Category Archives: Daybreak Game Company

EverQuest is Getting its Community Resource Council Up and Running

The EverQuest Community Resource Council was mentioned in the roadmap that Daybreak put out for the title on Wednesday, and they have since wasted no time moving ahead on some of the early items.

EverQuest, the classic

Yesterday the EverQuest team posted a news item pointing towards a description of the council and a FAQ.

The council is described as:

The Community Resource Council is a program designed to give players and members of the development team a confidential space to discuss upcoming design decisions with the benefit of a non-disclosure agreement. This allows members of the development team to be able to discuss topics that are still in development and not yet ready for public scrutiny, with an audience of players, providing a degree of player feedback to assist in the making of development decisions. The Community Resource Council also assists members of the development team with research and provides a player perspective on topics where and when it is needed.

That seems pretty much par for the course for such player advisory groups.  A non-disclosure agreement is required and, in return for signing it, players on the council will get previews of plans and ideas that the company is working on.

What isn’t clear is how exactly one becomes a member of the council.  The post refers to an application process, set to commence on the 28th of this month, but there isn’t much beyond that.  The FAQ linked above has a rather circular question and answer for that process.

Q: How do I become a member of the CRC program?

A: Twice yearly we will review the current membership of the CRC program and see if there are any positions that need to be filled, or members who are not active enough in the program to contribute. During this period, we will reopen the application page to field and vet potential new members.

So every six months they will review the current membership, but how they pick members seems to be more than a bit opaque.

There are eligibility standards to which one must adhere in order to become a member.

Q: What are the eligibility requirements for becoming/being a member of the CRC program?

A: In order to be eligible for membership in the CRC program, players must have an active account* in good standing and must have a relatively clean forum history free of any significant incidents. Both your in-game history and forum history will be reviewed prior to potential acceptance into the program, as it is important that members have a history of positive contribution before being accepted. Substantial infractions in-game or on the forums may cause existing members of the CRC to lose membership privileges.

*Certain members who have a long history of positive contribution and who still actively contribute to the program may, on rare occasion, be retained as “advisors” to the program if their accounts lapse. Such cases are handled on an individual basis.

But, again, the “how” part of the deal seems to be missing.  I suppose we will have to wait and see what they say on the 28th.

Unlike the WoW Community Council, membership in the EverQuest Community Resource Council will not be disclosed by the company in order to maintain their privacy.  Individual members can out themselves, but the company will neither confirm nor deny membership.

Serving on the council also comes with no compensation, such as a free subscription or expansions.  Members are more likely to be picked for beta access to updates, but that is not a guaranteed perk of the position.

So, unlike the WoW Community Council or EVE Online’s Council of Stellar Management, this will be a low key affair, run out of the public eye, and not used for any promotional purposes.  But, as I have noted, the company has had such councils before and they have generally been low key affairs, so this seems in line with the history of the game.

Daybreak Posts 2022 Roadmaps for EverQuest and EverQuest II

In a bit of a surprise, yesterday Daybreak posted their 2022 plans for their two remaining Norrath based titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II.

EverQuest was, of course, the foundation of SOE and its success, launching back in 1999, and was a benchmark for success before WoW came along.

EverQuest II came along five and a half years late as their heir presumptive, though the original game never ended up going away, so there has been a bit of a Queen Elizabeth/Prince Charles relationship going on here, with the newer title never really growing out of the original’s shadow.

Anyway, the real surprise was Daybreak being so forthcoming about their plans for 2022.  Daybreak’s reputation has not been one of “over communicating.”  There have been years when we have know that some things are coming, like new special servers, and we have assumed that things like Q4 expansions would be a thing because they always are.  But getting a plan up front is a rather drastic departure, and one I would like to encourage.

I just hope that fans remember that any roadmap is subject to change,  something that grows more likely past the six month mark.  But as long as Daybreak communicates changes, we should be fine.  People generally get more angry when a date comes and goes without a word than if they get notification that things have had to change.

A lot of the roadmap items are pretty common fare, things we expect from the company, like expansions and updates and events.

One standout item for both games is the migration to 64-bit clients and servers, something required to ensure the long term viability of both games.  EverQuest, which got an announcement about this back in November, is slated for 64-bit next month, while EverQuest II has July on its timeline.  With one team handling both games, the titles being done individually is probably a requirement.

EverQuest, the classic

EverQuest

EverQuest has a couple of big items on its list, including finally updating Heroic Characters, which is their level boost option, to be level 100 rather than level 85.  Level 100 still seems a bit stingy for a game where the level cap is 120 and expansions tend to jump only 5 levels, but it is still better than 85, where the boost has been stuck for the last seven years or so.

Mercenaries are also getting a rework to simplify them, a new progression server is slated for May, and the 29th expansion for the game will arrive in December.

Then, tacked on at the end, there is a promise of a new UI engine at some point beyond 2022.  Again, another item that might help preserve the game for a new generation of players.  What that really means and the actual timing will be something for the future, but it is nice to see it on the roadmap at least.

Oh, and then they are attempting to reboot their community council thing again.  I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly represents a new direction for the Daybreak era of the game.

But SOE had guild and community groups in the past and their influence has always been a bit of a mixed blessing.  They have tended to be drawn from the rarefied high end raiding elements of the game, because that group tends to be the most engaged with the game.  As with EVE Online’s CSM or the WoW Community Council, over representation of high engagement groups tends to toss more casual elements by the wayside.  We’ll see how it goes… maybe…. maybe Daybreak will remain communicative… once this comes together.  I haven’t seen how you can apply to be on the council or any other details about it and it is already the 20th.  This could be the first item to slip.

The full posted 2022 timeline for EverQuest is:

  • January:
    • Community Resource Council Application Relaunch – Your chance to help advise on the future of EverQuest.
  • February:
    • 64-Bit Servers and Clients Release to Live Servers
  • March:
    • 23rd Anniversary – New quests, missions, and a new raid.
    • New Content for Bristlebane’s Day
    • New Content for Stomple’s Day
  • April:
    • New Classic Achievements – Adding achievements for many original quests in EverQuest’s starting cities.
  • May:
    • New Progression Servers – Rulesets to be announced at a later date.
    • Mercenary Rank Simplification – Simplify mercenaries down to the two ranks primarily in use and remove the quest line requirements for obtaining them.
    • New Tempest Festival Event
  • June:
    • Server Merge – Merging the Phinigel and Miragul servers to Vox.
  • July:
    • New Scorched Skies Event
    • New Overseer Achievements and Reward Improvements
  • September:
    • Heroic Characters Update – New Heroic Characters will start at level 100.
  • October:
    • 2022’s Expansion Beta + Preorder
    • New Content for Nights of the Dead
  • November:
    • Extra Life – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
    • New Content for Feast of Giving
  • December:
    • 2022’s Expansion Launch
    • New Content for the New Year’s Event
  • Throughout the Year:
    • Raid Zone Performance Improvements
    • Class Tuning and Balancing
    • Anti-Cheat Improvements
  • Beyond 2022:
    • New UI Engine

The aging second entry, no longer so young compared to the original

EverQuest II

The younger sibling doesn’t have as much big stuff on its list as EverQuest, but it is also in a better state when it come to things like level boost options and mercenaries.

As noted above, the 64-bit update for client and server is slated for July, and the game will be getting a new special rules server along with the annual expansion in December.

The one item I am interested to see is Heroic Opportunities getting a rework.  Those were a thing back at launch, but like Fellowship Maneuvers in LOTRO, fell out of favor as time went on.  They are still in there, and I still kick them off when I play, but I couldn’t tell you if they were worth the effort.  From the timing, it looks like the HO update will be part of the expansion in December.

The full EverQuest II timeline as posted:

    • January:
      • Kaladim Unlocking Age of Discovery – Opening up the Withered Lands and Skyshrine zones.
      • Improvements to the Test Server – Recipe books from old expansions added to the bookworm and level boosts setup to scale correctly to max level.
    • February:
      • Server Merge – Rivervale into Antonia Bayle
      • Lore and Legend Server – Every piece of content in the game is appropriate for your character.
    • March:
      • Chronoportal Phenomenon Updates – The annual commemoration of EverQuest’s anniversary will bring a new throwback dungeon as well as new items to attain during this timely event.
    • April:
      • Game Update 119 – Includes a new Overseer season, an Overseer Inventory system, new raid dungeons, new heroic dungeons, and new collections.
      • Stat/Number Wrappers – In game combat numbers (damage and heals) are visually abbreviated and commas are added into damage logs.
    • May:
      • New Time Locked Expansion Server – A brand new server called Varsoon that will be very similar to the Kaladim ruleset plus the Free Trade ruleset.
      • Tinkerfest Updates – The gears of time have been wound a little tighter, bringing the celebration of all things gnomish and clockwork a little earlier than in previous years. A new dungeon, new rewards, and new merchant items will be available exclusively during this event. You’ll also start earning Jubilation Medals, coins that can be earned and exchanged during the three summertime events for desirable items!
    • June:
      • Scorched Sky Celebration Updates – A red-hot new dungeon and new items will be available for those looking to join the devotees of Flame in their annual fiery festivities. Get more Jubilation Medals!
      • New Patches of Pride Items – New LGBTQIA pride familiars arrive!
    • July:
      • 64-Bit Servers and Clients Port Launch
    • August:
      • Game Update 120
      • Oceansfull Festival Updates – Join the loveable othmir as they give thanks to Prexus with this annual celebration. A new dungeon will be cracked open and new items will be available during the event. Get more Jubilation Medals to exchange for desirable items!
    • September:
      • Swag Store
      • 2022’s Expansion Prelude – A new expansion deserves a new prelude, complete with new items and new quests!
      • Panda, Panda, Panda Updates – The Hua Mein event of the year returns! You never know what they’ll ask of you, or where it’ll require you to go.
    • October:
      • 2022’s Expansion Beta + Preorder – Preorder of EverQuest II’s 19th expansion begins! Purchase your copy and join us in beta.
    • November:
      • Heroes’ Festival – Celebrate our 18th Anniversary!
      • Extra Life – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
    • December:
      • 2022’s Expansion Launch – EverQuest II’s 19th expansion launches, bringing new zones, new quests, and new adventures to Norrath!
      • Heroic Opportunity System Update – Making heroic opportunities fun and relevant again!
    • Throughout the Year:
      • Item Reward and Merchant Updates to Events – Your favorite live event wasn’t listed above? Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten it. It’ll get new items and a bit of a refresh, too.

It is nice to see the company being out in front with this sort of information, it being, as I noted above, a rather radical change from the days of Daybreak when the company seemed to fret about providing any information.

I just hope they don’t get burned for it.  Players remember company promises, and anything said in public counts.  Roadmaps are plans, and plans don’t always come together.  We’ll see if we get updates when something inevitably slips and if that will build trust with the community.

Related

Answers to My Questions for 2021

Back at the start of the year I eschewed the usual predictions post and instead went in for a round of questions.  After 2020 I was clearly feeling unprepared to predict anything, though this was not the first time I went down that path.  Now we have hit the middle of December and it is time to see if any of my questions got answers we like.

2020 plus 1

There is a long pattern of me making such posts on the first of the year.

Anyway, let’s get tucked in and see what I can come up with.

What will a return to normalcy bring to the video game industry?

Right off the bat I am going to have to object here to the assumption that we’ve returned to anything like normalcy.  We’re not in 2020 anymore, but we’re not not in 2020 anymore either.  The shadow of that year lay heavily over this one, its poison seeping in.  People who can are still working from home, Covid is still spreading, the economy is still in a bind from the pandemic, and the world still seems to be going to hell at a rapid pace.

Will Shadowlands hold players?

Well, at least we have an easy one here.  The answer is “no.”  There are a few reasons, not the least of which is Blizzard not releasing much in the way of additional content and Blizzard being revealed as a nightmarish Dickensian workhouse of misogyny and intolerance.  Also, maybe “run Torghast every day for the next two years” wasn’t the winning plan that somebody thought it was.

Will Diablo Immortal ship?

Another easy one!  And another “no.”   Wyatt Cheng once asked if we had phones.  Many of us probably have new ones since he asked that question at BlizzCon 2018.  Now does he have a game?  That seems to be a more pertinent question at this point.

Does Blizzard have anything new planned?

Three for three here on the easy questions, with another big “no” on the tally.  Diablo II Resurrected is about as “new” as they got, and they had Vicarious Visions do the remaster of a twenty year old title for that.  It was a good remaster, but it wasn’t new.

Along with that we had Burning Crusade Classic and WoW Classic Season of Mastery, also not new.  Even the solo mode for Hearthstone didn’t feel very new.  I guess their bigger company issues got in the way for some of that, but it still feels like they came into 2021 just winging it and hoping something would come up.  And, honestly, they don’t seem to have much lined up for 2022.  How can such a big studio… more people work on WoW than most MMO studios have total employees… deliver so little?

What does Daybreak under EG7 really portend?

A reverse merger, with Ji Ham now at the helm?  I wouldn’t have called that one.  Otherwise there has been some promises for the future, but the first year really seemed like business as usual for Daybreak… except maybe they didn’t lay so many people off in 2021.  That’s a plus.

Will Norrath continue to boom?

Kinda, maybe, sorta.  As noted above, things were mostly business as usual.  That has generally been good for the Norrath titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II, which get an expansion in November/December and a major content drop in late spring/early summer every year.  So things roll on there.

But when it comes to doing anything new, it is LOTRO they want to put on consoles, DCUO they want to update, and an unannounced Marvel IP MMO that gets all the headlines.  They even keep bringing up H1Z1.  But EverQuest as a franchise?  Any plans for that look to be dead.

What happens with H1Z1?

Nothing.  As I wrote above, EG7 keeps bringing it up when they talk about the important IPs they control.  There is clearly some wishcasting going on about the title returning to the top of the battle royale genre. But actual progress?  There was some mention that they had a few people look into being able to run a build, but otherwise nobody appears to be working H1Z1 in any meaningful way.

At least they stopped renaming it I suppose.

Where is Cold Iron Studios?

Not with Daybreak and EG7, we know that much.  Somewhere between the announcement that Daybreak was purchasing Cold Iron and the launch of their game Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Cold Iron went somewhere else.  Details are hazy, the story is mostly inferred, but Cold Iron never made it into the EG7 stable of studios.

What does ArenaNet do after all the departures?

Pretend nothing has changed and announce an expansion?  This is the problem with bringing up studios and games I do not watch closely.  A bunch of key people left ANet last year, but back in August they announced the End of Dragons, slated for February 2022, so I guess everything is good.  Maybe?  I don’t really know.

Where does CCP go next with New Eden?

Nowhere?  Seriously, after the Triglavian story cycle the company has been been focused on the new player experience and trying to force the in-game economy into a form that they believe is best for the long term survival of the game, ignoring the short term “hey, can you give us something fun?” requests from the players.  Short sheeting the economy isn’t fun.  Even if you don’t care about the economy and mock miners and industrialists who are complaining, you have to admit that there is very little fun in what CCP has been doing for the last year.

Will CCP stop strangling the New Eden economy?

No.  There was a promise over the summer that the end of scarcity was coming.  But the Q4 quadrant, New Dawn: Age of Prosperity, involved very little prosperity.  For every relaxation of the economic restrictions there was some matching nerf to offset things, often hidden behind some oppressive new game mechanic.  CCP said they were listening to feedback, but they mostly slowed their roll a bit (compression will be in 2022 now) and tried re-arranging the deck chairs some (“waste” got renamed to “residue”) as they carried forward with the goal of resetting the economy to some past halcyon state.  I am sure this will end well.

How Will World War Bee End?

The side with the 3:1 numbers advantage got tired and went home.

There are many ways to spin who “won” the war.  PAPI can claim that they forced the Imperium down from four regions to one constellation and destroyed trillions of ISK in ships and structures.  The Imperium can claim that they held out, denied PAPI their stated victory conditions, and in the end destroyed as much in ships and structures as PAPI did.

As for losing the war, that award generally goes to the group that loses their space and has to move elsewhere.  That makes Legacy Coalition, the main instigators of the war under Vily, the losers.  TEST, the leading alliance in Legacy, lost their old space, couldn’t hold their new space, and ended up trying to live as far away from the Imperium as they possibly could.  Brave gets a special mention for losing hardest of all, as not only did they lose their old space and their new space, but now the rest of PAPI is attacking them because Brave sold structures to the Imperium so they could at least asset safety their stuff and get some seed ISK in the bank to carry on.

Really though, the honor of ending the war goes to CCP.  It was already somewhat obvious after the second battle of M2-XFE that their servers were not going to be up to a final mighty battle.  And then CCP made changes to resources and production that made capital ships too valuable to expend freely, so the attackers were limited to subcaps.  In the choice between investing a lot of time and effort in a real blockade of the final Imperium constellation or just going home, they opted to go home.

Will Nintendo announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?

Yes, goddammit, yes they did.  About freaking time.  And it has shipped and there is a copy for me and my daughter under the Christmas tree.  We’ll see how that plays out soon enough.

Will crowd funded MMOs finally find their way?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  I mean, Crowfall went live I think.  I am not sure it will survive, but it shipped.  And they are a stand out in the stable of crowd funded MMOs, which mostly promised things they couldn’t deliver.  Don’t spend money on things that you cannot play today.

Project: Gorgon is the right path, as it was in playable form from the day of the first monetary ask. Camelot Unchained is the wrong path, asking for money, blowing through every promised date ever, and starting a new project before the promised one is even in beta.  And then there is Star Citizen… well, they certainly know how to milk a community.  Star Citizen is a lot of things, but being an actual video game seems to be a few bullets down the list.

Is there anything new possible for MMORPGs?

The metaverse maybe?  That seemed to be the topic for 2021.  I don’t know if it is Raph Koster’s desire to remake the simple days of MUDs in the 90s or Mark Zuckerberg’s dystopian vision of an all controlling metaverse that turns our very desires against us, but I guess either might be something new… at least for MMORPGs.

Oh, and something about crypto and NFTs.  But we’ll probably burst that bubble in 2022.

Will I play anything new this year?

Valheim.  That was a bit of a left field star, but ended up being our main game for about two months earlier this year.  New World showed up and, once the initial chaos settled down, the instance group got into the game.  And then there was Forza Horizon 4 & 5.  Open world driving for the win.  There were a couple of other small titles that were new, but nothing that I invested more than a couple of hours in.

That I played three new games made 2021 a departure from the usual routine.  In 2020 80% of my game time was spent in WoW, WoW Classic, and EVE Online.  The year isn’t over yet, but so far those three titles represent less than 50% of my tracked play time.

Will VR get a killer app this year?

Ha ha ha ha… no.  VR will remain a niche so long as it requires a real world obscuring mask strapped to your face… oh, and the motion sickness issue gets addressed.  Ready Player One and Zuckerberg’s idea that we’re all going to live in his ad laden VR metaverse hell is a pipe dream.

Will the industry be smart enough to keep regulators away?

Not really.  The industry’s best defense so far has been regulators being interested in other things to further their own interests.  It has to be a slow news day for lockboxes to make the headlines of late, so politicians and regulators have mostly been busy elsewhere.   Except for Blizzard.   Yeah, Blizzard is having some regulatory issues, though not over lockboxes and that sort of thing, just mundane things like running a hostile, discriminatory work place.  The usual corporate thing.

But the industry keeps on trying to get the government to come down on them hard, with cryto and NFTs on their list of things to try next.

Will We lose Section 230 Protection?

Not yet, though Facebook seems to be pushing to have that taken away, because they have the money and the staffing to deal with any new regulations which would help them cement their place in creating our dystopian future… and present… and recent past.

What will I do when the blog turns 15?

Write a post about it.  That is my answer for most things I suppose.

So that was the list for 2021.  As those were just questions rather than predictions there is no score.

I think I’ll be able to warm up to doing some predictions for 2022.  I have a couple of weeks to get on it.  But first I need to make a 2022 graphic.

EverQuest gets the Terror of Luclin Expansion Today

Daybreak will launch the Terror of Luclin expansion, the 28th for EverQuest, at some point today.  That is the plan, though after EverQuest II went late into the night resolving database issues with its expansion launch last week, I might feel a little tentative on exact times.

The Terror of Luclin

Though, to be fair, the EQII was remapping a bunch of items into something else, so there was some room for error on the database front when some of us had piles of things like infusers sitting around in the bank.

Luclin, one of the moons of Norrath, has been a location in EverQuest since the Shadows of Luclin expansion hit back in December of 2001, so I suppose this expansion also celebrates 20 years on the moon for the franchise.  The story lead for the expansion is:

The shadows cast by the light of Luclin have been whispering of intrigues. The Akheva are on the move, striving to reassert their power and rebuild their moon-wide empire. Amidst the turmoil of their actions, rumors abound. Mayong Mistmoore has been seen on Luclin. The only known truth is that the master vampire has since disappeared into the shadows and even his devoted followers and sycophants have begun to worry.

Clearly something is stirring on the moon of Luclin. What secrets or magical power was the Lord of Mistmoore seeking? Is he trying to usurp another god? Do you have the strength to peer behind the shades and track down the vampire lord to prevent whatever evil he is plotting?

The vampire lord Mayong Mistmoore on the moon? Up to no good I am sure.

The expansion announcement lists out the features coming with it.  This time around there is a boost in the level cap, bringing that to 120 levels.  Otherwise, aside from the teleport item key ring, it is more of all the things that traditionally make up an EverQuest expansion.

  • Level increase to 120.
  • 7 Expansion Zones
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • Teleport Item Key Ring – every character on your account will get a 10-slot Key Ring to store teleportation items! You can add slots with marketplace items as you need them.

As with its younger sibling, the expansion options run from the base package at $35 to the friends and family extravaganza that rings in at a very hefty $250.  I will say that EQII throws in so much more with its expansions that I find it a bit hard to find justification for anything beyond the base price… but I haven’t played a new EverQuest expansion since The Serpent’s Spine back in 2006, so my opinion on the value may be less than well informed.

The downtime plan at Daybreak is to commence the upgrade at 6am Pacific time, with an eye on a noon launch.  But if things are settled and ready to go by the evening so players can get in after dinner it will be counted a success I am sure.  MMOs are complex and getting all the parts updated an in sync isn’t always a sure thing.

Daybreak and the Power of the Marvel Name

For reasons of historical connection I tend to pay much more attention to Daybreak and the goings on with some of their games, even when I am not subscribed and playing.  I think EVE Online and CCP’s shenanigans are the only game company news I watch more closely, and I’ve been subscribed to EVE for a decade straight at this point.

When you don’t play the titles you have to find ways to keep track of what is going on, so I follow the news channels from their Discord servers and the games and studios on Twitter and subscribe to the RSS feed for developer posts on a couple of their forums.  That usually at least keeps me up on their latest announcements.

But I also have Google news alerts for things like “Daybreak” and “EG7” and “Enad Global 7″ and EverQuest” and a few other related keywords.  And those… are generally garbage.

Seriously, I get an alert or two a week for Daybreak and most of the time it is some wannabe analyst group looking to be the next NPD or SuperData that wants to see reports about online gaming that throws as many keywords as possible so you’ll go to their site… and find that it is just an ask for you to spend a couple grand on a report they have put together.

So the Google alerts for Daybreak and related keywords are generally low effort to track because there isn’t much “there” there.

And then the EG7 Q3 2021 financials were released last week, in which it was mentioned that Daybreak was working on an unannounced MMO project based on the Marvel IP.

Dimensional Ink’s Unannounced Project has a logo of sorts

That was certainly worth a mention, though it came out a year ago, during the EG7 acquisition of Daybreak, that they held the rights to make a Marvel IP, and even back in when Daybreak did its independent studio shuffle a superhero MMO was in the cards.  Since then I have been predicting a Marvel version of DC Universe Online, Daybreak’s most popular game.  It seemed like a pretty easy slam dunk idea.

But the whole thing was in the “Longer Term” column of future plans, which would put it, by my own reckoning, out into 2024 at least, if not further out.

EG7 Q3 2021 slide 17

Cool idea, something to look forward to, but not exactly something to write home about right this second due to the obvious distance between now and when it will ship.

Certainly none of the ways I track Daybreak news seemed very interested in it… and then my Google news alerts blew up as the weekend arrived.

While Daybreak probably isn’t newsworthy on its own and I am sure EG7 is even less so, once you mix in Marvel and the MCU, then suddenly everybody sees a headline that will draw some click.  So rather than a couple of garbage links there was suddenly some actual coverage of the studio, first from niche gaming sites, then the general gaming news, and then into other niches that generally wouldn’t know Daybreak from my uncle.  All because somebody said “Marvel IP based MMO.”

So the list of sites with a story about it starts looking like this:

not only is that just a bit of the list, that doesn’t even get into the foreign language coverage that didn’t make my keywords but which I found by just doing a bit of searching.  Big gaming sites with foreign editions translated the stories and foreign language sites wrote their own copy.

Now, we’re still a far cry from something like a front page headline in The New York Times or some such, but I haven’t seen Daybreak do anything in… well… I don’t know how long… that generated this much press interest.  I don’t think EverQuest Next, which goes back to the SOE days, garnered this much attention outside of the usual suspects that keep an eye on the company and its games.

So this seems like a really good sign for Dimensional Ink, Daybreak, and Enad Global 7.  If just a mere mention that a Marvel IP MMO might be coming spreads this far, just imagine what will happen when they actually have a title, a logo, and some art to post.

A 64-bit EverQuest Client is Coming

Add this to the list of things I never would have imagined; Daybreak is talking about updating the EverQuest client and servers to 64-bit.

EverQuest in 1999

Back in 1999, when EverQuest launched, there were still a lot of 16-bit apps on Windows.  I am pretty sure InstallShield still had 16-bit libraries in its config when EverQuest shipped because I had to get a exception from Microsoft for a Win-logo certification because of them.  And it was a pain in the backside.

The EverQuest team put out a Producer’s Letter today which announced the 64-bit upgrade was coming, with a target of early 2022, after the Terror of Luclin expansion goes live and has settled in a bit.

There are some other items in the letter about events coming up, ExtraLife participation, and something about server merges.  But at its age, with all of the special servers it launches, doing an EverQuest server merge is just another part of the life of the game.

I am interested to see how the 64-bit conversion goes, whether or not it will improve performance, and if this might include an improved launcher.  Maybe this will put EverQuest on the 4Games platform, a move that EG7 said was in the works for all of their titles back in May.

Even if it doesn’t change much, having a 64-bit client is likely going to be a requirement to keep the game active in the future.  At some point Microsoft will stop supporting 32-bit apps on Windows.  I am not sure how I will play Civilization II when that happens though.  Maybe that will get a remaster by then.

Addendum:

Further details were released by Daybreak.  Natually, a 64-bit client will require players to be running a 64-bit operating system.  Once the 64-bit client is in place, 32-bit will no longer be supported.  The new system requirements will be:

MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit or newer
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E4400/AMD Athlon x2 4050e
  • Memory: 3 GB RAM
  • Graphics:  Nvidia GeForce 8800/AMD Radeon HD 2600 XT or higher (comparison chart)
  • Network: Broadband Internet Connection
  • Hard Drive: 15 GB of free hard drive space

OPTIMAL RECOMMENDED SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS

  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit or newer
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850/AMD Phenom II x2
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 260/AMD Radeon HD 4870 or higher (comparison chart)
  • Network: Broadband Internet Connection
  • Hard Drive: 15 GB of free hard drive space

 

The EverQuest Expansion Machine and the Future of WoW

I was a bit surprised to see a post over at Blizzard Watch which, as the name implies, is mostly about Blizzard and their games, musing about the fact that EverQuest was warming up to launch its 28th expansion, Terror of Luclin.

The Terror of Luclin approaches

And it is a nice smooth read, not too deep in insight, but respectful of what the EverQuest team has managed to pull off over the 22 years the game has been around and how it continues to put out annual expansions.

Of course, it isn’t all that surprising that they are expanding on the topics they cover.  Blizzard is both a mess, wracked by its own internal issues and a government investigation, and doesn’t really have much new on the horizon.  Since the launch of Burning Crusade Classic in May and Diablo II Resurrected in September, there hasn’t been much to write about.  You can can’t go on forever on the stagnation of the Shadowlands expansion for WoW or some tidbits about Diablo IV.

It says something that the big news out of Blizzard this year… erm… the big product related news that is… has been about remakes of a 20 year old title and a 14 year old expansion.

You can see why somebody at Blizzard Watch might glance over longingly at the Daybreak stable of games and wonder what it might be like to write about some titles that are actually planning to ship some new content.  LOTRO, EQ, EQII, DCUO, they all have new things on their plate this year.  And EverQuest is the king of that pack with its 28th expansion landing later this year.

I’ve been hard on SOE and Daybreak in the past, and justifiably so for some of their missteps, but I always given them credit for their ability to package up an expansion annually for both Norrath franchises.

They may not be as grandiose as they once were… the Visions of Vetrovia has four zones (not far off from how many as a recent WoW expansion generally has, delivered in half the time) while the Gates of Discord, the EQ expansion on which that content is being based, introduced 18 zones into old Norrath… but they still deliver expansions annually, with a major mid-year update as well.

And they wouldn’t be doing that if it wasn’t making money and keeping people subscribed.  I joke about expansions for the two titles being a bit of a commodity, with a requisite number of zones, dungeons, raids, collections, house items, pets, AA levels, and whatever else bundled up in those annual releases.

But the Norrath team is a content machine, able to turn out those expansions year after year while not having anything close to the resources that a title like World of Warcraft has available.

And the Norrath teams also launches special servers every year too.

Which does make one wonder what is really going on at Blizzard.

Yes, they have a different culture and a different view on how their IP ought to be presented and probably look down their noses a bit at how much the Norrath team reuses locations and how chaotic or easy to ignore a lot of their lore can be… I mean, I played through Blood of Luclin two years back and couldn’t really tell you much about it now beyond the fact that it was on the moon of Luclin and it looked pretty good… and how often a new expansion just leaves the old one behind without much in the way of transition, but there has been a whole additional expansion since I played Blood of Luclin and another one is arriving soon.

Blizzard has always prided itself on quality and polish and getting this just right, while SOE and Daybreak have had a much less intimate relationship with those qualities at times.  And the success of WoW enabled them to live on that reputation and the huge user base it built early on in the history of the game, even when they were annoying their base or letting the game drift without news or updates for months at a time during their two year expansion cycle.

Now, however, with content droughts becoming the norm for WoW, I have to wonder if they couldn’t learn a lesson or two from the Norrath team at Daybreak about content pacing and what they ought to be able to deliver.

After two lackluster expansions in a row and a the whole hostile work environment fiasco that broke loose earlier this year, it might be time for the WoW team to think hard about what they really need to do to keep their user base engaged and happy.

It has been more than three years since we saw the end of Legion, the last strong WoW expansion, and it will be at least another year until Blizzard can deliver a new one.  A two year expansion cycle feels like a long time when you get a lemon that doesn’t keep you invested.

I may not like all the Norrath expansions, but I will tell you true that knowing another one will land come the holidays takes some sting out of that.  I am not sure that the WoW team can managed that.  For all the pain of being understaffed, a small team can also be a more nimble team.  Too many cooks can slow things down.  But it feels like Blizzard needs to do something to get themselves and their WoW fan base on board and invested and looking forward to something new.

EverQuest II Visions of Vetrovia Expansion Available for Pre-Order

This years expansion for EverQuest II, Visions of Vetrovia, is now available for pre-order.  That means we also get some more information about what to expect from the game’s 18th full expansion.  The expansion is expected to be available on December 1st of this year.

What will we see in Vetrovia?

We got a bit of a tease about a month back when the pre-expansion events started and indicated that the new adventures would involve setting sail for new lands across the Shattered Sea on Norrath.  Speculation as to what it meant… I mean, they gave me a nice pirate hat for doing a few quests… was all over the place.  Now we get a few more details.  The new update gives us the following lead:

Inspired by mystical visions, a crew of explorers—sailing the uncharted waters beyond the Shattered Seas—has found an isolated continent plagued by dark curses and discordant energies. Ruins of an ancient civilization are scattered across the landscape, while the imposing silhouette of an opulent castle rises from the highest point of the land for all to see. Whispers can be heard in the native villages found along Vetrovia’s coast of its supernatural master and the horrors it contains. But are any of them true?

So perhaps it won’t be pirates after all… or much of a nautical adventure beyond sailing to a new land.  But it looks like dinosaurs might be on the menu.

The big news is that we’re up for another increase in the level cap, bringing the number up to 125.

There are new quests, new instances, new raids, new trade skills, new collections, and four new zones being added with the expansion.

  • Svarni Expanse
    • Located along the western shore of Vetrovia, lies what is known as the Svarni Expanse. The Svarni Gateway was once known as “Natimbi, The Broken Shores”, by the indigenous population.
  • Karuupa Jungle
    • Encompassing the entire southern half of the continent of Vetrovia is Karuupa Jungle. Much of the floor is covered by dense and twisting vegetation, making travel by foot a challenge, and particularly dangerous.
  • Mahngavi Wastes
    • Mahngavi Wastes encompasses the majority of the north-eastern most section of Vetrovia. This section of Vetrovia was the hardest hit during the Shattering and Rending, sending large sections of the landscape tumbling into the sea.
  • Forlorn Gist
    • The mysterious village that lies at the center of Vetrovia was once the location of a great city known as Qinimi, but nothing of the original structures remain, nor the structures built in their place by the invaders, known as the Muramite. No, what stands here now is a village without mercy, charity, or trust.

As with its EverQuest sibling, there are the usual four packages available if you wish to purchase the expansion.

Standard Edition – $34.99

  • Character Level 120 Boost

Collector’s Edition – $69.99

  • Everything from the Standard Edition
  • Legendary Mount: Artox, the Phantom Steed (for every character)
  • Legendary Mercenary: Villax Sneed (for every character)
  • Legendary Familiar: Svarni Painted Stork (for every character)
  • Prestige Home: Vacrul Castle (for every character)
  • Furniture Recipe: Vacrul (for every character)
  • Svarni Expanse Teleporter (for every character)
  • Visions of Vetrovia Painting (for every character)
  • Akashic Familiar Training Potion
  • Visions of Vetovia Weekly Overseer Adventure

Premium Edition – $139.99

  • Everything from the Collector’s Edition
  • Celestial Mount: Abzhu, the Evader (for every character)
  • Celestial Mercenary: Dakshesh, the Displaced (for every character)
  • Celestial Familiar: Floraform Gorilla (for every character)
  • Akashic Familiar Training Potion
  • Akashic Scroll Case

Family & Friends Edition – $249.99

  • Everything from the Premium Edition
  • Tradeable Standard Expansion
  • Tradeable Character Level 120 Boost
  • Tradeable Character Slot
  • Tradeable EXP/Vitality Potion
  • Tradeable Legendary Mount: Artox, the Phantom Steed
  • Tradeable Legendary Mercenary: Villax Sneed
  • Tradeable Legendary Familiar: Svarni Painted Stork
  • Tradeable Tradeskill Level 120 Boost
  • Akashic Familiar Training Potion x 2
  • Akashic Scroll Case x 2

In addition, for pre-ordering you get a feathered stalker pet and access to beta.

The base edition seems like a reasonable deal for more content, and if you’re behind there is even a level 120 boost to get you into the new stuff.  EverQuest II is the most scrupulous game I have seen when it comes to making sure you’re ready for the current expansion.  There is usually a chest of gear first thing upon arriving in the new content, just to make sure you’re geared up and ready to go.

The other editions… well, you have to decide what is worth the money to you.  I always love the painting of the expansion box art that you can hang in your house, but perhaps not for double the price of the base expansion.

I will say though, that all the tradable items in the Friends & Family edition makes it more attractive than its EverQuest counterpart.

The expansion is on its way.  Expect more warm up events to come along.

Related:

The Terror of Luclin is Coming to EverQuest

The next EverQuest expansion, the 28th in the series, will be Terror of Luclin as the elder Norrath title takes its turn getting back to the moon.

The Terror of Luclin approaches

The lead in for the expansion says:

The shadows cast by the light of Luclin have been whispering of intrigues. The Akheva are on the move, striving to reassert their power and rebuild their moon-wide empire. Amidst the turmoil of their actions, rumors abound. Mayong Mistmoore has been seen on Luclin. The only known truth is that the master vampire has since disappeared into the shadows and even his devoted followers and sycophants have begun to worry.

Clearly something is stirring on the moon of Luclin. What secrets or magical power was the Lord of Mistmoore seeking? Is he trying to usurp another god? Do you have the strength to peer behind the shades and track down the vampire lord to prevent whatever evil he is plotting?

The Mistmoores on the moon I guess.

The expansion announcement lists out the features coming with it.  This time around there is a boost in the level cap, bringing that to 120 levels.

  • Level increase to 120.
  • 7 Expansion Zones
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • Teleport Item Key Ring – every character on your account will get a 10-slot Key Ring to store teleportation items! You can add slots with marketplace items as you need them.

A lot of that is what one might consider the standard boilerplate of an EverQuest expansion.  They have been sparing with the level cap increases, doling them out every couple expansions, but the rest is par for the course.  More stuff to do, more places to see.  And when you’re on expansion 28, who is to argue with success?

The expansion is also now available for pre-order and available in the four packages that have become the standard.

Standard Edition – $34.99

You get the stuff listed above and a shadow weapon cosmetic item if you pre-order.

Collector’s Edition – $69.99

  • Standard Edition items plus:
  • Contract of the Stonegrabber (for every character)
  • Umbral Plains Mushroom (for every character)
  • Goblet of Adventure III x 2
  • Terror of Luclin Painting
  • Bloodbound Satchel
  • Zelniak Saddle
  • Metamorph Wand – Lightcrawler
  • Teleport Item Key Ring Slots (5 Slot Packs) x 9

Premium Edition – $139.99

Collector’s Edition items plus:

  • Umbral Plains Scrying Bowl (for every character)
  • Bloodbound Satchel
  • Ten Perfected Augmentation Distillers x 2
  • Shared Goblet of Adventure III x 2
  • Owlbear Saddle
  • Metamorph Wand – Rockhopper
  • Visage of the Akheva

Friends & Family Edition- $249.99

Premium Edition plus:

  • Bloodbound Satchel
  • Shared Goblet of Adventure III x 2
  • Tradable: Terror of Luclin
  • Tradable: Heroic Character
  • Tradable: Zelniak Saddle
  • Tradable: Owlbear Saddle
  • Tradable: Teleport Item Key Ring Slots (5 Slot Packs) x 9
  • Overseer Pack x 30
  • Halfling Heritage Crate x 5

Now, if you ask me, I am going to say that $250 is a tall price to pay for an EverQuest expansion.  I don’t know that there is $215 worth of fluff in that package over what you get with the base expansion.

However, the fact hat Daybreak keeps selling the Friends & Family Edition likely means somebody is buying it… a couple years back it was reported that half of expansion buyers splurge for something above the bask pack… and you don’t have to sell that many to make it worthwhile.

Anyway, that is the expected EverQuest expansion for 2021.  It is already in beta and will no doubt ship some time between now and mid-December.

Ji Ham Speaks about Enad Global 7

I am finally catching up on things that happened a month ago at this point.  In this case there was a change at Enad Global 7 that saw Ji Ham, who was heading up Daybreak, become the acting CEO of the company, displacing the well liked Robin Flodin.

Enad Global 7

This led to an interview with Ji Ham, posted to YouTube, where most of us not only saw him for the first time, but heard his voice for the first time as well… which is a bit odd for somebody who has been CEO of a video game company for six years, but hardly the most unusual thing about the Daybreak era.

So I finally sat down and watched the video.

I haven’t seen much written about the video, and that which I did see dismissed it as a whole lot of nothing.

And, I will attest, if you were expecting some detailed information about the company, its operations, or its games, there wasn’t much to chew on.

That said, the 27 minute video was not completely devoid of information.

Ji Ham’s ascension to the CEO role, which was again stressed as an acting position and that he will not be moving to Stockholm, was attributed to the change in the business model that EG7 is now pursuing.  Having grown through acquisition, the company now has a number of live products generating substantial revenue, meaning a different outlook may have been needed in the leadership position.

There was no mention of Robin Flodin’s interview gaffe, so the party line is apparently this was planned and completely normal.

But, while live games are now part of the mix, the company is still seeking more acquisitions to fill what it sees as holes in its offerings or that would fit well within their portfolio.

I have mentioned in the past that growth through acquisitions is a popular choice for publicly held companies as any asset they buy is always assumed to be worth what they paid for it so there is no hit against margins; writing your own code costs, buying somebody else’s’ code is a wash.

No acquisition targets were mentioned, but I suspect that if you looked at what is missing from their current ecosystem that keeps them from being self-contained you might at least come up with some potential segments.

Which isn’t to say that they are giving up on developing their own titles.  Once again a triple-A title was mentioned, but no specifics were given.  However, I think some of us just assume it is going to be a Marvel version of DC Universe Online.  We shall see.

Long time followers of Daybreak will no doubt be amused that Ji Ham said both that communication from the company had been lacking and that titles in their portfolio had not seen much in the way of investment during the Daybreak era, something EG7 would like to rectify.  Whose fault might that be?

I guess at least he didn’t blame it on Smed.

Acknowledging that the Daybreak portfolio was old… most of the titles are over a decade old, with H1Z1 being the young one in the bunch, having only passed the six year mark back in February… one wonders where they might throw some resources.

He did mention two titles specifically when it came to targets for investment, DC Universe Online and Lord of the Rings Online.

DCUO is the most popular title in the Daybreak lineup, claiming more than 400K monthly active users last year and bringing in more total revenue than any of its siblings according to last December’s reveal. (Though EverQuest still beat it for net earnings.)

DCUO has a lot of players on consoles, and was at one time the top earning free to play title on PlayStation, so worth keeping up to date.  One of the investments it needs is to get it onto the latest generation XBox and PlayStation 5 hardware.   Also, it would totally make sense to invest in it if you were going to make a Marvel version of the game.

As for LOTRO, it was singled out because, in his words, it is the only Tolkien online world currently available.  True enough, that statement.  The problem is that I am not sure EG7 has the resources available to make LOTRO into a viable, competitive title fourteen years down the road.  While the world is beautiful in game, character models, responsiveness, and the general interface was poor relative to the standards of the industry in 2007.  While there have been a few graphical upgrades over the years, the UI and the character models are still garbage and all the more so on any monitor over 1920×1080 in resolution.  And that leaves aside the layers of monetization piled onto the game, where every dialog wants to sell you a short cut to get around whatever effort game play asks of you.

There is no financially viable road forward that fixes all of its fundamental issues… and I am not even going to go into garbage mechanics like legendary items, which they’re kind of hand waving a fix for because they can’t get rid of it as the grind is so horrible that it likely leads more players to the cash shop than anything else… when it made maybe $15 million tops last year.

I know, that sounds like a lot of money.  But Tolkien Enterprises gets their cut right off the top I bet, then there are the servers and infrastructure to maintain and keep up to date, and the staff needed to keep things going as they are, and then the amount needed to keep Jason Epstein and Ji Ham in the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed.  And now the whole thing is owned by a public company, so the pressure to earn is even higher.  The time to invest and fix things is when you’re private and can get away with a few quarters of loss without the market calling for your head.

I’ve spent a lot of time with LOTRO and cherish those memories, but the wide appeal of its theme is held back by the raggedly old mechanics of the title.  Such is life.

Not mentioned, much to my surprise, was H1Z1.  Robin Floodin used to bring up H1Z1 every time he spoke about the titles that EG7 held, promising its player base that they were looking to revive the title.  I guess it is the newest title in the bunch and, for a brief stretch, was the flagship battle royale title, a position in managed to squander and is unlikely ever to recover. (NerdSlayer has a new Death of a Game video about H1Z1 that covers all the main fumbles.)

But perhaps Ji Ham, who was the CEO when H1Z1 flailed, flamed out, and ceased to be a force in the market, knows better than most what its value now is.

Anyway, those are the bits that stuck out for me.  There was more in the interview, including a caution on earnings, but I was mostly interested in the product related side of things.  The YouTube page has bookmarks in the description that divide up the whole thing into the various topics discussed.

The next thing we hear from EG7 is likely to be Q3 earning in about a month.