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Fan Site VIP Event (Part IV)

Richard Cox Posted:
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Content, Guilds & Audio (cont.)

From what I've heard in Doom 3 there are some sounds being used that are "mood sounds" or sounds that are designed to trigger something in your brain to cause you to react a certain way or feel a certain emotion. Are you guys planning on implementing anything like that as well?

Well it's more brought out through our ambiance and stuff like that. We do have the positional music, so if you walk into a certain place it is queued to change to something else. All the music was orchestrated in Prague, and it was done by a professional composer, Laura Kappman. She's from the Hollywood area and has worked on things like Steven Spielberg's "Taken" mini-series and many other TV and movie type projects. She did use different instruments to convey different moods and emotions. For example if you go into Blackburrow it has a very tribal feeling. All of the music is very tribal sounding, almost like a Survival soundtrack or something. You'll see things like for example, in one of our zones, Nektropos Castle, is a very spooky place. There's lore behind it and when you walk into certain parts of the castle you might hear children whispering and giggling off behind you. This is a random occurrence and it definitely elicits emotions from you, emotions that you don't want to be playing this alone in the dark. Speaking of Nektropos Castle, it's a completely instanced dungeon for one group, so it's the haunted castle. It has a very different sort of setup and population and obviously sound wise to make you feel certain things at certain times.



Overall we wanted to keep the excitement level very high, so our music, our VO and everything else is going to add to that feeling. You're going to feel nervous. You're going to feel excited. With the surround sound you have the positional sound effects flowing around you.

What about updates to the sound over time? Not just to new areas, because naturally when new areas are added new sounds will be added with them but adding new music and new sounds to existing areas in the game over time. My biggest problem with the sound and music in mmorpgs is given the amount of time the average person spends playing them, eventually you are going to get to a point where you've heard it all before, at which time you turn off all the sounds and boot up your mp3 player in the background.

That's not really a downside, what I mean is we have a Blackburrow theme, and it sets the theme for Blackburrow, but it's going to have a lifespan, because it's just music, even if there were two or three variations it'd still have a lifespan. One of the things we're doing to extend this is that we don't loop it over and over and over, we one shot it as you walk into the area and that's it. And then later on we might play a few more bars of it.

Basically it's just to set the atmosphere, to set the tone. We're not using the music as filler. I mean when you walked into here you didn't hear music all the time. We wanted to keep it realistic to a point and still add that cinematic feel. When it comes up we want you to feel it, know that you're in a different place, etc. And we also realize the reality of it is that you're going to be playing this game for a LONG time. Parts of it are going to get sort of repetitive, and you're going to want to get into your own comfort zone. You're going to want to play your own music and that's absolutely fine, we support a fully windowed mode so you can run things in the background. If you want to run the game in a window so you can see your mp3 player and other applications or if you just want to alt-tab and still play in full screen just with them running in the background that's fine too. We do play nice for those purposes. A lot of the audio that you'll see retrofitted will be the voiceovers. Going back to certain zones, you'll see new NPCs come in, new content added, etc.

Speaking of Windowed Mode is it more user friendly this time around? All the normal commands and controls such as Alt-Tab, Alt-Enter etc will work this time around? And will the graphics be affected by going to windowed mode any?

Yes, Alt-Tab, Alt-Enter, all the normal ways of accessing windowed mode work this time around, I use them all the time to check email etc. As far as graphically it's naturally running at a smaller resolution, but you'll still be able to control the settings and everything that are appropriate for windowed mode.

One of the only cheating problem in EQ1 was ShowEQ, I'm sure you guys have heard of it, is there anything in EQ2 to stop or fix that?

Well we're doing a lot of things differently in the second one from a communications standpoint. A lot of what we've learned in the last 5 years is what we did right and what we did wrong. One of the main things that allowed ShowEQ to work is how the data was transmitted when you entered a zone. Now it's all proxied down to you as your area of influence changes, as the area that you're in changes. We've gotten smarter about it this time, our players are smart and I'm sure they'll figure out ways to do something, but we're going to make it a lot tougher this time around. We learned a lot the first time around and all of that knowledge has been rolled into the construction of the servers, the security levels that we have and the intelligence that we've put into things like that.

I've noticed that a lot of other games that are hitting the market recently are allowing for some type of guild representation. Be it a Banner or Emblem or something like that. Is that something you're planning on offering the guilds? Basically an identity outside of just the guild tag?

There's a whole bunch of stuff that will go in as we progress with guilds like I said earlier. That type of thing is the exact type of thing we have in mind. However there are certain pieces of clothing or armor that we would want to release over time as we go through expansions or live updates. And we will include that sort of thing then, but to answer your question, no Heraldry at launch.

The other question I had, I've seen in a couple other games recently, and it's fairly new to me, is the ability to voice your character to certain hotkeys. For example "I need a heal" would not only put that text into the chat window but also play the voiceover for that also. Is that something you guys are planning on using?

We are looking into that but we haven't made any concrete decisions yet. We're kinda weighing the pros and cons. A lot of the cons revolve around some people don't like it because it may not necessarily be what their character sounds like. And that to some people would break the immersion factor. We're still weighing that back and forth and trying to come up with a decision. But we do have a lot of voices recorded saying a lot of things so the ability is definitely there if we decide to use it.

What about voice chat?

We're going to play nice with all of the voice chat software out there; Teamspeak, Ventrillo etc. We're not going to put any one specifically integrated in there, but we're going to make certain they all work. We'll be staying away from the ports they use, etc.



What about servers? There have been a lot of rumors going around concerning various special server types: Broadband Only servers, Roleplay Servers, PvP servers etc, can you clear any of this up?

We haven't announced server types yet, we're keeping our options open there, but nothing has been announced as of yet. We're not even announcing server names until right at launch, even through beta they will just be beta1, beta2, beta3 etc. There will be no special rule set servers at launch. But change always happens.

What we've found is that the PvP players really care a lot about their PvP and they're really vocal. We don't want to disappoint so whatever plans we have we'll announce when they're finalized but as of right now at launch we are not doing any PvP. PvE only at launch. The problem with allowing even the consensual PvP; dueling and such, you set expectations for what you're going to do later with PvP. We actually have some very clear ideas about where we want to go with PvP and it's not like anything you've seen before, so when you hear about it you'll understand why.

One of my biggest concerns with EQ1 was that people were eating through the content that was being put out so fast that the lower levels content was completely neglected. It was boring, you just did the treadmill thing until level 55 and then it got fun...

We're trying to bring that high end experience down to the lower levels. Like the Grungash experience on the island in your first 6 levels. It's a raid type encounter. It's a very small, very mild mannered one, but it is a raid type encounter. But we want to offer that to you. So these epic instanced areas and boss encounters will be smattered across all the levels. So when you see us go in and add more content through updates we're going to make sure that there are adequate big bosses, phat loot type things for that level stratification. It's not going to feel like "I have to get to level X before the game starts getting fun or before I can start doing the fun encounters". Some people will still feel that way, there are always people who have to be the highest level allowed. The difference is along the way the journey will be much more fun this time around.

Will the expansions and live updates over the years add new low level content as well as adding on to the top levels?

We'll take a look at our player base and see where the level stratification is and make sure there is something for everyone there.

What about higher level units with instancing? Is it basically going to be "same bat dungeon, same bat channel" type of raids?

One of the reasons we did instancing is so that we could stack it so we could tell a story. In Bloodskull Valley if you go in there and kill out the Orcs maybe they send the better reinforcements with their Wizards this time. For the live game it allows us to continue to progress those. You can always go back and do the reruns if you will, you know, go do what you did at 15, but you won't get the reward again due to our looting rules. You can continue to experience them as we add more to it. For every 10 level range there are 2-4 of these, so obviously there are quite a few in the game. Let me put it into prospective… In the Commonlands there is a single group encounter, the Valley of Zarbahn, there's the 24, then there's the one in Antonica, which is a two group, then there's another 3 group. Those are all very different types of content all in the same level range. Instancing for us is a tool to allow you to achieve content and to achieve opportunities and encounters that otherwise due to time zones or whatever reason you may not have been able to. And our instances aren't usually an entire zone, there are a few exceptions to that where it makes sense like Nektropos because it's a whole castle, but usually it's a smaller part, such as a little box valley of Commonlands for example. It doesn't feel like you're going to some generic place, it's a climax point of that zone. It's just another tool in the tool box for us and we'll use it where we feel it's appropriate, it's not an either or thing.

Are there certain monsters that are going to be locked? Such as the Dragon you mentioned earlier that everyone can just jump on and the first one to kill him gets it etc.

They lock just like everything else in the game and they lock to certain numbers. There's a Dracoda in Commonlands and he's a two group only, so you can't take more than two groups against him. You can take less than 2 groups if you're really feeling like getting eaten. Bringing 100 people and trying to zerg boss mobs isn't always going to guarantee you a win. Only 12 would be able to engage it while the rest stood around watching.

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RJCox

Richard Cox