EverQuest Next Is the Next Generation of MMOs - PAX 2013

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EverQuest Next Is the Next Generation of MMOs - PAX 2013

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Before EverQuest Next, Landmark will let you build the world of Norrath.

When I was a kid, I consumed a lot of science-fiction that described intense simulations of fantasy worlds playable through logging in. When MMOs began, I thought I would be playing those simulations, but clunky mechanics and respawning dungeons didn't feel alive. SOE was one of the culprits, with the first EverQuest, but with the next two projects, EverQuest Next and EverQuest Landmark, the company may in fact save the MMO genre. I sat down with Dave Georgeson, creative director of the franchise, to get the low down on just how EverQuest Next will change everything.

At PAX Prime, we got to see some new information since the reveal at SOE Live and the presentation at Gamescom. First up is the release of concept art for female dwarves, beards and all. "The mutton-chops is my favorite," Georgeson joked. The beards came about due to a new feature on the EQNext website called Round Table which solicits discussion and opinions from the community. The first question asked was whether female dwarves should have beards, and the community resoundingly said they should be an option, but by no means necessary. SOE obliged in releasing some possible looks for those hairy dwarf ladies today.

Second is the addition of parkour movement in both EQN and Landmark. We've seen some videos of being able to run and hop over terrain using the abilities of races, classes or even some items like Boots of Flying, but today SOE announced there will be all kinds of acrobatic movements your character can do just be pressing the spacebar.

"We wanted to make it very simple to control. It's all based on the slope of the surface you're on when you jump," Georgeson explained. "If you hit space when your character is on an uphill slope, you'll do a back flip in the air. If you're going downhill, you'll roll in a forwards somersault in the air before you land."

Like the Night Elf jump in WoW, I anticipate players of EQN just hopping around the world because it's so fun to watch.

There's all kinds of advances in store for EQN, from including female dwarf beards to parkour-like movement that's simple to control, but the aspect that struck me the most was the simulation AI and the design concept of "rallying calls".

"Everything you do will have consequences," Georgeson said. "The world of EverQuest Next will act a GM in a tabletop roleplaying game."

Georgeson said he wants to get rid of the permanent spawn point for all monsters. Instead, he wants to program monsters with specific AI characteristics and "release them into the void." Take orcs for example. Orcs like gold, but they dislike areas which are patrolled by guards because hey, that means death. So if the designers release a thousand orcs into the world, they will congregate in low-population areas that happen to have a lot of rich adventurers walking through it. "They will stay there until the situation changes," Georgeson said. If you ask guards to start patrolling the woods where orcs are, the band may move on, or if adventurers stop being an easy target, the might also migrate. Of course, your actions could have unintended consequences too. If the band of orcs moves somewhere else, then that area will have to deal with them, and so on.

The design team will also use this AI to create major story arcs called "rallying calls" and it will be up to the players to complete them. The example given was a noble asking the players to establish an outpost near a goblin king's stronghold. If you go there, you'll have various activities you can do such as building a stone wall around the tents or thinning out the goblins in the nearby woods. Keep in mind, these aren't quests, but open activities you could engage in, and some of them will trigger a response from the AI. If you kill too many goblins, the king will get mad and start sending out raiding parties. If the raiding parties are stymied by the stone wall you erected, the goblin king could recruit gnoll allies and storm your walls with massive siege engines. If the army is defeated, the goblin king will retreat and head off to another region to possibly start another rallying call, while the town you helped found becomes a permanent feature of Norrath.

"I want new players to ask the veterans what EverQuest Next was like at launch, and the answer to be 'Oh that was before the goblin king attacked or the dragons rose up or that nation was founded," Georgeson said. To be able to tell newbies 'I helped found that town' is a powerful concept.

All of this has even more meaning when you consider everything can be destroyed in EverQuest Next. The world will be created entirely with voxels, similar to the backbone of Minecraft but much prettier-looking, so it's a simple matter for a monster to tear down a wall and leave part of it still standing or for an NPC mage to blast off the crest of a hill to leave it permanently scarred. Of course, players will also be able to destroy terrain or structures, but much the damage will "heal-over-time" to prevent permanent griefing.

The use of voxels will also allow players to create in the other project SOE has up its sleeve. EverQuest Landmark is an MMO in its own right, and it is set to launch in Winter 2014, but even though it dovetails with EQN, it's a very different game. In Landmark, you play a settler of sorts, and once you create your character using the robust tools EQ is known for, including the motion capture of SOEmote, you can stake your claim some place on the continents of Norrath. You'll level up as an adventurer, a class that functions just like the classes of EQN, but the main point of Landmark is to shape your claim, to create using your imagination.

To do that, you'll have access to simple-to-use tools to make anything you have the resources for such as stone buildings, lava pits, shrubs and foliage. You can essentially design the world of Norrath for SOE to look however you like. And Georgeson is very excited to give players the chance to have their creations become part of EverQuest Next.

"If the players want to, they can create Norrath. We won't rely on them. We have a team of professional artists who will be making the world," he said. "But I really hope the contests and promotions we run to have players create, say, a mad god's dungeon, will allow them to participate in shaping EverQuest Next."

There's no release date yet given for EverQuest Next, but it will most certainly after Landmark is a bit mature so the team could begin integrated the player-made assets into the world of Norrath. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how the promise of an improved AI simulation and player-created content will mesh in EverQuest Next and EverQuest Landmark.

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be prepared for penis's, lots and lots and lots of penises

Any word on the pricing model, or will this be another in the great line of WOW killer subscription MMOs (albeit with a lot of clout behind the title and some really intriguing ideas, but we've seen this story a lot. Too much, and we know how it ends)

At least ill no why I have no life lol

Hero in a half shell:
Any word on the pricing model, or will this be another in the great line of WOW killer subscription MMOs (albeit with a lot of clout behind the title and some really intriguing ideas, but we've seen this story a lot. Too much, and we know how it ends)

Considering the pricing models of Everquest 1 and 2, I imagine it being somewhat free-to-play, with content locked behind a subscription wall. Which is fair enough, I'd prefer that to nothing but subscription *coughcough*ESO*coughcough*

You really think this MMO will "save" MMOs? Hey! What's that you're passing under the table? I saw that!

Save them from what? A crippling obsession with the predatory F2P/B2P business model that continues to pump out sub-par games? A player-base that screams accusations of greed at the mere mention of a subscription, and demands that these multi-million dollar projects be given to them for free; with servers, support, and development remaining top quality after launch?

Forgive my skepticism, but I do not see this game being anything more than a passing oddity that ultimately falls to the disease of F2P/B2P that plagues the MMO landscape these days.

i hope they live up to that. a living breathing world i can actually destroy and help make. Player created dungeons to keep content fresh. I hope but i will not hold my breath.

This game looks promising. Obviously, we have no way of knowing how good this game will be, but if this game works even half as well as they're promising it will, this will be something dramatically different from other MMOs, which is exactly what the genre has needed for years.

Hero in a half shell:
Any word on the pricing model, or will this be another in the great line of WOW killer subscription MMOs (albeit with a lot of clout behind the title and some really intriguing ideas, but we've seen this story a lot. Too much, and we know how it ends)

SOE has said that, as of now, the plan is for all of there MMOs to be released as free to play, including Everquest Next. Of course, there is a huge difference between a free to play business model done right and a free to play business model done wrong, but it is nice to see a AAA MMO developer that understands that it is next to impossible to succeed with a traditional subscription MMO.

The same old song and dance that every new MMO spouts. I am not very interested.

Greg Tito:
SOE was one of the culprits, with the first EverQuest, but with the next two projects, EverQuest Next and EverQuest Landmark, the company may in fact save the MMO genre.

I'm getting really tired of hearing this crap. Am I the only one?

Let's sing the song at least once more, children.

Every new MMO: "We're making a new game!"
Players: "Okay...."
Every new MMO: "Look at all of these totally new ideas we made up and totally didn't steal from anyone else!"
Gaming Media: "OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVER MADE AND WILL SINGLEHANDEDLY SAVE THE GENRE!"

*game is released*
Gaming Media: "OH MY GOD THIS GREAT GAME JUST CAME OUT!"
Players: "Meh. It's pretty fun, but it's not as good as everyone said it was."

*six months later*
Gaming Media: "OH MY GOD HOW DID THIS GREAT GAME FAIL?"
Players: "Because you overhyped the everliving crap out of it. Now shut up and go away."

Rinse and repeat.

The genre doesn't NEED "saving". If anything it's better off now that it's ever been. There's a great deal of selection to choose from, the F2P model is starting to actually produce some decent games, the subscription model is finally starting to fade out....honestly, the MMO genre is perfectly healthy. Much more healthy than the rest of the AAA industry.

So stop with the not-too-subtle hyping and arguable salivation, and just focus on telling us about the game. That's what you're supposed to be doing. >_>;

After all the Darkfalls, Guild Wars 2 and whatnot saving the genre and being TRULY NEXT GEN!!!!!1111Einsdeinself!, I am very doubtful this will be a game-changer either.

Personally, I think the next -real- revolution in MMO gaming will only come with new ways to experience the games (i.e. Virtual Reality/Total Immersion tech).

But hey...keep hyping it. It'll only make it fall harder when it arrives. -.-

If they can actually live up to the expectations, this will be a very interesting thing. I'll probably check it out.

Meh, I've given up hope of ever believing what an MMO promises to deliver. I'll just go play my nice single player games thanks.

It's Everquest. Me likes. *dances with excitement*

Even if this delivers what it promises (spoiler warning: of course it fucking won't), at best it will get a stable base of users who support it and love it. If they're counting on people deserting WoW for it or non-MMO players flocking to it in their thousands, this will crash and burn like all the other attempts to market MMOs to people who don't actually like MMOs.

The female dwarf beards are good, though.

I like how they aim to have a "living" world, but I sure as hell hope they've come up with some way of removing things from the world as well... if not, you're going to end up with the same kind of SWG(pre-NGE) nonsense where you have a half-baked player "town" every couple of hundred meters stanking up the environment.

and it is set to launch in Winter 2014

I have to correct you on this, its THIS year.

When will EverQuest Next Landmark launch?
Landmark is planned to launch this winter.

Source? https://www.everquestnext.com/landmark-faq

I'm tentatively excited.

I just hope it doesn't crash and burn.

Guild Wars 2 was supposed to be the next generation of MMO's too. So is this the generation of MMO's following GW2, or was GW2 just a huge letdown(yes.), and if so, why should we think that this will be anything other than a huge letdown as well?

I'm excited for the game.
I'm a builder by nature: LittleBigPlanet, Minecraft, etc. I'm a passionate guy with a large vision.
Whether I'll stay glued to this game comes from Everquest Next: Landmarks scope.

I already know Landmark is an amazing building tool, allowing landscapes and buildings to be built and look amazing!
It needs to be able to have: Monster placement, Boss scripting, Quest creation and allow me to create puzzles.
Essentially allowing me to create my own dungeon / adventure for a player to embark upon.

If it has all this^, then I will embrace it!

Well, at the very least I dig the art style. Looks like it could be fun.

Honestly, I hope it has a subscription. $15 is cheap, even on the lowest of salaries (like mine,) and I generally find the subscription MMOs to be of markedly higher quality than the F2P. At the very least, I hope it gets a better run than TOR did, and switches over late like Rift. I thoroughly enjoyed Rift, even if the art was pretty generic looking. Haven't played it since it went F2P, though.

Edit: apparently it's F2P. Darn. https://www.everquestnext.com/landmark-faq

Now is this really a case of death by over hype?

Or is this a case of fans of WoW being a vocal majority pissing and moaning "Nothing is going to kill WoW" to the point it is taken as a statement of fact before anything is even released like has happened to every other MMO since?

I am really starting to lean toward the latter. Ive known too many WoW people and they all exhibit this same sort of passive aggressive paranoia that compels them to try to keep others in WoW with them or try to recruit others into the game. Has nothing to do with the quality of WoW and everything to do with individuals knowing they need a group of peers in order to keep slogging through whatever content treadmill they are on for whatever insignificant shiney bauble they are after all because they simply cant do it alone.

It just seems delusional and outright insane to act as if WoW is something special and unique to the point no other MMO can come close to what it does and act as if anyone that even tries to enter the market needs to be tarred and feathered for daring to attempt such.

(The site spat out my previous post. Never forget to copy everything you write before you post.)

Seems very interesting. I like the warm, vibrant art direction, and I love the lion knight things. They'd better be playable.

That is what also worries me. They're far too busy building up a rather pretentious blurb about change and saving the genre to say much about the actual game. I'd prefer if they spent more time making, and talking about, the game itself.
They ought to keep costs and projected income figures low, rather than spunking away too much money than they can regain from a rather small audience. Even more so if they're going Free to Play. I doubt I'll buy any hats anytime soon.

If you make a good game you'd like to play yourself, think small and don't overestimate the impact of your changes, you are less likely to end up in a situation where you need to make ten million happy subscribers in two months to break even and not look like a failure.

viranimus:
Now is this really a case of death by over hype?

Or is this a case of fans of WoW being a vocal majority pissing and moaning "Nothing is going to kill WoW" to the point it is taken as a statement of fact before anything is even released like has happened to every other MMO since?

I am really starting to lean toward the latter. Ive known too many WoW people and they all exhibit this same sort of passive aggressive paranoia that compels them to try to keep others in WoW with them or try to recruit others into the game. Has nothing to do with the quality of WoW and everything to do with individuals knowing they need a group of peers in order to keep slogging through whatever content treadmill they are on for whatever insignificant shiney bauble they are after all because they simply cant do it alone.

It just seems delusional and outright insane to act as if WoW is something special and unique to the point no other MMO can come close to what it does and act as if anyone that even tries to enter the market needs to be tarred and feathered for daring to attempt such.

Find me one article on this website that doesn't pour praise onto this game before it's even come out, and I might agree with you. As it stands, every single one has over-hyped it.

This one declares that this game will "save the genre". Here's another which states that it's "the next era of online gaming", brags about its "impressive" ability to function like Minecraft, and states how it will "make serious waves" if it delivers on promises. And another discussing how the game's engine will "offer all kinds of things that we've only just imagined" (and this is probably the LEAST hype-ridden of the articles on this site).

So, no, it's most definitely getting over-hyped on this site. That's three articles with three different writers, each in their own way declaring this game to be the next "Best Thing Evar". And it's really, REALLY getting old seeing this with every new MMO.

Oh, and I don't even play WoW. So you're wrong on virtually every count. :p

I think peeps are being too hard on this game. It's not even out yet and everyone is predicting its downfall. I mean sure SoE has been bragging about it a lot, but really, if you thought you could follow through on something this cool wouldn't you brag too? Plus, I've yet to see anyone at SoE espousing how EQ Next will 'kill' WoW, so that whole battle cry falls flat. Honestly, I think the peeps at Sony are just thrilled off their pants to get to make this and the peeps at the Escapist offices are thrilled to hear about it because it sounds so fracking cool.

I for one hope they can and do follow through on all their promises, I'm tired of WoW being the only half decent colorful fantasy MMO about that isn't saturated with guns and burly space men. Plus, if they can get the whole 'terrain shaping' thing to work well, I can only imagine the fun tactics that could be employed in the strategic play MMOs are known for.

CriticKitten:

Oh, and I don't even play WoW. So you're wrong on virtually every count. :p

Except the way that my statement also addressed the role of non WoW players in that equation.

I look forward to playing games such as "Herd the high-level orc armies into the starting zone" and "Genocide the gnomes".

Proto Taco:
I think peeps are being too hard on this game. It's not even out yet and everyone is predicting its downfall. I mean sure SoE has been bragging about it a lot, but really, if you thought you could follow through on something this cool wouldn't you brag too? Plus, I've yet to see anyone at SoE espousing how EQ Next will 'kill' WoW, so that whole battle cry falls flat. Honestly, I think the peeps at Sony are just thrilled off their pants to get to make this and the peeps at the Escapist offices are thrilled to hear about it because it sounds so fracking cool.

I for one hope they can and do follow through on all their promises, I'm tired of WoW being the only half decent colorful fantasy MMO about that isn't saturated with guns and burly space men. Plus, if they can get the whole 'terrain shaping' thing to work well, I can only imagine the fun tactics that could be employed in the strategic play MMOs are known for.

Don't take it too hard. I don't think anyone is willing this game to be a failure, its just that gamers are tired of being continually run over by the hype train. To often game companies promise the sky only to deliver yet another tired paint by numbers product. MMOs are particularly guilty of this behavior. So I'd say take every bad thing people say about EQ Next with a grain of salt. However I'd say the same about every too good to be true sounding promise SOE makes if you want to preserve your future sanity.

clearly this will be the next generation of mmos

not for anything technical, but just because the female dwarves can have beards

It took me a double take to realize this wasn't about WOW. I don't understand why this esthetic appeals to people. It's hideous to mine eyes.

viranimus:
Except the way that my statement also addressed the role of non WoW players in that equation.

Well, the important part was the notion you put forth that the game wasn't REALLY being overhyped, but rather that people were just being "too sensitive". Which I think we've conclusively proven wrong.

But hey, feel free to enjoy your bronze medal for that little unimportant point, if you wish. I won't stop you.

You'd think people would learn by now that just because a company says something that they should take it with a grain of salt. The thing that really cripples most companies that design mmo's is their mouths write checks that their publisher won't cash if it takes too long. Also the one thing that springs to my mind is how much memory would they need to allow for all these possible scenarios and how hard would it be to maintain so many different type of A.I's that rely on certain factors for them to act.

The thing regarding the goblins and orcs behaving differently off certain ingame factors. Imagine the sheer degree of bugs and programming plus the amount of time it would take for all of this to not be horribly crippling and gamebreaking it would take. I also feel like most dev's that make mmo's forget that placing weird priorities on certain things and then last second writing lore without any real idea of scope and weight also serves to cripple alot of mmo's(swtor had big issues with this. first lightsabers known for cutting through everything suddenly being a mobile bug zapper plus technology being roughly similar despite 3000 year difference from the time we know and love served to rip me and other people i knew out of the story because it had poor scope of what it was taking pages from).

SOE also lately for me anyways has been really untrustworthy when it comes to mmo's last few years so this one immediatly sets flags off in my head(probably just me though).

Was I the only one disappointed that "New generation of MMOs" did not, in fact, include the announcement of the NerveGear?

Don't get me wrong. The whole aesthetic of intelligent AI that doesn't just conglomerate in some set area, towns that can be shaped by players, all of that stuff sounds nice, but then again, TOR had this whole idea of having an expansive and deep narrative and these interesting worlds, and that sunk harder than the Titanic's maiden voyage.

So I'll remain skeptical, thank you very much. You'll only get me on the hype bandwagon if someone finally invents Aincrad.

ThunderCavalier:
Was I the only one disappointed that "New generation of MMOs" did not, in fact, include the announcement of the NerveGear?

Don't get me wrong. The whole aesthetic of intelligent AI that doesn't just conglomerate in some set area, towns that can be shaped by players, all of that stuff sounds nice, but then again, TOR had this whole idea of having an expansive and deep narrative and these interesting worlds, and that sunk harder than the Titanic's maiden voyage.

So I'll remain skeptical, thank you very much. You'll only get me on the hype bandwagon if someone finally invents Aincrad.

*high-five for the SAO refs*

And I expect the intelligent AI to bomb horribly, to be honest.

Let's consider how they said it worked with a prior example:
1) Game spawns a pack of orcs "somewhere".
2) Game polls to see which roads are least traveled and tells the orcs to set up shop there.
3) Orcs will attack people on those roads, likely resulting in those players destroying the orc camp.
4) Orcs respond by attacking nearest town.

There are SO many things that can go wrong there, it's not even funny.

First off, if the game's "spawn point" for monsters are actual "points" on the map, there's nothing stopping players from camping the spawns and murdering anything that comes out.

Second, if the roads are less traveled, setting up an event there that no players know about is not likely to get players to travel that road more often. Some roads may just take longer to get to certain locations, making them less convenient and thus, less likely to be traveled regularly, resulting in the events spawning in the same locations all the time.

Third, a player who does dare to travel those roads only to get ganked by orcs is significantly less likely to travel those roads again, further contributing to the issue above.

Fourth, supposing you muster some players together and destroy the camp, and you also muster enough players to stop the invasion, the event chain runs into a wall. What happens after the orcs are all killed in their failed invasion? Why, the game spawns more, and the loop begins again. Nothing effectively "changed" about the world at all. It's no more "life-like" than GW2's repeatable event system.

And the chain can still run into a wall with the other path, too. If the players fail to defend a town and the orcs take over, what happens then? Do the orcs just stop there and contentedly sit on top of your town until you choose to fight to take it back? GW2 ran into this particular problem in that its event chains always stopped at some point. For example, when the centaurs take over a nearby fort which is said to be the last bastion between them and Divinity's Reach (the human town), the centaurs suddenly pick up a case of the Stupids and stand there, waiting for you to retake the fort, never once trying to press their advantage and attack the human town. I imagine this game will have that same core problem.

And that's not even looking at any of the multitude of bugs that such a system can create, either, but rather just the most practical issues that will almost assuredly crop up.

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