Monday, July 22, 2019

EQ3 Eh? Eh? Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink, Say No More!

Wilhelm sent me a link to an EverQuest site he'd discovered, called The EverQuest Show. I think it was intended primarily as a YouTube channel, which debuted in February this year, but so far there have only been three episodes, while the website has been considerably more active. There was a new post there just today.

I've added The EverQuest Show to the blog roll but it wasn't the site itself that drew me to make this post. As I was flipping through the articles I spotted a link to an AMA with Holly "Windstalker" Longdale and three other Daybreak devs, hosted by Fires of Heaven.

It looks as though the AMA happened in May or June so it's very current. It's also very long. I read the whole thing and it took me a couple of hours. There's plenty of waffle and nonsense but also plenty of tidbits that would interest any EQ fan.

One question that crops up over and over again in different forms is whether Daybreak are working on a new EverQuest game. Holly attempts to keep a poker face on this for a while but as her answers pile up the winks and smiles give the game away, literally. Ok, metaphorically.

I've severely trimmed these but here's some of the "evidence":

Q. Since there have been some rumors going around it, Is there another EQ game in development (other than the Nantworks stuff) by DBG?

Alan VanCouvering (Lead Content Designer): Wouldn't you like to know!

Holly: ….. 
Q. Being the 20th Anniversary, what is the future of the EQ Franchise? Be specific please. Is there another game in developed or at least in the talks of being developed or are we to expect that EQ will just receive expansions and new servers each year? 

Holly: There is a future and I don’t have specifics for you. The specifics will come when we have meaningful news. 

Q. So in 2019 if I’m an old school EQ guy who loves the world (nostalgia is a hell of a drug) but I also don’t want to play 20 year old games, is there a reason to care about the franchise? Are y’all going to surprise launch an early access EQ3 or am I stuck with ignoring a mobile game?

Holly: We have spent a lot of time looking into the future and how we build this franchise up even better than we have in the past. We did some research over a year ago with all ages of gamers. It’s amazing how many young people know the name “EverQuest” because of family and other gamers. We are still relevant and considered an original. Someday soon we hope to take advantage of that global recognition and release something new. Can’t say when. Have no details. 

Q. Will daybreak ever do anything worthwhile with this IP? Specifically getting a green light to do some real development work and create an Everquest remake with the same mechanics as the original plus 2 expansions updated graphically and from an audio perspective with consoles included and cross platform play?

Holly: We will definitely do something with the IP. A strict remake? Probably not. Will it embody the EQ spirit, most likely yes.

Q. With such an iconic IP will we ever see EQ3?

Q. Now that Blizzard is showing cracks in the armor, and the MMO space is super-dry, how about you announce right here that EQ3 is in production?
Holly: Another EQ game? 😊
 In an answer to a question on EQNext, Ed Hardin III (Lead Systems Designer) said 
One of the hardest lessons we learned from Landmark/Next was to not start publicity until we are certain the promise of the game can be realized. 
From that I think we can take it we won't be hearing anything about whatever Daybreak has cooking until they're almost ready to take it out of the oven. But something is definitely cooking!

Elsewhere in the AMA there's confirmation that the mobile project NantWorks was supposedly working on, using the EverQuest IP, is still ongoing. The EQ team has some involvement, presumably advisory, but no control over what the game turns out to be.
Q. Can you give us any details at all on EQ Mobile?

Alan VanCouvering :  I don't know if anyone here knows anything about it, but it's outside our control. 

Ed Hardin III: While we (as a company) will have input into what anyone else does with EverQuest on mobile devices, we (as individuals) aren’t going to be designing it.

Holly: They are in their early days and will tell you when they are ready and confident. We are definitely involved though.
Going back to EQNext and Landmark, the team's answers confirm what I've thought for a very long time were the reasons the game never got anywhere: it was beyond the technical capacity of the company to produce, at least within the budget they had to work with.
Q. Landmark seems like a huge setback (time & financially). I spent a good chunk of time "building" in that world, but once I realized it was overtaking EQ3 production completely, I abandoned it. My drive at the time was the hope of watching EQ3 be built. Is there any regret/animosity toward going the Landmark/Voxel direction?

Alan VanCouvering: Yes, Landmark/Next cost us, but if you don't try you never know what can be done. I don't think we really regret trying, just that it didn't work out.

Q. How much of EQ: Next was real and how much of it was smoke and mirrors?
Holly: EQ Next was real, but a long way from completion when we had to walk away from it. Very tough, but the right decision at the time. There’s mountains of great work that went into that game that won’t go to waste. We aren’t done with this franchise. Not by a long bowshot.
One thing that was asked repeatedly and was shot down in flames every time was the possibility of a "Remastered" version of EverQuest. Too expensive and the resources would be better spent on a new game. Couldn't agree more.

Other topics of note (to me, at least) were:

Reverting the notorious Freeport revamp for the TLE servers (they'd like to but too time-consuming).

What happened to the Quarm special event server? (Not as popular as expected and took more dev resources than the limited interest justified).

Why isn't there a PvP server? (there is and no-one plays on it (as Wilhelm always suspected)).

Why do they keep making expansions for EQ and EQ2 that no-one plays? (Lots of people buy them).

Did the then-team know what a disaster they had on their hands with the Gates of Discord expansion (oh, yes...).

Was Brad McQuaid actually any good as a designer? (He was and remains "a driving force", "an unstoppable force").

And to finish, a couple of short ones that deserve re-quoting in full:
Q. Any thoughts on Legends style TLP servers? Premium fee on top of regular sub, DBG gets additional funding, we get real GMs and regular events? (For those who missed it, Legends was a Premium server with a much higher subscription charge than the regular game)

Alan VanCouvering: Legends was a disaster in all possible ways. I highly doubt that enough people would actually want to pay as much as we would need to ask for to run a server like that.

Holly: What Alan said. Entitlement breeds demands that no dev team could realistically meet. Doesn’t mean we won’t offer premium-type stuff, but that server was super painful as a business model and play experience for a bunch of reasons.
And my favorite of all:

Q. Why does my Clockwork Rhino mount eat all my food?
Alan: There might be a gnome living inside it. 
Ed: I can’t say there isn’t a gnome.
There's a lot more in the full thing. I recommend reading it thoroughly if you have an interest in EQ or, indeed, in how Daybreak operates these days. And thanks again to Wilhelm for steering me in the general direction of this little goldmine. If it was reported or referenced anywhere else I didn't see it.


  1. Thanks for digging into that site right away. I found the site, glanced through it quickly, and decided I ought to forward it on to you. My action has been rewarded with this post!

    1. Glad to be of service, as Douglas Adams' doors would say!

  2. Despite not really being a heavy EQ player, the death of EQNext was quite a blow. It was long and extended, with no updates for years before it became 'official' and yet still hit hard even so.

    So! I'm not sure I'm ready to believe again just yet! They have left the door wide open for the franchise to be used in something like a new RTS, or offline experience. xD

    I guess I could quite get into an open-world single (or small multi) RPG story driven game though, but I guess we'll have to see what they say when they're ready.

    1. They definitely weren't dropping any hints about the sub-genre of whatever it is they're working on. I wonder if they really want to run three EQ-themed MMOs at once? There's a strong desire in the current EQ community for a version of EQ with nodern UI and graphics and there's a non-trivial chance that Pantheon could meet that desire, so it might be seen as prudent to cut that off before it happens. They also now have the experience of both EQ2 and the failed EQN to draw on - and I do think the current team is laser-focused compared to the indisciplined randomness of the later Smed operation.

      I definitely wouldn't discount something in another sub-genre of RPG with an EQ theme, though. I think a single player/co-op EverQuest rpg could do very well if it was half-decent, for example. If you read the whole AMA, at one point Holly replies to the suggestion they should do an EQ BAttle Royale with "No. NO" but elsewhere in the same AMA there's a reply saying they have considered both Battle Royale and MOBA formats.

      Whatever it is their up to, they have clearly already started and I don't think they can afford to shelve yet another project, given how long these things take, so we are going to get whatever we are going to get.

  3. My big concern is they go the Blizzard route and make some chintzy mobile game that's low on cost and big on expected returns, and expect 30-40 yo PC gamers to lap it up.

    1. Well, it looks like anything mobile is going to come from NantWorks. That could be anything but I imagine it will be standard mobile fare. My guess is that whatever DBG themselves are working on will be pitched solidly at the millions of ex-EQ players out there, not, as EQNext was, at an audience not previously interested in the franchise.


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