PC Gamer has the scoop today on a new technology being brought soon to f2p MMO, Everquest II, that I think is just brilliant.
I originally started Everquest II at the game’s launch. I played an iksar troubador named Boulevard (after Greenday’s very popular at the time “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”) on Antonia Bayle. I very much liked the game, especially for its amazing graphics that still stand up decently today.
Most notably, I loved the fact that your character could have a facial emote that was always on to represent specific emotions. As an iksar, Boulevard should have been mean, nasty, and an all-around evil guy, but since he was a troubador (who are all about being happy and dancing) I always had him smiling. A lizardman smiling is unnerving. However, it was a cool feature because it made my character more my own. Sure, everyone COULD choose to smile, but most didn’t bother.
SOEmote takes that sort of customization to a whole new level. The new technology offers a voice changer for in-game voice chat to make you sound more like how your character might actually sound. Even more amazingly, it adds facial emotes to your character to reflect your actual expressions and facial mannerisms.
The most important thing about this technology is that it is meant to bring the roleplaying back and to increase immersion. Rarely these days do we see these goals being pursued with such a creative and different solution. As more and more MMOs come out with strictly mechanical designs meant to divide player populations into whatever playstyle-sized hole they fit, it is nice to see something as broad as this. I can imagine that even for non-roleplayers this will be very fun to play around with, and might do a lot to just enhance the look and feel of communication within the game to a true next level.
One of the best things about this for me is that it shows that SOE still cares about immersion. I hope this sort of tech and systems like it are core to the experience in Everquest Next. With games like Elder Scrolls Online promising that MMOs can only exist as World of Warcraft imitations, I just don’t know where to look anymore.