Closing the Book on EverQuest Next and Landmark

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

eqnext_georgeson

In a eulogy, it is customary to say positive things about the deceased. Now where to begin…

I played Landmark in Alpha and quite enjoyed what depth it had in the progression of harvesting nodes, huge array of crafting materials, compounding recipes, and choice of crafting tables. And I was blown away by what players were able to create. Inside of just a few days, players discovered bugs (unintended features?) with the engine that allowed the partial removal of voxels which allowed for incredible designs and nearly photorealistic structures to be created. While there wasn’t a whole lot of “game” per se, what was there had enough complexity to hold my interest. I had a genuine desire to level up my harvesting tools and get access to better recipes and spent hours harvesting and exploring the world.

In 2009 at the annual Fan Faire event in Las Vegas, the first hint that Sony Online Entertainment was working on a fourth MMO in the EverQuest series dropped in Jace Hall’s wretched EverCracked mockumentary. Not much was said except that work had begun. At the 2010 Fan Faire, SOE President John Smedley personally hosted two “EQNext Input” panels. All manner of topics were discussed, with the then dev team staying rather tight-lipped other than “choices would matter” and that the number of classes would be kept low. At least that’s what I can remember from the panel I attended.

As someone who attended the EverQuest II: Age of Discovery expansion panel, which was dominated by Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson promising the moon and stars, and then comparing that with the more down-to-earth feature pack we eventually got (Dungeon Maker and Tradeskill Apprentices being particularly unfinished), I had developed a skepticism that many of the gaming journalists and fan sites that would eventually cover EQNext and Landmark lacked.

In May 2011, SmokeJumper was promoted from Senior Producer of EQ2 to Executive Producer over EQ, EQ2, and I’m going to assume, EverQuest Next. With the EverQuest Next Reveal Trailer dropping in April 2013, it’s completely plausible that he spent those two years (if not more) at the reins.

eqnext_rrr_img_128295

All of the complexity present in Landmark during Alpha was stripped out in a Beta update, which consolidated crafting and harvesting to a single table and just a handful of materials. This became a recurring theme during Landmark’s alpha, beta, and then brief existence as a published game — Major sweeping changes were made, followed by months of silence.

The Landmark building tools have been iterated over numerous times, but each fix seems to introduce new bugs. Today, it is not possible to place the award-winning buildings created in the early days of Landmark into the world without some sort of graphical distortion or corruption. Technical problems and design decisions hobbled the game and have driven away its already shrinking audience.

In recent months, as a sort of grim reality set in on the official Landmark forums, players have reported upon the number of active accounts logged into the game at prime time. Landmark has no Anonymous or Roleplay tag, so the number of characters online is accurate. The numbers at peak time hover around 120-150 players, with as few as a dozen online during the day. Considering the beefy server hardware required to maintain the game, the closure of Landmark is the logical conclusion of a simple financial equation. Still, I honestly thought that Landmark would be given a solid year to exist before sailing off into the sunset.

I draw no enjoyment in writing a post-mortem of Landmark, but I doubt anyone else will go into such depth. I also bear no ill will towards its development team that threw thousands of hours into this project in the hopes that it would be the “next big thing”. The excitement of the developers at SOE Live finally being able to showcase what they’d been working on for so long in the “black box” was palpable. Now, three years later, it is easy to look back at what little information still remains after the disappearance of the EQNext forums, website, and YouTube channel and draw the wrong conclusions. Here are mine:

  1. The fate of EQNext/Landmark was sealed early on by design decisions and (despite having so many years under its belt of abandoned effort) rushed development and being announced before anything concrete had been planned or tested.
  2. Carte blanche was given to a few decision makers based only on a cult of personality, resulting in minimal experienced critical analysis of ongoing work.
  3. Despite promises of an open development process, interaction with customers completely ceased, with each game update being a complete surprise.

Rerolled

With Sony Online Entertainment giving way to Daybreak Games and Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson leaving for funtirement on other shores, there were many in the EQN/L fan community who felt that the game’s hopes and dreams went with him. The Rerolled forums, recently respun as the Fires of Heaven forums, are a hotbed of player (and sometimes developer) discussion. Much of it bears a strong resemblance to an average EQ2Flames rant, however some of it includes genuine, credible information. Reading the comments of three former SOE employees gives some insight into what really went wrong.

From Elidroth:

Dave’s direction pushed Landmark into being a game instead of just the tools to create the voxel world.. In some way, you could say this decision ultimately caused EQN to be cancelled.

and:

Landmark began as nothing more than the tools to make EQN. Then ponytail got a wild hair up his ass to make it a game, which ultimately killed EQN. Developmentally, Landmark and EQN were the same on the engineering side for a long time because they had obstacles to overcome which applied to both. Ponytail is the main reason EQN never happened because he refused to let go of Landmark as a game and wasted years of resources in trying to brute force it into being. The designers on EQN wrote hundreds and hundreds of design docs, often rewriting them as goals changed because they had no actual tools to make the game yet.

and:

Smed gave Dave free reign over EQN because he knew Dave had passion for MMOs where Smed did not. Smed’s real blame here is trusting Dave too much and not keeping a closer watch on things. Also, Dave is incredibly good at the smoke and mirrors game. That and self-promotion are probably his two best skills.

From Mughal:

Basically all the systems like pathing, AI, voxels should have been prototyped and tested with placeholders during pre-production. Instead (not going to speculate as they might have had their reasons) SOE decided it was a good idea to hire designers, writers, an entire floor of artists and announce a game without even knowing if any of these components were going to work together or if it was fun. The worst part was to have to do fake demos for SOE Live (the NPCs running around in the 1st gameplay reveal? they were controlled by actual people as there was no pathfinding).

From Mughal:

…the decision to publish Landmark was not driven to sell something to players. It was done to show that SOE had a pipeline of products so it would be more attractive to prospective buyers (and Sony was really annoyed at them losing so much money and they wanted a game out asap). compared to what SOE was burning in payroll…the Landmark revenues were negligible.

From Elidroth:

Landmark was a disaster. It should have remained a toolset for building EQN and nothing more. I can clearly remember Dave saying things like “The creation tools will be simple to use and the most powerful ever seen”, as if somehow those 2 things can co-exist. Sorry, but no. Easy to use should have been the focus, and that sadly never happened. They always had a ridiculous learning curve to do anything beyond basic sh*t. Locking all those special tools behind progression was also a REALLY dumb idea. Yep.. let’s PREVENT players from doing cool stuff until they’ve made 100 dumb swords, and harvested 100 plants. If I had my way, everything would have just been open to use.. Go nuts creation mode.

The majority of the really crazy sh*t the voxel tools could do was by pure accident with the system trying to comprehend what the ‘player’ really wanted to do. We (other team devs) repeatedly told them they needed to make things easier to use to increase critical mass involved, and were repeatedly told to mind our own business, you’re stupid, and on and on. Micro-Voxels, Zero-Voxels, whatever the **** you wanted to call them was the engine trying to resolve something unintended, and coming out with something interesting and useful. It wasn’t planned in any way, shape, or form.

Let’s be clear too.. Landmark was Dave’s obsession, and there simply was no way to convince him otherwise about it being a game. I believe this ultimately killed EQN.

and:

SOE/DBG had/have some absolute wizard level coders in the company.. Steve Klug, Terry Michaels, Jenn Chan, and several others are BRILLIANT people.. But with any project when you try to brute force it with sheer numbers, you get some jackasses in the mix too.

and from Mughal:

There was a lot going on behind the scenes between [Georgeson], Smed and Sony with budgets and the sale of SOE that took more than a year. Having said that Dave approached the project with the wrong assumptions and when the market pushed back he doubled down on his mistakes. EQN was his responsibility and he blew it, and Smed should have removed him sooner when it became clear what was happening.

Not a fan of him whitewashing his responsibilities and offloading blame to others.

In regards to CN’s hires, they are finally restructuring DBG from a money pit to a company that can turn a profit. This is why they finally appointed a creative director, a head of monetization, financial controllers etc. Under Smed it was a leaky ship that was hiring nice-but-ultimately-incompetent people that unsurprisingly attended the same church as him on Sundays.

EDIT: just to be clear I wish Smed the best. Ultimately he … really cared about games and gamers. He just built a broken process from which only broken games could come out. His new company is no different. I hope for his sake that he proves me wrong.

Of course these quotes will be dismissed as the words of disgruntled employees. I have never heard a more worthless expression than “disgruntled employee.” The opinions of a former employee are no less valuable than the opinions of a former customer or former anything else. Yes, they should be taken in context, but to dismiss them out of hand is to do the jobs of Public Relations and Human Resources for them.

Further Random Thoughts

  • Trailblazer packs for the then-titled EverQuest Next Landmark were estimated to have made over $10 million and were sold with the obvious connection that it would eventually support development of EverQuest Next.
  • Development on EQNext / Landmark began before the technology had been sufficiently tested. It was not known if the engine/platform could support all the features that were announced on stage at SOE Live. NPC Pathing did not work until December 2014 and requires 6GB of pathing data per island per world.
  • The EverQuest Next “combat demo” shown at SOE Live in 2013 was entirely smoke and mirrors, with developers back at the home office “playing” NPCs.
  • The VoxelFarm engine adopted for Landmark and EverQuest Next was modified in such a way that upstream changes and improvements to VoxelFarm (including major new features like placeable flowing water and fixes for bugs that plague Landmark to this day) could not be integrated.
  • Landmark was only ever intended or built as a Development Kit for creating EverQuest Next geometry. As a result, it was not a “game” and never saw basic features such as Trading items, proper Guilds, or a Broker.
  • It was revealed at the “Tech Evolution” panel at SOE Live in 2014 that this was the fourth rendition of EverQuest Next. The first two had been cancelled as being direct sequels to EQ or EQ2 and “not thinking big enough”. The third was a fixed block size version of the game. The fourth iteration introduced scaling voxels.
  • Feedback from the existing EverQuest and EverQuest II teams was largely ignored. Instead, credence was primarily given to outside feedback from recently laid off 38 Studios staff and other outsiders in the industry. 38 Studios staffers in particular encouraged the exaggerated Disney character style.
  • Georgeson went around the office telling anyone within earshot that EverQuest Next “didn’t need designers” and that “players will make the content for us”. Suffice it to say, this kind of talk was rather demoralizing for other teams within the company that valued storytelling.
  • Sony Online Entertainment took a $62 million writeoff in 2013 for development costs associated with EverQuest Next and H1Z1.
  • When SOE was given access to see exactly what Storybricks was and wasn’t, members of the EQNext team found that it was not a good fit. Rather than immediately changing course to other solutions, or beginning development on traditional storytelling tools for designers to start creating content along the lines of EQ, EQ2, and more modern MMOs, Georgeson “doubled down” on Storybricks as the be-all solution for game content creation and would not waver from that course despite it quickly becoming clear that the software could not get them from point A to point B and deliver what had been announced.

EverQuest Next / Landmark was the game that launched a hundred fan sites and blogs. Even after eight years covering EverQuest II and SOE/Daybreak Games, I still have some optimism left that we might see a proper sequel to EverQuest that runs on computer hardware owned by mere mortals and is just plain fun. Have enough changes been made in the Daybreak organization to make the impossible possible? I hope so.

Trackback from your site.

Comments (72)

  • Corydonn

    |

    I am just speechless as how much Georgeson fucked over this franchise. I could probably talk for days about how passionate I am about Everquest and the things it has done in my life. It really is sad to see all this written out.

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      The guy is passionate and could sell ice to Eskimos. He’d make an amazing Brand Manager. But directing game design? It’s a different gift.

      Reply

      • Corydonn

        |

        Yeah, He sold me a big heap of hype for 100$ and I got a big pile of Mighty Number Nothing

        This statement though just makes me hate him ever so though. “The worst part was to have to do fake demos for SOE Live (the NPCs running around in the 1st gameplay reveal? they were controlled by actual people as there was no pathfinding).”

        Reply

        • John Danielson

          |

          I seem to remember some other guy named Sean Murray who did that. For as radioactive as they have become in the industry, together they could probably sell a couple more overhyped preorders…

          Reply

      • Kinya

        |

        I totally agree. This man and his stupid decisions ruined EQ2 for me and my friends.
        He talks a lot and he knows how to sell stuff to people, but that’s it. I remember also, that since first EQN presentation on SOE Live I was telling my friens and readers that I do not belive we will ever see this game. I was sceptic all the way just because of Georgeson. And I as right.
        Thx Feldon, as always very nicely written article :)

        Reply

    • Rotchi

      |

      Yeah… the downfall of eq2 started the day they hired Georgeson… the focus shifted to short term cash grabbing through the shop… the quality of expansions and content became worse and worse.. not polished, buggy… all focus was on pushing content that you could sell more items through the shop… went from quite a lot of servers and now we are down to three,,, Not played the past two expansions, but from what I seen the quality of the game have plummit even further while most new stuff is made to sell even more microtransactions…

      Not touching another Daybreak game ever again.. which is sad since the most fun I had playing any game is during eq2.. untill Dave came that is.

      Reply

  • Felyna

    |

    I am not a commenter normally, but I feel I need to comment on this in particular. I also went onto youtube and found the 2013 reveal of the game, because i remembered part of it that wasn’t mentioned here.

    At the very end he ‘pulled back the curtain’ on developers playing the game. It was extremely obvious there was no AI and the entire thing was smoke and mirrors because the trash up the ruined castle didn’t even flinch as they were killed. Even to my, admittedly, OMG AMAZING thoughts this soured it to me. I also thought it felt like it was trying to be Guild Wars 2 with their living world event system.

    Landmark was fun at first alpha, even with the ui bugs. The whole progression system and having to mine all my materials was okay, if extremely poorly implemented. Having said that, it’s not exactly what I envisioned when I bought Landmark. Do I regret doing so? No, I had fun in it with friends even if it was clunky. It should have been a true sandbox with dev tools, not the game that Smokejumper gave it.

    In the end though, his entire legacy is now gone. EQN cancelled, Landmark closing, and if reading this is any sign, it’s probably for the better.

    Will we see another EQ mmo? I am an optimistic person by nature, so I say yes. Daybreak needs to keep it quiet and focus on what makes the EQ games good and expand on that with good features rather than trying to pull everything into one game and being unfun.

    As an aside, I am rather curious about who was the game director during which times in EQ2′s life. Might make for some interesting theory.

    Reply

    • Thait

      |

      We’ll see another EQ. They literally can not sit around and not make one. If they do not make a new game their money will eventually dry up. While they might be making plenty right now off of the games that actually have players they need to invest that money into new games or they will slowly wither away.

      Since Everquest is one of, if not the, strongest brand they have they will put out a new game. I would be surprised if we heard about it soon though. Maybe, and it’s a big maybe, we might hear some hints on it in 2018. I would be shocked if we heard something on it by the end of this year, it would be too early.

      Reply

  • Gezzer

    |

    “I still have some optimism left that we might see a proper sequel to EverQuest”

    Really? I mean Really???

    I bought into Landmark when it was still a SOE product, not because of EQN but because I thought I saw a next gen Minecraft, that might also come with AAA polish.

    After playing with it and before the sale to Novus I realized that the underlying engine had some real shortcomings and would require a lot of work to overcome, if it was even possible. After the sale I held my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop, and as I suspected it did with the cancellation of EQN because it wasn’t “fun”.

    That’s pretty much SOP for an investment firm. If it isn’t making money it gets shit canned pretty quickly. If Novus and by extension DBG were actually interested in more than making money when they canceled EQN they would have said that they had other plans for the EQ franchise.

    But did they? Of course not. Novus will milk all existing IP till it’s no longer viable and then shut them down. At that time they might sell it, but more than likely it will all just go into a vault someplace as they shut down DBG, and every now and then a new browser or smartphone game will surface with the EQ name attached to it so Novus can get a nice fat royalty payment.

    That I’m afraid is how “big business” works today. It’s all about RoI, and nothing more.

    Reply

    • Noctew

      |

      Really? I mean Really???

      I don’t know…Windstalker has been strangely absent from EQ and EQ2 except for a brief appearance in expansion announcement videos and vague producers’ letters, so methinks she’s occupied with something else. Which could be (pre-)producer-ing EQ3 or something completely different. It all depends on whether DBG still sees EQ as a brand worth building on…

      Reply

      • Pawn

        |

        She’s busy looking for a new job a long with the rest of the staff.

        Reply

        • Feldon

          |

          She’s producer over EQ and EQ2.

          Reply

    • tarb

      |

      “I still have some optimism left that we might see a proper sequel to EverQuest”

      We will, its called Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

      Reply

      • Feldon

        |

        I see some promise but the character art and animation needs some work.

        Reply

        • tarb

          |

          The current characters and animations are placeholders. I have watched all their streams and they have already updated them twice which is nice to see, You can tell they are not the end product. The Environments look fantastic though.

          Reply

          • tarb

            |

            Keep in mind Pantheon is closer in game play to original EQ than EQ2.

            Reply

          • Einelinea

            |

            And that is why Pantheon has captured my interest and I am in as an Alpha and Beta tester, if it gets that far — we will see

            Reply

          • Jexx

            |

            Pantheon is definitely going to be the sequel that EQ deserves. I believe it will appeal more to fans of the classic EQ and less to EQ2 fans and I think there are many of us out there that have been craving that deep level of immersion that classic EQ provided.

            Reply

  • Nicolos

    |

    It’s nice to have a somewhat confirmation of who I always blamed for ruining EQN. Smokejumper was a disaster. Under his reign we saw some of the worst content in EQ2. I admit, his forcing EQ into a massive cash shop had to have helped financial situations but it also killed a portion of the game that kept me involved. Why bother forming groups to get neat looking new gear when it’s all a wallet away? Hell, I remember a time when they didn’t even bother to make cloak designs anymore; just buy them for SC. Anyway, I digress….

    He ruined EQN with his ludicrous ideas. They should have stayed on track with their “EQ3″. It may not have been revolutionary but at least it would exist! /sigh. Maybe one day…

    Reply

  • Calthine

    |

    While I always did my utmost best to have faith in the devs and the amazing talents behind Norrath, Georgeson set my people-radar off. He always had that used-car-salesmen stereotype aura and I never entirely trusted him. I’ve got pretty good instincts when it comes to people, and he made me want to go wash my hands. Twice.

    Reading the bits from former team members I was sadly amused to discover I really knew it all along.

    Long Live Norrath! I miss you.

    Reply

    • Finora

      |

      This was my feeling as well =( .

      There’s a reason so many of us called him Smokeblower. He tripped alarms for a lot of folks, but he was so absolutely passionate it was hard not to hope something good was going to come out of it.

      Reply

  • bhagpuss

    |

    Brilliant summary, Feldon. Thanks for laying out the facts and drawing the necessary and inevitable conclusions.

    There is still a disturbing Cult of Georgeson, seemingly largely comprising of people who never played any SOE games while he was in charge. I always found him a personable and pleasant frontman but, like the entire management team throughout the late SOE period, entirely unconvincing. Promise low, deliver high should be the mantra – Smokejumper always cleaved to the opposite.

    As someone who has played SOE and now DBG MMOs almost as long as there have been any to play, and who also plays many other MMOs from many other companies, I would say that SOE very much lost its way in the latter days and that the entirely unjustified focus on EQNext and Landmark that exemplified the poor leadership and lack of judgment that was prevalent at the time.

    Since Columbus Nova took over we’ve seen continual and necessary reality checking of which the closure of Landmark is the latest example. As a player and a customer I feel safer and more confident now in the expectation that the games (and the franchises) I love will continue than I was before the company changed hands. I do wish they’d improve customer service, which I feel was the one area that was performing better before the change, but financial stability has to come first or we won’t need customer service because there won’t be any customers.

    Here’s hoping for a real EQ3 someday. EQNext would never have been that.

    Reply

    • WandaClamshucker

      |

      h, the Cult of Georgeson..

      There is a well known gaming site run by a High Priestess of that Cult. Her and her sycophants are well versed in denial, and silencing tactics whenever her precious Ponytail gets negative PR in her domain.

      As to the article itself: well written, Feldon.

      I’m relieved some of the people that worked under Georgeson are finally having their voices heard. I think there was a cone of fear that kept people silent while he was still in the studio, but those days are long over. Dave, your reign of muzzling is over. Suck an egg, dahling.

      Reply

  • sonoske

    |

    So i have yet to notice the big question.. WHERE THE HELL IS MY MONEY !! all of us who paid for the beta testing when do we get our money back now?

    Reply

    • tarb

      |

      Just call your bank or CC organization that you paid with and tell them it as an unauthorized charge, you will get your money back.

      Reply

  • Dellmon

    |

    I will say I was very surprised by the recent announcement. Though to be fair I was fairly removed from any knowledge about Landmark’s activity as it was never my cup of tea.

    What surprised me the most was its rather short life. Less than a year. Even in its twilight days LON ran for almost three years in a lights out mode.

    By walking Landmark out into the MMO woods and just shooting it there – I guess it leaves me to assume that even in a zero dev / support state that the lights out TCO of Landmark was still going to be greater than what it was bringing in the front door. So best to just take it upstate to that MMO farm to join all the other past highly successful Daybreak titles. I guess that speaks volumes about this title without saying anything at all.

    In thinking of all the time, passion, resources both FTE and not, and I guess most importantly to the bottom line – - THE MONEY – - that was vested and spent on EQ Next and Landmark (and after all these are two “cousin’ed” titles) by both the corporation and too its fan base I am left without words other than just wow…

    But heck – - at least we still have YouTube videos of that sand artist from SOE Live 2013, drawing in real-time mind you, creating the lore of EQ Next. And I think that sand art is a great analog for the “EQ3″ efforts – - a whole lot of moving sand that looked really cool, but in the end was just that, sand to be wiped away….

    Reply

  • Zhaan

    |

    Nice summary and write-up Feldon.

    I saw this coming a long, long time ago as I’m sure most of us did. I paid to be a trailblazer like many, enjoyed it in Alpha, but then quit after the first unplanned wipe (we were told no wipe until beta, then they wiped anyway). I decided I didn’t want to risk another wipe so I’d wait until beta. When it went “live” I came back and tried to play but it had changed in a way I did not care for – a lot of the progression was gone, plants no longer harvestable, and combat had been added. The combat design to me was horrible – the controls I couldn’t deal with for it. I noticed for a game that just went live they should have been a lot more people on so since I wasn’t having much fun anyway I quit again, because I didn’t want to put a ton of time into it only to have it sunset which seemed inevitable.

    Do I regret buying in as a trailblazer? Now sure I do but hindsight is always 20/20. At the time it seemed exciting and worth doing. Will I think twice about doing it for any future game (not just DBG but any company)? Yep.

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      The combat was atrocious. Pointing the camera at an enemy and hoping you were doing something (There was no visual feedback) was not fun.

      Reply

  • Raji

    |

    I ran EQNext Junkies. Posted on foh since it was originally foh’s guild website way back when; As such, I had a bit of access to the storybricks guys.

    lol you dont know half of it..

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      Enlighten us.

      Reply

      • Bazgrim

        |

        Yeah seriously, you can’t just leave us hanging like that

        Reply

    • Necromancer

      |

      - Claims we don’t know the half of it

      - Disappears after saying that

      Seems legit.

      Reply

  • Jimbolini

    |

    Very nice write up Feldon.

    It’s too bad there wasn’t a documentary team during all this, as it would have been interesting to see the process in action.

    And nice shout out to Rerolled/FOH!

    Reply

    • Dulcenia

      |

      Ironically, such a documentary might actually have earned them some $$.

      Reply

  • Anaogi

    |

    Been a season of eulogies for me, it seems (my father passed away shortly after Christmas). I went in on Landmark early, second wave, when folks were just starting to discover what the engine could really do. Then, as life forced me to cut back, I walked away for a year and a half.

    I came back later to find an experience that was a shadow of its former self.

    I wasn’t a particular fan of Smed or Smokejumper. I will say SJ’s problem, I think, is he’d focus on cool things rather than practical things, which meant he’d often miss cooler things the practical stuff made possible. (*coughfaeflightcough*) This undisciplined approach turned everything he touched into a mess and a money pit.

    Maybe there will be a proper EQ3 someday…maybe not.

    I’m just enjoying what I have right now. I’d go mad thinking about the woulda, coulda, shoulda.

    Reply

    • Dulcenia

      |

      Sorry to hear about your father.

      Reply

  • Necromancer

    |

    What’s sad to me is thinking about what could have been had SOE put competent people in charge. Georgeson had no business running the developmental aspect of any MMO. I get his passion when it comes to branding, but game direction and development? He’s a big reason why EQNext failed, and EQ and EQ2 have severely dropped in quality since 2012.

    It’s no coincidence that since he left in 2015 both EQ and EQ2 have improved. Even H1Z1 is on the upward trend.

    Reply

  • Wilhelm Arcturus

    |

    I heard some of this over the summer from a different source. Interesting to have it confirmed and expanded upon. Rumor is that Georgeson has had a tough time finding another gig due to the tales that came out of that project.

    Reply

    • WandaClamshucker

      |

      #karma

      Reply

  • Tada

    |

    Your article confirms it all for me. I was never a Landmark person so had no interest. But I was around for the DOV release and the beginning of HUGE stat inflation and the “simplification” aka dumbing down. Many may recall or not, but there were so many problems with that expansion, including many weeks of downtime.

    To me, many of the current EQ2 problems stem directly as a result of Smokejumper’s tenure at SOE. I hope this tool never gets another job in the industry ever again.

    Reply

  • Mortam

    |

    Very interesting. It always showed, even from the outside that SOE / Smed were not good at managing game development and budgeting resources . I only hope that DBG is better at actually running a business, and finally gives us a new Everquest.

    Reply

  • Thrasymachus

    |

    I think it’s quite a bit too simplistic to blame EQN and Landmark’s failure on Georgeson. Landmark started sucking balls after Georgeson was out. Before that, there was still plenty of fun to be had, though there was clearly some internal political conflict regarding the game’s design. For better or worse, Landmark was the game they launched, but Landmark was never the game they developed, because they couldn’t get over the conflicts between people who wanted to develop Landmark to be a great sandbox building game, and people who wanted to develop EQN to be a pseudo-sandbox.

    Reply

  • Krizani

    |

    I just want to put in a word of thanks for the people who persevered through what sounds like a truly horrible work environment.

    The art has stayed wonderful, occasionally truly brilliant in my opinion, and the quest lines are full of rich lore and kindness and whimsy. Through all of this a sense of humor has remained intact.

    This can only be because of developers and production teams valuing the world of Norrath, the lore and those of us who have lived there almost as much as in Real Live sometimes. In fact, the world around us has changed a lot in the 16+ years I’ve been playing, but Norrath remains a refuge for me.

    Being able to log in and know that the above-mentioned humor, heart and striving for excellence are always there, coupled to the respect for and development of the deep lore that makes Norrath almost 3-D for me keeps me logging in.

    Knowing that all of this has been maintained in the face of some truly awful challenges and disrespect kicks my regard for the teams that have produced all this up even higher.

    Reply

  • Ohnix

    |

    Just wanted to say that Landmark went beyond what I understood it to be – A development tool for creating objects, sculpting the landscape and harvesting materials. The graphic quality rich and the objects you could make {mostly} limited by your imagination. Sorry to see it go – but then it was not originally designed as a stand-alone game – just morphed into it during Alpha; and that really got folks confused since many thought it was an early version of EQN /sigh. I’ll just stop there.

    We put our hopes into the ideas folks herald and they, in turn, fuel and drive the ideas. It can be easy to let the momentum of hope push your ideas past what is practical. We should keep an eye out for reality checks.

    There may well be another version of EQ(II) but there is so much lore to cover in the current EQ(II) universe.

    Reply

  • Bummp

    |

    There will be a extremely good sequel to eq…..unfortunately……it won’t be done by Sony or day break…..it’s being done right……no it won’t be narrate and I’ll miss that…..but it will feel like eq again just with MUCH better design and graphics…. it’s called “Pantheon rise of the fallen” as long as daybreak doesn’t get their hands on it again and push out a unfinished product like vanguard. McQuaid is taking his time and doing it right…..more excited for this game than any released in a last few years!

    Reply

    • Thait

      |

      I’m not sure about that. Something about Pantheon Rise of the Fallen just looks…off to me. I know it’s not finished and therefore what i’ve seen is probably just the start of it but the game looks bland, is all i can say right now. That isn’t to say i don’t like the more EQ1 style, i would LOVE if Daybreak rebuilt EQ1 with a new graphics engine, tweaked some quests to make them way better and then put it out there. That game was awesome.

      But maybe i’m wrong about Pantheon, I’ll probably check it out when it comes out but i’m sort of invested in Norrath. I love the world and lore. I just really wish they’d either remake EQ1 or put out a new EQ. I know it sounds weird to be that invested in one game world but i’ve played EQ and EQ2 for a long time and have been dissapointed every time i’ve tried new MMOs.

      Reply

    • Zhaan

      |

      I would be more excited about Pantheon if they were really committed to player housing with the release. The FAQ says they plan to have it but don’t know when. Once that’s really in I might give it a try. I’ve seen too many games promise housing and never deliver because it’s not an easy or simple system. Also I’m concerned they are shooting for non-instanced housing. While it was fun back in the day, today it just causes a massive land grab which is great for the few, but not the many (or those with limited time).

      Reply

      • tarb

        |

        “Something about Pantheon Rise of the Fallen just looks…off to me”

        Its pre-alpha theres a lot that looks off LOL
        I am a huge backer for the game and I do not expect it to be out until 4th quarter 2017 at the EARLIEST!! Fist half of 2018 is more likely and Im ok with that.

        “I would be more excited about Pantheon if they were really committed to player housing with the release”

        Player housing is not content, its a gimmick like character dances. Im sure if the Devs think its necessary they will put it in but its something that’s on their back-burner, like PVP. Both of which I can do without.

        Reply

        • Jexx

          |

          Pantheon has a small but very dedicated team that is striving to make a game that has the deep immersion and role-centered gameplay similar to what classic EQ provided.

          Judging by the forum discussions on the Pantheon website I seriously doubt there will be any early focus on player housing, its just not something many of the backers and fans are talking about. A search of the forums shows only 3 posts which mention the word housing.

          -Jexxy

          Reply

  • JMadFour

    |

    That was an interesting read, definitely.

    According to this, EQN was indeed, Vaporware.

    I always called it Vaporware as a bitter joke, but the possibility that it was actually the case….disturbs me.

    Reply

  • Sands

    |

    I remember meeting Georgeson at the 2013 SOE Live, right after the EverQuest Next preview. I congratulated him on what I saw and shook his hand. He had this giant shit-eating grin on his face and said, “Now if we can only pull it off.” I was already long skeptical of the game, but the preview gave me a glimmer of hope, even if I wasn’t a fan of the Disneyfication of the characters; and then his comment brought me back to the reality that it was never going to happen.

    Reply

  • Fruiteater

    |

    Shame to hear that EQ:N never was more than vaporware. I was allways skeptical if it could deliver on its lofty goals, which is why I never bought Landmark.

    That beeing said, I was hopefull that EQN could deliver on its promises on some level that it actually could make the MMO genre move forward, the AI beeing my main focus point for my excitement. So hearing that the storybricks stuff wasnt working or never really worked at all, is fairly devestating to me.

    I think its time for me to leave this genre behind even though it was my favorite genre growing up and mayby thats the problem ive played this games so much that everyone blend toghter, because all MMOs i play taste like stalebread. Yeah I think 2017 is the year i stop playing MMOs.

    Reply

    • Jexx

      |

      Please don’t give up yet – instead, check out this site and watch the latest gameplay video (3 hrs).

      Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen https://www.pantheonmmo.com

      (being developed by the original creator of classic EQ)

      -Jexxy

      Reply

  • EverQuest Landmark wyłączony

    |

    […] wyjaśnia jeden z graczy, Feldon, na łamach EQ2Wire, w godzinach szczytu świat EverQuestu odwiedzało od 120 do 150 osób, co nie było […]

    Reply

  • Mystfit

    |

    Farewell, Landmark. I loved you long time and would have continued to love you if the planets had aligned. I regret I never got to be as good a builder as Landmark deserved. There were mistakes made, plenty of them, but you also aimed high and there’s alot to admire in that. If Landmark had stayed true to it’s roots and been a pure harvesting and building game, it may have stood a chance. IF the tools hadn’t gotten mangled with each update. I have this stupid hope….that like some of the mobs in EQ2, you’ll go under ground, hidden and protected, and come back some year, as the Phoenix you are meant to be!

    Reply

  • Whilhelmina

    |

    It was sad to read this. I never believed in Landmark, nor in EQN, but, somewhat, there is always a glimmer of hope that somehow you might be proven wrong.
    The devs commentaries are… there’s no word. Being proved 100% right or worse than what you thought is not pleasant.

    Reply

    • WandaClamshucker

      |

      For me it is the polar opposite.

      Maybe it’s because I have a degree in psychology that allowed me to read past his glitz and cheesy used car salesman schtick. Maybe it was my innate distaste for Kool-Aid, even though Dave brewed a mighty fine n tasty batch.

      I was vocal on the forums waaaay back when he first landed on the EQ2 scene. Something just didn’t feel right about him. Not one bit. He was like the Pied Piper, and he charmed a lot of people who simply couldn’t see past his smoke and mirrors.

      There is a deep satisfaction that my gut instincts were correct.

      That said, I feel like the conned Smedley as well. As much as that pains me to say, I honestly feel that if Smed could see past his BS he wouldn’t have been put into a position of power, and there would have been a whole lot less casualties. Heck, SOE might even be intact now and we could all be playing EQ3 rather than making EQN postmortem commentary.

      A tragedy, but also hopefully a learning lesson. Because, you know, we all learn lessons from our past, right?

      Reply

  • Raji

    |

    Storybricks..Where to start? It wasnt this massive AI system they claimed it to be. It, from what i gathered, was simply a fairly deep flow chart based decision tree that focused on envrionmental factors instead of dialogue. It wasnt ” the gnolls seem weak. Attack, orcs!!”…It was “gnoll population is <30% of max. Spawn orcs that are hostile to gnolls."..Basically a slightly more complex dawnshroud caves or grimling war.

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      Interesting. I mean all AI is really just a decision tree, but it has to be sufficiently complex to replace handcrafted content or be confused with humanoid behavior. :)

      Reply

    • Kylotan

      |

      Hey Raji. Ex-Storybricks guy here. Not sure where we claimed it was ‘massive’? The flow chart thing you’re thinking of is probably the brick-construction UI which we showed on YouTube prior to the SOE work, but (a) it’s not a decision tree, and (b) we never got to develop that tool for SOE anyway. The Storybricks mid-level AI was (and this is a matter of public record) what game AI people call a utility system.

      Reply

  • Raji

    |

    They touted things that theres no way the system in place could have delivered.

    Reply

  • Revekk

    |

    Seriously everyone has a reason why EQN and Landmark failed, but rarely is it mentioned that the TECH for voxel worlds is completely not ready for implementation.
    After all that dev time on EQN and Landmark they still could not make the voxel based objects look even remotely presentable at what would, in a game world translate to one city block. After that everything built looked like melted crayon. There was no way they could release these games with presentable graphics. The amount of data that has to be moved between server and clients is tremendous.
    I have seen a few new voxel based games in development, their voxels are much larger and composed of much less detailed textures. Maybe in a few years with all clients on very high bandwidth machines this tech will work, for now it’s pie ion the sky. I’d even say that developing the AI is farther ahead than transmitting this voxel data.

    Reply

  • chanmac

    |

    The org Devs/teams of eq now in 2 diff companies are both making successors right this min..

    Reply

  • Kylotan

    |

    Ex-Storybricks guy here. This quote was interesting:

    “When SOE was given access to see exactly what Storybricks was and wasn’t, members of the EQNext team found that it was not a good fit.”

    SOE knew from the start that we’d be rewriting code specifically for their engine (our previous prototypes were all Python servers), and we’d had to submit a prototype of our mid-level AI system to them for approval before we came onto the project. So this statement comes across as a misunderstanding, at best.

    I think it’s fair to talk about how good a ‘fit’ the technology was, but it’s also fair to ask about how good a fit client-side voxel editing tools work with a server-side MMO game that needs to handle all logic server-side.

    High level content creation tools were a separate concern, and would never have been a ‘drop-in’ solution. Again, this was clear at the start.

    Georgeson “doubled down” on Storybricks as the be-all solution for game content creation

    Having been in a couple of meetings that included people all the way up to the company president, I can say that (a) Storybricks was never meant to be the be-all solution for content creation, and (b) Georgeson was not the only senior person happily in favour of using our work.

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      So why do you think the whole thing fell apart?

      Reply

      • Kylotan

        |

        That question’s above my pay grade. :) And obviously there are things I can’t talk about publicly. But I will say this: I don’t know who Mughal is, but the things attributed to him/her above, and over on the FoH forum, are in line with my own perceptions.

        Reply

  • Mophia

    |

    Interesting side point. Standing Stones has taken over lotro and ddo, and that they are linked with DBG as the publishers!

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      There’s an article.

      Reply

  • staticrage

    |

    I told Dave at the launch event that i thought he was just taking people’s $100 and $60 and would never deliver. He basically told me to screw off and that I (didn’t have to buy the developing game.)

    Reply

Leave a comment

- Name (required)
- Website (optional)
Please post your comments without flaming or insulting other players or personally attacking SOE employees. Comments from bogus e-mail addresses may be deleted. If you wish to have an Avatar picture, feel free to create an account on Gravatar.com. Once you sign up for a Gravatar account, then any Wordpress-powered blog you comment on will automagically show your avatar.

Powered by Warp Theme Framework