SOE's Player Studio program allows players to earn money submitting new EverQuest or Planetside items for consideration by each game's developers. It comes from the same set of ideas as Valve's Steam Workshop - the notion that any body of players has enough talent within it to substantially expand a game if given the chance, and that this expansion can be tied to economic incentives that benefit everybody.
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".
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.
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.
The future is here and it's full of Ratonga. SOE is adding new facial recognition tech to EverQuest 2 that lets the game track your movement and facial expressions and replicate them on your avatar in real-time. Voice chat is also built into the feature so that your character will animate naturally while you talk.
We have a full demo video of the tech below, and the inside scoop on how it works and why the devs think MMO players will love it from EQ2's Director of Development David Georgeson and the CEO of the company that developed the technology, Robert Gehorsam.
SOE's EverQuest 2 has had another major update today with the release of the Skyshrine content pack. Players who own Destiny of Velious will find the level cap bumped up to 92, new instances and raids, prestige abilities, and new tradeskill items and quests. These are tied to the two new zones that you can see in the trailer above. The first, the Withered Lands, reputedly includes over 100 quests for groups and solo players. This leads you through to Skyshrine itself, a dragon city under siege from "powerful forces."
If you also own the Age of Discovery expansion then you'll get a new theme for Dungeon Maker, Poet's Palace, as well as tradeskill apprentices and new creatures for Beastlords. The full list of additions is available on the Everquest 2 community news site.
Sony Online Entertainment have announced that the running of many of their games is transferring to German publisher ProSiebenStat.1 Games Group in Europe. Games affected include EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Free Realms, and this year's Planetside 2.
While SOE will continue to manage the European servers for their games, European players will no longer be able to play with friends in the US. The two providers will use separate account systems and virtual currencies, effectively splitting each game in two.