Sony Online Emtertainment is introducing caves and underground tunnels to its building-and-crafting game Landmark, which is currently in closed beta.
Caves will open up in the next few weeks, encouraging players to venture underground in search of building materials. Landmark is based on SOE's EverQuest Next asset creation tool suite, and allows players to explore, collect and build in much the same fashion as Minecraft.
As the beta progresses, new features are being introduced such as MMO-style combat, social and economic systems and a storefront that allows players to trade and sell the assets they have created. SOE has stated that it hopes to buy player-created assets for use in its own games.
The introduction of caves, due to be implemented before the end of this month, is part of SOE's plan to increase the world's size. "We have talked about wanting to make a truly 3D world where you can dig down into the earth and explore just a far as you want to," said senior producer Terry Michaels. "That's what adding caves is all about. It allows us to spread people throughout the world and let them see just how vast an actual 3D world can be."
Players can dig anywhere in the world, but their tunnels and caves heal over with time. SOE's own caves are permanent but they can change their shape from one day to the next, something that does not happen with the over-world. Cave entrances do not change, although some deeper caves are only accessibly by digging from other subterranean passages.
Players must explore the caves to find resources. "In alpha, the resources were all on the surface," added Michaels. "Now we are spreading them throughout the world." The most valuable resources will be salted deep in the ground. "If you were in the real world, you wouldn't expect to find diamonds on the ground. You'd have to dig down deep to find them," he said.
For now, players cannot build structures underground, although plans are in place to allow in-cave projects and land claims in the future.
SOE had not announced release date for the free-to-play PC title, but Michaels said the firm is eyeing hugely successful creation games like Minecraft as a target for success. "We are looking for that level. We have seen it with other games and there is no reason why this game can't have the same level of success, he said. "Landmark is something new. There is only one place to play it."