This week's Everquest Next Landmark write-up isn't going to be very long, but there's going to be quite a bit of information to digest today as Everquest Franchise Director Dave Georgeson revealed Sony Online Entertainment's (SOE) game plan for monetization of Landmark as it moves through the alpha phases into beta.
Yes folks, they'll be implementing monetization features for an alpha. Not to worry though, as what you purchase will stay on your account as development continues, regardless of any data wipes for the game.
Phase 2: Outfits and Resources
The forum post made by Georgeson, as Smokejumper, implies the current monetization model does not appear to be completely locked in yet. While Phase 1, the founder's pack sales, is ongoing, Phase 2 onwards may change depending on user feedback and opinions.
Phase 2 involves selling some basic items – resources and character outfits – with Georgeson citing the reasoning for these. While outfits seem self-explanatory, the selling of resources likely needed to be explained unless everyone started screaming about “Pay to Win” methods in an alpha of a game about personal creativity and creating stuff.
Georgeson calls this a shortcut. He also explains that the current progression game of Landmark was limited based on what players could gather; thus, selling resources seems like a logical means of generating revenue. He notes, however, that “current game progression is not the intended real progression. Very soon, you’ll only need handfuls of resources to make picks and other tools.”
Georgeson added, “Tool and item progression will be limited by activities completed and achievements gained… not by resources. So, letting people buy resources is really just a time shortcut to let people build more easily.” He also reiterates that players can trade with others for resources.
Phase 3: Selling More Shortcuts
As the game develops, Georgeson says additional time shortcuts methods may go up as commodities for purchase with Station Cash (SC). Such features are meant to be implemented “toward the end of Alpha,” with these shortcut positioned as conveniences and are not to affect game balance.
Georgeson's example is crafting an item that increases the power of the pick gathering tool. “The time shortcut option would be available as a button on your Collections sheet,” he explains, “so you could just buy that potion effect immediately instead of needing to craft it first.”
Personally, as long as they aren't don't affect game balance, I'm quite fine with the selling of shortcuts. From the looks of things, these include using SC to pay for claim upkeep or to rent a stall to sell stuff in, which doesn't strike me as out of the ordinary.
Phases 4 and 5: Your Creations and SOE's Big Guns
Phases 4 and 5 will likely be the point that will either make or break the testing phase depending on how it is implemented and how quick SOE is regarding patching in feedback.
Phase 4 introduces the sale of player-made templates via the Player Studio. Phase 5 is when SOE brings in its own big-ticket commodities as SC purchases, which may include cosmetic pets, sound or music packs for claims, account-based purchases such as gender and name changes, claim flags, and others.
For the player-made items, I'd like to be able to make sure I'm actually getting REALLY good templates, and not shoddily made troll commodities missing a voxel here or there as some kind of differentiating unit. SOE has to be completely on their A-game as regards making sure people get what they paid for.
More to the point, as I am likely going to buy myself a house to decorate, I wonder if there will be two versions of these items. In my scenario, I imagine a static model that you can add onto but not delete voxels off of, and another that can be remodeled bit by bit but with the knowledge that you can undo any changes quickly and return it to its base form before any tweaking.
Assuming Phase 5 is anything like Everquest 2's model, I don't think there will be too much of a mental stretch for long-time Everquest fans, though newcomers to the franchise with the assumption that it is a building game like Minecraft but better may want to be taught how to use SC.
Final thoughts, and a Video
With all that said, I think those of you who are in Landmark's alpha will likely want to hop into the forum thread I linked above and chime in with your reservations and any potential problem spots that SOE may not see from a particular gamer type's lens.
To end though, I'd like to cite one of the posters from last week's discussion: Cirric! While the video he linked on MMORPG.com had no audio, one of his more recent videos was a stellar, if painstaking, approach to creating a detailed awning for your homes. The same style of creating an awning can also be adapted to build setups that can look like corrugated material. Cheers!
Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains the Everquest Next column (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.
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