This year we went a different route and asked our community what you wanted us to ask the EverQuest Development team. You responded with questions, so we had them answered!
This year we decided to try something different, so we asked our community what you wanted us to ask the EverQuest Development team. You responded with a variety of questions, and we caught up with Senior Game Designer Ryan "Rytan" Barker to get some answers.
ZAM: Limited bag space is a huge player issue for both personal and guild banks. Are you currently happy with the amount of space, and would you consider adding more space as part of an update in the future?
Ryan Barker: So this one we talked about a couple times yesterday. People brought up various versions of that, essentially. There are a couple different things. There's a significant technical hurdle of adding more bank space. We're not opposed to it, it's just that there's some serious, serious work that has to go into it to make the character file big enough to hold more bank space. The other thing that got brought up was that some of the things should be stackable in larger numbers. We're open to that, as long as it makes sense. There are some items that we're not comfortable stacking in hundreds because of balance reasons, like potions and click effect things like that. For the most part we're OK with trade skill items and things like that stacking in the higher numbers, so if there are any specific examples, we'd love to take a look at which items aren't stacking as high as they should.
ZAM: Well then, just to expand on that, what about adding more NPCs like Tavid Dennent to the guild lobby?
Ryan: It's possible. For quest items and stuff like that, it's hard going back to do it, but going forward we should be able to cover pretty well. We'd also like to avoid situations where there are quests that require holding that many items to complete. We'd sort of like to get away from that and use other methods that don't involve lots of inventory space to hold onto that stuff, because, as everyone knows, our systems doesn't support really large inventories, and if our quests require it, that's really a bad design decision on our part. We need to shrink down the number of items that you have to carry around.
ZAM: Have you, or would you consider doing a double experience weekend once a month to motivate players to play? It's worked out really well in EverQuest II.
Ryan: So, the problem for us is that we obviously don't have the trade skill experience system that they do, so we'd have to do the 'one time, every time.' There has been some consideration for doing that type of thing more frequently. Whether not it's going to be exactly experience, or some other 'hot' weekend, where there's more... whatever. Maybe it's items dropping or something like that, it's definitely something we're considering, so.
ZAM: Do you have any plans for an epic 3.0 or the next line of epics?
Ryan: Yeah this was brought up a couple times yesterday to and the problem with that is that we love making them and they're really fun for us, they're good storylines and the players enjoy them. The problem is that they're about a month apiece, design time, to put in. That's like an entire zone worth of content, if we're doing expansion work or whatever. It's really just a resource game, in terms of what we want to put our people on, and what we want to do. Sort of tied to that, the epic quests are really just for one class, so you're looking at, at best, 1/16th of your player base. I mean, some of the class levels are obviously skewed and some are more popular than others. You're talking about a much smaller segment of your player base. If you have a quest in a zone, just straight up, everyone can do it and you've got your whole player base able to go and experience that content. It's difficult for us to justify an entire month, out of a year, for a designer to go and spend on just one piece of content that not even everyone's going to be able to see. It's not that we're opposed to it, and we won't do it ever, but it's a really tough decision for us to get to the point where we think that we've got the resources and it's worth doing.
ZAM: Why does it take a month to develop an epic?
Ryan: It just does. Usually the quests are fairly complicated, there's different events that are going on in between, those all have to be tuned and tested along the way. That doesn't even count the QA time that's involved. Ed Hartin mentioned yesterday that when the EQ2 put in their epics or expansion pack, they spent 2,400 QA hours on just those quests, and I think he said that's like a third of the year, essentially, in terms of QA time. So they're way, way harder, more complicated to implement versus the time spent making normal quests.
ZAM: There was talk in March about having an offline trader mode for bazaar, when will that feature be implemented?
Ryan: We don't have a specific timeline for that, but it's something we'd like to do in one form or another, but we don't have a specific timeline.
ZAM: But it's coming?
Ryan: I can't even promise you that it's coming for sure, but we like the idea. It's a good one and feasible, it's just in terms of resources we can get for it.
ZAM: Are there any plans for any upcoming server merges?
Ryan: No we don't have any plans right now.
ZAM: Do you have any plans of bringing back more class specific weapons, like the ones that existed back in the Luclin days.
Ryan: We've got a few. Class specific stuff in general is sort of a problem because of the job issues. A lot of times if you have the stuff that only one class wants, and it drops, you end up in situations where it'll rot, 3/4 of the time. That's not really fun when something drops and nobody can use it in your group. That's why we stick with archetype items. There are some cases where we'll do class specific stuff. It'll usually be on something like a point vendor, or some sort of generic system to turn in a token to get a class specific item, things like that. We do have plans to put a few of those in the next expansion.
ZAM: Now this is something that I've wanted for a long time. Have you guys considered just skipping the development cycle and the expansion, and going back and repolishing all of the old content that exists in the game? This is not to say that I want you to bastardize the old content, but maybe improve on what's already there - graphically and content wise.
Ryan: We generally try to do some of that during the year. We'll try to do whatever live content we can, and push it out. That sort of covers what you're talking about. Again, it's a balancing issue where we only have so much time, and people want and need new stuff to do to keep interested. That's generally where our focus is. Some of the people at the top don't have too much stuff to do. That live stuff may end up being stuff for new people, and it'll be in old zones. Things like that. It's sort of a situation where we have to figure out "what's our best use of time," and most of the time that's going to be new content and new areas. We'll generally do tuning changes and things like that, but we won't very often go back and change things, like 're-quest' an entire zone. It's more efficient to go and do new areas.
ZAM: Definitely, and I'm not asking for that at all, or I'm seeing if you'll do that. I more mean going back to make the game look consistent.
Ryan: Are you talking more from our perspective?
ZAM: That seems to be the biggest thing. The content in the old world is great and it shouldn't be changed, but…
Ryan: For revamps, we've done a few in the past, but the problem with a lot of those is that they don't really get us much in terms of player retention and lifespan. It's hard for us to justify going back and a lot of our revamps are met with mixed reviews - some people like them, some people don't. We think that it's good to get new players to go into the new art zones - we've been trying to sort of funnel people through some of the newer content as true newbies. But we have so many zones and so many npcs, that it's really just a never-ending task of trying to update all of that stuff. By the time we get around to actually updating all of it because then we'd have some sort of new art thing. It's tough.
ZAM: Last question: When are the living legacy augmentations going to be issued?
Ryan: I believe the July patch will have it.
ZAM: I've been talking with Ryan Barker, Lead Designer. We appreciate your time.
Andrew "Tamat" Beegle