Artist’s mockup of EQNext’s logo
On Monday, Karen Bryan of Massively has published a great interview with Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson, Director of Development for the EverQuest Franchise about the future of online gaming, and specifically EQNext. The big reveal of the 3rd 4th 5th 6th game in the EverQuest franchise will take place on August 1st at this year’s SOE Live 2013 event in Las Vegas.
Below, we include some excerpts from the interview.
We began with a discussion about what the future looks like and how EQ Next plays into that future. Georgeson said he feels that SOE is already tipping its hand somewhat with what it’s added to EQ andEverQuest II. What the studio is essentially doing is making the game more open to players, with features like Player Studio and multiple free-to-play revisions. When the players can participate along with the developers in creating the game, the developers can continue making professional content, like the upcoming blueprint feature* in EQII. There are many ideas being pushed along the way, and those ideas are “seriously on steroids with EQ Next,” as he put it, but that won’t be revealed until August at SOE Live.
[After joining the EQ2 team] he focused his efforts on getting the game into the press more, partially through increased marketing but also by releasing things like Dungeon Maker and SOEmote. While some watchers questioned whether these were things the game needed, his answer was yes because it gave the game global press and kept the game became “alive” in people’s minds. As a result, the game’s numbers are stronger than they have been in years.
The Road Not Taken
Shifting gears to EQ Next, Georgeson still wouldn’t reveal what it was that caused SOE to scrap its original plans and start over, but he did say that what the studio was originally making was basically “EverQuest 2.5,” and that wasn’t going to make anyone excited. When he took over the project, he brought in new people to sit down to make big lists of “Holy Grails” for MMOs and lists of things they hated in MMOs. They didn’t allow themselves to stop retooling what the game was until they satisfied those things. The end result is “an MMO you’ve never played before,” he told me. “It’s a completely different critter.”
The Level Cap Problem
SOE is trying to make the game more intuitive. The longer a game’s out, the harder it is for new players to jump into the game easily. With EQ Next, SOE is making sure to take care of accessibility now, not later.
Crafters are the Heart of MMOs
Georgeson argued that it’s really the people who are the glue that makes an MMO work….He also has a pet theory that the players who select themselves to be crafters are the glue of MMOs. They’re the ones who tend to organize guilds, run in-game events, placate tempers in a guild, and be social. “So you can pretty much assume that there will be a strong backbone inEQ Next for those players. If players have good reasons to interact with the crafting community, then everything works better.”
Georgeson said that players want to be involved with MMOs when they’re not at their PCs, so it’s a big part of the design philosophy with all games in the studio’s development. He added that SOE is already doing it with PS2, but that’s mainly a stat aggregator that shows leaderboards. He wants to let players be involved in the world through their phones and mobile devices.
Georgeson is optimistic about the future of online gaming. He points to opportunities to experiment with new technology like armbands and glasses. He added that there are lots of ways that players will be able to interact with games in the future, and will “remove the ability to be harnessed to the PC even though it’s a PC game.”