Scott Hartsman, the Senior Producer of EverQuest II, and Chris Junior, a designer, tackle this new Q&A from Carolyn Koh. The focus of this interview is player vs. player combat.
How important is the world of PvP to EQII? Do you have a team dedicated to PvP rules or some developers that are assigned to dealing with PvP issues?
PvP is incredibly important to us. We wanted to make sure that we had the ability to invest the proper amount of effort in it, in order to make something that was really a lot of fun, on the first try. That’s the largest reason that we didn’t launch PvP in EQ2. We always wanted it there – We just wanted to do it justice.
It’s a lot more work than it seems to design a system, implement it, and iterate it through alpha and beta testing until you end up with something that qualifies.
We started out with a rough system concept that was written up by one person. This write up is the stage at which “what’s fun” “what’s rewarding” and “what’s cool about this” are all defined and understood. This becomes important later. :)
That system was presented to others who worked out additional details and fixed logical holes in the initial rough plan, and we then ended up with something that looked like it would be a lot of fun to try out.
Over a period of a few months following that, it was in an iterative process of implementation/testing by the PvP designers and engineers, who naturally found even more holes in it and fixed them along the way. Many hallway discussions were had about how to address this problem or that.
The most difficult thing for us at this stage was keeping track of this system as it evolved daily, ensuring that nothing we were changing along the way detracted from anything that we felt would be the fun parts. I’m very pleased to say that the system made it out with all of the original things that we had hoped would be fun, intact, and we added even more along the way. It’s a huge credit to everyone who contributed.
At this point, we now have one primary PvP designer who’s over-the-top hardcore into playing there himself, and he works with a couple of our gameplay engineers who were both heavy contributors to EQ2’s PvP systems to ensure that we’re showing the level of responsiveness that people have come to expect from us.
Are there any spells currently in the game that are considered unbalancing enough that they will not be able to be used or heavily modified for PvP?
In one way or another, just about every spell in the game has been modified to have differing effects when used in PvP combat.
Melee damage, Combat Arts and Spells all have varying modifiers in place to either increase or decrease their damage. Some peak damage abilities like Ice Comet require additional tempering to ensure that battles are fun for everyone, and don’t become completely one-sided due to a single overpowering ability.
It was our goal when implementing the system to ensure that all abilities available to a player were represented for PvP. Even though spells like Possession have been disabled when used against a player, the spell can still be used against a creature in the game that can in turn attack a player.
Now that you are through beta and into the launch of PvP… How are locked encounters working for PvP? What have you observed and what lies in the future?
Locked encounters have very little impact on the PvP aspect of these servers.
Remember, encounter locking is now an optional feature of EQ2. Even if a group chooses to lock an encounter it does not stop the opposite alignment from engaging them.
What’s in the future? Are you planning on weapons that will allow players to conduct wholescale war such as siege weapons? Or areas that opposing players can “capture”?
For right now, we’re enjoying the fact that their popularity surpassed even our own optimistic expectations. We’re remaining focused on taking care of the service we just launched.
We are focused purely on the here and now, making sure that those new servers and their fledgling PvP ruleset are maintained and enhanced as best as we can, and that we continue being able to address the issues that emerge in live as quickly as possible.
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.