Let’s circle back to that EQNext:Landmark thing, shall we, because I think there is some interesting stuff going on between SOE and the way they have approach this.
The $100 “get in beta, possibly get ‘power’ if location is a thing that matters in EQNL” sale. Initially my reaction was similar to most of these offers; if a company can get people drop pay $100 for beta or even the game more power to them.
This to me is a little different however, for a few reasons. When companies do this stuff with Kickstarter, it’s usually done by a new developer that doesn’t have much/any value in its name, so if the end-product is a dud and everyone who bought it rages (and we all know people will rage), the PR hit to the company is a non-factor.
SOE is not such a company. While I gleefully bash them constantly, the SOE name is still worth something, and if EQNL doesn’t end up being ‘worth’ that $100 price, the rage will actually impact SOE beyond just this one failed product. If nothing else, SOE asking for that much cash this early is an interesting gamble worth watching.
(Side note: I wonder if 38 Studios could have saved itself with this strategy. I can easily see plenty of people dropping $100+ for early access to that game, and while all of the aftermath suggests the game was meh at best, maybe it could have actually launched and Shill could have kept his robe? (If you get that joke we are officially friends.))
As for EQNL itself, I’m still not seeing this as anything more than an EQ skin for Minecraft, and while Minecraft was brilliantly new when it came out, for most it wasn’t something you played with long-term. After you have built a castle or ten, there really wasn’t much ‘game’ to it. For Minecraft that was perfectly fine, but if SOE intends this to be MMO-ish? I’m not convinced.
At the same time, and perhaps somewhat contradictory (a first for this blog), would it surprise anyone if EQNL was a bigger hit than EQN? Sure, some of that is based on what we have seen of EQN (zzzz), but it also feels that SOE has spent a lot more energy and attention around Landmark since the two products were announced.
If nothing else, hats off to SOE for bringing something worth talking about to the table, and I’m genuinely curious to see it all plays out. Also congrats on the art; after the utter monstrosity that is EQ2, and the utter meh that is PS2, I fully expected EQN to also look terrible, and it doesn’t. Guessing copying Blizzard is the right move after all.
Sony’s setup for all this is really smart, we’ll see how well they execute. The thing that made minecraft great was not the gameplay, but its non-prescriptive nature and all the things that emerged from that (thinking CPU, full scale USS Enterprise and so on).
The worst case scenario for them is they use this to beta test all of the key features they want in their full MMO while always being able to disclaim “this is just the building game”. Things like emergent AI, randomized environments and PvP can all be built using a live group of players but do not have to work as well as they’d need to in the main MMO. This gives them a lot of opportunity to create the stuff they want and avoid a ton of launch issues that plague many MMOs. They also can poach the best creations players have made with 0 investment from their design team giving EQN a lot of extra content.
The best case for them is people start going nuts in the same way they did for minecraft and start doing things that were completely unexpected, but elevate landmark far above what they initially intended. This would give it a large community (arguably something minecraft has more of than most modern MMOS) and a lot of focus. In this case all they have to do is shift development to start supporting that and they’ve got a very successful game in it’s own right.
Either way to me it seems like they have set the stage for themselves to actually DELIVER an MMO that eschews many taken for granted WoW mechanics and bring a good deal of player agency back into the mix in the process.
If they follow through on the pre-release hype (big “if”, I know) the most significant thing about EQNL is this: it’s a full-blown “make your own MMO” toolkit. They’ve said that Landmark will eventually include ALL the tools they use to buld EQNext.
That means that EQLandmark could disappoint royally as an MMO and yet further down the line someone else could use it to build something amazing. When you think of what the modding communities have done with other games the prospects are mouth-watering. *You* could use it to build that perfect PvE MMO you used to post about.
Of course we have yet to see the licensing agreements…
This post reminded me of what I’ve always really wanted. Minecraft as an MMO. Tweak the balance so that defenses are not futile, and then there it is.
You plop down in the world with nothing, then get to digging and building. Make random friends or enemies. Go ahead and mess with someones house but it’s probably got traps. Build a city and convince people to live and work in it, and form a militia or police force to kill anyone who doesn’t follow the rules.
I’ve enjoyed time on multiplayer minecraft servers. More space and more people to interact with. The only part missing is ways for people to try to enforce order within the constraints of the game instead of whining to an admin when I nuke your house.
Copying Blizzard? you mean blizzard copied EQ. Get your fact straight lol