Lords of EverQuest is a new real-time strategy game based on the popular EverQuest online role-playing game. This game doesn't just transfer the EverQuest license to a new genre, but it takes many of the gameplay elements -such as unit leveling and growth- from that MMORPG and translates it into a strategy game worthy of the EverQuest name. This combination of real-time features and 3D graphics, combined with a role-playing story and experience, is what Sony Online hopes will separate Lords of EverQuest from the pack.
We're proud to present an interview with James Parker of Sony Online, where we'll discuss the basic elements of Lords of EverQuest, including game design, development, and support, along with a nod toward multi-player gaming and features.
SE - How did Lords of EverQuest come into being? Can you briefly go through the process that occurred from the inception of the idea to the start of coding?
JP - We started out with the idea that we had a great and rich fantasy universe in EverQuest and it really was an awesome background for another game. EverQuest Online Adventures is bringing EverQuest to PlayStation 2 gamers, and it takes place 500 years in the past in relation to current EverQuest. On the other side, EverQuest II is going to bring players 500 years in the future from the current game. So those games had a pretty good lock on how the universe was going to be, and was immediately before what is known in EQ lore.
So we looked to the distant past and asked, "How did the world of Norrath become what it is today." We were intrigued by the Lost Age, where certain EQ lore referenced a War of the Gods, and The Book of the Ages. This is a book that could turn mortals into Gods, and although not much more was known, this seemed like an awesome premise for a game.
When you're talking about wars on this kind of scale, where gods are involved, the imagination says they are epic and massive and filled with action. We thought the perfect way to tell this story was through a strategy game, where you could get the sense of scale and importance the actions you are taking have.
So the idea for Lords was born, but it was originally going to be a Turn-Based Strategy game. Rapid Eye was signed up because it's made of the core team from New World Computing, the geniuses who created the Might and Magic, and Heroes series. The Rapid Eye team has a pretty impressive resume when it comes to Turn-Based Strategy and they were the perfect developer to pull off this project.
We soon realized that we couldn't really achieve the sense of excitement we wanted for this game with TBS and that we needed to make Lords Real-Time. We knew there were a lot of great fantasy RTS games on the market, so we set out to make sure we did as much right as possible. We studied the other games and played a lot of single and multiplayer games and then we all sat down and discussed what we liked and didn't like. We knew we needed to raise the bar, and the idea of all units leveling up was born. It just seemed weird that other games would only let a single unit, or maybe a couple units get any better, despite the fact that some units on the field were obviously kicking butt.
We then pulled a lot of the background on EverQuest, the items, spells, and abilities from the game and started putting them into an RTS framework. Then the coding began.
SE - Sony Online is mainly known for their MMORPGs, such as Star Wars Galaxies and obviously EverQuest. What the reasoning behind expanding into what seems to be an over saturated RTS market?
JP - "There is always room for a good game." There are a lot of choices on the market when it comes to the RTS genre, but there are a few games that stand out. We have a reputation for MMO games, but we also have a reputation for creating games that are fun, engaging, exciting, and innovative. We knew we could make a great RTS game and that we did have something to offer that nobody else had, besides the EverQuest universe.