The other online world I spend my time in…

Landmark cancelled

Daybreak just announced cancellation of EverQuest: Landmark. This is part 2 of the death of EverQuest Next.


The idea was that EQ:N would have a voxel-based world (like Minecraft) where the buildings and terrain were destructible. I figure this requires such a radical change in the art pipeline that they built the engine early, and it just naturally lent itself to a sort of EQ:Minecraft which they went on to reveal as EverQuest:Landmark. The PR behind this was that the community would have chance to experience it and to provide feedback to the tools, and to contribute designs and buildings that would eventually become part of EQ:Next.

It always struck me as a bit insanely ambitious for an MMO; flash backs to the landmines EQ1 discovered that most modern MMO players don’t know about. Griefing factor 11 much?

Landmark was cute. I can’t speak to how the game has shaped up because we stopped playing it a long time ago. You probably have to have some passion for 3D art to enjoy it – not even Meg’s decorating/housing stuff was enough to get past dealing with the controls.

When they announced the cancellation of EQ:N, I couldn’t see a long future for EQ:L. You really have to be good and/or lucky to release your game more than once, including beta and alpha. There are many more dead fish in the MMO/online game sea than there are successful, thriving ones, and running your game in beta/open-beta can be a real risk. Plenty of potentially good MMOs disappeared into obscurity because of unsuccessful beta runs, with a team slaving away under the impression that “it’s just beta”.

The days when the internet was populated by geeks who actually gut-understood “beta” are long gone. Today’s players treat a “beta” the same way that restaurant goers understand a “Grand Opening”… Launch accordingly.


Boo :)


More excellent SOE marketing :)

Sony treated their non-paying EQ2x subscribers to “gold” level subscription access for this past weekend, allowing them to experience the perks of the upgrade and perhaps tempt them with some of the gold-only classes.

Hoping to leverage interest this might have generated, they patched today to add a “Purchase More Character Slots” button and a “Shop Now” button to the character creation screen.

In a minor whoopsie, this patch apparently treats everyone as a free account and only lets them access 2 character slots.

For SOE/EQ2s sake, I hope that the resulting outrage of the paid subscribers doesn’t kill off any interest the weekend might have raised :)

Edit: As I suspected, it’s just the character select screen that’s borked :)

Who’s working marketing for EQ2?

I’d imagine with the EQ2x stuff going seemingly well they’d have a fire lit under their ass. Then I read the upcoming expansion flier and had to stop and double take on my underwhelmedness.

“300 new quests?” “30 new creatures” “Crawl your way through 10 dangerous dungeons” “Group up with 12-24 man raids for desirable loot”

“desirable loot” is where the penny dropped.

“24 man raid ‘desirable’ loot”.

Destiny of Velious Features:

  • Flying Mounts – Soar high above Norrath and explore EQII like never before
  • Hundreds of new weapons and items – Customize your character and in-game home in thousands of ways
  • Over 300 new quests – Follow the EQII storyline through the fabled lands of Velious
  • Ten instanced dungeons – Crawl your way through 10 dangerous dungeons
  • Four new Heritage Quests – Live the legacy of the EverQuest franchise and gain memorable rewards
  • One massive contested dungeon – Good or evil, be the first to conquer the all-new contested dungeon
  • Two overland zones – Journey into incredible unknown lands
  • Six Raid Instances –  Group up with 12-24 man raids for desirable loot
  • Velious-themed Battlegrounds – Get your PvP on in the snow
  • A new Signature Quest line – Immerse yourself in EQII lore and get the goods
  • Over 30 new creatures – Battle dangerous and fantastical enemies
  • Dozens of new armor sets – Gear up in powerful armor sets

A little bit hardcore

Played about in EQ2 extended again last night, and once again ran into some old EQ1 bods and got talking.

It’s hard not to look back on my EverQuest 1 experience without rose tinted glasses, but the reality is that it was a brutal gaming experience. Like playing blackjack with only the dealer seeing your cards until you bust or stick.

Imagine for a moment: EverQuest 1 is a rock, “fun” from playing a game is blood, and you are a vampire with nothing to eat but said rock…

Painfully missing in EQ2

While there are probably long lists of things folks might individually list as missing in any game, there are two things I often find pronouncedly missing in EQ2:

1. The absence of any kind of scripting API. You don’t have to struggle with SWIG or tolua++ to Git’Er’Done. Just expose what you want exposed with your own glue functions. That way, there’s no risk of anyone doing what they’re not supposed to. Lua, Javascript or Python make good engines. Python might be a bit much.

2. Lack of a way to link tradeskill lists. EQ2s crafting is good, the tradeskill business is thriving, its downfall is when someone asks “can you make …”. Dude. I have a HUGE ass list of things I can make.

EQ2x: Broker System

EverQuest 2 has a pretty nice broker system. Swings and roundabouts when comparing it to player-vending systems in other MMOs. See the end of the post for a description of how the EQ2 broker system works.

In the current Free-2-Play EQ2x, which is still in beta at this time, bronze and silver customers can browse the broker but can neither buy nor sell from it unless they buy a set of “Broker Tokens”.

IMHO, access to the broker could provide a fairly significant upsell point (a point at which you’re likely to part with cash). The current model violates the old “first one’s free” principle. By so rigidly excluding these players not only from consumption but also contribution, you also diminish the potential upsell capacity of the feature. Less worthwhile feature = less upsell.

Naturally, I have some thoughts on a simple restructure of the idea that I feel would build a positive-feedback loop of worth => upsell => worth => upsell etc…

3 things to grow EQ2

  1. Re-treat the User Interface.
  2. Performance.
  3. Emphasize pretty where it counts.

1. Re-treat the User Interface:

I’m fixing to put out a hit on the guy who did our UI: Want to go halvsies on a double-kill?

EQ2s UI is perfectly functional, but it really does look like bad coder art.

[EQ2] Do you hear that?

That’s the sound of a hundred Sony engineers desperately trying to put together additional servers (I think) :)

“Server: Freeport. Load: HEAVY”


Everquest 2: For Free


Comparing EQ2 to WoW is somewhat swings and roundabouts. I honestly haven’t seen anything in the stream of Cataclysm (WoW) screenshots recently that looks different then the WoW I remember.

OTOH, I remember EQ2 being graphically kick-ass. Until a friend likened their ground models to one of those ugly “I maed mmo!” games by a college student, and the last few times I played, all I could see was the hard terrain edges.

Still: If you’re on a WoW hiatus and not playing anything else, and I can’t twist your arm into coming back and trying Battleground Europe in its latest incarnation… Well, then… Give EQ2 free a shot.