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See: EverQuest Next

The Game Archaeologist: SOE’s The Agency

The graveyard of Sony Online Entertainment and Daybreak Game Company is certainly full enough to be considered a threat if there was ever a zombie uprising among MMORPGs. From PlanetSide to Free Realms, there are plenty of live games that were disposed of in this grim fictional burial ground. But there are also those stillborn titles that never had the change to make or break in a live environment. EverQuest Next might be the most fresh in our minds, but go back a handful of years and you might have seen players lamenting the loss of a different promising SOE game: The Agency.

The Agency seems like a natural fit for the studio’s focus on first-person shooters and a willingness to branch out from strictly fantasy territory. Instead of dragons or stormtroopers, players in this game were to face off against terrorist organizations and dastardly spy agencies, all in the pursuit of living out the ultimate James Bond fantasy.

But instead of sitting on our desktop, The Agency exists only in a forgotten corner of this imaginary cemetery. Today, let us tenderly brush off its worn tombstone and remember what we can about this canceled spy shooter.

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Remembering EverQuest Next

Is it too soon — or perhaps too pointless — to wool-gather about EverQuest Next? After all, that MMO project is deader than dead, so dead in fact that it killed off Landmark just to be thorough.

YouTuber Daily Quests assembled a short video remembering the brief, hopeful, and ultimately disappointing saga that was EverQuest Next. It’s good as a refresher course if you forgot how this all went down or perhaps as a method to roil up the blood if you have achieved a state of perfect calm.

If you can stomach the pain, check out the video below!

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Global Chat: Fare thee well, Landmark

Believe it or not, there were actually people who played and enjoyed Landmark — and were saddened to see it taken offline. To kick off this week’s roundup of interesting MMO blog posts, we turn to those who knew and remembered Landmark with their words.

“The game, once just a bullet point on the EverQuest Next announcement at SOE Live, has been shut down,” The Ancient Gaming Noob said. “The web site and forums have been hidden away and the domain resolves to the Daybreak main page. The few remaining fans have had their final look at the lands of… erm… <does Google search>… Lumeria! That was the name of the place.”

Superior Realities took a tour on its last day: “That, really, is what was special about Landmark. You could go to any map, walk in any direction, and in no time flat you’d be sure to find something beautiful, fascinating, or awe-inspiring. The traditional wisdom is that if you give players the tools to make their own content, the vast majority of it will be utter crap, but Landmark was stunning refutation of that notion.”

Continue our roundup as bloggers dissect problems with The Secret World’s combat system, share tips on how to grind LOTRO points, mull over why it’s hard to go back to the “olden days,” deliver an early access review of Revelation Online, and pontificate on why theme park MMOs simply work.

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Devs and players say farewell to Landmark and the last remnants of EverQuest Next

Landmark’s servers blinked off for the very last time last night, with our own EverQuest franchise columnist MJ Guthrie there to stream the end. The sandbox hadn’t even reached its first birthday after its long-awaited but still hasty launch last year.

“Such a waste,” former SOE and Daybreak CEO John Smedley remarked on Twitter. “It’s tragic to see this game turned off. EQ Next would have been brilliant based on it. We could have done it.”

We’ve rounded up some memories from the current and former Daybreak and SOE reps, plus we’ve included MJ’s stream and some of our favorite Landmark content in the last couple of years.

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Massively Overthinking: Are MMOs designed for ‘low-skill gamers’?

Ages ago on the MMORPG subreddit, a player made a bold statement: MMORPGs are designed for low-skill gamers.

“I remember being dazzled by EverQuest and Ultima as a child,” he wrote, reminiscing about his memory of high difficulty old-school games. “I recently loaded up [Star Wars: The Old Republic] again, and I’m shocked. Piss easy. Everything. XP falling from the sky. Mobs dead in one GCD. Brainless. The same reason I quite every MMO. I never meet people, I never feel challenged. I just feel bored. ‘Wait till endgame’ isn’t gonna cut it anymore. I’m over it. I’m done. I feel like I’m just hitting the ‘Reward’ button again and again and again, solitary and alone, like a stupid little rat in the cage.” He then basically blames the perceived shift of the genre on people who don’t want games to be “like a job”: “The genre just seems to be fueled by mediocre, anti-social “consumers.”

I wanted to pull this back out to see whether our staff and writers agree with the claims — and whether we all have some advice for this fan, who concludes his rant by asking people to change his mind. Howsabout it, Overthinking fans?

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EverQuesting: Scoring our EverQuest franchise 2016 predictions

January 14th, 2016. On that date, I said we’d get to look back in a year and see just how many of my EverQuesting predictions were accurate. Well, it’s been a year… and man, it’s been a year. So of all those things I anticipated happening, that I wanted to happen, and that I thought needed to happen in 2016 for Daybreak and the EverQuest franchise, what actually happened? How many hopes survived the 12 months? When you tally it all, there were some fails, some near misses, and some right on the nose. Which game — EverQuest, EverQuest II, EverQuest Next, or Landmark — had the most accurate predictions, and which had the most misses? Let’s take a look at the 2016 predictions before we even think about creating some 2017 ones.

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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.

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Leaderboard: Which Daybreak MMO is most vulnerable in 2017?

In February 2015, following the SOE/Daybreak transition and ensuing mass layoffs, we polled our readers on the security of the rest of the studio’s games. Almost half of you voted that Dragon’s Prophet was the studio’s most vulnerable remaining game, with almost 20% pointing to EverQuest Next. And you were right; SOE’s North American-run Dragon’s Prophet was gone within the year, with EverQuest Next to follow just a few months later.

And now Landmark’s headed off into the sunset.

The thing is, Daybreak doesn’t really have much left. The company that once won “best studio” four years in a row and had a much-deserved reputation for keeping beloved MMORPGs going is now down to four MMORPGs, plus H1Z1 A and B, and one unannounced game, plus the games it’s publishing for Standing Stone. Yesterday we counted up the casualties and found Daybreak has now shut down approximately 16 games, most of them in the last few years — more than most studios will ever launch.

Let’s break out the poll for a revisit, two years on. Which Daybreak MMO do you think is most vulnerable now?

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Dave Georgeson offers players encouragement on Landmark shutdown

Former Landmark lead Dave Georgeson took to Twitter on Friday with a note of encouragement for fans of the soon-to-be shuttered MMO: “To those reading about the [Landmark] shutdown. Your dreams aren’t dying, only this vehicle for them. Stay in touch with each other. Friends > game.”

Georgeson was let go from Daybreak as part of the transition from SOE in February 2015. In an interview last spring, he said that if he had remained at the helm of the studio’s next-gen MMOs, he would have delivered EverQuest Next “to vision.”

Landmark will close its doors on February 21st.

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The Daily Grind: Are you concerned for Daybreak’s other MMORPGs?

Last night’s startling news that Daybreak plans to sunset Landmark abruptly in February (while forbidding player emulators) sent the MMORPG community into… I’ll call it “resigned and weary outrage.” At Massively OP, we just spent the last month reliving last year’s EverQuest Next cancellation thanks to the fact that it “won” so many awards — Biggest Disappointment and Biggest Story, the reader vote for Biggest Blunder — and was our most-commented-on article of the year. Landmark’s sunset is sadly just a capstone to a year already dominated by Daybreak’s decisions.

(The bummer is Landmark also narrowly took our serious award for Best Crafting, which it probably deserved, but most MMO gamers will never get to try it to understand why.)

Our comments last night were filled with concern for Daybreak’s remaining games. We counted around 14 games canceled, most of them in the last few years, with DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and the two H1Z1 halves being the only games left under the DBG banner (plus the mystery game they’ve been hiring for — and it’s now publishing Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online but doesn’t actually own or develop them, so they’re probably safe). Do you think Landmark was the last remnant of a bad business decision finally getting cleaned up, or are you concerned for Daybreak’s other MMORPGs?

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Landmark is shutting down on February 21

Sad news for fans of Landmark who were happy to see it have its own life after the closure of EverQuest Next; Daybreak has announced that the Landmark servers will be shutting down on February 21st of this year. The game only formally launched in June of 2016 after a prolonged testing period, so it didn’t even quite make it to a full year of operation.

The FAQ accompanying the shutdown also torpedoes any hopes players might have regarding private servers, as Daybreak will not be releasing the source code or reimbursing players who have purchased Daybreak Cash for use with the title. The game’s site and forums will also be shuttered along with the game, so if you want to keep in touch with friends afterward, make sure to get contact information sooner rather than later. It’s a sad day for the last part of a project, and our condolences go out to fans and staff members affected by the sudden and unexpected shutdown.

Source: Official announcement, Forum announcement; thanks to everyone who sent this in.

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The MMOs we lost in 2016

If you thought we lost a lot of MMOs in 2014 and 2015, wait until you see 2016’s list.

It’s easy to shrug off some of these, like the non-MMORPGs, the games shutting down in far-flung countries, or even Hellgate, which sunsets and revives at least a dozen times a year now.

But others sting. Asheron’s Call, due to sunset in January, is probably the smallest MMORPG on the list, but it casts a mighty shadow over the genre and will be deeply missed by veterans. The cancellations of EverQuest Next and Revival still stings. PlanetSide had a long and storied run, while DUST 514 may yet live again. And our youngins will now miss out on introductory games like Super Hero Squad Online and LEGO Minifigures.

Farewell, old friends.

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The most popular MMORPG conversations of 2016

Last week, we posted a rundown of the most popular MMORPG articles of 2016, calculated strictly by the number of pageviews they got. Today, we’re going to take a look at the most popular articles of 2016 as measured by comments, which provides an entirely different overview of the year and the genre. The other list was stuff you clicked on, but this? This is the stuff you cared enough about to comment on — and boy did you ever.

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