EverQuest's Broken Mirror and my 7 years of bad luck

It's been 7 years since I had a character at level cap in EQ, which was during the Secrets of Faydwer addon, on the Test server. Not exactly bad luck, but with the addon being named 'The Broken Mirror' it wouldn't do to resist that sort of post title. I'm hoping to 'catch up' this time around, although I've been ineffectually pursuing that goal for the past couple years.

EverQuest's 'The Broken Mirror' just came out, an addon which back-ports a deity written for EQ2 into EQ's lore. The level cap stays at 105, and it seems to me like it has about the same spread as previous addons of raid:group content. Solo is probably the usual setting of weird areas that you can sometimes scrape by, or tasks that you can do sometimes, or with a second account and mercenaries, or with a certain class.

As a solo player, I never really hope to see the current content, but I do know that once you get 20 or so levels on content it becomes very easy to do by yourself. If I can hustle myself up to 105, that should give me enough leeway to roll through the stuff that I want to up to the Seeds of Destruction progression, which is about as far as I'm interested in anyway.

After a quick jaunt through the safe 'town' zone of the new addon and realizing that even though you only needed to be Level 70 to port there I definitely couldn't do anything, I headed back to PoK to buff up and go to an XP area. Strangely enough, on this 'new addon just released' landscape I found myself participating in an unrelated Guide event.

Our goal was to gather a list of 30 plants(or as many as we could) in under an hour. Around 6 or 7 were vendor buyable, and the rest were forages or monster drops. I ended up in second place with 14, but it was refreshing to lose since I assumed I had an unfair advantage as a druid(max forage+forage AAs, plus the ability to teleport all over.) A Ranger had 15, I'm assuming he raided his bank for stuff he had foraged in the past.. I keep all that on another character and didn't want to relog during the event(although some 'new addon day' client instability had me involuntarily restart when zoning into Wall of Slaughter regardless.)

The 'rewards ceremony' phase of things felt really awkward to me, and I ended up running off rather than watching the not-really-bad-but-not-really-great-either Guide text. Something about those events makes me feel uncomfortable if it's clearly just a person typing in realtime and not some prepared text. It doesn't feel like you unlocked something; it feels like you're talking to Joe.

In the end it was a pretty good evening. I got the little bit of XP I needed to hit 88 and scribed my spells, and got a shield ornament and a 14 slot bag from the event(too small to bother using nowadays, but it'll go in my bank.)

In retrospect, I've tried to be picture heavy in my posts, but I didn't even think to take any screenshots during the guide event or exploring the new addon areas. Since nobody really reads this I suppose I'm just writing to feel like I wrote something so it doesn't matter too much anyway.

I wonder if my luck will change if I get to the cap and finish all the things I want to in EQ?

P.S. Was feeling sad about lack of pictures, so here's an unrelated shot of Innoruuk's corpse.

Innoruuk's corpse


Only in EverQuest..well, maybe not

This morning before work I decided to run the Daily quests for a bit of XP on my Level 86 characters. The Level 80 daily was in Hills of Shade, to kill 5 Blackwaters.. These guys are undead that have got a huge camp in the middle of the zone, so no problem.

After I got there and killed my first pull worth of them, I see some red con guy(SK by the look of it) run by me, and it sort of looked as if he deliberately pulled all the mobs around me. Well, whatever.. I moved to another spot and killed a couple more.. only 1 left! Again the guy zips around, pulling like 10 mobs in his wake. Finally, despite almost the entire village being dead, I found a 2-pull and grabbed that, since I didn't know if I'd be able to find a single in light of the mass destruction going on.

Must have been the last straw for the guy, as he shouted 'The village is camped, Thanks.'

I guess nowadays you can go to content that's 15 levels lower than you are such that you can kill them 10 at a time, destroy everything, and then feel righteous indignation enough to yell at people for daring to pull 5 or 6 of them for their daily quest. Learning fun new things!

Modern EverQuest: Lay claim to entire zones of content and feel like it's Good Behavior(tm).


A Rough Start for EQ Ragefire


My first experience with the new Ragefire Progression server was that it was down. I had left work a bit later than I wanted to, and when I got home the server was Locked already. Apparently people were on and playing, but nobody else could get on. This went on for about 45 minutes before I eventually learned that they had left /betabuff on, and level 50 characters with full gear were being made(and currently played while others were locked out.)

People were using said characters to buff their ‘real’ characters(because obviously they knew they were doing wrong and the 50s would get wiped) – but for those unfamiliar with the low level EQ game, this short span of time with that level of buffing will cause an immediate 10-20 level gap between players who got in that door and players who didn’t.

I’m not competing for first to 50, and I’m probably not going to fight much for contested content, but it does annoy me that Type A exploiters(lets not pretend they’re anything else) are going to be the ones first to 50 and establishing the cost of goods on the server by controlling all the high level spawns and gear drops.

Daybreak posted about how they left betabuff in, how they removed the L50 characters, and how the 50s supposedly didn’t interact meaningfully with other characters and ‘it’s fine, it’s fine.’ Even though the 15 plat that L50s start with probably got traded immediately, and even though even an hour of buffs creates a huge imbalance. The low level of EverQuest understanding over there was a bit surprising to me, but I suppose they’ll get it together eventually.

The best was yet to come, however… the servers came back up and I logged in to create Vomm, my Dark Elf Wizard. Since I had elected to play in First Person mode only and not use the map/compass, it was a trial to get out of Neriak since I didn’t really know it, but I was able to follow the stream of newbie dark elves out.

After struggling against dozens of people trying to get some of the few level 1 monsters(yellow cons were beating me badly, I only had enough mana for ~2 nukes) the news surfaced that more L50s were being generated, and the server was going down in 1 minute.

That’s right, after the entire previous episode was caused by /betabuff being left in, they took some inadequate emergency cleanup actions, then proceeded to forget to remove /betabuff again. As someone who does a lot of release management, I feel like they totally winged this launch and had no plan.

Here’s hoping it gets a little bit better. I only ended up with 2 screenshots of when I was in somehow, here’s the second.



And now for something different


In this last year of lunacy I ended up spending a bunch of money and picking up a bunch of things. One of these has been my habit of long-term preorders. I generally stick to game-related stuff, but anime and manga stuff creeps in here and there. A couple boxes of things just came in today, and I feel like posting something. Above you see the hideous Excellent Model Amazon figure, from their Dragon’s Crown series. Really, I bought it for completionism’s sake, because I have the Sorceress figure, and a reprint of the Elf figure(which is probably the most amazing sculpt I’ve ever seen) on preorder. You can also see Tiki on the table there with her, but she’s not new.


Vanguard disappears into memory


Vanguard closed today. This is my last screenshot, taken on 2013-02-23 at 23:20:19 EST. I was working on a quest series involving Unicorns that culminated in a Unicorn mount at the end. The mount wasn’t statistically as good as mounts you could buy for small amounts of money in the game’s Station Cash store, but in my mind I never quite let go of Roleplaying in games like this. When I play by myself the effect is compounded, so there I was trying to help the Unicorns.

I know that I could have logged in for Vanguard’s last day and maybe seen some of the things I used to know, but it wouldn’t have been the same. The most important thing about Vanguard for me is that it’s going away. That the game remained open gave me this permanent feeling like I should play it again, and try to recapture some of that feeling I missed. That was not going to happen of course, because the game has been fundamentally different for a long time now compared to how it was back then.

There was the gang harvesting, the crafters chat channel on my server(I think the server was Gulgrethor before any merges), the strange personalities all coming together for a game that, in our minds, gave us a freedom to do things that we were unable to do in previous worlds. Climb atop a mountain and see for a huge distance with your jacked up clip plane(your frame rate would suck though), find a Travertine node and call for help and have a team of 6 from the crafters channel to help you within a few minutes in their ridiculous harvester uniforms, pick out your housing plots next to your friends, work feverishly on building or buying your house/boat/etc materials.

I didn’t craft because I wanted to have a tool to help me level better, I crafted because participating in the world and the crafting ecosystem was awesome. I discovered server and world firsts making jewelry and had an ongoing market presence in the auction house. Diplomacy felt the same way to me, although I didn’t personally go that route very far. Adventuring felt like I was writing my own story, even though some of the quests themselves were pretty generic.

For all of the game’s problems which led me to never get particularly far in it(my highest is that 35 cleric there), Vanguard captured a piece of my idealism regarding online gaming in a way that only the EverQuest line and perhaps Anarchy Online have. This idea that I was fairly free to do what I want, even if it was an illusion, was really powerful. Normally a game’s funnel inevitably ends in a min/max build(AC), PvP advancement(DAOC), endless missions/faction grinding(AO), a crushing grind to keep affording housing that really has no point except as a money sink(virtually every game with housing), or whatever else developers did to ‘keep you engaged’(keep you paying.) Although I never got to the ‘endgame’ level-wise, in my mind I feel like if I had seen every piece of the world I would still have a feeling like I could find something new just visiting places and being there in the world.

I think this is something my friends don’t understand about why I can do things in games over and over and it doesn’t bother me. If I am engaged with my character and the game world, the 32nd time I’m running a dungeon is perfectly different from the previous 31 times in much the same way that I still manage to get out of bed in the morning in real life even though every day is pretty much the same as the day before. This is my character’s life, and I am living it in the context of how their world operates.

One sad element of Vanguard’s removal is that it is probably the only game that got player boats remotely right(in a game not centered around boats, anyway.) It had lag and control issues and you couldn’t actually haul cargo or anything like that, but goddamn, it was great to bust out my blue Kojani sloop(named ‘The Missing Eye’ for a story I had crafted up in my mind) and sail up the river rather than running up the shore. I had harvested most of the wood and cut it into boards for that boat myself(I was a stone crafter so there was some crossover), and an orc crafter named Swampfist did the woodworking-specific stuff and final construction.

To Dareak(who made my stylized plate my cleric is probably still wearing as he rides into oblivion), and, goddamn, all the other awesome people who I missed and lost track of because the only way I knew them was in Vanguard, thanks for everything. I wish I could have done better, but the circumstances at the time(mostly bugs and progression frustration) broke it apart. I consider early Vanguard to be the kind of situation I want to experience again, where I feel like I am part of something, and there is a persistent community of people around me who share common goals and attitudes. In retrospect, it’s probably the best MMO experience I ever had, although AO and EQ might have been equivalent.

I still have the system requirements sticker for Vanguard on my monitor at work, as I have since January 2007 when I received the game box, with its ridiculous(at the time) recommended system specs. Naturally my computer met the specs because I am a gaming nerd, but fairly few did. It always struck me as a little funny that they were worried about being able to get shelf space with such high requirements, and I think they had to nerf things to lower them at one point. When the game came out I had to run it at 1152x864 on my 1600x1200 native monitor because my system just couldn’t handle it(and 1024x768 was just a bit too crowded UI-wise.) I also had to run in full-screen mode because Windowed would half your frame rate. I guess it’s pretty weird to look back on chunky performance issues with a bit of fondness, but I think the reason I made all those compromises is because I had such a strong feeling about getting in there and engaging with the game, which is definitely something I miss having.

I’ve kind of rambled all over the place here in no particular order, so I’ll just cap it off with: Farewell, Vanguard – you did well, but at least now I can stop being haunted by your memory.


Katawa Shoujo intro

It has been an age since the last entry, although much has happened in that time, it has not and most likely will not be recorded.


The new conquest comes in the form of Katawa Shoujo, a free game made in the style of Japanese visual novels(also h-games, dating games, is there even a difference?) I say ‘in the spirit of’ because as far as I know it was an essentially open source endeavor, developed in English, and by a team of people from all over the Internet. Its interesting alchemical origin is what makes the title interesting, moreso than the content.

I have not played since last week, but the story so far is the milksop main character has a heart defect that manifests when a girl confesses her feelings for him. He spends a bunch of time in the hospital until everyone, even the girl, forgets about him. He gets well enough(with a bunch of pills) to go back to school, but his parents send him to a school for people with disabilities instead.

Through all of this, you get very few choices. I have had 3 so far in about an hour of play. Two of them didn’t feel like they mattered at all, and the third was a trap, which I failed.

As a new student, you are being shown around be a girl who I have no idea if anything is wrong with her(the only thing that has manifested so far was her mis-pronunciation of something, and a hint at a speech impediment) and a deaf girl, for whom the ‘normal’ girl acts as a sign language interpreter. I was presented an opportunity to ask about something, so I asked about the deaf girl, instead of asking about the library. This is one of those Mass Effect style things, where there’s ‘the dialog you selected’ and ‘what really happens.’ I got something like ‘you don’t feel familiar enough to ask about that, so you bite your tongue and finish lunch in silence.’ Such fucking bullshit. I wanted to punch the monitor, however I realized that this was a fine indicator that they had captured the obscene frustration of the genre so I let it pass. Click next for 20 minutes, be given one choice and fuck it up. I was probably supposed to ask about the library, because while in the hospital I developed a habit of reading to pass the time.

I tried to take a screenshot or three to include via the game’s screenshot keybinding, but it seems not to have worked; the directory where the files should write out to lies barren. Maybe I will take some images by other means.

There is a save mechanic that I think you can use at any time, but I don’t really want to save/load to determine what the ‘right’ response was to any situation. I am not interested in winning, really. I heard before playing this game that there is a rather hilarious ‘bad ending’ if you don’t manage to find companionship wherein your character essentially dies of loneliness. I am sort of interested in seeing this happen.


The world died and I missed it

Starwars Galaxies ended service on December 15th 2011.  I really wanted to be there for it, but the initial communication about the shutdown was rather misleading.  It wasn’t the final shutdown that caught me out, but the deadline to re-subscribe.  The vague guess given was “end of september”, but in reality it was the middle, right when I was moving halfway across the country.
And no amount of favors or friends could fix it, and so I spent my evening in the newer, and yet older Starwars the Old Republic.  I’ll not even attempt comparisons as they are so vastly different.  Apples and oranges are at least both fruit.
What I will do is leave you with another’s eye-witness account of the end.  As a stranger to the game, he has a unique perspective, and doesn’t get mired in the years of history.
Paste Player - SWG End