SOE Fan Faire 2006
Community Summit Meetings
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones
Fan Faire had more events than I can even dare to describe, but the highlight of these (in my book anyways) is the Community Summit where Developers do the unthinkable in most peoples minds. They sit down, and actually listen to what players have to say. I know, I know. It's a little on the "crazy" side, but I swear it's effective. As I rushed into the room about 2 minutes before it started (I got up late for...*shifty* nothing), I scanned around the room looking for recognizable faces. I saw the usual supsects I knew and loved like Tamat from Ogaming, Aggro Me from...well Aggro Me, Cynabane from EQ2Daily, Niami from EQ2 Traders and so many more. Some of the developers we saw on hand included: Blackguard, Moorgard, Owlchick, Glendral, Arathym, Lotus, Archonix, Lockeye, Silverfrost, and Dymus. There is at least one more developer who works on items, that I know I don't have the name of (/grovel apology) but as you can see, there was a good representation from SOE. This said to me, they were serious about our concerns.
The first order of business, was to go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves, and say what we liked best and least about EQ2. I took this opportune time to point out that my purple armor could be less pink. After going around the room, it was time to move on to questions.
Creating the Content
Ferral, from one of the hardcore raiding guilds, opened things up with a opinion on how they seemed to have more fun in Splitpaw than in Deserts of Flame. I'm not even remotely in agreement with this, and as he's a hardcore raider there probably isn't a total understanding of how the average player feels. Scott "Gallenite" Hartsman asked him to clarify what he didn't like and suprise, suprise. It was the high-end raid content.
Lead content designer Dymus took the criticism in stride and there were some mistakes made in Deserts of Flames, and they've been learned from. He also mentioned that much of the beta testing focus of the players was placed on the LU#13 combat changes versus the Deserts of Flame content making it more difficult to make improvements before it launched. Arathym seconded this by stating as in any project, there is never enough time to be as thorough as they want to be. He also made sure that it was understood, when given the option of improvements to raid or group content, group content would take priority. I would think most players would agree, and be thankful for that.
Gallenite jumped in afterwards and gave a little insight into how expansions were planned. The traditional model of expansions focused on the high end game, and simply appeased the players in that level range. Apparently, they did some weird techniques I haven't tried, called "homework" and "research" to find out what the most appropriate level for an expansion would be. He didn't seem to feel it was too successful, but pointed out that when lower level content is introduced it gives the players too high a feeling of "I guess thats good for somebody, but lets get back to the level 70 stuff." He explained this kind of lead to diminishing returns as an investment of resources. I like additonal content for replayibility, but I find it really hard to disagree with him. I like Gallenite.
An interesting statement he made, was that instead of consistently adding new zones, they were going back through pre-exsisting content and bringing up to par with the amazing stuff that they have done with Kingdom of Sky. The impression I got, was that some of the game wasn't quite up to par with what they'd like to see or there was something they wanted added.
Growing the Game
The next question that came up from Kendricke was asking about the recent server merges, and more specifically the "suprise merge" of the SOE East servers into the US. Mawie asked about the truth of the merge and Gallenite was of course ready to answer. There had been a press release in early March regarding the closing of SOE East and there could have been a little bit more communication regarding it. The burning question that had been in my mind, was why did SOE East close? Today, I got my answer.
According to Gallenite, the company in question ran the localized Chinese/Taiwanese version of Lineage and were a very good company. The problem that arose was the rate at which EverQuest 2 is updated. The company was running EQ2 in three different languages, and would have to bring on a much larger staff to continue to support the game. The company let SOE know, and they decided to transition their dedicated players to our own US servers. Have I mentioned I like Gallenite?
As a tangent, the problem of the boxes in spatial chat resulting from these transferring players was brought up. Dymus assured everyone that there was some post translation coding errors that were going to go away next live update. Unfortunately the coding to translate phrases like "d00d r u lfg cuz I need grp" won't be in for quite some time.
Powers, Macros, and Expansion
Next up came a question regarding the procs we all know and love on our rings, armor, and weapons. Ferral stated they "didn't seem to be working right" and asked if they could be looked at. Dymus stated that certain procs may seem to be working better because they are specific combat related (i.e. creatures hit you more often than you hit them) but it would be looked into. This segmented into a discussion on stuns. Apparently the icon for stuns will currently appear even if the creature itself has an immunity to it. Take heart fellow Templars, it's getting looked into.
We moved into a discussion on an exploit that I was very happy to hear was being fixed. Sorry raiders, that lovely macro you use to unequip your gear so it doesn't take damage when you die? Wave buh-bye. The most expensive item you equipped within two minutes of your death will be taking damage. This will promote the usage of multiple weapons in different situations and preventing people from avoiding the death penalty. I'm hearing a few "but...but..." from raiders but you got repair kits so....there you go.
At this point, a few things got technical, and I'd be lieing if I didn't say I was singing "Mahna mahna! Doot do da do do! Mahna mahna!" in my head. Fortunately my trusty recorder tells me there was a suggestion about utlizing the Adventure Packs to supplement the high end expansions that were being done. Dymus once again explained that there is really only so much they can accomplish in the development time they have. Then, they talked about the 'E' word. Expansions.
What got me more excited than those 4 cans of Amp I used to make the drive home? They verified that the "six month" development time for expansions was dead. Gallenite seemed content with the current model of releasing small bites of content between the large expansions so hopefully that means there will be an Adventure Pack on the horizon very soon. Gallenite was asked about the ability to make it scalable and he explained that a lot goes into doing that. It requires instances or series of instances, but the idea wasn't ruled out. Expansion...*drool* I need to state one more thing that I have yet to say. I really like Gallenite.
Botting and Farming
Topic change! If you troll the forums (did I say troll? I meant read) like I do, you're probably familiar with a little stink recently over some high end relic armor being "farmable." Gallenite admitted there was a mistake, but the big suprise, we were told the issue was a little overblown. Apparently only one full set of the Relic armor was sucessfully farmed in all of EQ2. On average a guild got a meager 3 pieces. Seems like such a small thing for the amount of drama I saw.
What is done about people who do things like that? You know, I was curious myself so I tuned in carefully when he started talking about "dropping the hammer on people." Unfortunately, he wasn't talking about whoever kept turning my room AC down to - 28 degrees. The "hammer" he stated was reserved for botters, cheaters and people seriously disrupting the game. Situations involving disruptions like this, are examined carefully. Not like the "careful examination" I gave my pockets before I walked out without my pen.
The impression I get from SOE, despite what most people think, is that botting and cheaters are an issue, and one they deal with on a regular basis.
More on the summit meetings in the next segment.
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