Norrathian Notebook: Preparing yourself for EQN Landmark

Whether you are a Founder who will access alpha or not, EverQuest Next Landmark is coming up on us like a bullet train; it will be here before you know it. As opposed to most games that stretch your anticipation out for years, this one is going from announcement to playable in less than six months -- if alpha does indeed make it out in January. Those who are opting for closed and open betas or even launch shouldn't have much longer to wait, either. I expect that those stages will maintain the same speed we've already seen, putting players into the game proper well before the next SOE Live.

So with the ultimate build-it-yourself sandbox on the horizon, the question is this: Are you ready? Have you got all your ducks in a row in order to best experience Landmark? Can you say you are all set to take advantage of those first minutes logged in? If not, I've got a few strategies, tips, and tricks to help you prepare for when the game goes live.

Make a plan

What we know the most about EQNL is the building aspect, so let's focus a chunk of our preparation there. Remember, with the exception of the materials used in your creations, you are limited only by your own ideas. You could make a a mighty castle, an underground labyrinth, or even statues of Mighty Mouse and Underdog. You could take a barren area and remake a Middle-earth forest or turn a massive mountain into an immense swimming pool. The list could go on and on and on, filling up this entire column and then some -- the possibilities are truly endless. But as sometimes happens when staring into the gaping maw of endlessness, we can become immobilized by indecision. Been there, done that. So in order to avoid freezing up like a deer in headlights while staring at your plot of land, you need to go in with a plan.

If you already have a basic idea, skip this paragraph and move on to the next. If you really have no idea, it's time to hunker down and start making some decisions. Let's start with the basics: First, pick a genre. Are you going for fantasy feel? Sci-fi? Psychotic conglomeration of everything? Now immerse yourself in that genre -- books, movies, comics, whatever you can get your hands on. Leaf through architecture magazines even! And as you watch/read/peruse all these, start thinking about if you want to build a dwelling/structure or objects. Keep a notebook with you at all times to add or cross off ideas; even keep it by your bed to jot down ideas when you sleep (hopefully you can decipher your sleep-writing).

After you accumulate a ton of ideas, get rid of all but one! When it comes to selecting your first project, start simple and pick one solitary thing. You can build and elaborate from there later. Don't worry: You won't be locked into his idea forever. Remember, you can save your plans to make again later.

Once you have a sketchy idea, sketch! That's right. All the smart kids are going to have drawings and blueprints drafted of their intended creations. A little bit of graph paper can go a long way when you're trying to form a layout; a picture could prevent a thousand swear words if you get to the last part of a complicated foundation only to find out you are off by two feet! If you can't personally draw anything better than a sickly stick figure, you can cut out pictures from magazines and make a collection to tape to the wall next to your monitor. If your gaming space starts to look like the trophy wall of some unbalanced criminal, just avoid letting strangers or law enforcement officers into that area.

So now you have your idea, your plans, and you are raring to get in game and get going, right? Wrong! There are other plans that are just as crucial to ensuring a successful experience.

Stay connected

For many of us, as soon as the game goes live, life as we currently know it will change. And if you share your life with others (who for some odd reason aren't going to be in Landmark with you), that's going to affect them. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate that impact. When knowing full well that you are about to be consumed by Landmark, take precautions so you do not lose touch with the real world and any relationships that are in it. Here are some great ways to maintain those relationships while you're lost in the game without sacrificing your game time!

Take a picture of you at the table and tape it to the dining room chair so your family will remember what you look like. You can expand on this and take photos of yourself at various places throughout your house (even your car!) and tape them in the appropriate places. I wouldn't recommend hiring a stand in to join your family and friends for various activities or occasions -- you never know what kind of trouble that can lead to.

Pacify the masses with riches! Put a "tweak jar" next to your computer. Every time you say "I'll leave right after I tweak this one thing... " put in a quarter. Promise your family that the money is going to them for some amazing adventure that you will accompany them on. Seriously, some of us will probably have a few hundred saved up before too long! Heck -- how many of us will end up with Disneyland vacations outta this one? Keep in mind, however, that this money can't be touched for anything except you taking your family/friends you haven't seen since Landmark started out for an adventure. As tempting as it may be, absolutely under no circumstances are you to use these funds to buy additional Trailblazer Packs!

Keep a tablet or smartphone with Skype installed handy to give visual proof that you are indeed alive to those who need it. Also acceptable: A dual monitor setup with the call on the other screen (you don't want the window interfering with your construction, do you?). In a pinch, a baby monitor would work for others in the house to keep tabs on you. Just be wary of wee ones hearing you when things don't go quite right.

Have a final farewell fling with your other games; try to do all those things you always meant to do, all those things you promised you'd do. Then give them a tearful goodbye, explaining that it isn't you -- it's them.

Find out whether your local pizza or Chinese place will deliver right to the room your gaming rig is set up in. Why bother getting up for the door if they can truly bring it right to you? If they can't come through the door, try re-situating your gaming area so that your chair sets up against a window, and direct all deliveries there so you can just reach through and take it. (Not recommended for anything on the second floor or above.)

As much as you might be considering installing a snack unit or a mini fridge, don't. Those rare trips into the rest of the house may be the only time your family sees you for a few months; don't cheat them out of it. Additionally, laptops are not allowed in the lavatory. And self-installed IV drips are also a big no-no. Please, be kind to your local paramedics and spare them from having to deal with that. After all, they might be trying to get in as much game time as they can as well!

Those are a few of my hints to help get you all set for that day the doors open and we start the Landmark land rush. Do you have any additional tips that you'd add to this list? What have you done to prepare yourself? Please, share!

The EverQuest realm is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores the franchise's nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every Saturday, the Norrathian Notebook is your resource for all things EverQuest Next and EverQuest II -- and catch MJ every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!