Ton Hammer: Going back to updating old zones with new content, one of
the beloved things and traditions of EverQuest
2 were the newbie islands.
Granted, they did get a little bit tiresome because every character you
made had to go through them. They’ve been recently removed
because you have new, cool newbie experiences all over Norrath now. Do
you have any plans on bringing back the newbie isles in any shape or
I know that we
have a storyline that we want to pursue with the far seas trader stuff.
Those islands were closed for a reason, and that reason we
haven’t revealed. When we get to the point where
we’re mucking around with the Ocean of Tears and some of that
stuff will get explained. I think what a lot of people are missing from
the newbie isles experience is leaving them to go to Freeport or
Qeynos, which are really cool zones. The cities were there and they
were very nostalgic, but they were honestly difficult to navigate. They
were kind of all over the place as far as content went, and a lot of
newbies got confused and they ended up quitting because it was so hard
to navigate and you couldn’t remember which one of the 7 or 8
different zones of Qeynos your quest giver was. That obviously needs to
be restructured. We’re restructuring them and making them
cool, iconic, and story hubs again, all the things that players miss
from the newbie isles. Right now, I’m talking six months to a
year, but if we get to do what we want to do in the future, and there
isn’t bigger and brighter ideas, then the newbie isles stuff
will fully get explained also.
Ton Hammer: So there is a purpose to it all then?
Ton Hammer: Going into the developing aspect of things, you have two
different projects going. You have EverQuest
2 Live and you have EverQuest
2 Extended. I know that
they’re the same game, but you’re looking at
different target audiences. When you’re designing new content
and new expansions, how do you envision it? Do you focus mainly on that
doing this will make it good for Extended, or do you focus on
making the Live gamers happy? How do you
find a middle road to suit both audiences?
How do I answer
this without making flamewars? (laughs) The business model we had
we were forced to continue the expansion pack model, which is, in
general, making end-game content and kind of ignoring the things that
we know are wrong with the game. We’re always racing to make
the next expansion pack; we’re always racing to make the next
expansion pack. It was the only way we could make money. It was the
only thing bringing in cash. By bringing in EQ2X
and allowing the microtransaction stuff to make money for us over time,
what it’s doing is effectively freeing up design concepts.
Now we can concentrate on Freeport and Qeynos. We can do things like
take care of the zones that we know are really bad and need to be
revamped and updated. I won’t name any
names…Thundering Steppes… (laughs).
There are a lot of things that need to be fixed in the game.
There’re a lot of mechanics that have gotten creaky or worse,
in my opinion, and are impossible for new players to understand. There
is a lot of functionality in the game that most players don’t
use because they don’t know that it exists, and that is
almost criminal. By taking off some of the burden of the expansion pack
model, we can address some of these other issues and make the game
better for just not one set of players, but for everybody. The more fun
the game is, well, the more fun the game is! If we can go in and create
new ways for people to play and be able to revisit content and have fun
with it, not just grind through it, if we can add more dynamic
capabilities to the game so that things aren’t exactly the
same every time you go through them, the game will be better for
I think that we’ll be addressing content that just
isn’t end-game, even though we’ll continue to push
that boundary, but we’ll be able to do it in a lot of other
ways. We’ll be able to do that more effectively because the
burden won’t be so heavy on the expansion pack model.
Ton Hammer: That makes sense, especially with EverQuest
2 Extended. No longer is the
top heavy. My hats off to you.
already a good game. We can make it a great game. We just need to have
the time and resources to do it, and by increasing the success of the
game financially, we get that. We can go back and create the
entertainment that we want to create.
Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you wish to share about EverQuest
2 Extended or Velious?
concentrating on quality for Velious, not necessarily quantity, even
though there’s a lot of stuff we’re doing.
We’ve made a commitment not to cram in thousands of quests
just so we can say that there are thousands of quests. We’re
going through everything and trying to make it feel heroic, that there
are lots of gee-whiz moments, that there are lots of things to look
forward to, and that there’s pacing through the area. That
way, you’re not just doing one thing the whole time. I think
that we’re going to be successful on that frontier.
I can’t wait until we rip off the beta tag and get to spend
some of that marketing money. I’m looking forward to seeing
how that will impact the population on both sides. We’re
still experimental here, and I can’t wait until I get real
facts so that we can tweak it more to make it work.
Ton Hammer: Where do you see EQ2X in today’s
massive free-to-play marketplace?
This is going to
sound like pure ego (laughs), but honestly, at the top of the heap.
There isn’t anything better than EQ2
as a free-to-play model. There just isn’t. I’m
really looking forward to people finding out about it and checking it
out. If you want to include another competitor that comes close in
quality is LotR
but I think that we’re better than them. I think as far as
other free-to-play games, their play isn’t as deep, their
graphics aren’t as cool, and they don’t have nearly
the depth of features. We’re at the top of the heap.