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Norrathian Notebook: So you aren't Landmark's greatest builder

MJ Guthrie

The walls are lumpy. The stairs are crooked. You couldn't make a statue of a blob if your virtual life depended on it, and everyone comments on your creative Koi pond that's actually a fireplace. So you aren't Landmark's greatest builder. Join the club! Despite how it may appear at times (especially when you see majestic jaw-dropping creations plastered all over Twitter and featured in livestream tours), there really are a number of us. So who cares if you can't build a voxel replica of the Taj Mahal with the Bronx Zoo on the side? Well, you do if your perceived lack of skills is keeping you from enjoying the game!

It can be hard when you see such amazing builds springing up around you; it's easy to get discouraged if you are one of the skill-impaired. I already know of players who have lost hope and even some of their interest in the game because they feel their skills are not quite adequate. But I'm here to tell you that you -- yes, you -- are indeed a valuable member of Landmark's community and we need you. So for those without any leet building skills, here are some tips for avoiding creative frustration and ways to more fully enjoy the game.

Be a homebody

Avoidance is one ally to fend off feeling substandard. You can bypass those fantastical creations that drive a stake through the heart of your confidence by just hanging out on your very own claim and never leaving! Of course, that would make gathering any materials next to impossible since you can't mine your own claim. And to truly avoid seeing any other builds, you'd also have to avoid all forms of social media, news, livestreams, and videos about Landmark because plenty of spiffy stuff is shared through those avenues.

If you are up for becoming a hermit and you have access to a friend who will deliver resources to your door, then these methods may work for you. However, they obviously won't work too well for someone who wants to get out there and experience other aspects of the game, like the upcoming caves or future combat. For that, you need a different plan of action.

Use rendering to your advantage

You know how every build looks mottled and pock-marked, with broken spots and deformed shapes from a distance? Well, just don't go any closer! That's right -- you can go out and wander the wilds as long as you stay far away from all those builds that might be spectacular up close. Just keep at a safe distance and remind yourself that even you could make a hodgepodge of mutated walls that look like Godzilla has been chomping on them.

If you are worried that you might venture a bit too close during your travels, you could employ this next trick: Keep your head down. Instead of avoiding whole areas where claims are you could simply point your camera angle to the ground and attend to your tasks without ever looking up. I'm serious! You'll never be overwhelmed by any majestic structures; all you will see is a few patches of something under your feet.

Where the wild things aren't

If you think you'd be as powerless as a moth drawn to a flame when you spy that sky-high build in the distance, you can make a conscious choice to only harvest and only visit islands with low populations. Whenever you port to an island, open the map and see how populated it is. If there are claims dotting the entire place, head somewhere else pronto. If there are only a few, just pick the opposite direction of the claims and happily go about your mining and logging operations. There is still plenty of open space throughout the game. In fact, with the introduction of oceans, so many moved to the coast that you could simply stick to the middle of a map and not run into anything for a while.
Celebrate the simple

So you don't have mad skills? Well I can assure you that plenty of others don't either! For every AMAZING creation getting face time there are a number of less extravagant ones simply dotting the landscape. What we can to do here is band together and make a list of all the non-OMG-how-did-they-do-that properties to share and take a tour of them.

Wait! What if you can't find any such claims because everyone who feels lacking in skills won't build? Then hold a building contest! Advertise and gather folks together for a Regular Joe Build-off, where people can either build on their own land and submit the coordinates or come together and work as a group in designated plots with provided materials. You can even have a worst-builder contest complete with prizes! At the very least, the camaraderie and community will lift your spirits.

Build a better claim

Maybe you actually want an attractive claim on your lands but you feel your skills will spoil it. There are some workarounds that will help you. There are even ways you can have a fantastic claim without doing the actual creating yourself! Here are a few suggestions.

Sponsor a building contest. Just like the idea presented earlier for all us average folks, you can hold a contest for the pro builders in the game. Put your four claims together and invite four super-builders to come to a building contest. Give each one permission to one of the claims, set a time limit, and let them have at it! You could even specify a theme. The winner gets bragging rights and you get cool stuff! It helps if you have chests of materials on the claim for them to use as well as possibly prizes for the participants and winners.

Another way to get some great stuff is to attend swap meets. This is where players come and share their creations on publicly accessible land, placing templates they have while copying those left by others. You can even use one of your own claims to host a regular swap meet. You could build some fun things using those templates. I still have templates from the alpha swap meet that I look forward to using. If you use this method, however, be sure to advertise well and plan on being on-hand to help thwart any disruptive shenanigans.

If you don't mind harvesting -- or better yet, you love to wile your hours away gathering resources -- then partner up with a friend or two who has better construction skills. Give them build permissions on your land and let them go to town while you supply them with whatever mats their hearts desire. Just be careful not to micro-manage them and stifle their creativity or make them walk off the job. Of course, if they do walk off and leave stuff half-finished, you have another avenue to explore.

Change your focus

So many people are doing detailed, intricate work. You don't feel you are up to the task, so why try and force yourself into doing it? Instead, think about the builds you can do right now. How about making some gnarly ruins? You don't have to have all the latest knowledge about zero voxels, inlays, and micro voxels to mound up large lumps of stone and whittle them down to a decrepit state. If that house you were building is too lopsided, take the delete and smooth tools to it and paint in some grass and add a few trees and plants growing through it. Remember that partial creation sitting on your land because you chased off the original architect? Delete, smooth, and paint are your friends!

You can even just terraform the land into something different, or go crazy with just the delete tool and make an underground maze (like me!). Who said everyone needs to make a castle or lord's manor? I, for one, sincerely hope they don't. The variety is what makes the game most worthwhile. I don't want to see McMansions every two feet when I explore.

Improve your lot in life

Maybe you actually want to build better. Having others build you something nice is fine, but some folks want the feeling of accomplishment that comes with doing it themselves. I totally get that! So the next Norrathian Notebook will offer tips, tricks, and a guide to point you in the direction of tutorials to help you build up your own 1337 skills.

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!

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