Category Archives: Daybreak Game Company

EverQuest Launches the Vaniki and Yelinak Progression Servers

Meanwhile over at Daybreak, after cancelling the Marvel IP MMO… which, again, got more press traction than anything else they have ever announced even when they were saying they weren’t going to do it… and launching the Varsoon server for EverQuest II, they also found time to bring two new special servers online for EverQuest, the Vaniki and Yelinak servers.

Vaniki and Yelinak

Once again we are reminded that EverQuest somehow has the audience to be able to push out two special servers annually, despite being a 23 year old game.  That is the installed base I often reference that can be farmed to ensure the longevity of titles.

The Vaniki server is on the level locked plan, which I am not sure I fully understand, but there is a whole FAQ posted about it, with a timeline included.

  • Open at level 40 with expansions up to Gates of Discord unlocked
  • Four weeks later: level 50 unlocks
  • Two weeks later: level 55 unlocks
  • Four weeks later: level 60 unlocks along with expansions up to Prophecy of Ro
  • Twelve weeks later: level 65 unlocks along with expansions up to The Buried Sea
  • Twelve weeks later: level 70 unlocks along with Secrets of Faydwer
  • Eight weeks later: level 75 unlocks along with expansions up to Underfoot
  • Twelve weeks later: level 80 unlocks along with House of Thule
  • Eight weeks later: level 85 unlocks along with Veil of Alaris
  • Eight weeks later: level 90 unlocks along with expansions up to Call of the Forsaken
  • Twelve weeks later: level 95 unlocks along with expansions up to Empires of Kunark
  • Twelve weeks later: level 100 unlocks along with expansions up to The Burning Lands
  • Twelve weeks later: level 105 unlocks along with expansions up to Claws of Veeshan
  • Twelve weeks later: level 110 unlocks along with Terror of Luclin
  • Twelve weeks later: level 115 unlocks
  • Twelve weeks later: level 120 unlocks

If I do the math right that give about 33 months of life for this server from launch to the final unlock, which after a decent interval, will no doubt be merged into the Vox server, the now standard landing place for special servers that have run their course.

The Yelinak server is a bit more traditional type of progression server, with a couple of new twists, detailed in its FAQ.

  • Ruleset: True-Box Timelocked Progression – New expansions unlock automatically every 8-12 weeks. (Early expansions unlock more often. The specific schedule is below.) Only one EverQuest client may be run per computer.
  • Experience: Progression standard. Starts off slower than live, but faster than EverQuest at the original launch and increases at Gates of Discord, Depths of Darkhollow, and The Serpent Spine.  At The Serpent Spine experience is as normal live servers.

Unlock Schedule:

  • Eight weeks after launch: Ruins of Kunark
  • Eight weeks later: Scars of Velious
  • Eight weeks later: Shadows of Luclin
  • Eight weeks later: Planes for Power and Legacy of Ykesha
  • Twelve weeks later: Lost Dungeons of Norrath
  • Four weeks later: Gates of Discord
  • At this point the schedule becomes consistent. Enjoy expansions for twelve weeks when a new level cap is unlocked, and eight weeks in expansions where the level cap stays the same.

True Box

  • This server starts with standard True Box. Only one EverQuest client may be run per computer.
  • When Omens of War unlocks, we will move to a Relaxed True Box. You may have up to 3 clients per computer logged into the server at the same time.
  • When The Buried Sea unlocks, True Box will be removed.

The “true box” thing seems to be an admission that a lot of people start off on these servers on day one… they often have queues to get logged into them… but that the population starts to fade as time goes on.  So no multi-boxing when the population is high, but as it tapers off… well, then few are likely to care if you three box, then six box I guess.

Likewise, the experience starts off slow and gets loosened up as the expansions unlock, so that by the time you get to The Serpent’s Spine (fall 2006) you’re working with the live server experience table.

Anyway, both servers were off and running… um… Thursday.  I am a couple of days late on this I guess.  But there is still time to catch up.  A lot of people don’t even start until the first weekend hits, knowing that the first 24 hours of any Daybreak launch is often fraught with misadventure.

Related:

Enad Global 7 Cancels Its Daybreak Marvel MMO Project

Say farewell to any dreams about a Marvel Universe Online landing with Enad Global 7, as they announced in a press release that they were giving up on the project and writing of the money invested in it so far.

Enad Global 7

The press release was short and to the point and surprisingly not released at 4pm on Friday afternoon.  But they had an earnings announcement to do, and you have to get the bad news out with that.  The actual text for posterity:

EG7 plans to reinvest Marvel development resources across multiple long-term projects

EG7 today announced it will be discontinuing the development of the Marvel project at Daybreak Games. Based on the re-evaluation of the development risk profile, size of investment, and the long-term product portfolio strategy for the group, the board has decided to change the development priorities and reallocate resources within the group to focus on alternative long-term projects. The company had planned to invest more than SEK 500 million in the Marvel project over the next three years. The company will now diversify this investment across multiple, smaller size projects within the group, including the previously announced major upgrades to The Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online, and new game opportunities with our first party, original IPs. Along with this reallocation, the company expects a write down of approximately SEK 230 million in project related assets in Q2 2022. As one of the long-term investments, the change to the Marvel project plan will not impact near to medium term revenues and profits other than the balance sheet and P&L impact related to the write-down.

You will note the not very subtle spin about investing in other projects… projects they already said they were investing in previously.  Does that mean they are investing more in things like LOTRO and DCUO?  I don’t know.  Maybe?

The assumed reason for the cancellation of the project is the departure of Dimensional Ink studio head Jack Emmert, whose history with super hero MMOs is the stuff of legend.

EG7 even called him out

His leaving, along with whoever he took with him to go work at NetEase, was apparently enough to scuttle the project.  That is always a hazard if a project depends on specific individuals.

This is pretty much a calamity for Daybreak as it continues their lifetime streak of bringing no new projects to launch since the SOE era.  Seriously, H1Z1, EverQuest Next, and Landmark were all under way before Daybreak, so the sum total of Daybreak initiatives looks like the spectacular failure of PlanetSide Arena.

Not only that, but the Marvel project might have been the most widely covered thing that Daybreak has ever announced.  My Google alerts about the company were lit up for days following the tease that they were making a Marvel IP based MMO.

Of course, what I was already calling Marvel Universe Online should have been a slam dunk.  DC Universe Online is already the most popular title in their stable and generates the most gross revenue. (EverQuest, so very cheap to maintain, and such a pillar of the genre, matches it for net profits though.)  Daybreak would have had to go really, really wrong to mess this up.

And yet, here we are.

Then there was the Q1 2022 quarterly report, where they noted income was up year over year, largely through acquisitions, the stock price was down, Daybreak is still the largest single contributor towards revenue, Ji Ham is still acting CEO, and that Innova, a Russian company, is no longer an issue, double pinkie swear.

There wasn’t a lot of new in there, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it, save for this slide.

EQ7 Q1 2022 – Looking Forward

You can see they are still betting on a boost from Amazon’s second age Middle-earth show and that they still want to invest in the things they have said they wanted to invest in previously.  At least H1Z1 isn’t being promoted quite so vigorously… and I say that only because they appear to have no plan for it, so they shouldn’t be promoting it.

So it goes.  The high hopes of 18 months ago seem to have fallen, sapped by the reality of Daybreak at the gaming industry in general.

Related:

The EverQuest II Varsoon Time Locked Expansion Server Launches Today

Check another one off of the EverQuest II roadmap that Daybreak gave us back in January, as the Varsoon time locked expansion server they promised for May is arriving today.

Varsoon today

Such servers are no longer anything new for EQ or EQII, but the team does continue to refine the formula with each launch.  This time around expansion unlocks will be on a 16 week timer, save for Desert of Flames, which is only worthy of 12 weeks.  That means you have 16 weeks to play through the content with the main lump of players who start today in order to experience the old content as it was meant to be, with that aforementioned lump of players all in the same expansion and zones.

They have posted a FAQ in the forums about the server.  One of the key items is that you need to be a Daybreak All Access subscriber in order to join in.  Special servers are for subscribers only.

Other tidbits from the FAQ:

What’s Happening on Varsoon?

Varsoon is a Time-Locked Expansion (TLE) server where expansions unlock automatically. This server will be very similar to the Kaladim TLE except that Varsoon will also be a Free-Trade server. Which means items that are normally heirloom, will be able to be traded with other players.

Return of the Hoods

The hoods and villages will be open for Varsoon, like Big Bend, Longshadow Alley, the Baubleshire and Nettleville. Quest content in these villages will remain changed, but the hoods themselves will be there to access and reminisce.

Overseer

Q: Will the Overseer System be available on Varsoon TLE server?
A: Yes! The Overseer System will be available on the Varsoon TLE server.

That latter is interesting.  It isn’t so much that the feature is completely out of bound for most of life of the game so far.  It is more a matter of wondering how they will itemize the rewards.  They can barely be bothered to update the reward system for the Overseer feature on the live servers, so you end up with stuff a couple of expansions out of date.  I assume they have done some work for this server, but will it change every 16 weeks or just muddle along in some semi-useful state?

In addition, Daybreak has also announced the Summer Jubilee, which will run from June 2nd until August 24th, and which will be an umbrella event that covers Tinkerfest, the Scorched Sky Celebration, and the Oceansfull Festival.

  • Tinkerfest — June 2, 2022 to June 15, 2022
  • Scorched Sky Celebration — June 30, 2022 to July 13, 2022
  • Oceansfull Festival — August 11, 2022 to August 24, 2022

I mention this because special rules servers, including Varsoon, will get their own version of the event.  Anyway, Bhagpuss has more to say about Jubilees than I do.

So, at some point today… I am sure the plan is noon Pacific time, but experience shows that later in the evening is more likely… the Varsoon server will unlock and the rush through the content will begin.

Discord as a News Source

One of the ongoing issues of the blog over the last decade and a half has been consistent access to a reliable news feed when it comes to the games I follow.  I’d like to write about what they’re up to if only they would take a moment to let me know.

You can find a few rants early on in the life of the blog where I am frustrated that a given company… usually SOE… has a new page on their web site dedicated to a game and then won’t update it, or breaks the RSS feed, or insists on putting any useful information deep the forums, where no sane person dare go, or, perhaps most common of all, simply fails to update anything anywhere for long stretches of time.

That was in early days of social media, when Twitter and Facebook were something of a novelty and community teams mostly hung around on the forums or made podcasts, which were the hot new thing.  There was a long stretch of me dissecting each SOE podcast for news, back when that was a thing.

Social media has made things a bit better.  At some point various studios realized that they needed to raise their profiles on the various social media outlets, so we got official accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and where ever else one might find potential customers.  Some go so far as to post game news on LinkedIn, which has basically become “business Facebook” because the advice of every half-assed consultant demands that you build your brand by posting nonsense there.

The problem is that social media platforms are bad at timelines.  Twitter seems distressed that I follow so few accounts (I keep a hard cap of 500), so gleefully injects all sorts of suggested accounts into my feed, muddying up the waters.

And they are great compared to Facebook and Instagram, where time apparently has no meaning (I seem to get all the Instragram “Going into Friday like…” memes on Tuesday for example) and once you’ve seen something it gets stored somewhere you can never find it again.

And even when they are not screwing with your timelines, you do need to be there and looking at their site when something gets posted in order to see it in a timely fashion… or at all… which, admittedly means being online and ready at some point after 4pm on a Friday looking for bad news.

That used to be a standard Daybreak move, though CCP ran with the same plan for the great price increase news this past week.

Things have gotten better in that various community and marketing teams seem to get that they have to, you know, keep the players informed in order to keep them engaged.  That is literally the base function of their positions.  If you can only do one thing, do that.  But consistency remains spotty and, as noted, the social media platforms seem to be working against any sort of useful information getting to people since that doesn’t drive engagement like inflammatory political rantings from niche players you would never have heard of except that the know how to play to the algorithms.

Getting timely updates remains harder than it should be.  And don’t even get me started on the Bizarro world that is Google Alerts, which will go out of its way to tell me about every sketchy analyst group that wants to sell me a report on battle royale games but doesn’t seem to know that Massively OP is a thing when I get results for “Daybreak.”  (And when Pokemon has a “Daybreak” update… fergetaboudit.)

Then I ran into a Discord feature that allows game companies who run their own server to setup a news channel that you can subscribe to and pipe into your own server in order to get updates as they get posted.

Unity through Discord

I took the TAGN Discord server, which I setup back when Fantasy Movie League was a thing, and created a new channel in it, and went around and subscribed that channel to the news feeds of various video games.

And it has worked pretty well.

It has its limitations, the largest of which is that a studio has to set up its own Discord server and actually maintain it.  But Discord is popular, even by my own meager measuring, and has become a go-to spot for a lot of companies since gamers are already there.

For example, Daybreak seems to have bought in fully on running a Discord server for at least a couple of their games.  I am subscribed to the news feed for the EverQuest and EverQuest II servers and, for maybe the first time in the life of the blog, I feel like I am getting timely and relevant updates for those games.

Granted, Daybreak as a studio has gotten much better at communication, but this puts updates in my field of vision faster than ever.  They seem committed to the platform for now.

Valheim also provides updates in a timely and consistent fashion.  The Forza Horizon team might be a bit too eager to share, though I will admit everything they post is relevant for players of their titles.

Amazon Games is a little iffy.  They do post updates reliably, but seem to forget that they have more than one game.  They seem to copy an update from either New World of Lost Ark and post it to Discord without actually mentioning which game the news is for.  Usually it is somewhat obvious, but if they announce server restarts and don’t mention a game, do I assume them both?

And then there is Playable Worlds, which has yet to discover the subscribe feature… but they also don’t have a lot of news yet that is worth digging into.

So, for game companies that commit, it works very well for me.  The problem is that not every studio is that into the idea, and those that are do not exactly advertise their servers very well.

I know that Daybreak, as a studio under Enad Global 7, is very much into the Discord thing, but you had to know the servers were even a possibility in order to find them.  LOTRO, in a classic, old school move, announced their server in the forums… more than five years ago.  Early adopter, but non-obvious if you’re looking for it today. (They have social media button for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch on the front page, but no Discord.)

Addendum May 10, 2022: That was actually a third party LOTRO server that was being promoted, and it has since decided it isn’t interested in LOTRO anymore, so forget about that.

CCP, which does like to get into the trenches with customers now and then, seems reluctant to go the Discord route with an official server, but then made a server for Fanfest which quickly became the official server by default because they ran it.

And some companies… well, they just aren’t that into us.  I was kind of surprised to find that Gamigo actually has a couple of servers for former Trion Worlds game, including Rift and Trove.  I am not sure how useful they are… Rift seems to mostly be about the weekly cash shop deals and server restarts, which is not news that interests me… but it is there if you’re still playing.

Anyway, a new option in the struggle to find news.  It is out there, though your mileage may vary.

EverQuest II Getting a Community Resource Council as Well

One of the items from the Daybreak roadmap for EverQuest and EverQuest II was a community resource council, but it was only listed for EverQuest.  (And yes, I am going to anchor a lot of posts off of that roadmap from January.  They probably regret publishing it already.)

When Daybreak recently announced that they were taking applications for the long standing EverQuest II raid council, I figured that was the balance point, that it would stand in for the community resource council.

They really don’t have their own Firiona Vie, do they?

But I was wrong.  An announcement went up on the forums on Friday saying that they were taking applications for the EverQuest II Community Resource Council, along with a mission statement and a FAQ.

The mission statement is:

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.

Like the EverQuest side of the house, this is much more akin to EVE Online’s Council of Stellar Management in that it includes an NDA to discuss future projects, rather than the WoW Community Council model, which does everything out in front of a live and angry studio audience.

The FAQ is pretty much the same as the EverQuest version, the whole thing is voluntary, there is no compensation, you will be required to sign an NDA, and that they will be accepting applications twice annually.

This time around we have an application time frame.  You will be able to submit applications from March 18th until April 1st.  The submission form will only be available during that time.

Related:

Enad Global 7 Posts Strong Q4 2021 Results with High Hopes for MTGO

Enad Global 7 posted their Q4 2021 and overall 2021 financial results this week.

Enad Global 7

As reported elsewhere, it was a good quarter for the company, with revenue up significantly.

While services made a huge leap in revenue, with the split between services and games being 60/40 in Q4 2021, the whole revenue stack for Q4 2021 dwarfs what it was for Q4 2020 when EG7 was in the process of acquiring Daybreak.

EG7 Q4 2021 slide 8

That said, while Daybreak remains the dominant part of EG7’s game segment, and grew slightly in Q4, I do wonder why it didn’t grow more.

Q3 vs Q4 Games Revenue

Those values are in Swedish Krona, but it is close enough to equal to the US Dollar at the moment as to make no difference for a chart.  Q4 saw Daybreak launch three expansions, with Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest, and EverQuest II selling virtual boxes with price points as high as $250 for the super deluxe friends and family packs, which would at least lead me to assume that Q4 ought to see a significant bump.  I mean, you don’t ship content packages like that unless they are making you money.

Now, I don’t have the same chart break out for Q2 for a direct, ongoing comparison, and maybe they account for pre-orders in Q3 rather than Q4 (though generally you only count revenue when you deliver a product), but it is still something that makes you wonder.

Anyway, the classes I took on finance and accounting were all more than 30 years ago at this point, so my opinions do not carry a lot of weight.

Instead, I’ll move on to the forward looking statements, as there is a slide dedicated to EG7’s 2022 plans.

EG7 Q4 2021 slide 16

In the short term they have a couple of games in the pipeline.  They are also expecting Lord of the Rings Online to see an uptick due to Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power streaming series, which is slated to premier in September.

Then there is Magic The Gathering Online, which I will get to in a moment, along with some mergers and acquisitions they have going.  I wonder who is left worth buying?

While the business focus is “2022,” the last time around things in the medium term seemed more likely to come to pass in 2023.  Big updates for LOTRO and DCUO were previously mentioned, so MTGO is the new piece in that picture.

And then there is the long term, which looks somewhat different that it did in the Q3 2021 presentation, with a promise of new products based on EverQuest and H1Z1, along with DCUO.  That is new.  I am not sure what it means, and after the folly of EverQuest Next I am not about to get invested in any fantasies about what it might mean, but there it is.  And H1Z1?  They can’t let that go, but there is still nobody actually working on it either last I heard, so I don’t even know where to go with that.

Missing is any reference to the Mavel IP MMO being developed, mentioned as part of the Q3 2021 presentation, which was probably the most widely reported thing EG7 has ever announced.  It is mentioned in passing in the Ji Ham statement at the top of the interim financial report, but that isn’t exactly top billing, so that might be far enough out that they don’t want to wear out its popularity too quickly.

And then there is Magic the Gathering Online, which gets a slide all to itself.

EG7 Q4 2021 Slide 4

EG7 announced this deal back in December, and we’re getting a little more detail now.

“Acquihire” generally means to buy another company to get their development team as opposed to their product line, though given that this is being billed as a license deal with no upfront purchase (free to play acquisitions!),  “aquihire” might be the wrong term, but I am not sure what the right word would be.

But the result is that the team that was working on MTGO now works for Daybreak and are carrying on developing and supporting the live game.  EG7 is highlighting this, and it is a big deal with some revenue heft behind it.

But deals like this don’t happen when a title is doing super awesome and revenue is expected to keep growing.  Magic the Gathering Arena, which is available on mobile devices, as opposed to the Windows only MTGO, is said to be the new hotness for digital MTG fans, with a superior business model and all that.

I am not saying that EG7 is being too optimistic.  MTGO is still a substantial business and an immediate addition to their revenue stream.  They are winning on this deal from day one.  And there is no doubt a solid, core player base invested (literally and figuratively) in this title.  But there is a reason that this deal isn’t getting anything close to the amount of press the Marvel IP announcement did.

Anyway, that is 2021 for EG7.  On to 2022.

Related:

64-Bit EverQuest Arrives Successfully

The promised update from the 2022 roadmap came and went this week without much in the way of drama.  Yes, they announced the servers were up and then brought them back down minutes later.  But everything was up and running again well inside the 8 hour time frame the team announced.  EverQuest is now running as a 64-bit application on client and server.

EverQuest, the classic

That probably doesn’t really mean much today.  The game still loads up and patches today the same way it did last week… at least if I remember to run it as Administrator.

Which I forgot to do again

EverQuest certainly isn’t the first older title to make the jump to 64-bit, or even the first Daybreak title, since Lord of the Rings Online has already gone there.

And it probably doesn’t need the upgrade as badly as, say, EVE Online needed it.  Large battles were causing the EVE Online client to cross the 2GB memory access barrier of 32-bit and crashing clients.

But perhaps it is a prerequisite for the “new UI engine” that was at the “beyond 2022” end of January’s roadmap.

I do wish that the Norrath team would do an old school CCP-like dev blog about how the tech will help them.  I know that they need to go there in order to ensure that EverQuest (and later this year, EverQuest II) remain active and viable titles in a world where 64-bit operating systems are now the norm and support for 32-bit will eventually go away.  It will be a while.  It took going to 64-bit Windows 10 for Microsoft to finally end 16-bit support (RIP my original Civilization II disk), so it is best to get upgraded now rather than wait until the end is nigh.

Still, it has been quite a ride from 1999, when apps that required 8.3 file names were still around, to today when my phone probably has more computing power than my first dozen computers all combined.

EverQuest in 1999

I did actually roll up a fresh character, a dwarven berserker, on the Vox server, just to see if things were running okay.  I don’t know if I will play him very far… I have started many a new character over the years, and most of them end up lingering between levels 17 and 24… but it is my first character in the 64-bit era of EverQuest.

Anyway, with 64-bit comes new system requirements, which you can find posted on their site.

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.