Tag Archives: Darkpaw Games

EQ Aradune Server and Trading One Problem for Another

I almost wrote a post this past week about how queue times had disappeared from the EverQuest Aradune server.  After all, that was the problem when it launched late last month, the problem that Daybreak was focused on addressing.

Nostalgia is live

Unfortunately, in opening up the server to allow more people to get into the game led to different problems.  Something is always the bottleneck, so when you fix one you often end up finding the next one.

In this case, people could log into the game, but moving between zones began to take as much as 15 minutes at times and often simply led to the game client getting disconnected or crashing.  Tipa declared her Aradune adventures over based on this state of the game.

The cure seeming worse than the disease, Daybreak announced that they were rolling back the population cap increase and would be working on server stability.

We wanted to update players on Aradune with some changes made recently. Since launch we have been working on solving the issues with server performance that has affected game play for many of you. In the interim we have reduced the server capacity slightly as a short term fix. Disconnects while zoning have been greatly reduced, and some of the sources of crashes while zoning will be addressed in the upcoming June update.

While the server is at a reduced capacity it is likely that you might see a queue during peak times, we know this can be frustrating and thank you for your patience while we continue to work on the outstanding issues.

So the server is back to queues again.  Those are more palatable than problems once you are in the game.  Tipa even suggested that she might return to Aradune, since queues were at least a consistent issue to deal with.

Darkpaw Games studio head Jenn Chan also put out a note to the EQ community (and the EQ2 community as well) last week about the problems that had hit their games last month when they did the server merges and add the new servers.  Players of both games got something for the problems.

So it goes.

On the bright side, being too popular to handle all the people who want to play on a new server is a good problem for a 21 year old game to have.

EQ Aradune Server Remains Over Crowded

In addition to launch day problems on Wednesday, the Aradune “Truebox Dedicated Progression” server remains over crowded.

Nostalgia goes live

Rather than being able to simply log in and adventure, players are finding long queues most hours of the day.  Daybreak has spent some time in the past creating a structure that could absorb more players on these special servers, adding the ability to spawn multiple versions of popular zones and creating a login queue for the launcher.  But the draw of a fresh new, true box progression server remains a bigger draw than they can handle.  The following statement was issued on the forums this morning:

We know lots of you are excited to play on Aradune, and wanted to provide an update. We’ve been monitoring queue times for the server closely and at this time we’re at the maximum capacity it can safely handle. We have noticed, If you have a flexible play time, there have been little to no queues between 12 AM and 7 AM PDT. We have made changes to the AFK timer to improve queue flow and are continuing to look at further improvements to reduce queue times during peak hours.

This does not apply to the Rizlona server, which also launched on Wednesday.  Logging into the game on that server is not nearly as difficult.

Aradune is, of course, a special name, being the handle EQ developer Brad McQuaid used in game, and was no doubt chosen to remember his passing last year.  That no doubt drives a bit of the desire to be on that server.

Also, the Rizlona server is not a “True Box” server, allowing players to multi-box if they like, a practice that has angered some players who have been quite vocal in the forums about Daybreak needing to do something about this sort of thing.  That has probably driven people to choose Aradune over Rizlona as well.

The question now is whether the pressure on the Aradune server is something Daybreak can manage until the population spreads out and the initial enthusiasm wears off, at which point the queues will likely disappear, or if they will need to add an additional server, the old school way to solve this sort of problem.

Adding a new server inevitably ends up with the second server being low population after a while, necessitating a server merge down the road.  We shall see which path Daybreak chooses.

 

EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start

Yesterday was the big day, the day that saw the launch of the two latest EverQuest progression servers, Aradune and Rizlona.  You can read more details about these servers at a previous post.

Nostalgia goes live

And things looked to be going better than normal, with the server launches hitting the promised noon Pacific Time launch window unlike so many past launches so that Daybreak was able to post the news on time.  I was even able to peek in and see that they were up and going.

The launcher shows them live

Of course, as the situation often unfolds, there was a rush to get on the servers and into the game as soon as the servers went live, though it appeared that Daybreak’s somewhat opaque queuing system might be up to the task.  Some people got in while others had to wait.

19 minutes isn’t a bad queue… it just doesn’t update

And then things fell over.  I saw an update pop up indicating there were problems and bringing up the launcher seemed to confirm that all was not well.

Yeah, that is not looking good

That apparently sent people scurrying to the forums to find out what was going one, so that they too promptly fell over.  Too many connections.

These are not the forum messages you were looking for…

The forums were available again after not too long, but all the forums are interconnected, so it seems that the EverQuest II forums were seeing problems.  And, apparently, the EverQuest II login servers as well.  I did not know they were connected, but I guess since the games share accounts that makes some sense.

Twitter updates not too far apart

Once the forums could handle the load there was a note about working on the issues followed by updates.

I am loathe to blame the user base for believing that Daybreak could successfully launch two new servers on time and without issue… but really, it is the same story every launch, isn’t it?  Delays, crowds, problems, they are all part of the authentic experience here now.

This is one of the three problems I feel MMORPGs are never going to solve, or bother solving at least, because it is transitory.  A week from now the crowds will have thinned and in a month any additional hardware applied would be sitting idle.

On the bright side, it does speak volumes about the ongoing popularity of EverQuest, now past the 21 year mark, and the desire to get back to a more primeval state of the genre.

As we got into early evening Pacific Time it seemed like Daybreak had finally gotten a handle on the problem and that things would finally kick off at about the usual time for these servers.  Logins were allowed and the queues quickly swelled up t about an hour.

And then something fell over again and all the servers were taken down once more and stayed down until around midnight, when the situation seemed to finally be settled.

This morning the servers appear to be up and running.  Maybe they should always launch at midnight?

The Aradune server, the true box progression server, had a queue this morning when I checked, once again running close to an hour in length.

The Rizlona server, which allows multi-boxing, seemed less in demand and I was able to pop right in and make a character to try out.

Halas on a crisp May morning

I ran out to Everfrost where I almost immediately had somebody train a red con skeleton onto me, which stunned me then killed me before I could do anything.  So all is normal in the world.

I haven’t really decided if I will give either server any sort of real effort.  I am always a bit interested, but I am not sure I am up to the task.  We shall see.  And if I let it pass, there will likely be a new server next year.

Others on this topic:

Darkpaw Announces and Adjusts Plans for the Rizlona and Aradune Time Locked Progression Servers

Sometimes it pays to wait a bit after Daybreak announces something as they are a company that is willing to change their mind in front of a live studio audience.

That can be a good thing.  As I said back in the SOE days, they do try to get to the right answer.  The problem is that their starting point does seem oddly wrong at times.  I don’t think this was necessarily one of those times, but feedback did seem to change their minds.

This all has to do with the Rizlona and Aradune time locked progression servers that were announced as part of the ramp up to the EverQuest 21st anniversary celebration.  This week we got a target date and some more information about the plans for those servers.

Coming this month

The rules were posted and seemed both restrictive and a bit confused.

The restrictive aspect was the plan to stop both servers at the Planes of Power expansion after unlocking an expansion every three months.  That was a plan similar to the Agnarr server that launched back in 2017, which was advertised as a “PoP Locked” server, and which hit that end point back in 2018.

That seemed like a reasonable idea back then, an attempt to recreate something like the locked in time spirit that rose up around the now seven years gone Al’Kabor server that hosted the EverQuest for Macintosh community.  But I am not sure they need to reboot that idea every few years, and not with two servers.

But they changed their mind on that and now neither server will be “PoP Locked.”

They also announced that both servers were to be “GM Dedicated” servers, the meaning of which I’ll just quote:

Rizlona and Aradune are GM dedicated servers, this means they will be more visible on your server and petition queues will go direct to them. It is possible that there will be instances where other GMs may assist when available but most will go to your specific GMs. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more about your server’s GMs!

I remember a time when GMs were pretty visible in EQ, so maybe they are trying to revive that era again.

And then there is the confusing bit… or at least the bit that is confusing to me.  The full titles of the two new servers are:

  • Aradune Truebox Dedicated Progression
  • Rizlona Boxed Dedicated Progression

In the parlance of past severs, “truebox” means no multi-boxing at all, while “boxed” is a new one on me, but at least implies that they will allow some for of multi-boxing.  But then there are the rule sets described for the two:

Aradune Ruleset:

  • Mangler XP Progression
  • Agents of Change Enabled
  • Pick Zones Enabled

By playing on Aradune you agree to:

  • Absolutely No Automated/Unintended Game-play, any incident of automated gameplay is immediate suspension, second offence is ban including Aradune associated accounts.
  • Boxing any more than 2 characters will result in the following actions taken against your account. First Offence: A written warning from the GM. Second Offence: A 7 day suspension of account privileges on all Aradune related accounts. Third Offence: Permanent ban on all Aradune associated accounts.

Rizlona Ruleset:

  • Mangler XP Progression
  • Agents of Change Enabled
  • Pick Zones Enabled

By playing on Rizlona you agree to:

  • Absolutely No Automated/Unintended Game-play, any incident of automated gameplay is immediate suspension, second offence is ban including Rizlona associated accounts.

Does that mean you can dual-box on Aradune and multi-box to your hearts content on Rizlona?  Did the meaning of “truebox” change at Darkpaw?  It is possible.  I don’t keep up that closely.

And I can imagine why Darkpaw might want to give multi-boxers a fresh server to play on.  While the practice is often decried by the forum warriors, it has been a thing for most of the life of the game and… of course… you have to have to have a subscription for each account in order to indulge in the practice on these special servers.  No free to play allowed.  So if you want to box a fill party to level cap, Darkpaw will be happy to take your money and direct you to a special rules server just for you.

I don’t know that I will opt to play on either server, but my Daybreak All Access subscription will still be running when they launch, so I might log in for a peek.

In advance of these new servers, there is also the planned server merge coming a week earlier.  On May 20th the following which will see the following servers merged:

  • Lockjaw into Ragefire
  • Trakanon into Vox
  • Fippy Darkpaw into Vox
  • Brekt into Firiona Vie

I covered the origins of the soon-to-be merged servers in a previous post, so won’t repeat it here, but there are some good reasons for these merges.  Details on naming conflicts and character slots and the like are available in a Darkpaw post.

EverQuest at 21

The days are long, but the years are short.

Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

Here we are again at mid-March and another EverQuest anniversary.

Classic EverQuest

I’ve taken it upon myself to mention the anniversary almost every year since the first March 16th of the blog rolled around back in 2007.  I think there was still a bit of a sense or hope that the company would get EverQuest II on track as the rightful successor game it was expected to be and that EverQuest might fade away.  But at ten, twelve, thirteen, fifteen, nineteen, and twenty years it was still around and still looking like the anchor of the Norrath franchise.  It has launched new servers, embraced nostalgia, rolled out new expansions, added new features, and generally kept on rolling and printing money as younger games launched, peaked, and shut down.

And so the date has rolled around again and I wonder once more if there is anything I have yet said about the game.  We’re in the fifth year of the Daybreak era of the game where, unlike some of its stable mates, it has seemingly thrived.

We are also at the start of the Darkpaw Games era, as Daybreak organized three studios under its umbrella. (An umbrella which still shelters H1Z1 apart from those three so far as we can tell.)  That put EverQuest and EverQuest II together under the Darkpaw banner.

Darkpaw Gamed for Norrath

What that means, if it really means anything, is not clear.  There are plenty of theories but few facts.

At this anniversary we are also facing a change of leadership.  Holly “Windstalker” Longdale announced her departure from Daybreak and Darkpaw just about a week back, with the reigns being handed over to Jennifer Chan.  Again, while both games got a note from the new executive producer, it is unclear what that means in the long term.

And now we have the anniversary with the traditional in-game events, which will run out into May.

plenty of time

There are also a few give away according to the current release notes.

What we get

All Access members who log in between now and May 10th will get a free heroic character boost.  This will let you bring any character up to level 85.

Heroic for Free – Unchanged since 2014

I will, as always, grouse a bit about the fact that the level cap has now gone to 115, but they are still giving away… and selling when they aren’t simply handing them out… boosts to just level 85.

Ah well.  They will update that some day I hope.

For now though all you get is level 85.  But they have to give you one because it unlocks the new Overseer feature, which requires you to be level 85 to play.

If you’ve read my post about the Overseer in EverQuest II, you can mostly disregard that.  Darkpaw has take that feature, added some depth and visible… dare I say even comprehensible… graphics and plunked it down into EverQuest.  This version has levels and stats and classes and bonuses and a few other things that at least give the illusion of depth to the whole thing.  And, of course, the ability to spend some Daybreak Cash.

Want to finish early? We can sell you that!

That last bit isn’t active yet, but I am sure it will be soon.

The whole thing is still wrapped in the UI conventions of EverQuest, which date from 1999 and can feel very clunky if you’ve recently been playing WoW… or even WoW Classic… but once you find the Overseer option in the myriad of menu items and move it to your hot bar, it is at least easy to access.

Bhagpuss has a write up about the EverQuest version of Overseer if you are interested.  I do not know what this portends for the EQII version of the feature, but for now EverQuest has the richer, deeper option.

There we are though, a new feature for the 21st anniversary of the game.

The word is that we will also be getting a special server or two at some point here in year twenty-one.  But first Darkpaw needs to clean up and merge some of the aging special servers that are still hanging about.  I suspect that the Fippy Darkpaw server, launched back on February 15, 2011, will be on the list of those to be merged.

What does it even mean when your game has retro-nostalgia servers that are over nine years old?  At least I will be able to write that promised final post about the server.

Congrats to the EverQuest team for making it into another decade!

The Windstalker Leaves Norrath

If it is Friday afternoon it must be time for a news bomb from Daybreak.

It follows you as you move about the room!

This time it is the departure of Holly “Windstalker” Longdale from the company.  Yes, I suppose it should be Darkpaw Games, but it isn’t like Daybreak doesn’t still pull all the strings here.

Darkpaw Gamed for Norrath

Holly Longdale has been running the combined Norrath division of Daybreak since EverQuest and EverQuest II were rolled up into a single team.  That was back when Smed was still promising us that EverQuest Next would be fine because it had the largest development team at Daybreak. (Some fun comments on that post.)

EverQuest Next was cancelled and then Landmark was shut down, but the Norrath team carried on.  And, despite something of a rocky start in the Daybreak era… all that talk about doing little campaigns as opposed to expansions… a plan reversed in half a year… things seemed to go pretty well for the Norrath team.  They managed an expansion and a big update for both EverQuest and EverQuest II each year since.  And while everything hasn’t gone perfectly, for the last five or so years it has felt like the company has cared more about the franchise than during the final five years of the SOE era.

And, thanks to the team finally embracing the nostalgia and special server idea, it was reported last year, during the EverQuest 20th anniversary, that the player base had been growing since low ebb in 2015.

At the helm for that whole time was Holly Longdale, Executive Producer in charge of the EverQuest franchise.  And while you can’t credit her for everything that went right, a good boss makes good things possible, while a bad boss can make even good things turn to shit.  So she gets some credit for the improved state of the games.  I was very much on #TeamHolly over the last few years.

Which is why the Friday night post over on the EverQuest and EverQuest II sites announcing her departure made me sigh and wonder what was going to happen next.  The text from both posts:

Greetings Norrathians,

It is time to bid ye all a heartfelt fond farewell.

I will be taking my leave from Darkpaw Games for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I owe to all the players and developers of EverQuest and EverQuest II.

From my first experience at EverQuest’s launch as a dark elf wizard trying to leave Neriak for two hours, to joining the EverQuest and EverQuest II teams, my life has been a thrill and a blessing. For more than a decade, I’ve felt honored and thankful to have been a part of the lives of so many players and our amazing family of developers.

I’ve seen these games grow and evolve for so many years. I took part in the first-ever instanced content and forging new ground with Lost Dungeons of Norrath. I had the honor of working with Brad “Aradune” McQuaid, John Smedley, and a great number of talented people.

Both games have grown through the rise of nostalgia with progression servers in ways we didn’t expect. Above all, our community is ever-present, guiding and informing us, and helping us make better choices.

Our success as a franchise is built upon the love of those who live in Norrath. I can’t thank every one of you enough for being part of this magical life. I will miss you, but I won’t be far away!

My passion and love for EverQuest and EverQuest II is unending. Even though I am leaving Darkpaw Games as a producer for now, I will remain part of the community as a player.

Our intrepid Franchise Technical Director and EQ veteran Jennifer Chan will take hold of the reigns with gusto and head up the studio. She has been my leadership partner for over 5 years and excels at keeping us on track, improving our technology, and making sure everything gets done as smoothly as possible.

I promise you that the game and teams are in more-than-capable hands.

Rest assured, Norrath will continue to grow and prosper as I hope you all will.

Much love to one and all, forever. And, as always, I’ll see you in game,

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale

People move on.  New opportunities arise.  Things change.  It sounds like she is leaving for something she wants to do.  But whether she left or was pushed, the inevitable question is, “What happens next?”

Jennifer Chan will be taking over.  All I know about her is that she has some technical chops, with a BS in Computer Science, and has been a technical director for SOE, then Daybreak, since early 2014.  There is a Shack News interview with her that puts a little more info out there (side note: She mentions that they work closely with the LOTRO and DDO teams, so who owns Standing Stone?  Also, the interviewer was the author of Stay Awhile and Listen.)  But that isn’t a lot.

My sense from that is that she might be more technical than “vision,” but maybe that is what the franchise could use.

So we will have to wait and see what this really means.  Back in January there was some hope that the splitting of Daybreak into sub-studios would mean good things for the EverQuest franchise, secure on its own as Darkpaw Games.  But the fickle finger of fate will have its way.

Related Posts:

Overseer Feature, Progression Servers, and Free Heroic Characters Coming for EverQuest Anniversary

EverQuest will be turning 21 in a couple of weeks and there is always something going on for anniversaries.

Classic EverQuest

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale penned a brief producer’s letter about what we can expect.

Progression Servers

Nostalgia is a staple of the EverQuest franchise at this point.  There certainly aren’t any new games on the horizon for Norrath.  And the nostalgia for the game is monetized via special severs.  While such servers were mentioned in the letter, they won’t be coming any time soon.  It seems that Darkpaw Games needs to clean up some of the past servers first, so merges are on the way.  Is it time for the decade old Fippy Darkpaw server to finally wrap up?  But once the get that squared away we can expect some new servers.

Overseer

The Overseer feature was introduced in EverQuest II with the Blood of Luclin expansion.  It is, in its simplified way, a version of the WoW garrison missions that were introduced with the Warlords of Draenor expansion and has been iterated on with every expansion since.

While Bhagpuss has been covering this new thing in Norrath, I am still trying to come up with how I feel about the feature.  A blog post about them has been under way for a while.  But apparently they are popular enough that Darpaw is going to bring them over to old Norrath.  Soon you will have minions to send out on missions in EverQuest.  The feature will be available to characters level 85 and up.

Free Level 85 Heroic Characters

Do you want to play with the Overseer feature but do not have a level 85 character?  Well, Darkpaw will fix that by giving you one for free!  All members will get one, though details are still to come.

Of course, this is the usual opening where I complain about the fact that the EverQuest heroic character boost remains stuck at level 85.  That was fine about a six years back when they introduced them, but the level cap got bumped up to 115 with the last expansion.  30 levels is a hell of a gap, especially since some expansions gave people five long levels.  Some day they are going to have to fix this, but I guess today is not that day.

The Daybreak Studio Split Comes to Pass

It isn’t even Friday afternoon and we’re getting news from Daybreak.  The splitting of the company into discreet studios focused on specific games is under way, something that has been somewhat expected since July of last year.  Of prime importance to me are the fates of EverQuest and EverQuest II, which will now be run by Darkpaw Games.

Darkpaw Gamed for Norrath

A producer’s letter from Holly Longdale announced the change, though details were scant.  Quoted from the site for posterity:

Welcome to our first bark as Darkpaw Games!

Unsurprisingly, our motto is “Never Give Up” given that our studio name is borne from our beloved in-game character, Fippy Darkpaw – the gnoll that won’t quit. For over 20 years he’s been fighting the good fight for his tribe. Same goes for our studio, our games, and our tenacious players.

We are the OG. The passionate. The dedicated. And the proud! Grrr….Bark Bark…Grrr.

I’m sure you want to know what this change means…

Darkpaw Games will operate autonomously and focus on the EQ franchise, its community, and its future. I will be at the head of Darkpaw and Daybreak will be our publisher with its incredible support and operations teams we’ve come to know and love over the years.

We will work toward expanding the franchise and invest in our future as a studio.

Currently, nothing will change for your accounts and membership. No worries there.

Our staff has grown a bit and we’ll continue to adjust as Darkpaw evolves and grows into its development strategy and vision. What’s that, you ask? To create immersive entertainment that is socially driven and diverse, enriches lives and fuels imagination.

That vision comes from decades of working with and listening to our communities about how EverQuest games have impacted, changed, and enhanced their lives. We want to continue it. It’s what we do best.

Immediately, and in practical terms, our focus is on the fans and investing in our current games and the business of starting new ones. We’re already executing on the plans we had for 2020, like expansions and events for EQ and EQ2.

We’ll start evaluating the interest in, and logistics of, a fan faire and move forward with that as soon as possible.

More than anything, we want to deliver on what players love and go even further. We are going to think outside the box a bit, so hold onto your tails!

This month, we plan to sell a limited run of our EverQuest 20th and EverQuest II 15th anniversary shirts on Amazon. If it goes well, we’ll keep exploring official product ideas. We’ll send out links and details as soon as we have them!

EverQuest’s first anniversary in its THIRD decade will come in March and we’ve got plans for that, so stay tuned! EverQuest II has its own plans that will roll out soon – Yeehaw!

Now, with all my heart, thank YOU! We hope you continue to embrace us as we grow into our indie paws. We want to communicate in new ways with our own Darkpaw voice, too. Many of you are familiar with our personalities and we want to live our best life as gamers and developers with you.

Join the pack! More news as it comes!

Sincerely, as ever,

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale
Executive Producer, Darkpaw Games
“Never Give Up”

What this means for the business itself is unclear.

The PlanetSide 2 team had a similar announcement, declaring that they are now developing as Rogue Planet Games.

Rogue Planet for PlanetSide

Then there is DC Universe Online and the Austin studio that goes with it got a post from Jack Emmert that they will now be Dimensional Ink.  No cool splash screen yet from them, and they ended up not going with the previously registered Golden Age Studios.  Jack Emmert is probably most famous for his association with Cryptic and City of Heroes and his letter stands out among the three when declaring some level of independence.

Those three teams cover most of the company.

Omitted from mention at this point is the H1Z1 and Z1 Battle Royale games, whose web site has no similar note from a producer.  I suspect that they will roll along with Rogue Planet, but we shall see.

All three of the posts make sure to declare that nothing is changing right now and that everybody should remain calm.  That is the standard starting point for everything.

There is a fourth post from Daybreak as well, which sums up the other three:

Daybreak Introduces Three New Franchise Studios –
Dimensional Ink Games, Darkpaw Games, and Rogue Planet Games

Newly Branded Development Teams Reflect “Franchise First” Model to Strengthen Autonomy of Studios with Signature Games and Genres from MMORPG to FPS and Superhero Titles

SAN DIEGO, CA – Jan. 21, 2020 – Daybreak Games today announced its “Franchise First” initiative in the form of a business structure that establishes three new individual creative franchise studios — Dimensional Ink Games, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games. Building on the success of the teams that introduced genre-defining games and franchises including DC Universe™ Online, EverQuest® and PlanetSide®, this business model is the result of a long-term strategy designed to amplify the existing franchises while enabling each studio to further foster its unique identity, community and culture.

By allowing the identities of each of these studios to thrive under their individual studios, each team will have the flexibility to continue their work developing current and upcoming games, recruiting new talent and building upon the legacy of their respective franchises.

Dimensional Ink Games in Austin develops and operates DC Universe Online, the one-of-a kind DC Super Hero-based MMORPG enjoyed by millions across PC and consoles. Dimensional Ink will be led by Jack Emmert, the mastermind behind City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter. The studio will continue to support DCUO while developing its next high-profile action MMO project starting in 2020.

“Crafting iconic MMORPG experiences has always been Daybreak’s lifeblood,” said Emmert. “We intend to continue that legacy and grow Dimensional Ink, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games into the future. Whether it’s DC Universe Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2 or our future projects, we’ll be giving players their ideal fantasy game experiences for years to come.”

Darkpaw Games will be focusing on EverQuest, one of the most legendary MMORPG IPs recognized worldwide. Holly Longdale will continue to lead the studio as its Executive Producer. Darkpaw’s mission is to continue to expand upon the unique and amazing fantasy adventure that is EverQuest and EverQuest II and develop the next innovation for the franchise.

Rogue Planet Games, the studio branch in San Diego that broke new ground in the massively multiplayer first-person shooter genre with PlanetSide and Planetside 2, will be working to craft even more new and unique experiences in the space under Executive Producer Andy Sites at the helm. The team is looking to develop its next genre-defining experience for fans of shooters under its new banner.

As for what this really means, that is yet to come.  All three letters say that Daybreak will continue to publish and support the studios.  Does that put them on an equal footing of independence as Standing Stone Games and their work with Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online?  We would probably have to know something about the actual relationship between Daybreak and SSG to answer that.

Daybreak, however, will continue to be a thing.  How that evolves and what that really means is still foggy.  Are they set to become something more akin to Gamigo or Perfect World Entertainment, a holding company for milking old MMOs?  Is there a plan to perhaps sell off one or more of these new studios?  Or is it all window dressing?

The Darkpaw producer’s letter sounds very promising all the same.  Ongoing expansions and otherwise doing what they have been doing is about all you can ask for at this point… aside from a new EverQuest game, but that seems unlikely.  After some early stumbles, the EverQuest franchise has done better under Daybreak than it had been doing during the last few years at SOE.  I hope that success for Norrath will continue.

Of course, we have been waiting for this to come to pass.  It was on my list of news I was expecting in the last quarter of 2019, but had to roll it over into my 2020 predictions.  Now to see what it really means.

Other coverage:

Guess Who is Coming to Twitter

There was some news a bit back about Daybreak Games registering some new trademarks, specifically Darkpaw Games and Rogues Planet Games.

This logo may become a legacy object

Since then some of us have been waiting for a sign, and indication as to what these new company names really mean, if they mean anything at all.

This past week I wanted the latest episode of the EverQuest Show and saw they had in the background at one point an indication that maybe Twitter accounts had been setup for the new company.

So I immediately went to Twitter to search that down.  Sure enough, I quickly found @DarkpawGames along with three accounts related to Rogue Planet Games, one of the other recently registered names. They were @RoguePlanetG @RoguePlanetSD, and @RoguePlanetOps.   So I immediately followed them all.

Signs of a Daybreak break up?

I guess that is some indication as to a division of the company maybe?  “SD” seems likely to be “San Diego,” where Daybreak has its HQ.  “Ops” is perhaps technical status, and I have no idea what “G” might be, unless NantG Mobile, which at one point was supposed to put H1Z1 and EverQuest on our phones, is still in the picture somehow.

And then, in exploring the people who followed those four I found a fifth account.

What golden age was that?

Both Bronze Age Studios and Golden Age Studios have been thrown about in the discussion about Daybreak doing… whatever it is they are doing… but only Golden Age Studios is from the July time frame.  That it has the suffix “TX” seems a nod to a Texas location, which is where the team that works on DC Universe Online was, and probably still is, located.  Since “Golden Age” is often used to denote a specific era in comic books, it seems that maybe DCUO might be going its own way as well?

Anyway, it is all applications and speculation at this point.  We’re all still waiting for that 3pm on Friday press release that will drop the news.  If I had to guess at a day for that, I would say Friday, August 30th, since that is the Friday before a three day weekend in the US, which minimizes the amount of attention the press release is likely to get.

Is Darkpaw Games the New Future of EverQuest?

Addendum Jan 21, 2020: Yes it is!

As tends to happen, somebody out on the internet spotted that Daybreak Games has a pair of trademark filings listed with the US Patent and Trademark Office that suggest the company might be breaking up.

Daybreak up studios?

If you go to the USPTO site and search on “Darkpaw Games” (which sort of sounds like “Daybreak Games” if you mumble it) and “Rogue Planet Games” (RPG as an acronym surely won’t cause confusion anywhere), you will find a filing for each from Daybreak.

The Darkpaw Games entry, click on it to make legible

For whatever reason… likely to make one or both properties more saleable to another company or investment group, but it could be other reasons… Daybreak Games looks to be dividing the company into two parts, and it isn’t a stretch to guess which games will end up under a given brand.

Darkpaw Games, doubtless a reference to the famed gnoll who is forever assaulting the gates of Qeynos, or at least to the Darkpaw clan from which he came, looks to be the future home of the EverQuest brand and any future branches of the Norrath related properties.  Basically, EverQuest and EverQuest II go here.

Fippy Awaits Your Arrival

Meanwhile, Rogues Planet Games, something of a space theme, gets the other titles, which include PlanetSide 2, PlanetSide Arena, Z1 Battle Royale, H1Z1 (which is what the PS4 version is still called), and DC Universe Online.

I thought a bit about where DCUO might end up, since it is an MMORPG like the EverQuest games.  But the fact that it runs on the PS4 and XBox One (and soon on the Nintendo Switch) made me decide that it has to go with Rogue Planet Games.  I am sure the Darkpaw Games crew, which is exclusively Windows oriented with the EverQuest properties, doesn’t want that console baggage.

So what does this mean for the two new studios and the games they serve?

I think it will be business as usual for Darkpaw Games.  We heard lots of upbeat comments from Holly Longdale and other members of what I call the “Norrath Traditionalist Faction” who, among other things, quashed EverQuest Next, about how well the Norrath games are doing and, on the EverQuest front at least, the player count and revenues have been up since they began to concentrate in earnest on nostalgia and special servers.  There was a bit of hubris in there, but it otherwise seemed to conform to what we see from the outside.

One does wonder if the shut down of Player Studio in those two games was part of the traditionalist faction plan or just a deck clearing activity to prepare for this eventuality.

What seems less likely in the future of this Darkpaw Games plan is a new game set in Norrath.  The setup seems similar to the Standing Stone Games scenario where the two solid titles were spun out to be milked for as long as possible, but where there looks to be no expectation of new development.  This will be good news for the EverQuest and EverQuest II fan base, as they can expect even more focus on their products, but it you were waiting for EverQuest 3 you may be out of luck.

For the Rogue Planet Games side of the house the future seems somewhat less certain, at least from my perspective.  DCUO remains solid and was, at least a few years back, the best earning MMORPG in the catalog thanks largely to PlayStation players.  Likewise, H1Z1 on the PS4 seems sustainable, or did at one point.  PlanetSide 2 has been dodgy over the years, with Daybreak coming out and saying as much back in 2015.  Maybe that has changed.  It is also on the PS4 now.  Also, it still has Player Studio support… for the moment.

PlanetSide Arena is an unknown.  It was pushed out to a summer release back in February, and there is still some summer left, but the lack of news about it… always a red flag from back in the SOE days… makes me wonder how it stands.

And then there is Z1 Battle Royale, what was once the PC version of H1Z1.  It was handed over to a joint venture between Daybreak and NantWorks with all sorts of esports hoopla, then handed back to Daybreak seven months later after the joint venture failed to make much of the game.

In the game of Kiss, Marry, Kill here, I think you kiss PlanetSide Arena, go full polygamist and marry everything that has made it onto the PS4, and kill Z1 Battle Royale on the PC… and maybe everything else on the PC and just specialize in console games maybe?

There may be contractual issues with that.  The company may be required to keep DCUO on the PC due to their deal with DC Comics.  And maybe some of the PC versions are worth the effort.  But Z1 Battle Royale, that feels like it will be dead before the year is out no matter what happens.  It has certainly been getting the silent treatment of late… though you could say that about most things at Daybreak lately.

You might ask “What about mobile?” That was previously mentioned as a destination for both H1Z1 and EverQuest.  I have no idea on that front, but I suspect that plan is in the dumpster for now.

And none of this may come to pass.  The company has previously applied for trademarks that it never ended up using, which you can still find on the USPTO site.

At least two of these didn’t happen, right?

Either way the long tale of the makers of EverQuest carries on, and at least the game that started it all seems likely to keep going.  Like Fippy Darkpaw, it just keeps coming at you… sometimes pointlessly, with a shouted announcement and bad follow up… but it persists all the same.

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