The evaluation panel has donned its asbestos suits and is ready to announce the top thirteen finalists in our first ever EQII Dungeon Maker Challenge. Wait... whatever happened to the Top Ten? Read on to find out!
YOU OUTDID YOURSELVES!!
We received 82 entries - yes, that's eighty-two - and of those, at least a good 20 were finalist material. We worked very hard to pare these down to 10, but just couldn't do it. That is why we pooled our lunch money to go for 13 instead and I almost lost a limb cutting it down to that number. The 14th was great! So was the 15th and 16th... but we had to draw the line somewhere. It was not easy.
At the conclusion of the challenge, all 13 finalists will receive:
• The in-game title, "The Dungeon Maker," on the character that created the dungeon
• A set of Heritage Armor of their choice
• 2,000 Station Cash
The sheer breadth of talent exhibited by our Dungeon Makers made this a heck of a challenge for us. We were continually impressed by the level of skill and eye for design and storytelling exhibited by everyone who entered. As a server, Freeport had the most submissions and really set the bar for quality overall - be proud, Freeportians!
With the help of the SOE Volunteer Guide Program, we ran every single one of the entries, and rated them by Creativity, Originality, and Theme. Action is an integral part of each of these categories. In fact, a few dungeons with incredible decor had to be left off the finalists list because of their lack of action (too few mobs) or the fact that they loaded so slowly that we ended up getting horribly stuck in the decor. Others were veritable mosh-pits, such that we did not enjoy them quite as much as those that we could explore at a reasonable pace.
We got the distinct feeling that the Dungeon Makers must understand how challenging it is for Dev to create content that is attractive, challenging, and sufficiently engaging to bring players back for more. Our recurring theme was that the top entries were those we wanted to run again, and wanted to bring our friends to - for the storylines, for the beautiful decor, and for the action.
WAIT - WHERE'S THE TOP THREE?
Coming, they're coming, we promise!
Given how much of a challenge it was to select the finalists, it's not surprising that the Dev team is still working on picking the top three! To ensure that the Devs are not rushed, the top three will be announced next Tuesday. The suspense is killing us too!
With hearty congratulations, we'd like to introduce you to our thirteen finalists, listed in order of server. We strongly urge you to run these dungeons yourself - words and a single screenshot cannot do them justice. Two of them do have videos, linked right below the entry!
Dungeon Maker: Kerrthunk - Antonia Bayle
Poet's Palace: "Roundfoot's Otherworldly Myths and Legends"
Author's introduction: Suddenly and mysteriously motivated, a usually lazy Halfling finds himself inspired to scribe fantastic stories from a far off world. After appearing in his study, adventurers must survive in the place his writings have created while discovering the true reason for his inspired visions.
Panelist comments: From the foyer to the wonderful books and guides inside, this dungeon was fabulous. It was a tough challenge, and the end room is amazing. The book of hints was very well written; the theme and story drew me in and took me on a very fun adventure. A very nice job of capturing the spirit of this contest!
Dungeon Maker: Highmagecameron - Antonia Bayle
Poet's Palace: "Undead Horde"
Author's introduction: You're kidnapped and forced into a living nightmare. Fight your way through the horde and get out alive!
Panelist comments: We were expecting a ho-hum dungeon filled with skeletons. What we found was well-crafted and highly playable! Gorgeous layout and of course true to theme, with a good feel to the mob placement. A good old-fashioned romp, utterly believable.
Dungeon Maker: Jamisia - Butcherblock
Poet's Palace: "Collection of Recollections"
Author's introduction: Stepping through the portal seemed like a good idea at the time. It's what heroes do, right? As you explore the fragmented landscape, you find some odd journal entries. The writer seems a bit confused. Perhaps you can free him from his troubles.
Panelist comments: This beautifully decorated dungeon follows a sequence of hazy, half-remembered thoughts as if brought back to mind in a dream. As you are led from room to room, you are never sure what the dreamer may recall next.
Dungeon Maker: Valrose - Crushbone
Poet's Palace: "Norrathian Historical Museum"
Author's introduction: Corrupter Jialy has placed a curse on the Norrathian Historical Museum, causing the exhibits to come alive and the mechanical staff to go haywire! Can you survive this trip through history and learning?
Panelist comments: Very nice idea! Originality is great on this one and I love how you can really find yourself in the "visiting a museum" type feel! We'd love to fine-tune the dungeon by adding a few extra mobs for challenge. Beautifully rendered museum displays distract and reward the eye.
Dungeon Maker: Hipnotoad - Crushbone
Poet's Palace: "The Mysterious Missing Moonlight Grotto"
Author's introduction: Some time ago the water levels in an isolated grotto began to drop. The Dryads cast a spell to allow entry to those who would help. The creatures farther in are unaware you are there to help, so fighting them becomes a necessary evil. Explore a pirate ship that had been hiding in the caves before they collapsed, and look for the source of the water loss further in the caves.
Panelist comments: Gorgeous dungeon, layout is very well used and the storyline throughout is quite nice. The layout is a bit slow to load at times, but always worth the wait and we did not get stuck playing through. Mob placement could use a boost to make this dungeon perfect!
Dungeon Maker: Pixiewrath - Freeport
Poet's Palace: "Scars of Love"
Author's introduction: Scars of Love (Delving into the Depths - Part V) takes you to the confused emotions of Quel' Stezch and Quel' Zhafirah's love and continues the saga started in Mungkor Keep in the first part of the series. Mushroom spores have been let into the emotional planes and are wreaking havoc among emotions of love. Duhjalm Sentinel Avatar used for solo play testing and balancing.
Panelist comments: This elaborately contrived dungeon made us want to see Parts I through IV! It is easy to become distracted by the "shinies" and paintings mounted throughout, such that we never knew if we were in a dungeon, a magical forest, or in a strange, twisted form of Kelethin.
Dungeon Maker: Jexi - Freeport
Poet's Palace: "Kingdom of Sorrows"
Author's introduction: In a vast, far off desert, you, the weary traveler, stop for a rest at an elaborately gilded citadel. Things are not what they appear to be, and you will soon discover why heaviness and pain permeates the very air you breathe.
Panelist comments: Another tale of loss and woe, a common theme in the entries we viewed, but here carried forward with artistic vision and strong storytelling. From the very beginning it as if we are on our own journey, a "choose your path" type of adventure. Jexi brings us through the dungeons through signposts at each corresponding path and the journal and diary entries scattered throughout the dungeon enriches the traveler's experience. The mob placement is also very balanced and unique, usually keeping within the theme of that particular adventure. The decor beautifully matches the theme you are traveling through.
Dungeon Maker: Folly - Freeport
Poet's Palace: "Trial of the Djinn"
Author's introduction: The Trial Master has opened his palace to adventurers. What he didn't expect was a group of dervish nomads seeking to summon unknown powers, a voracious naga, and the infestation of his gardens by pests of all sorts. The trials require observation and patience as well as combat and jumping abilities. Signs provide clues. The reward is rich. This dungeon is designed to provide a balance between décor and tokens.
Panelist comments: What unique placement of the items to get the people involved in the dungeon itself. It was pretty cool to see what the creator was doing with the dungeon and what a challenge they laid out. The design was well done, outstanding among many terrific desert/Djinn themes. While we'd like to see more challenge in mob placement, everything else made up for it! Extremely entertaining from beginning to end.
Dungeon Maker: Terrorpeutic - Nagafen
Poet's Palace: "Death is a Fisherman"
Author's introduction: Poetry in the Poet's Palace - I've chosen "Death is a Fisherman" by Benjamin Franklin. The dungeon is divided into four main areas: 1. Anteroom - for a brief introduction to dungeon, 2. Reading Room - where the poem "lived" out through the names of mobs (the exit is here for easy mode), 3. Power Room - because Benjy flew a kite in a thunderstorm, 4. Peace Garden (aka Heaven) - a taste of life after death. Overall, a mixed up facts and fantasies fun.
Panelist comments: We love how this creator took an actual poem and told the story through the NPC names within his dungeon, that was both unusual and cool! Mob placement and decorations were also very nice. Kudos to this creator!! We found the mob placement fun and challenging, and ended up looking up the poem later to enjoy it in its original form.
Dungeon Maker: Severiss - Oasis
Poet's Palace: "The Lovely Bones"
Author's introduction: The vile beasts of the underworld have laid siege, changing the look and feel of this once beautiful palace. Thriving in a world of darkness and evil, all that is good has all but vanished. It is up to you, brave adventurer, to purge this impurity from within. Be on your guard because you don't know what evil lies ahead! If you succeed, the rewards will be great... but if you fail, your bones will be feasted upon by the undead.
Panelist comments: This dungeon's décor was absolutely amazing. I can not even begin to imagine how long it took for this creator to design the layout on this. Mobs and Lore all fit the theme of the dungeon and the placement was excellent. Kudos and very nice job to Severiss!
Dungeon Maker: Glenorian - Permafrost
Poet's Palace: "Djinn Rummy's Magic Academy"
Author's introduction: You're a first year magic student. You can pot a mandrake in Herbology, attend study hall, face your boggart and catch escaped cornish pixies in defense of the dark arts class and brew potions. There are many evils lurking around such as a giant basilisk in the girls' bathroom, and a 3-headed giant dog named Fluffy. Make it past the dog and find where the evil Lord (whose name we dare not speak) is hiding. Make sure you reserve the courtyard for last! There is a surprise... It's also Tournament time! Defeat the wizarding champions and claim the trophy for yourself!
Panelist comments: Sound familiar? It should - luckily this homage to a famous series took pains to change all the names to protect the innocent. We adored the first room with the Professor and students. The dorms are hilarious and everything from the classes to the hippogriff lessons were spot on and brilliantly conceived. We found this dungeon a joy to explore closely!
Poet's Palace: "Ginrummy's Palace Nr1"
Author's introduction: THE ASSAULT ON PALACE SQUARE: The Orc Warlord Molgan and his minions have built a fort just outside the Palace Square. Dark forces are joining him in his attempt to breach the barricades that protect the Palace Square and the Queen. YOUR ORDERS: Cristo the Sarnak has been captured by the Orcs and has vital information about Maj'Dul defences. The Orcs must not get their hands on this knowledge. Kill him! Queen Mimmicita has also captured an agent. That gnoll must be silenced!.
Panelist comments: A true adventure! Unique lore mobs throughout, and the layout was very fun. The creature placement was crazy at times but never simply crushing - merely a challenge. The entire dungeon was well designed and a great deal of fun to experience!
Dungeon Maker: Raferty - Unrest
Poet's Palace: "Area 51"
Author's introduction: It started when a scientist died of a heart attack in the middle of a birthday party... Little did they know the aliens in their control had the ability to control the dead like puppets. Now they have escaped, and are converging on the captured space ship, but not without a little payback first. Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to eliminate the problem here. The entire problem, mind you. We need no witnesses.
Panelist comments: Ok, this dungeon was just plain weird... and wonderful! So completely different from anything else we experienced, and while sparsely populated in places, the unusual theme was perfectly carried out and led us to explore it without caring about dungeon marks!
Again, all we can say is WOW... and thank you for sharing your creativity with us!
Stay tuned for the TOP THREE next Tuesday. I can hardly wait to find out the results myself!