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Time Lapsing and World Making

Victor Barreiro Jr. Posted:
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Welcome back to the Everquest Next Column. It’s a little delayed today due to some pre-holiday doctor’s appointments and an unfortunate cloud saving accident. Strangely enough, the cloud saving accident created an opportunity as something extra came along during the extra two days to make this that I thought was great to note.

As Everquest Next Landmark inches closer to release, Sony Online Entertainment threw out a couple of different world-building concepts we could latch onto this week: one is a corollary to the day-night progression discussion from earlier, and the other two are about how the world is made and how your particular choice of world may operate in the future when Landmark and EQNext eventually come out.

72 minutes

Did you know that there’s apparently an industry standard of sorts for day-and-night cycles? The December 17 Roundtable discussed how people voted on their preferred duration of day and night for MMOs.

Since the day and night cycle can make a big difference in how a particular location is in terms of quest availability or difficulty, they decided to discuss the cycle for the previous Everquest games in order to shed light on the future direction for Landmark and EQNext.

My sense for round numbers is shattered a bit when I consider how weird a 72-minute duration for day and night happens to be. After some thought, it makes sense to allow people to experience day and night more readily.

With a 72-minute cycle between day and night, players who have a schedule are more likely to see both day and night shuffle across a two or three hour stretch. More importantly, it makes the shift feel more random in one’s head, unless you’ve coded a timer for the 72-minute cycle that constantly reminds you of what time it is in the game, which is awesomely hardcore. /salute

Off hand, you’ll also notice that they haven’t committed to a particular duration for the new games yet. I think this likely ties into them testing out how the day and night cycle shifts will work, as well as their timing system for the switch from day to night.

I’m actually okay with the reasoning for a 72-minute timer since it follows a close standard, and it doesn’t penalize people who aren’t on at specific times of day. If there’s a more optimal duration given data, however, I’d love to see what they find.

Server rulesets

Across the past week, I really found this one particular Roundtable topic worth discussing as well. SOE asked about specialty server types, and if there were any that interested parties might prefer to roll on.

I was a bit surprised by the results. I was expecting (though not hoping) PVP to be a big draw for the future of Everquest, but it seems that more people are legitimately interested in joining role-playing type servers (35%), then non-ruleset (I suppose this is plain PVE? 26%), followed by PVP (20%), and then hardcore and special ruleset types (tied for 9% each).

Now, assuming harcore means either higher difficulty or, as mentioned in the thread, permadeath, and special ruleset types mean atypical gameplay variations, such as their mention of “no trade restrictions,” I think it’s safe to say they count as atypical ruleset servers.

That said, it would seem that the Everquest franchise has maintained a strong playerbase looking to either role play or play on a server where lore rules are more readily intact and maturity is likely more evident. This is anecdotal, mind you, but my experience with RP server types have always been less drama filled, unless you’ve scheduled the drama in advance and are planning on roleplaying a jilted Ratonga who loves a Sarnak.

More to the point, PVE-based (of which I include RP) votes account for more than half the interested parties voting. You’d need to see how many people actually voted and if the votes are statistically significant and geographically representative of the playerbase of EQ and EQ2, but it looks really interesting on paper at the very least.

Procedural Content

Lastly, SOE released their “Happy Holidays” EQNext-slash-Landmark video by discussing procedural content. The video below explains how the company is able to build worlds relatively quickly, as well as the process by which they set up procedurally creating worlds for people to inhabit.

According to the video, the size of the world they’re touting would have been too difficult to create by hand. To remedy this, they made concept art, and then fashioned little bits and pieces –from terrain to trees to lava and snow – that could work together to form a world that I like to think will be somewhat Ikea-fied.

The world is procedurally generated and made quickly because it’s relatively modular, like an Ikea furniture piece. individual bits and pieces can be snapped together to create unique places that don’t look like puzzle pieces that interlock but all look the same, like in Final Fantasy XIV 1.0.

This is also the big draw of Landmark, since people will be able to use most of the same tools developers have to add onto the world in the way they want to, within reason.

The game appears to have five basic area types at this point in time: an firey area reminiscent of Lavastorm, two forest-type areas that are styled after Qeynos Hills and the Faydark, a desert that feels like the Desert of Ro, and a region much like Everfrost. All told, It’s a good mindset to use for quick-building worlds, and with 5 types of areas at present, that’s a lot of good resources and variety that can be expanded upon after Landmark’s launch (and maybe even before launch of EQNext).

Feel free to chime in below with your comments. I’m most interested in learning what sort of world you folks prefer and what ruleset suits your needs. Cheers!

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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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate and The Secret World 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.