EverQuest Landmark: ‘It’s Easy To Shock Players’
We had hands-on time with EverQuest Landmark, but we couldn’t resist the opportunity to sit down and chat to Dave Georgeson, director of development on EverQuest, about how the MMO Minecraft is coming along.
EverQuest Landmark is available to play in closed beta now, which you can access through the EverQuest Landmark Founders Pack program.
You’ve said that the original Everquest ‘shocked players’ when it was first released, do you feel a pressure to recreate that sensation with every release from that point forward?
Dave Georgeson: Surprisingly, no. We did actually try to do that a couple of times… such as with PlanetSide 1, where we specifically set out to create something nobody had seen before and Star Wars Galaxies was a also very different experience to normal.
So we do have a history of pushing the envelope and doing things that other people are not, but that’s not to say we’re always looking to shock players each time.
Is it more difficult to shock MMO players now, given that the genre is more established and there are many games already doing different things?
I think it makes it easier to shock them, actually. Players now expect certain things from MMOs, such as players have exclamation points over their heads, killing rats in an early quest, returning to a town to ‘turn a quest in’. We’re not doing any of that, though. When you start playing Landmark or EverQuest Next you’re playing a fundamentally different experience.
There are two ways players think about that. The first is ‘I’m put off by this approach, I don’t want this’, the second is ‘finally! There’s something new’.
We don’t think the first group is very large and that most people are tired of the things that exist already. For those people that want a game that allows them to be more involved in the world and have an impact that permanently changes it… Landmark is the only game in the town for them.
As much as possible we never want to say ‘no’ to our players, we don’t want to tell them that they can’t do something. We want them to try stuff as much as possible and for them to simply see what happens through that experimentation.
As you’re changing things so much, do you expect there to be a lot of players coming into Landmark that have not played MMOs before?
Absolutely, yes. We love that there are hordes of people out there playing Minecraft, and we love that there are hordes of people that have played EverQuest and EverQuest 2.
Given the popularity of those games, we know that we’re fishing in a big pond with Landmark. In addition, as we continue to evolve the combat and AI, I think we’re actually going to attract even more people than that… but we can’t really talk about the details of those elements until they’re closer to being added.
We want to make sure that people with many different tastes in videogames can come into Landmark and feel successful, feel as though there’s something for them and something that they can enjoy.
Was it difficult to put yourself into the right mindset for building a set of creation tools, rather than ‘simply’ a game?
What we’re doing is a bit different, yeah, certainly as far as MMOs are concerned. I wouldn’t say getting into the mindset was difficult, though, I think you just have to have a certain amount of ego [laughs]. That allows you to think you understand what the players are doing and what they want in the future.
Personally, I’ve been producing and acting as creative director on games for 25 years now, which is a really long to be doing one thing. Over that time I’ve spoken to a lot of players and have been able to interpret what has been successful and what hasn’t across a wide variety of games.
Plus, I’m not the only veteran on the team – all of the team’s leadership have three or four MMOs already under their belt. We’ve made all of the rookie mistakes, so we never need make those again. All of our mistakes are new mistakes.