Norrathian Notebook: EQN Landmark alpha 101

MJ Guthrie
M. Guthrie|02.08.14

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Norrathian Notebook: EQN Landmark alpha 101
You know you've got it bad when you don't want to leave a game long enough to write about it! But that's exactly how this last week has been for me and EverQuest Next Landmark. Don't get me wrong; it's an awesome change to be so eager to play that you willingly stare at a login queue (getting to listen to Jeremy Soule's music while you do is definitely a bonus!) and even spend hours gathering materials, knowing that it will all be wiped. It's just been a long while since that has happened to me. Luckily, the alpha has had downtimes, allowing me some sleep and a chance to whip this first impressions piece and quick-start guide up for you.

Even with many of the core features from the game still missing, this alpha shows you straight off that EQN Landmark truly is a whole different game. The term innovative is not just a catchphrase here; it's a summary. As such, jumping in can leave eager players a bit overwhelmed or frustrated. So this here's a quick introduction course with hints and tips to get you started.
It's alpha (and I'm loving it!)

First off, let's just be extra clear on this point: It is an alpha, an honest to goodness alpha, not one of those marketing gimmicks where the game is basically done and you are there for a special sneak peek. That means there are and will be bugs and glitches like disappearing claims and rings. But even with the bugs and the wipes (one of which was totally timed terribly and spoiled our planned claim tour), people are still diving in and spending hours on end mining, chopping trees, and building masterpieces. Are we insane? Or is SOE really on to something? It's quite likely a combination of the two; my very first night I was already guilty of saying "Just one more tweak..." more times than I want to admit, and I shorted myself of a significant amount of sleep.

What do I think of the game so far? If you haven't noticed, I am in gamer nirvana, alpha or not. Yet it isn't all because "OMG I can haz builds!" Here are three little things that impressed me when I first logged in:
  • The eyes have it. The first thing that struck me seeing that my character's eyes move naturally; they aren't static orbs staring at one place. That may seem little, but that plys her hair moving in the breeze just brought more life to my avatar.
  • World destruction! You heard me right. *insert maniacal laugh here* I know that when most people first set foot in the world, they tried to see how far down they could dig a hole (note: no one has hit bottom yet). Me? I dug a tunnel. That feeling of accomplishment breaking through to another place was pretty intense.
  • Get along little doggy. Once I started exploring, I found that simple movement -- be it sliding down declines or the grappling hook -- was a lot of fun.
Alpha or not, I could wax on about the game at length already (and I do during my livestreams), but we've got plenty more Norrathian Notebooks ahead of us... and I do need to get back in to play! But I totally understand that this alpha is not for everyone. Money for a pack aside, if you feel ill at the thought of spending time gathering resources and building only to know that it will be wiped, then the alpha probably isn't for you. However, many folks are using the time as I am -- a chance to hone skills and create templates to save for when the game goes live. And of course, to satisfy that affect-your-world sandbox itch!

Willing to brave the wilds of the alpha? The following guide will help you get through some initial questions and kinks.

Getting started in alpha

The first thing you'll want to know is how to take screenshots of everything! Seriously, short of my /onod, it was the first thing I really had to do. So here's how: Scroll in and out using shift+scroll wheel for the perfect zoom, hide the UI with ctrl+F10, the take your picture with ctrl+F12. Just don't look for your screenshots in the screenshots folder buried in Landmark's directory; instead, check the folder labeled EQNext in your Windows picture library.

This land is my land: Claiming

When you log into the game for the first time, you land at a portal hub. If getting a claim is your first priority, don't move away from the hub. Press (M) for your map and along the top make sure you click "no permissions"; that will show you an outline of every claimed piece of land and its buffer zone on your particular island. Use the mouse to zoom and move the map around (right click changes to 3-D relief view). If you see an empty space, go ahead and make a run for it. If, however, the place looks full, just click on the large floating crystal and select another world on the left side (currently Liberation, Courage, and Serenity) and another island on the right. Then pull up your map, rinse, and repeat.

To drop your claim, just right-click on the flag (or press the hotbar key it is on) and you will be taken to a map view where you will situate your claim. Use the mouse wheel to move it up or down depending on whether you want to own more land underground or more sky. Click and then accept the placement and you have yourself a spot of land. During the alpha, players are handed one flag and can have only one claim, but in the game proper you will have to craft all claim flags and then use the claim management window (U) to edit the name of your claim, add tags, etc.

To change claim location, use the claim management window while you're on your claim and select delete. Just don't delete your claim unless you have space for all the items you've placed on it as well as the flag or you will lose your flag.

And don't worry about getting lost: If you forget what world and island you are on, there's a watermark located in the upper left corner of the screen that tells you. Additionally, when you first log in, each world tells you how many claims you have on it; the portals also tell you where your claims are. Once you're loaded into the right island, just bring up your map and deselect everything except "my claim" and there you'll see it.

I'm digging it: Harvesting

You might not feel any urge to stake a claim, in which case you can focus on gathering resources. Why? Because that's how you make everything in-game, from your buildings to your decorating props to your tools. Even building commands are crafted! Founders all have the Founders Pickax, which is better than the basic starting tools. However, even it won't get you too far, so you'll want to craft an upgrade soon. Now go dig holes and chop trees to your heart's content! And don't sweat it if you dig a hole you can't get out of; either build yourself out or just hit ESC and select return to ground.

To start, equip your pickax by clicking it in your inventory (I). You should also drag and drop it onto the hotbar. Now, just click the hotkey and point your mouse to wherever you want to dig/chop; you'll see a blue circle on the ground when you're close enough to mine and a green health bar on trees when you're close enough to chop. The best news about this system is that all your materials go into a special collections bag instead of clogging up your main inventory! Just click the grid icon in your inventory to see them.

Although there have been voxel wipes, so far I haven't noticed a single wipe that takes the resources you have collected out of your bags. This will definitely happen before the launch, but you won't be repeatedly regathering the same materials all throughout alpha, which is really helpful when it comes to building and crafting.

While Creative Director Jeff Butler offered players a tip on how to gather Burled Wood faster, I have my very own mining tip for you: If you are seeking a particular level of metal, mine the level type just before it! For instance, if you want tin, dig through copper; for silver, dig through iron. The same goes for gold -- it hides under tungsten. After noticing the high incidence of the other metal hidden underneath, I started keeping track. And the next five times I checked, the metal was buried underneath all five times! Unfortunately, this is not applicable to gems.

Creativity run amok: Building

For building, think of Landmark as a Photoshop MMO and you'll get the hang of it quickly. You'll be making heavy use of common cut, copy, paste, and delete commands. In alpha, you'll start off with an add tool on your hotbar, which can save your bacon when you dig yourself into a hole, but the delete and heal tools are in a bag in your inventory. Additional tools must be crafted. Plop those tools on the hotbar and enjoy some building! Note: While you can add to the world outside of your claim, you'll waste your resources unless you reclaim it through mining.

Once you have a claim, you are ready to build your own masterpieces. Use the tools right from your hotbar in combination with your mouse and scroll wheel to create whatever you want, though if you want to use the advanced tools (smooth, paint, and line), you'll have to acquire them. Use the building management interface on the left of the screen to select the shape you want to build and the material you want to build with, as well as to save your template. With the wipes, be sure to save your templates often if you don't want to have to redo everything.

There are some shortcuts to help: Alt acts as an eyedropper to select material, (G) toggles the placement grid, (C) switches between the cube and sphere, and shift + TAB moves between placement modes.

You've finally made it: Crafting

Crafting is not very involved a process as long as you have the requisite materials. You'll notice a forge for basic crafting at the portal hub; it allows you make some tool upgrades, a grappling hook (see below), and your own version of the forge. Additionally, you'll find that you can also create a saw table, which will be a necessary for crafting even more things. I'd recommend making your own tables ASAP, else you won't be able to upgrade your tools far.

I get around: Movement and player interaction

SOE has made the usually dull task of getting around more enjoyable than in most games. Just normal movement is more fun, but if you haven't tried a grappling hook yet, you really should! Craft yourself a hook and then place it in the slot above your outfit on character page. From there on out, just click (E) to zip along; your hook will aim wherever your mouse is pointing. Trust me, it's worth it! Unless, of course, you've never wanted to feel like Spiderman. (When we can glide, I want to combine the two and be Batman!) Once death and falling damage are in, you'll need a grappling hook to scale mountains. The hooks are also useful for scaling buildings (handy if you build something really tall). To sprint, use shift.

As for player interaction, you might find the world pretty quiet except around a portal hub where folks congregate a bit more. Your standard chat commands work here (/say, /shout or /yell, /tell or /whisper, /reply), and there are supposedly chat channels, but those aren't necessarily working. Oh, and did we mention the chat lag?

If you do run into other folks, here's how you can trade: Open a trade window with another player by right clicking on her repeatedly, and I mean really spam it. Once you get the window to pop up, share your wealth by dragging from your main inventory or your resources (to split stacks, use ctrl while moving selected resource).

In a nutshell

So that's how to start your new life in Landmark. It may is a lot to take in all at once, but it is worth it (not to mention quite addicting!). For a quick reference, you can find the complete official handy dandy cheat sheet (along with the tutorial video and the FAQ) in your EQN Landmark install folder under tutorial.

And now it's time to play. See you in game!

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!
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