The Futility and Dysfunction of Daybreak Games Official EverQuest Forums

One of the main reasons official forums exist is to provide a place where both developers and players can engage in a civil and constructive dialogue about their MMORPG.

All MMORPGs are a work in progress. MMORPGs are not like regular video games that are purchased only once, they are made possible by a continual investment of both money and time on the part of the players. For a fantasy virtual world to thrive, there should be a symbiotic relationship between the developers and the players.

Players who post suggestions are giving MMO studios free feedback. These studios should be grateful that passionate players are spending their precious time trying to make their MMO better. Sadly, many MMO developers and those in upper management either do not understand this or even worse, they simply don’t care.

The official EverQuest forums hosted by Daybreak Games are a pointless mess. Instead of seeing players as stakeholders, they are seen as adversaries by the devs. Recently, Mark Kern made similar observations about how Blizzard developers seem to resent their own players. As game studios become more elitist and woke, a great divide has emerged between developers and players. Players have every right to demand better products and accountability from the devs. Players are paying their salaries, they should not be made out to be villains.

The official EverQuest forums serve little to no actual purpose other than to give EverQuest players the false hope that their experiences, comments, feedback, suggestions, and even bug reports will be taken seriously by the EverQuest developers. These forums give players the illusion that they are being heard when in fact players are routinely ignored. There’s a better chance that Santa Claus will read your letter at Christmas than an EQ dev will reading a thoughtful post from a loyal EverQuest player and act upon it.

The original owners of EverQuest — Sony Online Entertainment — had a long history of being contemptuous and disrespectful to players on their forums. This horrible attitude is why many people such as myself start their own MMO blogs so we could write about the genre without fear of the marginalization and retaliation that results from MMO studios forum moderator censorship. Back then, the EQ devs feared the opinion of players because they didn’t want to be accountable. At one point, it got so bad that the late Brad McQuaid foolishly considered removing forums altogether for EverQuest.

MMOs were the first video games that developed an highly informed community that cared about their rights as consumers.

To make matters worse, there is an stifling status quo that has been created by mods like Senior Community Manager Mepps who uses intimidation and threats to ban your play account to clamp down on players who post inconvenient truths.

EverQuest Forums Enforcers: Skuz and Captain Video

Mepps doesn’t have to get his hands dirty as he has a retinue of unpaid, volunteer lap dogs working for him policing the forums. These teacher’s pet gatekeepers are names familiar to most EQ forum posters: Skuz and Captain Video. These obsequious lackeys post profusely and dog pile on hapless posters who deviate in the slightest from the status quo and who have the temerity to post suggestions that would make EQ better. This Dynamic Duo can do as they please and walk between the raindrops all thanks to a shameful conspiracy of corruption between the devs and the mods.

Here’s a typical scenario, a new forum member (often a player who hasn’t played EQ in years) posts a suggestion on the TLP forums. Skuz who posts many replies a day and monopolizes the forums but never posts new threads, promptly slithers out of the woodwork to tell the person why their suggestion won’t work. His modus operandi is to derail the thread by cherry picking something he doesn’t like about your post. Once the thread is derailed and diluted by his posts, the well-intentioned original poster is worn down and gives up. Skuz’s purpose is to squelch any suggestions and feedback that would cause the devs to have to do any extra work. Other new players see their ideas shot down by Skuz and other DGB apologists like him, and they realize the futility of posting so they feel dejected and and never bother to post again.

Skuz who routinely makes ad hominem attacks on other posts who call him out, is at best, an unpaid mod who gatekeeps for the devs. At worst, he’s a paid DGB operative or a sock puppet account run by the devs or someone who is related to them or friends with them. I full suspect that he’s in a guild with one of the devs and obtains favors from the devs for his daily unpaid work defending them with his bully tactics. The fact that Skuz who routinely makes harsh and unproductive comments towards other posters has not been banned from the forums, speaks volumes about the corruption at Daybreak Games.

Who is EQ DEV?

Another devious trick that the devs us to hide their dirty work is the EQ DEV account. Whenever a thread gets too close to the truth, a certain dev logs on to this account to lock the thread and stops all further discussion or engages in outright deletion. This way there is no paper trail.

I believe the main culprit is a barnacle at DGB, let’s call him Hagrid. He’s perfect example of the PETER Principle at work. Hagrid’s been at SOE/Daybreak so long that he’s been promoted to the level of his incompetence. He neither has the talent, enthusiasm, or temperament to be a MMO dev. Only in a third rate studio like Daybreak Games could a person with such a dour attitude and paucity of talent ever be able to hold down a job. A career as a prison guard would have suited his skill sets better.

The Daybreak Games community managers “manage” the community and exist to solely to protect the developers from being held accountable and being embarrassed. They routinely lock threads and ban players — even those who report crooked GM admins. No good deed goes unpunished!

The new community managed named Accendo is yet another boot licking, thread locking robot that’s sole job is to shield the devs from scrutiny and accountability. Also, mods have the unearned DEV tag on their posts. They are not DEVS, they are MODS and their posts should be tagged as such.

EQ Developers are Too Busy to Communicate with Players

EQ developers rarely post there at all because they don’t have the time as a recent dev named Niente recently admitted in a rare dev post:

This rare post by EverQuest developer Niente raises a lot of questions and concerns. The fact that he admits that he “absolutely should not be on the forums posting” gives us a unique insight into the callous mentality of Daybreak Games management who are imposing burdensome workloads on the devs that are assigned to EverQuest TLP servers.

No dev should be too busy to spend a few minutes each week to interact with the player community. If they are too busy then clearly, DarkPaw Games, Jennifer Chan, Jason Epstein, Ji Ham, and EG7 has not properly staffed the EQ dev team with enough employees. Yes, I do believe “they are doing their best with the time they have” but again this a problem that goes all the way to the top.

If devs are too busy to read and post on the forums, it’s reasonable to assume that they are far too busy to bother even playing their own MMORPG from the perspective of a player. If they are not playing their own MMORPG, then it’s easy to speculate as to why the devs are so out of touch with their own players.

Darkpaw Games Disingenuous Mission Statement

Here is the bold mission statement from Darkpaw Games:

Darkpaw Games is the studio that brings you the legendary EverQuest and EverQuest II free-to-play games with all the heart and passion this den of developers can muster. We’re a pack of MMO enthusiasts who always seek to delight fellow players with our fantastic worlds.

Heart and passion? Well apparently they don’t muster very much passion if they are too busy or too overworked to post to the forums. Passionate developers love interacting with loyal players, disinterested developers hate interacting with players.

Pack of MMO enthusiasts?

This is an outright lie and typical marketing speak. Whatever enthusiasm the current devs had for MMO development evaporated many years ago thanks to chronic understaffing, layoffs, unbridled greed, a horrible working environment, and chronic mismanagement by upper management at SOE/Daybreak/Darkpaw.

If EQ devs were truly enthusiasts they would spend time running live events and quests like devs used to do in the Golden Age of MMORPGs 20 year ago. They would also make sure to fix outstanding bugs instead of nerfing low hanging fruit. All the love and passion has been systematically beaten out of them all thanks to incompetent management.

A pack is usually a term referred to a large group, in this case I hardly think the 3-5 developers that still work on EverQuest are a pack. This is yet another laughable lie from the Daybreak Games marketing department.

In the past few years, many EQ devs left Daybreak and are now working for Blizzard Entertainment. Have they even been replaced?

Clearly, Dev Niente feels very uncomfortable and uneasy posting to the forums. The tone of the post suggests he could be spending his time better working on EverQuest. To me, this shows that Daybreak/Darkpaw does not value transparency and honest dialogue with their player base.

Stop Complaining or Else!

At the end of his rare post to the community he makes an unveiled threat that suggests that if players continue to complain about issues on TLP servers, DGB will most likely choose the path of least resistance and find solutions for new TLP servers that will create the needs for less human resources to address these problems. This is a bizarre philosophy. Imagine, if Apple said that due to too many complaints (i.e. iPhone users who want to make their phone better), they will create future iPhones with less features to mitigate the risk of incurring more development resources? Not only would there be universal outrage among the Apple community, innovation at Apple would be discouraged.

Fantasy virtual worlds can not run by themselves. Like the real world, they need laws, rules and a code of conduct to function properly lest there be anarchy and chaos. They need GM admins to police the rules. But Daybreak Games doesn’t want to pay competent GMs. The current batch of useless GMs they have are not even interested in banning the platinum dupers, the hackers, the zone warpers and other assorted offenders.

Daybreak Got Rid of the Play Nice Policy to Save Money

EverQuest used to have a code of player conduct called “Play Nice Policy.” This policy needed GM admins and volunteer guides to enforce and police it. They have since eliminated the policy not because it was the right thing to do as it helped create a better play experience, but because not having a policy saved money for them. This is outrageous.

Imagine if the mayor and council of a small town decided that law enforcement was too costly, so they rescinded all the laws and allowed the criminals do do as they pleased. This is precisely what is happening in the virtual world of Norrath. Foreign criminals and hackers are allowed to run wild throughthou Norrath, doing as they please so they can sell their items for money on the black market.

Glassdoor Proves that Daybreak Games Prioritizes Profits Over Gameplay

For DGB, everything is about money. Profits always trump the player experience. Many reviews on Glassdoor from former employees over the years have demonstrated that monetization is more important than good MMORPG design and the health of the EverQuest community. Here’s one:

After the layoffs over the last several years, many departments have been running extremely lean to the point where it’s unsustainable. Lots of favoritism and a culture of fear and yes-people at the top of the org. If you aren’t one of the CEOs favorites, good luck getting anything done that actually costs money. The only thing that drives the decision making is money, not ideas or innovation or making things fun. There is no care for the people that put their hearts and souls into the company and it’s heartbreaking to witness.

Here’s another gem from Glassdoor:

Daybreak is run like a mafia. Employees are ordered to spy on others who are suspected of being disloyal. Management issued stern warnings that those who are reported for negativity, even when off campus, can be terminated. Work environment is hostile. Employees are pitted against each other. Teams are pitted against each other. HR cannot be trusted. They are used as a tool to manipulate and threaten staff. Management is demonstrably incompetent. Insists on changes to projects that are often unfeasible and sometimes impossible and always out of touch with the project. Upper management are bullies. Leads are undermined, retaliated against, and replaced if they do not follow marching orders. Zero accountability at the top. Decisions made by management result in the loss of millions of dollars. Yet management proudly shows off their new luxury cars and new houses, in the wake of layoffs and ever-dwindling profit sharing bonuses. Company brings in premium hires to run existing teams. These types invariably undermine the game’s experts and sink team morale as they ram through uninformed decisions. Buildings are half-empty. Three large layoffs in the past 15 months. Staff fired for minor infractions. Good people have left or are leaving for more stability and less hostility. Daybreak is struggling to bring on and keep quality staff. Management asked employees to write positive reviews to offset the negative ones. Company is in the midst of a re-branding to shed their bad industry reputation, while keeping the same people and policies that led to this reputation. Owners are desperately trying to sell company while simultaneously running it into the ground.

This is not me speaking, this is bonafide current and former-employees.

PRIDE over Profits, Profits over Players

While Jen Chen and Daybreak seem to put profits over gameplay, identity politics and LGBTQ propaganda are more important than profits as once again in June of 2021, they offered PRIDE themed rabbit pets for free to all EQ and EQ2 players. PRIDE month is a disgusting celebration of sodomy and other deviant sexual behaviours that have no place in EverQuest. While thousands of bugs go unfixed, Daybreak expended precious development resources to indoctrinate their players with identity politics propaganda. Chen and Daybreak should be ashamed of themselves for promoting this.

Conclusion

The real tragedy in all of this is that EverQuest could be a far better MMORPG if the Daybreak management and staff had the wisdom and humility to check their egos outside the studio doors and listen to the players. MMORPG development is a work in progress and a community/crowdsourced effort that is shared between the developers and the players. The players are unpaid testers, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience that dwarfs the combined wisdom and talents of the developers. The Daybreak staff need to recognize this and act accordingly and treat the players with respect and stop ignoring them on the forums.

Daybreak Games is a horribly run company. They treat their loyal customers like garbage. Currently there is no effective way for the players to have a meaningful and productive dialogue with the developers. Of course, this is by design. The EQ/EQ2 devs are not interested in dialogue because it would take time away from creating the next expansion or doing whatever it is they are doing.

Devs have clearly stated that they are too busy to even post on the forums. This tells me all I need to know about the contempt that upper management has for both their developers and the players. This is completely unacceptable.

Most of the EverQuest devs are 9 to 5 people. They are there for a paycheck. Any genuine passion they once had for EverQuest and MMORPGs vanished long ago. The sluggish devs have adopted a bunker mentality and abhor any form of accountability from the players who pay their salaries. They do as they please and whenever they please.

There is a high level of dysfunction in the MMORPG development community. In the world of MMO development, you can be a grinning rodeo clown riding a dirt bike on Sunday and working as a designer for a MMO on Monday. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The industry is riddled with incompetence thanks to rampant favoritism and cronyism.

The remaining few EQ devs are terrified of being held accountable. Over the years, EQ devs have developed an “us versus them” attitude where the players are the enemy. They truly believe they are gods and the players are the great unwashed. You could have the best suggestion in the world and they would never implement it because of their huge egos. It’s impossible to use logic and reason to shame them into doing the right thing because they have created a reality distortion field around themselves. This is why they hide from the players and never bother to post on their forums.

Enad Global 7 CEO Robin Flodin needs to clean house and fire every last one of the Daybreak Games and Darkpaw Games management and replace them with people who actually care about the virtual world of EverQuest. I’m not even sure the atherosclerotic dev team is salvagale as most of the talented devs recently left the company and are working for Blizzard on World of Warcraft. To ensure the future viability of the EverQuest franchise I would start an entire new team to work on EverQuest, preferably not based in California.

― Wolfshead


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