EverQuesting is an EverQuest Next, EverQuest II, and Landmark column by MJ Guthrie. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

EverQuesting: Daybreak is on the right side of the MMORPG legacy server debate

WoW is stupid. Yes, I said it. World of Warcraft is dumb. More accurately, I should say Blizzard is stupid. The reason? Its stance on legacy servers. This month, the studio through legal pressure effectively shut down an unauthorized, player-run WoW emulator, Nostalrius — a place where fans were getting their fix of vanilla WoW goodness. I can understand not wanting others to profit off your work, but we’re talking about ignoring a fan base that desperately wants your product! Why not get in on the action?

As much hate as people want to hate on Daybreak (and far be it from me to say some of that isn’t rightly deserved), the studio got one thing right: It respects players’ desire to play older versions of its games. Both EverQuest and EverQuest II have official progression servers, and Daybreak has even signed a supportive agreement with the fan-run EQ emulator Project 1999. Even Daybreak’s former President John Smedley threw his support behind emulators. So why don’t more companies give this notion a go?

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EverQuesting: First impressions of life after Landmark’s latest wipe

When Daybreak drops a big Landmark patch, it apparently does so quite literally… onto hard, unforgiving concrete… from the top of a tall building. Because this puppy broke! I was still in character creation when the second wipe happened (at least I had more time to contemplate my hairstyle!), and when I finally got to log in I was bugged from the first second. And all this with launch coming sometime this spring. Not the most auspicious of beginnings.

Luckily, while much was disappointing, not all was negative. Here are my very first impressions of the post-wipe world that were garnered during the time servers were stable enough to play.

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EverQuesting: Let EverQuest Next live on in Landmark

Well, then. When it rains, it pours.

After a lengthy drought of EverQuest Next and Landmark news, we finally got some. And not just a few drops, but a bit of a deluge. Except that it wasn’t all a dancing-in-the-rain kind of shower. No, some more closely resembled a knock-you-on-your-keister-and-try-to-drown-you storm. I tell you, this week has been quite the roller coaster ride of hopeful highs and devastated dreams, and I am pretty wrung out.

It all started with finally got news of a Landmark update. Yay! I wasn’t completely thrilled with the news itself (it raised some questions), but I was tickled pink that there was actual news. That led to a bit more hope for EQ Next news. Well, be careful what you wish for because boy, oh boy, did we get some news; it just wasn’t any news anyone wanted to hear. The ambitious game that had so many promising features is canceled. Gone. There is not enough boo in the world to adequately express this! Oh, and while you are trying to process that, let’s slip in that there will be character wipes in Landmark, despite earlier assurances that there wouldn’t. On the bright side, Landmark is actually getting the storytelling system. Yay!

And did I mention that EverQuest Next is no more? That’s going to take some getting used to.

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EverQuesting: Landmark’s big claim news

Holy moly, it happened! As you might surmise by the not-so-subtle surprise in my voice, we’ve finally got a chunk of Landmark news. It’s been a long while. The silence that has been surrounding both this game and EverQuest Next has been deafening, and I am very glad to see the wheels of progress are actually turning — at least for Landmark. And I can certainly hope that translates into the same for EQN. Even though that will remain to be seen, I celebrate the continued development of Landmark; I am still looking forward to this game and the enticing features that will put the power of storytelling into the hands of players.

Sadly, the news has nothing to do with the AI or the storytellng system.  The announcement was focused on new landscapes, expanded claim sizes, and underground caverns. Today we’ll concern ourselves primarily with the claim aspects. Once once you get past the shock and joy of new information, you find that there are now way more questions. I have a ton, and many other Landmark fans do as well. To be fair, Daybreak has come back with the response that this update is really huge and more information will be forthcoming. Hopefully, some of these issues will be addressed when it does.
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EverQuesting: A guide to EverQuest II leveling zones

One of the reasons new players find it so difficult to get into older games is because there is so much to do that you don’t know where to start. Few games exemplify that better EverQuest II; there is literally so much content that many newbies — and even returning players — have thrown their hands up and surrendered. Even if you take out everything else (housing, player dungeons, crafting, collections), there are so many different zones, how do you know where to go just to adventure? What you need is a handy guide. And here it is!

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EverQuesting: A guide to EverQuest II’s monthly and yearly events

Anyone familiar with EverQuest II knows that Norrath likes to celebrate. The game is filled with so many holidays and festivals that it can be really hard to keep up with them. Sure, there is an in-game calendar that lists everything all out, and you look up individual festivals, but you have to be actually logged in for the former or recall the name of the festival during the right time of the year for the latter. And then you have to actually remember to do something about it before it ends. Maybe it just slips your mind. At times real life takes ahold of you and won’t let go; work, family, travel, meals, and sleep all can interfere with your gaming. Or, you could just procrastinate a bit and then have to scramble at the end to try and complete things on 18 different alts.

The point is, there is so much to keep track of that it’s totally easy to miss out on a festival or two. I should know: I’ve missed a couple already. And I am still kicking myself because it means I have to wait another year to get the housing items and recipes that I wanted. And that’s why I’ve created this easy-to-reference event calendar. Feel free to use it to schedule your vacations, either to devote your vacation days to your favorite festival, or so you can be sure to be back home from your travels with enough time to log in and enjoy.

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EverQuesting: Music makes EverQuest II’s Terrors of Thalumbra complete

Music has been on my mind a lot lately. OK, so it is always on my mind! From skipping down the streets belting out showtunes, cartoon theme songs, and parodies of other assorted songs (now you know what I did last weekend!) to signing on livestreams, my mind is always aswirl with music. So when EverQuest II Audio Manager/Composer Mark MacBride made his Terrors of Thalumbra tracks available on soundcloud, I knew I had to go and give them a listen.

As much as I appreciate the art in a game — as much as I love the vistas, the beautiful backdrops, and the intricate details — it’s music that can truly be the heart of a game experience. It’s the music that truly brings out feelings and emotions that connect you to your surroundings; the right music can add things to the picture that your eye can’t see. There is a reason the saying is “the sights and sounds…” The two really do work in concert (OK, pun may have been intended). Music’s ability to elicit images in the mind through sound alone is powerful, and coupling that with visuals is just a one-two punch of immersion. Without one, your experience with the other is lessened. That’s precisely how I feel about these musical tracks. After sitting back and just listening, I realized that as much as I really enjoy the art in EQII’s new zone, it’s these tracks that bring it all to life.

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EverQuesting: A 2016 franchise forecast for EverQuest Next, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Landmark

We’ve looked back at 2015 for the launched games EverQuest and EverQuest II, the long-lasting beta of Landmark, and the MIA-and-presumed-dead (by some) EverQuest Next. Now it is time to look ahead at 2016. Instead of noting what we know, we get to speculate on what could be. What is on the horizon for this franchise? How will Norrath weather the next four seasons? Obviously a working crystal ball would be ideal right about now, but without one, we are left with trends, hopes, and outright wishful thinking. In 12 months we’ll see just how many of these were accurate predictions! Here’s what I see happening, what I want to happen, and what needs to happen in this next year for my favorite franchise.

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EverQuesting: EverQuest, EverQuest II, Landmark, and EverQuest Next in 2015

When it comes to the EverQuest franchise, looking back at 2015 is a much different experience than looking back at 2014 was. That previous year ended on such a high note of hope and anticipation; players (including me) were excited about what was to come. This year, however, is closing out with an air of melancholy, apprehension, and — for some — resignation.

That’s not to say that everything has been all bad. Despite what some may have you believe, the titles haven’t been careening non-stop down the slippery slope of doom. In fact, EverQuest and EverQuest II might even be ending the year on an upswing thanks to their unexpected expansions. Unfortunately, the two newest children of the family, Landmark, and EverQuest Next, enjoy no such buoyancy in the final quarter. They have sadly faded into the shadows.

How to sum up 2015? Concern, controversy, and content come to mind.

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EverQuesting: A guide to EverQuest II’s Frostfell 2015

Ahh, ’tis the season: When goodies galore are hidden inside a magical closet and gigglegibber goblins give out gifts. Yes, it’s Frostfell time! And in EverQuest II, that’s quite possibly the most anticipated live event of the year. Whether you’ve been gone a while and just lured back by the or you’ve been counting down the days in Norrath since last Frostfell, there’s plenty to do during this holiday — almost too many to remember, in fact! Since the holiday’s inception in 2005, the festivities have grown with more quests, more crafting, and more items. Even the entire Winter Wonderland itself was revamped in 2013! As such, it makes perfect sense that it might be a little hard to keep track of everything. Hence this  Frostfell guide. You don’t want to miss a single thing, do you? And you’ve only got until 10:00 a.m. on January 7th, 2016 to get it all done! Read more

EverQuesting: First impressions of EQII’s Terrors of Thalumbra

Since EverQuest II’s newest expansion just launched on Tuesday, there is no way I could have explored and experienced all the content completely before today. I know there are gamers who can get through all new content in a matter of days, if not (frighteningly) hours, but I am just not one of them. Luckily, the beta afforded me the opportunity to peek into places I wouldn’t otherwise see for a very long time, so if you add that time in, I have been able to get a taste of what awaits players in Terrors of Thalumbra. Here are my first impressions of that new underground kingdom.

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EverQuesting: Remembering EverQuest II’s bumpy 11th year

In the 11th year of EverQuest II, what did SOE/Daybreak give to me? An emotional rollercoaster ride! This Sunday marks 11 years of Norrathian adventures in the fantasy game, and what an adventure it has been. This year, unlike any other before, has been marked by upheaval and uncertainty for the company behind the venerable franchise. Yet there have also been a fair share of high points. EQII fans have definitely weathered ups and downs throughout the last 12 months.

While normally an anniversary stroll down memory lane is centered more on what’s actually in the game, this look back is unique in that so many things outside the game itself influenced the year. Everything is intertwined. Development itself was obviously scaled back thanks to all the things happening to the studio, and in a genre that sees games come and go all the time, EQII players finally experienced the real dread that they might actually lose their favorite world. The good news is the year has ended as it began: on a high note. Hopefully, the lucky years 12 and 13 will be less of a seesaw and more like the dizzying fun of a merry-go-round!

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EverQuesting: Preparing for EQII’s Terrors of Thalumbra expansion

Time’s a-wasting! With just a month left to get ready for those terrors that await down in the subterranean world of Thalumbra, EverQuest II fans are running out of time to prepare themselves for this upcoming 12th expansion. If you find yourself in that predicament, never fear — that’s why EverQuesting is here! I know what it is like to just be moseying along, distracted by the plethora of activities in EQII, and then suddenly realize that you are not at all ready for Terrors of Thalumbra. Maybe you haven’t yet taken part in the prelude event. Maybe you aren’t quite of a level to enjoy the new content that will be coming. Or maybe you forgot to ask for the day off from work. I was just in that boat myself! The good news is that there is still time. I don’t want you to miss out on any of the hooplah, so I’ve assembled a list of to-dos to get you on the path to prepared.

Although the content in ToT is geared toward the level 100 adventurer or crafter, any level can participate in the activities leading up to the launch. And with double-XP for All-Access members going on until 3:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, October 16th, there’s an even better chance to bump your level higher.

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