Archive for November, 2007


So now that I have gone a little further into the Rise of Kunark expansion I thought I’d give more in depth thoughts on the expansion. So far, my thoughts on the game have been fairly cosmetic. I like the largeness of the world, but hate how the world now looks and feels like WoW.

I forgot to mention the new “dynamic combat music” that they added into the game and overall I would say it is a resounding “bleh.” I think it is a great idea, but the music doesn’t seem to change at all in combat, any more than it did previously. I wonder how much time and effort they have wasted on this non-feature because it could have been used much better than this. Maybe in some respects they can take comfort in knowing that I can’t tell that the music is dynamic… but I think the unfortunate part is that they made all the dynamic bits sound the same and they all sound extremely drab so it’s just as bad as if you were listening to the old static music. I think a more productive idea would have been to add 4 or 5 new songs into it, maybe have a different song for each type of mob (normal, heroic, group, x2, and x4) and then in the future add new kinds of music for special zones or just to mix it up from time to time. At least this idea would have brought variety to the music (the one upshot of it is that the combat music does seem to change somewhat based on the zone you are fighting in which is similar to what I’m talking about).

Gameplay itself… this was a travesty of the game. I’m not exactly sure what exactly they were thinking here. Quests are amazingly good… obviously a nod to WoW design. You generally get 2-5% xp from completing a quest, plus xp, plus a fairly nice piece of equipment (usually better than what you would get off from mobs just by killing them). Mosts quests you can do solo, with a few heroic quests thrown into ends of lines with better loot rewards. It is also good to note that many of the quests are not group friendly, this is especially true in Kylong Planes. This means that if you have a quest to get 6 Drachnid Silks, you often need to do it for each member of the group so if you have a full group that is 36 drachnids.

Mobs themselves are fairly worthless, it seems the drop rate on chests has gone down significantly, and xp at 70-73 is about .1% per mob and above that it goes down significantly. Dungeons aren’t any better on xp, and at least in Karnor’s Castle the loot is even worse. They recently doubled the xp in dungeons and after going to KC with a group we quickly realized that with the increased xp, it still wasn’t worth grouping in the dungeons. This is how bad traditional group xp has been in this expansion.

Still, the xp from quests is so good, that many people have already leveled to 80 and gotten some of the first sets of good gear and even progressed through much of the raid instances already. At this point I’d also like to note that there is a weird juxtaposition within the game. It is incredibly easy to level due to the ease of quests (some of which give you 3% xp and 14g just for walking 20 feet and talking to an NPC), yet I think many classes suffer. Any class with a basic mez and decent dps should be able to solo their way to 80 easily, in fact probably faster than it took to get from 60 to 70. Yet rangers and healers for sure are often having a difficult time with the mobs.¬† This is due to the fact that the mobs themselves hit really really really hard and often times stun. If you can keep these mobs away from you they are easy, even if you have one other player they tend to be easy. But here’s the rub, no one is looking for groups from 70-76 until the high level instances to show up. This is largely due to the inconvenience that is grouping together to do quests mixed with the lack of places to xp as just a group.

So the basic point is, if you got a constant group around in your guild or friends in which you can all do quests at the same time, you will likely hit 80 within 2 weeks fairly easily, but if you are in a small guild or on at times when others aren’t, you will find it painful to play this expansion. In fact, I have personally given up on the expansion entirely and gone to harvesting tier 5 instead.

What makes this expansion even more frustrating, is on top of the already more hard hitting mobs, Sony in their great wisdom has decided that healers don’t need mitigation and thus they only decided to put in leather for healers in the expansion until you hit the high level sets. This is awful because¬† the balance that was in place was that Druids did more dps and in exchange they lost armor (glass cannon theory). Well the chain and plate healers lost their armor without getting anything in return.

I’m not exactly sure what drugs Sony was taking on this expansion, but it was not good. They said that they had a lot of the same devs as EoF, and they were trying to build upon the good things they did in EoF… yet here we are and EoF is one of the best MMO expansions I have ever seen, and RoK isn’t even close. I think on EQ2 alone it ranks #3 out of 4, just ahead of DoF (I never liked DoF because there wasn’t a lot of area too it, the only thing they really added was 10 levels and climbing, and while climbing has gotten progressively better with each expansion, it wasn’t enough to justify an expansion). If Sony honestly thought RoK was building on the positives of EoF, they lost something in translation. They must have thought the only good things in EoF was a new race, old content, and larger zones… these things they have done again. But what was brilliant about EoF was also the secondary tradeskills, cloaks, second earring, fleshing out missing content spans (zones like Crushbone and Klak really did a lot to fill in some gaps previously inherent in the game).

Even the lessons they “learned” were screwed. Yes it also had good quests with useful rewards and decent xp, but it was well balanced, dungeons and zones were given for nearly every level that also had good xp and loot. You could solo, but you could group. The raids in EoF were actually harder than ones in KoS which from all accounts were harder than the ones in RoK. I realize that part of SOE’s new plan is to put the good cotent in at a later time (such as Throne or Unrest in EoF), but they should provide something to those people playing now and they also better come up with more than 2 decent zones in the next year because this expansion is lacking something fierce. The new race was interesting, but they stuck it even further in the middle of nowhere than Kelethin was… to this day I have attempted only once to visit there and gave up because I couldn’t figure out when the lifts would come down to get me (not even sure I was in the right place but think I was). I’ve heard that there is no way to get from Timorous Deep to any of the high level zones, which I can kind of understand because you don’t want low levels stumbling in but at the same time, why is it harder to go 1 mile away than it is to go 1000 miles away? Gorowyn is actually BETWEEN qeynos and Kylong Planes on the map, yet the boats make no stop at Gorowyn for any of the old cities, go figure. There are also no druid rings or spires to TD the way there were for Kelethin, people complained enough about transportation to Kelethin, Gorowyn is 10 times worse. The zone bigness is their other big lesson learned and they are bigger, in fact this is the only thing that Sony did right by this expansion.

After a few days of playing, I think I gave RoK about a B- which is respectable. After a couple weeks, I give them a solid D. The only thing that really saves this expansion is the big zones, and honestly I also liked the rework on racial traits which was badly needed IMHO. I think these features alone really did a good job at placing it ahead of Pillars of Flame which was the first expansion, but comes no where close to Kingdom of Sky or Echoes of Faydwer. With their recent commitment to not add any more adventure packs and not to release more than one expansion a year, EQ2 is now in trouble because I’m considering canceling my account after 2 weeks, how they going to fill the other 50 weeks?


Rise of Kunark

I wish I could get screenshots of the game, but unfortunately that is still disabled on the beta servers. However, NDA is now lifted so I feel like talking about it.

First, the obvious comparison with EoF. The devs have been talking about how they wanted to copy EoF’s successes with this expansion… well I don’t think they did. EoF to me is still far and away a better expansion. Now here’s why….

The first thing you tend to notice in the expansion (depending on where you start), is size. This is an obvious nod towards EoF. This part I love. You thought everything was big in EoF? Multiply it by 3! The zones themselves seem to be about 2 or 3 times bigger than your average EoF zone. For instance, the average RoK zone has 3-4 pages of maps. If you look at these maps, the feature I notice most is that those wings that we see for cloud lifts in KoS and the zone in symbols are a fraction of the size we are used to seeing them, at least half the size. Which means even though there are multiple pages, each page is much bigger in size than your average page from the old maps (they do now have a zoom feature to help you see things close up too). Not only are the size of the zones big, so are the points of interest. One of the first awe inspiring moments I had was in the mountains in the first zone where there is a little outpost. This “little” (I say that as there really isn’t much there) outpost has spires towering over it that I swear are at least 50 times the size of the spires you can teleport to KoS from, they are huge. Underneath them is a bunch of pyramids (not the CT style but more Egyptian instead, actually look a little sci-fi in appearance). The reason these are awe-inspiring is that you don’t see them build up, they are hidden by a mountain peak, so you turn a corner and you see it all… it is awesome. The devs have gotten so much better in zone design with each expansion and this one is no exception.

Once you get past the bigness however, the second thing you notice tends to be…. “My God, this looks like WoW! Ewww!” Don’t get me wrong, some of the new graphics are cool, I particularly like the formerly mentioned pyramids, many of the zone in areas (like the castle, veeshan’s peak, etc) and a number of the new creatures (like the spider people, the iksar/scorpions, the wurms, the new yetis, the cockatrices, and there are a few more that I won’t mention here). However, some of it makes the game seem downright cartoony, and I don’t want to spend my life playing a cartoon world, if I did I’d play wow or toon town. The trees seem ripped straight from wow, they even have a railroad track through a sarnak mine that seemed stolen from the newbie area of WoW. it is overly colourful (of which I’ll be honest in saying colour is good, but it is unrelenting). I thought Kunark in EQ1 was supposed to be a dark and brooding expansion, here it seems bright and cheery.

However, I do like much of it’s kind of primitave feel. Cockatrice’s, Sabretooth Lions, werewolves, giants, wurms, wyverns, droags, etc. make it feel like you are visiting a fantasy dinosaur land. Especially with looming volcanos (the SkyFire Mountains). This is a nice feal, and certainly a new type of feel that we haven’t seen yet in EQ2. The main types of zones seem to be Badlands, Volcano Range, Large Pine Forest, Snow Mountains, a gully area, and I know there is an underwater zone which i haven’t been able to find quite yet.

The Sarnak, I’ve never been too fond of appearances since they released the first pictures, but I do think there will be a number of people who hated the Fae & Arasai who will like the Sarnak. It is a shame they made them evil because they would make great paladins. They have high wisdom, str, and stamina I believe (although it may have been agility instead of strength). Their racial traits include +wis, the firebreathing aoe that had been mentioned, falling damage reduction, healing crit & heal skill buff, taunting resistance reduction buff, think maybe a +sta, and then a couple tradeskills. I think it is best suited for Pally, but I do think it would still see quite a bit of use as other tanks and priests as well.

The reports of a new flying mount is true, sort of. However, in reality it is just a new way to do the griffons. You have to do a 5 step quest which as a reward you get a pet and a flying mount. However, you can only use these flying mounts at various shrines throughout the zone to other similar shrines. Thus the concept is the same as the griffon. It is nice to see graphic variation though, I think they noted that people really liked the horses for GF and LF in EoF. From what I’ve heard the new rhino mount is the reward for being guild level 80. I don’t know what other rewards are involved from 60-80, but I think the rhino is the 80 reward.

Another reason I really feel that this isn’t as good of an expansion as EoF is besides the largeness of the zones and the persistent instances, there really isn’t much NEW to it. EoF brought with it an entire new AA tree, 50 points, 8 gods, cloaks, 2nd earring slot, tinkering, transmuting, and portal spells. RoK is bringing 3 new gods, 40 AA points, and 10 levels to every side (including 20 guild levels). I think the main point they are making is the levels, as they almost didn’t even put in the 40 AA. The levels are great, and well needed addition to the game (I think people were more than a little bored of the 70 level limit by this point), but I would have liked to see SOME new feature to the expansion that was more than just cosmetic like the bigger zones. In a way I was kind of hoping for a third new secondary tradeskill as I feel the choice of just 2 was limiting (I was really hoping for an appearance adjusting secondary tradeskill).

From what little i’ve seen of the beta, I would give the expansion about a B-. Cheesey graphics and lack of new features being the negatives, and big zones, monuments, level raise being the positives. Sarnak kind of fall in between, I do appreciate that they didn’t just pick random animal and turn it into a biped like many fantasy creators seem to.

Of course, this grade was given without a huge amount of playtime put into it. I mostly have just kind of looked around at the new zones, found out where some basic things were, and seen if there was anything new that they haven’t really talked about. I am in no rush to ruin the content. With expansions only coming 1 time a year, we are going to be living with these new zones for a year, and I am sure by this time next year we will be quite sick of these zones because this is all we have for 74-85. Why would I want to rush me being sick of it?

EQ2-Daily Props

About a year ago or maybe more, I had started a site whose purpose was to provide the EQ2 community with current news on the status of the game. Part of this was because most of the news out there was fairly bad and ill-reported. I wanted to provide more than just random crap put together in a badly designed website that was My site was cleanly put together, I didn’t just post everything that I found, I tried to keep it new, relavant and interesting. Despite the fact that I had a stable amount of visitors and I was doing fine, I decided to close the site because I just didn’t have the time to do it alone and could not find others to help.

So a few months ago, EQ2-Daily went through a redesign and after some visitation I must admit that their site is now perhaps the best MMO news site design online that I have seen anywhere. It is extremely intuitive, very clean looking, no longer the eyesore that it once was, and very well laid out. Props to whoever did the design.

Their news is still basic at best and more an aggrigator for blogs and other news sites than actual EQ2 news, but the site design is now great which was one of my original complaints about it. I would still like to see them gear away from the wiki (as eq2i is way better and theirs is taking away possible submissions), and start adding more stories from developers themselves.. for instance, while it is easy to actually go yourself to the official forums and see developer posts, it’d be nice if someone would post the good ones so you don’t have to wade through devs posting such gems as “lol” to get to the real posts where they are talking about new features coming out and why they did them. Those stories are still absent and it is shameful, the only time you can hear from a developer about the game is by digging or on the occasion that they do an interview with a different site.


I have been kind of laxxed the last few weeks on updating this site. It has been a very trying couple of weeks and when push comes to shove, I just have not really felt like it.

Last week I got an F on a paper for my Frank Lloyd Wright class and this kind of put me in a tale-spin. I feel that this is my favorite class, that I am learning the most from it, and that the paper I wrote was among my best papers over the last couple of years (of which my worst grade has been a low B). With only two total papers I felt the only thing left to do was to drop the course entirely. This was a very difficult decision because I really did like the class, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter for my graduation so I just decided to kick it. It will help me get a little more time at any rate.

However, this drop will leave me without my best study time which has been the four to five hours between classes on Tuesdays. Because of this, I decided that I will stick around campus for an hour or two after classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to make up the time. And sometimes I plan to still go to my FLW class as the prof doesn’t take any attendance. I really have found that I get much better studying done away from home than at home. I get too distracted there.

As if this wasn’t enough for my psyche, I have been having a wealth of “relationship” dreams which have been putting me into a state of eternal loneliness. I haven’t really felt that I could talk to my roommate about any of these problems either so I have this sense of being alone that I just haven’t felt in a very long time, if ever. I feel very alone right now, both for not having a girlfriend, and for not having anyone that I feel that I can reliably talk to who actually understands what I am going through.

It isn’t all bad though. I’ve been really getting into my books from Recent fiction and my recent paper for it came very easily to me which I was happy about. In addition to this, I saw Across the Universe this past weekend and this combination has left me feeling very artsy. Because of this, I have gotten back into writing my book and I am pleased with this progress. I feel like I really am doing a better job at fleshing out my story, though sometimes I think I am setting into the details a little too much.