Hello Norrathians!

Lots going on in the EQII world!  We are just about to release our next update, Will of a Tyrant.  With this update you are going to see a few hundred lingering bugs fixed in EQII.  Some of these bugs date back to launch and are being knocked out before we gear up for the expansion.  In fact, we have taken to calling this update our “bug bash” as we pulled out our hammers and smashed them into oblivion.  As for content in this update, well it is a little lighter than recent updates, and there is a reason for that, well actually a couple of reasons.  The first is that it was a shorter cycle for us, with only about two months of time between this update and last.  The second is that we are starting to shift many of our resources over to expansion work as that gets closer to launching.  In addition, we have some as yet to be announced surprises coming.  They’re some rather large features, which we hope will excite many of you.  More on those in the months ahead.

One feature we have been receiving a lot of questions over, is the Item Ratings system.  I know that since it was announced, there has been a great deal of confusion over the system and what it is intended to accomplish.  After many internal discussions, and listening to feedback from you, we have decided not to move forward with this system.  We are exploring alternatives that would allow us to continue to grow items and allow your gear to advance in meaningful ways, without giving the impression that you are going backward.

Another long announced and long awaited feature has been the rework on the “fighter revamp”. This is another project that is going to fall by the wayside as we now focus on small changes, rather than sweeping revamps.  Fighters are going to see some love here in the near future, thanks to Xelgad, who is taking on some of the class balance responsibilities.  First and foremost, we have identified a problem with a couple of abilities for Crusaders; Holy Ground and Grave Sacrament.  Those abilities, rather than generating an amount of hate toward the hate list, were in fact moving the crusader up by ranks; thereby practically guaranteeing that crusaders would dominate agro.  We are modifying those abilities to generate raw hate, as well as a much more modest rank increase., so that they are still very viable for tanking, but not an automatic pass to the top of the hate list.  Additionally both abilities will have other bonuses added to them.  We want to make sure these are abilities that the Crusader classes will want to keep on their hotbars.

Other classes will be seeing improvements and tweaks as we take a hard look at how each class performs in solo, group and raid play.  Our goal is to make sure every class has a role and will be wanted in groups and raids, as well as being able to successfully solo, for those of you who play these Massive Multiplayer games all alone, like me.  =P

Shader 3.0 work is pretty much complete at this point, with all of the shaders being converted to the new system.  However we will not be releasing it with Will of a Tyrant.  We are not seeing the performance increases that we had hoped so we will continue to optimize and tweak until they provide not only a visual boost, but a performance boost as well.  We do not want to take a step backwards in performance just to make things look shiny.  Currently it looks as though this feature will land with the next game update, on expansion launch day.  

I know you are all excited about the upcoming expansion, or at least I hope you are.  We are very excited as a lot of hard work has gone into making Sentinel’s Fate.  We still have a lot to do but the time for release is getting close!  So close, in fact, that you can now sign up for beta which should begin admitting folks in under two weeks. You can sign up on the EQII players site, so if you are interested in joining in, make sure you sign up soon. 

So again, lots going on,

See you soon in Norrath!

Alan Crosby
Sr. Producer - EQII