An Insider's Look at Quest Design Part 2
Ten Ton Hammer: *laughs* You know very well we as players ask these questions while screaming "GO GET IT YOURSELF!" at the monitor. What kind of questing experience can people expect in Darklight versus the Isle of Refuge and starting zones in Freeport? Will it be vastly different?
Saerkin: I think the biggest difference in Darklight Wood when compared to the Qeynos or Freeport experience is that the layout makes for a smoother progression with minimal zoning. You are in one zone from level 1 to level 20, with a city zone that you visit from time to time. A Freeport or Qeynos character has to deal with the Island, their district and five other districts, four city zones, and four adventure zones. And then Commonlands or Antonica for level 10-20 content.
I'm not sure how many quests are available for a 1-20 Freeport or Qeynos player, but in Darklight Wood the quest path you take is all easily accessible without pushing the player out into a bunch of different zones. I think it's very newbie friendly, and for alts, it's friendly as well.
Ten Ton Hammer: It does seem to flow much better and have a clear path of progression. What do you do to try and keep quests "fresh" so they don't feel like the same old kill 10 creatures?
Saerkin: The obvious answers are putting in additional, non-combat steps: "Use this item on this creature," "Use this item at this spot and then kill this creature," "gather this resource which happens to be near mobs that will attack you." Really though if players have a sense of purpose I think things will tend to feel less like a grind.
This is why quest chains--especially those that mix up objective types--can work so well. When killing 10 mobs, harvesting 6 roots, interacting with 3 survey sites, and stealing keys from a guard captain are all geared toward the same eventual goal it helps a lot, in my opinion.
Ten Ton Hammer: I still cringe at some of the old "tome quests" which was kill 10 deer. Ok, now kill 10 more. Ok, now kill 10 more...What determines the amount of quest content that goes into a lower level zone and is there concern about characters out leveling it too quickly?
Saerkin: Time! In Darklight Wood I looked at what I could do given the time available and the geography/population of the zone. I ended up putting in way, way more quests than I expected to, but given the level range I think they were all necessary. As for out leveling, obviously that's something you want to look out for. You can't just pack 500 level 5 quests in the zone and expect anyone to be willing to do them all as part of their newbie experience.
I watched my quests levels 1 to 10--levels 1 to 5 especially--in regards to how fast players level. If players do every single quest in Hate's Envy--the starting point for Neriak citizens--they will arrive in T'Vatar Post at the right level. If they kill a few additional mobs, they may be 1 level higher. If they kill a lot of additional mobs they're going to have to move into areas with higher level mobs eventually, and T'Vatar Post will be on their way anyway. As players are eased out of the early levels this isn't as much as a worry, though.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will any quests be introduced that will allow players to earn positive Thexian faction?
Saerkin: I don't think the intent for the Thexian faction as a whole is to ever be something players can become friendly with. I would not be surprised if certain Thexians work with players at some point though (or already have).
Ten Ton Hammer: All the cool factions are always seclusive I suppose. I noticee there isn't much in the way of heroic questing in Darklight Woods, is this intentional and will there eventually be some or more added?
Saerkin:There isn't a lot of heroic questing because there isn't a lot of heroic content in the zone :) This was the intent from the beginning. We have some "difficult" mobs in Darklight, but nothing that requires 6 players to group up. This is because we're totally going a new direction with EQ2. Pretty soon "groups" and "raids" will be a thing of the past and everyone will be forced to solo FOREVER! JUST LIKE ME IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! MWUAHAHAH! (The last 4 sentences or so were all lies).
[Editor’s Note: Ellery’s medication is wearing off. We’d better end this interview soon.]
Ten Ton Hammer: OMG! We got THE EXCLUSIVE! You heard it right here folks. EverQuest 2 is going solo! Ok last queston, we frequently see Easter eggs planted in the game by developers for fun or to "sign their work." Did you leave any in Darklight Woods?
Saerkin: One thing I do sometimes to sign my work is make gnomes say, "most precise!" Beyond that I know I have other little things as well, but I can't think of anything specifically that I did in Darklight Wood--though I'm sure they're there. As for eggs: I put owlbear eggs in!
Thanks again to Ellery for answering all of our questions. Ask you can see putting questing into EverQuest 2 requires a dedication, talent, and a sense of humor. If for some really odd reason you haven't seen Darklight Woods, start a Dark Fae (or any other evil race) and get a look at this great new zone. You have an extra character slot and no excuses so go!
Also, Special Thanks to Savanja for a couple of these questions! I owe you one singing of "Wind Beneath my Wings."
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