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.
EverQuest Next: 1 for 4
Let’s just get this bugger out of the way now. My predictions, hopes, and wishes all failed except on one count — that we finally hear something. I said we needed to hear something by spring. Yeah, we heard something all right, and at the beginning of spring no less: We heard that the game was being scrapped. Obviously, the hope of getting in and experiencing gameplay of any sort was a big fat no, so there was the first prediction fail.
I suppose you could stretch it and say EQN did wow us with something, giving me a score of 2 for 4, but it was not a look-at-this-cool-development kind of wow I was going for, it was a did-Daybreak-seriously-really-do-that wow. There’s the second fail. And since I said “the world will see that it is still alive and kicking and has been chugging along steadily in development this whole time,” that is a pretty big fail. You can’t say I didn’t hold out hope until the very end!
Bingo! I was channeling some serious mojo for this one because I was spot on for all the predictions. Yes, there was an expansion; we got Empires of Kunark. (Hey, don’t think that was totally a given, since the studio has waffled between expansions/no expansions before!) Yes, a current area was expanded upon — Kunark. No, there weren’t any new races or classes introduced into the expansions. And yes, the insane expansion pricing scheme that was introduced in 2015 continued, with the three flavors of “a regular version, a pricey version, and an excuse-me-how-much-did-you-say version (with many extra goodies in the latter)” available for the 2016 expansion.
EverQuest II: 3 for 4
I lagged behind just a bit in my predictions for EQII. ironically, if I just kept the same “an area from before will be expanded upon” prediction as I had for the original game, I would have had a shut out here as well. Instead, I entertained some wishful thinking about some possible new locations, such as the exploded moon or a realm of consciousness, like entering the mind of a God. However, I was spot on about getting a new zone, it just happened to be opening up land on Kunark that has been right before our eyes for years instead of any new realm.
My other hits in the prediction game were the same as for EQII’s older sibling — getting a new expansion and the continuation of the same expansion pricing.
Landmark: 4.5 for 6
Being accurate on any 2016 Landmark predictions feels empty now that we know that it’s closing, but that doesn’t negate the fact that I did hit the mark on a few items. First and foremost, we did finally get the storyteller system. Woot! Developing a quest line story dungeon is as cool as I’d wanted it to be. We also got a new feature in the form of the Crimson Parlor, which allowed players to change racial appearance to Dark Elves and Orcs. And yes, the game did finally get out of closed beta! In fact, it actually launched, though it did skip the open beta phase. (Incidentally, my long-standing hope of new races becoming available at launch didn’t quite pan out that way, though the races and launch did both come). And we definitely saw some amazing player creations!
What we didn’t get are any new building contests, racial or otherwise; I’m not actually counting the open holiday event islands, though those could technically count. And I am only counting the increase in dev communication as a half point, since there was a marked increase for a while the first half of the year before devs went silent again later on.
For the studio as a whole, my prediction list included more things I wanted and things the studio needed than actual predictions of things that will happen. Daybreak did not create a new fan convention. I knew this may have been a long shot, but it is something I both really wanted and felt the company needed to continue to engender some faith and good will in the community.
I also said, “Overall, I can see the franchise having a good year, but it will have to put some work into more than just the development side of things.” Notice that qualifier at the end? If you count only EQ and EQII — the only two left in the franchise now — that would be accurate. So should I give a half point here? But if you look at all the games, it definitely wasn’t, and I did say franchise as it was known in January 2015. It’s a darn good thing I didn’t say Daybreak would have a good year! Aside from DC Universe Online, still apparently going strong, the studio is looking a bit green in the gills. It also seems to have a host of puncture holes from the pitchforks of scorned fans. And who can really blame those fans right now?
The only thing that I can give a solid point to communication, and even then I don’t feel a full point is justified. I called for a “return to the open development model that was being practiced so heavily in 2014.” That didn’t happen. Unless by open development I really meant shut things down! Yes, we got some communication. yes, dev communication about EQN happened; the team finally spoke — it was just to say sayonara. EQ and EQII dev teams continued to give info via producers letters, streams, and some forum presence. However, even that felt like it tapered off. Landmark didn’t fare much better, as its jump back into better communication didn’t last the year.
Perhaps something I should have seen coming was a move into the mobile market with another game. I mean, everyone’s doing it. However, since I was still thinking/hoping that the studio needed to invest development time and effort into EverQuest Next, I really didn’t think it could take on another major project. Good thing it has the time now without having to worry about EQN taking all those resources, right? Who knows, though — maybe the franchise will finally get a new sibling. I just can’t quite envision a multi-platform EverQuest FPS fitting in.