EverQuest II–Interview With Senior Producer Dave Georgeson

Destiny of Velious, released February 22, is the eighth expansion for EverQuest II, featuring more than 1,000 new weapons and items, over 300 new quests, and the introduction of flying mounts–to name just a few of this expansion’s trove of features. As if that wasn’t enough content, Destiny of Velious comes in a compilation pack that includes all seven previous expansions and three adventure packs.

I had the opportunity to join in on a roundtable interview with Senior Producer Dave Georgeson as he fielded some questions about Destiny of Velious and the future of MMOs.

Read on for some insight from one of the big names in the business.

What has been the player response so far to Destiny of Velious?

Dave Georgeson : Velious has been extremely well-received. The stats speak for themselves–it’s the best-selling expansion we’ve ever put out. We have record-setting pre-orders. Over 40% of our playerbase pre-ordered Velious.

The only controversy we’ve encountered concerns the big changes made to itemization. We didn’t just want to simplify the system, but to make it more fun and understandable, and it may take veteran players some time to adjust.

EverQuest’s world of Norrath is filled with exciting places; how did you settle on Velious?

Dave Georgeson: The region of Norrath most players wanted to rediscover was Velious, and we had stories we wanted to tell about what’s happened there in the last 500 years.

What can you tell us about how quests tie into the plot?

Dave Georgeson: Heritage quests exist outside of the plot and allow you to learn more about the world while you embark on really involved missions to get something cool.

The Signature quest is the main plot line–the Ages End prophecy, in this case.

Stories in previous expansions were so obscured and convoluted that they might as well not have existed. We’re changing that. You can follow Velious’ story. It’s understandable, and there are climaxes–moments you feel you’re making a difference in the world of Norrath.

Raids exist independently of the main plotline; they represent climactic moments you’ll hear about throughout the story.

At least five dungeons and several raids will be released over the next several months to expand the storyline.

The Scars of Velious expansion pack for the first EverQuest focused on high-level content. Does Destiny of Velious include any low or mid-level content?

Dave Georgeson: Nothing specifically for low-level. We wanted Velious to be a climactic ending to the prophecy storyline, and low-level characters just don’t fit into the picture.

Was it a challenge to get flying mounts into the game engine?

Dave Georgeson: We wanted players to be able to fly everywhere, not just in Velious. The hardest aspect was retrofitting the game to be accessible by air travel. Most regions were only designed to be seen from certain perspectives, and the ability to fly would allow players to see “offstage,” so a major amount of retooling of old zones needed to be done.

Can we engage in air battles?

Dave Georgeson: Not yet; maybe later down the line. The primary concern was to get the flight mechanics working smoothly. Presently, you can get knocked off your mount if you take damage, but you can’t fight while flying yet, and that avoids some potential balance issues.

What we have seen, though, is that guilds are trying to lock down the flight passes on PvP servers. Guilds have been trying to control access to flying mounts in order to assert complete air supremacy.

Ten years from now, what will MMOs be doing to take things to the next level?

Dave Georgeson: I can tell you what they won’t be doing. They won’t keep repeating Everquest and World of Warcraft over and over again–that’s a dead horse. Dungeons & Dragons was made a long time ago; there’s no need to keep making it year after year.

You have to make something that is, at its core, cool, unique, and exciting to play, and then grow it. It has to be different and unusual without being too niche. Eve Online did something no one else was doing, and it’s just been growing ever since.

EverQuest: we are the old model. We weren’t trying to make something hugely new until just now. EverQuest may be cliché by today’s standards, but it wasn’t cliché when it came out.

If you could make any MMO, what would it be?

Dave Georgeson: Virtual Vegas. A game aimed at adults–without being porn.

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