Everquest Next is the upcoming latest installment in the venerable Everquest series of games. Developed by Sony Online Entertainment, this sandbox-style mmorpg game aims to build upon the successes of the previous Everquest games while also taking advantage of the latest technology and innovations. This game is a departure from the previous games in the series as Sony has promised that the setting will be a parallel world of Norrath, with changes made to familiar characters, locations, and events.
Everquest and Everquest II are two of the most expansive online games in existence with an incredibly high amount of quests and locales, not to mention plenty of races and classes to choose from. Everquest Next looks to build upon this foundation by taking the best mechanics and in-game systems from the previous games for inclusion as well as a myriad of new mechanics to make the gaming experience that much deeper. Sony Online Entertainment has confirmed that both Player Studio and SOE Emote will both be included in Everquest Next. Player Studio allows players to create actual in-game items, following a basic template, that could be selected to be put on sale in the online store. Players who design such items actually get a percentage of the revenue from the items sold. SOE Emote adds facial recognition and voice technology to the game, which allows players to use their webcams to change the facial appearance of their characters in-game based upon the players' actual facial expressions. Taking advantage of the latest technology, Sony has developed a new game engine called Forge Light, which promises to greatly enhance and focus on lighting effects and character appearance.
Everquest Next plans on focusing on the roots of the franchise in terms of gameplay, which means that this mmorpg will be sandbox in nature. John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, has stated, "That’s the direction we’re going we’re going in with Everquest Next; trying to make a world that players create while being a living, breathing world around them. It’s not just a prop for them to walk around in, which is really what all of today’s mmos are. Their worlds are nothing more than a movie set.”
This sandbox nature of Everquest Next is evident in that Sony has collaborated with Namaste Entertainment to bring the Storybricks game mechanic to the game. Storybricks allows players to create fully realized NPCs in the game. These player created NPCs will be fully fleshed out by having likes, dislikes, goals, and so on. These NPCs will interact with players in a much more organic way than the typical, "go here and kill 10 rats." They will interact with the players on an individual basis, adapting to the choices and needs of the character standing in front of them. What's even more compelling is that Storybrick NPCs will have a memory and remember their interactions with the player's character and treat them accordingly in the future.
With the sandbox nature of Everquest Next and the inclusion of game mechanics such as Storybrick NPCs, Sony has brought role-playing back to online gaming. Everquest Next launches later in 2013.
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