So if you caught last Thursday night’s EQ2Players Sneak Peak Webcast, you know that the new EQ2Players site is coming very soon. If you missed it, the video has appeared on Youtube and we have produced a transcript, almost verbatim during the Q&A. Just for you!
Linda “Brasse” Carlson interviewed SOE’s Clif Bate (Director of Commerce Services & Web Presence) and Abby Watt (Associate Web Producer) about the upcoming EQ2Players site.
The transcript after the jump…
Clif Bate (Director of Commerce Services & Web Presence) started out the Webcast talking a bit about the Data Feeds API aka Census. The EQ2 game publishes data to Census, and then sites like EQ2Players and EQ2U can request that data from the Census. The EQ2Players team have been requesting more and more information and now there’s a ton of data at this point.
There were really two projects, one to redo the EQ2Players site and the EQ2 web presence in general, and one to develop a Data Feed service that EQ2Players (and obviously other sites) could be built on. Data updates happen when someone
Levels Up, Zones, or Logs out, and sites get that data almost immediately. Updates are typically 5-10 seconds instead of the old EQ2Players site which took an hour or more to be updated. There are a number of milestones that trigger an update, so the data is very live and up-to-date.
Brasse asked Clif how many hours, excluding EQ2 Dev time (Zoltaroth and others) and QA time (QA was heavily involved in testing the new site according to Associate Web Producer Abby Watt) it’s taken to develop this. 1,500 hours. There have been a lot of people who have shifted through. We really wanted to set the bar high. What we’ll be releasing very soon will be termed a Beta. We don’t want to set the expectations too high. There are already so many features we know we can do that we need to test more. Well roll out a first subset of those features.
Cue the Screenshots
UPDATE: Thanks to Abby for providing higher resolution versions of these screenshots.
Slide: Character Details — Tabs are Items, Appearance Items, Character Info, and Mitigation. The paper doll image is taken/updated when you log out.
Slide: Item Details — Equipped items and Appearance items. There are no item hovers. Items are examined by clicking on them and viewing the details on the right side.
Slide: Character Stats — A bar chart of your Main Stats (Agility, Wisdom, Intelligence, Strength, Stamina)
Slide: Spell Mitigation — A bar chart of your Resists (Noxious, Arcane, Elemental, Physical)
Row #1: Most Deaths by a Player (PvP)
- Blue represents the number of times Brasse’s character has died to another player.
- Red represents the highest number of PvP deaths of your same class on that server.
- Green represents the total number of PvP deaths on her character’s server.
Row #2: Most Kills by a Player (PvP)
NOTE: Rankings graphics are updated once per hour.
Slide: Spell List — Brasse’s spell list is 7 pages long with 25 spells per page. Columns are sortable by name, Tier (quality), and Level.
Brasse’s achievement list is 10 pages long with 25 achievements per page. There are over 1,500 achievements in EQ2, so such a character could conceivably have 60 pages of Achievements to thumb through. Columns are sortable by Name, Description, Category, Subcategory, and Points.
Slide: AA Calculator
Clif: “We basically built a calculator where you can go through and see all of the different AAs. You can choose the different classes. You can go through and add it up to see how you would like to build it up.”
Brasse: Can you save the builds as well?
Clif: “At this point you can’t save it, no. That’s one of the things we’ve got in planning for the future.”
Brasse: Very neat. Because if we can save them, we can share them with our friends.
Clif: “Yep. Exactly.”
Brasse: I would like that very much because as I can tell you I’ve been through more than a few AA resets and every time I log in it’s like «Ohh seriously I have to go and get a six pack of beer because it’s gonna take me 4 hours to figure out where to put all the points again». So if I could save my previous build or look at some uber mystic who is not me and see how they’ve built it out, I would have a much easier time of it. That’s very cool.
Abby: And as you can see in this screenshot, if you hover over any of these AAs, you get AA details like you would in-game.
Brasse: So when you rank them up in this AA Builder, it would automatically give you the improved results that you get from the ranking? Like it will display how much it has increased over the previous ranking?
Clif: Right, as you click on the first one…as you spend more points, it will then highlight other AAs that you can then build off of.
Slide: Character Comparison Overview
Clif: So one of the cool things we’ve got coming up, which we’ll show in the next slide, is a lot of times players are wanting to compare themselves to someone else. How will I rank against them? What do they have that I don’t?
Brasse: This is going to be painful isn’t it?
Clif: In your case, probably.
Abby: So I used the site’s search functionality to find a level 90 mystic. We came up with Tetreon (from Unrest). On this Overview page, you can compare which items each of you have. If you click on one of the items, then it brings up a view where you can see the two items side-by-side.
Slide: Item Comparison — Stats which are worse are marked in Red. Stats which are better are marked in Green.
Slide: Character Comparison — Compare the stats of two characters side-by-side with bar graphs.
Slide: Character Comparison — Side-by-Side Graph
Abby admits that the screenshots shown during the webcast are *really* fuzzy.
Discussion about Max Spell Hit and Max Melee Hit having unbelievable numbers…
Brasse: Can you look up what (Tetreon) used to get that number?
Abby: You could probably ask him.
Brasse: I don’t want to embarrass myself by asking. I want to be able to look up what uber weapon he used!
Abby: So go to his character info and check out his equipped items.
Brasse: But that is the same equipment he’s wearing now.
Clif: That’s what he was wearing when he last checked out.
Brasse: But is that what he was using when he got that huge hit? I think he made up that number. I really do.
Editor’s Note: The data for exactly what weapon or spell was used for the max melee or max spell hit are actually in the feed.
That’s it for the screenshots, now time for Questions.
Caela: “I would like to know what sort of privacy controls are in place. Will our characters be available “all or nothing” or can we choose which bits of info are available – ie, my spells and AA’s can be seen, but my leveling history and gear can’t be seen.”
Clif: “To some extent it is an all-or-nothing. And by all-or-nothing, I mean that if your character, as your character’s data is there, you cannot piecemeal say I want to expose this but I don’t want to expose that. From the ‘nothing’ side, we give the players the ability in-game that they can, after they’ve logged in, they can go to their Profile, they can go to EQ2 Share. Within there is the callout for EQ2Players. By default, it’s checked.”
Clif: “If someone wants to uncheck it, basically to make themselves private, they just uncheck it. At that point, that character, that particular character would no longer be available to the public feed. That would basically mean that somebody else goes to the players’ site, and tried to search for that character, they would not find it. Even though you may have just played with them, if your character is marked private, it won’t be showing up.”
Brasse: “That’s a really good topic for a player such as myself, because I have a couple of characters that I consider very public. I love to talk to people when I login. And then there’s other times, when I’ve just gotten home, I’m really tired, and I just want to play privately. So I can pick and choose which characters are on these lists to be seen, and so on.”
Clif: “Now one of the things that’s going to happen in the future, I’ve been told, is that by default your main character will be automatically be Opted-in. All of your Alts will be… Sorry. For your main character, you have to choose if you want to Opt Out. All of your Alts by default would be something you have to Opt-in.”
Editor’s Note: On an EQ2 account, there is no such thing as a ‘main’ character. By default on EQ2Players (and other data-driven websites) if I look up ANY character, it will show NO alts. If you want people to find your character AND your Alts, you must login to each character and tick a checkbox which was added after the webcast called “Link to Alt Characters“. This will allow you to control not only whether people can find your alts, but WHICH alts they can find. This will make it possible to keep a few characters hidden away by only enabling it for SOME of your characters.
Clif: That’s in the future. Right now, all of the characters are there. Let me kind of clarify what I said about public vs private. The Data Feed which I mentioned before, this service we call Census, this is something that already we have several fansites utilizing this. They’re looking great, we’re real excited, and they’ve given us some great feedback. If you were to mark your character as Private, that character would not be included in the Feeds that goes out to the fansites.
Brigh: Will you set our privacy defaults to hide all characters? Will we be able to see alts for players who don’t have them set to be hidden, assuming that setting is an option?
Brasse: I think you’ve already answered that on both sides now. On third-party sites, although they do get data feeds, they do not get access to characters that you’ve set to private.
Clif: That’s right. Now on the SOE EQ2Players, because we require authentication, you have to login with your Station account, you’ll be able to still see your own characters, even if you’ve marked them private. They’re just not available to the rest of the world. Private characters won’t show up in public searches on EQ2Players or fansites.
Brasse: You can still get all of the features without letting other people know what you’ve got.
Abby: Also I believe you can’t search for a character’s alts, so if I find Brasse, I can’t go Oh let’s see who the rest of her alts are. If you make them public, they’ll show up if I search for them, but there’s no connection there at this time.
Editor’s Note: As of the Tuesday Feb 14th update, Any character with the new “Link to Alt Characters” checkbox switched to ON will be discoverable when I view your other characters.
Clif: We don’t make public the account relationship. Someone may know your main character, they won’t be able to see what your alts are. But once again, when you login on our site, then we can pull it together so you don’t have to do a search for every single one. We’ll bring up all of the characters that are on that account.
Editor’s Note: See above editor notes.
Clif: The way it works with Census is, after you’ve played a character, as we said it will send the data over to the datastore. If you haven’t played that particular character, it won’t be in Census. If you want all your characters in, go login.
Editor’s Note: The point being brushed on here is that characters who have not logged in before November 2011 don’t show up on EQ2Players or any API-driven website. Your character’s information is stored in disparate servers, not all in 1 database, so you must “spin up” your character before a data export will happen.
Lyssia: Before the free-to-play revamp there were player rankings for most server first item discoveries and most world first item discoveries, and the original EQ2Players even kept track of which items you discovered and when. Will this functionality be a part of the new EQ2Players?
Clif: We have so much data. All of this is available in Census. For our first iteration, we do not have discovered items. It is there, so we have something we want to rollout in the future. We absolutely have it, and it’s also available to the public feeds as well. Some fansites may beat us to it. That’s one of the great things. We want to have the data available so the fans, if they’re eager, if they see something they’re interested in, hey go for it.
Dellmon: What will the SOE EQ2 Players site have that fan-created sites and apps, which are also leveraging the data feeds, won’t have? Will there be any exclusive content or data on the official site that fan sites won’t have access to?
Brasse: It sounds like the opposite is the case, that they can have anything they want.
Clif: That’s right. There is no exclusive data at this point. The only thing that we’ve got is, since we have the Authentication ability, we know about the account-level relationship. Otherwise, all the data is available.
Brasse: So, let’s say on an external site… «Hi I’m Brasse and I’m an Altoholic.» I’m not going to talk about how many characters I have. But let’s say on my main server, I have 8 characters. 4 of them I keep hidden all the time. Will the external sites ever be able to pull that data?
Clif: Not unless you make them public.
Brasse: So that’s probably the only exclusive. If you want to see the data on your hidden characters you have to come to the SOE site to see your own data on your hidden characters.
Clif: That’s right. It allows our players to protect their privacy, but still be able to get the information about themselves without being blocked everywhere. Just everywhere except for ours.
Brasse: So the final question is actually a conglomeration of a bunch of different questions. I know that you guys know this one is coming. I’m just going to paraphrase what a whole bunch of people have asked, which is: How can we be sure that this is going to be supported? That it’s going to continue to provide good statistics? People were pretty disappointed in the last iteration of EQ2Players. They’ve really let us know over the last couple of years that this has been a problem. What is your level of dedication and support to this product?
(I’ll give you Clif’s cell phone number after this)
Clif: Let me clearly say I totally understand that level of frustration. When I became part of the web presence and I saw some of the sites, I saw a lot of it was broken, hadn’t been updated in a long time. It was reliant on a system for updating the data that was probably not ideal. We’ve had a lot of conversations internally not just with our team but with the execs, the game team. We all know our fans want to have access to this data. They want a place that when they’re not in-game, that they can have a destination that they can go to enjoy it, find out what they did, find out how to get better at it, look up the person that kept killing them last night. All this other stuff about what they can do to get better. We know that.
Clif: It’s not just only in EQ2. We realize this is something we need to do for all fans, for all of our games in the future. That is the plan. With Census and some of the technology we’ve developed, it’s something we can roll out to other games. We’re excited because no longer is it going to be just an afterthought. This is something the game teams are excited about because they put so much time, energy, and love into that game and the players love it. How can we let people get more of it rather than only when they’re online in the game?
Brasse: We’ve seen the screenshots, we know it works. I’m going to have to go get access to that QA server now and have a quick look myself and convince myself that all is not lost on all my characters. When can we expect to see this go live? I bet you don’t have a date, do you. Let’s hear the traditional answer then.
Clif: Very soon.
Clif: I don’t want to name a date, but we’re close. We’re very close.
Brasse: So are you still doing testing or just a final polish on the interface?
Cliff: Well as I said this is a Beta. But even for a Beta, we still want it to have a high level of polish to make sure that the data we’re representing is accurate, is showing well. We’re just trying to remove some small bugs.
Brasse: Do we have any questions from the web chat?
(off camera): They’ve been asking about the Mobile App.
Clif: Right now there’s not a plan to make a native mobile app. We’ve already kinda scheduled into the future that we want to make this mobile web accessible, but it’s not going to be a native app. But that’s not going to be at the same time we launch the major site.
Brasse: It’s interesting though because if third-party sites can get data feeds, they might be able to build their own mobile app.
Clif: That is exactly the case.
Brasse (to the camera): Get working on it guys!
Clif: In fact, one of the first things we saw when the Census data feeds were released was Server Status. Within a day or two a fan had already created a mobile app utilizing this for Android, iOS. That’s the power [of these feeds]. If someone has an interest in it, go for it.
Brasse: That is really really cool. I’m very excited about this because yeah, we’ve been waiting a long time for this upgrade. So I just wanted to thank Abby Watt and Clif Bate for joining us today on the EQ2 Webcast and our sneak peak into the new EQ2Players coming to a web browser near you SOON!
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