Mobhunter: The Calm Before the Storm

We seem to sit within the valley between one expansion and the next. We had some great new patches since the release of Gates of Discord, and we hear of some nice future updates. Even with Omens of War on the horizon we sit here in the gap of a slow news week all the same.

One of the most interesting threads floating around within the Everquest community is Hobart's Test Server Update. If you ever want to see what new changes we should expect in the next patch, thats the place to go look.

The most recent updates to the test server include a lot of features for the raid tool. Raid leaders will soon be able to lock and unlock a raid, remove group leader flags from raiders, remove players from any group within the raid, and buttons to put group members into other groups. These changes are wonderful organizational changes and may be the best changes to the raid tool since its release back in Planes of Power. Even for smaller two or three group raids, it is wonderful to be able to switch which player is in which group without going through the shuffle.

Now, of course, this will lead to whole fields of raiders going AFK while raids organize and may lead raid leaders to ask for the next logical update: "Give me a Warcraft 3 interface so I can just control the whole raid myself". I kid, of course. These changes help raiders quite a bit and feedback from summit raid leaders has been very good.

Along with new raid organization functions comes new consent functions. Many raiders and even a few groupers want more powerful consenting features for corpse dragging. More than a few players see death as a nice opportunity for a much needed AFK break frustrating draggers to no end when they must send "CONSENT PLZZ" about fifty times before getting a response. Soon players can consent guilds, consent groups, and consent raids for dragging. Again, these improvements help solve a lot of problems mainly for raiding guilds.

Expect new hunting hot spots with the next patch, says Brenlo of the Hairy Feet. Hot spots, zones with increased zone experience modifiers, help push players to explore some areas to which they might not always travel by rewarding them with much improved experience gain. The current hot spots existed for some time now and a change is due. We don't know which zones will turn into hot spots yet, but many await the change. Hot spots are a great feature for mid-level players.

A thread on the Stormhammer server forums sheds a harsh light on the 12 person LDON raid recently released on Stormhammer and moving soon to the live servers. While I heard it was tuned for level 55s to 65s, a few players who actually tried it say it is tuned for Elemental, Time, and GoD equipped players. These equipment restrictions put this raid in the same category as all of the LDON raids. They are too hard, restricted to only Elemental+ equipped players, and offer too little a reward to make it attractive to those able to accomplish it.

The LDON raid system and the Gates of Discord Expedition system offer a lot of potential for mid-levelers and non-raiders to experience some of the fun and excitement of raiding. These expeditions can offer raid-level content at any set level with restrictions on who can enter and how often without blocking it behind a rare flag-mob. This new two-group raid looked like a great way to get 55s to non-raid-equipped 65s into some Lost Dungeon raids but it appears it is just another raid for the top-tier raiders. With all of the unused raid content of LDON, I don't know why SOE tuned this event for the same players who already ignore LDON raids.

We have seen little new information on Omens of War. Everyone has questions about how it will support their play-style. No one knows what levels 66 to 70 will do to older expansions like Lost Dungeons and Gates. SOE released no official word on existing level 65 focus effects but rumors speak of a nice flexible solution. The task system interests a lot of people but I still feel too much weight falls onto it. It may be doomed just by the sheer amount of attention it will get. I hope it lives up to the expectations but only time will tell.

With the lack of other major news, people spread to their sixteen camps and began the class wars once again. SOE plans to provide class definition documents that they have worked on for some time now. These definitions help define what each classes role is in a group and in a raid. I don't know if they will cover soloing but I do believe they cover a class from levels 1 to 65 (probably to 70).

Every class should bring a combination of abilities to a group at all levels that sets it apart from other classes. No one class should be better in all ways than another. Every class should have options and use for soloing, grouping, and raiding. Every class should have a unique identity and background.

Feedback on the new Mobhunter design has been good and very useful. Our plan is to switch over to the new version next Saturday. Please give the new Mobhunter design a look and try out the comment system.

I have a small update on one of my secondary requests on Loral's Evil Agenda. It appears with Nvidia-based video cards, one can span Everquest across two windows. I had little luck with an Nvidia Geforce 5500; the EQ window never got bigger than about 2400 pixels wide; but the new Geforce 6800 GT runs EQ in a window 3200 x 1150 pixels wide for a total of 3.6 million pixels. There are a couple of problems, however. One cannot run in full screen mode or they crash to desktop and the window can't be a full 3200 x 1200 or it slows down to one frame a second. If you don't mind seeing your start bar all the time, it can be a wild way to play.

Why would someone want to play across two monitors? If one runs a "/viewport 1601 0 1600 1150" they get a normal EQ view on the right monitor and a black background on the other. Chats, maps, inventories, spell gems, buffs, and any other windows you don't have to see right away can be thrown over to the other monitor.

Its a bit of a gimmick but it is a neat way to play. Here is a picture of Everquest running across two monitors.

Look forward to an editorial on Everquest's current state of corpse recovery in the next two weeks and until then, play on.

Loral Ciriclight
7 August 2004