Often this column is only very loosely formed around EverQuest Next and/or Landmark, and I sometimes feel a little guilty about that. I’m prone to getting wrapped up in ideas and discussions of broader trends, when I’m sure that many of you would rather have a chat about those cool games we’re all excited about.
So this week, I’m not going to get derailed by what’s going on in the industry at large, even if it’s thinly wrapped in the context of EQN and Landmark. I don’t think this is the place for it, and other people have already done a much better job of it than I ever could.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, look for the word ‘gamer’ in the mainstream press. In fact, it’s probably best not to, it’s just embarrassing.
Instead, we’re going to talk about some great things that are happening in the development of EQN and Landmark right now! I know you don’t come here for news either, so hang tight and brace for opinions.
There’s been an update to combat in Landmark, and with it some of the basic ideas that form the foundation of what will follow; not just in Landmark, but in EQN also. It’s great to see more of the systems being fleshed out, and I’m personally very happy with the way this one is going. Slowing the pace of combat and adding more opportunity for tactical decision making is a positive step, and the systems used to do it are encouraging.
Creating depth without becoming bogged down in complexity is always a great challenge in game design, especially with horizontal character advancement, and it looks like SOE has some great sources of inspiration in place to facilitate it. Specifically, we can already see the influence of Magic the Gathering on character building:
Collecting more options can be very helpful, but isn’t required to engage with the content
Enormous variety is possible, but you don’t have to understand or even be aware of everything to be strong
Conversely, by understanding how the different elements can be used together a player can become more powerful through understanding, not just by the numbers on their gear
While it’s possible to make a very strong build, the large possibility space means that nothing is the best solution to every problem