Transcript: Kander's Candor Episode 4 - Tatertots and Class thoughts

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    Here is my labor of love for our hearing-impaired community. Sourced from Spotify.

    Dreamweaver: Hey everyone. Welcome to Episode 4 of Kander's Candor. My name is Dreamweaver. I'm your Community Manager on the forums. I'm here with Kyle "Kander" Vallee, our Creative Director for Everquest 2 and we are answering your questions and we are finding new and exciting things to talk about, and what we were talking about before was the mistake I made last episode by sharing my phobia of unorganized bags, because now, all of you are sending me photos of your unorganized bags, and I just wanna say, this is my fault. I get it. *both laugh* I should have realized, by exposing my phobia to the internet, it was, it was all gonna fall apart for me.
    Kander: Yep.

    Dreamweaver: So, this is, this is really on me, and I, I'm not apologizing for anything because I'm the one being punished, but still, I should have known. I, I really should have known. We're gonna launch into the questions in just a moment that we have for this week. You guys have given us a ton of questions. Thank you for everything that you've put on the forums and on Discord, and a few of you who even put your questions on social media. That's awesome as well. We're super excited. If you have friends that play Everquest 2 or are thinking of playing again or are maybe thinking of picking it up for the first time, tell them to listen to the podcast. It's a very good entrance for some people into these things, and let's get going. Really quick, before we get started, the audio quality we're trying a different one than we used for Episode 3, so if it's a little bit weird, don't forget, we're at home right now. Kyle and I are nowhere near each other and we're giving a shout out over the internet cause we wanna make sure these episodes get out to you guys on a fairly reasonable schedule, so we're definitely working on it. We're super excited to keep on recording episodes. Let's start with our first question. I kinda moved the order of these questions around because this one is very important to me, but forum-user Pixistik asks, "Kyle, do you like tatertots?"

    Kander: I doooo!
    Dreamweaver: Do you have a, do you have like a favorite combo of tatertots or like pure tatertots? Like, what is, what is your best tatertot? Like, what is the prime for you?
    Kander: Um, yeah, I don't know. Like, I've been, I've been into getting ones from the store and putting them into my air fryer, so, you know you can cut down on the fat calories and stuff.
    Dreamweaver: That sounds pretty good actually.
    Kander: Yeah.
    Dreamweaver: So do you just, do you like pop them? Are they like popcorn for you or like? *Kander laughs* Like, how do you eat them? I know we're spending some time on this, but like, this is important to me, and clearly to Pixistik, so...
    Kander: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, it depends on what I'm eating, if, if I getting anything with them? But I have been known to, you know, eat an entire plate of just tatertots, so...
    Dreamweaver: Nice, good to know. The people want to know and now we know! So thank you for your absolute candor on that!
    Kander: Yeah!

    Dreamweaver: So the first part of Pixistik's question is actually about Battlegrounds. So, are we planning on bringing back the old Battlegrounds at all?
    Kander: We are not. And there's a lot of reasons but basically that system would have to be totally rewritten, and we have so much to do regularly that, I mean, there's just, the system is, is, it's degraded over the years, and it's caused people to you know, lose characters and get sent to character select, and then all their characters disappear, and there's just all this really out of whack stuff with it because, I mean, the honest truth is that Battlegrounds was like a directive at the time from the people above way back then, and we, we got them in as quickly as possible, and that whole system was not meant for long term. It, it has not weathered the years well, and I mean, at, at this point, we're still trying to catch up with the stuff we absolutely have to do. We still have a couple newer coders. I mean, I don't, I don't forsee us going in and re-writing those any time soon. So, I mean, my answer, my answer for that is probably not.

    Dreamweaver: Okay. Alright. I mean, that's, that's a pretty definitive answer, I think. I think it's definitely one of those things, while we understand that players, there are that sub-set of players that were super passionate about it, it's one of those things that's not currently on our slate, and we're not really looking at them. Not at the moment at least.
    Kander: Well, we are not, we are not done with PVP. I'll say that, so...
    Dreamweaver: That, that is going to really get some people excited that we've said that.
    Kander: Yeah.
    Dreamweaver: I mean, that's good to know. We'll probably talk about that more in another episode though. Probably not this time since we have a fairly expansive question that we're about to pick next.
    Kander: Ok.
    Dreamweaver: Yeah. I mean, there's really no other way to describe it. As mu- and I know people would love for us to go into PVP, but the other question we picked is probably going to take up quite a bit of time on this episode.
    Kander: Ok.

    Dreamweaver: So...forum-user and Discord-user Clintsat asks, they'd like to hear more specific things about class balance such as, and it's a four part question, so let's hit part number one first. "What does class balance mean to you personally, from just a general design perspective?"

    Kander: To me, it's, for, for, for, for Everquest 2, there's, you know, 26 classes. *Dreamweaver laughs* Class balance, class balance is every class has a need. Every class has, you know, a utilization. We're hoping to get more of the, you know, higher tiered DPS classes up to, you know, where everyone can contribute, and everyone feels like they have, you know, the ability to contribute in, in a meaningful way. There is no such thing as perfect balance. I don't think we've ever been close, but at the same time, we don't wanna have classes that people just flat out don't even, you know, play. So, you know, there's, there's been some, you know, there's been some things I've said in the past that some people misconstrued and took the way they wanted to hear, you know, about how we don't, we do not go into each year, and go, and choose an alpha class, or who's gonna be the flavor the month or whatever the terminology is, is flavor of the month? *Both laugh* And uh, and uh, you know, I mean, at some times, you know, you make, you make, you make adjustments, because you know, because certain abilities need to be adjusted or certain, you know, you know, like sometimes there's abilities that aren't even worth being on your cast bar, and then there's, you know, sometimes there's abilities that are just completely overpowered, so we adjust things, and you know, sometimes we get, we get new alphas. It's, there's no, we don't go into it with the idea that "OK this year, you know, the assassin is gonna be the alpha class." We'd, we'd prefer it if there was multiple classes at the top that can compete, and can, you know, and everyone can, have fun. That's kinda the end...
    Dreamweaver: Sure.
    Kander: The end result, right, is that, that, is that A) You can have fun and B) You can accomplish, you know, the things that you feel like you need to accomplish like raids, and heroics and all that stuff.

    Dreamweaver: Yeah. Ok. Alright. So, the second part is, "How is balance going to be observed, measured or monitored? Or how was it obser- how, how did we do that in the past, if, if it's something we've been doing previously or how are we going to do it moving forward?"

    Kander: We, we do have, we do have logs. We do log, like basically, all damage would be logged. We log just about everything, so we do, we do look at, you know, at what our logs are saying and, and, and you know, where we think like, and we, and we absolutely listen, we do listen to player feedback. I, I realize people, they think, you know, we're not constantly commenting on, you know, feedback that we're not listening, but we do listen to player feedback. We do, you know. If everyone's saying that, that something is terrible, we definitely look it it. We don't just disregard that. We just don't have time to, to comment and you know...
    Dreamweaver: Ok...
    Kander: Make, make outward statements about everything that everyone wants, you know, wants. They want us to hear their feedback and we do hear their feedback. We, we have slash reports, so we read those everyday. That's where people put bugs and feedback. We go through that. So, we have Discord, which is a constant, ever-churning source of player feedback. So, but we, we have a lot of, we have tools, you know, to, to observe, and we al- we also have, you know, devs that play the game. And so...

    Dreamweaver: Ok. So, what, what role, that, that's a good segway into the next question that Clint asked, but "what role do you feel that player-driven feedback plays in the process of class balance?"
    Kander: Well, I mean, obviously we always ask that everyone gives us constructive, you know, feedback, and, and, I think that, you know, you see a lot of "X" needs to be adjusted, "X" needs to come up, "X" needs to, you know, do this or that, and, you know, I, I- like, there was *laughs* there was always this, this conception, that one of our devs played an assassin, so assassins were always the best class and stuff like that. You know, it's a, it's a balancing act. We, we definitely, I mean if that were true, then Brigands would be the alpha for sure and, and everyone would just be sad, so...*both laugh*
    Dreamweaver: That was, no one needs that in their lives. Don't do that.
    Kander: *laughs* Cause that's what I play.
    Dreamweaver: Me, me especially. I especially don't need that in my life! Don't do that to me!
    Kander: Cause I play a Brigand, right, so you know...
    Dreamweaver: Yeah...

    Kander: Anyway, I mean, going back to, to what, you know, they're asking, it's, it's just an amorphous process for...we don't have time to adjust everything. As we've stated this year, our goal is just to do AA revamp, and there's a lot of feedback we've seen, that we've witnessed, that will probably get adjusted with, you know, some AA abilities. We wanna, we wa- we're still playing around with what we want to do with it, but we want it to be a more, you know, amorphous thing, where I mean ultimately, like, this is just my personal opinion, but like, if, if AA's were at a point where you literally had to change them depending on, you know, what content you're playing or what fight you're doing because there's enough stuff that you actually care about to use. That would be the ultimate, right, like you know, "I wanna have three templates, and I'm, this is my DPS template, and this is my utility template, and this is my, you know, tank's, and this my, you know, this is my tanking template, and this is my off-tanking template, like that ultimately, that would be like the ultimate, right, is there's so many cool things that you wanna do...

    Dreamweaver: Yeah...you wanna have different choices available for each separate situation theoretically.
    Kander: Yeah, we always say "choices, choices", but I mean, for real choices, like you know...
    Dreamweaver: Making, making the, making a smaller amount of things mean more than a large amount of things mean less...

    Kander: Right. Like I always, I always envisioned, that like, like say, cause I play a brigand, that you could actually have AA templates where it's like, "Ok, I'm a brigand, and I'm more of a single target, like DPS utility, but there's actually a template where I can do more AOE damage, and I can, you know, contribute to like more, like AOE style fights or you know, hitting multiple mobs and then there's a template where it's like, you know, I have, I use this because I'm debuffing and I'm using you know, debuff abilities" and stuff like that. So I always, I always envisioned it like that where, when we put in the, when we put in the AA templates, the next goal is to adjust the AA's, and it's just one of those things that we've talked about and talked about and talked about, and, you know, the maintenance of just keeping the game rolling is such a, you know, a task...

    Dreamweaver: Sure.
    Kander: That, you know...so this year, like we said, we cleared out a lot of tasks just to make sure we can work on AA's and stuff like that, and hopefully it's gonna be really cool, so...and we're still, like we're still like, messing with how you're gonna earn them and stuff like I don't want it to just be a grind fest, I don't want it to just be a...you know, so, I don't know maybe, maybe there will be a way to grind them. Maybe there won't. I don't know. We don't know yet.

    Dreamweaver: Ok, alright. So the final portion of Clint's question is related to the marketplace and overall class balance, but how does the marketplace factor into how we balance raids, fights, heroics, how Caith balances, how Chrol balances, how Gninja balances...

    Kander: Um, my answer, my answer to that is it doesn't. I mean, like, even when we do heroic balance, we're expecting players to have, you know, expert spells. The id- the idea is, is there's a lot of character progression, but I mean, even at the top, top end, we do not factor anything that we have on the marketplace into balance. We- there's nothing there that's required. I think there's this...this...
    Dreamweaver: Perception maybe?

    Kander: Perception, because everyone, you know that, the mighty god called Parse, and you know, if you don't have like all the...all the baubles and all the, you know, and all the, you know, bells and whistles, then you're not, you know, you're not...you're not topping the parse. But, I mean, I'm telling you like, skill is still a huge thing. There are still, you know,assassins and wizards and warlocks, and people who, you know, they don't have all that stuff and they still manage to, you know, crush it. So it's like, we don't, we don't factor any of that stuff into balance and we never have. You know...

    Dreamweaver: OK. I feel like that's a pretty definitive answer. So, one final thing before we wrap up this episode cause we're almost hitting the edge of our time. I know that the mages over in the uh..*laughs*, over...uh, over in our, um...the uh...
    Kander: Are you gonna say in our mage area?
    Dreamweaver: Our mage area! The Coloring Corner? Crayolas only?
    Kander: Uh huh...
    Dreamweaver: If you're on Discord? I know that they, specifically, are worried about class balance that they're gonna be receiving and I thought it'd be nice if we just, well we can't talk specifics yet because there are some things that I think Caith is still nailing down. I just wanna have it come from you that they're definitely one of the things that we're working on in class balance.

    Kander: Yeah, mages were the number one priority for the GU, so we are def- we definitely made adjustments, you know like, in my opinion, you know, warlock and wizard definitely needed to come up a bit. They're supposed to be Tier 1 DPS classes, so, you know, that's...that's kinda the goal there. But I mean, I feel like overall, we're also kind of in this place where we try not to nerf people and we try to bring other people up, so that it's a feel-good thing for everyone. So, we've, we've been making adjustments on, on, on mages- all mages for this GU. So, there also might be a couple other classes that get some adjustments, but um...
    Dreamweaver: Ok.
    Kander: Yeah. I mean, I've, I've told people that...that, you know, mages were the priority, so...and they were so...
    Dreamweaver: Good, I mean, and it's also always good to hear that come from you directly on the larger, like, forum...

    Kander: Yeah. I mean, this'll, this will probably also be the year that we spend the most time focusing on, on class balance, and, and...and class balance again is kind of a weird term because, it's more like we- we try to look at classes and look at why, you know, they're not desirable in certain roles and we try to give them tools, you know, to be desirable in those roles. I mean we don't want to have any class that's just "Oh, no one plays an assassin. That's just a waste of time".
    Dreamweaver: Right. That makes sense.

    Kander: So, and...it's a very, very amorphous, twisting world-machine of class balance in Everquest 2, and you know, just like I said, I don't- I, I, honestly believe they're, you know...I mean, I, I've...I've played other games where they, where they've went too far with class balance and basically people say, "Hey, it doesn't even matter what class you play they all do the same damage within, you know, "X" or they pretty much have all the same utility" and that's not fun either, right? So...
    Dreamweaver: Right.

    Kander: It's def- it's definitely a...a balancing act. And I know that sounds aloof, but we could literally talk about that stuff for the next 10 podcasts. So I mean, and I also don't want people to feel like we're not...we're not addressing their concerns.
    Dreamweaver: Sure.

    Kander: We, you know, we are, we are definitely- I mean, here's the thing right, Everquest 2 is gonna be well, we turn 15 and a lot of people have played it that ti- that long you know, and in my personal view, I feel like, you know, this game is theirs, you know. It's their game, more than it is ours. So, player feedback is, is definitely something that we, we always listen to. I mean, we try to gauge it, we try not, you know, kneejerk reaction to stuff. We try to have, you know, numbers and, and, and you know, information before we make changes. But that's, you know, it's- we...we are definitely, I mean, this year is the, hopefully gonna be the year where we do the most, we do the most of that type of stuff.

    Dreamweaver: Yeah. And I mean, I think also to an extent, what's important to remember, is for players, and I had to...a long, long time ago, I was super involved with a game as like a player representative, for lack of better term, which is part of the reason why I'm super passionate about the Community Council, but I gave reams of feedback, and maybe one or two things the entire four years I was a player representative were acted upon, and what I had to learn, and, and not that I'm saying that people don't know this, but sometimes, I know we can forget, cause I still do, and I, I, play games constantly, and I...
    Kander: MMhmm.

    Dreamweaver: *unintelligible* I'm on other forums, and I, and I...I'm on our forums, and I play our games is just because we're giving the feedback doesn't always mean, 1) it's something that can be acted on or 2) that it's feasible. But I think what we, what we're striving to be better at, for us specifically, for Everquest 2, is making sure that people understand that we are listening and that we are receiving the feedback, even if we can't always act on it or it's not something that we can feasibly do, it doesn't mean that we don't want to hear it.
    Kander: Right.

    Dreamweaver: And I think that's, I think that's key. I know that people can sometimes feel like they're not being listened to, and I- I think that's one of the things, not only with the podcast that we're trying to do, but that I've trying to get through on the forums, and on Discord, and on social, is the feedback itself is important, and it's just because it's not being acted upon or it's something we can't do, it doesn't mean we don't want to hear it.
    Kander: Right.
    Dreamweaver: I think you would echo that as well.
    Kander: Absolutely. And...and sometimes, you know, feedback affects, you know, future decisions, like you know...

    Dreamweaver: And that's another important thing, like we're planned out for quite a long time. It's always possible that the feedback could affect something that we haven't planned yet, and it's gonna be instituted quite a bit down the road, but we are still working on it.
    Kander: Yeah.

    Dreamweaver: So I think that's our episode for the day though, cause this one, this one ran a little bit long and I, I, I was definitely worried about that happening and I feel like it's gonna happen more and more, and I wanna try and keep these short mostly for the sake of those of you who are listening, but also for our poor sound and editor...
    Kander: Yeah.
    Dreamweaver: Our sound and our editor for this, because they have to listen to it, too. So, I think that's all for us today, Kyle, and thank you!
    Kander: Yeah, I think keeping it, keeping it shorter keeps it interesting, and you know, makes you want more I think, and then you want to hear the next one. I-I think...
    Dreamweaver: Yeah...

    Kander: If they go too long...
    Dreamweaver: They're gonna get tired of us..
    Kander: Yeah, they're gonna get tired of us and we're gonna bore them to tears...
    Dreamweaver: And then they're gonna start sending me more and more photos of their bags and I'm just gonna be a crying, sobbing, curly mess on the ground. *Kander laughs* Ahhh! It's just so stressful!
    Kander: Some of those are pretty terrifying.
    Dreamweaver: They are! They're so scary! I just don't understand! I think that's it for us today, though. Kyle, thank you so much. This is Episode Four of Kander's Candor. I'm Dreamweaver. See you in game!
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