Legends of Norrath Interview from CES 2008

by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor
by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor

Just a few years ago, the only card games that a person could really find to play online were Hearts or Texas Hold'em, but with the efforts of a number of prestigious gaming studios a number of online collectable card games have risen to the forefront of the online gaming experience. Perhaps the most prolific of these gaming studios, in terms of variety of games produced, is Sony Online Entertainment's Denver-based studio.

As one of the last stops the Ten Ton Hammer crew during our trip to Las Vegas, SOE Denver's Legends of Norrath set up was fairly simplistic compared to its 3D world brethren, but the game was still one of the showcase pieces in the SOE stable. Although you've heard most of my thoughts on the card game in my two reviews of the product (which were both very positive), I wanted to check in with the development staff to see what was next for the popular online trading card game.

Soon players will be able to collect the cards from the Trakanon raid, just like they can collect all of the other cards in the game.

To really get the nitty-gritty details, I turned to Associate Producer Kyle Heuer to see what the studio had planned for the month of January. "Starting this month, we will begin doing the Trakanon raid drops in EverQuest and EverQuest II," Heuer said. "This means that players will be able to take the role of the raid boss in the actual card raid. Basically you can go into EQ and EQ2, kill monsters, and the cards will drop as loot."

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the card game, players can team together to take on some of the more famous raid bosses found in EverQuest lore. However, up until this point the raid boss, Trakanon, was controlled by the computer's artificial intelligence. However, once these cards start dropping, other players will be able to take one the Trakanon raid groups. "You'll actually be able to collect all 31 purple (raid) cards from the loot drops. It's a month long card drop event in EQ and EQ2, so if you're a player you'll have plenty of opportunities to get the cards. These cards will drop as frequently as you might see in any promotional weekend, which is quite a large number of cards. Of course, you need one Trakanon and one copy of each of the Trakanon quests to actually play as the raid boss, "

Smiling, I asked Heuer whether it would be hard to actually beat the raid if players are controlling the monster. He laughed before answering. "Once you get all that together, you can actually play as Trakanon and totally destroy people."

Such a high level of power reminded me of some of the earliest fights conducted between players in the Legends of Norrath card game. While the game was well-tested and the majority of cards were balanced for online play, one card in particular - the "Power Elf" - held an unfair advantage over everything else. But within a month, the SOE developers had changed the card to once again be competitive with the rest of the game.

"That's the beauty of having an online-only trading card game," Heuer answered  "If we do find something that slipped through the cracks, we can adjust it without having to worry about errata. We can just proclaim that that is how it works now."

While two raids have been well publicized and talked about in the community, one raid in particular has already been introduced into the game. For me, this was a completely new revelation, because I hadn't heard of this third raid before CES. Heuer was excited to tell the entire EQ community and get more people attempting that particular raid.

"For those of you that didn't know, there's actually a third raid already in the game that can be attained by completing all of the scenarios in the game. We didn't really publicize it much because we wanted to continue to tweak exactly how that particular raid worked. It's a work in progress, but we've soft launched it at this point."

A fourth raid may be coming to Legends of Norrath in the near future. You'll need all of your cards to defeat this creature.

The Legends of Norrath tournaments are also something that the SOE developers would like to continue to progress, gradually bringing more people into the mix with a variety of different tournament options available. "We're hoping to ramp up the 2v2 play as time goes one," Heuer explained. "We want to get some ladders and tournaments set up so you can play with your particular friend through a 2v2 tournament. We also want to make it so that the players can make their own team names as well."

"The first championship qualifier happened in December," Heuer continued. "And we'll have the next one at the end of January. It's a long process to win the tournament, but the rewards are really, really cool."

Even with all of the other progress SOE Denver is making on their collectable card game, they're also not yet done making new expansions for their game. With a fairly quick schedule, they're once again building up to another expansion expansion. "We're already working on the third set," Heuer said. "We can't give out names and details just yet because we're still working on picking the exact titles and cards that are going to go into the next expansion. It's going to be coming soon, and the marketing and PR folks are already asking us for the details of the set already."

On top of that, the developers are continuing to bring more new scenarios into the game. And these you don't even need to pay for! "You might  even see a fourth raid come into the game before the next expansion releases," he said. "I'm not 100% certain, but I think the next raid might be a three-member raid. You'd have three people against one raid boss."

From my perspective, I can't help but wonder how the expansion and introductory set have sold. Although I may truly enjoy them, the general public might not. I asked Heuer as much, and his answer was quite refreshing and positive. "The Forsworn set has sold really well, and we're actually very pleased with how it's done," Heuer said. "Oathbound had a lot of longevity because people didn't check it out right when it launched. The sales curve was more of a line than any sort of spike. But the Forsworn set has sold really well right out of the gate."

Legends of Norrath seems to be proving that Sony Online Entertainment had the right idea investing in the online collectable card game market. With Legends of Norrath selling well and hints of a CCG based around the upcoming MMOG, The Agency, the SOE Denver studios couldn't be in a better position to succeed.

Have you had the opportunity to play through any of the Legends of Norrath raids? What do you think about the possibility of having four raids before the next expansion? Let us know on the forums!

Ten Ton Hammer is your unofficial source for Legends of Norrath news and articles!

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