The EverQuest Next and EverQuest Roundtable responses continue to come in every Tuesday. This week, Omeed Dariani and Terry Michaels discuss the topic of public and private building in EverQuest Next Landmark. In their response, we learned that what the polls return and what the forum community appears to want can be two different things. We also learned that we might not have private building functionality in Landmark at launch. We've included the Round Table Response video below, as well as a transcript for those of you who can't (or prefer not to) view video.
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Omeed Dariani: Hi. My name is Omeed Dariani. I’m the Senior Brand Manager for the EverQuest franchise. Welcome to the Round Table. With me today is a man who needs no introduction, Terry Michaels, the Senior Producer of EverQuest Next. And this week we’re talking about... should you be able to build in public or private in Landmark?
Terry Michaels: Right. And what we saw on the polls was that most of the people, about 37% of the people, came in on the side of building in public; that’s what they really want to do. Which is really good, because that’s kind of what this game is built around--the concept of being able to build with your friends, have people see what you’re doing, and being able to share that with the world.
Omeed Dariani: So, why did we ask this question?
Terry Michaels: With this question in particular, we didn’t have any other examples of games out there in the world that we could pull people’s preferences from... what people liked to do and didn’t like to do. This game, Landmark, is so very different from anything else that’s out there, we really wanted to reach out and get people’s opinions on this.
Omeed Dariani: We have building games, but we don’t have the social... the MMO building games, right? So behavior’s going to be different.
Terry Michaels: Right. And what people want to do, and how they’re going to do it, is going to evolve as they see what this game really is, so we wanted to see what people thought about it.
Omeed Dariani: One of the big concerns on the forum was griefing. And so, a lot of people who were expressing a preference for private building were concerned that people are just going to be able and come in and knock your stuff down.
Terry Michaels: Right. So, when you go out in the world... we’ve talked a little bit about this, but to go into more detail, when you go out in the world you can claim part of the world as your own. And, when you do that, you control it. You’re the only person who can change things on there unless you give permission to other players. So, you can have your friends help you, and not let anybody else change it or, if you’re crazy enough, you can open it up to everybody. But, you know, that’s going to have some very interesting results if you do that, I’m sure.
Omeed Dariani: So, to summarize, building in public doesn’t mean you’re going to get griefed. You pretty much have to click a flag to get griefed.
Terry Michaels: You’re going to have to opt in to griefing in that sort of way, you know? [laughs] And people will do it. There are crazy people out there. But one of the other things that I saw on the forums about the private building was in relation to Player Studio. Since we’re giving players an opportunity to actually make money in Landmark and EverQuest Next by creating things, they were concerned about being able to build in private so that other people couldn’t steal their ideas, or see how they’d created the things that they wanted to sell. And that was actually something that we had talked a little bit about internally, but we hadn’t put the focus on the Player Studio side of things and the ramifications there. So, these conversations have definitely led us to raise the priority of building privately, of being able to do that. We’re still focused on public building, and that’s something that is extremely important to this game, but this has been really useful for us.
Omeed Dariani: Absolutely. So, basically, if you want your own black box--which we know about very well here--
Terry Michaels: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Omeed Dariani: [laughs] Yeah. So, we wanted you to be able to have that, right? If we’re asking people to essentially start businesses in Player Studio, we have to give them those tools that let them work the way a business does.
Terry Michaels: Protect themselves.
Omeed Dariani: Yeah. We don’t develop out in the open, Apple doesn’t develop out in the open. You do need that privacy to get that technological advantage over your competition. Absolutely we’re looking into that. One of the things that I thought was really interesting is that we saw a different result from the poll than from the forums. And I think this is... part of how we set the Round Table up intentionally is to have this difference, because we know that it’s really easy to answer a poll, so the feedback we get there is going to represent a broader group of people, the more casual player who’s interested. Whereas, once we get into the forums, we start to see the hardcore people, you know, the people who are more invested in the property. And that’s why saw, ‘Yeah, of course, building will be fun out in public!’ and then, on the forum, people are like, ‘Well, how am I going to make money? I need to make money,” right?
Terry Michaels: The forum also serves to give us a great context for the answers we get in the poll. We can understand why people feel a certain way, not just that they feel that way. It gives us a much better basis for making decisions, and talking about the results and the answers and what everybody’s saying. So, it’s really useful.
Omeed Dariani: Absolutely. So, one of the other suggestions that I saw about building in private was, ‘Why not have an offline mode?’
Terry Michaels: Oh, right. And that’s just not the game we’re making. We talked about it early on in the development of Landmark and EverQuest Next, and that’s just not what we want to do. We want to make a social, MMO, creative building game. That’s what Landmark is going to be. And creating an offline mode is pretty much the opposite of that game. It just doesn’t fit with what we want to do.
Omeed Dariani: One of the other concerns, I think, for someone like me who’s just terrible at building things, you know, having that kind of mode makes it easier for me to practice. And so that self-conscious, you know, ‘My thing is gonna suck, whereas you’re going to build this beautiful castle next to me’... I want to be able to practice where people aren’t looking. But, I think that one of the big pieces of having this social interaction is the ability to have the other players help you improve.
Terry Michaels: It’s a part of every MMO that’s out there. You always run into people who want to help other people succeed in the games that they’re playing. You know, we’ve seen it many, many times. There are so many people out there that just want to play the game, and want other people to enjoy it as much as they can. Being able to build out in the world, and letting them see you go through that process of learning how to turn your imagination into reality in the game, is something that they will help you with. They’ll help you... they’ll give you suggestions, tips and tricks, to make your creations look better. And sometimes you may not want that input from them, but as you’re learning it’s going to be such a helpful tool. And we’re going to really promote that.
Omeed Dariani: Yeah. And I think of it the way... in most MMOs, when somebody inspects you, and it’s like, ‘Hey, maybe you should do your spec this way.’ For me, that’s how I learned a lot of the best builds for the classes that I was playing.
Terry Michaels: Absolutely. You know, people who have personal experience doing the things you’re trying to do, they’re invaluable in reaching the goals that you want to reach in these games. It’s part of the social structure; it’s what we want to create.
Omeed Dariani: And I think we’ll see it in Landmark, you know, with this public building. So, what is our direction? What are we looking at here with this?
Terry Michaels: Well, I mentioned that we will definitely have the public building, that will be in there at launch. We raised the priority on the ability to build privately, and we don’t know if that’s going to come in for launch yet or not, but if it doesn’t, it’ll be shortly thereafter. It’ll be one of the high priority things to come after launch.
Omeed Dariani: Cool. So, I think one of the things... [faces the audience] probably one of the things you could do to help us the most is, when we’re looking at how you build in private, what do you want to do? What features are going to be useful to you? How would you build differently in private than in public? That kind of information, I think, would be really helpful to us as we’re designing out those systems.
Terry Michaels: Also, another thing that might be really good, is ideas of things that make you want to build in private other than the ones we’ve mentioned. You know, maybe we could come up with solutions that will actually work in public to solve your particular concerns but still allow for all the benefits of public building.
Omeed Dariani: Absolutely. So, make sure... the forum thread is still active. Drop us a line there or on Twitter to let us know what you think. We’d really appreciate it. I want to thank you guys for tuning in, and Terry for joining us.
Terry Michaels: Glad to be here. Thanks, guys!
I'd definitely like to see private building as an option, and I'm glad that SOE is moving in the direction of making this possible. It's fun to see what others are working on, but it's also exciting to unveil a finished product. With private building as an optional setting, it seems we could have the best of both worlds. How do you feel about the issue of public versus private building in Landmark?
Karen became hopelessly hooked on EverQuest when she wandered into Norrath for the first time, immediately fell off one of the Kelethin platforms, and had to ask a Bard to find her mangled corpse. She's gained a few skills since, and logged more hours than she cares to count playing all kinds of MMOs. The EverQuest franchise remains her favorite. Relying on her druidic wisdom, she pens a weekly column, Ask the Druid, every Thursday. Send your questions to her at shayalyn [at] tentonhammer.com.
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