So I’ve been thinking a lot about what we can expect at this year’s SOE Live. So tight is the secrecy that even within SOE’s walls, there is a lot about EverQuest Next which is not known beyond the EQNext team. Thus far, only Press sites like MMORPG, Curse, TenTonHammer, and Massively have gotten sneak peeks at ‘Next. Massively is unique among the other sites I mentioned in that they cover SOE’s games year round and we applaud them for that.
Friday at High Noon
After Friday’s SOE Live schedule shakeup, we know that Friday at Noon until 1:30pm will be the big EQNext reveal, followed by 7 other EQNext panels including two Question & Answer segments. All told, 8 1/2 hours dedicated to EverQuest Next.
The EQNext Reveal panel will undoubted start with a nostalgic montage of EverQuest and EverQuest II, perhaps some clips from the EverCracked video, all intercut with talking heads from SOE and the EQ Next team talking about what the EverQuest saga means to them. Then, we can probably expect a mind-blowing teaser trailer for 8-10 minutes which will, finally, drop the curtain on just what EverQuest Next will look like, with a runthrough of its cornerstone features.
So after 4+ years of secrecy, will the EQNext team be able to let go and share what they’ve been dutifully toiling away on? Or will these panels stick close to the Powerpoint presentations and agreed-upon conversation bullet points? SOE is known for keeping things close to the chest, but we might be pleasantly surprised.
If you watched the frustrating Inside the Black Box Teaser Video, then you may have noticed the title card that concludes the clip states a date of August 6th. This date has led to speculation that EverQuest Next might begin a closed alpha/beta testing on the Tuesday after SOE Live. This seems farfetched to me, given the scale and scope of EverQuest Next, but I simply don’t have enough information to either support or refute this date. Given that the video has not been revised or corrected, the date may not be a typo.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of what has been announced, screenshots shown, panels presented, and teaser videos released and analyzed frame-by-frame by excited players. However this should always be tempered with the time-honored realization that announcements that may sound great in a planning meeting may prove disastrous when implemented in the game engine.
A number of aspects of the EverQuest II expansion “Age of Discovery” which were announced to Oohs and Aahs ended up being scrapped or greatly downscaled between their announcement at SOE Live and release 3 months later. I’m not bringing this up to be overly negative, but to suggest that everything being presented are things that the team believes they can pull off at the time.
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
One needs look no further than some of the EverQuest II interviews given in 2003 (link to EQNForum), just one year prior to EverQuest II’s release. Some of what was announced was implemented, but with numerous changes. Some of what was announced was postponed. And some of it never came to be. And in the first 12 months of EverQuest II’s lifecycle, substantial changes were made that reshaped the game into an almost unrecognizable form. A lot can happen from ideas to implementation!
With this being my 6th SOE Live covering the EverQuest franchise, I’m cautiously optimistic about EverQuest Next, but just as much looking forward to seeing old friends, as well as members of the EQ2 and EQN teams. Hope to see you there!
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