Your Next: New Scope

After a masterful marketing push, Crowfall met its Kickstarter target in about three days. The ideas look fresh and solid, and there’s some seriously hefty industry talent backing it up, so best of luck to them and check it out if you haven’t already. The goal of 800k was relatively modest, and I’ve got my hopes pinned on the $1.3M stretch goal.

All the attention on Crowfall has actually turned a few new people onto Camelot Unchained, and while I expect the games will play very differently, it looks like they’ll be fishing from the same pool. Camelot Unchained is aiming for an alpha launch some time in the next month, so expect to hear a bit about that as well.

As someone looking forward to both of these games, it’s an exciting time for me (hooray for me!), and with a few recent gems like Darkest Dungeon, LISA, Sunless Sea and Hand of Fate being Kickstarted, I’m feeling as optimistic as ever.

Your Next: Proving Negatives

For a while there I was thinking I wouldn’t have much to talk about; be careful what you wish for, I guess.

When news started to come out about the layoffs at Daybreak Game Company, players were understandably skeptical about the prospects of EverQuest Next and Landmark. With high profile names being let go, it’s easy to feel like the foundation is falling away.

It’s been wonderful to see the support from the community for the people who were let go, the tribute card in Landmark is a sight to behold, and a fitting tribute to the legacy of those people that made it possible.

It’s also a tribute to the players who made it possible and the strength of the Landmark community, which seems to have redoubled its efforts to be the most welcoming and supportive in gaming.

The message from Daybreak over the last week has been that the games remain a team effort, and while adjustments have to be made and priorities shifted, the guiding principles and foundational principles remain the same. Which is exactly what you’d expect to hear.

In times gone by, that would have been the end of it. We would have had a press release, some clarifications on an official forum, an approved interview or two, and that would be that. It’s happened many times before and shows no signs of slowing down. However, in this brave new world of open development and increased transparency, we were treated to a Q&A session with senior members of the team, using questions submitted by players.

EQNext & Landmark Q&A Livestream (Recap)

The Daybreak EverQuest Next and Landmark team (above picture, left to right) of Rosie Rappaport, Michael Mann, Steve Klug, Terry Michaels, Darrin McPherson, Colette "Dexella" Murphy (community) and Emily "Pentapod" Taylor livestreamed a Q&A session this evening. Questions were taken from social media, the forums and leftovers from previous livestreams. Below are the notes we took, which are categorized for our sanity.

Highlights

There were a few important things mentioned during the livestream tonight:

  • Terry Michaels is leading the team; there's still many people (not all-new people, either) working on the games (see the pic of them in the hallway further down)
  • Daybreak is no longer working with Storybricks. They are utilizing the work that was already done, but the relationship between the two companies is now over.
  • Landmark open beta will be "when we're ready", according to Emily. They don't want to commit to a date; development is always moving toward it. Once the team has a date, they will share it.
  • Free-to-Play: There was an interesting response to whether or not Landmark and EverQuest Next will remain F2P. Terry stated that at the moment they think the games will keep that model, but they're unwilling to commit to saying that's how it will remain by the time it launches. Some more discussion ensued on the topic, basically saying that many monetization models could work for the game. (Personal opinion? Go with B2P, guys!)

Near the end of the stream, there was discussion over a question regarding a final plan for the game. Darrin pointed out that a lot of research and development constantly goes into a product like this, and the discussion was a bit unclear beyond that point from my end. My interpretation of this response, based on the earlier discussion of when Landmark will hit open beta, is that the team only plans the next several months at a time and may not have set in advance solid milestones to hit to say the games are ready to roll into the next phase.

Here's the rest!

Your Next: About People

I suppose there’s only one thing to talk about this week.

Sony Online Entertainment broke away from its parent company to become Daybreak Game Company, thanks to investment from Columbus Nova.

As is the all too common and incredibly unfortunate nature of deals like these, the company had to let some people go. When costs are too high for projected revenue, tough decisions have to be made. The important thing to remember in times like these is that it’s people making these decisions, and these decisions affect people.

For all that we care about the games (which is less than the current and former employees of Daybreak, by the way), what this means to us as players is insignificant compared to what it means to the people whose lives were affected.

I want to take a moment to state that I am in full support of the talented, passionate people still at Daybreak, their amazing work continues to inspire me, and I have complete faith they will continue to blow us away.

Friday Update Arcade: Episode 19

Lindsay "geektr0n" Ferguson hosts ZAM's latest installment of Friday Update Arcade! Topics discussed include the Lost Vikings being introduced to Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends Nemesis mode, the World of Warcraft Mythic Blackrock Foundry guide, recent layoffs at Daybreak Games and Atari's reveal of the survival game, Asteroids: Outpost.

Layoffs Begin at Daybreak Games

UPDATE, Feb 12th: Thanks to everyone who has reached out to us regarding this news. I doubt we'll get an exhaustive list, but it's obvious that the community team, producers and developers were all hit pretty hard. You can contact us at news@zam.com or directly to @Cyliena on Twitter if you have more information.


One year ago I took the above picture of a smiling Linda "Brasse" Carlson, the Director of Community Relations, in her expertly handmade dwarven regalia, on the Sony Online Entertainment campus.

About an hour ago the first confirmed layoff from the transition to Daybreak Games hit, with Linda posting on Facebook that "I have been released from the best and most challenging job I have ever had. I thank you all for being part of that incredible experience. Too many people to thank personally, but know that I am extraordinarily grateful and very curious where life takes me now."

Linda isn't the only one affected. EverQuest franchise Director of Development Dave "Smokejumper" Georgeson has confirmed now on Twitter that he was laid off. EverQuest II artist Aaron "Gnobrin" Bisnett has also confirmed that he is gone, and we've been told that Systems Designer Akil "Lyndro" Hooper (confirmed now) from EQ/EQ2 has been let go as well.

Also confirmed are Adam "Ngreth" Bell (EQ dev) (x), Tiffany "Amnerys" Spence (Community) (x), Racheal "Afista" McKenny (EQ2 Community) (x), Endymion (EQ2 dev) (x), Eric "Felgon" Smith (Landmark/EQNext producer) (x), Noah Watkins (H1Z1 artist) (x), Steve "Moorgard" Danuser (EQNext Lead Content/Story Designer) (x), Kelduum Revaan (H1Z1 Technical Designer) (x), Aimee "Ashlanne" Rekoske (Community) (x), David Carey (PS2 producer) (x), Jeffrey Bard (EQ2 dev) (x) and Michael "Xelgad" Ganz (EQ2 dev) (x). There are likely many more, but these are the only ones we publicly know of at this time; a list on Reddit has a few more names not mentioned here.

On Thursday, February 12th, both H1Z1 developer Ryan Elam (x) and PlanetSide 2 Creative Director Matt Higby announced their voluntary resignations.

Colette "Dexella" Murphey posted the company's official statement; here are the key points:

Last week we announced that we were acquired and are now operating independently as Daybreak Game Company.

Unfortunately, this realignment means adjusting staffing as well. We announced today that we will eliminate positions in our San Diego and Austin studios.

These reductions will not affect the operation of our current games and as mentioned above, will help better position our company for future success.

Daybreak's full statement is found after the jump. Tiffany "Amnerys" Spence has discussed turning over a new leaf on her blog, while former PlanetSide 2 producer David Carey posted an insightful public note to the community regarding the layoffs over on Reddit.

We wish the best to everyone involved.

Columbus Nova Acquires Sony Online Entertainment

UPDATE: Linda "Brasse" Carlson confirmed there will be no convention this year. "For those asking about SOE Live: we are taking a hiatus from our annual Live event to shift our focus to our exciting transition and the future of Daybreak Game Company."


This morning, Sony Online Entertainment announced that it was acquired by a company called Columbus Nova and will be rebranded as "Daybreak Game Company." SOE will operate as an independant studio and will even branch out into the Xbox platform.

Your Next: Friendly Competition

This week we begin with a little trip down memory lane and a few thoughts about Guild Wars 2. I know I’m supposed to be talking about EverQuest Next and Landmark, we’ll get there really soon, I promise.

With the rumors of a Guild Wars 2 expansion looking more solid every day (at this point we’re just waiting for the official announcement), I found myself downloading the client for a trip down memory lane. After years invested in World of Warcraft, and the disappointment of Star Wars: The Old Republic, GW2 sits as my second MMO love. It’s true that it’s sweeter the second time around, but you never forget your first.

As this column goes live GW2 will be on sale at 75% off, and after the announcements at PAX South interest in the game will be peaking. I imagine many old faces will be returning to mingle with the new ones. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth your time, I definitely recommend it. It’s fast paced, fun and polished with plenty to do, and it’s really grown into itself over the last year. While there’s no shortage of things to do with other players, the traditional raiding endgame is absent, so if that’s your one and only love you’re better off looking elsewhere. No doubt there will be big things happening over the next few months, so it’s a perfect time to jump in.

Two of my favorite aspects of the game are the build system (which is beautifully elegant in design) and the combat system. Both these systems are best demonstrated in the various PvP types; the PvE content is not the best light to see them in, but it’s been this way since launch and the efficiency-obsessed corner of the community has only made the situation worse. This may be about to change though, and the reason why might interest those of you keeping a close watch on the development of EverQuest Next and Landmark.

We got to the part about EQN! If you made it this far, allow yourself a little treat as congratulations. A bon-bon, perhaps, or a glass of wine. Don’t overdo it though, there’s a few hundred words to go.

Your Next: Change for a Dollar

We made it! Now that pesky 2014 is out of the way we can all get on with our lives, confident that this year will see Landmark move into open beta and hopeful for a playable version of EverQuest Next within the next 12 months. Also this year will be Avengers: Age of Ultron and, if we all decide to be super-cool to each other, world peace and the promise of an escape from the nightmarish dystopian future we’re collectively plummeting towards. Happy New Year!

It’s unlikely that 2014 will go down as a vintage year for video games; with a lukewarm reception  for many AAA offers and little in the way of smash-hit indie crossovers, I expect we’ll collectively wash our hands of it and move on. If you’re interested, games I liked this year included LISA, Kentucky Route Zero and Wasteland 2. I would be willing to say they were good in front of people, confident that those listening would infer from this small selection that my taste was that of a debonair trendsetter.

“But what about MMOs?”, cry the voices in my head. Well voices, I won’t lie, it’s been a disappointing one. The same mistakes are repeated with a now tedious inevitability, and we’re all subjected to people like me bemoaning the state of the industry. Rest assured that I hate writing about it just as much as you hate reading about it, but what I could really do without is the clown-shoes-merry-go-round that leads us back here time after time.

Your Next: Links to EQN

I expect everyone’s far too busy playing Landmark to be reading this, so I suppose I could write about anything. We could do some kind of top 10 list, that’s very popular at this time of year. Maybe an introspective essay about how my relationship with my mother influenced my approach to Pokémon Blue.

I’m joking of course; I’m going to talk about EverQuest Next and Landmark to feed my peculiar addiction.

Keeping track of all the changes to Landmark this week, along with everything that’s coming soon after the holidays, feels like trying to look at a parade balloon that’s right outside your window. You can see it’s massive, you’re pretty sure it’s awesome and you wish you could see the whole thing.

One of my favorite things about following the development of these two games is contemplating how one affects the other. No doubt much will be said of how this weeks additions change the dynamic of Landmark (and we can reasonably expect this to be a recurring theme in the months ahead), but what do these systems say about EQN?