Category Archives: Daybreak Game Company

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.

On Perks and Paying More

While I was away last week I saw a dev post come up in the EverQuest forums (I subscribe to the dev post feed in Feedly and, while it delivers a lot of garbage… you get every reply to a dev started topic… it does pop up something interesting now and then) about a new monetization scheme for the game.

Not being able to write about them at the time, I forwarded a link over to Bhagpuss who put together his own post about the idea.

As he noted straight off these “Perks,” as Daybreak has branded them, are not really perks at all.  “Perk” comes from “perquisite” and is generally something you’re entitled to already, not something for which you have to pay.

Poor naming choices aside, I was kind of interested to see another attempt to bring in more money for an older title, because I was on a bit earlier this year about how the price of just about everything has gone up over the last 15 years, and yet somehow we’re still paying $15 a month for subscriptions.

Daybreak subscriber prices

The response to that was… not positive if you were an MMO developer.  Massively OP picked up the idea and their staff responded mostly against the idea of subscriptions being more (that was back in May, but their answers didn’t change much when they did the same question yesterday), while the comments were vehemently against any such thing, with a theme of “I want more if I am going to pay more” appearing.

And I get that as a gut reaction, but any attempt to go deeper seems to get met by the “greedy developers” trope that is so common.  Think about the answer I would get from the family that runs the Thai restaurant down the road using the same argument.  Twenty years back a standard entree was $6.95, these days it is $17.95.  Should I expect to get more for the extra I am paying?  Are they greedy restaurateurs, pocketing that largess?

We know that isn’t how it works.

There are other factors of course.  MMOs do not exist in a void and, as I mentioned in my post, we have been conditioned over time by the idea that tech should get cheaper and not more expensive.  But even Moore’s Law has to adjust for inflation.  And these days a lot more things are demanding a subscription, from Microsoft Office to Netflix to XBox Live, all of which influence our sense of value.

So when the Perks announcement came along, I was interested to see how they would be received.  These were, after all, optional items that delivered extra value for the price, and very close to what the current darling MMORPG, FFXIV does with retainers.  So who could possibly object?

Everybody?  Is that the answer I am looking for?

I suppose the coverage of the plan didn’t help.  Over at Massively OP they opened with the greed dog whistle by asking, “How can Daybreak milk even more money out of subscribers?”

I mean, unless I am missing some positive connotation for “milking” in this situation.

The comments naturally follow that lead, with a lone outlier mentioning FFXIV.

Over at MMO Fallout the tone was less overtly hostiles, though sarcasm was clearly in evidence at the idea of a subscription on top of your subscription.

The utility, or lack thereof, was barely up for debate.  The news story was “greedy devs at it again.”

Which, as noted, is ironic not only because of FFXIV, but also because this would not be anywhere close to the first time that the company that was once SOE offered and extra subscription option for additional stuff.  Those with long memories may recall that EverQuest II has such an extra at launch, offering access to their special players site for $2.99 a month.  There were also a special GM driven events server that had an extra monthly toll to play on.  And Station Access, the one subscription plan for multiple games, started off life as an extra cost option that offered perks, including extra character slots, which were enough to prompt many of the people in our guild back then to pay the price even though they were not going to run off and play EverQuest or PlanetSide.

Fine, whatever.  If we won’t pay more for a subscription, or even tolerate the idea of optional extra subscriptions, then I’ll just assume everybody is happy with cash shop monetization.  That must be true, right?  People certainly are not out there clamoring for the return to a subscription only model in order to banish the horrors of cash shop monetization.

Oh, wait.

We won’t pay any more for a subscription, hate the cash shop, and complain that studios won’t risk millions to make something new, betting instead on franchises and sustaining already profitable titles.

We’ll see how that works out in the long term.  But I’ll be investing in popcorn futures when Playable Worlds announces the monetization scheme for their metaverse project.  The things Raph wrote about just yesterday don’t come for free.  There is a lot of upside to the thin client idea, but it has to do the processing that the server normally does plus the work you desktop does as well, and somebody will need to play the bill for both.

Of course, it is possible that people say they won’t pay more… until they have to.  It is hard to judge the price elasticity of subscriptions without somebody challenging the $15/month meta.  If a game could go to $20 a month and keep the same number of subscribers, they do it.  They’d also drop to $10 if they knew they would double their subscriber base.  But nobody is willing to bet their game on that just yet.

Enad Global 7 Q2 2021 Financials and Concerning News

I keep having to remind myself that Daybreak’s parent is a public company once again, and a small enough one that Daybreak’s products aren’t hidden in the numbers but are big enough in the company to get highlighted at every report.  EverQuest is a big name at Enad Global 7.

Enad Global 7

Fortunately I have a Google alert setup for Enad Global 7 which, unlike some of my other alerts, has proven effective at catching updates about the company.  So early this week I got the nod that their Q2 2021 preliminary financials had been announced.  The statement was short and sweet:

During the second quarter, we delivered a net revenue growth of 179%, EBITDA growth of 360% and meanwhile having successfully integrated the acquisitions we closed in the first quarter of 2021. With our rapid acquisition growth, we have digested, integrated and built up the necessary processes to continue our strategic focus. I am delighted to announce that the relaunch of MechWarrior 5 was profitable already after a couple of weeks. It was a testament of the collaboration power between the subsidiaries of the group.

There was also a slide deck investor presentation to go with the announcement. (The income statement covers much of the same ground.) Quite a bit of the deck was information previously shared.  They did note that Daybreak’s seven titles account for 50% of the company’s revenue.

Daybreak, owner of 7 IP’s that are live and account for 50% of the revenue, mainly PC and Console.  Distributed mainly through our own platform.

Elsewhere in the presentation they say that live games make up 50% of the revenue for 2020, which includes My Singing Monsters as the 8th title, so I am not sure how that breaks out.

And, as always, the like to talk about the strong IPs and long running titles that came with Daybreak.

This slide from March was re-run, featuring 6 Daybreak titles in the highlights plus My Singing Monsters

Compared to that 16% of the revenue comes in via Innova’s 4Game platform which hosts titles licensed from other companies for distribution in the EU and CIS including Lineage II, Aion, and Ragnarok Online.

The presentation wasn’t big on news.  The previously announced plan to migrate all their titles onto the 4Game platform was reconfirmed.

We’ll all play on 4Game

Not a big news day for EG7 really.  A good financial report, some rah rah, and back to work.

As I was tracking down the financials I found that the same day a bomb dropped at EG7.  Robin Flodin, the chipper, young, and enthusiastic CEO of EG7 that gave us all such good feels when the Daybreak acquisition was announced, was being given the boot, with Ji Ham of Daybreak stepping in to fill the role as acting CEO.

The Board of Enad Global 7 AB (publ) and Robin Flodin have agreed that effective immediately Robin will transition away from his current role as CEO of EG7 and will be replaced by the current CEO of Daybreak Game Company, EG7’s largest subsidiary, Ji Ham. During this transition Robin will stay on for six months to assist Ji as he assumes his new role within the EG7 family of companies. Ji will be appointed acting CEO of EG7 as a search for a permanent CEO has been initiated. Ji has an extensive background in both gaming and finance and has for the last six years been the CEO of Daybreak. During his tenure at Daybreak Ji has overseen extensive growth and profitability of the company.

Of course, this made hearts sink, and not just because some of us had crushes on Robin.

Ji Ham should have an entry on the IMDB given his ongoing acting roles.  After Smed got the heave-ho from Daybreak, long time SOE exec Russel Shanks took over for a bit.  But that did not last long and Daybreak quietly updated its information to indicate that Ji Ham had stepped in as acting president of Daybreak.

Nobody outside of the company was quite sure who he was.  His profile over at Bloomberg, which has since been scrubbed from the site (classic Daybreak move), indicated that he was with Columbus Nova’s renewable fuels group, working closing with the Russian Renova Group, which owned Columbus Nova.

The profile probably disappeared during the 2018 panic when Daybreak tried to gaslight everybody , though “gaslighting” implies some subtlety and skill that was not present in the act, into believing that the company had never had anything to do with Renova, Columbus Nova, or any other Russians that might be facing sanctions from the US government.  And that is what the Daybreak era reminds many people of, a regime of obvious lies.

So why is Ji Ham in and Robin Flodin out?

I suspect we’ll never know the real dynamics of the situation, but looking at the slide deck from the quarterly numbers, Robin didn’t own a lot of the company.  The combined management and board of directors own 49% of the company, broken out like this:

EG7 board and management ownership stakes

I have pasted in the total ownership stake in the company for each individual (you might need to click on the image to view it full size to make those numbers readable) and in that mix that represents 49% of the company, Robin holds just 3.504%  That is a lot of shares, but not enough to maintain any sort of control

Meanwhile our old Columbus Nova friends, Jason Epstein and Ji Ham, own more than 9% of the company.  Add in the fact that Daybreak is responsible for 50% of EG7’s revenue and it probably isn’t a huge mystery as to how Jason Epstein and his partner Ji Ham got themselves in the driver’s seat again.

As for what it means… well, I am skeptical.  The press release says this about Ji Ham:

During his tenure at Daybreak Ji has overseen extensive growth and profitability of the company

That seems to be, from the outside, counter factual.

From the outside Ji Ham’s tenure was one of cancelling new titles, shutting down old titles, laying off staff, and tarnishing the reputation of the company with outrageous historical revisionism.  The company may have seen profits, but it wasn’t due to growth.  Growth didn’t enter into it.  Profits came by cutting costs and not investing in anything new, it came from maintaining the status quo at the cheapest possible rate.

Is that the future now holds for EG7?  Have they finished with their growth through acquisition phase and moved to consolidation and profit seeking?  Is Ji Ham being put on the throne to do to EG7 what he did to Daybreak?

Yes, I know he is “acting” CEO, but he was “acting” President and CEO at Daybreak too, and he had a long run in that role. He has recast his LinkedIn profile in the Daybreak tradition to indicate that he was CEO of the company since the date of Smed’s departure.  There was no Russell Shanks, only Ji Ham.  He did a modest attempt at downplaying the fact that he was deep in Columbus Nova, that company that never had nothing to do with Daybreak ever.

CN? What is CN?

I suspect he hopes people think he worked for Canadian Northern Railway and not a Russian oligarch investment front.

I might be borrowing trouble here, taking the dimmest possible view of events, but back in December, when EG7 announced their acquisition of Daybreak with a vision of growth and investment, a lot of optimism bubbled up for the future of the company and its titles.  That optimism came from the grim times that the Daybreak era represented, so bringing back the same actors to run the new show can hardly be expected to be received with enthusiastic applause.

Of course, some of that December optimism was likely misplaced, especially on the LOTRO front.  Making a console silk purse, as the initial announcements hinted at, out of the sow’s ear that is LOTRO now… and that, honestly, LOTRO has always been… would require an investment in funds that would likely never see a return.

And who knows, maybe EG7 is still looking to expand and grow.  Maybe Ji Ham will be given resources and instructions by the board to go in directions he could not when he was at the helm of Daybreak.  Hey, maybe the “acting CEO” bit isn’t a lie, maybe the company is really looking for a new CEO and Ji Ham will be just a caretaker… though why he needs a six month transition from Robin Flodin raises some questions on that front, though likely it means Robin gets paid as CEO for another six months while not having anything to do after a week or two.

But it is concerning.  It smacks of a return to the habits of Daybreak writ larger as they now apply to even more studios.  As I said with the initial burst of optimism about EG7 I will now say about this dark turn; we will have to wait and see.

Addendum: As pointed out here in the comments, Robin Flodin apparently had problems during an interview he was giving on Swedish television where he couldn’t explain the difference between sales and revenue.

That Tweet, which I also linked in the comments, points to an article about the interview.  Google translates the headline as, “Robin Flodin is forced to leave the position of CEO of EG7 after a high-profile interview.”

So the ascension of Ji Ham was perhaps not premeditated, though we have yet to see what it will mean in the long term.

Related:

Friday Bullet Points from a Leading Smoke Exporter

Fires have begun burning on the west coast of the US as predicted, thanks to droughts, record heat, and dry lighting strikes.  But the smoke from the fires, which in past years has settled in on top of the SF Bay Area where I live, has decided that it too wants to travel this summer and has been hazing up sunsets back east.  So while we’re sending out smoke I thought I would cover another set of things that I didn’t want to work up a full post around.

  • Blizzard Blows Up

Already foundering for being unable to bring home a win with retail WoW and the 9.1 update, causing many players to head for Final Fantasy XIV, the company took another body blow this week when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the Activision Blizzard for creating a hostile work environment.  While Activision got most of the headlines, the complaint is full of examples of how Blizzard specifically let a wide range of egregious behavior go unchecked and failed to respond to complaints.

Singled out in the complaint was Senior Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi, who had been with the company since 2004 and who had left quietly last summer.  He is referenced in WoW in a number of places, including as Field Marshal Afrasiabi out in front of Stormwind.

Welcome to Stormwind baby!

The disturbing nature of the issues detailed in the complaint was topped by the company’s response to the suit.  With the Blitzchung affair they didn’t seem to know what to say, but this time around they lashed out immediately (text at the end of this post) at the state agency, decrying government overreach and complaining about unaccountable State bureaucrats driving companies from the state, very much politically motivated talking points.

Otherwise the company statement claimed that while some of the things detailed may have been true in the past, the company is all better now, everything is fine, and nobody needs to be held accountable for anything.  They want to have it both ways, saying both that the state is wrong and that they’ve fixed everything in any case.  It is usually better if your statements don’t tend to contradict each other.

Any adult that has worked for a big company knows that corporate culture doesn’t change quickly.  It takes a lot of effort, and the word is that the company hasn’t gone there yet.  That references to Afrasiabi remain in the game is a testament to the lack of progress they have made.  And the internet is compiling testimonials about the company’s problems.

Anyway, the Q3 2021 Activision Blizzard financial report ought to be a real charmer after this.  Massively OP, in their coverage, rehashed the litany of problems the company has been facing in recent years.  It ain’t pretty.

  • A New World Beta

Amazon’s MMO New World went into what is supposed to be a final, pre-launch beta this week.  I don’t think they’ll yank the game back from the precipice this time around, but you never know.  I have been interested in the game and was in one of the big early NDA protected test runs a couple of years back

Just how new is it at this point?

I liked what I saw back then… it seemed like what H1Z1 ought to have been before they went all-in on battle royale, but I guess John Smedley being at Amazon Games now might explain that.  I did not pre-order, so no beta invite for me, but Bhagpuss seemed happy with how things looked.

The one thing that seems to be dominating the press coverage is a problem where high end video cards seem to be failing in the beta.  We’ll see how that works out.

  • EverQuest and the Ghost Collector’s Editions Past

EverQuest pretty much lives on nostalgia, with their retro and special servers keeping a good portion of their players invested in a $15 a month subscription.  But they have to farm the live servers as well, so they get an expansion every year an a cash shop that is always looking for something new to sell.  Now they are trying to farm a bit of nostalgia from the live server players by offering a pack that features items from the collector’s editions of no longer available expansions.

Missed out? Fear not!  But act fast or you WILL MISS OUT!  AGAIN!

For just 7,999 in Daybreak Cash, which is about $80 in real world cash depending on your purchase quantities, a selection of no longer available items can be made available to you.  It is like nostalgia for fear of missing out!

  • Path of Exile Expedition

I have something of a checkered past with Path of Exile.  On paper I should enjoy it, and I am always into it when I start out.  But something… network performance, bugs, no knowing what to do next… always seems to stymie me.  But I think about it every time the offer up a new expansion, and one if launching today.

Play the Expedition Expansion Today

This one is interesting in that Grinding Gears Games has decided to try and roll back player gear and power in an attempt to revitalize the feel of the game and to give it an overall more satisfying experience.  But it is always a risky move, taking power away from players.  Destructiod’s headline about the expansion is an illustration of that risk:

Path of Exile is nerfing everything, and players are unhappy

We shall see how it plays out I suppose, but a power reset might be a good time to jump back in.  Maybe? I took a look at the patch notes, which are a freaking book, but can’t tell either way.

EverQuest Launches the Mischief and Thornblade Servers

The EverQuest team successfully launched two new special servers, Mischief and Thornblade.

Arrived on time

Originally just the Mischief server was announced back in April, but the team apparently decided that this new server would be popular enough that they would forgo the usual launch day crowd and queue problems and just launch two servers.  And so the Thornblade server joined the mix.

Both servers are up and live

I will be curious to see if there is enough interest to justify doubling up on these servers.

Both servers are “random loot” progression servers which, as I mentioned in the previous post, means that loot from rare and raid mobs in the same expansion all share the same loot table.  So your Lady Vox raid can get loot from any other raid boss of similar level from the initial content.

As an upside, rare mobs are supposed to spawn more frequently, so your ability to test the random loot theory outside of set piece raids is greater.

According to progression server FAQ, which has been updated to include the new servers, Mischief and Thorneblade will unlock new expansions every twelve weeks, though the post announcing the new servers contradicts that, with the following information I previously reported being reiterated:

  • EXP: Mangler EXP Progression
  • Pick Zones Enabled
  • Agents of Change Enabled
  • Truebox Enabled
  • Free Trade Enabled
  • Random Loot Enabled
    • The Mischief server is a new experimental server that randomizes loot.
    • Rare NPCs will drop loot from other NPCs of a similar level within the same expansion.
    • Raids will drop loot from other raid NPCs of a similar level within the same expansion.
    • We may add other special case randomization.
    • Rare NPCs have a greater chance of spawning
  • Unlock Cadence:
    • Expansions:
      • 1 month Classic
      • 2 month Kunark
    • 2/3 month regular release cadence
      • 2 months for no level increase
      • 3 months for level increase
    • Exception: LDoN will only be one month

The exp setting put this server as faster than classic, but slower than current live servers.

“Pick Zones” indicates that multiple versions of the same zone can be active to alleviate crowding.  You can pick which instance of the zone you want to play in.

“Agents of Change” allow players to spawn a raid instance for their group, though there is an exp penalty to keep groups from just spawning them to have their own camp.  You get a full spawn of all mobs in the zone, but no respawns.  Rare mobs have a chance to spawn, but are not guaranteed.  Somebody did a video about them if you want a deeper look into this feature.

“True Box” means you are only allowed to have a single client running the game per machine when you play on the server.  No full group multi-boxing allowed.  If you want there, there is a different server for you.  And “Free Trade” means nothing is bind on pick up, you can sell or trade any loot you get.

As this is launch day, when the servers are the most crowded, the team also published a FAQ about the server login queue, which isn’t quite as user friendly as the ones you find in newer games, as it was something added later on to accommodate such launches.  The queue kind of depends on your trust in it, because the time estimates are approximations and or you are not told your position in the queue.  You could be next and you would never know it.

Still, it is better than the old days when the server just told you “tough luck, try again later!”

And, as with all special servers, you must be a Daybreak All Access subscriber to play on them.  There is no free to play option.

In addition, Daybreak is offering two special packs as part of the server launch.

There is always an up sell

Roguish Rapscallion Pack

  • Roguish Rucksack – One 40-slot 100% weight reduction bag claimable on any server! (Lore)
  • Bottle of Adventure II (x3) – A bundle of three 25% experience potions usable on any server.

Successful Shenanigans Bundle

  • Everything in the Roguish Rapscallion Pack, plus:
  • Shenanigan Satchel – One 40-slot 100% weight reduction bag
  • Bottle of Adventure II (x5) – A bundle of five 25% experience potions usable on any server.
  • Token of Challenged Resurrection (x5) – A bundle of five 85% experience resurrection tokens.
  • Bottle of Clarity Pack – One mana regeneration potion appropriate to your level.
  • Bottle of Alacrity Pack – One melee haste potion appropriate to your level.
  • Potion of Speed – One movement haste potion.

You can apparently only purchase each pack once per account, but you can purchase both, which will let you claim the bag on two characters.  These are not “get one on every character” promotions.

EG7 Will Consolidate MMOs onto 4Games Platform, Hints at New MMO Title

Enad Global 7 did a live video presentation for their Q1 2021 results.

Enad Global 7

Highlights from the presentation:

  • Highest revenue and profit in the history of the company
  • Live games, including the Daybreak titles, made up 50% of their revenue, with recurring revenue items making up 80% of the total
  • There are plans to consolidate all their titles to the Innova 4Games platform, which currently handles some of their European licensed IPs; this includes all of the Daybreak titles
  • Acquisitions will continue
  • There is a new AAA MMO in the works based on “one of the greatest brands in the world”

You can watch the replay of the presentation on YouTube:

There is also a PDF of the presentation available at the EG7 investor relations site here.

Related:

EverQuest II Returns to PvP with the Tarinax Server

The relationship between Norrath and PvP has been fraught over the years.  The rare high points have generally been drowned out by long stretches of bad times and low participation.

There was that brief period on the Nagefan server where PvP flourished, but only with people who stayed level locked around level 20 because PvE focused skills like evacuate opened up too many escape loopholes, frustrating players.  For the most part the tale of PvP in EverQuest II has been one of dead servers and people complaining on the forums.  The last run at a PvP was the 2016 Deathtoll server which lasted less than six months before it was merged into Antonia Bayle and forgotten.

But, in the search for something to get people back into the game Daybreak has decided to try the PvP route for EQ.  And so today they launched the Tarinax PvP server.

Welcome to Tainax

Tarinax is a time locked server, which means that expansions will be opened up over time.  It is launching with the original content along with the Desert of Flames and Kingdom of Sky expansions unlocked.  It also features faction based PvP, which hearkens back to the high point of the Nagefan server of old.

Will is succeed where past attempts have failed?  We shall see.  The only thing I don’t doubt is that, should it not become popular, the forums will be alight with all the things Daybreak did wrong, many of which will be contradictory.

For more information there are today’s update notes and the forum thread announcing the server.

Otherwise the server appears to have gone live at about the time expected, which in and of itself is no small feat for Daybreak.

Now to see if it thrives.

Some Words from EG7 about Daybreak Plans

Hello All !! We’ve had lot’s of questions and interest from fans and communities on the future of the games under Daybreak after the EG7 acquisition. We’ll have a community focused update later in April. In this we will shed some light on our vision for the games going forward.

Enad Global 7 tweet, April 2, 2021

The rather jaded part of me that has followed SOE and Daybreak for years was eager to snark that EG7 was following along in the grand tradition of the past companies by delivering their promised update at the last minute on a Friday afternoon.  Low expectations met.

Enad Global 7

And my initial skepticism was reinforced by the letter to the community from EG7 founder and CEO Robin Flodin, which was posted on the Daybreak site.  It is short, upbeat, and empty of any but the most blandly vague statements about the company.  It feels like boilerplate that could have been posted four months ago.  I won’t bother reprinting it here as it was so nebulous I fear it might blow away in a stiff breeze, leaving an empty space in the middle of the post.

But there was also a 14 minute video linked in small print at the end of the statement that does have some more meat to it.

The video starts with some background about Robin Flodin and EG7, then actually gets into some meaty information about H1Z1.

The PC side of H1Z1 doesn’t have a team working on it, which explains much… like why, when Daybreak introduced their new studios, that title seemed left out in the cold.  EG7 put together a team to examine and asses the game, which took them a while.  I can attest that taking over somebody else’s code base is a sure fire way to get most devs to start talking about the whole thing being easier to re-make from scratch.  They have builds of H1Z1 and Just Survive running, which is a not a trivial achievement.  Devs start muttering about starting over for a reason.  They are now evaluating where to take these titles.

While there was no news and no plan announced beyond that, Flodin did acknowledge that a lot of fans were asking for older mechanics and a return of Just Survive and they were assessing how to get there.  He also noted that the game had been previously handed off to another team unsuccessfully, the whole NantWorks fiasco that ended with the PC version of the game being handed back to Daybreak.

For other titles in the Daybreak stable, including LOTRO and DDO, he said that, at the corporate level, they were looking for ways to help the various teams/studios work on long standing issues… the idea of Daybreak is starting to seem a bit superfluous as anything beyond a historical reference in a world where EG7 is working directly with the dev groups… but the teams themselves are handling the directions the games are headed. Hrmmm…

He did say that the HQ was listening to fan feedback, but I don think EG7 is going to save us from LOTRO legendary item grinds and other things the SSG dev team is completely invested in, but maybe they’ll push the team towards large screen support or UI scaling.

Overall the video was a solid performance.  Flodin came off well and, even though he didn’t have many answers or specific plans to share, I came away with a positive impression.  It laid some groundwork, gave us a few concrete details, but didn’t make any promises that we would later use against them.  I’m still not betting completely against EG7 turning into Gamigo once they hit some critical mass of studios and games, but for the moment I am feeling okay.  I mean, at least he didn’t go on about synergy.

Other Coverage:

Mischief is Coming to EverQuest

I suppose one of the problems with the special server thing, at which the EverQuest team has done very well over the years, is that after a while you end up having done the basics, done what the fans have asked for, and even done a few things that didn’t make a lot of sense.  At that point you start searching for new gimmicks to keep the special server idea fresh.  And so the EverQuest team is going to give us the Mischief, which is billed as a random loot server.

Coming May 26, 2021

So far as I can decipher the rules, the Mischief server will be a time locked progression server based on the Mangler server rules when it comes to xp gain (the Mangler server was one of the 20th anniversary special servers that they had to tweak the rules on before they got it right), with some random loot magic in the mix.

The rules, as listed right now (but, you know, might be subject to change):

  • Agents of Change Enabled
  • Pick Zones Enabled
  • Truebox Enabled
  • Free Trade Enabled
  • Random Loot Enabled
    • The Mischief server is a new experimental server that randomizes loot.
    • Rare NPCs will drop loot from other NPCs of a similar level within the same expansion.
    • Raids will drop loot from other raid NPCs of a similar level within the same expansion.
    • We may add other special case randomization.
    • Rare NPCs have a greater chance of spawning
  • Unlock Cadence:
    • Expansions:
      • 1 month Classic
      • 2 month Kunark
    • 2/3 month regular release cadence
      • 2 months for no level increase
      • 3 months for level increase
    • Exception: LDoN will only be one month

I am not even sure what “Pick Zones” means in the context of EverQuest servers these day.  Maybe Bhagpuss can help me out on that front?

“True Box” is the no multi-boxing rule, “Free Trade” means no drops will be bind on pick up, so you can sell or trade whatever you grab, and then there is “Random Loot,” which honestly doesn’t sound as exciting as I expected.

Though that lack of excitement might be because, as a rule, it seems to impact mobs that I likely won’t ever see, much less bring down.  I was kind of hoping that random, run of the mill mobs might get something special.  That would have been exciting to me, even if it was lotto scratcher level of rarity.

The unlock cadence seems a bit quick, jumping out of Classic in only a month… dude, that is 50 levels at slow xp… though, honestly, I could make the case that they ought to just start at Ruins of Kunark and go for three months just on that.  I think that would be an interesting way to start a progression server.  But I do kind of favor just the first expansion or two in any case.

One interesting side item is that not only will the May update bring this new server onto the scene, but a new feature will be introduced.  EverQuest will get item compare!  When you get a drop there will be an option in the details to compare it to your currently equipped item.  It looks a bit clunky… but so does just about everything in this 22 year old MMORPG.  Let’s face it, this game is old.  The week it launched Cher was at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, and she’s older than my mom.

This is the first new special rules server for EverQuest in the Enad Global 7 era and I am going to guess the first one to be planned from scratch since Holly Longdale left the Norrath team for Azeroth.  We will have to see what kind of reaction this new server will get.  The game’s fans can be particular and the team has been known to bend with any particularly strong wind when it comes to special server rules.