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Games Entertainment

EQ 'Shadow of Luclin' -- Pretty Graphics, Ugly Release 316

ajs writes: "EverQuest isn't a book or a movie, but a work of fiction that's kept a 400,000 member audience enthralled for months is worth a closer look. The most recent update to EverQuest, Shadows of Luclin, is out and of course much of the subscriber base is flocking to be the first to kill the big bad ... whatevers that lurk in the long-lost moon of Norrath. My review touches more on the release than the software, since I think that's what's truely interesting about this industry right now. But to sum up: if you play EverQuest, wait a few days or weeks and then give this a spin ... it's a ride." Read on for the rest of his account.

For starters, everyone reading this should understand that persistant gaming of various forms is here to stay. EverQuest will likely be around for at least a few more years, and its successors will probably take over the gaming industry for several reasons: first, they offer a different and more lucrative revenue model; second, they offer some intriguing secondary revenue possibilities; oh, and third, there are the players who actually seem to enjoy adding more social elements to their gaming ;-)

EverQuest has been a rocky road since day one because the people developing it have never truly understood their market (this can be evidenced by how many customer service policies have been reversed over time). Now, on the eve of their most hyped release, they have done the unthinkable: They released a product which has substantial crash-to-desktop bugs and made the update process so painful as to be impossible for many players. Now, with Quake you'd say "that's awful, but they'll fix the bugs and players of the old version will be fine for now". With EverQuest, everyone gets patched at the same time, and no one can play until it's done and works.

To give some examples: every player is now required to run Microsoft's DirectX8; Minimum memory and processor specs have gone up, and if you dare to run the new expansion you will have to have at least 256MB of RAM just for the core functionality (they provide a way to back out most of the new UI stuff for those who have 128MB of RAM, but I'm told its almost unplayable); 512MB of RAM is suggested!

Ok, so what was the first day like? Well, the servers were down for most of the day, when they were supposed to just be down for a night. Then, when they came up, it seems that Sony did not provide enough network bandwidth for the patching storm that ensued, so no one could patch (and thus, no one could play) until a crittical mass of players gave up and went to bed.

Worse, the patching program was intolerant of the network failures and would leave droppings that would prevent subsequent attempts to patch. I required 2 reboots, 5 file deletions and 2.5 hours to finally patch and run.

"So, how is it?!" you ask? Well, it's a whole lot better than it was, but it's really still not there yet. The graphics are actually disorienting because of their quality and the new hardware T&L acceleration from DX8. Turning around makes you feel like you live in the land of smooth scroll. The facial feature selection for humans is very nice, but for the Iksar (the lizard race), it's rather sketchy, and not much different from before. Horses are cheaper than some had suggested (8,000 platinum minimun). New models for summoned pets and other character-related models like "wolf form" are very slick. The new zones seem to stress their size quite a lot (it's hard to accept that humans would build on such a scale).

I've yet to see the new race, as I assumed that everyone would be starting those characters and the server would be quite slow in those zones.

There are some problems, though, and I think Verant should have held off on the release until they were finished. First is the much anticipated Bazaar zone, where players will be able to become merchants (to some degree which is not yet clear) and sell their goods automatically. This functionallity is off, and still being worked on.

Second, there appear to be a number of bugs. Teleportation while in the new zones was supposed to take characters to a central zone ("The Nexus") from which they could then teleport to their destination. (Currently, that's not the way it works: 10-20 seconds after teleporting, everyone in our party except for the person who teleported crashed to the desktop with no warning!)

There are some problems with spells. Someone pointed out to me that low-level wizard spells do not animate at all, so its hard to tell that your wizard is actually doing anything in a fight.

Overall, I'm going to give this release a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. It's pretty and in a month, it will likely be the best MMORPG on the market, but again -- it's just not there yet. This release hurt a lot of players who didn't even want to buy the expansion yet.

Some key resources for those who are trying out Luclin are:


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EQ 'Shadow of Luclin' -- Pretty Graphics, Ugly Release

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  • by Marx_Mrvelous ( 532372 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:05PM (#2666851) Homepage
    Interesting to note...
    The thing that makes these games so popular and addictive is the human interaction element, not the graphics, the plot, or the monsters. I remember playing MUDs in high school that people were just as devoted to as EQ.

    So by that reasoning, the true key to a successful multiplayer RPG would be improving and rewarding actual role-playing and character interaction.
    • Actually, muds are still quite popular.
      Mudders say its the difference between reading a book and watching a movie. Muds (text-based) allow more freedom of imagination.

      I say its just because its free, requires no bandwidth, and doesn't really require any extra software (although telnet in windows is icky) ;-)
      • although telnet in windows is icky

        Well, the Windows-supplied telnet client is icky. I highly recommend PuTTY [] for all of your Windows telnet and ssh needs.

        Hrm. Well, except for MUDding, actually. A good MUD client really helps. I seem to recall that zMUD was a good Windows MUD client, though it might be shareware. (These days, my only interaction with Windows is supporting it at work; no call for MUD clients there, and I use tinyfugue under Linux at home.)

        --Phil (One of these days I'm going to get around to turning tf into an IRC client, just for fun.)
    • The reasons MUDs like EverCrack are so popular is the level of fake human interaction they provide. If your partner in an exploring party isn't feelign well, you can do without them.

      contrrast this to real life, where if your wife, or girlfriend or roommate has unpleasant emotions, you have to deal with them, you can't just shutdown the program.

      Getting back on topic, if these MUD's get too realistic, no one will play them. Who wants a gorgeous cybergirlfriend who gets PMS?

    • by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:48PM (#2666938) Homepage Journal
      The thing that makes these games so popular and addictive is the human interaction element

      Nah, the addictive thing there is the notion of "points", which represent a goal that is easily optimized for. In EverQuest and various muds, the points are "pieces of equipment" or stats or something similar. Your brain likes optimizing for clear goals. Which is why you karma whore on /. Human interaction merely means it takes a little longer to get over your addiction... you excuse mechanisms for not quitting (I have friends there...) are stronger.

      --LP ;)
      • I think the reason why these games are so addictive is that they present goals which are clearly defined, easily comprehended, and acheivable through consistent methods.

        Kill monster. Get reward. Rinse and repeat.

        This is very much unlike real-life for many people, thus they feel a measure of control over their destiny when they are gaming. This of course is very satisfying, and so the activity is repeated over and over again. Thus the "addiction".

        Another reason is that "points"/rewards bring "power" and "prestige", within the corresponding community, to the accumulators. Again, this is very much unlike real-life for many people. I mean, admit it, 90% of us as children never expected to end up living on adequate street in somewhereville.

        Well, these games offer a whole new set of rules, and a blank slate social structure. There is almost a "gold-rush" aspect that is built into that scenario. A whole new ladder to climb, so people began climbing. Then realized that if they ever stopped climbing someone would surpass them. That's when it becomes apparent that many of those same rules which govern real-life social structure now govern these virtual communities, so in order to maintain their level of prestige/power within this new social structure, they have to commit to ever questing.

        In summary, I think there are two forces at work here. One is that people like the structured reality where consistent rewards are gained when specific goals are attained. Two is that the social structures within these communities are fresh and there is/was plenty of room for an ambitious individual to gain prestige/power, however in order to maintain that level of prestige/power, real-life social laws still need to be obeyed and thus you need to keep working at maintaining your status.

        Is this completely out to lunch?
        • You make good points; I'd basically agree.

          Combining a couple of your observations, the consistent rewards plus the social structure of online games very much provide an environment of "meritocracy". The justice of such an environment has a subtle but remarkable appeal.

        • The problem with these games for me is that the ladder never leads anywhere. Its merely rung after rung. There's no roof or floor to get off at. I played Asheron's Call for four months. The quests were interesting, but I wanted more results. Until my character's actions have a meaningful effect on the world, such as gaining real power or changing boundaries, I won't be playing any of the current crop.

    • Which is not a percistant world, but it was still big fun, adventuring with your party of 4, finding cool items and making friends.
    • The makers of Underlight [] has been advocating this feature in their game for years now, so why has it's popularity deteriorated so much since it was started?
    • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @05:24PM (#2667218)
      Actually in a weird way this keeps me away from everquest. From what I've heard, without a making friends and building relationships you'll never be in a party that can do the advanced stuff. But the amount of time you have to devote to the game in order to build such relationships would have a negative effect on my social life in the real world.

      In other words, you can't just pick it up and play every once in a while because you will lose the social aspect of the game, which is necissary for success. Unfortuantly, I only have time to play every once in a while so it'll never be really fun for me.
      • Too true. I had joined EQ about a year ago, played 24/7 for 4-5 months (much to my girlfriend's disappointment), then quit cold turkey. I decided to give it another shot last month after discussing it with a coworker, played it a total of 4 times, maybe 6-7 hours total, realized that all my old questing pals had evolved way beyond my level, and got serously bored of it.

        On the other hand, I reinstalled Quake 3 and have been enjoying short frag fests at least 2-3 times per week. It's quick, it's simple, I don't care much who I play against, I just blow people into bits and it's fun.
      • Actually in a weird way this keeps me away from everquest

        Me too. If I want 'human interaction' I'll skip on over to the pub, or visit my family, or take my lady out for a meal - I won't sit and play a damn computer game!

        /. is about killing your 15 minute breaks at work without having to talk to the dildos in the office - its not about human interaction - alhtough oddly there are community aspects to it. But these are similar to being part of the deaf, or blind community - you share a fundamental but you wouldn't necessarily want to shag any of your fellow members.

        On a slight tangent, whenever driving games start getting too deep, adding plot elements, building complex season results to access courses, etc... I get bored and visit google with the old 'Toca cheat code' search. I don't have time to build up all that stuff - I just want to pretent I'm a big mean racing driver from time to time. I can be bothered to persevere with a manual shift - because thats more fun - but bugger forming a relationship with my manager!
    • i think the addictive element is different for different people.

      if you look at the stereo typical male element.. then you have the competative aspect... i must outdo my friends and beat down on my enemies i've noticed muds like godwars and genocide (heavy pk) are very heavy in male population...

      if you look at the stero typical female elemnt then you have that social interaction thing going... if you look at "muds" that are mainly aimed at just talking and less or no killing there is more of a balance between male and famle patrons

      note: i don't mean only men want to score and only women want to interact.. that is just the stereo type that these muds (and many other games) market on... i know no girls that are into first person shooters, but i several who are into "final fantasy"

      of course after playing and coding godwars (yes i was one of those) for a few years i've found that the greatest chalenge a mud can give long term players is "getting bored" unless the coders are constantly adding new stuff, more stuff, cooler stuff, people get bored eventually and leave.. or it turns into a chat room with occasinal killing.
    • by ADRA ( 37398 )
      MUD's may be popular, but I don't think that player interaction and role playing is enough of a holding factor for so many people.

      MUD's may be acceptable for a small segment of die-hard players, but you will never get 10,000 people at any time into a giant chat room to role play.

      RRORPG's give a direction for players to move forward, to give people structure in the fact that they are accomplishing things. That may be accomplishing goals, meeting new friends, selling your account on ebay, whatever, but "most people" can and do not become so imersed in a chat room.

      Many people join these games for differing reasons. I may join because I love adventuring, becomming a better skilled player, and to meet new friends. Some may just want to pk my ass into dirt. These games are so big, because they give the user strong freedoms over what they do. This is baring many many limitations put in to spoil hard-core cheating.

      I think there are some fundamentals that are necessary for a successful, large scale online game.

      1 Large worlds to explore, with many hidden suprises
      2 diverse character selection process, because the stats junkies love it
      3 Simple, intutive chat system
      4 Temporary grouping for common gain
      5 A longterm allegence structure which benefits everyone in it (I liked the AC experience pyramid a lot)
      6 Strong insentives to be a moral player (aka don't be a bastard)
      7 Detailed storyline with micro and macro plotlines (player or non-player, I think structure put in for both is good)
      8 Trade skills are good if applied right(In DAOC, one thing I really haterdd was that there was no special hinderance in developing trade skills besides the time put in, so a character could spec in trade skills, and still have a non-gimped warrior. It leads to a more general player base without specialization)
      9 Good balance between Average and extream character templates (This has killed so many otherwise good games...)
      10 Good graphics / sound / playability / controls are always a gooder
      11 Ugh.. this list is longer than I thought.

      I would love to hear back what others would love to see in an MMORPG, so please respond with some interesting comments ;-)
    • You start of as a little guy with a little stick. You wander around until you find someone smaller, beat the crap outta them and take all their stuff. Repeat until you have enough stuff to buy a bigger stick. Then you can find even bigger guys, beat the crap outta them and take all their stuff. Repeat, all in the hope that one day you will have the biggest stick of all.
  • Guess I'll wait.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by MantridDronemaker ( 541253 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:05PM (#2666858) Homepage
    Ugh, how could they do this? I played EQ on and off for two years and had planned to go back for another around for SoL, and from the sounds of things it's a total disaster. Well I can wait for now and tool around with my Shadowblade in Dark Age of Camelot for now. SoL sounded like it had such potential though...

    • One ling I like about DAoC that EQ doesn't have:
      "Lack of suffering"

      After playing DAoC I will never go back to EQ-series games...there are so many annoying details about are a few:
      - Loosing items when you give them to the wrong NPC
      - You have to buy water and food.
      - The boats take too much time...designed to slow you down
      - Money weights too much and cannot be converted on the fly...that means you have to drop you 500s800c to get rid of weight
      - Zones are designed to keep you in the same place...traveling from one place to the other is very dangerous.
      - If you go to a zone you dont know to die.
      - Aggroed mobs will follow you arround for the rest of their lives
      - Tradeskills require WAY to much money to start
      - Downtime required to meditate sucks.
      - Having to run to your corpse after dying sucks and it's an enormous time drain.
      - Clerics get rez at lvl 34???? in DAoC is lvl 10

      The game has a "against the user" feel to it, I just got tired of getting annoyed and moved over to DAoC...and is sooo more fun!!

      If the same ppl that designed EQ designed Shadows of not interested.
    • The potential is still there. I don't see why the fact the launch went bad is going to alter your decision to buy the expansion in a few weeks when it's stabalized.

      I couldn't get in to Star Wars Episode 1 on the day it came out either, didn't stop me from trying to see it later.
  • heehee
    Thankfully I never got into evercrack []. I think I'm going to quit my job when Star Wars Galaxies [] comes out, though.
  • by johnburton ( 21870 ) <> on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:07PM (#2666868) Homepage
    I've not got the luclin expansion yet but many of the problems introduced were there even with the old version.

    The article is fair, but the expansion had only been out for 36 hours when it was written and already they have had one patch which has cured many of the worst software problems, and are promising more to come in the next few days.

    I have every confidence that this will be a great game by the end of the week and everyone has forgotten about the launch problems.

    As for the requirements, they are high, but that most people who buy a new computer now will get one that easily meets them. And they have to target the game at people who are likely to be buying it soon, not at those who last upgraded their PC 2 years ago. I'd rather they pushed the spec and made a nicer game than just went for the lowest common denominator and lose out to other games.

    The worst problem I've got is that the expansion is not yet available in the UK!!!

    But if you've not played everquest I have to recommend it to you. Yes there are some problems with this update but they'll all be sorted out in the next week or so and it will continue to be the best game around at the moment.

    • As for the requirements, they are high, but that most people who buy a new computer now will get one that easily meets them.

      Even for people who don't buy new computers it's not a problem. An extra 256 MB of RAM costs, what, US$35? That's only $5 more than the expansion itself. Everyone seems to freak out about memory requirements when that is just about the cheapest, most effective way to upgrade your game experience.

    • The thing is, none of these problems should have been there in the first place.

      If Verant had tested this thing properly they would have easily discovered that:

      • Skeletons looked like they were doing quicktime
      • Wolfform people looked like rats / chihuahuas
      • All the mobs in a zone "floated" about the land when you zone in
      • Clipping is all wrong on boats
      • You crash eqgame if you hit the Windows key
      • Bard and wizards had serious functionality problems to the point of being broken
      • Spell animations weren't working
      • Single layer skys caused buildings and other terrain to shimmer

      All in all it was a shocking, inexcusable release. Everyone expects glitches, but this amount showed they really didn't test the thing at all. And the rollout was much too short. They should have been rolling stuff out into the client for weeks before to catch these kinds of bugs.

    • the expansion had only been out for 36 hours ... and already they have had one patch

      You say that like it's a good thing.

      It's not. It's a symptom of crap software.

    • There were such huge issues that this should not have ever gone gold. And these were not unknown issues. They were reported by beta testers (one of whom I know and is actually credited in the back of the book) a week or more prior to release.

      Bards were broken. They didn't work at all. Again.

      All group buffs were broken - which seriously screws the high level game.

      Crashing due to numerous reasons, resources being sucked dry by several different aspects of the game (heck, the patcher eats all your CPU when it starts. Why? Because it's standard Verant coding - broken).

      The requirements aren't just high. They're ridiculous. The graphics are nice, but they're not as good as DAoC IMO, and DAoC has far lower requirements. Not to mention that requiring DX8.1 (ok, technically 8.0a, but you can't get that easily anymore) breaks Win95 and makes the game mostly broken on 3dfx cards (already replaced my fiancee's Voodoo3 - that cost $200). You can play with 256MB, but I don't recommend it. At least memory is cheap. Too bad Win9x can't properly deal with >512MB on most PCs. The recommended CPU is 1 GHz, which is considerably higher than the average level right now - well over half my guild, which is one of the top guilds in the entire game - doesn't really have the CPU to upgrade. Myself included (Athlon 700).

      It broke EQW, which allowed people to actually use their computers for other things while playing EQ, and/or allowed them to play multiple accounts on one PC (no, this isn't Verant's responsibility. No, it doesn't break the EULA technically. Yes, Verant are nitwits for continuing to refuse windowed functionality. No, I don't think anyone could realistically play more than one account on a single PC with the new minimum req's).

      It's pretty, I'll play it some after a 4 month hiatus (mainly because my fiancee, who I met through the game, wants to), but this is by far the worst release Verant has done yet. I was there for both the Kunark and Velious releases. They were clean by comparison.
  • Major Bugs (Score:4, Informative)

    by Binestar ( 28861 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:07PM (#2666869) Homepage
    One of the major issues is that under windows XP and windows 2000 there is a major memory leak. After 2-3 minutes of playing on a machine with 512MB of ram I crawl to a 1fps grind before finally just having the machine reboot on me.

    It's painful.

    I've decided just to hunt in the empty Zones and wait a month before doing any serious Moon hopping.

    Enjoy the game everyone, it's pretty. (buggy =)

    Check out the Buggy Naked Pictures from the expansion []. I guess someone didn't have all the files downloaded or DX wasn't loading properly. Makes for interesting grouping... Later, Binestar

    • I got the patch finished last night and played for well over a half hour before hitting the sack.

      I run Win2k Server, PII 450, 196MB RAM, GeForce2MX with 32 MB RAM.

      I had exactly zero memory leak problems.

      Granted, I was in a zone with just me in it, although I did pop over to one with a few people.

      Still no problems though.

      Can't say for XP, cause I ain't gettin' it until I absolutely have to.
      • Re:Major Bugs (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Binestar ( 28861 )
        I was in the first couple Zones in luclin and getting the horrid frame rates. While i guess there is a chance it's my system I highly doubt it. Installed Win2K 2 weeks ago and have the latest drivers for my SBLive!, Geforce2GTS 32MB, have 512MB PC133 Ram, Athlon 1100, and over 30GB of free space on my hard drive. Even spent the night defragging my drives to no effect. It takes about 4 hours of non-stop play in an uncrowded zone to crash me, took 3 minutes (literally) in a luclin Zone.

        Don't get me wrong, the game is nice, and I'll continue to play, but I just can't play in those zones until the bugs are fixed.

        One of the major issues that people are having is that 4 hours before the patch was completed on the Required System specs page they had Win95 and DirectX8.0a. But when the servers went up they had removed that and said that that wouldn't be supported. Now I can understand not supporting it, but giving 4 hours of notice? Thats just not right.
    • I am using WinXP with a gig of ram and Have had not one memory leak issue... Ive been on 4+ hours straight without problems.
  • 128 MB is ok! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:41PM (#2666894)
    I have P3-500MHz 128MB RAM TNT2 Ultra
    and without the new textures, can play very well thank you.
  • by dswensen ( 252552 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:42PM (#2666903) Homepage
    "EverQuest will likely be around for at least a few more years, and its successors will probably take over the gaming industry for several reasons... oh, and third, there are the players who actually seem to enjoy adding more social elements to their gaming..."

    I certainly hope you're wrong about persistent online gaming taking over the industry. If that's the case, I'm going to hang up the old joystick.

    For me, socializing is socializing, gaming is gaming, and rarely the twain shall meet. I play games to enjoy myself and de-stress, and the last thing I really need is to do is log on and transport myself away to a magical faery world where "L0RDBADA$$23" and "SexyBiGrrrl8775" gather in Ye Old Inn and ask "hi how r u r u m or f? lol brb u sux." And then be PKed and have my corpse looted.

    I've just never met an online game that I could get into. The plot and roleplaying elements are fine, but nothing I couldn't get from a single-player RPG, in general. And as for human interaction... while I'm sure there are a lot of intelligent players of EQ or UO out there who like to roleplay their characters, somehow I've never met them -- most everyone I've ever met playing either game has been the intellectual equivalent of the goatsex ACs or a deep-sea tube worm. Why would I pay American money to interact with people like that?

    Single player games don't have server downtime, cheaters, whiners, politics, or require a credit card to keep playing them. UT bots don't try to crash the server when they start losing, or strip naked looking for cybersex.

    I realize, of course, that I've probably just had one too many bad (and maybe even unusual) experiences that have soured me on the whole concept. I understand there are many people who have deeply satisfying and personally fulfilling hours of fun playing persistent MMORPGs. I'm very happy for them, but I prefer my games single-player, offline, and not charging me ten bucks a month for the privilege of continuing to play it.

    I hope there are enough gamers out there with a similar outlook to sustain a market for single-player games. Because if persistent online worlds take over, I'm pretty much going back to chess.
    • I completely agree. I have tried Everquest and was extremely bored. I have a hard time convincing myself that it is ok to drop $50 on a game because I worry that I am going to solve it over the weekend or become bored to the point that my drool short-circuits the keyboard. Then throw in the fact that you have to pay to play, I would get more enjoyment of going to the local arcade with a roll of quarters.

      Maybe one of the MMORPG's would be worth it if you could earn points or something towards tangible items. Then it may be worth it to pay and play, kinda like skeeball!

    • Right on.

      I agree with all your points. I had the same type of experience with Diablo II, but that's more hack and smash, not role-plyaing. If I recall correctly, didn't EQ institute a restrcition on fantasy names only so you wouldn't have to deal with Lord BadAss and L337G1RL? I think that's a step in the right direction.

      The other side is the money. They're probably figuring that Johhny PK'er who is 15 and rulez IRC won't spend X amount of dollars monthly to PK in EQ, when he can do it for free in Diablo II, Starcraft, or anything Blizzard makes. I also think that Verant setup a PK only server, so you're safe if you aren't on it. Any current players care to enlighten us?

      • Actually, I think there are four PvP (preferable term to PK, according to Verant) with different rulesets.

        Two free-for-all servers, where anyone can attack anyone within certain level limits (one allows item looting, one per kill, and coin, the other is coin only).

        The third is a "teams" server where there's a four-way fight between humans, shorties (halflings, gnomes), elves, and "evil" races (ogres, trolls, etc..)

        Fourth is a "no holds barred" server, highest level characters can kill level 1 newbies all day, there basically are no rules about gameplay (player conduct, on the other hand is still dealt with if it becomes troublesome). This server was sort of a thought experiment, seeing how the player community would react and organize to the suspension of the "play nice" policies instituted by Verant/SOE.

    • with few exceptions: lame-ass names are banned, they go through a "lameness" filter, and if a gm doesn't like your name, depending on the gm, you can be deleted, or required to change your name.

      pking ONLY works on servers with that on, and you can only loot the coins on a pvp server.

      they now don't require a credit card, at compusa, you can buy a 90 day card for USD$30 (same rate as credit card).

      I agree, that I like the single player games (mostly because my roommates download mp3's and divx movies all the time) and cause i can pause the single player games. save and come back is another great feature. and sometimes, dammit, i wanna cheat, just so i can blow stuff up. not for normal playing mind, just shoot all of the aliens and slaughter the cpu/ai to relieve stress.
    • As a current player of several high level charachters on one of the oldest servers around I've been through the thick and thin of every patch, revamp and expansion SOE has thrown out for the crack addicts.

      Here's my 2cp on the whole interaction deal. First off, Everquest has had naming filters in for the vast majoritity of its implementation to prevent L33TH4x0r from joining yoru group. You may see one or two lucky bums skip past the filter at the beginning of the game, but the GM's don't cotton to CrapyHedd the troll on thier server.

      Secondly, and more importantly, Everquest is a completley social game. If you don't like dealing with people, you better not play. That unfortunatley can be a problem for non-peak hour players, but most people seem to enjoy joining a guild, making friends, and finding new ways to complement each others play styles. You'll find on the older servers many of the players are mid/late 20's to late 30's. Most have jobs, and are probably upstanding citizens looking to unwind by goreing a Dervish Cutthroat with thier newly acquired Crystalline Spider Fang. I think these are the types of people who want a challenge in the game they play, and no matter how much is sucks, a penalty for when you lose the battle.

      I used to like simple single player games, StarCraft comes instantly to mind. I used to be a good player, but now you can't even log into Battle.Net and find a friendly game. Now it's just who's hack works the fastest. It's rediculous. Everquest makes cheaters a thing of the past.

      In closing, I'd suggest everyone bent on 1 player shoot em up games to go out and puchase the old world of Everquest. Fire up a newbie and start having fun. 99% of you will be hooked, and buying expantions before you know it.

      The market for single player games like Myst/Duke Nukem et al will always be there, but in a year or two, you watch...between EQ, AC, AO, DAoC, and Star Wars Galaxies which is due out, MMORPG's will rule the industry as the money continues to roll in long after the game was sold.
  • by sllort ( 442574 )
    there are the players who actually seem to enjoy adding more social elements to their gaming

    Hey, I have a suggestion. When I want to add a social element to my gaming, I call some friends and go play football. It's actually surprisingly warm outside today for December and all, especially out here on the east coast. Either way, football is fun in the cold too. Give it a try!
    • The Slashdotters would never attempt such a game as football. They'd get killed out there, even if their competition was a group of six year old girls.
    • but indoor soccor is much better!

      Nothing like playing goalie and getting your face pounded again and again and again. Gotta get back in to that sport...

      Oh yeah, and don't forget unlike computer games, real life has very few glitches, and no worries about ping.
  • by Maul ( 83993 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:43PM (#2666909) Journal
    I've been playing Dark Age of Camelot casually since October. I find it to be much more enjoyable than EverQuest, mainly becuase it is less crowded, and is based upon Arthurian, Celtic, and Norse legends that many people are already familiar with. They are still tweaking the game quite a bit, but it runs fine, unlike the newest EQ expansion. Plus it has a great PvP system in which, rather than people killing mindlessly like in UO, "realms" are pitted against each other. It also seems easier to play causally than EQ.

    I recommend this one to anyone fed up with EverCrack or other online games.

    • I've never even heard of this game so I wanted to learn more, but no link was given. (shame!)

      So here it is: []
    • I've been playing DAoC since beta 4 and it's so refreshingly different from Eq. Sure, you still level forever, but there's so else you can do if you want. Take up crafting and make weapons/armor, or get a party together for some realm vs realm combat. There's actually a reason to keep playing once you hit the level cap. In Eq you hit the level cap and then sell your character on Ebay.

      Plus Mythic doesn't seem to absolutely loathe their customers like Verant does. Everquest is like an abusive family that won't ever let you leave.
  • Society... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by don_carnage ( 145494 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:44PM (#2666913) Homepage
    I never ceased to be amazed by the virtual societies that are created in massive online multiplayer games. I used to be an Asheron's Call addict because I fell in love with the idea of being able to adventure across the landscape to far away lands. I didn't really get into the role-playing aspect, but was intrigued by people that would complain about theft, treachery and the multitude of con-artists that sprung-up in game. The sheer fact that these games mirror our own society (with greed, deceipt, etc.) is truly a great technical feat!
    • and it seems that the only thing left is the community/society. The newest updates aren't that great, the expansion was a great monthly update, but not really worth $20 bucks. If it weren't for the wonderfull people I've met I would have stopped playing again.

      Then there's AO which also had great people, and great potential, but was ruined by a worse release than this EQ expansion (though not by much). I played that till the free game expired and they tried to bill me. There was no way in hell I was paying for more beta software, and I would love to get the $50 bucks back I paid for the box.

      DAoC had a great release, but it really seems like Dark Age of Everquest so it didn't appeal to me for long. The world is quite small and it feels like they made up for it by makeing everything slow. It's still a good game, and I know a lot of people like like it, but it hasn't been able to hold my attention... I think maybe I'll renew it now that the msn gameing zone is moving thier accounts over to .NET Passports, which I don't want.

      I would also comment on WWII Online, but everyone I know hated the release (worse than AO?) becaues it was mostly unplayable so I didn't waste my money.
    • The sheer fact that these games mirror our own society (with greed, deceipt, etc.) is truly a great technical feat!

      A great technical feat?

      The game simply provides a virtual environment and some basic rules; it's the human element that gives birth to the fascinating emergent behavior of the system.

      One thing that doesn't mirror very well, though, is cheating. Cheaters can break the fundamental rules of the game, but there can never be a real Superman (physics cheater) in reality. :)


  • Updates (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:46PM (#2666922) Homepage Journal
    Since I submitted this, there have been several developments:
    • It's becoming obvious that a fair number of Win95 users are pissed that the game they bought and ran under Win95 has suddenly stopped working []. Note: this has nothing to do with the fact that the expansion does not run under Win95, but that old, installed versions of EQ were updated (via the patcher) with a game that refuses to run under 95!
    • Verant has been BUSY! There is now a patch for some of the larger problems [] that people were seeing. I was personally bit by the auto-follow, crash-to-desktop bug several times :-(
    This is not a bad release, really. It's just pointing out a lot of the problems that games now face when everyone gets updated/patched at once. The artificial lines between people running "Luclin" and people running "the old EverQuest" are very thin....
    • this IS a bad release.
      people who bought the game the claime to run on there OS have been screwed.
      This bugs are not little esoteric things that couldn't have been tested for, these are huge gaping problems, and quite frankly, they must not of done any testing, otherwise they would have stood out.
      There IS no excuse, for any piece of software, to be this buggy within 36 hours of release.
    • Look what happened to AC players: Turbine said that once you purchased the game, you would never have to purchase any patches or upgrades (aside from the monthly fee) and then they turned around and released "Dark Magesty" which practically forced players to shell out cash so that they could see some of the new features.

      AC players have more than once been bitten by the upgrade/patch bug and I think that companies like Verant and M$/Turbine really need to think of better ways to accomplish this task.

    • Re:Updates (Score:3, Informative)

      by gmhowell ( 26755 )
      No, actually, this IS a bad release. Really. It breaks software that people are paying for (EQ Classic). It doesn't work as described (your trials and tribulations getting it installed are but one of a myriad of install problems). Day one patches are NOT the signs of a good release (kernel 2.4.15 and 2.4.11 anyone?)

      Had Verant been busy earlier, and not rushed a pre Xmas release, they wouldn't be busy right now.

      This is bad. This is bad software. This is bad beta-testing.
      • Your points are well taken.

        My terminology was fuzzy. This is a passable "realese" in the sense that they released on time with most features and are fixing the bugs fast. All this, not to mention the fact that there's some pretty cool stuff in this release!

        This was a disaster of near epic proportions for the players because of the nature of the game. This is a great example of the dangers of subscriber-ware, and an even better example of the way our paradigm is changing in the gaming world. Once, the phrase "I have version 2.3" meant something. Soon though, I just don't see that it'll be meaningful at all, at least in the gaming world.
    • Re:Updates (Score:2, Interesting)

      It's becoming obvious that a fair number of Win95 users are pissed that the game they bought and ran under Win95 has suddenly stopped working. Note: this has nothing to do with the fact that the expansion does not run under Win95, but that old, installed versions of EQ were updated (via the patcher) with a game that refuses to run under 95!

      I find it very hard to feel sympathetic here, for two reasons: 1) They're playing this game on an OS that is nearly seven years old, and 2) in at least two places Verant has put a warning saying that the minimum requirements of the game could change. The first is in the EULA, saying they can change it at a moment's notice. The second (for you people who don't believe in the validity of EULA's) is located on the game box itself. Under the minimum requirements is a statement saying that "The minimum requirements are subject to change as the game progresses." (I forget the EXACT wording, but that's pretty close.) It was on the Shadows of Luclin box, the recent EverQuest Trilogy release, and as far back as Scars of Velious (which I also picked up when I bought SoL).

      Verant had been warning that the system requirements were going to go up. People should have been prepared for that. By what I'm hearing from the Windows 95 camp and the people in the game chat complaining about video cards, they weren't... and there's no excuse for that.

      Go ahead and mark me down as flamebait... I've said my $.02.

    • Reminds me of Civ 3...nowhere on the box does it say you need a name-brand monitor with an associated Windows driver, and yet the game absolutely will not play with a no-name monitor ("Default Monitor"). Doesn't matter that the same monitor will work fine in RTCW, Quake3, etc. You absolutely must have a name-brand monitor with a driver, or the game WILL NOT WORK.

  • by jd142 ( 129673 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:46PM (#2666926) Homepage
    So basically, what you are saying is that there's a downside to subscription based software when the user has no choice about the upgrade? That the manufacturer of the subscription software can put out a buggy update and force you to take it, which means the software is useless until the fix is in. And you can be forced to upgrade your hardware instead of using existing hardware and existing software.

    Hmm. Why does this sound so very familiar.

    And you thought there wouldn't be an M$ bashing post under the evercrack story. Shame on you! This is /.
    • What's funny is that Asheron's Call (run by Microsoft, written by Turbine) doesn't have the hefty memory requirements that EQ has. Go figure.

      However, AC is not without it's problems. Several patches have made the game virtually un-playable for most of the player base. Plus, they are still trying to sort out "housing" problems from their Dark Magesty release.

  • UI MIA (Score:3, Funny)

    by LightBender ( 541895 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:47PM (#2666927)
    You forgot to mention their new interface is MIA! We are still stuck with the old dated rather poorly designed UI. This was one of my main reasons for purchasing SoL. (now I'm the one SOL)
  • I had vowed to stop playing EQ when DOAC came out only to find out that i never should have quit.

    With the new expansion pack out i have found some new life in EQ.

    Be ready Thanks to SONY You really have to pay attention to the location that they try to install SoL to. Every other copy of EQ installed to c:\Program Files\Everquest, and the new one tries to install to c:\Program Files\Sony\Everquest. All I can say is thanks Varent.

    I guess im not going to be that upset when I sell my char for alot more than I have paid to play the game.

    --[A computer is] like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy.
    -- Joseph Campbell
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is what I'm waiting for.
  • by Happy Monkey ( 183927 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:52PM (#2666968) Homepage
    Turning around makes you feel like you live in the land of smooth scroll.

    If you actually turn around, without using your computer's I/O peripherals, you'll get an even smoother scroll...
  • ...Now that they've tried to listen to the players and update it, people whine that it is now too much updated. No-win situation here.

    36 hours is definately not enough time to write a review of something like this, heck, the reviewer hasn't even SEEN the new race, and in effect, 25% of what the expansion offers. Kind of like reviewing The Sims Hot Date without ever going downtown.

    It does suck that Verant had some last minute problems. They even stated a pre-emptive apology that there are things that can only be caught with a load of 400,000 players and the strict scrutiny. If the game is still unplayable at the end of the weekend, then let's start roasting. The latest patch was a step in the right direction.
  • Verant Interactive (the company that makes EQ) was simply not prepared for the anticipation for this release. The release is the first major upgrade to the systems graphics. Previous upgrades only affect territory in Norrath (the fictional world that is the setting in EQ), but this one affects a whole lot more. Previous expansion packs didn't affect the anywhere near as much of the game.

    This combined with lots of hype (every time you log into EQ they send a message saying Luclin is comming) left Verant feeling like they had to make deadlines. Luclin wasn't even in most stores when it was supposed to be. I know people who preordered and were supposed to have it delivered by now who still don't have it.

    All the hype means 400,000 subscribers all foaming at the mouth to see the changes. So they log in as soon as the system is back up. The catch? All of them need updated files, and none of them have them. That by itself isn't bad, but when they had trouble updating their servers, the system didn't come back up till 4:00 California Time, which means that all of North America was in primetime for playing.

    Since the server came up at the worst time of day, The patch servers got hit hard. Most users were stuck waiting to get their updates because the patch server couldn't handle the load. Eventually over the night Verant got more patch servers up and things started moving more quickly.
    By 5:00 AM California time, (8:00 AM for me) the traffic jam was gone.

    In Short it was all hype and incredible bad timing that made it such a mess.
    • Well, uh, no. It's not the first for Verant. They handled the Kunark expansion, which had significant graphics updates to the engine, much better than this.

      And yes, I would think that their capacity planning would be able to predict that their subscribers would run home and want to play right off the bat and adjust their patching process accordingly.

      After 3 previous releases, you would think that they knew that this time.

      All in all, their release process sucked. No two ways about it. Especially when consider that this isn't their first time to the plate, and that DAoC released fairly smoothly a couple of months ago.
  • Blame Verant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DocMiata ( 182708 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @04:57PM (#2667003)
    Well, after 25 megs. of patches (and EQ telling me I didn't have DX8.1 installed despite it being there) I finally got it running well enough to look around at all the pretty new graphics.

    This one falls squarely on Verant for blowing it big time.

    Rather than let the release date slip, they shipped a very not-ready-for-primetime product (just in time for the Christmas shopping season!), hoping they could get the bugs fixed in patches before the release date when everyone would find them. They missed.

    They also should have never allowed Jeff Butler & friends to do the player wipe on Test Server last year. This cost them a bunch of loyal players who either quit EQ or moved to other servers, myself included. All those players they lost from Test probably could have been very helpful in finding all the bugs they are facing now. You can't do quality testing on a project this ambitious with a small testing group.

    The new graphics engine is (currently) way too hardware picky, and that should have been caught months ago. (I downloaded 3 different version of eqgfx_dx8.dll last night off the patch server in under 1 hour. Think someone isn't in Verant's offices furiously trying to get it working?)

    • They didn't do a player wipe. Not exactly. What happened was, they did the player wipe (with no warning) and every single person on Test went batshit. A day or so later, they relented and restored all the characters, but with *NO ITEMS*. So it ended up being an item wipe, not a character wipe. Nonetheless, a large contingent of people quit, but there is still a sizable population on Test -- usually 600-800 during peak hours.

      I play on Test (used to play on The Nameless) and I do prefer it over live servers. It's less crowded, there's no economy (you may not like that, but I do), people are generally friendlier... it has disadvantages, but they are outweighed buy the benefits.
  • Get over it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Muggin ( 530890 )
    I think people should bear in mind that this is a revamped graphics engine, and that thousands if not millions of people enjoy this game worldwide. Of course when this rolls out, in a years time, there are going to be kinks that need to be worked out.

    This is a fairly optimistic outlook considering it took me 6 reboots to get my install to connect. When I did finally get things to work I couldn't keep from going LD (link dead to the uninitiated), with my Vah Shair character. The lag and what not wasn't a suprise to me as alot of people that play ran out to get their copy on the same day. Many of these people hadn't played in months, and were looking forward to the alternative skill option of leveling. Case in point East Commons had like 60+ people on the server that I play on. Making a fairly commonly used zone almost unplayable. Most of the people were sitting around checking out the new social animations like a bunch of newbies.

    All this said I tell you, this is a great expansion pack, with great graphics, even for the Iksar, which I play. Give it a couple of weeks when the newness wears off of the wannabe players, and everyone starts going back to performing their quests instead of admiring the new graphics, and everything will start to shake itself out.

    Remember hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
  • ...I'm too busy actually playing an MMORPG right now. See you all in Camelot! :)
  • Triple take... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "EverQuest isn't a book or a movie, but a work of fiction that's kept a 400,000 member audience enthralled for months is worth a closer look.

    Am I the only one who had to read that sentence three times to make sure I wasn't the idiot?

    Good, I'm not alone. :)

  • The whiners started up 2 weeks before, complaining that Verant/Sony said, back when EQ was released, that you'd never have to replace your computer to continue playing. Well, the new requirement of DirectX8.1 (not Dx8 as the review says, but 8.1) forced a bunch of people to have to upgrade theor video cards. You know what though? Suck it up, your Voodoo3 hasn't been supported for almost a year and nas no company behind it any more, why would you expect Microsoft to support it in Dx8?

    And then the revised Luclin specs were released about 2 weeks before launch. Suggested specs went from 256M to 512M. Hardware T&L recommended, required if you're not running a P-III or better. And the new install requires an additional 1G (yes, 1 gig) of disk space to install all of the new textures and character models to. Oh, and you can't play Luclin on Win95 any more.

    What people fail to grasp is that Luclin is an expansion, and a complete revamping of the original game at that. No one is required to buy Luclin to keep playing. You will still see the new characters and new equipment without it, you just can't BE one of the new characters, or go to the new locations. Loading character models, which is where the memory hit comes, is configurable - you can load all, none, or any combination in between. Many people are reporting very acecptable performance with 256M. And DirectX8.1, while bleeding-edge, is a FAR improvement over 8.0a - bug fixes, performance boosts, the whole lot. We covered the video card already. And as far as Win95 no longer being supported (it's still supported for the OLD version), well, check out Microsoft's home page people - 95 was end-of-lifed on November 30, 2001. That was last week.

    The servers _always_ suffer after an outage when everyone is trying to reconnect every 30 seconds, waiting for them to come back up. And as far as the patch running long, most of you numbnuts can't even run Windows Update and keep your own computer running right, let alone manage the patching of a 1,200-computer server farm within 8 hours.

    You claim Verant should have done more testing before release. You have no idea now many variations of motherboards, chipsets, video cards, sound cards, network connections, and whatnot there are. It is physically IMPOSSIBLE for a company in today's technology world to be able to anticipate every software interaction on every hardware platform. It always amazes me when Verant stages a patch that doesn't cause lots of problems, adds lots of new features, and frankly, only inconveniences you. If not being able to play for a day is such a big loss for you, drop me an E-mail, and I'll refund the $0.33 cents you lost for that day because you're too lazy to get off your butt and go outside to see the sun (AAA MY EYES). Just leave me a credit card number for me to run the refund onto :-P

    For what Verant is doing, they manage to do it really well. You claim the release of Luclin was a failure. Perhaps you forget the 2 recent MMORPG releases. Remember Anarchy Online? That was gonna be an EQ killer. So was World War II online. I don't htink I've heard anyone mention them in months now. THAT was a botched release.

    Considering what you're getting, IMO Verant is doing a great job. If it's that much of an inconvenience to you, maybe you should take a break and watch TV for a few days, talk to some RL 'toons', go to the mall, clean off your desk, say hi to your parents for the first time in months.

    • somebody i know at school is an EQ player....

      she play(ed) it on the school issued laptop, which she just got just this september (current model compaq armada e500 with an ati rage mobility pro 8meg video card)... but now since, the latest patch broke the video (made transparencies in 2d sprites black), and EQ no longer supports the video card, she's SOL. its hard/impossible to upgrade the video on a laptop, and this is a top of the line enterprise laptop, through a school technology program, so she can't exactly go out and get a different one.
      • -----
        current model compaq armada e500 with an ati rage mobility pro 8meg video card

        Um, an 8 meg video card? You're barely supported under the OLD requirements, let alone the new ones. And Verant has never officially supported laptops.

        • Standard EverQuest

          Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
          Pentium II 266 or greater
          64MB RAM
          Direct3D or Glide compliant video card with 8MB RAM
          500MB Hard drive space
          28.8k+ internet connection
          DirectX compatible sound card
          Mouse, Keyboard
          2X speed CD-ROM

          from equirements.jsp

          nowhere does it say 'no laptops'

          my friend's laptop is a pIII 850, with 256 meg ram, a direct3d compliant video card w/ 8 meg ram, 20+ gig hdd, 56k/10/100 network, directx compatible sound card, a touchpad, a keyboard, a usb trackball, and at least an 8x dvd-rom drive (swapable with a cd-r) running win2k

          there is no part of those requirements that she is lacking in, yet the game does not work properly...
      • Uh, isn't she supposed to be doing work on that...oh wait. I'm browsing /. at work. Hypocrite me. Nevermind.

    • If most of us are 'numbnuts', you're a moron.
      Now that that is out of the way, I'll take issue with your little Verant love-fest.
      I played on Veeshan for nearly a year and a half with 7 different characters, so I have some experience with this game. Probably not as much as you, Mr. UberGuildBoy, but hey, I'm not really a n00b anymore, either.
      I've been playing DAoC for a month now, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Launch day went *very* smoothly for Mythic. They had the bandwidth, they had the patch servers, and their customer service Doesn't Suck (TM).
      I hadn't cancelled my account in EQ yet because I have been waiting for SoL. I attempted to patch - and after bluescreening in WinXP, I finally patched - 5 hours later on a 2MB connection. When I started, I got the lovely "No 3D Device found." - Uhh, yeah. GeForce3 Ti500 and WinXP/DirectX 8.1. So, repatch. Feh. Finally got in - and lo and behold, the same little idiots were still around, still screaming in /ooc and /shout.
      I logged in to DAoC, got a patch - 1 MB, 300K/sec.
      I cancelled my account today.

      But DAoC sucks too, all you EQ fanboys/girls should just stay there and then go to EQ2 when it comes out. Please. We don't need you in DAoC mucking that up too.
      Verant's attitude towards their customers is terrible, they care little about uptime because they know they have a captive audience. You'll rant and rail, but you won't pull your account, because you're UBER. You'll cry, but you won't quit, because you need that R4re sp4wn, d00d. You'll also say, "Good, quit, less lag for me," and laugh it off. Personally, I'm glad to be gone. If EQ is your thing, great, but don't excuse Verant's poor planning by saying "You try to deal with 400,000 customers!" It's called running a business. Do it competently, or eventually, you will lose.
      And Verant is losing. All these little 'touches' lately reek of fear. Not publishing server counts any longer "because our competition might use them for bad" is bullshit. Numbers are dropping. Adding horses is now part of the Vision - but at one point, we were told that horses couldn't fit in the character model file. Necros couldn't have Iksar pets b/c they wouldn't fit in the character file. No spectre pets - oops, we always planned spectre pets! And the brutal, unrelenting use of the nerf^H^H^H^Hbalance stick was pitiful. Hybrids were shit on for years, then a half-hearted
      All the underlying problems with EQ - corpse runs, unkillable mobs, camping, d3wdz, and 'see no evil/hear no evil' fanboys like you - are only now covered by the thin veneer of pretty new T&L graphics.
      *Whew* Sorry for the extended rant, but I know of SO many people who are so sick of EQ. Yeah, we're leaving. But my question is: Why are the rest of you staying? My honest query to you.
  • Develop, Market, Release, patch, patch, patch, release sequel, patch sequel, etc etc As long as we keep buying games the day they come out, they'll keep on releasing games like this. Wait until after it's been patched before buying it, especially if other people say it's buggy, or if it's a company well known to release buggy software, and send them an e-mail telling them that's why you're holding off on buying their game. Same rule applies to hardware, applications, OSs, anything Microsoft, and Linux Kernels ('cept the Linux Kernels are free, so you're not buying them, just downloading and installing them).
  • "Ok, so what was the first day like? Well, the servers were down for most of the day, when they were supposed to just be down for a night."

    Well at least patch day has stayed the same!

    I quit playing EQ a while ago, and I still don't have any regrets. And I really don't like the newer character models anyway. But what this is all missing is that the REAL heart of the problem are the fundamental rules of which EQ is based off of. And don't even get me started on how FUBAR the high end game is (level 50+) for most classes. Insane hardware requirements, Driver problems up the wazoo, and bad servers make this situation just that much worse. And what is with that patch client anyway? Hello Verant? Why can't I resume a download?

    But then there are other rampant problems as well stemming from the players themselves (twinking, power leveling), which doesn't help either. But what is this? Verant has the ultimate surprise which will right all wrongs: cat people.
    I mean WTF? Iksar were stretching it, but freaking CAT PEOPLE?!?
  • Fucking and Pathetic.

    They have had many months in which to perfect the release of SoL, and when it came time to release it, they were not prepared. This I might have suspected from a smaller gaming company. But we're talking about Sony/VI.

    They have a test server to try out their new implementations so that when the time comes to update new patches and expansions, it should be a smoothe transition. I'm just wondering why if they had a test server, why everything went so wrong?

    Friends of mine, with computers in the 1+ Ghz range, are having zone load times of 10 to 20 minutes in some areas of the game. That is completely unacceptable.

    The new system requirements are incredibly steep if you want to enjoy the game in its entirity (is that a word?) It used to be you could play the game on a Win95 machine with rather low speed and memory and a bad video card. Now all people who have Win95 and wish to play EQ will have to upgrade. That's right, EQ in its current state can not run under Win95. Even though if you go pick up an original version of the game, or the new trilogy, it will say Win95, but once you patch you are screwed.

    Another strange thing is that Sony/VI didn't release the information about dropping Win95 until just days before the new release. They virtually left all those Win95 users out in the cold. Upgrade or don't play. That's sort of a harsh attitude to have towards your clients.

    I do not have the system requirements for SoL, but I assumed everything would be about the same on my computer. Nope. I've gone from 45 second zone load times to 90 second zone load times. And for what? To see a new image of a skeleton that looks more lifelike? To see wizard's new familiars? To see better effects and textures? For all the effort that has gone into it, it does not seem worth it.

    There are ways to reduce the system resources that EQ requires, but they are not easily gotten at. Nor are they really documented. But they are there. You just have to look really hard.

    I'd liek to go out and spend $1,000 (Cdn) to buy a new computer system so I can run this game at a speed it deserves. But considering just five days ago I was running it fine, I don't think I should have to.

    Sony, Verant, you guys have the resources to prevent screw ups like this from happening. What happened? Did all of your employees lose what brain cells they had all at the same time? Did no one just stop for a second and think about what you guys were doing? Or were you so worried about new games like DAoC that you thought you had to have the best. And therefore screw over a lot of your loyal clients?


    /rant off

  • There is also a huge bug that causes players to see each other as butt nekkid! The screenshots have been pouring down the pipeline all day long. I've tossed one of them up as the daily screenshot over at Everlore ( and it's pretty funny to see such a hilarious bug become such a heated issue.
  • by truffle ( 37924 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @05:23PM (#2667211) Homepage

    I'm really not sure how this 'review' got undeserved space on Slashdot. I presume the subject was interesting, the words sounded appropriate, and voila. Hey, he's flaming Sony Online Entertainment, this must be news! Unfortunately, the reviewer is whiney, inaccurate, and the content of the review is sub par.

    First the required version of DirectX is 8.1, not 8 as the reviewer suggets. This is perhaps not a huge point, but it shows that accuracy of this review is not high.

    Second, the comments on graphics quality suggest the reviwer never managed to correctly configure his machine. Running on my fairly modest Duron 850 with a Geforce 2mx, I encountered beautifully detailed graphics, and smooth performance. I enjoyed several hours of just running around and looking at things. The new models for all the player races were facinating. The large textures improved the appearance of, well, everything. It was quite an experience to run through West Commons (a classic well known area of Everquest) and see the updated textures on the trees and grass.

    The remainder of the review is primarly a bunch of first-impression complaints that are not particularly accurate, well supported, or meaningful to non Everquest players.

    The only real value in this report is the comments that:
    - The quality of the release is not high (many bugs that prevent people from playing a game they have purchased)
    - When initially released, Sony was not able to handle the 'patch' load and as a result no one was able to play

    Everything else is fluff.

    If you're interested in seeing some pictures of Luclin graphics, there is a nice collection at Gamespot. The release graphics are actually higher quality than those featured here. One of the reasons I find so much value in this release is these wonderful new graphics. re ens/0,11105,477597-177,00.html
  • With many games, console and PC, publishers really want to make that all important X-mas release, so sometimes, a game gets rushed out the door. With console games, this usually takes the form of levels or features.

    PC games however, and especially MMPORGS, can and often are patched post release. In this case, I would guess that Sony really wanted a new EQ expansion on the shelves for christmas. What the fail to realize is that their decision can potentially backfire.

    The business model is subscription based. I do not know how such expansions affect previous subscribers, but if they are forced to upgrade, they will be angry. And if the user gets too angry, they will seek alternatives. A really badly handled expansion could do wonders for the sale of Dark Age of Camelot (which may be another reason Sony rushed the release in and of its self).

  • A Real Review? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2001 @06:04PM (#2667571)
    I think this review could have focused on the actual upgrade process more. This is Eq's third major upgrade, and as far as that, they should have learned a few lessons along the way.

    The upgrade this time came in two forms: the revamping of the game engine, and the addition of SoL zones.

    The SoL zone addition was quick, easy. That they learned with the two previous expansions (kunark and velious). You stamp the zone files onto CD (three this time) and the users install and register. Voila, new zones.

    The real news this time was the game engine upgrade. They moved everything to a new engine, with lots of new XML functionality, which in turn requires a lot more hardware to play. And there's the real story, if this is a "news for nerds" story at all... How do you take an existing game, with hundreds of thousands of people in it, and upgrade its engine? What can you force people to do in terms of a hardware upgrade? More ram? More HD space? Better video card?

    Remember, we're talking about subrscribers here - people that pay Sony every month so they can play Eq. At what point is it ok to say "If you don't meet X hardware standard, you can't play."?

    In this case, Sony raised the bar rather high. Minimum is now 128mb of ram, a Nvidia Geforce card, and I think around a 500mhz processor. Quite a bit steep for a game I was able to play with a K6-2 233, Voodoo 3 2000, and 64mb of RAM. And that's now minimum specs.

    Let's face it - in a few months the bugs in the interface, the "features" they were supposed to add that didn't make it, and the "memory leaks" will be forgotten. What won't be are the people who were paying to play, up until Sony said they had to upgrade past what they were willing or able to afford. And there will be a lot of those cases.

    Those of us lucky enough to have the hardware to play it (I play on a tbird 900, Geforce 2gts 32, 512mb ram) will get to enjoy all the new features - I've been playing it steadily and have had few problems yet. But for those who don't... well, it seems Sony is saying "Tough Luck".

  • by pinkpineapple ( 173261 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @06:09PM (#2667617) Homepage
    ...and so long to the fishes.

    I'm glad to read that this release is not so great. Why? Not because I work for the competition, but because Verant literally kicked me out after wrongly claiming that I was "cheating." Class action law suit anyone? I heard that I am not the only one in that boat.

    I have been with the system since the beginning. I went thru their buggy eervers, buggy releases, awfull support, you name it. You have it. It appears that they made their decision when some sysop was logged in (which is something exceptional as they usually are not here when you need them, like when all your objects disappear because of long lasting bugs.) So the guy sent me a message to verify if I was in front of my machine while I was feeding the cat or on the johns. And since I didn't reply right away. The next thing I got was a mail to get lost. No proof of what they were claiming is shown, unless they scanned my machine and they would have find nothing wrong.What followed was a message exchange (think replies one week after my original message), ending to nothing, nada, zip!

    Verant is the Sirius Cybertronics company as Douglas Adams defines it in the HGTTG book. A company whose complain department covers the landmasses of the 3 first planet in whatever solar system. A company so badly managed that the bulletin board needs to be censored by customers of them who can't get their hw working, connection to their servers, drops, items lost, crashes bugs. Remember their intent for scanning software on your PC. You should have read the BB.
    That was fun!

    I won't be able to get my character back, neither pay their subscription every month. In one way, I should tell them thank you for curing me from this habit of login and meeting friends from all around the world I was talking to every night.

    Hi guys! If you wonder where I have been, you know now. My ultimate request to Verant was to be able to log one last time (even if they judged me guilty for something I didn't do) and let the people I had fun with daily online know that I wouldn't come back. I have still to read a reply from Verant support. It's been 3 weeks now...

  • I saw one poster say (not exact quote, but close) "but they've only had 36 hours and have already fixed most of the major bugs with one patch"

    This may sound like (somewhat) of a rant, but if they only need 36 hours to fix most of the major bugs Why didn't they start 36 hours earlier a year ago and get it right the first time? Have everyone on the team stay late an hour for a week or two. I realize they have release dates etc., but in any other industry releasing something this bad would absolutely KILL your marketshare/ sales. Nobody would buy it, and thousands of people would be screaming for their money back.

    Anyway, my real question was why, after so many games do developers still get this wrong? Why don't they learn from past mistakes and get it right the first time? Not only will they accomplish the same thing as with multiple patches, but they'll get major kudos from everyone who doesn't have to madly patch to try to get into the game!

    If someone can explain this to me please do, in all serious (not being facetious) if there's a reason I'd like to know.
    • Why didn't they start 36 hours earlier a year ago and get it right the first time? Have everyone on the team stay late an hour for a week or two.

      Stay late an hour for a week or two? You're obviously not too familiar with game development. For the past three months, the entire EQ development team has been pulling 15+ hour days. (The lead programmer is a good friend of mine, he's been basically at work every moment he's been awake since September.) It's called "crunch time", and every game project has it.

      The main problem is that you don't know about those "only 36 hours more" problems until the product gets in the hand of a large number of users. Beta testing can only catch so many bugs.
      • Right, but these bugs were making the game unplayable for just about everyone. Basically they got... *nothing*. Those comments were a little comedic, but major bugs causing the game to be just a disk that crashes your computer is not something that should EVER be released- or something that should be missed in beta testing.
        • With the number of different system configurations out in the wild, it is almost impossible to fully test them all.

          I've seen patches for software before now that fix a bug that only occurs if you have a specific graphics card and driver version and a certain other software package installed. Try catching that in beta testing.

          I don't mean to flame, but I work as a programmer (although not in the games industry), so I know just how hard it can be to catch all the bugs lurking in a system prior to release. (For "hard", read "impossible").


  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @08:22PM (#2668322)
    Verant well and truly screwed up this release. Until last week their EQ client was a solid if workmanlike piece of software. In that space of time, it has turned into a bug infested piece of crap, with glitches, crashes, and frequent downtime.

    And you don't escape any of this if you don't upgrade to Luclin. No, EVERYONE is suffering this. Worse yet, EVERYONE has been forced onto DirectX 8.1, despite this breaking the system requirments pledge that it runs on Windows 95.

    There are a lot of shills on the usenet groups who are bleating that if you don't like it you should go elsewhere. What they don't realise is most people EQ the game, but think the administration of EQ stinks to high heaven. The amount of downtime is totally unacceptable. If Verant ran a proper ship it wouldn't nearly half as much and fiascos like this and last week could have been avoided.

  • by EvilBastard ( 77954 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @12:06AM (#2669149) Homepage
    Best bug found so far - it seems all the new textures and models for clothing and armour are occasionally not being drawn. It is not known yet if this is the fabled "bonus" for signing up for the game early.

    Boy those skinners really need to get out more.

    On the bright side, if it's a bug, surely you could duplicate it with a simple client side memory resident program.

    And, of course, once you have written said program,you could sell it on Ebay for only $139.99 and make yourself rich from 13 year old boys.

    Topless Female Elven Paladin []

    Topless Female Barbarian Shaman []

    Naked Female Half Elf Warrior From Rear [] and Front []

    Naked Male Elven caster with carefully placed spellbook []

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.