news most of you already knew was coming.

This week, we learned our AOL overlords have decided that they no longer wish to be in the enthusiast blog business and are shutting all of them down. This mass-sunset includes decade-old gaming journalism icon Joystiq, and therefore, it includes us. February 3rd, 2015, will be the final day of operation for Massively-that-was.

I would like to be able to tell you truthfully that this is an equitable and just decision that makes some sort of logical sense, but the reality is that our overlords’ decisions have always been unfathomable. I know more of what I know about corporate from reading tech and finance news than through my own job. We all suspected this was coming eventually a year ago when a VP whose name I don’t even know and who never read our site chose to reward our staggering, hard-won 40% year-over-year page view growth by… hacking our budget in half. There’s nothing to do in the face of that kind of logic but throw your hands in the air. It’s not about merit or lack thereof, and it’s not about journalism or gaming being dead or anything grand like that, so there’s no point in taking it personally.

Not So Massively: Joystiq Finds Out They Are Being Shut Down

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

If you’ve grown tired of media conglomerates buying out smaller sites that cover the Products and News that you care about then shuttering them shortly thereafter, you may want to look away.

massively-logo-print

The folks running MMO powerhouse Massively and its parent company Joystiq, found out today through sites like Re/Code and Kotaku that AOL plans to shutter their sites in the near future. Editor Alexander Sliwinski was put in the extraordinary position of posting a “no comment” in reaction to the news. To some, the most shocking news out of all this may be that AOL still exists, but for most of us, the number of gaming sites still actively covering MMOs especially EverQuest II continues to dwindle so any loss is of concern.

From Kotaku‘s article:

AOL is preparing to shut down the video game website Joystiq after over ten years of publication, according to people familiar with the situation. It’s unclear exactly when Joystiq will close, but we’ve heard that this is connected to a larger-scale reorganization planned by AOL, the longrunning media company that has had more than a few struggles in recent years.

When I spoke to him yesterday, Joystiq editor-in-chief Ludwig Kietzmann declined to comment on this story, but this morning, Joystiq reported that they were “aware of the closure,” despite the fact that AOL corporate had not informed the staff.

Last week, the AOL-owned TechCrunch reported that their parent company was planning a restructure that would lead to layoffs and site closures. Though TechCrunch didn’t offer specifics on which sites AOL would be closing, the report did mention that Joystiq‘s traffic had declined by 18% in the last year.

Continue reading @ Kotaku…

Opinion: Is Altar of Malice Too Hard?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

climbing_cliff

Challenge and depth are the spices that keep players coming back to EverQuest II despite the popularity of mass market MMOs like World of Warcraft, and the allure of expertly marketed glitzy new MMOs that are all appetizer and no entree.

However while Tears of Veeshan seemed to strike a good balance of difficulty and progression, the overwhelming feedback on the forums, in chat channels, and in my personal experience so far for Altar of Malice is that the EQ2 team overshot on difficulty and rarity.

I group 2-4 hours per week in a casual guild. We didn’t just jump into the Tears of Veeshan group content on day one and clear it all. It took time to learn the scripts and earn the gear needed to progress. Dominion required a raid-geared tank and two healers for the longest time. Today, I still do not have fully gemmed Potent gear, let alone Overclocked gear or all the purple adornments and heroic gear I wanted out of Tears of Veeshan.

Obvious: Altar of Malice Early Access Requires All Access Sub

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, Expansion News

altarofmalice_tranquilsea2

This may seem self-evident, but playing the Altar of Malice expansion these next two weeks (November 11-24) prior to the widespread release is a thank you given to All Access subscribers for their continued support. Free-to-Play users will be able to buy and start playing Altar of Malice on November 25, 2014.

If you are currently All Access, bought Altar of Malice, and let your All Access subscription expire during the early access, you will be booted to Antonica and not able to access expansion zones until November 25th!

My opinion: It would not be fair for people who renewed their All Access just to buy Altar of Malice to then it lapse but keep playing.

What Do You Think of Fabled Deathtoll?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, Game Updates & Maintenance, Itemization, Raiding

It’s been just over a week since Fabled Deathtoll, a level 95 x4 raid zone opened in Norrath. While the zone and enemies may be familiar territory for Kingdom of Sky veterans, the boss battle strategies have gained a few twists. But perhaps most surprising about this revisited zone is the way loot is awarded. The EQ2 team seem to tried out several new approaches, and so far, the response has been mixed.

Instead of the typical drops off each named, certain names drop one-use recipe books that create powerful items. Other enemies drop new cyan-colored adornments. I won’t try to parse the entire structure of how loot works in the zone, but the official Fabled Deathtoll thread met an untimely end as the tenor of the feedback did not amuse the EQ2 moderation team.

The thread got a number of responses from the EQ2 design team. Indeed, just before the thread was closed, it earned this response from Kander pointing the way towards a number of corrective changes, some of which have already been patched into the game:

Editorial: Why SOE Should Reconsider Its “No Remote Positions” Policy

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

RemoteControl

Sony Online Entertainment has a rocky history with third parties. Whether the responsibilities weren’t well-defined, the contracts were not clear, or these companies grossly oversold their capabilities, we’ve seen example after example of relationships with external companies which have not paid off for SOE or for their customers.

  • LiveGamer — SOE contracted with this company to allow EQ2 players to buy and sell in-game items, currency, and characters. Controversially, the change was forced onto existing non-LG servers. Also, contacting LG customer service was always a gamble. The program was not successful and the partnership was dissolved to pave the way for Free-to-Play.
  • AFK Interactive — SOE hired this relative newcomer to mobile app development to develop an EverQuest II Mobile app for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. The app barely worked, requiring repeated logins every few seconds, and was extremely limited in the quantity and quality of information displayed. The app stopped working altogether shortly thereafter. AFK Interactive is now defunct.
  • HP Print-On-Demand — SOE heard the call from players to make Posters and Art Prints available of some of the incredible concept art and artwork endemic to SOE’s games. To this end, SOE partnered up with HP to provide a print-on-demand service. However the poster choices never grew beyond a small pool, and the website went offline within a year.

After the jump, more partnerships, and a possible solution!

Veteran Rewards Recalculated to Account Start Dates, Regardless of Subscription

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

“Is nothing sacred?”

In an unexpected (and undocumented) change today, it appears that players are now receiving Veteran Rewards from their account’s opening date, rather than actual time played as it has been calculated for many years now.

This means that players who rolled a character in November 2004 and have not played a lick since may stand up and be counted along with those who have been actively supporting the game for 10 years, dutifully paying a monthly subscription. It’s a puzzling change to be sure, and the motivation may have been a genuine hope to attract returning players, but it seems to this reader as ill-considered as selling Titles on the Veteran Reward vendor which were originally granted for defeating specific event-related enemies.

John Smedley Takes to Reddit to Answer Questions, Teases New MMO Property

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

SOE President John Smedley skipped SOE’s traditional communication streams and took to Reddit tonight to participate in one of their popular Ask Me Anything livechats to answer candid questions about today’s announcements about All Access, the sunsetting of four SOE games, and more.

When asked what we can expect from SOE this year, we got:

Everquest Next Landmark will launch…. we have expansions for EQ and EQ2 and an unannounced MMO that we’re working on.

Wait… what? A new MMO?

completely new IP. The data is on the interwebs.. someone just has to find it.

SWG PLAYERS – OUR NEXT GAME (not announced yet) IS DEDICATED TO YOU. Once we launch it… you can come home now.

When asked about EQNext, Smedley confirmed my suspicions that we won’t see it until 2015:

not sure yet. Likely sometime next year.

SOE Sunsetting Vanguard, FreeRealms, Clone Wars Adventures, Wizardry Online

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

The Sony Online Entertainment belt-tightening continues, with the announced shuttering of the following games:

  • FreeRealms – March 31, 2014
  • Clone Wars Adventures – March 31, 2014
  • Wizardry Online – July 31, 2014
  • Vanguard – July 31, 2014

As Clone Wars and Wizardry Online were the intellectual property of other companies, LucasArts (since purchased by Disney) and Gamepot respectively, so there may have been some contractual reason for these games to end. Also, the Clone Wars show went off the air this year.

Vanguard has a long troubled history that included substance abuse, parking lot firings, and copious drama which can be uncovered in the scantest of Google searches. But as a game, it had brilliant ideas, yet never had the chance to spread its wings as a reincarnation of EQ’s fabled difficulty with EQ2 graphics. Vanguard players must surely be feeling whiplash as the game had been left abandoned, then seemingly out of the blue had seen active development over the last couple of years, with a shelved pre-launch raid zone finally being opened just last week.  Read Vanguard’s Sunset announcement.

NOTE: It is our understanding that there are NO layoffs in response to this announcement, and that the few folks who worked on these games within SOE are being reassigned to other projects.

After the jump, some thoughts on FreeRealms…

EQNext Landmark: Will Monetizing Everything Leave Room for an In-Game Economy?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

33

NOTE: No EQ2 News. Just a little bit of cross-promotion of EQNWire.

EQNWire.com has checked in today with a speculative critique of the upcoming EQNext Landmark and its all-encompassing implementation of Player Studio. According to PC Gamer’s recent interview with Dave Georgeson, SOE will be looking to recoup its staggering development investment in EQNext as soon as servers are up. But if a price tag can be put on everything players create, will an in-game economy have any chance against players flush with cash?

Op Ed: Will Monetizing Everything Leave Room for an In-Game Economy for EQNL? @ EQNWire

EQ2 Gold, All Access to Get Rewards Instead of Free StationCash

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, Game Updates & Maintenance

An announcement intended for tomorrow morning briefly appeared in the EQ2 Forums RSS feed and then vanished, however a few players brought it to our attention. As you likely know, EverQuest II Gold and SOE All Access accounts currently receive a monthly allowance of 500 StationCash.

Starting the first week of February 2014, in lieu of this StationCash allotment, all recurring Gold and All Access customers will be able to login to EverQuest II and buy one item (up to a value of 2,000SC) per month for FREE. If you are All Access, you’ll also be able to login to EQ, Planetside 2, and DCUO and get something similar.

Who will see this as a Bad Change – Players hoping to continue stockpiling StationCash for EQNext or EQNLandmark, or buy plat will likely see this as unwelcome news. This also impacts players who tend to buy small items, rather than a single large items. The most desirable items — Service items like server transfers, AoD features, and 280 AA baubles, will likely be excluded.

Who will see this as a Good Change? – Players who use their free StationCash to buy items off the Marketplace will likely see this as a nice change and significant premium over the standard Gold subscription.

UPDATE: The official announcement has been posted on the EQ2 Forums

EQ2 Talk #73 – Santa Kander is Coming to Talk

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

Dellmon and Aliscious have conducted a great post-launch interview with Kyle “Kander” Vallée about EQ2′s recent Tears of Veeshan expansion, talking about what worked and what didn’t, and sharing a few tidbits of the future. Our illustrious host Dellmon’s protestations that he shall never reforge nor adorn do wear a bit, but it’s nonetheless a fantastic interview worth listening to if you wish to hear the thought processes behind the expansion, as well as a look at EQ2′s coming months.

As for prescient sneak peaks within the interview, look for more raid content, a fabled Kingdom of Sky zone (level 95 Sanctum of Scaleborn please?), and PvP/Battleground fixes are all on the way, with at least some of this landing as early as January. Kyle also took a moment to share his appreciation for EQ2Wire and our coverage of the expansion. He was generous in his comments and I was a bit stunned to say the least.

No doubt many of you are no doubt driving or flying to and from visits with family over the holidays, so go ahead and grab a download! From EQ2Talk.com:

eq2talklogo

EQ2 Talk welcomes back Kyle “Kander” Vallée, EQ2 lead designer! Kander helps take the mystery out of some of the itemization changes that happened in game with the Tears of Veeshan expansion. He touches on the team’s goals for changes to healers, best in slot items, new content and some of the mechanics changes. He also gives us a vague hint at what we can expect in the near future.

Click here to listen to Episode 73

Opinion: The New StationCash Reality — The End of Double and Triple SC?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, StationCash

StationCash_ecommerce_finance

As we’ve discussed in the past, Sony Online Entertainment got itself into a huge pickle with their unintentional devaluation of their StationCash currency. An overeager Marketing Dept held numerous Double and Triple StationCash promotions which devalued much of the StationCash entering SOE’s economy to just 1/4 of its value.  This created an untenable situation and at SOE Live, SmokeJumper was heard to say ”We were losing our shirts”.

Compound this with the fact that Walmart demands special incentives from their vendors to carry product. The popular 1500 StationCash cards with 500 SC bonus further amplified the devaluation effects.

We are just speculating at this point, but we’re going to call August 2013′s Best Buy Double StationCash deal to be SOE’s last such weekend. This is frustrating due to how few locations bothered to stock the cards.

At this point, EQ2Wire is predicting that Double and Triple StationCash deals are a thing of the past and we will not see them return.

Point of Need: Revival of the Revive Button

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, Game Updates & Maintenance

Anything can change in Beta, but at least right now on Tears of Veeshan beta, a new “Point of Need” option is being tested in the Revive window:

revive_point_of_need

The large “Revive Instantly!” text and  Double Up icon at the bottom of the window ONLY APPEAR when the player selects the small yellow “Revive Instantly!” text within the list of revive spawn points. In last year’s Chains of Eternity beta, I believe this feature was much more “in your face” as I recall the large double arrow icon and text appearing at all times.

At SOE Live 2012 in the Business of EverQuest Franchise panel, Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson talked about how Point of Need features could be a financial boon to SOE without being nearly as obtrusive as the paywalls of other Free-to-Play games. This Revive feature seems to build on existing Point-of-Need features including Researching spells and, more recently, Map Travel.

EQ2Wire Asks

What do you think of the new Revive Instantly feature? Is it still obtrusive or has a reasonable compromise been struck?

Rothgar, Autenil Join SOE, WoW, PoxNora Alums at Startup – Molten Games

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

NOTE: No EQ2 News.

molten-games

A few weeks ago, Joshua “Autenil” Kriegshauser, tweeted that it was his last night at SOE. Josh worked on EverQuest II for many years, dabbling in different SOE games but always contributing to EQ2. He also helped launch Clone Wars Adventures.

Just 5 days later, Greg “Rothgar” Spence, lead (or one of the chief) programmer for EverQuest Next and EverQuest Next Landmark followed up on Facebook:

Today is a special day because it’s my 7-year anniversary of being employed at SOE. This job has been a life-changer. The people I’ve met, both co-workers and players from the community have affected me in more ways than I could describe. I’ve learned so much from a professional standpoint and grown to love the community behind our games like family. I’ve made friendships that will last forever and I’ll never be able to give back as much as I’ve taken from these experiences.

Diablo III to Ditch Auction House — A Cautionary Tale about Fully Tradeable Fabled/Mythical Gear?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

It’s a slow EQ2 news week, and an interesting article came up about Diablo III, a game whose Auction house aligns with a desire expressed by a small but vocal group of EverQuest II players: Fully tradeable Fabled/Mythical raid drops, sellable on the broker.

So what’s the verdict? Effective March 2014, Blizzard will be phasing out their Gold and Real Money Transaction Auction Houses. The video their lead designers have released (and which I have embedded below) leaves no doubt about how the Auction house was impacting Diablo III…

From Ars Technica:

The blog post and embedded video note that Diablo 3‘s Auction House was originally designed to provide a place for players to simply trade items. However, the system quickly took on a life of its own, becoming the preferred way to acquire epic and legendary items with the class-specific stats that each of the games’ classes needed to slay more demons. Diablo 3 Game Director Josh Mosqueira noted that the Auction House “short-circuited [the] core reward loop” of Diablo 3, replacing monster drops as the primary way the vast majority of players acquired new gear.

After the jump, Josh’s further thoughts, and I address why SLR is not an all-or-nothing affair…

The Book Closes on Another SOE Live

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

The curtain has gone down on another Grand Banquet, and just a few panels left to go due to the extended SOE Live schedule this year, it’s hard to believe that another event has come and gone so quickly! Every year things seem to go faster, with barely time for a breath.

There are a few panels today for those folks who aren’t East coast or who are staying Sunday night) including EverQuest Next Writer‘s panel, Channeler feedback panel (naturally there will be more feedback taken in the Tears of Veeshan beta forums) and the EverQuest II Q&A panel. I imagine these panels will be lightly attended, but hopefully videos will be taken and posted! As I am on the East coast of the US these days, I’m heading out before some of those panels even get under way.

I saw so many EQ2 players this weekend, had a tremendous time talking about and answering questions about EQ2U at our Data panel, and just really enjoyed the weekend. It was fantastic to meet Aliscious of EQ2Talk, Arabel and Maergoth of Equilibrium, Striinger, Yadrizzle, Afista, Dedith of Dragon’s Armory, Chuina (Chad) and Tannlin of the new EverCast show, and so many others, as well as catching up with old friends like Leko, Dellmon, Cyliena, Atan, Jethal, and so many others that I should be remembering (Email me!) .It was also great to catch up with devs from the EQ2 and EQNext teams.

EQ2 Impressions

I’m really happy to see a lot of good decisions going forward on the EQ2 team, I liked the Mechanics and Itemization panels a lot, and really other than the Insta-85 thing (which I talked to Holly about), things are looking good for EQ2.

One thing I was blown away by with EQ2, which will be explained further when I post the Art & Animation panel video, is that the work of Alex (GermInUSA), who is a graphics programming wizard from the early console days, is now finally going to bear fruit. If you have watched past Art & Animation videos about EverQuest II, you know that building a large exterior zone takes weeks if not MONTHS. This is due to the archaic tools available which follow EQ2′s design rules. Also the tools have prevented things like blending multiple textures together to make a smooth transition from a dirt path to rocks at the side of the road, up to hardier terrain. Right now this is extremely arduous.

Demoed at the Art & Animation panel, EQ2′s new Terrain Editor allowed the creation of a large island zone in 10 HOURS. The zone was much more intricate and detailed, flora and landscape elements just looked so much better, and significantly improved pathing is built in as well. No more NPCs and characters flipping around at odd angles as non-flat surfaces are encountered. It was truly amazing and I can’t say enough about it. In the past, the Design team has had to ask the Art team for new zones 6-9 months in advance. Now, we’ll see zones rapidly prototyped and iterated so much faster that who knows, there might even be some time to goose up some older zones which are interesting lorewise but visually dull (like Thundering Steppes).

NOTE: Nobody said they are redoing any zone!! It was just given as an example of a zone built early on that could look so much more awesome.

So I’m signing off for now and will start crunching videos tomorrow! Seriously!

Heroic Characters: Insta-Level 85 for Free, for Any Player (No Previous Experience Required) — Sept 15

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

Tonight’s EverQuest II keynote here at SOE Live included the revelation that Heroic Characters are coming to EQ2. I’m not against this idea, as the writing has been on the wall for insta-level 90 or 85 to come to EQ2 sooner or later. Due to multiple gear revamps plus Mercs, I feel that EverQuest II is a solo tutorial from level 1-89, and then the ‘real’ game starts at level 90.

However the unsettling part of this announcement was that people would be able to create their FIRST character as a level 85 with full Legendary gear, spells, a chunk of AAs, and have those AAs automatically spent for them with Character Advancement Templates.

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