Darkpaw Games’ Laughable, Lazy, and Ludicrous PAX East EverQuest Panel

Darkpaw Games is the laughingstock of the video game industry. This skeleton crew of bumbling washed-up circus clowns can’t seem to get anything right. After years of self-imposed solitude, the reluctant developers at Darkpaw finally bowed to public pressure and emerged from their Avenue of Science bunkers to meet their long-suffering fans at PAX East in Boston.

The anemic panel entitled Behind the Scenes: 28 years of EverQuest® Development lasted for an hour. The first 50 minutes was an uninspired infograph-like recitation of the history of EverQuest by a 3 person panel. As one commenter on the video noted, not one of the people on the panel had anything to do with the history they were relating. They were simply reciting the accomplishments of others.

So far, the video has had 1.5k views which is not a good sign.

Everything they uttered was probably repurposed from a script they most likely used at GDC for the 20th Anniversary of the EverQuest panel held at GDC in San Francisco. To this day, no recording of that event or transcript exists. Why would they go to GDC and not record their panel?

The panel comprised Jen Chan, Adam Bell, and Lucy McLaurin. Other Daybreak and Darkpaw Games employees attended the event and were spotted in the audience courtesy of a video taken by EQ super fan and unofficial Darkpaw videographer Fading.

There was no sign of Ji Ham but I spotted Daybreak VP Joy Fox and Creative Director Darkpaw Games Kyle Valee. I’m sure the front row was reserved for Daybreak and Darkpaw staff. The LGBTQ community was well represented as well. From what I can tell, they had 150-200 people in attendance.

As I covered in a previous article, there was no substantive news about the new proposed version of EverQuest. The fact that they could not even express anything remotely inspiring about a new Norrath just blew my mind.

After they read their scripted presentation, they only allowed 10 minutes for questions from the audience. They wasted 50 of 60 minutes, by regurgitating knowledge most fans already knew and then only allowed a few questions. Of course, this was intentional. They didn’t want to subject themselves to potentially embarrassing questions.

Studio Head Jen Chan has been missing in action on the official EverQuest forums since the creation of Darkpaw. Lead singer Adam Bell rarely talks to the players and when he does, it’s usually a terse comment devoid of empathy. The makeup-free coder McLaurin although less annoying, is not that active on the forums. If all three of these Darkpaw employees cared about the players they would be posting far more frequently and posting substantively. I have to believe they either are malicious, lazy, indifferent, stupid, or any combination thereof.

The problem is that the remaining staff at Darkpaw know that no matter what they do, a group of hardcore EQ loyalists will continue to show up and buy the garbage they are making.

There was no footage of EQ players asking questions which tells me that the penny pinchers at Daybreak hired one videographer for the entire show. This was embarrassing and unprofessional.


The EverQuest franchise is out of steam and is on its last legs. Thanks to years of mismanagement by people like John Smedley and Ji Ham, the average gamer has no idea what EverQuest is. I doubt most WoW players even know what it is and if they do, they probably see it as some obscure footnote in gaming’s past.

Sure, we’re all getting old but this event was depressing because the audience looked like a bunch of tired, grumpy, and bored boomers and Gen Xers. There was no passion and vibrancy on the panel or in the audience like there was at the grand reveal in 2013 when SOE announced EverQuest Next in Los Vegas. It felt like an annual convention of morticians.

The PAX East panel was bereft of the enthusiasm that used to surround the MMORPG genre where thousands of gamers would line up at Fry’s in California to purchase a copy of World of Warcraft to have it signed by the developers.

Current EverQuest players remind me of old cigarette smokers: people who are desperately enslaved to an addiction that they know is bad for them.

Everything about Darkpaw and EverQuest is a business-as-usual attitude. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t do anything new or unexpected. The lack of creativity, vision, and intellectual curiosity is glaring. Just listen to Adam Bell and you soon realize his intellectual capacity is not commensurate with his girth.

Then we have Jen Chan who is out of her depth. She does not radiate any genuine enthusiasm for Norrath. Chan is only there because John Smedley loves to hire LGBTQ people. These are the last people I would recruit to have anything to do with a new EverQuest fantasy virtual world.

The EverQuest “franchise” is a victim of many trends and realities: the current lack of industry-wide quality being produced thanks to woke millennials and vapid Zoomers, the chronic mismanagement of the franchise, the current mediocre development team, the inability to keep and attract serious talent, and the ineptitude of management Daybreak Games and Enad Global 7.

The main problem at Darkpaw is that there is zero accountability. Both Daybreak and Darkpaw realize that no matter what they do or don’t do, players who need their EQ fix will not hold them accountable. When players attempt to hold them to account on the forums, they are censored, suspended, or outright banned for their trouble.

The Darkpaw staff are living in a Fool’s Paradise thanks to overzealous moderators who shield them from reality. Sychopants like Fading will never hold them accountable because he’ll lose his precious access to Darkpaw Studios.

In my previous EverQuest article, I discussed my great disappointment with Darkpaw’s lack of progress with a new version of EverQuest. So there is no reason to repeat what I said in-depth, but I’ll close with a few points.

While the panel rattled off all the things that made EverQuest a remarkable revolutionary experience, somehow they have not internalized those lessons. These knuckleheads have no business being trusted stewards of the franchise. The 25th Anniversary of EverQuest would have been the most propitious time to announce a new version of Norrath. At the very least, they could have given us a tentative title. But in typical fashion, the slackers at Darkpaw blew their opportunity. If only they showed a fraction of the enthusiasm that they devote to Pride Month every June, the franchise might have a sliver of hope.

Another fundamental problem at Darkpaw that my sources tell me is that most of the staff do not play EverQuest or EverQuest II. If you are not actively playing the game you are working on, then you are out of touch with the player base who do play your game. Not only do they not play their own MMOs, they have thinly veiled contempt for the players who pay their salaries.

Unless Enad Global 7 gets serious and either sells the franchise to a professional studio or farms out the new EverQuest to another studio free from the meddling from Chan and Darkpaw, the future of a new EverQuest looks grim.

As the EQ franchise sails off into the final sunset of its tortured existence, the maniacal captain, the zombie crew members, and the captive passengers all singing Hotel California deserve each other. Sweet poetic justice.


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