In the most shocking news heard since WildStar announced they were going free-to-play, Daybreak revealed they will be closing down Landmark in February.
I bought one of the $99 Founder’s packs. I don’t exactly remember why, but I remember seeing that video showing them digging holes in the ground and thought that was pretty dern cool. It turned out to be the most ill-advised game purchase decision of my entire life to date. To this day it informs my Early Access buying decisions. Thanks to Landmark, I made a rule that I won’t take a chance on an unknown Early Access game unless it sells for $10 or less.
It's a total scam, but yep I just bought the Trailblazer's pack for EQ Landmark. Everybody's doing it so it must be cool. :)
— Endgame Viable (@endgameviable) November 15, 2013
Now that I think about it, I came up with the $10 mark because of H1Z1, another Daybreak product. H1Z1 consistently sells for $20, so I knew I had to make my dollar amount less than that, because I did not want to take a chance on another Daybreak product, even at only $20. All indications were that H1Z1 would be another unfinished prototype disguised as a game. It turns out I made the right decision there, because H1Z1 still looks awful, years later. (I don’t understand much German, but I get the impression they aren’t pleased with the game in that video–I picked it because it was recent.)
I saw some concern on Twitter about Daybreak’s new role with LotRO. I can understand that, but I’m also of the opinion that Turbine was getting ready to shut down LotRO completely, so even if Daybreak does shut down LotRO in a year, it will be one more year that LotRO survived. But I doubt that Daybreak would get involved with LotRO unless it was an easy money-maker for them.
I always thought the first versions of Landmark were their best versions. I actually had some fun wandering around mining resources to make stuff in those first versions. I liked the crafting progression for the most part. It was pretty relaxing, and digging through the terrain was some pretty cool tech.
Unfortunately, every time they released a major patch, the game seemed to get worse. They were using Landmark as a testbed for the systems that would go into EQNext, but those features weren’t that great, most notably the combat. I never did any PvP, but fighting mobs in the countryside was horrible. I actually started working on a post titled “EverQuest Next Will Be Terrible” but then they went and cancelled EQNext. Honestly I’m glad they did, because it’s better for the MMORPG industry to have no EverQuest Next than to have an EverQuest Next that’s a massive flop.
I always got the impression that the features planned for Landmark and EQNext were simply beyond the skill set of the developers working on it. I felt like the changes were very slow. I imagined there were two old EverQuest programmers in a basement furuiously working to patch Visual Basic 6 spaghetti code, maybe reading books on modern coding techniques on their lunch breaks. If anyone ever sees that code base I bet it would be a mess of Daily WTF material.
I know I’m making wildly unfair and unfounded accusations here but after spending some time in the software development industry, you sort of get a feel for the development process behind a product based on watching the changes in the finished product. The point is that watching Landmark’s progress did not inspire me with confidence in its development process. Compare Landmark with something like Trove, which pushed out huge, sweeping changes very quickly in their early days.
In retrospect, I think their building system was too complex for a consumer product. It was practically Blender-level of detail (a gross exaggeration, I know–using Blender is like trying to juggle while riding a unicycle on a tightrope and recite Shakespeare in Chinese at the same time). The point is that it was work to build something. Some people loved that (many of whom probably want to make games :), but I think most people found it inaccessible. Then again, it had to be complex because it was also the tool they were using to build assets for EQNext.
I will now show you the video I recorded shortly after Landmark’s big March 2016 Update last year (the one right before the “launch”) where I tried to give it another chance. I wasn’t going to upload it because I thought I was unfairly harsh and critical of it. But hey, I lost $99 on this game, so here it is.