Maybe other people didn't glean as much from it but for me the Livestream finally answered some of my most pressing questions, particularly concerning the importance and significance of Claims. When I gave Mrs Bhagpuss a brief summary of how it's going to work she said "Oh, like Vanguard then!" and that sums it up perfectly.
The similarities are quite striking.
Location, Location, Location
|Are you sure that goblin was a qualified architect?|
In Vanguard, all houses stand in the open world. You can't build just anywhere, there are defined housing areas, but there's no instancing. When Vanguard was very busy (Trust me, for a while it really was) competition for the best plots was intense. Certain housing locations were highly desired, either because of the facilities, which varied considerably from area to area, or because of the proximity to popular adventuring haunts.
Some individual plots were especially coveted for aesthetic reasons. There was a single plot on a small island (from memory it was just off the Dornal Coast in Qalia) we envied so much that every time we sailed past it on our sloops we'd throw stones at the house someone had built there.
|I said you were cutting those beams too long but would you listen?|
We spent hours exploring Thestra and Qalia for the ideal plot. My first house was in a windswept, isolated cove near Konarthi Point in Thestra. I was very happy there at first but after a while the solitude and the rain began feel oppressive and the sheer distance from anything and anywhere began to wear me down so I sold up and moved to the sunswept sands of Abella Cove on Qalia. Mrs Bhagpuss had already claimed a plot on the beach and it was a nervous Raki who dismantled his Thestran cottage, sold the bricks and traveled halfway across the world hoping all the plots hadn't gone.
Having seen the Livestream I now understand that staking a claim in Landmark is like that. It's no longer some nebulous, hazy concept but a straightforward, very comprehensible and practical proposition. Yes, the world of Landmark will be vast at the start and infinitely expandable. Yes, everyone will be able to claim somewhere to build. If you want the right place, though, the perfect place, then you'll have to explore and you'll have to compete.
All Fall Down
In Vanguard you own your house but you don't own the land on which it stands. You pay a weekly upkeep fee for the plot and if that lapses your house falls down.
Alright, it doesn't actually fall down. It disappears and the plot becomes available for anyone else to snap up and build on. You don't lose anything other than the right to that spot. Everything from the bricks in the wall and the tiles on the roof to the furniture, fixtures and fittings inside automagically flit away to Escrow, a form of storage accessible to any character on your account from any of the many escrow merchants who hang around housing areas all over Telon.
|Wherever I lay my cheese, that's my home.|
If you stop playing for a while and let your house fall down, all you need to do when you return is scout out a new plot (or reclaim your old one if it turns out that you were the only one who'd live there on a bet after all), pay the purchase fee, take your stuff out of escrow and rebuild.
Landmark works in a very similar similar way. There will be upkeep on your Claim. If you fail to meet the payments for whatever reason everything you've built will vanish and the spot will be free to be claimed by anyone who takes a fancy to it. All the materials you used to build it, however, and everything you had in and on it, will be retained for future use. Moreover, you'll also have the Template for the structural design safely saved away, meaning you can rebuild with ease, just as soon as you find another Claim to your liking.
Expand That Chest
|My next chest's going to be this big!|
For a while back when I was playing Vanguard regularly, acquiring and stocking chests in my house was a significant goal. Even with three continental banks and a generous amount of on-character storage I still never felt I had enough chest space. Now there's a surprise.
Landmark has a system of personal storage using upgradeable chests placed at your claim that sounds very similar indeed. Vanguard also had an undocumented storage option: you could place literally any item in your inventory in your house and it would leave your packs and become a visible object in your home. If there was a graphic available you would see that. Otherwise it would display as a small, wooden goblet. It would be nice if Landmark works that way, too, although preferably minus the goblets.
Moving on... apart from the reassuring and welcome familiarity provided by the line of descent from Vanguard some other very welcome news came our way both in and out of the Livestream.
Beware Of The Flowers
|Hey, I can chop this guy down to size, right, so I'm going worry about some overgrown daffodil?|
I feel considerably re-assured that lack of meaningful context won't be any more of a problem in Landmark than it is in most other MMOs. I anticipate owning a sense of purpose as I explore, and also having to keep my wits about me.
The brief discussion on "hazards" and particularly the cameo appearance of The Chomper did a lot to convince me that there will be plenty to occupy those of us who aren't bursting with architectural fantasies just crying out to be realized, as did clarification of the need to explore, gather and discover before you can build.
I can now imagine making a role for myself as the supplier rather than the designer in this creative ecosystem, the trapper and hunter ranging deep into the forests in search of exotic pelts or the botanic explorer mounting specimen-gathering expeditions in a world where the flowers really are out to get you. Yeah.
You Sure That's Real Money ?
There was financial news too. Firstly Dave "Smokejumper" Georgeson popped up to quell a growing insurrectionist rumor that upkeep would require real money payments via Station Cash.
His reply that "Some things have an SC *option* but currently there's nothing that is SC *only* except Player Studio items" does feature the ever-popular get-out clause "currently" but I think that's just standard self-protection. I'm happy to take it that Landmark will be Pay To Skip not Pay To Play.
Better yet came the confirmation that Player Studio will be rolled out to European players. Smed's twitter comment was definite if limited: "...on EU Player Studio – we had to figure out the relevant tax forms and legal regulations. This has never been about anything other than annoying taxation and legal things we had to get buttoned up.". Whether that really means "EU" or whether it includes the non-EU states bundled up in the PSS1 deal I guess we have to wait and see, as indeed will the rest of the world.
With the whole ethos of both Landmark and EQNext predicated on Player Studio, universal access will have to be made to happen somehow or the games just aren't going to be viable for whoever gets left out. Not, at least, if haves and have-nots are all playing together on the same servers. This is a step in the right direction although how far down that road we will be by the time Landmark goes live is anyone's guess.
|Happiness is a flat roof and no more plots between you and the horizon.|
One Trailblazer and one Explorer pack purchased. Roll on Alpha.
[Sorry if anyone's seeing what look like half-finished versions of this post that keep changing. Blogger's Preview function has been broken for me for a while now and I'm reduced to live editing for the final cut. Finished now. I think...]