Norrathian Notebook: Landmark celebrates Year 0 anniversary

I've got to admit, it's a bit weird to be celebrating an anniversary before an actually launch; you can't exactly say "Happy first birthday!" if it hasn't been born yet! But Landmark found a way to make it work, celebrating Year Zero with fans this past weekend. The sandbox opened its alpha doors on January 31st, 2014; all that players could do at that point was gather and build a bit. Since then, the game has expanded its features, adding more building stuff, water and caves, combat, deeper caverns and mobs to fill them, and still more building stuff. Development has definitely come a long way in the last 12 months, so there is certainly reason to revel in the festivities. Of course there's still much more work to be done, but why not take a moment and party in honor of Landmark's progress. Who doesn't like a party?

The bigger the better (for cake)

OK, so we can all pretty much admit we like to party. And we like cake. (Pie is nice too, so let's not squabble.) So for the Year 0 festivities, a bunch of players got together and did a collaborative build that gave all Landmarkians a place to revel. The most notable feature? A humongous cake. Now, we won't fault the creators of said cake for trying to confuse us with a candle in the shape of the number one on the top. Instead, we will just alternately praise and curse them for making such a hunger-inducing confection. Until I saw the skull in the slice, I thought the cake looked pretty delicious and was seriously craving a bite! And the fork sticking out the top of the slice was just perfect.

If a 50-foot cake isn't really your thing, there was a dance floor with a pretty snazzy DJ sound system set up (really looking forward to when we can do sounds on our claims!). The sound system took advantage of linking and triggering for some fun light effects. If you got into the groove, you could boogie down on the colorful dance floor complete with a strobe light. And for those who aren't into cutting a rug, there were drinks off near the presents. Even if you missed the celebration, you can drop in and check it out just by searching birthday in the Gallery and porting straight there.

An outfit for the occasion

If you haven't logged into Landmark in a long while, you might want to within the next three weeks. Not only will you get the chance to see how far the game has come, but you will also have a a special Year 0 outfit waiting for you in your in-game mail. I can't say for sure whether said mail will disappear with its attachment, but there was a timer that says 29 days on the mail when I opened mine up. It might be worth just jumping in so you don't lose this special edition outfit. And hey, if you stay long enough to check things, out all the better, right?

In a move that I can't praise enough, these outfits -- like all the other equipment so far in Landmark -- do not bind on equip. Ergo, you can trade or sell them to other players. This is especially handy if you end up with an outfit color you're not fond of. I sure hope this lack of BoP continues on through the rest of the game's development, not to mention EverQuest Next!

Alpha vs. beta

Probably the best thing about the anniversary celebration in my humble opinion was the call to have players plop down their original alpha builds with an alpha tag so folks could tour them via the Gallery. Why would this be a big deal? For one, it shows newer players that everyone, even those super voxelmancers, started off with the same lack of skills. I think this is really encouraging; too often new players look at the elaborate builds of today and think, Holy mackerel (or sturgeon or trout), I could never do that! I mean, have you seen Elkay's Landmark Overland Express? It is so rich in detail, so real and lifelike that I expect that train to take me somewhere! His work, like so many creations in-game, is highly skilled and simply stunning. So I understand the concern that construction seem too daunting for the newer players.

But the thing is, newer players can do great things like that -- given time and practice. Looking at alpha builds and comparing them to now shows what 12 months of progressive skill-building can do. In fact, players starting to build today actually have quite the leg-up on us old-timers when it comes to kicking off new builds. Thanks to the new starter templates, anyone can whip out shapes that used to take folks hours of trial and error and perfecting. Just making a smooth-angled prow was a feat that once took days upon days.

The alpha builds are visual proof that everyone had to start at some point. They also make me realize and appreciate all the many textures and materials we have now compared to then!

Plus, I am excited for the chance to show off the Massively golden yacht one more time. It may not be the best boat, and it could be built so much better now with the newer tools and textures, but I am still proud of that piece of work!

Changes in the wind

Even after a year of development, Landmark is not ready for launch. But it is well on its way. With the big combat systems in place, the next major piece of the puzzle that many players are looking forward to is the game master system. Most specifically, the AI scripting part of the system. The start of the GM system was introduced with the PvP arenas, but I say the best element will be when we can script AI on our claims ourselves. The potential for making adventures for myself and for others is practically intoxicating. And SOE -- well, Daybreak now -- has said that it'll be implemented shortly after the start of the new year, so be on the lookout for it soon!

Another change as we start Landmark's second pre-year is the end of Norrathian Notebook. You've all heard the news, so you know this column will be no more. I was so excited to be able to snag it back when it was still The Tattered Notebook (and back when this game was still called EverQuest Next Landmark!) because I simply love Norrath. It has been wonderful sharing those worlds with you all. Even without this notebook, I'll continue to be a Norrathian, and I will continue to share my love for the worlds. 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. 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!