Daybreak Game Company hosted a roundtable discussion on Wednesday to talk about Landmark, which will be getting some big changes in a patch scheduled to go live on or around April 29. [UPDATE: Daybreak has informed us that the planned April 29 wipe has been delayed an additional week.] Senior Producer Terry Michaels and Lead Gameplay Designer Darrin McPherson were our hosts who graciously took time out of their busy schedules to address our questions and concerns, which I’ve paraphrased and summarized below:
You’re going to do a claim and character wipe with this patch, but only a claim wipe when Landmark transitions to open beta. So if I can have tons of stuff as a tester, because I’ve been able to accumulate it for months ahead of the regular, non-beta players, doesn’t that give me a major advantage in terms of the in-game economy?
To some degree. It will give you a leg up over people who haven’t been in alpha or beta, but people who played in alpha have a leg up in terms of skill knoweldge. All we’re doing is making sure you don’t have to go through the tedium of collecting everything again. Yes, there will be an advantage, but it’s not an insurmountable one and we don’t think it’s one that will drastically impact new players entering the game.
Will you be adding more weapon styles with this patch?
No, but you’ll see refinement to the core of combat, like how players move and swing. Right now, combat feels “swimmy” or imprecise. We’ll be tackling responsiveness, odd NPC AI… it’s about making that core experience more entertaining.
The patch will include new biomes. What are they, and what kind of exclusive items will we find in them?
The new biomes will be ocean, volcanic, deciduous forest, and cave equivalents for the last two. But we’re moving away from the notion that there are specific plants or lumbers in certain biomes. Some of the harvestables are different, and you will still get different kinds of wood, but not the “rare” mats; Heartwood, for instance, is being removed. As we looked at the complexity of crafting, we needed to pull some things out.
By introducing achievements and a more robust tutorial, I’m sure you’re getting a fair number of fans saying, “Oh man, it’s not a sandbox any more, they’re steering you along rails to go exactly how they want us to go.” What’s your response to that?
Our intent is to uphold the goals we had before. Achievements are not tutorials. We tell you, we give you direction – “First thing you should do is make a claim” – but if you go mine instead, you’ll get achievements doing that. There’s no order required, they just give you suggestions. If you want to do building instead, go ahead.
The new user experience is about providing new users some small amount of direction to know where to start. It’s not a canned tutorial experience. We want the ability to direct players without forcing them down a path.
Are you still planning on adding content creation tools?
Yes. As we move forward and create those tools – for things like AI, dialogue, and questing – they’ll show up in the game. It’s definitely still our intent. We want that to be a major part of the game, not just a side part of the game.
We have been building toward EQN with a lot of the systems we’re putting into Landmark, but we’re going to change that. Before, when we were deciding the next thing to work on, we were taking Landmark priorities as a guiding factor. Now we’re prioritizing EQN. We’re still working on both games, it’s just the priorities that will be different.
Regarding the new crafting and weapon changes, it seems a little like you’re greatly simplifying things…
Well, all weapons are now craftable. Chests and monsters no longer drop recipes, they drop Ether Shards, and we’ve removed the hurdle of making it so you don’t know what station to use or how to create a certain item. We’re not simplifying the system, just simplifying the interface. The goal isn’t to turn it all into a “one-click” system, but we’re open to feedback if people think it’s too simple.
Anything else you’re changing/adding that you would consider temporary systems to facilitate development?
Many of the things we’re working on will change and mutate, of course, but there’s nothing now that we think is going to be removed. Crafting changes were the only case where we felt like we needed to pull back on and modify to avoid additional wipes, which everybody hates.
Can we drown yet?
No, but we’ll add that someday, as well as ways to avoid it when going underwater!
(As a final bit of news, as we were doing the interview, a forum post was going live that detailed how players would be able to go from two root claims and eight attached claims to eight root and 24 attached claims via the Marketplace in April 29-ish patch, with pricing to be determined.)