EverQuest director discusses Landmark's growth and connection to EverQuest Next

Sony Online Entertainment never quite imagined that the user-creation tool Landmark would take off in the way that it has. EverQuest Franchise Director of Development Dave Georgeson even pointed out that part of Landmark's original function was a tool to segue into the upcoming EverQuest Next. However, Landmark soon ballooned into a full-blown game of its own. Players began taking advantage of its many features to build structures previously thought to be unimaginable, like space age-style towers, Egyptian-style pyramids, and other anachronistic buildings. And this looks to be just the beginning, as Landmark's creators indicated to Shacknews. "The players themselves are utilizing tools in ways we never expected to see be used," Georgeson told Shacknews. "And they found mechanisms that we thought players would never actually notice."

Player-built structures include anachronisms like this

Georgeson notes some specific scenarios of players discovering aspects of Landmark that even the developers were unaware of. One of the most notable examples is the anti-voxel, which allows users to create hollowed-out structures. Once something like this is discovered, Georgeson notes that it's up to the studio to then find a way to make this mechanic easy for all users to find and utilize. SOE is also several new ways to explore the Landmark world as it currently is. For those that haven't logged into the game in the last few weeks, SOE has since added the ability to swim and begin mining for resources underwater and discovering treasure chests. The underwater areas of the Landmark world are just as expansive as the land ones and there's currently no drowning system in place. However, Georgeson does note that this won't always be the case and players will need to track down diving gear in the future in order to excavate under deep waters. The other major addition is cave environments, which were also added in last week's update. This adds the opportunity for spelunking and picking up new resources, like new ores and gems. Users can explore these environments with the new Ore Prospector and Ground Sounder items, which will help illuminate high-resource areas. Diving into caves is a sure-fire way to get lost, however, so SOE has made it easy to return to the surface by simply selecting a menu option to escape. Players have used these new resources to create tremendous new buildings and upload them to the game's Showcase. For those that aren't so talented at building, players can browse the Showcase through an intuitive interface and immediately warp to a structure of their choice to explore it for themselves with no server restrictions. Templates can now also be uploaded to SOE's Player Studio, as of the game's most recent update. Landmark is growing rapidly and SOE is closely monitoring that growth. As mentioned before, on top of it being a standalone experience, Landmark is the basis on which EverQuest Next will be built. With that in mind, Georgeson adds that Landmark player input has become an invaluable tool in helping put together SOE's next big MMORPG. "For EverQuest Next, we know that there's a whole bunch of different races we want to do, one of which is Dark Elves," Georgeson explained. "Well, the players decided they wanted to do Dark Elves first. So we gave them all this concept art and our art style guides and all this stuff for Dark Elves and we're going back-and-forth with them, just brainstorming. And we're adjusting our style guides, so that they can actually help us craft what and Dark Elves are like in EverQuest Next." Georgeson adds that this player-assisted development will also extend to buildings. He notes that SOE is looking to hold special contests, with winning buildings actually being used as official assets in EverQuest Next with the winning player's name permanently inscribed on an in-game plaque. Meanwhile, Landmark is expected to receive some substantial updates in the coming months. The most game-changing of these updates is the addition of death, health meters, and combat. Environments like caves and seas will no longer be uninhabited, as creatures like spiders and bats will soon begin to emerge as active threats. Georgeson adds that this is part of a much bigger picture for the game that will lead to even grander customization scenarios. "Landmark is this other thing where the players are able to take this sandbox and make anything that they want to," Georgeson explained. "Right now, they're just building buildings. But very soon, they're going to be able to adjust AI, they're going to be able to lay out scenarios, they're going to have PvP systems, all kinds of stuff, so that they can literally build anything they can imagine using the same tools that we use to build EverQuest Next." More details on the future direction of Landmark, as well as EverQuest Next, are expected to be revealed at this year's SOE Live event in August. In the meantime, players can sign up for the Landmark beta by purchasing a Founders Pack, grabbing it from the Steam Summer Sale, or applying for a free beta key.