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Daybreak Games | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 03/16/99)  | Pub:Daybreak Games
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download,Retail | Retail Price:Free | Pay Type:Free | Monthly Fee:$14.99
System Req: PC | ESRB:TOut of date info? Let us know!

Interviews: 10 Year Anniversary Interview

By Carolyn Koh on March 31, 2009

10 Year Anniversary Interview

Tell us a little about yourselves. What have you done with EverQuest and how long have you been with the game?

Jonathan Caraker:

I’ve been a huge fan of EverQuest, since the beginning. When I picked up my copy on March 18th, 1999, (I still have the original game and the receipt!), I knew I was going to be hooked. I had been introduced to text-only MUDs in college and was well aware of the enthralling potential of a multi-user fantasy game. EverQuest, rendered in full 3-D, was the next logical step forward from the days of colored text and it was way ahead of its time. I joined Sony Online in 2002 and was a fledgling member of the design team later that same year. By my count, I have contributed to 13 of EverQuest’s expansions.


How many expansions have there been in all? Which have been the most memorable in terms of customer enjoyment do you think?

Jonathan Caraker:

There are 15 expansions available now, with the high possibility of another in the works. Our player base has mixed feelings on which is their favorite. You will hear a different answer on which were the most successful or memorable, depending on who you ask, but most seem fond of The Scars of Velious and Omens of War.

Which was the most significant in terms of advancing game play? Why? What new features were introduced?

Jonathan Caraker:

The instancing system, introduced with Lost Dungeons of Norrath, has had the most impact in advancing our game play. We have more control over the pacing and flow of the player’s experience in a private instance over a public zone. And it solves the problems inherent with overpopulation. Even a dank forgotten tomb can feel like a crowded shopping mall the day before Christmas when it fills up with adventurers competing over the content and rewards.


Which have you yourself enjoyed and why? What were you particularly proud of in them?

Jonathan Caraker:

In my opinion, Depths of Darkhollow and The Serpent’s Spine were titles we could be particularly proud of. This was due to their depth of progression (no pun intended) and compelling storyline. We were able to tap into the story of the enigmatic vampire, Mayong Mistmoore, in Depths of Darkhollow. He is a character who has been shrouded in mystery since the game launched. While his presence has been felt in many expansions, including Lost Dungeons, Prophecy of Ro, Ruins of Kunark, and the original game, this was the first opportunity to see him, face to face. Mayong’s gaudy gothic underground keep ranks among the most gorgeous zones in EverQuest and it was chock full of personality, lore, layers of truth and understanding, and sinister characters. Serpent’s Spine had two parallel progression paths with multiple end-zones, on top of a full level 1 to 75 progression. It doesn’t get much more epic than that.

Has the game become “easier” in some ways and let us know how/why?

Jonathan Caraker:

We’ve made a point of removing many of the artificial roadblocks, excessively punitive penalties, and confusing mechanics over the course of the EverQuest’s lifespan. With little exception, I feel these changes were for the greater good. Adding in-game maps, showing Tradeskill formulae, not destroying items in a Tradeskill container for a bad combination, reducing experience loss on death, reducing experience necessary to acquire levels and AAs, allowing players to keep items on death, and displaying quest objectives in the game’s quest interface are but a few of the examples of our attempts to make the game as accessible as possible while still maintaining the level of challenge that EverQuest is known for.

What do you think have been the greatest improvements in the game?

Jonathan Caraker:

In my opinion the greatest single improvement was the switch from the old viewport window that didn’t show the game world in full screen whenever you opened up player inventory. As it only rendered in a small sub window within the application, it’s hard to believe we used to see the world through such a tiny window ten years ago.

It wasn’t a clear cut transition, either. There was a time during the Kunark era where you could travel and fight in full-screen but looting, or any other action that required seeing the player inventory, would still utilize the old interface. My poor dilapidated monitor would go black for several seconds and emit a *kuh-CLICK CLICK* noise each time it had to change resolutions when switching back and forth.


What is it about that game that keeps players coming back, despite all the other games that have come into being in the last ten years?

Jonathan Caraker:

It’s tough to compete with EverQuest’s ten years of handcrafted quests and raids. There are over seventy-five thousand unique text strings and six thousand old-style quests in our database, as an example. In addition to the sheer size of EverQuest is the community. Other players, and the relationships that are built in game, are our greatest renewable content and a large part of EverQuest’s retention.

If there were one thing you could change in EverQuest but are unable to at this time due to technical or other constraints, what would it be?

Jonathan Caraker:

I would like to rework EverQuest’s dialogue system. It would be cleaner as a visible tree of possible responses to an NPC’s text rather than requiring the player to type in keywords. It can be difficult for players to distinguish between quest text versus lore, or follow the dialogue at all. If you go back far enough, to dialogue interactions from original EverQuest, players often had to guess the correct response or dialogue trigger and many of them were especially unforgiving.

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn has been writing for 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.