Scott Hartsman drops in to chat in our ninth interview
Carolyn Koh continues to quiz SOE developers on EverQuest II. Today, we chat with Scott Hartsman as he answers another set of questions.
Since the launch of EQ2, there have been some major changes in the game that has affected greatly, one aspect of gameplay or other. How do you go about determining if a certain aspect of the game requires changing?
The need or desire to change something in our game can arise from a variety of sources: things that we notice ourselves while playing, things that we hear others talking about, or even comments we read on our message boards. Any changes we consider must be evaluated within the context of the overall game experience, which is a delicate balancing act; sometimes the goals of proposed changes might sometimes be contradictory, in which case we have to determine:
How big of a change is this? What kind of impact is it going to have on what people already expect out of the game, both actual change, and in terms of what players perceptions?
Does it make something more or less fun?
How does it align with the game we're making?
What does it do to the long term health of the game?
Do you think that these changes you’ve implemented so far. For example, the recent revamp of the tradeskill system… the changes to classes… has caught the players unaware or have these been changes that have players have clamored for?
I think that one of the reasons that they've been (all in all) received so positively is because large portions of our community recognized them as potential areas we could improve EQ2, and many of them wanted to see a given change happen. Not everyone likes every change, of course, but one reason you don't hear a lot of complaining about most of our system enhancements is that the majority of people see them the same way we do -- as enhancing the game experience.
Do the player base tend to request wide-scale changes or changes to single specific aspects of the game? Say change to a certain spell or change to an entire line of spells?
In the case you’ve described, usually not. What happens most often with spells and spell lines is that they tend to get mired up in class vs. class discussion, since many people feel a strong loyalty to their primary class. People almost view themselves as lobbying on behalf of their own class, which of course causes people of other classes to view said efforts as threats and immediately get into direct comparisons.
As a brief aside, that's a big reason why at Fan Faires we tend to not get into class-vs-class style questions at all. These are frequently discussions that have dozens of different facets, and are much better suited to extended debate, taking all of those different aspects into account. Justice really isn't done to them in a two-minute question-response format.
Have there been any major player base requested changes or improvements that were made or are in the works? What are they?
Most of the big changes that we’ve made to EverQuest II game are things that both our dev team as well as many players have wanted to see changed – things like selecting selection at character create, the revamped newbie experience, etc. I don't know if "the players wanted it too" qualifies as "player-requested," but I'd definitely classify a good portion of our changes as being well-aligned with what our players want, largely because most of us play our own game. For any change we make, we're living through the results of it as well.
One of the reasons for the lack of Asian themed armor in The Fallen Dynasty was the extreme difficulty and amount of work that would be required to create these armor sets. Are there any changes planned to make this easier in the future, such as new player character models to ease this difficulty?
Yes. It's still too early to get into specifics, but behind the scenes we've been working on a number of character systems improvements. The primary goal of those improvements is to to make the creation of visible armor pieces considerably easier.
Carolyn Koh / Carolyn Koh 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.