SOE have deployed the alpha for EverQuest Next Landmark, which you'll remember is the crafty/Photoshoppy prototype-type thing for their super-voxelly sequel to EverQuest 2. It's not the sort of alpha you can just download, however - you'll have to purchase a 'Founder's Pack' first. The cheapest tier of Founder's Pack with alpha access will set you back a whopping $60, so it's worth having a bit of a think before you decide whether or not to dive in. (Our hands-on preview from way back when might help.) EverQuest Next Landmark will be free-to-play when it eventually releases for real.
Sony Online Entertainment
SOE haven't yet set a date for Everquest Next Landmark's upcoming alpha test (it's due sometime in the next two months), but they have released a pile of system requirements so you can see whether or not your Personal Computer is up to the task. You'll need an Intel i5 Dual Core / AMD Phenom X3 or higher, plus 20GB of hard drive space and at least a 10Mbit/sec net connection. Do you have those things? Then you are permitted to cross the break. Oh, you don't? Then I'm afraid it's off to the Bog of Eternal Stench with you.
It's not all bad news in the court of Sony Online Entertainment. Following the announcement that four of their MMOs - Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and Wizardry Online - are soon to be Old Yellered, the MMO makers have revealed the existence of another: the original Planetside. To clarify: the 2003 predecessor to the impossibly huge Planetside 2 is going free-to-play this April. If you're worried about microtransactions, don't be - an SOE FAQ reveals that "PS1 has no Marketplace and will not see further game development".
SOE have asked and answered their own question with the following video, which explains in exquisite detail just what Everquest Next Landmark is all about. If you've been living in a massively multiplayer cave for the last few months, it's the pretty Minecrafty prologue to the ambitious Everquest Next, which will let you build and decorate and even alter the terrain of the world/s as you see fit. You can apply for the beta here, if you've room in your life for another crafting game, or scroll down for the five-minute trailer.
Very few of us who are not named Cory Banks or Tyler Wilde have been lucky enough to try out EverQuest Next Landmark hands-on yet. As much as we wish we could give everyone reading this that chance, here's the next best thing: an hour long livestream showing some of the first ever in-game footage of the construction tools players will have access to. Some of the details presented may be old news if you've been gobbling up every tidbit of information on the game, but the real time demonstration is the first we've seen of its kind.
Everything comes to an end, they say: businesses, relationships, life, and, of course, videogames. Sony Online Entertainment's online game based on Magic: the Gathering is the latest to go down, as SOE will shut down Magic: the Gathering - Tactics early next year.
Look at this and start dreaming. Director of Development David Georgeson has been playing with EverQuest Next Landmark's voxel building tools and tweeting the smooth results: a lovely little keep he says he built in "a few hours."
In many genres, the announcement of a purchasable option to skip the majority of content could be seen as a negative, but this is MMO country. In it, EverQuest 2 is one of the older residents, but that doesn't mean it can't occasionally surprise its younger peers. It's now offering "Heroic Characters", which, for a price, give players a direct shortcut to Level 85. Just think how many things you'll no longer have to kill for entirely arbitrary reasons.
Really, SOE? You're calling your plan to increase PlanetSide 2's performance "Operation: Make Faster Game"? That's not how you do operation names. You don't see military-minded nations announce Operation: Invade That Country Over There. And, as far as I know, the police have never made mass arrests under the banner of Operation: Lock Up Some Crims. Okay, so maybe I'm focusing on the wrong part of this behind-the-scenes video, and its showcased team's stated aim of further optimising the MMOFPS.
If you'd stared into the dark heart of the internet, well... you're probably too busy being curled up in the foetal position to read this. For game makers, balancing a lively community with the need to maintain a safe space for both developers and players is an age-old problem. In a profile on GamesIndustry.biz, SOE's director of global community relations Linda Carlson outlined the company's approach to dealing with abusive members of their community. One of the more interesting methods outlined involved holding players accountable for their actions outside of the game. Even players posting abusive messages on Twitter can now find themselves on the wrong end of SOE's banhammer.
Sony Online Entertainment has announced that it is laying off an unknown number of employees at its Austin and San Diego studios. The veteran MMO publisher best known for the EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, and PlanetSide franchises is currently ramping up on EverQuest Next, and describes the reduction in staff as meant to "strategically align resources" toward current projects.
You know, Sony, you really impressed me with your unveiling of Everquest Next. How did you know I was sick of level-based progression? You're so considerate. I don't know how you could be any nicer. Wait, what's that? Two more expansions? One each for EQ andEQ2? Gosh, I don't know what to say.
PlanetSide 2 has received another game update, this one focusing on how battles work on the super-chilly continent of Esamir. As Massively note, it revolves around the 'lattice system', which is quite possibly the best name for a system I've ever heard. Lattice was introduced way back in update 9, but it's only just gone live - via update 13 - for Esamir, and the map's been updated to compensate. In other news, I have no idea what 'lattice system' means in this context, but now all I can think of is delicious pie.
Okay, so we probably don't have the tech to put an MMORPG into your MMORPG yet, but we can herd up a bunch of veteran MMO developers and squish them together into a new studio. That's what some former Sony Online Entertainment and Blizzard employees have done, coming together to form the super-hot Molten Games.
"Yoink!" That's the imaginary sound we hear when a long-planned feature in PlanetSide 2 gets yanked from an upcoming patch to the game. Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley tweeted yesterday that following community feedback, consumable, class-boosting implants would not be part of the free-to-play MMO shooter's next update.
For most multiplayer FPS's a 96-player map would be considered pretty big. For PlanetSide 2 and it's continent wide military manoeuvres, it's a vast reduction. It's one being made with a view to better supporting e-sports - reducing the size of the conflict to something more suited to competitive play. SOE have produced a video showcasing the first planned map, Nexus.
Top news for bossy players: PlanetSide 2 will be introducing user generated missions. SOE's MMOFPS is set to give those carrying the correct command certs the ability to specify objectives, letting others browse and pick a player-made mission that takes their fancy. It certainly sounds a more elegant system then spamming "ATTACK THE THINGS!" in chat.
SOE have detailed Game Update 11 for PlanetSide 2. It's
due to arrive today out now, and brings what creative director Matthew Higby describes as "a pure 'Quality of Life' patch." That means no fancy new buggies, empire-specific rocket launchers or latticed maps. Instead, you're getting a huge changelist of tweaks and enhancements to make your experience in-game that much more pleasant. At least until you're shot or something.
The latest major update to PlanetSide 2 has landed, bringing some sweeping changes to the balance and design of the game. The most significant overhaul for "GU09" is the trialling of a new map system, that replaces the previous Hex-based conquest path with a "Lattice Link" of criss-crossing attack avenues. So rather than expanding out in any direction, now your invasion is going to rely on somebody in your squad being able to read a map.
Dragons. Let's face it: the poor beasts are generally woefully misrepresented in video games. Dragonborn's dragon-riding feature was decidedly underwhelming, and the Sims 3's attempt at beastliness doesn't look capable of roasting more than a marshmallow. To top it off, WoW's Vial of the Sands simply transformed you into something dopey-looking and vomit-colored, and people would demand to ride on your back. That's why we're hoping that Sony Online Entertainment's next free-to-play MMO, Dragon's Prophet, will restore badassery to the serpentine beings when it opens for beta at the end of this month.