During that hour, developers discussed things like the hows and whats of construction, the social aspects, and how Player Studio will work. Oh, and they mentioned a little something about how housing can transfer to EQN proper. I also got to speak with Franchise Director Dave Georgeson separately for added insights.
A social MMO
One thing that the devs stressed was that Landmark is a social game. From wandering through the world and experiencing the creativity of others to trading recipes and crafting in central hubs, the game is meant to have players interacting as part of a larger community. And many aspects of the game are actually geared exactly for that. This is accomplished by both how things are built and how players can see the fruits of others' labors.
Starting with personal plots, players are able to set permissions on their individual claims. You can build solo or allow friends to help. You can also make things open for destruction or keep them locked and safe. The plot itself is a 3-D volume, so owners will be able to build a certain distance into the ground and up into the sky, but not indefinitely. This allows other players the opportunity to still adventure underground and acquire minerals in the world under your plot.
Next, each plot can be tagged with descriptions that will allow others to use the filter on the map to search for certain genres or specific aspects (it can even be as detailed as searching for blue doors) in order to travel to that plot and check it out. Players can either hoof it to that plot, queue it for visiting later, or in some cases even teleport. Georgeson said that there will be ways for people to travel between the various worlds in order to visit friends or see the sights. To help facilitate this, there will also be offline support in the form of mobile applications that will let players search for and queue up the places they want to visit once they log into the game.
The community will also be empowered to help one another experience various aspects of Landmark. There will be in-game support for people who want to write reviews on properties. You can also subscribe to favorite builders and receive updates on what they are doing (in whatever medium you want, including in-game or via Twitter, etc.) as well as subscribe to favorite reviewers.
And finally, will Landmark have other aspects of MMOs like adventuring, guilds, and such? Yep! SOE did note that character customization may not be as detailed as other games. Players will also have to gather communally to craft at public stations, though that sounds to us like a perfect place to trade recipes and materials and an optimal spot for some bartering!
To understand the scope of building, players must first understand that there are many different continents in the world of Landmark. Only one of them is an enforced Norrath theme; on all the others, players can build whatever they want, from sci-fi to horror to modern day themes. However, be mindful that anything inappropriate can and will be reported and removed.
As for the basis of building, players will have to gather the materials they want and then they can use the materials to place blocks before shaping and painting them with the tools provided. Brushes will be scalable, so detailed work is possible. As of now, there is no build mode where players can experiment with how things look as a whole before investing the materials, but Georgeson says the devs have a plan for that that will be unveiled later. However, players will be able to save templates of what they build in order to recreate the format -- or even share with friends!
An added part of building is that there will be physics involved with the actual construction. Structures won't just magically appear, but each block will hit the ground with an audible thud congruent with the material it is made out of. There will also be some visual effects.
Objects such as better equipment for gathering materials and housing decorations can also be crafted. Players will find such objects in the game, and they can either be placed in the home or deconstructed for their material components.
The role of Player Studio
Now what about Player Studio? Will all the hard work that a player devotes to finding certain materials or building an awesome structure give others an easy route to building? Can players buy a completed structure with Station Cash and just plop it down? Nope. Remember those templates I just mentioned? Players will be buying just that -- a template. They will get a blueprint of the item/structure/masterpiece and will have to collect the required ingredients themselves in order to actually construct it. Each blueprint will also clearly state what ingredients are necessary to make the item so players will be informed before the purchase.
Royalties in Landmark will also work a bit differently than in the other titles in SOE's portfolio. We already know that if your item is used in the construction of another that is sold, you receive royalties based on the percentage of your item compared to the whole. But what about a group project that is built on a single property? All members can receive the royalties in that instance as well. When an item is created, the game knows who placed what voxel where. Royalties can then be split on an exact per-voxel rate, or settings can adjusted to assign percentages to each contributor.
The relationship with EQ Next
So why is there a Landmark game? Because the devs wanted to share the experience of building Norrath with players. And it is coming out before EQ Next for precisely that reason, not because they have to have the community's help to get assets in the game. But because they want to give players the opportunity to be a part of it all. As such, there will be various contests where players are invited to create structures that might possibly be included in EQ Next. Maybe the devs will ask for a specific tower for Qeynos, or a thatch-roofed hut. The community will be allowed to vote items up or down, but devs have the final say on any selection for the game.
Earlier, I asked Georgeson if player characters will be shared between the worlds; will characters ever be able to move between the two games? The answer is currently no, but could a favorite character made and played in Landmark be replicated in EQ Next? There's a possibility, and the team is discussing and working on things to that effect.
One other thing that will make the housing enthusiasts happy: Remember those templates we talked about? They can be used in EverQuest Next. So any really cool housing you design (on the Norrathian landmass, that is) can be used to construct the same structure when you earn a plot of land. So if your guild builds an awesome guild hall in EQ Next Landmark, you won't have to spend the time recreating the design in EQN, you only need to gather the required materials. SOE sees this as another benefit to launching Landmark first -- it gives players plenty of time to make these creations in preparation for EQN's launch.
What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporters MJ Guthrie and Karen Bryan to this year's SOE Live, from which they'll be transmitting all the best fan news on EverQuest Next, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.