Lords of EverQuest Interview

Sony Online is gearing up to release their RTS/RPG hybrid, Lords of EverQuest, so we figured we’d get some more information about the game before it hits store shelves. Answering our questions is producer James S. Parker:

GB: When did you first decide to develop an RTS game based in the EverQuest universe?

James: Here’s a little story about a man named jed…just kidding no one really knows his name. The truth be told there were some epic battles fought in the history of the known EverQuest universe and what better way to convey that message than actually telling it through the wars. So rather than do some time travel expansion we investigated this possibility and so far it has paid off in spades.

GB: Was this an idea you tossed around for quite some time before actually beginning development?

James: The idea itself was around for a little while (a few months), but we originally foresaw this game as a turn-based strategy game. Then after banging our heads around for a little while we decided that there were so many more things we wanted to try that would only work well in a real-time strategy, that we opted to try that instead.

GB: What were some of the most notable obstacles that you had to overcome to make this game happen? Do you foresee any additional obstacles that might keep you from making an early December release date?

James: Phew, ok this list can get long quick. First and foremost we knew we were going to be compared to any other fantasy based real-time strategy game out there, so we decided to take a look at all of the great ones and incorporate some things we thought worked well. Than we added our own little spin on the formula and hopefully with all of that said and done we delivered a fun game that people can jump right in and experience.

Lords is definitely going to be on shelves December 2.

GB: Tell us a bit about the engine you’re using for the game. What is it capable of?

James: Well this is a custom engine we built for this game and it is capable of quite a lot, we use a height mapped terrain engine that helps with streamlined production for better frame rate. Broad card support that takes full advantage of latest hardware on the market using some of the latest shader technology. Last but, not least per pixel lighting to help with all the pretty shiny things. Everyone loves shiny things =).

GB: We’ve read that you’re implementing quite a few RPG elements into the game, such as mini-quests. Can you elaborate on some of the RPG aspects you’re implementing? Do you think the game will have a strong appeal to fans of the RPG genre?

James: There are several types of quests in the campaign such as the “save the princess”, hunt for the magic item, and we actually have some small naval type quests on a mission or two. Some of the other RPG elements are the random loot dropping off of little critters, and even plat in multiplayer.

GB: Do you intend on patching the game on a regular basis to ensure balance in the game?

James: Well in an RTS you always have to pay close attention to balance and look at things that do or do not work. If we need to patch than by all means we will. The team is still intact and we have some big plans in store for the future. I would say more but I got one word for ya “ninjas” they have been watching what I say for the last 4 months and they got me feeling a wee bit edgy.

GB: Any plans to support LoE tournaments online? If so, have you made any plans for dealing with cheating and/or hacks that players might use online?

James: Tournaments are definitely something we are looking at and at this moment I am unable to talk about it in any more detail…because uh…well you know…

GB: Can you give us a couple examples of the more powerful artifacts players can find and use in the game?

James: Dragon Roar and Mass Insanity are just some game breakers IMHO. I mean who has ever seen a swarm of dragons fly over a battlefield scaring the enemy. It’s an awesome spectacle. Mass insanity is a crystal that when shattered makes all nearby enemies turn on each other and its major chaos for about 7 seconds, but in an RTS that feels like eternity =).

GB: How many different spells will be available in the game? Could you detail a couple of the more powerful ones?

James: We currently have about 100 spell lines with varying degrees of upgrades to them. For example we have a snare line that as it upgrades causes damage as well as slows the target.

GB: What type of references to the EverQuest MMORPG have you included in LoE? Will EverQuest veterans be familiar with the environments, units, spells, magic items, etc?

James: We have included several little small landmarks within the game that are just being constructed or talked about since our game takes place 10,000 years before present day EverQuest. For those that are familiar with EQ they will go hey is that going to end up being? Or is that so and so’s grandmother? There are also several little magic items that are around at this time that some people will get a kick out of.

GB: Finally, what do you feel will make Lords of EverQuest stand out from the other RTS games available on the market?

James: I think this being one of the first 3D RTS games to try to have every unit level up and the an inventory adds a new level of complexity and depth to the RTS genre. There’s also detachable mounted units, carry-over of troops and random item drops from AI units in the game. I hope people get a chance to go out and embrace Lords and let us know what they think, but it really does bring a new dimension of strategy to the genre.

Thanks for your time, James!

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