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 href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/16484">were
both very
), I wanted to check in with the development staff to
see what was next for the popular online trading card game.

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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
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
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

"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

"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."

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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

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 style="font-style: italic;">Legends of Norrath
raids? What
do you think about the possibility of having four raids before the next
expansion? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?p=199311#post199311">Let
us know on the forums!

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and articles

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