We recently spoke to Terry Michaels about modding, claims, recipes and more.
We were on-site at Sony Online Entertainment at the end of January for their EverQuest Next Landmark alpha event. During the press hands-on session we took the opportunity to speak with Senior Producer Terry Michaels about Landmark.
"I can tell you that everything we're adding to the game—the whole idea—is that question: 'Is it fun or not?' We don't want to put things in there that are unnatural stumbling blocks or things to limit you because 'Oh, you have to do this 700 times, but it's not fun.' If we want you to do it 700 times, it should be fun to do each time. That's what we try to aim for with everything that we're doing."
Will there be any UI modding in Landmark?
Yes! We talked about that—we did a round table in particular about that—but it's something that we absolutely want to support and we're building with that in [mind]. It's not going to be there in alpha, but all of our UI is being built with that in mind, so that when we are ready to flip the switch and let people mod the UI, then they'll be able to do that.
Will it be fully customizable?
We're not talking about being able to completely create new functionality necessarily, but it's also not just like reskinning. There's a set of data we're going to expose to the UI and anybody who wants to mod it can use that data to create the mod that they want.
Will it be using XML, LUA, or something else?
Right now there are three layers to our UI. Part of it is Flash, part of it is in LUA and part is in XML. Depending on what you're doing with the mod, you may be able to reuse our Flash but change some of the underlying pieces. Or, if you have somebody who is actually versed in Flash, you would actually be able to create your own .swf to be able to distribute to people however you want to so that they can have their own mods. But, you know, we're making a game where you can build anything and not letting you build the UI as well would be a gaping hole.
Just to be clear: we want to make sure we're not giving people unfair advantages. I play all kinds of MMOs and we know in the MMOs that are out there... there are some required add-ons and mods to get. We really want to avoid the necessary add-ons and mods to be able to play the game.
So will you have an approval system then?
No, no, it wouldn't be like that... it's just more the kind of data we expose to the modders. We would make sure that it's not of a variety that you could create something that gives you an unfair advantage. We want our UI to be good enough that, even if you don't choose to mod it, it's still a fun, playable, interactable experience... that you don't have to go outside of the game to try to maximize it to be able to be successful in it.
Will guilds be in the closed beta?
Yes! They just didn't make it to alpha. It was... well, I don't want to say most important, but the largest things we were putting in [to alpha]... we wanted to make sure that we got as many of those as possible so that they can get feedback, testing and iteration. The other things, because we've done [them] as a company—groups, guilds and in-game mail systems... all those kinds of things—so many times they're less of an issue for us to create them [compared to] these other things that are completely new and different, things we want people's feedback on. Once we're ready to put them in and once we're at the point in the schedule where we're doing it, it won't take us long to get them in there—we already have the architecture.
So that will include features such as voice chat?
Yes, absolutely—Vivox, SOEmote and more. Both of those already have some rudimentary functionality in there, we just haven't done things like created UI to access the options because some of that was lower priority than other things.
After alpha, how would you go about getting your first claim flag?
Right now our first thought is that you're going to do something that triggers an achievement that grants one as a reward. For instance, maybe it would be something like 'mine three different kinds of resources,' or something like that, and maybe that would give you an achievement that grants you your first claim flag. The idea is that we just want you to get in there and play the game a little bit before you find a place to pick as your own. We have a lot of ideas—we have a lot of different ways—the details of exactly how much is required to get that one, that hasn't been nailed down completely yet.
So Trailblazers won't start with a claim flag [after alpha]?
No, they don't. The flags you get as part of the packs are props that you can place in the world. They're not claim flags.
How many of those do you get?
You [start with] one of them and you have the recipe to make more of them. You can make as many as you want—assuming you go out and collect the resources for it—but you only have one of them to start with.