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AGC: Breakfast with SOE

Interviews By Carolyn Koh on September 13, 2006

SOE: Interview on SWG, EQ, EQII, EQ:OA, MxO and PlanetSide

SOE's Chris Kramer, Ryan Schwayder, Alan Crosby and Jason Ryan sat down to chat

On Thursday morning of the AGC in Austin, Dana Massey and I met up with the Sony Online Entertainment folks and had a breakfast meeting at the local IHOP.

Amidst jokes about partying too hard the night before and who ordered the Rutti Tutti Fresh ‘n Fruity breakfast, we got in a round of questions about their core games. Dana and I agreed that we would start off with what was still the most controversial move in MMOG history, the Star Wars Galaxies NGE.

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“In late winter through early spring, SWG was one of SOE's biggest gainers in terms of new players to a live game, coming through both the trials and through new software purchases,” said Chris Kramer, Director of Corporate Communications.

“We’ve had great responses from the players. The last two patches were player initiated bug fixes and lingering issues. The Expertise system is going in and has been well received,” added Jason Ryan, the Events Manager for SWG.

“Players have been very upbeat on the forums and the questions are mostly about the future and what the game is about moving forward,” added Alan Crosby, Director of Community Relations.

Ryan Shwayder, Community Relations Manager for EQII was happy to talk about the latest updates to the return of the Gods. “It’s going to add a lot of flavor to the game and it’s totally a player’s choice.”

He also informs us that there will be more Live Events that players can look forward to heralding the return of the Gods.

“Including,” Crosby quipped, “clapping your hands three times and saying ‘I believe in Tunare!’

On asking if the Gods can be killed, his answer was a flat “No.” He did elaborate that their Avatars could be killed but the Gods themselves? “You cannot kill a God.”

How’s the Kelethin and Faydark moving along?

“It’s freaking awesome!” Shwayder exclaimed, while Crosby informed me that I could once more fall off the lifts in Kelethin – to which I responded, “As long as I don’t fall through them.”

Players can also look forward to more unique armor as player characters undergo a technical change for ease of assets creation.

We went on to EverQuest and the new expansion The Serpent Spine which introduces a new race, the Drakkin. Chris Kramer told us how he had to give Chris Lena, Producer, kudos for what he’s done with EverQuest. “It looks phenomenal. When I saw it demo’ed in Leipzig, I said, Holy Crap! That’s EQ?”

The expansion is an ambitious venture providing Drakkin areas to level from one to 75 without leaving the new continent if they so choose.

On the Planetside front, we were told that the Planetside Reserves Program which allows players to play for free for a year and level up to rank seven has injected new life into Planetside. New events such as the Best of the Best that is kicking off this week pits outfits against each other and has attracted a lot of attention from players.

Matrix Online progresses as well with new content in the game. Secret areas have been added that can only be accessed by those of the proper faction. Per Kramer, the acquisition of Matrix Online has only been positive and that The Matrix Online is “profitable for the company.” Currently, a contest is being run for players to get a spot on the billboards in the game to advertise whatever they wish – within reason.

Dana brought up EQ Online Adventures and Crosby waxed lyrical about the longevity of the game and the loyalty of the players. It is always a pleasure to cater to appreciate players and the last event run was a Race to 60 which was won by a player who achieved that feat in 24 played hours and gained an item named after his character.

What else is on the horizon? Well, expect to find some if not all of the online games available as Collectible Card Games or Online Trading Card Games. “That’s why we bought them,” said Kramer when we spoke of their acquisition of Worlds Apart Production. In fact, to learn more about the Pirates Constructible Strategy Game that they are bringing into the online realm, the PR and Community team will be having a Pizza & Pirates night. Aaaar! Try not to break the mast again, matey!

The SoE Seattle office is working on an MMO Games currently and the entire team there raved about how good it looked, without ever saying what it might be. There is also a DC Comics themed game in production at the local SOE Austin, which met with similar rave reviews, but no details.

The meeting ended all too soon as we all had other appointments to meet, but Dana asked one final question as we walked out of the restaurant. “What’s happening with Tanarus?” Tanarus is a Sony Station squad-based tank battle game that he played in his younger days. He was told that content is still being added and that work is being done to add player generated maps and content into the game.


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