Okay, so the title is a bit of a hyperbole. But, I am disappointed in what I’ve read with the June 2015 Landmark Producer’s Letter.
So, last month was a big one for Landmark players. We had the big server wipe, completely new land to claim, new progression, new tutorial, new crafting, new UI. New, new, new. And I was very pleased by all that I saw, thinking that finally, Landmark was starting to come into its own.
Starting, though, is the key word. It’s not quite there yet, still being beta. Though the team has been working on squashing bugs from the newest re-start, there are still a number of things that I feel could be more polished. That doesn’t include things that were penned into the Landmark Blueprint a year ago that we’ve never seen (mounts, larger interconnected landmasses, etc).
Still, Landmark is in a lot better shape than it was a year ago (when I couldn’t even get 9-10 FPS, making the game unplayable for me). Maybe that’s why all the optimism about the direction it was going made the new Producer’s Letter feel like someone dropped a huge voxel on my foot.
Making That Shift
We all knew that Landmark was a prototype for the technology Daybreak is going to use for EverQuest Next (EQN). That’s always been the reality of it, and something I accepted when I started alpha testing. Ever since Daybreak became not-SOE, the pressure has been on for them to prove that EQN is still in development. There’s been a lot of doubt that the game is going to come to light, especially with the loss of folks key to the EQ franchise and the sad demise of Storybricks. RIP. 🙁
But it was still a hard pill to swallow when the producer’s letter exclaimed:
As the team has wrapped up the various pieces related to the wipe and the bugs associated with it, we have been shifting our focus and resources over to work on the highest priority tasks and systems that will be used in EverQuest Next.
Okay… we knew that would come. But then the letter states:
While we do this, we’re working in areas with high amounts of creative risk. This means that while we know what we want to do, we know it will take an unknown amount of iteration, tweaking and sometimes drastic direction changes to get these in game and working the way they need to. Because of this, we simply cannot commit to any dates, because until we get much closer, even our best estimates are educated (but still fairly wild) guesses.
On one hand, I understand this. You don’t want to commit to anything you are uncertain of delivering. However, at a time when Daybreak is being held up to the light of great doubt, less communication does not seem like a good idea. It sounds like they’re just slapping a disclaimer on the whole thing to wash their hands of the weight of responsibility that came with the example of total transparency that Landmark was built upon.
They can’t/won’t/don’t want to/don’t have the resources to continue the extent of direct communication the Landmark community has been privy to since we saw SmokeJumper’s smiling face welcoming us to Landmark alpha on day one. This is only further compounded by this:
This also does mean that any features that are Landmark-only are lower in priority and will have to wait until we have time to come back to them. So, as we shift our focus and development to EQN, it just doesn’t make sense to continue with the Blueprint, since the goal of that has always been to provide short term, concrete plans of what you could expect and when, and that isn’t something we can reliably estimate at this point.
Ouch. This is like a complete 180 of what Landmark and the community has been built on. The Blueprint was more than just a timeline. None of it was a promise, but it was an overview of what the players could look forward to. We knew it was never set in stone, but it was exciting to see “Caves in August” or “Water in November.”
Basically, taking away the Blueprint is the same as telling us that Landmark is going to be rolled into maintenance mode with very few, if any, updates and no more community input and direct communication to us. It’s very disappointing, considering how very good the last update was for the game.
Now it just feels like the team was holding up a shadow box while they got all the pieces in place for that final wipe and big update, knowing that after the fact, they were going to drop the Landmark folks into the abyss of silence. Sure, the game still exists. But it now exists without promise or the interaction with the team we’ve been used to… since the team is pretty much not going to be there anymore.
Again, I feel this is a bad choice for Daybreak, especially at a time when they already have earned a lot of doubt from the community. For me, I’m more disappointed to see that the connection the team built with the Landmark community, the thing that I valued most, starting to wither.
Oh, but they sure can use those creations folks made in Landmark in building EQN. Yep.
Landmark and the player community are very important to us and will continue to be essential in the development of EverQuest Next, exactly as we’ve promised from the very beginning.
I am disappoint. And a bit soured by this. I’m very hesitant to get involved in any future buy-in alpha/betas from Daybreak. This is the second one that I felt disappointed in so far (the first being Dragon’s Prophet). I just hope H1Z1 doesn’t go down the same road.
Perhaps this will be the final post for my Landmark Beta post series… there may be no new things to cover for a long, long time. 🙁
This is a sign. I’ve been mulling over my first impressions post for Wander, and one of the thoughts in mind has been that maybe I’d have more fun in Landmark, so I should look into that. With your information here, though, it looks like that was a mistake narrowly avoided.
Landmark is still a pretty good game, but I don’t know what the future will hold for it. I don’t regret my time spent with it. However, now that the initial land rush is over, you rarely see other folks on your island.
I think there are some Landmark communities out there. But if you don’t get involved in them, the game becomes pretty lonely. Before the land wipe, even the land claims themselves were a ghost town.
So if it’s interaction and community you want, I can’t suggest Landmark. I know that I only log in from time to time to re-up my claim and piddle around a bit.
I’ve been hearing sad things about Wander. I didn’t pick it up, and maybe that was for the better. I’m looking forward to your article on it, though!
I wrote this on the MMOGames news announcement:
I am so grateful that they offered a full refund because I got out of Landmark in a hurry. I am even more grateful after hearing this news. While I understand the game has always been a major part of development for EverQuest Next, it bothers me so much that they have so few resources to fully develop either. They sold Landmark as a game and people bought it as such. To me, this amounts to pulling the carpet out from under the legs of those fans.
And at the same time, they are just now moving people over to EverQuest Next? Did EQN need more people or did you have so few people that you were wasting their time on Landmark instead? DOES NOT GROK.
If anyone cared enough about SOE/Daybreak, Landmark, or EverQuest Next anymore, this would probably be a bigger deal. It is to me, at least, so I will just be angry without the comfort of the Internet masses behind me (unlike anyone who was anti-noflying).
You probably did make the right choice in getting out of Landmark. I suppose I don’t regret my choice to purchase and play it (I didn’t buy in at the high price package though), so I’m not really mad or upset about money vs. value. I think I got my value out of the game, but mostly during the initial alpha and beta launch, back when there were actually folks who cared about this game.
I’m kinda ambivalent now – my disappointment mostly stems from the fact that Daybreak looks to be withdrawing into a closed-lip stance. Especially compared to early Landmark development, which didn’t even launch with an NDA! That was pretty open and transparent at the time.
I’m getting bad vibes from this, though. It’s a shift completely opposite of what we were led to believe – the community would help build Landmark and in turn, EQN. They made good on that for about a year, which was a big part of the delight people had with Landmark, I think. And now, it sounds like the community is going to be blocked out of development completely.
Again, so much for “Nothing will change now that we’re Daybreak.” :/
I knew from the get-go that Landmark wouldn’t be something people should be throwing their money at. That’s not to say that anyone who did is foolish, but I had my doubts about it becoming anything more than a Minecraft-like. If that sort of game appeals to you, then you are probably still getting at least your money’s worth being able to toy with it, but I never got why they were trying to sell it as it’s own thing, as if people were going to stick around when EQN released.
As far as the business side of things go, it makes sense that they are shifting towards EQN because that needs to happen, if they want to stay alive. They already put a bunch of eggs in the H1Z1 basket, and though it feels like a good game it’s not the MMO that SOE was known for, and I think Daybreak is trying to make sure they stay “The Everquest Folks”. They probably don’t have the funding to stretch things between the two.
No offense to Landmark fans, but I’d rather see Daybreak spend the money on H1Z1 and EQN.
When I joined Landmark, I did so to support EQN development, so this isn’t my beef with the situation. What I’m disappointed in is the sudden withdrawal of the team to absolute silence around development, which is the exact opposite of what the community has experienced through Landmark’s development.
Many of the top builders have had a direct hand in creating content that will go on to be used in EQN. Some may consider that an honor, I’m sure. But all that time and effort on the part of the community is now rewarded with a statement that tells us we’re suddenly no longer a part of development at all. The idea that the community was helping to build EQN through Landmark is out the door just like that.
As I noted above, this is the worst time for Daybreak to be falling silent, especially with all the doubts surrounding EQN. Those who stuck with Landmark all this time are going to feel kicked to the curb with the removal of the Blueprint that guided everything they hoped to see. And those folks are quite loyal, indeed.
I think it’s a bad move.
Even H1Z1 has a Blueprint. I guess I could ask, what if Daybreak suddenly got silent on H1Z1 development and said, “Oh, we can’t talk about what we’re working on. In fact, we’re removing the Blueprint. We’ll announce stuff as we do.”
That doesn’t instill a lot of confidence, especially since H1Z1 development has been pretty open thus far. Heck, I can check the team’s H1Z1 JIRA board to see the submitted bugs and what they consider high priority. That’s pretty transparent.
It goes to show that a LOT must have changed under the hood for that team to go from 100% talk-with-the-community to exactly the opposite.
I feel you, I know it’s disappointing to put your money into a project not for it to pan out, but I think for the future of the company a resource shift is in demand. I would understand if H1Z1 went dark too, and if said resources also went into EQN.
Considering they only opened up H1Z1 this year though, and it’s showing some moderate success in numbers or whatever, that could be why they decided to put less emphasis on Landmark. None of us really know. What I do know is that the company I used to love is starting to rub me the wrong way too. EQN is going to be the deciding factor, I think.
I’m honestly not that upset about Landmark and not worried about the money at all. I got my playtime out of it, and it’s not going anywhere.
I guess I’m not making it very clear that my disappointment is less about the game Daybreak is choosing to develop and more about how they’re doing it. I feel I can’t put any trust in what they say at this point, which is really not what they need to make customers feel after such a huge shift. They’re just digging their hole deeper, IMHO.
Grr, I was waiting closer to when it goes to open beta before really joining in. I wanted to experience the game closer to finished. I even bought the lower packaged to show support for this game. I wonder if my wait stance, along with others doing the same, hurt Landmark and pushed Daybreak towards this sifting of priorities. I’ve popped in here and there to see how the game was coming and it looked great. Kind of glad to see them working towards Next, but what was done on Landmark was suppose to be for Next as well.
Yeah, that was always my impression, too. That the two games would be developed side by side and help support each other.