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Dragons of Norrath Interview With Alan Crosby

Reed Hubbard Posted:
Interviews 0

When World War II Online was released in 2001, many saw it as the next big step for MMORPGs. The game promised huge battles between axis and allied players in a series of theaters throughout Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. Players would pilot aircraft and drive tanks and other vehicles that were faithful recreations of the actual vintage hardware. Even the map was a true, scale representation of the actual terrain of WWII. While most of these features were eventually realized, a troubled launch coupled with increased competition in the market put the reins on WWIIOL’s success. While it has settled into a unique niche and has gained tremendous acclaim, it has never risen above what could be termed as cult status.

However, that is all about to change. The developers at Cornered Rat Software have been constantly improving the game and the small but dedicated group of players has continued to grow as word has spread. New features are regularly being added, existing features are being enhanced, and the war is raging with increased fervor as new recruits join the battle. As the game’s fourth anniversary approaches, CRS is prepared to re-launch the game with a new boxed release, as well as add-ons to the existing European Theater. We spoke with Cornered Rat’s own Chris “Mo” Sherland, executive producer of WWIIOL, about the game, the expansions, and plans for the future.
MMORPG.com: Now that players can pick up Dragons of Norrath, what do you see as the most appealing features of the expansion for current EverQuesters?
Alan Crosby: Folks really seem to be enjoying the new Bandolier and Potion belt. There have been some requests to expand their functionality and we are evaluating those requests. Missions are quite popular and again expand the ways in which you can play EverQuest. We are quite proud of the Mission System and would like to do lots of fun stuff with it as EQ continues to grow.
Are the new zones on any kind of new continent/moon?
Alan Crosby: All of the new zones are on Antonica in the area known as the Nest. It lies between Lavastorm and Everfrost Peaks.
What levels are the Broodlands and the other areas adjacent to that zone targeted towards? Will some classes be able to solo in them, or is it strictly grouping?
Alan Crosby: The zones are for levels 45 and up. There are always classes that do well at soloing and they will continue to do well here. There is quite a bit of great group content they will miss out on though.
MMORPG.com: Being that the focus of this expansion is those level 45 and higher, do you see this as the trend for future EverQuest expansions? In other words, given the mature status of EverQuest, do you see coming expansions geared more toward seasoned players and enhancement of the high-level game, or will we see new content directed at new or younger players?
Alan Crosby: We will continue to revamp and add content for all levels as part of expansions and live updates. However, with our expansions we try to aim for the current level of the majority of our players.
MMORPG.com: Speak a bit about the new mission system. What can players expect from it and what benefits will they see?
Alan Crosby: The mission system is a fun way for us to do more story drive, instanced content. You can expect fast paced missions, which advance the story of DoN within a short play time. The players will earn crystals which they can save up to buy items from special vendors. The crystals can also be traded with other characters.
MMORPG.com: There has been some buzz about guild halls and tools. MMORPG.com member Odenathus wants to know if the tools are open to everyone in the guild or just the guild officers/leaders.
Alan Crosby: Most of the tools are open to everyone in the guild. So the corpse summoning altar, the portals, mana and health regen pool are for anyone in the guild. The only tool that is exclusive to guild leadership is the Guild Bank. Guild leaders will need to designate you as a banker to make full use of this feature. Even then, there are still functions of the guild bank that any member can use.
Do these tools impact the entire guild every time you use them or can they be used as single player aids (thinking mostly of the portal to a location and summon corpse features)?
Alan Crosby: The tools do work for the individual characters, so yes they can be used as single player aids and provide some services that everyone will enjoy.
How are the guild halls accessed? Is it a special item that all members of the guild need, or is it a specific zone location for access?
Alan Crosby: Guild halls are accessed through the Plane of Knowledge and lead to a lobby that is available to anyone with the expansion. The Guild Hall, which is off of the lobby is an instanced zone and is unique to each guild.
MMORPG.com: The barter zone is a new, highly touted feature of Dragons of Norrath. How exactly does it work? Is it part of the bazaar, or a separate entity? Can all players use the barter zone, or only those with the Dragons of Norrath expansion?
Alan Crosby: Bartering allows players to offer trades to other players without being present. So If I wanted 10 spider silks, I could put up an offer to trade money or other items for the silk. Then folks could come to me and trade me spider silk for the money or the items. It is almost the opposite of the bazaar which allows players to offer items in exchange for cash. Now you can offer cash or items, in exchange for items. Originally the Barter zone was a stand alone zone, however as of our most recent update, we have combined the barter and the bazaar zones. Any player can make transactions with a player who is bartering but only those with the expansion can place themselves in barter mode.
How has the old world been affected by the release of this expansion. Are there any updated graphics or layout changes for extant areas of the game?
Alan Crosby: As part of the expansion, yet released to all customers, we did revamp the graphics in Lavastorm. As the content for the new expansion kicks off in Lavastorm, we had to add some new geometry and decided to just do the whole zone with our new tools. The content of the zone, other than new things specific to DoN, is the same as it always has been, and can be enjoyed by all EQ players.
Will people with older graphics cards (e.g. my faithful old GeForce2) be able to appreciate the “graphically enhanced zones?”
Alan Crosby: Older graphics cards can play in any of the graphically enhanced zones, and will see a definite change in the geometry and texture quality. However they will most likely not be able to take advantage of all the nice bells and whistles, like improved lighting and shadows.
MMORPG.com: Now that EverQuest II is in full swing, does that game’s direction have any bearing on the plans for EverQuest or vice versa? In other words, do the development teams for each game work together synergistically, or are the games completely separate entities?
Alan Crosby: For the most part we are two independent entities. We do collaborate on lore and we make sure that we are being consistent in storyline, as much as we can anyway. I imagine that as our games progress you will see some overlap in terms of design decisions and such as one team or the other has new ideas.
MMORPG.com: EverQuest has passed the five year mark and is still going strong. What is next for the world of Norrath?
Alan Crosby: We have lots planned. We are not stopping anytime soon. Look for more of what you have come to love from EverQuest. We will have some fun and exciting announcements for you soon, so stay tuned.

We’d like to thank Alan Crosby at Sony Online Entertainment for taking the time to talk to us about Dragons of Norrath, as well as SOE’s Tamara Sanderson for all her assistance. Also, thanks to each of you who submitted questions. Once again, you prove the community is what makes MMORPG.com a unique website. For more information on EverQuest and the Dragons of Norrath expansion, visit http://eqlive.station.sony.com/


Reed Hubbard