You've saved the elemental planes from Descending into Chaos. You’ve saved Norrath from certain devastation at the claws of the Prismatic Dragon, Kerafyrm. You’ve done it all! Haven’t you? Let’s chat a bit about things past and present in raiding. For Chaos Descending raids, we’ve seen a very strict resolve stat system as well as a progression system that left very little wiggle room for those not dedicating a large amount of effort toward progressing. This was purposely done in an attempt to make progression a bit more linear and easier to understand, as well as making it feel like more of a sense of accomplishment when reaching that next tier. We are aware this made things very difficult for those that entered the expansion cycle later, as well as gearing up alternate characters to fill in gaps in raid roles that needed filling. One of the reasons for having so many tiers was to open up the number of encounters that raiders, regardless of playstyle, have to engage. But with future content, we will likely scale back on the number of levels of difficulty to address having to gear up through so many difficulty levels of bosses. We will also balance encounters based on their difficulty as opposed to their resolve. This will keep the encounters from being easily first pulled once you hit the appropriate resolve amounts as was one of the issues we ran into in Chaos Descending. Entry-level requirements and alternate characters as well as catch up mechanics for players that enter the expansion late have been a pretty hot topic and we have been listening. There may not always be time to reply as much as some would like, but we’ve been listening to all the ideas out there and coming up with a few of our own and discussing the pros and cons of each. We haven’t quite honed in on the exact system we plan to go with but we are getting there and we plan to have something in place for next expansion. More changes we plan to make are adding the black adornment sets to the Panda merchant this summer that can be used as an alternate way to earn them for alts and characters that might not have started the expansion with everyone else. Speaking of black adornments, we’ve heard your concerns about the special celestial weapons needed to damage the gods being pretty difficult for entire raid forces to get, so we've added the flag to bypass their protection to the black adornment sets as well so that they can be used in place of the weapon should you choose to do so. However, they will not/did not gain the ability to buff someone else. This way, if you have a better weapon than the celestial weapons and you already have the black adornment set, then you are good to go to face the gods! Raiding in general has changed a lot over the years. In some ways for the better and some ways not so much. As the game expands and more systems put in place, the complexity grows and more moving parts introduced. One example of an added system are the Mythic raids. These did not turn out as well as we had hoped or intended. They were supposed to just be a tougher version of the encounters, but with the way the content played out, the stat bumps did not add a whole lot so it left the zones feeling a lot more of the same. We plan to go away from mythic zones in favor of normal/challenge mode content much like we had in the past where if you defeat the normal version, a challenge version may unlock and it would have new mechanics and truly be a more difficult encounter. This will allow challenge encounters to be a fresh new experience, as well as allow players of all difficulty styles the opportunity to see the content through normal mode. We want everyone to see the awesome art and sound and everything else our team works on! It truly is amazing! Some of the new art being worked on right now is mind-blowing! Let’s get talking about new content! While we do have at least one more piece of raid content coming your way between now and the expansion, we are all hard at work on the new expansion here at our offices. With that will come lots of beta testing for raids. While I don’t have a whole lot of details to share, I can say that there will be lots to beta test and that is where you all will come in. We will be doing another round of invites for the Raid Council as well as purging inactive members. (We do this once or twice a year.) Each raid guild or alliance is allowed to have two representatives to be an active member of the raid council. What is the raid council, you might ask? It is a private forum focused on raid discussion between members and developers. Everyone allowed in the forum is under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so they are not allowed to share what is discussed in the forum with anyone outside of it. This allows the developers to share a little extra info on the reasoning behind any decisions. If interested, you can have your raid leader contact “Gninja” via private message on the official forums for information about the process of joining. Keep in mind we get a lot of request during this time so it may take a little time to get a reply back, so please be patient. So, what’s next? Well… I can’t really say, but what I can say is we are really excited to share it once we are able to. We can’t give you a peak of the raid stuff quite yet. However, if you want to be some of the first to get in there, see, and test the new encounters, shoot me a private message and sign up for the Raid Council as there are limited seats available. See you in Norrath! Gninja EverQuest II Sr. Game Designer NOTE: Last call for Raid Council sign ups will be Friday July 12th by end of day Pacific.