Is this perception wrong?

Discussion in 'The Veterans' Lounge' started by Skuz, Dec 23, 2020.

  1. Skuz Berserker Logic: Kill everything.

    EQ has more players than EQ2, has better earnings and a higher profit margin, and yet it is still EQ2 that perceptually gets more studio attention, its not overt just that the favouritism inadvertently leaks out here & there for the astute observer.

    EQ has been "maintained" just above what would normally be termed "maintenance mode" because it still gets "new content" albeit much of it is what I would term digitally recycled, the money EQ generates is part of the the bread and butter of Daybreak, EQ is a "work-horse" of sorts for it, but the studio has an evident bias despite their attempts to mask it.

    That might be slowly changing with a bunch of stuff JChan covered in her prior posts about converting old flat-file databases, tech debt being addressed, newer hardware being used but from my perspective little has changed at the player-facing part of the game apart from a slow decline in creativity, in volume of content and in novel experiences.

    Expansions have shrunk in scope since the last decent-sized expansion "Rain of Fear" and even that did a whole bunch of copy-pasting of old zone geometry, presumably this direction of using old assets with a new layer of quests over the top is more profitable even if it means the developer's creativity is being cut off at the knees so badly that some are making the jump & leaving. Packaging that up as a "nostalgia era" is a bit of a ploy to sell this recycled content back to players as if it was new, a used car salesman trick is how it feels, oh we polished the 1980 Buick pretty hard so it looks shiny but it's still a 1980 Buick, it performs like a pig running through treacle in the winter but it has "nostalgia"...

    It makes me think back to multiple interviews that came out in the years after EQ2 launched that conveyed the feeling that EQ was meant to be superseded by EQ2, that the EQ players were expected to leave the original game to go to the new & shiny one they poured so much of EQ's talent & money into - they were surprised by how that did not really pan out the way that they expected AT ALL.
    While the players largely took a look at the new shiny & most said "no thanks I like the original better" many of the team perhaps had already chosen where their passions were going to reside, EQ2 was the more exciting game to be a part of developing as it was so much more modern and had much better tools to work with.

    The argument from developers against reinvigorating old games is often that it is so much better to make a new game than to fix the problems with an old one. well it is not actually better, it's just easier or less work in many ways.
    That's the accepted mainstream designer philosophy, don't fix it, start over from scratch with the lessons learned & that philosophy exists because that's how the game industry usually does things, games as a service are not the same animal but the thinking has still to catch up to the reality, the old modus operandi, the old learned patterns don't actually fit.

    The philosophy of game design for a game as a service must be different to the mainstream paradigm of software development and if EQ is to be a title that is actively & passionately developed for then it needs a different approach to the philosophy used when cranking out a Call of Duty sequel each 12 months.

    EQ should be getting revamped, it should be getting a good chunk of the money it makes pumped back into it being kept vital & exciting not just for the players but almost more importantly for the developers too - if this game doesn't hold the passion of its developers and they are more interested in working on a different game because that has better tools & is more fun to work with then it's pretty self-evident that there needs to be better tools made to allow the developers to better develop for EQ and to allow them to be more excited for EQ development than another title or it will lose good talented people.

    I think that this game has lost plenty of developers who want to go do things they find interesting and fun, why work at a place where you just rehash stuff that's been seen over & over and try to pretend your doing something cool, this is a creative industry which attracts creative people, when they get bored enough they walk. EQ runs as much risk of losing the team as it does the players if the company doesn't inject something fresh into the game not just for the players but for the team creating the small amount of content we still get.
    If the game keeps on using the same old zones for the supposedly new expansions what would be fun about developing for that?
    I think I would be looking to work on a more exciting project too, regardless of needing to pay bills.

    I think "some" reinvestment IS finally happening, it's almost certainly still far less than the title or it's loyal fan base have earned.
    I'm not naïve, I don't expect massive changes to EQ, any large investment to bring the game up to a state where the developers do more than just crank out small expansions of largely borrowed old assets, I hope the mindset shifts and EQ is seen for its real potential and gets a big dynamic shift of focus, another new EQ title instead of a big revamp of the original & best game in the franchise would be a huge missed opportunity, yes it would be expensive & hard to do, doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, I think it can be and it can be affordable given the money the players pump into the game already, EQ deserves better.

    What do you think?
  2. MasterMagnus The Oracle of AllHigh

    I would largely agree with most of what you said.

    I will say, having done software development around the same time as EQ was built, a few things to note.

    -Back then-
    This was right around the time some key things in software development happened, like object oriented programing and database query languages and standardization. Those aren't in EQ.

    EQ is a miracle of old school tech, and a nightmare to support after so long.

    But it is their proverbial cash-cow, we have that proof now too.

    -And Now-
    Much of the cut-and-paste, at least for zones, is they really don't have the time and know-how to make zones from scratch like they used to.

    They suffer from lost institutional knowledge, they don't have the time or even idea of where to start, to re-learn some of this stuff.

    -But practically speaking-
    We all want the game to continue, and have ideas about what would be great. But they are always going to be a business, and a none too transparent one at that.
  3. Jumbur Improved Familiar

    I disagree, the new zones in CoV are not just copy/paste of old files, they are remakes made from scratch with modern tools. That their creative choice was to utilize a familiar place in the EQ world, does not mean they have lost their ability to make new zones.
    If you compare CoV WW with the original WW from SoV, you can see that it is MUCH more visually detailed, It is clearly not the same zone-geometry with some updated spawn-points.

    The fact that CoV takes place in Velious is an artistic choice, It is not a compromise they were forced to make out of technical necessity.

    The last copy/paste zone we got was Droga from EoK, since then we have gotten new zones in our expansions.

    Even their monster models are clearly made with new tech, just compare zlandicar(CoV) with any dragon from RoS, huge difference in detail level...
  4. Captain Video Augur

    EQ1 and EQ2 are not using the same engine. It isn't just a matter of EQ1 being "millions of lines of spaghetti code", it's also a matter of how the EQ1 engine has data structures which limit the total size of assets. We've already hit the wall on # of distinct AAs, so we've seen a lot of AA consolidation over the last few years in order to make room for more. Work appears to be ongoing with regard to bag space limits. Zone geometry has to be kept simple because server space for zone data has gotten tighter. EQ has a >lot< of zone data that has to stay memory-resident on a Live server. I'm sure there is more back-end stuff going on that I don't know about.

    I think it's getting harder for devs to motivate themselves to design innovative multiplayer content when the player base is clearly shifting more towards solo play, no matter what grouping options might be available to them. On all but a few servers, we have raid guilds and soloist-boxers, and almost nothing in between. This could be as big or an even bigger factor than budget in holding back new content. I already see this being debated in other threads. Can anything be done to reverse that trend? I dunno. But, if I was the new owner, I'd much rather see investment in a new chapter to the series, using a modern engine, than trying to re-invent the original, since the novelty of the massively part of MMO is long gone.
  5. MasterMagnus The Oracle of AllHigh

    I was unaware! Thank you for that correction.

    I was operating on their statement they only recently got an employee capable of modeling. And I haven't seen any new expansion zones in person for several years.

    I see you added this
    It was mentioned recently TTobey from EQ2 (who is an animator and modeler) was doing some things. Perhaps they pulled him over for that as well.
  6. Skuz Berserker Logic: Kill everything.

    My own perception on new zone building being so rare recently was just from the perspective that it was cheaper & faster to use old assets & give them fresh textures so it helped the team to run EQ more profitably & with a leaner team, I know JChan did recently specify that as a part of re-investing in EQ some new hires had been taken on.

    I thought they still had the zone builder from earlier expansions on the team, the team is just more shared across titles than it was in the past to drive efficiency, at least in terms of world building, art, animation, systems engineers etc.
  7. Sobmre Augur

    I feel like the EQ2 teams cares and loves EQ2, and the EQ1 team only is there for a paycheck....

    this is why eq2 seems to get lots of cool and new things and eq1 get trash like dragons hoard or useless housing items ect
  8. Jumbur Improved Familiar

  9. Absor Developer

    I guess I'm just getting a little tired of hearing about "recycled" content. It is not easier or less work to recreate an old zone with new tools than it is to make a new one. In fact, it can be a lot more work. There is a lot of effort spent on making sure these recreated zones are recognizable and are true to their older versions, even if we do something like cover them with crazy ice structures. There is no copy and past involved. It would be unbelievably strange looking and obvious if we simply used items from 2002 in the new zones.

    This is not to say that we don't use our experience to make things easier and faster. If there is an efficiency that we can use that won't harm the result of the product, we'll use it.

    As Jumbur noted, we chose to revisit iconic places because folks seemed to enjoy it. Creatively, personally as a writer and designer, it is a bit more interesting to build something that is mostly new. I enjoy filling in missing lore or finding some interesting aspect of Norrath's history and delving into that. I suspect the same is true for other designers and artists. It's always nice to visit the old haunts, but shiny new things are fun too.

    I suppose I also get a bit offended at the idea that we lack creativity. We make the decisions we do based on what makes the most sense for the game and the players. We only make one expansion each year, and so we have to shelve lots of new ideas each time we gather to decide what's next. I'll be the first one to admit that it gets harder each year to come up with new raid mechanics after we've built something like... I'd guess more than 200 raids over the years. That's a limited mechanical space, there are only so many ways to make someone duck or dance in a game. But when it comes to creating new story and lore, that space is only restricted by the "Vision" (tm).

    I'm sure it sounds pretty egotistical to say that I am certain that this team is completely capable of designing entire new game worlds if that was called for. EQ has a vast and deep existing lore, and we want to honor that and expand on it, not rip it apart just for the sake of making something new.

    Anyhow, I just needed to clear the air and perhaps vent a little. I appreciate the concern expressed in threads like this. I just often don't agree with the overall sentiment they deliver.

    Thanks for playing EQ. Have a great Christmas and a wonderful new year. Be safe, be fair, and be good to each other.

    FubarEQ, Boze, Verily Tjark and 52 others like this.
  10. Nennius Curmudgeon

    Have to disagree here. I have met some of the EQ1 team. It has been a few years, but they seemed pretty passionate then and it appears to me, at least, that they still are. That having been said, trying to perform miracles with limited resources has to be a bit disheartening at times. As a result of the limited resources available the results of their work will of necessity be limited in outcome.

    Case in point. Ngreth (Adam Bell) and his wife own?? and manage EQTraders. To me, this indicates passion. The increased engagement on the boards from devs. late in the evening also indicates passion as well.

    I am hoping for an increase in resources for EQ1. I don't expect a huge jump in that though. Even 3-4 new folks would bring a huge jump in what can be done.
  11. Nennius Curmudgeon

    Just to throw a laugh into the mix.

  12. Corwyhn Lionheart Augur

    I have never understood why folks get all hostile over re-imagined content. While I sometimes have issues with expansions that has never been one of them although I had figured that you saves some time or resources redoing older expansions but regardless redone stuff is always new enough to feel new to me.

    All I ask is for group content to be less raid copy stuff. I hope you get the resources to create content actually designed towards the group gamers and leave out a lot of the raid mechanics. The main reason I don't raid is I dont enjoy raid mechanics that much. Well that and I enjoy leading a guild for those more casual players.

    Creating group missions that are not annoying to complete means more folks will repeat them which to me sounds like a success since you don't want missions to be done once and that is it. I am sure that metrics from past expansions show what people like to play over and over as opposed to what they do as little as possible.

    Merry Christmas!
    Nennius likes this.
  13. ZenMaster formless, shapeless

    I like the current pattern of expansion releases. I have thoroughly enjoyed the latest Kunark and Velious iterations. It feels better executed than the Rain of Fear versions. I do miss Iceclad, Wakening Lands, and Plane of Growth.

    I also appreciated the intermission of The Burning Lands between EoK/RoS and ToV/CoV. Here's to hoping we finally visit the water djinn realm of Loruella and delve into the jann storyline a bit more next year. :)

    We appreciate your work. Merry Christmas!
    Gyurika Godofwar and Celephane like this.
  14. KrakenReality Augur

    We’re all positive that the team works hard throughout the year, but the player base is frustrated. Year after year, we get less and less while making more and more money. The EG7 sale just validated that reality. Take it for what you will but CoV is not worth the price, and comes off as cheap.

    Maybe JChan can pass it on that the cash cows are disappointed and get some changes. If, the next expansion is as thin and uninspired as CoV then Live is going to fade behind TLP numbers.
    Gyurika Godofwar and Skuz like this.
  15. Benito EQ Player since 2001.

    In fairness, $35 for a basic expansion is probably a low price point when you incorporate inflation and rising costs (of operation and living).

    Many top titles (Fortnite, CoD) charge $20-35 for cosmetic bundles (skins). Nor do I think EQ players would like to see DLC and Battle/Season Pass revenue model.

    12m a year is not exactly a cash cow. And EG7 has indicated more emphasis on investment in LOTRO and DCUO. Although, I think they value the EQ franchise.

    We have to be pragmatic.
    IblisTheMage likes this.
  16. KrakenReality Augur

    Disagree, distribution costs for EQ expansions have been low since SoF. There's no longer costs for hard copies and retail costs. I feel like people forget how large of an impact digital distribution has on the bottom line of gaming companies. Also, there are other tiers of purchase options.

    You can't compare MTX prices to box prices. EQ has its own MTX that cost more than the game. Star Citizen charges $35,000 for a ship.

    EQ practically invented the DLC/Season Pass model.

    Those numbers were through Q3 only, and EQ has the highest EBITDA. Of course, they're going to say that they're looking investing more into well-known IP. They just bought those games. The press release isn't going to be anything other than positive spin.

    Ok, be pragmatic. I don't see how that makes a difference. Absor just said, they're still capable of doing great things. Go prove it, because ToV and CoV were not good. TBL was something cool, but they were too stubborn about their flagging system and tuning.
    Skuz and Elyssanda like this.
  17. Benito EQ Player since 2001.

    Even with digital distribution, digital copies of other games such as 'Cyberpunk 2077' and 'Sackboy' are $60+ per. Sure, it's an entirely new game but reviews have criticized the lack of content there as well.

    Let's be real. Most players just buy the basic expansion at $35 a pop. How many raiders are interested in paying $140 for the fluff (other than guild portal)?

    Daybreak Games has to pay overhead and living wages in San Diego, California.

    What microtransactions are players committed to on EQ1 (cost more than the game)?

    Dwarf Heritage Crate? Caters to a specific demographic.

    Krono for chase loot? Raid loot rotts and latest chase loot are obsolete. This is optional.

    Dragon Hoard slots? People are scoffing at purchasing slots.

    EQ pushed the expansion model. DLC and Season Pass are based on monetizing content.

    People will always complain about how things are supposed to be better. We have to acknowledge the limitations of the game (small team, old code).
  18. Coughforme New Member

    It seems to me that kraken is just a really sour moody bitter person, all I see is you complaining, cool you got an opinion but you dont have present it in that sad horrid angry way you are doing.

    TBL was interesting and I look forward to part 2 whenever that may be.
    I also prefer CoV to ToV as I feel they did the ice stuff better this time around.

    I also hope we go back to the moon as we know they will do a Luclin revamp and I dont think people will mind so much on that, least its not been touched on a few times like Velious already had been.
  19. Velisaris_MS Augur

    I don't mind revamps of old zones when they're done right. I point to the recent Kunark and Velious expansions as an example of how to revamp something correctly. Yes, they are "recycled" zones, but a lot of time obviously went into updating and changing them enough to fit within the storyline.

    I point to TBM as an example of how NOT to recycle old zones...Plane of Health is grotesque, and CoD and Sul are literally just cut and paste.

    And, obviously, they can put out NEW zones that are beautiful to look at. TBL is an example of that.

    As someone else pointed out, I'd rather they spend more time coming up with original group missions, instead of just stripping down raids and calling it done.
    Gyurika Godofwar and Skuz like this.
  20. Yinla Ye Ol' Dragon

    The CoV & ToV zones are a little smaller than the originals BUT they have the same layout thankfully. They learnt from earlier the revamp mistakes of Nec Forest and Freeport and have kept the layout the same. In CoV they have combined Sirens Groto and Cobalt Scar to just be Cobalt Scar. In ToV they split Crystal Caverns in to 2 zones, but still kept the original layouts for both new zones.

    You only need to look as far back as TBL for totally new zones! Estanti is beautiful and by far my fav zone of that expansion.

    TTobey I believe did the new Rallos Zek model in ToV which looks awesom, the new dragons and CoV look good too. Disapointed in Tantor he ears are wrong, but on the whole it still looks and feels like EQ but with a few updated models.

    Lore as always is interesting and there are some quests which will make you laugh. :)

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