Fourteen years separates the launch of EverQuest from the true reveal of EverQuest Next. The landscape of the MMO genre changed drastically during that time period. Competitors, such as World of Warcraft, slowly caught up to and then surpassed the once-ruler of MMO land. In what can be viewed as a concession, EverQuest II went free-to-play in 2011. In light of recent announcements from Sony Online Entertainment, it appears that the company does not view themselves as out of the MMO fight, but as pioneers in the evolution of the genre. And, after reading what they have to say, you just might agree with them.
According to SOE President Mike Smedley (courtesy of Polygon), EverQuest Next’s world will be shaped by fans. Fans will help shape the world in two ways. One way is that certain actions fans take in the game will have permanent effects. Most of these permanent effects will occur through events Sony calls Rally Calls. Smedley gave an example of a Rally Call, saying that “settlers might ask you to help build a frontier town” and that “the town and wall won’t reset itself every day, it will stay there forever or until it’s destroyed.” By introducing one-time only events with lasting impacts on the world, Sony hopes to personalize the story of each player-controlled character in the game.
The second way players will be able to permanently change the world of EverQuest Next is through a companion game called EverQuest Next Landmark. In Landmark, players will be able to build and create items and buildings in pseudo-Minecraft style. Players will even be able to sell their creations to other players or to SOE for real money. These items will be able to be used in either Landmark or EverQuest Next. Sony may even occasionally put in requests to encourage the players of one game to create items for the other.
SOE can transfer items between Landmark and Next because Landmark uses the same development engine Sony used to create EverQuest Next. Smedley explained, “We wanted to make it intuitive. Then we decided to productize it and make it more into a game itself and give it to the players.” This type of player involvement will increase the investment between the player and the virtual world of EverQuest, an investment Sony must figure will lead to players being more reluctant to abandon the game.
Sony plans to use their ingenuity to remake a lot more of the developer-approved MMO staples than just player involvement. Some of the other major divergences from the MMO constitution include a removal of the leveling system as well as the ability to blow up anything you feel like. This change in how Sony approached crafting EverQuest came after many failures: “We were doing what everyone else had been doing…we realized that if we did the same thing we would probably have the same fate, which was the big spike up at release and then a drop.” In order to avoid that fate, Sony felt like it had to “build a game that [it hadn’t] built before.” And to do this, the company trashed all the progress they had made on the game and started over.
No one can say whether or not the next installment of EverQuest will be a success. However, a certain thing can be safely said about this MMO RPG: It will be different. And maybe, if SOE makes the game they intend on making, it will be revolutionary. EverQuest Next Landmark will release later this year; no release date has been given for Next.
Source: A thanks goes to Polygon.