Every so often, the staff at Sony Online Entertainment will mention how Everquest Next Landmark has what it calls “the world's largest development team.” The world's largest development team for Landmark includes every player testing the game, breaking its functions, and essentially crowdsourcing the means for the game's coding team to push Landmark to its technical and imaginative limits.
This week's Landmark Live video was basically a testament to that. The usual tidbits of patch information for the weekly update, which was postponed for a later date, was available. There was even some time with technical director Steve Klug, who explained why some people think they may be lagging in the game.
Perhaps the most fun bit was spread out across the video. Emily “Domino” Taylor – whom some of you may remember as the grandmistress of Everquest 2 tradeskill development or design producer for Defiance – was on hand to show off the applications of a player-made design technique to turn voxels into beautiful, smooth inlaid designs.
No Rubber Bands?
On the technical side, Steve Klug started off the show by explaining what the spinning gears icon means when it shows up while you're playing the alpha. According to Klug, the gear icon may not always denote network lag.
Instead, the game is basically saying it's performing the calculations needed to represent the game world. The game's visuals are basically built as they're shown rather than being a client-side sort of situation. The possibilities are thus: either the game is still trying to fetch the data it needs to show something properly, or the game is calculating what it needs to do to move you forward.
Speed buffs, including grappling hook, make this worse, as the player is basically forcing himself to operate faster than the computer can compensate. As the game grabs more data and more information is cached on the computer's side, the issue resolves itself. The team also said it was working on optimizations to make these such events less frequent, though they still want to know if it's worse than it appears.
The Domino Effect
Emily Taylor basically spent most of the stream showing how users could take a player-made guide to creating smooth inlays to create walls, floors, and ceilings with unique designs.
Beginning at 9:30 in the video above, Taylor explains how to make inlays. The base idea is start out by deleting individual voxels from a completed one-voxel deep wall, creating a duplicate, then filling one of the two walls back in using colored voxels. The trick is to smooth out the cloned version of the wall, and then overlay it onto the wall with the colored voxels, which technically forces the colored voxels into place to look like they were etched into the wall.
By copying and repositioning the wall, you can actually turn the design into a ceiling or a floor, though the same rules apply. Below is a finished product for an etched floor design.
Patch of the Week!
While the demonstration was happening, Collette Murphy, Omeed Dariani, and Terry Michaels fielded questions and also explained the details of today’s patch.
The general breakdown, minus any official patch notes as of this writing, is as follows.
- Claims: Permissions on claims will be added with escalating permissions for your claim. Attached claims may also get permissions different from one another, though they have no plans to go beyond that and offer permissions for fractions of a claim. There will also be permissions set on chests.
- Overflow: There will be an overflow space set up to save you if you don't have room in your inventory while templating. This has an – at most –24 hour limit, subject to balancing based on game data.
- Tweaking. Shift-Clicking will begin tweak mode, where you can actually fine-tine adjustments, allowing for subtle alterations and movements to place things.
- Social Systems: They'll be implementing a friend and block list.
- Systems changes: Patch notes will reportedly delve into the ability for characters to walk, as well as implemented wood harvesting changes. I expect something to be done about burled wood.
Aside from the patch tidbits, other things of note would be Landmark's closed beta plans, and what you should know when you trust people to build on your claim.
First off, Landmark is meant to enter closed beta on or before March 31. More to the point, they are also working on remedying issues with the Alpha boost potion, which means that the alpha boost potion will likely be given to players who lost the buff or had the item not work (among other things) during closed beta, expanding its capabilities to allow for its use – though perhaps not extending the duration – during the beta period.
The other big note was that people should make sure they trust the people they'll be offering permissions to on their claims. Depending on the circumstances, players who own the claim are responsible for what are built on it, so if SOE's customer service team sees some objectionable content (or IP-infringing creations) on your claim, your entire claim will be nixed. Responsibility is hard indeed.
Long live Everquest
If you missed it, by the way, you should know that it will be 15 years since Everquest went online next week, and Everquest 2 will be 10 in November. They've got big plans for the Everquest intellectual property across the different games, but they also want to make sure Landmark plays a role in that.
Players are free to pay homage to EQ1 or EQ2 by building something on their claims that are distinctly part of Norrathian history. Inform the team of your build (telling them about your video or screenshots via Twitter or the forums will be best) and you may get featured in the future! 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.