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Norrathian Notebook

Norrathian Notebook: Five reasons to support EQ Next and Landmark

Betas, Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

I like Landmark and am looking forward to EverQuest Next. There, I said it. It should be no surprise. And as such, I certainly have a vested interest in how these games fare throughout their development and launch. I want to see them succeed. But the thing is, so should you -- whether or not you actually want to play them.

Unfortunately, it seems all too fashionable lately for folks to tear something down instead of build it up. So often when I'm following the discussions about EQ Next and Landmark, I hear plenty of reasons why folks don't like the games, and the reasons frequently have nothing to do with the games themselves. Detractors are going on about longstanding gripes and grudges instead of judging the games on their own merits (a practice that the whole world could certainly do without). Amid all the scathing comments I've heard directed at SOE for slights real and imagined, one recently gave me pause and made me reflect on the reasons that supporting these two MMO endeavors is worthwhile.

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Norrathian Notebook: Frostfells of EverQuests past, present, and Next

Fantasy, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Norrathian Notebook

It's the end of that magical time of year: When gigglegibber goblins wrap up their gift-giving and the tinsel, lights, and even the holiday quests get packed up for the year. It's the end of Frostfell 2014 for the EverQuest Franchise; EverQuest's celebration ended yesterday and EverQuest II's ends today. Players will have to wait another 12 months to dive back into the festivities. If we're really lucky, we'll also experience the holiday anew in EverQuest Next come December!

As Frostfell comes to a close, I am left thinking about the holiday and all its trimmings. It's truly a great one. Perhaps one of the most wonderful. What makes it so special each year? And what might it be like in the coming years, especially in EQN? Let's take a look at the history of Frostfell, check out this year's additions, and speculate about the holiday's presence in Next.

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Norrathian Notebook: Landmark's two-week PvE checkup

Betas, PvE, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Happy New Year! It makes sense to start this new year off by talking about a new game, right? And let's face it, after the fabled PvE content update, Landmark feels like a new game! This massive addition to the core of the sandbox has been live for two weeks now; that means two weeks of spelunking, salvaging, and more often than not, surviving. While it's true we got a preview of the update back on the day, that peek involved neither the cavern system nor crafting. And it certainly didn't contain nearly enough time! So now that I've had the chance to canvass the caverns, play with particle emitters, kills various critters, and concoct some new crafted items, how is it? How are things in the not-just-about-building game doing? Do these new systems offer more staying power as the closed beta continues on? Let's give Landmark its two-week PvE checkup!

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Landmark's PvE arrives today; SOE shifts to EQ Next full-time in 2015

Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

We've waited a long time for the chance to have our faces eaten off by vicious monsters in Landmark, and now that opportunity is almost here! After a bit of delay, the infamous PvE patch is heading into our favorite sandbox today. This is seriously going to be a game-changer. Of all the patches throughout the whole year, this one is the biggest -- surpassing the August PvP update and even the original alpha launch, at least according to Creative Director Dave Georgeson. And he's not kidding! I got to check out Landmark's new mobs, linking and triggering, armors, props, and more with Georgeson and Senior Producer Terry Michaels. I didn't think it was possible to be even more excited for this patch, but I am! Can I hear a squeeeee?!

Oh, and for everyone who is waiting anxiously for EverQuest Next news, here's a tidbit from Georgeson you might enjoy:
When we get to those game mastering systems [after the start of the year] that means we are working on EQN full time. Because those are the systems we need for EQN, and that's what we're building when we're building those game mastering tools. So we're so close to transitioning the team almost entirely to EQN, and then we'll take the elements that we build for EQN and port them over into Landmark, but our focus will shift almost entirely to EQN after the new year.

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Norrathian Notebook: First impressions of EQII's Altar of Malice

Fantasy, Galleries, EverQuest II, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Crafting, Norrathian Notebook

Norrathian Notebook:  First impressions of EQII's Altar of Malice
Although Altar of Malice has been available to All Access subscribers for two weeks, EverQuest II's 11th expansion just opened up to everyone on Tuesday. That makes this a great time to share my initial impressions of the new lands and new content. Mind you, these are literally only first impressions: I am not one to blow through the content at a break-neck speed just so I can consume it all in as little time as possible. That's relegated to pecan pie. MMOs aren't a race to me. I prefer to gradually savor the content, stretching it out so the experience lasts. I've actually also been holding myself back from doing too much so I can run through things with those who can finally join me now that the expansion is fully released. I will continue to poke though it at my pace while I continue my other endeavors (do you realize just how long it takes to decorate a house?!). As such, a full review of everything will have to come at a later date.

So what my thoughts as I amble amble my way through the land of the lost... er, jurassic park... I mean, Altar of Malice? EQII's dino-riffic expansion definitely has its highlights, like offering a heaping helping of nostalgia, but it has its disappointments as well. Here's my take.

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Norrathian Notebook: Landmark's AI will be a game-changer

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

It's really hard not to be all giddy and excited about the introduction of AI to Landmark; it's quite literally going to be a game-changer. Some might even argue a game-maker! Only one other feature, combat, comes close to the impact that this system will have on the sandbox. Even then, combat doesn't rival it; it complements it. In truth, it will be an early Christmas present for all those players who've been waiting as patiently as possible for this next step: Monsters are slated to be released into the wild on December 10th. I am sure I mirror the sentiments of many when I say the Storybricks system just can't get here soon enough!

Before you get your hopes up too high, know that this first iteration of the AI system does not include the much-anticipated storytelling features that players will have access to on their personal claims. Those will come in time. But that doesn't diminish the magnitude of what is coming in just a few short weeks. The introduction of mobs will truly be the big bump that makes Landmark an actual MMORPG in the eyes of the world as opposed to "just a building game," an inaccurate description the game's had a hard time shaking. And did I mention, I can't wait?! If you are fairly new to following Landmark, you may not know what all the excitement is about. Let me share that with you.

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Norrathian Notebook: Talking EverQuest II's 10th anniversary with Holly Longdale

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Anniversaries, Norrathian Notebook

The big 1-0. EverQuest II has just joined the ranks of games in their double digits; today marks the 10th anniversary for the fantasy game. And while that's a pretty impressive feat in itself, just growing older isn't all that has happened to EQII in the past year. There have been plenty of content updates (and a change in how those update occur), holiday celebrations, and major news happenings during the course of the past 12 months.

However, instead of just highlighting the major events and changes of the year in a standard retrospective piece, I'm going to do something a little different this year. On top of wandering down memory lane, I've pulled in Senior Producer Holly Longdale to answer a few questions and address some current concerns on the minds of players. Longdale talks about the high price of both the Altar of Malice Collector's Edition and the new Aerakyn race as well as shares some fun facts about who's been working on the game since the beginning.

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Norrathian Notebook: Remembering that Landmark is in beta

Betas, Bugs, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Norrathian Notebook:  Remembering that Landmark is in beta
An interesting thing happened on my way to pay upkeep. It hit me full force that Landmark is indeed in a true beta. I know, I know -- I have said this before. And I know that I know it. Yet sometimes that fact still sneaks up and wallops me in the face! I mean, it's pretty obvious the game is incomplete (hurry to me, AI editor!) and that there are definitely bugs to squash. But for the most part, I have not be too inconvenienced by bugs, so I guess the fact that it's a beta just floated to the back of my mind.

That all changed this past week. I encountered a bug so big that it squashed me. In fact, it was so intense that it effectively prevented me from continuing my gameplay. That's when it hit me: After eight months of playing and enjoying Landmark, I had forgotten that this can actually happen. But it is important to remember, to keep this fact at the forefront of our minds. Why? It's not to be a defensive rallying cry for why something isn't in game/isn't working as intended; it's so we can get the game we want, sooner! How? By doing our job as beta testers.

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Norrathian Notebook: Landmark's latest patch packs an armored punch

Betas, Fantasy, PvP, Free-to-Play, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Norrathian Notebook:  Landmark's latest patch packs a punch
Wowsers! While we knew that September was a month of bug squashing and that meatier content updates would return to Landmark, this latest one seems extra juicy. It could just be that everything feels like a feast after a famine, but I think it's more than that -- and not just because it took multiple posts to announce the changes. Besides being tantalized with a bunch of new goodies right now, I get the impression that we are in for regular doses of content, content, and more content as the dev team revs up for open beta. And these changes are also glimpses into the ongoing development of EverQuest Next. Who doesn't love that?

As it is, I am pretty excited to delve into this content update, Armor? Appearance slots? Additional weapon abilities? Ability to template the movers, flingers, and stuff? Lava?! Heck, yah -- serve it up.

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Norrathian Notebook: EQ Next's 'workshop collaborations'

Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Races, EverQuest Next, Norrathian Notebook

Last month we embarked on the journey of corralling the remainder of the EverQuest Next Round Tables for you, adding the fifth installment to the previous four. But that last roundup did not quite bring us up to date. Why? It wasn't just a matter of space: There was a fundamental shift in the round table discussions that I felt warranted a separate Norrathian Notebook.

The next section of round tables were focused on the collaborative efforts of the devs and the community in building and shaping EverQuest Next. While there is a smattering of other topics sprinkled in, the bulk is dedicated specifically to the Norrathian races and building collaboration. As such, many of the polls were more time-sensitive; some have closed, and some were just more relevant to determining design direction during the specific The Workshop Show series. However, the information is still valuable, and opinions can still be shared on a number of the proposed questions. If you have an opinion on coloring, racial mounts, and architectural styles, this is the collection of inquiries for you.

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Norrathian Notebook: Seven things EverQuest Next and Landmark really need

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Norrathian Notebook: Six things I really want to see in EverQuest Next and Landmark
What do I want to see in EverQuest Next and Landmark? I know that is a question that all of us have asked ourselves and each other. Heck, even the developers ask us this! It's a key component in the open development process; it is the discussion of these answers that lead to some great ideas. So in the hopes of sparking another meaningful conversation (and hopefully giving the devs a few ideas!), I'm going to detail five things that I desperately want to see in these upcoming titles. While most of these items are a wish list for both games, there are a couple that are title-specific. I am not going to dwell on those desires I have brought up in the past or things I have already talked at length on, such as player-written books, theme-enforced Islands, and larger landmasses of multiple islands for more seamless experience. Instead I hope to present seven more morsels of food for thought, and hopefully you'll add your ideas in as well.

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Norrathian Notebook: EverQuest Next round table roundup V

Betas, Fantasy, Polls, Video, Opinion, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Norrathian Notebook:  EverQuest Next round table roundup V
Combat, combat, PvP. That can pretty well sum up a lot of Landmark's chatter recently. That's understandable, since it is the newest feature to hit the sandbox. But that is certainly not all there is to talk about. There are plenty of topics of interest that cover both EverQuest Next and Landmark, and a number of these are touched on in the regular roundtable discussions.

It's been quite a while since we've gathered these all up into one concise spot for you to peruse (so long that Landmark lost part of its name in the interim!), so here's the fifth installment of the roundtable roundup. Poke through this collection and check out what other players and devs are saying about various issues. You can even participate in many of the polls if you haven't yet and add your voice to the mix! Even if some topics seem old, remember that none is irrelevant; the games are both still under development, and player input is always a good thing.

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Norrathian Notebook: Ten must-see PvP arenas in Landmark

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

As soon as Landmark's PvP combat launch date was announced at SOE Live, a number of players dived in and started building arenas in anticipation. Not even hours after the update went live, there were fully functioning battle claims ready to welcome players to their death. Over the holiday weekend, that number exploded. In fact, there are now 10 (and growing) pages of PvP-labeled claims in the gallery to sort through with 50 claims per page. With so many choices already, how do you know where to go to check things out? Folks don't always have the time to mosey through all the choices themselves. That's where Norrathian Notebook comes in!

From the first PvP claim I poked my head into (live, no less!), I planned to visit as many as possible and build a guide to highlight these creations. So I've compiled a list of 10 -- of the many -- Landmark arenas that I personally think are worth a visit. Please note, this list is by no means all-inclusive, and narrowing down the field was no easy task! There are plenty more out there and more coming all the time, so be sure to explore any that catches your eye and send your finds to us!

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Norrathian Notebook: I tasted Landmark's combat and I like it!

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, PvP, Free-to-Play, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Better late than never, right? At long last, after months of only mining and voxel magic (and then an overnight delay), I have finally partaken of the Landmark combat fruit. And oh, how sweet it is! Of course the system was just barely implemented and is in only its first iteration, but that doesn't stop me from sharing the experience I had upon first logging in to check things out. So in I jumped just as soon as servers went live... and there I lost the rest of my day.

Even with the inevitable bugs, I was not disappointed by my first few hours of this update. There are flingers and teleporters, weapons and proximity mines -- plenty of things to keep a slightly wacky mind occupied. And who can leave out the new joys of fall damage? Here are my unadulterated first impressions of that much-anticipated system.

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SOE Live 2014: The revolutionary intelligence of Storybricks' AI in EQ Next and Landmark

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), EverQuest Next, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

SOE Live 2014 The revolutionary intelligence of Storybricks' AI in EQ Next and Landmark
The most exciting part of EverQuest Next and Landmark for me is the living, intelligent AI brought to the games courtesy of Storybricks. Thanks to a tech demonstration at SOE Live, we got to see that AI in action, and can I tell you I am even more excited having seen it! This technology really will revolutionize the game, creating a living, breathing world in EQ Next that players help shape as it develops as well as give players the power to make their world come alive in Landmark. And to add icing to the cake, the panel also delved into the background of the new Norrath a bit, revealing the world map complete with familiar areas (like Kithicor).

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