We had the chance to catch up with EverQuest Next’s Dave Georgeson yesterday to talk about how work is coming along on the highly anticipated sandbox MMORPG. In the weeks since the reveal at SOE Live, there has been a lot of progress made on artwork for specific races, the parkour movement system, and lots of decisions made for the direction of Landmark which arrives this winter. Read on for a full recap of our time with the game.
We still haven’t gotten our own grubby little mitts on EQN or Landmark, but Dave tells us that that part of the process (beta for Landmark) isn’t far off if they want the game to launch this winter. First, Dave showed us some new character art. You may be familiar with the fact that Roundtable has been asking players to help decide if female dwarves should have beards or not. During our little presentation, we were treated to the first ever art that will make Linda “Brasse” Carlson proud. They’re not full-on lush beads, but there’s no mistaking that these buxom little beauties will make SOE’s resident femme-dwarf very pleased. This is the first thing that SOE has really taken from Roundtable and put into the game based on the player voting.
We also saw some new work on the Dark Elves, who as you might notice from the artwork below, has a bit of a “horn” issue on their heads. Being coy about it, Dave led us to believe that this is because they have some Draconic ties in this alternate version of Norrath. For specifics, he told us to keep our eyes on the website as more lore is revealed. He also wanted to address the reaction to the Kerran that was shown at SOE Live, and how people gravitated towards the fact that he looked so much like a lion. Dave noted that that was just the model they were prepared to show at the show, and that when it comes to the Kerran as a race they’ll have a great deal of variety in the form of many feline species (Cheetahs, Cougars, etc.).
Then we were shown some more work they’ve done on the Parkour movement system. The female Adventurer video we saw (more on the Adventurer in a bit) can now flip through the air, twisting and turning, and bound off of structures organically. Her movements are dictated by where she jumps from and the angle at which she’s leaping from. It’s all very smooth and heroic looking, and should make basic running and jumping in EQN so much more. I noted that it reminded me a bit of the Acrobatic movement power in DCUO, which is a good thing. There’s something very fun about being able to move about a game world in that fashion. We asked if the classes would have any additional spells that augmented this movement more, and Dave told us about a Wizard spell that allows the caster to create a magical path in front of them that’s not unlike say Iceman from the X-Men. Classes will indeed have a great many abilities that effect movement as well.
Then Dave touched on Rallying Calls, or EQN’s big dynamic questing system. He wanted to further clarify how these events will play out in the server, so he likened them to a Three Musketeers movie. If you’ve ever seen any one of those classic stories played out, they were always about these three heroes set on the backdrop of a much larger scale event or war. That’s exactly what Rallying Calls will be like. These won’t just be one shot little events that you partake in and they’re over until they recycle. Instead they will be lengthy events like wars, sieges and so on that call on players to take an active role by fighting, by crafting, building so forth. It’s not something a group of you will complete in an hour and then move on from, but rather something that an entire server will work towards with the story as the backdrop for the tasks you complete during the rallying call.
In terms of the game’s subterranean dungeons and how they’re discovered, Dave told us that the team’s recently begun leaning in the direction of using Earthquakes as a story reason to close them up after a certain amount of time has passed so they don’t just become static “farming” spots for players. He wants the sense of exploration and discovery to be maintained, so after a spot is opened for some time, it will very likely close down via earthquake and have to be rediscovered, possibly in a different place and form altogether. That’s not to say there won’t be static dungeons, but these uncovered dungeons will most definitely never stay the same. And for those wondering about the good ol’ days of underwater EQ dungeons, Dave could only hint that maybe if they find a really cool way to implement the parkour movement in an underwater space, we’ll just have to see what happens. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Moving on to Landmark specifically, Dave wanted to start by firming up the position that this is a fully-fledged MMO. It may not behave the same way that EQN ultimately will, but like Minecraft before it, Landmark will have massive worlds, thousands of players, and a shared creative imagination space that guides the gameplay. Dave’s a big fan of Minecraft, but believes that what Notch’s team began can go so much further.
You’ll create a character, pick from a variety of faces, bodies, clothes and colors and everyone will begin as an Adventurer. Dave couldn’t get too into specifics in terms of skills and abilities, but since it’s the main class for Landmark, one assumes it will have abilities that center around exploration, traversal, and so forth. Pickaxe in hand, you’ll enter the world, claim a plot of land, ad begin making things. But what’s more is that your character from Landmark will carry over to EQN when it launches. If you’ve played Landmark, you’ll also have unlocked the Adventurer class to go along with the eight starter classes in EQN, effectively giving you your first multi-class capability right out of the gate.
Dave also touched a bit on the social features of Landmark, and how it will have a friends-list across all SOE titles, and they’ll be grouping you up and putting you on worlds with those friends so that they can make sure you’re all playing together. There will be open marketplace stalls that allow players to trade wares, resources, and items, as well as Wizard Spires that allow fast-travel across the world for ease of movement. But what’s more is that these same spires will allow you to traverse between actual Landmark worlds. If you have a friend on a different world or just feel like exploring, these spires will let you hope across them to play and explore. Speaking of travel, Dave did confirm that mounts will be in Landmark at launch, but he wasn’t ready to show us just how they’d be presented.
As an aside, we asked about “Danger” and whether the world of Landmark will have things players have to be wary of, and Dave was coy in saying (with a smile) that they’re undecided. He could confirm that nature can be dangerous (lava, etc). But said they’re still toying with the ideas of wildlife and other “enemies” playing a factor.
In terms of more socializing, we were told that VOIP, chat, SOEMote, and the whole nine yards will be in at ship. Dave believes that the combination of all of these will really make for some great YouTube and Machinima videos. They even have a system in place that lets you place a static camera, press record, and the video will compile a stop-motion video of your building process to then upload and share to YouTube.
Friends and Guilds will be in the game from the start, as well as less permanent “Co-Op Buildouts”. They’re the Hippy Communes of Landmark where a group of players can come together, build stuff, share work and resources, and then split apart. Think of it like a creative PUG in Landmark. But more lasting creative collaborations, Dave talked to us a bit about the Player Studio. If I make a castle tower, and it’s really fantastic. So good that some other player who wants to make and sell a castle buys my tower to use in his creation, whenever he sells that castle he made I’ll also receive compensation for the fact that he used my tower in his work. Every object a player submits and sells on the PS will be tagged with their info so that everyone is always compensated for their work. You can easily imagine how the best and brightest creators might flock together to dominate the creative side of Landmark.
There will be a filter/follow/subscribe program in the Studio as well. This allows you to follow people whose work you love, filter out types of items you really like, and the game will mail you out a daily digest based on the things you subscribe to with the newest items added to the Studio. There are even Leaderboards for builders to track who sells the most, has the best reviews, and so forth… bringing a competitive aspect to the creation of content in Landmark. Perhaps they’ll use the “Norrath” continent to hold a contest one month for players to create the best village. They might get ten or twenty excellent entries. They’ll use each of them then in the creation of the real EQN Norrath, so that when you go to one server that town might be one of the winners’ entries, but on another server it could look completely different. The possibility for differentiation between shards is endless with the creation power behind Landmark, and they’re really only starting to see the potential for varied and diverse worlds opening up.
Lastly, we talked a bit about real estate. Landmark will be F2P, but plots of land across the worlds will be bought with Station Cash. You can buy them low, when they’re cheap, and wait until the prospective market for that plot of land goes up and then sell them for a profit to the highest bidder. SOE wants to drive this open economy with everything from the player-made items to the world’s land itself. And vigilant players will most definitely see some return on their investment of time and/or money.