On July 15, 2012, the tiny fraction of the Earth Eternal community that remains is treated to a most unexpected, yet exciting, event: Grethnefar announces on the TE forums the official opening up of his, up till now, personal server.
Having named his server “Planet Forever”, in referral to a post he'd made on EEF (now TE) sometime following SPM EE's end, Grethnefar begins passing out 'account keys' to allow anyone who wants to play to sign up. His announcement includes an EE client download that is based off the old SPM Patch 0.8.6 client.
In many ways, the early days of PF EE are rocky. Server crashes are frequent and stability is shaky at best. Grethnefar himself even considers his version of Earth Eternal to be more an 'alpha' than the 'beta' the official versions of Earth Eternal touted themselves as.
Planet Forever is in many ways a hybrid of the SPM EE and Iki/EER assets, being that it combines the assets of both. Completely restored are the original starter zones of Mushroom Isle, Old Corsica and Old Earthrise. Anglorum's data had been taken from EER so, it alone appears as it did during EER. The exception here is the Southend Passage instance in Corsica and Earthrise. Although it has been restored to its original location, at this time it still uses the 'New Corsica' version. Also at this point, Europe's data has yet to be restored so players can only complete up to Anglorum's content. While most of the terrain, props and other assets had come from various sources including the SPM EE servers, the item database and creature database had been taken from Iki/EER.
The big draw to Planet Forever, however, is a feature long promised, yet never seen in any of the official versions of Earth Eternal. Using the developer tools at his disposal, Grethnefar takes an unused map and creates the one thing players have long asked for: Player Groves. In fact, during account creation, the player must provide a name for their groves in addition to supplying a key given to them by Grethnefar.
Other things of note include no Fall Damage, spells and skills no longer require Reagents to use, Loot drops no longer drop junk loot and only include equipment drops. Crafting plans and materials are still not reimplemented. Also, the death screen options offer free revival at this point. Further, the armor benefits for the Rogue and Druid have been swapped out so that Rogues get 3x benefit and Druids get 2x benefit instead of the other way around and the level soft cap seen during SPM EE has been reinstated. The pre-0.8.6 versions of the Basic and Adventurer's Bags are again sold in Camelot.
In addition to a basic game, a special Grove is created called the Player Museum. This grove uses the Mushroom Isle map, appropriately, as the character models Greth had 'accidentally' salvaged during SPM's Mushroom Isle Party are put on display here.
Throughout the first weeks of Planet Forever, many additions, bug fixes and changes take place though things such as henge travel, parties and instanced dungeons are still unrestored at this point.
Grethnefar does make it known early on that he has no intention of restoring Clans as the server population is very small, being a 'fan server' for the most part. The old SPM Credit Shop and Exchange will also remain unimplemented until such time that it could be reasonably re-added without using real money.
It finally comes to light during this month that the Planet Forever server has in fact been around since even before Ikimonogatari and Earth Eternal Reborn came on the scene as Grethnefar along with a small group of former players detail how they had been working to restore the game assets almost nearly from barely two months following SPM's demise to the present. They also reveal some of the true reasons for the community divisions back then, their secret work on PF giving them a better view of the game's capabilities than what was being claimed on the EER forums.
These 'helpers' of Grethnefar, now known in game as Takumi Tanuki, Aveline Cai and Rockfire Redmoon, at this point in time possess power-player powers in much the same way that the Earth Sages did. For reasons all his own, Grethnefar will later strip these three players of these 'half-admin' powers as their need to have them is no longer considered necessary.
Rockfire is the first to switch to a regular account under the name 'Emerald Icemoon' sometime later. Takumi is later revealed to be none other than Yon Fildibeck though he does not recreate his Yon character for a long time. Aveline will later be revealed to be player Appolonia Iceflow, though, she too does not recreate this character until around the time Takumi recreates Yon.
August 2012 sees several major milestones for Planet Forever. Server crashes become infrequent as many bug fixes stabilize things. The original 'Miss' mechanic that had been removed in SPM Patch 0.8.8 is restored along with Light Hits and SuperCrits. Also restored are the Block, Parry and Dodge mechanics.
The biggest milestone for August, though, is the near complete restoration and opening up of all the Europe zones. The only things not restored are the shop items which remain empty, with the sole exception of the Container Merchants in Bafflegate, Longtail Gypsy Camp and Bazaart where the post-0.8.6 versions of the 4 and 6 slot inventory bags are available at the inflated prices associated with them. The pre-0.8.6 4 and 6 slot bags being sold in Camelot are now also sold in Bremen and Heartwood as well.
At this point in time, the Henges are still non-functional so travel is all by foot.
As it was in both SPM EE and Iki/EER, the unfinished regions of Grunes Tal and Swineland are blocked off from players. Grethnefar does reveal that there are more unfinished regions than was announced during the Sparkplay era. These regions not only include the three Spain regions, but others such as Lurker's Vale and Frost Peak as well.
Other fixes, changes and additions continue to bring the world of Earth Eternal back to life.
The milestones of September include the reimplementation of Henge travel, parties and party chat, instanced dungeons and vaults. Party sizes are unlimited in PF unlike in the official EE versions where the limit was 5. Also, all the original 8, 10 and 12-slot inventory bags that were removed early on during the SPM era are restored to the major cities of Camelot, Bremen and Heartwood.
The biggest milestone, though, is the implementation of a completely revamped item drop system which includes random equipment generation. This system includes the looks of NPCs, Mobs and even the old SPM sets that were removed during Patch 0.8.6. Credit Shop items and looks are not included, however.
Added, though, are two new equipment 'rarity rankings' beyond the 'epic' ranking: Legendary and Artifact. These two are set to be extremely rare and players will be lucky to see one. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the Artifact rarity winds up so rare that less than a handful will ever drop. Legendary drops are seen more often though.
As usual, more bug fixes, changes and additions are made throughout the month.
Planet Forever continues to grow in spite of rising and falling logins.
Milestones for October include the release of the In-Game Forum, new Grove building menus such as Grove Tools, Easy ATS and Prop Search to make building in groves much easier, an Item Preview menu, and commands to locally resize a character's ears and tail and the restoration of Luck/Heroism.
Many changes and bug fixes are made during this month. The most noteworthy addition is the reimplementation of vault expansions. Other things of note during this time include the removal of the two EER bosses and the respawn capabiities from the Southend Passage, the tweaking of the Earthend instance and quest “The Assault: Reclaiming Earthend!” so that players can no longer 'miss' a needed quest target and the removal of the much hated “Buy More Bags” button from the inventory window.
Although player logins drop off quite a bit during this month, several things of note do take place.
Among the bug fixes, changes and additions made during this month, the biggest additions of note are the restoration of the old SPM Winter Dawning event content minus the 'Grindle' quests and associated dungeons due to certain assets being missing, a new Pet system and menu and an Emote Browser usable by both players and pets. The pets themselves are designed by one of the players and approved for implementation by Grethnefar.
Grethnefar also adds a special new event quest and NPC to Camelot to reward players who have stuck around thus far. Because the Grindle quest and dungeons could not be restored, the Chest items for this boss are reallocated to the Chill Lord bosses outside their respective major towns of Camelot, Bremen and Heartwood as drops.
Other changes include the reimplementation of the day/night cycles to the world environments and a player restoration of Camelot's Market and Heartwood's Eiffel Tower to their near original SPM appearances.
Many changes and fixes are made during these two months. The major ones include many spawn timer reductions, some spawn restorations, the restoration of Wither-Root's Boss Chest in the Rotted Nursery and the restoration of content in the many shops, mainly in Europe, that were missing their goods including the restoration of the Master Weapon Plans in Camelot, along with the reimplementation of Henge travel and Resurrection costs.
Mysteriously beginning around the start of the new year, Planet Forever begins to experience intermittent hosting issues and the subsequent attempts by Grethnefar to allieviate the problem in the following weeks is met with limited success if any.
Among the changes, bug fixes and additions during March 2013, many missing dungeon mobs are restored, party invites now require the leader to be in a dungeon, crafting plans now drop from the named mobs and sub-bosses in Earthrise, Anglorum and the Europe regions and the associated crafting materials now drop from the mobs in these areas. Also, four existing Sanctuaries are converted into new 'Keystone Sanctuaries' that act like henges in the regions of Midlands, Dustshore, Cracked Rock and Deadwood to make travel to these regions easier.
The intermittent hosting issues briefly taper off but, soon return.
A brief April Fools' 'update' displays all characters as Level 1 with the starter equipment while on the character selection screen. This is reverted after the 'mini-event'.
While not much of interest happens during most of the month, the update in late April adds something big: the complete revamp of the Ability system. Players are encouraged to respecialize if they are level 30 or higher or if they want to rebuild. This is because the Ability Points for all even levels from 30 and up are increased from 2 to 4 and the respec is to help these players take advantage of the extra points.
The resurrection options are also revised and now come with penalties and costs.
During this month, some players are offered the opportunity to 'help' Grethnefar with trying to finish Grunes Tal and Swineland. Those who accept are given access to the special grove 'devEurope' so that they can better assist in the completion of these areas. A special 'Dev' section is added to the IGF with various resources posted by Grethnefar to give volunteers the things necessary to help out.
The continuing intermittent, yet severe, hosting issues forces Grethnefar to request a 'server relocation' which is only granted once.
During these two months many bug fixes and changes are made. Among these changes are, the maximum number of characters able to be created is increased from the original 4 available slots to 5 slots and reductions in both the Resurrection option costs as well as the Master Crafting Weapon Plans, the latter reduced 80%.
This is a pivotal month for Planet Forever as it marks the One Year Anniversary of the private EE server. Unlike the official versions of Earth Eternal, the public server of Planet Forever has lasted a full year. Sparkplay Media's EE Open Beta only lasted 11 months, TurnOut Ventures' Ikimonogatari and Earth Eternal Reborn only lasted approximately six months and four months respectively by comparison. As such, this month marks a major milestone for Planet Forever as it has officially outlasted all previous versions of Earth Eternal.
The Anniversary Update includes many fixes, changes and additions. These include the restoration of PvP combat in the form of the restored Camelot Arena, more pet options, adding Rogue off-hand damage, the reversion of Rogue and Druid armor ratings back to their original SPM values of 2x and 3x respectively, and the removal of Legendary and Artifact drops from the loot tables as they have proven 'too seldomly dropped' to be worth the effort. Rare Crafting Matarials are restored to both their associated mobs and bosses who drop them and reductions are made in both the Resurrection option costs and Master Weapon Plan costs, the latter reduced 80%. Also, the long lost SPM Europe quest “The Quarter-Note Quill” is restored to it's questgiver in Bremen along with the associated NPC Chest rewards.
In addition, the same new NPC from the Winter Dawning event returns to Camelot with two new quests that act as 'appreciation rewards' for players who have played up till now, though new players can also obtain them.
Inexplicably, around the same time as the Anniversary Update, PF begins experiencing a new round of hosting issues. A pattern has emerged, though, as it seems the issues tend to coincidentally coincide with the PF updates.
August is pretty much a quiet month with next to nothing new as Grethnefar decides to 'take a break' after the Anniversary update and two minor mini-updates in July. Restoration of original content is pretty much 99% completed.
On the volunteer side, though, those tasked with working on Grunes Tal and Swineland create various NPC and mob models along with a few quests for Grunes Tal. Further, a bunch of players, including many of the volunteers, create 'player-made armor sets' for fun, but, also hope that some will be made available ingame.
Due to an incident, the previously implemented level soft-cap is changed to a hard cap at level 55. Characters who reach level 55 no longer gain XP for anything though they can still receive loot drops.
Soon after, player and former 'helper' to Greth, Yon Fildebeck, departs to work on other things. Fellow former 'helper' Appolonia has long since departed PF by this point in time, her interest in the game having been minimal at best by the time she leaves. With Yon's departure from PF, the only members of Greth's former 'helpers' remaining are Emerald Icemoon and Dekker Wilder. Dekker, as it will turn out later, is the sole 'helper' who retains super-user abilities and is the only one who is never completely stripped of them.
In September, though, many more bug fixes, changes and additions are made. Among these are the implementations of the new Grunes Tal and Swineland content as well as a few new mid to high level quests made for Anglorum's Ironstone area, Great Forest and Deadwood. Also added are Elite Mobs, a varient of normal mobs with higher stats and 1-2 associated affixes (of nine total affixes), new Potions for the shops, cost reductions for the high-tier Crafting Molds and Potions, and a new PvP arena named 'Redemption'.
In addition, another new NPC is created to 'sell' certain player-made sets of Grethnefar's choosing and placed in Camelot. Crafting plans that drop in Earthrise are removed on the grounds that these items cannot be crafted until the player reaches Anglorum. Further, all 'special' named mob items are restored to the Earthrise named mobs. For whatever reason, the plans dropped by the mobs of the Earthend instance are not removed, perhaps because the player heads to Anglorum right after running the instance.
The intermittent hosting problems come and go with no solution in sight as requests to again relocate the server are rejected.
Although quite a few bug fixes and changes are made during this time, it isn't until November that many of these are rolled out.
During October, it comes to Grethnefar's attention that various sites have been 'promoting' Planet Forever and claiming association with him and his server. He makes it clear that none of these claims are true and that any information regarding PF acquired by this 'group' was done so without permission. He also emphasizes that PF is a hobby project for EE fans and that no money has or will ever be exchanged and that the only site he posts anything on regarding PF is the TerraEternus fansite.
In November, the biggest addition is the restoration of the old SPM Harvest Fest content. Also added is a player made PvP arena called 'The Cavern'. The new Crafting system is also unveiled during this time along with the addition of new 'special' crafting materials and the ability to 'disassemble' items. The Harvest Fest event mobs are given their original junk loot drops as new crafting materials and the event bosses, the Turkatrice Kings, are given the Credit Shop item the Turkatrice Hat as a special drop. The character limit is again increased, this time from 5 slots to 6.
Besides the many bug fixes and changes during this month, the biggest additions is the return of the Winter Dawning content. In addition to being much the same as the previous Winter Dawning event, as with the Harvest Fest event, the event mobs are given back their junk loot drops to be used as crafting materials. Also, the event bosses, the Chill Lords, are given the Credit Shop Winter Dawning set pieces as drops in addition to the previously added Grindle's Chest items.
Prior to the Winter Dawning update, two ingame events are held. The first is the 'Alimat at Stonehenge' event and the second is the 'Runaway Turkatrice King' event. For the second event, players who participate are given rewards after it concludes.
Other additions include the restoration of the Trade chat channel and chat channel color options.
Among the bug fixes and changes during this month, the additions include a few new quests for Anglorum and Dustshore along with the implementation of new NPC models for certain NPCs in Corsica, primarily Southend, to replace the old placeholder models Grethnefar put on them.
Once again, the hosting issues resurface apparently due to various factors.
Among the bug fixes and changes made, two major things are added in this month.
The first is the implementation of scaled dungeons and all the mechanics involved to make them viable. Legendary ranked equipment drops make a comeback in level 45+ dungeons as well.
A new ultra-difficult super-long quest chain devised by Dekker Wilder is added in sections along with new NPC questgivers and rewards. A new dungeon with a brand new boss with 'minions' is also added for this quest chain. The third tier quests come with a newly added 'voice over' mechanic and the new boss and minions come with a new, more intelligent, AI.
The hosting problems continue as apparently something is amiss at the host's location and progress to fix the issues are slow.
A strange server issue plagues the server for days which forces the Host to shut it down periodically. As a result, development has all but ceased until this issue is resolved. It is later determined, though not completely, that Emerald Icemoon's experimental IceClient and IceChat programs have been spamming the PF server with fake connections and thus overloading the server over time. She voluntarily removes the download for this program from her site just in case.
Near the end of the month, the server is updated with various bug fixes and enhancements. Although not yet confirmed at this point, this update turns out to be one of the last Planet Forever updates under Grethnefar's watch as his interest in the project has all but ended. Talks with him indicate he is already prepping the documentation of PF to prepare for the server code release and possible transfer of assets to Emerald Icemoon, his apparent choice of 'successor' who will keep the PF server going via her own web domain.
A few more bug fixes are added in this month, mainly involving the new dungeon in Dekker's new quest chain. Talks with Heathendel Dustrunner indicate Grethnefar, while no longer motivated to do much of anything, has stated that if players create content all on their own, he might add it into the game.
Heathendel, now pretty much the main driving force behind Grunes Tal and Swineland development, works with Greth to finish the dungeons and overworld mobs of Grunes Tal left unfinished.
Liska discovers a nasty environment bug that Greth locates and fixes on his side but, says that it won't be pushed out till the next update.
Heath and Liska collaborate on an idea regarding one of his groves. With Greth's help, the old Bastion Island newbie zone is repurposed as a new upper mid-level instance zone complete with an 'Island Temple' dungeon.
Heathendel continues work on Grunes Tal, which is near completion, while Liska updates and finishes most of the Grunes Tal quests. Rivers Slypaw and Emerald Icemoon help to finish quest and Chest rewards along with the remaining NPCs of Grunes Tal.
Grunes Tal and the new Bastion Island instance are nearly complete. NPCs and mobs are pretty much finished and all that remains for quests is perhaps a single small chain. Liska finally finishes most of the Grunes Tal quests along with one for the new Bastion Island/Island Temple instance.
Planet Forever almost quietly celebrates it's 2-year anniversary as logins have been low for the previous few weeks.
Grunes Tal is slated for release though the exact release date has yet to be given.
Logins continue to be low throughout the month and development has pretty much ground to a halt although a few more rewards are made for the Grunes Tal quests.
To date, the boss in Dekker's quest chain still remains unbeaten and it is uncertain if it ever will be.
Heathendel makes the announcement that Greth has finally decided to move on and will be passing the server over to the new admin in the coming months. Among the details mentioned, the website domain for Planet Forever, planetforevergame.com, will not be renewed once it comes up for renewal around March 2015. Progress on Grunes Tal and other development of the game has been put on hold until the transition to the new admin has been completed. Further details are left to Greth pending an official announcement regarding the transition.
Logins continue to be low yet the server remains online in spite of development coming to a halt prior to the transistion. The exact timeframe of the asset transfer remains unknown as no official announcement has yet been given.
Near the end of September, word from Greth indicates he has not only lost all interest in the game, but, that he no longer cares for it's future. The documentation meant for the transfer as well as the intended announcement has not been completed and his motivation for doing so just hasn't been there. The transfer of assets is still scheduled for around November/December, but, that there is no longer any guarantee that the server will even be transferred at all. He indicates that should the transfer not be completed, then Planet Forever will likely remain up until the website domain is given up in March 2015 at which time the game server will close, bringing an end to Planet Forever and Earth Eternal itself.
October is mostly another quiet month for the game, though Heathendel does indicate he has been 'working' on a new 'region' in Emerald's grove off and on. He adds that he has been pushing Greth as much as possible to complete the server transfer to Emerald. Further, it seems both Heath and Emerald have already decided on the new 'dev team' for PF following the transfer.
To transfer or not to transfer, that is the question...
Current status of Planet Forever Earth Eternal: Mostly unknown.
A bit of information late in the month indicates the server transfer may still be on, but, that the possibility of a data wipe is now on the table. This would mean players would once again have to recreate their characters. If the history of Earth Eternal up to now holds true, should this end up being the case, the possibility of many remaining players abandoning the game is high. It's a sad truth, but, might very well be unavoidable in the end.
A new year...and an uncertain future for Planet Forever Earth Eternal.
Near the end of the month, the Quest Rip page on the Planet Forever website mysteriously vanishes. Whether this was an intentional removal by Greth or simply a link breaking is not known; however, due to the fast approaching date of the PF website's termination, this will likely never reappear until after the transfer of assets to Emerald.
Early in the month, Greth quietly releases the final update to Planet Forever before the deadline slated for March. No release notes are provided for this final update.
Talks with Heathendel indicate that EE will likely make a quiet reappearance with Emerald at the helm possibly around April or so. Assets and character/grove data will likely be preserved, though players will likely have to create new accounts on Emerald's site and then send her requests for their characters to be restored.
The plans for the next iteration of EE will likely move forward secretly before publicly announcing the server's comeback. How long between the new server coming online and this public announcement is not yet known.
On the last day of the month, Grethnefar finally releases all the game's assets and announces the exact date for the end of Planet Forever, which turns out to be March 9th. He finally posts the final release notes on the website along with his very long rant about the game and community. This rant is scathing to say the least and, sadly, does not put the remaining 'community' in any sort of high regard.
Along with these, Grethnefar creates one last “quest” in Fort Stonehenge to boost players to level 70. Using an existing Bounty Board, all the player need do is click on it to get the boost in XP and 100 Gold. He also releases a special 'Gambler Supplier' NPC that, for a varied price, will spit out random Epic, Legendary and Artifact-ranked equipment.
This month marks the end of Planet Forever and the Planet Forever Era and also the beginning of the IceEE Planet Forever Era.
Using the 'uber-setup' that was provided in the final update, a few players, now boosted to level 70 and decked out in all Artifact gear, finally challenge that 'unbeatable' boss 'It' and finally defeat the creature. While not truly a 'win' due to the 'special' circumstances behind the victory, it serves as a testament to the still-quite-broken nature of that boss' mechanics.
On March 11th, both Planet Forever and the PF website finally go offline. Planet Forever remains, to date, the longest running Earth Eternal server with 2 years, 7 months and 24 days online.