Thom Terrazas just recently replaced Clint Worley as the producer for EverQuest, and we were lucky enough to get the chance to speak to him about the move. Among other things, we found out what's in store for the current playerbase in the future, why EverQuest newbies should try the game, and learned that although the 51/50 server type won the latest poll, we should hold out hope for other new types too -- maybe even a "Classic" server. We snuck in a few questions about Vanguard and PlanetSide as well. To get Thom's take on these things and more, click through and read the full interview.
Massively: Firstly, congratulations on your new position as the Producer of EverQuest.
Thom Terrazas: I appreciate that, thank you very much.
Massively: You've just come from having the producer role for Vanguard and PlanetSide, and you've recently let the fans know that you will still be helping out a bit with those two games for a while, so we'll just very briefly touch on them for a moment if you don't mind?
TT: Sure, go right ahead.
Massively: Are you happy with the state of the game in Vanguard right now, and do you see it succeeding in the long term?
TT: Yeah, actually I'm really happy with Vanguard. Vanguard launched with a big goal in mind to have a beautiful picturesque game, and it probably reached that goal, but there were side effects. There were a lot of performance issues that go along with that. I think initially it was very difficult for machines that weren't ready to hit those scenes in the game.
When a game launches you have this great relief, and then you continue on and can respond to what the issues are, and the team just kept on moving forward. They had so much that they wanted to pour into the game, and improving on the performance was the first thing. So they greatly improved the performance of the game, and maybe if you had a difficult time playing it initially, this is one of the great times to get in and see what you were meant to see at the beginning. That was probably accomplished within a good six months after the game launched.
Massively: Do you think it's likely that Salim Grant (note: currently Vanguard's lead designer) will end up taking over the Vanguard producer role in its entirety, or is that yet to be determined?
TT: Honestly I would say that's yet to be determined. I have no doubt that Salim could do it, but when you are in the producer role, but your background and your drive is to do design, it pulls you in too many directions for you to be efficient in both roles. I would say that Salim's strengths are in design. He plays many games and he has a great knowledge of systems and how they work, and what players enjoy playing. So I think he would definitely be able to move into the role of producer, but his heart is in the design role. He probably will want to keep moving in that direction.
"This is a new process for me. Vanguard originated from a different company, so they had their own process, and it was a different culture."
TT: The team size on PlanetSide has shrunk over the years since release to a manageable state. It's a business and so it still has to be profitable, and I would say that the team won't be growing. It will be maintained by the same number that it is now. Obviously my time will be shared on the EverQuest side, but PlanetSide will still be getting some attention, definitely.
Massively: Let's talk about your main gig as the EverQuest producer. It must be exciting coming back to EverQuest after being an EQ Game Master when the game was just beginning 10 years ago.
TT: There was such a nostalgic feel remembering what we all put into the game. Now obviously I didn't work on the creation of the game, but when it launched many people shared the excitement of this game setting a new path for the industry. There was a feeling of "Welcome back again", being part of the team. Many faces have changed, but a lot of them are still here. It was very exciting to come back and be part of something that created this company.
Massively: Now that you're involved with the game, do you have any changes of direction in mind? Or is it more a matter of keeping on going in the same manner that has proven to be successful all this time, and not disturbing the mojo so to speak?
TT: I think you've kinda hit the nail on the head there. I've come in and tried to get entrenched in the systems and the processes. This is a new process for me. Vanguard originated from a different company, so they had their own process, and it was a different culture. So I'm just getting my feet wet into the system of EverQuest, and trying to see how it plays out, and where I can make improvements.
Massively: EverQuest is one of the few MMOs that manages to be successful despite being launched so long ago. Is that mainly due to a core group of die-hard fans and former players returning, or do you see attracting brand new players as important to prolong the game's life even further?
TT: Well I think we're going to have to do both. The game does have, if we can term them that, die-hard fans. They're people that just enjoy playing a good game, and again, there's that nostalgic feel as well. I think anyone that's played and put so much time and effort into not only the game, but the friendships they've created in the game as well, it's really difficult to give up that sense of belonging. So we're going to have to keep nurturing that relationship with the player-base, and give them what they desire, what they would like to see as the next step in their character's existence.