The combat is based on what weapons you wield. "There's the soldier's blade, the conjurer's staff and the marksman's bow, and they have very different abilities. Each one of those weapons has two abilities, a basic one and an alternate that you trigger with left and right click while you're playing," Georgeson said. The weapons generally have abilities that match up with fantasy archetypes. The soldier's blade has a swing and a dash attack, while bow has a quickshot and a sniper's mark. The conjuror's staff shoots bolts and casts a blue bubble of slowness. "You throw it down on the ground and it makes everybody in that area move slower. That can be really effective in conjunction with the conjurer's staff basic ability, but also it's really good to use when you're working with teammates."
All of these mechanics are being tested in Landmark but they will inform the choices and abilities in EverQuest Next. "In Landmark, you get all your abilities from the items you equip. You want different abilities, all you have to do is equip different items," he said. "In EverQuest Next, you're collecting classes. A class has, not surprisingly, a couple of different weapons it can use. So when you equip a class, you're effectively deciding what weapons you can use, and then when you use those weapons you get different abilities."
Similar to how Kickstarter and other crowdfunding efforts allow regular consumers be involved with the development of their favorite games, so too does Landmark allow creative players to be a part of the process. "Almost everybody wants to participate in a dev effort, they just don't have a chance. There's hundreds of millions of them, and maybe, thousands of us," he said with a laugh. "So now they can get involved and they can do that stuff and they can help us build the game. We're just doing it at the same time. It feels funny, because it's unusual, but it's no different than if we just made another game off the same engine."
Running the business of MMO development this way is really interesting because it allows teams to take their time. By selling the game to people who want to be involved in the design at a high price, it alleviates a large portion of the risk. Consider what happened to well-intentioned companies like 38 Studios with the development of the MMO set in Amalur. SOE doesn't have to worry about burning through a finite amount of budget to develop EverQuest Next in a set timeframe. At this stage, Georgeson can make sure that fun is the highest priority, not profit.
"As long as the game is kind of paying its own way, and that's really all we want from it. We're not trying to turn a profit with Landmark right now, it's not a finished game," Georgeson said. "As long as it's defraying the cost that means that we can be soft about when the deadline is. That means that we can listen to the players a lot more, which means the game can be better.
"Subsidized. That's a good way of putting it," he said when I suggested the term. "You can't believe the amount of pressure that eases for us. The dev team can work on the fun factor, and doing the right things for the game, which very few people in the industry are able to do. This team works harder than almost every other team I've ever worked with, so it's not like we're slacking really. It's just that, we have a lot of ideas, and I'd like to do them all. So, whatever we can take, the better it is."