Tuesday, 15 September 2015

An Expansion By Any Other Name : EQ2

Right on the heels of my previous post about the direction of travel for Daybreak Games comes Holly "Windstalker" Longdale's latest Producer's Letter, here reported by the invaluable EQ2Wire. For anyone who plays the game or has been following the progress of DBG since the buyout it makes for very interesting reading. There certainly seem to have been some changes of heart - or attitude or policy, have it as you will.

A few months ago someone important at DBG clearly thought the future was going to be sufficiently different from the past that it was worth taking the risk of riling up the regulars and courting negative press by making a formal announcement that there would be no more expansions.  Spin that any way you want, it was always going to be read, in some circles at least, as raising a flag over the continued future of the franchise. Whether it was a red flag of warning or a white flag of surrender it surely signaled some kind of bad news.

As for whatever content might be doled out in Adventure Packs or DLC or Campaigns or even Campansions, well names are important. Even if the quantity and quality was equivalent, for a game that had pretty much banged out a minimum of one full expansion a year since launch (often two in a year in the case of EverQuest, where a cessation of expansion was also announced) a step away from expansions was always going to feel like a step backwards.

Whether someone in Marketing or PR finally got that point across or whether priorities and resources were genuinely switched around, the rather-a-lot-more-than-rumors of the death of the EQ2 expansion turn out to have been heavily exaggerated:

"Our next expansion release is right around the corner! Yes, you heard me right – expansion! The team has been churning away and when we looked at the amount of content we created, we decided to call our next release an expansion rather than a campaign or the much-loved term, “campansion.”"



We're still waiting on the full content list for the EXPANSION. Come to that we're still waiting on a name, although we won't have to wait all that long. In common with most MMO companies nowadays everything has to have its own full-blown PR campaign and this one begins on October 1st. With a Livestream on Twitch. Because of course it does.

We do have a little info:

"The 12th expansion for EverQuest II includes a sprawling overland and loads of content with quests, advanced solo and heroic dungeons, and a healthy number of raids including x2s and x4s"

I note "a sprawling overland" rather than the traditional two overland zones. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how sprawling it actually is.  I'm reassured to hear there will be "loads of content". Although come to think of it one of my favorite EQ2 expansions ever was Age of Discovery, which infamously had no content at all.

In an interesting and possibly controversial move

"...if you purchase (or pre-order) the next expansion, you’ll also get access to ALL of the previous expansion content (including the Rum Cellar Campaign)".

That's obviously a good deal for everyone who, like me, didn't bother to fork out for Rum Cellar but I can already hear the sound of whetstones, sharpening the tines of the pitchforks of those who laid out real money for the Adventure Pack just a few months or maybe even weeks ago. I'm kidding of course; no EQ2 fan ever lets her pitchfork go blunt.


But wait - did I say real money? Of course I did because we all know that old SOE worked out, eventually, that they were giving away the farm with the manic combination of triple Station Cash sales and expansions purchasable for SC. They put a stop to it forever, didn't they?

Apparently not:

"Altar of Malice and Rum Cellar will also be available to buy with Daybreak Cash through the Web site."

It's all getting very complicated.There's also a half-price sale on those two if you pay in real money but they're full price for imaginary money and after the end of September "Altar of Malice will no longer be for sale".

Is that at all or just at half price or for DBC? I think it means at all because, presumably, from then on if you want AoM you'll just have to buy XPack12 - after all it includes AoM and every other EQ2 expansion ever, so why would you want to buy anything else?

For that matter, unless you are insanely impatient, why would you want to buy AoM or Rum Cellar now, even at 50% off? Wouldn't you just wait and get them rolled into the new one? After all you've managed without them for this long...

On the other hand I have a LOT of Daybreak (nee Station) Cash on the account that used to be my All Access account but is now my free account and it doesn't have AoM. I could get the stuff I'm missing there while it's available for funny money, then skip a year and an expansion and pick it back up this time next year...

My head hurts now. Why do they make me have to think?




7 comments:

  1. This is pretty exciting, right? I imagined only dire things for Daybreak as things have unfolded over the course of this year, but it appears there is hope and excitement after all. I'd certainly purchase the expansion if it comes with all of the previous ones, now that it appears the game might be around long enough for me to play through them.

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  2. Wellll.... your head may hurt more after you read Feldon's commentary about all this. Hint: He included a Dilbert cartoon. ouch

    -- 7rlsy
    AB/Stormhold

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    1. Feldon seems to be worked up about SOE marketing getting in the way to what the EverQuests team (wanted: decent shorthand for "the team that does both EverQuest and EverQuest II") is doing, though I am not sure he came out with enough to really prove that marketing was standing in the way of the full announcement. And, of course, this led him to cross swords again with the RadarX, who was apparently annoyed before the post went live. Fun fun.

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    2. I really appreciate all that Feldon does for the EQ2 community but sometimes he goes off on one about things that just make no sense to me at all. I can't see that what EQ's marketing people are doing is any different to what the marketing people in any other MMO I play do. Yes, you can argue marketing is unnecessary but we've also seen the results when the people who do the actual design/development/coding try to promote the game and it hasn't always been pretty.

      I did roll my eyes at another Livestream launch but that's what everyone does nowadays. I can't see how waiting another two weeks for more information is going to hurt anyone. Honestly, Feldon should try playing GW2 for a while and see what ANEt's marketing team get up to!

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    3. I think he basically raving about three things with that product line. One is that there has barely ever been any marketing. GW2, FFXIV, Rift, etcetera seemed to have always done a lot more. Another is that dev and marketing have never cooperated well. Okay, that's probably near universal in the industry but... We had a silly idea that maybe the change of ownership would have a postive effect on those two track records.

      My impression is that the staff working on the games, including administrative, are having a much better, if no less agenda crunched, time of it since the transition. The mood just seem a lot better around there. Too bad the other departments (customer service?) haven't likewise appeared to change for the better.

      Yeah, GW2 has its own bizarre communications... but at least they put resources into and give lead-in times in the effort to confuse and annoy us.

      -- 7rlsy

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  3. If they charge the same amount for the expansion I will be the first one to start complaining. One of the few reasons I purchased Rum Cellar (which was underwhelming content wise) was beacuse that and the fall content was supposed to equal one expansion. That includes the price to me. This just sounds like they are going to charge the same amount as in the past and got some extra $ for the rum cellar. I just want them to stick to their word.

    I also think the merges are interesting. The side note on it says that they are going back to the old tech on the merge. I may be wrong, but I read it as they were going to the servers and merge them onto a brand new one. Now they are going to merge the three down to an existing one. I bet this changes if we ever see cross server dungeons.

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    1. Obviously I know absolutely nothing about the technical aspect but it seems odd that merging two servers onto a third that already has data is easier than merging three onto a fourth that has none. Still, I've been through many EQ/EQ2 server merges before and never had any problems so probably better that they stick with the tried and trusted way.

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