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Norrathian Notebook

Norrathian Notebook: Building EverQuest Next in Landmark

Betas, Fantasy, Contests, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Norrathian Notebook: Building EverQuest Next in Landmark
From the first surprise announcement of Landmark at SOE Live last year, fans have been interested to know how exactly that sandbox would tie into the much anticipated EverQuest Next. In big bold letters on the main site, the devs declare, "EverQuest Next is still in development... and you can help us build it!" So how exactly is that going to come to pass? Through Landmark.

Landmark might be a separate game in and of itself, but players can actually build structures there that might one day be gracing the landscape of EQN. At first, we knew only that those structures would be judged and picked through contests. However, with May's racial Round Table vote and the recent implementation of The Workshop, the actual process has begun. And you can get in on it right now!

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Norrathian Notebook: SOE says bye-bye ProSiebenSat.1, hello Landmark Player Studio

Fantasy, EverQuest II, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

Double the pleasure, double the fun! SOE made two big announcements Wednesday that brought smiles to the faces of many fans. One said goodbye; the other said hello. But both were good news indeed, especially for Norrathians.

Sometimes parting is just sweet, without the sorrow. Such is the case with the first bit of news: the departure of ProSiebenSat.1 from SOE. That's right, my European compadres, rejoice because SOE is bringing you back into the fold! The deal that quickly went sour for fans squished between the US company and the European partner is over, and SOE's titles are returning fully to its portfolio while region locks are being lifted. I can hear you all singing hallelujahs and dancing in the street!

The second bit of news worthy of celebration was the launch of Player Studio in Landmark. Although it arrived later than anticipated thanks to the international tax registration processes, the wait was worthwhile because players from not only the U.S but also Canada, Sweden, France, the UK (yes, including Ireland), Germany, Norway, and Denmark can now submit items for sale to other players. That means that aspiring money-makers and non-builders who want to buy their cool items can finally find one another and do business. And that just paves the way for the system to work in EverQuest Next.

As great as the announcements are, neither is without a few downs mixed in with the ups. Norrathian Notebook explores both bits of news to get you the necessary details.

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E3 2014: Underground and underwater with Landmark's Terry Michaels

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Patches, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

You didn't need to be at E3 2014 to partake in Landmark's latest (literally) groundbbreaking patch. In fact, if you were at the con as I was, chances are you haven't been able to log in and experience it for yourself yet! Luckily, Senior Producer Terry Michaels was on hand to offer me a peek at the new features before I broke down in heap of deprivation-induced agony from my Landmark withdrawals.

What was the big deal with this latest update? It included the first iteration of caves and the second phase of water. Players can now go spelunking deep in the earth to find large veins of minerals, explore uncharted biomes with new plants, and even find treasure chests filled with special items. On top of that, they can swim through the bright blue oceans that surround each island. As Michaels helped me get my Landmark fix, we talked about everything from the newest content to heroic movement to my pet topics: player books and theme-enforced islands. Oh, and did I mention that combat is planned to appear by SOE Live in August?

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Norrathian Notebook: So you aren't Landmark's greatest builder

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

The walls are lumpy. The stairs are crooked. You couldn't make a statue of a blob if your virtual life depended on it, and everyone comments on your creative Koi pond that's actually a fireplace. So you aren't Landmark's greatest builder. Join the club! Despite how it may appear at times (especially when you see majestic jaw-dropping creations plastered all over Twitter and featured in livestream tours), there really are a number of us. So who cares if you can't build a voxel replica of the Taj Mahal with the Bronx Zoo on the side? Well, you do if your perceived lack of skills is keeping you from enjoying the game!

It can be hard when you see such amazing builds springing up around you; it's easy to get discouraged if you are one of the skill-impaired. I already know of players who have lost hope and even some of their interest in the game because they feel their skills are not quite adequate. But I'm here to tell you that you -- yes, you -- are indeed a valuable member of Landmark's community and we need you. So for those without any leet building skills, here are some tips for avoiding creative frustration and ways to more fully enjoy the game.

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Norrathian Notebook: The key differences between EverQuest Next and Landmark

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Guides, EverQuest Next, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

What's the difference between EverQuest Next and Landmark?

If we've heard that question once, we've heard it a thousand times, which is understandable, considering EQ Next has been totally scrapped and re-imagined more than once and Landmark came literally out of nowhere. Until recently, the two even shared a name; EverQuest Next was dropped from Landmark's moniker when closed beta started at the end of March of this year.

We certainly haven't heard the last of the question, either. With new folks finding out about the games and getting interested in them, it's likely to come up a few more times. Those who haven't been following the development of the games from the beginning have a lot of material to plow through to find answers to their questions. For that reason, Norrathian Notebook is going to address the differences and similarities between the upcoming titles in one fell swoop. Hopefully, with a concise reference we can call on again and again, the confusion will dissipate.

So what is the difference between EQN and Landmark?

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Norrathian Notebook: Jump in, the water's fine in Landmark!

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

The drought has finally ended: Water has come to the parched shores of Landmark. After a day of torturing fans with some not-so-subtle teasing on Twitter involving beach songs, links to life vests, and musings on slow garden hoses, SOE Director of Development Dave Georgeson finally outright admitted that the first phase of water was indeed headed into the game. And as of yesterday's update, the long-anticipated liquid is a permanent part of the landscape. No more shall players stare off over the edge of their islands, eyes skipping over the sand whilst seeking just a hint of moisture. No longer must the faithful beta testers dream of the day the sun's rays would reflect off the rolling waves. Oceans are here! And while there's no need to grab a towel on your way to the beach (you can't actually get in the water), players are still rejoicing. Why? Because it finally feels like beta, baby!

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Norrathian Notebook: Upgrading your tools in Landmark

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Guides, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

True confessions time! I have been looking forward to showing off my newly minted super pick and sharing with you all how you, too, could get a shiny new upgraded tool in Landmark. Unfortunately, due to the empty chest bug that came with the update, all my resources were lost; ergo, I wasn't able to craft -- let alone upgrade -- any high-level tools. Thankfully, since the new tool upgrade system is not relegated to only the highest of tiers and I can use iron, I can still show you how you can get the spiffy new pick or shiny new ax of your harvesting dreams!

As a bonus, on top of guiding you through the upgrading process, I'll delve into why this is such a important step on the way toward the more robust Landmark game that folks are eager awaiting.

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Norrathian Notebook: Landmark update highlights the power of players

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Housing, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

As a long-time gamer, I have to admit: I never expected I'd really see the day. What day is that? The one where a studio says one thing... and does it!

True to SOE's word, the development process for Landmark has been quite open. Between social media, livestreams, and posts, the devs have been very forthcoming about where they are and where they are going, giving players a pretty clear picture of what's going on. But that's only the half of it. What impresses me most about this whole situation is that player input is actually recognized as a valuable commodity, not a nuisance to be brushed aside and ignored. I'm not just referring to the opinions offered during the various Round Table polls either, even though those are a welcome component to the the mix. I'm talking about the fact that players are a driving force behind the direction of Landmark's development. And yesterday's update really brought that fact home.

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Norrathian Notebook: Grading Landmark's first beta week

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

Closed beta is now in session! After a couple of days of downtime to prepare for the transition, EQN Landmark moved out of the alpha phase. And now, the first week of this long-awaited beta has concluded. Like most initial weeks, it's been an eventful one; from opening itself to a slew of new players to ditching part of its name to announcing the launch of Player Studio, the voxel-based sandbox has changed and evolved from its previous state. But how exactly is this beta different from alpha? What is new, what has improved, and what still needs improvement? How did Landmark fare during its first week? Norrathian Notebook is here to bring you the game's one-week report card!

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Norrathian Notebook Extra: Get the scoop on the opening of EQ Next Landmark's closed beta

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

EverQuest Next Landmark's alpha is not only over, it's gone. As in gone gone. As in the world has been officially destroyed and nothing remains (except for your templates, Founders Pack goodies, and purchased items, of course!). But that was all a necessary step in the direction of closed beta, which is opening today! Now, even more fans -- from those who bought Settler Packs to those who acquire a beta key from Trailblazers -- can get in on the new experience that is EQN Landmark.

And a new experience it is, even from alpha. Alpha players may have a one-up on folks as far as manipulating the building tools, but this closed beta adds more to the game, so there is plenty of new to go around. Even the very progression has altered. So to give yourself a boost in your new journeys and take a look here at what you can expect when you log in. And don't forget, if you don't have a key yourself, you can watch our livestreams on Massively TV tonight when the servers come up and tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. EDT for a chance to grab one!

[Update: SOE just announced that every attendee of SOE Live 2013 will be sent a Settler Founders Pack via email. Because these packs are not tied to accounts, if players already have another pack, these can be given away.]

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Norrathian Notebook: Happy 15th anniversary, EverQuest!

Fantasy, EverQuest, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Anniversaries, Norrathian Notebook

This past Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of EverQuest. Any way you look at it, 15 years is a long time, and few are the games that can make this claim to fame. Such an achievement is certainly worth a hullabaloo! Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've witnessed a bit of this celebration; it's been touted across the entire franchise (not to mention the rest of SOE's portfolio!). Much has been said about the journey from day one until now, with folks sharing stories that span the entire life of EQ. Devs even offered an infographic highlighting how far the game has come since 1999. What a difference 15 years makes! But what about the difference just one year makes?

Today's Norrathian Notebook is an anniversary retrospective that looks back at the last 12 months in the life of EverQuest. Join me for a jaunt down memory lane to see how Norrath has evolved this past year, then take advantage of the special deals and festivities commemorating this auspicious year.

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Norrathian Notebook: What EQN Landmark's business plan says about you

Fantasy, Business Models, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

As surely expected by all involved, EverQuest Next Landmark's proposed business plan ruffled a few feathers. After all, it's a given that you can't please everyone. And also just as expected, some folks are crying foul; you can't have SOE say boo without someone screaming doom and gloom. But has the studio laid a big goose egg with this monetization plan? I say nope. It may appear a little scrambled in an aspect or two, but the majority of it seems to sit pretty well with players.

In a nutshell, the strategy as currently outlined focuses on selling cosmetic items like outfits and pets, shortcuts (like potions, paying upkeep, and renting market space at the hubs), additional claim flags, claim music/sound packs, and raw materials. We know what the actual plan itself says because it was posted front and center on EQN Landmark's alpha forums, which are viewable by the public. But instead of dissecting what the plan is, today I'll focus is on what it says. It's more than just the sum of its words; the plan says something about SOE. And did you know the plan also says something about you?

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Norrathian Notebook: EverQuest Next Round Table roundup, fourth edition

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

Thanks to the early launch of EverQuest Next Landmark's alpha, players have been deep in the world of voxel-mining, crafting, and building to their hearts' content. Armed with with that hands-on knowledge, players are able to offer insights and suggestions about the development of that game. But that doesn't mean that those who aren't physically in the alpha (and have access to post in those forums) don't have valuable opinions about the direction of both Landmark and EverQuest Next, and the devs want to hear from everyone! That's where the EQN Round Tables come in. And the Norrathian Notebook Round Table roundups are here to help you keep track of them all.

The three previous round ups corralled 23 questions, dev opinions, and video responses. This fourth edition (not to be dismissed like certain other fourth editions) contains eight more. Do you care about specialty servers, in-game weather, or crafting? Are you burning with a desire to tell the devs exactly how you feel about other players affecting your gameplay? Then there are polls and discussions that you'll want to take part in if you haven't already. One round table even focuses on improving the new player experience. And we've got them all rounded up right here for you.

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Norrathian Notebook: EQN Landmark sets new standard for player creativity

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

Yes, it's alpha. And yes, there are bugs. Heck, there are still many systems that aren't even in-game yet. But despite all that, EverQuest Next Landmark has already raised the bar when it comes to player creativity. In fact, the creativity is flowing freely during this alpha even before water does!

You may recall that I mused last December how EQNL might just redefine player-generated content, comments based my own short personal experience and perusing developer concoctions. However, now that alpha is going strong, I can say with surety what I only postulated before: Landmark has set a new standard for supporting and showcasing creativity. And players have really stepped up to the challenge.

Just exactly how much creativity are we talking about? Have you seen some of the stuff folks are coming up with? It's not just about houses (though I've certainly seen some amazing abodes); players are taking the tools and raw materials and sculpting impressive statues, designing mazes, and more. During my own wanderings and my two Massively TV tours, I've come across creations that leave me wavering between speechless and gush-central. And that's barely scratching the surface of what's out there! Add in the posted pics on Twitter and the official forums and that still doesn't cover it all. My mind boggles to think what will happen when everyone can lay hands on these tools at launch.

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Norrathian Notebook: Musings on my EQII Tears of Veeshan experience

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Classes, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Norrathian Notebook

EverQuest II's most recent expansion, Tears of Veeshan, landed a couple of months ago. That's given me a good amount of time to sink my teeth in and really experience what it has to offer. I've run a few different characters through much of the storyline, explored various nooks and crannies, and poked into a number of the dungeons. If you've been watching EverQuest Two-sday, you've seen some of those adventures as they were playing out. If not, however, you may wonder what this expansion holds. Is there anything special that sets EQII's 10th expansion apart and makes it worth getting? That's what I am going to share with you in today's Norrathian Notebook.

For starters, ToV is chock-full of one thing I really love: dragons. Dead dragons, maybe, but still dragons! From the moment this expansion was introduced at SOE Live, I've been looking forward to cavorting through the realm of the dead, hobnobbing with the dragon residents. Then, after hearing more about the dungeons, the story, and the new class, I really couldn't wait. And now that I've seen it for myself, I haven't been disappointed.

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