Saturday, February 8, 2014

Twin Peaks : EQN Landmark

Alpha patching continues apace. A few days ago functionality was added to the Spires that allows you to see, with some expectation of accuracy, which island is home to your claim. Over the course of the week three new servers appeared, including two physically based in the EU, and a slew of new islands were added to the older Worlds, allowing everyone to spread out, relocate and find some idyllic spot of their very own to ruin beautify.

The new, much improved, map interface makes finding either your existing claim or a new spot to plant your flag very much more manageable.Skapusniak was right. My claim hadn't vanished after all - I was looking for it in the wrong place. I hiked out to reclaim it but after looking at all that flat sand I thought I'd take a chance and see if I couldn't find something with a little more potential. It was slightly nervously that I deleted the claim. There have been a few horror stories of people losing their flags but mine popped right into my bag.

My bag, by the way, is considerably more capacious than it should be. The Explorer's Pack comes with a "Mega Pocket" that rather disappointingly turns out to add just five slots but due to various bugs and wipes so far SOE have reissued all the freebies at least twice and apart from the extra Claim flags, which we aren't allowed to use on pain of demolition, we get to keep the extras. I ended up with six Mega Pockets making an additional thirty slots  to stuff with clutter valuable resources.

Not far from my original claim but conveniently closer to the Spires I came across an untenanted mountain. I say mountain. It's more of a butte, really. Maybe a hundred metres high with a flat top. I snapped it up.

Standing on the top of my mountain as the sun set I felt a deep proprietorial pride. And I hadn't even built anything yet. If nothing else at least finally I had somewhere to put that Saw Table I'd been lugging around.

The intricacies of how claims work remain opaque to me. Once claimed you see a large cubic area that represents the heart of your Claim and a lot of straight or curved lines that represent the boundaries. If, like me, you've claimed an elevated area you only have rights to that horizontal plane but not to the land beneath, which in my case is owned by someone else. That immediately gave me the idea of running a virtual protection racket. "That's a nice cottage you got there, mister. Gets the sun nicely in the evening, don't it? Be a shame if someone was to, I dunno, roof you in, wouldn't it?"

The more you think about it, the more of a potential customer service nightmare Landmark could be. When it was announced back last summer there were a lot of comments about the "Second Life" effect, where everything tends towards the priapic. Jogging back to the Spires to use the public Forge to make a forge of my own (so I don't have to jog to the Spires to use the forge, you see) I came across startling evidence of another problem in the making.

Before I ran into that little gem I passed a plot featuring a fifty-metre ankh. Swap that for a swastika and imagine the tickets. And then there are the gold farmers. Remember the days of body art in Everquest, when the plains of Antonica were littered with the corpses of level ones artfully arranged to spell out the urls of illegal RMT sites? Now imagine those people let loose with tools to reshape the world...

Thankfully those are problems for another day. For now I'm just happy to have my mountain. Wait! Make that mountains. Plural. The border of my claim stretches across the ravine to encompass a second peak to the north-west. My plan is to build a bridge between the two, just because I can.

Except I can't. After I finished some over-elaborate and unnecessary steps down to a large ledge at the edge of my claim I got straight onto the bridge building thing. I got it started alright but half way across it vanished beneath my feet and I fell to the canyon floor a hundred metres below. Lucky falling damage isn't in yet. I rebuilt it a couple of times but it won't stay built. I'm not sure yet if this is because of the bug that doesn't recognize which World my claim is in or because I'm not supposed to build outside of the core claim. I'm hoping it's the former because if not then these claims really aren't very roomy.

Never mind. There's plenty to be getting on with other than bridge-building. I made a Grappling Hook yesterday, which, as many have said before me, is ridiculously amusing. I spent a good while last night just playing Spider Man on various trees and overhangs. When that falling damage does come in this thing's going to be invaluable.

Then there's my Iron Pick to be made. I need that to mine Topaz. I need Topaz to make my Selection Tool. I need my Selection Tool to save Templates.  I need to be able to save Templates to protect my hard work from bugs, wipes and my own design inadequacies. The progression mechanic is beginning to flesh out in my mind a little now and it looks rather clever.

As I was digging my way out of a deep, vertical mineshaft I'd inadvertently trapped myself down last night it occurred to me that, for all the bugs and glitches and incomplete or absent features and systems, Alpha is probably going to be the easiest we ever have it in Landmark. As I mentioned, there's no falling damage yet but it goes further than that: your character can't take any kind of damage at all right now. The grappling hook is a great toy but you can run up an almost-vertical slope so you don't really need it. You need an awful lot of raw materials to make anything so there's a good deal of grind but everything is lying about on the surface in plain sight and there's nothing to stop you helping yourself.

By the time we get to closed beta we'll have falling damage, the ability to run up steep inclines will have been removed, higher tier resources will be hidden below ground and the world will be populated with aggressive creatures. At the moment everyone playing is treating the whole thing as a resource-gathering, structure-building toolset and most seem to like it that way. There could be quite a grinding of gears when an exploration and combat MMO gets overlaid on top of that.

So, make the most of the calm while it lasts. At the rate things are changing that might not be very long.

Edit and Addendum

It appears that I was being wildly over-optimistic about how much land I own. The white lines indicate the buffer area and I probably shouldn't even be able to see them. Anything built inside them but outside the main box doesn't persist. I only own one mountain after all.


  1. Really enjoying your Lanmark posts. I am curious about the amount of land you can claim, and if it is big enough to do what you want. I'd love to make a castle, with mines underneath (for materials), for example.

    1. Thanks. The size of the Claim is very intriguing, I think. Initially I thought it was massive but that turned out to be either a misunderstanding on my part or a bug, where I was seeing the "buffer zone" that separates your claim from the next and reading it as my claim. In fact your claim is a relatively small cubic rectangle - I've seen it quoted as the equivalent of 70m square at the base.

      For people like me, who just want to build a home, I think it will be adequate, although even for me I wouldn't go much further than that. For people like Mrs Bhagpuss and her experienced decorator friends I imagine it will be like trying to live in a phone box.

      That said, it's alpha. We have no way of knowing whether these are the final sizes for the claims. Also we don't know how many claims you will be allowed (Alpha allows just one per account) nor how they could be joined up.

      I am actually not at all sure that Landmark will primarily be a building game. I think a lot of assumptions are being made on very little evidence and a good deal of selective hearing. I wouldn't be at all surprised if building and claims end up being less important in the overall scheme of things than exploring and gathering or even than combat.


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