Today during a Las Vegas event, Sony Online Entertainment gave first details about its grand vision for the upcoming massively multiplayer online game EverQuest Next.
According to SOE president John Smedley, many MMO games fail because "players consume content faster than developers can create it." With EverQuest Next, Sony is introducing a "living world," where players can create content alongside the development team.
"What does the future hold for EverQuest Next and Sony Online Entertainment? It's in the players' hands, and we like it that way," Smedley said.
Concerning story, EverQuest Next will be a continuation of the familiar Norrath narrative, but will represent a "fundamental reimagining" of characters, lore, and environments in the game universe.
"Make no mistake; while great care has been taken to respect the extraordinary influence that EverQuest has had in this industry and with our player community over the years, this is a boldly different game unlike anything that has come before," development director Dave Geogeson said.
EverQuest Next has been in development since 2009, Sony said. Two years ago, the company made the decision to "rethink core creative and technical aspects of the design" and begin again with a new approach. As a result of these changes, Sony claims EverQuest Next will be unlike any other MMO game for a variety of reasons.
First, the game will feature "multi-classing." There are no levels in EverQuest Next, but more than 40 multitiered unique classes will be available at launch. Players can mix and match abilities from each class to create a distinct character.
EverQuest Next will also feature destructible environments, which the developer claims no modern MMO game has successfully implemented so far. According to Sony, "every piece of the world" is fully destructible. The game also boasts "permanent change" as a selling point, allowing players to change the world around them in "drastic" ways.
Sony said EverQuest Next will also feature emergent artificial intelligence, which means non-player characters will have "specific motivations and preferences that direct behavior in nuanced and unpredictable ways." Lastly, Sony believes EverQuest Next will stand apart from others because each character in the gameworld will have a unique story instead of following a predetermined path.
"The game will remember every choice and action that players make and will organically deliver increasing opportunities to do more of the things players like to do…from crafting armor and exploring the wilderness to purging goblins from the forests," Sony said.
Beyond EverQuest Next's new game features and components is something called EverQuest Next Landmark, a world-building tool that will be available to the public this winter.
Landmark enables players to create structures using Sony's own Player Studios Software and share--or sell--their creations with friends. Sony will even give specific instruction regarding what elements it needs help crafting.
"Through this collaborative approach, EverQuest Next may eventually represent the largest overall collaborative development effort in the history of online games," Sony said. "For anyone who has ever thought about becoming a game developer, here is your chance."
Landmark will be released this winter as a free download and serves as the "gateway" to EverQuest Next, which Sony has not announced a release date for.
For more on EverQuest Next, check out GameSpot's just-launched preview of the game.