EQ2Talk Episode #80: Tots and Tiaras

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

After a six multi-month absence, Dellmon and Osgz are back with another installment of EQ2’s best only podcast EQ2Talk to review the Terrors of Thalumbra expansion. Is there anything in the expansion that Dellmon likes? You’ll have to tune in to find out!

From EQ2Talk.com:

In this episode Dellmon and Osgz judge the newest expansion for Everquest II, Terrors of Thalumbra. While both hosts struggle in the swimsuit portion, they soar in the talent competition as they both discuss some of the high flying points of the new content and zones. Feathers did get a bit ruffled over just how much each wants their hand held while working through the quest lines. Listen in to see who is crowned the victor in this podcast and which dwarf just has to eat crow.

Click here to listen to Episode 80


MassivelyOP Asks — What Makes a Really Great MMO Community Manager?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2


In my time covering EverQuest II, we’ve had three really great Community Managers — Christine “Kiara” Renzetti, Margaret “Luperza” Krohn, and Racheal “Afista” McKenny.

Yesterday as part of their Daily Grind column, MassivelyOP asked “What Makes a Really Great MMO Community Manager?

When Funcom hired new community managers a few weeks ago, some readers questioned why we’d cover it. Big whoop, community managers are glorified retweeters, right? Yeah, not so much. A talented community manager can work a playerbase and keep everyone happy even in dark times. “Sinking, panicking games dump their CMs overboard first, not realizing their CMs are the best at bailing,” I argued at the time. “Hiring good CMs is a good sign in a lot of ways.”

Comments can sometimes be painful to read, but I found some interesting answers to the question posed…

Good communication and consistency. Don’t lie to players and expect them to respect you after. Things change, we get that and though we might not like it we can accept it.

Keep your game community up to date with what’s going on with the game and the company. Post replies to threads on the forums giving whatever bits of info you can (or even saying you have no info). Post threads of your own with important updates.

Leveling 101+ Guilds Won’t Be a Treat

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

A recent beta forum discussion revealed that crafting and adventure writ status will not contribute to progress starting at guild level 101. EQ2 Senior Designer Gninja explained the reasoning behind the change:

Repeatable quests such as writs do not add to guild exp once you hit guild level 101. We are adding a lot more ways to get status from normal gameplay though. It was just way too easy to sit and do writs over and over to level the guild making having a leveled up guild a little less meaningful.

He came back to clarify the position a bit better:

The plan is to make status gains come from a lot of different places. Having lots of things you can do is a good thing. Having one thing you can do over and over without any sort of limiting factor is different. These things are still being adjusted so hang in there.

Candy CornCommentary

From Cyliena:

I’m sure Feldon will have choicer words about all of this, but as a member of an extremely small guild, this change will make guild leveling quite difficult. Whatever method is provided will end up being grinded out, so I’m unsure how this change will make leveling a guild more “meaningful”. -Cy

From Feldon:

The EQ2 team has twice tried to stomp out old “grindy” ways of playing EQ2 and encourage playing of newer content:

  • Removing Plat from older zones like Protectors Realm
  • Removing adventure XP from out leveled dungeons

The first was successful. The second was strongly derided and silently reverted this summer. I wonder which route this “new improved” guild leveling avenue will take.

Beta Copy Backlog Followup

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2


Last week we wrote about how Terrors of Thalumbra Beta Copies have been running extremely slowly (well over 24 hours). Some players noted that beta copies taken from inside instances such as Houses and Guild Halls were failing and that players should copy from a public zone such as Antonica.

Now EQ2 developer Jamiss has posted an update explaining some of the issues:

The beta copy process has changed a little bit for this expansion due to some underlying technology changes. Unfortunately, this has caused the process to be a bit slower than in the past.

It was, however, up to date with everything that it had found as of about 4AM this morning, and has begun working through the log again. If you /beta’d anytime before 4AM this morning, please try to /beta again and the copier will get you soon. Sorry for any frustration this may be causing you.

As a quick sidenote: This should not overwrite any previously copied characters. Any characters copied again will have Xs appended to their name.

Commentary: Marketing Pushes Back EQ2 Expansion Reveal

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

NOTE: This is a commentary piece by Morgan Feldon and is not intended to reflect the opinion of anyone else.


In recent years, it seems like there is a special day for just about everything.  Grandparents Day, Office Assistant day, Take Your Ferret to Work Day (ok maybe I made that one up), you get the point.  In that spirit, we’d like to declare September 15th as Justify Your Marketing Department Day.

The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet despite a decade of numerous debacles which we have thoroughly chronicled on EQ2Wire, the SOE/Daybreak Marketing Dept seems to have once again shoehorned their way into the decision-making process for EverQuest II’s next expansion and diminished any chance for pre-expansion hype, interviews, previews, commentary, etc.

Instead of an already overdue full reveal of the expansion as we were expecting today, it seems clear after reading today’s EQ2 Producer’s Letter that the EQ2 team have been asked to post a watered down teaser. The timetable seems to have been revised so that EverQuest II’s twelfth expansion will be revealed and go on sale (pre-order) all on October 1st. As we’ve seen over the years, SOE/DGC Marketing’s modus operandi is to punt until the last possible second and then hope Press sites will carry the flag and do all the promotion, never mind that this approach is less effective for established games like EverQuest II.

Marketing’s all-hands-on-deck call for Press sites to talk about this spring’s Rum Cellar Campaign yielded the usual suspects — Massively, MMORPG, and ZAM. These are sites that would write about EQ2 whether they got invited by SOE/DGC’s finicky Marketing/PR departments or not. However this summer, with absolutely no involvement from Marketing, the introduction of a Drunder “prison server” to EQ2 attracted the attention of no less than 21 media and press sites.

Former SOE/DGC CEO John Smedley to Start New Company

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary


In 1998, John Smedley co-founded Verant Interactive with current Daybreak Games CEO Russell Shanks. Riding on the overwhelming success of EverQuest, the company was purchased by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2000, which saw the company renamed to Sony Online Entertainment. Fast forward 15 years to February of this year: Sony Online Entertainment was sold to investment group Columbus Nova after a two month year search for a suitable buyer. In the American corporate world, it is standard practice that a CEO will typically remain with the company for a six month transition period after a buyout, upon which they depart with a healthy golden parachute. However a group of ne’er-do-wells based in Scandinavia Northern Europe had other plans.

One year ago, a group of “hackers” took SOE’s games offline for several days. They then proceeded to call in a bomb threat on a commercial airliner on which Smedley was a passenger, attempt murder-by-cop by SWATting his family, and otherwise invade his life by sharing personal and financial information about him and his family on the internet. After one of the responsible teenagers received a slap on the wrist by a Finland-based court with the equivalent of deferred adjudication probation, Smedley went on the attack, engaging in a very public spat with this individual (and the group) on Twitter, Facebook, and in the gaming and mainstream Press. This escalated into a media circus which led the group to once again attack Daybreak Games, bringing their games and web services offline for nearly 72 hours.

Last month, John Smedley stepped down from his position as CEO of Daybreak Games. We can only assume that this very public debate between Smedley and this group accelerated our purported six month transition timetable, leading CN to request an early departure. While the official press release released by Daybreak promised that he was “transitioning to a different role” within the company, his Facebook commentary on the departure posted on the same day, which I am not permitted to repost here due to Facebook etiquette preventing the publication of Friends-only posts, made it unambiguously clear that he was leaving the company for good.

John Smedley is clearly restless as, less than a month into his unexpected vacation, he has updated his Facebook profile teasing the formation of a new company:


Few CEOs are universally loved, and John Smedley has certainly instilled powerful emotions in his customers. It will be interesting to see what the next phase will be.


The Future of ZAM Network

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary


Defying predictions of an inevitable crunch, Gaming and Technology have continued to grow at an exponential rate over the last two decades. Profits from desktop, console, and mobile gaming have eclipsed Hollywood Film and Television revenue. Long-gestating VR/hologram technology has finally matured to a point where consumer hardware is just around the corner which will bring an entirely new paradigm for gaming in the next 5 to 10 years.

Since Ultima Online and EverQuest stormed onto the scene, subsequent Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs have in many ways evolved and in many others closely echoed the winning formula of big fish World of Warcraft. All have grown their content and systems to a level of complexity that has outstripped the ability of game publishers to maintain their own informational websites — the feature-light official EQ2Players site vs. our own EQ2U being but one example. Whether they like it or not, game publishers are dependent upon the Gaming Press sites, Fan Sites, and increasingly, Database-driven player resource sites to support their customers with news, writeups, guides, and more.

So it is with shock and disbelief that I must report that ZAM Network, LLC, purchased by China-based mobile gaming juggernaut Tencent Holdings in 2012, has chosen to institute substantial layoffs and eliminate the remote positions which have been the lifeblood of the company for over 10 years.

Daybreak Games Reintroduces Itself to the World

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary


It’s now been three months since the very public acquisition of Sony Online Entertainment by investment firm Columbus Nova. In the aftermath, John Smedley, President of the renamed Daybreak Games, has spoken to gaming press about the benefits of the changeover and the freedom now afforded to developing on platforms other than PC and Sony’s Playstation consoles.

Earlier this month, Daybreak President John Smedley and Laura Naviaux, senior VP of global sales and marketing, decided it was time to get their message out about the future of the new company. They spoke to a number of sites including PC Gamer, Venture Beat, Gama Sutra, Zam, and the San Diego Union-Tribune which featured its article in the Business section. We include some relevant quotes:

Smedley: “We are able to be the company we always knew we were capable of being. Now we can make games for all different platforms. We can do mobile games. We can do iPad games. We can do Xbox games.”

Two months after the buyout announcement, Daybreak unveiled its new logo, branding, and revised websites.

“The rebranding was a complete fresh start, knowing that gaming was in our blood and the DNA is in our player base. We wanted to do something that is a nod to video game culture” said Laura Naviaux. “Employees wanted a name that was indicative of a fresh start”

EverQuest (not EQ2) Launches Ragefire Progression Server

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary


Today marked the launch of EverQuest’s newest time-locked Progression server, Ragefire. This server adopts many if not all of the designs and rules of the game as it existed at launch in 1999. According to reports on twitter, things have not all gone according to plan as players quickly reached high levels and other glitches. Regardless, the idea of progression servers reinforces the idea that nostalgia doesn’t fade away when brought into the light. In celebration of the Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night kickstarter, I re-played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night through to 200.6% completion for the third time in my life. Keep in mind that Castlevania: SotN was released in 1995!

We’ve been told on several occasions that a Progression server would be neigh impossible in the world of EverQuest II as so many code changes have been made in the last 11 years and not all of that older code has been retained. Still, players are quick to wax nostalgic for the “old days”. Many players who were there from the very beginning have been quick to include Desert of Flames in their top expansions of all time. Players who lived through Live Update 13 saw a near rewrite of class balance, tradeskills, and combat. I personally didn’t start playing EQ2 until January 1st, 2007, so obviously I’ve missed some of the more sweeping changes to the game. The Isle of Refuge had already been stripped of its introductory battle on a boat and archetype and class selection. Not long after I started, overland zones such as Antonica were stripped of all challenge with the removal of heroic mobs. As far as crafting, subcombines and the interdependency they brought had already fallen by the wayside.

If you could go back and play EverQuest II at any point in the past, what would it be? This could simply be a time, or an expansion, or a specific update. What was your favorite time in EQ2 history? There’s no need to bash past or current content.

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…


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


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…


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


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.


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


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


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


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…

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