Oh, EverQuest Next, will you never cease to torment us? Rodolfo Rosini, CEO of Storybricks, the company tasked with providing much of the AI for Sony Online Entertainment’s doomed MMORPG, recently released on his personal blog a couple of design proposals his company submitted to SOE back in 2012.
The first proposal concerns “Next-Gen AI Combat” for the game, which outlines a wide range of behaviors for monsters in the game. Most of it seems pretty basic, such as pathfinding, attack preferences, and so on. Seeing enemies have particular fears or hatreds makes me think of a title like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and the ability to manipulate terrain — or deal with PCs who do the same — would have been a feature unique among MMOs to EverQuest Next. There’s even the possibility of “creatures made of terrain and terrain made of creatures” and the kind of ecological modeling — meaning races of creatures that expand and conquer territories — that really got our blood flowing when we heard it detailed at SOE Live in 2014.
The second proposal is a “Combat AI Features Roadmap,” which Rosini admits is “a little dry,” though his manifesto near the start of the document details what he perceives as the major problem facing MMOs today (or in 2012). Specifically, he laments the rise of graphic quality without a similar rise in gameplay quality:
While games are great at simulating how things look like, they are still inthe infancy of simulating how things behave. Storybricks was born to address this problem.
It’s an interesting look at what could have been, and may yet be, if some MMO developers are courageous enough to try something a little different with their games.