Back in the spring, I resolved to construct a Poet's Palace dungeon for SOE's official dungeon maker contest, and I had several ideas in mind, but once again, my ambitions were larger than reality, and I just couldn't get the job done. Fortunately, there were over 80 players who did, and the winners were announced this week. I visited each of the four winning dungeons and was blown away by what I saw. Read on for a look at the real dungeon masters of EQII!
I'm really happy to see this winner announced because Pixiewrath is a player whom Jeremy and I met during one of our livestreams. He offered to show us one of his dungeons, and both of us really enjoyed running it. Pixiewrath has a nice eye for little details, and that skill made for some interesting surprises while we were doing the dungeon crawl. He also has a background story for each of his dungeons, which adds to the fun of exploring.
In Scars of Love, part five of his Delving into the Depths dungeon series, Pixiewrath paints the story of a love that's lost and has become tainted. He took the Poet's Palace zone and turned it into a garden that's both beautiful and corrupt at the same time. Shrooms wander the courtyard, and as you work your way down, you see the effects of this "scarred love." One of my favorite spots was the vine-filled staircase because the creative use of the flora provides a truly amazing view as you descend to the lower level. Pixiewrath seems to get better and better at dungeon-making with each of his creations, so I look forward to seeing future chapters in his ongoing storyline!
In a community interview on SOE's official site, Severiss explained that he had just seen the movie of the same title and was inspired to turn a bright and colorful zone into one that was dark and evil. He nailed it, transforming the zone into something completely different from its original appearance. He used the bone tiles to line the walls and floors and added all sorts of undead to patrol the rooms and hallways. I would never had guessed this was Poet's Palace if it hadn't been for the contest, and it was incredible to see the amount of detail put into making this zone so spooky.
Area 51 was also a creation inspired by a movie, and Raferty explained that the idea came from watching Resident Evil. The zone has been turned into a science lab gone wrong, with computers strewn about the halls and mutant creatures wandering the rooms. At the beginning of the crawl, there's a room lined with glass-sealed specimens, and I'm in awe of how well Raferty used Jesdyr's dungeon editor to place each one perfectly in line with the others. I also loved the lower level, where the Djinn are surrounded by a purple electric field. As with the other dungeons, I'm amazed at how ordinary objects were used in ways that I never would have guessed possible.
This dungeon was created by not one but two creative minds, and the result is impressive. It's a zone full of things that don't necessarily go together, but that plays right into the theme of a dream-like world where the lines of what is real and what isn't are blurred (think Inception). In one area, you're battling raptors and harpies, and in the next, you're facing off against Djinn. At the exit is a player-made book that ties the background story up nicely and is a nice touch to a creative zone.
Congratulations and awe
What amazes me is how these four players took the same exact zone and turned it into four completely different dungeons. You wouldn't even know they were all Poet's Palace blueprints if it weren't for the fact that they're tied in with the contest. Each one has a unique theme and is consistent with it from start to finish. In addition, they were all very even-handed with mob placement. They made it challenging but not unreasonable, and you could tell that each one of them was wary of mob placement and social aggro when mapping out the dungeon. But what strikes me most of all is the sheer look of each dungeon. These are players who can take a standard zone map and turn it into whatever they want.
For their efforts, the winners each receive two rare Legends of Norrath pieces of loot: the Residence of Blades Deed of Ownership and the rare Sun-Blazoned Pegasus mount. In addition, the 13 players picked as finalists receive the in-game title, The Dungeon Maker, plus a set of Heritage Armor of their choice and 2,000 Station Cash. If you want to visit the four winning dungeons, they have been made available on all servers (even the test server!). Congratulations to the winners and cheers to all who sent in entries.
Before we wrap up, there was another tidbit of news this past week: EQII has a new Community Manager. Colette "Dexella" Murphy replaces Eric "Piestro" Cleaver, who had come to EQII from EverQuest. It's unclear where Piestro is headed, but lately the job of CM looks a lot like the GreenHorn job on the Wizard (no one lasts more than one trip out to sea). Hopefully Dexella will be here for the long term and be an active presence on the forums; players like seeing red names, even if they won't admit it! We wish Eric Cleaver the best and welcome Colette Murphy to the job.
From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to firstname.lastname@example.org.