Compared to last week’s column about consuming lore, this week’s Everquest Next column is a lot less wordy because the actual topic of discussion isn’t very long as well. The most recent Everquest Next roundtable discussed how the day and night cycle of the game would affect the game world, and today, we’ll delve into what exactly was raised by Omeed Dariani and Terry Michaels of Sony Online Entertainment.
Danger in the Darkness
The crux of the discussion in the latest EQNext Round Table video was whether or not a shift from day to night (or vice versa) should elevate or lessen the danger appropriately.
Back in the Everquest 1 days, the discussion of danger was a partly created as a function of technical constraints and how gameplay focused on a world that would presumably be pretty bloody freaky if you didn’t have a torch on you.
In Everquest 1, darkness tended to be really dark, and while the placement of enemies was still the same, not having a light source around made it very difficult to see or navigate, and you could end up creating a bad situation just by stumbling into an enemy without intending to. As the technologies have adapted and tastes of gamers have shifted, however, there’s a decidedly different way of approaching danger as a mechanism.
Remember that the game’s AI comes with emotions or motivations for doing things, and you can imagine that a shift in the environment can switch the behavior of NPCs or enemies accordingly.
An Example with Bats
What seems to be hinted at is the that night time (rather than darkness) facilitates a change in the motivations of NPCs and enemy mobs. Assume, for example, that vampiric bats are nocturnal and come out at night and they’re near a village. Villagers will be less likely to get out of their homes when night time comes because they know that the bats will come out and otherwise spawn near their village.
At the same time, this means that bats are motivated to feed, and will likely be agressive in the evenings while probably being docile or disappearing in the mornings. Connecting that to last time’s lore discussion, it would thus be possible for the vampire bats to retreat to a hidden cave somewhere to sleep the mornings away, and following them as they head home could lead you to a new location or to some other storybit that could be tied to them.
Thieves running rampant in the seedy district of a town? Will o’ Wisps flitting about peacefully near a normally monster-infested lake? These are possibilities that can make otherwise innocuous or daunting locations in the morning flip their polarities for you to explore.
The best part about this Round Table is that Reddit gets a special shoutout for being the community that fostered a ton of discussion on this and other topics. Looking back through various EQNext forum posts and Subreddit entries, I’ve noticed quite a bit of talk, with the SOE team chiming in when some people get the inferences right, such as with this post on the function of the trinity and of combat roles in EQNext.
A night and day cycle seems like such a simple thing, but the discussion of the community when it comes to handling nearly every part of the world-building for EQNext makes me smile. While there are some rather standoffish attitudes in certain discussions, the majority tend to be very vocally enthusiastic about being able to guess or potentially influence how the game will turn out.
Whether its good marketing strategy at work or a development team that’s eager to throw in new ideas may be up for debate, but the openness of the EQNext team with the fans is a great community building exercise worth emulating.
Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate column, as well as the ArcheAge and Everquest Next columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can find more of his writings on Games and Geekery and on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.
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