"Do me a favor and type '/loc' into the console, will you?" the Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) developer asks me. I oblige. The readout is a set of coordinates corresponding to my character's current position on the enormous Everquest Next Landmark continent.
He's particularly interested in the number signifying my current altitude: -2,463.
"Where's the bottom of the map supposed to be?" I ask.
He laughs. "Zero."
It's the culmination of forty minutes of work. When SOE let us loose into the internal build of Everquest Next Landmark, Nathan Grayson of Rock Paper Shotgun and I had one silly goal: Dig all the way to the bottom of the map, just to see how far down this Minecraft-esque world of voxels went.
Instead, we somehow dug "through" the bottom of the map and kept on going, our Verne-esque adventure taking us to a land where caves fill with fog and rain flies through the walls.
This was Everquest Next Landmark in Admin (read: God) Mode — pure chaos slamming head-on into raw creativity. It's the best online sandbox game you'll probably never get to play, and that's a shame, though Everquest Next Landmark is still amazing even without Admin Mode's sheer madness.
Coloring within the lines
SOE released the closed alpha of Everquest Next Landmark — the company's spinoff MMO that's more Minecraft than Everquest proper — last Friday.
When I say it's like Minecraft, that actually does Everquest Next Landmark a disservice. Landmark is voxel-based, sure, and it involves building things out of those voxels. However, the set of creation tools in Landmark is far more advanced than Minecraft. When you start the game you have only Add, Remove, and Heal functions — all fairly self-explanatory and similar to Minecraft's mechanics.
Later, however, you'll craft and unlock four more tools: Selection (which fills a designated area in automatically), Paintbrush, Smooth (which curves an object's hard edges), and Line. You're even given access to special shaped blocks, like corner pieces and spheres, allowing for far more complicated objects than a pure grid-based editor like Minecraft. On the whole, it's a lot more like a simplified version of 3D modeling software (such as Maya) than a creation tool you'd expect within a game.
But the Landmark alpha build is a fairly regimented affair. First, you mine for resources. Once you have enough, you'll strike out into the wilderness and claim a plot of land. This becomes your homestead — you can use your harvested resources to build anything you desire on this land. Build a rocket. Build a log cabin. Build a giant garbage bin and set yourself up like Oscar the Grouch. The choice is yours.
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