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Monday, June 9, 2014

Landmark: I'm In!

Over the weekend I decided to take the plunge. I went ahead and purchased a Founder's Pack for Landmark, Sony Online Entertainment's (SOE) first installment of Everquest Next. It recently came out of alpha stage testing. It is now in closed beta, and for a fee anyone can join. So I did.

For those unfamiliar with Landmark, it's just like Minecraft with better graphics. For those who do not know what Minecraft is, and there are a couple of folks who read this blog who might not, it is a game where you gather resources and then build anything you can imagine - literally, but in a virtual world. Landmark is the same sort of game. In SOE's own words,

Landmark is a world founded on the talent, passion and ambition of its community. Players fulfill unique roles as they explore the limits of creativity and curiosity. Through this journey, they will have a direct and permanent impact on the world.

[caption id="attachment_2785" align="alignright" width="529"]Motivations - Yee - Landmark Motivations - Yee - Landmark[/caption]

So far I've put four and a half hours into Landmark. The learning curve is there, but it's a fairly gentle slope. There is a help system, which would benefit from some more polish frankly, and no in game tutorials at all - at least not that I could find. However, there is a ton of help in the official forums, and with the NDA lifted people are streaming classes as well as casual game play. And as this is a game about cooperation and socializing rather than competition (the competition comes in creatively out doing your neighbors and friends ;) ,) people have been quite willing to share.

This seems to be SOE's plan when it comes to game assistance. SOE has been very involved in the community, and they rely on the community to be self-supporting in many ways. That alone will be an interesting test of the Helping Others sub-category under Socializing in Doctor Nick Yee's MMO motivation table. I've presented that table to the right/above with those areas highlighted I think Landmark is designed to key in on. Consider it my MMO rating for the game, because a one through five star rating system really doesn't cut it when it comes to MMO reviews.

One question I've already been asked by friends and family who already know I've started to play Landmark is what sort of computer hardware does it take to run the game. Here are the system requirements straight off the Landmark FAQ.

Please note that these are our initial requirements. We will be performing optimizations throughout our testing period and hope to lower these requirements over time.

Minimum System Requirements:

OS – Windows 7 64 bit
Processor – Intel i5 Quad Core or higher / AMD Phenom II X4 or higher
Memory – 4GB RAM
Hard Drive – 20GB Free
Video Memory – 1,024 MB RAM
Video Card – nVidia GeForce GTX 275 series or higher / AMD HD 4890 or higher
Sound Card – DirectX compatible
Internet – Broadband (3Mbit/sec or higher)

Recommended System Requirements:

OS – Windows 7 64 bit
Processor – Intel i5 Quad Core or higher / AMD Phenom II X6 or higher
Memory – 8GB RAM
Hard Drive – 20GB Free
Video Memory – 1,024 MB RAM
Video Card – nVidia GeForce GTX 560 series or higher / AMD HD 6870 or higher
Sound Card – DirectX compatible
Internet – Broadband (10Mbit/sec or higher)

Please be aware that throughout Beta, we will continue to make adjustments and optimize system performance. As such, throughout Beta, these system requirements are subject to change.

One thing of special consideration here, the game REQUIRES a 64-bit installation of Windows. There is no OS X or Linux version. Nor could I find any reference to them porting the game to those environments. All it says is, "PC is the only announced platform for Landmark." I can only hope they DO announce other platforms before open beta. I'd at least expect them to port a console version of the game, but who knows. It's SOE, and they've been known to make boneheaded decisions before.

And on that score, Landmark uses your SOE account for login. The game is integrated directly with that account. For me, I'd not used (nor cared about) my SOE account since they destroyed Star Wars Galaxies. Fortunately I still have the email account from when I originally set up the account 11 years ago, and it was not too difficult to reactivate it.

I'll have more to say on the game itself as I make further post on Landmark. I'll just start by saying my initial impression of the game has been favorable. I am not gobsmacked, but I didn't think I would be. I am pleased though, and have found the play to be surprising engaging. But for certain, this game is better with others. You can go it alone, but I think you will rob yourself of an excellent opportunity for some truly immersive role play if you do. I certainly plan on exploring the social options, and have already enlisted my son into my construction company. I'm hoping to entice more friends into joining me. It'll make claim upkeep a lot easier, but more on that in a future post.

For today, I will simply end with this video on character creation as it now stands in Landmark, as well as a run down of controls and the various resources and "technologies" available to the Landmark builder. I will follow-up this video with some more videos of actual game play later this week. This one though should give you a reasonably good idea of how far the game's come since alpha. Enjoy!


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