First Look: Everquest Next

By Adam Smith on August 2nd, 2013 at 8:01 pm.

Yesterday, Sony Online Entertainment significantly altered my entire outlook on the next twelve months of gaming. When I sat down, along with a small gathering of journalists invited to see the reveal of Everquest Next, I wasn’t expecting to have my line of thinking about MMORPGs to fundamentally shift, but that’s precisely what happened. From being a game in a genre that I have only the occasional interest in, Next immediately became one of the most fascinating and exciting games on the horizon.

And that’s just the half of it.

At several moments during the presentation, I wrote in block capitals, circling and underlining. This is the headline feature. This is something nobody has tried or managed to do before. Then, toward the mid-point, while I was still processing what had already come, lead designer Dave Georgeson demonstrated a feature that changed everything.

Everquest Next’s world is made of voxels and everything in it is destructible.

I had to fetch a ladder to retrieve my eyebrows. This is not mere “we’ve played Minecraft” rhetoric. It’s something else. It’s big-studio exposure to the kind of things that have been going on in the world of gaming over the past few years. It’s not even a ‘feature’ as such, it’s the foundation of the tech and design choices, influencing everything that is built on top of it. And everything that is on top addresses the accepted wisdom, or lack of, in the majority of MMOs – enemy behaviour, the unchanging nature of the world, player interactions, combat and the nature of questing have all been overhauled. Or perhaps not even that.

This isn’t a reinvention of the wheel, it’s the unveiling of a hovercar.

Like so much else that was shown, destructibility could have been little more than a gimmick and was almost introduced as such. That’s because Georgeson knows how to work a crowd. He showed us in-game footage of a fight, which left the battlefield scarred, covered in fresh craters and debris. A wizard destroyed a bridge, sending goblins tumbling to their death. Impressive, and in keeping with the fast-paced, skill-based combat and movement, which is built around weapon-specific fighting styles and parkour elements. It looks like a third-person action game, without the spongey enemies and toe-to-toe power exchanges that plague most of its peers. Great stuff.

Providing elegance and variety to movement and combat, making exploring and fighting interesting activities for their own sake, does solve many of my issues with the WOW (and original Everquest) model. Players still select a race and class to begin with, each having access to four abilities and a couple of weapon types, but they can learn the skills of the other classes as they progress, mixing and matching skills and equipment.

In the battle we were shown, the wizard was Daud-like, blinking through the air, materialising behind enemies and destroying them, sending splinters of rock screaming through the air. The Kah Shir warrior (lion-like now, rather than the tiger-person of yesteryear) charged, sending smaller enemies sprawling, then pouncing from point to point, chaining attacks together, and avoiding spells and the hefty blows of larger creatures.

And then a golem stamped on the players, breaking through the continent’s crust and sending everybody tumbling into a dimly lit subterranean world. They regained their senses and found themselves in a cavern, a procedurally generated space that could link to demonic lairs, forgotten kingdoms or warrens of tunnels, twisting maze-like into darkness.

The lower layers of the world drawn on the thousands of years of Everquest lore, archaeological depths that can be explored and looted, or that can become tombs for the unprepared. Certain spells will allow characters to teleport beneath the surface but any hero can grab a pick and start digging. When everything from the largest structure to the ground itself is a massive collection of changeable voxels, exploration isn’t simply about walking from point to point, it’s about making new routes to previously impossible places.

That’s worth saying again: exploration isn’t simply about walking from point to point, it’s about making new routes to previously impossible places.

In an MMO.

Rather than relying on the functional blocks of Minecraft, Next is capable of breaking environments down at the smallest level, leaving jagged scars in the side of hills and allowing for earthquakes that can splinter entire regions, revealing the ancient things below. Some of those ancient things may wake up and emerge, creating new problems and new opportunities.

When a new entity arrives in the world, whether at the developer’s bidding or due to player interference, its behaviour is driven by a series of objectives, needs and desires. Whether an orc bandit or an enormous demon from the depths, a creature is not the product of a spawn point, mindlessly wandering until the proximity of a hero activates its basic functions. It’s an AI entity that functions as part of a world. At least that’s the claim.

A gang of orcs, for example, won’t simply appear at a specific point in the world, replenishing shortly after they have been eliminated. Instead, when they appear, they react to the changing world. They act as bandits, and their purpose is to steal and murder. Therefore, they’ll lurk near settlements, finding good positions to carry out roadside ambushes as goods and people travel from village to village.

If a group of players start to patrol that road, clashing with the orcs, the parameters change. The AI reinterprets the situation, checking if the threat level is too high and possibly deciding to move on, wandering until it discovers a new suitable location. Or perhaps not. It’s possible that a particular group of players won’t present a strong enough threat, in which case the orcs could become more confident, preparing an assault. Or maybe they have a leader who will call for reinforcements.

The emergent situations created by an AI that is systemically driven carry more potential to change the way Next works as an RPG and online experience than the destructibility, but they’re harder to demonstrate in the short-term. Whether they’ll work as intended, we won’t know until the world has been in progress for some time, but that SOE have worked so long to find solutions to problems that most MMO designers don’t even seem to recognise as problems gives me confidence in their approach.

Having an entire world in which human players are competing with reactive AI provides dynamic objectives. If those orcs stray too close to a village, or kill too many merchants and travellers, an NPC may put a bounty on their heads. Alternately, the villagers may ask for better defences, which could lead players into patrol duty, or even gathering resources for teh construction of a palisade or stone walls. It may even be possible to side with the orcs, becoming a raider, and sodding off to the next horizon and leaving the situation to fester is always an option. NPCs remember players’ actions so the consequences of decisions will affect relations and future interactions.

There’s a final addition to the game’s structure that ties everything else together. Keeping with the blank slate approach to the genre, which involves jettisoning a great deal of jargon, larger quests aren’t defined as ‘raids’ or ‘instances’. There will, at any one time, be an over-riding, worldwide mission, which SOE describe as a ‘Rallying Call’. Every single player is part of a Call, although they are free to ignore its objectives. Each one will last for around three months and they will alter the world in a more directed fashion, creating enormous structural changes or new alliances and enmities.

The example described involved the founding of a city. A location is chosen, true to Everquest lore, and the plans for a new settlement are drawn up. The first players to arrive at the spot can set up camp, a few tents, vulnerable in the wilderness. Because people are idiots, they’ve decided to build in goblin country, so the camp will be in immediate danger. Now, every player knows about the quest, and if the attacks become severe, they will be told that help is needed. Quests come with rewards, so heroes may well converge from every corner of the world to assist in the defence and expansion of the camp, eventually making a village, to which NPCs will move. That village will eventually become a city, permanently established in the world, but before that can happen, the goblins must be driven out of the area for good.

Hunting parties could set out into the woods and wilderness, discovering goblin settlements and destroying them, but the nascent settlement will also require a militia to defend its people. Crafters could work in tandem with the hunters, asking them to bring back resources to aid in the construction of sturdier walls, and while the players react, so does the AI, planning counterattacks and possibly gathering all its forces under one ruler to lay siege.

The system has enormous potential. Civil wars, rebellions, elusive villains – my Tolkien-infused brain jumped to the War of the Ring, a multi-pronged epic quest, in which different groups take on varying tasks in far-flung regions of the world. The opportunity not
just to see a world change, but to contribute to that, either as a famous hero or a small cog in a larger war machine.

There are plenty of unanswered questions, and in a game of this scope that is still many months from release, that’s inevitable. Chiefly, I’m interested to see how a world of consequences and change fuses with the mostly inconsequential nature of player death. It is the one problem of the genre (though not unique to the genre) that I didn’t hear any new thinking about.

That was the key to the entire presentation and the interviews that followed. Everquest Next is being constructed by people who have a creative and intellectual fascination with finding new approaches to familiar problems. The solutions are so far-reaching that it barely resembles the games I expected it to be comparable to, including its named predecessors, and the experiment is hugely ambitious. Of course, eliminating problems tends to create new problems, but they’ll almost certainly be interesting problems.

It’s hard to express how large the shift in my expectations was. When John Smedley, CEO of SOE, introduced key members of the team, he gave them a lot to live up to. Twice, he explained, the project has been abandoned and restarted, with eighteen months of work completed each time. There was a fundamental problem. The games they were making had already been made. Static worlds, in which monsters and equipment act as little more than bundles of numbers, and players grind against them for the rest of time.

‘Enough is enough’, he said, ‘we’ve played the same game too many times’. He’s right. When Everquest Next comes out next year, whether it hits the mark on every front or not, it’s going to change our expectations of what an online fantasy world is capable of.

Rather than releasing Everquest 2.5, which would have been far cheaper than this long-haul iterative design, SOE have actually used their talents, thought about what could be done, and understood the time and money that a cooperative big name publisher can provide. They have elected to experiment with the form and attempt something pioneering. I’m struggling to think of another project in development with as much concentrated potential.

More to come, including interviews with all of the key development staff and composer Jeremy Soule. Also, do read about Everquest Next: Landmark if you haven’t already.

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172 Comments »

  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Destructible terrain? 3 hours after launch the entire world will be a blackened cinder approximately 12 feet across.

    Edit: This comment was insufficiently enthusiastic for a major MMO that genuinely appears to be trying to do something different and new and push the current rather dismal state of the “art” to something better than “what Blizzard did”. I’m a lot more excited than I seemed from my initial remark.

    • Shiri says:

      Yeah, I can’t possibly imagine how this is going to work out. This goes beyond the usual grand promises where I can see how it’s going to fall through (“Dynamic AI? Never heard THAT one before!”), it’s just staggeringly unlikely. Either they’d have to have the world just “refresh” all the time, in which case it may as well be cutscene-destructible bridges from SNES RPGs, or all the interesting stuff would be destroyed in no time. So what, it’s going to be procedurally generated (read: bad) level design? Weird. Definitely got me curious though.

      • Echo_Hotel says:

        I remember Ultima online had to ditch the persistent adaptive enemy AI and ecosystem elements simply because the players were simply leaving rings of looted corpses rippling out from the main cities.
        Nothing will adapt to players because nothing will survive meeting the players, simple as that.

        • staberas says:

          Yeah i remember that was something that was going to be a selling point after the launch, but it got botched by the players after 3-4 hours after the launch xD

          3-4 Hours the the face of humanity for you :P

          • brunk500 says:

            No only do humans kill everything, they loot and hoard as well.

            I think I remember an interview with Richard garriot, talking about why his attempted ecosystem failed.

            Apartly there would be a limited supply of things like cloth in the world (I can remember how the system worked). Anyways, it fell apart because people were compulsively doing things like crafting 10,000 shirts and stuffing them into one room.

      • Shuck says:

        And this is why it hasn’t been tried before – not because MMO designers “don’t even seem to recognise [the issues] as problems,” but because the problems are incredibly difficult and the solutions require some extremely smart, complex systems to have any chance of working (making them unpredictable). As a former MMO designer, we talked about this sort of stuff all the time, but it was very pie-in-the-sky, as we didn’t really have the time or resources to play with these sorts of systems until they actually worked, given all the labor even a static MMO required to get done. Although if they’re actually doing any of the things they claim they are, even if it ultimately doesn’t work and is a failure, it’s still a big breakthrough.

      • malkav11 says:

        The answer is: it probably isn’t going to.

        Nobody has ever delivered a game that works on this level, much less in a massively multiplayer context. If they somehow pull it off working as described or better, technologically speaking, odds are good that it will turn out that that isn’t actually particularly fun to play. If they somehow manage both, well. They will deserve every single money hat that will no doubt be thrown at them. But this is SOE. To say that I’m skeptical that they of all people will be the ones to crack this nut would be an understatement. Also, it’s going to be F2P, which has its own typically ominous connotations, especially at their hands.

        Still, I put in for the beta when they emailed me about it and even if I don’t get in I’ll keep an eye on it. Who knows. It could happen.

        • Flopper says:

          Based on the track record of PS2 I have renewed faith. They know how to listen to what the people want. They keep an open dialogue with the player base and let them vote on what they want. They are using a system pretty much identical to the Planetside Roadmap. If you’ve never seen that they draw out their development plans for the next 6 month to 1 year and let the player base vote on what should take top priority.

          I think SOE has really turned things around over the last few years. I’m pretty jazzed about this announcement.

          Also my PC runs PS2 on max so I’m fairly certain I’ll get a good FPS on EQ Next. However one downside is SOE’s stance since PS2 has pretty much been “Build a good PC or you aren’t playing our game” which kinda segments the population. But I’d rather them do that and push technology boundaries than get some cookie cutter cheesy looking game.

      • Nobyl says:

        To me the answers are quite obvious, let’s take the bridge destruction scenario and incorporate a bit of player-driven change, along with dynamic A.I.

        Bridges, roads and other forms of destructible travel methods don’t need to be constantly ‘refreshed’. What do we do in the real world when a bridge is wiped out, crushed by nature or the hand of man? We rebuild it. In the game world, the destruction of a bridge crossing say, a deep canyon, would cut off a route of travel, sure you could walk around the canyon, there are other routes to get to your destination, but eventually someone would come along and say,

        “I’m not going to walk until I find a path that won’t potentially kill me to get across this canyon, I know a crafting guild that’s stationed within this territory, I’ll put in a request to have one built, offer them some small compensation.”

        And what if he were a merchant Traveling from one place to the other, buying low, selling high? The extra time it takes to find a different route would drastically decrease his profit over a given period of time. Indeed, he may end up requisitioning a craftsman to rebuild the bridge himself and ask other merchants that regularly use the same route or even his guild to pitch in.

        Another solution is to use dynamic A.I., set the bridge as a point of interest, when it’s destroyed notify A.I. in the nearest town and create a request with a set delay to make it seem realistic, as if someone else had to come along and notice the destroyed bridge before it was actually reported. The A.I. would then provide a quest with a reward that will interest craftsman in the area, perhaps it would also boost that craftsman’s reputation within the region the A.I. is stationed in.

        The world would rebuild itself, driven by necessity, reward and those who seek fame. It would truly give those who love to create, build and modify a real, important purpose. This is the dream of any virtual craftsman or craftswoman.

        As for the terrain itself, well, let’s take a look at our own. Say someone creates a mining shaft or complex going down into the bowls of the world, in reality if the mining complex is not maintained it would simply collapse in on itself. Or maybe not, I think it would be incredibly cool to traverse a player built complex of mines beneath the surface, all interconnecting, providing new routes of travel to different locations. Perhaps for that city building quest we could even strive to build a city underground by mining out a given area. While the city is being built we anger the denizens of the depth and have to fight them off while it’s being completed.

        When a depression is made in the world due to a powerful wizard casting some ungodly spell, it’s not like the material that used to be there should just dissipate from existence, eventually it settles down and the landscape will remold itself to a natural looking shape. It’s not like the black scars from fire should stay there forever either, in the real world when a forest burns down it regenerates over time, many hundreds of years mind you, but there’s no reason they can’t have flora and terrain regenerate in-game in an immersive manner over a shortened time-scale.

        There are lots of ways to deal with a completely destructible environment, after all we live in one ourselves! One only needs to take a look at how our own world acts in order to acquire solutions to solve the problems a destructible MMO environment faces.

      • Basilard says:

        Dynamic AI only means what it says, that the AI is dynamic. Somehow people read that and think they are promising to have NPCs that understand and react to your every emotion.

        Also, how does procedural equate bad? By design, a procedurally generated level can only be as bad as the algorithm that created it (which in turn was created by the programmer). There’s nothing inherently bad, or good about choosing procedural tools over manual ones to build a game.

    • darkChozo says:

      I’m guessing that it’s either instancing or (hopefully-subtle) respawning, and probably relatively limited destruction per action (let’s just say that I’ll be surprised if wizards will be able to leave anything larger than a small-ish depression in the ground per spell). Destructible buildings are also difficult; look to any of the Frostbite Battlefield games to see what happens when you expose buildings to players for more than ten minutes.

      Or maybe they’ll be clever and make it so “destroying” earth actually just displaces it (though then you’ll just get a mostly-flat plane given enough time), and that buildings are rather difficult to destroy and come with consequences for doing so. Even then, this just seems like it’ll be terribly difficult design-wise, even leaving the tech out of it.

      EDIT: Better idea, roaming druids, masons, and technomagical bulldozers slowly rebuild the terrain over time. Perfect!

      Slightly more seriously, you could have “maintainance” NPCs that attempt to keep the more civilized areas of the world in shape, by doing stuff like remaking roads, rebuilding buildings, replanting vegetation, etc. Use magic as an excuse for how it gets done super-fast. And you could be really clever and keep these NPCs avoid big fights and battlegrounds and such, so they keep a nicely war-torn look. You’d still probably have to implement some sort of conservation of matter to avoid destroying everything, though.

      • Taragon says:

        Heres an idea, what about all the dirt, stone fragments, etc that come up when you destroy stuff doesnt despawn, meaning you not only have to dig, you need to put that dirt somewhere, and not in some infinite bag, but a real place

        • stampy says:

          Ill tell you what happens — the goonswarm walls in the newbie areas with towering dirt walls, and coordinates to repair the wall faster than little groups can tunnel through or tear it down.

          • HothMonster says:

            While simultaneously destroying the foundation of each factions major city sending it into the lava pits below.

      • Swanny says:

        What if the AI tricks the players into rebuilding the world, Majesty-style?

        For example, if the bridge the mage destroys can be rebuilt by a player for a reward? The player who destroyed it, and his guild (friends, too, maybe?) would be ineligible for the reward. Different classes could rebuild different things.

        I imagine a huge pvp battle for resources scarring the side of a mountain, then druids moving in after to heal the land and leveling up afterwards.

        The reward could slowly tick up as time passes, as well as the reward interval itself coming up less often if it keeps getting destroyed. For example, if a bridge was in a spot where there were many battles and it kept getting destroyed, the reward would come up less and less often until the bridge stays ruined forever. Or, perhaps, the bridge is fairly crucial to both sides in the battle, players might discourage other players from destroying it.

        The rewards would have to be easy to find, without cluttering the map, and worthwhile, without encouraging the coordination of destruction/rebuild abuse .GM’s observing rebuild abuse could spawn level-draining monsters, perhaps?

        • Koozer says:

          1. Create a Druid
          2. Get a friend to create a Wizard
          3. Friend repeatedly blasts a hole in a mountain
          4. Druid farms XP repairing the hole

          Not sure how you’d avoid that. If MMOs have taught me one thing, people will find a way to break everything.

          EDIT: maybe make the reparations a area-wide quest, so everyone who chips in gets a reward when everything is fixed. Would still be open to abuse by one guild full of explodey Wizards destroying everything, then they all log in their Druid accounts and farm the XP.

          Would be a hell of a lot less abusable with the level of organisation required though, and there will inevitably other people fixing stuff up to.

          • Swanny says:

            Not if spawn time to ‘repair rewards’ have an hour delay initially, which increases with a 125% time multiplier every time it is immediately destroyed. The next reward in that spot would be an hour fifteen later, etc. Have the AI identify areas constantly being destroyed/rebuilt, and pass on unusual happenings to a GM, who then eats a few levels of the offenders- not a ban, though

            It would help if repair/destroy powers in zones were linked to level- losing the ability to create/destroy in that particular area would force abusers to move.

          • SeismicRend says:

            How about just removing the experience system that arbitrarily gates content and divides your player base? Such a consideration is probably blasphemous though. Even Minecraft felt the need to add an experience system for some reason.

    • GameCat says:

      They say that it will be MMO game, but secretly it’s a red fire ants colony simulator.

    • AngusPrune says:

      Yeah, call me cynical but I can’t help thinking this is going to be a Molyneux-esque case of over promising and under delivering. See what happens to the bigger open minecraft servers after a couple of months. In a true MMO, really destructible terrain will leave the world looking like the BBC gravel quarry in less than a year. I’d brace yourself for some sort of self-healing that basically leaves the world kind of static with all the towns sitting around where the designers intend them, rather than being smouldering ruins inside of a week.

      • nearly says:

        In Minecraft, you can punch a tree down in ten seconds so that you can make wooden tools to mine stone with which to make stone tools to mine faster. It’s about destroying and constructing, that was pretty much the only goal.

        There’s absolutely no reason that this needs to play out like that. Have you tried to punch a tree down in real life? It doesn’t go well. Tried digging a hole? Ever been in a place with a lot of bedrock? They haven’t even really talked about the tools at the players’ disposal to modify the environment, simply said that it’s possible.

        I understand skepticism but even if Minecraft is the obvious comparison, I think it’s a bit silly to expect it to operate exactly the same when all of that is intended to be a canvas for an RPG to take place on/in. Sure, I’d love it if a concerted effort of players could destroy much of the world, but how many players are just going to instantly join in on that endeavor and do that exclusively instead of going out to experience the rest of the game?

        • AngusPrune says:

          On the other hand, in minecraft if you want to blow something up you need to find yourself 5 sand and 4 gunpowder to create some TNT.

          Presumably, in Everquest you can summon yourself a giant fireball at will and blow a big chunk out of wherever it lands. See the destroying a bridge example. Digging ins’t the only way your destructible world becomes a giant hole in the ground, the every day fighting also damages the environment.

    • Solskin says:

      While I do think it almost sounds too good to be true, it should be possible to find feasible solutions to players destroying the entire world.
      On the top of my head I’m thinking, that in major cities, a group of guards will find you if you start bringing down the kings castle and workers quickly rebuilding what you managed to destroy. In the wilderness, it would attract a lot of attention from angry citizens and/or monsters. There must be some in-game and hidden solutions to why you just can’t bring down everything.

      • Superpat says:

        Of course, stuff like throwing a fireball to a wooden castle probably won’t do much. I guess they’ll make most buildings hard to destroy and while a bunch of players could probably scorch a forest fast enough, making holes in the ground should need a bigger spell than a fireball.

    • LifeIsWeird says:

      Oh boy, my first comment!
      Anywho, I’ve only skimmed the article so far but on PCGamer I believe it said that terrain heals over time like enemies corpses disappearing. I might have to double check on that one.

    • The Random One says:

      For it to work, I’d say they’d need to have the tools capable of terrain alteration rare, expendable, and limited. That way maybe thefatwizardxx420xx can put a hole under a goblin in a bridge as a desperate move but actually building a bridge would require a group of people capable of creating and holding a supply line. NPC buildings of importance would be naturally protected by NPC guards and repaired at the same rate as the PCs would, but drawing from infinite supplies.

      Granted, within a week Something Awful or 4chan would build, hold and set up base in the labyrinthine, trap-filled hallways of Mount McLargeHugeDick, but it would be a repeat of Goonswarm. A griefer’s main weapon is that they do not have the attachment to the game that regular players do; set up the game so that such attachment is necessary for effective griefing, and the distinction between griefing and playing the evil faction becomes academic at best.

    • WildcardUK says:

      They mentioned in passing that the destruction is not permanent because the world ‘heals’. If it’s subtly handled I think that would be ok, given the alternatives.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Not so sure that’s the good “alternative”. The mechanics how this destructive world are still unclear. I’d like to believe they didn’t go on about making a destructible voxel world in an MMO just for show. “The world heals” seems exactly like that.

        I’d rather see a persistent world with players ability to build, not just destroy. Building factions, players as city officials, i don’t know… So said bridge could be rebuilt and the two berks that destroyed it, possibly fined for damaging city property. Likewise destruction should be up to scale. It’s just not feasible to think that one will have a post-apocalyptic world in just one year of play (like it was prophecized by some folks here), because a bunch of insignificant sized players and their monsters can level mountains with fireball spells. Overdoing a player ability to destroy is just destroying what was initially a good idea. I don’t think they’ll be going that path.

        While an MMO — and an F2P at that, and thus having zero chance of ever being played by me — I must say I did feel this is the first MMO to punch me in the stomach for not liking MMOs.

        • mechtroid says:

          Hopefully, the world heals when everybody isn’t looking. Dig a tunnel and forget about it? It’ll close up within the week. Make a new pathway over that damn canyon everybody hates? It’s used enough to become permanent.

    • mechtroid says:

      Honestly, I just want some big developer to steal the engine and use it for an MMOFPS with mechs and tanks. Enemy coming in a giant mechanized wave? Dig a ditch, force them to leave their tanks behind. Make large mechs expensive enough that their fallen husks are used as outposts, each one the sign of a great battle. Who needs spells when you have artillery?

    • Cik says:

      So,minecraft pve themepark with moveable pve events…ok.

    • JackShandy says:

      Reminds me of a story about Ultima Online.

      Apparently there was a little ecosystem system there: If players killed too many wolves, then the deers would multiply out of control and become pests. It was a self-balancing system, kill too many of one animal and another type of animal would get a massive population spike, leading to a similar population spike in the other animal.

      Players killed all the wolves, all the deer, and left the entire landscape barren.

    • frightlever says:

      I don’t say this enough but some of your comments are funny. Definitely some.

    • Voice of Majority says:

      Have you ever played WURM? It is not so simple to level everything if it is hard work like in real life. I mean how long would you bother hitting rock with a pick axe?

      Obviously, that would not be a so fun (try WURM and you’ll find out), but there is a way to balance this.

      It doesn’t have to be like minecraft where insta-building and destruction is the primary design feature.

    • Basilard says:

      The Real World(tm) is also completely destructible and, while it’s true we can’t throw fireballs with our minds, we haven turned it into blackened cinder.

      It’s all about how you adjust the numbers.

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  2. Captain Hijinx says:

    Okay, they have a lot of ambition, I normally shy away from MMO’s, but if they pull this off I may have to wet my feet.

  3. RedViv says:

    That… Sounds brilliant, and gets a bonus for amazing coincidence, as just two hours ago I had chatted with my lady on the topic of how brilliant a voxel-based online RPG could be. Digging down holes into dungeons instead of looking for the entrance, ruining a castle’s inner layout while fighting a massive elemental that the wizardly owner had positioned to guard it, blowing up bridges that connect Infested Undead Fortress to Peaceful Farmland Region, or even building our own towers to defend the latter, that sort of thing.
    We concluded that it would be quite a long time until we see that, with the appropriate reactive storytelling and all the required AI. I don’t know what to think now. Probably need more tea for that.

    • NotTheEyes says:

      I know it’s not exactly what you were thinking – but you can do pretty much everything that you list to some extent in Minecraft SMP. So I doubt the real thing is that far off.

  4. GameCat says:

    “larger quests aren’t defined as ‘raids’ or ‘instances’”
    Jesus Christ, MMOs should go away with crapstances years ago.

    Finally someone at least try to do something new in old, sad and bland WoW clones MMO genre.

    • xao says:

      Having played MMOs without instances, I must disagree. Nothing quite like knowing you can never progress because you’re not part of the right guild or time zone.

      • HPLoveshack says:

        That’s a problem that can be solved any number of ways, instances are just one of the cheapest and easiest.

        • Gryz says:

          I’d like to see “a number” of those ways first. I’ve actually always been happy that instances allow me and my friends to play important parts of the game in our own way and in our own pace.

          I just can’t imagine an MMO where no instances would not cause 98% of the players in a game to feel insignificant and useless.

      • newprince says:

        Actually DaoC handled non-instancing rather well. If you had enough dungeons, and enough wings to them, you could easily carve out your own little path. In fact, if you had any alliances (oh noes! an MMO forcing you to be diplomatic!) they could coordiante a clearing to where each guild could get to and fork from there. It was awesome, and the best part was that it avoided lame story lines, you could theoretically solo dungeons, and… Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls.

  5. aliksy says:

    Huh. Sounds promising. If they do something smart with levels I’ll be really interested. I’m sick of the usual “you can’t play here / with your friends until you grind out 10 more levels” bullshit found in almost every game.

  6. jono says:

    I want to love you baby, but I’ve been hurt before. I’m a sucker for next gen MMOs with promises of dynamic worlds, real time combat and adaptive AI, but my heart can only break so many times.

    • Unrein says:

      WHAT IS LOVE
      BABY DON’T HURT ME
      DON’T HURT ME
      NO MORE

      Yeah, I’ve been singing that song with MMOs for a while now too. There is absolutely no reason to get excited about this until this shit is in beta.

    • derbefrier says:

      In my opinion there hasnt been a true “next gen” MMO. just slightly improved copies of whats already been done. Thats not next gen in my eyes no matter what marketing hype wants me to believe. this however could be the first true next gen MMO if its as badass as this article makes it sound.

    • Bootstraps says:

      Guild wars 2

      Edit: I did enjoy guild wars 2, but it could never have lived up to the hype

    • Rindan says:

      I’m in the same boat. My face has been beaten black and blue for a decade and a half with MMORPGs promising an interesting and dynamic world that isn’t simply level and loot, level and loot, into infinity. UO was the first and last MMORPG to make a serious go at a fantasy world rather than a shitty hack and slash RPG. I think I’ll get my jet pack and Moon base long before I get a fantasy world that isn’t a dull hack and slash levelquest.

      Don’t get me wrong, I want what they are promising. If they were to pull it off, I would give them ALL THE MONEY. I just utterly refuse to have even a smidgen of hope or belief until it is sitting in front of my face because the other thousand or so people who promised the same thing failed to deliver even a fraction of a fraction of this.

      I have to say though, it would be ironic if they actually managed to deliver. I curse the original Everquest up and down for the current crop of MMORPGs. The fantasy world and the hack and slash levelquest models were actually in competition for a short period of time, with Ultima Online representing the fantasy world and Everquest the hack and slash levelquest. Everquest won and pretty much killed all fantasy MMO originality (and fun) for the next decade and a half. The epic torrent of shit game design that Everquest herald, and that was eventually perfected into a shit souffle by WoW, makes the blight of shitty FPS Doom clones after Doom look like an era of unprecedented creativity and originality.

      So, best of luck, but I’ll believe in the power of hippie healing crystal to cure cancer before I believe even a fraction of the promises made.

    • Svardskampe says:

      I completely agree with the above and below, and to top it off; It is going to be free to play. My heart pounds. My spine shivers with the notion of that business practice. There has not been one single free to play MMO pulling of an enticing experience where it did not matter to pay for 10 bucks more and be better than another.
      Even ‘good’ examples set you back a lot if you don’t pull your wallet. Guild Wars 2 being an example here as it is generally achieved as good, but still you are pretty much required to put down the greens for a legendary weapon. The only game I have seen doing it well was Tribes Ascend where you can just unlock everything for 30 bucks and pay for the entire game, and battlefield heroes before the wretched christmas update. Note how these are no MMOs.

  7. ChromeBallz says:

    Oaky, just wow. I never expected a new MMO to be this innovative, especially not an SOE one.

    This went from ‘lets see what happens’ to ‘OH MY GOD JUST GIVE IT TO ME NOW’.

    The game that is, please don’t ever take this out of context.

    • tungstenHead says:

      Y’know, if you look at SOE’s library, it shouldn’t be that surprising that they make something bold and new. Whether they can make something bold, new and good is a different matter.

  8. Simplisto says:

    I can’t wait for this to go F2P!

  9. The Random One says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  10. darkChozo says:

    Hmm, sounds amazing, but certainly deserving of a healthy dose of skepticism, if only due to tech/scope reasons.

    Then again, SOE have, to some degree, proven themselves to be able to handle this kind of stuff with PS2 (if you’re a fan of overly simplified analogies, this is basically mirroring the evolution of the Battlefield series). So, well, hmmm.

    • TormDK says:

      They are likely building the MMO For the future.

      Similar to what they did with EQ2. The best machines around couldn’t play it very well on the highest settings. This time they look like they saved a bit on the polygon count for the models by going that art direction, but instead play on giving the game tons of horse power to calculate destruction.

  11. Don Reba says:

    Destructability spells instanced MMO for me. I don’t see how it could work any other way.

    • WildcardUK says:

      The world ‘heals’ apparently.

      • Don Reba says:

        So, say I’m digging a tunnel, then have to leave my computer urgently for a bit. When I come back, I find my character suffocating, as the world “heals” around him… Oh, my, this will haunt me in my sleep.

        • Davie says:

          A terrifying thought.

          Seriously, though, if your tunnels and holes last for like 12 hours or something, that would be enough for me. I do like the idea of stumbling across another player’s labyrinthine mess (maybe with their corpse at the end!) so I hope it’s not instanced.

  12. DiamondDog says:

    As always, I can only get excited about something like this when I see it played out in the wild, so to speak. It’s fine appealing to people’s sense of wonder, but when you get down to it MMO players will want systems that are bullet proof.

    Destructible terrain in an MMO sounds like a leap forward but how often have we seen lofty ideas get dragged down by the practicalities of making a game world function. I mean they must have a plan for dealing with large numbers of players turning entire areas into rubble just for the hell of it.

  13. LifeIsWeird says:

    Y’know, the whole “reactive AI” thing, especially with the bit about the goblins, reminds me a bit of Love. I haven’t actually played Love, but the general idea sounds pretty similar. Anyways, if they pull this off this will be really neat. I shall wait with bated breath!

  14. CobraLad says:

    So your destructibilness is destroyable bridge and bunch of props? Yeah Sony, nice job launching all the hype.

    • elevown says:

      What, you cant read or something? He SAID sony set it up to make like thats all they meant by destructable terain at first, underplaying it- THEN a massive golem split the earth down to huge underground caverns of larva etc.. and this wasnt scripted- the terain can be split or dug in by the player anywhere- the WHOLE worlds terain is FULLY destructable- according to sony.

      Try reading a damn article fully next time before you comment on it.

  15. Spinks says:

    Sounds interesting, but would be curious how they plan to stop/minimise griefing.

    • Moraven says:

      Send them to the doorless room by a GM. This happened once to me but for some bug/quest issue to interact with the GM.

    • darkChozo says:

      The PCGamer article mentions that they’ll be able to designate terrain as player-destroyable and monster-destroyable and so on, so I imagine that’ll curb some efforts at terrain-related griefing.

    • jbeezy says:

      It might sound crazy, but if someone is griefing, all it takes is the person being griefed to set a bounty on the griefer.

      Presto! Two things have happened:
      1) a PLAYER has become a quest giver.
      2) the griefer suddenly finds himself being spawn-camped.

      Result? No more griefing from THAT guy.

      :)

  16. Choca says:

    Yeah sounds great on paper but I jumped on their stream to see the actual gameplay and it looks like a fairly shallow beat’em all/platformer. Not that interested and the horrible art style doesn’t help.

  17. Popcornicus says:

    Planetside 2 basically released in beta, but 8 months later it’s a fantastic game and the main thing I’m playing. To make PS2 work they had to solve a lot of really hard design problems that may not be obvious when you’re playing the game. I trust that SOE can pull off EQ Next because PS2 worked out so well. A lot of lessons they learned in PS2 development will transfer to this game.

    I expect they’ll implement self-healing land in some areas, while other zones will be allowed to go to pieces. With multiple procedurally generated subterranean layers, smashing holes in the ground unlocks playable content rather than destroying it. Presumably the deeper you go, the more dangerous enemies you’ll encounter. Also, there may be points where the barrier between layers is shallower than others, favoring explorers who target those spots for destruction.

    I have no idea how they’ll handle surface trees and wildlife, which would all be exterminated within an hour of launch. Presumably they’ll be more durable than their real-world counterparts and/or capable of defending themselves.

    Stats-based MMO combat bores me to tears when I’m bashing NPCs, but WoW battlegrounds were a lot of fun back in the vanilla/TBC era. It’s too bad Blizzard never figured out a way to incentivize open-world PvP. Hopefully EQN will have strong open-world PvP elements to complement the game’s emphasis on exploration.

    • TormDK says:

      I’m wondering just how far they are pushing the tech we have available now.

      Will it be like with EQ2 when it launched? Where the top end machines couldn’t play it on the highest settings very well. If PS2 is anything to judge by, people will need fairly recent computers in order to fully enjoy the game.

  18. AlwaysRight says:

    My head exploded

  19. fish99 says:

    Since they’ve took the Planetside 2 engine and added destructible voxels for the EQNext engine, how long until we get Planetside 3 with this same destructibility, because that would be fantastic. It’s always seemed odd to me that nothing ever gets destroyed in the PS2 environments. As long as the opposing factions can rebuild them (or even better design and construct new ones), so you don’t just end up with no buildings. It could add quite a strategic element to the game.

    • theallmightybob says:

      I think the last thing planetside needs is more people shelling the crap out of spawn points from the safety of their tonka trucks. the ability to construct temporary cover and tank traps might be nice though.

  20. mtomto says:

    It sounds great, but….
    …the last 4 MMOs I’ve tried sounded great, but ended up being a big disappointment.

    My dealbreaker is basicly something as simple as “instancing”. I hate battlegrounds and I hate instanced dungeons. Instances is basicly a glorified lobbysystem – not an MMO.

    The only MMO that did it correct was DAOC. The UI was awful, but it didn’t have any instances.

    • Jenks says:

      Was DAOC your first MMO?

      • mtomto says:

        It was my first MMO, yes :) But it doesn’t change the fact that I enjoyed the setup, no instances etc. The game had a lot of faults as well – especially the UI and character handling were horrible.

        WOW had and still has the best UI of all MMOs I’ve tried, but it’s moving towards even more instancing and alienating server communities with LFR, LFG, battlegrounds and the new x-realm servers.

        When I played DAOC (mordred) I knew my enemy, and some of them made me run even just at the sight of them. That is lost in all the instance crap everyone seems to love.

  21. solymer89 says:

    I’d like to see perma death in this. Hear me out. There would be a threshold that your character advances so much that the specter of death fades as your character gets stronger due to their innate skills and abilities. You can still die and lose your character, but that is part of an ever changing world as well. If your character was high enough or famous enough due to their accomplishments in their “life” they can be immortalized with a statue/plaque/headstone depending on the levels of accomplishment and what their accomplishments were.

    This reduces the necessity of gear overall as you wouldn’t really be missing anything if you died early enough. For the higher levels that do succumb to death, items that would make you quit the game if you lost them would retain a sort of heirloom quality that your new character can start with, or quest for, or some other way of keeping that item in your possession while scaling to the level it is being used. When I hear about an interactive environment I think skills and abilities, these should be the driving force in playing your character, not collecting armor or weapons. While gear does facilitate a nice reward system (if not overdone), the rewards in a game like this should be the outcome of events which shape the world. For example the creation of a new outpost to solidify a region which would allow you a place to buy/sell/rest or any other activity an adventurer would do in a smallish town.

    Perma death would also inject that ever so necessary edge while playing. EQ1 captured that feeling the best, where a simple romp through a zone to get to another zone was fraught with danger and it required knowledge of pathways and such to navigate it safely.

    Really I can’t believe I’m advocating perma death in a game but it just makes sense in what this game seems to be shaping up to be. Could you imagine if they implemented a resource system which clans/guilds could fight over (shadowbane style) while also allowing them to place unique guild/clan halls either atop giant trees in a dense forest or carved out of the very Earth in a region nobody would guess is harboring an entire guild.

    OK I’ll stop now… clearly I’m excited lol

    • aliksy says:

      Have a low power cap and make the game more about playing smart than playing-for-a-long-time.

      • solymer89 says:

        Exactly! I really like how they said a Wizard can take a bridge down, killing whoever was on it and cutting off a route to you. That’s the power of a wizard, to manipulate every bit of their surroundings to their benefit, not blowing things up with a fire/ice/lighting bolt/ball. Sure the pyrotechnics are part of it but it’s the broader range of abilities that always drew me to a mage/wizard type of class.

    • Popcornicus says:

      Hopefully they see no reason not to include hardcore servers with permadeath.

    • Strangerator says:

      How about an opt-in system for perma-death, that rewards those brave enough to risk it?

      Say the level cap is 50 standard. The game plays as normal up to 50. At that point, you can choose to become a “Legendary Hero” or something, and that would have three main effects.

      1. Perma-death – Maybe you have to earn favors from the gods to keep you alive by performing heroic deeds. Perhaps when you go Legendary the gods take notice of you, and give you tasks befitting someone of your station in order to earn “favors” which basically act as extra lives.

      2. Increased level cap – Great possible rewards here. The abilities could be really impressive because of course, not everybody is willing to risk their favorite character. Many people would choose to remain at level 50 and be safe. Maybe the level cap for legendary characters is always 50% higher? So 75 in a world where 50 is the normal cap?

      3. Growing legend – The game finds a way to track any significant contributions you made once you flipped your Legendary flag? This should really only apply to great things done by characters who actually risked themselves, and would tie in really nicely to the “rallying call” system they have described. Maybe when these living legends are finally slain (or retired as NPCs?) they could get their own statues/shops/taverns/etc etc etc.

      Do it SOE, you know you want to!

      • NordicNinja says:

        Logged in to say I like these ideas.

      • JackShandy says:

        Interesting idea, activating permadeath only when you have the most to lose.

        It stops the idea of an interminable end-game where your numbers slooooowly get bigger forever. Makes it more like a high-score concept: How big can your numbers get before you die? That can still act like a pretty big time-sink for the hardcore folks, but there’s actual risk in it, a sense that skill influences it more than time spent.

      • jbeezy says:

        Good ideas.
        However, there is no leveling in EQNext.
        Everyone is the same level.

  22. differenceengine says:

    I’m giving this a go just so I can sound old when telling the young un’s about how Norrath was back in the mists of time – “When I were a wee troll, there were none of this Lizard or Kitty nonsense and you could punt gnomes ALL DAY”.

    If it even comes anywhere to the experience I had my EQ1 years, I’m going to be one of those people they report dead at their keyboard.

  23. adammtlx says:

    People keep asking how destructible terrain will work given players’ penchant for destroying everything within sight in moments. To answer that question, ask yourself why people don’t go around doing that in real life.

    Answer: because it’s really hard. It takes a lot of time and work to destroy things, particularly by hand. Ever dug a trench in your yard for sprinklers or plumbing? It’s exhausting and it takes forever.

    How difficult is that to translate into a game world? Not very. Instead of Minecraft-y punch-a-block-for-five-seconds to destroy a cube meter of terrain, you have to dig the dirt, shovelful by shovelful, for hours. Associate skills with this process, but make their mastery difficult so that there is a class of “workers” that can do this quicker than other players, but they have to earn the privilege.

    What about wizards destroying things with their spells? Let them. But make those types of spells very expensive either in terms of class resources or in cooldown. Or both.

    And what’s hard about setting certain areas as “owned” by NPCs or other players and if you engage in vandalism you are subject to in-game penalties?

    Point being, with a little thought and planning you can absolutely make it work.

    Me personally, I’m FAR less concerned with the world getting wrecked by players and I’m far more concerned with the software architecture concerns of such a system. Tracking the terrain deformation deltas seems like it would be an unbelievably monstrous task, not to mention the fact that the system must stream untold amounts of procedural data to hundreds or thousands of clients at once unless you want clients to generate the data, which presents all sorts of security concerns… I LOVE the idea but I’ll be shocked if they can pull it off.

    I hope they can. It looks amazing.

  24. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    That.. actually sounds really interesting. At the very least they are trying something different. Even if it doesn’t work out as well as one might hope, it helps in diversifying the MMO landscape.

  25. Yosharian says:

    This game looks fucking amazing, hopefully they can deliver on the potential.

  26. Penicillin says:

    How many of the promises from this game are comparable to those in Guild Wars 2? I recall GW2 having lots of promises about “living, dynamic world” and “emergent AI” and all the usual buzzwords. But having not playing GW2, I don’t really know how it turned out.

    • Unrein says:

      Guild Wars 2 is still very much a theme park mold MMO. The same rides you’ve seen a thousand times before, lots of sideshows and annoying mascots.

    • dE says:

      The living dynamic world basically translated into:
      An area has several states and uses events to determine which state it is in. These switch back and forth on success or failure. One such state often includes fewer enemies in the area, another state includes a small outpost overrun by enemies. Sounds nice in practice but proved disappointing to me in the end: It’s almost always localized to a very small area and basically spells inconvenience more than emergent gameplay.
      Emergent AI on the other hand… hahaha, no. Same old, same old. Mobs just rush straight for you until they’re in range and then cycle their skills ad nauseum.

    • Gryz says:

      The combat scares me.

      “Multi-classes. Your abilities depend on your weapons. You’ll have 5 abilities per class, and 5 abilities per weapon”.

      That sounds an aweful lot like GW2 to me. I hated that. One of the (multiple) reasons why I stopped playing GW2 when I hit level-cap. I played a Thief. Never played an MMO with such boring combat. No matter what people say, playing ranged with a bow was the most effective (most safe) for the Thief class. Repeating those same 2-3 abilities almost killed me with boredom.

      • Dominic White says:

        Of course sitting on the edge of a fight with a bow is the most safe way to play, you doof. But that’s not what playing a thief in GW2 is all about – they are THE alpha-strike class. You get in there, mix things up, nuke EVERYTHING and disappear laughing as your enemies try to find you while dancing in a pile of caltrops.

        It’s riskier, but you’re going to do so much more damage that way.

        • Gryz says:

          You seem to be talking about PvP. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about PvP.

          Other MMOs have had fun combat in PvE. I always tremendously enjoyed my rogue in WoW. I had 30-35 abilities that I used regularly. I also enjoyed tanking on my warrior (until they made tanking easy for the kids). But I also enjoyed tanking in Tera (or soloing BAMs). In GW2, I didn’t like anything about PvE combat. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

          When I read the PvE developers from ArenaNet explain that it was their intention and that I was not supposed to enjoy their content (their dungeons, in this case), I understood. Never touched GW2 again.

          • AlexV says:

            Really? Having got tired of GW2 PvE and with no interest in PvP I’d be really interested to read where the developers said that, have you got a link?

          • Gryz says:

            When GW2 came out, the official forums did not work. Only 2-3 weeks after release we got forums. And then people could respond to the game.

            The dungeon-subforum was full of complaints. Dungeons were just not fun. Many reasons. Many great posts explaining what was wrong, what was lacking. E.g. rezzing during combat and running back was not fun. Not seeing any visual clues before you died was not fun. No feedback why you died was no fun. Kiting is not fun. Trash and bosses with too much health. Partyleader leaves = booted from dungeon. Forced to spec for dungeons was not what was promised. Etc, etc.

            Colin Johanson responded:
            https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/dungeons/Do-NOT-nerf-please/first#post126835
            Summary:
            “You call GW2 hard ? GW1 was harder. Nobody could do it. That was fun. We designed GW2 dungeons so that nobody can do them at the start, and only a handful can do them in a few months. There rest can go do jump puzzles. Fuck you. This is intended. I’m not gonna listen to all your reasonable arguments on how gameplay mechanics could be improved”.

            A week later I was gone from that game. No faith at all.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            That sounds reasonable? It takes time to learn the ins and outs of a game’s combat, and especially in an MMO where you get better equipment and learn how classes interact, it takes a while to develop that knowledge. I wouldn’t be surprised if players today consider the dungeons quite easy, just as that developer was suggesting.

  27. Strangerator says:

    This is starting to sound interesting, finally an MMO that is actually aspiring to be different and not simply the best WoW clone. Destructible terrain will be neat, I’m sure it will be limited enough that it will be massively inconvenient and non-permanent to use terrain shaping as trolling. Mind you, early on there will be people who find ways to break the system, but I’m sure these things will be patched out.

    I really, really like the idea of the “rallying call” as a way to replace standard fixed quest lines. That really makes the game feel alive, the fact that these events last for only so long and have a permanent effect on the world makes them actually mean something. I’d love it if it were possible for players to “fail” at a rallying call, and maybe that causes a city to be overtaken by the baddies or causes a city to not be founded.

    Instanced quests felt totally meaningless in all other MMOs, because you knew that everybody else is doing them too.

    • Enkinan says:

      Honestly it sounds almost identical to GW2, just with a bit of destructability. Not that that is bad, I enjoyed my first trip through the GW2 PvE and still play a good bit in WvWvW, but it’s not some miraculous breakthrough to have “dynamic” events or world changing events.

  28. strangeloup says:

    I feel like a butt for being a bit doubtful about this, because on paper it sounds ace. That being said, Guild Wars 2 sounded great on paper (admittedly, not to anything like the extent that EQ Next does) and I played it halfheartedly for maybe a month before losing all interest.

    It has occured to me that perhaps I don’t like MMOs very much. Still dip into The Secret World and Neverwinter from time to time, at least.

  29. Jenks says:

    The AI sounds fantastic and coupled with the procedurally generated landscape the game might be the MMO we’ve been waiting so long for.

    The multi class system worries me, if the game is designed for solo play (like every other MMO for the last 10 years), then this will be yet another 1-2 month visit and not the 5+ year world/community we used to love.

    • Taragon says:

      I managed to watch the stream, not from the beginning but did catch the class system part. they said at launch they plan to have 8 classes you can choose at creation and i think 40 total classes, or 40 more classes that you unlock through play. And then they said mix and match abilities, customizing your own class.

    • Enikuo says:

      ” if the game is designed for solo play (like every other MMO for the last 10 years)”

      Except for right at the end where they funnel everyone into multiplayer events that require specific party sizes. So, you either get the misery of leveling alone through a ton of solo content or, if you prefer soloing, you get the misery of being roadblocked at the end because you can’t progress any further solo. That way, no one is happy.

    • Don Reba says:

      The AI they are describing is what FEAR and STALKER had. Not exactly new, but groundbreaking for an MMORPG.

  30. acenck says:

    Looks amazing. Sounds amazing. Aw, games, you’ve done it again.

  31. kopema says:

    The link is down. Are any gameplay videos available yet?

    I don’t give a crap about pretty pictures. Anybody can make those — and by that I don’t mean “any major software company.” I mean anybody sitting at home in his parent’s basement.

    That’s not what makes or breaks a game. What really matters is how well the animations work. It doesn’t mean squat for an MMO to LOOK good; it has to FEEL good. Blizzard understands this simple principle – and has made billions off it. But it really seems to me that most game companies (and reviewers) just don’t get it.

    • Gryz says:

      Go to YouTube. Search for “EverQuest Next”. Then click on the “filters”-button. And select “today”.

      There are a bunch of videos by users “Everquest Next” and IGN and gamespot.

  32. chewbaccasdad says:

    I WANT TO BELIEVE.

  33. Skabooga says:

    SOE, you’re alright. That you even attempt something new makes you stand out from your peers and gives me reason to wish for your success.

  34. Bashmet says:

    I hope I don’t die before this is released. I really want to play it.

  35. crinkles esq. says:

    This sounds like the MMO that could actually bring me back. Maybe. Although I find the EverQuest world rather silly. But the concept of it is very much what I’ve wanted to see from an MMO — destructible and building worlds, enemies that aren’t just amusement park animatronics, a world where your choices actually affect the gameworld and how NPCs relate to you. Please don’t screw this up Sony!

  36. SuBs says:

    it’s been a looooong time since big money has been spent on new ideas rather than tried and tested and commercially safe ones.

    I am absolutely intrigued to see what can be made of this combination of big ideas and big money.

  37. Tei says:

    This is ambitous as hell, and look really good soo far. I hope can pull it.

  38. Anders Wrist says:

    I dislike the cartoonish “art”, and the videos didn’t make me feel any better about the game itself, either.

    I hope I will have cause to rethink that opinion, and this turns out to be a lot of fun. I would like to see more innovation and better tech in the mmo scene, so I’m happy that they are at least taking some chances with this.

  39. Tayh says:

    This article reminds me of the hype around Darkfall, just without the dynamic terrain.
    I’d be very surprised if the AI really is that spectacular.

  40. FuzzyPuffin says:

    “Any hero can grab a pick and start digging.”

    This is reminding me of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde.

  41. byghostlight says:

    Hopefully they can pull this off. I played EQ2 for over four years, it was far superior to WoW in every single way. Its only failing was poor timing and instead of doing its own thing, they tried to compete with WoW and changed/betrayed their own vision. Which among other things drove people away. They have a huge fan base, so as long as they stay true to them, this could be really something special.

  42. Gers says:

    For everything they’re saying they’re doing differently, it doesn’t really seem like they’re changing anything. Everything they’ve said was really vague, and it seems like the stuff that will be going on behind the scenes will be impressive, but to the person logging on to play the game they haven’t made a good case that things will be any different than every other MMO out there. It’s a little early to tell, but nothing they’ve put out so far seems like it would be any meaningful lasting content.

    • jbeezy says:

      No leveling and no NPCs with an “!” over their head is a pretty darn good start.

      • Gers says:

        Where are you getting this “No Levels” thing from, I don’t recall them ever saying that in their presentation and it’s not in any of the press coverage. And not having NPCs standing around with exclamation points over their head isn’t exactly an improvement if the quests are all the same. With everything they’ve shown they’re being extremely and intentionally vague. They make these claims of systems but stop before telling how they work, it’s very easy to look at that and at first glance see something amazing, but with what they have said it could also swing the other way and be more of the same with a different hat.

        And remember, this is SOE. Responsible for the utter destruction of starwars galaxies, and the entire development of Planetside 2 was riddled with lies and backstabbing, culminating in a game that has virtually nothing in common with the first game. These are not people you should trust, as they have lied repeatedly for years.

  43. PopeRatzo says:

    Too bad I don’t touch anything with the name “Sony” on it. And that is non-negotiable.

    But it’s worth noting that the most important words in this very long article, came more than halfway through, and those words can be applied to all the marvels and wonder and excitement and eyebrows climbing up a ladder.

    ” At least that’s the claim.” That says everything you need to know about this pre-trailer preview of a beta of proof-of-concept artwork. Imagine that. A game company that has behaved as badly as any and worst than most actually claims that this time, honest injun and no fingers crossed, their (third-person) game that “does not yet have a release date” is going to just. change. everything.

    And I’ll be the first man on Mars.

  44. fish99 says:

    From watching the twitch SOE presentation – I doubt the game is coming out next year. They have the 3D engine, the voxels for the destructibility, but it looks like they’ve barely started on the systems, world and content. There was only 2 player models, few enemies, not much AI for the enemies, no towns, NPCs, quests, UI etc. It looked more than 1.5 years out to me.

  45. Bahoxu says:

    Well now. This looks really, really interesting.

    Suddenly interested in everquest again.

  46. Lemming says:

    It sounds fantastically ambitious, but how are they preventing the world from becoming swiss cheese in the first week? Is that even a concern for them? Also, with too much emphasis on freeform, doesn’t it risk having no sense of world vs being too gamey? If everything is just reactive, it’s not like there is going to be storyline beyond a very literal “please go kill some x”

    • Liam says:

      Not sure why there couldn’t be a storyline Lemming. Compare it to a real world “quest”. Say you’re in columbia part of the military and you get the objective to kill a well known drug lord.
      In the real world, that would mean following traces of him through well all of the country and hoping to catch him whereever he hides atm. The usual MMO way would be “this drug lord is always in his villa x and will never move out of it, but waits for the military and a glorious firefight”.
      Would make grinding quests a lot harder but not sure why it should interfere with creating storylines.

      • Lemming says:

        But you’re putting your own story spin on it, there. You might make up the fluff in your own head about why you are being sent to kill these orcs, but the npc isn’t going to be able to say something unique and interesting every time. It’s going to say ‘save us from the [monster type]! they are at [current co-ords]!’

        You can argue that the story is what you create for yourself, but the flavour text (which is what I’m getting at), can never be too complex in a reactive and randomly generated world.

        Also, unless the world is going to be turned into swiss-cheese and ruined, they’ll have to keep resetting the terrain. That’s going to let the game last longer, but it’s jarring in terms of immersion. I think there’s a reason why games like Minecraft work best single-player.

        • Liam says:

          To be honest I prefer Minecraft in multiplayer.. creating towns and villages and so on is kinda fun and look around you. Humanity very much destroyed everything they wanted to, to get things they needed or happened to like. Forests, whole species, we dug immense holes into the ground to get to minerals and so on. It’s pretty much only the last 1-2 generations that thinks preserving some of that boring unimportant nature stuff would be not the worst idea and many countries still belive that’s insane and just cuts into profits.
          The same for bridges, towns etc. go back a 100 years and you’re in the last stages of americans destroying native americans way of live, go 60 years back and look at the destruction the 2 World War brought. You just gotta either have a slow regeneration of the world or give incentives for players to rebuild.

          To the text.. why should it be absolutley generic? I mean sure in a certain kind of way for bounty hunter quests, but I don’t think they have to be the only ones. Why shouldn’t there be a long storyline about don’t know a missing merchants daughter you later find dead followed by a long gevenge quest to destroy the orc bandits and their chieftain and to retrieve her medaillion and so on?. Just because the orc is on the move instead of waiting for you at xy doesn’t change much imo. You just gotta have to search a bit more.

  47. bill says:

    I remember writing a huge post on the Warhammer MMO forums a decade ago describing a very similar AI system. (before they changed the MMO into a WOW clone, and before I realised that writing huge posts on game development forums was a waste of time).

    I figured it could work something like Space Hulk. Where you could have “blips” spawned by different areas, and as the move around, meet, combine, grow, camp, etc.. they would become bigger unique blips. And then once encountered by a player they would be resolved into a party/base with specific units.

    Seemed an easy way to handle the higher level stuff.

    But of course no one read it and they made another WOW clone.

    This game sounds cool though… people can all get together and make a giant computer.

  48. El_MUERkO says:

    How long before a group of people sneak off and carve a mountain into a giant doing?

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