How Sleeper’s Tomb was Tested and Delivered On-Time

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, DGC Wants Feedback, Grouping, Raiding

In the weeks or months leading up to a new Game Update or Expansion, players have come to expect the familiar call to Testers to try out new Group or Raid content. Sometimes a specific schedule is posted, with developer chaperones to monitor player reaction to encounters, zone design, and so forth. At other times, testing as at-your-own pace. Either way, Bug Reports are collected and placed in a queue to be fixed at some future date.

If any “show stopping” bugs occurred during this Testing, such as a boss that would not spawn or could not be defeated, or a door or gateway which would not activate, the testing session would end prematurely with the feeble hope that players would return the next night to make another go of it. Even if many of those players could find time in their schedule to test again, this shortcoming has led to less enthusiasm for testing and a diminishing pool of testers.


Sleeper’s Tomb Survey Shenanigans

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

We have identified a problem with responses to the Sleeper’s Tomb Survey on EQ2Wire.

Specifically, after looking at timestamps, we have determined that through some automated means, nearly 200 answers were submitted within a span of a few minutes. This is highly suspicious and casts doubt on the veracity of the survey. It is unfortunate that someone would abuse the system to try to pad or discredit results.

Further surveys will be conducted on EQ2Wire only after we are able to prevent duplicate voting by a combination of IP addresses, sessions, and/or cookies.

UPDATE: I’ve gone through and removed the most egregious examples of ballot box stuffing.

Former Meridian 59 Dev on Community Management

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

Brian Green, former developer on Meridian 59 (and currently on the Storybricks team), has posted an intriguing essay on the realities of Community Management for an MMO, the day-to-day challenges, and how it can go wrong if mishandled. At one time or another, I have made many of the same points as this article, but it is nice to see it all written down in one place.

Many times people see community managers only as the people who post news about a game. Sometimes they’re derisively painted as the mouthpieces of developers or management, the hapless people who have to give the bad news and hope the community doesn’t decide to shoot the messenger. The reality is (or should be, at least) deeper than that.
Community managers facilitate the feedback cycle between the developers and community by acting as a useful filter and translator between the two groups. Community managers collect information from the community to bring issues that are important to the community to the developers. Conversely, they also take information from the developers to share with the community in a way they understand.

Continue Reading “The Misunderstood Role of Community Management”

Results of the Sleeper’s Tomb Survey

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Grouping, Raiding

NOTICE: We have identified a problem with responses to the Sleeper’s Tomb Survey on EQ2Wire. Specifically, after looking at timestamps, we have determined that through some automated means, approximately 180 answers were submitted within just a few minutes. This is highly suspicious and casts doubt on the veracity of the survey. It is unfortunate that someone would abuse the system to try to manipulate or discredit results.

Further surveys will be conducted on EQ2Wire only after we are able to prevents duplicate voting by a combination of IP addresses, sessions, and/or cookies.

UPDATE: The results of this survey have been adjusted to remove the most obvious bot entries. This accounted for some 180 responses to the survey. However it is still possible that the results represent a nontrivial amount of ballot box stuffing.

We were excited to see some unbiased results, but unfortunately there are people out there who prefer manipulating the numbers.

The Sleeper’s Tomb EQ2Wire Survey

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Grouping, Raiding

Have you taken on the group or raid versions of the new Sleeper’s Tomb found in the Eastern Wastes? If so, why not take our Sleeper’s Tomb Survey below. If you have not yet run the zone, please come back and take the poll when you do. Results will be posted in a week or so depending on response rate.

UPDATE: There was a problem with the Survey Answers not matching up with the Survey Questions. I have RESET the Survey, so if you took it yesterday morning, please RE-TAKE the Survey! Thanks and I apologize for the inconvenience.
The Zone Design (not the theme/color scheme) of the Sleepers Tomb is...

The Color Scheme or Stylistic Theme of the Sleepers Tomb is...

The Monster Design and Animation of the Sleepers Tomb is...

GROUP: The difficulty of the heroic version of Sleepers Tomb is...

RAID: The difficulty of the x4 raid version of Sleepers Tomb is...

GROUP: The loot rewards (gear) in the group version of Sleepers Tomb is...

RAID: The loot rewards (gear) in the x4 raid version of Sleepers Tomb is...

GROUP: Sleepers Tomb (zone mechanics, quests, or encounters) seems to have been thoroughly tested and bugs are minimal and/or trivial.

RAID: Sleepers Tomb (zone mechanics, quests, or encounters) seems to have been thoroughly tested and bugs are minimal and/or trivial.

The quests leading me into, and inside the Sleepers Tomb are...

My overall impression of the Sleepers Tomb is...

Chains of Eternity Expansion A Return to Content

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Expansion News

Nearly every EverQuest II expansion has included some kind of new feature, yet we tend to associate expansions with their content. Think of any EQ2 expansion and our recollections are of the continents, solo quests, group and raid zones, and level cap raises contained within each update. So what happened with Age of Discovery?

It’s no secret that the original plan was to release two expansions — Velious I and Velious II — and charge for both of them. However it must have been felt that players would react negatively to a “Velious double-dip”. So Age of Discovery was envisioned as an a la carte features bundle which would still offer the side benefit of funding continual Velious development.

Yet despite Herculean efforts by SmokeJumper to get players on board with the benefits of Features vs. Content Expansions, players remained skeptical.

So why even release Destiny of Velious and Age of Discovery in the same year?

First Takes: ‘Chains of Eternity’ Expac, PlayerStudio

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Expansion News, Game Updates & Maintenance, Player Studio

Today brought a double helping of news for players of EverQuest II, and I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve got on each subject.

EverQuest II: Chains of Eternity

After a features expansion, and then a “guspansion”, Chains of Eternity puts us back on track with a content expansion. This time around, we’ll see Guild, Tradeskill, and Adventuring Level Caps all raised to 95. We’ll also see more expansion in the Prestige AAs tab with new abilities for each Subclass. Also new in the expansion will be Prestige Tradeskills for crafters wanting to specialize their trade.

A truly new feature is Organic Adornments which sound interesting in that they may further streamline itemization. For the last couple of years, War Runes have been the be-all-end-all of adornments. Once you had won the rights to your desired Red “War Rune” adornment, you had it forever, and could always pick up more for your alts. However as expansions and guspansions go by and player power explodes, some of the older Red adornments have become outdated. If Organic Adornments truly grow with their players, then maybe adornments will stay relevant rather than requiring constant maintenance from the EQ2 designers.

John Smedley: Fundamental Shift in MMO Industry

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

SOE President John Smedley has teased two announcements, one Thursday, one Friday, on Twitter:

We have two HUGE announcements. One tomorrow. One Friday.

Tomorrows announcement is a complete and fundamental shift for SOE that is going to change our industry.

We think it’s going to be a big shift for SOE and I believe a lot of others in our industry will follow.

Meanwhile, Holly “Windstalker” Longdale has tweeted:

Putting the final touches on my Producer’s Letter for tomorrow morning!

Update from Brasse:

EQ2, EQ & Station Live sites will be down for approx 10-15 min for web changes to take place. {whistles some more and pours coffee}

Getting Reckless on the EQ2 Forums

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

All In Moderation

The official support forums for any product must, by their very nature, present a good impression to potential customers. The forums should put the company’s best foot forward. The EQ2 forums have had their fair share of technical issues. But if customers criticize the product, this should be seen as an opportunity for Community Management, Developers, Designers, and Management to respond to these issues and show that customer feedback is valued. To avoid misunderstandings, Community Management can be a great liaison between developers and players.

EQ2Wire: Ending the Lull

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

EQ2Wire updates have been a bit light lately. But it wasn’t my fault.

I ran out of gas. I… I had a flat tire. I didn’t have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!

Actually, I have a rather good excuse…

One does not simply walk into St. Petersburg, Russia.

Regular Models or Alternate Models or ?

Written by Flourchild on . Posted in Art, Appearance, Housing, Commentary

We all know about the Alternate Models. Some of us love them, some of us hate them, some of us just don’t care. But which is used more often? Do people use one over the other or a combination of both? Are people really happy with the way the models are set up right now or would they like to have a third option? If you’re one of those hoping for a third option, you may get your wish…or maybe not.

Item Reforging Bug Coming to a Head – Fixed!

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Itemization

Players on the Nagafen server have had little to celebrate over the last year. Between a number of unpopular mechanics changes, and the popularity of Battlegrounds continually nibbling away at ‘proper’ PvP, it’s been a long time since there’s been any good news.

But as if the forthcoming Game Update 64‘s substantive changes to PvP and Battlegrounds weren’t enough, tonight Nagafen players are celebrating the server first kill of Vyskudra the Ancient. If you haven’t heard about this, you’re not alone. Observers of GuildProgress may be puzzled to learn that this enemy has been defeated at all on Nagafen, as only the top 3 guilds worldwide have slayed it. It turns out, this enemy of Skyshrine did not perish at the hands of a raid guild, but instead suffered a one-shot death by a single individual.

Update from Kander:

I do not know what happened to it. I am more then a little upset we missed it. No excuses.

Either way, I will talk to Zoltaroth about whether or not we can wipe those discos.


To Buy (a new computer) or Not to Buy….

Written by Flourchild on . Posted in Commentary

How many times have you or someone you know looked around at the graphics on EQ2 and thought “I really wish that looked just a little better”? We play the game to not only enjoy the content, but also the visual aspects of the EverQuest2 world. A lot of people have to keep their graphics settings low in order not to get lag, and thus miss out on all the beauty and detail that the devs put into the game. And when you consider the graphics that so many newer games have, it’s sometimes puzzling as to why EQ2 can’t have something similar.

And so the daunting question for so many players has been “Do I buy a new computer or do I put up with the lag and low frame rate of the one I already have?”. Which, for many, isn’t really all that daunting as they can’t afford to continuously upgrade their computers. So what other options to people have? Will the devs be doing anything to help the situation?

Take the MMOResearch Survey

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Michele Marvel, a doctoral student at Walden University. She and her husband have played MMOs together for some 13 years, including Aion, Conan, Everquest, Everquest 2, Guild Wars, Rift, Star Wars Galaxies, etc. As a Psychology student, she has been very interested in research into why people play MMOs, and the communities that develop between like-minded players. To that end, she has put together an intriguing MMO player survey Characteristics and Motivation to Play in Adults Who Play Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games.

It took me about 20 minutes to fill it out and hopefully some of you will give it look as well. The survey has ~45 multiple choice questions and then a few demographic questions at the end. It should produce some interesting discussions once the anonymized results are posted. It would be great if SOE posed questions with a little more depth as this survey does.

MMOResearch – Take the Survey!

Server Upgrade Complete

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

UPDATE #2: EQ2Wire is now back in business! We have corrected a couple of issues on EQ2U and have now started posting to EQ2Wire again. Hope you all had a good July 4th if you’re in the US, otherwise I hope folks are having a good summer.

UPDATE: Commenting was broken by the server upgrade, and is taking longer than anticipated. I hope to be back 100% on July 5th.

We are continuing to work on getting EQ2Wire and EQ2U fully updated and operational after a short-notice Server Upgrade. There has been a lot of news in EQ2 in the last week which we will be catching up on ASAP. EQ2Wire Commenting and EQ2U Character Lookups and Signatures are all undergoing some maintenance.

Thanks for your patience and for reading EQ2Wire!

The Skyshrine Gear Reset: Putting All Your Eggs in One Update

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

If there is one thing that must surely keep the producers and designers of MMOs up at night, it’s the pace at which players complete their content.

It takes months and months to conceptualize, design, create, populate, and script quality MMO content.  The producers and designers always start out with the best intentions of wanting their content to be fun and for the rewards to be commensurate to the challenge. But those goals must at some point take a back seat to the First Commandment of MMO design: Thou shalt make content that lasts!

Sony Corp Cutting 10,000 Jobs Worldwide

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, International

A Sony Corp. logo pictured at an electronic store in Tokyo. (Yuriko Nakao / April 9, 2012)

Although it is my understanding that this has no immediate ramifications for Sony Online Entertainment, which has already undergone two rounds of belt-tightening, and recently signed an exclusive European distribution deal with ProSiebenSat.1 which no doubt had financial incentives behind it, this is news that several people have reported in so I’m reposting it.

UPDATE: Sony Corp has revised their expected financial losses for 2011 to $6.4 billion.

From ArsTechnica:

Sony Corp. is planning on cutting loose 10,000 of its employees in an effort to bring the company back to profitability, according to reports by the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei and the Associated Press.

The job cuts would amount to a global workforce reduction of 6%. Half of the layoffs will come from reshuffling related to Sony’s departure from the small LCD display business, and consolidation of its midsize display and chemical businesses. On April 1, Sony completed the spinoff and merger of its Mobile Display with the LCD and LED businesses of Hitachi and Toshiba to form Japan Display, an independent company that Sony holds a 10 percent stake in (with the Japanese government-financed Innovation Network Corporation of Japan holding the 70 percent majority stake).

Massively: Linda “Brasse” Carlson Trumpets SOE Community Management

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

Linda “Brasse” Carlson led a panel on Community Management at Game Developers Conference 2012. Massively‘s Karen Bryan brings us the story:

What do dwarves and Monty Python have in common? They both feature prominently in Linda “The Brasse” Carlson’s GDC 2012 talk about the front lines of the SOE community relations team.

Given the recent roller coaster ride of the ProSiebenSat.1 deal and the turmoil on the forums that followed, I found it interesting to hear what it’s like to be a member of the community management folks as they try to handle being in the middle of it all. While her talk was mainly aimed at community managers in other games, there were a few tidbits that players would probably find interesting and maybe even surprising. Read on for the highlights!

Off-Topic: Clear Your Google Search History

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

This is TOTALLY off-topic to EQ2 and SOE, but I feel it is worth breaking protocol to do a short article.

Today is the last day to clear your Google Search History. In case you aren’t aware, every time you have searched Google over the last few years while an active cookie has been running for Youtube, Gmail, or another Google service, your search terms have been kept, including the keywords, date and time you searched, going back years.

Washington Post / Bloomberg | Choosing What You Share with Google | MSNBC

EQ2Wire Interview With Arabel of Equilibrium – The Plane of War

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Raiding

This week, we’ve heard things crashing and crumbling down from all directions in the EQ2 community, so it was easy to miss an in-game barrier being shattered. We’re talking of course about the Plane of War!

On August 25, 2011, Game Update 61 arrived, bringing with it the challenging Drunder and the War of Zek which rages inside it. It has taken six months for the first raid guild to clear the towers of Sullon, Tallon, and finally Vallon Zek on challenge mode, and thus unlocking the Plane of War on the Antonia Bayle server.

We took a moment last Tuesday to speak with Arabel, leader of the Equilibrium guild about this accomplishment. This interview was written on Tuesday, but then held back due to all the ProSiebenSat news so it would not get drowned out. Anyway, read on for a glimpse into what it takes to be a world-first raid guild.

EQ2Wire: For those who are unfamiliar, please tell us about yourself and what is your history with previous guilds before leading Equilibrium?

Arabel: I’ve been in game since 2004, and raiding since the Splitpaw adventure pack. Like most people I just slowly worked myself up through guilds over time as my original main, a Wizard named Arabel. I started out on Faydark, going through a few guilds. Clan of Shadows and Eternal Chaos in EoF when I really started to get in to raiding. I then went to Saints of Norrath, and not long after to Second Dawn, also during EoF. I was an officer when we merged and made Confirmed. I left Confirmed when my life changed and I couldn’t raid, I also sold Arabel on the Bazaar at the time to make a little extra money. I couldn’t quit though, and ended up playing around on my SK and Templar is some PST guilds on Oasis.

SOE, Alaplaya “Working on Solution”

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, International

For many, the damage is already done, but here are some updates…

From John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment via Twitter:

We are working on a plan to insure we don’t split the communities up. More info to follow.

From Brasse on the EQ2 Forums:

As we approach the weekend, we wanted to share that we are working on a plan to keep our communities together with the ProSieben deal. Again, we thank you for your patience – we’ll provide more information as soon as it is available.

From Protagonist, a Manager at Alaplaya, CEO of ProSiebenGames, via Alaplaya forums:

Before weekend we will not have an answer. Sorry about it but the Technicans needs to figure out things first.
If the idea works out we will have no barriers for everyone but we need to see and wait what is possible.

Before abandon and run away I would wait as the idea we have in mind really solves a lot.

Piestro Named New EverQuest II Community Manager

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

Eric “Piestro” Cleaver has been named as new EverQuest II Community Manager:

Hey Folks,
My name is Piestro, and I’m a Halfling.

/em waits for the “Hi Piestro.”

Some of you may have seen me in an occasional post, Facebook update, or tweet in my role as a member of the SOE Community Team. Previously I was assigned to EverQuest, but it’s my pleasure to announce that I am now taking on the role of EverQuest II Community Relations Manager!

So who am I? Well, I’m a long time fan of SOE Games, and an experienced Community Relations professional. For a little more than a year I’ve been working on EverQuest. This was easy for me, as EverQuest was always my favorite MMO and getting to work on it as a professional was a dream come true in many senses.

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