Here is my labor of love for our hearing-impaired community. Sourced from Spotify. Dreamweaver: Hey everybody. This is the very first podcast of Kander's Candor. I'm Dreamweaver, your community manager for Everquest 2, and I'm here today with the star of this podcast. *laughs* Kyle "Kander" Valle. He's our creative director and, we're just gonna chat about the game, about Everquest 2, about design philosophies, about the things that are happening in game right now. We hope to do this on sort of a weekly basis. We'll see how it goes, see if we do more podcasts, but I'm superstoked about it. What about you? Kander: Yeah. It's great. It's something I definitely wanted to do. We used to do podcasts back in the old days, and I always looked forward to them cause I feel like it's a much easier way to get what we're intending out there, you know, so that people can hear me talk about it rather than read a post, and not really get inflection and intent. *laughs* Dreamweaver: Right. Yeah that makes sense. That's one of the hardest things to do on the internet I think. Unless you like, /s, for sarcasm all the time, which I feel like gets tired. Kander: Right. Yeah it does. Dreamweaver: So, you used to do the podcasts, and this podcast is kind of a resurrection, not only of those podcasts, but also of a column you used to do called Kander's Candor. Kander: Right. We would try to do, basically, after we would do, a Producer's Letter, we would try to have a post after that to try to answer any questions that we felt like, either the Producer's Letter needed to answer but didn't, or you know, or give more information. It was mostly for giving more information to what we, to what we already had posted. Usually the Producer's Letters, don't get me wrong, are really good. *Both laugh* Dreamweaver: Uh, thanks. Kander: But um, yeah. So. Dreamweaver: As a ghostwriter for most of those, I appreciate that. Kander: Yeah. Dreamweaver: Or the ghost editor I guess sometimes. Kander: Ghost editor. Dreamweaver: Ghost editor. Um, cool, well. So, I think now is a good time to dive in, cause we've kinda already explained why we wanna do this, why we're resurrecting this, what we hope from it. Let's kinda talk about what you feel are kinda of some pressing things in EQ2 right now that we wanna address. Kander: Ok. Definitely. The big topic for a lot of people is class balance. We've decided this year that we're gonna take a step back and we're gonna, we're gonna try not to do any real features, and we're gonna try to spend a lot of time doing class balance this year. So that's the plan. There will definitely be class balance coming, with the GU in April. Uh, oh, we haven't announce the GU's date yet. *laughs* And then, all year long, and then, the plan is, with expansion 17, to do a complete revamp of the AA system and make a lot of needed changes there. Make AAs something that people want to use again and actually matter. There's a lot of AAs in there that, you know, they, they were good at one time, but now they basically don't do much, especially with, you know, how long they've been in there. And people just kinda set em and forget em, so we wanna, we wanna do something to where, you know, you wanna think about it and they matter, and you know, add to the gameplay. So, and there's also, you know, there's a few that are just broken, that don't do anything anymore. We wanna fix that stuff. Um, yeah, so, definitely, that's the main focus this year, is that class balance stuff. Dreamweaver: So those, are though, I wanna just cut in here really quickly. Kander: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Dreamweaver: Those are two pretty big announcements you just made. One, GU is April. Kander: Yes. Dreamweaver: Two, we're gonna do a total revamp on the AAs. Kander: Yeah, the idea is just to completely re-organize them and make them matter. Dreamweaver: That's awesome. That's exciting. Kander: Yeah. That's what we're doing, so expect that with the expansion, with expansion 17. And we'll also be adding points, so that's, that's the other goal, is we're gonna add 50 or 100 points because we wanna, some of the things we wanna add, we want them to take more points than just one point. You know, we wanna, we wanna have, put more granularity in the system so that, you know, there's more stuff to play with and more stuff that matters. Dreamweaver: Ok. Alright. So, second thing. Kander: This is, this is the calamity of me thinking out loud. Dreamweaver: Yeah. *both laugh* I mean, I really hope that the reason people listen to this podcast is because they wanna hear you think out loud. Kander: Right. Dreamweaver: Like that's kinda the goal behind this, is, you know, it wouldn't be Kander's Candor if we weren't completely honest or, at least as honest as we can be, you know. Kander: Well, the goal is absolute candor. *both laugh* Dreamweaver: There's gonna be, there's gonna be, eventually we're gonna have a side podcast called Absolute Kander, and it's just you, just saying whatever comes to the top of your head at any given moment. It's like, little 30 second bits. Kander: Yeah. yeah. Pineapple! Blue! Circle! Dreamweaver: Yep! Absolute Kander! Radical Honesty! Kander: If it comes to my mind, I just say it! Dreamweaver: *laughs* Kander: So yeah. Dreamweaver: I'm a little concerned about that now but weirdly excited! It's a strange combination of emotions. Kander: It could be entirely entertaining. Yeah. Dreamweaver: Or, or the worst thing we've ever done. Kander: Or terrifying! Dreamweaver: Yeah! Kander: Just utterly terrifying! Dreamweaver: We're just, we just don't know until we try it. Alright, cool, so then, knowing that, that's a little bit about class balance. It's a little bit about the GU. How are we feeling about the state of Blood of Luclin, fixes and things like that? Kander: So, normally, for the last, I wanna say 5 years, we're usually in 100% polished state the last two weeks of beta. Just polishing, making things are perfect, making sure things are perfect as they can be and uh, this time, we were, we were a plane with one wing, coming in on fire, and, and that's the truth of it. And when we landed, we all got out on fire. So and, we also changed some things that we thought was a good idea, that turned out not to be a great idea, specifically with raids. So, we're changing, I think we finished that process. Well, we're still in the process of changing them to where they're more old school and more reliable. We don't have to worry about buff packages falling off or buff packages doubling or, all the weird stuff that we were, we were getting, because it all worked on beta, and that's really the gist of, there's this really popular saying that I have around the office, which is, "Because EQ2" and sometimes, things workgreat on, you know, on beta or on stage, and then go they live and they explode. So, cause you know, we usually try to smoke test that stuff on days that we patch, and then especially like with expansions. But we were a little, we were a little shorthanded and understaffed. But we're, things are good now and, we are still making a lot of, we are still making a lot of fixes. Um, raids, we, we think we got to where they're stable and we're gonna, we're gonna meter out the challenge versions of these raids, which are, they're not just raids with a, like more buff packages. They do actually have some other abilities and some other stuff that's going on. We thought this was gonna be like the greatest raid expansion ever. We were super excited about it and it just, you know, watermelon'd on the pavement. Dreamweaver: Yeah. That's rough. Kander: So. Dreamweaver: That can, that can be frustrating to work on something that much and then just have it kind of burn itself to the ground around you. Kander: I mean, the other thing is, is you know, usually last two weeks of beta is when we're doing things like putting together a raid merchant and making sure there's a bunch of extra stuff for you guys to do, you know, when, and a lot of that stuff didn't get in cause we were literally implementing things like, you know, tradeskill recipes and stuff like that, up until we couldn't anymore, like literally, it was, it was, it was, it was not good. That would, that's a good lead in into some other stuff. So uh...yeah. Dreamweaver: There ya go. Perfect segway! Kander: Tradeskill stuff we are absolutely looking at. We're trying to think of a good solution. We took the levels off of stuff because they were basically, it was a bug. They didn't display properly anyway. So the idea is now is to go back and we're gonna attach, you know, expansion tags to everything. So, you'll know where the stuff comes from so you can, you can, you know, figure it out that way. So, we're also listening to feedback, you know, if anybody has any really amazing idea how we could make that better, you know, let us know. But, it wasn't, it wasn't perfect and I, I know it upset a lot of people, so, we're definitely looking at that. We're definitely looking a bunch of other cool stuff we can do for tradeskills. Trying to get writs in, and some other stuff. With the GU, there'll be some, some other stuff that goes in, so. Dreamweaver: Awesome. Kander: But yeah, it's, you get the, you get the feeling like the community feels like we don't care. That's absolutely not the truth. We, like, I, I mean, without being funny, we were absolutely running around on fire trying, you know, just trying to get the expansion out. And we've already made, taken, we've already taken immense steps to make sure that doesn't happen again this year. We're already two months ahead from last year, so yay! Dreamweaver: Whoo! Kander: Yeah, and it was just, it was a series of unfortunate events that happened last year. Dreamweaver: Yeah. Kander: Losing an artist, which, you know, we basically lost two months with that, which snowballed into us having to repopulate zones late in the ga-, late in the beta. I don't know if everybody noticed stuff constantly moving around but that's part of the process. Dreamweaver: You know there's at least one or two people, who like, tracked every time there was a move. I know you exist! I don't know who you are. I have a, I have a theory about who you are, and you know I'm talking to you, but I know there's at least one or two people, who every time you guys made a move, they're like, "Uhnt, it's in a different location!" Kander: Yeah, I mean the guy that came in and took place of the artist we lost did a fantastic job with the time he had and resources he had. He learned, like, boots hitting the ground and just did a great job. But unfortunately, it turns into this situation where, you know, we think, we can't wait around for x or y, so we go in and we populate overland zones, and also, you have to have, you know, monsters to do quests and all this other stuff. Otherwise, it just doesn't work. Dreamweaver: Right. Kander: Waiting. You know, we have to populate with the idea that stuff is gonna get moved around, and also, you know, beta feedback and all kinds of other things that come through. You know, we move stuff around, we add more monsters. "Hey! There's not enough of this mud guy that's supposed to update this quest!" or "Why don't you put in enough bats?" or so, we do that kind of thing. But literally, we were re-populating entire overland zones. Dreamweaver: During beta? Kander: Yeah. And uh... Dreamweaver: Yeah that can be rough. Kander: And, you know, there's literally no one to blame. It's just, it was like I said, unfortunate events. Dreamweaver: Just a sequence of things that we could not avoid. Kander: Yeah, and then we were trying really hard to make sure we put in, like all this extra content stuff, like dropped quests, and POI quests, and you know, collections, and just all the stuff that people really enjoy and expect, you know. Dreamweaver: Right. Kander: Achievements, all the extra bells and whistles. We call those the bells and whistles and that was a high priority, so we managed to get a lot of that stuff in, but then, you know, we had to circle back around several times on things like population, dungeons, just all kinds of stuff. We were waiting for art on certain dungeons up until, you know, the zero hour. And, you know, we had to go in and move everything around in dungeons, which could break things like widgets and designer-placed objects and all kinds of other stuff, "Because EQ2." Dreamweaver: "Because EQ2." Kander: Yeah. There's, like, these really genius reasons why this stuff happens. Dreamweaver: Right. Kander: But it's almost impossible to explain, so we just say... Dreamweaver: It's a lot better to just say, yeah, just go, it's "Because EQ2" Kander: Yeah. Dreamweaver: Yeah, that makes sense. Understandable. Kander: So yeah, that was the end of the year. We've, we've been doing everything in our power to make sure it doesn't happen again this year, so... Dreamweaver: Well, that's awesome. Kander: And, we feel really good this, this time around. We have two GUs planned for this year and then the expansion, so... Dreamweaver: Cool. Kander: Officially. Dreamweaver: And we'll talk about, like what's going to be in the GU and a lot of those other cool things in a future episode. There'll be articles on the website and on the forums. There'll be hints on Discord or maybe social media in the upcoming weeks, but I know I'm super excited for the GU. I think it's gonna be killer and I, I can't wait to start teasing it. Kander: Yeah. It's gonna be good. Yeah, it's gonna be different. Dreamweaver: Yeah. Kander: *laughs* I think, I think the keyword is different. Dreamweaver: Yeah *laughs* That's a, that's a good way to put it. I've uh, I've seen some early stuff and uh, different is uh, a good way to look at it. Kander: Yeah, we have a, we have a designer. He goes by Chrol, and he's incredibly creative. He's one of the most creative people I've ever worked with. He has boundless ideas and sometimes that's great and sometimes that's dangerous. So what we do is, is every year, we make sure Chrol gets his, like, passion project, like, "Hey man, here's something you can do to just go wild!", like you know, like the cow zone in Plane of Hate, and several other instances of weirdness. Dreamweaver: *unintelligible*...like it's all gonna be just cow-related. I was like, "Oh, so it's his fault that the blizzard one exists? Kander: *laughs* No, uh, our, our, our, uh, our Plane of Hate: Udder Maddness or whatever, which was all cows and everything was cows, and... Dreamweaver: *laughs* Udder Maddness Kander: Yeah Dreamweaver: That is, that is the pun! Kander: We've done a duck zone, we've done a cow zone, we did burned woods, which was hilarious. That one was actually not Chris, but... Dreamweaver: But we did it. Kander: Yeah. We did it. And I mean, we try, so Chris, we try to give him something that the easy, the easy explanation is, is that if we let him have these crazy things, then we don't have to worry about him doing crazy stuff where he's not supposed to be doing crazy stuff, so... Dreamweaver: *laughs* Gives him an outlet, a release. Kander: Yeah. He's got an outlet, it gets it out of his system and then we don't have crazy, zany stuff happening in signature lines or expansion dungeons. So... Dreamweaver: *laughs* I'm sure that would be taken well! Kander: It's all very positive, that's all I have to say. Very positive. Dreamweaver: Good! Well awesome! Is there anything we wanna address left in this episode? I mean, these are kinda meant to be shorter, bite-sized, not, not a lot of stuff in this one. Maybe we'll do others eventually that are longer and kinda like, deeper dives into things? Kander: Yeah, I know you talked about maybe eventually asking for questions and stuff to answer on this Dreamweaver: Yeah. We are. We... Kander: Yeah. Dreamweaver: Once we kinda get a few episodes in the bag, we're gonna start opening up a thread on the forums for each week, and we'll pick some thread, oh, erm some threads, we'll pick some posts from that thread for Kyle to answer or for another designer to answer, but Kyle'll be the one answering them or occasionally I might have to answer some, depending on what the questions are, but mostly gonna be you. Kander: Yeah. Right. Where we answer stuff. Dreamweaver: Exactly! Where we answer some things. Kander: Yeah, and I'm looking forward to that. The whole idea with this is obviously to, you know, be more transparent and communicate more to our, to our fans. So.. Dreamweaver: Right. Alright, well awesome. So, once again, I'm Dreamweaver, I'm gonna be your community manager on the forums and I'm talking to Kyle "Kander". Uh, this is Kander's Candor, and we'll see you in game!