EverQuesting: Daybreak, SOE Live, and the resurrection of Fan Faire

It’s been quite a week! And not just for Massively Overpowered. Right as our original site was sunsetting, SOE announced that it was bought out and would be doing business under the new moniker Daybreak Games Company. Talk about shaking things up! Breaking free of Sony and going under the umbrella of an investment firm is just a wee bit of a change, and it is one that understandably had players nervous about future of the studio’s games. What will happen to the older titles like EverQuest and PlanetSide? What about those in development like EverQuest Next and H1Z1? CEO John Smedley assured players via Twitter that all the games will continue on. Time will tell. However, there was one immediate casualty in this whole changeover: SOE Live. And then in a huge punch to the fan gut came many more casualties in the form of multiple dev layoffs.

What will this all mean for players? As far as the convention side of things, a group of fans refuse to let 2015 go by without an annual gathering of SOE Daybreak Games players and is organizing a summer get-together. But will we even have games to celebrate come summer?

“Dey break games”

While it may take a little time to get used to a new name (DGC just doesn’t roll off the tongue like SOE does), the change didn’t really affect me too much at first– emphasis on at first. I didn’t feel I had too much tangible cause for concern… until the announcement that SOE Live is canceled, that is! (I’ll get to that more in a minute.) Then came the part that truly like I was slugged: key folks from the dev teams were dismissed. I can’t say let go because that feels too benign, and this was definitely more painful. Though they weren’t fired, it feels like a firing squad was dispatched! Honestly I am shocked, dismayed, and a lot more concerned than ever about the future of my favorite worlds.

fan faire shortThe first wisp of news came literally as I was heading out the door to catch my flight: Linda “Brasse” Carlson, the head of DGC’s community management department, was no longer employed. I seriously couldn’t believe it! I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding? She’s the face and personality of the company. I mean, the only other person who fills that role more is Franchise Director Dave Georgeson.” Yeah. I could kick myself for jinxing things; I couldn’t even get out the door before Georgeson confirmed he, too, was off the team. I stewed in that knowledge until I landed, only to find that so many more great people were also dismissed. Worst start of a vacation ever.

The joke about Daybreak Games meaning “Dey Break Games” is no longer so funny. I have serious concerns about how the games will be developed going forward and even whether the games will be developed. Will my wonderful worlds of Norrath even be around when I get home, let alone years down the line? I never really imagined there could be an end to EverQuest and EverQuest II. I mean, these games were the pet projects, the babies of the company. They would easily be around as long as SOE was… oh. Right.

I can’t even totally process what all these changes will mean for the games. No lore dev for EQ Next? Losing the creative director for EQ and EQII? How can there even be an EverQuest title without Georgeson? I mean, look at the shock we experienced just when we lost Georgeson’s ponytail, so now to lose Georgeson himself? I have to say, I am just incredibly heartsick. These people were all amazing people, excellent at their jobs, incredibly passionate about the games. Their enthusiasm was contagious, which helped bring more people into the fold as well as buoy players when things were hard. We had faith in the games at times because the devs had faith in them. They loved the games, and you had to love them for that.

I’ll be able to collect my thoughts more, but for now all I can say is that this sucks. Freaking blankity blank blank blank sucks. And to all those affected by these dismissals, I feel for ya. I know the feeling of surprisingly losing a job you love. And I sincerely wish you the best in all you to. I will be watching where in the gaming world you land. Our worlds will not be the same without you.

Fan Faire returns to its roots

Now for the one bit of bright news. If you couldn’t stand the thought of not meeting up with your guildmates and friends at the annual convention this year, you don’t really have to. Because a collective group of fans is working to bring it back, old school style.

Of all the gaming conventions that I have attended, SOE Live was my favorite. With its genuine family reunion feel, it was an experience that I thought everyone should be blessed to have. I was really looking forward to this year’s gathering, not just for the news and dev interaction but also because I was going to be meeting up with some Massively Minions guildmates as well as another Massively staffer. Needless to say, I was bummed at the cancellation.

It seems others were just as sad to see it go as I; in no time at all, fans had resurrected the idea of Fan Faire. You see, before SOE Live became SOE Live, it was a fan-created gathering of EverQuest players who wanted to revel in their shared passion for the game. From those humble beginnings the event grew into the massive officially sponsored weekend convention that we’ve known these past few years. The 2015 incarnation, dubbed Project Fan Faire, is slated for the weekend of August 14th through the 16th in Las Vegas.

It isn’t just fans reviving this gathering, either. Although the con isn’t officially endorsed, Brasse showed support for the initiative prior to her layoff by inviting folks to follow the project on Facebook. Could there be more of an official presence once everything is put together? Maybe. (If folks from the new parent company show up, however, their welcome might be less than cheerful.)

fan fair

Fan can be short for fantastic

I can understand that after all the glitz and glamour of the past two years, some folks may not be as excited about the convention because it is not being sponsored by the studio itself. I, however, am enthused to see that players don’t want to see this massive reunion skip a year. I certainly do not want to! We’ve already seen what great things happen when a community bands together to save something they love and appreciate — just look at our very own MOP Kickstarter. Indeed, it is the communities that make gaming great, and I have already mingled with many of the players of this DGC community, so I am looking forward to how this community pulls together for this event. My only worry right now is hat there won’t be any games left by then for there to be fans of! There is also a chance that the latest news derails the plans for this event, but it might also bring people together in a time of mourning to show solidarity as a community and commiserate together.

Will I be able to attend? I can’t say for sure yet, but I really hope to! Maybe I’ll get to see you there.

New name, same column

Speaking of changes, you might have noticed that the column moniker of Norrathian Notebook has been altered a bit. But don’t worry; it’s going to be the same great news and thoughts about all things Norrath — just less of a mouthful to say!

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EverQuesting: EverQuest franchise expansion announcements erode more trust | The Gamer Earth

[…] for the company. Then this summer saw then-President John Smedley step down. Heck, we even lost SOE Live for the year. Yes, change has indeed been a major component to Daybreak’s year. That, however, […]

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Rzar
Guest
Rzar

Gylnne mmofan  EQ1 back in the day was the greatest MMORPG I have ever played.  Rather, it was the best mini-game to play while I socialized.  I loved EQ1 for the friends I made, the adventures we had together.  Now the hard game play did force that reliance on community and group play.  No other MMO has ever captured that for me again.  You can solo in most modern MMOs, and in fact grouping slows down your leveling instead of speeding it up.  It isn’t the best MMORPG any more.  In recent years I have tried to go back to play but have found the combat boring, too slow, the story telling archaic and just too much of a time sink now that I am not a collage student.  There are many other MMORPGs that are out right now that are fun.  Hell I even enjoyed the dreaded WoW for years.  

EQ1 is dead.. period.  It will never be the same no matter what.  Times have changed.  It wasn’t just the game play, it was the novel idea of building community over geographically disparate places.  The late 90’s and even early 00’s was when the internet was becoming more a part of our everyday lives and it was super novel to realize you had friends you had never met.  Well that story is old now.  

I will always love EQ1 but have no delusions that it is a crotchety old man sitting in the corner.  I have lots of hope for EQ:N.  I want another love afar with Norrath.  But I want it to be young and fresh.

Remianen
Guest
Remianen

BenOvermyer Scarecrowe This is sadly true. Realistic models/graphics don’t age well and there’s always the ‘uncanny valley’ issue to contend with.

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

BabaGraPL I will mourn who I want to and u will not stop me, so there!:P

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

BalsBigBrother JonBuck Appreciate you putting up this video. Somehow many years ago I missed this.:)

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

mmofan “Of course EQ1 is no longer the same game it used to be. Efforts to
continually dumb down the gameplay of EQ1 definitely moved the game in
the wrong direction.”
While I do tend to agree with you developers have to decided between being a niche type of game and a game that will attract large amounts of paying customers. Going f2p pretty much guarantees you will be creating a game that attracts a large player base, hence dumbing down so very little thinking is needed.

MJ Guthrie
Guest
MJ Guthrie

Tandor Shadewalker BabaGraPL I’ve met him and spoke with him on many occasions.  He really did champion for the games and was passionate about them.  I’ve had plenty of conversations with him about his time playing in the EQs, not just Landmark and Next.  He respected those games.  So no, I won’t stop mourning after him.  Nor should any real fan of any of the EQs.  He was a classy guy and deserves to be mourned.  I can’t really see DBG getting anyone more charismatic who genuinely cares more about all four titles than he did.

Tierless
Guest
Tierless

I hope it works out for DBG. They have a lot of potential in the pipeline and it would be a shame for it not to come to fruition.

mmofan
Guest
mmofan

Just a guess, but I would bet they are going to wind down their support for PCs and go 100% console & mobile.  Just the opposite of what is needed to produce a really complex and engaging MMO.  PCs dominate MMOs and with good reason; nothing is better than a keyboard and a mouse.  The streamlined look of EQNext, with no holy trinity, no levels, and what appears to be more of an action oriented feel, all points towards a game destined for console gamers.

I have no problem with a studio making action, shooter type games and I know there is an audience that really enjoys them. Sadly, that type of game should never be labeled as Everquest.

EQ1 is the very best MMO ever created.  I thought for sure we would see an update to EQ1 that would bring it up to current standards with modern graphics and sound.  I would imagine there are thousands of gamers that have never even considered trying Everquest because it looks so dated.  Here we are more than 15 years into it and despite being a huge success, no sequel is in sight. 

Think of how difficult EQ1 used to be, the immense challenge it provided, the large swath of friendships that were made, and on and on.  Of course EQ1 is no longer the same game it used to be.  Efforts to continually dumb down the gameplay of EQ1 definitely moved the game in the wrong direction.  And now it seems all of their offerings are very casual friendly. 

Everyone has choices about how they spend their casual time.  I know a lot of people only allocate maybe an hour or two a week to an MMO.  That does not mean that every game needs to be dumbed down to support that type of time commitment.  I know there are many gamers who game as a hobby and want to devote large amounts of time to developing and progressing an avatar.  

I guess we will need to find a new developer that wants to grab a piece of the more dedicated hobby enthusiast market, as it seems that Everquest will no longer be able to provide that experience.

Just my honest opinions.

Nucleon
Guest
Nucleon

carson63000 zoward It doesn’t make much sense to buy a company to then switch all of their employees to a different product. If you have deep enough pockets to do that you’d just start your own company and head hunt good talent from multiple companies. If you buy a game company it’s because you want their IPs and the their products.

Nucleon
Guest
Nucleon

I read this comment’s and I’m perplexed, it’s as if you aren’t playing the same games I am. I feel SOE has lacked direction and focus for a decade now. Their games are all husks with great potential but never filled in because the studio can’t commit resources to finishing the job. They are great at starting projects, but lack the design and integrity to polish and perfect their products. Does anyone here really think that EQ2, PS2, DCUO, or EQ are successful right now? Is there anything those games bring to the table that another game doesn’t do, and better. If not for your friend’s in those games, would you even be playing them? With that in mind, do you even play their games because you like their games or simply because of your social and nostalgic attachment?

I think SOE needs some redirection and in order to do that it means removing key people in top positions. I feel bad for those removed, but the status quo wasn’t working. I don’t see this as a sky is falling moment for EQN, rather without this change did anyone here really believe that EQN would be successful, and if so why did you think EQN would be successful when their track record for the past 10 years doesn’t back it up?

BenOvermyer
Guest
BenOvermyer

Scarecrowe I like EQN’s art. MMOs that attempt realism (e.g., Everquest 2) always look dated a few years past their release. MMOs with stylized artwork, like WoW and Wildstar, look better for longer.

Scarecrowe
Guest
Scarecrowe

If this gives DGC a chance to take EQN in a different direction, then I’m all for it. Nothing I have seen that they have announced sounded interesting or intriguing and the graphics look like they hired Blizzard’s artist rejects. 
However, I’m in doubt that they will do anything major and EQN will be yet another mediocre release. Because it is going to be F2P, there will be a large initial following which will make it appear as though the game is successful but it will bleed off quickly to reveal the truth. By then, it will be too late to save the game as the first impressions will have already been stamped very firmly.

BenOvermyer
Guest
BenOvermyer

This makes me feel more acutely the sensation that I’ve missed out by not A) playing more EQ2, and B) getting to know the people playing it.

SunshineCVW
Guest
SunshineCVW

MJ ~~
We would love to have you there! Stay tuned for info on press passes ~~ we are hoping to be able to do a free pass for each of the dedicated major fan sites ~~
Sylestia
sylestia@projectfanfaire.com

EO_Lonegun
Guest
EO_Lonegun

I know it’s soon since the new site is up and everything, but I would love to be part of a MassivelyOP meetup/con/fan-fest.

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

BabaGraPL My guess is that DBG will be much less focused on EQ and EQ2 than SOE.  They will be “rightsized” until they are profitable.  I see the interesting question as to whether those resources go to EQN/Lm or to XBone titles.

carson63000
Guest
carson63000

zoward They may well have invested all that money to pursue a very different market, though, with no real concern about scaring off the existing customers.

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EQ2Wire » MJ Guthrie of Massively Overpowered Shares Her Thoughts on Daybreak Games

[…] to Everquesting: Daybreak, SOE Live, and the Resurrection of Fan Faire at Massively […]

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

ark211049 Rift uses AA and Mastery systems as well, it’s definitely a rising trend.

ChristopherPierce
Guest
ChristopherPierce

I am pretty annoyed with all of this because now the future of EQN looks uncertain. It’s one of the few future titles I am honestly looking forward to (despite some of the silly character models).  Hopefully most of the stuff they promised can still make it into the game, but I am afraid that I only have The Repop, Malu (I am not sure I am still into this one), and maybe Shards to look forward to.

Golden_Girl
Guest
Golden_Girl

Walpurgisnacht Golden_Girl Right about now, just having 3 people would still make it the largest development team at SOE :-p

Alyndale
Guest
Alyndale

<ahem> how did freakin’ blankity blank blank blank get past the editor? …. <taps foot? :))

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

zoward Hmm, well maybe they should not have given the axe to key personnel if they did not want to scare folks away?:P

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

“Freaking blankity blank blank blank sucks.”
You have such a way with words MJ.:P

Dorkish
Guest
Dorkish

should be interesting next cpl of weeks would be a pity if landmark and EQ Next folded but even if they do someone else will pick up the flag of bringing us a truly new MMORPG and next gen sandbox as for the people they let go it is their loss the built one hell of a community for SOE and they will build a great community where ever they land up at 
as for the fan fair it’s about fricken time the community took it away from the game company it should be up to them to pick the time place and what to do :)

Grimfargo
Guest
Grimfargo

After the layoffs I canceled my All Access account. I will watch what is happening in the near future and when I feel or see that there is progress I can see myself subscribing again but thats not 100% sure.
I really want to see EQN come to life and be a good game. Dunno if this will ever happen but you never know.

Zulika_Mi_Nam
Guest
Zulika_Mi_Nam

Yitani Walpurgisnacht Golden_Girl I do not know what # largest is? 10?

Yitani
Guest
Yitani

Walpurgisnacht Golden_Girl oh sure !

zoward
Guest
zoward

My chief concern at this point is that everyone playing EQ, EQ2, PS2 and Landmark all freak out over the changes, and bolt.  That will kill this company much quicker than the recent spate of changes. The recent news certainly hasn’t been great, but it’s way too early to be issuing eulogies.  CN may be a soulless, profit-driven organization, but they didn’t invest all that money in SOE just to scare away all its customers and drive it into the ground.   Let’s wait and see.

Koshelkin
Guest
Koshelkin

I want to see more news on Everquest Next gdi… and I also hope veryyyy, veryyy much that they try something new with it instead of rereleasing WoW the 25th time.

Walpurgisnacht
Guest
Walpurgisnacht

Golden_Girl “Absolutely nothing” has changed, according to a Greg “SOELegion” Henninger
“[EverQuest Next] has the largest development team at SOE. It is going to be more than OK,” Daybreak President https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/565993340261257216. In another response, https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/565992875100340225, “The EverQuest franchise is our lifeblood and we treat it with the respect it deserves.”

lol

Walpurgisnacht
Guest
Walpurgisnacht

Tandor Shadewalker BabaGraPL I’ve never heard of this. I’ve only seen him gushing over EQN and Landmark at SOE Live and some other videos. I think that whoever Columbus suits decides to replace Georgeson with will be much more cash shop focused.

mysecretid
Guest
mysecretid

Wratts 
Appreciate the attention to factual detail. Thanks for the post, Wratts.

Walpurgisnacht
Guest
Walpurgisnacht

nightbeard Preach!

Esoteric Coyote
Guest
Esoteric Coyote

My husband and I are constantly discussing Daybreak and Nova.  While I am plagued with doubts, we’ll wait and see, but the future looks bleak.  If we look at their other recently acquired products and you dig into some of recent customer complaints you get a worrying picture.

Wratts
Guest
Wratts

Golden_Girl Also, at least for the holiday quarter ended 12/31,  the G&NS division profit increased 17%:  
“Sales increased 16.8% year-on-year (an 8% increase on a constant currency basis) to 531.5 billion yen (4,393 million U.S. dollars). 
Operating income increased 15.2 billion yen year-on-year to 27.6 billion yen (228 million U.S. dollars).”

Although obviously that was driven more by PS4 sales.

Wratts
Guest
Wratts

Golden_Girl Looking over the financial statements, I can see where that’s a true but somewhat misleading statement (Sony IR:  http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/IR/library/er.html)

What they say in their Feb. 4 report “Recording of 6.2 bln yen write-off of certain PC software titles of Sony Online Entertainment LLC in Q3 FY13”
Realize, that’s different than operating losses.  Since this is right after the sale to Daybreak, they wrote off any book value they weren’t able to recoup through sale.

Golden_Girl
Guest
Golden_Girl

Last year, Sony’s game division lost $75 million, with $60 million of that down to the poor performance of SOE.

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

JonBuck oh thank god ….. I am so glad I am not the only one who had that go through their heads when they saw the title. I now has that damn song stuck in there too now :-(

nightbeard
Guest
nightbeard

Soe was a bloated unpofitable studio that produced content that rested on the laurels of eq1.
Eq2 at launch was an atrocious broken pedal bike compared to the jet fighter wow was when those titles hit the scene.
Vanguard..amazing potential squandered.
Star Wars Galaxies underwent a hortible revamp that destroyed one of the most innovative games ever made and it never recovered angering gamers to this day.
Matrix Online?
Planetside 2..amazing potential. Sloppy execution and lack of direction. A possible comeback on consoles but given the track record will most likely arrive buggy laggy and unfinished.
DC universe online. ..possibly the only realistic grounded project the studio has produced in years, limited in scope but very well made and a perfect fit for the console market.
There are other games and issues but the point is SOE has had a moron at the helm that has to answer for a decade of stupidity. The fact that the studio has produced games that could have been incredible but were crippled by mismanagement is even worse than if they had been bad games.
Smedley needs to go. His leadership cost the studio millions and lost those jobs. His leadership put good people out of work and ruined a venerable studio. The man is a twit.

Golden_Girl
Guest
Golden_Girl

JonBuck Is it even possible to reverse when you’ere in free fall? :-p

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

Tandor Shadewalker I hope you are right I really do as it would be a great loss for the mmo community if the studio was simply stripped and then tossed away. Daybreak (still want to type SOE)  for all its faults and mistakes have provided me with many hours of fun for a lot of years, more than any other mmo company.

Given that I am at least willing to wait to see how things actually turn out rather than doom and gloom it then declare it a lost cause without giving them a chance to show if they can back up their PR words with something a little more positive in the way of action.

JonBuck
Guest
JonBuck

EverQuesting across the universe. Always going forward ’cause we can’t find reverse.

Tandor Shadewalker
Guest
Tandor Shadewalker

BabaGraPL I find the adulation of Dave Georgeson now he’s gone wholly at odds with the contempt with which his appointment was greeted, given that he was  recruited – so it was commonly said – because of his extensive experience of developing cash stores in games, something that was anathema to most players at that time. A hands-on approach to the marketing of Landmark seems to have turned around the community’s  feelings towards him, so credit to him for that.

MrFester
Guest
MrFester

I had very little hope for EQN ( even though I hated the avatar look and feel ) but after all this mess I have zero hope for the game.

pcgneurotic
Guest
pcgneurotic

Love the new name MJ! Great piece too, I totally agree with you. My only consolation is that we still have Domino and Windstalker. :-)

softwarekiller
Guest
softwarekiller

I may get flamed for this.. And though I am a bit of a geek myself. Pictures of Fan Faire tend to creep me out, lol. I feel fairly confident saying that I think they (SOE) have by far the least attractive fans. Either that or I need a much source. U0001f609

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