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Norrathian Notebook

Norrathian Notebook: Happy 15th anniversary, EverQuest!

Fantasy, EverQuest, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Anniversaries, Norrathian Notebook

This past Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of EverQuest. Any way you look at it, 15 years is a long time, and few are the games that can make this claim to fame. Such an achievement is certainly worth a hullabaloo! Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've witnessed a bit of this celebration; it's been touted across the entire franchise (not to mention the rest of SOE's portfolio!). Much has been said about the journey from day one until now, with folks sharing stories that span the entire life of EQ. Devs even offered an infographic highlighting how far the game has come since 1999. What a difference 15 years makes! But what about the difference just one year makes?

Today's Norrathian Notebook is an anniversary retrospective that looks back at the last 12 months in the life of EverQuest. Join me for a jaunt down memory lane to see how Norrath has evolved this past year, then take advantage of the special deals and festivities commemorating this auspicious year.

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Norrathian Notebook: What EQN Landmark's business plan says about you

Fantasy, Business Models, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

As surely expected by all involved, EverQuest Next Landmark's proposed business plan ruffled a few feathers. After all, it's a given that you can't please everyone. And also just as expected, some folks are crying foul; you can't have SOE say boo without someone screaming doom and gloom. But has the studio laid a big goose egg with this monetization plan? I say nope. It may appear a little scrambled in an aspect or two, but the majority of it seems to sit pretty well with players.

In a nutshell, the strategy as currently outlined focuses on selling cosmetic items like outfits and pets, shortcuts (like potions, paying upkeep, and renting market space at the hubs), additional claim flags, claim music/sound packs, and raw materials. We know what the actual plan itself says because it was posted front and center on EQN Landmark's alpha forums, which are viewable by the public. But instead of dissecting what the plan is, today I'll focus is on what it says. It's more than just the sum of its words; the plan says something about SOE. And did you know the plan also says something about you?

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Norrathian Notebook: EverQuest Next Round Table roundup, fourth edition

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

Thanks to the early launch of EverQuest Next Landmark's alpha, players have been deep in the world of voxel-mining, crafting, and building to their hearts' content. Armed with with that hands-on knowledge, players are able to offer insights and suggestions about the development of that game. But that doesn't mean that those who aren't physically in the alpha (and have access to post in those forums) don't have valuable opinions about the direction of both Landmark and EverQuest Next, and the devs want to hear from everyone! That's where the EQN Round Tables come in. And the Norrathian Notebook Round Table roundups are here to help you keep track of them all.

The three previous round ups corralled 23 questions, dev opinions, and video responses. This fourth edition (not to be dismissed like certain other fourth editions) contains eight more. Do you care about specialty servers, in-game weather, or crafting? Are you burning with a desire to tell the devs exactly how you feel about other players affecting your gameplay? Then there are polls and discussions that you'll want to take part in if you haven't already. One round table even focuses on improving the new player experience. And we've got them all rounded up right here for you.

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Norrathian Notebook: EQN Landmark sets new standard for player creativity

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

Yes, it's alpha. And yes, there are bugs. Heck, there are still many systems that aren't even in-game yet. But despite all that, EverQuest Next Landmark has already raised the bar when it comes to player creativity. In fact, the creativity is flowing freely during this alpha even before water does!

You may recall that I mused last December how EQNL might just redefine player-generated content, comments based my own short personal experience and perusing developer concoctions. However, now that alpha is going strong, I can say with surety what I only postulated before: Landmark has set a new standard for supporting and showcasing creativity. And players have really stepped up to the challenge.

Just exactly how much creativity are we talking about? Have you seen some of the stuff folks are coming up with? It's not just about houses (though I've certainly seen some amazing abodes); players are taking the tools and raw materials and sculpting impressive statues, designing mazes, and more. During my own wanderings and my two Massively TV tours, I've come across creations that leave me wavering between speechless and gush-central. And that's barely scratching the surface of what's out there! Add in the posted pics on Twitter and the official forums and that still doesn't cover it all. My mind boggles to think what will happen when everyone can lay hands on these tools at launch.

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Norrathian Notebook: Musings on my EQII Tears of Veeshan experience

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Classes, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Norrathian Notebook

EverQuest II's most recent expansion, Tears of Veeshan, landed a couple of months ago. That's given me a good amount of time to sink my teeth in and really experience what it has to offer. I've run a few different characters through much of the storyline, explored various nooks and crannies, and poked into a number of the dungeons. If you've been watching EverQuest Two-sday, you've seen some of those adventures as they were playing out. If not, however, you may wonder what this expansion holds. Is there anything special that sets EQII's 10th expansion apart and makes it worth getting? That's what I am going to share with you in today's Norrathian Notebook.

For starters, ToV is chock-full of one thing I really love: dragons. Dead dragons, maybe, but still dragons! From the moment this expansion was introduced at SOE Live, I've been looking forward to cavorting through the realm of the dead, hobnobbing with the dragon residents. Then, after hearing more about the dungeons, the story, and the new class, I really couldn't wait. And now that I've seen it for myself, I haven't been disappointed.

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Norrathian Notebook: EQN Landmark alpha 101

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Guides, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook

You know you've got it bad when you don't want to leave a game long enough to write about it! But that's exactly how this last week has been for me and EverQuest Next Landmark. Don't get me wrong; it's an awesome change to be so eager to play that you willingly stare at a login queue (getting to listen to Jeremy Soule's music while you do is definitely a bonus!) and even spend hours gathering materials, knowing that it will all be wiped. It's just been a long while since that has happened to me. Luckily, the alpha has had downtimes, allowing me some sleep and a chance to whip this first impressions piece and quick-start guide up for you.

Even with many of the core features from the game still missing, this alpha shows you straight off that EQN Landmark truly is a whole different game. The term innovative is not just a catchphrase here; it's a summary. As such, jumping in can leave eager players a bit overwhelmed or frustrated. So this here's a quick introduction course with hints and tips to get you started.

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Norrathian Notebook: Look out Landmark, here I come!

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

Norrathain Notebook:  Lookout Landmark, here I come!
Hello, fellow EverQuest Next Landmark fans! This is likely the last time you will get to see me say boo about Landmark's alpha now that it has been announced and is starting up. Once I get my email, I will be officially and totally gagged.

Many of you know that I was gifted a Trailblazer Founder's Pack for Christmas by someone who knows and loves me (or conversely, just wants to get me out of the way... which says what exactly if I gifted a pack right back?), so this period of time before I receive and open my invite is my last opportunity to speak about the game before the NDA descends upon me. As such, I am taking full advantage of these hours to speculate to my heart's content, squeal in excitement about the upcoming adventures, and ruminate on all I know about and all I hope for in this sandbox! And then by the time you read my thought, I will be [redacted] and possibly [redacted], with a little [redacted] thrown in.

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Norrathian Notebook: Saying goodbye to EQ 2.5 aka Vanguard

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Sunsets, Norrathian Notebook

Norrathian Notebook:  Saying goodbye to EQ 2.5 aka Vanguard
No, your eyes are not deceiving you: The title and picture do both say Vanguard. Although I had other thoughts poised on the end of my pen for today, they've all been scattered to the winds by the unexpected announcement of the closing of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. In fact, I really can't seem to think of anything else right now, so I am giving up trying and giving in to my Telon thoughts. Besides, ruminating on this topic in Norrathian Notebook is not as far-fetched as you might think. Vanguard's world may be Telon instead of Norrath, but there is a special connection between the realms; there are those who have called Vanguard the true successor to the original EverQuest game. And it is from that vantage that I take this time to look back on what was, enjoy what is (while I can), and mourn for what could have been.

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Norrathian Notebook: Preparing yourself for EQN Landmark

Opinion, Free-to-Play, Humor, The Tattered Notebook, Family, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook

Whether you are a Founder who will access alpha or not, EverQuest Next Landmark is coming up on us like a bullet train; it will be here before you know it. As opposed to most games that stretch your anticipation out for years, this one is going from announcement to playable in less than six months -- if alpha does indeed make it out in January. Those who are opting for closed and open betas or even launch shouldn't have much longer to wait, either. I expect that those stages will maintain the same speed we've already seen, putting players into the game proper well before the next SOE Live.

So with the ultimate build-it-yourself sandbox on the horizon, the question is this: Are you ready? Have you got all your ducks in a row in order to best experience Landmark? Can you say you are all set to take advantage of those first minutes logged in? If not, I've got a few strategies, tips, and tricks to help you prepare for when the game goes live.

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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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Norrathian Notebook: Are membership changes a benefit to EQII players?

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

While I had another, happier topic all ready to ring in the new year, SOE surprised us with a questionable decision this week that I felt necessitated an immediate response. So today we'll focus on this hot topic instead: All change is not good. And SOE's announced change in membership benefits for EverQuest II is really not good.

Previously, with the removal of the remaining free-to-play restrictions, EQII subscribers saw their benefits whittle down to essentially a buff to mount speed and coin, AA, and XP accumulation (basically what was offered during the Gold Rush event) and the monthly 500 Station Cash allotment. While that seems as if players lost most of their advantages for subbing, there wasn't too much murmuring because at least we were happy that our comrades had the freedom to choose the classes and races they wanted and enjoy the game better. And besides, we still had the 500 SC, so we still had some worthwhile benefit. Well, now that's changing.

SOE has decided that this last benefit must be retooled from 500 SC that accumulates until you use it to the ability to buy one single item for up to 2000 SC per month. While it may sound like a better deal on the surface, it's not -- not for SOE or for its customers.

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Norrathian Notebook: EQII's new Frostfell experience

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Tattered Notebook, Guides, Norrathian Notebook

There's no place like Frostfell.

No matter how long you've been absent from EverQuest II, and no matter how many expansions come and go, you've known that there was always one thing you could be sure would stay the same year in and year out: Frostfell's Wonderland Village. Well, no more! Like Freeport and Qeynos before it, the staple of Frostfell celebration has undergone quite the transformation. So stepping through the Magic Closet now might be a bit of a shock in a going-back-home-and-finding-your-parents-converted-your-bedroom-into-an-office kind of way.

But unlike the parental remodeling, this renovation is meant to make the place more inviting for your return. With a beautiful new setting to go with the year's new quests and achievements, EQII's Frostfell experience is better than ever.

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Norrathian Notebook: EverQuest Next Round Table roundup, round three

Fantasy, Polls, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, The Tattered Notebook, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook

Quick on the heels of our second Round Table roundup for EverQuest Next and EQN Landmark comes the third, filled with the next bushel of questions! In these (lucky) seven queries, devs asked players to give their opinions on starter zones, modding the UI, length of the day and night cycle, grouping, preferred Landmark building styles, and the role of NPC merchants. And of course, devs also offered their personal opinions on these topics.

Did you participate in all the polls the first time through? If not, we've got them all right here for you. Go ahead and join in the discussions; it is never too late to voice your opinions! You never know when your comment might be the one that turns the tide of thinking or offers a new solution no one had considered before.

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Norrathian Notebook: The EverQuest franchise through the ages

Fantasy, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Consoles, Events (Massively's Coverage), The Tattered Notebook, EverQuest Next, Norrathian Notebook

Our notebook is tattered no longer! We've filled so many pages over the years that it is time to set the dog-eared, fraying sheets aside and take up a fresh new notebook with plenty of room for all the upcoming adventures. And on this fresh new slate, you will see a slightly different focus from that of its predecessor. As you may have noticed, over the past few months, The Tattered Notebook dipped into coverage of more than just EverQuest II. As of this moment, it is official: Our notebook now chronicles Norrath, in all its shapes and forms. These pages will fill with all things EverQuest, from the original game to the next incarnations.

On top of the franchise focus that includes four major titles, the notebook is moving back to a weekly time slot every Saturday, so you'll get your Norrathian news more frequently. To kick things off, let's a look at the history of Norrath, from start to sequel to sandboxes, and everything in between.

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The Tattered Notebook Extra: EQ Next Landmark livestream talks tools, demonstrates mining

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, The Tattered Notebook, EverQuest Next, Livestream, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

Any time you mention EverQuest Next Landmark, you get a score of people saying that they just don't quite get it. To help alleviate that, devs hosted another EQN Landmark livestream and dished up more details about the upcoming sandbox and treated viewers to their first look at actual mining gameplay footage.

While a large part of the stream focused on harvesting and mining, that was not the only topic touched upon. Senior Producer Terry Michaels teamed up with Producer Emily "Domino" Taylor and Community Manager Colette "Dexella" Murphy to answer various questions and share information about naming, beta news for SOE Live 2013 attendees, and more. If you missed the stream, we've compiled some of the key points right here for you. And since seeing is believing, we've got the entire livestream as well!

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