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.
Tags: destiny of velious
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