After the big announcement earlier in the day, Sony Online Entertainment slated the first of its many panel events for EverQuest Next. The developers have method to their madness in the order in which the panels are presented, the first being The World of EverQuest Next.
The overall theme of the panel was to give out information about how players will live in and interact with Norrath in the upcoming game. The panel featured all of the EQN leads and ran for about an hour. Though questions were taken at the end of the presentation, not nearly enough time was allotted. Luckily for eager fans, there will be a Q&A later in the weekend.
To kick things off, the team discussed why the art style presented in the videos was chosen. As expected, many factors played into the decision to feature a “stylized” look rather than a more photorealistic one. The team set four main goals for the game:
- The world is a living, breathing constructible, destructible one.
- Things the team envisioned needed to be technically possible (they are!)
- The game would feature player facing tools, the same ones the developers themselves use
- Characters needed a more substantial, “weightier” feel to them and be able to express themselves through body language.
- Animation needed to give the player a feeling of connection to the world and to make moving around in it fun.
Because of the above stated goals, stylized art was chosen for several reasons: It ages more gracefully, it can evoke an emotional response and creates immersion and it allows the development team to give players a way to use senses other than vision to immerse themselves in the game world.
For characters, the stylized art allows for a weightier character, not so much in terms of gigantic oversized bulk, but more in the substance of a character. In addition, stylized art allows for better facial expressions. The team likened it to Pixar: Oversized eyes, lips, exaggerated body movements, etc.
The team also is committed to giving players as many looks as they want to create the perfectly customized character. For instance, armor will come in ‘families” with three distinct armors that have five ‘showable’ components. What’s cool, however, is that players can mix and match those three armors to achieve the look they want without sacrificing stats. This one small aside drew the night’s biggest applause.
As for the world itself, the team is committed to giving players a sense of homecoming, of returning to something familiar. They want to evoke nostalgia in players of the earlier games. To do so, the story has become the heart and soul of the entire game. Everything is designed to keep players engaged for a long, long time. Players can expect an emotional bond to the game world in a visceral, adventuresome, perilous way. The world is deeply interactive and is mainly the setting for each player’s own story.
As players move through the world, rather than being sent on a preordained path of discovery, they will “organically” discover places where their interaction is needed. An example the team provided was that a player is riding down the road and sees a farm on fire in the distance. Approaching the farm, the player can assess what’s being done to whom and which side he will take. There will be no question mark over an NPC’s head to tell a player what to do. It will happen according to each player’s choice.
But choices will have consequences. It will be, as we were told, difficult to become a Paladin if said Pally goes around slaying NPCs or burning down huts. The world will take note of his interactions and react to him accordingly. If a player wants to be known as good, he will have to perform good deeds in order to be recognized.
There is a lot to see and to acquire in Norrath. Players will discover content, resources, cool stuff, collections, materials, decor, classes, crafting components and more. Exploration then becomes the key in EverQuest Next. By exploring, the story comes to life around a player.
Players will be able to usher in change in the world as the story moves along....permanent change after world rallies where events change the world forever. On the heels of that information, the team fielded a question from a fan:
Is it possible that servers will be in different places and will there be an advantage to high population servers?
The team, all smiling, said that servers could indeed be in different places within the story arc but that it doesn’t mean that that’s an advantage if the server has passed over other, smaller details in the move to further the story. What’s cool is that players can then take or create characters on servers who may not have moved as far and can either re-experience content they loved or see it for the first time if they missed it. Each server will have its own unique personality.
Several key components of world interaction were, however, left out of the panel discussion. The team opted not to answer questions about PvP, housing and to reveal more information about housing. According to them, this gives something for fans to look forward to as time goes on.
That wrapped up this particular panel but we will have further reports on classes, the lore, creating things in Norrath and more so stay tuned!
What did you think of the big announcement? Are you happy? Unhappy? Let us know in the comments!
Read the big encompassing preview of EQN Here.