Virtual reality, SteamOS, fiber broadband, 4K displays, holodecks (you know, maybe)—the next five years of PC gaming will radically transform our immortal hobby. What new experiences will the PC games of the near future provide? How will technology surprise us? This April at PAX East 2014, we'll look into that glowing future with the innovators and PC gaming stakeholders shaping it.
After I reached the highest level in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I ran into a problem: I had seen and done everything the endgame had offered to me. I completed all the dungeons, conquered all the available raid encounters, and then I was essentially stuck in a content drought until BioWare released something new—and then the cycle would repeat again. It's a pattern most MMORPGs of today run the risk of falling into as players tear through at a faster rate than ever before. In a blog post, Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley examines these content-driven tendencies of the MMO genre, calling them "unsustainable" for the industry in favor of more sandbox experiences.
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".
Perhaps it's a good omen that Brad McQuaid—former architect of EverQuest, one-time executive producer of Vanguard—was forced to announce Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen early last week. Fittingly, the Twitter account responsible for the leak was discovered by curious players seeking out developments, and in a recent conversation with me, McQuaid speaks of a world where players discover new abilities and spells scattered throughout a forbidding landscape. The world of Terminus will be steeped in the challenges and social charms of MMOs past, but tempered with the best lessons of their contemporary cousins. And, he emphasizes, it won't be for everyone.
Brad McQuaid is making an MMORPG. That isn't in itself a surprise, seeing how he was the key designer of EverQuest and executive producer of the not-terribly-successful Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, but hey - a new Brad McQuaid game is big news. Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen hasn't officially been announced yet, but after the game's (currently dormant) twitter page was uncovered a couple of days ago, McQuaid revealed the logo and a few early details in a series of tweets.
EverQuest Next Landmark, the free-to-play world-builder that Sony Online Entertainment is releasing as a sort of playable proof of concept for EverQuest: Next, inches closer to completion. Signups for the beta test started a couple of weeks ago, and now a new dev diary walks us through some of building materials players will have to work with.
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."
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.
An MMO reaching the grand old age of 14 is a pretty big deal, so I hope EverQuest's anniversary bash has jelly, cake, pin-the-tail-on-the-goblin, and all the other things that make a party worth attending. The event - scheduled for this weekend - definitely features new "epic ornamentation quests", five player-created missions and all previous anniversary content, so now might be a good time to revisit the planet of Norrath if you've been more active in other fantasy worlds lately.
The original EverQuest released nearly 14 years ago, and its quest and class structure helped define a genre that would soon explode in popularity with World of Warcraft. It's still active to this day, and last week, its community celebrated (via Polygon) the return of Brad McQuaid, one of EverQuest's principal designers, back onto the original EQ team after over a decade apart.
Face Off pits two gladiators against each other as they tackle gaming's most perplexing conundrums. This New Year's Eve edition is a chronological throw-down: which decade gave PC gaming the most? Podcast Producer Erik Belsaas says it was the '90s—the origin of modern PC gaming. Executive Editor Evan Lahti insists it was the '00s, with its speedy internet, better PCs, and shinier graphics engines.
Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley isn't bashful about voicing his strong support for free-to-play business models, but he's equally passionate about seeing the MMO genre evolve. Speaking to Polygon, Smedley believes modern MMOs suffer from stagnation and content churn that prevents studios from exploring new design directions.
John Smedley is unusual among videogame executives for his outspoken Twitter presence and friendly, direct engagement with gamers. Maybe other suits should take note: the SOE president comes across as someone who understands and loves the games SOE makes and his responsiveness to players instils some considerable trust. If PlanetSide 2 wasn't perfect when it launched, gamers may feel reassured that with John Smedley at the helm SOE will continue to work towards that goal. Last night I got to speak to the big man about the future of PlanetSide 2, fighting in-game crime, free-to-play and the recent internally-revealed Everquest Next.
The long anticipated follow-up to Everquest isn’t looking to plough the same furrow as previous MMOs. In fact, SOE threw away two prototypes because they weren’t radical enough (possibly making the character shot above woefully out of date). Now recently unveiled internally to SOE staff, the redesigned game hopes to “define the next generation of MMOs” - such is the claim by SOE president John Smedley during our lengthy interview - which is to be posted in full later.
Sony Online Entertainment has announced Player Studio, a program which will enable players of SOE games to download sample geometry for in-game items, design and create their own items, and submit them for consideration to be sold on the SOE Marketplace.
I spent hundreds of hours with my guildmates last year, chatting online while downing dragons, super-villains, and other big bads. But every now and then, it’s good for a team’s morale to drop the daggers, get out of the house, and just hang out with each other.
More and more MMOs are hosting annual conventions to help their players do just that. But it’s not just the games that make each convention different — the theme, style, and length all vary as well. We've attended and rated the biggest of them inside...
The original EverQuest went free-to-play a little over a month ago, and, if Sony Online Entertainment's latest stats are anything to go by, it's doing rather well.
Unique log-ins have increased by 150%, there's been a 125% boost to item sales, and the amount of users online at a given point has increased by 40%. Perhaps most impressively, EverQuest registrations have increased by 350%.
The thirteen year old MMO established many of the design principles that informed most of the online RPGs that followed it, particuarly World of Warcraft. Its direct sequel is also doing well - yesterday, EverQuest 2 was updated with two new zones and over 100 new quests.
Planetside 2 creative director predicts an MMOFPS renaissance: "they’re really difficult to make, so good luck”
Planetside 2 excitement is hitting an all time high. There’s 30 minutes of footage and a bunch of new screens here, which you should almost definitely watch. It’s like a beautiful dream coming true. A massively multiplayer FPS dream with magnificent scale, day/night cycles, vehicles and jetpacks.
Creative director, Matt Higby is just as excited as the rest of us. "It always blows my mind that there aren't more MMO FPSs" he says, after showing a live demo at GDC.
Thirteen years ago, EverQuest opened a door that would influence online gaming forever. It taught us how to camp world bosses, how painful dying can be, and most importantly, how to make a ham sandwich and take a shower in under five minutes so you can get back to the game ASAP. It isn't the flashiest or the most beginner-friendly of MMOs, but it was certainly the foundation for games like World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic. And finally, more than a decade and nearly 20 expansions later, it's going free-to-play.