SOE Shakeup: How does it Affect you?
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones
Recently, Game Designer Steve "Moorgard" Danuser announced he was leaving SOE to pursue other interests. This was on the heels of Community Manager, Ryan "Blackguard" Shwayder leaving. Since it doesnt involve EverQuest 2 directly, well ignore the departure of Chris Kramer, Senior Director of Communications. Conspiracy theories abound, but how much truth is there to the rumors?
No one would argue Moorgard was instrumental in building the EverQuest 2 community, as its first Community Manager. He was there before beta, moved into design shortly after release, and has been heavily involved in shaping the game. Blackguard took the reins from Moorgard as Community Manager, and has been a part of this game since launch as well. So, we have two very public SOE employees leaving within a few months of each other.
There are more rumors surrounding Moorgard's exit than whether Paris Hilton actually is smarter than a carrot. I havent heard much in the way of rumors like I normally do, but there it at least one obvious choice Ive heard kicked around. It seems an upstart on the east coast, started by Curt Schilling, would be a perfect fit for Moorgard. Green Monster Games has some great talent working with them, like RA Salvatore and Todd McFarlane, now they just need people who can well make games. I also heard they needed a non-professional player for their corporate softball team..
Why is he leaving? He didnt indicate the reason for his departure, which is of course his prerogative. I have seen him post at least once to call out somebody whining about raid group compositions, and if there was ill will in him leaving, I doubt seriously he would continue posting. What may not occur to most people, is hes been there from the beginning, and there are probably only so many headaches you can let EQ2 players give you, before you are ready to move on.
Blackguard, was actually pretty straightforward in why he was leaving, or at least gave a reason. Not only did he seem content with SOE in the interview we recently did, but Ive also seen him post at least once. While I did propose he got tired of being mistaken for Glendral (look at the picture tell me its not uncanny), Im sure hes got something in the works.
What does all this mean to us, the players? First, right before the launch of an expansion, is the worst time to lose two of your key players. Both of these guys, were absolutely vital to reporting and responding to player issues, except of course Tradesklling, because we all hate Tradeskilling (*ducks a swing from Niami*).
Communication has also been a little scarce, but its become obvious other staff members have been pivotal in picking up the slack (like the amazing Owlchick). Players need to see SOE staff still involved with the forums like Moorgard and Blackguard. They were like a security blanket to most people, and this isnt to say they havent been involved thus far, but there are some big shoes to fill. I know enough about Owlchick to see her as a viable replacement for Moorgard, but Blackguard's replacement is still up in the air. Im sure they are close to a decision on that.
Should you panic? No. You should never panic unless it is a zombie related emergency. The expansion will be released on time from my understanding, and life will continue with the EverQuest 2 community. We can hope the gaps created by these departures are filled sooner rather than later, but they will be filled eventually. The question is, will the replacements be enough? Well just have to wait and see.
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