Kander's Candor Season 2 Episode 2 - Caith Visits and PVP! Here is my labor of love for our hearing-impaired community. Sourced from Spotify. Dreamweaver: Hey everybody. Welcome to the newest episode of Kander's Candor. As always, I am your Community Manager, Dreamweaver, and I am joined by Kyle "Kander" Vallee, our Creative Director for EQ2, in a new installment. This is Episode 2 of Season 2, because I have the power to make those decisions, and I have decided that. We actually have another special episode today, I guess, cause this is our second episode with a guest, and we'll be introducing our guest in just a little while, but it is raining outside and there has been a little bit of thunder and I kind of like having the podcast on these gloomy days. What about you Kyle? Kander: (laughing coming onto mike) Yeah... Dreamweaver: What? Are you laughing? Why are you laughing? Feels rude...feels like a direct attack. Kander: It's...it's, it's gloomy today, that's for sure. Dreamweaver: We can't make, we can't make small talk before we introduce our guest. Like, I like building the anticipation for our players. Kander: Right? Dreamweaver: Is that a problem? Kander: It's not a problem. Dreamweaver: Thanks. Kander: I just find it, I find it humorous. Dreamweaver: Thanks. I appreciate that. Since we've now done the most awkward build-up I could possibly think of, I would like to welcome our second special guest ever, our Lead Designer. You guys know him as Caith, and I know him by other names, but we'll stick with Caith for now. So, welcome to the podcast, Caith. Welcome to Kander's Candor. Caith: Thank you. Thank you for having me, and I think Kyle's real problem is he has to clean up after his dogs. They're playing in the mud puddles whenever it's raining. Dreamweaver: Oh. Kander: That's correct. Dreamweaver: Yeah, that's fair. Yeah I can see that. Kander: They're out making mud pies. Dreamweaver: My dog tends to be scared of the rain. I don't know if that's because he's blind, or if it's because he's old, or because he's a scaredy cat. But he does not like the rain all that much, so he does not prefer to go out in it, and even refuses to use the restroom when it starts raining. That's fun. But you don't want to hear more about my dog, and we probably won't cut this, so there's information about my dog for all of you. Congratulations. I want to talk about - this is kind of a more general podcast - more than answering specific questions, which we will get back to doing. I promise. We will get back to answering some specific questions for all of you, and if you are here only for the PVP information, make sure to stay tuned at the end, where we will have that. So you have to listen to all the rest of this first, and we are going to take kind of a longer view and specifically talk about kind of design philosophy in Everquest 2. But what I want to start with, Caith, can you kind of tell us how you got started as Game Designer, and things like that, and how maybe that somewhat informed your view on design philosophy. Caith: Sure. How I got started as a Game Designer was kind of actually atypical for us at the time...though I was one of the last to go this route versus game designer. I started the company as a CS or Tech Support specifically, and then I got picked up after a couple of months there as an apprentice for Everquest 2, after playing it for many, many years before that. An apprentice job is, essentially, you do all of the little things that the bigger picture stuff fall to. The people that are more in-depth, in-depth lead, you know, knowledgeable about them. So I did a whole lot of anything from itemization to, you know, just changing all of the files all of the time, which that hasn't really changed my job. In, in ways that allow the other teammates to step aside from that, essentially, the busy work. From there I just worked lots and lots of hours and enjoyed it and continued on until they decided to keep me on full time, and that's essentially my road to being hired and my road for how I became a dev. How I kind of shaped my, my philosophies from that is...well, we have a lot of, we have a lot of systems and everything in our game, so I had to delve in, at least in, some way, into all of those systems when I was a come-up, and that's how I kind of focus on things, is make sure I keep all of those parts in mind and go from there. Dreamweaver: Ok. So, when you started as an apprentice, what is the first thing you ended up working on, like it was something player-facing or was it something that was...uh... not player-facing, I guess? Wow. Way...that was an awful way to ask that question, but you know what I'm saying. Caith: Yep. Though, actually, yeah. It kind of was both. The thing I very first started working on that was a bigger system, something that wasn't just like, you know, fix this, we have a small quest here, that kind of thing, was the passive spell system that we had for a short time, where it essentially showed all of the many, many, many buffs on a player in a passive spell window. We have hundreds and hundreds of buffs that are on every player all of the time. Like each AA is a buff and all. So for the longest time we didn't have any of that detail listed where a player can access it, so we implemented the, the passive buff window. Eventually we actually decided to get rid of that window anyways because it was one of the contributors to client lag because it was loading those spells a second time just to show them to you, so we don't do that now. Dreamweaver: Got it. You started as an apprentice; you became a designer. What was the first expansion you were actually lead as mechanics designer on or as the designer? Caith: The first one that I was the, the lead mechanics designer was Expansion 11, Altar of Malice. Dreamweaver: Ok. Cool. So getting more into the design philosophy, you kind of talked about all of our systems interacting with each other and having to keep that in mind. How does that sort of, um...there is a word that I am looking for, that I swear I will remember... Kander: Influence? Dreamweaver: Yeah. How does... thank you Kyle. Thank you. I really appreciate you. Yeah, how does that influence how you approach design? Caith: It's essentially trying to keep in mind that there is a bigger picture. No matter what thing we're talking about right now, there is more to it than is initially perceived. It's...I mean, you know, it's taking something, you know, an every day thing, take a traffic light- that you have to deal with going to work everyday- it sure is a pain in the, you know, rear to have to deal with that traffic light every day and it would be really great if they just took that out. But, overall, if you take that out it snarls up traffic in other places, and then you have to deal with that. It's a bigger picture type of problem, and that's essentially what I mean by that, is if I change one thing, there's going to be other things that are impacted by whatever I change and that has to be considered as much as we can. Dreamweaver: Ok. Kander: It's like a...it's like a giant circuitboard and if you mess with one thing you could literally, like, shut off lights in five districts. Caith: It's like bards in Everquest 1. Dreamweaver: Oh, gosh. I mean, the way I kind of think about it sometimes is...do you know that game...it's not called Pick Up Sticks, there's a game that my brain can't remember - it's not like Jenga - but you used to put sticks in a circular kind of cylinder and there would be a marble and you would have to pull the sticks out until you figured it out. It's sorta like Jenga. But basically, you weren't trying to have the marble fall. Similar to Jenga - like you don't want the tower to fall - so you're constantly trying each of these things and just hoping that the tower doesn't fall, and that's kind of what it feels like sometimes, because of how they're inter-connected and all the things you have to be aware of. Is that kind of a good way for players to kind of visualize what we're working through? Caith: Absolutely. And it is especially good because any small motion on it can be magnified greatly, because everything we have is multipliers on multipliers. So making a tiny change at the base end or even on something that seems relatively lightly related can have a very magnified effect when it actually, you know, gets into the game. So yes, absolutely. Dreamweaver: Ok. I mean, yeah. That, that makes a lot of sense. More specifically, when we're thinking about design, and mechanics design, and spells, and itemization - things like that - especially for like, the most recent expansion, and things like that or for previous ones, what do you view as kind of like, maybe not your perfect scenario, but the scenario that what we have to work in, understanding that sometimes players and devs have conflicting opinions on that, and ultimately the devs have to execute their vision while listening to player concerns. Caith: Not sure I understood your question. Reiterate please? Dreamweaver: I mean, that makes sense. I have re-written this question like, five times. I'm not sure I understand it completely. I guess, the question can basically be down to one thing. When you look at the expectations that you have for players, sometimes those player expectations differ. What do you think the expectations you have for players are to progress through something from like a gear standpoint? Does that make sense? Caith: Yeah, yeah. I think I know what you're driving at there. So, for...my expectations for progressions are simple. It should be reward equals time investment and effort. And that effort can be anything from more time investment, to a super challenging fight to "I have to gather 23 of my closest friends so someone can yell at me about no DKP, minus DKPs" or it can be, "I've had to do a huge pre-requisite string beforehand". So there's a whole lot of, of, of, you know, "how, how did this become this difficult" and "why should it reward me with that". And it also has to be balanced with that on just the pure "I want to get something quick" and "I want to get something easy" because everybody needs to have something that they can get in and see that they can obtain quickly. So you got, kind of got, both of those, you know, dichotomies going on, and you need to have a little bit of both of them to both reward immediately and get people to go "hey, you know what, this is great" and then also something to continue to obtain as time goes on. Because ultimately, if you get too many rewards too quickly, you don't have anything else to get, and if you don't have anything else to get, you don't log in as often. So you're not playing with your friends, so your friends don't have you there to help them you know, continue to enjoy themselves, so they might not, you know, log in as often. So really, it's a dichotomy between, here's your...here's something that you can get relatively easily, but also here's something that we want you to put in more time, more effort in to obtain, to be able to get, you know, that more power that makes the next fights easier or even possible. Did that answer that question? Dreamweaver: I think so, yeah. No, I think that answered that question super well. I think it's also important to know that like, you aren't designing these progressions in a vacuum. You're looking at what Gninja is doing and his designs; you're looking what Chrol is doing and his designs; you're looking at what Kaitheel is doing in his designs, and all of those things have to mesh with each other, and the same goes for all of them as well. And I think it's important for players to understand that none of these designers are designing their things alone in a vacuum. Like these are systems that have to interact with each other in sometimes very specific ways. Is that... is that a...is that correct? Caith: It's absolutely...I mean, we can't make, you know, itemization, for one, without knowing where the mobs are, where the encounters are supposed to be, and how difficult they're supposed to be, so we work with the designers on those, and sometimes things don't shape up exactly, you know, as they're intended. When you encounter it in live, something might end up being more complex due to various reasons like you know, just movement is different when you're dealing with it on a live server, you know, whatever. Sometimes we need to make tweaks, but they're all interacting with the content designer to get to where we find where our rewards are going to be. Dreamweaver: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. That's kind of, a lot of the questions that players have tend to be a bit more specific and they definitely aren't for this very specific podcast, but in general, do you have kind of like, I guess the best way to ask this, is kind of like, a blue-sky design? Is there a design that you think that works well that you just haven't been able to implement yet or something that you wish would work? It's one of those, that if everything was perfect in a perfect world, what is your design for something like this? Caith: I would actually say that there is not such a thing for Everquest 2 specifically... Dreamweaver: That's fair. Caith: And I'm going to tell you why. There is something like, you know, you can, say you jump into another game, and it's the absolute best game you've ever played - you love it, it's perfect - but if you transition a current game that you're enjoying right now into that exact same game, it's not perfect. You know, it...an old example, you know, game...lil ol' game called Star Wars Galaxies, a long time ago changed what its core was to meet a new goal and it made everybody very unhappy. So we can't really go for that pie-in-the-sky perfect game because the people that are currently playing Everquest 2, they all have a different idea of what their perfect game is, and we have to kind of try to hit what's great for all of them, not anyone specific, and we also can't change up too much because now it becomes the game that you weren't playing, and you don't want to continue to play a new game. You want to play your old game - so the thing you were logging in to and having a good time with. So, I mean, whether there is that, in theory, I don't think that is something that exists for a game, especially of this age, in practice. Dreamweaver: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I want to pivot real quick towards the end and ask just, kind of, more fluffy questions, do you have a favorite raid while you were a player or as a designer? Caith: Plane of War. Dreamweaver: Plane of War? Caith: It beat me down multiple times. I had to wait until we had a level bump to be able to win at it. Dreamweaver: Oh wow. Caith: One of my favorite raids. Yep. Dreamweaver: Nice. And our final pivot of the podcast, something I promised at the beginning, and something as we're wrapping up, we have more PVP news to share. It may not be everything you're hoping for, but it is some questions you've been asking, so Kyle or Caith, if you would like to take it away, and let our PVP players know what they can expect for the name of their server, and when they might be hearing more about the Beta or if we're have kind of somewhere we're targeting for the Beta? Kander: Yeah. So we've decided the name of the PVP server is going to be Tarinax. We took that name from a poll we did once upon a time and asked for names of what, what people would like to see their server named and I think we boiled it down to four names that were real popular. One of them was Deathtoll and one of them was Tarinax, and we decided, we decided that that one was probably the most fitting. We didn't want to call it Nagafen again, so Tarinax is the new hotness. Dreamweaver: Wait, you didn't like my 'Nagafen 2, Electric Boogaloo' idea? Kander: I did like it, but it doesn't fit on the loading screen, and then, and then as far as we are shooting for opening a Beta for Tarinax for the PVP server early April. Dreamweaver: So you heard it here folks. We're shooting for early April to open the Beta for you all after we've launched our GU for Live, and Caith, thank you very much for being our second guest ever. Caith: Thank you for having me. Dreamweaver: It was awesome having you on. We will do it again. Kyle, do you have anything you would like to say? Kander: I would like to say 'Meep'. Dreamweaver: That is definitely a thing (laughs). Alright everybody, thank you for listening to Season 2, Episode 2 of Kander's Candor. As always, I am your friendly Community Manager, Dreamweaver and we'll see you next time. *Personal note: Apologies for being super late with the transcription. I was out of town for a week. When I came back to play, I had a technical problem, and had to wait for some parts to get my computer fixed. Glad to be back. Enjoy!