Onrpg: Everquest Q&A

Questions by Brian Perry Jr.
Answered by Clint Worley, Producer, EQLive and Travis McGeathy, Lead Designer, EQ Live

Onrpg: EverQuest has been around for 8 years now.  How has this game been able to keep players involved for this long?
Clint Worley: EverQuest has always been a compelling experience for the players. Each time a player logs in, the game has evolved and that is what makes it worth coming back time and time again. There is also something to be said for players that have devoted serious time to the development and customization of their individual characters. People can spend a lot of time customizing and progressing their avatar.

Onrpg: What have been some of the major groundbreaking game mechanics that EverQuest has introduced?
Travis McGeathy: EverQuest has been a pioneer within the MMO genre since its inception, as it was the first true 3d MMO.  EQ introduced the concept of raiding and it was one of the first games to use instance technology to give players a more structured game play experience than what previous MMOs offered.  EQ introduced the concept of a shared quest where a group of players collaborate to complete a single quest instead of everyone having their own individual quests.  It was the first game to allow you to temporarily play as another character, generally a historic figure, so players could actually play through the background lore of the game from the standpoint of the participants at the time.

Onrpg: How do the developers keep coming up with new and fresh ideas to keep players happy?
Clint Worley: One of the best things about the creation of new ideas is that Lore plays an extensive role and is easy to reference when producing new content. We also listen to the players and the ideas that they would like to see implemented in the game. Since the development team not only creates the game, but plays it too, we have a good idea where the game should and shouldn’t go and we enjoy taking the players along!

Onrpg: Your Company went and created so called “Progression Servers”, where players got to start from level 1 again with only the original version of EverQuest unlocked, no expansions. As players accomplished certain tasks in the game (as well as allow a certain amount of time to pass) expansions would be unlocked. How successful has this been in-terms of appeasing the longtime players as well as reeling in new players?
Clint Worley: The progression servers were a great addition to the EQ world. The players loved participating in unlocking the content and it created a very competitive environment. I believe that there is still room for other “server” ideas and I encourage the players to speak up if they have any suggestions.

Onrpg: Do you think when this progression server is completed and up to date that another will be opened up?
Clint Worley: We have actually merged the progression servers recently to keep the population count at a suitable level. We found that there was a huge initial uptake in the progression servers and they had a good lifespan for a “special rules” game type. Many of the players that were playing on the progression servers have moved back to the standard servers to make sure that they don’t miss out on the cool new loot, quests and raid content, but we still have a good number of people progressing the server.

Onrpg: Will there be a point in which no more expansions to EverQuest get released, other than the servers being shut down?
Clint Worley: Right now we are happy with the change we made this year by moving away from an expansion every 6 months to an expansion every 12 months. The change really allows us to refocus our efforts and make sure to get all of the polish and bugs addressed before launch. One of the other benefits it has is allowing the players more time to “catch up” on the previously released expansion content. We look at the release of an expansion as an event, an event that both the players and we as developers look forward too.

Onrpg: So many games have come out since the game originally launched.  Many have borrowed very heavily from the formula you developed.  Are you flattered or offended at this and why?
Clint Worley: I believe that EQ was created with a solid foundation and great ideas. Sure there were a few hurdles along the way, but I can safely say that while we were developing EQ we were watching the launch of Ultima Online closely. We watched the successes and the mistakes and took note. There were many design decisions in EQ that were a result of how the players reacted to how UO handled various situations. I look at the games that have followed EQ in the same way. All game developers have a common goal of trying to make a game that everyone loves, so it is natural to take what works from another game and apply it to yours and then add your own unique twist.

Onrpg: With a handful of big name titles exploring at the very least a limited free to play business model, do you foresee EverQuest ever trying this?
Clint Worley: I believe that there are games that are built from the ground up to fully take advantage of a free to play or a micro transaction service. EverQuest offers a significant amount of content with each update and expansions and we plan to continue providing the same level of service moving forward.

Onrpg: What is your favorite class to play?
Clint Worley: Ranger, I enjoy pulling mobs away from my melee friends and making them run over to me. Sure, it is frustrating for them, but I get a kick out of it!

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