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Everquest Online Adventures Event
by Stephen Harris - 03/07/03
EverQuest Online Adventures EverQuest: The Legacy of Ykesha
Discussion - Hands-On Discussion - Hands-On
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The Legacy of Ykesha: The Discussion

Our next stop in the tour of SOE was a hands-on test of the latest addition to EverQuest PC, The Legacy of Ykesha. Described as an EQ extension, not an expansion, this downloadable package features five new zones, new items, spells and even a new playable race, the Froglocks. Players will be able to customize their appearance even further with the use of armor dyes. Many of us were curious at the quick turn-around since the last true EQ expansion, The Planes of Power, was released and wondered if this was to be the norm hereafter. SOE denied any accelerated development schedule, reiterating that while Ykesha might contain enough new content to be considered an expansion pack, they felt that it was more of an extension of the existing game world. In fact, ever since its release, Ykesha has been one of the most successful additions to the EQ world, selling almost 1:1 with the current number of subscribers.

Contrary to popular rumor, The Legacy of Ykesha does not use all of the bells and whistles of DirectX 9, but does sport some visual enhancements over Planes of Power such as a new particle effect system and greater environmental detail. While SOE stated that there could have been even more improvements, they have to consider their users who still operate in a Windows 98/ ME environment. According to SOE, these operating systems are still prevalent and have large problems with managing virtual memory. Instead of alienating their current subscribers who use Win98 and ME, SOE has decided to allocate the latest visual and memory techniques to the upcoming EverQuest II. When asked about a possible mass exodus from EQ to EQ II, Mr. Humble stated that he has noted a strong resiliency in online communities and that he doesn't expect the release of EQ II or Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided to have a significant impact on the current population of Norrath.

When asked about the nature of this downloadable extension, SOE stated that while they have produced retail copies, Ykesha's primary method of disbursement would be via their servers. The download will require a one time fee of $21.95 and won't require any alterations to the user's current subscription. So are the days of retail over? SOE doesn't think so, stating that the actual amount of game content (data) will determine whether the product will see retail or a downloadable release. Since the physical size of Ykesha isn't that large, roughly 210 MB, there wasn't much sense in mass producing retail copies. SOE stated that while retail copies are available, they will in limited supply and may not be available at all retailers.

Suprisingly, SOE stated that The Legacy of Ykesha is the last planned addition to the current EQ world. So what does the future hold for EQ PC after Ykesha? The dev team stated that they planned to go back and revamp the existing zones and add several new locations. While SOE was very hush-hush about many of these upcoming modifications, they stated they were planning a complete redesign of the zone known as the Hate Plain and a new location planned for level 50-65 characters, the underwater city of Veksar. The EQ team also has high hopes for future in-game events on a massive scale. The recent invasion of Grobb in EQ PC is a testament to SOE's new event system that allows them to coordinate digital actors in events across several zones on all servers simultaneously.


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