History of EverQuest II – 10th Anniversary Documentary, Part 2

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Game Updates & Maintenance

By even the most conservative estimate, EverQuest II has been a success for Sony Online Entertainment. How many MMORPGs are still running a decade later?  SOE does not publish revenue breakdowns by game, but in the last decade, the EverQuest franchise must have raised some serious bread for SOE. The first two games funded a lengthy gestational development of EverQuest Next/Landmark, the smoothly launched Planetside 2, steady producer DC Universe Online, forthcoming zombie run-and-gun H1Z1, and a couple of valiant but costly efforts including FreeRealms and The Agency.

I was initially excited when the “History of EverQuest II – 10th Anniversary Documentary” was teased seven weeks ago. A game with 10 years of history, touched by the hands of over 100 designers, artists, animators, musicians, and programmers must be bursting with captivating stories to tell. Surely SOE would be ringing their phone off the hook trying to land interviews with EverQuest II’s chief alumni.

I would have started with EQ2′s launch Producer Scott Hartsman, current CEO of Trion Worlds. He shepherded the game’s uncertain launch and is still considered by some to have been its strongest producer. The three year search for a qualified replacement that followed his departure only bolstered the EQ2 community’s unwavering adoration for him.

Next on my call list would have been loremaster Tony “Vhalen” Garcia who wrote the bible of EQ2′s enduring storyline. Woefully overqualified for the languishing Kickstarter dud “Panthon: Rise of the Fallen“, the revered scribe is left patiently waiting for Brad McQuaid to find more people to swindle. Surely even the most cursory historical documentary of EverQuest II would include at least ONE phone or Skype interview with the old guard before segueing into the current team now entrusted to carry the development torch. But it was not meant to be.

Part two of the “History of EverQuest II — 10th Anniversary Documentary” was released today and to be blunt, there is no history to be found. There is barely any documentary to be found. There is scant mention of anything more distant than the current expansion, with the majority of the 11 minute program consumed with fluff, slapstick banter, recycled clips from past events, and the obligatory “What zone would you live in if you had to?” question asked of everyone interviewed.

This was a tremendous opportunity to track down some of the people involved with the launch of the game. Out of over 100 people on the original EQ2 team, surely at least a few would be willing to speak on the phone or on camera. Instead, we got something with the depth and production values of the throwaway “Electronic Press Kits” seen in the dark early days of DVD releases.

For a game that has given players so much, and for a game which has given so much to SOE’s bottom line, it deserved better!

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Comments (35)

  • Calthine

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    While these are cute and fun, I would love something I can sink my teeth into. I want to hear about…

    * The 4-5 day downtime in.. ’05?
    * I want to hear someone’s panic story from when Vhalen stepped away.
    * I want to hear about internal debate about which legacy zone to revisit, and how.
    * I want to hear about the time when Lyndro was asked at a Fan Faire panel about wizard and druid ports to Kunark and replied “…. Oh shit.”
    * I want to hear about surviving changes in Community Managers, Producers, and other people who set the tone for everything

    I want some MEAT. I get so tired of cotton candy.

    Reply

    • Betony

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      Sounds like a good article for you to write. Pretty sure you were around for all those events and you could give the first person accounts. Have at it.

      Reply

  • Hoot

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    The smoothly launched Planetside 2????? Lol ok if you say so…

    Technically the game is still in beta. Half of the original features that were promised in development haven’t been implemented yet creating an endless TDM with no game. Still like this two years later. Hossin was originally promised in March 2013 yet was only released in August 2014 as “50% completed”

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      It did seem to launch quickly. But I didn’t know it had been robbed of resources so quickly. :(

      Reply

  • Cyliena

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    It’s nice to see that our EQ2 devs, artists and producers love the game, but whatever the original intent of this was, it was lost along the way.

    This video series was more along a “celebration of stuff we like from the past couple of years” theme rather than “history of”. I didn’t learn anything about EQ2′s history. At all. Which is a shame, because I missed the first 11 months.

    At the least, they could have had Cronyn do a lore reading for some in-game history. :P That would have been much better than.. whatever this was.

    Why couldn’t these have been released back around the anniversary, too? Afterthought, maybe?

    Reply

  • Edoo

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    Does this mean EQ2 has no history?

    Reply

  • Lateana

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    This is about what you would expect from so many folks who weren’t here at the beginning and have no idea what the history of EQ2 is. I recently looked at launch credits and the only name I saw that I recognized was Smedley. The lack of depth of knowledge about the past explains a lot about the shift from a world of exploration to a linear world of simple progression.

    Reply

    • Filly67

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      Sorry to be snarky but truthfully I didn’t expect any better. Just another example of little to no effort being put in and expecting people to be happy that they are getting anything at all or maybe the team really just doesn’t have the type of work ethic that makes you have pride in your work.

      Truthfully why would you even bother at this point. The apathy is just so clear on every level. It makes me angry, sad and frustrated all at the same time.

      Reply

    • Calthine

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      I want to say that Lyndro and Kander were there at launch, as was Moorgard. Feldon’s right, Scott Hartsman would have been a great addition.

      Reply

  • Feldon

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  • Calthine

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    Something else that bugs me: Why do we always see the same half-dozen or so people in the videos? Have we scared all the other devs off? I know they’re out there, they post on the forums… or maybe Holly has 20 sock puppet accounts!

    I love Holly, Tom, Akil, Kyle, Paul and the gang…. but don’t they have co-workers?

    Reply

    • Snowdarc

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      My eq1 friend gave that to me,called it the “Bible” lol

      Reply

      • Snowdarc

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        Eq2 was a great run..I made my necro in 05,still had corpse runs,etc…I’ve solo’d,grouped,raided hardcore…the grind now just isn’t fun.

        Reply

  • Corydonn

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    Well they did have 75% of the team or so go through the salad shooter two years ago right after SoE live to the point they had to rehire one person back to make many of the zones.

    The sad part about this video is the guy at the end saying EQ2 has a year tops may be right. With EQN retconning all the lore, I don’t think EQ1/EQ2 have very long to live and it’ll hit some people by suprise like the closing of SWG, Vanguard, and Free Realms while many people saw those coming to a close from a mile away.

    Reply

    • Caam

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      You know, you may be right. But hold on a sec. Were you one of those people who said that EQ1 would have a year tops after EQ2 came out?

      Reply

      • Corydonn

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        Nope,Sadly even starting EQ1 characters now heroic or not and you still see players of all levels running about in areas.

        Reply

  • Katz

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    I think we should just take this as it was, a group that is working still on eq2 talking about the past.

    Anything that is ever done can always be done differently and in any individual’s opinion better.

    I actually enjoyed it but I wasn’t expecting it to be a huge, more involved thing with the people mentioned in this article. I was expecting it to be consistent with what they have been doing with the other videos.

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      Sorry I’m not capable of lowering my expectations that much. If it wasn’t supposed to be a history or documentary then why were those words in the title?

      Also apparently the eq2 team almost no advance notice, which is why eq2 designers who were out of office or on vacation weren’t interviewed. Sad.

      Reply

      • Griff

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        I’m fairly confident that they would have had more time to put in quality, but they were tied up with the bean counters trying to find a way to charge SC for a Pay-Per-View version!

        Reply

  • alan

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    I too was excited by this,although to be frank what they served up was the nonsense ive come to expect from SOE,10 mins of my time that would have been better served making a bacon sandwich i’d have learnt more about the history of the game than this “documentary”.

    After many years i finally gave the game up with the pro7 nonsense,it lost my wife also after 5 years of playing,more or less every day she too wanted to see a little bit of talk about a game that for so long consumed our free time what we all ended up with was a waste of time,people come and go from any job but its shameful to pretend that the game had no history prior to smokejumper or whatever his name is which is what i take from this “doc”.

    To not interview Hartsman is shameful at best,he took a ropey game and turned it into the best MMO out there for a good few years to ignore this is folley but typical of SOE.

    Reply

    • Snowdarc

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      Yep. Pretty much a promo shill..”Look how much fun WE are still having! We joke around about where we would live,and stuff!”
      In all honesty,the 81$ I spent for this last CE,along with the 35$ for membership..would have gone a long way towards my ps4.

      Reply

      • ttobey

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        OMG SOE! This is outrageous!! Your devs actually have FUN doing their jobs!! I and my entire guild are leaving and will NEVER return!!

        Reply

        • Snowdarc

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          Don’t call it a “documentary” and not actually document shit. I’m glad they’re having fun, it was still at NO point an actual,you know..documentary.

          Reply

        • Gaealiege

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          I enjoy your snark, Tobey, but even you can’t pretend that people in the office don’t see this as nothing more than a pathetic marketing ploy.

          I’m glad that you guys enjoy your jobs, but that doesn’t mean this was anything more than a transparent marketing ploy. I agree with Feldon. Why wasn’t Hartsman or Garcia interviewed? These guys made the game. It’s clear the intention wasn’t to focus on a history of the game, rather it was to focus on very cheap marketing.

          I understand you cannot communicate your level of dissatisfaction with anything going on in the office or these types of choices. Blindly charging in with humorously false indignation certainly doesn’t bolster my opinion of you as anything more than an SOE sycophant.

          I often wonder how many of you there have a version of corporate Stockholm’s syndrome. It’s clear that your colleagues are often fired without notice or simply quit. That is not indicative of a tenable work environment.

          Reply

          • ttobey

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            So Awesome! New idea for mount coming in!
            Some type of diseased Elephant.
            Sickophant
            Psychophant….

            Thanks!

            Reply

          • Feldon

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            Tom, don’t take it personal.

            This was just something silly churned out by Marketing/Community at the last minute with almost no notice given to the EQ2 team (thus why there were so many people missing from the video). Sad that they rushed to get this recorded in a day and then it took them 2 months to edit it. Why not spend more time recording videos as team members become available and include that footage?

            Conservatively, EQ2 has made $1 billion gross revenue for SOE (most eaten up by Next, Agency, FR, etc.) and this is the “Thanks for 10 years!” video?

            This video was not done with any degree of care or thoughtfulness. It certainly was not any kind of History or Documentary but just a “someone told me to record a video” task.

            Reply

          • Snowdarc

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            And this ^^ is what the devs think of the players?

            Reply

          • Snowdarc

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            Way to rep it. No wonder 3/4 of you are unemployed.

            Reply

          • Snowdarc

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            That was at Ttobey btw…

            Reply

  • Griff

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    Well, I guess that a video showing all the early stuff that people enjoyed like having to level up and pass challenges to get to your actual class, great starter zones as well as growing up in the burbs of the main city would have reminded us of how much we now miss.

    This video reminded me of when the news casters start with their meaningless banter instead of just giving us the news we came for.

    We can thank Feldon for giving us useful information and meaningful dialog on a regular basis.

    Reply

  • GriffonLady

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    I’d love to see a Norrath lore comic book some day. Heck, if I got enough information, I’d attempt it during my breaks at school.

    Reply

  • strykr619

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    For you to say Brad swindled people is funny considering Pantheon is actually being made now….. Keep talking trash thou.

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      Brad grabbed $45k out of the failed indie campaign cause by his own words he’s flat broke:
      http://www.reddit.com/r/MMORPG/comments/24ky5b/brad_mcquaid_interviewed_by_a_moderator_on_his/

      Several of the people on Pantheon are the B team at best. Folks who couldn’t cut it at SOE and other studios.

      The zone demos which have been shown so far make heavy use of off the shelf 3d clip art and pre-built artwork.

      So please tell me more about how this is a real game and not just a big joke.

      Reply

  • Betony

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    Ah, finally found what was driving me crazy. Scott wasn’t launch producer, John Blakely was. Scott moved into the position when Blakely moved up the ladder. I remember, back then, we all just jumped up and down with glee when Scott was announced as the new game producer.

    Reply

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