I was going to write a massive wall o text about all this and distill it all down so anyone can easily get their head around just how awesome Everquest Next is probably going to be.
Fail. Total fail. There are simply too many things to even consider covering. I cannot do this justice.
So instead, the cliff notes with a bundle of links to get you started and as much as I can write before I have to ‘take a moment’ to clear off the impending multiple nerdgasms.
Everything is dynamic (for real), heaps of different player generated stuff, responsive NPCs with likes, dislikes, habits, desires and memories. Great graphics a little more on the cartoony side (but still realistic mostly), excellent lighting and graphics, extremely flexible multiclassing.
Oh yes, you can sign up for beta here – with your Sony account.
Now skip to the bottom of this post and start clicking on some links if you don’t like reading more than a few sentences at a time It’s stressful, I know.
Forget what you think you know
Usually “it’s new” or “it’s different” is all bollox, but this time – I doubt it. Everquest Next is probably going to be the MMO we’ve never seen before. Many of the features appear in other games – sure. But the synergy here of how it could all play out is…staggering. So forget what you think you know.
Yes, really. Environment. NPCs. Cities, towns and settlements. Spawns. Hell, even the DIRT in Everquest Next can be excavated, with programming in place to ad-hoc create instances/areas that can be discovered underground. Archeological finds on the fly. Check the vid on two players falling into such a subterranean area and being confronted with a boss pretty quickly.
Quick note: the EQN site specifically states that there is “10,000 years of explorable hitsory buried beneath it’s surface”. Holy crap dude. That’s a lot.
Additionally, they are doing something similar to Rift’s massive zone events to launch an expansion – a Rallying Call goes out and players cooperate to defend a new settlement and build it into something huge. Yeah, we get to participate directly in building the next Freeport or chilling out with a beer while orcs beat the living piss out of the settlers. I’m so torn.
And yes, many of these changes are permanent.
Sony has about 15 years or so of data on what us MMO gamers like and don’t like. Theoretically, they know more about MMO usage and direction than any other company. Yet they are still interactive, still seeking development input – check out the Everquest Next Round Table.
Also: check out their initiative “Tweet the Devs”.
It’s almost like they’ve revived Asheron’s Call, added in some Secret World and finished up witha dash of GW2. There aren’t classes as far as I can tell – it’s more “weapon skills” (based on what you’re holding) and whatever skills you’ve worked up. To quote EQN: “Want to be a teleporting rogue or a backstabbing barbarian? The choice is yours”. Like Rift souls. On crack.
There’s also no levels apparently and therefore, no need for mentoring mates to play together. You just level up different skills.
Screw Spawn Locations!
This is where it gets really cool – there’s no static spawns like derv camp 1, nor even random spawns within an area such as Gustfeather (bastard). Mobs have likes & dislikes. Orcs like gold, don’t like busy roads where adventures beat them stupid daily. Guess where they spawn?
But when players start building out such an area, the orcs will attack the settlement and if they can’t win, they bugger off and spawn elsewhere – according to the needs and desires of their race.
UGC – User Generated Content
“Landmark” is the game that will likely be released this year to make good on Smed’s promise of “something in [your] hands this year and I don’t mean a beta”. An EQ game where you can build anything, very similarly to a dev would.
Personally, I suspect this is a stroke of genius – they release Landmark, everyone gets right into it and loves it (EQ + Minecraft man!). They get beta testing (of course), but they also get assets being created by the players. Talk about effective content generation for when EQN launches!
Regardless, it bodes well – build almost anything. When you add this to the concept of Player Studio which is already alive and kicking.
Bugger all has been said. But given the nature of Player Studio (the ultimate crafting if you think about it) and the fact that Georgeson is all about crafting (freak), it should be good.
Everquest Next Reading
Yes, there’s a bit of it. Do it anyway and stop being one of the 75%+ of people who bounce away from info-rich websites as soon as there is more text than glossy pics.
- Official Facebook Twitter Google+ and Twitch TV pages
- Get the iPhone app – it’s called Everquest Worlds
- IGN’s post-SOE Live write up: Everquest Next is Real and its Amazing
- Kotaku’s post-SOE Live write up: Everquest Next Could Fix Everything Wrong with MMOs (doubtful, but possible!)
- Official Everquest Next Wiki (wikia – again? really?)
Spanka’s Take on it
I’m fairly fkn excited. Not because of the images or the videos – whatever – but because of the concepts at play and the intent behind the words of the developers over the last few months.
This is pure speculation, but from everything I’ve seen, it’s going to have to be huge. Here’s why (stick with it!):
- The current MMO model is broken. Companies cannot release content fast enough to keep us paying and playing. It doesn’t work. So do it different.
- Smed loves FTP. Why? Well given he’s the father of EQ (not Brad McQuaid, as many would believe) and has launched numerous successful MMO’s, I’d reckon it’s got something to do with experience. Planetside 2 is totally FTP – what’s the secret? A certain number of players pay, and the rest are content for the game. Players-as-content: a deliberate step towards a content provision model that might work.
- Everyone knows that players as content works while ever the game thrives, but dies as soon as population declines – pvp/rvr centric games. So something else needs to generate content as well, that isn’t the dev company. They need to dev too, but there’s needs to be more in the middle, so to speak.
- How might one go about that?
- Provide an engine similar to Neverwinter’s Foundry – player built assets. Oh wait, that’s Landmark.
- Allow players to create items. Player Studio.
Bonus points: monetise it for both devleoper AND player.
- Introduce humanity to NPCs with likes, dislikes, requirements and behaviours. That’s the point of StoryBricks.
- Allow the geography itself to provide content by reacting to player actions.
Bonus points: combine this with user generated content events.
Double bonus points: combine this with humanity-in-NPCs who form their own raiding parts to cripple your efforts.
Triple bonus points: make the effects permanent – you get one chance to be awesome.
- Introduce discoverable instances / mini zones (or WoW phases if your prefer) that are dynamically generated, without developer time overhead. Already done.
All in all, this reminds me of content management systems on the web such as Joomla, WordPress or ModX. They aren’t just programs – they’re platforms to create stuff with. Sure, the delivered product works and is good, but it starts to rock when you build with it.
My best guess is that Sony aren’t building “a game” as we know it. They’re building a complete platform and toolset that does 3 very distinct things:
- provides a gaming world as we know it – something to explore, subjugate and loot
- delivers a geography and NPC system that reacts and interacts with players and changes over time
- contains a set of tools for us to extend and create the platform, making it our game, more than ever
Why do I think this? The MMO model is broken. Everyone knows it. The churn rate is huge and 2 years in a given title is a long time for many people these days (sadly). So how do you produce content to “fix” the model?
There’s only a few sources for that content to come from: Development, players interacting, user-generated/created and dynamic from the world responding to player involvement.
Sony have covered all of them. They have quite literally ensured that every possible source of content is going to be a provider to players. Why build something if you can build a factory that builds it for you?
Well played Smed & Georgeson. Well played.