Every year, Sony Online Entertainment brings its fans together in Las Vegas at SOE Live, and this year was its 15th anniversary. PC Gamer sat down with SOE President John Smedley at the event to talk about the future of EverQuest Next, the 15th birthday for the original EverQuest, and H1Z1, its upcoming survival MMO. He also talks about the fate of the MMO subscription model, what separates H1Z1 from DayZ, and the value of emergent gameplay and player-driven storytelling.
Sony Online Entertainment
Hackers have targeted a range of gaming services including Battle.net, Sony Online Entertainment titles and League of Legends, among others. While the DDoS attacks have mostly been resolved, a Twitter account claiming to be responsible for the hacks is now targeting Xbox Live.
Survival simulators tend to generate a lot of awesome stories, but most of the time when I play DayZ I spend hours just... walking. Eventually I starve to death. It looks like Sony Online Entertainment are devising ways to get players together and interacting in H1Z1, as the airdrop reveal video below demonstrates.
PlanetSide 2 is getting a new progression system know as 'Directives' later this week, and they'll bring more than just bragging rights. According to the notes for a huge patch releasing on Tuesday, the Directives will unlock 'exclusive' Auraxium prestige weapons and decorative items, so that you can easily flaunt your Directive Tree progress to all and sundry.
SOE recently showed off its new zombie MMO, H1Z1, with some screenshots of the game’s lovely, snow covered scenery—and word that such blustery weather will affect gameplay. The newest batch of in-game screens shows off the engine's dynamic weather system, and includes new details and explanation of how it works from programmer Ryan Favale, including that weather changes will all be handled serverside.
PlanetSide 2 is two years old in November, and has changed a lot. In constant contact with the community, SOE have reformed the economy, restructured Auraxis' vast planetary bases, redesigned the UI, and even added entire continents, like the long-awaited Hossin swampland. PlanetSide has a proud legacy, but PS2 has evolved into something unique—a free-to-play game that supports multiplayer warfare on a startling scale. If you haven't played since launch, it's time for another visit.
We mentioned t'other day that the first Planetside had been made free-to-play as part of SOE's all-encompassing (sorta) All Access subscription program, but at that time SOE had apparently melted under the strain, so we couldn't fling a download link in your direction. Now we can. Look at it there, all hyperlinked and lovely. You'll need 1.8 of your finest gigabytes to download the setup file - a tolerance for 2003 textures will probably help as well.
H1Z1 footage shows that, yep, it looks a lot like DayZ [Update: DayZ similarities addressed in Reddit post]
The Long Dark's creative director reckons the apocalypse doesn't have to feature zombies - but, erm, here's one more open world post-apocalyptic game that does. As announced last week, Sony's entry into the DayZ genre is the wittily (if clinically) named H1Z1, a game that differentiates itself from Dean Hall and Bohemia's game by...well, that part's not totally clear yet, but it's been a fairly democratic process so far. H1Z1 game designer Jimmy Whisenhunt and technical director Tom Schenk took to Twitch a few hours ago to show off the game as it stands now; you'll find 50-odd minutes of walking, zombie-battering, scavenging and driving, in a game that admittedly looks very pretty but so far doesn't seem to boast any distinguishing characteristics.
H1Z1 wants to give us a more personal apocalypse. The upcoming zombie MMO will let players vote to establish and join custom servers, according to a new Reddit post from Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley. The system will revolve around a token system the developer hopes will let it gauge the interest and commitment of the free-to-play game's player base before it ramps up support for a specific custom server.
Well, isn’t this always the way? You wait years for a massively-multiplayer, post-apocalyptic, zombie survival sandbox to come along, then several hundred come staggering over the horizon at once. Next to join their rotting ranks is H1Z1, the new free-to-play MMO from Sony Online Entertainment.
What is H1Z1? We’ve spotted what seems to be a game homepage for Sony Online’s next project. We’ve heard the name H1Z1 before, actually: in January, when we learned that SOE had registered it as a trademark.
EverQuest Next Landmark will leave alpha and enter a closed beta on 26 March, SOE told us at GDC this week. Anyone who has purchased one of the founder's packs, now including the $20 Settler option, will be able to play the game as it reaches this stage—SOE promised it would be happening before the end of March, and here that day is.
Looking for an exit strategy from your dead end job and have a keen eye for showstopping sci-fi helmet design? Perhaps you should consider a sideline making user-generated content for PlanetSide 2. We spoke with the game’s senior art director Trammel Isaac, who told us power users like CoffeeOutlaw are already making thousands of dollars making and selling new looks for existing weapons and equipment in the game through the Player Studio program.
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.
With Planetside 2's World Domination Series Preseason 2 event now well underway, the game masters at Sony Online Entertainment all already announcing rules tweaks to counteract what the developer calls "some undesired player behavior." It seems battles in the massive MMO shooter haven't reached the desired white-hot level of intensity since the WDS Preseason kicked off on Friday.
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.
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.