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Exclusive MMORPG.com Q&A with Brad McQuaid

William Murphy Posted:
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tcostisi writes: What is one new mechanic are you going to try out in Pantheon that we don't already know about?

Brad McQuaid: We’re looking into ‘horizontal progression,’ which means fewer, but more meaningful levels. Every level is going to count and be memorable. We’re going to get more details out to you as it nears completion in the initial design phase.

Moridin82 writes: Will you able to craft legendary items?

Brad McQuaid: If we reach our stretch goal for implementing a crafting and harvesting system, or if we don’t but release the system later as part of an expansion, then absolutely yes.

Rogosh writes: Will we be able to align our character to specific deities and if so will there be deity specific abilities granted to our characters?

Brad McQuaid: Yes, we want race, class, faction, and religion to all affect your character, sometimes giving you an advantage and sometimes a disadvantage.  It simply depends on where you are, who you are interacting with, and what you are up to.

Loktofeit writes: One thing I liked about Vanguard was the Diplomacy system, which allowed players to take up a viable profession in the game other than the standard genocidal maniac role. Will Pantheon also have roles that aren't centered around the kill/loot system?

Brad McQuaid: Not initially, no.  Pantheon’s focus is about exploration, adventure, and combat.  And, of course, building your character and equipping him or her with powerful items.  Our focus may be narrow right now, but we’re looking at quality not quantity when it comes to game features and mechanics.  In particular, our combat system needs to be amazingly fun.  In fact, we already have an early version of it working in our prototype. It’s that important.

Other systems we may implement in the future, as stretch goals or perhaps as post-launch expansions also deserve the same careful treatment and design.  As an example, we don’t want to shove a quick and dirty crafting or diplomacy system into the game just so we can say we have one in a bullet point somewhere.  We want to build this game with great care and focus.  We’ve all made mistakes in the past, building MMOs where we tried to include everything plus the kitchen sink.  And it’s these past experiences, both negative and positive, that will allow this veteran team to develop a game that is focused first on being the most fun adventuring and exploration MMO the player has ever experienced.

objeff writes: Questing question: in recent MMOs quests usually don't take you further than the current zone. This leads to what I call the locust effect; you come in complete the zone quests then move to the next zone and repeat. Not very epic or challenging. Will we see questing that takes us across the world or take time and serious effort to complete? You know, like and adventure? ;)

Brad McQuaid: Many MMOs do focus on shorter quests and more quests.  Usually there are multiple quest hubs, and players travel from one to another to advance.  We’ve worked on games like that and while they certainly have their merit, with Pantheon we want to reach back into the past and bring forward the open worlds that were so popular.  We believe many players are looking for MMOs that are more of a sandbox and less of a game that makes you feel like you’re on rails, going from one quest or story and then to the next.  Pantheon will certainly have quests, but these quests will be epic.  The focus will be on quality, not quantity.  And doing those quests will also be optional.  While they will usually reward the player quite handsomely upon completion, they won’t necessarily be essential to advance.  Players should be focused on adventure and exploration first.  

Mawnee writes: Will gear be level requirement and/or bind on pickup/equip? Or will there be more freedom like the original EQ had?

Brad McQuaid: Pantheon will much more like the original EverQuest when it comes to items and a player driven economy.  The vast majority of items will be trade-able with exception of quest components and the like.

ste2000 writes: What about combat, slow combat like EQ or fast paced combat like modern MMOs (FFXIV, GW2, SWTOR)?

Brad McQuaid: The combat will certainly not be ‘twitch’ like an FPS; it will require strategic thought and planning. As you learn combat in Pantheon, you’ll figure out which abilities are most useful against specific spells and abilities enemies may use.

Question: How group mechanics works? Is there a trinity, or a 6 piece group (Tank, Healer, DPS, Buffer, Puller, Crowd Controller)?

Brad McQuaid: You will see a return to having defined roles per class, and you’ll want those roles in your group. There will be healers, tanks, DPS classes, buffers, pullers and crowd control. How you make up your group is entirely up to you, and that’s where the strategic element comes into play. Maybe you can try a non-conventional group to see if you can make it work; or maybe you prefer to do a classic style approach and stick to having a little of everything. We expect our players are going to be the ones that are figuring out the strategies that work best.

Question: Armor and Equipment will be racially based, class based or Universal for everyone?

Brad McQuaid: It really depends on the item. There will be all of the above.  Some items may work better for some races or classes or even be restricted to that race or class.  Other items may be restricted based on the character’s religion or faction as well.  

Question: Will crafting require inter-dependency, example being an Armorer needs to get leather from a Tailor?

Brad McQuaid: We’re just not at that stage yet where we can give a whole lot of detail on crafting as we’re currently focused on the creation of the other core elements. We realize the popularity and importance of crafting, but until we are able to commit the resources that it deserves, we just don’t have any more information on its details.

Question: Is crafting a game in itself or just another feature which every player can master (like in every Themepark)?

Brad McQuaid: If we are able to implement a crafting and harvesting system, either as a stretch goal or a post-launch expansion feature, it will be well thought out and sophisticated. But, again, until we reach those levels where we can afford to put the attention on crafting that it deserves, we simply don’t have details.

Question: Will economy be based on Crafting items or Loot drops?

Brad McQuaid: Initially the player driven economy will be based on loot and money drops.  Crafting items will be interjected into the economy when we are able to implement it.

Razeekster writes: Is there anything special that you are doing for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen that will interest role players? Me and some friends of mine lament about the fact that most developers forget about role players, so it would be interesting to hear if Pantheon is going to be different in this aspect.

Brad McQuaid: We know the importance of getting the player involved in the game, and that sort of thing is accomplished through the details. Player involvement is a big thing in our game so we will constantly be looking at ways to make the player feel they are part of the world, and not just playing another game.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.