Creative Director Role for Darkpaw’s New EverQuest MMORPG has 15 Applicants

This July, Enad Global 7-owned Daybreak Games posted a job listing on LinkedIn looking for a Creative Director for Darkpaw Games. Darkpaw is a subsidiary video game studio of Daybreak Games. Since Darkpaw was created specifically to maintain and propagate the EverQuest franchise, we can reasonably assume that a new EverQuest MMORPG is in the works.

The role of creative director is an on-site job which makes perfect sense. According to LinkedIn, at least 15 people have applied for this role.

Daybreak is wisely seeing outside talent for this important role. This is extremely important as Darkpaw Games in its current incarnation is a barebones, mediocre B-list studio. Anyone worth their salt would have left Darkpaw long ago and sought employment at other studios. Many have indeed migrated to Blizzard and Amazon over the years.

None of the current creatives at Darkpaw have the vision, talent, and work ethic to helm the creative direction of a new EverQuest. Most of the remaining skeletal staff at Darkpaw are dirty old barnacles that are welded to the helm of the long-neglected EverQuest. May they all go down bravely with the ship they pirated.

The problem with Darkpaw and SOE before them is that the staff has acquired many bad habits over the years because both EQ and EQ 2 are in maintenance mode and only appeal to an ever-dwindling base of loyal veterans.

In its current incarnation, Darkpaw are expert min/maxers; they exert the minimum amount of effort for the maximum amount of gain. This has made them fat, lazy, stupid, and oblivious to the needs of the EQ community. Other than cafeteria workers and janitors, I doubt if any of the existing people could even land jobs elsewhere in the video game industry.

Darkpaw Games will need a brand new facility that is separate from the current team, to house the big dev team that they’ll need to create EverQuest 3.


Since the creative director is the driving creative and visionary force behind every MMORPG, the success of EverQuest 3, or whatever they plan to call it, will be largely dependent on who this person is. The candidate will have to be charismatic, mercurial, and visionary, and they’ll need to know the lore and mechanics of EverQuest inside and out.

Many current game developers played EQ during its infancy. EQ was the gold standard and figurative king of the hill in the MMORPG genre from 1999-2004. Without EQ, there would be no World of Warcraft. The challenge for the creative director will be to distill the essence of EQ — a fantasy world of hardship and challenge, class interdependence, shared adversity, and social cohesion — and update it with modern graphics and quality-of-life refinements for a new generation of players with a wider demographic.

The creative director for this new MMORPG will have to present unique ideas that push the genre forward but remain faithful to the core design fundaments of EQ. The advent of AI will make previous wishlists like intelligent NPCs, dynamic quests, and dynamic content possible.

The new creative director will need to be able to merge all of these aforementioned elements into a live service MMO that also has a robust but respectful monetization system. This will not be an easy task. I think MMO studios like Zenimax with their Elder Scrolls Online, are good examples of monetization done properly

I believe that a creative director will need to involve the EQ community both past and present in the creative process. The failed EverQuest Next was on the right path. Collaboration via crowdfunding will most certainly be something to consider. Players need to have a sense of ownership in this new version of Norrath and that needs to happen as soon as possible after the title is released. They will be key in spreading word-of-mouth buzz to the greater gaming world.

The eventual candidate will most likely be a veteran MMO designer. In a perfect world, one of the old-guard Blizzard developers like Jeff Kaplan would fit the bill. Alex Afrasiabi would be a bold but controversial choice. But I doubt Alex will leave the paradise of Hawaii to return to SoCal. The injection of proven studio production methodologies like Blizzard 1.0 had will be critical. Scott Hartsman would be another terrific choice. It is quite possible that a dark horse candidate may arise as well. Whoever it is, I wish them the best of luck.


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