Your Next: Going Home to Norrath

There's no home like the one you build yourself.

Week after week, I continue to be impressed by the way SOE is continuing to give players the opportunity to contribute to the development of EverQuest Next. Through the roundtable discussions, constant twitter interaction and especially the workshop, the players are being given an unprecedented ability to influence the design of a game that has the potential to change the way we think about MMORPGs. What an incredible privilege, and we're just getting started.

With all the talk of new mechanics and new technology in EQN, it's easy to miss one of the key factors that will define this game and set it apart from the competition. While other games have to sell us on the promise of compelling story or an engaging and lasting endgame experience, Landmark allows SOE to sell us on the entire game world.

As time goes on, and particularly after SOE Live, more and more of us will buy in to EverQuest Next through Landmark. As we continue to move forward, designing and iterating  on all kinds of user-generated content, we'll develop an intimate understanding of the way the world is put together.

For those of us that play Landmark and engage with the workshop and with the community, by the time EverQuest Next opens its doors it will already feel like home.

Imagine setting foot in Norrath for the first time, already knowing the names of every tree, being able to recognize the building styles of different races, and just generally knowing how the world works in a way we wouldn't have dared to dream about a year ago. The stage will be set for the new history of Norrath in a way that we have never experienced.

It's the nature of the beast that MMOs are so bound by their retention strategies, often leading to developers implementing unpopular systems to keep people playing and paying. What if a game could create a retention strategy that made the game more popular? What if the reason we continued to log in was because we were invested in the world, and are proud to be a part of it? I'd take that over being drip-fed on a gear treadmill any day.

The question had to be addressed sooner or later, as in these times of so many quality free-to-play titles, the old strategies just won't fly. We've all played that game, we've had a lot of fun playing that game, but players are smart and we need to be fooled.

Unfortunately, the problem of retention doesn't go away. Developers still need to find ways to keep butts in seats, or the game will wither and die. We're seeing it happen more and more as the MMO playerbase gets spread thinner and thinner, as the swarm moves from game to game looking to squeeze the last drop of novelty out of the familiar.

With the level of ownership and pride in the game we can expect from the early adopters and the Landmark community, EverQuest Next already has a brand new retention strategy built in. If the sandbox elements of the game can allow players to feel like they can retain their ownership and bend the world to their will, this could be another EverQuest that will stand the test of time.

I can't wait to see what EQN goodness the team has been bursting to share with us at SOE Live; there's just so much I'd love to see and hear about. That being said - what I'm really excited about, and one of the main things that caught my attention during the reveal last year, is the potential these games have to grab the genre with both hands and shake it back to life. We're just embarking on an epic adventure, and we're building our destination as we go along. So while I can't wait to see what SOE has in store for us, I'm more interested in what we'll come up with ourselves along the way.

We'll see it more and more in the coming years—sandbox will become the norm and user-generated content will be king. Just like the internet at large, online gamers will be expected to be content creators as well as consumers. We will no longer be passive; instead, we will become participants.

I'd love to talk to you about that someday, and I'd better make that soon - before it happens and I don't get the chance to shout 'called it' and pat myself on the back. Maybe even next week… I suppose you'll just have to come back and check.

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Sandbox isn't new
# Jun 29 2014 at 6:11 AM Rating: Decent
Scholar
33 posts
Sandbox isn't new by a long shot, and it wasn't king then, it isn't king now, and won't be king tomorrow. User created content can be a nice distraction. But how players play game is shifting, and if anything more away from it than towards. Drop in, drop out gameplay on your own schedule. Building games are a niche, because not everybody is into building nor do they have the time to do so. This was true int he past but even more so today. Today even more than in the past people want to play on their own schedules. That isn't to say their isn't a place for these kind of games, but King is a huge stretch. There are legitimate reasons why sandbox never rose to King of the genre, and those reasons have not gone away. So likely the king of the genre will be similar to the current king or something completely different to what we have seen.
Sandbox isn't new
# Aug 04 2014 at 5:58 AM Rating: Decent
1 post
Landmark might be a 'building game' right now, but it is going to be a LOT more than that very soon. It will be pretty much any game players are willing to create for each other.

It won't be long before I am going to be writing up D&D style campaigns which players can then run through at their leisure rather than having to wait till I am online to DM it for them. If they don't want to come to my property in Landmark to run the campaign I currently have set up then they can buy one I've put up on Player Studio and put it on their own property to run.

I know other people who are planning to create Siege Event PvP scenarios and Arena PvP, and others I hear are planning MOBA style games in Landmark. While mine is a recreation of an old game style, once people experience the true power of Storybricks and a Voxel world imaginations will flare and new types of games will emerge that we've never seen before. Building is just the foundation of so much more.
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