I thought I saw a dev dungeon reference. I did! I did see a dev dungeon reference! And it’s about time.
I have to admit that as much as I have been looking forward to Landmark’s future features, dungeons totally slipped my mind. I’d like to think it was because the anticipation of utilizing gamemaster tools to control AI on my claims overshadowed them, but the truth is that devs let this feature fade into obscurity. It’s been a really long time since the original vision for the game was announced, and basically nothing has been said on the dungeon subject outside of claims since, which is a shame: Of all the various incoming features, dungeons are one that might finally be able to lay that lingering “It’s only a building game” misconception to rest once and for all.
So yes, dungeons are a thing! At least they will be. And they will be both player-made on claims and out in the wilds. If only it would all come sooner rather than later.
The dungeon lowdown
Although this morsel of dungeon info did not come as a big flashy announcement (it was simply a comment in a forum thread), that does not diminish its value or juiciness. No news is not good news in game development when fans are practically starving for updates. So what’s the scoop? The developer Deletionist did more than just bring up the subject of dungeons to remind players they will exist in Landmark; he also gave a few interesting details.
For one, adventures will be encouraged to find, explore, and defeat challenges in dungeons with more than just fun gameplay — there will be loot! And it won’t be just combat lovers who want what’s there; there will be value for all playstyles, including builders. Deletionist explained, “We will likely create or move something that builders want into dungeons so that adventurers can get value out of dungeons beyond the value of fun gameplay.” What if your builder-self doesn’t want to venture into caves? Looks like another reason for trade to me!
The next bit of info gleaned from this comment is actually the most exciting to me. Deletionist said,
“Ideally the dungeons created via dungeon mastering will populate our underground in the same way that player made ruins currently do, meaning explorers would have to find them for players to potentially get real loot from them. Player made dungeons on claims should also be a thing, but those may not feature actual rewards.”
Basically, impressive player-made dungeons have a chance — most likely though a contest like the ruins — to be placed permanently in the world for others to stumble upon and enjoy. How exciting is that? As someone who wants practically nothing more than to make an adventure on my claim for players to experience, this idea makes me all giddy! That I can have a long-lasting contribution, that my passion could be a permanent part of the game, is so dang awesome. Finally, one of my strengths (story creation) will be valuable in the world-building arena. I haven’t entered any construction contests, but I sure as Hades will be entering this.
I don’t know about you, but in my mind I always had the notion that the devs would be designing the dungeons. Looking back at the introduction of the ruins contest (instead of just building contests for EverQuest Next racial cities), I can see how much it makes sense, but I sure didn’t anticipate it way back when. This also gives me reason to think that excellent submissions might also have a possibiliy of inhabiting EQN in some way just as specific buildings might. I never thought I’d have any chance to contribute, and now I might.
On a slightly unrelated side note: That same post also gave those who are eager for combat upgrades assurance that the feature is still getting worked on. The phrases of “outside of better combat” and “invest more development time on combat features” should give hope to the combat-oriented.
But there’s more!
As Deletionist discovered, no matter how tasty the morsel is, one just isn’t enough. With so little talk on the matter, you can’t blame players for diving hungrily at the scrap! Players tried to extrapolate on the dev’s words, but weren’t always hitting the mark, so he came back to offer some clarification to the conversation. He emphasized that the term dungeon, as it is used here, does not necessarily mean a space inhabited by mobs and bosses to defeat and loot as most MMOs focus on. Although this is possible, the game master tools will allow so much more, including puzzles and other various non-combat oriented activities. He gave the example of a “sprawling future city within which a terrible crime must be solved by players with no access to weaponry of any kind!” He then clarified that his initial post should have said combat was generally expected in dungeons but not necessary.
For those who became worried that all these dungeons would introduce a massive amount of instancing, Deletionist then suggested an example of finding and old teleport spire that whisks you away to the adventure. Teleporters are already in use on claims and in the world, so why would it be out of place to use one deep in a hidden cavern? Of course, the dev team still supports limited instancing in Landmark, so occasional use of instancing is not an indication of its taking over the known world.
Sadly, this whole conversation was not an indication of the gamemaster tools coming in the near future. “And lastly,” he said, “I want to clarify that all this talk of dungeons on my part is not a precursor to more news on DM Tools. That system is still a long ways off.” Bummer. Even so, I am grateful that the conversation was sparked because silence on the subject is not helpful. Maybe Daybreak can’t give us oodles of specifics, but having developers join in the dialogue is still very much appreciated.
Show me the… anything!
Landmark has been in open development for quite some time now — a year and a half. Most folks aren’t used to having access to a game at such an early stage of its development cycle, and a lack of frequent reminders causes two problems. One is very natural: Out of sight is out of mind. Only so much information can be at the forefront of the mind, so if there is no news on the game, that space is getting filled up by other things. Two, without consistent dialogue on the plan, people can’t help but see the product as it is, not what it’s working toward being.
It is therefore imperative to bring and keep the game at the forefront of fans’ minds through progress updates and even small conversations. These information bites don’t have to be huge, flashy announcements bursting with fanfare. Take this recent dev mention of dungeons: It didn’t come as a major announcement; it was simply a comment in a forum thread, yet it still renewed the fervor in players’ hearts. It offered a bit more information than was had before, giving players something to chew on while they wait. And it was the first real acknowledgement of the open world dungeons aspect of the game in a long while. That stuff is seriously appreciated! Just little things like this to help keep things fresh in the mind will do nicely.
Daybreak, if I could give you one bit of advice, it would be this: Take a moment or two and give players tiny morsels to nibble on occasionally so they remember the taste of their excitement for the game and stay invested in the wait. This is not just for Landmark but for EQN as well. Do not leave us hanging too long in between courses else you’ll find folks will get up from the table. I just can’t stress it enough: Show fans a little something to help keep hope alive. Not a lot, and not all the time — just don’t let us starve.