Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Darkpaw Rising

Massively:OP has an interesting report on Daybreak Games' applications for two new Trademarks under the names Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games.

The links at M:OP expire although you can re-search them at the Trademark database. The text of the both applications is identical. If you don't want to read it (and why would you?) it basically says they run online games.
"IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Computer game software and video game software; downloadable multiplayer, real time computer and video game software that is downloadable via an online service for entertainment purposesIC 038. US 100 101 104. G & S: Providing on-line facilities for real-time interaction with other computer users concerning topics related to games and gaming; providing on-line facilities for real-time interaction with other computer users for playing games

IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Production of video, electronic and computer game software; audio and video recording production services; entertainment services, namely, production of games software and gaming software; entertainment services, namely, providing on-line video, electronic and computer games; providing temporary use of non-downloadable video, electronic and computer games; providing information relating to video, electronic and computer games and enhancements for games; entertainment services, namely, providing a website featuring games; providing a website featuring non-downloadable game software

IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Designing and developing computer game software, electronic game software and video game software for use with computers, video game program systems and computer networks; designing and modifying computer programs, electronic games and video games for others; computer programming of video games, electronic games and computer games; design and development of computer game software and virtual reality software; video game and electronic game development services; creating computer game software"
Rogue Planet sounds unfamiliar. M:OP suggests it could cover the Planetside Franchise, which makes sense, I guess. DBG seem convinced there's still mileage there although I'm not so sure.

As M:OP also points out, "Darkpaw" could - and most likely does - refer to the Darkpaw Gnoll Clan, the least powerful and yet most famous of which is Fippy. DBG, and SOE before them, have long been obsessed with this suicidal hound, who has mounted a one-gnoll assault on the gates of Qeynos for two decades now.

His eponymous descendant, Fippy Darkpaw 4th, first appeared as a powerful and important NPC working for a shadowy organization, The Peacock Club, in EverQuest II, while the original makes a cameo as the boss of an instance in the annual Chronoportals event. Other versions pop up here and there, including a Fabled Fippy and a Heroic Fippy.

He has a geographical feature named after him in EQII (Fippy's Hill) and  a whole Server in EverQuest. He also has his own web page and theme song. Getting his name on an entire games company - or at least a subdivision - would be the crowning achievement of a bizarre and incomprehensible legacy.

What would that company do, though? It might manage and operate the EverQuest franchise. If so, naming it "Darkpaw" would be a clear signal of an intent to focus on an audience already deeply familiar with the lore. Otherwise wouldn't you just call your company EverQuest Games? Or even EQ Games?

Then again, I have absolutely no knowledge or understanding of how Trademarks work. The U.S. Patent Office lists 33 trademarks under the "EverQuest" name, seven of which are "Live", the rest "Dead". There's a link here but I don't know when it will expire.

Of the Dead ones, two appear to be from entirely different companies - the oldest, dating back to 1991 - is for "retail and wholesale distributorship of electronic products; namely, cable accessories, self protection equipment and video/audio components", which could conceivably be some kind of pre-cursor. The other, from 2013 and shown in the detail as "Abandoned", is for a very long and detailed list of "Athletic equipment" for boxing, martial arts and yoga.

The rest are all clearly EQ products or spin offs, most of which I recognize. Two of them that I didn't, EverQuest War On Faydwer and EverQuest: Attack On Qeynos, turn out to be part of a trilogy for the Pocket PC, a device I didn't recognize under that name but which was apparently once what we called Windows Phones.

The series was described as "a fairly well designed Diablo clone with an isometric point of view and a series of quests"" although given the hysterical introduction preceding the review, which sounds like it could have come straight from a newspaper campaign to get MMORPGs banned, I don't know whether it's to be trusted. There's a much more considered overview of the two sequels, Attack on Qeynos and War on Faydwer here and here.

All of those trademarks were registered in 2003, right in the middle of the game's peak success. So was EverQuest Worlds (Dead, 2003), which was a mobile app I used. It rarely worked. EverQuest Evolution (Curiously still Live, although also 2003), was a compilation of EverQuest Classic, The Ruins of Kunark, The Scars of Velious, The Shadows of Luclin, The Planes of Power and The Legacy of Ykesha. Why that compilation gets a listing when none of the many others do, I have no idea.

I'd quite like to get hold of that Pocket PC trilogy, now I know it exists. There is, astonishingly, still a downloadable free demo for the first game and what's even more amazing is that it works. I have the file on my PC all ready to install itself on my Windows CE device next time I connect it to my PC. If only I had one.

There are a few copies of the first game on for around $50 and cracked versions of all three titles can be had for free at but I'm not bothering with those unless I can find some way to run them. Emulators exist. I may attempt to install one at some stage.

Running with the assumption that Darkpaw Games will act as an umbrella for the  EQ franchise, what does that mean for the future of the games? My feeling, purely from the perspective of a committed but casual player with no interest in the guild/group/raid endgame, is that Daybreak's stewardship has meant only good things for both titles. I would be more than happy to see the current team, under Holly Windstalker Longdale, hived off to work in peace on the main part of the portfolio that interests me.

It's also possible that such a move could foreshadow the rumored "new" EverQuest game. With Next thankfully cancelled perhaps that might be something of manageable scope that could be produced at reasonable cost in a realistic timeframe.

On the other hand, it might mean the preparation for the existing games' inevitable decline into the stasis of maintenance mode, pending eventual shutdown. The choice of name certainly doesn't inspire confidence that DBG intends to push into new markets.

The other interesting story of the day is the news that Amazon Games are teaming up with Athlon Games, who were already working on a new MMORPG using the Lord of the Rings I.P. Perhaps even more intriguing is that the Amazon contribution will be lead by "the same Amazon Game Studios team behind New World" and that  "The Amazon Game Studios team working on the game includes veteran developers who have worked on Everquest, Destiny, Planetside, World of Warcraft, Defiance, Rift, and other popular MMOs." It also seems that, reading between the lines, Amazon will be in charge of the project from now on.

I was very impressed with the New World alpha and very frustrated that I haven't been able to post about it freely.  While the survival and pvp gameplay wasn't to my personal taste, the worldbuilding, the graphics, the UI and the overall quality and care were exemplary.

In places the New World environments looked almost as though they could have been drawn from Peter Jackson's movie trilogy. If the new LotR MMO is going to use that engine and those graphics it's going to be worth a very close look indeed.

All in all, a good news day, I think.

Very interesting, but where's Fippy?
Technical Note:

Some of the images above are, unusually, "borrowed" from the web. If anyone owns the copyright and would rather they weren't here, please let me know and I'll remove them. I have taken pictures of all these Fippys myself, and more (oh yes, there are more...) but I'll be darned if I can find any of them.

What's more, I just spent an hour finishing up step 51 of the Peacock Club questline just so I could get the key that gives permanent access to the Peacock Club Tavern. To do that I had to patch Test and log in my Level 90 Necromancer, who was one of my main characters for several years before the launch of the Freeport F2P server lured me away.

She had abandoned the quest just before it hit the Group and then Epic stages because, at the time she was doing it, those would have been hard to do on Test, where groups were scarce, let alone raids. In a previous step, however, she had met Fippy Darkpaw 4th in the Tavern (and I took screenshots that, of course, I now can't find).

I thought he'd still be there but The Peacock Club is an offshoot of the mysterious Society of Freethinkers. In the time since I was last allowed in they have cleared out the sleazy element from their Tavern and turned it into a respectable drinking establishment. Of Fippy there is no sign.

Just tell me where he's gone!
That was an hour wasted, at least as far as getting a shot of the elusive Mr. Darkpaw went, although I am tempted to finish the questline now, since at 90 I will easily be able to solo it to the end. It also opened up another enormous questline that I'd quite like to do, The Courts of Maj`Dul: Of Fates and Destiny.

That one gets you the title Hero of Maj`Dul, which I always fancied, although it would make more sense on my Berserker on Live since he actually lives in Maj'Dul. it also, potentially, raises you to Ally faction with all three Maj`Dul courts, Coin, Truth and Blades. It was quite a big deal back in the day, as indeed was The Peacock Club line, which rewards you with your class's Prismatic Weapon 2.0, once the weapon to be seen posing with at the bank.

It reminded me how much there is in this game I've been playing for a decade and a half that I've never seen or done. If Saw-Lau is reading this, I envy you for what you've got to come!


  1. I have already written my post on this topic, which will go live tomorrow. You will probably be amused at some of the overlap.

    And yes, the USPTO search links expire, so it is best to just point somebody to the site with the term on which they should search.

    1. I was three paragraphs into an entirely different post when we got the call to go pick up the car from the garage. That took a couple of hours and when I got back those two news items had appeared. I dropped the post I was writing, which was a bit of a filler, and started doing what I thought would be a quick news squib, then I found myself going down so many rabbit-holes it took me the rest of the day!

      The big surprise was that Pocket PC trilogy. I must have been banging on about how SOE/DBG should do some single-player EQ titles for about fifteen years now and it turns out they already did. I own Lords of Everquest, the only sdingle player EQ game I ever heard of but its an RTS, which is a genre I don't get on with. These sound much more intereting. I'm going to attempt the emulator route when I get the energy - it's usually a time-consuming disaster but fingers crossed.

    2. Wait, only heard of Lords of Everquest? By all means, also look up "Champions of Norrath" (and its sequel Champions: Return to Arms).

    3. Ah yes, the PS2 division! See previous whining and whingeing about how I never got around to looking at EverQuest Online Adventures until it was about to closedown and my various investigations into buying the relevant, then obsolete, US PS2 model that was the only one still capable of runnng the game. Which then shut down before I could source one at a reasonable cost.

      The last console I owned was the Atari2600 although we did have a Nintendo 64 in the house for a while, I believe. Even when we had three kids in the house, only one of them played video games and he kept his console in his room. Come to think of it, I bet that was a PS2...

      I had heard of the Champions titles - I read up about them a long time ago - but anything on the PS2 is dead to me. Don't suppose they're backwards compatible with any of the available Playstations. Oh, wait, but I don't own a tv to play it on either...

  2. As a huge Lord of the Rings fan who feels very strongly that LotRO does not do the setting justice, I really want that new game to be good. A decent Lord of the Rings MMO is something that could consume my life. However, I fear my expectations are so high that disappointment is the only possible outcome.

    1. LotRO is an interesting one. I think in many ways it suits the IP perfectly but the problem with the source material is that it is, in itself, wildly variable and inconsistent. I've readi the trilogy three and a half times now and my reaction to it has been completely different every time, mostly because of the maddeningly incoherent stylistic lurches, not just from volume to volume but from chapter to chapter.

      LotRO has tried to cover all of that, which I think is a mistake. I actually think an MMORPG based solidly on The Hobbit would have been far better for Turbine/Standing Stone, whose strengths have always been most evident in The Shire and the surrounding lands. They aren't great on the brooding horror part, at least by most accounts I've read. Not that I've played any further than the base game to experience the tedium and unrelenting bleakness for myself.

      Amazon Games could really go big on this - I hope they do.

  3. I am indeed reading this! Mimes has got her 'Hero of Maj'Dul' title, and the sense of accomplishment was great (even playing solo + mercenary, where you can scream through most of the content). As yet I haven't beaten the epic dungeon to get my Prismatic 2.0, but it'll come...

  4. I unfortunately never actually finished the Peacock questline.

    I had the same idea as you did about a year ago to just solo it with my Warlock when he was in his high eighties. Alas, there is a boss towards the end (if I remember correctly he's in his own instance inside the Silent City) who I still couldn't beat.
    Maybe I'll get to it someday when my gear is even better.


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