Disclaimer: This week's musings aren't rooted just in my happy toiling in another partial sandbox along with my Landmark adventure. These truly are things I have yearned for in my gaming -- particularly in a dream sandbox. It just so happens that experiencing some of them to a degree elsewhere has seriously heightened my need to have them in EQN and Landmark. Besides, there's nothing wrong with taking a few ideas from other games and expanding on them.
Even before ArcheAge, I loved ships and ocean-faring adventures. It was one of the first things that just blew me away in Vanguard. And let's be honest here, we don't want to see Vanguard rest in peace, do we? There were some things about that game that definitely deserve to live on other places. Who better to make that happen then the company that owns all the coding?
The water in Landmark is so very awesome, and I doubt I am wrong in thinking it will be that awesome in EQN as well. How can you not want to be out on it sailing, fishing, and swimming around? Being able to travel by sea should be considered a major component in a sandbox. I can see how my ultimate desire of sailing between islands in Landmark as a large seamless word may not be the most feasible; I understand the logistics and the reasoning why the landmasses are the scale they are right now. So why not adopt another facet of Vanguard and add the port points out at the edge of the map in the ocean? You get to sail, the islands stay a manageable size -- it's a win-win situation!
So far, players have crafted a multitude of ships, some very impressive indeed, out of voxels. We even tinkered with the Massively Golden Yacht in alpha. So how do you let creativity run rampant while adding this new mechanic? Instead of making the boat a completely a prop, why not have a special base that players can then build on? Let the prop be the propulsion and let players craft their own ships. If that won't work, then a completely crafted prop is certainly a very acceptable alternative!
On that note, there really needs to be a fishing minigame and/or profession. There are various games out with fishing mechanics, and EQN and Landmark need to be among them. Sometimes you just like to sit back with your pole and reel in a catch or two. Fishing. We need it!
2. Vanguard's crafting system
While we are on the subject of Vanguard, let's please please PLEASE resurrect that crafting system! I know plenty of work has gone into the way crafting is now in Landmark, but I want the really meaty and involved system that the now closed title offered. I believe Vanguard had the best crafting anywhere; it is a complete waste and a shame to not keep it alive somewhere else. I want skill, thought, and planning to be not just involved but an integral part of crafting.
I know there will be modifications when crafting 2.0 comes for Landmark, but I don't think that the changes will be that drastic. As it is, Landmark crafters just click a button -- precisely the type of crafting I do not want. Perhaps the deeper system could be implemented with advanced crafting? Let it be simple for those who don't want to delve in too far and just want the basics, but let those who are die-hard crafting fans get a really meaty experience. And then make it deeper in EQN from the get-go.
Those who know me know that I find harvesting resources to be fun and relaxing at times. However, I have found I really enjoy tending my virtual garden in ArcheAge. I have to manage time and space to get the resources necessary for items I want crafted as well as for quests. High-adrenaline farming can even be had when you place your crops in unprotected areas! Farming definitely invests me more in a game, and what publisher doesn't want more deeply invested players?
A key aspect of the farming mechanic would be ensuring it is a viable part of the economy. To do this, devs could make it so that there are specific items that must be grown by players and are not found in the world. To make the mechanic work in EQN and Landmark (and to encourage world exploration harvesting), farming could be done in two ways. One way is literally from the ground on plots of land owned by players. In Landmark this is easy as players own claims, but what about EQ Next, where not everyone may get a slice of land out in the open world? One option is to have public farms or greenhouses where players could grow a few things in a specific area. The second option is where the second method of farming comes in: potted plants. Players could grow items from pots placed in their homes.
Wait, what if they don't have a home out in the open world? That's where this next desire helps...
4. Instanced housing option (EverQuest Next)
Don't shoot me; hear me out! As a major proponent of open world housing, I love the idea of having my own place out in the world that everyone can see. Of course I want to own my own pad, maybe in a secluded spot off the beaten path. But first and foremost I am a champion of housing, period. And I believe everyone should be able to have a space to freely decorate. But I wouldn't want the beautiful world of Norrath congested with haphazardly placed dwellings. It's ugly. So to kill two birds with one stone, offer players instanced housing in major cities a la the EverQuest II model.
The idea of adding instanced housing really appeals to me more than just aesthetically. There are reasons to want a house in a major city, from convenience to roleplay. And you can't just toss open world structures about willy-nilly! Having multiple locations where players can acquire their homes via doors in developments or inns gives everyone the chance to own a place (and therefore a chance to farm). And by having multiple doors in different buildings with players coming and going, the city feels more alive and real. Players can be a part of making it all happen as well. Just think, a part of building up the world can include constructing a housing development when building a city.
This wish is technically two, but they go together. The first is I want to be able to put permissions on individual props, like doors. Currently in Landmark you have to set permissions on a claim-by-claim basis. I'd rather be able to lock away certain rooms and not others without having to try to straddle claim boundaries. That would even make a dungeon that much more interesting! The same with chests: I'd like to open certain chests to only certain people, but not all chests to all the same folks.
Along those same lines, I'd like the ability to put a toll on items. If other players want to use the item, they can pay for the privilege right from an in-game interface on the item. Maybe I want to run an inn or apartment building and they have to pay to get a room. Maybe I want them to have to expend something during their dungeon crawl in order to pick locks or light torches. Conversely you can add lock-picks, matches, and the like to the game, but I think having a universal cost would be so much easier and more convenient. And it puts in a little risk factor -- how much is it really worth to you to see what's behind door number two?
Just think how well an entry fee would have worked on that haunted ride we experienced last week. Or for popular PvP matches.
6. More races (Landmark)
This shouldn't come as a surprise: Plenty of folks have expressed their desire for alternative races within Landmark. Diversity is a good thing and makes everything that much more interesting. I am hoping it eventually comes to pass even though devs have said that humans are the focus now. I was pretty intrigued by that glimpse of lore on our origins that Franchise Director Dave Georgeson tossed out at SOE Live that players came form another world. But that doesn't preclude the existence of other races. On the contrary, I think other races can definitely be incorporated in no matter what other world we came from. Who knows, maybe that other world was actually the first Norrath!
If I am going to be doing a dream feature list, player-made music has to be included. Just look at the music systems in Lord of the Rings Online and now in ArcheAge. It's doable. It's awesome. So let's do it. 'Nuff said.
Seriously though, music is another outlet of creativity, and Landmark is all about creativity, right? A perfect fit. And how many folks would love to put on their own bardic performances in EQN? Being able to compose pieces and play instruments in game would just make things nearly perfect.
Bonus: Player-written books
OK, so maybe I will dwell on one thing just a little that I have said before because this is such a big deal! Both worlds will be developing as they go, and what better what to record the history than through a mechanic within the games? Player-written books are just a necessity. I am still heartened by Senior Producer Terry Micheals' positive response to this idea during our interviews at both E3 and at SOE Live.
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 biweekly on Thursdays, the Norrathian Notebook is your resource for all things EverQuest Next and EverQuest II. And keep an eye out for MJ's Massively TV adventures!