Some pretty big changes are on their way to Landmark, not the least of which is the final full character wipe and an extensive land reformation. Anticipation is certainly high for the new biomes, and to say many testers are looking forward to finally keeping character progression into the open beta phase and launch is an understatement! But that’s only a small part of the new build: The achievement, crafting, and harvesting systems are all getting their own facelifts.
With so many modifications incoming, players may not be too surprised to learn that the big wipe will happen later than anticipated; instead of April 29th, the wipe is postponed until the week after. At least that gives everyone a bit more time to digest all of the information, including these new details we’ve gathered from our talk with Senior Producer Terry Michaels and Lead Designer Darrin McPherson.
More claims to love
The face of the land will be altered pretty significantly with the new landmass shapes, new biomes, and the return of the surface caves. With that, it is almost guaranteed that players will find more than one beautiful spot to set up shop, and choosing between a cave entrance, beachfront, mountains, forest, or even underwater might be almost too much to bear. The good news is you won’t really have to. Michaels noted that players will have access to a far greater number of claims than they did previously through the Marketplace; the claim caps are being expanded to eight root and 24 attached. Going forward, players will be able to acquire only one root and three attached claims in-game, except for current players (as of the update), who will retain the two root and eight attached claims limit that is in game now.
Those hoping for the larger, seamless landmasses to place said claims on will have a longer wait than this update. Michaels clarified that the larger islands and connected zones spoken about previously are still being worked on but not ready. With this update there will be around 22-25 islands on each world, leaving space for the larger islands to be put in later without disrupting (or causing a wipe of) any of the existing islands. Players who want to live and build on those larger landmasses when they appear will need to either pull up stakes and move or place new root claims.
Free building materials
If you weren’t looking forward to harvesting the hundreds of thousands of stone necessary to rebuild your amazing multi-claim castle after the wipe, we have good news for you: You don’t have to! Michaels announced that the five basic materials of stone, dirt, ice, sand, and snow will be completely free for players to build with. No matter how much you need, you do not have to harvest any for your construction projects. Conversely, you also don’t receive any back in your inventory when you delete or change the material. “Because they are so prevalent in the world, we didn’t want players to have to go out in the world and gather one hundred million stone to build their castle,” Michaels said. “If you want to make it out of obsidian, however, then you have to go out and get that.” Players should be mindful that this only applies to physically building; any crafted items that need said materials can only be made with stuff that was actually harvested.
This change is also a boon to those who want to experiment with the shape templates as the templates themselves are crafted from dirt and sand. Those who want to just start experimenting with building can jump right in instead of waiting until inordinate amounts of resources are gathered first. As McPherson put it, players who want to can focus their time on just basic building.
Speaking of basic elements, Michaels assured that dynamic water is still in development; however, it is not far enough along for there to be an estimate on its inclusion into the game.
Sayonara salvaging (and other crafting tidbits)
The previously released crafting update notes revealed the removal of the salvaging system. Michaels explained that while this system is integral to EverQuest Next, it’s served its testing purposes in Landmark for now. The team received lots of valuable information and great feedback. He noted that removing salvaging, as well as the randomized stats on tools and weapons, is meant specifically to prevent future character wipes if significant changes are needed on these systems later. Instead, the systems will be pulled now and will be worked on internally until they are in a more polished state, at which point they will come back to Landmark.
Some changes are definitely a boon to crafters. As of this update mobs will no longer drop any gear, only materials for crafting it. Players will still be able to reforge and modify gear, and aspects and essences for weapons are still crafted from ether shards. The various props will still need ingredients from different biomes. However, with the removal of salvaging, the reduction of the crafting machines to just two, and the removal of randomized stats on crafted tools, the crafting changes herald a real simplification of this type of gameplay. There’s no question that removing the mob-dropped ether shards as a component to basically everything is certain to be very appreciated, but is the new system too simplistic and shallow for a serious crafter? That’s for players to test out and give feedback on. The dev team definitely wants and expects feedback; Michaels explained that this update’s iteration of crafting is in direct response to feedback from the player-base. He said,
“We found that over time, we had overcomplicated the system to the point that it was cumbersome to players. […] We don’t think we are simplifying the system; we’re just simplifying the interface to it and the things you have to do to be able to be engaged in it. That’s our goal with these changes.”
Michaels emphasized that the devs want to know if they hit or missed the mark they were aiming for in this iteration of crafting. Will your feedback matter? Just look at the removal of the ether shards from most recipes. He said, “We thought we had a good idea, but we turned out to be wrong, and players let us know.”
About the upcoming combat changes, McPherson pointed out that players will not be seeing any new weapon styles anytime soon, rather there will be refinement to the basic core of combat, such as how players move and the timing of swings as well as changes to NPCs and their timing. Taking cues from player feedback, Daybreak now wants to make the combat feel crisper, more precise, and more solid. Michaels then emphasized that this is still only one iteration, and once players get in and test this build out and offer feedback, the team will adjust more and more.
McPherson also addressed concerns that the achievement system is taking away from the sandbox nature of the game by putting it on rails. He emphasized that while the achievements do give players suggestions of what they can do and direct players to something else they might enjoy (do you hear a hint of EverQuest Next’s Rosong system here?), the system is not a tutorial. Players don’t have to do these achievements in any particular order — if they even do them at all. Players can turn off the suggestions and ignore the achievements, but they will complete as a player moves throughout the game anyway. As McPherson put it, “We have achievements in the game primarily because we wanted to have this ability to direct players without forcing them along a path.” And Michaels added that the system is really a way to give new players a small amount of direction.
The status of the player-controlled AI
Besides the impending threat of character wipes (which is now negated), one of the factors keeping some players away is the absence of the content creation system for players. Michaels assured me that this system is still in the works. The content-creation tools, from the AI to dialogues to questing, will show up in Landmark as soon as possible. “It’s definitely our intention to roll all of that functionality into Landmark as soon as we can,” he said. “But it’s a considerable amount of work for every area that we want to do. […] We want these tools for creating content to be integrated into the game itself, which is a considerably more complicated process.”
Players should also notice another change going forward: updates containing more polished systems. As Michaels put it, the perspective of how updates are done in Landmark is changing. “Before we were giving things to players very, very early because we knew we could wipe whenever we wanted to, or that we had an upcoming wipe that could handle any issues that we had.” Now, changes will be tested more internally before they go into the game:
“That doesn’t mean we won’t talk about [changes/plans], that doesn’t mean we won’t post about some of the things we are doing and get feedback on ideas; it just means that they won’t show up in the game until they are a little more solid.”
This a departure from the past is not to remove players from the development loop, but specifically to avoid wipes. And everyone can certainly appreciate that!