Everquest: Gates of Discord Interview with Dragons from The Syndicate posted by Ever Linkdead on 02-15-2004 21:41

Below is one of many questions from the Syndicate leader, Dragons, interview about Gates of Discord.
Q: After several days of release, how do you enjoy this expansion so far? What features do you feel make this expansion more enjoyable or less enjoyable compared to the other expansions?

A: So far this expansion has been anti-climactic. The AA skills have been lackluster, taken as a whole, with only a few that are really worth it. For example, MAs getting +500HPs is definitely worth it. But clerics and druids spending 45 AAs on an AE ward spell, that heals very few HPs and gets killed by AE spells is rather stupid (since AE spells are why you would use the AE ward to heal people in the first place).

The new zones are fine but nothing to shout home about. More monsters. They hit a bit harder than some we hunt now but offer less experience. The 'instanced' ones are ok and the loot drops are fine. Horror stories on the top end bosses being unbalanced continue to circulate.

Overall this expansion isnt worth a whole lot. The last GREAT expansion was POP. LoY was almost useless except for the new bank and maps. LDON is ok but overall didnt change the course guilds take through the game or the way most players play. GoD, so far, a week into it, doesnt seem to add a whole lot either. Time will tell if GoD offers guilds more fun or if its just more of the same old grind. It may end up being a reason people move from EQ to EQ2, but then again, that may be the goal to begin with.

Q: When Planes of Power was first released, the difficulty of this expansion was felt to be greater then any other expansion previously. Many complaints arose about the difficulty of Planes of Power, but many if not all soon adapted. The next expansion to receive complaints about difficulty was Lost Dungeons of Norrath as players again began to raid in this new expansion, and felt overwelcomed with the new Lost Dungeons of Norrath instanced raids. And now we have a new phase of difficulty with Gates of Discord, how do you think the difficulty of Gates of Discord is compared to other expansions and why?

A: I think to answer anything to this question other than "of course it gets easier with time" would be inaccurate. Players get more AAs. Players pick up better tactics to deal with the monsters different skills. And if necessary, guilds get larger. Verant stated that for PoP, one of their goals was to require 2+ LARGE veteran guilds to band together to take out top end bosses. Instead what happened was guilds just got larger and didnt band together very often. If GoD's top bosses are causing headaches for guilds at their current size, then expect sizes to increase again.

But yes, player complaints will die down some over time. The question remains will the complaints die down but GoD zones will be raided? Or will this expansion become as useless to players as the LoY expansion zones are and never get talked about again? Only time will tell. My opinion is that guilds will gear up and players will get a variety of weapon types (to combat the higher end GoD mobs resistances to certain weapon types) and those mobs will offer players fun things to do in time. They are fun, currently, only for very highly geared up guilds.


Q: Many players have began to complain about the stability of the servers and of Everquest in general after the release of Gates of Discord. Many players joked about the release of the 7th expansion as an "Act of GoD" that would force Sony to finally release a foolproof expansion and not have to repatch their messy work. Just one patch so far later to fix the tribute masters, how do you feel the stability of the Everquest servers and of the newest expansion "Gates of Discord" is?

A: Overall there has been less reboots with this patch and there isnt a noticeable increase in lag, in the game. I was actually hoping for a few more reboots in order to get a couple respawns on a few minor targets we were looking to get one more time I think in terms of QAing to keep the servers up without major exploits or game/zone crashing bugs, Verant did a good job this time around.


Q: Once Sony took the tribute masters down, this showed the expansion wasn't fully complete - What do you feel else is broken and how much do you estimate is broken in this expansion so far?

A: Tribute being nerfed is a big source of player stress right now. That nerf represents a breakdown in the QA process for Verant and that, in and of itself, is cause for concern. You would think that someone on the QA team would have been smart enough to visit a bazaar, on any server, and pick up every single low cost item they could find and go trade them to the tribute master. Then, evaluate the tribute given and balance it out. The fact that they didnt do that nor anticipate huge tribute scores that needed to be capped, shows a lack of vision and foresite in that area of the game.


Q: Compared to other expansions, you have to deal with mobs hitting you for over 1k damage at a time, immune to snare and root, weapon damage not fully hitting, and several other unique things compared to other expansions. What are some things you feel should or should not have been included in this expansion?

A: This expansion is just "more of the same". EQ is a forumula game. Sure some mobs have high AC.. some have lots of adds.. some have big AEs.. some do insane DPS.. some, now, have weapon resistances.. but in general its just the same old routine. Learn a few new tactics and gear up to the appropriate levels and fighting the GoD uber mobs is no different than farming NTOV was years back. The same basic raid procedures work today, just like they did then. Adjust a few mob specific tactics and the rest is what it is.. standard EQ.

I would have personally liked to have seen a whole new way of doing raids. Clear to Uber Mob... Setup Heals and Tanks... Kill Uber Mob... is all getting a bit old. But with Verant splitting its resources between EQ2 and EQ, you really cant expect more.

I would have appreciated better AAs and perhaps even new levels. But if Verant did that, it would have made the current mobs that much easier and made getting through the Planes much easier and within the reach of many more guilds. That, in turn, would have put more guilds into the GoD zones and more stress on the servers and more focus on those mobs. It would have tossed a host of balance issues onto their plate at a time they can ill afford to deal with that level of issue.

This type of expansion was the best we could hope for given the current reality of MMORPG development and the projects Verant has going on. EQ is probably not going to take any new and innovative steps forward in the genre. It will maintain the level of offering it has now and leave the innovations to EQ2 and beyond.


Q: In Planes of Power we have the lead up to Druzzil after you've defeaten Quarm and conquered the Plane of Time in which you are again led back to the start as if nothing has happened. What do you feel the lore in the Gates of Discord will lead up to, with these many quests and trials, if anything at all?

Much like in the last interview we did, my answer is that Lore if for the developers and for a rare few players. The vast majority of EQ cant tell you the lore of any part of the game. The 'hot chick' on the cover art, for many players, is just an elf in next to no clothes. Who she is and what role in the lore she played has 0 bearing on EQ, the game. Similarly the lore for any other part of the game is just window dressing. Its something developers right (and sometimes get far too attached to such that they cant deviate from it at all even if it is what players want) but that has no bearing on the mechanics of playing and winning the game. Nor does it factor into most players thinking. Very few players think about the Lore that leads them to Quarm. Instead
they think.. ok.. need to get SolRo flagged.. need to kill RZTW.. ok now I need to conquer the 4 elemental planes.. ok then I get my own instance of time.. etc.. etc.. Its just a series of steps to reach the top boss. Saving the world.. defeating the evil of the lore.. making the kingdom safe from killer orc pawns, has no bearing on most players thought process. So as for the GoD lore will lead to? I dont think most players really care.


Q: How do you feel the encounters differ from the Planes of Power encounters? The mobs hit harder, do not have as much HPs, but that is from a small amount of exploring in the new zones. Do you also feel that we might have to rethink our current strategies, why or why not?

A: The main difference that players have noticed so far is that some mobs regen very fast AND are immune or very resistance to certain weapon types. That invalidates entire groups of classes and their role on raids. But players wont stand for that. To have half your DPS classes watching or doing next to no damage isnt acceptable. So likely we will see alot of re-gearing of melee classes such that everyone will end up with their main uber weapon from hell, and then a secondary weapon of a completely different type. Its far better to do "good" DPS with a lesser weapon than no or low DPS with the uber poke stick from Time that was just effectively nerfed for some GoD mobs.

Suddenly Tier 2 and 3 PoP bosses have a new purpose. They drop some decent weapons that a player could get as a "backup".

And sure, any time you bump DPS on a mob, it takes new tactics (and
better HP gear) to deal with healing the MA and keeping them alive long enough for the melee, with their backup weapons (in some cases) and then nukers to kill it.


Q: Many guilds bragged and boasted when reaching Rallos Zek the Warlord in the Plane of Tactics, many guilds have bragged and boasted when they awoke The Sleeper in Sleeper's Tomb, and many guilds have bragged and boasted when they killed Emperor Crush in Crushbone. What is one major accomplishment would you gladly brag and boast about achieving from Gates of Discord so far and what is one of your most favorite or most memorable moment in the new expansion?

A: Its too early in the expansion to brag or boast about much. I didnt get nerfed, much, by the tribute nerf! Go me! errr but seriously, we arent even a week into it yet so alot hasnt been done yet. In a few months there may be some cool goals that will have been achieved.. or maybe we will all have moved to EQ2. Although that remains to be seen as some "inside intel" we received was that despite public statements everything is going great! in reality, it isnt. it seems EQ2 is hitting the same wall SWG did in that it promised more than it can deliver. Decisions have to be made soon about cutting features from the game. And in order to combat doing that, many QA testers have been rerouted as programmers to try to get features finished in time to ship. So that means less QA testing (i.e. more bugs on release) and probably cut features as well. It will be interesting when Verant finally decides to announce the cuts or if they just silently let features slide and hope players dont notice


Q: In the expansion, Planes of Power, there was many things for the casual players to do, including flags upto the Rallos Zek in Planes of Tactics level if not higher. In Legacy of Ykesha, there was many more things for the casual players as this expansion was aimed towards the middle crowd of casual players, allowing the whole expansion to be explored by what we call casual players. Lost Dungeons of Norrath was casual player heaven for the casual player. He had a time limit to complete his dungeon, and even if he didn't finish by then - it's over. What do you think or have seen that Gates of Discord has in store for the casual player?

A: GoD hasnt totally stepped away from the casual gamer although its clear more attention was paid to hard core raiding than in LDON. But the casual gamer still has a whole series of new, instanced areas to go into where they can only enter them with a limited number of people. Raids of 70 people wont be entering those areas so a casual, small group of friends can still enjoy them. That same group will never kill the top end bosses but they will still find some fun in GoD. Although if things stay as they are now, they will get more exp elsewhere although the drops in GoD are higher quality in many cases.

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