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Bi-Weekly Q&A #3

By Carolyn Koh on February 24, 2006 | Interviews | Comments

Bi-Weekly Q&A #3

We move to a more general focus as the Q&As continue

Scott Hartsman is the Senior Producer of EverQuest II. Today, we move beyond our Kingdom of the Sky focus to a more general format as we continue our bi-weekly interview series. We also have six screenshots from the expansion.

MMORPG.com:What was the reason for the change to the Newbie experience? Why separate the “refugees” into the Evil & Good alliances from the get-go? Did the good ship Far Journey not provide enough “tutorial” or is this to facilitate the PvP experience?
Scott Hartsman:

There were a whole lot of reasons. I’ll try to not go on for a page about them all!

The biggest reason for the new character progression was better class differentiation from the start. The average person picks up an RPG and has an idea of who they want to be when they grow up – They want to be Paladins, Necromancers, Shadowknights, and so on.

They don’t want to wait 20 levels to become what they wanted to be on day one. Down this same line, people who already play an RPG like making alts. Replay value in an MMO is a huge point of playing. Having to repeat 10 or 20 levels of the identical experience as the same archetype, and sometimes even the same class, really gets in the way of the fun.

As for the two islands, the primary reason we kept them separated by alignment even at launch was due to the following situation:

A person joins a new MMO. They make a friend in their first 20 minutes on the island. They leave the island after a few hours, and they’re on opposite sides of the world and they can’t play together. It’s better to ensure that the people they do meet are people they’re absolutely going to be able to play with as their characters grow up.

Since that’s a situation that will always occur in EQ2, we decided to invest the time into making the content on the new islands two completely unique experiences, to make replaying across alignments even more interesting from the outset.

As for The Far Journey, while we do appreciate the Captain’s fine service, the premise of a person coming in and being a rescued refugee really isn’t where we wanted to put people on day one.

Everything about the new experience – From class selection, to the equipment people start with, to the new starting appearances/clothing, to the removal of the ship – It’s about setting people up in the lore as a returning hero, in a world full of other people, out to make their name in the new land.

MMORPG.com:With the new Character Progression system, will there be more class-specific armor quests? How specific is “specific?” How different will monk armor be from bruiser armor, for example? What about race specific looks?
Scott Hartsman:

There’s a pretty healthy blend of both mixed in there. You start out on the Outpost of the Overlord or the Queen’s Colony and you’re questing for and looting equipment that’s tailored fairly well to your class. There’s really quite a bit of new loot on both islands.

Then once you make it off the island and into town, you meet up with a trainer of your race who has a quest series, with stories and rewards tailored to give you some background on your racial identity, and an idea of how your race fits into Norrath.

As we introduce more and more content into EQ2, there is a lot more differentiation going on between classes, and it’s a focus we’re going to keep working with. Kingdom of Sky, for instance, introduces some really amazing looking new armor sets that are specific down to the class level.

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MMORPG.com:Again on the current focus on “new look” and our discussions with the SoE team at CES… will we be seeing new fantasy creatures or modifications of the old “much too real life looking” ones? How about cities and environments?
Scott Hartsman:

The idea of EQ2 appearing “realistic” or modeling anything after reality has definitely been abandoned. It has been ever since around the time Desert of Flames was in production, when we began aiming for a high detailed, high fantasy look. Most people who’ve made it to the Desert of Flames and Kingdom of Sky areas have been pretty happy with what they’ve seen.

People play fantasy games because they want fantasy. If people want reality, more often than not, they’ll go outside and get all the reality they like.

As for the original world areas – Some of them are pretty great without being touched, however we’re looking forward to updating a few others that people both on the team and playing the game have had comments about over the past year. I don’t have specifics to talk about at the moment, but it’s definitely something that’s on our radar.

MMORPG.com:There’s been a hullabaloo on the official boards in regards to Crafting. Why did you feel that there was another need to tweak the trade skills again? Tell us!
Scott Hartsman:

Making crafting more accessible to more people by removing the involved series’ of subcombines is something that we’ve wanted to do for quite some time. When we make basic things very complicated to make, we don’t do anyone any favors.

As an example, but one of my characters is a high level Sage. Lately, I only get a few hours a week to play. If during that time, a low level person asks me to make them a spell – I really do want to help them. However, I have to make the decision: Do I want to spend half of the hour that I have tonight making this guy one spell, or should I just say no so I can go out and adventure with the time that I have?

If I have to go back 2 or 3 tiers of components, it’s like re-learning an entire set of crafting, on top of spending the 20 minutes to make the person their spell.

In addition to making it more accessible, we’re expecting that people are going to be much more likely to give each other a hand, when being nice doesn’t represent a prohibitively expensive cost in terms of one’s own play time.

You can comment on this article here.
Carolyn Koh / Carolyn has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.
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