I am particularly fond of the number 13. And I am particularly fond of EverQuest II. So it is a happy convergence of favorites as EQII celebrates its 13th year this week. That’s thirteen years of adventures from Antonica to Zek. Will 13 be a lucky number for this MMORPG? I sure hope so! Norrath could use a little luck going forward after this past year. It’s not that things have been especially tumultuous (do you remember the heartaches and fears from 2015?); in fact, they have been a bit quiet. Too quiet.
The past 12 months have worried me more for the future of my beloved game than even the restructuring to Daybreak did. Will EQII make it through the next year? Maybe we’ll have a stroke of luck and the game will blossom again in 2018. Luckily, I still have some hope left that it will make it through, and I know I am not alone in wanting those adventures to continue quite a while longer.
All hope is not lost because despite the worrying parts, the year wasn’t all bad. There were still bright spots and positive things. As is customary this time of year, I take some time to reflect back on all that has transpired since the last anniversary retrospective. Join me for a look back to see how the game has grown and how it has changed. Then hop in and enjoy the Heroes’ Festival anniversary celebration before it disappears next week!
Are we witnessing the death throes of EverQuest II? Of the whole EverQuest franchise? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Today’s EverQuesting started as a guide to EQII’s expansion prelude event, but I kept coming back to these questions. (The guide will come next week!)
Yes, I know that there are folks who have cried that EQ and EQII have been dying or all-but dead for years — and Next and Online Adventures are already deceased and buried. Yet during those years we’ve still seen some life in the first two games. They have persevered!
But now, I feel like I am witnessing the franchise’s final breaths. Me, the eternal optimist; me, who subsists on hope. And I started losing that hope because Daybreak’s actions lately appear to indicate that there’s no love left for one of my all-time favorite games, EQII. Between less dev interaction, less content, less communication, and just less enthusiasm for these two titles — yet a preponderance of attention on others — it’s hard to hold onto hope. At no other time has it felt as if Daybreak was turning its back on and all but abandoning the IP that gave it life more than it does right now. The IP that still has many fervent fans. My final two straws? The lack of any exposure at PAX West and the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s expansions.
Yup, it’s true. It was a sad day when Emily Taylor confirmed that she was indeed leaving Daybreak. When John Smedley’s tweet popped up outing Taylor’s move to Canada, I was in the middle of chatting with friends and fellow EverQuest II players. We were stunned. We know that the industry can be fickle, but Taylor had been a staple on the EQII scene. Known as “Domino,” she’d been in integral part of the Norrath crafting scene; she was responsible for penning many of the crafting signature quest lines as well as developing other parts of crafting, events, and housing. She was also well admired and appreciated by the community. Her loss would really be felt.
When we first read that tweet, our thoughts went to, oh no, what happened? followed very quickly by what’s going to happen? After the rough time Daybreak has had since the split from Sony (multiple layoffs, game closures galore, and clandestine management changes along with staff resignations), we understandably wondered if we were witnessing a step toward impeding disaster — a sentiment shared by other fans of the franchise. The uncertainty of the news was laid to rest when Taylor herself announced that yes, she was leaving. She informed players that her move was of a personal nature (she wants to shovel more snow?!) instead of any thing related to the studio. She also assured us that there were plenty of devs at Daybreak still working on the games — moreso, in fact, than when the name changed.
This week saw one of the biggest MMO industry shakeups in recent memory, with big-name developers leaving long-term posts and Amazon giving Smedley a shot at redemption. Add in revelations about two major upcoming expansions, and it’s all we can do to bottle up the news and deliver it to you before it explodes all over the place!
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Emily “Domino” Taylor, long-time EverQuest franchise crafting wizard at SOE and now Daybreak, announced that she’s leaving the studio at the end of the month — just a week after Landmark sunsets, in fact.
“I love SOE/Daybreak & am super sad to leave, but it feels like time to return home to Canada, and remember what shoveling snow is like!” she tweeted. “More news on new job once I start. Fear not, I shall still tweet food and cat photos, and shall lurk around the world of Norrath.”
Landmark’s patch week has been a bumpy one, with repeated downtimes that made it hard for anyone to play consistently. This morning’s downtime hoped to correct even more bugs with the latest release; it addressed chat, client crashes, autogranted claims for new characters, and creature setup.
“We’re hurrying to get […] fixes out to you before the weekend, as we feel these are some of the most serious issues,” Emily “Domino” Taylor told players last night. “We are also planning another hotfix for next week with more bug fixes, including more of the known issues listed in the update notes thread as well as new bugs you’ve reported. Thanks for all your help in finding those pesky bugs!”
Taylor also discusses the state and fate of lumens:
As promised earlier this week, Daybreak is kicking off its latest Landmarks of Landmark competition tomorrow, inviting players to submit custom claims as, well, landmarks that may be permanently installed in the game. Writes Emily “Domino” Taylor,
“The Landmarks of Landmark are visually interesting and striking builds located at each island’s central portal hub, to provide a point of visual interest and inspiration. The previous competition winners can currently be seen by portal hubs in Landmark Closed Beta, and now we’re inviting you to help us update them! Winning landmarks may be used during Beta and/or in our live game, and will be credited with the builder’s name.”
Submissions are due in by February 25th, when player voting begins. Daybreak will pick the winners starting in March.
Daybreak’s Emily “Domino” Taylor has posted an update on Landmark’s status on the official forums. After announcing that a new Landmarks of Landmark competition is on the way, she explains that the team has been busy behind the scenes in preparation for a March update that contains bits that were intended for January.
“[W]e have been hard at work for the past few months refining plans and adding new features, aka ‘awesome stuff’, as well as some necessary back-end stuff too that’ll keep those voxels running smoothly. Due to how many changes are happening right now, we have decided to adjust our previous plans and we will NOT doing the smaller update we had hoped to do in January, instead we’re going to roll that up into the next big update so it can all be tested together. We anticipate that next update happening in March (did we mention there’s a lot of new awesome stuff we’re working on?) and it should be a pretty huge one. And as a reminder and heads up, there is at least one and possibly more claim wipes coming in the future, so while you wait for this update is a good time to work on templating things you want to keep – in particular we recommend templating larger builds in modular pieces, just in case claim sizes/shapes change. We look forward to getting the next update out to you so we can hear your thoughts and get your help testing our changes!”
Let there be chairs! In the latest Landmark Live broadcast, Producers Terry Michaels and Emily Taylor show off some of the changes added to the sandbox in today’s update, including the oft-requested sitting and laying down emotes. More than just a single static emote, sitting actually takes into account what is in front of the character, so legs dangle off of cliffs or chairs but stretch out on solid ground. Players can also shift between different sitting and laying down styles using the shift key. A number of other emotes were also added, such as sneeze, yawn, welcome, and flex.
Another significant feature that builders will appreciate is the new pasting with interior air ability in the tweak mode, which allows players to sink things into the ground. Also included in this update is a report claim function, improvements that reduce the amount of visual artifacting when constructing with Takish materials, and a variety of bug fixes (including the atmosphere turning blue whenever indoors near water). More details can be found in the official patch notes.
If you are eager to scope out Landmark’s new landscapes in order to find the perfect spot to construct your next home, you can get a headstart on your plans even while the servers are still down. Producer Emily “Domino” Taylor posted images of the newest islands that show off both the shapes of the new islands and the biomes available on each one. The topography is indeed varied, and there are plenty of inland waterways for folks to snatch up beachfront property. Check them out in the gallery below.
Of course, the alteration of the islands is only one part of the this giant update. Along with the crafting, achievement, and harvesting system changes, players will finally get to play as a new model, the large human. You can check out all the details and see screenshots of the new props and characters in the official wipe patch notes.
More assurances are coming your way from Daybreak Games, this time from reps of each of the studio’s games.
“Absolutely nothing” has changed, according to a Greg “SOELegion” Henninger post on the H1Z1 forums. “We’re properly staffed to move forward with our current development strategy. We’ll continue to be a transparent development team and we’ll continue on our promise and commitment to making this a player-driven game,” he writes before going on to mention a revised male player model and a female avatar “in the works.”