SOE Block Party-- A Troubadour's Existential Journey
As I swiped a sweet and drink or two, I checked out the games being shown and asked a few questions on the up and comers. Gods and Heroes is about to have a beta. Sign up for this one will be done through the forums at their site www.godsandheroes.com and should be announced soon. Also Beta Keys for the Open Beta (not the one for which participants will be picked from the site, which will come first) will be going out in sealed issues of Massive Magazine. If you're lucky enough to get one of these keys, be patient, as the keys will be sent before the actual Open event occurs. For those wanting a quick idea about the game, Gods and Heroes will seem familiar to players of Diablo and Diablo 2, as it comes from the same creator. Players will have support personnel/minions when they adventure so they can create balanced parties even while gaming solo. Casual players will not be penalized and solo players will be able to grind to the top levels, and gaining bonus god powers, just like those who prefer to group can. Players will be immersed in the history of Rome , with future expansions being planned toward nation vs. nation play. Daniel Deodatus was awesomely informative!
About this time is when I spotted the ladies representing Ever Quest and EQ2 making an appearance. To represent Star Wars Galaxies, members of the famous 501 st made were on hand to the utter excitement of kids and grownups alike.
I learned Beta three for Vanguard is about to arrive! They will also be putting codes for the Open Beta, which should follow, in one of the highly distributed magazines. I spoke to James Ranedy, one of the game's environmental artists. He said the work went quite smoothly (and looked great!) but took a lot to make. I hit him up about how the game will treat player deaths, but at this time that issue is still unresolved.
As I waited for my turn at the tour, I sidled over to the DJ, played by none other than Heather Gulino, the promotions manager. I asked her if she had any words for Ten Ton Hammer.
Thanks for spreading the love keep it up and let's see you on the other side.
I spotted Blackguard by the tour tables and decided to give him a shot too. I waited shyly until he was finished with the couple he was talking to.
Excuse me, I am but a poor troubadour channeling Radar X for Ten Ton Hammer. Any words? I asked.
Who the heck is Radar X? What is Ten Ton Hammer? His serious expression suddenly broke with a grin. Hey, what's up guys? (Sorry Radar, didn't get a chance to do the megaphone shot. :P )
We were then interrupted as my group was called up. For a pleasant surprise, it turned out Blackguard would be leading it. With grateful sighs we all waddled into building one and praised the gods for air conditioning. (A lot of us were looking like wet rats by this point. Not a pretty picture for a Kerran, let me tell you.) Unfortunately we were told no picture taking was allowed inside or I would be able to show you the wall to wall cubes, posters, comic covers, life size Yoda, caricatures, and more.
The first floor of building one houses SOE's Marketing, PR, and Sales relations. The second floor is for the web teams who create and maintain all the related game sites. Also houses HR, Development, and John Smedley's office, as well as the War Room, where panic attacks and regular conferences are held.
From there we exited back into the heat to cross on over to building three. Housed there are Quality Assurance as well as the EQ2 testing teams. We found several people working busily away. Tech Support took a large chunk of the building.
Our intrepid journey continued on to building two. More development personnel work there as well as Blackguard's own group of relations people. At the top of the stairs, there was a wall filled with caricatures. Smither's picture represents Russ Shankshard to say how happy he was about that. :P As we moved along, Blackguard pointed out the building's Red Bull Shrine, which sits right next to Evan Sampson's cubicle. We all paid homage as we walked on by.
Blackguard was going to sneak us into Moorguard's office, but unfortunately it was closed. We paid close attention as we passed The Cube of Awesome Ideas and Research in the design area. Those guys are responsible for all the Live Events in EQ2.
According to Blackguard, the company was first housed in building one and has now grown to the three buildings in the tour.
One of the people in the group asked Blackguard whether SOE was a fun, laid back place to work. He told her it was definitely both. They have a very casual dress code as well. If interested in working with SOE, people can apply to get a position in QA and then move up through the ranks as he himself did.
With that, the tour was over. The kingdom of SOE was revealed to my eager eyes and all was good. Satisfied, I took one last look at the Block Party area then took the bus back to Comic Con. Well done, SOE!
Thanks again to Gloria for providing us with this. Be sure to check out the rest of the pictures in here.
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