Sony Online Entertainment made the year's biggest splash in the MMO space over the past weekend at SOE Live in Las Vegas. The team finally took the cover off of EverQuest Next and its partner title EverQuest Next: Landmark. For simplicity's sake, the two are listed together as one since each plays into the other. However, as the "Showing Off Your Creativity" panel showed, Landmark is an MMO in its own right.
For those who do not know, Landmark is the companion to EverQuest Next but is less typical MMO than it is a space for creative types to let loose their imaginations. Landmark will feed into EQN and into Player Studio but is its own game, complete with a player avatar (though simpler than that created in EverQuest Next).
The panel began with a discussion of the philosophy behind Landmark. The team empasized:
- Landmark will be free to play from the start. While there may indeed be some sort of in-game shop, it will be minimal and will feature only time-saving items or packs of materials. Everything sold in the store will have representation in the MMO space that Landmark represents.
- Everyone can be involved and produce immediate results.
- The tools that will be available are "player facing" meaning that developers and builders use exactly the same software for creation. There are no hidden "developer only" mechanics involved.
- Voxels will allow builders more flexibility than just placing blocks. With Landmark, for instance, a sphere is an actual spere with rounded edges.
- Landmark's motto: Just try it. Experimentation leads to discovery and unbound creativity BUT must be fun and easy to use.
What gives Landmark its own standing as an MMO is the fact that players will strike out into the world with nothing but a pick and a map and a willing spirit. They will find the place that best suits them and stake a claim on it. This claim then becomes their own space in the world to share and to build as they see fit. Changes are permanent and persistent. As one of the presentation slides said, "Landmark is a shared world."
Different continents will be represented in Landmark. There will be a special landmass that is specific to EverQuest Next, where things created will need to fit the overall artistic direction of EQN in order to be included in the game. But that's not all that Landmark will embody. If it can be created, if it exists in a builder's mind, it can be built whether is a spaceship, a modern city, a historic landmark...in short, anywhere the imagination goes.
Interestingly, Landmark claims can be shared. The example the team gave is a guild wanting to create a magnificent guild hall for EQN. The claim's original owner can open up individualized permissions to all members who can then go out into the Landmark world to collect the needed resource. Once finished, and if approved by SOE, the blueprint for the hall can be taken straight into EQN when it arrives. There is a caveat, of course: When the hall is taken to EQN, it is as a "blueprint" rather than as a completed structure. Guild members will still have to go out and collect the resources to build the permanent structure in EverQuest Next. In essence, Landmark is the test ground.
Additionally, if the owner chooses to share this blueprint, this template, in Player Studio, it can be done with everyone's name on the template record if they participated in creating it. The owner can also select how much of any proceeds to share with those who assisted in building and will have complete flexibility on how much goes to each person.
For Landmark "shoppers", for lack of a better word, a notification system will be put in place by SOE so that builders' feeds and creations can be monitored. SOE has plans to help players find just the things they're looking for by allowing for robust filters, subscriptions to alerts (activity alerts, featured content, etc.), subscriptions to favorite builders or reviewers, themes, etc. There are also plans to run contests for builders including EverQuest-themed contests, seasonal themes, challenges such as building literal sandcastles and more.
There was a concern that Landmark would not be available to anyone outside of North America. Fans were put at ease by the announcement that it will be a worldwide release and that anyone can use it and build. The legal department is working with international agencies to clear the pathway for Player Studio sales for non-North American builders to remove any barriers to creating and selling one's work.
Honestly, what makes Landmark so exciting is the accessibility to everyone that it embodies. Even to non-crafter builder types, the interest to try out the tools and to see where imagination can fly is already there. This is something that the team is most excited about: Accessibility and ease-of-use.
All in all, Landmark is looking like a souped up version of Minecraft with a more robust and beautiful set of tools with which to work. It is easy to see that players and builders will find a lot to like about it and that many will find themselves completely immerse in it. Landmark is set for release in the Winter of 2013 and we're looking forward to getting our hands on it. If you haven't already, head to the official site to sign up for the EQN: Landmark beta.
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