How Linking and Triggering demonstrates the power of Landmark as a tool for EQN
I expect everyone’s far too busy playing Landmark to be reading this, so I suppose I could write about anything. We could do some kind of top 10 list, that’s very popular at this time of year. Maybe an introspective essay about how my relationship with my mother influenced my approach to Pokémon Blue.
I’m joking of course; I’m going to talk about EverQuest Next and Landmark to feed my peculiar addiction.
Keeping track of all the changes to Landmark this week, along with everything that’s coming soon after the holidays, feels like trying to look at a parade balloon that’s right outside your window. You can see it’s massive, you’re pretty sure it’s awesome and you wish you could see the whole thing.
One of my favorite things about following the development of these two games is contemplating how one affects the other. No doubt much will be said of how this weeks additions change the dynamic of Landmark (and we can reasonably expect this to be a recurring theme in the months ahead), but what do these systems say about EQN?
We know Landmark is being used to build EQN, we’ve seen the initial products of this on the Workshop Show and in the presentations at SOE Live. We’ve been able to fight for a while, but since EQN isn’t exclusively PvP we have some AI controlled adversaries to tussle with. They drop loot we can use to craft if we’re lucky, or if we mess up we can die and respawn.
Let’s be honest, this isn’t our first rodeo, and we know the ropes well enough by now it won’t take us long to wrap our heads around these systems – go to place, kill the bad, take the stuff, make the things. So many happy memories, and we’re going to have lots of fun making some more.
What is interesting to me is how the linking and triggering system fits into this; it’s easy to see how all the other basic elements fit into building an MMO, but what does L&T tell us about EQN?
While the system has many and varied implications for the game of Landmark, I think it’s safe to assume it wouldn’t have gone in at this stage if it wasn’t also a system that is needed for EQN, so what could it be used for?
Traps and hidden areas would be an obvious start, as well as linking props to create ambient effects when players enter areas. As for the less obvious, we’ll have to wait and see what what the team at SOE and the players of Landmark can come up with.
Much of what comes after this will be down to what attributes can be given to a prop. So far they can move, create light and sound and damage players (though the landmines are not part of L&T yet).
I’d like to see props that could manipulate voxels by adding, destroying or painting. Props that heal or buff players, props that attack enemies could be fun, or props that attack players or monsters and can switch between the two mid fight, or make them invisible. Maybe some props could make certain items unusable within a certain range; dropping players into a dark pit and turning off all their light sources is good fun for the whole family. Maybe turn off all sounds except monsters, while you’re at it.
I could go on and on with these simple ideas (and I do when no-one is looking), but the point I’m trying to make is that this kind of functionality dramatically changes how we will interact with the world in EQN. While interactions like these are not particularly groundbreaking in isolation, the way they can be implemented certainly is.
The generic nature of the system means that very complex interactions can be created quickly and easily, allowing for a rapid iteration cycle and enormous variety. The possibility of rapid iteration is ideal when paired with the established player base in Landmark, some of whom take immense pride in pushing the games systems as far as they will go (and then out the other side). What this ease of creating and evolving methods of L&T means is that while we interact with the world of Norrath, the world might interact with us in ways we never expected.
For me, this one system is an excellent analogy for the strengths of Landmark as a method of content creation. When you can turn a powerful tool into a toy people can play with together, finding the fun in creation is incredibly easy.
Here’s a crazy question: we know NPCs can react to certain objects in the world, so could a builder NPC react to a gate being built by placing a lever that opens it? We know NPCs can place and use objects... could they create links and triggers? This is exactly the kind of thing that seems simple to a layman like myself and is probably unbelievably difficult to execute, but a boy can dream.
Whatever the reality may be, I was already floored by the elegance and power of the system in its current and most minimal form, it’s going to be an incredible journey of discovery as the system grows.