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Choose My Adventure: Taking EverQuest by the reins

Fantasy, EverQuest, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Choose My Adventure

Another week, another wild Choose My Adventure ride through EverQuest. And this time, I have a better understanding of this beast I am riding and feel more confident and in control! Contrary to my experiences in newer games where things feel familiar from the outset, it has taken me a little longer to start getting comfortable in my Norrathian skin. That total-newb-outsider feeling has been slowly diminishing so that I feel like a real citizen. Between knowing where to find things in the world and just getting the hang of the controls, I can now start relying on my gaming muscle memory to guide me instead of actively searching for everything.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the world is now a piece of cake and that there is nothing left to learn! Far from it: There are still many new experiences to be had, some of which you will be selecting for me for this week's adventure. But before we get into that, let's take a look at this past week in EQ.

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Latest EverQuest patch implements controvertial changes to AAs, skills

Fantasy, EverQuest, Patches, Free-to-Play

Change is rarely easy, but EverQuest's most recent patch comes with controversial changes that some community members are less than thrilled about while others herald as long overdue. After receiving feedback on the proposed changes to Alternate Advancement points and abilities (namely that Gold members would be granted a huge portion of AAs and classes would no longer be able to fight 100+ mobs at a single time with specific skills), SOE made some adjustments. Specifically, Gold level members must now opt-in to receive the AA grant that will give everything up to the most recent four expansions (with the exception of Spell Casting Subtlety and Tradeskill Mastery AAs, which must be earned as normal). Other AA changes include the conversion of Leadership AAs to standard abilities.

On top of that, a number of spells and abilities now have limits to prevent players from fighting mass swarms of mobs, and Heroic Adventures will no longer lock, allowing players to be added to them at any time. The patch, which goes live today, also included a change that only affects the Firiona Vie server. The XP potions that players farmed and sold will no longer be a source of income; although all current potions already in game will remain tradable for now, all future ones will be non-tradable.

The Stream Team: Into the wilds of EQ

Fantasy, Video, EverQuest, Free-to-Play, Livestream, The Stream Team

How much trouble can a Massively's MJ get into in EverQuest? Plenty! Norrath is full of misadventures for one young Froglok Shadowknight, and episode two of CMA Live will chronicle the latest ones. MJ is out roaming the wilds and invites you along for the adventure. You know what they say: There's safety in numbers! Join us live at 9:00 p.m. to help direct the continuing saga of Kurobi (and perhaps keep her out of too much trouble!). And don't forget to follow along every Wednesday in Choose My Adventure.

Game: EverQuest
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, February 13th, 2014
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: Get along little EQ Froggy

Fantasy, EverQuest, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Choose My Adventure

Now that character creation wasn't there to soak up the majority of my gaming time (as minimal as it may be in EverQuest), I had the chance to move forward in my famous Froglok adventures -- as directed by you, of course. And while there's always a chance that votes will ultimately set the Choose My Adventure host up to be bucked right off the bronco of fun in a new game, y'all done me good.

As per your latest votes, I moseyed along instead of galloping through the content; I checked out all the nooks and crannies of my areas, poking my striped nose into places it may or may not have belonged. This appealed greatly to the explorer in me, so thanks! I also grouped up when I could, which made everything that much more enjoyable. And I took special care to follow your final instructions: slaughter everything! And to tell you the truth, this past week EQ has grown on me more than ever before. I have had some of the funnest experiences this past week!

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MMO Mechanics: Three old mechanics I want back

World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Humor, Neverwinter, MMORPG, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
My column has typically heralded modern MMOs as superior advancements of the genre we all adore, but in this week's MMO Mechanics I want to share a small list of some old mechanics I still mourn today. Many older MMOs featured gameplay that could simultaneously exasperate and impress players, especially when the mechanics in question supported a real sense of immersion or realism in otherwise virtual worlds. Recent titles have aimed to open up the in-game world by making it more accessible and much less infuriating, but this has put some of my favourite mechanics and little touches on the development chopping block.

I'm particularly fond of game mechanics that make real-world sense. Real life would not reward you for falling off cliffs, running headlong into a crowded room of enemies, or stumbling off the well-beaten track into the untamed wilderness. Consequences in real life can feel rather scary, so I really enjoyed the fear factor of some older MMOs because this allowed for a much more thrilling -- and ultimately rewarding -- gaming experience. I am going to talk about just three older mechanics I particularly enjoy that have fallen out of fashion, but feel free to lengthen my list by adding your favourites in the comments below.

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The Soapbox: Old content should stay relevant

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, EverQuest, Expansions, Endgame, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, The Soapbox, MMORPG

The Soapbox title image
The archetypal themepark MMO model, as popularised by World of Warcraft, is a race to the level cap in order to unlock the best content on offer. New content is tacked onto the endgame regularly, accompanied by improved gear and perhaps a higher level cap. It's a system that's designed to keep people playing by keeping them on a progression climb that's constantly getting steeper. As a consequence, endgame activities render older content obsolete since these outdated activities carry little real benefit for fully leveled characters.

Exploring old content for the sake of experiencing it is not enough of a motivator for many players since this content simply cannot present the same challenge as it once did. Although you can technically go back and play through old dungeons, they will never be as fulfilling when tactics become optional and you can solo once-formidable opponents. In this week's Soapbox, I will mourn the loss of fantastic older content that was rendered obsolete through vertical progression, using WoW as a key example. I'll go on to suggest a solution that I think might allow for both old and new content to exist together in relevancy without significantly compromising the themepark MMO's existing progression mechanics.

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The Stream Team: CMA Live hops into EverQuest

Fantasy, Video, EverQuest, Free-to-Play, Livestream, The Stream Team

The Stream Team: The CMA Live Froglok hops into EverQuest
CMA Live With Massively's MJ returns to the airwaves, and this season spotlights EverQuest. Currently she's a new Froglok Shadowknight facing the dangers of the game, but she hopes to live to be an old Froglok Shadowknight! Do you have some tips to help guide her through as she navigates Norrath? Or maybe you'd like to be a star in the series as well? If so, be sure to tune in and join us live at 9:00 p.m. EST for the premiere episode, then help direct the next exploits every Wednesday in Choose My Adventure.

Game: EverQuest
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, February 6th, 2014
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: Through the starting gates of EverQuest

Fantasy, EverQuest, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, First Impressions, Choose My Adventure

And we're off! The gates of EverQuest have opened, and thanks to the advice of my very own pit crew (that means you!), I am planted firmly in my saddle as ready to take on this wild Choose My Adventure ride. So let's get this show started, shall we?

Figuring out where in EQ I was going to go was pretty cut and dried; Firiona Vie was the server winner by a landslide. Either you know me well enough and placed me accordingly, or you're just saying that's an awesome place to be. Of course, it could be both, which is a double bonus.

The racial fight was more of a nail-biter. Tier"Dal, Iksar, and Froglok battled it out, but in the end, good won. Well, actually let's not be too hasty tossing that "good" label around: As for classes, only two choices were running pretty much neck in neck, and both were decidedly evil! Ultimately the caster lost and tin can won. So instead of summoning and commanding my own hordes of undead (for which I thank you profusely), I dub myself Sir MJ, the Shadowknight. As much as I have rarely played plate or tank classes, I do appreciate this; necromancy is definitely not a favorite pastime of mine. Add in your final decision to start me off in my racial lands and we are all set to go.

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Choose My Adventure: Hanging my hat in EverQuest

Fantasy, Age of Conan, EverQuest, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Choose My Adventure

If ya'll were all fired up to see a rousing round of Age of Conan over the next few weeks, yer gonna be disappointed. This rodeo don't take kindly to cheatin', so AoC's been disqualified. What I can't figure out is why the perps would brag so brazenly about tryin' to fix the event. Do they think we don't read forums? Maybe some folks just fell off a horse and hit their heads one too many times?

I'm sadder than a frog without a lilypad; I feel bad for all the genuine rule-followin' fans who wanted to see their favorite game get the spotlight it certainly deserves. And this will really put a bee in their bonnets: AoC probably woulda won even without the tamperin', so those fools who decided they didn't want to play fair an' square just blew it for the rest of ya. And here I was looking forward to returnin' to Hyboria. For those supporters who voted legitimately, I hope ya still get your time in the ring in another Choose My Adventure.

With that unfortunate business outta the way, I'd like to introduce ya'll to the star of our show: EverQuest. It edged out Anarchy Online by just a few votes to takes its place as the next CMA title. Ya might find it a bit ironic that the keeper of the Norrathian Notebook is heading to Norrath, but since my first attempt to sink my feet in that soil didn't pan out, I'm hopin' it'll be different with ya'll directing the adventure. 'Sides, seems kinda fitting, it being the Year of EverQuest and all. Now there's a whole mess o' choices this week, from race to class to server, so get in there and brand yours before 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, January 31st.

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EQ, EQII, and EQN devs dish on new game content for The Year of EverQuest

Fantasy, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next

With EverQuest Next Landmark on the horizon, EverQuest Next in the wings, and EverQuest and EverQuest II going strong, this truly is the year of EverQuest. There's simply no denying that 2014 will be pretty significant for the franchise; one game turns 15, another turns 10, and the newest turns 0. To help kick of this monumental year, I got to talk shop with producers Thom Terrazas (EQ), Holly Longdale (EQII), Terry Michaels (EQN/EQNL), and Franchise Director Dave Georgeson and hear about upcoming content slated for each of these different projects. As Georgeson put it, "It's going to be a fun month!"

As a bonus, we've also added a video that shows off some of that very content.

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MMO Mechanics: Exploring death mechanics

World of Warcraft, EVE Online, EverQuest, Guild Wars 2, Star Citizen, MMO Mechanics

They say death must come to us all, and that inevitability extends to our characters in MMOs. The death of our characters may be inconvenient when we want to plough through content, but penalising failure is an essential part of any MMO and further incentivises success by making you learn from your mistakes. As much as players crave gratification through rewards and progression, they also need to feel that such progress has been well-earned and greatly deserved.

Rewards become that much sweeter when we must risk something to secure them, and failure without consequence would render the gains made in our favourite MMOs insignificant. Without a considerable death penalty, it becomes possible to mindlessly crush content through brute force. I don't know about you, but I don't find fun in bashing my skull repeatedly with a rock in an attempt to crack it!

In this week's MMO Mechanics, I compare various death penalties and the effects they have on the MMOs that employ them. I'll explore just how tangible death penalties such as corpse running, gear durability loss, and XP drain make our character's demise feel.

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Smedley expounds on benefits blunder and SOE's philosophy

EverQuest, EverQuest II, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet

When SOE first announced the membership changes coming to some of its titles, the company stirred up a storm that was completely unexpected, according to CEO John Smedley. After listening to the community, the studio reversed parts of the proposal and unveiled an extra benefit: a $14.99 All-Access pass.

But even after a few extra posts explaining the changes and the reasoning behind them, there were still some unanswered questions and remnants of confusion from the quick succession of announcements. Why were some titles in SOE's arsenal listed part of the pass but others aren't? Which membership gift is actually the one going forward? When will these changes take place? And what about the European players? I sat down with Smedley to answer these questions and get some added clarity on these changes,

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Norrathian Notebook: The top 10 Tattered moments of 2013

Fantasy, EverQuest, EverQuest II, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Tattered Notebook, EverQuest Next, Norrathian Notebook

At the end of every year and the beginning of a new one, many people kick back and review what went well and what went wrong. We certainly got a taste of something that went wrong last week, so let's switch gears and focus on the positive! For my one-year anniversary as a writer of this column (I took over this piece exactly one year ago this week), I felt it was particularly appropriate to reflect back on the previous year, highlighting the best moments of The Tattered Notebook.

Actually deciding on only 10 articles to fill out my favorites turned out to be more difficult than I thought. There we were plenty of useful guides, videos, holiday celebrations, and even a peek at a certain upcoming game. But when forced to choose, these particular moments all stand out. See if my picks coincide with yours!

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SOE considering an one-subscription-covers-all plan for $14.99 a month

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Business Models, Economy, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet, Wizardry Online, Subscription

SOE President John Smedley took to Reddit today to address the "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" that's been swirling about regarding the subscription changes made to its games, most notably PlanetSide 2 and EverQuest II. While he lists several reasons why the studio is doing this, the main reason is a big change in the works: SOE is considering implementing a one-subscription-covers-all plan moving forward.

"We are considering (and are likely going to move forward with) a plan that means if you subscribe to one of our games you are a subscriber to all our games (this applies to PC titles only, by the way) all for the current $14.99 a month," Smedley wrote. "That's a benefit most companies simply can't offer because they don't have our portfolio of games. The goal would be to let you pick an item in each game you play."

He implied that this plan will also cover EverQuest Next Landmark and EverQuest Next. Other reasons for the subscription change include helping players buy larger items on the marketplace, internal issues regarding people stockpiling Station Cash, and disparity between computer and console promotions.

For a more in-depth look at the subscription plan changes, read our recent Norrathian Notebook column.

The Game Archaeologist: Four efforts to preserve dead MMOs

Galleries, Video, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

As I type this, we are now living in a post-Warhammer Online world. You can probably tell by all of the rampant looting, devastating earthquakes, and heart-rending sobs coming from your neighbors' homes. For me, it's a strange thought that this game simply isn't there at all any more -- and there's no way to go back and play it, ever.

Or is there?

When it comes to MMO sunsets, there are varying degrees of death. Sometimes a closure isn't as final and complete as we might assume, and between the passion of developers and those of fans, we're able to revisit these games long after their expiration date. For a writer who is keenly interested in preserving MMO history, these efforts are of great interest.

So today we're going to look at four ways that people are trying their hardest to preserve dead MMOs -- and even let you play them once more. And I'm going to write about this without using the forbidden "E" word, too!

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