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Expansion Preview, EA & Salvatore!

Dana Massey Posted:
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Dark Age of Camelot Roundtable Report (Page 3 of 3)

R.A. Salvatore - The Gamer

Salvatore didn't sign on to Green Monster Games because it got him Red Sox tickets - although I cannot imagine that hurt - he did it because he loves games. He told the audience of his first flirtations, when he couldn't get into Ultima Online, and then his first love when he found EverQuest.

EverQuest inspired him, as it has others. He started as a Barbarian and played with his regular Dungeons and Dragons group. Over time, they tried other games, including Dark Age of Camelot, World of WarCraft, EverQuest II and many more. However, lately, Salvatore admitted he'd been back in the original EverQuest. He simply has too much invested in those characters to move on for any length of time. His 22-year-old-son who helped hook him up with the EA Mythic event is more of Dark Age player.

Naturally, speaking before a Dark Age of Camelot audience, he was asked why that game didn't keep him longer.

"I'm not a PvPer, I suck," he said only half kidding.

Despite his lack of skills, he then launched into one anecdote where he did pretty well. On a World of WarCraft PvE server, he and his guild mates boarded a ship for a long journey. Another guild had joined them on the boat to go raiding. One character of about his own level continually challenged him to a dual. Taunts flew, but Salvatore was not interested. Finally, after annoying him for several minutes, Salvatore agreed.

Just before they hit the zone line, Salvatore simply cast mind-control and ran his loud-mouthed opponent off the side of the boat. Everyone else zoned, their obnoxious friend drowned. His guild mates got such a kick out of it they didn't even mind having to wait for their friend.

Salvatore outlined how he sees the role of top-down in MMORPGs. His philosophy was somewhat surprising given he made his name as an author.

"You're going to write your own great darn story," he explained. "People are not there to read my book, but to write their own."

He doesn't think MMORPGs should be about him telling the players a story. They should be worlds players experience. They should stimulate the player's own imagination. Ultimately, he realizes that no one cares if R.A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane and Curt Schilling are making an MMOG. All that matters is that it is fun.

He sees the keys to a good MMP as being casual friendly, allowing people the ability to solo and letting people accomplish something - anything - in 20 minutes play bursts. He, like so many people, does not have the time for an eight hour raid every day. He also likes the idea of a seamless world and insists that games need to be places you dream of being, not where you already are. This means vivid colors and fantastical sights. He was especially critical of EverQuest II for failing to achieve that.

Finally, Salvatore spoke a bit specifically about Green Monster Games.

He told us of how Curt Schilling started the project for all the right reasons. He may be a rich and famous athlete, but he's also a gamer. The last thing Schilling needs is a day-job or more money. Salvatore believes Schilling gives the project a higher profile, visibility and a wealth of contacts in the gaming industry.

Todd McFarlane is a top notch artist who already has his own 200 person studio to draw from.

Salvatore himself brings an understanding of how to tell a story or enable gamers to tell their own stories.

Ultimately though, Salvatore reminded us that it will be the designers, writers and game people they hire who make or break the product.

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Dana Massey