The EverQuest community has been buzzing with rumors about a possible new version of EverQuest that is in the works. Last week Daybreak Games posted a listing on their careers page looking for a Creative Director.
Redbeard Flynn has done a good job speculating about this news in this video:
In case the listing is deleted, here’s a screencap:
Here’s Are the Clues that Stand Out
EverQuest was based on a MUD. Richard Bartle wrote a masterpiece of player motivation analysis called: Players Who Suit Muds. He put forth the idea that MUDS are comprised of 4 player archetypes: achiever, socializer, explorer, and killer. Bartle also suggested that good MUDs are ones where the archetypes are in equilibrium.
Let’s take a look at these clues in the job listing through that lens:
- The job is for Darkpaw Games — Darkpaw Games is under the Daybreak Game umbrella and was set up only to create games in the EverQuest universe.
- Emphasis on Community and Teamwork — Before she departed Darkpaw for Blizzard, Holly Longdale mentioned that any future EQ MMO would have to have these uniquely EQ fundamentals
- Put the time in, “work” hard and you get rewarded — This speaks to EQ’s core achievement game loop, and the “time” represents the progression of leveling and loot over a long period of time. This can only be an MMORPG. Bonus: nice mention of the players here
- Escape, Exploration, and High Fantasy — More references to Bartle fundamentals and mention escapism and high fantasy — all EQ fundamental game pillars
- Pre-existing IP — this can only be EverQuest (See above #1)
Clearly, someone at Darkpaw put a lot of thought into the job description. I reported in previous articles that I believe Holly Longdale and others at Daybreak spent a considerable amount of time laying the foundation for a future incarnation of EverQuest. This job posting is a result of their hard work.
Due to a burst of elation caused by the news, the initial article I composed was very long. It was full of possible candidates for the creative director position and I included a list of challenges he or she will face. I have since trimmed it down by 80%. I think it’s best to publish it at a later date so I can fully digest the implications and refine my analysis.
I have to be honest, this rumor is bittersweet for me due to my deep distrust and disgust with Darkpaw and Daybreak. This year I pretty much gave up on caring about EverQuest. What SOE, Daybreak and now Darkpaw Gameas have put loyal fans through is unconscionable. The time for a new EverQuest was years ago. This feels like too little, too late.
I have a feeling that this is the creative director role that Holly Longdale wanted all along but due to EG 7’s hesitation in green-lighting a new EQ. It looks like Holly could no longer wait and joined Blizzard to work on World of Warcraft: Classic.
There’s a fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me vibe about this. After the EQ Next fiasco and after years of negligence and betrayal from various studios, I’m not even sure that I like MMORPGs anymore. I’ve pretty much given up on the genre.
Then we have the timeline of announcement-to-release to consider. Look at Intrepid’s Ashes of Creation MMORPG which was announced via Kickstarter in October of 2017. It is still in alpha despite being in development for 6 years.
The sobering reality is that if Darkpaw is indeed planning EverQuest 3 it will be at least 4 years before it will be ready. That might be shorter if EG 7 gives them ample resources to hire a lot of great talent and use A.I. to expedite the production process.
Hiring a creative director is only the beginning. Whomever they choose, this person will have a lot of work to do once he or she gets hired. I think the earliest they will announce this will be next year during EverQuest’s 25th Anniversary.
The biggest red flag is the studio itself. Daybreak and Darkpaw are blood-sucking vampires that only care about profits. I was hoping that Enad Global 7 would have sold the rights to the EQ IP to a competent studio but sadly that never happened.
Having intersectionalist Jennifer Chan as the Studio head is a gigantic red flag for me as well. Even though she checks off three victim boxes in the DEI department, it’s not enough to excuse her uninspired and underwhelming tenure as studio head. The reclusive Chan has not bothered to get to know the EQ community as she promised in her first address to the community. At least in her public persona, I haven’t detected any genuine affinity for the franchise. I can almost guarantee you that she doesn’t play EQ with any degree of regularity.
Another big concern for me is that given the political nature of Darkpaw and the People’s Republic of California where they are located, they may make the mistake of making a new Norrath that is teeming with wokeness and identity politics. Former players with families that haven’t played EQ in 20 years are not going to appreciate being indoctrinated or having annoying pride pets shoved down their throats. I’m not sure if Darkpaw and Jenn Chan have the maturity and restraint to avoid adding needless leftist propaganda to EQ 3.
Hopefully, by the time an EverQuest 3 or Everquest Evolution or whatever they plan to call it comes out, the fad of wokeness and trans rights will have burned out, and video game studios will return to a state of political neutrality and stability.
Whomever Darkpaw hires will ultimately either make or break this new EverQuest. I’m both curious and terrified about who will be involved in the selection process. Putting existing Darkpaw developers — most of who don’t even play their own MMORPG — in charge of this selection makes about as much sense as putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank. All we can do is pray for a miracle and hope for the best.