Destiny of Velious Beta NDA Lifts, Just Kidding!

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News

EQ2Wire has spent the past several weeks working on articles for release when the Destiny of Velious Beta NDA drops. This includes features on Itemization and Mechanics changes with Developer Quotes, previews of Public Quests, the new Dungeons and Raid zones, new graphics features such as Ambient Occlusion and Sunshafts, as well as an awesome AA browser that lets you browse the new AAs in Destiny of Velious. We have also been preparing a special Destiny of Velious Flying Mounts video which would show you the new flying Gryffons, talk a little bit about the quest to acquire them and showcase how well they do in both old and new zones.

UPDATE: Please see our article Destiny of Velious EQ2Wire Coverage Update regarding our continuing coverage of Destiny of Velious.

NOTE: Since the publication of this article, the restriction on using screen shots has been relaxed for registered EQ2 Fan Sites.

Today, we have learned that this is all for naught.

Today’s announcement that the Destiny of Velious NDA has been lifted includes a specific provision:

Please remember that all posts made on the Beta forums are still protected under the NDA and should not be shared publicly. In addition, screenshots were disabled in the Beta test so any images taken by bypassing the disabled screenshot feature also fall under this restriction.

NDA Dropped, What Gives?

Wait a minute, when the NDA drops, how can 99% of it still be in effect? The devil, as they say, is in the details. I examined the Destiny of Velious Beta NDA with a team of lawyers and I present our findings:

6.1 Survival. The provisions of this Agreement, other than the first sentence of Section 1.1 and Sections 1.4(i), 1.4(ii) and 1.4(iii), shall continue in full force and effect even after (i) the Beta Program has been terminated or completed and/or (ii) Recipient’s participation in the Beta Program has been terminated.

Ok, so what are the provisions of these Sections:

1.1 License Grant. SOE grants you (the “Recipient”) the non-exclusive, non-transferable, revocable, limited right to install the Beta Software onto a single computer for Recipient’s personal use.

1.4 Testing and Evaluation Obligations. Recipient hereby agrees to perform all of the following obligations: (i) to test, evaluate and analyze the Beta Software and its operation, features, capabilities and performance, (ii) to comply with the reasonable requests of SOE from time to time regarding testing, and (iii) to provide feedback and comments to SOE (including, but not limited to, bug reports and test results). All of Recipient’s feedback and comments shall be the sole and exclusive property of SOE and/or its licensors, and SOE and/or its licensors shall have the perpetual right to use all or part of Recipient’s feedback or comments in any manner or media now known or hereafter devised.

So really, when the “NDA lifts”, all this means is you are allowed to talk about what you experienced in Beta. The gag order is lifted. You get your voice back. But anything else is still off-limits.

If you’d like to read the Destiny of Velious Beta NDA and peruse the gory details, create a new (or use an old RAF) Station Account and visit the Beta NDA Signup page.

What About Last Year?

Last year presented a unique of set of circumstances. The Game Update associated with Sentinel’s Fate (including a detailed list of Game Update Notes) was pushed to Test, so we were able to login to Test and produce detailed articles and writeups about those features without violating NDA. Also, once NDA lifts, Beta screen shots have generally been allowed if they represent the game at a late state of Beta and aren’t screen shots of bugs or things that were broken during the Beta.

Also, last year Kiara kicked some serious ass and posted Zone Previews of all the dungeons and overland zones in Sentinel’s Fate with interviews with the developers, zone designers, and art and animation leads. She also hosted Beta Tours where EQ2-specific fan sites were provided with exclusive screen shots and were able to ask questions and thus produce a nice Sentinel’s Fate Preview. This year? They’re still trying to plan some kind of Beta Tour 6 days before launch, even though Beta is closed and the Beta forums are gone.

EQ2 Fan Sites have been completely cut out of Destiny of Velious coverage this year. There have been no DoV product giveaways or contests, no puzzles or community events involving EQ2 fan sites. Instead, mega-conglomerate MMO sites like Massively, MMORPG, and TenTonHammer have scored exclusive screen shots and exclusive interviews.

So What Can You Tell Us?

We’ll be posting a couple of articles but nothing like what we had planned. But here’s a quick rundown:

  • The group and raid zones are some of the most impressive, well-built, engaging, interesting content designed yet for EQ2. The dungeons range from challenging to extremely challenging. Tower of Frozen Shadow actually changes zone geometry as you progress through the zone. Evac and Call of Hero have humorous effects.
  • The artwork is pretty stunning, although the appearance of the ice in Velious itself has been panned as just a “wall of blue” and paling in comparison to ice in other MMOs. The new friends (Othmir) and new enemies have great animations overseen by Tom Tobey. The artwork looks great, if you are running Shaders 1 that is.
  • The new contested group zone Kael Drakkel is the largest zone ever created in EQ2, bigger than Solusek’s Eye. It drops loot that is only equalled by the Rallos Zek group instance on hard mode. Instead of a throwaway zone like The Hole or Karnor’s Castle, Kael Drakkel was designed to be part of the item progression and to gear players up for raiding. It is hard as hell.
  • A lot of the Solo quests, especially the Order of Rime quests, are rather bland. There are exceptions of course (especially quests by Kaitheel), but a lot of the quests are just obvious Runaround Timesinks meant to waste your time and don’t progress the story.
  • Flying Mounts are awesome in old and new zones. The flying quest concludes with 5 tasks you must perform, one per day, so nobody will have flying mounts until 5 days after Velious launches.
  • Flying around Lavastorm and Kingdom of Sky is badass. Enchanted Lands and all Kunark zones are a lot of fun to fly. Flying in Nek Forest and Thundering Steppes is pretty limiting due to design flaws in those zones dating back to their introduction. Everfrost is more middle-of-the-road flying-wise, restricting you to tunnels because there aren’t any graphics on the tops of the mountains. Antonica was not even flyable when Beta closed. In Beta, they elected to allow us to fly over Karnor’s Castle, Bloodskull Valley, and Estate of Unrest, even though those zones are unfinished or miniaturized in the overland world. It is funny landing in Karnor’s Castle and it’s just a miniaturized version of the zone with no mobs.
  • There are dark blue shinies that require flight to reach.
  • Public Quests is a ripoff homage to Rifts and Warhammer and lets you wander into a field of Giants and Dwarves fighting and contribute to the battle. The events scale depending on how many people are in the area of the event. If you’re solo, you get solo rewards. If you are several players, even if you’re not grouped, you get a group reward. This is the OPPOSITE of contested mobs. Everyone gets to loot the chest, whether you are grouped or not. If 24 players show up, the raid loot starts dropping. Now, this loot doesn’t have all the effects and adornment slots on it you might be hoping for, but it could be a good stepping stone if you are behind on gearing up.
  • Itemization was a mess at the time Beta closed.
  • Big Stats and Mechanics changes and consolidation are headed your way. The changes will affect levels 1-90, but only level 90 gear is being adjusted to compensate. This was a source of much grief on the Beta forums.
  • We get a new In-Game Calendar to let your guild plan events, a new Tagging system which will facilitate targeting certain mobs or MA/MT/OT in raiding, and a Ready Check feature which allows your Raid Leader to put a prompt on everyone’s screen to see if everyone is back from AFK or still doing needlepoint.
  • Reflections on water, etc. were revamped. It looks better in some places, worse in others.
  • The new graphics guy added Sun Shafts, Depth of Field, and Ambient Occlusion. Of these, probably the best is Ambient Occlusion. Without substantially reducing framerate, this darkens up dark areas of the screen so that dark corners really are dark. Depth of Field just adds an artificial blur to objects that are close up or far away. It was largely panned. And Sun Shafts adds beams of light through trees and light streaking off objects if you are facing the sun. Sometimes, Sun Shafts looks really stunning, other times not so great.
  • The beta client was buggy, buggy, buggy! We had to use the EQ2X Streaming Launcher during the entire Beta and crashes and requiring a complete reinstall were frequent occurences.

Confidence in Velious?

So where does this leave the community’s confidence in Velious? I have never seen so many people who are deeply concerned about an expansion before its launch. We’ve heard from diehard fans of EQ2 and other EQ2 fan site authors who are shocked at how unstable the Beta client was, how bland the quests are, how many bugs still exist in quests, and how unfinished the expansion feels. Although Velious has its problems, we were excited to show you some of the things they got right, but now that’s impossible.

Trion Worlds is so confident in their Rift release that this week is a huge Open Beta with no NDA. Everything can be seen, experienced, discussed, and screen shotted. Actually, Rift dropped their Beta NDA over a month ago and have had no problem with screen shots and people writing detailed articles about the Beta.

You would think that SOE and the EQ2 team would have put their best foot forward, dropped the NDA quickly, and tried to show a little confidence. But at Camp SOE, the reins have tightened, all hands are braced for impact, and we’re not allowed to show you anything. Developer feedback during the Beta was extremely sparse — less than any past beta — but what little there was does help to explain some of the changes. But we can’t show you that either.

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Comments (10)

  • Blockhead

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    I’m going to start with. I’ve been pulled so deep into Rift that EQ2 has become a distant memory, and remember i haven’t even played the game yet. I’m literally caught up in the entire sphere of how well they are handling the game, the euphoria for this game is quite addictive in itself. Its gotten to the point, i literally couldn’t give to beeps about EQ2 anymore, SOE whatever, SO… i never had any intentions of posting on this wire again. I honestly can say i don’t care what SOE does to EQ2 anymore. They save it great, they don’t oh well, it matters not to me either way.

    With that said i’m only posting to let you know how bad i feel for you Feldon, i love your passion for the game, i love your passion for your site, it’s what kept me plugged into EQ2 even after i had left the game.

    I knew the NDA was going to be lifted so obviously i was curious to find out what Velious was going to be like. But the NDA didn’t come off yesterday? Well hang on, right before i went to bed it did, and i read a couple first posts and it looked like it was going to be OK. Figured i’d get the low down from your site today.

    Now: i’m only curious about Velious like you would be with an ex girlfriend, you don’t want to get back with them, only curious as to know out how they are doing, that’s natural right? lol

    Anyway, i truly feel bad for you and what SOE did is just wrong on so many levels i wouldn’t know where to start. We all know you don’t do stuff half a**ed and i know (maybe others don’t) it takes allot of work to prepare the material you grace people with. If it’s any consolation I still want to Thank you anyway. Even though we are not allowed to gander at what you had in store for us, we all know it would have been top-shelf coverage. So Thanks!

    Reply

  • Sigtyr

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    I can only agree with Blockhead here me and my wife still have an EQ2 sub but personally I can not see any reason to buy DoV on release (we are not 86 due to excessive boredom with the SF overland stuff), we will probably go Rift too and maybe later buy DoV, when it is cheaper.

    I agree with Blockhead your coverage would have been great and I can not understand how they think any casual player would like to buy DoV with the competition from Rift (and the big fail in EQ2 marketing, again).

    I really have not seen any reason to buy DoV but the new gear dropping from regular overland quest mobs sounds interesting, I hope this is the casual EQ2 expansion, too bad no one is allowed to talk about what it is in any significant way.

    Reply

  • Trueflight

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    I have to agree with your whole review. All EQ2 Fansites and podcasts were effected by this. We had a great show planned for laast night with reviews and opinions on our betea experiences and what is to come for our listeners. Had to scrap the whole show and do one on improv.

    Way to drop the ball SoE. I really hope they have something up their sleves to bail out from this one. Anyone else really missing the people that used to make this company really click in the PR department? I’ve been missing Kiara since she got moved to EQ1 (and later left the company entirely). She really did a great job. I think the new people in charge need to take a look back at how things were done in expansions past and take a few notes.

    Reply

  • Numspa

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    Just cancelled my preorder (and sub)… Buggy, crashing, no dev feedback, only half done, boring quest, grinding for another 50 AA, SC etc.

    Was fun 5 years in the game, and I have loved this site to, great work 🙂

    Rift here I come…

    Reply

  • [email protected]

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    Really what was there to except for a 7 weeks beta process? I never heard of that on an AAA title to get that amount of beta testing under it’s belt.
    Flying mounts, calendar, ready check, target numbering? They really wont be able to reach the WoW player base with a 7 years old game (guess what, they’ll stick with their own old game, who has a bunch more devs working on it.)
    Add the fact that a majority of the new games that comes out wants to be WoW clones and miserably fails. (Still have Rifts and TOR to show if it’s still true or false).

    Reply

  • Murfalad

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    EQ2 should not be reaching to the WoW playerbase, if they do so then they’ll lose their current player base, I think John Smedley understands that well.

    The beta testing was longer then most EQ2 expansions, personally I look at WoW and wonder what most people are doing there all day with the amount of content produced in comparison.

    But as for DoV, there are good and bad things to report.

    To me this expansion has more thought put into the gameplay of it then most of the previous expansions where they often produced a lot of content that was similar.

    Public quests, flying mounts, graphical upgrades, stat and mechanics changes, most are for the better.

    On the bad side I think it should have been bigger for the landmass and solo content, another great divides worth would have been spot on.

    The entrance to the expansion is also underwhelming, Feldons Plinket review on the beta forums was spot on to the fly through but I doubt they’ll add it back in and fix it for launch (and by the way Feldon – thanks, I’ve discovered the plinket reviews through you 🙂 ). It wasn’t until I got into the great divide that I felt things were large and immersive.

    Overall the more difficult content and focus on group play make me believe that I’ll be playing this expansion more then SF, but we’ll only know after 3 months of gameplay.

    Reply

  • Murfalad

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    Oh, and lastly, no idea what the community relations team are doing, but they’ve been consistently screwing up now for months. Thanks to them there is a vacuum of real information going out about the expansion, in that enviroment people are naturally going to believe the worst.

    And while I’m at it, who is responsible for the SC adverts in the EQ2X launcher, its as if people who have no idea what the game is, and no care about it anyway are trying to sell SC items like boxes of soap powder.

    There is a common theme here, the community and sales team comes over as uninterested in EQ2 as a game, as in most things in life no passion does show.

    Reply

  • Yin

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    I’m afraid I’m just not interested anymore. I don’t like the constant churn of team leads on this game, and I’m just not sure I want to commit anymore time to it. Flying mounts and public quests are interesting to me, but just not enough to justify paying the cost of the expansion and the monthly subscription. It’s been a good 5 year run, but it’s time to move on.

    Reply

  • neren

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    Aye, There are better looking and less buggy games that offer what EQ2 does. I played it because it was different. but if they are just going to add stuff in that other games have, and do it half assed, id rather give my money to the better product then hold on to sentiment anymore.

    Reply

  • Poladra

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    Well SOE has gone and killed the last hope of respect I had for them. I always wanted flying mounts for EQ2 but I am sick of ‘borrowed ideas’. EQ2 for a good time was as original as the storyline made, but the devs are wimps. They cave into the whining demands of people who play for a couple months. While all the true vets of EQ2 get left with a crappy, half-assed slapped together washout of a game. I’m sure my five year old niece could come up with better and more intricate quest lines but afterall it does take a creative-caring mind to keep a game alive. I suppose this happens when devs are more interested in money than a having a loyal gamers community. How much work have they put into that stuid marketplace thing? Why did they do that crappy extended/gold/silver/platinum/crap-colored membership shit? How many under-used servers have been merged recently? I wonder how much time was actually spend developing DoV. The artwork is nice, but it is nothing special or not seen elsewhere. And we see maybe two okay questlines in each of the last four expansions and the rest of the quests seem old and worn, i swear sometimes they just change a few words in dialog/journal and call it brand-new.. Not worth that time or hassle!!

    Reply

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