In this week’s installment of Ten Ton Hammer Live!, our
intrepid hosts track down the elusive David Georgeson, Senior Producer
of EverQuest
at Sony Online
Entertainment. After capture, Jesse Cox and Benjamin J. de la Durantaye
pick his brains on upcoming changes to style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest 2!
Please note that no animals were harmed during the production of this
podcast, only people.

Cox: Tonight, we are especially proud and happy to be joined by
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest
II producer
and all around
super guy, David Georgeson. Dave, welcome to the show.

Thank you very
much. Glad to be here.

Cox: First off, congratulations on the producer job. Hopefully,
everything is going well, yes?

Yeah, things are
going well. Like I’ve mentioned to a bunch of people in the
past, the learning curve is pretty fierce, but it’s a really
good team. It’s a great project with depth like nobody can
believe, and I’m really excited to be here.

Cox: Can you tell us a little bit about your past at SOE? Where does
one come from to become producer of
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest

href=""> src=""
alt="David Georgeson picture"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 121px;">

David Georgeson

I’ve been making PC games for over 20 years now. Started way
back with SSI on the Gold Box series of style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons and Dragons;
the very first computer games for Dungeons
and Dragons
I have worked at SOE before. I did Planetside
with the guys. We put together the world’s only MMOFPS that
earned that name. Then I went away and wandered in the wilderness for a
while making some other stuff and just recently came back to SOE in
February. So, I’ve been producer, director, lead designer on
projects for a couple of decades now, and coming back now,
they’re trusting me with their big project. 
I’m honored to be here and glad to be part of it.

Cox: Speaking of recently,
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Sentinel’s
launched fairly recently
and everyone seems to be having a lot of fun. Dare I ask what is next
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest

Well, sure! The
next update comes out…I don’t think that
we’ve announced a date, but what the heck, it comes out at
the end of the month. We intend to have a lot of really cool stuff
coming out with that. Everybody’s aware of New Halas, so
Halas is coming back to the game, the barbarian hometown. Beyond that,
we have another update before we get to our next expansion pack.
There’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing between now
and then. A lot of the features haven’t been announced yet,
so I’m not going to reveal anything there, but we also want
to make the game a lot more successful and open to the people who
haven’t played it before. We’re focusing in on a
few different things that we haven’t done before as well as
pushing the envelope with other features.

We’ve got the
Halas stuff, we’ve got a bunch of new raids coming out,
we’re continuing to create new dungeons- some of them shared
and some of them are instanced, we’ve got technical features
coming out, revamping the way that people can travel around through the
world, we’re doing a lot to the game. That’s just
in the near future. The long term picture, when we get towards the
expansion, we’re really doing stuff that’s very
different and I think players will get excited about it once we start
revealing it.

Cox: Well, this comes to an incredibly long running joke, but in all
seriousness, are there any plans then for a beastlord to be added to
the game at some point?

We know that
people would love a beastlord, but honestly, it’s a huge
amount of work. So for right now, no, it is not planned, but that
doesn’t mean that it’s off the table.
It’s something that we keep picking at, figuring out how to
get it done.

Putting in races is a tremendous amount of work. When we do Fanfair in
August, one of the things that we’re going to be doing a
panel on what it takes to put it in a race and what it takes to do all
the accoutrements that go with that race and how it’s all put
together and showing how difficult it is. Beastlords are particularly
nifty because they have their own set of animations and skeletons and
other stuff, so it would be a tremendous amount of work. When we weigh
the amount of work that it would be for that new race against other
stuff that we could do to make the game even cooler, it
doesn’t always make it up on the priority list, if that makes
sense. A lot of the stuff that we come up with, other than that, is
even cooler, so it ends up not making it to the top.

Cox: That was a very diplomatic answer. That was very good.

It has the merit
of being the truth.

Cox: That’s exactly right. You were talking about this
re-introduction to Halas, and basically, the hint we got was sometime
this month, maybe? Before we get into it then, what’s the
storyline there? What can players expect?

I’m not the right guy to ask storyline questions from. A
little bit of it I can tell you. It’s a floating
island…well; I’m not going to get into it because
I’ll screw it up! [laughter] I’ll let the
storytellers tell it all. It has a lot to do with gods and why things
are there and the Coldain and the Rygor orcs and all the stuff
that’s going on. I’m not going to try to mangle
that story; I’ll let that come out right. But, Halas itself
is very cool. We’re re-establishing the barbarian hometown
that was in EQ1,
and of course, it’s being rebuilt so it is different.
It’s a really good new user experience. I think
it’s the best new user experience that is in the game right
now. I just spent 5 hours playing it last night and I’m still
not quite done with it. I probably have at least another night in it to
get to where I want to be. There are all kinds of interesting things
that we’re doing with dialogue in story. We’re
making a good stab at making people feel more heroic in the beginning
of the game, rather than just killing rats. It’s doing a lot
with it that, in general, is very rewarding. It’s cool
visually; it’s an ice and snow world so there’s a
lot of blue! It’s very well done. I’m impressed
with what the team has done with it so far.

style="border: 0px solid ; width: 595px; height: 446px;"
alt="everquest 2 picture"

J. de la Durantaye: Is that on Antonica as well? You mentioned
something about a floating island. How do players travel there?

The ways that
people get there are either via griffon from Butcherblock or you can
create a new character at New Halas.

Cox: This starting city, is it good aligned characters only?

Good and neutral.
No evil.

Cox: Evil always misses out, but they’re evil so they get the
bragging rights of being cool. Besides this new starting town, is there
anything else about the new patch that you can share with us? About the
new area, at least?

The new area, the
details I’ll leave for now. I’ve run into all kinds
of different quests as I ran through it. There is quite a bit to it; I
think there are 60 or so new quests, but in general, the update itself
when we roll out New Halas, there are lots of other stuff coming out
too. There’s the big travel revamp where we simplify how
people get across the world. Right now, you have to do all these
pre-requirements to be able to use the druid rings or something.
We’re going to have a special event where things are
happening in the world where the players themselves get to help change
that. Then there’s a much easier interface for using the
mariner’s bells and all the other ways you use to travel
around the world, so it’s a lot easier to just click and go.
That will make it simpler for people to get together for grouping.

We have a couple of raids that are coming out. The Icy Keep raid and
the Hole raid, as well as big improvement to the battlegrounds. I
don’t know what you’ve heard about the
battlegrounds, but we’re going to open up the level range all
the way to 30. So there’ll be a lot more people that will be
able to participate in the battlegrounds. We’re also doing a
lot of balance tweaks and feature improvements in that area to make it
more fun. As well as the Shader 3 support, which I know you know about.
Then of course, there’s the storyteller window.

Cox: You realize that, right now, I have a giant list of questions to
ask just because of what you said. This is perfect; it saves me a lot
of time and effort. So, the Hole? I guarantee you, right now, our
listeners are going…gah...the Hole? I have to know.
It’s clearly a fan favorite. How reminiscent of the Hole zone
EQ1 style="font-weight: bold;"> is this thing going to
be? Battling your way through this dungeon took a long time, but was
super fun and is this going to be as deep and involved as the previous
incarnation of this thing?

it’s pretty big. In fact, some of the designers are still
working on it. Both of the raids support 4 groups of 6 going through
it. They’re pretty serious dungeons, level 90 plus;
they’re big deals. The whole raid itself builds on the lore
from the previous adventure that you remember from style="font-style: italic;">EQ1,
so Master Yael is still involved in it, and the door between realms
is still a big part of it. This time, Master Yael is being a lot more
aggressive and has taken over a lot of stuff to protect the door with
the reason for doing so will be revealed once you go through the
adventure. He’s being extremely overprotective because his
realm, the plane of Earth, is really at risk if he doesn’t
protect it well. There’s a lot going on there. The dungeon is
very, very big, and I think people will have a good time with it.

J. de la Durantaye: That’s awesome. That’s enough
reason to play
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EQ2 style="font-weight: bold;"> alone.

Cox: So you mentioned two new raids. How do they compare to the other
raids, difficulty wise?

Difficulty wise?
They’ll be pretty challenging. When you have to have 4 groups
together to take on the raid, it’s going to be challenging.
Of course, like a lot of this stuff, you can moderate the challenge by
how you approach the actual adventure itself. We’re doing a
lot of stuff that way to make it a little more flexible so players can
play it the way they want to. The Icy raid isn’t exactly
Permafrost, but it is spawned from that idea, but there’s a
lot that’s involved that might be reminiscent to players that
way too.

Cox: The storyteller system, can you give us some idea what
that’s about?

Yeah, I really
like the storyteller arc stuff a lot. When you go through a quest chain
right now, there’s a lot to remember. You go through and you
talk to npcs and you go through the dialogue options, and
there’s a lot of lore that gets written around these
adventures and sometimes it keeps out really well in the dialogue and
sometimes it doesn’t. Plus, players tend to skip dialogue a
lot. What we’re doing with the storytelling arc system is
kind of encapsulating what has happened and why it’s
important as players progress through these big quest chains. That way,
it’s kind of revealed right in the interface when you open up
your journal and there are these arcs that reveal themselves as you go
through. So you can kind of see and easily remember why what
you’re doing is important, what’s cool about it,
and when you get to the end of it, you will see that an entire story
has unfolded. A lot of that is going to be coming out in the expansion
that is coming up, and it will be back-filling into other areas as we
get time.

Cox: Now is it just, for example, a quest line arc or is it going to
have examples of lore and things of that nature in it? Essentially,
will it be a kind of
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EQ2 style="font-weight: bold;"> wiki within the game?

it’s not really that way. It’s more of an unfolding
story as you go through it. For instance, you’ve done the
Steamfont stuff in EQ2?

J. de la Durantaye: For sure.

So there is a
storyline as you go through it, and we’re not covering this
right now. This is just an example. There’s a storyline where
you go through it where you’re trying to figure out what Remmy
Fulgation is up to, and he ends up selling secrets to the Klak'Anon
guys, but you don’t know that at first and you get involved
with the whole secret agent areas about it, and you’re trying
to figure out what he’s up to. Well, if you’re
going through that with the storytelling arc on your side, as you hit
each adventure that touches on Remmy Fulgation or any of his
that kind of stuff would be preserved in this story arc
that’s being preserved in your journal so you can piece it
all together. Even if you skimmed through the dialogue options, those
summaries will still keep getting posted. Effectively, you’re
getting cliff notes to your adventure as you’re going through
it and you can start to see, “Oh, that’s why
that’s cool!” or “That’s why
that’s important!” and it will keep it fresh in
your mind even if you were to take a two week vacation and you came
back and played EQ
again, you’ll be able to figure it out and remember what is
going on.

style="border: 0px solid ; width: 595px; height: 398px;"
alt="everquest 2 picture"

J. de la Durantaye: That is awesome. That is one of the things about
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EQ2 style="font-weight: bold;">, and I always end up
going back to style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EQ2 style="font-weight: bold;"> again eventually. I try
to play every game that I can, but eventually I go back playing style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EQ2 style="font-weight: bold;"> again with my friends,
and it’s often just that. I get back into the game and go
where did I leave off? What was the storyline here? So that’s
really cool.

there’s some amazing storylines. There’s a lot of
really good lore in this world, and this will help reveal that, even to
the casual player that doesn’t read the dialogue.

Cox: Another thing that you have mentioned was the 3.0 Shaders, which
are being added with the new patch. Last week, we spoke to another
gaming company about how they did a graphic revamp and I got to ask you
the same question. How much work is it to do something like that?

It’s a
lot of work. This is the kind of feature that we have to kind of asses
really carefully going forward, whether or not the payoff was
worthwhile. The Shader 3 stuff looks really good; I don’t
want to undersell it. I think people will really enjoy it and
it’s pretty cool. Yeah, it’s a lot of work.
It’s not just the programmers doing the work; it’s
also the artists sitting down and kind of triage through everything,
and basically QA has to pass through the entire game. It’s a
big job.

Cox: Is it something, for example: Ben here, who cannot wait to log
back in. When he logs in, is it something that he’s going to
notice right away, or is it very subtle?

In some areas,
it’s really, really obvious, and in some areas,
it’s really subtle. In general, it makes the darks darker and
it makes the brights a little bit brighter, but it also reveals a lot
of details that were kind of hidden. The models had a lot of
information; the textures had a lot of information hidden in them that
wasn’t really being revealed. In some cases, it makes some
things stand out. In a lot of cases, it makes things look different so
there might be some players who’ll really love it and there
might be some players who don’t like it as much, but it can
be turned off so I think that it’ll be a good feature
overall. I like the way a lot of the stuff looks; we’ll have
to see how the customers react. I think, in general, on the test
server, they’re liking it, which is good.

Cox: Ben, you are chomping at the bit to play
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EQ2 style="font-weight: bold;"> again, because
that’s all you talk about anymore. Are there any questions
that you have on your mind that you would like to ask?

J. de la Durantaye: Well, the other thing that we didn’t
really touch on was the travel system. You mentioned something about
the travel system. Is this something that will affect the older zones
as well?

Yeah, it affects
everywhere. Both globally and intra-zone, travel inside of a zone,
you’ll be able to click on something…I think
we’re replacing the mariner’s bells. I’m
pretty sure that that’s true. We have this new object. For
instance, if you go to Nektulos Forest, I think that there are six
mariner’s bells on a dock there. Is that right?

J. de la Durantaye: Three….six, yeah, that’s right.

Right now, with
this revamp, there’ll be one object instead. What happens is
when you click on that one object, the map will pull up and
you’ll see every area that you can possible go to right now
with any of the mariner’s bells. You’ll be able to
click on that object and transport anywhere within that transport ring,
so to speak. And the same is true of the druid’s rings, and
the same is true of the spires, so people will be able to move around
the world a lot easier. You’ll be able to get around so you
can explore what you want to explore when you want to explore it.
It’ll just be a lot simpler for people to deal with.

J. de la Durantaye: That is a welcome feature. I often go into Nektulos
Forest or Thundering Steppes on kind of on autopilot mode, run up to a
bell, and hit the wrong bell, and then I’m “Aw,

it’s great to have the big map and to see where everything is
and being able to know exactly where you’re going and what
the options are, and not being limited because there are a certain
number of bells going someplace. Now you can go anywhere where one of
these objects is.

J. de la Durantaye: So they’re all inter-connected?
They’re not on different lines, like there’s a blue
line like a metro system or something like that?

It is a little bit
like that because there’s the bell and carpet system, then
there’s the ring system, and then there’s the spire
system, and those are all separate from each other.

J. de la Durantaye: That absolutely makes sense. Since it is affecting
the spire and druid rings as well, you’re still going to need
a wizard or druid, right? You just can’t go up and click it?

I’m a
little bit fuzzy on this, but my understanding of it is that basically
any old player can go to the ring and transport to another ring, but
only a druid will be able to take you from any ring in the world. A Now it seems that I know what I’m doing for the last few
weeks, don’t I?


J. de la Durantaye: Our listeners need to keep this in mind. You just
got here two weeks ago, you said?

Yeah, about two
and a half weeks ago. I admit that if I’m making a mistake
here or there, be kind to me. I’m not off by much if
I’m off by something.

style="border: 0px solid ; width: 595px; height: 399px;"
alt="everquest 2 picture"

J. de la Durantaye: Absolutely. The one thing that I will bring to your
attention is that you called a beastlord a race when it is actually a
class, but that’s ok.

sorry. See, there you go. That’s terminology that I kind of

J. de la Durantaye: We got the gist of it. That’s a lot to
catch up on in two weeks. I mean, the game itself is huge. Keep in mind
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest
2 is taking
all the lore
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest
1 as well,
you’re talking about a decade of stuff to catch up on in two
weeks. That’s crazy.

Oh yeah. When I
started after the first couple of days, people were asking me,
“How you hanging in there?” “Ah, 10 years
of lore, 6 years of a live game, I’ll have it done
tomorrow!” Yeah, there’s a lot to learn and the
good news is that the team is really helping out a lot. We’ve
already been able to start to forge together and figure out what we
want to do that’s different in the future, and
they’ve been extremely supportive and we’re already
changing things in significant ways so that we’re able to get
more things done and understand what’s going on.
It’s been a really good process so far, and I think that
we’re going to do really good things in the future.

J. de la Durantaye: That’s for sure; sounds cool.

Cox: Well, I think before we go, Dave, is there anything you think our
listeners should know or that you want to tell them about
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest
2 at this

Sure. Our
competition has been very kind to us in the last five years and has not
made a really killer app. Because of that, I think that we have the
opportunity to make EverQuest

into something really cool and special. It’s a great game.
It’s got a really good depth of features; it’s got
really good depth of lore. There’s a lot to it. All we have
to do is to make it a little bit more approachable, and I think that we
can turn this game into something that everybody’s going to
be talking about all over again.

It’s amazing to me to look at a six year old game and think
of it as having gigantic breakout potential, but it does.
There’s only us and WoW
that have games that have long term established lore and a really
sizable audience. There’s a couple of games that really fit
into that category, like maybe LOTRO
and a couple others, but in general, there aren’t any real
big players except for these games. I can just see amazing things
coming, so I wouldn’t expect us just to be releasing
expansions and kind of doing business as usual. We’re really
going to be pushing this game to make it bigger and better than it ever
has been.

J. de la Durantaye: I just got to step in here for a second and say how
great it is to hear you say that, because this is something that my
friends and colleagues have often talked about as well that
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest
2 is such an
game that gets overlooked so often. It just hasn’t, apart
from launch, been…I don’t know how to put this
delicately; it hasn’t been marketed in a way that a game of
its caliber, in my opinion, could have been marketed to reach a wider
audience. Hearing you say this stuff is really encouraging and great to
hear, on a personal note.

Well, I just came
from the more social gaming community, and there were literally 10
million people that went through the last game that I made. Ninety
percent of them had never played neither a computer game nor an MMO
before in their lives. That shows me that there’s a gigantic
untapped potential of people that really want a virtual world like
this; that’s deep and has a complex kind of lore and cool
stuff. All we have to do is show it to them. We have to make it
approachable and be able to get into it in a relatively easy fashion so
they can find all the depth and great gameplay that already exists, all
that flavor. All they have to do is become aware of it, so one of my
jobs is to help make that happen. Those people want a home and
we’d like to give it to them.

Cox: We were talking about this exact same thing a few weeks back when
style="font-weight: bold;"
were talking about Farmville
on Facebook. I
guarantee you that
people don’t play that game because they like picking
raspberries every 45 minutes. They do it for the social aspect.
It’s because it’s fun and they can show off to
their friends and family going, “Oh look what I
did!” Seventy plus million people play. It’s the
most widely played online game and it’s so simplistic, and
it’s because it’s accessible to everybody and it
attracts new markets. You know, single mom Jodie learned to play, then
all of her friends learned to play, and suddenly everyone is playing
it. It’s this idea of attracting this untapped market and
there’s so many out there who are just now getting into games
and realizing, “Hey, I may be 80, but I can move a mouse
pretty well.”

There’s obviously a gigantic leap between the style="font-style: italic;">Farmvilles
of the world and EverQuest
but at the same time, the beauty of those Facebook games is that
they’re training a whole bunch of people to realize,
“Hey! This computer game stuff isn’t as nerdy as I
thought it was.” They’re checking it out and
they’re becoming more advanced as gamers. You can see the
Facebook games becoming more and more complex, more and more depth of
gameplay, and as they train all those people to look for something
richer and more fully featured, well, hey look over here!
We’re waiting for ya.

Cox: That’s exactly right, and that’s what
it’s about. Like I said, farming raspberries can only
entertain so much, and at some point, you need something a little more
in-depth and that’s where a game like
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest
2 comes in

They’re very slowly bridging the gap, and once they do, we
need to be ready for them.

Cox: Well, Dave Georgeson, producer of
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">EverQuest
2, it has
been an absolute
pleasure. I know for me, and I know especially for Ben, he’s
very giddy and excited to get back into playing.

J. de la Durantaye: I’m all smiles and giggles!

There will be many
more and concrete details about all these features that we kind of
generalized about today. That stuff will be coming out during the next
few weeks. Like I said before, forgive me if I was a little fuzzy on
something. I’m still learning, but next time we have one of
these conversations, it’ll be a lot more concrete. More
detail will be coming out real soon.

J. de la Durantaye: Awesome.

Cox: There you go, ladies and gentlemen. I think what he’s
saying is that he’s going to come back on the show
eventually, which is exciting for me.

Sure, why not?

Cox: Make that happen, Ben!

J. de la Durantaye: We’ll get things set up for sure.
I’m glad you’re willing to do it, David.
We’d love to have you back.

Of course. This
is great.

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016