Hello fellow Norrathians,
In the months since EverQuest II has launched, we have seen an overwhelming response to the game. Here at SOE we've spent a great deal of time charting the future course of EverQuest II and laying out a roadmap for continuing to evolve the world of Norrath. I'd like to share that plan with you now.
Making a game like EQ II is an amazingly complex and wonderful thing to behold. It involves people from a variety of different areas of expertise such as design, sound, programming, art and of course a management team to make sure everything is coming together smoothly. During the course of the development of EverQuest II, the team grew to over 100 people in size (and that's just the development team, not including QA, CS, Operations and our Platform teams which brings the total to over 250.)
What typically happens when making an MMO is that the "Live Team" that runs the game after it launches is usually a smaller subset of the team that developed the game. That team usually works on a combination of live updates and expansion packs that come out 1-2 times per year.
After listening to feedback from our players, we've decided to make a change to the way we've done things in the past, and focus on growing Norrath in new and exciting ways. This is going to mean keeping the team at it's existing size or even growing it in order to make sure we can do this the right way.
We see content being added to the game in three distinct ways: Live Updates, Expansion Packs and something new called Adventure Packs.
We plan on keeping the team that's focused on live updates working on expanding the game both through new zones, npcs, quests, features, spells, skills and new gameplay additions as well as fixing any bugs or issues that arise. All of this will be provided at no additional cost in constant updates that will come on a frequent basis roughly 1-2 times per month, depending on what we're specifically working on. All of this will be laid out on our website so you can have visibility into the exciting additions we have planned. We will be very responsive to our player-base and we plan on incorporating a lot of the feedback you give us through the forums into these live updates. This will represent the core of how we evolve Norrath.
I wanted to also point out that with respect to these live updates we plan on increasing the amount of new content that we give away at no extra cost.
In our most recent update we added:
Two new dungeons
Over two hundred new spells and combat arts
User interface enhancements
Dozens of new quests
With respect to our international customers, our plan is simple - to put out the English version of any new content to all servers and localize it as quickly as possible. In many cases at the same time the update goes live. From what our international customers have told us, getting the new content and features in game is the most important thing and we've listened.
We plan on releasing 2 expansion packs a year. These expansion packs are going to be large, game altering additions to the game that will be sold both at retail and online via digital download. In the past, we've had one team that would work on an expansion pack, and then move on to the next one. This meant keeping a very fast paced schedule and the expansions smaller in scale due to the timeframe. We are changing the way we do things with EverQuest II. As of now we have two expansion pack teams that are working on different expansions... The first one is due to be released sometime in the second half of 2005, thus giving us more time to develop and add cool new things. In fact, you're also in for a pretty big surprise when you see our first expansion pack for EQ II sometime later this year. We aren't just focusing on the typical new content you've seen in past expansions to MMOs (our own included.) We're also focused on radically new gameplay elements that have never been seen before in online games.
For our international customers, we will be launching our localized expansions at almost the same time (hopefully within days) they are released in the US.
Adventure Packs are a new style of content that we are introducing to EverQuest II. You can think of them as being similar to "Modules" from traditional tabletop RPGs. They will be heavily story driven and themed adventuring areas. We will provide a part of each of these Adventure Packs, at no extra charge, to all of our players. This should give everyone the opportunity to see if a particular Adventure Pack is the kind of thing they are interested in. You'll be able to buy these at any time, since they will be delivered digitally. We plan on keeping the price point for these low... In fact, our first one will be just US$4.99.
To give you an example of what we're talking about here... Imagine a 5 level dungeon. The first level is a place that all players will be able to access and explore. In order to adventure to the lower levels of the dungeon, you'll need to purchase the Adventure Pack. This gives you the chance to see if this particular Adventure Pack is something you're interested in.
We plan on keeping the Adventure packs coming on a very regular basis... Somewhere between 2 and 4 per year depending on what exactly we're doing.
We also will be giving Station Access members these Adventure Packs as part of their Station Access subscription, provided they have been members for at least 2 months (more specifics about this will be out shortly).
For our international customers, we plan on releasing the English versions at the same time and the localized versions shortly thereafter. Everyone will be able to play at the same time, and the localization should be finished shortly thereafter.
So, as you can see we plan on some pretty major things to be happening in the world of EverQuest II. We believe investing in the future of Norrath and providing the best possible game and service is the right thing to do for our players.
We welcome any comments you may have.
President, Sony Online Entertainment
Message Edited by Moorgard on 01-07-2005 03:57 PM
EverQuest II Community Guy