Global Chat Extra: In remembrance of Landmark

Obviously, the reverberations of the news of Landmark's closure continue to be seen across the MMO community, including in our own comments sections. The MMO blogosphere was alight with discussion and opinions about this event, with many using this as an opportunity to get in a last word about the lamentable EverQuest Next.

In today's special edition of Global Chat, we'll take a survey of gaming blogs to see what they have to say about the Landmark sunset and what it means for Daybreak, MMOs, and the community it affects.

ECTmmo.com

"I think this game had so much potential. I had hoped that EQN would be a real thing, instead we were left with a skeleton of a game that felt not even half finished. Just really sad to see all this work go down the drain like so many others. The game has not even officially been launched for a year. Truly sad to see all that wasted potential."

Contains Moderate Peril

"Now if you peruse the comments section of a site such as Massively OP, then you’ll find statements such as 'LOTRO is fine' and there’s nothing to be concerned about because DGC is just the publisher for Standing Stone Games. However, I don’t think the situation is as binary as that, and it would be wise to scrutinise the business relationship between DGC and SSG more closely. Because I and others suspect that DGC may well have underwritten SSG costs when they acquired both DDO and LOTRO from Turbine and Warner Bros. If that is the case, then such financial involvement give DGC far more leverage with SSG than merely publishing their gaming catalogue."

Superior Realities

"Landmark was a very bare-bones game, but the potential of what you could create was always exciting, the beautiful works of fellow players always inspiring [...] One person on my server bought up builds all along one coastline and built themselves an entire kingdom, with castles and towns and outposts. Another constructed a huge hollow tree with an incredibly beautiful and detailed home amongst the branches. I’ve seen screen-accurate replicas of the Enterprise and the Serenity, functioning Stargates, and even a Tim Horton’s."

Healing the Masses

"It was a bad game, a bad building playground, and not even close to being an MMO. It was broken, buggy mess that was poorly designed and managed and should never have been released in such a unfinished state. But I guess that is Daybreak's new business plan after all: release early access husks."

Aywren

"What stuns me is that this game had so much potential to be a strong sandbox contender. They did a lot of things I haven’t seen in other building games, and I know that those who love it will deeply miss it. If this game had been released towards a building/sandbox audience, rather than being linked to the failed EQNext, it may have been a small success. I still have those dreams of riding a flying mount across the inter-connected islands of wonderful player creativity… that was touted to be the future of Landmark that we never got. But I guess at this point, that’s moot. All we’ll have are our memories."

Endgame Variable

"I bought one of the $99 Founder’s packs. I don’t exactly remember why, but I remember seeing that video showing them digging holes in the ground and thought that was pretty dern cool. It turned out to be the most ill-advised game purchase decision of my entire life to date. To this day it informs my Early Access buying decisions. Thanks to Landmark, I made a rule that I won’t take a chance on an unknown Early Access game unless it sells for $10 or less."

The Ancient Gaming Noob

"But then EverQuest Next Landmark, as it was initially known, started to gain a life of its own. In what felt to me like something of a cash grab (successful by all accounts), with maybe a side goal of extracting some of the Station Cash that players had been hoarding, Landmark launched into what I called real estate speculation. While some were enthusiastic about the idea, others cast a more jaundiced eye on the whole thing."

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere -- and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
35 comments
Union Jack
Union Jack

Goodbye Day Break Your Games...RIP muppets!!!

Denngar
Denngar

Endgame Variable hit it on the nose. Landmark early access was largely a mistake for me, but at the time, I figured, "At least I believe in the company, plus there's stuff I can carry over into EQN!" 

Ah, to be that innocent and naive again -_-

Greyraven
Greyraven

I'm going to be the optimist. This closing for more than were in a nose dive....  and we may see EQ or HnZ1 close because they are going to use the resources to make a New EQ  MMO or Open world RPG. I also think we will see Dave Georgeson back with Daybreak before too long.



ohforfs
ohforfs

I'm going to put a theory out there: Based on my experience of the progression servers for EQ1 they are bunged to the gills. Then there is EQ2. All these subs are bringing in about $10/month. So I think the EQ1 & 2 (mostly progression) servers are the current cash cow for Sunset games and where they are making their money. They are probably making a good amount on H1Z1. Anything outside of that is a loss and they will cut it, which they have been doing. They have been doing this as fast as they can: they couldn#t close them all initially as this would have raised concerns, so they close them slowly. They knew they were closing Landmark when they launched it - they just wanted to grab more money.


My personal concern is how long EQ1 continues. As the numbers drop on the progression servers over time I suspect we may see the cynical sell off of EQ and the final sunset of Sunset games. Sorry this is all about EQ, but for DAybreak it is all about EQ and that is where they are coming from.

MikedotFoster
MikedotFoster

I enjoyed my interactions with Landmark, but it always felt like an unfinished piece of some greater whole. It also never seemed to hit the right polish level, making it harder to keep me invested.

It's a bummer, because there was a lot of potential there. :(

yukonsam01
yukonsam01

I believe Landmark could have found a niche somewhere between Second Life and Minecraft, but it lacked the social infrastructure of the former and the ease-of-use of the latter. After the demise of EQN, it lost any semblance of a cohesive vision. And it's a waste, because there were glimmers of brilliance in the design. I hope it inspired somebody out there to build something for that niche without the baggage.

Qarran
Qarran

Hmm.  The lessons learned for me personally here are, a tool is not a toy, and you have to dance with the one that brought you.


No worries, I'll be brief.


First and foremost, IMO, is EQN should have been a full fledged game and launched before Landmark became a game.  Landmark should have remained a tool, yes a tool players could use, but resources shouldn't not have been dumped into it to make it anything more until EQN was solid.  Why? Because Landmark would never survive without EQN.


Hindsight is 20/20, but EQN was the cash cow.  That should have been Daybreak's sole focus.  Look, I get that Landmark was an incredible instrument, and the idea that in and of itself it could be a great game wasn't wrong.  But it was part EQN and when they were decoupled, there should have been air raid sirens blaring in Landmark.


And Daybreak knew this.  They knew it all to well.  Think about it, they announced the game as part of the failure of EQN.  There was token support at launch but little to no promotions afterwards.  The game couldn't keep up with its bug list, and it was obvious that devs weren't around full time in support.  IMO, Daybreak knew they were going to shutter Landmark in short order as they annouced its launch.


UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

It is a little sad to see a usually smart person like CMP still running around trying to convince people of a non-existent doom and gloom for LotRO.

Syppi
Syppi moderator

@UpayaCrow I'm keeping a wary eye on Daybreak as a LOTRO fan. Warranted or not, I'm glad to see someone take the devil's advocate on "it'll all be OK!"

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@Syppi @UpayaCrow There is, literally, no logical argument to see any kind of worry. I appreciate a counter-point, but this doesn't help anyone at all. In fact, it actively damages the game.

The whole argument is that there is, of course, a financial stake at play with DBG, who are assuredly underwriting costs. However, there is no actual argument for why this is bad aside from the sophomoric kind of "heh heh 'dey break games lol!"  In fact, every bit of rational evidence and logical business sense says that DBG making an effort to claim a stake in games that are very similar to the ones that are at the core of their business model creates far more safety than danger.

The proof is in the fact that it happened. If DBG is taking a financial stake that means they have a motivation to keep the game running and making money. And LotRO has a dedicated, hardcore fanbase that even now provides a healthier population than most other MMOs, certainly for the age. In fact, their more direct competitors are EQ/EQ2. DBG has a rational and smart process here that is being clouded by irrational and unearned emotion.

Siphaed
Siphaed

@UpayaCrow @Syppi 

The logical argument is that since purchasing SOE from Sony, Columbus Nova has gutted the company. They've laid off nearly 50% or more of their development staffing -programmers, artists, designers, etc.-, most of whom have either started up small indie companies or have been picked up by other companies. On top of the lay offs, they've shut down a large portion of their games portfolio and have killed the one masterful, in-development  project that was said to bring SOE out of the long stall that it has been since the NGE days of SWG.  Their cutting options from the Station Pass and splitting off H1Z1 into two separate products only shows an attempt to squeeze every penny out of the products that they can before ..canning them.  So, when SOE....ahem, Daybreak picks up LotRO, there is for sure 110% reason to worry!

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@Siphaed @UpayaCrow @Syppi Except there is nothing there except a pile of biased, emotional assumptions.

From a business perspective DBG has 1) acquired a large and unwieldy portfolio of products; 2) not all of those products were pulling acceptable numbers; 3) it takes time and energy to close down a product line, you don't just turn off the lights; 4) everything that DBG has done has been to strengthen their core portfolio.

It does not follow that because they closed down some games that they will close down all games. And that is the argument you're making. It is "I don't like DBG so I think they're going to fail."

I'm not a fan of DBG, but I don't understand how you think that a company investing in a new product somehow means they're going to shut it down.

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@breetoplay @UpayaCrow @Siphaed @Syppi But Daybreak haven't been "failing". That's the issue.

If anything, from the perspective of "is this a solid business?" there's ample evidence that their decisions so far have greatly strengthened the company. 

I mean, you claim people are making actual arguments, but they aren't. Every argument about LotRO being "in trouble" comes down to the person making the argument having a bone to pick with DBG.


For example EQ has been strengthened by DBG. Progression servers and the like have been able to revitalize the game for many. It isn't perfect, but if you're a hardcore EQ player there's a lot to like about DBG.

In a lot of cases DBG is getting flack for the bad decisions that occurred under SOE. DBG is doing the "dirty work" of cutting losses from losing games that SOE didn't do and that was the core of what caused SOE to become an endless money pit for Sony. It has been very clear since that SOE was greatly tanked by EQN's out-of-control process and SOE's overreach in making more games than they could handle well.


In what ways have DBG "failed"? By shutting down/cancelling games that were problems for the company? By that standard there's no room for rational decisions based on the good of a business. If DBG weren't doing what they're doing currently these games would be shutting down or going to even worse entities at firesale. I reject the notion that DBG has "failed" at much of anything. They made some good business decisions that SOE was incapable of making and that killed the latter company and gamers can't realize that it isn't personal.


At the end of the day, DBG underwriting LotRO means their very numbers-focused people looked at the actual data behind LotRO and determined that it was a good investment.

If anything, I certainly trust DBG to know how to make money. The idea that suddenly they're being reckless with taking on the SSG stuff just doesn't make any sense.

melissaheather
melissaheather

@breetoplay @UpayaCrow @Siphaed @Syppi I mentioned this in another thread, but a Publisher gains some traction and hooks into your product.  Depending on the agreement the game company signed with them Daybreak may have the power to C&D the game itself, over some contractual dispute.  My time in the music industry tells me that a Publisher can do some serious harm to you in a dispute and sometimes it's just who has deeper pockets, better lawyers, and more determination.

Denice J Cook
Denice J Cook

@melissaheather


The thing that no one here is commenting on is that had SSG not split off from Turbine, then Turbine might likely have had to close down LotRO and DDO.


Daybreak (which IS SOE, minus 40% of their staff which Columbus Nova laid off when they bought SOE from Sony, Japan) is doing exactly what SOE always seemed to do, and swooping in and saving some MMOs that were on death's door.  (Vanguard, anyone?)  SOE was always a haven for barely-hanging-on little-engines-that-could.


Also, humorously enough (and this isn't targeted toward anyone in particular), I've seen several comments in SSG/Daybreak threads here lately saying that LoTRO and DDO have *more* subscribers than EQ1 and EQ2 do. However, when I log into Brandywine and Landroval in LoTRO, they're simply dead as a doornail, even at peak times.  


There is no comparison to even EQ2's subscription-only servers, Stormhold (time-locked progression server) and the new Isle of Refuge free-trade server:  EQ2 has way, way more peeps running around everywhere I go even on weekday mornings than LoTRO could ever hope to have even on Friday nights or weekends.  That's just my impression, but I'm a lifer in LoTRO and have been playing EQ2 since launch day, so I have a lot of impressions to go by.

Damonvile
Damonvile

@UpayaCrow @breetoplay @Siphaed @Syppi They've made sound decisions from the accounting department. I'm not sure the same can be said about PR.


It's great that everything they've done is good for the company but.... who's really excited about handing them any money at this point ? That type of reputation makes it hard to grow....if you care about that kind of thing. CN may very well not give two shits about long term though, because they may not want to own this company long term.

breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

@UpayaCrow @Siphaed @Syppi I don't actually think LOTRO is in trouble either, but I don't think it's fair to say they're arguing that "I don't like DBG so I think they're going to fail." No one serious is doing that. Their argument is, "Daybreak has been failing so I think they're going to continue failing." Whether LOTRO is tied up with Daybreak enough to be at risk under such a prediction of pattern just hasn't been proven.

nostologic
nostologic

@UpayaCrow @Siphaed @Syppi These aren't baseless assumptions.  I'd argue you're almost putting emotions into trying to be the most optimistic person ever.  You keep talking about Day Break Games, if we're talking apples to apples here the decisions being made by SOE prior was big daddy Sony, you know the coffers etc..  In this situation Columbus Nova acquired SOE and changed the name to Day Break Games.  

Since COLUMBUS NOVA has acquired SOE, they cancelled arguably their largest prospective cash cow, released and sunset a game, split their newest money maker apart from their currency system (which makes it a lot easier to sell off), and determined a new way to monetize their older money makers through progression servers.

If you look from the very top down, does it speak doom and gloom for them as a company? No it doesn't.  However, Columbus Nova has been known to sell off products.  The question is answered more clearly in why the games were sold AND purchased by DBG.  If they were sold because they weren't profitable enough, and purchased by DBG the only glimmer of hope is that they feel they have a way to better monetize the game, and IF that fails then the game will be shut down.  

As a business, I praise their ability to make decisive actions and stick to them (DBG).  I just think people need to have a realistic view and not one in the clouds or one that is doom and gloom.  There is ALWAYS a chance, but the probability of the new purchases sticking around are pretty slim based on CN and DBGs albeit short history.

ModeratePeril
ModeratePeril

@UpayaCrow @Siphaed @Syppi I'll say this once co's I don't have the time to invest in tortuous internet debates.


DGC are a very numbers and money orientated company and act in accordance of such a policy. For proof look at the changes they've made to the SOE catalogue since they've acquired it. they've culled what doesn't work. Quite rightly too.


My (and others) concern is that they may well have a degree of leverage over SSG and as a result of such, may look to have more egregious forms of monetisation added to LOTRO. They may also try to influence how new content is developed, in a hope of increasing revenue. This may result in a player loss and risk game closure. There is also the chance that this will not happen. They may not have such leverage.


Alternatively, they may have more stringent financial projections for LOTRO, than its previous owners. DGC may have different lines in the sand than Turbine/Warner Bros. If these are not met, then the game again runs risk of closure. Again there is also the chance that this will not happen.It depends on whether DGC has bankrolled SSG.


Both these scenarios are logical and reasonable. Contemplating them and public discussing them is not a form of gaming "disloyalty", nor does it reflect my personal wishes for LOTRO. As I have said there is scope that things may get better under SSG and DGC. There is also the possibility that little may change or that things go badly. However to simply say "we don't know what's going to happen" doesn't prevent us from theorising. And such postulation doesn't do any harm. In fact I advocate a "consider all options" policy in all walks of life.


I make it my business not to colour my writing with an excess of personal like and dislikes, although I recognise that it is my own opinion and therefore has a degree of bias, as does everyone view. However I do not consider my standpoint to be couched in "I don't like DBG so I think they're going to fail", @UpayaCrow . I agree with you that DGC has taken over a broad portfolio and naturally closed those that aren't working. I also agree that LOTRO is working, for the present or otherwise why should they publish it. However, I don't consider it to be as healthy as you deem it. I think that any fluctuation in numbers may have a detrimental outcome. Companies don't by businesses to fail. But how they are run them can contribute to their failure.


LOTRO has a very "sensitive" core fan base. They've been messed around a hell of a lot over the years. It's the core fans love of the IP that keeps them there, but even they have a breaking point. Pleasing the fans will keep the game alive. But doing the opposite could harm the overall population. So, I like others will watch and wait. In the meantime, it is wise to consider all outcomes and discuss them. Not understanding other's point of view or how they can think something, does not by default invalidate it.

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@ModeratePeril @UpayaCrow @Siphaed @Syppi  I take issue with this: 

"My (and others) concern is that they may well have a degree of leverage over SSG and as a result of such, may look to have more egregious forms of monetisation added to LOTRO. They may also try to influence how new content is developed, in a hope of increasing revenue. This may result in a player loss and risk game closure. There is also the chance that this will not happen. They may not have such leverage."

Of course DBG/CN has leverage over LotRO and DDO. However it does not follow that that is  cause for concern. Frankly, Turbine having control over LotRO and DDO was the issue. If DBG employs that leverage it would be to follow the same working plan that made them bank for EQ: prog servers. DBG will, almost certainly as it is their MO, run prog/legacy LotRO servers.

There just is no reason aside from a dislike of DBG to think that a company that has proven to prefer to run older games exactly like LotRO/DDO wouldn't be consistent in their actions.

In the end, you can't discount that CN/DBG actively evaluated and gave the thumbs up to this transaction. This wasn't forced nor was it a favor. LotRO doesn't contain any "killer" tech that can be stripped and sold. 


DBG without question got involved with SSG because they are confident that the relationship will be fruitful. CN's own people think this is a good move, so I'm uncertain how anyone can think that the intent or endpoint will be shutting down the game or something similar.

SSG and DBG/CN are keeping the lights on and if previous actions are any indication (hint: they are) we'll see LotRO go to Moria and then wrap back around to do prog/legacy servers.

DBG literally have a decades-long, minimal-development content cycle on demand within one of the most hardcore and loved IPs present in the western world. This fits their proven model perfectly.

The issue is that we've watched DBG/CN for awhile now and eventually we have to get over the cancellation of EQN to realize that they're putting more stock and effort into providing a kind of product people actually want but companies seem unwilling to provide in legacy/progression servers.


If anything, it is akin to acquiring the syndication rights to an old, finished television show that still has some awesome fans. DBG will let SSG finish dev on LotRO and then they can turnkey the game into a profit-generating legacy/prog setup like with EQ.

Frankly, I'd be ecstatic to get a look at DBG's books. I suspect they're starting to roll in it with their "minimal dev; maximum product" kind of approach. And frankly since this seems to find expression in their re-investment in and their desire to provide progression/legacy experiences for great older games. The narrative that this is doom and gloom is against every bit of evidence we have. There is no concern over the very standard and boilerplate kind of influence a publisher can hold. And we forget that Turbine was an absolutely terrible fit for both games at the end, we just didn't see how bad it was behind the scenes.

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@nostologic @UpayaCrow @Siphaed @Syppi "Since COLUMBUS NOVA has acquired SOE, they cancelled arguably their largest prospective cash cow"

See, you're right. Except it is the complete opposite. EQN was a bottomless pit of money, not a "largest perspective cash cow". It was the excesses and issues with EQN that triggered the sale in the first place.

Hopestealer1
Hopestealer1

What is most sad was the complete lack of support for this launched game from Daybreak. They didn't market it, give it a team (no 2 people is not a team for a launched game) OR do any damage control after the EQN debacle.

Shame Daybreak.

I have been a fan of your company for almost 20 years when I began my journey in Norrath in 1999.

I guess this is where we part paths. Not solely because your games failed.

But because you failed to try. I cant respect that.


UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@Hopestealer1 A lot of the "behind the scenes" stuff that has come out since highly suggests that SOE basically made a million promises about EQN before they had any idea if their hardware/code could actually handle it. Storybricks, while awesome in concept, was miles from what was said to be. Their pathing and AI was an absolute can't-pull-it-off mess.

Landmark was, based on the reports, the real mistake. It was originally just going to be a toolset and then it was elevated to being a "game" of it's own (which it just wasn't). Instead of working on EQN they kept trying to make Landmark into almost-EQN while they struggled with making EQN what they heedlessly promised it would be.


Overall, EQN and the lack of actual direction killed SOE and triggered the sell-off. EQN was a money pit with very little to show. After resources were cut they couldn't recover.


DBG will continue, and I bet in a decade we'll see them fondly as a company that keeps good, older MMOs up and running when they live out their useful lifespan.

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@breetoplay @UpayaCrow @Hopestealer1 Oh, I don't want to get wrapped up in unknowable details but regardless we know EQN didn't come together and Landmark was a mess for most of its life. Vaporware or not doesn't matter as much as the fact that EQN was undoubtably the reason SOE was dropped from Sony. If EQN were looking profitable they would have kept the money flowing as they already had before. Cancelling dev on anything once years worth of investment have been made isn't a quick decision. More often than not we see anything that can be sold get sold. If SOE/DBG was sitting on some seriously amazing tech we'd have known because it would have been included in the sales and would have been a great point of value for a potential buyer.

From a business perspective this stuff isn't knowable, but I'm confident that the best we can do is say something along the lines of "EQN was the problem for SOE".

And at the end of the day, we'll never know for certain. I'm sure that whoever said it was Vaporware thought it was vaporware and whoever said the AI was there thought it was there.


The truth is always between. And I believe that the AI was there in the end... but here's the eye of the beholder: it wasn't something that could reasonably be shipped due to the pure, huge, enormous size of the whole thing. Was the AI there? I think so. Was it reasonably able to be placed into the game without causing huge issues? no. Last I heard the AI pathing existed but took an enormous amount of drivespace. Like, more than the rest of the game in total.

So sure, the AI "worked" but it was inefficient and would have required tens of GBs alone of data which wasn't acceptable.

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@DPandaren @breetoplay @UpayaCrow @Hopestealer1 Storybricks is a great example of the issues with EQN. Storybricks was lauded and hyped as an almost-god-like AI engine. When the actual demos and post-separation pulled back the curtain, we could see that Storybricks potentially could do what they talked about but the actual execution was far from what was promised. Just like the AI it was technically "there" but it didn't actually work in any way ready for a live release or even useful playtesting beyond bug squashing.

ausj3w3l
ausj3w3l

@breetoplay @UpayaCrow @Hopestealer1 it seems like it was still a mess though - I mean, having to use players as the apparent AI. But going by that post and statement probably something that had more to do with the voxel engine rather than the  ai programming. 

Tandor Shadewalker
Tandor Shadewalker

@breetoplay @UpayaCrow @Hopestealer1 Whether things that were promised were true and deliverable is not relevant to the definition of vaporware. The fact is that nothing was actually delivered, and EQN - and all its component parts - remained to all intents and purposes vaporware, until finally it was put out of its misery.

DPandaren
DPandaren

@UpayaCrow Now you're kind of pushing the goal post there. It was never suppose to be a hard AI. It was never sold as one. Just as a tool to easily make NPC behavior to act out on a bunch of needs while having some small short term goals. 


It was never hyped beyond what you're putting it down as being a god like AI. 

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@breetoplay @UpayaCrow @Hopestealer1 I love how the comment pointing out the failures of your reliance on argument from authority re: unsourced claims got silently wiped out. This kind of stuff is really frustrating to the community base trying to have discussions. And no, if you put your name to something or not has little to do with the inherent value of an unsourced statement when said source would see retaliations for attaching their name.

Basically, when someone attaches their name they've got to say positive things or they harm their own self. Just because people are scared of reprisals and blackballing do not mean their statements are inherently false.

Siphaed
Siphaed

Ouch!  The postmortem roast!