Storybricks has closed down

It’s been but a week and a half since we heard official word that Daybreak Game Company was cutting ties with Storybricks, and the situation since hasn’t improved for the emergent AI studio.

In fact, Storybricks announced today that it is closing shop. The team said that it was attempting to “go beyond games” and had put the company up for sale, but no one bought it. The team also said that Daybreak was not to blame: “It was our own decision and Sony Online Entertainment (now Daybreak Games) bears no fault for it. Sony Online Entertainment had been up for sale for a long time so our exit had no connection with the Columbus Nova acquisition.”

Interestingly enough, Storybricks says that it tried to purchase (with investor assistance) SOE when it was up for sale, but Sony Japan offered “unacceptable” terms. If this alternate buyout had happened, the team had planned to continue another studio’s legacy: “It was our intention to try to acquire the 38 Studios assets and made them available to players in [EverQuest Next].”

The good news is that most of the former team members have landed new jobs and that players will still get to enjoy the fruits of Storybrick’s efforts. “[The] majority of the work we have done is about EverQuest Next and is co-owned by Daybreak,” the letter said. “We look forward to the release of EQN.”

[Source: Farewell letter. Thanks to Dan, Paul, Eboni, and Jon for the tip!]
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Walpurgisnacht
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Walpurgisnacht

Kevin_G Walpurgisnacht Psychochild By lying about it, they are saving themselves from burning any bridges they might want to use in the future. I can understand leaving a career behind because of personal reasons but I would imagine, in that case, they would just give the studio to someone else.

Kevin_G
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Kevin_G

Walpurgisnacht Kevin_G Psychochild I understand what you are trying to say but honestly with them being such a small company if they said that  they are closing due to family reasons I will take them at there word for that. 

They have absolutely nothing to gain by lying about this.  Sometimes you do not realize just how hard a career can be on the family until you get deep into it.  I know this from experience being a husband and father of three.  I had to make the same decision(leaving a career behind) because it was becoming very hard on the family and myself.

Walpurgisnacht
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Walpurgisnacht

Kevin_G Walpurgisnacht Psychochild “It will be business as usual and all SOE games will continue on their current path of development and operation,” it added. “In fact, we expect to have even more resources available to us as a result of this acquisition. It also means new exciting developments for our existing IP and games as we can now fully embrace the multi-platform world we are living in.”
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-02-02-soe-has-been-sold-off-can-now-develop-multi-platform-games

I guess Daybreak had nothing to do with Storybricks closing down, similar to how all SOE games continued their “current path of development and operation.” Because it makes complete sense to shut down an entire studio because the founders want to “spend time with their family”.

Remianen
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Remianen

Kevin_G Walpurgisnacht Psychochild Yes, like when a coach in pro sports says they’re stepping down “to spend more time with family” (only to pop up a short time later with another organization, whether a sports team or broadcasting). Over the years, I’ve learned to take those kinds of statements with a lick (not a grain) of salt. There are some occupations that have demands that extend beyond the person doing the job. Pro athlete, long haul trucker, college or pro coach, military serviceperson (Navy I know personally), and so on. I guess ‘game developer’ would be similar for some folks. Also keep in mind that this industry is pretty darn small and filled with creative types (who tend to hold grudges). Not everyone is Derek Smart (i.e. willing to put people on blast). 

All I’m saying is, don’t take every press release at face value. There’s probably plenty more to the story. It’s just a shame that innovation is stifled by lack of vision. AGAIN. Storybricks’ tech seemed like the quantum leap needed to really make a game a ‘world’, instead of a collection of pixels with a single solitary purpose (either ‘give quest’, ‘turn in quest’, or ‘kill & loot”, otherwise it’s useless).

Kevin_G
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Kevin_G

Walpurgisnacht Psychochild I guess you did not fully read the article or the official letter on Storybricks site?  He is what they said on the site-

“Over the past few months we nurtured a desire to go beyond games and find a different vision, one that was more inclusive and could make a difference for a large number of people. This combined with the effect our travel schedule was having on our families made me (Rodolfo) and my co-founder (Stéphane) decide to move onto other projects beyond Storybricks.”
“It was our own decision and Sony Online Entertainment (now Daybreak Games) bears no fault for it. Sony Online Entertainment had been up for sale for a long time so our exit had no connection with the Columbus Nova acquisition.”

They had nothing to do with it and it sounds like a family decision for both of the founders.  Daybreak probably only severed ties because they knew this was coming.

Kevin_G
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Kevin_G

Zeplini Yeah me too.  Copernicus was one of the mmos I was looking forward to the most.  The famous fantasy author RA Salvatore(who was on the team as the story writer) said that the game had some amazing stuff in it.

Kevin_G
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Kevin_G

Psychochild I did not realize that you were part of the Camelot Unchained team Psychochild.  My interest in the game just went up a lot.

Walpurgisnacht
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Walpurgisnacht

pudgybunnybry I use the two interchangeably since the investor suits own SOE and SOE’s president is a buffoon. I’m sure that the EQN team was pissed about the Storybricks thing.

pudgybunnybry
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pudgybunnybry

Yes, I know, I watched it live. I think we can agree on the investment firm that acquired Daybreak being the ones that wanted costs cut. That is why big members of the team were cut as well. Storybricks was probably a big cost that the investment firm didn’t want to take on. I wouldn’t rule that out, at least.
All I am trying to say is that we should look to blame Columbus Nova before we blame Daybreak.

RyanHurstDRM
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RyanHurstDRM

A Dad Supreme Golden_Girl Lateris Or Sony was hemorrhaging money and had to ditch anything they thought wasn’t profitable enough.

RyanHurstDRM
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RyanHurstDRM

Esoteric Coyote “Storybricks left before the acquisition, but couldn’t find another company”

Or Daybreak paid for a AI system. Got what they paid for. SB knew SoE was being sold. Attempted to find other studios interested in their product, failed. And were forced to close down. It happens when you only manage to find one client in 5 years.

RyanHurstDRM
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RyanHurstDRM

Blinkenn Benjamin Seeberger That post was in regards to Landmark, not EQ:N. If any of you want to know anything about the progression of the game you should be more involved in the community. Plenty of info to know if you look in the right places.

Walpurgisnacht
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Walpurgisnacht

pudgybunnybry
“We are not working with Storybricks any more,” Senior Producer Terry Michaels http://www.twitch.tv/landmarkgame/v/3814420. “We made the decision that it was in the best interest of the game to take that work in-house. They did a lot of work for us and we’ll be utilizing that. It’s not like that work is lost.”

I think if SOE were looking to sever ties with Storybricks for a while, Miachels would have mentioned it. It honestly seems more like investor suits cutting costs to me.

pudgybunnybry
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pudgybunnybry

I know about Daybreak taking the work in-house, but we don’t know how sudden it was. The announcement was suddden, but not the decision to sever ties. Storybricks could very well have been failing for some time before the sale of Daybreak.

fdisk81
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fdisk81

Psychochild fdisk81 Thanks!

Walpurgisnacht
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Walpurgisnacht

pudgybunnybry Their largest client, SOE, unexpectedly dropped them last month. I’m assuming that Storybricks was pretty invested in SOE and was hoping to be a part of the next big thing, now sinking ship, Everquest.
http://massivelyop.net/2015/02/21/everquest-next-severs-ties-with-storybricks/

pudgybunnybry
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pudgybunnybry

What? Elaborate on the last couple sentences, please.

Rzar
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Rzar

Psychochild Thanks for the insight.  Congratz on CU going into Alpha!

Psychochild
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Psychochild

fdisk81 The simple version: when an ailing company gets acquired, the first thing that happens is that all “unnecessary” costs get cut.  SOE co-owned the Storybricks work, so it was unlikely they would keep paying the ongoing expenses.  Storybricks left before the acquisition, but couldn’t find another company that was as forward-thinking as SOE had been to pay for their work.

It’s the way business works sometimes: you have a great idea that just doesn’t find a good home in time to keep paying people.

Walpurgisnacht
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Walpurgisnacht

Rzar JudgeDavid101 Maybe SOE ditched Storybricks because SOE had issues?

fdisk81
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fdisk81

Rzar Absolutely; the one is related to the other.  It’s a terrible practice to have one sole source of income, and it’s what it ultimately caused its demise.  Trying to spin it as coincidental however is beyond silly.

Walpurgisnacht
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Walpurgisnacht

deganderson If the terms required keeping Smedley on, I would find that unacceptable too. Storybricks owning SOE would have been awesome.

fdisk81
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fdisk81

Psychochild Without burning bridges or pissing anyone off; could you give us what you especulate happened here?

Walpurgisnacht
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Walpurgisnacht

Psychochild I’m really surprised about this. It seemed to me that Storybricks and Voxel Farm were the natural progression of MMOs. It really is a shame and clearly SOE’s fault. Screw those guys.

Psychochild
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Psychochild

I worked for Storybricks for about three years.  As mentioned in their letter, I’m now working on Camelot Unchained and have been for nearly a year now.

Storybricks wasn’t just an “A.I. company”.  We wanted to do amazing things: give NPCs personalities, let you build relationships with NPCs that were more than just filling out a faction xp bar.  You do a quest for the queen and instead of a few gold coins as a reward, she declares that she holds you in high favor; other NPCs recognize this favor and treat you with more respect.  Yes, you could write a heavily scripted system to do all this, but Storybricks developed tech to make it so you didn’t have to write a bunch of scripts.  The goal was you could define an NPC, drop it into the world, and it would live within that world without needing all those custom scripts.  I hope at least a little of this makes it into EQN, because it will be amazing if done well.

I’m sad to see Storybricks close even though I’m no longer with them.  We were trying to do some audacious things, and sometimes people lack the foresight to see how amazing these types of things will be.  The game industry as a whole is known for it’s conservatism, which is why we see so many clones of popular games.  I have to give SOE props for having the guts to bring on Storybricks to build their AI tech.  In the end, I suspect Storybricks was just a little before their time, and we’ll see some of their innovations in other games in the future.

Zeplini
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Zeplini

I wish some one would buy the 38 studio’s assets and just finish that game, the game looked pretty dam sweet!

BryanCo
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BryanCo

deganderson  I suspect the problem was that Sony actually wanted money for SOE.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

Rzar Elikal Ialborcales

Tpo be fair. “Business isnt nice” is really something I consider more of a cheap way to excuse unethical behavior as normal, instead of a good explanation

Golden_Girl
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Golden_Girl

A Dad Supreme Golden_Girl Lateris Like competence? :-p

Blinkenn
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Blinkenn

Elikal Ialborcales MJ Guthrie doctoroverlord I concur on some points. EQ hasn’t been relevant to more than a niche of players for a decade. After the ‘nostalgia’ videos tried to rope in older players just to be swatted away with a ‘you can be anything, no level, no trinity, no darkness (denial of service)’ EQN reveal the bad taste in my mouth hasnt left. Those worl debut videos havent broken 500k views on youtube either. This genre is dieing an this particular IP is far gone unfortunately. It makes me sad because EQ was my first MMO and its like a slow motion watching of old yeller at this point.

Rzar
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Rzar

Ok maybe it is naive. But it is also pour business practice to rely on only one large customer.

Elikal Ialborcales
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Elikal Ialborcales

MJ Guthrie doctoroverlord I hope they fall flat on their face and the storybrick parts are so horrible, EQN is a huge failure, and Daybreak gets bankrupt, as a warning to the next ten generations that some things come with too high a price.

Blinkenn
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Blinkenn

wolfyseyes Ya, I’d bet that alot of there AI stuff just doesnt scale with more than a handful of players mucking about in an area.

Blinkenn
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Blinkenn

Benjamin Seeberger Nothing other than the odd here and there posts on reddit or tweets. Just yesterday a dev on reddit was asking for Cave feedback. Talk about a snails pace.

pudgybunnybry
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pudgybunnybry

So was Storybricks just too ambitious? It seems like they were definitely trying to get in way over what they could handle. Regardless it was a decision for Daybreak to take the work in-house for the emergent ai.

fdisk81
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fdisk81

Rzar JudgeDavid101 Company A has Company B as sole customer.  Company B gets sold to Company C and drops Company A; Company A goes out of business.
It’s naive to think it’s coincidence, no matter how hard they try to spin it.

JudgeDavid101
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JudgeDavid101

Rzar We don’t know but if there is no we and just I, to me it’s a fallout from the loss of the Sony brand and the continuing chain reaction.

Rzar
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Rzar

salidar Denngar dustyartifact Yeah, I don’t get that attitude either.  Why would they buy SoE, to just drive it into the ground?  Companies are into making money.  They will either do that by 1) making and selling products to consumers or 2) developing assets and products and then selling the company for more money than they bought it for.  Either way, that does not equate to just dropping products in development.  
They have stated that EQ:N is a priority project.  Lets just all chill and see what happens.

Rzar
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Rzar

deganderson Rzar Wratts AdeptusEnginus In the Dev Q&A video released last week they stated they moved the StoryBricks assets in house and have people on their team who will take over the AI development who have experience doing that type of work.  I am going to have to take their word for it.

Rzar
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Rzar

It sounds like Storybricks had a failed business model.  They only had one customer.  Any business in that situation is going to fail the minute the customer does not buy your product any more.  I would not equate DBG dropping Storybricks to fallout from the SoE sale.  It sounds like it is unrelated.  It sounds like StoryBricks knew the departure was coming, they were trying to sale their company before the DBG purchase.  Lets not give up yet.  Lets not use our negative filter on any news related to DBG and EQ:N.

deganderson
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deganderson

Rzar Wratts AdeptusEnginus Seeing the AI they managed to produce so far I doubt that SOE has anyone in house to do it. Its probably more a decision in the trend of “meh the mobs manage to walk in circles, good enough, we’ll see how bad it gets received and then say its only paid beta so everything can still change hahahaha”

Rzar
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Rzar

Wratts AdeptusEnginus Or Storbricks made the mistake of selling them too much of their assets and allowing them to modify their code in their contract.  Then it becomes an easy decision.  Do we pay more in consulting fees for what we can do in house for cheaper?  NO!

Rzar
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Rzar

Elikal Ialborcales Sorry, business isn’t nice.  You can try to be ethical, but in the end you can’t make bad business decisions that hurt your company because one of your suppliers made the mistake of only having one customer, you.  Do you keep on Storybricks, and then have your own company fail and your own employees lose their jobs, losing their houses, etc?  
If your business model relies on one customer then your business is going to fail.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Radfist ManastuUtakata salidar 
They did not purchase the program as clearly stated in this article. They instead discontinued Storybricks to work on their own *version* inhouse. I am not sure where people are getting this alternative world view of what went down. As I am sure Daybreak for likely intellectual property reasons decided to go this route, instead of what is being claimed by random people on the internet who insist they’re right. It also has no bearing whatsoever on the hopeful success of EQN, beyond your suggestion this may help with their overhead.

Rzar
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Rzar

usagizero They stated in the recent dev Q & A that they had the Storybrick assets, they would be in EQ:N and they had people in house working on the AI programming.  So lets not give up the ship quite yet!

Rzar
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Rzar

JudgeDavid101 We don’t know this is fallout.  Maybe Daybreak ditched Storybricks because they knew the studio had issues?

deganderson
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deganderson

“SOE when it was up for sale, but Sony Japan offered “unacceptable” terms. ” 
The problem one was that you had to hire Smedley for at least 3 months.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Golden_Girl salidar ManastuUtakata 
PS: You’re not helping here.

Cyroselle
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Cyroselle

I kind of wish they had, but in order to do so and meet whatever conditions Sony laid down, they would have had to sell their souls and first born to investors, so they wouldn’t entirely be their own company any longer.

jsmooth1
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jsmooth1

Elikal Ialborcales 
I don’t like it either. But IIRC, SOE did this same move with their Voxel technology/relationship.

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