Monday, October 22, 2012

The Icelandic Influence On SOE

"SOE is redefining itself as a creator of emergent gameplay experiences. That's our future."

Apparently CCP's influence on game studios in San Diego goes beyond former Eve Online senior producer Nathan Richardsson becoming the executive producer for Trion World's new MMO Defiance.  Sony Online Entertainment is starting to add elements to their games influenced by Eve Online.  In an interview with The Mittani in September SOE President (and HBC member) John Smedley acknowledged that Eve had influenced parts of Planetside 2.  But at this weekend's SOE Live event in Las Vegas SOE players got to see firsthand the upcoming plans for their games.

At John Smedley's keynote address Friday night he made a couple of notable announcements that, if not attractive to Eve Online players would sound very familiar.  The first was about a new way to pay for their premium subscriptions using in-game currency.  SOE is moving all of their games to a hybrid model in which people can either play as a traditional free-to-play model or can pay a subscription.  Up until June players in EverQuest 2 had developed a system in which players traded Station Cash for platinum, the highest denomination of in-game currency.  But that came to an end when a $15 Station Cash card purchased at Wal-Mart was able to pay for an entire year's subscription.

To replace what the players had tried to develop Smed announced the Kronos.  The Kronos is an in-game item good for 30 days of game time that can be sold between characters.  And while I haven't heard the presentation, I believe the word PLEX was mentioned to describe the Kronos.

The concept of emergent game play also figured prominently into SOE's plans.  I'm not sure how SOE will foster emergent game play, but if Smed had fun during the Burn Jita event (which is possible since he was a member of the CFC at the time) perhaps he will find a way.  Or perhaps the SOE chief is thinking of player organizations like Eve University, of which he was a one-time member.  Could his game developers plan on developing good corporation guild interfaces?

Perhaps the biggest piece of news concerned EverQuest Next.
"I have to be honest with you. We have completely blown up the design of EverQuest Next. For the last year and a half we have been working on something we are not ready to show. Why did we blow up the design? The design was evolutionary. It was EverQuest III. It was something that was slightly better that what had come before it. IT was slightly better. What we are building is something that we will be very proud to call EverQuest. It will be the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed. The same exciting content delivered in a new way. Something you’ve never seen before. The MMO world has never seen before. We didn’t want more Kill 10 Rats quests. We didn’t want more of the same. If you look at the MMOs out there, they’re delivering the same content over and over again. So are we. We need to change that. When we released EverQuest, we changed the world. We want to do that again with a different type of game.

"What I will commit to is, at the next Fan Faire, not only will you get to see it but you will get to touch it. Most of the EQNext devs are in this room. If you get them drunk enough they might tell you. They’re led by Dave Georgeson. Terry Michaels. Vets from EQ and EQ2. We are remaking Norrath unlike anything you’ve ever seen, but you’ll recognize it. I’m sorry we don’t have anything to show for it, but I wanted to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about it. Keep the faith." [emphasis mine]
News from the convention indicates that emergent game play will be a feature of upcoming games as well as EQNext.  SOE is developing Dragon's Prophet with Runewalker, makers of Runes of Magic.  According to Massively...
"The class-based free-to-play fantasy MMO is a collaboration with Runes of Magic developer Runewaker, and it boasts some curious features like extensive player housing and frontier systems. The site says the housing system allows for the construction of 'epic structures that defy imagination,' while the frontier mechanics grant guild leaders the power to build a kingdom complete with citizens and a powerful military."
Player-built kingdoms on the frontier?  That's not introducing null sec to a fantasy MMO is it?

SOE is definitely setting itself up as an innovative company in the MMO space once again.  Perhaps not as innovative as a company trying to merge a subscription PC spaceship game and a console F2P MMOFPS together into one virtual world, but CCP had a headstart in attempting crazy ideas no one thought would work.  But at this stage of MMO development, following a bunch of space vikings may prove the road to success.


  1. Looks ambitious.

    Are you aware of Pathfinder Online? Also a fantasy sandbox with EVE inspiration. Small scale development led by former CCP marketing director Ryan Dancey.

  2. Planetside 2 has also made mention of player created bases and frontiers...not for release but "soon tm".