Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Moonlight Enchantments!

I was on holiday in Hawaii last February, sitting in the back of a car that was driving me to a scuba dive when it suddenly occurred to me that it would be pretty cool if you could occasionally stumble across an enchanted mushroom ring in a forest somewhere in the game that would give you access to some strange new zone that wasn't normally accessible. (Yes, my mind turns to thoughts of work at the most unexpected moments.)

Mushroom rings, or fairy rings, are a pretty familar recurring theme in folklore and are generally considered a sign of something magical; often the gateway to the land of the elves, or the site of fairies or witches dancing, or similar. In EQII I thought we could do something along similarlines: they could lead you to magical little instances where nature spirits might live, who might perhaps ask for your help in some small tasks.

When I was back in the office I asked for permission to take a bit of time and turn this idea into a little live event, and since I was able to fit a little bit of time into my schedule, it was approved. That idea turned into "Moonlight Enchantments", a monthly mini live event that is planned to be activated on the 20th through the 21st of every month (San Diego time), 48 hours in total.

This weekend past was the first time the event occurred, and for Saturday and Sunday small mushroom rings with a shimmering portal in the middle appeared in 5 different forested areas around Norrath. Each mushroom ring led to a different instance; depending on the zone, you were able to aid dryads, naiads, pixies, brownies, satyrs, and earth elementals in a variety of small errands. Each instance also contained its own merchant, selling a selection of unique house items, illusions, and expendables in exchange for the tokens that the quest awarded.

I logged on with my play account on the weekend to do the little quests myself, and to see what people were saying, and I was very happy to hear that the comments were almost entirely very positive. It's always very hard to predict how a large number of people will like a particular event, and it's almost impossible to do anything that will please everybody, so I was really happy with the way this one seemed to be received. I was especially pleased when I saw this (click the picture to enlarge):

For those not familiar with it, the blue flag just beside the mushroom ring is a guild rally banner. This is an item that can be placed in the world by a guild, to allow its members to swiftly travel to that banner, saving on assembly time for raids. A guild can only place one rally banner in the world at a time, which means that rather than summon their members to a raid, this guild had chosen to summon their members to a mushroom ring. This wasn't the only guild rally banner I saw outside a mushroom ring this weekend, either, and I took that as a high compliment and an extremely good sign that folks were enjoying the event.

This event had many goals, and seems to be meeting them well so far:
  • Adding seasonal or nonpermanent events helps give our world a more dynamic and living feel, which I feel is a good goal in itself.
  • Many of the rewards are plants and nature-themed house items that our players who enjoy home decoration have been wanting, but which really didn't make a lot of sense to give to carpenters to make, so this was also a way of adding desired home decoration content.
  • Giving people a regular monthly event to look forward to also encourages folks to keep logging in each month, another good goal.
  • Giving lower level folks a glimpse of some of the fantastic looking newer zones that there are to see - many of the event instances are sections taken from high level or raid zones such as Guk and Emerald Halls
  • Adding a bit of mystery and a bit of fun to the world also helps keep folks interested and having fun, and of course, adding fun to the game is an ongoing goal itself!
  • And as a personal goal, this was the first live event that I'd thought up and implemented on my own, so it was a great learning experience for me.
A few related links for more information and screenshots of how players have been using the new rewards from these instances:
Now it remains to be seen how well these monthly events continue to keep the interest of players as the months pass. Here's hoping that it remains something that gives the residents of Norrath a lot of enjoyment for the forseeable future!


  1. You really rocked the mini event out. Great work. And, um, the pink circlets are... well, pink. Therefore, they are teh awesumz.

  2. The event was great, a definite win! We need more!

    After the expansion, you should make another grotto 'borrowing' the entrance lava area from VP or Trakanon's lair *nod*. And have the grotto be evil themed *impish grin*

  3. Its a nice little event. I think a fire theme would be nice as well, but doesn't exactly fit.

    I did enjoy watching people repeatedly run this using Call of the hero or bard speed to run lvl 1 characters to the zones. I think I ended up running over 90 instances for house items.

  4. I'm really enjoying this event! I *did* overdo it this month - I had time off, so decided to try to get everyone on both accounts through all the grottos. Never again. Takes forever, and is exhausting! (I even used a friend-account so I could run just one person to each ring, then summon everyone!) On the plus side -- every last one of my alts has completed the Nek griffon quest, and has the Darklight Woods ring now and I couldn't say that before ...

    I am *so* glad this is permanent though so that from now on I can simply run a few alts through for their quest, tokens, and shinies, without feeling like I have to get enough for everyone NAO. (Icy Keep we about killed ourselves on, as a guildmate wanted to gear all 12 or so of her alts /shudder)