PCGamer: What It’s Like to Manage a Gaming Community on Fire

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

A great article from PCGamer.com:

Micah Whipple didn’t believe in Real ID. It was unveiled in 2010 as a new social initiative in the Blizzard forums, effectively forcing players to register their real names instead of Battle.net aliases to cut down on the witch hunts and treachery that so often define anonymous, online public spaces. Whipple thought the policy would be unsustainable and unenforceable, but as a World of Warcraft community manager it was his job to go to bat for it. The CM role is simple: be a plebeian, embed yourself in the community, serve as liaison between publisher and community, and most importantly, stay optimistic.

What that really means: when the players got angry, Whipple was paid to run into burning buildings. Sometimes he was a firefighter, and sometimes he was a meatshield.

..

As violent as it was, the Real ID pushback was managed. But at a price. Real ID was one of the more painful experiences in his life. “I think [Real ID] actually woke me up a bit, and made me realize my employment with any company is a partnership, and not any kind of debt or life-oath that I need to repay,” he says.

“[Being a community manager] requires a huge amount of empathy, so of course if you’re reading negativity day in and day out it’s difficult not to take at least some of that with you,” continues Whipple.

Read More at PCGamer.com

 

EQ2Wire Asks: Who were your favorite Community Managers for EverQuest II and why?

Kotaku: The Surprising And Allegedly Impossible Death Of EverQuest’s ‘Unkillable’ Dragon

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

NOTE: No EverQuest II content in this article.

kerafyrm-eq1

Cecilia D’Anastasio of Kotaku has unearthed the legend of how guilds of classic EverQuest on the Rallos Zek server almost killed an “unkillable” mob — the Sleeper — Kerafyrm. My partner was present at this battle and fought right up until the moment SOE panicked and despawned Kerafyrm. It was a big deal and caused much consternation. Now the story can be told…

From Kotaku:

Rare today are opportunities for gamers to step outside the prescribed outlines of a developer’s intended gaming experience, especially in MMORPGs. Back in the early 2000s, anarchic players eagerly hunted down the virtual unknown, where possibility and impossibility were deadlocked within some specter of the original game.

The other day, I heard a piece of virtual worlds lore that brought me back to those times: On EverQuest, in November of 2003, nearly 200 players came together to defeat the apparently invincible dragon Kerafyrm, known as “the Sleeper,” against Sony Online Entertainment’s designs. The story has everything: warring factions, a tomb, an invulnerable dragon, surprising partnerships and a panicked multinational corporation

In EverQuest lore, he explained, the crystal dragon Kerafyrm was imprisoned in “The Sleeper’s Tomb,” an icy cave, because he was the child of two dragons from warring families. As the developers’ script went, when players entered the Sleeper’s Tomb and killed the dragon’s four warders, Kerafyrm would awaken. Then, he would kill everyone in sight before rampaging across the world.

After three hours, Kerafyrm’s health was depleted to about 26%. He was going to die. And, when did, he wouldn’t go on his rampage, as he had on every other server, and trigger the rest of the storyline. It was completely off-script. What would happen to EverQuest’s precious story?

Read the entire story by clicking below:

Kotaku: The Surprising And Allegedly Impossible Death Of EverQuest’s ‘Unkillable’ Dragon

Commentary: Daybreak Calls, Legends of Norrath Folds

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

This commentary piece comes to us from guest author Dellmon of EQ2Talk.com.

Dellmon-schwag

The day has arrived and the online trading card game Legends of Norrath is no more. I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who played or is familiar with the game. LoN had long since reached the tipping point where, even in lights-out, no-development, break-fix-only support was costing more than the game was bringing in.

There was no fanfare. No sendoff. No final bonanza giveaway week or God-mode gameplay. No last hurrah. Not even a reminder post on the forums. Legends of Norrath went out not with a bang but with a whimper. Honestly between you and me – I don’t think there is anyone left at Daybreak who knows enough about supporting LoN to even attempt anything beyond hitting the power switch.

Within the Daybreak family, LoN seemed to be that uncle that, while still part of the family, no one ever talked about. He was always just hanging around creepily, standing in the corner sipping on a bottle of who-knows-what out of a brown paper bag. LoN was the only Daybreak title that customers could still spend green dollars on, yet did not have its own Twitter handle, Facebook page, or even its own support forums (which were summarily deleted despite receiving sporadic use). The Community and Marketing teams ranked LoN discussions up there with EQ and EQ2 General Gameplay in its twilight days — superfluous.

So why write a commentary about a sunset game that is gone and has taken up residence in the Parthenon of Former SOE Titles alongside Star Wars Galaxies and Free Realms (both of which also had incorporated card games too), EQ Worlds, or the absolutely amazing Fortune League? Well, some time ago I boldly said that I enjoyed LoN and that I was having fun playing it and Feldon aghast and in a bit of a shock asked why and dared me to write an article about this revelation and confession. Honestly I don’t think he believed I’d really do it. But here we are…

Commentary: Is the Pokemon GO Phenomenon Over?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

No EverQuest II content whatsoever!

pokemongo

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. After a single month on the app store of iOS and Android devices, Niantic‘s Pokemon GO (Pokemon being short for Pocket Monster) has obliterated even the loftiest expectations and entered the national consciousness. Some 80 million people have downloaded and played this new augmented reality game. Despite a few early hiccups, including a spying fear when the initial iOS release requested FULL access to your Google profile before a patch fixed it, the game has been a staggering success. The Pokemon GO juggernaut was strong enough to buoy Nintendo’s own stock from a low of 13,500¥ six weeks ago to a high of 31,770¥, a 135% leap, despite the fact that Nintendo actually has no role in and gains no financial benefit from its development. This realization has caused the stock to return to year-over-year averages.

pokemongo_finding2

So why do an article about a game I’ve never even played? Because I feel strongly about APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and public data.

The Pokemon GO app for iPhone and Android provides scant guidance to its players. At first, the app provided a Footsteps feature which provided an exact distance to the nearest monsters. However after one week, this feature was reduced to a misleading estimate that reports all “nearby” Pokemon as being the maximum distance away. With this change, players were obligated to walk (or drive) around aimlessly in search of Pokemon. Nature abhors a vacuum, and, so a cottage industry of third-party websites sprang up including Pokevision, Pokehound, and PokeNotify. These sites harvested game data to pinpoint Pokemon on a convenient Google Maps overlay.

pokevision-mapa-com-pokemons-e1469575840664

Norrathian Spotlight: Niboota the Tourist

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

Suka has taken up the mantle of spotlighting EverQuest II players who contribute to the community in meaningful ways and this month she has chosen Niboota.

From the EQ2 Forums:

Today we put a face on Niboota! We are all familiar with Niboota and her marvelous videos tours of different houses on each server. She has done a great job of inspiring decorators and promoting them. She has posted many things on the forums including a detailed post on how to invite her to video tour your home.

niboota

Q: How long have you been playing the game?

I’ve been playing since launch, with the exception of a 2 year break after the release of Age of Discovery

Q: What server do you play on?

Antonia Bayle

Q: What inspired you to create videos of houses

I have always loved the housing and been an ambitious tourist. I can easily kill an entire day touring, and what better way to get more people to design homes than to show everyone how much you enjoy them?

Q: Can you tell us how to find your videos? and your website?

The Evertour Entries can be found at http://evertour.livejournal.com

Continue reading the interview and spotlight on the EQ2 Forums…

Update: Daybreak Games to Unban Accounts That Purchased Third-Party Keys

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

prisoners-release

Thousands of EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Planetside 2 players have purchased content packs and expansions from discount websites such as Steam, PlayerAuctions, and G2A over the last five months. This was all fine and dandy until it turned out that all of these purchases originated with large fraudulent purchases from Steam. The platform’s publisher Valve Inc sent an eyewatering bill to Daybreak Games for thousands of dollars. Valve’s failure to recognize and address this issue until the problem had snowballed to this point is a topic for another article, but what is more near and dear to Daybreak Customers is what will happen with these numerous banned accounts.

I’m sure the peanut gallery will be quick to dismiss affected players as cheaters and cheapskates. However what they’d fail to realize is that many of these expansions and content packs were gifted to other players by friends, family, and guildmates months ago and now these bans are striking accounts which have been active for upwards of 17 years.

After 24 hours of forum debate (especially on the EverQuest forums which were the harder hit community), it seems that cooler heads have prevailed and the bans will be lifted. Instead, the illegitimate content packs and expansions will be stripped from players’ accounts, allowing them to buy them from trusted sources. Now would be a great time for a proper sale, perhaps $25 for the EverQuest II expansion (since the new one is just four-and-a-half months away) or $120 for six keys.

Here’s the e-mail that affected players received:

botting_ban_reason2

Daybreak Games Bans Thousands of EverQuest and EverQuest II Accounts for After-market Keys

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

boxing_bans_2016

Update
Players who were banned for these cheaply acquired expansions and content packs for EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Planetside 2 are currently in the process of being unbanned. The expansions and content packs will then be stripped from these accounts. Continue Reading…

After last week’s banning and suspension of hundreds of EverQuest II players for running third party software including boxing and botting programs (the bans seemed to be indiscriminate and extremely random), it seemed like things might be getting back to normal. So much for that idea.

For years, it has been possible to buy EverQuest and EverQuest II expansions at a discounted rate on sites like Steam, G2A, and PlayerAuctions. There is nothing in the EQ or EQ2 EULA or TOS that constrains where expansion keys can be purchased. Now that is being called into question as thousands of EverQuest and EverQuest II players who bought a code from the aforementioned market sites in the last five months were banned overnight. We can guess that at least some of these keys were acquired from Akella-Online when they were still publishing EverQuest in Russia. The provenance of all these keys has not been confirmed but they’ve been accepted by the official Daybreak websites for nearly five months now.  Now, all of these customers have been banned for the reason “Chargebacks” even though some accounts purchased the expansion nearly 5 months ago. That is a month beyond the maximum chargeback time.

Norrathian Spotlight — The EQ2 Guide Program Brings Life and Lore to Norrath

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, Grouping

On March 16, 1999, EverQuest launched, and with it, a volunteer Guide Program. They would “act as basic customer service/support via ‘petitions’. Issues could be forwarded to the Game Master assigned to the server or resolved by the volunteer. Other guides would serve in administrative functions within the program or assisting the Quest Troupe with dynamic and persistent live events throughout the individual servers. Volunteers were compensated with free subscription and expansions to the game.

In 2003 the program changed for these volunteers, shifting them away from a customer service focus and instead placing them into their current roles as roving ‘persistent characters’ role-playing with the players.” (wikipedia) There’s always been confusion within the player community at large about whether the Guide Program was a part of Daybreak Games, a completely separate entity, or something in-between. We asked for clarification from the Guides and got this answer from Elder Guide Rynara:

The Guide program works side by side with Daybreak, they always have. The Program was never “run” by SOE. Since we are volunteers we are separate and do not work under them in any way but along with them to support the players of EQ and EQII. [While] Kander does not run the Guide program, he does support us as acting liaison to Daybreak. He is our contact.

The leaders of the Guide program back when it started at the beginning of EQ wrote a policy and procedure manual that we follow today. It has been updated and tweaked along the years however the fundamentals still apply today.

While the earlier Guide quests were of a “milk and cookies” nature, in recent years, more dynamic and complex quests have been added. None has gained more visibility than the Nebulous Newsies quest. The reward is millions of status and one of the largest inventory bags available in the game. Players line up by the hundreds to pickup the quest from a Guide (it cannot be acquired by any other means) when word breaks that they will be seeking player help on a server. A new Terrors of Thalumbra guide quest was just added to the Guides’ repertoire this month and it will be interesting to see how frequently it is made available.

Ethereal Coins & Vendor Coming This Summer

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, Game Updates & Maintenance, Grouping, Itemization, Raiding

pain_reliever

MMOs like EverQuest II can’t help but include a loot chase. While EQ2 offers many different styles of gameplay from crafting to decorating to soloing, those players who elect to group or raid find themselves on the loot treadmill and want to be able to point to forward progress. In recent years, the EQ2 team have scattered a few best-in-slot items throughout the content so that crafters and soloers get some “Whoa!” items. Still, most Progression items come from extremely difficult content that requires substantial coordination. There’ll always be that one ridiculously difficult heroic zone. There’s always that Wing 3 of raid content. With Terrors of Thalumbra as well as Altar of Malice (after some post-launch tuning), the heroic content has been made accessible so that more people get to enjoy it. But as with any organized sport, the tolerances between success and failure shrink the higher you go into more challenging fare.

I don’t envy game developers who are forced to create enough content to last a year. What has concerned me about Ethereal runes, Ethereal weapons, Mythicals, and Ancients is that they are acquired almost entirely based on the luck of the dice roll, not player skill or effort. It saps the sense of accomplishment when you say “This item took me 374 heroic runs!” after the person next to you says “I got it the first time through. Now what?”

EQ2Wire Interviews the EQ2 Team About Game Update 100: The Siege of Zek

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, DGC Wants Feedback, EQ2, Game Updates & Maintenance, Grouping, Itemization, Raiding

gu100-the-siege-of-zek-logo-eq2wire

On April 28th, EverQuest II launched its level 100 content release “The Siege of Zek“. The update takes us back to Zek, the Orcish Wastes and a lot has changed in 12 years. While the original level 35-appropriate zone can still be accessed, players may now choose to travel to the new level 100 Scourge Wastes. The update contains updated versions of classic Zek zones in Advanced Solo, Heroic, Event Heroic, and Heroic Contested versions as well as a Raid zone. Rather than a simple up-tiering of existing zones, the Designers and Art Team have put a lot into this All Access-only update with totally redone Orc models and many other touches that make this content feel fresh.

As it had been a couple of weeks since the release of the Siege of Zek, we had an opportunity to peruse the official EQ2 forums for player questions and concerns. The EQ2 team are already working flat out on EverQuest II’s thirteenth expansion slated for later this year, so our interview focuses on the few questions that I submitted about itemization and some of the new systems in the update including Heartbound, which is an in-game celebration of the real-life bonds that players have developed, and the new progression-tied Resolve stat.

After the jump, our interview!

EverQuest Worlds Closing Thursday, March 31, 2016

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

As you have by now heard, EverQuest Next has been cancelled, and the great purge is underway to remove all trace of the product from Daybreak’s official channels and websites. EverQuestNext.com and the EQNext YouTube channel have been cleared out. Next up is the EQ Worlds App for iOS and Android.

everquest_worlds_app

The EQ Worlds app is not something I ever featured or talked about here on EQ2Wire, and perhaps that was an error on my part. I objected to the glitchiness that players reported when they first used the app at SOE Live 2013, and I was less than enthusiastic about an app that requires you to Share things on Facebook to access content. However in exchange for Facebook sharing, players of EverQuest and EverQuest II received in-game rewards, as well as bits of the EverQuest Next story. Maybe it wasn’t a bad deal at all for those who got the app to work.

From Laylaih, Communications Coordinator at Daybreak Games* on the EQ2 Forums:

We will be closing the EverQuest Worlds mobile app at the end of this month.

If you would like to play any of the current mini-games, finish up quest lines, and/or retrieve codes for rewards, you will need to do so on or before midnight (11:59PM PDT) on Thursday, March 31, 2016.

The app will remain available in the App Store (iOS) and via Google Play (Android) until its sunset on March 31, 2016.

We hope you enjoyed this app while it was available, and continue to use and enjoy the rewards you’ve redeemed in EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Landmark.

*a name I have not heard before.

EQ2Wire Asks: Replace or Upgrade?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, Itemization, Raiding

Armor-Choice

The purpose of New Content in any MMORPG is to provide additional length to the “treadmill” so that players who revisit heroic dungeons or raids always have new things to do. New zones provide new rewards that raise the bar and keep that loot chase going. It is totally expected that when a new content update or expansion is released that previous items will be trumped by new ones. However we’ve seen something new and unexpected since the release of the Terrors of Thalumbra expansion.

In an update on January 20th, existing Weapons and Jewelry items were removed from the loot tables of current enemies in raid zones and then newly upgraded Weapons and Jewelry items were added. These new weapons and jewelry had new names.

In an update on February 17th, existing Armor pieces had their Crit Bonus and Potency slightly upgraded, then removed from loot tables while newly upgraded Armor items were added with hugely upgraded Crit Bonus and Potency. This new armor had the same names as previous items.

There is no doubt that the Terrors of Thalumbra raid gear at launch was hardly worth getting out of bed for. Clearly something had to be done to itemization and we’ve been assured that this was the best way to do it with the time available. However there are several concerns with this approach of replacing rather than upgrading items inline.

RadarX: Conquering Community Toxicity like Genghis Khan

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

genghis_khan

Daybreak Games Senior Community Relations Manager Tony “RadarX” Jones seems to view community management as a war between players and developers. At this year’s Game Developer’s Conference in March, RadarX will be hosting a panel to teach other game companies how they should run their Communities. Here’s the course description:

Toxic behavior in a community can drive player sentiment in the wrong direction, distract from desired discussion points, and cripple positive engagement. Examining principles used by military genius Genghis Khan, attendees will learn how to identify and defeat this behavior.

Takeaway

Attendees will learn to identify forms of toxic behavior regularly seen in online game communities, and practical techniques employed to combat it using real world examples in the industry.

You can read player reaction to this announcement on Reddit, but please note, at least two players experienced bans from the official Daybreak Forums in response to their comments on Reddit and/or Twitter.

Vendor Price Glitch Abuse Yields Bans, Inflates Krono Prices

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

cookie_jar

If you notice a few guildmates, recently flush with in-game currency, suddenly absent from EQ2 over the next few days/weeks, now you know why. It seems that there was an item which could be purchased for 1 copper from one vendor that could then be sold back to another vendor for upwards of 10 platinum pieces each.

Some players prudently ceased once they discovered the issue. However others systematically abused this glitch, upsetting the in-game economy in the process. Krono prices jumped 200% on some servers. Time will tell if these players are stripped of their ill-gotten plat and/or allowed back into the game.

If you need a dose of forum rage this morning, you can find it here:

John Smedley & Patrick Rothfuss Announce New Kickstarter Game — Hero’s Song

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

NOTE: No EverQuest II content inside.

If you’ve been following Sony Online Entertainment co-founder John Smedley‘s Twitter teases and wondering what he would be doing next, now we know…

heros_song_ks

Kickstarter video on Youtube:

Polygon: Touring the living remains of an 11-year-old MMO

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

polygon-everquest2art.0.0

What started as an odd Twitter exchange which felt like a pre-planned stunt turns into a three page backhanded compliment for EverQuest II. From Polygon.com:

Touring the living remains of an 11-year-old MMO
EverQuest 2 has been around over a decade, but there’s still some incredible sights to see in this odd game

My name is Phil Kollar, and I had a weird weekend.

Let’s start our story just over 11 years ago, on Nov. 9, 2004. That was the date that Sony Online Entertainment released EverQuest 2. I had spent a couple years in high school noodling around in the original EverQuest, a period that, despite my inability to make much progress in the game, helped me fall in love with the genre of massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

So I must have been excited for EverQuest 2, right?

EverQuest 2 is not a bad game, and I’m happy that it’s still up and running.

Commentary: Why EQ2′s Decorating Leads to Hoarding and Why Landmark’s Doesn’t

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Art, Appearance, Housing, Commentary, EQ2

housing_blueprint

EverQuest II has one of the most advanced decorating systems of any MMORPG. It likely has more house items than any other game, as evidenced by the frequently updated, screen-busting fansite EQ2Furniture which allows players to see a spinning preview of all 16,325 house items in Norrath. However this paradise of customization has become a huge data storage problem for the EQ2 team and players alike.

Although the Dungeon Maker feature never lived up to its hype or even the lowest expectations due to the anemic customization and storytelling options it offered, it provided mass storage and an almost unbelievable scale for house decorators. All told, each EQ2 character can own 25 houses and 20 dungeons. With an average limit of 1,000 items (plus 1,000 books, plus 1,000 building blocks), that’s an eye-watering 135000 house items per character.

EQ2Talk Episode #80: Tots and Tiaras

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

After a six multi-month absence, Dellmon and Osgz are back with another installment of EQ2′s best only podcast EQ2Talk to review the Terrors of Thalumbra expansion. Is there anything in the expansion that Dellmon likes? You’ll have to tune in to find out!

From EQ2Talk.com:

In this episode Dellmon and Osgz judge the newest expansion for Everquest II, Terrors of Thalumbra. While both hosts struggle in the swimsuit portion, they soar in the talent competition as they both discuss some of the high flying points of the new content and zones. Feathers did get a bit ruffled over just how much each wants their hand held while working through the quest lines. Listen in to see who is crowned the victor in this podcast and which dwarf just has to eat crow.

Click here to listen to Episode 80

MassivelyOP Asks — What Makes a Really Great MMO Community Manager?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

Simpsons_angry_mob

In my time covering EverQuest II, we’ve had three really great Community Managers — Christine “Kiara” Renzetti, Margaret “Luperza” Krohn, and Racheal “Afista” McKenny.

Yesterday as part of their Daily Grind column, MassivelyOP asked “What Makes a Really Great MMO Community Manager?

When Funcom hired new community managers a few weeks ago, some readers questioned why we’d cover it. Big whoop, community managers are glorified retweeters, right? Yeah, not so much. A talented community manager can work a playerbase and keep everyone happy even in dark times. “Sinking, panicking games dump their CMs overboard first, not realizing their CMs are the best at bailing,” I argued at the time. “Hiring good CMs is a good sign in a lot of ways.”

Comments can sometimes be painful to read, but I found some interesting answers to the question posed…

Good communication and consistency. Don’t lie to players and expect them to respect you after. Things change, we get that and though we might not like it we can accept it.

Keep your game community up to date with what’s going on with the game and the company. Post replies to threads on the forums giving whatever bits of info you can (or even saying you have no info). Post threads of your own with important updates.

Leveling 101+ Guilds Won’t Be a Treat

Written by Cyliena on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2, Expansion News

A recent beta forum discussion revealed that crafting and adventure writ status will not contribute to progress starting at guild level 101. EQ2 Senior Designer Gninja explained the reasoning behind the change:

Repeatable quests such as writs do not add to guild exp once you hit guild level 101. We are adding a lot more ways to get status from normal gameplay though. It was just way too easy to sit and do writs over and over to level the guild making having a leveled up guild a little less meaningful.

He came back to clarify the position a bit better:

The plan is to make status gains come from a lot of different places. Having lots of things you can do is a good thing. Having one thing you can do over and over without any sort of limiting factor is different. These things are still being adjusted so hang in there.

Candy CornCommentary

From Cyliena:

I’m sure Feldon will have choicer words about all of this, but as a member of an extremely small guild, this change will make guild leveling quite difficult. Whatever method is provided will end up being grinded out, so I’m unsure how this change will make leveling a guild more “meaningful”. -Cy

From Feldon:

The EQ2 team has twice tried to stomp out old “grindy” ways of playing EQ2 and encourage playing of newer content:

  • Removing Plat from older zones like Protectors Realm
  • Removing adventure XP from out leveled dungeons

The first was successful. The second was strongly derided and silently reverted this summer. I wonder which route this “new improved” guild leveling avenue will take.

Beta Copy Backlog Followup

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

WRIGLEY'S DOUBLEMINT TWINS

Last week we wrote about how Terrors of Thalumbra Beta Copies have been running extremely slowly (well over 24 hours). Some players noted that beta copies taken from inside instances such as Houses and Guild Halls were failing and that players should copy from a public zone such as Antonica.

Now EQ2 developer Jamiss has posted an update explaining some of the issues:

The beta copy process has changed a little bit for this expansion due to some underlying technology changes. Unfortunately, this has caused the process to be a bit slower than in the past.

It was, however, up to date with everything that it had found as of about 4AM this morning, and has begun working through the log again. If you /beta’d anytime before 4AM this morning, please try to /beta again and the copier will get you soon. Sorry for any frustration this may be causing you.

As a quick sidenote: This should not overwrite any previously copied characters. Any characters copied again will have Xs appended to their name.

Commentary: Marketing Pushes Back EQ2 Expansion Reveal

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

NOTE: This is a commentary piece by Morgan Feldon and is not intended to reflect the opinion of anyone else.

calendar-reschedule

In recent years, it seems like there is a special day for just about everything.  Grandparents Day, Office Assistant day, Take Your Ferret to Work Day (ok maybe I made that one up), you get the point.  In that spirit, we’d like to declare September 15th as Justify Your Marketing Department Day.

The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet despite a decade of numerous debacles which we have thoroughly chronicled on EQ2Wire, the SOE/Daybreak Marketing Dept seems to have once again shoehorned their way into the decision-making process for EverQuest II’s next expansion and diminished any chance for pre-expansion hype, interviews, previews, commentary, etc.

Instead of an already overdue full reveal of the expansion as we were expecting today, it seems clear after reading today’s EQ2 Producer’s Letter that the EQ2 team have been asked to post a watered down teaser. The timetable seems to have been revised so that EverQuest II’s twelfth expansion will be revealed and go on sale (pre-order) all on October 1st. As we’ve seen over the years, SOE/DGC Marketing’s modus operandi is to punt until the last possible second and then hope Press sites will carry the flag and do all the promotion, never mind that this approach is less effective for established games like EverQuest II.

Marketing’s all-hands-on-deck call for Press sites to talk about this spring’s Rum Cellar Campaign yielded the usual suspects — Massively, MMORPG, and ZAM. These are sites that would write about EQ2 whether they got invited by SOE/DGC’s finicky Marketing/PR departments or not. However this summer, with absolutely no involvement from Marketing, the introduction of a Drunder “prison server” to EQ2 attracted the attention of no less than 21 media and press sites.

Former SOE/DGC CEO John Smedley to Start New Company

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

golden_parachute

In 1998, John Smedley co-founded Verant Interactive with current Daybreak Games CEO Russell Shanks. Riding on the overwhelming success of EverQuest, the company was purchased by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2000, which saw the company renamed to Sony Online Entertainment. Fast forward 15 years to February of this year: Sony Online Entertainment was sold to investment group Columbus Nova after a two month year search for a suitable buyer. In the American corporate world, it is standard practice that a CEO will typically remain with the company for a six month transition period after a buyout, upon which they depart with a healthy golden parachute. However a group of ne’er-do-wells based in Scandinavia Northern Europe had other plans.

One year ago, a group of “hackers” took SOE’s games offline for several days. They then proceeded to call in a bomb threat on a commercial airliner on which Smedley was a passenger, attempt murder-by-cop by SWATting his family, and otherwise invade his life by sharing personal and financial information about him and his family on the internet. After one of the responsible teenagers received a slap on the wrist by a Finland-based court with the equivalent of deferred adjudication probation, Smedley went on the attack, engaging in a very public spat with this individual (and the group) on Twitter, Facebook, and in the gaming and mainstream Press. This escalated into a media circus which led the group to once again attack Daybreak Games, bringing their games and web services offline for nearly 72 hours.

Last month, John Smedley stepped down from his position as CEO of Daybreak Games. We can only assume that this very public debate between Smedley and this group accelerated our purported six month transition timetable, leading CN to request an early departure. While the official press release released by Daybreak promised that he was “transitioning to a different role” within the company, his Facebook commentary on the departure posted on the same day, which I am not permitted to repost here due to Facebook etiquette preventing the publication of Friends-only posts, made it unambiguously clear that he was leaving the company for good.

John Smedley is clearly restless as, less than a month into his unexpected vacation, he has updated his Facebook profile teasing the formation of a new company:

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Few CEOs are universally loved, and John Smedley has certainly instilled powerful emotions in his customers. It will be interesting to see what the next phase will be.

 

The Future of ZAM Network

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

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Defying predictions of an inevitable crunch, Gaming and Technology have continued to grow at an exponential rate over the last two decades. Profits from desktop, console, and mobile gaming have eclipsed Hollywood Film and Television revenue. Long-gestating VR/hologram technology has finally matured to a point where consumer hardware is just around the corner which will bring an entirely new paradigm for gaming in the next 5 to 10 years.

Since Ultima Online and EverQuest stormed onto the scene, subsequent Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs have in many ways evolved and in many others closely echoed the winning formula of big fish World of Warcraft. All have grown their content and systems to a level of complexity that has outstripped the ability of game publishers to maintain their own informational websites — the feature-light official EQ2Players site vs. our own EQ2U being but one example. Whether they like it or not, game publishers are dependent upon the Gaming Press sites, Fan Sites, and increasingly, Database-driven player resource sites to support their customers with news, writeups, guides, and more.

So it is with shock and disbelief that I must report that ZAM Network, LLC, purchased by China-based mobile gaming juggernaut Tencent Holdings in 2012, has chosen to institute substantial layoffs and eliminate the remote positions which have been the lifeblood of the company for over 10 years.

Daybreak Games Reintroduces Itself to the World

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

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It’s now been three months since the very public acquisition of Sony Online Entertainment by investment firm Columbus Nova. In the aftermath, John Smedley, President of the renamed Daybreak Games, has spoken to gaming press about the benefits of the changeover and the freedom now afforded to developing on platforms other than PC and Sony’s Playstation consoles.

Earlier this month, Daybreak President John Smedley and Laura Naviaux, senior VP of global sales and marketing, decided it was time to get their message out about the future of the new company. They spoke to a number of sites including PC Gamer, Venture Beat, Gama Sutra, Zam, and the San Diego Union-Tribune which featured its article in the Business section. We include some relevant quotes:

Smedley: “We are able to be the company we always knew we were capable of being. Now we can make games for all different platforms. We can do mobile games. We can do iPad games. We can do Xbox games.”

Two months after the buyout announcement, Daybreak unveiled its new logo, branding, and revised websites.

“The rebranding was a complete fresh start, knowing that gaming was in our blood and the DNA is in our player base. We wanted to do something that is a nod to video game culture” said Laura Naviaux. “Employees wanted a name that was indicative of a fresh start”

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