Updated Wed, Jun 23, 2010 by Savanja
E3 is in full force and Ten Ton Hammer is there getting all the latest news from all the biggest game developers. One such developer is, of course, Sony Online Entertainment and our men on the front lines caught up with EverQuest II Senior Producer Dave Georgeson to talk a bit about where EQ2 has been and where it is going.
What comes to mind when you think of EQ2? Do you think of the WoW competitor of 2004 or do you think of the still kicking and very different game of today? Whether you are a fan of the Norrathian sequel or not, there is not much argument that EQ2 has grown and changed immensely over the last five years. It is this reinvention and constant evolution that has kept EverQuest II on the list of popular MMOGs in the face of new competition that has landed in this loved genre year after year.
These handsome men are our very own Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle (left) and EQ2 Producer Dave Georgeson (right) chatting it up at E3.
Dave Georgeson, a new face on the EQ2 team, has plans to not only continue the evolution but also reinvigorate it with new ideas to raise the level of fun and interest. “All we need to do is make a lot of this stuff intuitive again and give a reason to go back and play through a lot of the content again. There is a huge amount of really cool stuff with nobody in it because they are all racing to be at the end game because that’s where everybody is. That’s broken! It’s not just true of us; it’s true of most MMOs and we’re going to change that.”
How will Dave change that? Unfortunately all the super cool announcements will be made at this year’s Fan Faire in August but the goal is to bring new people in. Ideas such as dynamic content that isn’t the same every time you experience it and a focus on making the world more engaging and more interesting are all up for discussion on how they will bring new players in.
While the EQ2 team is working on how to spruce up the current content, we all still want to know about the future new content. We have made our own predictions regarding the next expansions but Dave drops some really telling hints mentioning “the expansion that no one knows the name of at the end of the year” pointing to a 2010 release after a February 2010 release of newest expansion, Sentinel’s Fate. We still can’t pry an official Velious confirmation but the snow and ice jokes may indicate that players might be getting what they hope for. Dave does touch upon the type on content that will be making it in game soon sharing “We are definitely adding some serious high end content, in fact it will be extraordinarily enviable to be high end when we release some of the new stuff, but we really need to take care of the rest of the game too.”
One of the most recent, and probably less than welcome, changes that EQ2 has experienced is the closing of Qeynos and Freeport as newbie cities upon character creation. Veteran players who have fond memories of playing through this content were saddened to see the end of an era and many would like to know what is next for the beacon cities of Norrath. Dave addresses this saying “Qeynos and Freeport are really important to us…but not necessarily as a new user experience. We don’t have detailed plans yet but we really want to do something cool with those cities. We’d like to revitalize the cities, make them easier to navigate and generally more useful.”
Part of this revitalization will be making evil more evil and good more good. A lot of the good versus evil has been bled out of EQ2 and Dave agrees “I think the business as usual model needs to change. It would be so much better if we can put back some of the richness into the game so we don’t have the empty world syndrome. We’re going to be offering some new things here in the future that are really going to shake things up a bit.”
Battlegrounds have turned out to be liked, but widely under utilized.
Players have had a love/hate relationship with instanced dungeons and while these have been making it in game heavily, there are still those who much rather see static and contested dungeons in game. Will the trend of instances continue? Dave will have to leave that up to incoming feedback it seems “I’d love to make a lot of scaling content so that you can replay it, just have fun, and have more toys to play with in the toybox but the reactions are always really mixed and sometimes really negative. It’s something that we really need to feel out with the players before making a decision.” This leaves players to voice their own opinions and hopefully we’ll be seeing a healthy mix of both instanced and contested dungeons in the future.
Probably the biggest news of the year has been the implementation of Battlegrounds which have been well received for the most part. Dave mentions that while people like them, not enough people are playing them. “I think that people who are just casually going in are getting worked by people who have a lot of PvP gear and because of that we are seeing that people aren’t going in without a full board commitment. Because not a lot of new people are going in we basically have the same set of people playing over and over again. Battlegrounds is a really good feature and we will continue to support it, we like it a lot; it’s just under performing for the amount of effort we put into it. I don’t like to throw things away, I’d rather fix it and we’ll get to that eventually.” I believe Dave hit the nail squarely on the head with this as Battlegrounds are a great feature but far too scary for the casual PvPer.
While not much news has been available regarding EverQuest II, players can expect to read and hear a lot of exciting announcements in the next three to four weeks and as Fan Faire approaches. Ten Ton Hammer thanks Dave for taking the time to talk with us during the very busy E3 and I’d like to close with my favorite Dave quote from the interview, “It’s a damn good game, as you guys know; we just need to make it a little more approachable and let people know that it still exists.” This fangirl agrees!