Catching Up on the Past Year
On Tuesday night I caught up with two of the team members from Visionary Realms. Creative Director for Pantheon Rise of the Fallen Chris Perkins and Director of Communications Benjamin de la Durantaye. Read on to see what the two of them had to say about what Visionary Realms has been up to for the past 12 months.
MMORPG: Chris, you are a new addition to the team since last we caught up with Visionary Realms. As Creative Director what is your role on Pantheon Rise of the Fallen?
Chris: My role is to oversee and manage all of the creative aspects of the project. Art, holistic art, concept art, 2d and 3d in game art, characters, environmental assets. I also work on audio composing music for the game, sound effects, and ambient sound. I’m also the lead game designer. I handle the nuts and bolts of the mechanics on a macro and micro level. I do a lot of signing off on things, like some of the new ideas that will set Pantheon apart from EverQuest and other spiritual successor titles. That’s important and huge aspect of what we are doing. Part of my passion is to work with Brad and get that symbiosis of old school and new school. Sometimes things are rough and we don’t see eye to eye but we put it on the forge and work it out. We are putting Pantheon in a strong position to stand alone.
MMORPG: For a while there Visionary Realms was releasing a video every month showing the public what they had been working on. Those stopped late last year. What have you been up to these last 9 months and when will you be ready to show what you have?
Chris: It came down to Quality versus Quantity. I realized that so many times you have to step out of the developer role and come at this as a cynic, the prove it to me kind of perspective. Outside looking in. We were so over extended and over exposed that if we tweaked a tree limb we came out and showed it. It was a point of taking a step back and saying, “okay, we are making a great game. We need to start acting like we have something worth showing, because we do, but we need to give it the proper platform and give it room to breathe.” When we go back to earlier MMO launches, I don’t know that secrecy is the right word but there was a mystical sense of, “what are they doing back there?” This would carry over into alpha and beta invites and this was a big deal and you were going to finally see this wonderful world behind the curtain. I have nothing against open development. We just had to pull back a little bit and come to a rhythm on exposure and updates that are worthwhile and show significant points of process. It’s leading to some very exciting things on the horizon.
Ben: When you are developing a game we want to show something cool. When you say, "We optimized the code," that’s not fun. These past few months it’s been more like that. We have something big coming at the end of September. We can’t’ get to into specifics yet but it will worthwhile.
Chris: A whole lot of Pantheon busting out at the end of September.
MMORPG: In some recent news Corey LeFever has joined the Visionary Realms team. With Corey’s history working on Vanguard what do you think he brings to your team?
Chris: Corey is awesome. Corey and I had a great connect just a few days before he came back. His abilities and talents were clear and proceeded him. The synergy was immediate. [I share] his passion and where he is coming from as a game designer; we work well together and can articulate game ideas. What he brings to the team? He is a wonderful injection of likeminded energy and productivity. He is able to dive right in and pick up the protocols and the systems and tools that we are using with very little lead in time. The other thing that is great about Corey is that it is easy to let him run with things. He has a lot of creativity in his own right. Currently he is focused on NPC population, working on the spread of NPCs in a zone. As you work your way through or around a zone, ours are not linear, we have more of an organic spread in our zones.
It’s been a lot of fun to take some of those foundational approaches through implementation and thinking of ways to evolve them and make them better, familiar but better. As far as Vanguard, It’s been a really helpful mixture or recipe. I have a deep affinity for EQ and it was between those two games I spent the majority of my time. There is a whole lot of that in my blood. Corey having worked on vanguard having poured himself into that game we can bring these complementary perspectives. The way that vanguard approached mob power versus player power, how many mobs can we take out at one time? Are they linked together? Can we break a spawn? We are finding this really exciting blend of the two. Where one paradigm is superior at one point and one is superior in the other. Organically we have found this complementary experience between us as designers. Coming from the minds of the hearts of these first generation games. It’s important to us that we can find these places we can evolve. We are not making a clone or a paint by number MMO. We are focused on how can we evolve this as a fresh experience? The magic of these types of games again.