PvP is incredibly important to us. We wanted to make sure that we had the ability to invest the proper amount of effort in it, in order to make something that was really a lot of fun, on the first try. That’s the largest reason that we didn’t launch PvP in EQ2. We always wanted it there – We just wanted to do it justice.
It’s a lot more work than it seems to design a system, implement it, and iterate it through alpha and beta testing until you end up with something that qualifies.
We started out with a rough system concept that was written up by one person. This write up is the stage at which “what’s fun” “what’s rewarding” and “what’s cool about this” are all defined and understood. This becomes important later. :)
That system was presented to others who worked out additional details and fixed logical holes in the initial rough plan, and we then ended up with something that looked like it would be a lot of fun to try out.
Over a period of a few months following that, it was in an iterative process of implementation/testing by the PvP designers and engineers, who naturally found even more holes in it and fixed them along the way. Many hallway discussions were had about how to address this problem or that.
The most difficult thing for us at this stage was keeping track of this system as it evolved daily, ensuring that nothing we were changing along the way detracted from anything that we felt would be the fun parts. I’m very pleased to say that the system made it out with all of the original things that we had hoped would be fun, intact, and we added even more along the way. It’s a huge credit to everyone who contributed.
At this point, we now have one primary PvP designer who’s over-the-top hardcore into playing there himself, and he works with a couple of our gameplay engineers who were both heavy contributors to EQ2’s PvP systems to ensure that we’re showing the level of responsiveness that people have come to expect from us.