EverQuest Next and Why I Want to Play It

So the last time I got all gushy about a video game not yet made, I paid for my enthusiasm with a hard dose of reality and bad game design right to my face.  In light of that, I felt it wasn’t a good idea to talk up another game, even if it was actually doing ground-breaking things and not just talking the talk.  Better to wait it out until people have forgotten about all those horrible past mistakes before moving on to the next horrible mistakes right on the horizon.  Good news!  Times up.  Let’s get excited about another game that hasn’t been made yet.

So, EverQuest Next.  I’ve talked a bit about it’s sister (prequel?) game EverQuest Next Landmark before, but for now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what this whole thing is all about.

EverQuest Next is supposed to be the next generation of the MMO genre and if the developers at SOE can pull off what they’re promising, then the game will be nothing short of amazing.  Even if they fail miserably and only manage to pull off half of what they’re promising, it will still be amazing.  Everything you need to know about their thoughts on the game are summarized neatly in the following Youtube videos.  None of the videos are long and all are worth watching.

  1. Everquest Next Races, Characters, Etc:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-NEmaPs4n4
  2. Class Intro:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX5gQ_zJQ3w
  3. Destructability:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMITR2DlHXE
  4. Emergent AI (this is one of the most interesting ones to me):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs1EtESFC34
  5. Rallying Points and Long term Change:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWRcr1GeDcY

In these videos, Dave Georgeson’s enthusiasm for EQN is palpable.  I keep coming back after nearly a year to these videos because they are about a game being made by this dude who’s pretty much gushing through his whole presentation.  Regardless of whether or not they can do what they say, Georgeson’s raw passion for what he’s making, is enough to give me pause and look very hard at the possibilities of what he’s promising.

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And what he’s promising is a lot.  Destructible environments and emergent AI are the two huge new items in this conversation, and succeeding at even one of those is a game changer.  Destructible environments make all sorts of quests dicey from fetching to go to this spot and do A.  Hard to do A if the spot no longer exists.  Emergent AI means that monsters that you used to kill 10 of to advance a quest line, may no longer be where they were when the quest line was started.  If SOE manages to make these concepts work, they’ll change how players interact with the world around them.  Everything will be on the table.  It is exciting, and as the videos above show, a whole new way to explore and play in an MMO.

But that wasn’t the biggest selling point for me.  I dug into their wiki and their website and looked around at a few things.  Back when the SOE 2013 event occurred, there was some press about some comments made during one of the panels so I went and watched them.  Parts one and two are linked here.  The most remarkable thing I think I’ve seen in a very long time showed up around the 13 and 14 minute mark in part two.

In response to several questions in the Q and A about how classes would work together without the holy trinity to act as the glue in combat, Jeff Butler, the creative director, responded with a very pointed series of comments about the flaws in that system that ended with the below quote (at the 14:29 mark):

I refuse to have my guild fall apart because Terry decides he does not want to play a particular massively multi-player game anymore, and he was our primary healer.  This is a responsibility that we created as game developers and we are abandoning it.  Right?  We are not going to put our players through that.  We’ve seen the damage that it’s caused over the course of the last 15 years.  We are moving beyond that, with this design.

Jeff Butler’s comments completely blew me away.  First, to hear a game developer take that kind of responsibility for the awful problems that the holy trinity has caused over the years is amazing.  Nobody takes responsibility for anything anymore. Not politicians, not business leaders, not anybody.

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But not only does he take responsibility for what he and his teams helped make, he’s building a game that completely abandons the principles that created those problems and moving towards something definitely different and hopefully better.  These are developers that have been around the block.  They’ve been playing and making MMO’s for a long time and they are tackling the very worst problems that MMO’s have.  The solutions they’ve come up wiht so far are new and different and never been tried been tried before.

And that is what excites me about EverQuest Next.  That is why I want to see it and play it.  A chance to move forward past the old and into a new way to play.  A chance to try and do things we’ve never seen or done before.  How adventurous.  How beyond the normal.  And isn’t that the whole point?  The guys at EverQuest Next are reaching way outside of the comfort zone here.  And, I intend to be there to help cheer them on.  Let me know if you want to join me.

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