EQ2: Beleaguered by Misfortune

My friend, Terr, pointed this news out to me this morning. Fortune League, a vaguely EQ2-themed Facebook game, is shutting down:

As of Monday, July 11th this Facebook game will no longer be operational. In the meantime, you may continue to play and redeem prizes until the conclusion of this final season. However, the ability to add Station Cash funds to your wallet will be disabled on Friday, June 24th. Any existing funds in your wallet can still be used until the game is turned off.
Beginning on Monday, July 11th, you may request a refund of the non-promotional Station Cash in your wallet if you play Fortune League and do not also currently play any other SOE game (EverQuest II, Free Realms, etc.) where you can still continue to use the Station Cash in your wallet after this Facebook game has been turned off. If you are eligible for a refund, please contact a Customer Service.

Fortune League was not, in my opinion, a very good advert for Everquest 2, having far more in common with stockbroking than high adventure. I did play it, because it granted useful in-game goodies, but it was an 2 minute annoyance once a week to set my team up, rather than something to be actively enjoyed. I truly doubt anybody spent real money to buy additional trades for it, and nobody who wasn’t already playing EQ2 would want to play it, so it is probably just as well that this distraction is being wound up.

Perhaps it will eventually be replaced by something a bit more fun.

EQ2 Videopost: New Halas Aether Race, and our equally new guildhouse!!

It has been a little while since I made a video, so I thought I would take the opportunity of EQ2’s City Festival being in New Halas to show off the new Aether Race. It’s quite an enjoyable one, with plenty of dodging stormclouds to be done. The title for this track is “Snowflake Chaser”, requiring a time of 104 or less.

While I was about it, I figured I might as well show off the Green Lodge’s newly acquired guildhouse too. We’re mighty proud of it, even if we can’t afford many amenities for it yet. It has been a lot of fun helping Terr decorate it! Feel free to drop by, should you happen to find yourself in North Qeynos on Crushbone.

EQ2: Further Ratongan News. Ratonga love free stuff!

Maltheas gave us all some warning about this a few weeks ago, but now ripples of the news are beginning to spread amongst the general populace of Qeynos. Lock up your cheese-board. The Ratonga are coming!

Word is spreading fast among the citizens of Qeynos and its allies: ratonga have begun to openly enter the cities, and the guards are no longer turning them away at the gate. With Game Update 60: The Children of War, ratonga will now be considered a neutral race and may start life in any city of Norrath.

What deal have the shrewd ratonga negotiated that would make Queen Antonia and her allies change their minds? And what niche will these newcomers carve out for themselves in their new home cities? Only time will tell!

Visit the sages in South Qeynos and North Freeport to purchase “Out Of Necessity,” a book of ratonga history that scholars have recently unearthed. And celebrate the arrival – or departure – of your ratonga neighbours by visiting the Station Marketplace to collect a ratonga illusion and “Seeker of Cheese” house pet, both free for a week only, starting on May 31st. Be sure to check out the new Ratonga Heritage Armor and Underfoot Cheese Plate while you’re there!

So hurrah for free Ratonga-themed goodies. You too could, for a while at least, become as cute as one of our whiskery friends! The items will be available from the 31st of May to June 6th.
If you can’t wait to read “Out of Necessity”, Maltheas handily received an advance copy from his allies amongst the Freeport Ratonga.

EQ2 Maltheas And Renree Enjoy A Ratonga Picnic In Antonica 600x366

Maltheas and Renree watch the sun set in Antonica. A romantic picnic, or a meeting to plot evil Ratonga deeds? We report, you decide.

SOE announce in-game events to welcome us home.

This has been an aggravating time for any lover of SOE games. We still don’t really have an ETA for when our games are coming back, but SOE has revealed some of what they’re going to do to try to make things up to us.

First and foremost, all impacted players will receive 30 days of game time added to the end of the current billing cycle in addition to one day for each day the system is down. Additionally, many games are offering a variety of in-game items and special events to welcome players back once our services resume (per the outline below). This is true for both PC and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system based products.

DC Universeâ„¢ Online: Batmanâ„¢ and Two-Faceâ„¢ Inspired Masks and 30 Marks of Distinction
Free Realms®: Free daily items (7 to collect)
Clone Wars Adventuresâ„¢: Count Dooku v2 Outfit
EverQuest®: A series of events, including Double XP, Double Rare Mob Spawns and Double Faction Gains
EverQuest II and EverQuest II Extended: A series of events, including Double XP, Double Guild XP, Loot Bonanza, and City Festivals
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes®: A series of Double XP events
Star Wars Galaxiesâ„¢: Bounty Hunter Statue, a miniature model of Boba Fett’s ship, the Slave Iâ„¢
Magic: The Gathering – Tacticsâ„¢: Four of each of these spells: “Ivory Mask”, “Duress” and “Angelheart Vial”, plus 500 Station Cash
PoxNora®: Limited edition Carrionling, Welcome Back 5K Gold Award Tournaments and two Draft Tournaments, plus 500 Station Cash

For our lifetime subscribers, we’ll grant in-game currency; specifically 20,000 coins for Free Realms, 7,500 Galactic Credits for Clone Wars Adventures and 10 Marks of Distinction for DC Universe Online (in addition to the items listed above).

And finally, our Station Access subscribers will receive 500 Station Cash, in addition to the subscription time and items listed above.

Clearly, the last thing we want is for SOE to put themselves in any further financial trouble. It was only recently that they shut down most of their external studios, with widespread layoffs. The loss of revenue for the past months is going to have been considerable, and it is inevitable that subscriber numbers will have taken a heavy hit when things do get back to normal. So, in spite of how infuriating the last few weeks have been, I am trying to cut them some slack.

“A series of events, including Double XP, Double Guild XP, Loot Bonanza, and City Festivals” is what we’ll be getting over in EQ2. I guess maybe all the city festivals will be active at once, revealing a bunch of Aether Races we haven’t seen yet. That’ll be a lot of fun, and we’ll be sure to make good use of the double guild xp period. I always save up my status items for those.

Their development schedule did not get a holiday during this time. GU 60 still needed finishing off (It’s scheduled to go live itself in a few days), and GU61 is probably well underway, so they won’t have had much time to make anything special for us. However, there might be some old bits and bobs that could be added to the “Welcome Back” festivities, without seriously impacting current development. Some of them may just need a switch flicked.

There have been a lot of great world events over the years that were one-offs, some of which were pretty large. Perhaps, through the power of Chronomancy, there might be some way to sensibly bring one or more of those back during the celebration. The expansion and deity preludes spring to mind. I know I’d LOVE to get the chance to do the D.I.R.T.Y. quests that were part of the Shadow Odyssey prelude.

That’s just a thought really, mostly because I desperately want as many people to come back to EQ2 as possible. I’m a little frightened of what my server is going to look like when it comes back up. SOE needs to do everything it can, within its current capabilities, to make what comes next as awesome and enticing as possible.

EQ2 Maltheas In Shin Surprise 600x409

"Shin Surprise" by Maltheas Shadowsqueak

No ETA for SOE MMO servers

Everquest, Everquest 2, Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, and Pirates of the Burning Sea are still unavailable after their surprise shut-down on Monday morning.

We still don’t know when they’re likely to come back. If I hear anything I’ll let you know. Until then, our characters must wait for us in the loneliness of the void.

EQ2 Maltheas In The Void Awaiting The Return Of The Servers1 600x321

Maltheas awaits the return of the world.

Yes, that was a short post. I’d love it to be longer, but we’re not being told terribly much.

Update: Turns out, if you read San Diego local newsapers, you get to find out that the servers will be down until at least Friday, and perhaps beyond. Why on earth SOE isn’t telling us that directly is a mystery to me.

SOE shuts down websites, forums, and game login servers

3rd May Update: We now have the following Press Release.:

Tokyo, May 3, 2011 – Sony Corporation and Sony Computer Entertainment announced today that their ongoing investigation of illegal intrusions into Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE, the company) systems revealed yesterday morning (May 2, Tokyo time) that hackers may have stolen SOE customer information on April 16th and 17th, 2011 (PDT). SOE is based in San Diego, California, U.S.A.

This information, which was discovered by engineers and security consultants reviewing SOE systems, showed that personal information from approximately 24.6 million SOE accounts may have been stolen, as well as certain information from an outdated database from 2007. The information from the outdated database that may have been stolen includes approximately 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers and expiration dates (but not credit card security codes), and about 10,700 direct debit records of certain customers in Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain.

With the current outage of the PlayStation® Network and Qriocity™ services and the ongoing investigation into the recent attacks, SOE had also undertaken an intensive investigation into its system. Upon discovery of this additional information, the company promptly shut down all servers related to SOE services while continuing to review and upgrade all of its online security systems in the face of these unprecedented cyber-attacks.

On May 1, Sony apologized to its customers for the inconvenience caused by its network services outages. The company is working with the FBI and continuing its own full investigation while working to restore all services.

Sony is making this disclosure as quickly as possible after the discovery of the theft, and the company has posted information on its website and will send e-mails to all consumers whose data may have been stolen.

The personal information of the approximately 24.6 million SOE accounts that was illegally obtained, to the extent it had been provided to SOE, is as follows:

e-mail address
phone number
login name
hashed password.

In addition to the information above, the 10,700 direct debit records from accounts in Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain, include:

bank account number
customer name
account name
customer address.

SOE will grant customers 30 days of additional time on their subscriptions, in addition to compensating them one day for each day the system is down. It is also in the process of outlining a “make good” plan for its PlayStation®3 MMOs (DC Universe Online and Free Realms). More information will be released this week.

Additionally, the company is committed to helping its customers protect their personal data and will provide a complimentary offering to assist users in enrolling in identity theft protection services and/or similar programs. The implementation will be at a local level and further details will be made available shortly in each region.

It’s grating that non-US credit card details were being kept on a substandard database. Any compensation package is appreciated, of course, but I’d much rather just have a secure environment for my data, and that had better be what we end up with by the end of this. We had previously been told that SOE’s data had not been affected by the break in. What this means is that the hackers have had our information for two weeks already.

This whole business is incredibly unfair on the game development teams, have pretty nothing to do with any of what has gone wrong.

2nd May:
We don’t have any information other than the following:

We have had to take the SOE service down temporarily. In the course of our investigation into the intrusion into our systems we have discovered an issue that warrants enough concern for us to take the service down effective immediately. We will provide an update later today (Monday).

If you’re still in game you’re alright for now, but nobody can log in, and I’d advise against trying to change character.

EQ2: A Ratongan Tale

Maltheas bounced down the stairs of his home, looking forward to a fine day of adventure and good deeds of the exciting variety!

Cheeves: Good morning Sir. I trust you slept soundly. I must apologise that your breakfast is not quite ready. I fear I was delayed by a rather obtuse postal deliveryman, who was unwilling to allow me to sign for your “book of the month club” tome. A small tip settled his concerns, rather than disturb Sir early, but it did throw our routine out by several minutes.

Maltheas: It YOUR routine Cheeves! I not mind when you makes me the breakfasts! I’s not even ever eatings breakfasts before you’s got heres!

Cheeves: It is the most important meal of the day, Sir, or so I have been reliably informed. And a well run household is like clockwork, with each task taking place at its appointed time. I am, however, most gratified that you are willing to overlook any discrepancies, though I shall nevertheless strive to do better.

Maltheas: I was just rememberings! I’s not in a book of the month club! Is yous sure it not my’s cheese of the months?

Cheeves: I considered that, Sir, and I took the liberty of unwrapping it, just in case, so as to avoid another episode of finding it under your correspondence in three months time. It is definitely a small book, Sir, accompanied by a letter.

Maltheas: It was still tasties. But enoughs of the happy cheesethoughts. Lets be solving this mysteries!

Taking the letter from Cheeves, Maltheas scanned it briefly. The change over him was sudden, catching his butler quite by surprise, as Maltheas turned to him with a piercing look, and spoke sharply in perfect Tier’dal. This was not a time to be muddling through in Common.

Maltheas: Did you read this?

Cheeves: No. No, Sir. I could not even begin to tell you what language it is written in. I have never seen anything quite…

Maltheas: Good. Pass me the book also, if you please. Breakfast will have to wait, though I will take some coffee in the study shortly.

Cheeves: Very good, Sir…. Ah, Sir… It’s not my place to ask, but is anything wrong?

Maltheas: I don’t know yet. But good news seldom comes from Freeport.

And with that, Maltheas turned up the stairs to the landing that leads to his library, leaving a shaken Coldain in his wake. Shaken or not, he set off towards the kitchen.

Maltheas settled down into his favourite chair, the one that had been carved from a giant acorn by wood elf artisans. They would probably frown if they saw how Maltheas had absent-mindedly nibbled on the edges of it. He was relieved that Cheeves had not been able to read the letter, as it was likely that the sender would expect him to take drastic measures to preserve it’s secrecy. Of course, Maltheas had no intention of killing anyone over a letter, let alone loyal Cheeves, but it would have been awkward. The secrets of the Ratonga are still such because the Ratonga take their secrets very seriously indeed.

The letter was in a written form of Ratongan. Maltheas settled down to read, his brow as furrowed as that as any slighted artisan.

Maltheas Shadowsqueak of the Celestial Watch,

May your whiskers never cease to shine,

We felt that you should be forewarned of certain events which shall soon occur. Your work, and that of our other kin who received special dispensation to remain in Qeynos, has reached fruition. As you know, there have long been members of the Council of Qeynos who oppose our presence, out of superstition or prejudice, and sometimes even less forgiveable motivations. The recent changes in the Council makeup have worked in our favour, and we understand that Queen Antonia over-ruled the objections of the remaining holdouts. She has come to understand that we are not the enemy of any who does not force that upon us, seeing the truths that the Ratonga of Qeynos have shown to her. In particular, we suspect that she was moved when it was a Ratonga who rescued her, when her trusted Kerran bodyguard became possessed by her ancestor.

Queen Antonia And Maltheas Beat Up Murrar Shar In Everquest 2 300x179

Don't worries, Murrar Shar fans! He still breathings!

In this coming month, expect a pronouncement which will grant Ratonga the same residency rights as humans. We have many in place awaiting this, and they will arrive soon after. Please give them any and all assistance you can in acclimatising them, and helping them find their feet.

It will not initially be popular with the citizenry, but we are confident that the Qeynos Guard will uphold her decision, and that our kind will be free to safely travel within Qeynos, and make our homes there. In time, the public will get used to us, when they discover that not only do we not give them the plague, but we actually craft, eat, and spend coin like anybody else.

Qeynos has come to its senses not a moment too soon. A dark procession of dreams have come to our nightseers. That which we have long dreaded is upon us, though I don’t imagine a child of your mother needs to be told.

A common-tongue translation of the book which accompanies this letter is to be printed in large quantities, and delivered to booksellers across Norrath. In the past we tried to convince the leaders of the great cities of the threat of our dread cousins, but perhaps if we spread the knowledge widely enough, it will find enough powerful open minds for us to find the allies we need. In particular, we would like you to ensure that Al’Kabor receives a copy, as we understand that he has taken a great interest in the prophecies of Age’s End, and that you assisted him in some capacity.

EQ2 Maltheas Meets AlKabor 600x496

Maltheas recently assisting Al'Kabor with his research.

I know you will do everything within your power. Try not to get yourself killed. Your mother worries. She’s well, by the way. Perhaps she’ll be able to pay you a visit soon, if all goes to plan!

Thaliath Glimmerstep, 3rd Whisker of the Freeport Gathering

Maltheas: Eeeks!!! I’d better be tidyings! Oh, waits. I’s forgetings Cheeves already clean everythings. Phews..

Panic averted, Maltheas opened the book. Titled “Out of Necessity”, it told the tale of how the Ratonga came to the surface, and ended up in Freeport. It would be a great relief to no longer have to keep those particular secrets. Perhaps, Maltheas hoped, some of the more suspicious Qeynos residents might finally end their rudeness.

Out of Necessity

The quaking had stopped. those of us that were left took stock as well as we could, searching for survivors, and trying to regroup. It wasn’t enough that we were still hunted by those that branded us as traitors, now we had to contend with the terrible aftermath of the apocalyptic shaking. however, we had survived the wrath of our creator, and near genocide of our horrendous cousins – we were determined to survive this as well.

There was an unexpected benefit to the mighty earthquakes, which we only discovered later. Cracks had emerged in the Underfoot, which opened to a new, mysterious place. Those that went through first and returned told stories of a world outside of the tunnels, brilliantly bright, covered in new creatures and green plant life. It was daunting to imagine a place like that, but we recognised it as something important. It was a place to escape those that pursued us.

The light was blinding, and hot on our fur. the air was crisp, and full of smells we had never experienced before. It was open and spacious, which is something that none of us were used to – it was hard not to feel exposed and vulnerable without the walls of the tunnels around us. It was difficult to get used to being outside like this, but we were quickly able to adapt, moving through the shadows to keep from being seen.

They were surprised to find civilisations living in this new environment, and we took some time to observe them. The seemed industrious, and even though their cities were devastated, they banded together and began to rebuild. there were some unique individuals amongst them, more powerful than the rest, who adventured through the world, and possessed impressive power.

We knew the Roekillik would stop at nothing to exterminate us, and ensure that their Dark Agenda would come to pass. If there was any hope to stop them, we would need to employ powerful agents to stand against their plan, and these surface dwellers seemed to have the potential that might be needed. After debates amongst ourselves, we decided to approach them with our warning.

We chose the city of Qeynos first. The people there seemed just and fair, and we believed they might be welcoming. a few of us were selected to emerge and speak with the people there. too our horror, we were very far off in our assessment of their nature. We were viewed as vermin, accused of being disease-infested, of sneaking about in the sewers, stealing what little food the city had. some even attacked us outright. It was clear that we were not welcome.

It was a long trek to the city of Freeport, the only other standing city we were able to find. It was more militaristic, being run under the direction of a single leader as opposed to a cooperative. some of us were wary about speaking with these people, as if we were rejected once again, we might find ourselves once again under the sword of an oppressor. However, we reasoned it wasn’t necessary to impress the population as much as it was to impress the one in charge.

A few of us were able to bypass the cities’ defences and enter the chambers of the leader himself. At first, he was quite angry that we intruded and ordered our emissaries imprisoned. After torturous days in the prisons of Freeport, an offer was made to our fellows. the leader, while upset, was still impressed that we were able to bypass his security so easily. If we were to swear loyalty to him and become scouts for the city, he would spare us and allow us entry.

We attempted, at this point, to explain the danger possessed by the Roekillik, but the leadership of the city was uninterested in our warnings. Perhaps it was the immediacy of their current problems, or their own arrogance, but all we said fell on deaf ears. In the end, it was advantageous for us to remain here. Freeport offered protection and a home, and if the Roekillik were to emerge, they would make a suitable buffer between us and our ancient enemies.

Thus, we came to reside within the city…for now at least. There might come a time when the Roekillik return, and we must choose to flee, or try to rally the races of Norrath to stop them and their Dark Agenda. We continue to hope that day never comes.

Cheeves: Your coffee, Sir. I hope all is well.

Maltheas: It is!!! But we is having much work to be doings! Cheeves, please prepares for guests! Lots and lots of guests!

“Out of Necessity” will be sold on the city sages from Game Update 60. At the same time, Ratongans will officially become a neutral race (or rather, they always were, but now Qeynos will stop being mean), and be able to start in the good cities. Huzzah!