The ‘Future of EverQuest II’ webcast has concluded, and we have been left with more questions than answers. The webcast at a glance:
- the Qeynos Revamp
- a hint of the Sleeper’s Tomb (GU65) and Kerafyrm (2013)
- the next Expansion (December?) — more levels, more Prestige Points, includes a totally new area of Norrath rather than revisiting a part of the original EverQuest
- Play-as-your-Character in Dungeon Maker (using a feature called Level Agnostic Dungeons)
- On-the-Fly Beta Testing
- using Quest Items from your Quest Journal instead of fishing around in your inventory
- the Scope of the Marketplace (even the EQ2 team admits that more items should be available or craftable in-game)
- Softball player questions about Progression server, Armor dyes, temporary NPCs, and the Meatbeast
Much like the Freeport Revamp last December, we’re updating the art assets of Qeynos. We’re splitting it into two zones — North and South Qeynos become the Capital District, Elddar Grove and Qeynos Harbor become the Provinces.
The neighborhoods will be used much as they were used in Freeport as adventure zones. Class, Racial, and Story quests at regular level intervals starting at level 20. Some quests will be below level 20. A lot of the existing quests have been retained. The storylines have been updated and made present-tense.
They’re hoping to release some before-and-after screenshots in the next couple of weeks (before E3).
“I believe it took 2-3 years to make Qeynos originally, so we didn’t want to tear all that down. We wanted to make sure we’re building upon it.” There are a lot of texture improvements. Flying is not possible, and it’s not a starting city.
Actually, the EQ2 team in the next month will be looking some at the four starting cities (Gorowyn/Timorous Deep, Faydwer, New Halas, and Neriak) and doing some polish and also tweaking some of the quest drops.
The next Game Update (GU65) after Qeynos will have Raid and Heroic Group content. “Dragons and stuff”.
We do expect next year to have the final confrontation with Kerafyrm.
Holly: “That’s the plan and it’s a big plan. We’re really looking forward to seeing the story through.”
Dave: “I know how the Age’s End prophecy is supposed to end. I know the big plot line. What’s going to be fun is seeing how you move through all the different areas before we get to that final event.”
It’s a content expansion, not a features pack. To be released this year. You’ll be visiting an area of Norrath that no-one has visited before. Dave: “In fact it’s barely even been mentioned.” Holly: “You’re going to see some new characters that have been referenced in the past that have not been seen in either EverQuest game.”
Dave: “We’ll have more information after E3, and leading up to the Qeynos revamp.”
Holly: “It will be levels. It will be prestige abilities. What you would expect from a content expansion from us.”
Then Dave hinted at some big feature which the team seems to be evaluating…
Dave: “Plus some other stuff we may be able to talk about soon.”
Dave: “It would be cool if we can do that.”
Play as Your Character in Dungeon Maker
Holly: “In December, we allowed the ability to play as your character in a very rudimentary way on Test server. We took a look at that and, even as a team and in our own tests, we felt that we had to do something more. One of our resident geniuses David “Maevianiu” Kish, our Assistant Lead, had previously imagined what he called Level Agnostic Dungeons.”
Holly: “What that means is, ultimately you can go into any dungeon at any level with a group, so for example, I could at level 20 group with a level 70. We could play and get equal rewards that are appropriate for our levels. It would feel solid, fun, and good. No-one would be at a disadvantage or an extraordinary advantage.”
Dave: “So it’s tweaking the number values as you do damage or cast spells, bringing you up or down to meet at a middle point when you’re doing the Dungeon Maker stuff?”
Holly: “Yeah it’s crazy.”
Dave: “So there are just a few variables in those equations.”
Holly: “Just a few.” “We’ve got a few test areas now. We applied it first to Dungeon Maker, given we wanted players to play as a character.” “I’m hoping we’ll have this on Test and Test Copy next week.”
A Dungeon Maker contest will be starting tomorrow for building dungeons, specifically Poet’s Palace.
We’re hoping to launch Play-as-a-Character mid-June, which is about the time that the contest will end. There will be cool prizes for both designing and running these Poet’s Palace-based dungeons.
On-The-Fly Beta Testing
Dave: “We’ve been talking a lot recently about ‘What is EverQuest 2? What do we want players to be experiencing? What sort of things do we want to change in the way that we deliver content?’”
Dave (to Holly): “You’ve been developing tools to more rapidly iterate.”
Holly: “Both Akil ‘Lyndro‘ Hooper, Lead Designer, and myself have come back to Sony after some time away (as have you, Dave). There were a couple of things that seemed sort of alarming to us in that historically, where we’ve been in the past, Testing is a rapid iteration process. If you go onto a Beta server and there’s a problem, (the developers) can quickly change a few variables, have the players test it on the fly. EQ2 hasn’t had that ability thus far, and now it does. Our programming team has come up with a tool called the ‘Beta Test Tool’.”
Dave: “We’ll get Marketing involved to come up with a cool name.”
Holly: “What we noticed through testing Skyshrine on Test Copy was the amazing participation. We want to encourage that participation. We understand that one of the frustrations, especially if you’re coming in as a group or a raid, or even testing quests…”
Holly: “To have our devs on-server, if you’re finding issues, they can be online and change something immediately as soon as we see a report of an issue and it’s fixed for you, and we get better feedback.”
Holly: “[We can change on-the-fly] broken quests, typos, raid issues, spell problems, everything.”
Dave: “So I can say, I’d rather have 4 orcs in this encounter instead of 3 and just on-the-fly change it?”
Dave: “That’s kick ass.”
Holly: “Changing spells, raid scripts, mob spells. It’s crazy.”
Dave: “So testers on Test server can give feedback live to a dev, right there, they can change it on the spot.”
Holly: “Historically, it was ‘Sorry it’s broken, we can’t proceed with the test, please come back in a day or two when we get it updated.’ That will be a thing of the past.”
Dave: “Do you know if there’s any other MMOs that do this?”
Holly: “I don’t believe so.”
Dave: “I’m not asking you if there are any. Do you know of any? I don’t think there are.”
Show Not Tell
Wherever possible, the team is using animations, voiceovers, and interaction to tell stories rather than walls of dialogue and quest text.
Quest Item Usage from Quest Journal Window
Quests that require the use of an item — a bauble, a pet leash, a potion, etc. will now have that item icon appear in the Quest Journal, and you’ll be able to click on that item from the Quest Journal and have it activate. No more fishing in your inventory to find the right item needed to update a quest.
The Scope of the Marketplace
Dave: “We’ve spent a lot of time talking recently about the StationCash Marketplace. We have a lot of really cool stuff on the marketplace. But… we’d like to have less on the Marketplace and more in the game, right?”
Holly: “Yes. Ultimately, I think we recognize that there are some crazy amazing armor, weapons, etc. that, again ‘We are players too.’ We often ask ourselves, ‘Why couldn’t a player make this themselves?’ We’re not ignorant to that. So we have been looking into options of how we can offer similar or the same items to the players so they can make them themselves. We don’t have a specific timeline. We want to make sure it’s going to be a benefit to the players.”
Dave: “To be clear, we’re looking into ways to take stuff off the Marketplace and setting it up so that players can make it instead.”
Holly: “We obviously have a plan in advance of what we’re going to do with the Marketplace. It’s a big brainstorming activity where the team gets together to think about ‘What would I want to buy?’”
Dave: “We’re working on introducing more items directly into the game, rather than just putting it all on the Marketplace.”
Q: What is the possibility of an EQ2 Classic Server (time-locked Progression)?
Holly: “We have a huge list of priorities we want to tackle, and we haven’t seen that as…we’re obviously responding to the players, that’s our first priority. It’s not on our immediate list of things to do. It’s always something interesting to look at. It’s certainly not on our schedule with an immediate time frame.”
Q: Now that we have Adventure potions on the marketplace, are we going to get Crafting ones as well?
Holly: “I was talking to the design team before this webcast and I was actually talking to them, and we’re trying to imagine exactly what would that mean. It’s certainly not that we’re against it. We’re trying to figure out exactly what would a Tradeskill potion mean?…Send us your thoughts!”
Q: We’d like to see more Character Customization, visible jewelry, tinting for armor, Decorator choices, cheaper homes, premium housing, etc.
Holly: We periodically look at the different categories on the Marketplace to see if we can add new items, and we certainly haven’t abandoned appearance jewelry. Also, I think we can look at customizing walls, floors, etc. in the Prestige housing.
Dave: I know from way back talking to our Art Director Tim that there are some serious technical challenges with that and how housing works if we were going to do something like that. It’s not a simple thing.
Q: Is it possible to create NPCs that give you quests and actually join your group?
Holly: Temporary mercenaries are a cool idea and something we could look into. Having an NPC with a motivation who joins you for a short time would play into our ‘Show don’t Tell’ philosophy. If it acts like a mercenary, it would probably take up a player slot.
Q: Do you think the Meatbeast will ever return as a Beastlord warder?
Holly: “This is an ongoing controversy/argument on the team. There is an equal camp who says Yea…”
Dave: “There’s no controversy!”
Holly: “and an equal camp who says Nay.”
Dave: “That’s the right answer.”
Holly (points to herself) “Yea camp.” (points to Dave) “Nay camp.”
Dave: “It’s definitely a Hate-Love thing.”
Holly: “So, no answer until there’s a resolution to the argument.”
Dave: “It’s probably going to be a cage match with lots of death and blood.”
Holly: In the next few weeks we’re going to be putting out Qeynos for testing. We’d love to get the same amount of participation we had previously and in Skyshrine. Please come out and test it.
Dave: One last little thing. We have a press leak going out on the 30th, and there’s a big announcement happening on the first day of E3. It’s all related to EQ2. Watch out for it.
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