SOE Up All Night! EQNL Team Stays Up As 2 Hour Maintenance Stretches to 8

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing, Game Updates & Maintenance

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Last night, SOE took advantage of a smooth launch to their EverQuest Next Landmark Alpha and surprised everyone by dropping the NDA. At this point Murphy’s Law kicked in and the servers came down for a substantial patch to fix some of the bigger issues players had been facing. This patch, expected to take ~2 hours, turned into 4, then 6, then 8, and this morning, servers are still not up. Players may recall years ago that shortly after launch, the EverQuest 2 servers went down for 2 days without any explanation or communication. Players were kept completely in the dark. That was the old SOE.

Under the new SOE, Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson and others on the EQNL team (including Community Manager Dexella) did not pack it in and head home. Instead, they stayed up to make sure players are informed and fully in the loop. Dave has tweeted through the night, and posted a detailed explanation of some of the tech problems that have turned this update into a marathon undertaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here’s that explanation he tweeted about…

Here’s a wrap-up. (Remember when we said we’d tell you everything? Well…here goes.)

1) When we tested Landmark internally, we only had a single world. So…we made a few mistakes, one of which was severe. Essentially, our data structure didn’t preserve the relationships between the various isles and the world that the isles were on.

2) We also had a few memory leaks. That’s pretty normal stuff that we expect to squash during testing, but in this case, it eventually caused different islands to drop and reboot. And that’s where the problems started.

3) Because the isles didn’t necessarily stay with the world they should have stayed with. Worse, that island would get orphaned out into the nothingness (not attached to a world) and when the world it was *supposed* to be attached to detected its absence, well…it made a new island from scratch instead. (And yes, that’s why peoples’ claims were disappearing.)

4) Once we realized that, we started figuring out a way to transition the current linkages to a new system that would remember the world it was on.

5) But then about half the islands came down at once (due to memory leakage). And we realized that things were going to get VERY messy if we let them come up again. So we outaged everything at once, and the game came off-line for the first time.

6) Then we started trying to splice together the data we had with where it was supposed to go. And yes, this was exactly the spaghetti mess that it sounds like. In fact, it was so bad that we’re now giving up on it (after trying to make it work for six hours, so you *know* we wanted it to work), because no matter what we do there will be some data loss, and it’s going to be a real issue to try to tell which players are bugged, which are missing data, and which are in good shape. No way for you to know from your end except that your stuff might be gone…or it might not.

*sigh*

Okay…so what are we doing about it? Well, we’re going to reset the voxel data so that everyone has a clean slate in that regard.

Does that mean that you’re going to lose your stuff? Are you going to lose progress? The answer is yes and no. Here’s details:

a) All voxel data will be reset. That means that the world is going to be reset back to original server conditions. Thus, if you put up a building, or dug a hole, those things are all going to be reset.

b) Things that you crafted (e.g., saw tables, stone forges, etc) WILL STILL BE WHERE YOU LEFT THEM. But that means that if you dug a hole into the side of a hill and put your forge in there, then your forge is now going to be buried inside that same hill. You’ll need to dig it out.

c) You will not lose any resources or inventory items.

d) You will not lose your claim. It will still be wherever it was previously.

So, we apologize for any building creativity that you lose from this first day’s wipe. This is not something we intended. We hope to not wipe data again anytime soon. (But you might try to save templates of the things you build in the near future, just in case. That way you can restore it if we find it necessary to wipe again.)

Make sense? If not, please ask questions!

– Dave.

EQN Landmark NDA Dropped!

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

Just a few years ago, EQ and EQ2 expansion betas were conducted almost entirely under strict Non-Disclosure Agreements disallowing discussion of the beta outside the focus group, and preventing the sharing of pre-release screenshots or videos even AFTER the NDA lifted due to a survivorship clause. Since then, these NDAs for EQ2 expansions seem to have been dropped. So far, the experiment has paid big dividends with more open communication and a much larger testing pool, bolstering the belief that NDAs really aren’t as effective (or necessary) as they once were.

Still, an NDA for a feature incomplete product like EQNL is product, right? EQNL has a UI that even Georgeson admitted is still “klunky” and a FAQ posted on the Alpha forums lists major missing features such as Grouping, forming Guilds, Friends Lists, not to mention the fact that there is but one race (Human) and limited character customization. And yet… just 18 hours after Alpha servers sputtered to life late last night and bore the brunt of thousands of players wanting to see what they’ve invested in, Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson and SOE President John Smedley took to twitter just an hour ago to drop the news that the EQNL Alpha NDA is, in a word, dropped!

What does this mean? It means that players can talk about Alpha, share screenshots, post videos, livestream on Twitch.

I have to take a moment to recognize this as a significant step for SOE. Transparency has been growing within the company over the last 2 years or so, with Smedley’s incredible direct engagement with players on the Planetside 2 forums, more candidness at SOE Live, his revelatory Reddit Ask-Me-Anything last week, and now here we are, a new game running on new servers (and experiencing some understandable instability under the load of a substantial percentage of 20,000 alpha players) has been opened up for public discussion under the harsh critical eye of players.

It makes me proud to create websites about SOE games, and I am rooting for them to succeed more than ever. Now let’s hope that Smedley’s openness becomes infectious and spreads to the rest of SOE. Smed is communicating like I think we wish all game company CEOs did. But he can’t be everywhere. He can’t do the Marketing, the developer responses, the AMA-style dev chats AND run the company.

EQN Alpha Launch for Trailblazers and Explorers is “Getting There”

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

From Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson‘s twitter:

Also, the EQNL Alpha forums have been reopened with the Alpha FAQ as mentioned in gaming press today.

REMEMBER: EQNL is under Alpha NDA and so we will not be able to discuss any details about gameplay, features, and so forth except as permitted by SOE. Players are naturally under the same restrictions.

SlashGear Drops Extensive Preview of EQN Landmark Alpha

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing, Art Design & Appearance

This one might have to come with a spoiler alert, as SlashGear has gone into extreme detail on just what players can expect in the EQN Landmark alpha test, down to exactly how many hours it will take to craft certain items. Check out their extensive writeup here:

EQNext Landmark Alpha Lands Today: Everything You Need to Know

And absolutely do not miss SlashGear’s photo gallery of 31 exclusive shots of EQNL including in-game UI, and some housing textures and materials we haven’t seen before!

MMOAttack: EQNL Preview Video from Press Tour

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

MMO Attack went on a Press tour of EQN Landmark yesterday and have posted their interview with Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson which includes some useful tidbits. Chief among them:

  • Press sites that played with EQNL were using the full “God” or dev mode with all features turned on. Thus they saw a level of complexity that players will slowly build up to.
  • Players will acquire abilities over time and thus have an opportunity to learn how to use them.
  • There will be a startup video and in-game tutorial videos on how to use the different tools.
  • There will be a FAQ which explains what’s currently in Alpha and what features/tools are still in development and not yet ready. Remember EQNL being an Alpha means it is not feature-complete.
  • Georgeson commented that some of the tools and UI are a bit klunky and placeholder and will be polished up closer to the game’s beta and then public releases.

Full Refund for Anyone Not Satisfied with Alpha

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

SOE President John Smedley is so confident that people will like EQNL’s closed NDA Alpha that he is offering an unconditional refund for players who are not satisfied with it:

and about the slightly staggered launch:

Based on the disastrous launches of other games which have opened the floodgates to too many players, this makes sense. It should still be relatively quick, as the pool of players who dropped $100 is surely not so large an amount that it will make the game unplayable.

Embargo Drops — Massively, MMORPG Announce EQN Landmark Alpha “Tonight”

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

From Massively:

It’s here! Sandbox fans have been waiting with bated breath for EverQuest Next Landmark’s alpha announcement, and now we finally have it: EQNL will open those alpha doors tonight! Players who purchased the appropriate level of Founder’s Pack (Trailblazer of Explorer) will receive a link via email with instructions on downloading and getting into this testing phase, which is touted as less testing and more interacting with the devs to help direct the actual development of the game. Director of Development Dave Georgeson stated:

Later today, we will begin the Alpha for EverQuest Next Landmark and open up the game to our most committed and passionate players. This is the earliest point in the development process that we’ve ever let players into a game. We are empowering these players to do much more than test the game for bugs. For the first time, our players can join alongside us as part of the development team. They will have a significant voice in how the final game takes shape.”

Founders should be on the lookout for their golden ticket… er, email… that will enable them to dive into the new sandbox and get building. Those who don’t currently own a founder’s pack can still purchase onethroughout the alpha stage. While waiting, check out soem new Landmark screens in the gallery below.

MMORPG has posted their impressions from their Press tour of EQNL yesterday here:

Confirmed (yes really!): EQN Landmark Alpha “Later Today”

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

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Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson speaking at the Year of EverQuest event in San Diego, CA. SOE President John Smedley is to his left, and Terry Michaels is to his right. Image courtesy Cyliena of Zam.

From SOE President John Smedley‘s twitter:

When?

Breaking: Smed Confirms Noon Start for EQNL Alpha (or not! UPDATED)

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

The hits keep on coming. This from SOE President John Smedley 10 minutes ago when asked when Trailblazers would experience get some news about Alpha:

UPDATE: SOE President John Smedley is now disputing our interpretation of his tweet as confirmation of a noon launch for Alpha:

 So, sometime today, but not at Noon.

Developing…

The Risk of Players Experiencing Alpha

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

Letting potential customers see an Alpha build of a game is always a huge gamble. Despite an ironclad Non-Disclosure Agreement, leaks do happen. Word of mouth of a rough-around-the-edges beta tends to travel fast, and can sink the fortunes of a game that’s not even ready to undergo the critical eye of reviewers.

SOE takes a huge risk by allowing players into its EQN Landmark alpha (presumably today) and based on tweets over the last few weeks from Smed, Georgeson, and folks on the EQNL team, they’ve been working hard to polish up what players will experience in Alpha so they have a good impression, without hitting lots of show-stopper bugs. Smed took to Twitter early this morning to remind players that Alpha means the game is not complete, and bugs are still expected:

 

EQNL Alpha Opening Today?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing

Ever since SOE President John Smedley tweeted last December that EQN Landmark Alpha testing would begin in the “second half of January” we’ve been calling January 31, 2014 as the day that EQNL Alpha would start. It looks like we were spot on with our prediction, based on tweets from last night:

and dark-and-early this morning:

Op Ed: Will Monetizing Everything Leave Room for an In-Game Economy for EQNL?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing, Commentary, Player Studio

In just a few weeks, EverQuest Next Landmark will begin allowing mid- and top-tier Founder’s Pack purchasers into its extra-early Alpha test. While a shroud of secrecy remains, we’ve confirmed that Landmark will launch with a single player race — Human — a single class — Adventurer — and in lieu of any combat or quests, just one all-consuming task: World Building.

According to PC Gamer’s splashy 18-page interview with Dave Georgeson about Landmark (and its fully realised MMO cousin EQNext expected in 2015), SOE will be looking to recoup its staggering development investment in EQNext post-haste. Zjeven, freelancing for EQNWire, takes a closer look at where (if anywhere) the line will be drawn on the ever-present Marketplace cash shop in these upcoming games, and ponders whether an in-game economy will have any chance to flourish.

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by Zjeven

EverQuest Next Landmark has been getting quite a bit of attention in the press lately, and who could really blame both players and the media for being excited about the game?  After SOE came out swinging from its convention back in August, the hype train following its big next gen title(s) has been massive to say the very least: garnering several awards, including “Most Anticipated” and “Studio of the Year” from a plethora of different news outlets.  I found myself animated much the same; while I’m not exactly one for games like that, I can understand the immense appeal to a creative game like Landmark, as it gives people more power in their building and expression than games like Minecraft have ever managed.

This excitement has netted SOE an excess of interviews in which its creative leads espouse their massive enthusiasm for the upcoming release.  One such recent interview was done with PC Gamer, a magazine that put Firiona Vie smack dab on the cover and touted the coming revolutionary “Double Feature.”  While the article written by PC Gamer was full of great ideas, one paragraph in particular stood out from the rest, where they summarized their discussion with Dave Georgeson about Player Studio and how it would interact with the game.

“Just about everything in Landmark can be sold for cash,” The article stated, paraphrasing information that it had garnered through its interview with Georgeson, “Got in early with the Founder’s Pack and claimed some super desirable real-estate?  Sell your plot.  Dug out a giant cache of diamonds?  Sell that, too.”

continues after the jump…

Livestream: Founders’ Packs and More! November 13, 2013

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing, EverQuest Next Landmark

From EQNLandmark.com:

It’s time for our next EverQuest Next/EQN Landmark livestream!

In this week’s episode, join host Colette “Dexella” Murphy (Community Manager) as she talks with Dave Georgeson (Director of Development) and Terry Michaels (Senior Producer) about Trailblazer, Explorer, and Settler Packs, the Alpha/Beta process for EQN Landmark, and more!

Do you have questions about the Founder’s Pack offerings? Ask them on the forums, send us a tweet (at @everquest_next or @eqnlandmark), or join the live chat room on our official Twitch channel!

When: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 – 4:00PM Pacific Time*

Where: twitch.tv/everquestnext

 Time Zone Conversions

  • PST: November 13 @ 4:00pm
  • EST: November 13 @ 7:00pm
  • GMT: November 14 @ 0:00
  • CET: November 14 @ 1:00

Press Sites Get to Test EQNext Landmark Building Tools

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing, Art Design & Appearance, EverQuest Next Landmark

EQNext Landmark Founders Packages; Alpha, Closed Beta Details!

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Alpha and Beta Testing, EverQuest Next Landmark

The moment EQNext and EQNext Landmark fans have been waiting for is finally here! The EQNext Landmark Alpha testing and Closed Beta dates are out:

  • EQNext Landmark Alpha testing – February 28-March 30th
  • EQNext Landmark Closed Beta testing – March 31-unknown

Also, it looks like SOE is going to take a page from Minecraft and do Founder’s Packages which will give players early access:

The basic package (Settler Pack$19.99) grants access to the Closed Beta on March 31st.

The middle package (Explorer Pack$59.99) will get you into both the Alpha and Closed Beta testing and some in-game clothing.

The best package is clearly the Trailblazer pack ($99.99) which grants access to the EQNext Landmark Alpha on February 28th, Closed Beta on March 31st, four Closed Beta keys you can give out to friends for ONE week of gameplay, a wagon load of in-game goodies, and finally, a 2 Day headstart on the EQNext Landmark Open Beta so you’ll be able to stake your claims early!

Visit EQNLandmark.com

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EQNext Art Director Goes on Defense About Character Design

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Art Design & Appearance, EverQuest Next, EverQuest Next Landmark

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Just as any tissue paper will inevitably be confused with Kleenex, and any photocopier technology will — sooner or later — be referred to as a Xerox, it seems any high fantasy MMO will eventually get painted with the “it looks like World of Warcraft” brush. But in the case of EverQuest Next, are those comparisons fair or even appropriate?

Sure the Kerra (Vah Shir?) have big shoulder armor and smooth features, but the similarities seem to end there. The characters are lithe and thin, not chunky like WoW. Further, the large, expressive eyes are far more akin to Disney or anime than any other property. It’s a character style that is built for Storytelling, but have the team gone too far? The stylized appearance of the Tony the Tigeresque Kerra has polarized the EQ and EQ2 fanbases, leading a number of players to discount the game before it’s even in Beta.

With the EverQuest Next team working so closely together for the last few years, yet isolated from the rest of SOE, no doubt they have built bonds of friendship which are like family. So when players reacted negatively to the character design, Rosie Rappaport, EQNext’s Senior Art Director, came to the defense of the design team like a mother hen.

After the jump, her tweets on the subject:

All EverQuest Next players will be on US SOE Servers

Written by Feldon on . Posted in EverQuest Next, EverQuest Next Landmark, International (Pro7Sat1)

From Massively:

Amid all of the revelry surrounding EverQuest Next’s announcement are a few grumpy faces concerned that SOE was looking to region lock the upcoming title. President John Smedley took to Twitter to address the confusion.

 

 

So there you have it: We will soon be one happy family with an infectious case of the voxels.

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