If one video wasn't enough to make you want to scream "ALPHAAAAAAA!" then four videos will likely turn many Everquest Next: Landmark fans into a quivering mess of excitement. Better yet, that's EXACTLY what Sony Online Entertainment did since the last time I wrote about the game. Let's delve into what's happened in the past week by going through the content chronologically.
Before anything else though, one note: the Twitch stream from last week's Transparency and the Way Forward column was turned into a handy primer article with tutorial videos on the Landmark website. You should be able to get additional tidbits of information from Landmark's primer now that they've gone and created accompanying text for it.
The January Producer's Letter
The day last week's column came out, SOE also released a January Producer's Letter. In it, Terry Michaels outlined SOE's plans for the Landmark alpha and for additional content pertaining to Everquest Next.
Aside from pimping out the Founder's Packs, Michaels also noted there was a new novella available on the Everquest Next website, called Prison of Fire. It's set in Lavastorm and, according to their announcement for it, happens at the same time as an earlier lore novella, "The Stars of Home." A new contest that incentivizes being a long-time Everquest fan is also being prepared, with a Trailblazer pack up for grabs.
The Franchise Update
As written about by Bill Murphy on the site, they also released an Everquest franchise video update, explaining the plans for the Everquest games moving forward. There's not a lot that's new there for Landmark lovers, but making a video that appeals to the three franchises may bump up interest in any of the other games players haven't been paying much attention to.
Interlude: Omeed Dariani on Reddit
One insightful development came out of Reddit during the week, and it all had to do with a leak. An intrepid Reddit user managed to find what was revealed to be a test version of the Landmark launcher, which eventually got taken down after it was discovered. Omeed Dariani, Senior Global Brand Manager at SOE (and everyone's favorite Round Table host), went on Reddit to discuss what happened.
In one comment on the post, Dariani wrote, "I am always impressed with how intrepid people are. Things like this are annoying for us (we'd rather keep things secret until we want them revealed, you know?) - but it's the nature of the beast. It's also what's fueling the next stage of innovation in online gaming."
He added that one of the big realizations of brand strategy as it pertains to a doggedly persistent fanbase was, "...the development team is outnumbered by the hardcore players at least 10000 to 1. Of course the players are going to figure everything out and find everything... collectively, it's an immense amount of mental power being brought to bear."
Regarding how SOE dealt with the matter, Dariani mentioned that it was "the sort of thing that teaches us how to interact with our community better."
He went on to say, "Should I get angry at /u/Panda-Monium for finding something we unintentionally posted publicly? How will it help? I'm assuming that he/she is an excited fan, rather than a world-class hacker hellbent on destroying SOE. How mad should I ever be at a fan who is excited about something I'm working on?"
Saw Tables and Crafting
Leading up to this morning, SOE also released a pair of crafting videos – a short Building Blocks video on the saw table crafting station and a longer development diary related to crafting.
The saw table video is pretty straightforward. It shows off some design drawings for the station, and a bit of the Team Fortress 2-like cuteness of an automated buzzsaw, though there wasn't actually any woodcutting involved.
There longer development diary was far more exciting, especially since it introduced what you could probably call an Uber Crafting Station spawn. Lead System Designer Michael Mann explained that altars randomly pop up in the world, and are limited-duration crafting stations that disappear into the ether after a certain timeframe elapses.
These altars allow you to create items as well, but the the items tend to be be better or have more radical visual cues from regular items, making them fun status symbols if you can find an altar and craft from it.
Mann goes on to explain what you can craft in the game, and provides an overview of how crafting actually operates within Landmark. He notes that most recipes are found in the world, so exploring is actually a big deal if you want to make more items or want a particular look for a given item type.
He also explained that there are basically three types of ways to craft, though the system appears to center on ease of use rather than complex minigame style of crafting from Everquest 2.
Consumables are quickly made with a few clicks, while cosmetic items are crafted with a more catalog-like interface to customize the cosmetic item's look. Lastly, items with statistics, such as the crafting tools can be crafted or improved with relics – statistics-altering components – acquired from gathering the resources needed for the base item.
With alpha coming very soon, and rumored to be on track for an early outing, we'll likely see even more videos and details coming from SOE. I look forward to seeing crafting in greater detail myself, though I also wouldn't mind Omeed Dariani doing a dramatic reading of one of the novellas as a sort of viral filler for the week. That said, check back next week for more updates, opinions, and general crazy talk based on the past week's events.
Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains the ArcheAge and Everquest Next columns (and formerly the Devil’s Advocate column) 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.