Two new EverQuest games are coming - this could be the salvation of the MMORPG

By Stephen Totilo on August 3, 2013, 10:30 AM
mmorpg, kotaku, everquest, everquest next

Just when it seemed that the future of MMOs might be a bit boring, the people behind EverQuest have decided to massively shake things up. Announced yesterday in Las Vegas, Sony Online Entertainment is making not one but two new EverQuest games. Actually, you may be helping make one of them.

The expected part of this news is the announcement of EverQuest Next, a major new free-to-play MMO set for release at some unspecified time that more or less restarts the mighty EverQuest lore afresh while introducing a very different EverQuest game.

The surprise is the simultaneous announcement of EverQuest Next Landmark, a free-to-play MMO that emphasizes land and content creation and that introduces many of the tools that will then work in EverQuest Next. That game is slated for a winter release. Think of Landmark as the Minecrafting of EverQuest. And think of it as a canvas on which users will be able to create content for the ambitious EverQuest Next. [UPDATE: At an SOE event in Las Vegas today, company president John Smedley said Landmark would be out this year.]

This new EverQuest has been a long time coming, and is turning out to be different than what longtime fans may have been expecting.

"We've rebooted our own game," the EverQuest series' director of development David Georgeson told me during a recent meeting about the game in New York City. "About a year and a half ago, we changed the team out, we tore it down, and we rebuilt it from the bedrock up. We were really serious about it. We wanted to figure out what was fun, what wasn't fun. There's a lot of stuff people don't like about MMOs, and we didn't want to rebuild that again because 'that's an MMO' and there were all these Holy Grails we wanted to put into a game but never had the courage or resources to make those kinds of changes. But since we're doing something brand new, we wanted to start from scratch and try to build something that's very, very different from regular MMOs."

The part of EQ Next that is traditional is that it is, like its predecessors, a third-person massively-multiplayer online game. It's set in Norrath. It features numerous races, from human to dwarf to elf to Kerran. It features different classes....

Oh, there are changes.

There's a multi-class system.

"We're changing the core game," Georgeson said. "For 35 years we've all been playing Dungeons & Dragons. It's the same game every time. You get a class, you kill stuff, you unlock your tech tree. That's boiling it down to its essence, but that basically is what it is. What we wanted to do was come up with a new experience for players, something that would be more fun." The result is a system that lets you begin with one of about seven basic starter class like warrior, wizard or rogue, each with a handful of abilities.

As players go out into the world to explore, they will find opportunities to gain new classes—more than 40 in all—each with their own abilities. They can spend XP on the classes and then switch between classes when out of combat. Players can also mix and match class abilities to create hybrid, custom classes. Examples given: a backstabbing wizard or a teleporting wizard, each cooked up from mixing a wizard with a rogue.

Each class also has two weapons.

At any one time, players will have access to, at most, eight abilities, four from their class, four from their weapons. (Yes, those eight abilities would seemingly map really, really well to the d-pad and face buttons of a game controller, but Georgeson says that that wasn't the motivation; there's no announcement for a console version. Both are announced initially for PC. Hey, shades of what Blizzard had said about Diablo III!)

One of our primary drives was to keep you from being focused on the hotbars down at the bottom [of the screen]," Georgeson said, "And start watching the action up here on the stage where all the really cool things are happening. When the monster is doing a big wind-up, you can't move out of the way if you're not watching the monster...We don't want to turn it into twitch gaming. We want it to be approachable and familiar to MMO players, but we want to put more attention on the stage than on the hotbars."

Every single thing in the world can be destroyed — in theory

"The entire world is made out of voxels," Georgeson said, referring to the common term for a three-dimensional element of digital art. "Everything is made out of pieces. We can literally destroy anything at any time. We might not let you destroy it. For instance, a player-city we might not make player-destroyable but [would be] monster-destroyable. Otherwise, it would be a player parking lot."

Georgeson started rattling through possibilities: earth wizards raising stone walls and the monsters having to break through it or walk around it; a hole being blown into the ground and monsters falling through it; monsters leaving crater footsteps. Different parts of the world can be given different properties, making stone harder than dirt, for example.

The new Next game spreads not just across the land but deep below it, allowing users to discover procedurally generated caverns and dungeons or just dig out their own. The game's creators have sorted out about 10,000 years of archaeological lore in the game's new timeline, Georgeson said. "We know what's all these different archaeological depths. We have a procedural system that can generate all these lost cities and ancient temples and buried areas and so on and so forth. And then we have occasional earthquakes in the world that destroy areas and reconstitute them so that players can constantly be finding new content as they explore.

Alternately, players can just burrow down and dig their own mines. Yep, like Minecraft.

Things will change in Norrath forever

The EQ Next team wants their world to feel like it is full of consequence. They're introducing a system called "Rallying Calls" that are big public quests that result in world-changing events. Rallying Calls may take weeks or months to play out, Georgeson said. He gave an example of having to start a tent city, explore the woods, go on quests—"not feather on the head quest stuff; you just see people, start helping and participate"—leading to new changes in monster behaviors, new changes to the land, all unfolding dynamically and, ideally, naturally.

"A couple of years down the line, if somebody says to you, 'What was it like back at launch?' Your answer is going to be like, 'That was before the civil war. That was before the dragons attacked,' all this crazy stuff that they can participate in—there is a way to use a chronomancer and go back and experience it—but it's not the way the world is now."

A very smart world.

The game's creatures will exhibit some pretty good artificial intelligence.

"We're tagging everything in the world with what it is," Georgeson said, "and then the monsters have likes and dislikes." That means that the game doesn't spawn orcs at some orc spawn point where orcs will always dwell. Instead, EQ Next will add orcs to the world and the orcs will intelligently find a place to live, depending on what's around them. In Georgeson's example, they might be looking for a lonely stretch of world where there are no guards and the occasional player walks by.

Georgeson said that this AI system will be applied to the various non-playable races and species in the game.

And there's better movement...

There's parkour. Characters can gracefully run, jump, clamber, hop, double-jump—"the kind of things you see in an Assassin's Creed, Georgeson said, because we know that will be fun for players.

"We wanted a more of a heroic fantasy," Georgeson said, "with dynamic motion and tumbling and fluid acrobatics."

But that's not all! There's Landmark.

Before EverQuest Next comes out, there will be EverQuest Next Landmark. It's a gamified version of EverQuest Next's creation tools, but with badges and achievements.

"It's a whole series of persistent, procedurally-generated worlds—so they're all completely unique from each other—and we're going to give players the tools we have and a shell of a game that goes with it and let them run amuck. We're going to let them build anything they want to that customer service will allow."

Players will start with a bag, a toolkit and a flag and will be able to claim a spot. "That is going to be your lot. That's your claim. You can build anything you want to in that lot and it's protected from all the other players in the world. You can build anywhere that isn't claimed, but it is not protected."

Players can earn and buy more flags to claim more lots.

Landmark players get access to all the building materials and tools that the Next developers are working on. Here are some examples of those tools in action...

The tools include different-sized voxel cursors, rotation on three axes, copy and paste, undo, smoothing, brushes. "Let's put it this way," Georgeson said. "It's really easy to make it impossible to see the blocks."

Players can find recipes and resources. They can decorate their homes. They can build in co-op. Players can make and sell their creations in Sony Online Entertainment's Player Studio and can retain rights to what they create, even if it becomes part of something else a player sells. For example, Georgeson said, one player could make a tower and sell that. Another player could put that tower on a castle and sell the castle, with the tower-making player getting a cut of each castle sale.

SOE will run creation contests and will let players vote on the quality of those creations, with the promise to then put those winners into EverQuest Next proper.

Landmark will be supported long-term, even beyond the launch of EverQuest Next. The games will differ. Landmark will, initially, have no combat in it, for example. And EQ Next will be the ultimate main event—an ambitious MMO that runs a bit differently than others.

Naturally, we're in the early stages here, when many an upcoming game sounds great. I wasn't shown any live gameplay. I was shown in-engine, pre-recorded movies. I wasn't seeing an MMO run on servers with thousands of people playing. I was hearing about plans and dreams. I hear about so many games, really, but few in recent memory have sounded quite as ambitious as this. They're dreaming massive.

"EverQuest is in its 15th birthday," Georgeson said. "We want to build for 15 years again."

Republished with permission. Stephen Totilo is editor-in-chief at Kotaku.




User Comments: 32

Got something to say? Post a comment
Blkfx1 Blkfx1 said:

I'm very excited for EQ Next! MMO's have always been my genre of choice. This news gives me high hope for the future of the MMO gaming.

1 person liked this | m4a4 m4a4 said:

The combat. How will that be? If it's another WoW style action bar fest, I'll pass...

ikesmasher said:

This sounds like something id pay a flat fee/monthly for.

but I just cant do f2p games. too bad.

Rasta211 said:

Seems interesting. I hope they also have an intelligent system to handle bots.

1 person liked this | amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

The combat. How will that be? If it's another WoW style action bar fest, I'll pass...

You should pass on all PC games then, because the mouse and keyboard aren't going anywhere soon and game-pads have their limitations as well.

My DeathAdder and BlackWidow Ultimate have been excellent gaming companions.

1 person liked this | cmbjive said:

I signed up for the beta. Hopefully this f2p will appear on the PS4. I'm still leery of f2p myself, but I'm always willing to give it a shot if the game is exciting.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Do you think they could have copied Elizabeth from Bioshock: Infinite any closer?

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I'm still plenty wow'd out.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

You should pass on all PC games then, because the mouse and keyboard aren't going anywhere soon and game-pads have their limitations as well.

My DeathAdder and BlackWidow Ultimate have been excellent gaming companions.

Yes. Because ALL pc games have me pressing buttons to do boring scripted events -_- great logic...

coppersloane coppersloane said:

This looks amazing, but combat is vital, and they haven't shown it yet. Although one could assume from the high quality 'heroic' movement that combat will be equally impressive. Here's hoping...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yes. Because ALL pc games have me pressing buttons to do boring scripted events -_- great logic...
And how is that different from console? Every button pressed on a joystick, mouse, or keyboard is a scripted event.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

And how is that different from console? Every button pressed on a joystick, mouse, or keyboard is a scripted event.

...How does this translate to console? He was suggesting that I don't play any PC games because I do not like WoW's style of boring scripted combat, and now you are referring to console?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

because I do not like WoW's style of boring scripted combat
I wasn't referring to either one. I was asking what the difference was between them from your stand point. I don't like WoW style of game play either, but would that not also be present in console? Without actually knowing, I'm trying to picture the issue in my mind.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

I wasn't referring to either one. I was asking what the difference was between them from your stand point. I don't like WoW style of game play either, but would that not also be present in console? Without actually knowing, I'm trying to picture the issue in my mind.

I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at, but I haven't found a game with such scripted events on console (however, I would avoid them anyways). I would imagine there aren't many of these types of games on console, however, as they are usually in MMO's (and there aren't many MMO's on console)...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at
Ahh, don't worry about it. It is probably my ignorance getting in the way again. I think I do understand what you are getting at though. The huge selection of mouse click-able events in the command-bar, that would be impossible to map to a controller. I think they mentioned this in the article and are trying to fix it, where the player can concentrate on the game more than the command-bar.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The combat. How will that be? If it's another WoW style action bar fest, I'll pass...

From the description it seems that it's more like Guild Wars style, a small number of actions you can select, compared to EQ2 style where you need a ton of action bars to represent all the actions.

danhodge danhodge said:

The combat. How will that be? If it's another WoW style action bar fest, I'll pass...

Apparently its gonna be action orientated; more like GW2, less like WoW.

psycros psycros said:

Translation: we outsourced it all to copycat Koreans who won't deliver half of what we're promising. Even if they do it will be dumbed down for consoles. Oh, I'm limited to eight abilities at at time? LOL! The original EQ will still have more players than this thing does when it goes dark in 18 months.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Yes. Because ALL pc games have me pressing buttons to do boring scripted events -_- great logic...

When I used to raid 10/25 mans on a good raid guild during the WotLK days, no console games compared to the intensity of a difficult boss on hard when everyone's gear didn't win the fight for them. Not even Drakes, Skyrim or God Of War.

Even scripted there are countless random events and possibilities.

I've played every console game there is and you forfeit your lack of experience/knowledge about WoW completely when you say boring scripted events.

And thats about 10% of what WoW has to offer.

Did you try PvP and get your a$$ handed to you?

Unless you have atleast 100 days of playtime, and have played through multiple patches/expansions throughout the years, your opinion on WoW is pretty useless.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

When I used to raid 10/25 mans on a good raid guild during the WotLK days, no console games compared to the intensity of a difficult boss on hard when everyone's gear didn't win the fight for them. Not even Drakes, Skyrim or God Of War.

Even scripted there are countless random events and possibilities.

I've played every console game there is and you forfeit your lack of experience/knowledge about WoW completely when you say boring scripted events.

And thats about 10% of what WoW has to offer.

Did you try PvP and get your a$$ handed to you?

Unless you have atleast 100 days of playtime, and have played through multiple patches/expansions throughout the years, your opinion on WoW is pretty useless.

Wonderful! I do not like such boring mechanics. I have tried playing many similar MMO's (and the best way to describe what I don't like is with mentioning WoW). So no, I do not need to play a game like that for 100 hours to know I don't like it! -_-

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Wonderful! I do not like such boring mechanics. I have tried playing many similar MMO's (and the best way to describe what I don't like is with mentioning WoW). So no, I do not need to play a game like that for 100 hours to know I don't like it! -_-

Hmm, just sounds like your bitching about actions bars.

There is much more to WoW then that.

Keep in mind your talking about a very old game.

Even so, your opinion on it being boring is pretty much useless, no pun intended.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Hmm, just sounds like your bitching about actions bars.

There is much more to WoW then that.

Sure. I do not find such mechanics exciting and apparently that is an opinion that some people don't get without seemingly "bitching" about.

And that is a main combat feature, so it doesn't matter what else there is if I don't like a main feature.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Sure.

Sure what? Your not sure because you don't know.

And that is a main combat feature, so it doesn't matter what else there is if I don't like a main feature.

Sure, whatever you say, lol.

Guest said:

Eeeeww. here I thought a new mmo came out of the old classic game everquest :) but its just hd version of minekraft :s wtf have they been smoking ? :o

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Eeeeww. here I thought a new mmo came out of the old classic game everquest but its just hd version of minekraft :s wtf have they been smoking ? :eek:

It's too early to make that judgment call.

jeromie said:

I watched the live video and at the end they DID show actual play where they had four players go through one of the scenes and actually play. It was actually really cool to see the mob do AoE effects while destroying the environment and then fall through the ground when they killed it. They put a joke in about the Ranger dying and needing a Rez and that the mob they killed dropped a cloth cap. This game is going to destroy all other MMORPGs

WildFire15 said:

I see this and think: How awesome would City of Heroes have been some some of these features (imagine Giant Monsters tearing down skyscrapers as you fought them) or hell, how much better would some MMOs be if they took a few cues from CoH rather then copy WoW to the letter (namely social features, Bioware should be ashamed they didn't include a global friends list at the least from the start, not to mention a sidekick/exemplar system). Things are getting better now at least with MMOs stepping away from obsessively following that template at least and seeing as I didn't bother with Everquest 1 when I was a kid, I'll probably look into this (though give me a chance to play City of Heroes again and I'll be there like a shot).

Arris Arris said:

Multiclass.. wow, that's new. Never had that in Baldur's gate games or any others in the past! Love the development of existing concepts.

2 people like this | ddg4005 ddg4005 said:

Maybe it's just me but I've never understood the draw of playing MMORPGs or online shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield. Too many games these days focus primarily on multi-player at the expense of single-player and it shows. I want game developers to return to making compelling single-player campaigns in games with multi-player added as a bonus like it was once upon a time.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Looks pretty cool, but I think success will be hard. The MMORPG land is getting pretty crowded, and I can't imagine people have the time to play more than one or two at a time.

VincentVegas VincentVegas said:

Multiclass, really? Yawn.

Anyone remembers Ultima Online? No leveling, no classes. You can learn anything (~50 abilities) and only get better by doing it or visiting a trainer. Only cap is the limit of 150 per ability and 600 for all abilities together. You can learn new abilities and set which you want to "unlearn" when not using them, so over time you can become a completely different "class". I started as an archer and cook and later changed to a mage and scroll maker.

You cannot see how strong your opponent is before you attack him. No clicking on a portrait to see which level he is - as there are no levels. Doesn't this sound more like the real thing than having a level abough your head and someone is stronger than you only because he did something to increase this level, even if this had nothing to do with fighting?

Did you ever wonder why you cannot steal from other players even if you are an almighty rogue? In UO you can. :-) Of course guards will kill you when they catch you in town and every player can kill you as well until some mins after you stole something. But this is how it should be.

UO had anything a good RPG should have, only quests were missing. But even without quests the game lasted for years although it was not hammer-on-some-keys-with-no-consequences-if-you-die.

Imagine losing anything you have with you when you die by an enemy player and then you see how your killer gets away with what was yours.

And even if you only die from a monster/animal, you have to find a healer, get resurrected and get back to where you died NAKED all within 15 mins (without a map) or anybody can grab your things and get away with them! You even cannot ask other players for the way when you are a ghost, because you only speak "ghostish". Only players with the ability to speak with the dead can understand you for a minute.

Forget about being able to make magic out of thin air because you have a full mana bar like in all modern MMOs! You have to seach for the right ingredients in the wilderness (different for each magic spell) or buy that stuff from other players - or if you are very lucky from an NPC merchant. When you are on an island and run out of ingredients for your teleport spell you are lost. No bring-me-to-my-inn stone you can click on.

I had very interesting encounters because of that when some enemies asked me wether I can make them a portal to a town and they gave me a complete armor as a reward.

THAT is role playing.

The easy-play MMOs from today are no role playing games, WoW started with that. They are nearer to Facebook than to a role playing game. You just need to remember a few keys to press and if you fail, nothing bad happens. You just stand up at the next cemetery.and run to where you died. And even that "inconvenience" is too much for a lot of players today and even back in Everquest1".

In UO there was no "power armor" you get when you replay a certain dungeon 200 times. And there were no superuber weapons. There were 4-5 kinds of armor and weapons, and the difference between winning and loosing a fight was the real skill of how to play, and not your gear and level.

Why is no company bold enough to create a real RPG like UO was, but with todays 3D graphics, sound and a quest system?

Regards

Thomas

BabyMitchy BabyMitchy said:

After watching the video with the double jumping:

"As if they are on the moon"

.......You completely lost my money. Sorry, I demand a certain amount of realism to a game. I am not a 5 year old child.

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