Everquest Next: Massively Multiplayer Online Voxels?

Everquest Next ThumbnailRock Paper Shotgun just posted an article covering the first look at the upcoming Everquest Game, cunningly named Everquest Next. Unless Sony Online Entertainment have access to a cadre of wizards or time travellers many of the announced features will almost certainly not live up to the hype (Radiant AI, anyone?), but one in particular piqued my interest.

Everquest Next’s world is made of voxels and everything in it is destructible.

That’s the one. It sounds like a developer read Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, went to his Minecraft-addicted team and said, “Hey, I bet we can do that”. And all power to them for trying. The idea of a world – even if it’s only a fraction of the size of a Minecraft world – that is fully persisted, fully destructible and massively communal is genuinely exciting. If they can pull it off there’ll be a shared game-space like nothing that has come before. From little things like battles actually scarring the landscape, to cataclysmic events realistically deforming and damaging the world, it would bring a level of player engagement that no MMO has managed before. Players can literally leave their mark on the world.

Of course this is just an announcement at the moment. Have Sony made a breakthrough that mean they can actually do it to the scale and detail promised? Somehow I doubt it, but the fact that they’re even trying is exciting, and their audience’s reaction to the attempt shows that they’re driving in the right direction. Sure, the reality won’t match the hype, but it’s another step along the road.

Sceptical Pixie is sceptical. But good luck, SOE.

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