Daily Archives: December 11, 2018

The Burning Lands Expansion Launched Just After Layoffs at Daybreak

We learned a little over a month ago that The Burning Lands, the 25th EverQuest expansion, was slated to go live today.  And so it has.  We knew it was coming, but we were finally getting some detailed information.  Also, pre-orders were open.  You could start giving Daybreak your money.

Does this feel a little “Disney” to you?

The high level points of the expansion seemed to be about on par with what we have come to expect annually from the Norrath team.  Some new zones around a hub, new raids, new quests, new abilities, and a new mechanic.

  • Luck Stat – A brand new stat that influences just how lucky you are! This stat will randomly increase the amount of gold in your split, the amount of critical damage you do, your chance to succeed at a trade-skill combine, and much more!
  • 6 Expansion Zones – You’ll adventure throughout the grand and fantastic environments and architecture of the Planes of Fire, Air, and Smoke!
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections

There is nothing on that list that is going to drag anybody new into the game, but that was to be expected.  MMORPGs beyond a certain age become more about tending to the installed base than trying to grab new players.  Anybody proposing otherwise is fighting history and wasting money.  Once you’ve launched and gone free to play there isn’t anything left to attract new players in anything like the quantity needed to support any radical change.

So a normal autumnal expansion release for EverQuest.  Maybe a couple weeks later than we might have expected… November is more the norm… but close enough.  All seems normal in Norrath.

Or would seem normal if Daybreak hadn’t just laid off a big chunk of their staff on Friday.

Daybreak, not being a public company, doesn’t have to tell us about layoffs.  But in the age of social media, word of layoffs get out quickly and this round was no exception, with John Smedley echoing what he had heard on Twitter Friday morning.

Once the press had been alerted Daybreak issued an anodyne statement about optimization while refusing to mention any details.

We are optimizing our structure to ensure we best position ourselves for continued success in the years to come. This effort has required us to make some changes within the organization and we are doing everything we can to support those impacted in this difficult time. As we look to improve efficiencies and realign resources, we remain focused on supporting our existing games and development of our future titles.

That statement is an example of one trying to have ones cake and eat it too.  Reports say that between 60 and 70 people, or roughly one third of Daybreak’s staff, was given their notice on Friday.  When you are down by a third it will be difficult to both support existing games and develop new titles.

Of course, what even are the existing Daybreak titles at this point?  EverQuest and EverQuest II,  holding up the fantasy end of the catalog, were merged into a single shared group some time back.  DC Universe Online is the superhero game and reportedly the most consistent revenue generator, the PlayStation 4 version being the breadwinner there.  And then there is PlanetSide 2, which has been problematic in the past, though it is still getting updates.

H1Z1 Battle Royale went to NantG Mobile as part of the joint venture between NantWorks and Daybreak announced back in September.  NantWorks had the money and Daybreak had the IP I guess, though Daybreak apparently held on to the PlayStation 4 version of H1Z1.  So if there was anybody left working on H1Z1 or the esports league, they were probably seen as expendable.

Word is that the layoffs were concentrated in the Daybreak Austin office and were related to a new project being developed there around a “top IP.”  Daybreak said that the Austin office was not being closed, but I guess that they are no longer working on that “top IP” if they’ve been mostly let go.

People working on the new thing are gone and people working on the old stuff were already spread a bit thin.  Where does that leave Daybreak.

Back in May there was a post on Reddit alleged to be by a former Daybreak employee about plans for the company.  I summed that up in a post here, and a good thing too as it was removed from Reddit by the author not too long later.

The removal led to it being declared a fake, but some key details certainly ended up coming to pass.

Sure, Just Survive sunsetting was hardly a reach.  Even I predicted that back in January.  But the whole Z1 Battle Royale was alluded to, something we didn’t end up hearing about until September.  And the trajectory for PlanetSide 2 seems to line up.

So, in looking at the rest of that post, you have to ask if we are looking at the end game for EverQuest and EverQuest II, if Daybreak is holding out for one last anniversary update for each of them (they turn 20 and 15 respectively next year) before moving on to the alleged EverQuest 3 and its plan for PvP focus anchored on a fantasy battle royale feature.

If that is the case, my prediction would be to prepare for disaster and a belated attempt to return to catering to the installed base once EverQuest 3 flops, because PvP has never been much beyond a distraction in Norrath.

But, the word has come out that we might be hearing about something new from Daybreak on Thursday.  Bets on what it will be?  PlanetSide 3?  EverQuest 3 PvP?  PlanetSide Mobile?  EverQuest Mobile?  What else have they got to work with?

Sources:

The December Update for EVE Online brings War Dec Changes, New Ships, and the Start of the Holiday Event

It is time for the December update for EVE Online.  One of the key things up front for this update are changes to the War Dec system.  CCP put out a dev blog on these initial changes, but the key is eligibility.  As was discussed previously, this change will not allow players to war dec a corporation unless it owns a structure.  The following structures count:

  • All Upwell Structures (including Upwell FLEX structures)
  • Starbase Control Towers
  • Player-owned Customs Offices
  • Sovereignty Structures (Infrastructure Hubs and Territorial Control Units)

If your corp does not own one of those structures then you should be immune to war declarations.

And, to close a glaring loophole, the second change is to add a setting to disallow structure transfers.  At least CCP could foresee that war dec corps would seek to bypass the structure rule by simply transferring a structure to their prospective victim and then declare war.  There is now a setting in the corporation details tab that allows automatic rejection of structure transfers, and the default setting for that will be true.

That is expected to be the first round of changed for war decs as CCP tries to figure out how to deal with this issue.

Also coming with the December update are two new Triglavian ships, the Rodiva and the Zarmazd.  These are the previously mentioned Triglavian logi cruisers.

Logi cruiser hull model

Unlike other Triglavian ships, this one comes as both tech I and tech II, aligning to the logi cruisers from the empires.  Only the blueprint for the Rodiva will drop and you must go through and do invention on the copy to get a Zarmazd blueprint.

There are also armor rep blueprints going in to match the two new ships, available as Abyssal drops.

The niche for these new logi ships is that their reps get stronger the longer they stay on their target.

Also coming to Abyssal space is a set period of invulnerability when transitioning through Abyssal gates.

The update also introduces the 2018 holiday even for EVE Online.

Thirteen Days Only

Called the Thirteen Days of EVE, you need to log your account in daily to claim prizes… like an advent calendar… but you have 17 days, so you could miss a couple days and still get all the presents.  The prizes include some new things EVE, including a standings booster, new Candy Chromatic SKINs, straight up skill points, and, for Omegas only, a booster with three uses that will allow the pilot to use skill injectors without the diminishing returns penalty.  That means people like me, with over 80 million SP on a character, could get the full 500K of skill points from an injector rather than the 150K one gets normally in that situation.

A sample of the rewards

That last item requires you to log in for the full thirteen days.  But that is easy enough and there is no reason not too.  Details are available at the event site.

The update also lays down the groundwork for the next in-game event, Operation Permafrost.

Coming soon

As usual, the event will come to you via The Agency and will require you to accumulate points for rewards.  At EVE Vegas is was mentioned that this event will bring your ship down into the atmosphere of a planet, giving the art team at CCP a chance to show off some more fancy new environments.  Details are currently up on the live event page.

Also on the graphics front, CCP has added atmospheric auroras to planets.  They only show up at random times though, so you have to be there at the right moment to catch them.

A Megathron spotting an aurora

Another possible background for screen shots.

A lot of the rest is just the usual tweaks and minor fixes that accompany any update for the game.  However, there is one innocuous one in the mix that I want to call out.  This one:

Adjustments have been made to the respawn rates of certain nullsec anomalies. These adjustments are part of a gradual ongoing process that will see further tweaks for this type of content.

As rumors have it, the “certain nullsec anomalies” are havens and that this is a direct poke at titan ratting.  Yes, titan ratting is a thing.  The alleged reason is that at the current respawn rate a titan can can use its boson doomsday, clear a haven, and another one will have spawned by the time the titan has recovered and is ready to keep rolling.  We will see if there is a corresponding dip in the NPC bounties with the coming of the December MER.

So that is it.  CCP has already announced that the update has been deployed successfully.  Information about it is available via the patch notes and the updates page.