I’m dragging myself out of the depths to which inactive bloggers are banished in order to talk about the topic of the moment. During the SOE Live 2013 Everquest Next announcement, I was in the office working on formatting the latest revisions to one of our manuals, but I’m alone on Fridays, so I put the livestream on one computer while working off another.
I almost regret that choice. Now I have to go in and work tomorrow to make up for how unfocused I was for the last three hours of the day. But it will only cost me a little in gas. Seems worth it.
I can sum up why with a single quote:
What we do is we tag everything in the game world with what it is. The game is constantly polling the world to find out where the guards are, how often people have gone down a lonely stretch of road to find out whether it’s lonely or not. And so what we do is we create orks and then we just release them into the world. And then it’s up to the orks to find the spots that they like.
I’m glad I work alone on Fridays, because the following video is actual footage of what happened in my office next:
I never realized how much I look like Winona Ryder.
Anyway, no static spawns: instead, mobs have behavioral subroutines that assign likes and dislikes, preferences and aversions. Further explanation revealed that the same scenario can have multiple results — players may be sent into the woods to push back goblins that have recently arrived. And the goblins might start withdrawing, or the goblin king might decide he needs those woods and respond by sending armies.
Actual change in the world. Actual change over time without updates needed. It’s what many expected from GW2. But rather than dynamic ghost story events, EQN, as described at least, does not have dynamic events — instead, it has a dynamic virtual ecology that will vary from server to server.
This part of the reveal, by itself with nothing else, is enough that I can say I will play the game to at least see this claim in action.
The cynicism of the MMO community is well-earned, but I don’t find myself agreeing with many of the complaints that are already circling. The new art direction is frequently under attack — I find myself not caring at all about the changes to character models and otherwise impressed with the environment art. The combat style is under attack. I’m not sure it’s possible for me to have feelings about the combat that based on video, even the video in which various developers play the game live on stage. I’d need to take the controls myself.
Syp over at Biobreak seems unimpressed with the Rallying Cries, EQN’s version of public questing, stating that “practically everything they’re saying about them makes [him] think of Guild Wars 2,” but I would disagree there as well. Sure, the basic mechanic reminds me of GW2 or Rift or that game that shall not be named where the term PQ comes from, but I think that’s missing the point. PQs are static in all three of those games, but if things work as claimed, Rallying Cries will be generated organically by the emergent AI in the applicable mobs and NPCs; in other words, there will be no dragon timers for EQN. On one server the dragon might be attacking the city because too many adventurers have threatened his hoard while on another he’s still guarding the hoard and terrorizing the mountains. And that dragon might have settled in different places on each server to begin with.
My only disappointment is that I’m not seeing how EQN will itself be a sandbox. From the reveal, the sandbox elements seem safely confined to EQN Landmark. I would play that game even if it wasn’t tied to an MMO — even if it was just a AAA graphics version of Minecraft. In fact, I’m strongly considering upgrading my PC or buying a new one before EQNL releases.
But I’d be more impressed if the two were a single game.