Mobhunter: News After the Fall of Gukta

The war of Antonica seems to have ended and our green Froglok friends find themselves in a new tent-city in south Rathe Mountains. This was a bit of a surprise conclusion to the war. No one expect that SOE would change the troll city back where it came from. I personally expected part of Freeport to be blocked off for Ykesha and his new men. No doubt these changes upset the Froggie allies as much as the Troll allies were angered to lose their city in the first place.

The Frog city does have it's charm. It reminds me of Kelethin only lower to the ground (thank Tunare). One other interesting change, it appears that Frogloks can now start as necromancers, shadowknights, and rogues. That adds a bit more flavor to the race and will hopefully help fill out the low level game with some newer twinks.

The Depths of Darkhollow homepage has been built up with a pretty flash introduction, the Depths movie, a bunch of screenshots, and pre-order information. Depths pre-orders have brought up some interesting debates. For the first time in a while, the free gift for buying the retail makes it worth running through traffic to buy the box instead of clicking the "download now" button. The Clockwork Boar, a unique mount with the same power as a 10,000 plat horse or Drogmar mount, comes included with the boxed retail version of Depths. Those who either buy depths in the store or download it will receive a gargoyle monster shroud.

Many have asked why SOE would offer such a great incentive for a store-bought purchase when they are no doubt making a bigger profit on the download. The answer is: boxes on shelves sell EQ. We are horrified at how well advertisement works, but it does. If SOE can keep EQ on the shelves with new expansions, SOE gains more customers. Expansions keep Everquest alive and boxed sales help bring in new players.

For those of us who are happier either way, it won't be fun battling Tuesday night traffic to get to Best Buy and find out it hasn't hit the shelves yet. All of my friends will be running around me as wolves nipping at my boots and hooting while I stand there as my old boring self.

Of course, it will be worth it for that one time when I am stuck with a broken down smoking clockwork boar, telling my friend "I think it slipped a rod".

My friend Gemdiver over at Caster's Realm released some exclusive Depths of Darkhollow screenshots including a couple I took (that first double-wolf shot is one of mine). More and more people find the opportunity to join the Depths of Darkhollow beta. Keep a keen eye on the forums for chances to join in if testing is your cup of tea (*ignores the jeers of "but we're all betatesters in EQ you pompous egotistical loudmouth cleric!"*).

Our friend Zorillius recently announced that the Test server community would evolve. There are a few advantages to the test server such as double experience and full veteran rewards. SOE is going to add shorter reset times on all AAs, easier flagging requirements, and different boss timers. The most controversial change, however, comes from an ability for those on Test to invite players on the live servers to copy their main character over to test.

Test has always been an interesting community. They suffer through a lot so that we can have a more stable game (*once again ignores the cynical jeers*) and they don't mind telling you about it. They live through client bugs that keep them off game for days, encounters that are far from tuned, and all sorts of strange oddities. They do, however, get to see some of the latest changes sometimes months before we do.

Test is a community, however, and they act much like any of the other servers. To see hoards of copied players rushing in threatens the community they built. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I expect that SOE needs more players of all levels to help test EQ and this will solve that need.

Thanks to longtime Mobhunter supporter, Redcloud, we have a couple of interesting MMO articles to read. A World of Warcraft World takes an interesting and amusing look at how MMOGs will shape our world. I have a theory that 50 million players in the US will be playing some sort of massive online game, whether it be fantasy or football (or both), by 2012. Massive Online Games have changed our world and changed our lives. We like to say "it's just a game" but I have never played a game for five years straight that got me to write 3000 words a week in articles for three different sites. It's just A game but it's also not just a game at the same time.

Next Generation posted a reprint of The Laws of Online World Design by yukalale playing SOE big-head thinker, Raph Koster. These are some of my favorite couch-potato game designer rules that we should all keep in our head when we critique and ponder this favorite game world of ours.

It appears the Macintosh version of Everquest has risen from the dark depths. SOE is now offering a free download for the Macintosh version of Everquest including the base game, Kunark, Velious, Luclin, and Planes of Power. SOE has had trouble maintaining and supporting the Mac version of EQ in the past. A while ago we discovered that SOE only had one developer for the mac version and that developer had left. It will be interesting to see if this catches on, but they have a lot of work to do to catch up to the PC version.

Last week I wrote an update of an old article of mine, now titled Why I Play Everquest 2005. Every six months to a year I like to step back and really ask myself why I play this game. I think it is a valuable method to ensure that I continue to have fun and don't ever feel like I'm wasting my time. It's a bit pompous and perhaps even too high-brow for me to follow all the time, but hopefully its an entertaining read.

Thus ends this week's news roundup. Keep watching the forums for the latest happenings.

Loral Ciriclight
15 August 2005