There was a patch on Tuesday that was a lot more significant than it appeared.
The new graphics engine is at least partially released. I was sitting on the docks of Nedaria when I saw the new sunrise. I was shocked at how much better the new sky made the rest of the game look. Performance on my moderately high-end machine was much improved although the frame rate still dropped when a lot of people were in view.
The new patch caused a lot of problems as well. Strange geometry bugs caused chaos for movement and combat strategy. Many systems were seeing strange graphical bugs. Some systems couldn't log on at all. No doubt these bugs are being worked on and I bet we see another patch soon. Such bugs are to be expected and the long-term benefits of an engine that can grow in the future make it a necessity. A lot of folks did have a frustrating night, though.
SOE released a new zone on Stormhammer called the Lost Pyramid of Galuuk Korr. The zone has something to do with Takish Hiz and the patch message described it as an "adventure" zone but gave few details. My hope is that it's a whole new adventure camp complete with Wayfarers, adventure merchants with new loot lists, and a set of new instanced zones. Some say its just another zone added to the Takish Hiz set, which is probably more likely, although less exciting. The zone will be released to the general community in the next couple of months.
You've no doubt seen packs of people running through old world zones and slamming through the poor beasts who have no doubt enjoyed their times of peace. Hundreds of thousands of gnolls, gargoyles, undead frogloks, wisps, sharks, goblins (both fire and water), kerrans, spectres, and skunks fell to the mighty blades and spells of adventurers seeking the famed Staff of Endless Adventure. The staff's effect is different depending on the length of time you have played. I missed the best staff, the Nagafen's Tail, by two months.
Returning to the old lands for this quest was great fun and full of nostalgia. Lower level folks have a harder time with it, but if they can find a big brother or sister to help them, it can be done in less than an hour.
New Fabled items have been dropping from more powerful Fabled versions of big mobs from the days of old. The Fabled Journeyman's Boots have brought up a lot of controversy. The original version of these boots let anyone cast a full SoW on anyone else. SOE cut them back to a slower self-target only SoW as of Tuesday's patch. Recommended levels were also added to a lot of the Fabled items.
Visiting old-world zones and seeing crowds of people shouting "ASS SUP CAMPED!!" brings back fond memories. I hope SOE continues to bring some life into a lot of zones that people have been ignoring for a long time. There are some great dungeons like the Gorge of King Xorbb that are ignored for easier and more profitable places to hunt. Throwing a few more powerful beasts and some updated loot helps breathe more life into these zones.
SOE posted some interviews with Everquest developers past, present, and future. While its interesting to meet the faces behind the world we spend so much time in, there isn't a whole lot of new information about the game. I heard the term "secret project" mentioned more than once but that could be a new "grab the Halfling" flash game for all I know.
Gamespot released some interesting statistics about Everquest verified by the folks at SOE. The claim that 3000 items have not been discovered had people scratching their heads. This reminded me of Fippy's Facts but there hasn't been an update in a while. I suppose a lot of statistics could be misinterpreted or misused to support any jackass agenda - including my own. As Mark Twain said, "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damnable lies, and statistics".
SOE's Future Plan is focusing on the new Graveyard zone. No one should ever lose the items they've spent thousands of hours working on, and this zone will ensure that doesn't happen.
This zone can be far more useful than planned, however. Planes of Power and Lost Dungeons of Norrath focused the challenge of the game on the encounters themselves instead of the challenge of running naked across Western Wastes with four Velium Hounds looking at you like a steak with legs. There are a few ways to make the graveyard zone more useful than currently described. Here's one option.
Introduce an NPC who will summon your body to the graveyard zone 30 minutes after your death for a cost that scales for both low and high level characters. The cost should be high enough that it doesn't cut into the Necromancer's role as a corpse summoner. It would still associate a cost for death but doesn't make life so difficult for mid-level hunters who made the horrible mistake of wanting to see Dalnir's Crypt.
Of course, as a good Everquest citizen, I sent SOE this feedback.
It's another exciting time to wander the lands of Norrath. The new sky and the recent anniversary changes have brought a lot of life back to areas that had been stale for some time. Time to hunt down Fabled Fippy.
24 March 2004