Along with the first full reveal of the hugely exciting Everquest Next, Sonly Online Entertainment announced another title, Everquest Landmark. Quite how they’ve kept its existence a secret I don’t know. If I’d been working on it, self-trumpet blower that I am, I’d have been shouting about it from the rooftops. To be released later this year, preceding Next, it’s a construction and exploration game drawn from the same vein as Minecraft. It’s also the entire toolset used to build worlds and assets for Everquest Next.
Everquest Next’s voxel world allows for fine manipulation of objects, on a much more precise scale than more familiar block-based constructs. The construction tools utilise a brush, of variable size, so that large scale structures can be placed and then edges can be smoothed, eroded or embellished.
However, in order to build, players have to find resources and to do that they set out into any one of the infinite procedural continents or islands that Landmark produces. When they begin exploring the world, characters have a flag, and in the fine tradition that saw America conquer the moon for future terraforming, planting that flag stakes a claim on the surrounding area.
Then the hunt for materials begins. We only saw a brief example of the possibilities, the beginnings of a building that resembled what we had seen of The Feerrott, striking jungle-wrapped ruins reminiscent of Angkor Wat. Other players will be able to visit your lands, making Landmark a canvas of creativity waiting to be explored as well as a toolbox. I give it five hours before somebody manages to build a tower in the shape of a willy.
All creations can be submitted to the Player Studio and, from there, downloaded by other players, who will pay real money for them. The creator will receive a payment every time there is a sale. Not only that, but if another player borrows a specific architectural feature for use in their own work, the original creator will receive royalties based on the percentage of the new work that part comprises.
Every new Landmark world will have one continent that is locked down, with the only content allowed fitting Norrath’s stylings. Because these tools will be available before Next, SOE want to encourage players to experiment with the different landscapes and materials that will be in the game at release. The best creations could be picked for inclusion in the game at launch. It’s not just in the design of the game that SOE want to experiment with new models.
While community involvement is the driving force behind Landmark’s existence, I’m keen to try the actual game. More than that, I’m happy that there is a game because the technology looks like a fascinating toy, and I’ve never had a great deal of patience when it comes to building castles and the like. I’d rather just explore and occasionally return to my little hut, preferably by the sea, where I can watch the sun set in peace.