Sentinel’s Fate Situation Improves

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News, International

Since our exposé on the lack of options for anyone outside the continental United States to order the EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate expansion, it seems we stirred up a hornet’s nest behind the scenes, causing the resolution of at least  some of the issues facing EverQuest II customers.

We are now able to report that BestBuy.com has corrected its release date to February 16th, Amazon.com is now offering shipping outside the U.S., and Amazon.ca is now offering Sentinel’s Fate for sale directly to Canadian customers. We are still awaiting word of the selection of one or more international distributors.

The official news from Marketing posted on the EQ2 forums by Kiara (who has been repeatedly and completely unjustly thrown under the bus on this issue):

Update from sales regarding shipping from Amazon, Best Buy, and GameStop:

Amazon.com – Amazon will have all the information fixed by Friday AM.  They will also have all the shipping options spelled out for both International and N.A. customers.  Players will be able to choose an option for release date delivery in the continental U.S.  International customers will have the ability to get the expansion day one but that all depends on how early the order is placed and willingness to pay shipping costs.  They are also working with Amazon to start shipping on the February 9th to get to international players on day one and working with Amazon Canada to have release day delivery.

Best Buy.com – Best buy has added the pre-order button and put the 16th as the date of release.  They will have the site perfect by Thursday night.  They do not guarantee same day delivery; but like Amazon, they may start shipping on the 10th to hit houses on the 16th.  They are working with Best Buy to on this.

GameStop – They know they need to add more information for our customers and will do so ASAP.  Also GameStop Canada is going to be ready for this release.  They just put the GameStop Canadian site up yesterday.

When I have further word on international distributors, I’ll pass that along as well.  There currently is no updated information on how those discussions are working out.

SOE are apparently in talks with 2 international distributors and looking at options to make sure that Sentinel’s Fate is available locally in countries outside the U.S.

SOE Marketing Dept. Largest Roadblock to EQ2 Marketing?

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

EQ2Wire has been trying to get some answers about the EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate Pre-Order for the past 2 1/2 weeks.

We contacted the SOE PR department with a detailed list of questions. We received an e-mail which quoted the Press Release but which did not answer any of our submitted questions.

We sent an e-mail to SOE President John Smedley on November 19th with those same concerns and additional questions. At present, we have received no response to this e-mail.

Where do we Stand?

Going into December 2009, just where do American, North American (Canada, Mexico), and International customers stand with regards to the EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate expansion Pre-Order?

The answer: Left out in the cold.

Amazon.com

preorderdebacle_amazon001

preorderdebacle_amazon002

BestBuy.com

preorderdebacle_bestbuy001

GameStop.com

preorderdebacle_gamestop001

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of where we stand right now:

  • Amazon.com is listing a Release Date of February 16, 2010 and will not ship until February 15. With standard shipping, Amazon.com is estimating an arrival date of February 22-24, 2010.
  • Amazon.com refuses to ship the expansion outside of the U.S.
  • BestBuy.com is listing a Release Date of February 17, 2010 and will not ship until February 16. With standard shipping, BestBuy.com is estimating an arrival date as late as February 23, 2010.
  • BestBuy.com doesn’t even have box art for the expansion yet.
  • GameStop.com is listing a Release Date of February 16, 2010 and will not ship until February 15. With standard shipping, GameStop.com is estimating an arrival date of February 22-24, 2010.
  • GameStop.com is inexplicably limiting the number of EverQuest II: Collector’s Edition sets to 2 per household.

If you want to know where you can pre-order EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate Collector’s Edition (whether you live in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, or Asia) and receive it on February 16th, 2010, without spending $100~140, the answer is NOWHERE. If you want to buy 3 copies of the Collector’s Edition, then none of those 3 retailers will be able to help you, no matter how much money you offer.

Make no mistake folks, the Release Date, Street Date, Ship Dates, pricing, and regional shipping authorization are all determined by the SOE Marketing Department. Their complete failure to manage this situation and have an International Distributor selected before announcing this Pre-Order is a farce.

There has still been no explanation for why the game is not available from BestBuy.CA (serving Canada), Amazon.co.UK, Amazon.DE, Amazon.FR, etc.

So far, all polite, constructive attempts to contact SOE Marketing have failed. They are the division of SOE which seems the most insulated from the public (no Facebook or Twitter pages, rarely post on the SOE Forums), and yet seem to be the division that most needs to hear the public’s feedback.

At this point, it seems the biggest roadblock to customers being able to buy EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate in a timely fashion, are the SOE Marketing Dept.

International Distribution?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News, International

Kiara has posted the following update regarding SoE’s efforts to locate one or more international distributors for EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate.

Answers!  Not all the answers that everyone wants, naturally, but definitely better than nothing, for certain.

1)  The coupon in the retail box for the $10 in the Station Store is for the DD version of SF only.  Good for folks with more than one account or for those who want to gift to a friend to get them into the game.

2)  Still waiting on the lists of where Amazon and GameStop will ship.  Sharp sticks have been employed in the poking phase of “Can we please have this?”

3)  Best news for last!  I don’t have details and couldn’t release them even if I did… However, our sales team is speaking with a couple of publishers and trying to work out details of international distribution.  As soon as we have the deals signed, we’ll make sure to give you the details on this.

Thank you all very much for your patience with all of this as we try to smooth out wrinkles and get you the information you need.

EQ2Wire deduced that SoE were “between distributors” when international retail storefronts listed and then de-listed the expansion. When questioned, they reported that they had “no source” to order the product. EQ2Wire will keep you updated on further news as we hear it.

EQ2: The International Strategy

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

courtesy American.com

EQ2Wire is working on a story covering the overseas marketing and distribution strategy for EverQuest II’s sixth expansion — EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate.

While there have been some concerns expressed on the EQ2 Forums regarding the 7-day headstart release strategy of Sentinel’s Fate from American customers (specifically within the 48 contiguous states with guaranteed arrival by February 16, 2010), specifically from American customers who have traditionally purchased the Digital Download, this has been nothing compared to the outcry from hundreds of international EverQuest II customers.

According to the EQ2Players Announcement, the only means for EQ2 players outside of the United States to acquire either the retail box($39.99), or Collector’s Edition retail box ($69.99) and play the expansion on release day, is to purchase the game from an American retailer (Amazon.com or GameStop.com), including shipping and import duties, and gamble that the parcel will arrive in time.

Including import duties, shipping cost, VAT, and the currency exchange rate, international customers are expecting to pay upwards of $80 for the expansion, or $130 for the Collector’s Edition, with no guarantee that the box will arrive by February 16th, 2010.

Due to a breakdown in communication, Amazon.com refuses to ship the expansion outside of the United States, leaving GameStop.com as the only international option. Further breakdown in communication has resulted in BestBuy.com not offering the product at all — even to domestic customers.

EQ2Wire would like to know why EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate is not available for purchase from international online retailers, especially from suppliers with which SoE already has a business relationship. For example BestBuy.ca (Canada), Amazon.co.uk (UK), Amazon.de (Germany), EBGames.com.au (Australia).

Follow the discussion on EQ2 Forums: [pre-order discussion] [7 day headstart discussion]

EQ2Wire is providing SoE an opportunity to respond to these concerns and we’ll get back to you as soon as we hear from them.

~EQ2Wire~

Scrying Sentinel’s Fate

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News

If the EQ2 team are trying to keep the secrets of February’s expansion Sentinel’s Fate under wraps, they might want to avoid sending out data files containing Sentinel’s Fate textures and zone art with the EQ2 Patcher. We’re not even in Beta yet (expected sometime in December) :)

If you wish to remain ignorant about Sentinel’s Fate a bit longer and you’d rather be surprised in February, then don’t click:

Sentinel’s Fate, Fan Faire Attendees, and International

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News, International

The news is coming quickly about EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate’s new Retail strategy.

Kiara brings us this:

Fan Faire attendees with accounts in good standing will receive a complimentary digital copy of the retail version.  You will have the early access and items associated with the retail version of the game.

We’re looking into Best Buy not having the listing yet.

Amazon and GameStop are shipping overseas.  I’m trying to get a list of the countries that will be shipped to.  Retail boxes ordered online and shipped, SHOULD be shipped in time to arrive on release day to allow people to take advantage of the early access.

In response to concerns that Amazon.com does not currently offer International shipping, and that Amazon.co.uk does not yet carry this expansion Kiara followed up:

This is being looked into.  The agreement is very specific that GameStop and Amazon will be shipping overseas.

Please let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater juuuuuust yet.  Also, since we won’t be shipping until February, we’ve got a little time to work this all out with our distributors.

Additionally, retail boxes **should** be shipped in time for people to have them on release day if they pre-ordered, rather than waiting a week to get it.

Street Dates

The issue is that retailers, both online and stores, are scared sh*tless about breaking Street Dates. They’ve faced huge fines and browbeatings by Microsoft, Electronic Arts, etc.

The important part here, is for CLEAR communication between SoE Marketing and the retailers that there IS NO STREET DATE and that boxes should be shipped as soon as they are ready.

EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate Trailer & Screen Shots

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News

You can now watch the EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate Teaser Trailer at EQ2 Zam:

and you can check out some EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate screen snapshots as well:

To find more information about EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate, you can check out EQ2Wire’s recently updated Fan Faire News Rollup with all the information about the expansion.

From watching the trailer, we’ve also learned the Sentinel’s Fate will contain:

  • 4,000 new items
  • 400 Quests
  • 5 Heritage Quests

EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate Pre-Order

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News, International

sentinels_fate_boxart
EverQuest II: Sentinel’s Fate

Getting a jump on the holiday season (and a full 100 days before its official launch), the EverQuest II Sentinel’s Fate expansion has been made available for pre-order!!

The most remarkable part of this announcement is the extraordinary measures being taken to get EverQuest II back onto Retail shelves and getting retailers to take the game seriously. With Sentinel’s Fate, it is now clear that the preferred version of EverQuest II will be the retail Collector’s Edition. Not only with in-box and in-game exclusive items, but the release schedule. The Retail version will be available fully 1 week before the Digital Download.

This is a ballsy move and one which will likely be greeted with some skepticism and anger. But many players have been clamoring for better retail presence of EverQuest II. Part of this is the in-box rewards, but perhaps a bigger part is that new players are more likely to come to the game if retail boxes are present. And I believe that having the digital download available on the same day as the retail version was, no doubt, a great demotivator to retailers to bother providing retail space or ordering sufficient boxes.

Now our spotlight rests squarely on the SoE Marketing Department. This is make-or-break time for them. They’ve let us down with the confusing Rise of Kunark pre-order Burynai reward, and they stumbled in providing Best Buy with the incorrect street date for The Shadow Odyssey. All eyes now rest on them to make Sentinel’s Fate a successful launch available to the widest possible audience of players in North America and worldwide.

They have a great opportunity here to surprise players and get EverQuest II back in stores and solve the availability problems we’ve faced in the past few years. Specifically, we will also be watching to see if there are any issues for International customers wishing to purchase EverQuest II as there have been in past years.

They say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog, and I’m not ready to concede to WoW. Hopefully SoE isn’t either.


From EQ2Players.com:

Sentinel’s Fate will be available for pre-order beginning on Thursday, November 12, 2009! Sentinel’s Fate will be a compilation pack, containing the previous five expansions and three adventure packs. Sentinel’s Fate is EverQuest II’s sixth expansion, and marks the return of Odus to Norrath. New and veteran players alike will find tons of new content for all playstyles to explore.. More information about this newest addition to the EQII universe will be revealed in the months to come at EQ2Players.

All versions, both retail and digital download come with the compilation all-in-one game. This includes the following expansions: Desert of Flames, Kingdom of Sky, Echoes of Faydwer, Rise of Kunark, The Shadow Odyssey, Sentinel’s Fate; and the following Adventure Packs: The Bloodline Chronicles, The Splitpaw Saga, and Fallen Dynasty.

Retail Pre-order: $39.99 The retail box may be pre-ordered starting on Nov. 12th, 2009. It will include the following:

  • Seven day headstart access starting on February 16, 2009
  • 500 Station Cash
  • LoN Fall of Erudin scenario
  • 30 days free play time for new accounts
  • In-box Item: $10.00 coupon for Digital Download from the Station Store
  • In-game armor piece – Guarding of the Reasoned
Retail Only Collector’s Edition Pre-order:$69.99 The Collector’s Edition retail box may be pre-ordered starting on Nov. 12th, 2009. It will include the following:

  • Seven day headstart access starting on February 16, 2009
  • 500 Station Cash
  • LoN Fall of Erudin scenario
  • 30 days free play time for new accounts
  • In-box Item: $10.00 coupon for Digital Download from the Station Store
  • In-box Item: Armored Highland Stalker figurine
  • In-box Item: EverCracked! The Phenomenon of EverQuest DVD Documentary
  • In-game armor piece – Guarding of the Reasoned
  • In-game mount – Armored Highland Stalker
Digital Download:$39.99 There is no pre-order for the digital download. This will be available for purchase through the Station Store, D2D, and Steam. It will include the following:

  • 500 Station Cash
  • LoN Fall of Erudin scenario
  • 30 days free play time for new accounts
  • In-game armor piece – Guarding of the Learned

The retail pre-order may be obtained solely through North American retailers: Best Buy, GameStop and Amazon. You may pre-order through these retailers online. International players wishing to order a retail box may purchase through GameStop and Amazon and have their box shipped.

Retail Pre-Order Links:

Links from BestBuy.com are forthcoming as their website has not yet been updated.

The New Player Experience

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Expansion News

On the EQ2 Forums, some discussion has sparked about the planned push to get EQ2 in retail stores and improve the experience for new players. I authored a post that I thought might be worth repeating.

What is the Experience for New Players right now?

  1. Visit a half dozen retailers and not find any copies of EQ2 except maybe a dingy old cobwebby copy of Kunark priced $50. Let’s say you do manage to find a recent copy of EQ2 and take it home. You dutifully install 11GB of data off two DVDs. Then you fire it up and find out you have to download another 3GB of data because the DVDs are hopelessly out of date. A 1-2 hour process for most users.

OR…

  1. Thinking you’re smart, you do the DirectDrive or Station Launcher digital download. Well sonny, now you’re talking 11GB of data off the internet. A 6-12 hour download for most users.
  2. Once you’re done with that, it’s time to go to Station.com, register an account, enter credit card info, enter the product key off a sticker inside the box, and finally fire up the game and start playing right?
  3. Chances are most user’s graphic drivers need updating. So let’s do that.
  4. After 2-14 hours of frustration, you finally get to start playing EQ2.

Not exactly a great Customer Experience! And I think SoE has realized that this has to change. Especially if the expansion adds another 2 GB of data. EQ2 is not picking up new players at a rate that I think SoE would like to see.

It’s almost impossible to find EQ2 in stores, and if you decide to download it, you’re talking 6-12 hours download. And even if you do buy the retail box, it’s so hopelessly out of date that you will spend another 1-2 hours downloading updates. Not a pretty picture, and it’s a wonder EQ2 is picking up new players.

So what is the New Player Experience?

Jedi as a choice on the EQ2 character creation screen? NO!!

For new players who want to get a taste of EQ2, the new Streaming Client currently being tested and  expecting to be officially launched in the next few weeks allows new players to start playing EQ2 in as little as 15 minutes. The Streaming Client has a list of prioritized downloads. It starts with the basic character models and armor, then the starting zones, then works its way through the content the user is most likely to see, in order of likely priority. If the player tries to jump straight to a zone that’s not loaded, it takes a couple of minutes to download and then they can proceed.

Also, for existing players, let’s say Game Update 55 has come out. But you don’t want to wait for Halas or any of the other new content to download. Let’s say you’re late for the raid and just want to get logged in. You’ll be able to just do the brief update and stream the rest of the updates in the background. Game Updates should no longer mean a mandatory 30-45 minute download.

And the second prong of the New Player Experience is deals with retailers to get them to carry EQ2 and to have it in stores on expansion day. It’s no secret that the retail strategy so far with EQ2 has pretty much been a fiasco, with players scrambling to find boxes just to get the in-game pet or in-game mount, and coming up short because retailers just plain didn’t get the message.

The first step in all this is the EQ2 Complete Collection in stores now for $20 which has everything up to TSO. I expect more announcements in the run up to the expansion.

Do a Little Dance, Run a Couple Quests

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Art, Appearance, Housing, Expansion News, Game Updates & Maintenance

EQ2 Producer Brenlo has Twittered a couple of interesting sneak peaks into the future of EQ2.

New Dance Moves

First up, if you’ve been thinking that what Barbarians really need is some new dance moves, you might enjoy this new video. No word on when we can expect Guitar Hero: EverQuest edition. :)

New Barbarian dance on YouTube

You can safely infer that since this dance is specific to male Barbarians, that EQ2 is getting a bunch of new dances unique to male and female members of each race. I wonder if they will all be pop culture references. :)

Quest Helper

And if you have been longing for the Quest Helper window that other MMOs have been enjoying, you’ll be thrilled to know that a Quest Helper is now coming to EQ2 as well. Check out all those stacked up quests on the right side.

quest_helper

It is unknown if this will be part of Game Update 54 or Game Update 55/Sentinel’s Fate in February.

Speaking of Game Update 54, it should be going on Test Server soon enough, and we’ll have those notes for you as soon as possible.

Game Update 54 Tradeskill Goodness

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News, Game Updates & Maintenance, Tradeskill

Domino brings us some tradeskill news from Game Update 54, expected in November:

I wanted to take a minute to let you know that with the next game update (54) which we should see before Christmas, there will be an additional set of daily missions in each of the 3 Kunark factions that tradeskillers can assist (Bathezid’s Watch, Riliss, and Danak).

They aren’t anything fancy, they’re very similar to the daily missions in Grobb, Tupta, and Firmroot moot – same type of tasks, and about the same amount of time.  There are 4 per faction and they’ll rotate on a daily basis; you can therefore do 1 quest per faction per day if you wish (they do not detract from your standing with other factions, unlike Grobb/Tupta).  Like the existing writs, you won’t be able to exceed 30,000 faction by doing these, but as long as you’re below that faction, you’ll be able to do the new missions.

The exact amount of faction awarded may be tweaked once the quests are on Test server and I get feedback, but the current plan is likely to be between 1000-2000 per mission.  The existing quests for these factions will not change at all; when the update arrives on your server, you’ll just notice a new questgiver near the existing writgiver, who offers the new stuff (assuming you meet the prerequisites and don’t have too high a faction – just like the writs).

Hope that answers any questions, and I’m sure there will be more details available once the quests are available on Test server.  I don’t have a date for this, it will probably be a while still, but keep an eye on the Test Update forum for details!

Zehl Ice-Fire of Unrest logged in and noticed that those handy Frostfell Shopping Bags had swelled to 45 slots. Domino provided further news on the subject of bag space issues, specifically:

Rothgar & team have indeed worked their magic, and bigger strong boxes will now be possible with the coming expansion.

You may already be aware that both handcrafted and mastercrafted strongboxes at level 80 have a maximum 36 slots of storage. So perhaps we’ll see handcrafted and mastercrafted strong boxes have a size progression in the expansion. :)

Transmuting Feedback Wanted

Written by Feldon on . Posted in DGC Wants Feedback, Expansion News, Tradeskill

We’re now less than 6 months from EverQuest II’s  Sentinel’s Fate expansion and Domino, EQ2 Tradeskill Developer, is starting to dig deep into Transmuting. If you’d like to see her preliminary ideas and give feedback on the EQ2 Forums, you should check out the EQ2 Tradeskill forums.

And here’s a completely unrelated Fan Faire photo:

IMG_2555-dominofeldon

Race Changes, VP Scaling, and Tokens Oh My

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Art, Appearance, Housing, Expansion News, Itemization, Raiding

Here are some less concrete things that were discussed at Fan Faire.

Race change is something a LOT of people are asking for. EQ2 devs asked for a show of hands of how many people would like this feature and half the room raised their hands. It IS being looked at. Yes, there was some resistance for lore reasons, and betrayal/alignment/quest issues are substantial, but it’s certainly possible with enough development time. The amount of money they’d make off this would more than make up for it. You can scratch “never” out of your vocabulary for this one.

Heck, they said after their database hardware upgrade which is happening right now, they may reconsider number of character slots. Each character we create takes up a massive amount of data but it’s under consideration.

Initially, I got the impression that VP would “scale”. Now, I am not so sure. I think they might still be in the conceptual stage on this. Epic and Mythical weapons will stay level 80. The unique effects of the Mythical weapon will be usable perhaps as a clickable item, charm, or mythical slot, but it will not be your primary weapon at level 90 as the green and blue stats will be scaled down 33% or more.

T9 will have a new token system similar to how void shards work to get armor. I do not think they will be doing level scaling dungeons in the new expansion like they did in TSO. It didn’t really work out as far as getting level 55-70 players to play the content — the rewards just weren’t there and the encounters too difficult. Something tells me that trying to close the grey shard farming hole has gone to the back burner. I mean really, the horse has already  left the barn on that one. With the delay of the expansion, the focus is on improving the live game, all while looking forward to the expansion. There is a lot of content still to come this year in Gu53, Gu54 (of which nothing was revealed) and Gu55 (Halas and a new EQ2 Trial).

I hope everyone realizes that none of this is set in stone. I’m not going to try to nail down developers a year from now for everything said at a Fan Faire. If you want the “facts and figures” go read my other post. ;)

Fan Faire 2009 EQ2 News Rollup

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Art, Appearance, Housing, Commentary, Expansion News, Game Updates & Maintenance, Grouping, Itemization, Raiding, Tradeskill

I present the EverQuest II Expansion & Game Update News from Fan Faire in a rollup post. This is partly based on the Fan Faire 2009 Consolidated News by Kalyyn. I started with Kalyyn’s great writeup and have built upon it, adding dozens of new details and minor corrections based on everything I observed at the 2009 Fan Faire EQ2 event in Las Vegas.

I’ve archived the individual news posts I submitted over the weekend. If you still want to read them, they’re [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

And now, without further ado, my writeup of EQ2′s future in 2009 and 2010. UPDATED AS OF JANUARY 29, 2010:


EverQuest II Expansion: Sentinel’s Fate

  • EQ2: Sentinel’s Fate will be released on February 16, 2010.
  • SF will be based around the EQ1 continent of Odus and will cover Erudin, Paineel, and Ratonga lore. The void storyline will be ending with this expansion.
  • Adventure, Tradeskill, and Guild Level caps all increase to 90.
  • 2 large overland zones (Stonebrunt Mountains)
  • The Hole – a large level 82+ contested zone (similar to Sanctum of Scaleborn) with 3 wings, you spawn in the middle
  • 12 New Group Instances
  • Some existing TSO group instances will also be available in a T9 (level 80-90) version.
  • Guild Level increases to 90. New Guild Hall Amenities and Amenity Slots.
  • No new deities with expansion, nor will there be T9 solo deity quests.
  • Deity miracles may be reconsidered.
  • Group and raid zones will scale in difficulty (not adventure level). A choice will have to be made when pulling or fighting certain mobs that will set the encounter difficulty to easy, normal, or hard. The difficulty level will be set by the manner in which you start the encounter (i.e a boss may have a narrative, depending on your choice, you may get ‘easy mode’ where he sends his minions and escapes, or hard mode where you fight the boss himself)
  • AA cap to 250. New abilities are going to be added to the bottom of the Class (KoS)  and Subclass (EoF) AA Trees, below what is now the end abilities. Some of these endline abilities will be passive, triggering based on specific chains of other abilities being cast.
  • Mythical weapons will not be the ‘Number 1′ weapon, but will have another, important, use. It will be usable as a clicky item to get the unique class-defining abilities.
  • Grouping, Soloing, and Questing will all be viable leveling options.

Artwork-by-Mail, and StationCash

  • HP will be offering — through StationCash — high quality EQ2-related artwork (paintings of Antonia Bayle, Lucan, etc.) prints and eventually in-game items and prints of your character sent directly to your door. One being considered it a hardback book containing pictures of all of your guildmates.
  • The plan is to make it possible, in the future, to purchase expansion packs and new game keys through station cash.

Game Update 55 — Halas and Streaming Launcher

NOTE: Halas has slipped to Game Update 56 and the Streaming Launcher was made available in November.

Halas is being added as a good starting city in Gu55 to coincide with the release of the new expansion, Sentinel’s Fate. Gu55 will be a free download whether you choose to purchase the expansion or not.

The starting race has not been confirmed, but in EQ1 Halas was the home of the Barbarians.

Incidentially, this new area will be considerably streamlined and will be built out as the new EQ2 Trial. The existing EQ2 Trial is a massive download and really not that great a tool at recruiting new players. The new EQ2 Trial will be optimized for download size, will have streaming download, and will really act as a marketing tool for new players.

Extremely preliminary zone art was shown of the new Halas.

Who Gives a Crit

Critical damage stats including Spell, Melee, Ranged, and Heal are being merged into a single ‘Crit’ statistic. Each class will have a critical coefficient. So the same item will offer taunt and melee crit to a fighter, ranged crit to a ranger, and heal crit to a healer.

Double Attack and Ranged Double Attack are being combined into DA, with an appropriate coefficient as RDA is c0nsidered more powerful to a ranger than DA is to other scouts.

Resistance types are being streamlined down to just Noxious, Elemental, Arcane and Physical. Naming on items will not change for variety/lore reasons.

Gear Scaling

NOTE: Gear Scaling has been canceled.

Once considered for the Rise of Kunark, items will now scale down in effectiveness starting at Level 60, eventually “greying out” when the item is 10 levels below your adventure level. The effectiveness of such items will be reduced by 33% at 10 levels.

Legends of Norrath

Set 7 of the LoN cards, Storm Break, goes live on July 9th. This will be the final part of the void series. New loot cards include a cloak with a, once-per-day, clicky effect that completely repairs your gear.

Buffs

The number of buffs and casting time of buffs is being considered, especially for support and healer classes. Certain classes always use the same self-buffs and these may be consolidated.

Class Balance (Bards, Enchanters, Summoners)

Typical raid lineups currently include 3-4 illusionists, 1 coercer, 3-4 dirges, and a troubador. Yet they often do not offer ANY slot to summoners or druids.

Some Enchanter and Bard buffs will become raidwide or applicable to one person in each of the 4 groups. The example given was an illusionist giving Time Compression to one member of all 4 groups. Other buffs could go raidwide. This will be done in such way so that having 4 illusionists will not be a significant advantage over having 1 or 2.

Currently, Brigand “Dispatched” and other debuffs are crucial for raiding and some group situations. Meanwhile, Summoners are finding they rarely get a seat at the table. As a result, Rogue debuffs are being refocused to work on melee, while Summoners step into a new role of debuffing spell abilities.

Also, with regards to Rogues, Brigands and Swashbucklers each have irreplaceable abilities such that most raids have 1 of each. Some of these abilities will become common between the two classes so that any Rogue can be effective in raid situations.

Summoner pet survivability is going to be looked into. Dumbfire pets will now act like a spell with appropriate graphics, rather than being affected by AoEs. These pets will also do spell debuffs in line with Summoner’s new role as spell debuffers.

Class Balance (Druids)

It has been recognised that Heal-over-Time spells come way behind wards and reactives when dealing with large spike damage (mainly in a raid and the hardest heroic settings).

A new component is going to be added to Heal-Over-Time spells for Druids which will save up the heal after each tick if the target is at full health, and further, any leftover heal will transfer to the group member with the lowest health on expiration.

Tradeskill

Over 2000 new recipes for Tier 9.

No Rare Loams in Tier 9. Instead, Ore and Gems will be used to make Expert (Adept III) spells. Ore nodes will always respawn as ore nodes, gem nodes as gem nodes.

Would like to completely revamp Adornment system, but at the very least, new adornment recipes will be Transmuter-crafted only.

Players will be able to be a Tinkerer and Transmuter.

Shaders 3.0

NOTE: Shaders 3.0 will likely slip to Game Update 56.

EQ2 is getting a graphical facelift!

Shaders are small pieces of code which take the textures and apply an effect to them, providing  metallic appearances, glows, bump mapping, caustics (rust, decay), lighting effects, etc.

These are being upgraded from the ancient Shaders 1.0 to Shaders 3.0. Nearly any graphics card since GeForce 3 will be able to handle the new GPU Shaders. At higher resolutions, preliminary tests have shown that framerates stay largely the same. At lower resolutions, framerates of GPU shaders seem significantly improved.

This will not be a substantial download. Each shader is just a few kilobytes. So far, 3,000 shaders have been upgraded.

Nek Forest looks awesome now. The whole idea of a torch in the darkness, lighting up trees, rocks, and enemy mobs looks head-and-shoulders above the current “flat” pea soup grey haze and flat colors on everything.

When the EQ2 developers saw the first screenshots, they thought it was another game.

In addition, Flora Displacement which moved to the GPU last year will still get further performance tweaks (known issue on nVidia cards).

Finally, he’d like to move particles to the GPU but due to some  design decisions, some particles are tied to animations. Will have to go back and separate them out.

There is developer interest in a torch slot, so this is being considered.  Devs would also like to do High Dynamic Range (HDR) in a future update, but nothing is immediately planned.

Mob Designs

Expect several new mob designs with more robust animations. Some seriously funny, cool, and creative new mob designs and revamped appearances to some existing mobs.

* fighting pandas
* displacer beasts
* two headed giants
* stalagmites
* scarecrows

EQ2 Potpourri

It is known that emergency “Stun-and-Heal” is a real detriment to healers and is required for too many encounters. Will be reconsidered.

Rangers — Stream of Arrows will be changed to an AoE. Originally intended as a fill in between auto attacks, but auto attacks are so large now that using it reduces DPS output.

Although it is higher than intended, there are no immediate plans to adjust Auto Attack damage.

Bruisers/Coercers – Drag, thought snap are so overpowered we have to disable them or mobs are trivialized

Conjuror Mythical Pet – This pet is class-defining for Conjurors. However with the current mechanic, that pet would stop leveling at low-to-mid 80′s. Will look at this going forward.

Certain raid encounters will benefit from crowd control, giving enchanters another job besides power regen and buffs.

Will void shards have value in T9? No. A different token system is being used for T9 armor.

Guild Rally Flag - Can we have some means to find out where the guild rally flag is located? Some coding has already been done for this. Putting it in guild window would be somewhat wasteful for those guilds that don’t have this amenity (one of the most expensive amenities FYI), so considering hailing the strategist.

Illusions Driving You Crazy? – A change was made in GU52 that racial illusions pick a random appearance each time they are displayed. This applies to guild hall NPCs as well. Even the devs are annoyed at this change, so are investigating a Magic Mirror house item to set your illusion appearances, and a similar mechanism for guild hall NPCs. Also, some folks make frequent use of different illusions. Look for an Illusion Manager window.

NOTE: Game Update 54 added this Magic Mirror ability.

Smart Loot is being implemented over time. Lock boxes in Mistmyr already have mini-smart loot for each person that loots.

Harvester NPCs could auto-deposit in Harvest supply depot in the future.

More new Armor Appearances in EQ2:SF are coming than are currently in the game. Substantial new choices for mage appearances other than robes, such as tops, pants, etc.

Devs would like to add more mannequin types such as Ratonga mannequin.

Current tier upgrades are coming for Bone Clasped Girdle. Not so much for the bloodthirsty choker.

Out-of-Control Curing

It is recognized that Curing is perhaps getting out-of-control. Casting time of individual cure potions may be considered. In addition, certain detriments are getting different effects on them such that curing that detriment can be worse than leaving it, or may cause another detriment to trigger. The intention was never to stare at the Profit Cure bar the entire fight.


EverQuest II Game Updates & Features

These are features and updates announced at Fan Faire which are now present in EQ2:

  • AAXP Slider, when earning xp, you will be able to set a ratio that is earned as AA instead.
  • Automated Server Transfers will be available on the Station Marketplace for $25.
  • Buffs - Certain persistent buffs now persist through death.
  • Wizard “Rays of Disintegration” has been changed to single-cast spell, instead of causing all mages in the wizard’s group to stop all casting to cast this spell. Rays of Disintegration was very disruptive for Enchanters who must maintain a certain casting order and rhythm to do their jobs.
  • Quest Window received facelift. Namely side-by-side quest list and quest details.
  • Revamped Player Inspect window shows regular and appearance slots  and many more stats.
  • Daily Double and new Hot Zones are now shown in the Welcome Panel.
  • ACT Parsing – Gravitas, Chimes of Blades, and Cures (some healers spend their entire time curing but don’t show up on the heal parse) are now parsed in ACT.
  • The Lavastorm Elevator to WoE was fixed to continue to it’s destination.
  • Kelethin houses received a transparent window. The most expensive Maj’dul house received additional rooms and a skylight.  Kelethin, Neriak, Freeport, and Qeynos houses gained an additional room.
  • Auto-mentoring

Hail an NPC in one of the home cities and you will be able to mentor down in 5 level increments (20, 25, 30, 35, etc.) and complete quests, kill named encounters, etc. at the appropriate level. This does not require mentoring another person and will not offer the extra bonuses given to folks who naturally mentor one of their friends.

To prepare for this feature, a list of named mobs on long spawns in existing zones has already been assembled to have their timers tweaked. Also, low level contested zones will instance themselves (Sinking Sands 1, 2, 3, etc.) in case of large populations.

  • EQ2 Achievements

Similar to XBox Live, EQ2 is getting an Achievements system. The expansion will launch with 500-700 achievements. This will merge the old Slayer titles (kill 5,000 Orcs), plus adventurer titles (complete 20 Heritage Quests), and introduce new titles. For example, number of level 80 characters you have. Whether you defeated a dungeon/raid on the hardest difficulty, Going back and completing old zones while mentored, etc.

The Alternative Achievement system in EQ2 (currently 200 points) is officially being renamed to Alternate Advancement to avoid confusion.

  • Shard of Love & Miragul’s Planar Shard

In GU53 is Miragul’s Planar Shard, a raid zone which will use the new mechanic of difficulty scaling on certain bosses.

The Shard of Love — a casual group zone. The storyline for this zone will relate to Erolissi Marr.


There will be more commentary to come, but those are the salient points about the rest of 2009 as the EQ2 team takes some extra time balancing the live game before plunging into the expansion in February.

More Links!

Character and Enemy models and animation

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Art, Appearance, Housing, Expansion News

Some seriously funny, cool, and creative new mob designs and revamped appearances to some existing mobs. More interesting animations.

* fighting pandas
* displacer beasts
* two headed giants
* stalagmites
* scarecrows

Random illusion appearances driving you crazy? Looking at a possibly a Magic Mirror house item to save illusion setups.

Npcs only have about 50 animations.
Players have about 1,000 animations.

Kelethin houses will get a transparent window. Both Kelethin and Neriak houses will have more rooms.

Male ratongas with whiskers but without glasses? We’ll look into it.

Illusion picker UI to switch illusions in development.

Devs would like to add more mannequin choices ie ratonga.

More magic user clothing options is in production.

Fan Faire Day 1

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Expansion News

The comprehensive writeups on Fan Faire and the events and photos are always worth a read if you couldn’t make it. I admit I’m all about the details and the expansion news. I don’t try to cover the whole event as others do that better than I can… One writeup I want to mention is CompleteHeal. Calthine (great to meet her of course!) has a writeup at Zam as well.

I took some pics of the event last night, some general Fan Faire pics, and of course lots of pics from the EQ2Flames gathering last night. Hope to get them up soon. Meeting BigRon was cool as hell, as well as meeting a bunch of Saints of Norrath folks which is of course Lord Pantz’ guild. Oh, and Gage was there too. ;) Hell, he went up and talked to Aeralik who was out and about and nobody died. ;)

So what am I doing now? I’m logged in right now helping a guildie get their epic after betraying.

Gonna catch as many EQ2 panels as I can. Of course the big announcement will be tonight at 7 as far as the name of the expansion and then tomorrow from 4-6 will be the epic panels with nearly everyone from EQ2 telling us what’s coming and when. I know there is quite a bit a lot more content coming before the expansion.

If you caught this video at MMORPG.com, you know that there is some big news at Fan Faire with regards to Shaders 3.0 in EQ2. Namely boosting the look of the game and taking a lot more work off the CPU and putting it on the graphics card where it belongs. Already the new GPU shadows look awesome outdoors (indoors will require more work as I’m sure most instance zones lack point lights and use ambient light which doesn’t cast shadows). I will post some comments as soon as I see some side-by-side comparison screen shots.

If there is one awkward element to the event so far, I am kind of wondering why Bruce Ferguson is so publicly visible at Fan Faire, especially around EQ2 events. It’s clear that we’re moving in a different direction, so I guess I just don’t understand. I don’t have any ill will towards the guy, but he shepherded some decisions which are now being backed out of the game now. Maybe I’m overthinking it. :)

I’ll post more goodies about the future of EQ2 as soon as I have it…

SOE Trademarks Possible EverQuest & EverQuest II Expansions

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Expansion News

From Curse.com.


Through a bit of internet sleuthing we’ve discovered that recently, Sony Online Entertainment decided to trademark two new titles, one each for EverQuest and EverQuest II. The trademarks in question took place on June 10th, 2009 and are EverQuest Underfoot, and EverQuest II Sentinel’s Fate. While nothing is announced yet, there’s a good chance these two titles are the names of each game’s respective expansions.

So why would SOE do this? Well, they have the annual SOE Fanfaire coming up in a week, in which they’ll no doubt continue their recent tradition of announcing expansions for their flagship MMO titles, so ensuring the trademark was in place prior to the announcement is always crucial.

EverQuest fans will no doubt recognize the Underfoot fairly quickly. It’s an area that many wished would be introduced to the game early on in its lifetime; the realm of Brell Serilis, deity whom created the dwarves. Coming off its 10th anniversary and a new server ruleset, this would be the 16th expansion for the game.

On the other hand, what Sentinel’s Fate will bring is questionable. Will this be the much-anticipated Velious expansion for EverQuest II, related to the dragons of the continent? Or will it continue the story laid out by The Shadow Odyssey?

Regardless, I think it’s safe to say we’ll hear these new expansions announced at the SOE Fanfaire during John Smedley’s Community Address on Friday, June 26th at 7PM PDT. Stay tuned next week as we’ll no doubt have more information not only on EverQuest and EverQuest II, but other titles shown at the Fanfaire as well!

The Shadow Odyssey News Rollup

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Art, Appearance, Housing, Daybreak Live (SOE Live/Fan Faire), Expansion News, Game Updates & Maintenance, Grouping, Itemization, Live Events, Raiding, Tradeskill

The Shadow “of” Odyssey
Marketing department added the “of” in Shadow Odyssey. Many jokes made by SOE about it. Marketing dept was surprised that a EQ2 expansion didn’t have “of” in the middle. :)

The Shadow Odyssey

New lvl 77+ overland zone.
20 dungeons

  • Najena – A very large dungeon. Very tall (4 story stairs and just really cool). Very organic, wood, ropes, not the current stone boxes. Najena’s forge is the new place to go to craft various master weapons, etc. taking the place of the existing Solusek Ro forge.
  • Nuroga
  • Guk – “upper” and “lower”
  • Befallen
  • Most dungeons scale 50-80 — depends on the adjoining overland zone.
  • Lvl 50, 60, or 70 groups going into the new scaleable dungeons will get scaled down loot. All loot designed for 80.
  • All dungeons are located “where you expect them to be”
  • Dungeons are smarter. Puzzles in dungeons ala some of the raids and VoeS.

Raids

  • 4 new x4 raids

Avatars

  • (new) Rodcet Nife
  • Avatar loot for Rodcet Nife is all new and loot tables for the existing 12 avatars will eventually be updated. basically, if you like a loot item on avatars now, don’t miss any opportunity since it might change. Might add loot to Tangrin.

Quests

  • 1 new Signature quest — good and evil versions. Long but not repetitive.
  • No new epics or heritage quests. Epics took 3 months to develop for Kunark.
  • 5 new heritage quests! (thanks for the comments!)

Dieties

  • 2 new dieties
  • One of the two dieties being added will behave differently. Must be unlocked on each server. Featured on the Shadow Odyssey box art.

New Travel

  • Airships — Live event to build airships and build docks.

Achievement Experience
New Achievement Experience page.
60 points of AA.
There will be limits preventing you from respeccing and moving over, say, 60 of your current 140 points and getting those rewards right away.

1- General
2- Archetype (Priest/Mage/Fighter/Scout)
3- Class (Cleric/Summoner/etc)
4- Subclass (Warden/Ranger/Assassin/etc.)

Instead of a “tree” that forces you to take AA items you don’t want, AA lines are straight across and you just pick what you want. End of line reward for each level.

“Boost taunt” is one of the possible fighter AA lines so crusaders (shadowknights) and bruisers can catch up and match the damage of current weapons. Came up in QA. Taunt has been a linear progression but dps from weapons has gone up faster due to crit, etc.

Tradeskill Harvesting AA increase # harvests per node.

Missions System

  • 1 mission per dungeon, 1 per day
  • Loot scales 50-80 and tokens are rewarded for completing missions which can be spent on legendary and “low” fabled items.
  • Tradeskill Missions — 3 at launch. no combat.

Balance & Itemization

When asked about Itemization — “We have a plan.” Raiders should not need legendary items.

Combat xp in 70-80 will be improved. The pendulum “swung too far in favor of soloing and hurt groupers”.

Bard, Crusader, Cleric specific armor. Less archetype specific. No more templars running around with chain or leather.

PvP Bone
Big news! PvP will now allows all classes in all cities. Existing unhappy classes can complete betrayal to whatever class they want. This will reduce the requirement of Exile PvP guilds.

Miscellaneous
Asymetrical armor pieces if you want one big shoulder, one small shoulder. :)

More From Q&A
Basically if it got any kind of acknowledgement beside the standard “we can look into that” which is a big fat “NO!” I put it here.

Torch slot or maybe more items with light effect. No more 80s running around with lightstone. On the flipside perhaps an option to auto-hide light sources on stealth. Maybe too easy? :)

Some existing and new zones might auto mentor the group down so the content is not trivial, rather than either lockout or requiring a low level to mentor. They’d like to make mentoring more rewarding include AA.

Warden asked about having to cast 14 wards on every death. SoE might allow more than 2 non-combat buffs to trigger in a macro.

Critical errors in raids will name the culprit ala VS. Right now you can’t tell at a glance who messed up on Trakanon.

May reconsider caster resists because there aren’t enough spell critical items.

Would like to do bard instruments but not in current plans.

No x2 epic zones ready but maybe after expac.

When asked about Itemization — “We have a plan.” Raiders should not need legendary items.

Combat xp in 70-80 will be improved. The pendulum “swung too far in favor of soloing and hurt groupers”.

Bard, Crusader, Cleric specific armor. Less archetype specific. No more templars running around with chain or leather.

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